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Friday, December 28, 2012

Farmer Rap

These Kansas farm boys know how to get down.

Remember the Peterson Brother's video Farming and I Grow It and Farmer Style? Well there is another farmer that has decided to share a little bit of farm life via this fun little video.

 

You can follow Daddy D on Twitter @klingpossum


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Top Five Crystal Cattle States Ag Facts

Today we are taking a break from Turquoise Thursday because there are a few posts I want to get in before the end of the year. It has been an incredible year on the Crystal Cattle Blog. I will be sharing with you the top posts of the year after Christmas but I thought it would be fun to check out where all my readers came from this year.

Using Google Analytics I can tell where my readers are located at. Yup, I am creeping on you.


This year I had people from 159 different countries visit the blog, however my U.S. readers are by far the most active. This graph shows where you are all from. The darker the green the most people visited.  Since I am passionate about agriculture and sharing information about the food farmers raise I thought it would be fun to share an ag fact from the top five states. 

1. Texas
Texas is known for their beef right? That's because they lead the country in beef production with 13.86 million head. Did you know that the hide from one beef animal can make 20 footballs or 12 basketballs or 18 soccer balls or 144 baseballs. Click here to read more.

2. Kansas
Kansas is a huge producer of wheat. However, when I was in the state last week they are going to need some snow or rain as the winter wheat crops did not look very good, and that isn't a good thing for us. Farmers need to produce a lot of wheat each year as approximately three-quarters of U.S. grain products are made from wheat. Click here to read more.

3. California
Did you know that there are more than 400 different crops grown in California. Almonds is one of those crops, and it's also one of the crops that is only grown in California. Want to meet an almond farmer? Check out this post from The Farm Vet.

4. Iowa
I am glad that my home state made the Top Five list! Iowa is known for all of our corn, but did you also know that we lead the nation in growing soybeans, raising pork and producing eggs. Today an Iowa farmer feeds about 155 people, during the 80's it was about 80 people. Click here to read more.

5. Illinois
It looks like our neighbors have been reading my blog too. I thought that it was really interesting to learn that Illinois has more than 950 food manufacturing companies in the state. That means that they can take the food that farmers are growing and turn it into products that your family enjoys. Click here to read more.

Thank you to all the people from around the country, continent and world that have been reading. Start sharing with your friends and maybe you'll be in the Top Five Crystal Cattle States next year.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Turquoise Thursday: Tiffany & Co.

So I had a little inspiration on this post. Recently, a blogging friend spent the week in New York and then got engaged. Not too bad, I would say. While in New York it was her birthday and she got these really cool turquoise (Tiffany Blue) earrings.

I decided that I needed to check out the Tiffany & Co. website to see what other goodies they had. Yeah, I would say there is quite a bit on there that I fancy.


Isn't it pretty. Maybe my love of turquoise stems from the love of Tiffany's jewelry. I mean it is all the same color platte right?


This is what I call Tiffany on a budget. I love this fun playing card set and at $30 it would make a cute gift. 


Let's get back to blowing the budget with this Tiffany & Co. purse. I had no idea that they now had such a selection of purses as part of their brand. 

Feel free to forward this post on to any significant other that you think may still be needing to purchase you a gift. The Boy informed me yesterday that he is now done all his shopping. I'm not sure what we would do without online shopping at our house. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Week of Instagram: Beef Charts and Grilled Cheese

Variety is the spice of life.

There is quite a mix of Instagram pictures from this past week. In seven days I managed to be four states and one province which allows you to see a lot of different things along the way.


This was the giant beef chart that I found at the Kansas State Fairgrounds. I was there working at a cattle show. Wouldn't it be cool to have this one your wall! Your beef cooking instructions would be right there. For some smaller versions check out this post I did on beef charts awhile ago. 


Our small town doesn't have a Panera so while traveling I decided to stop in and enjoy some soup. I love soup! However the Big Kid Grilled Cheese caught my eye. If you are anywhere close to a Panera run there right now and order this because it is amazing. It also has bacon on it. Perfection. 


