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Heger Family Farms

Honoring the Past, Working Today, Preparing for the Future

Month

March 2017

Baking the Day Away

It is no secret that I like to cook and despise cleaning up after myself! Well, last week I had foot surgery and my mom came to visit and help a bit. You may be thinking, She didn’t. She didn’t make her mom clean up after her. She is almost 40 after all! No, I didn’t make my mom clean up after me, but she did allow me to make a mess along side her and volunteered to clean up so I could literally put my feet up.

I made several things…IMG_9354

  •  Apple Strawberry Rhubarb pie ( top left)
  • Peanut Butter Cranberry Chocolate Chip Granola ( bars which became crumble) ( top Right)
  • Cinnamon Logs ( bottom left)
  • Pizza Dough – for breakfast pizza

These were all amazing! But the best was this bread (bottom right) that my mom has been sending pictures of for months… Bread? Really? Come on- Yes, Bread! IMG_9363

It is like an artisan bread- soft center with firm, yet chewable crust!

What makes it so amazing is that there isn’t sugar or salt? Well, there is a bit of sweetness -100% ND honey!

But really, it is the texture and natural flavors all working together that make it terrific and what will now be my “go to” recipe! Besides there being a great recipe, the secret is using a seasoned cast iron pan with a lid!

So here we go….

7 Grain Bread

FullSizeRender_1Ingredients:   3 cups bread flour, 1 cup multi-grain cereal ( I used Bob’s 5 Grain Hot Cereal), 1/3-1/2 c. flax, 1 3/4 tsp salt, 2 c. room temp water, 3 Tbs pure honey, 1 tsp instant yeast.

Supplies: 3-5 qt Cast iron pan with lid, parchment paper

Directions: Step 1) Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add honey to warm water and stir until mixed together. Step 2) Slowly add water solution to dry ingredients, mix well. ( It will be sloppy and loose). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Step 3) Flour counter to roll dough in to coat outer layer.  Cut parchment paper big enough to sit in and cover most of the inside of cast iron pot. When hour is done, take dough out of bowl and shape into round “ball”. Roll in flour on counter to coat outside layer. Place on parchment paper and lower into cast iron pot. Trim off any parchment paper that extends above the top of the pot. Cover with lid. Step 4) Bake at 425 degrees for 30 mins, remove cover and bake for 5-12 mins to get crust to turn a deep golden brown. Check ever couple minutes after the first five. Step 5) Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan. Lift from pan using parchment paper.

Additions: 1 c. dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, herbs ( rosemary, thyme, sage) , cinnamon, dried apricots, dried apples, raisins… possibilities are endless!

Enjoy!

“Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”                                                                                                                                               –Mark Twain

Spending Our Farm Money in 2017

So where have the first three months of the year gone…. budgets, taxes, planning!

2017 has many elements that each year brings…. budgets, taxes, and planning. The difference is that budgets are tighter and therefore planning for farm needs versus wants gets a little tougher.
Each penny that gets spent in 2017 will come with a bit of double checking that it really needs to get spent. There really won’t be too many quick purchases, but a lot of shopping around to find out where the best prices are.

Take for example, seed. Seed is not all the same. BUT there is seed that is sold by different companies that has the same genetic technology, growing length, environmental tolerances, preferential growing conditions, and yield… virtually the same. The difference is a name and a price. No, the big companies aren’t always more expensive. Sometimes it is smaller companies, the ones where service is more than responsive and are willing and able to assist and support that costs more. Why? Well, perhaps simply because they are smaller. They don’t move the same quantity of product, but provide exceptional service and product. So you may ask what does the cheaper seed come with. Well, it comes with a fabulous product, a sales person that answers your questions and investigates concerns and checks in to make sure all is well. The seed has the same genetic components, but a local company sells the product for a larger company versus the company itself. Different business size and structure, same product, both with quality service! Ultimately, it means knowing what you can afford, what kind of potential profit can be made and taking emotion out of a business decision- which is not always easy!

