Hungry for Harvest – Chicken pot pie

I decided that I would start a little feature on my blog called Hungry for Harvest. I’ll post occasional, easy recipes that are a hit at harvest time. And my first one was a doozy!

I’ve never made homemade pot pies before. I don’t mind the one I buy at the store, and I always thought homemade ones were time consuming and difficult. I was wrong. And they are delicious!

The best part? Less than 15 minutes from start to in the oven. Can’t beat that during harvest season! (And I bet it would freeze amazing, too!)

Here’s my ingredients:

  • Two refrigerator pie crusts (go ahead, make your own, I’m just not that good)
  • Chicken breasts, cooked, cut up and seasoned to your liking
  • Frozen bag of mixed veggies (whatever you like)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • Heavy whipping cream (milk, half-and-half, all work)

I sprayed a glass pie plate with olive oil, and then laid out one pie crust.

In a pan, I heated the chicken, soup, veggies and cream. Mix thoroughly.

Dish into the pie plate, top with second crust.

Pinch together the two pie crusts. I then pressed the edges with a fork. Slice four slices in the crust, about an inch from the edge.

Cook in the oven at 375 for about 25 minutes, or until crust is golden.

chicken pot pie slice

Not the cleanest photo, but that’s real harvest cooking right there.

Stand back as the herd devours supper.

Four and twenty chickens...baked in a pie.

Four and twenty chickens…baked in a pie.

Val’s Farm-ous Lasagna

When I think about my hours spent in the kitchen on the farm, my first instinct is to grab my lasagna pan. Whenever we work cattle, have a crew out to help or need to work together on a project, I know that I can never go wrong with the cheesy, meaty greatness that is my “Farm-ous Lasagna.”

So here it is…AND I have a crew to feed it to today!

This is what we’re doing:

This is corn that has been chopped and will be used this winter to feed our cattle. We have a crew of 7 here today to help us get our feed ready!

This is corn that has been chopped and will be used this winter to feed our cattle. We have a crew of 7 here today to help us get our feed ready!

And I’ll be sure to explain it more later.

But for now, here’s the recipe:

Val’s Farm-ous Lasagna


  • ground beef, browned (I use 1 1/2 pounds of meat, but not everyone likes their lasagna THAT meaty, use your discretion.)
  • 1 can pasta sauce
  • 4 cups shredded cheese of your choosing (I prefer the pizza mix, because it melts so yummy!)
  • 1 22 oz. container cottage cheese (I use low-fat…which is almost laughable because of the amount of cheese in my lasagna, but I didn’t ask your opinion, now did I? 🙂 )
  • lasagna noodles, about 12, depending on your pan size, cooked al dente’ and drained/rinsed

1) Add pasta sauce and browned hamburger together in a skillet. I make sure it’s all warmed together before layering my lasagna.

This is how I start my lasagna, with a layer of sauce.

This is how I start my lasagna, with a layer of sauce.

2) Layer your lasagna: I always start with a base of sauce/burger mixture at the bottom, then a layer of noodles, then a layer of sauce again, cottage cheese and shredded cheese. Continue layering, ending with shredded cheese that covers the whole pan. (I use one package of cheese in the layering, and one package just for the topping…I like cheese.) Like this:

3) Bake at 350* for about 30 minutes, or until you notice the sauce in the lasagna starts boiling.

Can we say, "YUM!"

Can we say, “YUM!”

4) Enjoy! And perhaps consider hitting the gym for a little extra time tonight. The beauty of this recipe? If possible, it tastes even better as leftovers. Unfortunately, it’s been a year or two since my boys left us any leftovers!

* I am participating in Indiana’s Family of Farmers Table Talk Series and received a gift in exchange for my participation.

Table Talk Contributor

A game of “I Spy”

Let’s see if you can spy what I am thankful for today:

Come Halloween, I'll be happy that these guys grew!

Come Halloween, I’ll be happy that these guys grew!

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A little treat for late-summer dessert.

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These guys are just hanging around, waiting to be supper!

