Barley: From Our Farm to Your Beer

I posted an adorable picture of my dog AreenaJo in a barley field early this morning and it has put me on a “learn about barley” kick today. So I figured if I’m going to learn, we might as well learn together! It works out nicely that as I write this my resident barley expert, MyFarmer, is in the next room building a fishing pole so I can ask him as many questions as I want to and he can’t run away from me.

We are really lucky in southern Kentucky that we can “double crop” our fields, which means exactly what it sounds like… we can harvest 2 crops a year off of a piece of ground. To do this, we harvest the crop in the fall (corn) and plant the winter wheat or barley right behind it. We harvest the winter crop in late spring, then plant our “double crop” soybeans. (We always plant soybeans after wheat or barley.) The soybeans will grow all summer and will be harvested later in the fall. We don’t do this on all of our fields every year, but we do utilize this practice on fields that we want to prevent erosion of topsoil throughout the winter months.

We are one of the few farms in our little county that raise barley and we only raise on average 60-100 acres every year. Wheat is much more commonly grown in our area and we usually raise about 350 acres of it as well, but ScubaSteve is a humongous fan of barley. Why? Well it’s not because the price is better than wheat… that’s for sure. BUT it does tend to have a higher yield than wheat and most importantly the beans that are planted behind barley are higher yielding than the soybeans planted behind wheat. It’s enough of a yield boost to offset the difference in cash price between the wheat and barley and it helps our farm spread more risk out through crop diversification. Plus ScubaSteve loves barley… so we plant barley.

Barley is raised on every continent in the world that crops are grown and it is thought to be one of the first grains to be domesticated by humans. The top 4 countries for barley production are Russia, Germany, France and Canada. There are 2 types of barley grown around the world, feed grade barley and malting/food grade barley. Malting barley has a much higher starch content so it is preferred for making alcohol. About 60% of the barley produced across the world goes into animal feed, and the other 40% of the crop goes directly into human consumption via 2 main routes. 1) Milled/polished/dehulled barley or the barley is ground to make flours that can be used in a number of different breads/crackers/etc. 2) Beer. The majority of all barley that is used for human consumption actually goes into making beer! The types of barley used for beer are two-rowed barley and six-rowed barley. Different parts of the world prefer two or six-rowed for the purpose of making beer. The United States prefers six-rowed, but many other countries around the world prefer two.

So where does the barley from our farm go? Well… we don’t know. Some farmers actually contract their grain out to a specific company. There are a lot of farmers east of us that sell their corn directly to bourbon makers (this is Kentucky after all!) so they know that their corn is going to be made into bourbon. So the next time you drink bourbon pat yourself on the back for supporting a Kentucky farmer! ūüėČ I’m sure some farmers that grow barley near a beer making company take their barley directly to the source as well. We don’t have a local beer maker, so we take our barley to a local elevator where they load it on train carts and it can go anywhere in the US or world from there. (Fun fact about our little town.. until a couple years ago we were still a “dry county.” We had to go across the state line to Tennessee to buy any alcohol.) The type of barley that we raise is primarily used for animal feed, not beer, so sorry about kind of lying to you with the title. But I thought that sounded a whole lot better than “Barley: From Our Farm to a Cow’s Stomach to a Steak on Your Plate.” Please forgive me.

I’m not sure what your area of the world has been experiencing weather-wise, but it has been extremely unseasonably warm this winter for us. I think we have only had a few days where the ground was even frozen in the morning. Yesterday (February 24) was almost 80 degrees. That’s just unheard of. While the warm temperatures are great for walks with the dogs, it is a major concern for us on the wheat and barley front. We plant our wheat and barley after the fall crop has been harvested out of the field, so usually around October. This gives the barley and wheat about a month or so to come up and establish itself then it will go dormant for the rest of the winter. The problem with the extremely warm temperatures the last few weeks is that our barley and wheat have come out of dormancy and are growing like crazy. It looks great so that’s cool, but we are playing Russian roulette with the entire crop now. If the weather stays warm we should be fine and we will have a good crop come harvest time in June. The major BUT of this situation is this: If we have a cold snap come though it could really damage our wheat and barley and possibly kill it off. Seeing that we are just now in the end of February, a cold snap could very easily happen. Like MyFarmer says, “We will control the controllable’s and that’s all we can do.” Mother nature is most certainly not a controllable, so we will roll with the punches and see what she brings us this year.

