Frigid Weather = Soup Weather

FRIGID – the only word to describe today!!  My phone says -21…feels like -43!  I have to admit – I have not left the house.  The sun is shining, but oh so cold! The guys are busy getting calves fed.  Looks like machinery has started so far. That is always a relief in this kind of weather.  A few minutes ago Jacob came in to see if I was staying warm!!  He had his ear flapper hat on as he stood over the register to warm his feet.  A new group of calves arrived late last Wednesday night and since then the weather has been brutal!  The barn for these calves is set up so they have feeding bunks and automatic waterers outside which usually works great!  However, they knew that young calves in a new environment would not like to go outside to eat in this weather.  Eating and drinking in this kind of weather is especially important for livestock.  So, they put feed tubs and water tanks in the building.  However, this requires filling the water tanks a couple times a day with hoses!  Well, you know what happens to hoses when left outside in this kind of weather!  So, for the last week, twice a day; they come to the house with hoses in tow down the basement stairs.  (Sometimes I help hold the door open!)  Last week the well was frozen.  This required trips to the house to fetch hot water to thaw out the well.  (My basement stairs are not very pretty right now…but who wants to take their boots off just to walk up and down the stairs?!)

snow blowing12419The month of January found us selling pigs.  The buildings are warm!  I just need a walkway from the house to the pig barns!  Now, the challenge is to keep the buildings warm so the water pipes do not freeze.  When the buildings are full of big pigs, the body heat from the pigs help to heat it.  When we get new pigs in in a couple of weeks the buildings will be warmed close to 70 degrees. Since the barns are empty, the heaters are running to keep the temperature above freezing.  It is hard to believe, but our “new” building is twelve years old; therefore repairs and replacements happen.  Yesterday, the guys put in a few new heaters to make sure we would have heat in there today!

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Next time we sell pigs this scene will be a little different…green grass and a growing garden!

Snickers, the farm dog – fair weather farm dog I might add- has been in the tractor, pick up or curled up on the couch (as she is now) for the majority of the time the past week!


Last Saturday was a little warmer and I got the honor of opening gates to put corn stalk bales in for the cattle in the hoops here at home.  It really was better than I thought. No wind which makes a huge difference.


They love their fresh sheets!   Better stop recording and open a gate!


This is the best way to spend a frigid winter day!  Kennedy has her toys and Snickers has her toys!


Grandpa Kevin has two beggars! We got tired of waiting for Dad and Grandpa, so we had already eaten, but I think someone else thinks a little more would be OK.


All bundled up!!


Here are some of MY FAVORITE SOUP RECIPES that I shared a year ago!  Stay warm!

Take care,


Spring (Summer) Update and an Easy BEEF Recipe When It is Too Hot to Cook

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Sweet Corn – May 30, 2018


Sweet Corn – May 23, 2018


Sweet Corn – May 16, 2018

Snickers is posing for a sweet corn photo shoot.  She really thought it was too hot!  It does feel like summer today here in central Iowa.  The corn is really growing.  My goal is to take pictures each week of the sweet corn, field corn, and soybeans and share them with you!  Well, I have taken the pictures, but as you see I am a little behind posting them.  So, here are quite a few pictures.  Things have really changed in the last few weeks!



CORN – Wednesday, May 30, 2018


CORN – Wednesday, May 23, 2018



CORN – Wednesday, May 16, 2018



SOYBEANS – May 23 and May 30, 2018

Planting corn began the last of April. We had a cold April, so it is amazing that the corn and soybeans are planted and growing!   It almost feels like we have gone from winter to summer.  April 18 we had snow!  Today it was a little cooler – 84 degrees!  We experienced three record high days this past weekend.  (High 90’s!)  We are now praying for rain!  We even mowed hay and it hasn’t rained!






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Where have the twenty-five years gone?

Like father, like daughter!  How can this be that this little boy in the car seat (above) that would take dinner and seed out to his daddy is the daddy of the little girl in the car seat this spring who is now taking seed to her daddy?


Filling the planter!  Those seed corn bags sure are much heavier than they were thirty years ago!   (Maybe that is what becoming a grandma does to you!)


My job in the spring – hauling seed.  I thought I better stop for fuel. It would not be a fun phone call if the planter was ready for seed and I was sitting on the side of the rode needing fuel!  We used a seed tender to plant beans!  Much better than bags.   Grandpa Van thinks so too!!


Sweet Corn Planter

The planter that is used to plant J and E’s Delicious Sweet Corn.  I saw it go to the field for another planting Friday afternoon.


Kevin was busy spraying corn last week. We were thankful for some good spraying days – little or no wind.  The crops need to be sprayed at the right time.   This is the water tank that they use to transport the water to the field instead of bringing the sprayer home each time to fill.  I got the call from Jacob, “Can you come pick me up in a little bit?”  (It is always interesting to figure out when a little bit is.)  So, that means he is meeting his dad in the field to fill the sprayer.

In addition to spring field work in May, we also had the opportunity to host around 200 local kindergarten children and parents as they conclude their unit study of the farm.  Rolling down the hill is always a hit!  The FFA students serve as tour guides and help assemble SMORES.

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Besides planting corn, soybeans, and sweet corn; Jacob also likes to plant a garden.


We eat quite a few sandwiches in the spring, but every now and then it is great to have something warm.  The following recipe is easy to throw together (especially if you have your hamburger already browned like Kate does) and is great for the hot weather days when you want a hot meal, but do not want to heat up the oven.  Of course, hamburgers or steaks on the grill will also fill the bill.

Busy Day Crock Pot Lasagna

1 bag of frozen cheese ravioli (25 oz.)

1 lb. ground beef, browned (I like to add chopped onion.)

3 (14 or 15 oz.) cans of crushed tomatoes*

1 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning

1 Tbsp. garlic salt

4 cups of mozzarella cheese

¼ cup Parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. In a large skillet brown the beef completely.  You may also add chopped onion here.  (Drain fat.)
  2. Stir in tomatoes and seasonings
  3. In a six quart crock pot, cover the bottom with some of the sauce.
  4. Place a layer of ravioli over the sauce.
  5. Place a layer of mozzarella cheese over the sauce.
  6. Repeat layers of meat sauce and ravioli.
  7. End with a layer of meat sauce on top.
  8. Then top with remaining mozzarella cheese and add the parmesan on top.
  9. Cook on low for four hours.
  10. Turn off and let sit for about 15 minutes before you serve.
  11. Serve with your favorite side salad and garlic bread.

*For tomatoes I have used one 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes and a pint of salsa.  You can substitute home canned tomatoes (chopped). Also, if you use tomatoes that already have salt added, I would only use half of the garlic salt.

Recipe source: Eating on a Dime

Stay cool and take care,


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


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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

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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!