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Sometimes life needs a little spice.

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A perfect snack, any time!

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Just starting to turn red.

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Coming soon to a pickle jar near me!

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A new addition to our garden…and a scrumptious one as well!

WW – Preparing for winter

It’s hard to believe, but as summer has flown by, it’s also time for us to prepare for winter on the farm. And that includes loading our haymow (the top floor of our barn) with straw (what’s left after we harvest our wheat).

Check it out:

The end of the load of straw that was stacked in our barn.

This attachment for our skidsteer can grab 20 small square bales at one time, making it possible to load and unload our bales without touching them by hand. it saves a LOT of time!

Heading to the barn.

So much easier than trying to lift or toss each one up!

We had a crew of 4 inside the barn stacking the bales…including my little sister, affectionately referred to as “Brat Child.” (And yes, she knows she has the nickname…it’s been with her since she was little…and it fits!) 😉





The Ultimate Gift

I’m sure you’ve read about our sweet corn before. We planted it earlier this spring, have watched it grow, taken care of it and waited for the day that we could enjoy the product of our hard work…and now we’ve given the excess of our crop to some pretty deserving people.

Giving our corn through the ND Huger Free Garden Project.

The Great Plains Food Bank arrived on Wednesday afternoon and picked up the remainder of our crop that was ripe and have been able to make it available to food banks across the state of North Dakota.

I have to thank my friends, neighbors and everyone who volunteered to help with this crazy project of mine.  Especially those that came from a distance, like my friend JP who flew in from St. Louis, and my friends at the ND Dept. of Agriculture. Thank you all!

So many volunteers, thank you everyone!!!!!

I’m so happy that we are able to share this with those that are down on their luck, or are struggling to put a meal on the table. And I’m so happy that we were able to find a place for it, instead of seeing it destroyed by wildlife, time and eventually, our tractors.

Sacks of corn, ready to share across the state.

It’s been a crazy week, one I’ll have to tell you about later. I’m going to go enjoy a cob of corn, a cold glass of milk and some time with my kiddos. School starts next week, and I’m not ready…even if they are.

Picking corn

After weeks of waiting, our sweet corn is finally ready to enjoy…and enjoy it we have!

My littlest helper, George.

EJ is a big fan of sweet corn, too!

After my last post on sweet corn, I received some interesting suggestions as to what we could do with our farm…namely, someone thought it would be best if our farm were to burn down. That wasn’t very nice, now was it?

A good friend of mine found this video clip, and I think it does an amazing job of explaining the exact science behind GMO’s, as opposed to random modifications that are made in plant breeding all the time. (And trust me, I would never consider the Huffington Post as a credible news source, ever…but this one surprised me!)

Scientist’s take on GMO

Every time I think about our sweet corn, this is the image in my head, not a Mr. Yuck sticker:

This little one is excited for some sweet corn…and I’m excited about the possibilities!

Facts on Farming

A few weeks ago, a question was asked on Facebook by a local news station regarding farmers and government payments. Don’t worry, I won’t go into my feelings about that topic right here…but I do want to try to explain something to those that aren’t involved in agriculture.

It seems as if there is a misconception about farmers. (Not shocking, I know.) But the comment that was made online really struck a chord with me…and it should for you, too. You can read about my reaction here.

But I thought maybe we should have some numbers, so that people can understand what really goes into farming.

These are our "fleet" to bring in the crop. Far from new, but they get the job done.

Now, to be honest with you, I’m using numbers for my area, so things can be markedly different where you’re at…but in the end, it should all pencil out about the same.

Let’s start with the basics. Crops are figured by the acre (which is roughly half a soccer field). So most of the items you purchase to put the crops in and take them off are calculated based on how much it costs per acre. Crops that I will use in these examples are spring wheat, corn and soybeans…some of the more common crops in my area.

Check this out:

Example 1: Spring Wheat

The average yield (crop that they harvest) per acre for spring wheat is 49 bushels/acre in my area. The average market price is estimated at $7.54 per bushel. If you multiply that out, you would come up with an average income of $369.46 per acre. Not too bad, eh?