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Well friends, I hope you have learned a little bit more about barley with me today. I also hope that you have a great weekend and that in the spirit of supporting farmers you have a beer or bourbon… if you’re into that sort of thing.

Laney

Ag Day 365 Week 3

The third week of January was unseasonably warm with a couple of days reaching the 70 degree mark. I’m not going to complain about these warm temperatures, but being from Ohio I’m a pretty big fan of snow. This time last year we had about 2 feet of snow on the ground. This year I’m bathing horses in a t-shirt. Weather is a funny thing.

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MyFarmer and I were chosen for the Agricultural Business Leader award given by the Franklin-Simpson Chamber of Commerce. It was such an honor to be chosen for this award, but even more of an honor to be recognized with the other award recipients that evening who are phenomenal at their respective business and professions. THANK YOU so much to the Franklin-Simpson Chamber of Commerce! 
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We raise barley and wheat as cover crops on some of our farm ground. We aren’t sure exactly where our barley goes after it is harvested, but we do know in the past it went to Blue Moon to be made into beer!¬†
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Delilah is very pregnant, and very fat. I don’t know why she’s so fat!¬†
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Well, okay… Maybe I have an idea. But the good news is we don’t waste any leftover pumpkins or indian corn! (Or pancakes…)
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Since it was 70 degrees, the boys got a bath. They weren’t at all happy with the situation, but they needed it! All of these warm temperatures and rain mean MUD. Lots of MUD.¬†
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Daphne is really coming along with her selfie skills. 
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I met a baby pig while shopping. And I died a little inside. I’m 100% terrified of full grown pigs, but widdle precious babes need cuddling… and I’m happy to do my part. ¬†

I hope everyone is off to a great week!

Laney

Awesome Things

There are a lot of awesome things going on in my little world right now that I feel the need to share with the blogosphere.

  1. My precious little 4-H horse judging team WON STATE CONTEST this week. I’m so proud of them! That earns our team invitations to compete at Southern Regional’s in Perry, Georgia, Eastern Nationals in Louisville, KY and The All American Quarter Hose Congress in Columbus, Ohio.

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    These kids. They’re awesome. As a team they were 2nd in performance, halter, and reasons and 1st overall. I’m so proud to be their coach!¬†
  2. Barley Harvest has begun! I love the fact that we get to have 2 “harvest seasons” in Kentucky.¬†We grow barley and wheat as cover crops in the winter (cover crops are great because they help prevent soil run-off and add extra organic matter back into the soil, among other things) and we will plant soybeans after the barley and wheat are cut. That’s called double-cropping for those of you interested in farm terminology. I KNOW you are here for educational purposes.

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    It’s the most wonderful time(s) of the year!
  3. Our sweet corn and Indian corn are looking AMAZING. I swear if you sit there and watch it you can hear it grow. Almost. Well, not really, but you get the point: it’s growing fast. Some of our first-planted will be tasseling in less than a week. Not much longer until we have delicious sweet corn! Oh, and if you’re wondering, the Indian corn struggle is still real. Growing that stuff makes me question life.
  4. The Florida State Seminoles softball team made it to the World Series again this year! GO NOLES! In case you’re wondering why I care about a softball team in Florida so much, MyFarmer’s brother, LaCraig, is an assistant coach for FSU Softball. So I’m contractually obligated to be a fan. HA!
  5. ¬†Delilah, Daphne, and baby Salvador Petrillo Snider went to summer camp this week! The girls were very excited to see their sisters and cousins and Sal is going to have so much fun playing with the other babies. I do miss them already though! And every time I go by their empty pasture I have a moment of panic because the cows are not in there, and that’s usually not a good thing.
  6. MUM PLUGS COME IN NEXT WEEK! This year we have close to 800 plugs coming, compared to about 215 last year. It’s going to be a long week but I’m so excited!
  7. While we are talking about mums, lets talk about our latest addition¬†at Ruby Branch Farms¬†– “The Bin”. We took an old grain bin that we no longer use on the farm and converted it into our sales pavilion. I LOVE IT. I’m so excited to decorate it this fall!

