This year more than others, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own memories of harvest time on the farm.  It could be because this is our first harvest season without both of my grandpas as we lost both within two months this winter.  It could be because I have found myself dating a non-farmer and it seems that so many of the references I take for granted need explaining to him.

Most likely, it’s just a series of things I’ve read and comments made that spark recognition as I travel through these harvest days.

And, weird though it may be, I don’t have a lot of memories of taking supper to the field.  I know that it’s a common childhood memory for most farm kids, and I do remember taking a sandwich out to the field now and then, but mostly I remember us eating at 4:30 or 5 and mom waiting because she was going to eat at 10 or later when dad came in.

But these – these are a part of my childhood.  My mom called these “Goodbars” and I remember her making them and taking them out to the field.  They were an amazing snack to get the guys through long hours sitting in the combine or tractor.



goodbars1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 1/2 cups oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

BEAT butter and sugars in large bowl until creamy. Add eggs, milk and vanilla extract; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda and salt; mix well. Stir in oats, morsels and nuts; mix well. Press dough onto bottom of ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

BAKE for 30 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack; cut into bars. Store tightly covered.

iced teaAnd, although I’m sure most people would enjoy these with a glass of milk, our guys always ate them with a glass of iced tea from an old Nestea canister with a green lid like this one.

Goofy, isn’t it?  These little memories made up the fabric of our childhood and come barreling out when you least expect it.

Maybe you’ll consider celebrating harvest with me by enjoying my family’s harvest traditions?

Mitchell_LindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager


As an Agriculture Communications major and not having much of a background in agriculture, let me tell you how much I am learning about this incredible industry, and more importantly, the leaders of this industry.

One big lesson that I have learned is that some of the most accepting and loving people come from the world of agriculture. Many people have their special talents but I’ve learned that it’s farmers that are my superheros!

farmer superheroThese are just some of the ways farmers are different than superheroes:

  1. They don’t wear their underwear on the outside of their pants.

2. They don’t have an alter ego to hide their super-heroness-they just own it. Farmers aren’t anybody but themselves and they’re proud of it!

3. They feed the world, instead of fighting crime.

4. Their capes are actually farmer hats

5. Their mode of transportation doesn’t fly but has four-wheel drive. Farmers need four-wheel drive to pull and load heavy farm equipment

john deere case6. Farmers work past bedtime to make sure the days work is done. Being a farmer is a lot of hard work! A farmer works around the clock to make sure daily chores are accomplished. This isn’t no nine to five job!

7. Their kryptonite is the battle to choose between red or green. Will it be John Deere or Case International? Which one is better?

8. Farmers don’t wear tights they wear fashionable flannel.

9. Their idea of a vacation is coming back with a farmers tan. A farmer’s tan refers to the tan lines developed by a working farmer regularly exposed to the sun. The farmer’s tan is usually started with a suntan covering only the arms and neck. It is distinct in that the shoulders, chest, and back remain unaffected by the sun.

10. Their partners in crime may cluck or moo but they will always be there for you. There is no greater bond than an animal and it’s caretaker!

Farmers are so much more than just superheroes. They are one of a kind. I have so much respect for theses men, woman and families who work around the clock to provide each and every one of us food, and other vital resources. Where would we be without these producers?

Fun fact: Did you know that for every acre of land harvested provides food for 122 people?

Next time you see a farmer thank them for all the hard work that they do!

melissa satchwellMelissa Satchwell
Illinois State University student



Everywhere I turn, I hear the words “factory farm” and I hear nails on a chalkboard.  I read “industrial farming” and I cringe.  These words make me upset because they are fictitious labels placed on people that I care about – and they are meaningless.

My dad, both grandpas, and my great grandpas before them were farmers.  My uncles, my cousins, and even some of the folks that married into the family are farmers.  My board members (whom I love and enjoy very much!) and many of my friends are farmers.  And no matter how many acres they farm or how little grain they yield, they aren’t the face of “factory farming.”

And yet, they are.  Because here’s the secret.  Lean in.  Closer.

