Rural reminiscence: Pumpkins, stuffing and Yuletide

By P.D. Dickinson
October was essentially the start of the holiday season to us children on the farm. We drew full moons silhouetted with flying witches on brooms, dancing skeletons and flying bats to display throughout our home. We stuffed tattered clothes and made scarecrows to sit on the porch, and we carved pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns with the scariest faces our young minds could imagine. Continue reading

A day with Ree Drummond ‘The Pioneer Woman’

By Rae Wagoner
Kentucky Soybean Board
Ree Drummond would make a great friend. After meeting her at the Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show in Rupp Arena this past weekend, I truly think she is someone that most of us would enjoy getting to know.
During the “meet and greet” that I attended, Ms. Drummond was warm, witty and genuine. Onstage, she was no different.
In the opening remarks of her live afternoon show, Ree confessed  (before she even began cooking), “I’m wearing Spanx … and I’m really nervous.” See? She’s my kind of girl. Continue reading

Tasty alternatives for your leftover bird after Thanksgiving

Turkey Breakfast Sausage Patties

1 pound ground lean turkey breast or thigh
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon oregano, chopped
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

In a large bowl, stir to combine all ingredients, except the oil. With your hands, divide mixture into 8 even patties.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium to medium-high heat. Place patties in the pan and cook for 4 minutes on each side until golden and the meat is no longer pink. Serve.
—  Recipe by Meredith Steele, In Sock Monkey Slippers


Quick and Easy Turkey Burgers
    1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 pound ground turkey breast meat
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard, spicy
white pepper (optional)
1 egg
1/2 cup fat-free cereal or crackers
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley    

  Using a food processor, process the crackers into fine crumbs.
Saute the onion and garlic with 1 Tablespoon water over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, until the aromatics soften and the water has evaporated. Add celery and saute, stirring, 3 minutes to soften. If vegetables begin to stick, deglaze with additional water as needed.
In large bowl, combine turkey meat, sauteed vegetables, onion powder, mustard, pepper, egg white, nutmeg, crumbs, and parsley. Mix well.
Form into patties and cook (turning once) in a saute pan over medium-high heat until the center temperature is 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Once cooked, add desired toppings and serve.

Buffalo Wing Turkey Lettuce Wraps
    1 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 cup carrot shavings (use a vegetable peeler to make shavings)
1 cup celery, sliced thinly
1 head iceberg lettuce, leaves removed to form cups
salt and pepper
1/2 cup Frank’s Red hot Buffalo wing sauce
blue cheese crumbles or blue cheese dressing to
drizzle over the top

    In a large skillet, saute the onions over medium heat until soft (3-4 minutes). Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add ground turkey, season with a dash of salt and pepper, brown meat and cook until cooked through. Drain any grease if necessary.
Return meat to pan and stir in the wing sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Prepare lettuce cups. Place spoonful of meat into lettuce cup, top with a few carrot shavings and chopped celery.  Sprinkle with some blue cheese crumbles and/or dressing. Wrap up and start eating.
— Recipe by Christy Denney, The Girl Who Ate Everything

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup
6 tablespoons margarine
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 (10-ounce) cans chicken broth
4 cups milk
2 cups cooked wild rice
2 cups leftover cubed turkey

Melt the margarine in a large pan and saute the onion,
celery, carrots and mushrooms unti
tender-crisp. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper and mix well.
Add the chicken broth and milk and cook, stirring, until thickened.  Add the wild rice and turkey.  Adjust seasonings.  Simmer until heated through.
— Recipe and photo by Kelley at Mountain Mama Cooks

All recipes courtesy of Relish cooking magazine. More recipes can be found at relish.com

20-year-old breeds ‘highest rated flock in Farbest’s Ky. region’

