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JULY 2013 | Section A

Travis Hood

Hog Heaven

Hood’s Red Wattles are a rare breed

story By jeff tryon photos by josh marshall See hogs on A2

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Farm Indiana // july 2013


ust east of Bean Blossom in Brown County, Hood’s Heritage Hogs is raising Red Wattle hogs, a uniquely American hog bred in the 1970s by a farmer trying to reproduce the animals he remembered from his boyhood in Texas: ruddy hogs with fleshy, kidney-shaped dangles at the corner of each jowl. The Hoods, Travis and his wife, Lydia, along with their daughter, Taylor, 8, and son, Henry, 18 months, believe in raising healthy hogs in a sustainable fashion. Their pasture-fed, free-tomud-wallow porkers don’t get antibiotics, hormones or steroids. “The bottom line is, if you take any regular old market hog and you raise it outside in an all-natural manner, it’s already going to be better than 99 percent of pork you buy in grocery stores,” says Travis Hood. “But to take it a step further, we chose this breed for the taste.” The hogs are considered an endangered breed, with less than 1,500 registered Red Wattles in the world. They boast a “deeper red color, a richer flavor, and the fat-to-meat ratio is higher,” he adds. They are otherwise known as “lard” hogs. “If I process a 275-pound hog, I get back 80 pounds of lard,” Hood says. “But being as it’s pasturegrazed and all-natural raised, that fat is going to be healthier. It’s a different texture than what you see in pork in grocery stores.” Much like beef, the fat in a Red Wattle hog is marbled within the meat, which makes it taste good. “Everybody knows,” Hood says, “fat is where the flavor is.” Pig pampering for superior taste extends to the natural processing of the Hood farm’s pork products. “All the care in the world could be taken in raising an animal, but all of that work and all of those inputs could be ruined on the day it’s killed,” Hood says. “If that animal is … scared (on the day it goes to slaughter), it is releasing adrenaline, which gets into the meat, and it can lead to blood speckling of the meat, which takes away from the visual quality.”

The animals, he says, are not nervous because they’re used to being around Hood on a daily basis … and around machinery. “So the less stress we can put on them during that process, the better.” To keep the quality high and the brand allnatural, Hood trucks the meat three hours north to the only USDA-certified, all-natural processor in the state, This Old Farm in Colfax, just south of Lafayette. There, the meat is cured, not with nitrates and nitrites, commonly used in preserving foods, but with “turbinado sugar and sea salt, basically the curing methods that have been used for centuries,” he explains. “All of our bacon and hams are labeled ‘uncured,’ because the USDA does not recognize all-natural curing,” Hood says. “They only recognize nitrites and nitrates. It is cured, but it has to be labeled ‘uncured.’” Hood discusses how hog farming has changed



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Travis Hood gathers feed and spreads it for the hogs' dinner. OPPOSITE PAGE: Hood with his wife, Lydia, and their son, Henry.

Farm Indiana // july 2013





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Farm Indiana // july 2013

over the years. “Forty years ago, the future of farming was about streamlining and vertical integration,” he says. “A large hog operation might consist of 18,000 sows all in confinement inside; they never see sunlight, they’re on concrete floors, and it’s all to maximize survivability of the litters. They’re born, weaned from mothers at four weeks and given antibiotics and hormones to get to a processing weight as quickly as possible. “That’s great in that it provides the consumer with an affordable pork product with wide distribution in grocery stores,” he says. “But it’s been to the detriment of the quality of the pork. If you’ve only eaten pork from the grocery store for the past 30 years, you really don’t know what pork tastes like.” Hood says small family farms can’t compete

with large hog lots on price or availability; they have to compete with quality. Hood says he inherited the Red Wattle breeding stock from his in-laws. Now, he has a niche in the market, which has coincided nicely with culture trends toward slow food and local food-sourcing. “Right now some of our biggest customers are into charcuterie, home curing and home butchery,” Hood says. “People want quality stuff, and they want to learn how to do some things for themselves.” *FI

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The Way the Wind Blows ... As I’m sure most everyone did, I spent my fair share of time this spring watching news reports about the tornadoes that rolled through the Midwest, including the monster storm that hit the town of Moore, Okla., in May. It’s hard to wrap my mind around tragedies on such grand scales. It’s difficult to imagine the immense sense of loss … of life, of possessions, of future dreams and long-ago memories, of a sense of security, really. And storms like these make me think about you. Each morning around 8 a.m., I receive three alerts from The Weather Channel application I’ve downloaded to my phone. One alert tells me of the current temperature, one informs me of the expected high temperature for the day, and the last is a farm alert, which tells me the day’s weather and soil conditions. I’m not sure why I opted to receive the farm alert a year or so back, but I did, and it’s been eye-opening to track how drastically the weather can change and to consider how those changes can impact your lives. At this time last year, we were experiencing one of the worst droughts the Midwest had seen in decades. In 2013, continual

rains have threatened farmers’ abilities to get their crops in the ground. Each week’s — and each day’s, really — shift in weather patterns can negatively impact the health and wealth of your harvests. And that’s probably a pretty big understatement. I know I’m not telling you anything new. But if most people are like I was two years ago, they don’t really think much about the overwhelming consequences of these sorts of things. Each day matters in the life of a farmer. If it rains too much, you worry. If it rains too little, you worry. If the winds are too strong, the sun too hot, the clouds too thick … you get my drift. In recent years, weather patterns have continued to become more extreme — creating ever-more uncertainty for the success of people we most need to be successful: farmers. Today, harvesting a successful crop must feel a little like playing the lottery … and hoping to win every single time you play. Not many of us head to work each morning with an entire year’s paycheck balancing in the wind. But you brave souls do. For that, my hat goes off to you.

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Farm Indiana // july 2013

July 2013 Farm Indiana

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Ewenique Icelandic Sheep Farm Dale and Tim Arnholt The Gordon Family Indiana’s New Fruits & Flowers Trail Winton’s Iris Hill

B1 B4 B6 B8 B10 B12 B13 B14

Reins to Recovery The Science of Food Waterman Family Farm Seed Counts Morris Family Farms Bane-Welker Equipment Fair Prep: Katie Schmidt Quick Bites


A11 Comments, story ideas and suggestions should be sent to Sherri Lynn Dugger, The Republic, 333 Second St., Columbus, IN 47201, call (812) 379-5608 or email For advertising information, call (812) 379-5690.

