January – A Great Month for Soup and Snuggles!

On a cold snowy day in January, when the wind is howling, nothing warms the body like a warm bowl of homemade soup;  while an afternoon of snuggles warms the soul!

Jacob has been busy taking care of babies this winter!  (Actually, Kate is busy taking care of Kennedy while Jacob takes care of the calves!)  After spending a cold morning outside, I got to enjoy an afternoon of snuggles!  As a grandma, I am taking advantage of as much snuggle time as I can.  The dishes, the house, the emails, and other things that I thought I HAD to get done when my own children slept CAN WAIT!  AND I DO NOT FEEL A BIT GUILTY!!


One of our favorite soups is CHILI.  I love CHILI, because it is so easy to throw together.  In addition, we raise all the ingredients on our farm with the exception of the chili beans and the chili powder.



2 lbs. hamburger  (browned and seasoned with Chili powder, garlic salt, and onion)

1 quart canned tomatoes

1 quart canned tomato soup (See recipe for Tomato Soup link below.)

1 large can Mrs Grimes Chili Beans

1 small can Mrs. Grimes Tex Mex Chili Beans

Combine all and simmer in large pan or crock pot.

Three more of my standby soups include the following: Tomato Soup,  Wild Rice Soup,  Chicken Noodle Soup . In addition, I have also included the recipe for Savory Potato Cheese Soup.  


7-8 potatoes, cubed

4-5 celery stalks, chopped

4-5 carrots, sliced

¼ onion, chopped

1 tsp. salt

5-6 slices of bacon

5-6 slices of ham

10 Tbsp. melted butter

5 Tbsp. cornstarch

5 cups milk

1 lb. Velveeta cheese

Place potatoes, celery, carrots, onion, and salt in large pan.  Cover with water and boil until done.

While vegetables are cooking, cut bacon into small pieces and fry.

Make a white sauce combining butter and cornstarch and adding milk. Cook until thickened.

Add white sauce, bacon, and ham to cooked vegetables (do not drain vegetables).  Just before serving, add one pound of Velveeta cheese (½ box or 2 packages of shredded).

This does take a little time to prep, but it is well worth it!


Speaking of soup, I am including a great classroom resource that I like to share with teachers when working with Ag in the Classroom.

Who Grew My Soup? by Tom Darbyshire tells the story of young Phineas Quinn and his questions about the vegetable soup his mom serves for lunch.


 Click here for lesson plans from National Agriculture in the Classroom to go with Who Grew My Soup? help students learn where vegetables are grown.

Enjoy a bowl of soup this week!




Wordless Wednesday – Fall 2017


Kate PregOct17

We are so excited to become grandparents sometime this month! Photo credit – Nikki Renaud



Emily’s first day of school as the Agriculture and Biology teacher at Dowling Catholic.

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Jacob and his helpers – The Lewis Boys


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snick semi

Snickers got in on the harvest action. Photo credit – Bing Bang and Iowa Corn


Jacob  harvests  his Wyffels corn test plot.  Photo credit – Bing Bang and Iowa Corn

Jacob serious face

Jacob is focused on the job today!  Photo credit – Bing Bang and Iowa Corn



Grandpa’s job this fall was driving grain cart. Photo credit – Bing Bang and Iowa Corn


The Holsteins enjoy corn! – Photo credit – Bing Bang and Iowa Corn


Allyson from Iowa Corn enjoys socializing with the cattle.  Photo credit – Bing Bang and Iowa Corn


October 31 – Another beautiful fall day!  Photo credit – Bing Bang and Iowa Corn


Getting ready for next year’s crop.  A beautiful fall to apply some anhydrous. 

Christmas Lights

Emily put up her Christmas lights during Thanksgiving break!  (Grandma and Grandpa’s and Jacob and Kate’s too.)  

Spring 2017 and Red Velvet Cake

WOW!  The month of May is gone and the crops are in the ground and are growing faster than I am getting this published.  It has been another whirlwind spring.


Jacob is planting his test plot.  The seed corn bags he uses for this are much smaller than the regular bags.  (Actually, I prefer the little bags.  This gal is too old to lift those 66+ lbs. bags!)

Kevin applied anhydrous. Read  The Blomme’n Coop  for a great explanation of this process.  In addition, the Iowa Ag Literacy Foundation has an excellent article on fertilizer too.

All corn and soybeans have been planted.  The first few pictures show Jacob planting his seed test plot. This is actually the beginning of next year’s 2018 planting season. In the test plot he will plant several different seed varieties in a small area.  In addition to farming, Jacob sells seed for Wyffels Hybrids. Besides making decisions for the farm, it is also a great way for Jacob’s customers to see the many different seed options available.

