Farming with Cianna

Farming with Cianna

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Changes In Agriculture (Past 50 Years)

Farming and Agriculture are rapidly evolving and constantly being made better. From the machinery getting bigger and faster, to the science behind farming becoming more understood, all aspects of this method that keeps all of us alive, are very fast pace.
After doing research for Farming with Cianna's first interview, I realized so many things have changed. Before looking into it, I expected the farm rates to have went up and the machinery to have improved, but I was partially wrong! There has been so much more change than that!

Farm Sizes and Numbers
As mentioned before, I thought that the number of U.S. farms had risen in the past 50 years. You would think since there are more people, there would be more farms raising our food.Well, research proved me wrong. The number of running farms in the United States has dropped over 8% in the last 5 decades. With that being said, commercial farms have gotten over two times larger to produce more foods.
Since people are growing crops more efficiently, more plants on less land, there is no need for more farms.  Because those large farms can afford modern machinery, they do not employee nearly as many people as they did years ago.

Modern Machinery

Image result for tractor clip  art
In the mid 1800's, people were working on machines to make their jobs easier. By 1892, the first successful gasoline powered tractor was ran in Iowa. Being so cheap and small, the first tractor model interested many farmers, but it wasn't until 1953 that there were more tractors doing the farm work than horses and men. The first machines could do the work of 17 men and 50 horses.
Tractors and the machinery they pull are so much more efficient today than they were any number of years ago. Like my grandma mentioned in the interview, she would have to sit on the back of a truck and hold the rake down with her feet while her father was driving. Now, our machines not only till the ground, but they can dig, plant seeds, harvest plants, and so much more. Modern technology really has us spoiled!

Irrigation Improvements

All throughout history, farms have been settled along bodies of water for easy access. In the 1840's, when Mormons in Utah dammed the river in order to flood their fields to soften the soil, they discovered the real benefits of irrigation. Water produced thriving plant growth throughout the desert. Congress took this into consideration and ended up passing several law in the few after to assist farmers in making costly irrigation systems.

Now, of course, we don't have to worry about flooding our fields because we have efficient irrigation systems to water, although some farmers still do it that way. Though many people depend on the rain to water their crops, we have a back up way just in case of drought.

Use of Pesticides

In the mid 1800's, they started using pesticides to cure powdery mildew on grape plants. Tons of pesticides were created after the first one helped the plants. Paris green (contained arsenic) was introduced to control the potato beetle, which was an insect native to the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains that rapidly ate potatoes grown by pioneers. By 1893, there were 42 known insecticides made by many manufacturers. These pesticides were around all through the 1900's.

Now, we know arsenic is poisonous to us, but many of the things they used in their pesticides were considered harmful to us today. They still use chemicals for pesticides on most of the food we eat today, but you also have the choice to go organic. Many people don't want to pay the price for the chemical-free food, which is sad because that's what the government planned. 
I found this awesome website that tells you what kind of pesticides are in the food you eat. It's really an eye-opener to see how many things have chemicals used on them. You really have no idea what they are doing to you. It's actually horrible that the government allows the amount of pesticides that they allow. Check it out:
"What's on my food" is presented by "Pesticide Action Network" or PAN. They protest the uses of pesticides. Check it out:


Growing crops is usually thought to be outdoors, in a field, but we have changed that. Now, people grow their plants in greenhouses or in buildings with UV lights. This new way of raising crops is very efficient because you are able to grow food through all seasons, hot or cold.
As time goes on, this method is getting more and more popular.

There have obviously been more changes in agriculture than the ones I have listed. Because people will probably never stop growing vegetables, fruits, and other foods, there will always be room for improvement. Farming is a way of life that will never stop evolving. Who knows what the future will bring!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Who Did I Get It From?

I was talking with someone the other day about my animals, and the question came up: "Who did you get it from?"
To be completely honest with you, I never really had thought it before, but as we went on to talk about how they knew my family, I  realized that farming has really been in the family for many generations.
 So, who did I actually get my love of agriculture from?
For the first time on Farming with Cianna, we have conducted an interview to find an answer to my question.

I decided to interview my Grandma Vicki knowing that she could give me all the details about my family's history.