Factory farming isn’t real.  At least, not the image of factory farming you have in your head.  It’s like Hogwarts or the Emerald City.


still family farmersThe folks in my family, my friends, and the board member farmers that I love all farm various amounts of acreage.  Some are in charge of large farms, some are caring for smaller numbers of acres.  Some are very technologically advanced (in fact, I often learn things when I visit their farms!) and some are still farming the way that I remember my dad farming when I was a little girl.

We tend to think of industrialized farmers as having large acres, massive amounts of technology, and a distance from the land.

But there is literally no farmer that I have ever heard of in my lifetime in this industry that is taking orders from some CEO in a corner office in another state.  Whether big or small, technologically advanced or still operating like we did in the 80s, every farmer is a husband, mother, brother, or aunt whose main goal is to support their family and leave the land better off than they received it.


As the number of farmers in your family grows, the number of acres you must farm or the number of head of livestock you must raise has to grow as well.  This just makes sense, right?

In today’s economic climate, most small farmers have one of three situations that enable them to remain small:

  • They have a spouse that works off the farm that makes a good living or they also work off the farm to supplement their farm income.
  • They own their farm acres instead of renting them – probably thanks to a couple of generations before them that worked their butts off.
  • They grow some sort of specialty crop for which they receive a premium that gives them the extra income to stay small.

Minus those situations, a farmer has to become bigger to support his family.  That’s it.  There are few other choices.

When sons and daughters come back to the farm, or when sons get married and think about supporting a family instead of just themselves, farms get larger.  They have to.


Innovation is expensive.  Think about new medications, new phone technology, new cars, and new computers.  Research and development, safety and efficiency trials, marketing and PR – it all gets expensive.

But innovation is worth it.  It moves us forward.  It saves lives, improves lives, changes lives.

Genetically modified food is technology too.   New seed and chemical technology changes farmer’s lives by helping them produce more with less, and improving their bottom line.  New machinery and technology helps them to farm more acreage with less effort and improves their economies of scale.  That equals very real benefits to the families they are trying to feed.and the world

Big ag companies are innovators.  And yes, farmers grumble about the costs they pay for the innovation, but they always pay it because it’s worth it.  You probably grumble about the cost of the latest iPhone or new TV technology, but you pay it because it’s worth it.

Except different from iPhones and TVs, big ag companies are helping to feed the world and change lives for those in underprivileged countries.

So, is big ag bad?  My answer would be no.

I believe most non-farmers think of a “factory farmer” when they think of big ag – a farmer that is not invested in his land and is taking orders from someone who only cares about profit.  That sort of agriculture does not exist in my experience in the industry.

Non-farmers probably also think of big ag corporations, but they aren’t bad either.  They are creating solutions for our future and helping to feed and change lives of millions of humans across the world.

Big ag is a solution, not a problem.

Mitchell_LindsayLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager


Harvest has just begun at my house! For our family farm, that means Dad’s in the combine, Hubs is running the grain trucks, Mom’s occasionally helping in the grain cart, and I’m… in the kitchen. I wasn’t raised on a farm – I married into it. I can’t move the trailer, dump the truck, shift the 4455 or herd the calves that are grazing my front lawn while the rest of the family is shelling corn at the field furthest away. But I can give rides… and I can cook!

“Field Meals” are my way of contributing to the harvest effort. As a farm wife who’s got a nine-to-five (or 7:30 to 4:00) in town, I don’t have time to pack the folding table, crock pot, and picnic basket full of gourmet goodies requiring full table service to eat supper. My family likes to “eat with one hand and shift with the other,” as my farmer would tell you! In order to keep up with the fast pace whirlwind of the season, I have developed a strategic game plan to conquer harvest hunger:

  1. Plan ahead.

    I’m a meal planner. I’ve always sat down on Sunday afternoon with my calendar, recipe book and shopping list — Harvest is no different. I have an idea list of main dishes, sides, snacks, drinks and desserts to keep stocked at the house. Drinks are chilling in the fridge, ground beef is browned the night before. That way when I get home from work I already know what’s going in their supper sacks – which leads me to my next tip…