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Farm Indiana // july 2013

Phil and Jennie Hoene cultivate a future for their family


eed some Italian dandelions? Have a craving for edamame? Looking for mustard or collard greens? What about different colors of corn for cornmeal? Jennie Hoene can fix you up, at least if what you desire is in season. Hoene and her husband, Phil, operate Ewenique Icelandic Sheep Farm on County Road 500W near the Jackson/Bartholomew county line in rural Seymour. The Hoenes grow a staggering number of plants: 1,500 okra plants, 600 eggplants, 600 peppers, seven types of dry beans, 1,280 tomatoes, 1,500 broccoli, 1,200 cauliflower, 900 cabbages. Then there are the apple, cherry and persimmon trees; Jennie likes to make persimmon jam. There are also grapes growing on their land, as well as blackberry and raspberry bushes. One of Jennie’s specialties is kale; she grows four varieties. “If you name it, I probably grow some variety of it,” she says.


A Wide Assortment

story By marcia walker photos by josh marshall

TOP: Cami Hoene, 14, picks Italian dandelion greens on the farm in preparation for a farmers market in Bloomington. ABOVE: (from left) Jennie Hoene, Lucas Nymann, Alicia Nymann, and Cami Hoene with the farm's dog, Eli.

Phil has a full-time job, so running the farm mostly falls to Jennie. And while she does grow many of the more familiar vegetables and fruits on their 102 acres, she admits to being drawn to the unusual and the unique. “I like weird things,” she says, as she maneuvered a utility vehicle through a grove of fruit trees and past rows of berry bushes during a tour. The Hoenes also have long-horn cattle and rabbits,

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both raised for meat, and as the name of the farm suggests, they also raise sheep, also for meat. “When I have time in winter, I like to mess with wool,” Jennie adds. But it’s hard to believe she has much free time. In addition to sheep, cattle and rabbits, the Hoenes have an assortment of other animals as well: horses, peacocks, a donkey, ducks and several Great Pyrenees, guard dogs for the sheep. “I like the animals,” says Jennie, who once operated a pet shop and keeps a parrot leftover from those days in her basement. Jennie, 56, was raised on six acres in Scott County. Her family had a horse and cow, and both her grandfather and father raised a garden. Her grandfather grew pole beans and edamame, a type of edible soybean, which he sold at auction in Louisville. The Hoenes moved to the farm where they now live in 1991 to help run it after Phil’s father became ill. The farm has been in Phil’s family for more than 100 years. “His father was born in this house,” Jennie says. When they moved in, the land housed a conventional farming operation with soybeans and corn as primary crops. But there were issues with erosion, and the couple decided they wanted to be better stewards of the land. “We wanted to be more conscious of the land, to leave it better than we found it,” Jennie says. A creek divides their property; the heavy, clay soil was easily eroded, and the Hoenes worked with the USDA to install sod waterways. They have also converted some ground to hay and pasture, rather than

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Alicia Nymann, Jennie Hoene, and Cami Hoene pick Italian dandelion greens.

row crops, which hold the soil better. Only one small section is now devoted to conventional farming. In addition to fruits and vegetables, almost all of which are heirloom varieties, the Hoenes grow hay, wheat and oats. They even have a small mill for grinding wheat and corn, which is sold to Muddy Fork Bakery, near Unionville, for use in its brick oven-baked breads and granola. The Hoenes use only manure produced by the animals on their farm and only organic products on their crops, including a concentrated garlic spray to deal with bugs.

Jennie Hoene holds great northern beans to be planted.

To Market Much of what Jennie raises is sold at Bloomington Farmers Market, but she also raises produce for 70


Farm Indiana // july 2013

community supported agriculture (CSA) subscribers living in Seymour, Columbus and Bloomington. Subscribers purchase either a half share or whole share, and Jennie delivers a basket of produce to them once a week during the growing season. “It’s what I have available at the time,” she explained. “A half share will feed a family of two on a mixed diet, a full share a family of four.” She says the decision to sell at the farmers market came about eight years ago, when she had an abundance of beans. “A bushel of extra beans started it all,” she explained. She took the beans, along with edamame, to the Columbus market, where another vendor, noticing her penchant for unusual produce, suggested she look into the Bloomington market. Jennie does most of the work on the farm herself, although she has several part-time helpers, including Lucas Nymann, a teenager who is home-schooled. “I


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Jennie Hoene picks pie cherries. BELOW: Lucas Nymann plants colored corn.

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love it,” he says, while planting potatoes. “There’s just something about farming and being out here.” His sister, Alicia, 15, also regularly lends a hand as does the Hoenes’ daughter, Cami, 14. Jennie says Cami is essential to the operation. Although Cami admits she doesn’t like getting up early, she says she loves helping her mother at the farmers market, where she has made friends with many of the vendors. Cami hopes to one day keep the farm going, because it’s a great place for her horses. “I love this farm so much,” she says. The days are long, often beginning before sunrise and continuing until dark, rain or shine. But Jennie also loves working on the farm. She admits there are challenges. One is getting the crops out in the spring between rainy spells. Heavy, dark, threatening clouds moved in while the potatoes were being planted, prompting concern that rain might fall before the potatoes were covered; 10 rows were successfully completed before showers set in. Jennie, who at one time held jobs in real estate as well as at an attorney’s office and a local bank, doesn’t regret trading in a desk job with regular hours and free weekends for long hours in the fields. She says every once in a while she thinks about those days, but not very often. “I feel like I’m building something here for our family and someone else’s family,” Jennie explains. “Plus I love being outdoors.” *FI

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Watching Things Grow Although part of a family with deep roots in Bartholomew County, Tim Arnholt’s plunge into farming was almost an afterthought Story by Richard Isenhour | Photos by Josh Marshall

(from left) Pierce, Dale, and Tim Arnholt

Enter the circular drive on South Road 525E, about 10 minutes outside Columbus, late in the morning and you’ll likely be greeted by an elderly man driving a white pickup truck.

It’s 85-year-old Dale Arnholt, patriarch of this branch of the Arnholt family, and he’s just finished a three- to fourhour stint on the tractor and is ready to call it a day. Decked out in his jeans and suspenders, Dale emerges from the truck. At once you are struck by his broad smile and large, muscular hands, calloused from years of honest work. He greets you warmly and, without stopping, apologizes for his dirty hands as he firmly clutches your hand and shakes it vigorously. “You’re here to see Tim,” he says as he continues his labored walk toward

the house. “He’ll be here pretty quick.” Tim Arnholt, who on this sunny day prefers walking to the house, is Dale’s son. The two have been farming together for more than 20 years. During that time, though, their roles have reversed, with Tim growing from helper to fulltime operator of the family farm, and Dale evolving from full-time farmer to a retiree who refuses to give up entirely what has been his life since he was a kid. “He’s been farming for more than 75 years,” Tim says proudly. “I still put him on a tractor for about four hours every morning when we’re planting. He still helps out with the soybeans, and he’s still as sharp and as smart as he’s ever been. I don’t believe he’ll ever completely give up farming.” Dale purchased the farm about 64 years ago, soon after he and Tim’s mother, Marianne, were married. Back then, the property included 45 tillable acres, and in addition to raising corn, wheat and soybeans, the elder Arnholt had about a thousand pigs and a hundred head of cattle to tend.

