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Wheat berry salad

November 24, 2010

Kansas hard red winter wheatWheat farmers like us love seeing all the whole wheat products on grocery store shelves these days. It’s good to see food beyond the traditional breads and crackers, including whole wheat pasta, tortillas and pizza crust.

My farmer found a recipe that offers another way to enjoy wheat — this time with the whole berry. Wheat berry salad has become a family favorite and I thought your family might enjoy, too. It’s delicious hot or cold — and tastes great with leftover turkey sandwiches.

You’ll have to explore beyond the grocery store to find wheat berries. Here are two online sources: www.bakerscatalogue.com and www.bobsredmill.com. And, I happen to know a farmer who would be glad to share, too.

Enjoy. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wheat berry salad

Ingredients and directions:

  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 cups cooked wheat berries (recipe follows)
  • 1 large apple, unpeeled, diced
  • 1/2 cup toasted nuts, coarsely chopped or unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 3 tablespoons apple vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Combine orange juice and cranberries in a small bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Combine cooked wheat berries, apple and nuts in a large bowl; stir gently. Drain the cranberries, reserving the juice. Stir the cranberries into the wheat berry mixture.

Whisk the reserved orange juice, vinegar and oil in a small bowl until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and stir gently to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Cooked Wheat Berry recipe

  • 2 cups hard red winter-wheat berries
  • 7 cups cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Sort through wheat berries carefully, discarding any chaff. Rinse well under cool running water. Place in a large heavy saucepan. Add water and salt.

Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Drain and rinse. To serve hot, use immediately. Otherwise, make it ahead for a cold salad. (Both are delicious.)

Wordless Wednesday

November 3, 2010

Family portrait through E.’s eyes:

When bins fly

August 22, 2010

You know the moment — that micro-millisecond — when you see  something terribly wrong, but before your brain has  processed it? We experienced just such a moment a week ago. We were driving home about 9:30 p.m. when we saw our small 1,000-bushel grain bin in the neighbor’s field. It was dark and rainy, so we could only see as far as the headlights.

The devastation was frightening as we made our way through our farmyard. Power lines were down. Our 7000-bushel bin was caved in from the impact of the small bin, which had been blown from its foundation. Our mini-van, which we owned just six weeks, was smashed in on one side — another victim of the flying grain bin. Our cattle shed, which V., his dad and D. rebuilt just two years ago, was obliterated from the straight-line winds that reached 70 mph. V.’s pickup was buried in the rubble. Thankfully, the house  had just minor shingle damage. In fact, the power had only been out a short time. If we hadn’t stopped at the grocery store, we would have been smack dab in the middle of it.

We had a restless, restless night as we calmed D. and E. and fretted about what was ahead. The morning light revealed more damage — our 70-year-old red barn was shifted eight inches off its foundation, augers and windows were smashed, and our seed wheat was trapped in the crushed bin.

I shed many tears. We will never replace the large bin. It was put up when V.’s family stored a lot of wheat and milo. The cattle shed’s block foundation, each block poured and laid  by V.’s Grandpa, could not be saved. Both our van and the pickup were sure to be total losses. 

The next morning and all this week, V. and his dad, Stanley, showed me yet again what it means to be a farm family. It’s OK to look back on your farm’s legacy, as long as it doesn’t keep you from looking forward. You get up, clean up and rebuild. Along the way, you share meals and care for kids, animals and crops. In fact, thanks to our rural electric cooperative and a caring neighbor, we had power restored by 11:30 a.m. — and came in as usual for a large noon meal.

V. says our farm will be better than ever when all is said and done. I know he’s absolutely right. Plus, our kids will have a great story to tell their own kids as they sit in our yet-to-be-built cattle shed.

A conversation

July 15, 2010

A big deal happened for me this week — I was featured in the “A Conversation With…” feature in the Wichita Eagle’s Sunday business section: http://bit.ly/9750Gz. I was flattered, flabbergasted and flushed. What would we talk about?

