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    At The Farm Gate

    A time to celebrate family, food and its affordability
    11/01/2020 @ 2:00 pm | By Joanie Stiers

    To my surprise, our son recently announced how much he loves Thanksgiving. Keep in mind, this comes from a kid who started his Christmas wish list in August. For a couple weeks this fall, he and his sister discussed whether our 10-month-old farm dog should dress as a delivery driver or a hot dog for Halloween.

    At the Farm Gate

    Porktober: Time to Salute Pork
    10/02/2020 @ 3:05 pm | By Joanie Stiers

    My husband had never acted so delighted about supper.
    He sat on the porch in anticipation of my first attempt at barbecued baby back ribs on our new smoker. He inhaled the smoky aroma from his porch seat, sipped a choice beverage, and voiced approval during the final un-foiling of the fare.
    The pile of rib bones after the meal told the finger-licking tale: I had found his new favorite meal.

    At the Farm Gate

    Harvest routine brings normalcy during pandemic
    09/03/2020 @ 9:00 am | By Joanie Stiers

    I hold out hope that the upcoming harvest season delivers a 60-day dose of normalcy, seldom felt since COVID-19 changed our lives. The pandemic-friendly activity naturally isolates us to the cabs of trucks, tractors, and combines. We drive all day yet stay within a 15-mile radius of home. And as usual, our social schedule works around the priority task of harvest, an easier feat this year now that COVID-19 has cleared the calendar.

    At the Farm Gate

    Corn Engrained in Lifestyle
    08/02/2020 @ 11:30 am | By Joanie Stiers

    We named our puppy Maizey, playing on the corn phrase “maize.” The name seemed fitting for a yellow-colored Labrador and a tribute to the crop at the root of our livelihoods. We also thought the name was unique until we learned the farmer two miles south calls his dog the same.

    At the Farm Gate

    Roots run deep in the garden
    07/01/2020 @ 10:40 am | By Joanie Stiers

    I literally followed Mom’s footsteps into my gardening hobby. As a youngster, I walked behind my mom while she guided the tiller across the garden. When her heel lifted from the freshly tilled soil, I put mine down onto her footprint that formed in the soft black medium for vegetable seeds and transplants. I stretched to reach each footprint, careful not to step on her heel as she slowly guided the front-tine machine.

    At the Farm Gate

    Raise a Glass to Dairy Month
    06/02/2020 @ 9:00 am | By Joanie Stiers

    While the COVID-19 pandemic prompted many Americans to hoard toilet paper, I chose milk. I panic-purchased five gallons in late March for our family of four in case I needed to freeze some. Rather, we made smoothies and milkshakes to consume it before the best-by date.

    At the Farm Gate

    Planting presses through another unprecedented season
    05/01/2020 @ 11:25 am | By Joanie Stiers

    When the wall calendar changed in January, we looked to the 2020 planting season with anxious optimism. Our family, farm friends, and even fields needed a fresh start after 2019. Last year’s growing season was brutal, from its unprecedented widespread planting delays and trade wars to a muddy harvest that crept into the month of December.

    At the Farm Gate

    Farm stewardship celebrated on Earth Day
    04/02/2020 @ 12:00 pm | By Joanie Stiers

    Every April after an evening mushroom hunt in the timber, the sunset’s glow across the home farm triggers a connective feeling to the land that I struggle to describe.

    At The Farm Gate

    "Calving Cameras Intend to Simplify Season"
    03/01/2020 @ 10:10 am | By Joanie Stiers

    How we care for our farm’s small herd of beef cows gives off a nostalgic vibe: The lineage of the cows traces back to Grandpa’s herd. Cows give birth to calves in the shelter of a century-old barn. Hedge posts harvested from the farm frame the pasture fence, and we paid the local FFA chapter to build the feed bunks in the cattle lots.

    At the Farm Gate

    Blue eggs, baby birds beat winter blahs
    02/01/2020 @ 9:00 am | By Joanie Stiers

    The promise of blue eggs from a chirping cardboard box helps beat the winter blahs at our house this season. Oh, how some tales from our household could form a nonsensical storybook. Yet, even Dr. Seuss didn’t put this color of egg into rhymes nor did he illustrate the century-old tradition of chicken delivery via the U.S. Postal Service, America’s exclusive shipper of live chicks.

    At The Farm Gate

    "Good Food Brings Winter Comfort"
    01/03/2020 @ 7:30 am | By Joanie Stiers

    These days, my husband’s favorite supper of roast beef with mashed potatoes, gravy and homemade rolls prompts him to ask, “What’s the occasion?” My response: “We’re home.”

    At the Farm Gate

    Memories around the tree glow bright
    12/01/2019 @ 9:15 am | By Joanie stiers

    Six Christmas trees help set the holiday mood in our home.

    My husband keeps a different tally, pointing out that our indoor forest calculates to a few dozen evergreens when you count the 12-inch trees atop the kitchen cupboards and the backdrop to our nativity display. Don’t forget the tabletop trees that surround my Christmas barns, nor the set of trees cut from aged barn wood displayed on our bathroom counter. In the kitchen, we decorate a pencil tree with old family cookie cutters, a personal favorite.