By Rae Wagoner
Kentucky Soybean Board
If you’ve ever enjoyed a turkey sandwich made with Boar’s Head brand turkey breast, you’ll understand why the company that grows its birds is named Farbest Foods, and one of Farbest’s contract growers is PPJ Thompson Farms in Daviess County.
Brian Thompson, overseer of the turkey operation at PPJ Thompson Farms, has set the bar high for turkey production.
Chris Cessna, who visits the Thompson family’s farm each week as part of his job with Farbest, said that Brian’s last flock was the highest rated flock out of the company’s Kentucky hub, which contains about a dozen farms. What makes that noteworthy, though, is that Brian’s last flock was also his first. Continue reading

Santa wants milk, cookies and no dairy worries

By Ellie Gore Waggoner
Dairy Farmer at LeCows Dairy
While it seems like the holidays come earlier and earlier every year, one time-honored tradition always waits until Christmas Eve. Just before heading off to bed, millions of children participate in the ritual of leaving cookies and milk for Santa.
As a dairy farmer, my family and I are proud to serve not only Mr. Claus on Christmas Eve but millions of American families with safe and healthy milk all yearlong. We work hard each and every day to make sure all of our consumers — not just the jolly ones — can enjoy milk without any need to worry about safety. Continue reading

Farming group educates the public, urge more farmers to do the same

By Rae Wagoner
Kentucky Soybean Board
With so much information (and misinformation) flooding the media these days, sometimes it’s hard to decide what’s true and what’s not when it comes to food and farming. CommonGround, a program founded by soybean and corn farmers and funded by their checkoff dollars, is dedicated to connecting farm women with other women who may not have access to answers to their questions. Continue reading

Sowing good seed in the land brings good harvest

By Janie Corley

And Jesus said, “The one who sows good seed is the Son of Man and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, those are the sons of the Kingdom, and tares (weeds) are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil….” Matthew 13:37
Farmers hate weeds. There is no doubt in our minds that weeds are from the devil. Over the years, farmers have fought weeds with a hoe and long hours, or a mule and cultivator, or even chemicals to destroy the weeds that threaten our crops.
So, just what is a weed? Aren’t all plants created by God for a purpose? Scripture plainly says that “tares” are planted with the good seed by the evil one. Continue reading

Three generations in, Hamptons raise the stakes at meat slaughtering facility

By Toni Riley
When E.G. “Bummy” Hampton  sold his grain elevator and opened Hampton Meats in 1975, he was looking for a new way to connect with agri-business. He wanted to provide a slaughtering facility for local farmers to process and sell their farmed meat. His son, Ernie, believed in the idea, so he quit his job at Bass and Co. to help his father follow his new dream.
Thirty eight years later, Hampton Meats is still going strong, with the addition of a retail meat counter and wholesale markets.
Ernie smiles as he remembers his father’s well-told story about the beginning of Hampton Meats. Continue reading