I mentioned that I was in a province this week, that's because I made a quick trip home to Alberta to surprise my sister on her wedding dress shopping weekend. I can't show any pictures of the dress so I figured a picture of one of her cows was the next best thing. This cow's name is Elle. She originated from Kentucky but I think she likes her Alberta home now. Currently, Iowa is completely brown but it is about to look a lot more like this picture. They are calling for 8-12 inches of snow tonight!


And now for a big thank you! I reached 1,300 followers on my instagram account! There has been a lot of controversy about instagram's terms of use, but I am not going anywhere as of right now. So look CrystalCattle up and let me know your username. 

Now for the part you have been waiting for, the winner of the Boot Barn Shopping Spree


Janet, you are our winner! Please email me (you'll find my info under the contact tab) and I will get you all the details of your prize!

Monday, December 17, 2012

How to create a url for your Facebook page

A little social media tip

Do you have a Facebook page? Here is a little tip to make it easiest for people to find your Facebook page.

First look at the url on these two different pages.


Notice that after the .com there is a bunch of grabble (really technical term, I know). 


Now look at my Crystal Cattle page. See how it is just .com/crystalcattle

Because I have this simplified url I an easily include it in emails, on business cards or other literature pieces. So how do you get a url like this? Visit this link. 


And follow the instructions. However, be careful because you can only ever change you Facebook url once and then you are stuck with what you got. 

p.s. Don't forget about the $150 Boot Barn Shopping Spree Giveaway. Only a couple days left to enter. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Giveaway: Boot Barn Holiday Shopping Spree

Who wants to play Santa

I hope all your Christmas shopping is going great. I am getting really close to getting mine all done. Don't give me that evil eye!

Now the big question is who has boots on their Christmas list? Thanks to the Boot Barn they are going to make it a little easier for you to make either your or someone else's Christmas dreams come true with a Holiday Shopping Spree. Sounds like a pretty good way to spread some Christmas cheer.

Shyanne Daisy MayBoots
I am still loving my Shyanne boots that I got this summer however this would be another pair I would love to have in my closet. You really can't beat the price on these boots and they are really comfortable. 




I have always been a fan of Justin boots. I have two pairs that I have had for 5 plus years that I still wear multiple times a week. Plus, I love the turquoise tops on these boots. 


And you can't go wrong with Old Gringo Boots. I think this pair called Sora are beautiful. It also comes in a black version. I got a pair of Old Gringos last year for Christmas and then wore them with my wedding dress. 

Boot Barn Holiday Shopping Spree
Up for Grabs: $150 gift card to BootBarn.com

This contest is now closed. The winner is announced here.

How to enter: You must visit BootBarn.com and comment with what you would spend your gift certificate on. It doesn't have to be boots. 
For additional entries: (Please leave a comment here for each thing you have done)
Follow Crystal Cattle on Facebook 
Follow Boot Barn on Facebook 
Tweet about this giveaway (my Twitter name is @CrystalCattle)
Follow @BootBarn on twitter

Contest closes Dec. 19, and I will draw for the winner on Dec. 20. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Turquoise Thursday: Headbands and Boot Socks

A little help with your Christmas Shopping

Recently, I came across Three Bird Nest on Etsy and I am hooked. I purchased a couple things off their Etsy page as Christmas gifts, and want to purchase numerous things for myself, but I have refrained as I am hoping Santa, my parents, sister, friends, inlaws, husband, etc. will help me out.


I know it isn't turquoise but this is the item I am talking about. Isn't this bow scarf amazing. I don't think I haven't ever seen anything like it. Plus, it is on sale right now for $28.
When I go to Denver in January for the National Western Stock Show and it is always so cold that people only see your jacket and scarf is would be the perfect accessory. 


We've all seen them on Pinterest now is your chance to purchase. These turquoise boot socks aren't on my Christmas list as right now I don't have any tall riding boots to wear them with however I know lots of my readers do. 


This is one of the headbands that Three Bird Nest has recently added. Isn't it cute.


As you can see it comes in a bunch of different color combinations. 
I mean the cows have already shown an appreciation for my sock buns and high heels and I am sure they would appreciate a little headband glamour when feeding them. 


This is actually the knitted ear warmer I have on my wish list. I'm not sure if it the headband I love or just this girls hair! 