  2. Make it disposable.

    I learned early on that stuff that gets sent out to the field doesn’t often make it back to the house – and if it does, three days later, it’s extra gross and moldy. To save time and sanity (and dishsoap!) I package everything in baggies, plastic sauce cups with lids, tin foil and plastic grocery sacks. The guys get plastic cutlery when required (which isn’t often) and in recent years I’ve invested in those Styrofoam take out boxes which have been a huge help. Once everything is individually wrapped, I do my best to split it out into Dad’s bag and Hub’s bag. I’ll pack a thermal bag with the hot food and a cold cooler with drinks to put together at the last minute in the back of my vehicle.

  3. It must be 1-handed.

    Some farm families I know take the time to sit down and eat in the car with regular dishes and silverware. Not us. This is where you have to know your farmer… As I mentioned before, my husband likes to eat while he drives, therefore it can’t be anything too complicated (no spaghetti, no chilli, no packets of mayo and mustard to put on his own sandwich). He’s running the grain trucks to the bins and can barely keep up with the combine. His dad, on the other hand, doesn’t mind taking a break from combining to sit in the car with me and eat “like a civilized human being.”
    I’ve come up with some pretty creative one-handed meals – some more successful than others. You’ve got your classic, hamburgers & brats, to the more contemporary pigs in blankets, pork chop on the bone, and grilled ham & cheese with a tomato Soup-At-Hand. Fresh fruit is always a win and veggie sticks with dip works out well. Some epic fails include Salad wraps (think: veggies wrapped up in lettuce leaves with dressing inside), go-gurt, and those kid-friendly applesauce pouches. Apparently food packaged in tubes is inappropriate for anyone over the age of 12.

  4. Keep it clean.

    Don’t forget to pack plenty of napkins, paper towels, and something to wipe their hands on before eating. My mother-in-law always sends out a wet rag in a plastic baggie for the guys to wipe their greasy, dirty hands with. (She too has learned the hard way not to send out her good washcloths – they won’t come back). I’ve tried to substitute the cloth for a wet-wipe but they just can’t withstand the rough, farmer, man-hands. Trust me on this one, just send an old sock or chunk of t-shirt.

  5. Don’t forget Dessert.

    This may or may not go noticed by my farmer, but I always try to include a treasure at the bottom of the bag. Whether it’s homemade chocolate chip cookie, a couple Reese’s peanut butter cups, or a cold silver bullet, it’s my way of making him smile as he works late into the evening.

So what’s on my upcoming menu, you ask?

  • Stuffed French Bread sandwiches with carrot and celery sticks, ranch dip, grapes, and a pudding cup. Tea/water/soda
  • Bratwurst on the grill, individual bags of chips, steamed veggies, apple slices, and banana chocolate chip muffins. Tea/water/soda
  • Breakfast sandwiches (fried eggs with bacon and cheese between buttered English muffin halves) Rosemary roasted potatoes & onions, orange slices. Tea/water/soda… chocolate milk?
  • Corn dogs, French fries, fruit cup, steamed veggies, drinks
  • Aaaaaand probably a fast food run to Arby’s or Subway a couple times in between!

If you have any recipes that fit my criteria, I’d love to hear from you.

Ashley Family pic


Deal_AshleyAshley Deal
Membership Administrative Assistant


I always find that the ethanol industry and farmers get a lot of criticism on social media. I’ve heard people say things such as, “ethanol causes food shortages, corn production can’t meet the demands, or there is no way ethanol can dominant against big oil.” These statements on news feeds can be hard to swallow if you’re in the agriculture industry…I know they are for me.

I see how people tend to talk more about the negatives about ethanol because they can get more reaction out of comments and likes than talking about the positives. Since these seem to trend the newsfeed, I figure I’d bring to you a list of all positive facts corn ethanol can bring to the consumers table. Let’s get started…

#ethanol collage1        1/3 of every bushel for ethanol is enhanced and returned to the animal feed market in the form of distillers grains, corn gluten feed or corn gluten meal.

Social media doesn’t give farmers the benefit that they can meet supply demands.  Farmers are producing enough corn to supply for ethanol, consumers, and even animals.

