A small, family farm in Wisconsin

Posts tagged ‘harvest’

Farm News October 2013

We had a fun and busy summer here on the Zills Farm.  We did some traveling, and had a wonderful time at the wedding of our granddaughter in Oklahoma City.  Most of our family was there and it was a renewal of our family bonds.  I’m so proud of my family and what good people they are.
We’ve been fortunate to be able to spend lots of time with various family members this summer.
Lee has been busy and even managed to get a new roof put on the old farm house.  His next project is replacing a couple of windows in the farm house, and most of the windows in our house.


Corn is not dry yet.

Corn is not dry yet.

Actual farming has been delayed due to the weather.  The soybeans and corn have been slow to dry so are still waiting to be harvested.  We had a very wet spring so the fields were planted later than normal.  Consequently the late harvest.
Here’s something new.  Lee found an enormous Giant Puffball mushroom.  I’ve never cooked or eaten them, but he really wanted to try it.  I sautéed some for him to put on the pizza we were having for dinner and he liked it.  I did not.  I thought it tasted like soggy bread.  I’m going to try cooking it differently by slicing it into “steaks” to fry in butter. See the picture below.
The hummingbirds are gone.  Most of the sandhill cranes are gone.  We have a robin and a couple of kildeer still hanging around and I’m not sure why.  I hope they get moving soon.

I’ve been trying some new recipes, so stay tuned!
Have a happy fall!


Giant Puffball.  This one was as big as a soccer ball.

Giant Puffball. This one was as big as a soccer ball.

November 2012 News, with Bonus Recipes


I don’t have much to say about November 🙂  The high point was Thanksgiving and although it was just Lee and I, Meredith, Aubrey and Carys, we had a nice dinner and enjoyed each others company so much.  Late in the afternoon we Skyped with Nikki and the boys.  We miss them a lot!






Weather-wise, it was a quiet month here.  Warmer than normal, and just a few stray snow flurries.  Crops were harvested with no serious problems.  Life moves on at a steady pace.





I’m still having fun with Pinterest.  In fact, I’ve recently tried two new recipes that I found there.  Both are keepers, so I’ll share them with you. You can access my boards on Pinterest by clicking on the link in the side bar. You’ll find the original recipes, with photos there.
I just made this recipe for Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes for dinner tonight.  I’ll definitely make them again.  Lee liked them a lot.
Although I found this recipe on Pinterest, it had been adapted from one by Rachel Ray.
My change?  The recipe included a provolone cheese sauce.  Everyone knows that Philly Cheesesteaks require Cheez Whiz.  I skipped the provolone and went straight to the jar of Cheez Whiz.  I don’t regret it.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons steak sauce, like A-1
1 cup beef stock
salt and pepper
4 Kaiser rolls, or hard rolls
In large skillet over medium-high heat add the oil and then brown the ground beef, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the onion and green pepper and cook another 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables start to get tender.  Stir in the steak sauce and beef stock, salt and pepper, and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes more.
To serve, split the rolls, removing some of the soft inside if desired. Toast the rolls.  Put a big scoop of meat in the roll, topped with warmed  Cheez Whiz.  If you gag at the thought of putting Cheez Whiz into your temple/body, then by all means use provolone or American cheese, or make your own cheese sauce.

The next recipe is one I made as a Christmas treat.  I made some to send to Collin, who is serving overseas in the Army.  This was pretty easy to make, and the bonus was the way it filled the house with the smell of cinnamon.

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Almonds
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1 egg white
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups whole almonds (I used 4 and I think even 6 cups would still work..that’s a lot of sugar)
1/4 cup water
Mix together sugars, cinnamon, and salt.  In another bowl whisk egg white and vanilla until frothy.  Coat the almonds first with the egg white mixture, and then with the sugar mixture.  Put into prepared crock pot.  You can either spray it or use a liner.  I used a liner and it worked well.
Cook on low for 3-4 hours.  I used the full 4 hours.  After 3 hours add the 1/4 cup of water and mix well.  The coating will become very wet but eventually dries up and starts to harden.  Spread onto a cookie sheet that has been sprayed or lined with parchment.  Separate the almonds when they’re cool.