Farmers sound off about visa delay and weather patterns

By Mayra Diaz Ballard
Farmers face constant dilemmas while trying to plant, cultivate and harvest their crops — most recently the unexpected visa delay and the ever-changing in weather patterns.
Both issues undoubtedly hindered and continue to affect many of the farmers’ timely handling of crop activities.
On July 24, I was informed by the Bureau of Consular Affairs that workers who were at the Consulate on July 21 would go through a three-day process to obtain a visa instead of the normal two-day process.
Throughout the years, I have heard firsthand accounts about the dilemmas of farmers and workers.
Being bilingual in English and Spanish, I worked nearly 15 years as an H-2A liaison between farmers and workers through the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Program.
This government-sponsored program “allows agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the US to perform agricultural labor or services which are temporary or seasonal in nature,” according to the Department of Labor.
I had direct contact with U.S. Department of Labor, the Kentucky Department of Labor, the Department of Home Land Security, and the American Consulate located in Mexico and other countries.
I coordinated with worker agencies and employers to ensure the timely arrival of migrant workers to their place of employment and documented all pertinent information regarding the workers.
With the development of the tobacco buy-out, the company I was working for closed. With the wealth of information I gained working in this field, I started my own H-2A business, Seasonal Hands LLC, in July 2006. I am currently performing the same tasks as mentioned above.
On July 25, the Bureau of Consular Affairs announced that no visas had been issued since July 22. Workers were able to go through their visa interviews as scheduled, but the American Consulate was not issuing visas.
Updates were posted regularly on their website, usvisas.state.gov, assuring farmers and workers that the visa delay was a technical issue affecting consulates worldwide.
After more than a week’s delay, the Consulate announced July 31 that Consular Consolidated Database started printing H2A workers’ visas “at a very slow pace.”
Visa interviews are usually a two-day process, and workers have enough money for travel expenses from his/her hometown to the American Consulate and on to the job site if issued a visa. Under a normal visa interview, the farmer is responsible to reimburse the worker for the least expensive means of travel plus a specified subsistence amount per day.
Both farmers and workers were concerned about costs if workers had to return home or stay at hotel.
As a result, farmers were at least 2-3 weeks behind with their crop activities. Many weren’t able to find available, willing and qualified U.S. workers to fill in the gap for the delayed H-2A workers.
A few farmers chimed in via email about how the delay affected their farm.  Farmers’ names undisclosed to protect their privacy.
One farmer from Todd County  said he had 85 acres of tobacco that needed to be cut and hung.
“Without the additional help being able to come when expected, this process will take longer,” the farmer said. “Consequently, the tobacco that is left in the field would lose its value since it would not be cut at the proper time.”
Another farmer in Allen County said his crop harvest definitely suffered because of the delay.
“Like other crops, tobacco has a time frame that it must be harvested in, and similar to fruit left in a refrigerator, once the time frame lapses, it quickly begins to rot and becomes worthless.
“The frustrating part on the situation is that we have complied with all regulations and standards required on the H-2A program, and have elected to utilize the H-2A program vs. hiring undocumented workers. With our full faith invested into the program, we have left ourselves no other options in terms of sourcing labor, and are left to stand idle and let our crops waste in the field.”
He continued, noting that his  crop insurance only applied to natural hindrances.
“From a financial standpoint, we have implemented crop insurance on all of the crops we raise. The problem is that our crop insurance does not cover a crop that is not harvested due to lack of labor,” he said. “In an industry with extremely small margins, if we are unable to harvest our crop that we have invested several hundred thousands of dollars in, and unable to utilize the crop insurance, it will take us 5-10 years to recover, if we are ever able to recover.”
Most of all, he was upset that a glitch set back months’ worth of planning by farmers and workers.
“I know that there is a process to everything in government, but sometimes it feels like the government cannot see the forest for the trees. There has to be a solution to remedy a problem printing visas for workers who have already been vetted and approved through the standardized processes.”
Another issue that seems to be  brewing every year is the drastic change in weather patterns. The lack of rain this summer posed a problem for farmers.
A Christian County farmer said he didn’t get much sleep because of watering, and a Todd County farmer’s wife said her husband was irrigating all day every day.
“He has been doing this for going on four weeks now, and has gotten very little sleep in these four weeks,” she said.
Parts of Kentucky finally experienced some scattered showers in early August. A few thunderstorms moved across the state in late September and early October, possibly offering some relief to our farmers.

How will the end of tobacco buyout checks impact the Pennyrile?
The Tobacco Transition Payment Program, also called the tobacco buyout, was established in 2005 to help tobacco quota holders and producers transition to the free market.
Tobacco quota holders and producers who enrolled in the program have been receiving annual payments since then; however, the program ended this year. The last tobacco buyout checks were distributed in October.
At the onset of the program, some opted to take a lump-sum settlement which totaled less than what they would have received had they accepted the annual payments since 2005.
For some, the annual checks have been so small that the end of payments will not affect them. For others, the last payment checks could impact them to the point of ending their tobacco production.
When the last checks are cashed, surviving tobacco growers will be on their own forced to find profits in a very competitive global market. For right now, reports show that those who remain in the business are thriving.
How will the last buyout check impact the Pennyrile? We want to hear from our tobacco farmers. Follow “Ag Families” on Facebook to tell us how the end of the tobacco buyout will affect your farm and family.

