Growing our Generation: My true passion

Erika Murray of Morrow County, is editor of the Nov. 6, 2017 Growing our Generation e-newsletter, featuring insights and ideas directly from Ohio’s young farmers and food and agricultural professionals.

Hello, my name is Erika Murray from Mt.Gilead in Morrow County. I am the Administrative Assistant at the Morrow County Soil and Water Conservation District but my true passion is cattle and farming.

I grew up around farming. We had beef cows, chickens, and crops at my house and down the road my grandparents had a dairy and grain farm. It was an old eight stanchion tie, flat parlor dairy and over 350 acres of hay and grain. My most precious childhood memories all involve the farm, from baling hay and straw, to making silage, to rushing around to back wagons in before the rain hits. After 40 years of milking, in November 2008, my grandma sold the last dairy cow to a neighboring dairy and switched over to beef with the cow/calf herd she had started a couple years before. I have maintained my own herd of 4-5 head as well as a flock of layer hens. My fiance, Ethan, a small grain farmer from Southern Indiana, and I will be married later this month and plan to purchase our own land to start a grass fed beef operation within the next year or so.

I have been on the county Farm Bureau board for three years now and am currently the board secretary. I am part of the county YAP planning committee as well. In 2016, I traveled to Kansas City with the State YAP Committee as one of 10 selected to go to the YF&R Conference, which was a great experience that I would recommend to anyone!

Fair is where steers win ribbons
Estate planning has become a popular subject in the ag community. Farming has changed from what the older generations experienced and has become more of a business than only a way to feed the family. On my family farm, my grandma has her will planned out for when she passes. Each of her five children will receive an equal share of land, even though only two of the five have any interest in the farm and keeping it running. This tends to be the case on a lot of family farms due to the older generation’s mindset of ‘keeping things fair’ and avoiding conflict among the siblings. But what is fair really? The siblings that have worked day in and day out on the farm, having to struggle to keep it going, or having to split the farm because they can’t afford to buy out or rent the land from their siblings who don’t want to farm it but would rather sell it? This article from the Eastern Farm and Livestock Directory a few years back gives a nice example of what farms like my family’s are experiencing.

Always learning

Back in September, my office held a field day along with the county Extension office. The field day was held at our outdoor education center and cover crop plots. We had speakers on the effects of climate change on agriculture, updates from both the NRCS and FSA offices, soybean cyst nematodes, and finally on the tri-state rate trials we have been using in our plots.

field-dayThe field day was five hours and full of information, with lunch provided. However, the attendance was not especially high. I have seen this problem on several different occasions. Farmers today often have off the farm day jobs along with their farming or tend to have too much going on with the farm to attend these educational programs. There is a quote I much agree with, “Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can – there will come a time when you will be grateful you did.” In this ever changing world, it is important to keep learning, networking and growing, and county field days, YAP events, seminars or other community events are great opportunities to expand your knowledge and learn something new. The people you meet at the functions tend to be as important as the topics themselves. They may have new ideas, connections or be a resource for you down the road.

Mmm, mmm, pie!

pie-1One of my favorite fall activities is enjoying fresh picked apples, from making applesauce for the freezer, to baking homemade apple pie and eating caramel apples. My family has about six good apple trees and this year they were loaded with apples. Every year, my aunt and I each make several batches of homemade cinnamon applesauce and the past two years I’ve also gotten into canning pie filling.

Here is a simple and delicious recipe I found and used this year for canning pie filling.

I love baking pies and my favorite to bake is Dutch Apple. I have also won first place with it in a couple of pie contests. Here is the recipe I use:

1 ¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
⅓ cup shortening
3 tablespoons cold water

Combine flour, salt and sugar. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture looks like meal. Add water a little at a time and mix with a fork until it sticks together. Place in 9” pie plate.

6-8 apples peeled, cored, and sliced (enough to fill the pie pan)
1 ½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup flour

Layer sliced apples with brown sugar/flour mix

Crumb topping
1 ½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ stick butter, incorporated until crumbly

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until juice becomes like syrup.

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This e-newsletter is brought to you by Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Ag Professionals. Learn more about Farm Bureau membership, including a discounted category for those 18-24 years old.