#2        Despite poor weather conditions, corn crop in 2010 was the third largest on record.

This fact shows how despite Mother Nature farmers will be able to supply the ethanol industry and have plenty of food to go around.

#3           Ethanol created 400,000 jobs in the U.S.

If you want an industry that is pushing for job expansion and is proud to produce in the U.S… this is the industry!

#4           33% of corn waste from ethanol is
used for animal feed.

Not only is corn being used for 67% of the overall production of ethanol, but the by product is being used for animals.  The agriculture industry sure doesn’t leave any scraps behind and they want to make sure they use their entire product.

#5        pump   One bushel of corn can produce 2.8 gallons of ethanol.

Who knew one bushel could go so far?!  2.8 gallons is a lot of gallons when you’re talking one bushel. With gasoline prices going up the more ethanol we can have in our tanks the better!

#6           Ever since Henry Ford designed his 1908 Model T, pure ethanol was used  on automobiles.

It sounds like ethanol has been a long running tradition in Americans since the car was invented. Ethanol has been around for a long time and now is being used in a more efficient and effective way than ever!

Last but not least…

#7           “There are 2 kinds of ethanol… Corn and Sorghum.”

Many people don’t know that there are 2 kinds of ethanol used in their pumps.  Corn is the dominating crop used for ethanol but sorghum is also used but in smaller amounts.

Now that you know the secrets to ethanol that social media hasn’t been showing you, you can share to the world what you know about ethanol.  I certainly will be sharing on my news feed these unique facts you don’t get to see every day on social media. I hope you do the same!

THEAThea Fruhling
IL State University student


stuff from the dryer

As a follow up to our Tuesday post, “6 REASONS WHY FARM WIVES DESERVE THEIR OWN HOLIDAY,” this Friday Farm Photo is a viewer submitted pic of all the things she finds in the washer and dryer after doing a load of her farmer’s laundry.

Do you have an idea for a caption?  The best caption will win a prize!


#TBT: I’m sharing one of my favorite posts from almost two years ago now – because this is a value that I know has benefited my family and my kids more than most of the other things I’ve taught them.  Read it yourself and then let me know – do you agree?  What chores do your kids do around the house?

I’m a farm kid.  And I probably had much fewer chores than the average farm kid, but I guess because I grew up in the country as a child of two farm kids and I find myself surrounded by farm kids-turned-adults all day, every day, I must have absorbed the mindset.

My kids work.  They work hard.  And while my mom is sometimes reminding me that there aren’t many eight year olds out shoveling the driveway for their mother at 6:30 am so I should probably cut him some slack, I think making my kids work is the exact right thing to do for us.

In response to this article, I’d like to offer up the five things my kids and our family gain because they have jobs around the house.

Note: My kids do not have a chore chart or a list of things they are supposed to complete every day.  I just know what they can do and I assign tasks ad nauseam.  They probably get the short end of the stick compared to kids with a designated chore chart, but … life isn’t fair.  They’ll get over it.

washing dishes1. Teamwork: Sometimes, I think it’s ok for my kids to work together against me.  And when I assign them a job that is too big for one of them, they figure out that if they work together, it will go faster and they can return to their fun quicker.

Yesterday was a snow day for us and after the myriad of snow days we’ve had recently, we are all getting on each other’s nerves a little bit.  So when I announced at 2 pm that they had two hours to play together while I decompressed alone, I wasn’t shocked when 15 minutes of fighting followed.  I solved the fighting with an announcement that we were going to clean the living room.  They weren’t happy, but they vacuumed, cleaned under furniture with the swiffer, washed windows, helped me move furniture, and in one hour when the three of us had deep cleaned the living room, I reminded them that the job would have taken me three hours alone.  And then they quickly retreated to playtime together – minus the fighting – and we all lived happily ever after.  Everyone is happy when we work together.