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    I mean seriously, how cute is this little dude?
  8. My “baby sister” Juju got married and I was NOT¬†emotionally prepared for it, apparently. I was a complete hott mess. I cried EVERY TIME I looked at her in that wedding dress. I wanted nothing more than to force her to be 7 years old showing DZ’s Rockin Reba in walk/trot again. But I am so happy for her and her new husband. Fun fact, my sister, Juju, and I all married farmers. What are the odds? Actually, if you know the three of us you would say the odds were probably pretty high.

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    *Holding back tears as I post this picture*
  9. Apparently I’m going to be on a radio show today to talk about a horse show that I am putting on for the fair board on the 25th. The text message telling me this was happening came through about 4 minutes ago. That should be fun!
  10. I have pumpkins growing! This year we are having a little pumpkin patch for the kids at Ruby Branch Farms. This is our first time with pumpkins so it’s going to be an adventure. More to come on that I’m sure. HA!

I hope you are having a great day, friends! And if you’re not, try writing down 10 awesome things going on in your life right now. Automatic great mood!

Laney

The Chaos That is Our Lives

I have 4 important points to make before we get into this blog:

*Clearing throat for dramatic effect*

  1. Adopting¬†3 feral cats from the local shelter in hopes that you can tame them and love them and squeeze them will only lead you to disappointment and despair. I’m not saying you shouldn’t adopt them to be your fearless¬†barn kitties, you totally should, but just don’t get your hopes up about getting unconditional kitty love in return. Zip, Zap, and Zoom should have been named Hiss, Growl, and Claw.¬†¬†Sighhhh

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    How many cats do you have to have before you become a crazy cat lady? I’m hoping more than 5…
  2. It is inevitable that once harvest is over and you finally get to folding the 439 loads of laundry that are piled on the guest bed, that an unexpected guest will arrive at your house and you will be mortified by the piles of underwear on your couch.
  3. Delilah thoroughly enjoys gorging herself on pumpkins in the fall. Who knew she was such a¬†#basicwhitecow? Actually cows liking pumpkin is a thing. Some farmers even use pumpkins as part of the feed rations for their cows. There’s your interesting fact of the day.
  4. You need to turn on your “oh crap I’ve lost my iPhone” thingymajig on your phone RIGHT NOW. After spending over an hour looking for my friends missing¬†phone after being ALL OVER our farm, we¬†got on the intraweb and it told¬†us EXACTLY where¬†it was via satellite imagry. Seriously mind blowing.

Now that the important part of this blog is over, lets move on.

Fall is drawing to a close and that means Ruby Branch Farms selling season is officially over. It was a bit of a sad day when we tore down and put everything away. Am I thrilled to have my life back to somewhat normal and not be married to the mums? Yes. Am I sad that I no longer get to hang out with my mums? Also yes. Are we totally looking forward to next year? Hellz to the yes!

On a serious note, we had a PHENOMENAL first year¬†selling our mums and fall¬†d√©cor. We sold more that we were expecting and actually made some money. I was¬†just as shocked as you¬†are!¬†Let me just tell you a story that’s marginally¬†embarrassing: ¬†We were about 4-5 weeks into selling season when my weekly deposit actually paid off our small operating loan and went into our bank¬†account. (We went from being in the red to being in the¬†black, if you will.)¬†I literally¬†had tears in my eyes and said, “We are actually going to make money!” And the teller¬†said, “Yes sweetie, you are!”¬†TellerPam either¬†understands the immense feeling of accomplishment that comes with starting a successful business with your husband¬†OR she thinks¬†I’m a little bit emotionally unstable and fears me. Either way she was very sweet.

I immediately called MyFarmer who was in the combine, and unbeknownst to me had a passenger with him. I was¬†so excited yammering on about how proud I was of us, how much I loved him, how much I loved mums, how amazing our life is, etc. etc. when¬†MyFarmer said, “By the way so-in-so is riding with me right now.” Oh, well, this is awkward. Whatevs, no amount of humiliation was going to ruin my day.