“My dad had cows and pigs everywhere when I was growing up,” Tim recalls. “They were a lot of work and took a lot of time to take care of. To get a break during this time, we used to go camping and fishing. We came home one time, and the cows had been out for a week and had been through much of the corn. It was a mess, and it wasn’t long after that that he started getting rid of them.” With no livestock to tend, Dale could concentrate on growing the planting side of the operation. “We began adding parcels throughout the years,” Tim notes, “and today we have about 900 acres that we farm. With the exception of about 120 acres that’s about two miles away — along Highway 7 — it’s all pretty much right here. I’m pretty happy with the size of our operation today, but I’d still like to add a couple hundred acres in the future.” The Arnholts no longer plant wheat, opting to focus their efforts on corn and soybeans. On an average year, they harvest about 150 bushels of corn per acre

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Tim Arnholt in his John Deere 7810.

and about 50 to 55 bushels of soybeans. During a good year, though, they’ve harvested as much as 200 bushels of corn an acre and 65 bushels of soybeans. “We alternate our fields with corn and soybeans, although there are a lot of guys out there who farm corn on corn,” Tim says. “We do well with both crops, although you make more money with corn, partly because of its use in ethanol and liquor.” The farm also uses no-till farming, a practice Dale began about 25 years go. “He was one of the first farmers in the area to use it,” Tim says, “and we’ve been doing it ever since.” Tim sees the irony in being a farmer. At one time, farming wasn’t even on his radar. “I helped out some when I was a kid, but I loved sports and that took up much of my time,” he explains. “When I graduated high school, I never thought I would farm. But here I am. I’ve got a finance degree, a degree in consumer sciences and a math minor, and I’m working on a farm.” Tim says his passion for farming was planted soon after he graduated from

Tim's children Stella, 10, and Pierce, 7, play on a homemade merry-go-round built by Tim's grandfather in the early 1950s.

college in the early 1990s. “I had two or three job offers right out of college,” he says. “They were in sales, and I wasn’t sure that was what I wanted to do. I decided to spend the summer here and started helping my dad. One day, he said to me, ‘I’m going to retire, and if you ever want to do this ….’ I actually enjoyed working there, so I stayed around. “I just like being outside all the time. I enjoy watching things grow and working among the wildlife.” Actually, Tim is one of a long line of Arnholts who are mainstays in the Bartholomew County agricultural community. His grandfather, Albert Arnholt, was a lifelong resident and farmer. Albert’s sons, Dale and Floyd, also are farmers in good standing, and Tim has a number of cousins and distant cousins who likewise make their living working the soil. “The Arnholt family has a long history in Bartholomew County, especially in the agriculture community,” says Mike Ferree, retired educator in the county’s Purdue Extension office. “They are excellent farmers and are great people.” Tim isn’t sure what the future holds

for his branch of the Arnholt farming family, though. His daughter, Stella, 10, and son, Pierce, 7, both enjoy coming to the farm, but he isn’t sure it will be their passion. “I don’t know if I want to be 85 and still helping them,” he jokes, before turning serious. “I’m not going to pressure them one way or the other. My dad never pressured me.” *FI

Marianne Arnholt tends to her roses.

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Martha and Bill Gordon with their daughters, Rachael, left, and Rosanne.

Homesteading has been a way of life for the Gordon family Story by Sharon Mangas


artholomew County’s Lindley Heritage Farm, on the corner of U.S. 31 and South Road 500E, has been in Martha Lindley Gordon’s family since the 1830s. Her great-greatgrandfather, Isaac Cox, the original owner, purchased the property from the federal government. Martha, 62, and her husband Bill Gordon, 70, still have the original land-grant certificates for the farm, signed during the presidential terms of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. To put that in perspective, Jackson and Van Buren were the seventh and eighth U.S. presidents. President Obama is number 44. The family has a rich history. “My other great-great-grandfather, Jonathan Lindley, migrated from North Carolina in 1811 to the Orange County (Indiana)

area, along with a community of fellow Quakers,” notes Martha. “Indiana was still a territory at that time. Jonathan Lindley was a very influential man. He helped found Indiana University, back in 1820. Lindley Hall on the IU campus is named after my family.” Martha says she isn’t sure when Lindley first came to Bartholomew County. “I know my great-grandfather, Charles Lindley, married Zilpha Cox — Isaac’s daughter — at the Sand Creek (Quaker) Meeting House in 1851, located about a mile and a half south of here,” she says. Martha has her great-grandparents’ original 19th-century Quaker wedding certificate, signed by the entire congregation. The Lindley farmhouse, built in 1870 and renovated in 1914, is a comfortable, old-fashioned home.

Photos by Josh Marshall

Time slows as the Gordons chat and sift through a pile of historical family documents at their kitchen table. It’s like going back in time until Bill and Martha relate their own aloha love story. Their stars aligned back in the 1960s on the island of Oahu, about as far from an Indiana farm as you can get. “I enlisted in the Army in 1967,” says Bill, “and was stationed in Hawaii. One summer I went to a beach party in Waikiki and met a farmer’s daughter from Columbus, Indiana, who was working in Hawaii. We dated for a couple of years and married in 1972.” The tall soldier from San Antonio and the adventurous college coed — whose love bloomed on a tropical island — will celebrate 41 years together in August. Bill retired from active military duty in 1976, and the couple

returned to the farm to live with Martha’s father, Charles R. Lindley. Charles had just retired from farming, and Martha’s mother, Gladys, had died three years previously. “Growing up here was good,” says Martha. “I was kind of a tomboy. My folks were married 19 years before I was born — Mom was 39 and Dad was 43 — so I was their miracle baby. Pop raised hogs, sheep and a few calves, and grew corn, soybeans, wheat and tobacco.” The 200-acre farm straddles both sides of U.S. 31, with another parcel about a mile away. “After Pop retired,” recalls Martha, “he rented most of the acres out.” Bill segued into a career in computer programming at Arvin Industries and only dabbled in farming. He recalls how green he was on his first visit to the

farm, prior to marrying Martha. “There was no farming in my background,” he explains. “I had a country background growing up in Texas, but I was ignorant about agriculture. The week before we married, I was on leave, staying at the farm. I wandered around the place and went in the chicken house, and saw what I thought was a flat egg. I was amazed. I had never seen a flat egg before. I went back to the house and Mom (Gladys) asked how I was doing. I told her everything was fine, and then I said, ‘You know, I found a flat egg in the chicken house.’ Lucky for me, Mom didn’t fall on the floor laughing. She just said, ‘Oh, Bill, that wasn’t a flat egg; that was a doorknob.’ “That’s how stupid I was. I couldn’t tell the difference between a chicken egg and a door-


Farm Indiana // july 2013

Bill Gordon checks to see if a gas pump on his farm still operates. When he turns it on, the pump jumps to life. Gordon estimates that the pump hadn't been turned on since the late 1980s. It was during that time that gas was so cheap, he would buy a few gallons on the way home from his job and pour them into the tank, just to have on hand in case there was another shortage.

knob! I found out Mom and Pop, like many farmers, put porcelain doorknobs in nests to entice the chickens to lay eggs.” Martha and Bill have five children, Cheryl, 48 (from Bill’s first marriage), Matthew, 37, John, 35, Rachael, 31, and Rosanne, 26. When the kids were growing up, Martha and Bill rented out most of the farm acreage and began homesteading the 13 acres they kept for themselves. Their goal was self-sufficiency. “I was a homemaker and stayat-home mom, and one way I could contribute to our household was by doing as much stuff as I could from scratch,” says Martha. “I made my own bread, milling my own flour and cornmeal. I Martha Gordon, left, and her daughter, Rosanne, dressed in period pieces from the Civil War era.