    At the Farm Gate

    Harvest Traditions Shine Through Challenges
    11/01/2019 @ 8:20 am | By Joanie Stiers

    Much of what I love about farm life convenes in a corn field on a harvest evening: crisp fall air, incredible sunsets, comfort foods and the synergy of family and employees-who-are-like-family working together to gather the harvest. Ideally, only the delivery of a hot meal interrupts the harvest pace, not a breakdown.

    At the Farm Gate

    Back to School not business as usual
    09/01/2019 @ 4:30 am | By Joanie Stiers

    A classic yellow school bus against a cornfield backdrop on a rural road says American as much as the homemade ice cream we crank for the Fourth of July. Sometimes, I snap a photo of the approaching bus as it rounds the bend, stirring a dust cloud on the gravel road to our home farm.

    At the Farm Gate

    Small stuff softens Stressful Summer
    08/01/2019 @ 7:45 am | By Joanie Stiers

    Spots nibbles contently off the top of his feed pile. Hunter likes to burrow his face in the twice-daily ration, And Shadow attacks his feed trough like an alligator; the white pig with a shadow of red on his back swoops the length of the trough for a mouthful, lifts his head to swallow, and rapidly returns for more like a competitive eater.

    At the Farm Gate

    Storm of stressors strike Farm Country
    07/01/2019 @ 8:30 am | By Joanie Stiers

    Some call this spring’s collision of farm stressors the perfect storm. Unprecedented planting delays trouble farmers throughout the Corn Belt. Long-duration flooding halts barge movement of crops and fertilizer. A trade agreement with our nation’s neighbors needs ratified to improve markets. Agency actions reduce ethanol volumes and thus corn demand.

    At the Farm Gate

    Cousins bond on and off farm
    06/01/2019 @ 9:45 am | By Joanie Stiers

    When’s the next time we’re going to see our cousins?”

    That question takes the No. 2 spot behind, “What are we doing tomorrow?” from the mouth of our 11-year-old son. Primarily, he wants to know when “something fun” makes the itinerary, and cousins always fit that description.

    At the Farm Gate

    Bud not such a Buddy
    04/01/2019 @ 9:00 am | By Joanie Stiers

    The Super Bowl beer advertisement brewed belly-aches in my living room full of corn farmers. For a pain-staking 60 seconds, we watched Bud Light knights transport an oversized and unwanted barrel marked “corn syrup” in its medieval-themed advertisement.

    At the Farm Gate

    Modern moms, Manure and Monarchs Mainstream, unusual mix on the farm
    03/01/2019 @ 8:00 am | By Joanie Stiers

    You could call me a modern, mainstream mom at times: I use grocery pickup services. The touch of a smartphone app locates my 13-year-old’s missing cell phone. And home-delivery subscriptions supply our household’s toilet paper and laundry detergent.

    At the Farm Gate

    Agriculture Hopes Pain Leads to Long-Term Trade Gain
    02/01/2019 @ 9:00 am | By Joanie Stiers

    On a recent winter night, my silent kids in the back seat reminded me of the bedtime car rides that rocked me to a light slumber as a child. With my childhood eyes closed, the car’s sounds and motions acted as my GPS between Grandma’s house and our rural abode.

    At the Farm Gate

    Best Bargains Made Early on Farm Supply Buys
    01/02/2019 @ 10:00 am | By Joanie Stiers

    My husband will attest that my obsession with holiday-time bargains unleashed when the kids slept. Morning and night, I glanced through bookmarked web-pages for product price drops in November and December.

    Farm Gate

    Farm creates country-style Christmas
    12/01/2018 @ 8:20 am | By Joanie Stiers

    I love this time of year. My infatuation with the holiday season seems fitting for a Christmas Eve baby who literally traveled home from the hospital in a Christmas stocking. I’m so in love with the Christmas season that my husband and I decorated a “wedding tree” at our late-summer reception in the farm shop: a 12-foot scotch pine under which guests placed presents – the tree itself was a gift from the local Christmas tree farm.

    Farm Gate

    Farmers work to put harvest on the done list!
    10/01/2018 @ 7:20 am | By Joanie Stiers

    I vividly remember looking over the spiral-bound, wide-ruled notebook folded open on Grandpa’s farm shop bench. On the paper, he scribed a list of things to do in thick pencil lead and all capital letters. His distinctive, slanted, all-caps handwriting emulated the feeling of authority and speed with its raw, yet refined, formation of words.

    Farm Gate

    Friends Celebrate a Century of Farm Bureau Impact
    09/02/2018 @ 7:15 am | By Joanie Stiers

    Farmer Dale delighted passengers with rides in his 1919 Ford Model T on that pleasant summer evening at the fairgrounds. The ride from yesteryear stirred thoughts about how the automobile dramatically changed life. Those thoughts continued under a nearby tent, where tractors from every decade of the last century sat on display. The earliest models replaced horses in a dramatic shift for farm life and food production.

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