Make sure you check out Three Bird Nest on Facebook. They have been having a bunch of great sales but you have to act fast as they have a limited number of these sale items. 

p.s. hint, hint. Giveaway tomorrow. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Easy Christmas Chocolates

Time for the sweets. 

A few years ago I started making chocolates for Christmas. I like to bake, but the chocolates seem to be easier than decorating dozens of gingerbread men. I have been posting a few pictures on Instagram and some of you asked me for my recipe. It is quite simple.

I like to use the Wilton melting chocolate. I have shopped around and Wal-Mart is usually the lowest price unless Joann's is having a sale. Hobby Lobby seemed to be quite high this last time. It seems to take a lot of chocolate so buy more than you think you'll need. Trust me.


I find it is easiest to melt my chocolate in a plastic bag. You want a slow and steady melt. I like to set my microwave onto defrost and then microwave it for 30-40 seconds at a time. With it being in a bag  you can massage the chocolate to help melt it. 


It you don't got slow and steady this is what you will get. Stuff that looks like fudge, but tastes awful. Just throw the stuff away. Trust me. 


Next I place cookie cutters on wax paper (sometime I do it straight on the cookie sheet), cut a tiny hole in my plastic bag and fill the cookie cutters. To get the chocolate to settle and fill in the corners gently shake the cookie cutter or tap the pan on the counter. You will get a little seepage but that is fine. 

If you want to put decorators on you chocolate or create a chocolate that has two layers of chocolate you will want to throw the cookie sheet into the fridge for about 30-40 seconds. This will firm up the chocolate a little bit so the decorations won't sink or the two chocolates won't mix. 

Once the chocolates are completely hardened pop them off the tray, break off the parts that seeped out, and then gently push out of the cookie cutter. 


This year I also bought this gingerbread mold (Hobby Lobby under $10). One bag of melting chocolates will do about 24-28 little gingerbread men. I find it takes the chocolates in this kind of mold a lot longer to firm up. 

I love using crushed candy canes, gummy bears, Christmas sprinkles and almonds to decorate my chocolates. However, I think the combination below is by far my favorite this year. 

2 Tbsp. chopped almonds
2 Tbsp. Heath toffee chips (find these in the baking isle)
2 Tbsp. mini chocolate chips
1 oz. Craisins (ome for the individual packages)


This year I also have done a few chocolate covered marshmallows. I used cake pop sticks that you can find at most craft stores. Push the stick almost all the way into the marshmallow. I find again it works best to melt you chocolate in a bag, but then pour it into a bowl. Dunk you marshmallow in the chocolate and wipe some of it of the bottom with a spatula so it doesn't smoosh all out when placed on the cookie sheet. Yes, smoosh is a word. 

To decorate you need to choose really light decorations or they will drag down and fall off while they are hardening. Turn the marshmallow on its side and rotate as you sprinkle and then place on the cookie sheet. Let harden in your fridge. 

Have fun spreading the Christmas cheer! 

p.s. you will want to make sure you come back later in the week as I'm having another give away and it involves boots! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pregnancy Options: Artificial Insemination

Breeding time. 

You can see our farm logo
on the front of the tank.

Artificial Insemination (A.I.) isn't just for humans. On our farm it is one of the three ways that we get our cattle pregnant. 1. being natural breeding with a bull, 2. we also can implant an embryo into a surrogate mother called a recip and 3. using artificial insemination.

A.I. is a great technology for us to use on our small farm. Purebred herdsires can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $100,000. However, people will freeze semen from these bulls for people to use in A.I. These straws of bull semen can cost anywhere between $20-$250 a straw, which is considerably less than buying the live bull, and a great help to small breeders like the Boy and I.

This frozen semen has to be stored somewhere though. Enter the semen tank.

For our wedding we actually were given a semen tank (along with our stock trailer makeover). Trust me it was on our wish list along with our Pottery Barn furniture and KitchenAid Mixer!


At the old ranch there were lots of semen tanks. One of these large tanks can hold 500 straws of frozen semen. Each dose of frozen semen looks like a coffee stir stick. Sorry I forgot to take a picture of that. 


The semen is kept frozen with liquid nitrogen. See those colored tabs? They are each a canister to keep things organized. When you pull them up it looks like this...