“I was a homemaker and stay-at-home mom, and one way I could contribute to our household was by doing as much stuff as I could from scratch.” —Martha Lindley Gordon

grew a big garden, canning as much as I could. We raised pigs, chickens and sheep. I spun my own yarn. We had our own eggs. We got good things from our farm and garden. We knew where our food came from and what our children were being fed. We saved a lot of money producing things on our own.” Years before “locavore” and “organic” were buzzwords, Martha considered opening a restaurant on the farm, serving organically grown meat and vegetables. “I even picked a name for it: Good For You Restaurant. It never materialized, but we were ahead of our time with the idea. Now organic foods are everywhere.” Extending self-sufficiency to

education, Martha home-schooled the children. The youngest three were also 10-year 4-H members, showing sheep, goats and poultry. Everyone worked hard, but the family had fun. One story that still draws laughter is the tale of their peahen, Gertie, who blew in with a storm. With no peacock, there were no chicks. The Gordon kids felt sorry for her and slipped some fertilized chicken eggs into her nest. “She wanted to be a momma so bad,” says Martha. To Bill’s surprise, when the chicks hatched, they accepted Gertie as their mother. “I told the kids she wouldn’t accept them,” he says. “But what did I know? I was the flat egg guy.” The chicks followed their adopted mother around the barnyard, re-

sponding to Gertie’s loving clucks, long after they were full grown. With Rosanne, the last child living at home, homesteading has now moved to the back burner. Mother and daughter have a passion for historical re-enactments and devote a lot of time to their hobby. They participate in reenactments about twice a month in the summer — mostly at Revolutionary War-era events — when Rosanne’s schedule allows. Tending a smaller garden, raising a few sheep, baking bread and enjoying 2-year-old grandson Emmett (John and wife Cindy’s son) are about all Martha has time for these days. Bill, now fully retired, keeps the home fires burning when the girls are gone. *FI

Gordon holds the actual doorknob he mistook for a flat chicken egg.

Farm Indiana // july 2013



Southern Indiana’s New Fruits & Flowers Trail lifestyle. There are 34 places to visit on the Fruits & Flowers Trail this summer. Other attractions include botanical gardens, wineries, farm-to-table restaurants and much more. When travelers visit one of these trail venues, they will find Hoosier-grown produce or flowers and can also pick up something special to take home. Each trail venue provides a free local recipe or gardening tip to all visitors. For example, during a family trip to Beck’s Mill in Salem, kids can see water power grinding corn into corn meal, which is sold at the mill, where free Fruits & Flowers recipe cards for Indiana cornbread are also available. At Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell, families can relax in the park and pick up the Fruits & Flowers recipe card for persimmon pudding. While on the park grounds, visitors can stop by the restaurant at Spring Mill State Park Inn to taste the dessert. Adults will enjoy unique recipes on the Fruits & Flowers Trail, including strawberry sangria from Clark County and a fruit and wine recipe from Spencer County. Knox County’s homegrown bounty is also featured on the trail. The Big Peach in Bruceville and Prairie Acres Restaurant and Farm Market


he terrain of southern Indiana is known for rolling hills, meandering rivers, dark caves, underground limestone and dense forests. This summer, it is the southern Indiana abundant farmland that is taking center stage. The Fruits & Flowers Trail is a brand new Indiana trail designed to attract visitors to the area to enjoy local produce and agricultural activities during the spring and summer. The trail highlights local establishments, such as farm markets, orchards, gardens and restaurants, that are located throughout the 18-county area. Each establishment was selected to represent locally produced favorites and to offer travelers a unique Indiana experience. Every venue on the trail provides a special sight or taste of southern Indiana agriculture and

in Oaktown are being highlighted on the trail. Visit either one of these establishments to collect a recipe for watermelon salsa, made with Knox County’s famous fruit. The Fruits & Flowers Trail was developed and is being promoted by the Southern Indiana Regional Marketing Cooperative (SIRMC), an organization created almost 20 years ago to facilitate partnerships to effectively motivate travel to the southern Indiana region. Last May, SIRMC was awarded a $9,000 trail grant through the Indiana Office of Tourism Development for the Fruits & Flowers Trail. The state invested funds to assist communities in developing, expanding and marketing thematic trails that will drive tourism in Indiana communities. *FI Travelers can visit the Fruits & Flowers Trail website ( to view all the establishments on the trail.

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Farm Indiana // july 2013

Doris Winton feeds her passion at Winton’s Iris Hill FAMILY FARMS

Doris Winton sits among her many hostas that are for sale at her Johnson County farm.

story By ryan trares photos by josh marshall

In the sprawling corn and soybean fields of southern Johnson County, an oasis of color stands out. Long garden plots of irises in white, yellow, purple and magenta roll down the small slopes of Winton’s Iris Hill. Day lilies and hostas sway in the breeze. For the past 30 years, Doris Winton has raised the plants on the five-acre farm. Though not the traditional type of cultivation done in rural Johnson County, Doris still feels a close connection to area farmers through their ability to work the land and to grow plants from it. More importantly, the world of bearded iris, day lilies and other plants has given her experiences that few other professions could. “I get to meet people from all over the world,” she says. “They have to be flower lovers, or they wouldn’t come out here. I’ve met people from Germany, Alaska, all over.” On Winton’s Iris Hill, carefully tended beds of plants have grown out of the hillsides in terraces, on the tops of small rises and out across the lawn. She has more than 1,000 varieties of bearded lilies and 1,200 varieties of day lilies. Two full display gardens showcase hostas of all kinds. Included in the garden bed is the Empress Wu hosta, a massive plant that can grow to 7 feet wide and 5 feet tall. The hosta is the largest variety being cultivated, Doris says. Dogwood, whitebud and redbud trees grow along the beds. In the back corner of the property, a massive white oak sprawls over gardens of hellebores, hostas and yellow celandine poppies. Through research, Doris learned the oak tree, which she named “Big George,” has been growing since the 1860s. The tree’s canopy, which stretches more than 100 feet across, provides a nurturing environment for the plants to grow. For decades, a beehive established up in its branches offered a steady stream of pollinators for the gardens. To tend to the plants that require more shade, such as hostas and ferns, trees were planted as a perimeter around a garden bed that houses more than 1,000 plants. “It (the garden bed) gets a little sun,

