Memorial Day in the Country

As we near Memorial Day, I decided to visit my Grandpa Oscar’s grave site at Pleasant View Cemetery.   It seems like yesterday that Oscar would stop over for coffee and offer up his advice about the farm operation, keeping us posted about the latest news in Thornton.  He passed away a few years ago when Sophia was just in elementary school.

Oscar gravesite

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Planting Season and Planning Season

It’s invigorating to be able to get outside and work in the soil once again after a long winter, much of which was spent making plans for the growing season. During preparation there are so many things to consider, including possibly adding a new or different aspect to the farm.  This could include increasing the diversity of our livestock operation by adding chickens, or adding cover crops to conserve our precious natural resources and stop soil erosion.  Before we do anything new, we spend time thoroughly examining our options to figure out what’s the right fit.

Paul Willis, Sarah's dad, planning what he's going to plant for the season.
Paul Willis, Sarah’s dad, planning what he’s going to plant for the season.

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Earth Fest at Wellesley College

Taylor, Missouri high school senior Ruthie Carpenter, who is also a Niman Ranch hog farmer and student vice president of her local FFA chapter, traveled with her mother Carolyn to speak at Wellesley College on April 15, at the request of their director of food service, Executive Chef Keith Tyger.  He heard her speak at our annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner in 2015 and was greatly impacted by her words.  He wanted the students at Wellesley to hear from her first hand about the humane practices she employs as a Niman Ranch hog farmer and the sustainable attributes of farming this way.

Ruthie with her mother Carolyn at Wellesley for Earth Fest.
Ruthie with her mother Carolyn at Wellesley for Earth Fest.

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Eating in New York

The Big Apple is America’s epicenter for food. You’ll find cuisine from around the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Craving a midnight grilled cheese? Ever wonder what Vietnamese cuisine is like? Looking to dine at a Jazz Club? Look no further! There are more than 1,700 restaurant options at any given time with an average of 144 openings each year in Manhattan alone. New York truly has it all.

In our newest food adventure blog, we visited with the mission to discover restaurants that have the following qualities:

  • Are small or locally-owned
  • Serve up sustainable meat and produce
  • Offer a creative menu

Whether you live in one of the many eclectic neighborhoods or are just passing through, we hope this guide will point you in the right direction next time you decide to dine out in New York City.

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Farrowing Season 2016

This time in Iowa is the beginning of farrowing season.  For those of you unfamiliar with farm terminology, it’s the time of year when sows give birth.  Many farmers have been working diligently in preparation for pasture farrowing.  They’ve been busy moving hog houses from last year’s plot to the next field.  It might seem like a lot of work, but pasture farrowing is not new.  It’s a traditional farming practice that has been passed down for centuries.

moving huts 2016

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Eating in New Orleans

New Orleans is widely known for its music and festivals, but there is so much more to this vibrant city. Beyond the beads and nightlife is a cultural and historically-rich mecca that has been rebuilt with vigor since Katrina hit ten years ago. The restaurant scene has blossomed, in particular, with the addition of concepts that answer to both cultural expectations and national trends.

We visited recently and built a list of restaurants to help you skip all the Yelp reviews and enjoy your stay. Our favorites follow some or all of the following criteria:

  • Are small or locally-owned
  • Serve up sustainable meat and produce
  • Offer a creative menu

While we have some of the most talked about restaurants on this list, we chose to highlight some of the hidden gems this city has to offer as well. From burgers to live music and fine dining, this food adventure blog is the perfect guide to eating in New Orleans!

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National FFA Week by Ruthie Carpenter

National FFA Week is the (second) most wonderful time of the year for me as an FFA Member and Niman Ranch Farmer!  I serve as our FFA chapter’s Vice President, and help to plan many of the events that go on throughout this celebratory week. Our activities align with their motto: “Learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live, living to serve”.

Ruthie Carpenter and Father, Mark Carpenter, on FFA Sunday.
Ruthie Carpenter and Father, Mark Carpenter, on FFA Sunday.

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On the Upswing

During winter, the Iowa prairie covered in snow blends seamlessly into the stark white sky, which can make it very difficult to see at times.  I have resorted to wearing my sunglasses so I don’t go snow blind!  It’s fun to observe the beauty that can be found during the winter months, while understanding the unique challenges that accompany it.  Winter brings about unpredictable weather.  Yesterday it was 40 degrees and today it’s 16.  Thanks to the most recent winter weather, the ground is covered in a blanket of snow scattered with animal tracks.

White on White

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