The business reporter, Karen Shideler, was interested in my roles as a writer and PR counselor — and that of a farm wife.  Karen is a pro and very easy to talk with, so it was a fun conversation. I greatly appreciated her take on my life here on Woolf Farms.

The conversations after the Conversation have been just as fun. Two families are planning visits to our farm. I’m meeting with one soon-to-be ag journalist and connected with a colleague, who is also doing ag advocacy, on the ethanol front. Others sent notes detailing  fond memories of their grandparents’ farms. This note from retired schoolteacher and farm wife Kay Wulf made my day.

Today’s Americans may be generations removed, but the family farm is still very much embedded in our culture. Let’s keep it that way.

Wheat harvest

June 30, 2010

Sharing scenes from our 2010 wheat harvest:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqsxVkG7_7c

Cutting began on farmer-son’s 9th birthday, a perfect gift from my farmer, farmer-in-law and Mother Nature. Farmer described this year’s harvest as excellent cutting weather with average yields. We’ll take it. Last year, we flooded out.

For farmers, harvest is stressful, exhausting, hot and rewarding. For those who watch or ride along, it’s a thrill. For my farmer-son, it’s his favorite time of year.  He spends all day working with his dad and grandpa, in the combine or wheat truck or making the inevitable machine repairs. They come in about 10 p.m. to eat a full late dinner. Then, off to sleep to do it again the next day — year after year, if you’re lucky. And we are, even with the occasional weather disaster or poor yields. Wheat has been harvested on this family farm for more than 70 years.

Prairie explorations

June 21, 2010

Cat-claw Mimosa

 

E. and I ventured back into the Flint Hills last week, as part of the 18th Annual Flint Hills Prairie Wildflower and Pasture tour. More  than five buses of photographers and nature lovers were lucky enough to explore private hay meadows and native prairie. The wildflowers were in full bloom, not as a cascade, but a wonderful peek-a-boo of color and shape.  

We headed out from Cassoday (population: 130), which E. was delighted to find out is the “prairie chicken capital of the world.” Extension and Conservation experts walked us up and down the meadow, naming every bloom, grass and seed pod.  We ended up on a majestic open range near Matfield Green (population: 60). In the Flint Hills, one ranch may consist of hundreds if not thousands of acres. It’s not feasible to fence such an expanse, so cattle roam freely, sometimes across county roads. Guards built into the roads keep cattle from wandering off the ranch. It felt like a prairie safari as we came upon a surprised cattle herd.  

It was a beautiful evening and E. got some great shots for the county fair. I was sorry to leave, but will definitely be back. I can’t get enough of those rolling hills.   

(Thanks Butler County and Chase County Extensions and Conservation Districts.)  

Naming rights

May 31, 2010

I am under no delusions about what happens when livestock leave our farm. However, it’s hard not to become a little attached, especially to those we bottle feed twice a day. So, I name them. Not every one, of course. That would be just plain silly. However, some names just seem to fit. There’s Gladys, our old nanny goat and young Francine, our nanny-t0-be. There’s Butterscotch, our Brahma calf, and his cow, Bossy. Our farm has also been home to Montie, J.T., little Bern, Johnny, Mr. D. and many more.

Now, my farmer-in-law has sent me proof that I’m not crazy — or alone:

“Cows are rarely kept as pets, but giving them pet names could be good for business. Agricultural professors from Newcastle University in England found that dairy cows called by name produce more an average of 68 gallons more milk per year. This tidbit may surprise city folk, but the 516 dairy farmers interviewed for this study were hardly shocked. Ninety-three percent of them agreed that it’s important to get to know each cow as an individual.”

So, bolstered by research, the kids and I have picked Tiki as the name on deck, creature TBD.

Roberta Seiwert Lampe’s life took a different turn than most women of the mid 1950s. She enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps and became a reporter, writing at bases in the U.S. and Germany.