Rural reminiscence: A fall wiener roast well done

By P.D. Dickinson

The fall season arrived and, being a farming family, this was the time of year when we were getting ready for the coming winter season.
In those days, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins lived close by,so we were together much of the time sharing work. We helped each other with crops, gardens, preserved food for winter and kept our land groomed for the upcoming planting season.
On this fall day, Grandma, Mama and my two aunts were doing household chores and canning vegetables in the kitchen. Outside, my older sister, three boys — our cousins — and I were in the yard playing a game we called “Red Light.” In the field next to our home, Daddy, Grandpa and two of my uncles were cleaning out a fence row.
We paused our game for a moment when Daddy called from the fence, “You kids come here.”
We ran excitedly to see what they wanted. I’m sure the boys hoped they might get to wield one of the axes.
Daddy asked, “You kids want to have a wiener roast tonight?”
“Yes, yes!” we exclaimed.
“See the brush cut down in the fence row?” Daddy pointed down the fence line. “That’s what we’ll burn to roast the hot dogs tonight if you’ll stack it for us.”
“Yes!” we chorused.
One of our uncles showed us where to pile the brush and said to save any straight green sticks for skewers.
The boys made it a contest between one another. They delighted in devising different games in which they could contend against each other. When the wood pile was ready, the sunny day had begun to fade into the diffuse light of early evening. Brilliant
oranges and purples streaked the evening sky overhead.
We couldn’t wait for the grown-ups to ignite the huge stack of wood. After completing our wood pile, we kids helped our grandma and mothers set up tables and chairs near the clearing where the bonfire would burn. We heard the kitchen’s screen door smack shut and looked to see Mama coming out.
She was carrying a big platter mounded with raw hot dogs and bags of fresh hot dog buns. One of our aunts came out carrying a baking pan of steaming baked beans. Another carried a big bowl of fresh potato salad and a pan of baked macaroni and cheese. Grandma came out of the kitchen last bringing her homemade chocolate pies for dessert.
With everyone pitching in to help, all was ready so Daddy set the bonfire alight. The flames flickered to life, spreading among the tangle of smaller twigs and branches first. At last it flared brightly engulfing the entire woodpile. Our mothers helped each of us spear our hot dogs on the ends of long, sharpened green-wood skewers we’d salvaged.
The tang of the burning wood stung our nostrils a little as flames and sparks reached skyward. White wood smoke drifted like ghosts high into the blackness of the sky. Occasionally, puffs of red and orange sparks would chase after them and disappear.
My eyes followed the rising smoke into the sky above where millions of twinkling stars glittered. My attention was drawn back to the bonfire by a loud “pop” that erupted within the fiery embers.
Over crackling tendrils of fire the hot dogs swelled and plumped. They smelled meaty and salty. We watched the juices glisten and ooze out of red skins to eventually drip and sizzle in the fire. Once browned — or blackened as some folks liked them — to the desired degree, we proudly brought them to the table and nestled them in
fresh buns.
As we sat relishing our meals, I glanced over at the grown-ups enjoying theirs. By the fire light, I could see the menfolk reared back in ladder-back chairs. They looked at the fence row they had chopped earlier. They discussed the past day’s work and the next day’s plans.
Daddy said, “You kids did a good job today. Look how nice and clean that fence row looks after you piled the brush for this wiener roast.”
Without awareness, we had helped with the day’s work. It was a job well done.

Rural reminiscence
Portia Dickinson, who goes by the pseudonym P.D. Dickinson, will retell a childhood memory she shared with her family on the farm in this quarterly memoir.