Cianna: I was talking to some people the other day about the farming and animals, and the question came up "Who did you get it from?"
I was very caught off guard and realized that I've never really thought about it. That night, I was thinking about who I actually did get it from, but I really had no knowledge on the previous farming generations in our family. I knew about the farm that was by your house and how many of my loved ones were invovled, but I didn't know any details.
That is why I decided my next blog should be about my family's farming background and "Who I got it from."
If you don't mind, I have a few questions to ask about our family's history.


Farming is obviously a very fast evolving way of life. With new machinery being made, to science gaining knowledge, many things are constantly changing.
In the past 50 years, farming has drastically changed it's ways.
Some examples are:
  • People figuring out ways to produce more on less land.
  • New findings on genetics allowing us to modify foods for our liking.
  • Improved pest management programs.
  • Better fertilizer.
  • Larger, faster machinery.
  • Rapid and more accurate soil testing.
Questions and Answers
Cianna: How have you seen farming change in the past 20 years?
Vicki: They have developed better seeds that are disease resistant and produce more and they've created better machinery that makes everything easier.
Cianna: How many generations before you have been involved in agriculture?
Vicki: It all started with Samuel Huntly and his wife, Cathren Wolfe-Huntly. There have been 4 generations before me.
Cianna: What type of farming has ran in our family?
Vicki: We have raised crops and animals.
Cianna: Did you help out on the farm?
Vicki: Yes, my sister and I helped our dad with the raking and animal care.
Cianna: Did you have any daily chores around the farm that were meant for only you?

Vicki: Yes, I collected the eggs and when grandma didn't have time to milk the cows (Poke and Jers) I would milk them for her.

Cianna: What was it like living on a farm?

Vicki: It was very hard work working in the acre garden, feeding, and doing barn work, but it taught us a lot.

Cianna: Were their any animals on the farm that you were attached to?

Vicki: Poke and Jers, the dairy cows, and Dirty Sally, the sow.

Cianna: Are you glad you were raised in a farming atmosphere?

Vicki: Yes! Being raised in a farming atmosphere taught us how to respect hard work, how to respect each other, the animals and life itself. You get to experience things being born and death because of whatever reason. But, you learn not to take life for granite because it's a precious thing that only God can give and it doesn't last for very long, just like on the tombstones you have a birth date and a death date and that little dash in the middle is all the life you've got.

Cianna: Does farming still interest you?

Vicki: Yes.

Cianna: If you could go back to farming in the past, would you?

Vicki: I probably would because things weer still "natural". Today, everything is so fast-pace and we want to preserve everything by adding these preservatives that we don't even know what they are. I think we need to go back to a more natural state instead of putting chemicals in everything.

Cianna: What is YOUR definition of a farm?

Vicki: A place to raise animals, food, and family where there is a lot of love.

Cianna: What are the first words that come to your head when I say "animals, farm, outdoors,etc.."?

Vicki: Beautiful and calming. That's because when I'm upset, I know I can go talk to Velvet, and she'll calm me down and let me know everything's going to be okay. She's probably the one animal that knows more about the Bible than any other animal because I go down to the barn and read Psalms with her.

Cianna: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Vicki: I don't think.

Cianna: Well thank you very much for finally answering my question: "Who did I get it from?"
It's pretty cool to know where it all started and about the traditions we have carried on for many generations.
I am very glad to follow in their footsteps!

So it all started back in the 1820's when Samuel H. Huntly cleared the fields of his property to begin raising crops and animals. The land has been in our family ever since! How great!
I am so happy I got to interview my grandma. Again, I thank her for teaching me.

I hope you've learned a lot about my family and "Where I got it from"! I've really learned a ton!

Thursday, August 4, 2016


You may have heard of Stevia before. It's a sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of a Stevia plant, and is becoming popular again. Companies like Coca-Cola use a Stevia-Sugar mix to sweeten their products. Many people prefer Stevia over other "sugar imposters" such as Splenda or Sweet'N Low. It does not mess with blood glucose, which makes it attractive to people with Diabetes or controlled diets.
Stevia has no calories, but don't let that fool you. Total intake should still be managed; eating too much could make you gain weight as easily as too much sugar. Surprisingly, 1 tsp of Stevia = 1 cup of sugar, so be careful how much you add!
Fun Fact: Packaged Stevia is not necessarily straight Stevia. Many companies mix other compounds to lower the cost.
To avoid eating unknown substances, I make my own! Keeping reading to find out how to plant, harvest, and blend your own substitute!