2. Charity & Kindness: I am forever asking one or the other of my kids to pick up the school bags and coats that were thrown in the doorway after school.  Or please empty the lunch boxes.  Or pick up the dirty clothes in the hallway that didn’t quite make it to the laundry basket.  I am often met with “I already picked up MINE, those are his/hers.”  To which I usually reply, “Then I’m only cooking dinner for myself tonight.  What are you planning to eat?”  Or “I guess I’ll wash my clothes then … would you like to learn how to wash yours?”  I think it’s a wonderful lesson for my kids to learn.  Its “Love your neighbor as yourself” in action.

shoveling3. Family Solidarity: When we have a big job to do and someone complains, I remind them that we are all in this together and we are a family.  Sometimes things just have to be done.  We rake leaves together, we shovel snow together, we clean together, and we paint together.  And yes, sometimes its sad to watch the neighbor kids riding bikes or sledding while we’re still trying to clean off the drive, but I like thinking that they are learning a lesson about family responsibility.  It’s our house together and some things just have to come first.

raking4. Delayed Gratification: In my head, our society has a huge problem with instant gratification.  I hope I’m doing my part to ensure that at least two members of our future will understand delayed gratification and use it to live a happy and prosperous life.  Is it fun to have to put away your clean clothes before you can play outside?  Nope.  Is it fun to have to put away your clean clothes a second time when your mom realizes you’ve messed up your drawers in your haste to get outside?  Nope.  But over time, I hope they will understand the value of working hard THEN playing hard when they are making a decision to study for their final exam or go out with the guys instead.

5. Do It Right the First Time: One thing I’m very strict about – my kids always make their beds and I like for them to look perfect.  They don’t always look perfect, but when they make their beds and I can tell they didn’t even try, they get the opportunity to do it again.  This is about a once a week occurrence, and it doesn’t make anyone happy, but I don’t see anything wrong with doing a chore over and over until you get it right.  When they vacuum, they sometimes get to vacuum again if I can tell they’ve done a crappy job.  When they fold towels, they fold them again if they don’t meet my expectations – after all, an eight and a nine-year old can totally fold a rectangle in half and in half again without messing it up.  And someday, when the stakes are higher than folding towels and are, instead, finishing that report for the boss, I hope they are less tempted to half-do it.

If I were living in the country, these jobs might look like feeding the animals, helping in the garden, mowing, or even following dad to the field to give him a ride home.  But I think the lessons are the same.  And just because I’m a city dweller now, doesn’t mean I don’t rent my kids out to help the neighbors spread a truckload of mulch or help carry lumber for a deck or something.

Trust me.  That sort of work builds character.

Mitchell familyLindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director


Look – the women that live on the farm are just a special breed, ok?  They do absolutely everything – and everything well! – and we think they deserve their own holiday since the only other reasonably applicable holiday (Mother’s Day) arrives during spring planting.  They are busy!


superman-clark-kentAnd by that, I mean that farm wives can go from wearing 80% manure, to 80% Tory Burch in five seconds flat.  If you are one of the drastically mistaken urban women in the world who thinks that a farm woman’s wardrobe is mostly overalls and flannel shirts, with maybe some cutoff jeans thrown in, you are so wrong.

Every farm wife I know does have a pair of cut off jeans … but when its time to go to church or out on a date with the farmer himself, we love to break out the designer shoes and cute skinny jeans.


Yes, there are farm women who work out every day at the gym, but many farm wives are the boss at bucking bales (around 60 pounds each!) and wrangling cattle or hogs.  And if you are a farm wife on a farm without livestock, then chances are you are lifting bags of seed or moving equipment from one place to another.  Farm wives are strong – and they have the guns to prove it.


Most of the farm wives I know do the books, the marketing, or even the planning and purchasing for the farm.  Each of those is a full-time job unto itself.

If she’s doing the books, she’s basically the farm accountant.  There are bills to pay, paychecks to write every Friday, grain sales to record, and land payments to make.  She’s got to stay on top of all of it – and its only part of her day job.

If she’s marketing the crop, she’s trying to guess how much grain the family will produce that fall, and sell it ahead of time to leverage the best price opportunity.  If she’s planning and purchasing, she’s watching the costs of input prices to figure out when to buy things for the coming year and how to store them.  Each of these is so complicated it makes my head spin.