11 ways to protect animals from cold weather

By Susan Hurt
Photo By Tony Hurt
With winter right around the corner, many of you are wondering just what this season has in store after the bitterly cold and snow-filled winter we experienced last year. Could it possibly be as bad (or worse) this year?
According to the 2015 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac, which hit stands in late August, “the winter of 2014–15 will see below-normal temperatures for about three-quarters of the nation.”
The 198-year-old publication based in Lewiston, Maine, is calling for colder-than-normal and wetter-than-usual weather for over half of the country east of the Rocky Mountains.
It uses a secret formula based on sunspots, planetary positions and lunar cycles for its seasonal, long-range forecasts. And while no prediction is fool-proof, they did hit the nail on the head with an accurate prediction of last year’s worse-than-average winter weather.
Although it is still too early to have a firm forecast of what the winter of 2014 will bring, animal expert and veterinarian Todd Freeman believes it is never too early to plan ahead when caring for our farm friends. For that reason, Freeman shares several of his cold weather management tips for large animals.

  1. Provide adequate shelter to protect from the elements such as snow and ice.
  2. Make sure all water sources are easy to reach and free of ice or debris.
  3. Limit access to areas that are hazardous, such as ponds with ice cover.
  4. Check animals regularly and take care of sick and injured animals immediately.
  5. Keep a close eye on aged and newborn animals, as they are the most vulnerable to harsh weather.
  6. Provide good nutrition, such as quality hay and grain. Large animals have greater nutritional needs in colder weather and additional feed helps to provide needed warmth.
  7. It is important to test your feed’s nutritional value now because it is difficult for animals to maintain body condition with low-quality feed alone.
  8. Make sure all feeding/watering equipment is in working order and handling facilities are repaired as needed.
  9. Evaluate your herd for pregnancy status, udder conformation, lameness, etc., and cull all unproductive animals. Winter feed costs make up a high percentage of yearly maintenance costs.
  10. It is important to plan for colder weather in advance and make any necessary preparations.
  11. Now is the time to assess your resources to determine if you have enough supplies to get through the cold weather.

Meet the vet
Dr. Todd Freeman and his wife, Dr. Joanna Freeman, own and operate Little River Veterinary Clinic in Cadiz, where they treat animals in Trigg and the surrounding counties. For more information, email lrvccadiz@att.net or call 270-522-4445.

Vacation with your family, if only for one night

By Diane Turner
Farm families find it hard to plan vacations, especially May through September, because of demands on the farm. Sometimes a small window opens in July, or between November and February, for a quick getaway and some much needed family time.
Florida is about an eight-hour drive from Kentucky and makes for a great trip on an extended weekend. If you don’t want to drive, you can always catch a non-stop flight from Nashville to Panama City Beach. Fares are usually less expensive during farm families’ traveling months, better known as the off season.
Some airlines have sales, allowing you to fly one-way for as low as $81 and back for another $83 during the month of December. Of course, if you do choose to fly, there are limitations on baggage, and travel dates for the less expensive rate are not as flexible.
There are some great places in the Destin/Panama City Beach area to stay. Checking out websites, such as www.vrbo.com which allows you to look for condos or house rentals and contact the property manager to arrange a place to stay.
If you prefer to stay in a hotel, check with sites like www.trivago.com or use the Name Your Own Price tool at www.priceline.com. Using sites like this allows you to access extra discounts that may not be featured on the hotel websites themselves. If you use sites like this, remember that you cannot use travel points from clubs offered by the different chains, such as Marriott Rewards.
So, you’ve looked at your schedule and have decided you just do not have the time for a long weekend. There are many great places to visit here in our own state that make a great day or overnight trip.
Bowling Green makes a great day trip for families. The National Corvette Museum is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year while renovating an area of the museum where a large sinkhole to opened up in February. The sinkhole devoured eight classic Corvettes, three of which will be restored. The other five will be on display to remember the disaster.
Prices for the museum range from $5 to $10, with a family rate of $25. You can also schedule a tour of the assembly plant for $7 at
If you get hungry while you’re there, travel over to Chaney’s Dairy Barn where they offer a full lunch and dinner menu as well as their popular ice cream. Let the kids run off their meal at the Corn Maze, which is $7 and includes a scoop of ice cream, or the Jumbo Jumping Pillow, which is $5. They can also play at the Barnyard Playground for free. For more information, visit www.chaneysdairybarn.com.
For the men in the family, plan a visit to Gander Mountain or the brand new Cabela’s store. Both are free of charge, if you can get him out the door without making a purchase.
You could also travel up the road to Cave City and visit Big Mike’s Rock and Gift Shop. There is a mystery house that only charges $1 admission, and you will feel like you’ve stepped into the world of Willy Wonka.
Maybe you want to spend a weekend somewhere instead of just a day trip. Why not stay at one of Kentucky’s state parks. Cumberland Falls is a great getaway for couples and families. You can stay at the DuPont Lodge, surrounding cabins, or if you are adventurous, at one of the campsites. Some of the rooms are pet friendly with rates starting at $114.95 a night.
The park offers many great walking trails and outdoor entertainment. For those who are participating in the Family Adventure Quest, this is a way to mark a few stops off your list. For more information about this program, visit http://parks.ky.gov/family-adventure-quest/default.aspx. Completed quests must be turned in before Dec. 1.
Just a few miles up the road is the first KFC in Corbin and the Big South Fork Scenic Railway. The train offers several daytime rides with prices from $8 to $60. On Nov. 8, veterans and active-duty military ride for half price. Visit www.bsfry.com for more information.
Remember, it doesn’t matter where you go but who you travel with that makes the memories. Take some time out of your busy schedules to plan a trip that will create memories to last a lifetime.

