Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sweet as sugar... or a pluot

I like sweets. A lot. If there is a reasonable amount of sugar in it, odds are, I will enjoy it. One type of food I really love is fruit. On a visit to Kingsburg Orchards in Kingsburg, Calif., I discovered a new favorite: the pluot.

No, I am not making this up. Kingsburg Orchards grows nearly 3,000 varieties of fruits. These include apricots, kiwis, peaches, pears, nectarines, plums and pluots. The pluot is a hybrid of a plum and apricot. There are different variations of this fruit, depending on the parent varieties used. The ones I tasted were incredible! Very sweet and juicy. One thing that intrigued the group was the way they were grown.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Nuts...about agriculture

I've been told I have a quirky personality. And, I might be a little nuts. But, as I continue my internship and exploring the world around me, I'm not just nuts. I'm nuts about agriculture.

Caroline is nuts about agriculture

While in California, the whole "being nuts" got to my head when we learning more about nut production in the industry. Almonds and pistachios were the two kinds we focused on -- and California is the only state in the U.S. that grows them! In the past 10 years, almonds and pistachios increased in production from 500,000 tons to 2 billion tons. That is quite a jump in the market!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Meeting market needs 7,000 acres at a time

Don is showing us an onion he pulled out of the field.
Many consumers underestimate the demands that agriculturalists meet on a daily basis. It isn't just a matter of making the highest dollar.

Farmers and ranchers must meet the market needs while providing the best care for their crops and animals. They typically choose between production methods like organic or inorganic, conventionally stalled or free range and other variations. However, one farmer in Helm, Calif. isn't just picking one way to grow his crops. He has chosen to follow the market demands when planting his 7,000 acres.

These are some grapes used in making Gallo wine.
Don Cameron is the general manager at Terranova Ranch, Inc. This ranch is run with 75 employees and 150 laborers to gross $20 million a year. That is not accomplished by pure size. Don is savvy about agricultural production. He doesn't just know how to grow crops, but he has the brains of a businessman when selecting his markets.

Helm is within the San Joaquin Valley -- dry, arid lands with little water to be found. On average, California receives 7 inches of rain per year. That is a tough opponent for any farmer! However, because of irrigation practices, the state is powerful in agricultural production.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Farming families rely on fathers

Yesterday signified a day where many people honor their fathers. These are the men who not only helped bring us into the world, but hold an important role in the development of our lives. For me, it has taken more time to truly understand the sacrifices my own father makes to provide for my family. But after spending the weekend at home and reflecting on my trip to California, this next post is dedicated to the work by fathers in agriculture.

My dad and I showing Shorthorn cattle at the county fair
My dad is a man who works more than he should and receives less pay and recognition for it. Whether he is out in the field planting his crops or in the barn caring for our cattle and goats, he is constantly seeking ways to provide for our family. He is the true definition of a farming father.

This photo was from 2008 at our county fair Shorthorn open class show. The term "daddy's little girl" definitely applies to me, from my relentless need to work and complete tasks, hatred of coconut, and a passion for the agriculture industry.

Diepersloot Dairy with farm owner Bob Diepersloot
In California, the AFA team was able to see more fathers taking roles in the agriculture industry. At Diepersloot Dairy Farm, Bob is the head of the farm. He sees the needs of his 9,500-head dairy and also the needs of his family. His son, Adrian, has become involved and formed a partnership on their farm. They have developed a strong father-son relationship that continues the success of their farm.
Adrian Diepersloot showing us around his farm
The photo on the left is of Bob when he invited us into his home to enjoy breakfast! He was telling us about the chocolate milk his friend's dairy produced. The image on the right is of Adrian when he was giving us a tour around the dairy farm. You could clearly see the passion each of the them had as they showed us around the farm. They prove that collaboration is the key to a working family.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Word of the Day: Cluster

This past week was very exciting! Because it was so exciting, I will be splitting up my adventures into more than one post. I had the privilege to travel with the AFA Student Advisory Team to Fresno, Calif. for our June meeting and industry visits from June 8-11. Not only was this my first time in California, but it was our team's first traveling meeting to learn about different methods of agricultural production and to mingle with supporters of our organization.

The AFA Student Advisory Team in a pistachio field
Each of us enjoyed learning more about California's diverse agriculture practices, like pistachios!
I am pictured second in from the left.

Every evening after our meetings, we share our "word of the day" to compile our thoughts and share it with the group. Unfortunately, we were unable to express our last word of the day on Tuesday because some of the team had to catch early flights across the country. Therefore, this is the perfect opportunity to share my word of the day and introduce a string of different posts about my California experiences.

My word of the day is cluster.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Eat more ice cream!

June is National Dairy MonthSimple concept, right? Who doesn't like a cool, refreshing cone or bowl of ice cream in the warming spring and summer months? If you are lactose intolerant, I extend my deepest sympathy. Especially because June is National Dairy Month! Seeing that I am in Wisconsin, the state of cheeseheads and dairy enthusiasts, I only find it fitting to partake in the bountiful festivities throughout this month.

Starting off, Becca, my roommate, fellow Bader Rutter intern and dairy enthusiast from Pennsylvania, persuaded me to go with her after work one day to Lee's Dairy Treat. Even though I have been on a health kick and avoiding sweets at all costs, this food option was one I could not turn down and it didn't take much prodding to get me to join her.

This family-owned ice cream shop is celebrating its 43rd year and takes claim as the best soft serve shop in Milwaukee. My taste buds were not deceived by this claim.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I'm a baker not a ballerina

Outside of my 40 hour work week, I wanted to find some other ways to stay active and healthy! Two of these hobbies that go hand-in-hand are cooking and exercising. On Friday night, I took my Betty Crocker skills to the kitchen by baking some blueberry banana muffins! You may think that is an odd combination, but after 20 minutes in the oven, they proved heavenly to the taste buds.

Blueberry Banana Muffins

I discovered this Pinterest recipe (of course) from In Vogue at Home and will definitely be using it in the future! ***FYI, images above were taken by me. This was the first morsel of Milwaukee apartment cooking, and now I need to find some new recipes to test out as well.