but not so much to burn (the plants),” she explains. “It was a nice natural solution.” This past year has seen changes at Iris Hill. Doris’ husband, Charlie, died after a long battle with cancer. The two had been operating the farm for the past 30 years, and the loss was difficult to handle. While Iris Hill was initially Doris’ hobby, she and Charlie were a team, putting in hours of seasonal work together. “He was my botanic hydration manager,” she says, with a laugh. “My grandson gave him that title for watering the plants.” The couple bought the property that became Iris Hill in 1975. Charlie started building a house on the land two years later, and it took him over a year working on weekends and at night to finish it. Right around that time, Doris planted her first plot of irises. “It started just as a hobby,” she explains. “But people kept stop-

Farm Indiana // july 2013

The Winton family home was inspired by a home Doris' sister saw in a magazine and sent to her. Doris' husband, Charlie, took the photo to an architect who made the size of the home larger and produced blueprints. Charlie then built the home.

Winton’s Iris Hill Owner: Doris Winton Founded: Property purchased in 1975 by Charlie and Doris Winton; business started in 1984. What: More than 1,000 varieties of bearded iris and 1,200 varieties of day lilies; more than 400 varieties of hostas; two hosta display gardens; more than 1,500 potted day lilies and 1,000 potted hostas; perennials of all kinds. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday through Sept. 1; other times by appointment. Information: or (812) 526-9237

ping and asking if I’d sell some. So I sold some and bought a few more, sold some and bought a few more.” By 1984, her flowers were in such demand that she decided to start a small business. She already had a full-time job as a tax consultant, which fit in perfectly with her desire to grow flowers. The busy tax season ended just as she needed to start tending her gardens. Doris retired from the tax business in 2005, right around the time her husband was first diagnosed with cancer. “He needed me here to help him,” she explains. “So after 30 years I stopped doing taxes.” Tending the gardens requires constant work from the spring thaw until the end of the season, Doris says. Day lilies and irises need to be cut back to help control the quality of the plants and reduce the chance of disease. Day lilies are tricky, Doris says. They need to be fertilized and watered regularly in the early spring and then again in July when the blooms are out. The farm’s soil also provides a fertile growing place for weeds. So Doris and her assistants spend hours clearing out the beds to prevent invasive species from taking root. “There’s never a time when you can say we don’t have something to do,” she explains. “There’s always something to do in the garden.” Winton does most of the tending herself, though a neighbor also helps. She plans to keep the gardens going as long as she can. Gardening has been part of her life for decades, and she doesn’t plan to give that up any time soon. “It keeps me busy most of the time,” she explains, “but it’s something I love doing.” *FI

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JULY 2013 | Section B

Calli Johnson, director of Reins to Recovery, poses with Little Jo at her Seymour training facility.

Taking the Reins

Seymour’s Calli Johnson uses horses to help children in need story By ed wenck | photos by josh marshall


Johnson longes Jaybo for exercise.

n 1952, a Danish equestrian athlete named Lis Hartel won a silver medal at the Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. She was competing against men. And she was paralyzed from the knees down. Hartel had contracted polio while pregnant with her second child in 1944, and the effects of the illness seriously threatened her ability to compete in her beloved sport of dressage. Hartel worked long hours to put herself back in the saddle, though, and after three years of rehab she was competing in the Scandinavian riding championships. After refusing to submit to the disease, she then refused to submit to the gender stereotypes of the day, becoming the first female ever to medal in an equestrian event — all the more notable given that women hadn’t even been able to compete in Olympic riding events prior to ’52. Her feat so moved the gold medalist, Henri Saint Cyr, that he carried Hartel to the podium after she had been helped from her horse. Her story would have been powerful enough had it ended there, but Hartel was far from finished. She won a second silver in 1956 — and then went on to found the first therapeutic riding center in Europe. Hartel was convinced that the simple act of riding a horse had profound curative effects for those suffering with both physical and mental challenges. By the 1960s, the American Medical Association recognized the therapeutic benefits of horseback riding for a wide variety of patients, and by the end of the decade the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) had been formed.

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Reins to Recovery Calli Johnson 1660 N. County Road 1000W, Seymour (812) 350-4864


Farm Indiana // july 2013

reins // cont. from B1 Hartel’s vision spread across the globe, and one manifestation of the idea was founded in 2008 by Calli Johnson: Reins to Recovery. This therapeutic riding center in Jackson County helps “people with a wide variety of disabilities,” according to Johnson. “Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism are most common; but then we also work with people dealing with ADHD, seizures, stroke, paralysis, all different disabilities.” Johnson’s interest in creating the center began when she was attending high school at Columbus East. Her senior project was a study on animal-human interaction. She took a therapy dog for a weekly visit to a class of kindergarten children who were all coping with physical or emotional issues. She noticed how the dog interacted with the kids and more impor-

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“Doctors have told parents, ‘Your child’s not going to walk,’ and we’ve had a couple instances where we’ve helped a child not just walk, but run.” —calli johnson

Farm Indiana // july 2013

tantly, how the children responded to the animal. “There was a kid who would never read to anyone, but he’d read to the dog,” she says. Intrigued by the possibilities, Johnson began studying occupational therapy in college, and when she discovered that there was a niche that utilized her other love — horses — she knew she’d found her calling. She currently has seven therapy horses. The animals are different sizes with different personalities, and she matches horse to patient. An example: “Let’s suppose we have a rider who has muscles that are tight or spastic. We’re going to find her a horse that relaxes her,” she explains, “(a horse that) gets that range of motion that they’re looking for. We’ll put her on a wider horse.” While there’s scientific evidence that backs the benefits of horse therapy, Johnson has seen the effects firsthand: “Doctors have told parents, ‘Your child’s not going to walk,’ and we’ve had a couple instances where we’ve helped a child not just walk, but run,” she says. “I’ve seen a rider speak his first word at age 3 on a horse. He told that horse to go.” While it takes multiple sessions for some riders to make progress, the effects are instantaneous for others, especially those with behavioral issues. “We could be on the mounting ramp, and they could be throwing a tantrum. … The minute we get them mounted, they’re calm, cool, collected, focused. You know, a complete three-sixty,” she says. Some riders, of course, are scared about climbing aboard a thousand-pound animal, so two side-walkers, plus a leader, accompany those in the saddle. “Those volunteers really come into play when it comes to gaining the riders’ trust, giving them the encouragement they need to push forward and reach those goals. They give them credit for their accomplishments.” Lissa Allman’s daughter, Karsen, was unafraid when she began her therapy at Reins to Recovery. Karsen suffers from Angleman Syndrome, a deletion of the 15th chromosome that impairs intellectual and physical development. It imparts a happy, fearless demeanor, though, and that’s enhanced after a session on horseback. “She thinks she owns the world on that horse,” says Allman. “She stands up in the stirrups, and after every session she’s excited, vocalizing ….” The fact that Karsen stands at all is nothing short of miraculous. “The doctors told us she’d never walk,” Allman says. “Here we are, three or four years after starting the therapy, and she’s walking unassisted. She can sit straight up now.” Allman first heard about horse therapy when she attended a conference in California in which the treatment was recommended for the syndrome. Now she takes Karsen to therapy at Reins once a week. The rest of the family is involved, too; Allman’s older daughter, 14-year-old Sydney, volunteers at the facility. Some riders like Karsen get private sessions. Some are in groups. Most riders are walked in an indoor arena that is utilized year-round. Games of green-light, red-light help riders learn to stop the horse and