Decisions also are a matter of timing. Being that we have been actively farming for 18 years, we know what parts and maintenance supplies for machinery we are going to need. We also know about how much fuel and propane we will use. So, we keep a very close eye on sales, specials and the price of fuels. Who doesn’t like a good deal and this year a good deal can mean 10’s of thousands of dollars. The important part of getting a good deal is that you have the capacity to take ownership of the purchases when needed. If you only have storage for 500 gallons of fuel and you bought 10,000, you either 1) need to be able to take fuel in increments or 2) find somewhere/someone that can store it or 3) set up fuel tanks to accommodate. A person has to decide whether a good deal is a good deal and if they are truly capable of handling the product. Sometimes when budgets are tight and deals are right, investment in infrastructure is the right way to go.By this I mean instead of paying someone else to store, dry, or deliver for you, purchasing bins, a dryer, fuels tanks, and/ or a semi and trailer may be the best return on your dollar. Forgive the saying but it all comes down to “crunching numbers”.

So, when I say we have been busy this winter, we really have. Yes, we have been repairing and prepping machinery for planting season and hauling crop to point of sale, but we have also been doing a lot of “number crunching” and looking for best use of our dollar on and off the farm. For you see, the farm generates income to invest back into the farm, but also to support our family and community. Decisions have to be made as to where to spend money to meet our needs and wants, as well as, contribute to our community. Decisions and discussions which are never easy, but necessary.

So as I venture into the second quarter of 2017, I can tell you that things look solid for us. Tough decisions have been made. A greater understanding has been reached and the farm planting season will be taking off soon!

2017 may just be the best year yet!  I can’t wait to share more as we get the tractors out in the field, the bottle calves into the barn and 4H projects underway!

2017- lots to come and to be seen!

 

 

Women in Ag: Adventure and Opportunity

No matter what a day on my family farm holds, I can be sure it will start early and with a large cup of coffee. Being active on our farm and sharing with others how we farm and why, all while raising a family makes each day an adventure. So, with the blaring of the alarm and the percolating of the coffee pot, I jump out of bed and let the good times roll.

Even though men are most often pictured as the faces of farming, women are actually the fastest growing group in agriculture. We play a vital role on our family farms, and are active in the food and agriculture conversation. Women purchase and run machinery, make seed and crop care choices, keep the books and budgets, do the shopping and meal prep, attend regular training and keep tabs on the social component within their own farm and family and the broader agricultural community. Through my personal outreach and desire to share what happens on our farm, I have had the privilege of meeting hundreds of inspirational women—most with different stories and backgrounds than mine.

Our farm is conventional, integrating technology and many modern approaches to raising crops. But many of the women I meet farm very differently, and many of the moms I engage with have different perspectives of what farming should look like. At first when I would have these conversations, I felt defensive, but I made it a practice first to listen and then ask lots of questions. With time and practice, I wasn’t as intimidated and defensive. These conversations became learning opportunities all around. As we shared from our perspectives, we began to see that even if we ate differently, parented differently, farmed differently and contributed to our families and businesses in different ways, we still had many things in common. We made informed choices that we felt were best for our families. Who can argue with that? Perhaps most importantly, we learned to be open to new perspectives, to ask more questions and to better understand our own actions, beliefs, choices.

Each day on my farm is different, but I have three main roles. First and foremost I am a caretaker. I work to make sure that everyone gets up and out the door, has been fed, laundry has been started, that there is a path through the house and it looks somewhat tidy, and that we all know the schedule for the rest of the day. My next role is farm support. Although this is a consistent role, it can look very different each day. Somedays, I work in the office doing book keeping and other paperwork, making phones calls and planning. Other days, I am running for parts, driving semi, attending training, or whatever else gets tossed my way.

Advocacy is another regular and important part of my day. Again, depending on what is happening it can look very different. Sometimes advocating means talking to neighbors at the store, reading or teaching in a classroom, and sharing pictures and stories on social media. Other times it is more formal and can include speaking engagements, hosting a classroom at the farm, organizing and hosting events, or talking with the media and becoming involved in the world of politics.

A woman’s work on the farm truly is never done, but it is always an adventure. I can be sure that no two days will look alike. For me the day begins with a cup of coffee and hitting the ground running, but ends with reflection and a cup of tea. I am so grateful for how each of my roles keeps me involved, busy, challenged and active in our family, farm and community, and I wouldn’t trade my ag adventure.

 

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