16 things only a farmer’s wife can understand

By Melisa Morgan

  1. You know you will be thrown into single motherhood for months on end when the conditions are right.
  2. You will not be having babies in April, May, June, August, September or October.
  3. You will have unusual encounters, like when your toddler brings you an ear of corn, and you know it shouldn’t be yellow in April.
  4. You know a field is ready to harvest by biting the grain,
    and you know that weird smell in the air is corn pollinating.
  5. Your ”futures” do not involve horoscopes and psychics.
  6. Your top Web hits are The Weather Channel, Country Futures, Machinery Trader, TractorHouse or YouTube videos of farming.
  7. The word “auction” makes you cringe.
  8. Your husband says he has an appointment in the morning, and you know he is going to the USDA office, not the doctor.
  9. You wash your car not because it is dirty but because we need the rain.
  10. You always RSVP as a “maybe” to every event or social gathering because plans are not made; they just happen, and you’re ready to drop your plans at a moment’s notice because “something came up at the farm.”
  11. You treat a rainy day as a holiday or spend it planning your next spray rotation, seed selection or harvest.
  12. You find random things in your husband’s laundry, such as chalk pens, nuts, bolts, screws, drill bits, tiny screwdrivers, or lighters — and he doesn’t even smoke.
  13. Your yard maintenance is or has been done by a farm implement.
  14. You know about the latest farming techniques and are always privy to new legislation affecting the farming industry.
  15. You are aware that prices in the store are going up before they actually do due to your own costs.
  16. You keep your work boots right beside your high heels, so you’re ready at a moment’s notice.

Family strengthens bond through 4-H

By Toni W. Riley
It would be hard to find three girls who are more enthusiastic about 4-H shows than the daughters of Brock and Laura Sargeant.
Sofia, 12, Sarah Anne, 10, and Susanna, 7, light up when they talk about livestock competitions and the great deal of work that goes into winning a first-place ribbon.
The three sisters started showing heifers last year after encouragement from their parents. Continue reading

Brothers manage risks through diversification

By Susan Hurt
It has been said that farming is “in the blood,” and for the Underhill family that statement holds true. Brothers Kerry and Mike Underhill have been farming since they were old enough to ride on the fender of their daddy’s tractor. Before either could legally drive, both boys were well on their way to learning the family business, which has been passed down for several generations. Continue reading