Probably because she was four years on a 4-wheeler herself.

Nor does she freak out when you hand your 13-year-old the car keys at 10 pm and say “Follow me to the Napery Farm – I’m gonna need a ride home after I drop the tractor off there.”  Or when you let your baby girl shoot at the range.

She understands the need for everyone to work and she knows that your kids can handle it.  She’s not a helicopter parent – she delights in seeing confidence and independence grow in your home.  She wants to see your kids farming next to you almost as badly as you do.

Plus, she’s just really excited that she doesn’t have to run you to the field again.  She desperately needs a shower.


She has to be.  Because every plan she’s ever made with the farmer or for the family is “weather permitting.”

“Honey, can you go with me to my family reunion this weekend?”

“Hmmm … weather permitting.”

“Babe, I won’t be able to pick up the kids after basketball practice tonight.  Could you do that for me?”

“Only if it rains.”

“Oh look!  My God-daughter is engaged and they have set the date for May 28!”

“I hope you aren’t planning on me going.”

And the times when the farmer can attend family events with you are only the times when the weather is as yucky as possible.  The farmer’s wife totally deserves a medal for dealing with this planning nightmare and the independence required to do everything on her own.


She’s family.  She’s raising the kids, cooking the meals, washing the clothes, and holding the family together.  She’s also running for parts, filling in on the tractor, and keeping the books in the black.  She’s making due when the well runs dry and there’s no running water.  She’s laughing instead of crying when she discovers a kitten hidden under your son’s bed.  She’s feeding the neighbors when someone is in the hospital and she’s teaching Sunday School on Sundays.

Marty Marr Family

She totally deserves her own holiday.  Let’s just make it during a down time of year.  Maybe February 29?


Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager


When asked to list down my hobbies on a student information sheet, my first answer is always “listen to music.”  Music makes me laugh, makes me cry, makes me feel happy, makes me feel period.  Music is so special to me, especially when it’s music about farmers.

You see, these men and women work day and night to grow our world’s food, but so few truly know what it takes to get our food from seed to fork.  It’s because of their awe-inspiring determination and devotion to family and friends that I bring to you a few “Farmer Appreciation Anthems.”

The first song is “The Only Way I Know” by Jason Aldean featuring Luke Bryan and Eric Church.

These men, all from rural America, truly know “you don’t get nothing that you don’t earn.”  They know that farmers “don’t quit ‘till the job gets done.”  They understand that “maybe there’s another path that’ll get you there a little bit faster, but I’m sticking with the one inside of me.”  This song tells the story of hard work in the hearts of those who feed our world.

My next selection is “Man On A Tractor” by Rodney Atkins.

This song adds a nice change of pace from the last.  This ballad focuses on how a man in a rut in his life envies the man on the tractor with a dog in the field.  The man on the tractor seems to be at peace with the world, and “in rows of green his whole was revealed.”  The words tell us that while farming may be laborious and frustrating at times, finding “peace of mind on my own piece of land” makes those struggles all worth it.

Last, but certainly not least, is “Amarillo Sky” by Jason Aldean.

Fun fact about this music video:  It was filmed in Rantoul, IL!  This song perfectly embodies the hard work, love, and character of a farmer.  “On his knees every night, he prays: ‘Please let my crops and children grow,’ ‘cause that’s all he’s ever known” lets us know that farming isn’t all bumper crops and sunshine.  Sometimes “the diesel’s worth the price of gold” and “it’s the cheapest grain he’s ever sold, but he’s still holding on.”  Farming sure isn’t easy, but it’s something that these people love doing and their families have loved doing, so they “stay strong and carry on, just like his dad and granddad did before him.”

These are just a few of the songs that express the life of a farmer.  In addition to adding these songs onto your next Spotify playlist, I encourage you to find a farmer and thank them for all they put into getting food on our table, clothes on our backs, and fuel in our vehicles.  Without them, we would be stranded, naked, and starving!

What are some of your favorite songs that remind you of the life of a farmer?

Molly NovotneyMolly Novotney
Joliet Junior College student