I bought one Bonnie Stevia plant from Lowe's at the beginning of  Summer. I now have 6 different plants because they multiply themselves.  The plant I had purchased was a little wilted and in desperate need of water. Bonnie's website has a great list of tips for raising each type of plant they sell. ( I went to the website and did some research on the plant since I have never raised one before. I did what the website said to do and it only took one night for it to recover after being replanted and watered! Obviously, since it revived so fast, it is super easy to take care of! That's good news for people who have a hard time keeping plants alive, like my mom ( :

After growing all Summer, I decided it was time to harvest the leaves and finally make some sweetener! 
They do taste a tad bit better in cooler weather, but it is also bitterish after the plant blooms flowers, so I am going to get as many batches as I can.

 The leaves should get about 5-8 inches long (some shorter, some longer) before harvesting. The website says to cut the entire stem with the leaves on it, but I simply just detach the leaves and leave the stem. The leaves will regrow in their place. 

For my first batch of powder, I collected around 10 leaves. Of course you can use more, I was just experimenting, so I didn't want to waste any. 
Making your own blend is super easy!

 After you have harvested your leaves, thoroughly wash them. You don't want bugs or dirt in your substitute!

Completely dry them.

The easiest way to dry out the Stevia is to lay them on a dry towel, paper towel, cloth, or screen. Place outside in a place the sun can completely remove all moisture, or in a dry spot in the house.

Once completely dried, use a blender or Ninja to completely break the leaves into tiny grains.
Use to sweeten foods and drinks. Please note that Stevia grains do not fully dissolve, but they make a great sweetener!

You can also make your own Stevia extract by adding a cup of warm water to 1/4 cup of Stevia grains. Let mixture set for 24 hours and then refrigerate. The extract can also be used to sweeten foods and beverages.

There are so many things Stevia is used for. Baking is one of them.
It does sweeten everything without using very much, but keep in mind that it doesn't carmelize.
 See what all the buzz is about! Try it out for yourself!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

10+ Ways to Cut Down on Waste

Here at the farm, we used to go through trash bags like CRAZY!
After doing a little thinking, I came up with a list of stuff that would help to cut back on waste.
Not only are we saving money now, but we are also helping to save the Earth.
Many of the things we throw away every day can be reused around the house, or recycled.

Cut back. Period.

This can be hard for people to do, especially if they are as picky as I am.
I could suggest not buying single bottles of water, but I'm not going to because that's all I will drink.
I will suggest buying a reusable water bottle though, because they are becoming a popular thing, and getting a lot cuter!
I really believe we should all be cutting down on the processed foods all together. In that case, we would be cutting down the on packaging we throw away tremendously. We all need sweets and easy-to-make foods sometimes. In this case, we should buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging we pitch.
Also, use less napkins and paper products at your house!

These are just a few examples, but there are so many more great ways to cut back.
That's not all though! Put what you do have to buy to good use!

Reusing Around The House

I reuse many things around the house.
There's no need to throw away most of the stuff we tend to pitch!

1. Lunch meat containers can be reused for storing leftovers or other items (also can be recycled.)

2. Plastic water bottles can be re-purposed in many ways.
  • Use bottle halves to start seeds in.
  • Hang bottles with the ends removed in rabbit cages. Use for holding hay and treats to give them something to do.
  • Use for bird feeders. Poke holes big enough for their beaks, but small enough that the feed doesn't all come out. Put bird or chicken feed in and hang! 
  • Poke holes in cap and use as waterer.
  • Use dry bottles to store seeds for following years. 
  • Craft, Craft, Craft! Pintrest has a TON of crafting posts using plastic bottles!
  • Recycle them!
3. Used milk jugs (or any jugs) can be used as watering jugs as well. We fill them with our homemade herbal air freshener so it is ready to go when we need it. 