Roberta returned home to Kansas in 1959 and took on a more traditional role: farm wife. Throughout the many years of raising her family and helping on the family farm, she heard amazing stories from other farm women, those a generation older than she. The stories were big: how they emigrated from Germany and how they homesteaded in Kansas. The stories were small: how they chased off neighboring farm boys or warmed calves in their kitchens.  These stories ruminated for years.

Then, as she neared 70, her role as farm wife transitioned into caretaker. Her husband now had cancer and her daughters suffered other tragedies. Here’s her account of how she coped:

“In the midst of family crisis, Seiwert Lampe awoke one morning to hear her subconscious say, ‘The time is now.’ She lifted a worn business advertising ballpoint from the desk drawer, grabbed a wad of scratch paper and set about following the directive. Wherever she went, the old pen and paper were handy. With a few minutes here or a half-hour there, she turned to the stories.”

After two and a half years, she had written two novels and nine short children’s stories, all in long hand.  She then set about to transition from writer to author. She self-published until she found a publisher. She peddled books on her own until she landed signings at Border’s and a spot on a local author lecture series. Her husband died, and she kept writing down the stories.

I gathered up all her books at a signing at our small town library. Roberta handled the sale, gathering change from a pill jar in a metal box. She told the story behind the stories, entertaining along the way. She warned that she would “bend our ear,” if we allowed her. We did — and were glad for it.

She is her own “strong woman” story. I’m glad to share it.

Butterflying

April 29, 2010

I was never interested in creepy-crawly creatures. I’m more enamored with the four-legged, panting, drooling kind. However, thanks to my work with Extension 4-H School Enrichment, I can spell — and use in a sentence — worlds like chrysalides and proboscis. And, butterfly larvae are staring at me right now, merrily exploring their cup — their sealed cup — on my desk.

I helped develop the Life Cycle Miracle (butterfly hatching) program last year and I just wrapped up this Spring’s classroom presentations to nearly a dozen schools and hundreds of elementary students. The students capped off the program by releasing the butterflies they raised.

It’s been a wonderful opportunity to see the 4-H experiential learning model at work. Here’s a summary:

  • Experience – Youth do before being told or shown how.
  • Share – Youth describe results of the experience and their reactions.
  • Process – Youth relate the experience to the targeted life skill.
  • Generalize – Youth connect the life skill discussion to the larger world.
  • Apply – Youth use the new life skill experience in other parts of their lives.

It’s been fun testing out the project at home with D. and E. The other day, we struck gold. We witnessed one caterpillar make its chrysalis when it shed a final layer of skin. D. described it perfectly:  It’s like the caterpillar unzipped its sleeping bag. E. released one batch of butterflies last week. Pure joy for her, the butterflies, and me watching.

If you’d like to do the project, go here to download the guides: http://www.sedgwick.ksu.edu/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=481.

Women in Ag

March 8, 2010

LaDene Rutt, portrait by Paul Mobley, from American Farmer: The Heart of our Country, by Katrina Fried

 

LaDene has been to all 25 Women in Ag conferences, sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. I now know why. I recently attended for the first time and these words come to mind: welcoming, informative, inspirational and motivational. 

The conference celebrated the role women play on the farm. However, the conference wasn’t about awards or pats on the back. This was about farm wives, mothers, daughters and grandmothers gathering to share meals and learn from the experts — and each other. Learn we did, about the government’s farm program, marketing strategies, advocating for agriculture, operations and financial management and so much more. 

One woman in her 70s was planning for retirement, while seeking advice about how to  pay for her mother’s healthcare. Another young farm wife attended with her mother, also a farm wife. One presenter on Medicare and Medicaid shared stories about her own farm life in a remote part of Nebraska — 35 miles to the nearest grocery store. Many studied and asked questions about which government program to enroll in — to protect their operations from the inevitable weather disaster. 

I have great admiration for what these women do and manage each day. I play a smaller role on our own farm. However, there was no discussion about who was bigger or better. The conference was about preserving a livelihood and building a legacy for future generations. I’ll definitely go back. 

Click here to learn more about the conference. Click here to see some amazing portraits of farmers, including LaDene.

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