October 2012 Newsletter

This has been a busy month on the farm.  Lee is working at getting the corn harvested, and is nearly finished as I write this.  We had some rainy days that held up the harvest but we’re back on track now.  It’s been a month of transition weather wise.  It got cold and the leaves fell quickly from the trees.  Temps have been in the 40’s during the day, with 20’s and 30’s at night.  I had to set up my heated water buckets for the horses after they froze pretty solid one night.

Speaking of horses, if you read this blog regularly, you know that we lost Cody.  You can read the post about him here.
Box elder bugs!  Oh my gosh!  These things have taken over the world!  We used to have problems with lady bugs, but this fall we saw very few of them.  It’s the box elder bugs  crawling everywhere.  Save me from box elder bugs.

I sent a box to Collin in Afghanistan.  It took 16 days to get to him.  I’ll have to keep that in mind when I send his next package.  I want him to get it by Thanksgiving.  He called when it arrived and said the (stale) cookies were all gone already.  I hope no one got sick from eating them.
We spent a lot of time worrying about our family members and friends who were in the path of Hurricane/superstorm Sandy.  All of our people made it through safely, with power outages being the most common problem for them.   We even felt the winds here in Wisconsin.  CNN has been a constant backdrop in our house.

Somehow this page got all messed up.  The photo alignment isn’t right, but I don’t know how to fix it, so….sorry 🙂

July 2012 Newsletter

The wheat has been harvested, and most of the straw has been baled.  The wheat yielded about 65 bu/acre.  The price is high right now, sadly due to the misfortune of farmers everywhere.  Now we’re seeing the sandhill cranes and Canada geese gleaning our wheat fields and probably finding bugs and frogs in the stubble. The next crop related job will be cutting and baling a small field of hay.  The lack of rain and high temps have burned up our pastures (and lawn) so we’ll be needing more hay than usual.  The sheep aren’t getting anything out of the pastures now, and Lee’s had to supplement them with hay.
We are still very dry.  Last night while all around us rain was falling, sometimes in gully washer proportions, we got a measly 1/10″!  It didn’t even settle the dust and only served to raise the humidity levels.  There are more chances for rain in the next few days and we’re hoping some of it will fall on our farm.
Even with the lack of rain, the roadside weeds and wildflowers are still abundant.  One of my favorites is wild chicory.  Its flowers are such a pretty shade of blue.
This summer has been hard on the farm cats.  We started this spring with 10, and we’ve lost several, either to illness or the road, or just unknown causes.  One of the kitties was dead on the road the other day and it’s the first time I’ve ever lost a cat that way and known it, in all these years.  We have more traffic on our road lately because we have new neighbors building a house and there’s lots of construction activity.  Well anyway, I think our current cat count is 5 or 6.
We’re anticipating some family visits in the next few weeks.  Collin will be home on leave soon, and Meredith and her family will be here for a few days in August.  Kay and the girls will be coming in August too.
Here’s a slideshow of photos I’ve taken in the past few days:

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Farming and Gambling are the Same

Those who know us, or know farming, are aware of the kind of year we had in 2009.  It really was an awful year.  The weather killed us.  Yields were down.  Prices were down.  It was just a bad year to be a farmer. 

The other day our neighbor was in his unharvested cornfields, with his combine, making a pretty good stab at getting some of his corn harvested.  He really was able to make progress and get some of it hauled to town in his grain truck.  If you’re from a northern area, you understand how bizarre this seems.  Here in Wisconsin we have lots of snow on the ground.  To see a big combine in a corn field that is completely snow-covered is just crazy.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.

We know what a bad year it was because we lived it and we’re still living with the consequences.  We just had our taxes done by the accountant and it’s not pretty.  Here’s a graph I found that shows how much net  farming income  fell in the US.  Here in Wisconsin, it was down 56% from 2008.

The good news is that 2010 is starting off on the right foot.  Our hogs are getting good prices this month and we really appreciate that.  It’s good to start the year with a positive.

So there you have it.  Every day is a gamble here, and on all farms.  Lee is way more addicted to farming than I am 🙂

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