Well, that just doesn’t happen by itself. Let’s look at what it took to get there. The average direct costs associated with planting, pest management (taking care of bugs), nutrient management (taking care of soil), insurance, fuel, repairs, etc. is $192.92 per acre. Indirect costs, such as overhead, machinery depreciation, purchasing new machinery (usually just new to you, not new-new) and land charges, run about $117.52 per acre. The costs total $310.44 per acre. Hmmm…a little too close to that first number, right?

So, in an average year, planting spring wheat, a farmer can expect to make roughly $59 per acre. And that’s with fuel costs averaged at $3.40/gallon for gas and $3.20/gallon for diesel. We all know what is forecasted for those numbers, right?

I’ll spare you all the rundowns of the other two crops, and just give you the final numbers: Soybeans would average about $103 per acre and corn (for grain) would average about $150 per acre.

So what’s the average farm size in Dickey County (where I live)? It’s 1,100 acres. So let’s say we planted our whole farm to corn, and we had 1,100 acres, we would (according to these numbers) roughly make $165,000. (Also remember, that would be if you planted every acre and were able to harvest it. Most of the time, there are significant areas of drowned-out crops, etc.) And if we planted our whole farm to wheat? $65,000. (And let me tell you, we would never, ever dream to plant our whole farm to one crop. You remember that saying about all your eggs in one basket, right?)

But seriously, folks, that’s not how it works. Those are the numbers we shoot for and strive to reach…and like most professions, very little goes as planned.

For example (and these hit a little too close to home): imagine having to harvest all your wheat in one direction, doubling your fuel costs. Or having a pest move in, doubling your pest management inputs. Or having a wet spring, dry summer, late fall, whatever have you may, lowering your yields substantially.

No, to be honest, farmers on a national average follow this graphic a little more closely:

And that would be why so many farmers, and/or their partners, seek off-farm employment.

But we will plant a crop this spring, in hopes that we’ll meet or exceed our goal yields, while trimming as much off the expenses as we can…just like any good business person would do.

And that’s a fact.

P.S. I would especially like to thank Kacey Holm, our county extension agent, for his assistance in getting me these numbers. Extension ROCKS!

Wordless Wednesday – Corn Chopping (AKA Silage Cutting)

I was going through some of my older photos…and I realized that I hadn’t shared the shots that my 4-year-old took while we were driving truck for silage cutting.  Some of them are so funny, that I have to share.

EJ definitely has an eye for photography!

Today's post, brought to you by 4-year-old EJ.



Chopper at work...well, actually at rest, but getting ready to work.



Self-portrait. We'll call this, "EJ - Through the Looking Glass"



Chopper, at work again.



Up close shot of silage flying around.



Well, where would we be without our hands?



Had to get a shot in of his favorite person/mentor...Mr. Shorty.



Harvest 2011 in the Books

Yep, we’re done. What a relief! And can I tell you, this is the earliest we’ve been done with harvest in YEARS! Yay!

Yesterday I shot a few pictures…but I didn’t get there in time to get some of the shots I was dreaming of in my head. But this is my favorite from the day:

Waiting his turn.



I love seeing the excitement and joy in EJ’s eyes as he watches his dad and grandpa work. Out of all the boys, he has the most intense desire and connection to the farm…and he’s 4. He can tell you who owns what equipment, what it is and what his crops are (by the way, the little bales are his, and the big bales are his dad’s, just the same, the calves are all his, and the cows are dad’s). He knows how to get to each field, where he can and cannot go on the farm, and can sit in a tractor for a 12-hour day and not complain. Yet, he has no desire to write his numbers (I know he knows them, because he can read the numbers on a tractor), repeat the alphabet and switches colors at will (but will correct you with tractor colors). Yes, he will truly be a handful.

I’m hoping his stubborn streak changes by this spring…or else his kindergarten teacher will have to be creative in convincing him to share!