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I just love this picture. Henceforth, why it’s here.

 

Have I told you all about our “real” farm? Yes, we have Ruby Branch Farms that raises mums, sweet corn, and Indian corn,¬†so I suppose it is a real farm, kind of. I also have my large¬†cattle herd, you know,¬†Delilah and Daphne, but I don’t think having 2 cows makes you a farmer. And having 3 horses definitely doesn’t make you a farmer. (Something about how they are giant money pits and pasture maggots. Ha!) But the “real” farm is S & B Farms where we raise wheat, barley, corn, and soybeans. (By “we” I mean, MyFarmer, ScubaSteve, and LittleE.) To say the least, harvest was trying this year. There were fires, breakdowns, kidney stones, and augers falling from the sky, but thankfully everyone made it out in one piece, and we managed to have the best corn crop we have ever had!¬†You know the old saying, “you’ve got to take the good with the bad”? That’s what we are telling ourselves this year. I’ll elaborate more on harvest¬†in another post. Just to keep you wanting more. ūüôā

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I don’t tell everyone this, but I’m a professional¬†escort. I escort combines and tractors all over the place.

 

I hope that you all have an amazing Thanksgiving full of family and friends! (To my Canadian friends, I’m sorry I missed your Thanksgiving – I’ll do better next year, I promise!)

Be thankful for the farmers that raised the food that is on your plate!

Much Love,

Laney – lover of all things sunrises

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No editing on this picture. 100% Kentucky sunrise sent strait from the heavens above. I ‚̧ sunrises.

 

 

 

 

 

What Are We Doing Here?

You may be wondering, “Why in Sam Hill am I sitting here reading this blog post by some chick and what in the heck is a Ranchy Ruby anyway?” ¬†Okay, those are legitimate questions. ¬†First of all, I’m excited your here. Please plan on sticking around for awhile! ¬†We’re going to have a lot of fun. ¬†Here’s a short list of things that I promise will happen on this blog:

1)  Funny stuff.

2)  Discussions about agriculture.

3) ¬†Lots of pictures of Delilah. ¬†Who’s Delilah you ask? ¬†She’s only the most amazing, beautiful, and awesome cow in the world. ¬†You’re excited to see more of her, I can tell. ¬†I’m happy to oblige.

4) ¬† Updates on whats going on around the farm. ¬†Whether it be planting, harvest, mums, picking sweet corn, or more recently, sitting in the kitchen watching it rain for days on end, you’ll know whats happening!

5) ¬†Random stuff I learn throughout this journey of being a farmer’s wife.

Now, what is a Ranchy Ruby? ¬†Well, here’s the quick and dirty on that. ¬†Ruby comes from the name of my husband and I’s farm where we are raising mums and sweet corn: ¬†Ruby Branch Farms. ¬†Feel free to give us a “like” on Facebook! *insert shameless plug here* ¬†There’s actually a pretty cool reason for the farm name, I’ll be sure to post about that soon. ¬†Onto the Ranchy part. ¬†I REALLY want to call my little slice of livestock heaven a ranch. ¬†Granted, I have 3 horses and 1 cow, but still. ¬† MyFarmer REFUSES to allow the word “ranch” to be used to describe anything unless it is west of the Mississippi. ¬†Fine, whatever. ¬†But I CAN use the word Ranchy as an adjective. ¬†For example: “That horse with the brands looks really ranchy.” ¬†In conclusion, our place is not a RANCH but it is RANCHY. ¬†Are you following? ¬†Good. ¬†If you’re now picturing a giant red ruby jewel wearing a wild rag and a cowboy hat so am I. ¬†P.S. Your phone will most likely auto correct ranchy to raunchy. ¬†Be sure to proofread before you send your mom text about how ranchy some girl is.

I’ll leave you now with a teaser picture of Delilah… just to keep you wanting more.

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Photo by my awesome MIL Barbara!

Please feel free to comment with questions or suggestions!

Peace and Blessings y’all!

-Laney