help with upper body strength as the rider has to maintain their posture while the animal stops and starts. Using the fine motor skills required for something as simple as gripping the reins helps stroke victims learn to use both hands in conjunction with one another. Some of the more advanced riders take a short trail ride at the end of the lesson in the fresh air and sunshine. Johnson has adopted one horse, and the others are leased. Funds come from community support, fundraisers and grants. (Her next big fundraiser is slated for Aug. 24 at the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds.) Each lesson costs $30, and four 10-week programs are scheduled seasonally. There is a scholarship program as well, but Johnson cautions that it is fairly competitive. As far as Allman is concerned, though, the weekly expense is invaluable. She hopes that one day insurance might cover some portion of the costs, but even if it never does, “it’s worth more than what we pay.” *FI

TOP: Calli Johnson with her 5-month-old daughter, Emerson. ABOVE: Kayla Coulter helps Johnson as she prepares to longe a horse. OPPOSITE PAGE: (from left) Sarah McNamee, Kayla Coulter (on horse) and Alice Crane assist riding instructor Janette Coulter as she trains Dalton. The horse goes through training before working with children in a therapy session.



Farm Indiana // july 2013

Story by Ed Wenck

The Science of Food

Today’s university students work to ensure safety in what we eat tomorrow


ood science. There’s some who might be uncomfortable seeing those two words next to one another in a single phrase. After all, don’t scientists conduct … experiments? Allow the Purdue University Department of Food Science Web page to set the record straight: “As the largest industry in the United States, food processing employs nearly 2 million people and accounts for more than 16 percent of the country’s gross national product.” The folks managing those 2 million people are trying to make what comes to your table safer, healthier and more convenient. Someone has to make sure the processing of the things we eat happens in a fashion that’s best for both producer and consumer. This isn’t to be confused with “agronomy.” Food scientists aren’t necessarily the folks behind the creation of Roundup-ready corn seed. Back to the website: “Food scientists use principles from biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and engineering to convert agricultural commodities into edible foods and beverages.” More specifically, according to Suzanne Nielsen, head of the food science department at Purdue, “Sometimes food science is best explained by the kinds of jobs our students are taking. … Most of them work in quality assurance roles, in product development roles, management, sensory evaluation roles or technical services to help develop and ensure

the safety of foods in our supply.” Food scientists make your bread taste better. Food scientists make sure your chicken is being cut up and packaged properly. Food scientists figure out ways to make a potato chip plant run more efficiently. And the research being done at Purdue impacts all of those things. “The research that our faculty does falls into one of four categories,” Nielsen says. “Either it’s chemistry-related — we call it chemistry structure and function; it’s in the area of foods for health and safety; microbiology; or food processing and technology development. They’re chemists, they’re nutritionists, they’re microbiologists or they’re engineers.” Of those four, the one generating the most interest is the notion of creating foods that are safer and healthier — the “intersection of food science and nutrition,” according to Nielsen. “Consumers are concerned about the health of the food and the safety of the food they’re eating — even though in the U.S. we have one of the safest food supplies in the world.” Still, food scientists have learned that microorganisms can adapt, making, say, the need for an ever-vigilant monitoring system in the processing of meats more urgent. The research in this area is incredibly varied. Some examples: Purdue University professor Kevin Keen-

er found that cooling fresh eggs as rapidly as possible after they were laid could extend their shelf life for weeks at a time. Purdue professor Lisa Mauer created a technique using infrared light to cut the detection time of E. coli in meat from two days down to one hour, speeding the investigation of an outbreak in order to track the source in a vastly more effective way. And Mauer and Purdue professor Lynne Taylor discovered that anti-caking agents (additives that keep out moisture) designed to protect powders rich in Vitamin C actually help to degrade the very vitamin those agents were designed to guard. But the research doesn’t end at the plant. Purdue professor Arun Bhunia is leading a team that has discovered that modified probiotics — those happy little bacteria that live in the human digestive tract — may one day help combat the chance of a listeria infection among those who might have weakened immune systems. Their findings could lead to a simple pill that boosts human defenses against a nasty foodborne bug. In fact, a lot of the work that the food science department has undertaken deals more with the way that humans, not factories, are processing food. Purdue professor Kee-Hong Kim has found that the charred lines that result from grilling your steak at searing temperatures





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Farm Indiana // july 2013

may create a chemical reaction that causes the human boy to add extra fat cells and that the mix of protein, sugars and high heat may help lead to heart disease. Purdue professor Bruce Hamaker is working with another researcher to figure out how to switch on and off human enzymes that turn starch into sugar, providing help for those struggling with Type 2 diabetes and obesity. And one of the studies that really garnered media attention of late came from Purdue professor Mario Ferruzzi, who discovered a startling downside to fat-free salad dressings. They blocked some of the naturally occurring goodness in salad veggies. Nielsen explains: “If you have a no-fat salad dressing, then you’re not going to absorb some of the nutrients in that salad as well as if you had some fat in that dressing.” That fat actually made nutrients more “bioavailable.” Purdue food science grad Katie Clayton, who’s now an outreach specialist for the food science department, was a lifelong 4-H’er with a love of applied science. When she vis-


ited Purdue, she was excited by the work the aforementioned professors were doing, and she was drawn to the close-knit community of students in the department. “While I was in college I worked in the meat industry for three and a half years,” says Clayton, who got her bachelor’s degree in 2011. “I worked here on Purdue’s campus where we processed meat start to finish (harvest to retail sale). I also worked for a genetics company while I was in school, which took me to the Tyson plant two days a week to collect data on hogs in a large-scale processing plant.” Clayton also spent time with flavor companies and a beverage lab before she got her current job at the university. Now she helps entrepreneurs get their products to market safely and legally. She explains how the course of study is structured for undergrads: “We have to have general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, microbiology, biochemistry and physics all as a basis; then in junior and senior year we get into applying those sciences to food.”