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Jacob and Snick Test Plot17

Snickers is helping plant the test plot.

Snick and Jacob in the tractor

Snickers loves every opportunity to ride in the tractor!  (I’ve found out that Jacob is more receptive of his picture being taken if the dog is with him!)

Jacob played adult basketball at the YMCA in Newton.  They had an exciting last game and ended up coming from behind to win the championship!  The season did overlap a little with spring planting.  The picture on the right shows what a farmer’s pickup looks like in the spring when he goes from the field to the basketball court.

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Jacob is filling the planter with corn. These bags are a little bigger than the earlier pictures.

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The marker makes a line to follow for the next row.

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Jacob usually does a great job of staying on the mark.



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This field is a nice flat “river bottom” piece of ground.  Notice the field has a strip of grass between the river and the field to protect the river from any runoff that might occur.

This spring Snickers discovered that sometimes what may appear to be a cat to chase is actually a skunk!  Snickers learned this the hard way!  So, this experience definitely required a bath!  Thanks to Emily she got a triple rinse that day.


Miss Van Manen (Emily) enjoyed her student teaching experience at Newton under the direction of Mr. Horn this spring.

Emily and Mr. Horn

Emily and Mr. Horn at the FFA Banquet.


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Emily with student and family friend, Jenna Smith.


We did take the first Saturday in May off to attend Emily’s graduation from Iowa State University.  It was a beautiful day!  (Watching our youngest graduate from college makes us feel a little older!)  Grandma B., Grandpa and Grandma Van, cousin Heather, Jacob, and Kate helped us celebrate.

Emily Grad 1

Emily Graduation2


In addition to planting, we have also been selling hogs this past month.  This week we will empty the buildings and begin preparing for a new group of pigs scheduled to arrive in a couple of weeks.  Emily has enjoyed being able to help out with this task this summer!



We finished planting (with the exception of a few beans that we just planted last week in a hay field, after baling  the hay) on May 16, which was also Kevin’s birthday.  So, we celebrated with his favorite cake – RED VELVET.

Red Velvet Cake


Recipe from Aunt Dee – Jansen Family Cookbook

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 cup butter (I usually use 1 stick margarine and 1 stick butter)

1 (1 oz.) bottle red food coloring

1 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

2 1/3 cup cake flour

2 tsp. dry cocoa

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. vinegar

1 tsp. baking soda

Cream butter and sugar together for about five minutes.  Add food coloring, vanilla, and eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one.  Sift flour and cocoa together.  Combine buttermilk, vinegar, and baking soda.  Add alternately with flour mixture.  Mix after each addition. Bake in layer pans (lightly greased with Crisco and floured) or 1 large flat pan. Bake layers 35 minutes and 9″x13″ 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

The frosting recipe can be found here.

The last few days have definitely felt like summer!  So, it is time to break out the recipes that do not require the oven!

Have a great first full week of June!


Happy National Banana Cream Pie Day!

March 2 – It is National Banana Cream Pie Day!  Jacob’s favorite pie!  Grandma  B. spoils him by making it quite a bit.  One year he even requested it for his birthday and Grandma delivered!  So, today I am sharing the recipe for Banana Cream Pie.


The birthday pie on the musical cake carousel.


Grandpa and Grandma B. with Jacob and his birthday Banana Cream Pie.


¾ c. sugar

1/3 c. all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

¼ tsp. salt

2 cups milk

3 slightly beaten egg yolks (You will need the egg whites for the meringue.)

2 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1 9 inch baked pastry shell (see recipe below)

Meringue (see recipe below)

In saucepan, combine sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt; gradually stir in milk.  Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens.  Cook 2 minutes longer.  Remove from heat.  Stir small amount of mixture into yolks; return to hot mixture; cook 2 minutes stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add butter and vanilla. Cool to room temperature.  (To prevent a crust from forming, put clear plastic wrap or waxed paper directly on top of pudding.)  Pour into baked pastry shell.


Beat 3 egg whites with ¼ tsp. cream of tartar, and ½ tsp. vanilla until soft peaks form.  Gradually add 6 Tbsps. sugar, beating until stiff peaks form and all sugar is dissolved.  Spread atop pie, sealing to pastry.  Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) about 12 to 15 minutes, or until meringue is golden.  Cool.


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

2/3 cup shortening

5 to 7 Tbsp. cold water

Sift together flour and salt; cut shortening with pastry blender or blending fork.  Add water very slowly until moistened.  (Too much water will make the dough too tough, but too little will make the crust dry and it will fall apart when you are working with it.)  Form into ball.  (This recipe will make two single – crust pies shells or one double crust.)