4. Used toilet paper and paper towel rolls can be used as hanging bird feeders and hanging hay holders for the rabbits.

5. Used K-Cups also have many uses around the house! (SAVE THE COFFEE GROUNDS!)
  • Use them as seed starters. They already have a drain hole in the bottom, so just plant and go!
  • Use them as bath bomb molds.
  • Decorate with them! Poke Christmas lights through the bottom holes, and have instant party lighting.
4.) Cut holes in the bottom of Nespresso pods and add them to a string of Christmas lights for a year-round decorative garland.:
  •  Check Pintrest for additional crafts and DIY K-Cup activities!
  • Again, Recycle

6.  Save Coffee and Tea Grounds for your compost bin, garden, and more!
  • Using the grounds in your garden adds nitrogen to the soil and greatly helps your plants thrive. It also eliminates snails, slugs, and ants!
  • Using them on root plants, such as carrots, makes them grow the most!
  • Cleaning with coffee helps get that deeper clean that some places need, not to mention it smells GREAT!
  • Make homemade scrubs and soaps with it! Once again, it smells awesome! 
  • Ladies - coffee grounds even have a possibility of helping with cellulite. Rubbing grounds on the areas for about 10 minutes a few times per week could help make it disappear.
  • Some people even cook with grounds! Meat rubs are the most popular.
7.  Look up DIY activities for other things you throw away. There are tons of things you can do with stuff that will save you money and create fun!

Getting Rid of Food Scraps

There are a lot of food scraps you have to pitch, but there are also many you can put to good use!

1. Replanting
  • Replant lettuce and celery bottoms, pineapple tops, mushroom stems, garlic heads, and onions to save you money and cut back.
2. Composting
  • Start a compost bin or pile if you don't already have one! You can add vegetable scraps, fruit scraps, eggshells, newpaper, wood scraps, manure, weeds, and grass cuttings. Keep turning it and you will have fresh, healthy soil in no time!
3. Feeding scraps to animals
  • Chickens, ducks, and rabbits LOVE getting vegie and fruit scraps!
  • Goats like anything really from vegies to old bread.
  • Feed meat scrap to your dogs.
I recommend not feeding your animals anything moldy.

Let Others Put it to Good Use

If you don't like that shirt anymore, or got a new TV, don't just throw it away. There's plenty you can do with that stuff!

1. Good Will and Thrift shops
2. Facebook Fleamarkets/Craigslist
3. Yardsale
4. Give to people in need
5. Freecycle
6. BuyNothing

There are always people out there in search of free or cheap stuff. Don't pitch it! Sell it or give it away!
Even things like baby food jars are needed by people.

I like the idea of saving the Earth. Though one person could never do it themselves, they can inspire others to help make a change. Change really does start with you!
Until tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Saving Money By Raising Mealworms!

Hey everyone! I am so excited to tell you about our new critters, that also happen to be chicken food!

MEALWORMS is the word! That's right. We are now proud Mealworm farmers.

Why bother with raising insects for our chickens you ask? 
Well, Mealworms are literally the easiest to take care of, they are cheap, and are great for chickens, so why not!? 

Mealworms provide plenty of protein that chickens need to lay eggs and live healthy lives.
Again, raising them is SO EASY!
Life Cycle
Mealworms actually are immature darkling beetles. 
Mealworms hatch from the beetle's eggs (2 weeks after laid) , and live a full 3 months before going into a pupa stage. They then spend a whole month in the pupa stage before coming out a full grown beetle. 
They then lay eggs, and the process starts again!
Simple enough!
Proper Housing

At first, we used a long, deep Tupperware container to house the worms, but then I found out they turn into beetles. 

Now we use this:

Using drawers ensures that the beetles will not make an escape, and since I am storing them in my room, I DO NOT WANT THEM TO ESCAPE!!!

The first and second drawers have the worms in them, and the last drawer has beetles and eggs in it. 
The female beetles will lay up to 500 eggs before she dies. 

We put almond flake flour in the containers for them to live in, but people also use saw dust and dry oats. 


They eat pretty much anything. We give them decaying grass and weeds, soft vegetables, and fruits. 
They do their own thing; we just give them food 1-2 times a week.


Harvesting the worms is also easy! Simply take out as many worms as you need and feed them to your chickens! I give mine roughly 1/2 cup per 5 hens.
Of course, this takes a while to grow as many worms as you need, so I would suggest not taking any live ones out until you have a large number of worms. The more worms you have, the more eggs you'll get.

You can also freeze dry the worms if you decide you need to cut down or just don't have the space anymore. Put the worms in a container with a lid and put them in the freezer for 20 minutes. This is considered a humane way to kill the worms..
You can store them in Ziplock Baggies in the freezer, but you may not want to see worms every time you open the freezer door. In this case, you can store them on a shelf.

Raising Mealworms is just one of the many ways we save money on the farm.
Come back to find out more ways we save money!