Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mother Nature Is Sending a Message, REALLY!

A few days ago it was nice enough to open up the windows in the sun room and breathe some fresh air.  My folks were over, and as we were chatting, we heard a different honking sound up in the sky. Dad and I scooted outside to see what we could see, and way up in the sky we finally saw them. Sandhill Cranes~!

Listen to their very distinct sound!

From the Indiana DNR page:  Dec. 16, 2014: Our crane count this morning was 9,175. Cranes also continue to use the Wheatfield area. This will be our last posted count for the 2014 fall/winter migration. Very likely, some cranes will stay throughout the winter, especially in the Wheatfield area. North bound cranes will begin arriving in late January, peak in late February or early March, and will be gone from JP by April 1.

Wheatfield is in Jasper County, a county just north of us, and we do keep an eye out for them in the spring.  Several flocks do stop at our very own Benton County for a bit of a rest before heading the rest of the way north.  

Even though our weather is stick quite fickle, spring IS on its way, just ask the sandhill cranes!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs

Want a super simple meal idea that everyone will like?  I.Mean.Super.Simple....  No toothpicks required, melt in your mouth goodness that pulls two meats together?  All you need is a package of boneless chicken thighs and bacon, and you have a juicy, flavor-packed main course: bacon-wrapped chicken thighs.

Bacon-wrapped chicken thighs: super simple and incredibly delicious.

Last week was National Ag Week, but with Tall Guy laid low with Influenza B and me getting smacked with a major sinus infection, we had a hard time finding our appetite.....until I put these two awesome meats together.

Now you know we love to put bacon around anything!  Because we raise beef, we love us some bacon-wrapped filets.  Because this is just a good and a bit easier on the budget, bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin is also at the top of our YUM! list.  I hated to leave our poultry friends out of the loop, so here is my salute to chicken.

Bacon-wrapped chicken thighs

This is so simple to make.  You need chicken thighs and what I like to call "skinny" bacon.  Skinny bacon is stretchy and gives the chicken flavor without a heavy piece of bacon to chew threw.  Save that thick, more expensive bacon for Saturday and Sunday morning breakfasts!  Grab a thigh, fold the meat together so that the smooth side of the thigh is on the outside.  Take a piece of bacon, stretch it a bit, and start wrapping it around the thigh.  As I get close to the end, I make sure I have a place to tuck in the end piece.  This way you don't need to use a toothpick.  Put all the thighs in a baking dish, glass or stone, shake some ground pepper and seasoned salt on top if you like, and bake at 425 degrees for about 35-45 minutes. (Baking time depends on how big/thick the thighs are.)  Make sure all juices in the pan are clear.

Serve this up with some healthy vegetable, and you have a light, flavorful, healthy meal.  It was enough of a comfort food, that we found our appetite, and ate it all up!

Even though last week was National Ag Week, we celebrate Agriculture EVERY week here on the farm!

Friday, March 6, 2015

4-H: Do your kids participate?

Have you thought about encouraging your children to join 4-H?  Have you thought about volunteering to be a leader or project adviser for 4-H?  Every county in Indiana has a 4-H club, and there is so much to be learned and gained from participating in 4-H.

Last weekend we had our first Parrish Grover 4-H meeting.  The girls were excited, and Tink even took along her phone for the sole purpose of taking notes!

A true 4-H meeting is run by the club members.  It's a great way for these kids to learn organization, preparation, planning, responsibility, and the practice of Parliamentary Procedure rules.   As we talked about up-coming lessons and demonstrations for these meetings, I loved to hear the older members excited about working with the younger members on shared presentations ranging from electricity to photography to beef projects.

At the end of the meeting, Miss Carrie had an activity to share, the building of Ecobots.  Our county's Purdue Extension office has a variety of projects to share during meetings, and this one hit it off BIG with our kids.  This lesson revolved around the idea that a spill of some kind had endangered the ground, and it needed to be contained. What did the kids have to work with?  The head of a tooth brush (FYI: use FLAT bristled brushed instead of wavy ones!). a tiny simple motor, a small round battery, and some double sided foam tape.  Rice and straws used for the spill and containment area. The kids had to figure out how to hook up the battery to the motor and then to the flat of the toothbrush.

Did you notice in the picture above that one ecobot was made from two brush heads and scoots around on bristles while another scoots on its back?  It's all good.  As you can see, the kids had a blast, and some ended up thinking outside the box to make their ecobots more powerful by creating a double head and battery bot!

I have to tell you that our girls LOVED this lesson.  Miss Bear is still hooking up her little motor to any battery she can find.  Because of this inquisitiveness, she learned that the tiny round battery does not put out near the energy of a 9 volt.  It was pretty funny to see her face at that moment!

I do hope that you look in to participating in your local/county 4-H program.  Even though the online deadline for enrollment has passed here in Indiana, you can always fill out a paper enrollment form at your county Extension Office. Here is a link to Indiana's 4-H project list.  With the extensive number of projects your kids will be challenge and learn while having fun.