This is one canister. All of those things with the white tabs are canes and contain multiple semen straws in each cane. The numbers and letters are codes so you can make sure you are getting the right straw of semen. 

To review why in the world do we do this?

1. It allows us access to better genetics that we might not be able to buy outright
2. Better genetics we can improve the quality of our cattle
3. A.I. technology allows smaller breeders to have access to the same great genetics larger breeders have access to. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Turquoise Thursday: Turquoise Cupcake Liners

Betty Crocker

I have being pretty much turning our kitchen into a war zone every night as I whip up more Christmas treats for our family. I am going to share a few of the recipes soon. However, sometime you have to return to your roots and admire all the beautiful turquoise baking supplies. And therefore today we admire cupcake liners!


Like this turquoise and brown polka dot cupcake liners from Bake it Pretty. 
50 pieces for $3.75. Flat rate shipping $7.95. 


These paisley cupcakes liners are from Cupcake Social, which is one of my favorite Etsy stores. 
40 pieces for $3.00, $3.25 for shipping. 


And since I said Cupcake Social was a favorite here is a turquoise cupcake liner package that I've had my eye on. You get 10 of each of these for a total of 80. I love the patterns and even think the green is neat too. 
80 pieces for $5.20, $3.25 for shipping. 


You can't forgot about the mini cupcake liner. These are also found on Etsy from CakesAndKidsToo.
60 pieces for $3.60, $5.00 for shipping. 

Are you a cupcake baker or what is your favorite treat to make? 

Food Fact: Did you know cake flour is made from soft wheat, and contains the lowest percentage of protein and gluten. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Best Board Game for the Holidays

Gather the family.

Growing up my family loved board games. When my cousins and my sister and I would get together for holidays after supper was served, and the plates were cleared, we always broke out a board game.

One of my favorite games was Scattergories Junior. This Christmas I wanted to pick up the board game for the Boy's family and I to play at Christmas. However, everywhere I looked I could only find Scattergories Adult, which is fun but we are going to have some younger members of the family playing.



No big deal, I'll order on Amazon. I have wrote before how the UPS and Fedex men know our house pretty well with there not being a ton of major shopping areas right close to our farm.

Onto Amazon I went, searched for Scattergories Junior and there it was for $149.99. What?!?! This can't be possible. The Adult version in the store about about $20. After doing some investigating I realized they don't make Scattegories anymore and now it is a collectors item. Great. I really wanted this game. Second option buy it used for about $30. I bought it used.

Now, I patiently waiting for my collectors edition of Scattegories! What games does your family and friends play together.

p.s. What is this game even about?

1. You pick a category - say food
2. You roll a letter die
3. You set a time
4.  Now write down as many food items that start with that letter
5. At the end of the timer compare lists with your competitors. If you both write down the same word no one gets a point. You do however get points for all the words that no one else has.
6. Keep playing because you are having so much fun!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Hunk of Meat Monday: Meatball Sub

A recipe perfect for sharing. 

Lately, I have been inviting more people over to the house for supper. I travel a lot so if we don't invite friends over every now and then it seems like it can be weeks before I see our local friends. Plus, a lot of them are the Boy's bachelor guys friends and I know they will appreciate a home cooked meal.

Awhile ago I saw a Meatball Sub Recipe on Pinterest and thought that would be a great hearty meal.

I'm going to repost the recipe here, as the website it was on made it really hard to read and I have a few changes to it.

Ingredients

1 loaf of Italian bread, cut into 1-inch slices
8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened (I used the 1/3 fat)
1/2 cup mayo
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 lb. pkg of frozen meatballs thawed (this is what the original recipe called for but I think I would increase this to maybe a 1.5 lbs.)
28 oz. jar pasta sauce
1 cup of water

Directions

1. Arrange bread slices in an ungreased 13"x9" backing pan. In a sperate bowl combine cream cheese, mayo and seasoning. Then spread over the bread slices.

2. Sprinkle 1 cups of cheese over the bread and filling mixture.

3. Mix together the meatballs, pasta sauce and water together. Spoon over cheese.

4. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese on top.

5. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

6. Enjoy!



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