Flatten ball on lightly floured surface.  Roll from center to edge until dough is 1/8 inch thick. (When transferring the crust to the pie plate, fold it in half or quarter to transport it to pie plate.) Fit pastry into pie plate, trim ½ to 1 inch beyond edge, fold under and flute edge by pressing dough with forefinger against wedge made of finger and thumb of other hand.  Prick bottom and sides with fork.  Bake in a very hot oven (450 degrees) for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.

Enjoy a slice of banana cream pie.

On a side note – if you do not have time to make pie today – Aunt Dee makes delicious pie for the Coffee Cup Cafe in Sully.


Memory Monday – February 27th

February 27 – a day that brings many fond memories for us.  First, my dad (Grandpa B. would have been 90 today.  He was a man who did his job, and pretty much kept to himself.  We (especially Grandma B.) were always amused how involved he was with his grandchildren!  He did things with them that he never did with my sister and I!  It was just my sister and I; and, Jacob and Emily are the only grandchildren on that side of the family. Dad  retired from John Deere Des Moines in Ankeny (good thing I married a John Deere farmer – sometimes when we would buy parts we would tell Dad that we were contributing to his pension fund) before we had children, so Grandpa and Grandma B.  took care of J & E quite a bit; and Grandpa loved to mow, so he would help me out by mowing the yard.  Being a tool and die maker  – perfection was one of his strong points.  So, we had to explain to him that a farmyard usually has a few dandelions and does not need to look quite as prefect as a town yard!


Dad was a good basketball player in high school.   So, you can imagine his excitement when Jacob played high school basketball.  Seven years ago, on Dad’s 83rd birthday, Jacob’s high school basketball team, the Lynnville-Sully Hawks, played the game that earned them the honor of playing in the state tournament.


February 27, 2010 – What a great birthday present for Grandpa B.!!

For Meatful Monday and in honor of Grandpa B. – click here to see the recipe for ham balls, one of Grandpa B.’s favorite recipes.


Enjoy each day with family and take lots of pictures!  (I was going to post this earlier tonight, but I was distracted by old pictures as I walked down memory lane.)

Have a great week!





National Wear Blue Day to Celebrate National FFA Week

Across the nation this week National FFA week has been celebrated.  FFA is one of the three parts of an integrated agricultural education program which also includes classroom instruction and a supervised agricultural experience (SAE).  With the exception of myself, all members of my immediate family have been involved with FFA.  So, I thought today would be a good day to share some pictures of the blue jackets. Emily, or I should say Miss Van Manen, is still involved as she is currently student teaching at Newton Senior High School under the direction of Mr. Horn. She left for school early this morning in order to assist the FFA officers as they prepared breakfast for the faculty as one of the activities to celebrate National FFA week.

It has been fun to witness Miss Van Manen prepare for her teaching experience each day! In the picture below you find Emily (Miss Van Manen)  with her students.  In front of Miss Van Manen(2nd from right) is Logan.  Logan is our neighbor and he has worked for us for the last four  years as part of his SAE project – that could be an entire blog post!


Miss Van Manen with her FFA students at the Iowa State Capitol.

Following is  a little background and definition of FFA:

The letters “FFA” stand for Future Farmers of America. These letters are a part of our history and our heritage that will never change. But FFA is not just for students who want to be production farmers; FFA also welcomes members who aspire to careers as teachers, doctors, scientists, business owners and more. For this reason, the name of the organization was updated in 1988 after a vote of national convention delegates to reflect the growing diversity and new opportunities in the industry of agriculture.

Today, the National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.

FFA continues to help the next generation rise up to meet those challenges by helping its members to develop their own unique talents and explore their interests in a broad range of agricultural career pathways. So today, we are still the Future Farmers of America. But, we are the Future Biologists, Future Chemists, Future Veterinarians, Future Engineers and Future Entrepreneurs of America, too. – National FFA website

Now for a few pictures that highlight the FFA experiences of my family as they proudly wore the blue jackets.

Read about Miss Van Manen in the Newton Daily News as she shares her FFA experiences and explains why she is doing what she is doing today!


“Van Manen hopes for future in ag education and FFA”  was the caption in the Newton Daily News and “Major Change” was the headline of the article in the Central Iowa AG Mag  that featured Emily in March 2014.


Emily and her friend Kristin Samson prepare to walk in the FFA Parade of Champions at the Iowa State Fair.


