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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winter Woes? Think about Spring!

Winter is underway in Kansas and snow has blanketed the state and is slowing melting away with warmer temperatures. For those of you who are wishing for spring to be here already, here is a glimpse of the green prairie grasses and some beautiful (in my opinion, of course) Red Angus cattle.

Taken in the Flint Hills of Kansas, the pictures detail one of nature’s gifts to mankind – a gift that we have the responsibility of caring for and preserving. Farmers and ranchers take great pride in acting as caretakers and environmentalists, and you can see why above. This beauty is a reason in itself.

There’s your glimpse of spring (and summer, as the cattle picture was snapped in June). Hope you enjoyed it! You can almost feel the warm breeze as it causes the grass to sway and the leaves of trees to rustle…

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

Cassie Kniebel

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Chicken

I know Thanksgiving is over and that holiday kind of owns the turkey, but sometimes the holiday cheer spills over into Christmas. Since many of you will be roasting, baking, grilling or frying a bird this Christmas, I thought I would share this video with you.

Coming from Kansas State University, an institution of which I hope to be a proud Alumnus of one of these days - the proper way to thaw a turkey.

Thaw A Turkey Video



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Making Our Own Food

I wanted to learn how to make noodles like my Grandmother used to make for her prized Chicken Noodle Soup recipe, so my mom decided to share the recipe and process with me. While we were creating these noodles, I thought about all of the farmers who had a hand in getting the ingredients to our table.
The recipe started out with these guys. Eggs are produced in many states across the US, but the top three egg producing states are Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In 2009, US Farmers produced 246 eggs for each person living in the US. That's a lot of omelets!

We mixed the eggs with some flour. Flour is made from wheat which is a crop grown very readily in the state of Kansas. Over 240,000 family farms in the US grow wheat. About 2/3 of that wheat crop is grown on farms in the Mid West, the belt that stretches from Montana down to Texas. Of the wheat grown in the US, over 70% of it is used for human food products. Every year each American consumes around 136 pounds of wheat in different food products. 

We mixed the eggs and flour together. I kneaded it until it was smooth and stretchy for the noodle roller. The noodle roller made the dough very very thin for cutting.

Here's a shot of my mom running the dough through the pasta roller to get it very thin.

And here we are cutting the noodles into the shape we wanted to do for our Chicken Noodle soup recipe.

We had to let the noodles dry on the rack before we were ready to store them or cook them. Mom told me that her mom had laid them out on tea towels on their beds to dry all day. We used the clothes drying rack to consolidate the space. They didn't need to dry very long at all.

Here is the final product! Our noodles were very delicous in the soup that we made. These noodles could be used in a lot of dishes, but they are very thin so you have to be careful how much you handle them once they are cooked. In the US, people consume 9 kg of pasta every year, which seems like a lot to me. Until you look at the 28 kg of pasta every year a person consumes in Italy.

If you'd like the recipe for the Chicken Noodle Soup or the noodles my mom and I made, just share a comment and I'd be happy to share this family recipe with you. Enjoy!



All facts and figures from this post were taken from the USDA website.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Very Best Christmas Gift

The very best gift this holiday season for many people will be nourishment. According to the FAO, 1 billion people currently go hungry.

In the US, if we could spend more of the money that goes towards fighting the anti-agriculture movement and produce synergistic efforts that move forward to solve important industry issues, we could make a dent in that 1 billion. I encourage you to check out this facebook group to get involved in the End Hunger Project.

This Christmas, I am thankful for the very best gift I have ever received:

I was raised on a farm in a family passionate about serving the agriculture industry.

And that is why I'd like to share this with you. 

This is an important regulation that the US Department of Labor has proposed. I encourage you to be educated on both sides of the issue and would love to engage in conversation about your opinions regarding it. I have worked on my family's farm and ranch since before I can even remember. Some of my first memories of being on the farm with my dad include learning important safety precautions that HAD to be taken while we were outside.
The website you can visit to view the regulation is listed in the above photo. I'd love to hear from you in the comment section below!



Monday, December 12, 2011

Don't Just Thank a Farmer, Thank a Shearer Too!

   Many of you won't know what I mean when I say shearer, but my experience here in Australia has made me very familiar with shearing. Australia is the world leader in wool production, and has been for over a century. There are over 72 million sheep in Australia compared to 23 million people, and the ironic thing is that sheep numbers are at their lowest since 1905. A big part of that is because of long years of drought, but also because the type of sheep has changed into a bigger sheep with more wool.
    Australian wool is generally regarded as some of the highest quality wool in the world, and the best of it comes from the Merino breed. Merino sheep have been bred for hundreds of years to produce extremely fine wool and have been selected to have wrinkly skin as this allows more surface area for wool to grow. A mature Merino ewe can produce over 15 pounds of wool per year, a pretty impressive feat considering wool doesn't weigh very much and they are usually only shorn once per year.
    The main point I wanted to drive home was the fact that although many other professions in agriculture have changed drastically in the past 100 years, sheep shearing is still largely the same. Although machine shears are used today, shearing is still a very physical, tiring job for shearers who are expected to shear on average 150 per day. As they are paid by the sheep, it is in their best interest to get them done as quickly as possible, but this is a job that is alot harder than it looks.

   One notable story involves Jackie Howe, the world-record holder for sheep shorn in a day, who sheared 321 sheep in 7 hours and 40 minutes! The scary thing is, he did this in 1892 with HAND shears, and his record hasn't been beaten to this day!

   Last week, I tried my hand at shearing a few Merino ewes. After getting a brief lesson on how to position the ewe and hold her so that I didn't hurt her and could still shear effectively, I had a go at it. While most shearers take 3-4 minutes per sheep, I was still going at 20 minutes and sweating like crazy! I had similar results on the second sheep I attempted, after which I looked at shearing completely differently. I swore that I would never take for granted the hard work that goes into shearing a ewe and I think it is important to recognize the hard-working sheep shearers out there in the world who are alot tougher than I am!

Thank a shearer next time you put on your wool scarf and coat!



Sunday, December 11, 2011

Excuse Us!

Avid readers of the Food For Thought Blog:

Please excuse our absence. Since most of us are students, we are knee deep in study guides, textbooks, flashcards and highlighters for the sake of the final week of the Fall Semester commonly referred to as Finals.

We're passionate about sharing the story of agriculture to consumers because it has played such a large part in our lives. When advocacy meets passion, you can make a difference without making a profit, you can dedicate time without needing recognition and you can connect with a stranger without needing a name.

Not all of us are willing or able to be farmers, but all of us need dinner tonight.

What are you passionate about? I'd love to hear from you!



Monday, December 5, 2011

A New Twist on Jerky

In the states, universities are starting to hold their semester finals and you can be assured that energy drinks, soda and candy are flying off the racks to aid students in the dreaded 'all-nighter' study session.

Well, good news for those night owls has developed a low-carb, low-fat, low calorie snack that is high in protein -- Perky Jerky. It's beef jerky that packs a punch, gives you that energy you crave in a Red Bull but is still healthy.  I've pasted the nutritional information below:

Very cool snack that is refreshingly not fatty, sugary or loaded with carbs. They also have Turkey Perky Jerky for those of you who prefer poultry to beef.

I'm definitely buying some of this when I get back to the states and I think I'll be putting some of this in my brother's stocking to keep him awake on his long drives home from rodeos!

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~


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