“It’s about understanding food chemistry and microbiology in the food system and how we can create the highest quality, safest food products with a shelf life.” —KATIE CLAYTON

Some of the food science electives are dairy science, culinary arts for the food scientist, food in the media and public opinion, and wine appreciation. “My mom will joke with me sometimes about being a food scientist that can barely cook ... but it’s not about whether I can

cook or not,” she says. “It’s about understanding food chemistry and microbiology in the food system and how we can create the highest quality, safest food products with a shelf life.” For students more interested in cooking, there’s something called “Culinology.” It’s a joint program between Purdue and Ivy Tech that prepares students for a career as a research chef. “Culinology,” a registered trademark of the Research Chefs Association, “is the blending of food science and culinary arts disciplines. This is a collaborative program with the Purdue University Food Science program in West Lafayette in that we teach the culinary arts courses with general education, including the math and science necessary to prepare students to enter the Purdue Food Science program,” according to Jeff Bricker, Ivy Tech’s hospitality administration department chairman. Research chefs are usually involved in either assisting companies as they develop recipes for pre-packaged foods or helping restaurants build a better menu. And two years at Ivy Tech followed by two years at Purdue can be a wise economic choice, says Bricker. “Students … can complete their associate degree here and earn industry-based credentials for the culinary/food service industry and are able to transfer those credits on to Purdue University toward their bachelor’s degree, where they complete the food science portion of their Culinology training.” For the bulk of those who graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Purdue’s food science department, the average starting salary is $47,500. “About half of our students will eventually go on and get some sort of an advanced degree, either in food science or let’s say, an MBA,” says Nielsen. “So they, many times, can combine their food science background with a business background and do very well in their careers.” *FI

1. A student visitor smells a product in the sensory evaluation laboratory at Purdue University. 2. Purdue students work on their senior year product development projects in the pilot laboratory, also called the pilot plant. 3. Students use the test kitchen for their projects.


Photos by Laurie Swift, courtesy of Purdue University


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Farm Indiana // july 2013


A Great Cause The Waterman family helps Burmese refugees reconnect to their heritage story By Ashley petry photos by josh marshall

Bitter melon and Asian long beans aren’t typical Indiana farm products, but in recent years they have been common sights in the fields of the Waterman Family Farm. Since 2008, the Watermans have set aside a three-acre plot for the use of Burmese refugees, for whom farming is both a financial boon and — more importantly — a chance to reconnect with their cultural identity. “I just saw it as a great cause,” Carol Waterman says. “When they got here, people weren’t speaking the same language they knew, and the culture wasn’t the same. Food is so important to feeling grounded, and that’s something we could offer them — the ability to grow the foods they liked.” Central Indiana is now home to about 10,000 Burmese refugees — the world’s largest Burmese community outside of Burma itself. Most are members of ethnic minority groups, such as the Chin, Karen and Karenni, that were persecuted in their native country.

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Farm Indiana // july 2013

For more than half a century, the country now officially known as Myanmar has been ruled by a repressive military junta, which denied citizenship to many ethnic minorities and committed violence against its own people. The country has undergone significant democratic reforms in recent years, but the ethnic violence has continued. Genocide Watch, which coordinates the International Alliance to End Genocide, identifies Burma as one of five nations currently experiencing a genocide emergency — the organization’s highest alert level. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has tracked more than 400,000 Burmese refugees, many of whom fled to Thailand, China, Malaysia and other nearby nations. In Thailand alone, nine refugee camps along the border house more than 140,000 refugees. The Waterman farming partnership was organized by Maria Figueroa, who runs the Refugee Resource and Research Institute of Indiana. She began developing the project in 2006, soon after the first wave of Karen refugees had settled in Indianapolis. “Most people would think it’s for income supplement, but that’s just a bonus. It was mostly to take back a part of their identity that was lost through persecution,” she says. “It’s a part of their DNA, to be connected to the land, and reconnecting them to that part of their identity is crucial to the process of integration.” With funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for farm equipment and seeds, the project got under way in 2008, with 10 Burmese Karen families working together to tend three acres on the Watermans’ Greenwood farm, one of two properties the family owns. One participant was Hanary Pee, a former rice farmer who fled Burma with his family in the late ’90s. They lived in Thailand for a decade before ultimately being resettled in Indianapolis, and they joined the Waterman project in 2009. “When we lived in Thailand and Burma, we used to plant vegetables. When we came here, we wanted to eat foods like that,” Pee says through a translator.

The families sold some of the produce at a farmers market, which was set up in an apartment complex where many of the refugees live. The rest they brought home, using the familiar fruits and vegetables to create traditional Burmese dishes. “I’ve often been amazed by what can be produced in a small amount of ground if it’s tended carefully,” Carol Waterman says. “They just stuck with it and got it done.” The project wasn’t without challenges. The families had to adapt to different weather patterns and a shorter growing season. But when the Watermans offered to teach them mechanized farming methods, the families opted to do much of the work the traditional way, by hand. This season, the Karen families have bowed out of the project, largely because they have made other commitments of their time and resources. Pee, for example, recently bought a house and now works full time as a furniture assembler. Another former farmer has set her sights on becoming a nurse. In other words, the Waterman farm project has produced exactly the results Figueroa intended — helping the families integrate more fully into American life while still honoring their cultural heritage. “It’s a success story, quite honestly,” says Bruce Waterman, who has farms both in Greenwood and on the east side of Indianapolis. At the end of last summer, the families threw a thank-you party for the Watermans, giving them gifts of traditional Burmese clothing and food. “I was really touched by that,” Carol says. “If you are one who works the soil, there’s just something really important about that. I think there’s a kinship among people who work the soil.” As the refugees move forward, they say they are optimistic about their futures in this country. “If you’re not lazy and you try hard, you’ll be fine,” Pee says. “When we lived in Burma, the government wouldn’t give us citizenship, and when we came to Thailand it was exactly the same. But here, if you want to become a citizen, nobody can control you.” *FI



Farm Indiana // july 2013

The Countdown

Farmers head to the fields to assess the growth of their seeds story By jim mayfield | photos by tom russo