One of my favorites of Emily taken during her senior picture photo shoot by Four Seasons Photography


Emily and her friend Mikalya Vos


Cousin Dillon and Emily


Jacob was not quite as active in FFA as Emily; however, he really enjoyed exhibiting at the Iowa State Fair and won several awards in the horticulture division.  He still enjoys gardening and competing in the horticulture open class division at the Iowa State Fair.

Jacob’s love of gardening and his passion for the sweet corn business can be linked to his interest from his FFA projects and inspiration from his FFA advisor, Mr. Lowry.


Photo credit to Joe Murphy, Iowa Soybean Association

Kate was an active member of the Sioux Central FFA in NW Iowa.  She and Emily both had the opportunity to be presidents of their respective FFA chapters.


And…last but not least – here is Kevin in his FFA jacket in 1978.  Emily had fun last night modeling her dad’s jacket and comparing pins on their jackets, and comparing the colors of the emblems and lettering.


If FFA was or is still a part of your life, I hope this blog post brings to mind some of your own memories.  On the other hand, if you do not know much about FFA, I hope you have learned a few things.

Happy National FFA week and have a great Friday!


Winter (Spring) Update and an Easy Recipe – Potatoes, Broccoli, and Bologna

WOW!  The weather the past couple of weeks certainly does not feel like February in Iowa!  This afternoon it was 72 degrees and I was skimming some leaves off of the top of the pool with a T-shirt on!  I think that is about to change tomorrow.  Oh well, I am not quite ready for yard work yet!  Today I am including a few of the happenings on the farm this last month.

Jacob doing some serious thinking.  (This was obviously not today as he would have roasted in his coveralls!)  Are the markets up?  What do we need to sell the group of cattle for next year to make a profit?  How much corn do we need to keep for feed?  Who will buy our Holsteins(black and white cattle)?  (Tyson, a large cattle  buyer has not been buying Holsteins for a few months!  Not a good thing!!)  We know our black and whites make just as good if not better steaks and hamburger as any other breed of cattle!!


Last month we received a new group of pigs!


On the day our new pigs arrived we had the opportunity to do a Farm Skype with a 4th grade class in Waukee ( west of Des Moines).  I think Farmer Jacob did a good job of answering the students’ questions.  They wanted him to pick up a pig; so he did. (I need to practice my technology skills.)


When the roads and fields were dry we were able to haul some natural fertilizer (cattle manure)  for our crops that we will plant this spring.  Speaking of hauling manure – today Kevin attended a class this afternoon in order to receive a required certification to haul and apply manure.


It has been so nice outside!  This weather makes it so much more enjoyable to open gates!


Saturday morning  – when Jacob hollered in the house, “Mom, what are you doing?  I need a gate opener.” –  I must admit, I let out a groan as I had just started a project; however, after enjoying the warmth and beauty of the morning, I was glad I was able to open gates while Jacob put in cornstalk bales for bedding and hay in the hay bunks.


                                                      The sky really was that blue!


This is what a whole beef and 1/4 looks like when it is ready to be consumed!  Thanks to our local locker we have fresh beef.  The newlywed were happy to get their first 1/4 beef with their name on it!  The back sacks are meat we canned in quart jars.  It is so handy for beef and noodles, BBQ beef, or hot beef sundaes!


Well, we moved Jacob out in November, and we moved Emily back home as she is student teaching in Newton.  She keeps busy working on lesson plans.  30 years ago I did not use a laptop to do such things!  Snickers thinks Emily needs a study break!!


Today I was working from home – so I wanted a quick dinner.  I had some broccoli that needed to be used.  Thought about baked potatoes, but it was too hot!  I have not made this for quite some time (Jacob acted like he didn’t even remember it)!  So here is a quick, easy recipe.


Potatoes – one per person, cooked and mashed,

Broccoli – cooked (fresh or frozen)

Bologna – one ring, chopped finely (The original recipe I have says to grind it.)

(Today I used deer bologna. I know I usually use our own beef and pork; however, in a way we feed the deer too!  The guys take the opportunity to do some hunting the first week of December – they call it “crop protection”!  Yes, we usually see a herd of deer crossing the road each day!  They were extremely hard on one section of the sweet corn this summer.)

Combine potatoes, broccoli, and bologna, and add some (lots of) butter!  Season with salt and pepper.


You see chunks of cheese in the picture, because the bologna I used had cheese chunks in it.

One last update for today.  On Wednesday afternoons I have had the opportunity to help out with our STARS program at church.  Currently I have a crew of children that I  lead to Bible memory, a Bible story, and an activity.  Today our activity was constructing robots.  Here is Conner, one of my crew members with my friend, Karna, who is also a crew leader.


Have a great rest of the week!