The temps here in Illinois have been ruthless the last couple of weeks. We are used to cold here, but I don't think anyone ever gets used to subzero temperatures. Especially not the livestock.
It's winter, which means two main things here in Illinois:
Growing up, my mom cooked meals using one key tool: The microwave. We used pots and pans from time to time, but the ones I learned to cook with were the ever-popular nonstick Teflon ones. Those are fine and dandy, but for Christmas I received a couple of cast iron skillets, and I have been enjoying learning how to cook with them.
I have seen a plethora of blogs and articles written that highlight the struggles, joys, and humorous aspects of being married to a farmer. Each of these was written from the perspective of a woman and focuses on what it's like to have a farmer husband. These are always entertaining and remind me very much of the things I saw growing up with a farmer dad... but I didn't marry a farmer. We live on a farm and we have a herd of cattle, but my husband is not the farmer in the relationship.
As is the case for most of you, I have seen my family's farm go through many changes over the course of my lifetime. We have raised farrowing pigs and beef cattle, switched from traditional-crop growing methods to using newer soil conserving techniques, and now . . . We're getting chickens!
In recent years, this "Elf on the Shelf" thing has really taken off. If you aren't familiar, the concept is that each family "adopts" a Scout Elf from the North Pole. This elf's duty is to keep an eye on the kids and report back to Santa every night on who is being naughty and nice. Every morning, the kids wake up to find the elf in a different place in the house.
Our family is in a time of transition. Grandma has stepped down from hosting Thanksgiving dinner, and we have all branched off to start our own family traditions. I hosted Thanksgiving this year and tried my best to cook a meal as good as Grandma used to. (No pressure there!)
The most wonderful time of the year is here: Thanksgiving. Food, family, and grateful attitudes are filling our hearts (and stomachs).
This year, I am most thankful for change. This time last year, I was living 100 miles away from my family and the farm where I grew up, just hoping I could find a job that would get me moved closer to home. Today, I am living on a farm right down the road from where I grew up, I can look out my kitchen window to see my cattle grazing, I have a great husband by my side, and a job that I absolutely love.
Harvest is officially finished.
Inhale . . . exhale . . . ahhhhh. Much better.
Every year after harvest, stress levels on the farm go from a 10 to about a 2. The crop is out, the battle with Mother Nature is over, and everyone can finally take a night off to have dinner at the dinner table with their families.
Gluten-Free, Vegan, GMO-Free, Whole Grain Rice.
It's labels like these that make me shake my head. Why not throw "free range" and "caffeine-free" in there?
Educating consumers about how food is grown has been a passion of mine since college. That was my first experience living outside of my hometown farming community (population 48). I couldn't believe the amount of misinformation out there that my peers bought into.