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Farm Indiana // july 2013

As with almost any campaign that involves working with the land, you can calculate, prognosticate and anticipate, but there’s no substitute for getting out there to authenticate with boots on the ground. Though late spring rains kept many farmers on the sidelines until well into the traditional planting season, by the last week in May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) reported that 86 percent of the state’s intended corn acreage had been put in and 60 percent of the projected soybean crop had been sown, pushing farmers ahead of the state’s five-year averages of 77 percent and 49 percent for corn and beans, respectively. According to Purdue University corn specialist Bob Nielsen, most of the state’s corn crop — some 78 percent — was planted in the last three weeks of May. With seed in the ground, it didn’t take long for local fields to begin glimmering green in the morning sunlight. The NASS reported that crop growth was running only slightly behind the curve set during the last five years, with 56 percent of the corn and 24 percent of beans in emergence compared to the five-year standards of 59 percent and 30 percent for corn and beans. With all the hurry-up-and-wait of the previous month behind them, it was time for farmers to climb down from the cab to find out how much of what they put in was going to come up with the time-honored stand count, parsing their fields into mathematical thousandths and counting the number of plants in each stand. Not every farmer necessarily gets up close and personal with his crops, but it’s something most do and that experts recommend. “You can certainly see a lot more with boots on the ground than you can from the window of your pickup truck,” says Roy Ballard, Purdue University extension educator for Hancock County. “Some farmers take stand counts more than others, but it’s certainly something we encourage, being an active grower.” Shelby County’s Purdue extension educator Scott Gabbard agrees that taking stand counts is a crucial part of early season strategy. “Everything looks good from the window of your pickup truck,” Gabbard says. “And when (you finally figure out) it doesn’t, you’re way behind the eight ball.” Checking and counting the stands during early season emergence are a crucial component to one of the most critical and nerve-racking decisions made as the plants begin to emerge: whether to replant. “It costs so much to plant that it’s a good way to make

sure you get what you pay for,” Gabbard says. “It’s an excellent way to project your yield, and it’s a first indicator of something going wrong.” Checking stands early will show whether the planter was calibrated properly, whether it malfunctioned or whether the rows didn’t close. Other issues such as slugs, corn maggots and other pests, seeds that were packed in by too much rain keeping them from emerging or other concerns on the ground can be spotted quickly and early by spending time in fields, experts say. Brad Burkhart, who farms corn and soybeans northeast of Greenfield, says he generally walks his fields and checks his stands early to see if his populations are correct and what he put in is germinating and coming up. “The first 115 acres of corn I put in got pounded by the rain,” Burkhart says. The crop was cemented in fairly well, and Burkhart was concerned the crop wouldn’t break through; however, a later walk through after some subsequent rain showed things were sprouting nicely. Chris Merlau, who farms 1,000 acres in Hancock County’s Sugar Creek and Buck Creek townships with his father and brothers, says he gets into the fields early to check his planting. “We usually go out shortly after we plant, just after the plants are up, to check our planting and germination, determine if our spacing looks right or if there is a question on the count,” Merlau says. Early field inspections also help the Merlaus scout for disease and other deficiencies, he says. Stand density can be determined by a variety of methods, all of which estimate the number of plants per acre by counting the number of plants in a row equal to 1/1000th of an acre. Row lengths will vary depending upon crop spacing. For example, a 26-foot-2-inch row would be counted for fields with 20-inch spacing, and a 17-foot-5-inch row would

be counted for crops utilizing 30-inch spacing. Multiplying the result by 1,000 will give an estimated stand density in plants per acre. Other ways to count stands use measuring wheels to walk off the distance covered by 150 plants per row and factoring that number into standard equations, or using varying sizes of “hula hoops” or rings that can be thrown into fields to mark off representative stands for counting. Regardless of the method, only those plants deemed to have a good chance for survival should be counted, and taking five random measurements over 20 acres is recommended to get an accurate snapshot of the entire field. Though the frequency of taking stand counts will vary by farmer and crop during the season, extension educators recommend counting just after emergence, during the midsummer season and right before harvest to monitor planting and mortality from early to late season along with plant loss from mid-season to harvest. Systematically checking the fields is just good agronomic practice, Gabbard says. So far, early reports from the field show nothing unusual or disturbing this season. The state is running ahead of its seasonal planting quota, and the earlier the plants get in, the more time for generation and yield. “So far this year has been very lucky,” Gabbard says. As with most things farming, a good deal of whether a farmer takes a stand count and how often during the growing season depends on tradition and personality. “You’ve got all sorts of personalities in farming,” says Merlau’s father, Charles. “I’ve seen some farmers out in their fields every day and just worrying themselves to death about every little thing,” Merlau says. “My theory is you do the best job you can and then turn it over to the good Lord. He does most all of it anyway.” *FI



Farm Indiana // july 2013


Passion for the Land Indiana’s farm family of the year weathers the ups and downs of agriculture story By ryan trares

photos by josh marshall

Bruce Morris and his son, Wyatt, 13, work on equipment at their Bargersville farm.

A Lifestyle They Love


iny green shoots poke out of 350 acres of farmland north of Bargersville where this year’s crop of corn has just started growing on the Morris family farm. A cold, wet spring delayed planting, and now Bruce Morris is hoping a stretch of nicer weather will help his crop catch up. Not that this is something new for him and his family. The Morris family has been working the land since 1957, with its farming tradition stretching back generations before that. And that comes with the acceptance that agriculture is at the mercy of the elements. “Technology can help ease the bumps, but the bumps are still there,” Bruce says. “Drought-resistant soybeans or drought-resistant corn can help, but without moisture, or with too much moisture, you’re out of luck.” Farming is the thread that ties the Morris family together. Three generations of the family have farmed the same land south of Bargersville, and the fourth is just getting started. Even as some members have decided to leave agriculture and pursue careers in other areas, they come back to help or simply spend a Sunday afternoon together on the farm. Despite droughts, floods, economic upheaval and technological changes, the core of the family’s passion for the land remains.

Morris Family Farms Acres farmed: About 1,200 Produces: Crops and livestock Founded: 1957 Operator: Bruce Morris Family: Wife, Lori; children Zachary Morton, Samantha Morris and Wyatt Morris Parents: Ed and Joyce Morris Sister: Mindy Paulin; husband, Chad; children Cohen and Isaac Carter and Ethan Paulin.

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“It’s love, honor, respect, all of those words,” says Bruce, who operates the farm currently. “Previous generations have worked blood, sweat and tears into this land. It’s almost like it’s our generation’s responsibility to keep it intact for future generations.” On one morning in March, the entire Morris family was together. They were honored by the Friends of Johnson County Agriculture as this year’s Indiana farm family of the year. Bruce’s parents, Ed and Joyce Morris, left their winter home in Florida to return to Johnson County. They joined Bruce and his wife, Lori, as well as their three children — Zach Morton and Samantha and Wyatt Morris. Mindy Paulin, Bruce’s sister, was also in attendance. The occasion was nice, not just to gather the family in one place, but to help teach the community about the lifestyle that they love. On June 29, the family will host a “Know Your Neighbor” event at its farm, where guests will have the chance to learn about grain production, livestock and chemical-fertilizer application. “So many people don’t know who we are and what we do,” Bruce says. “Educating and exposing people (and) helping the public understand is important.” The Morris family came to Johnson County from Kentucky. The family arrived in central Indiana to pick tomatoes in the 1930s, but it was always seasonal work. By 1940, they settled around Bargersville for good. The main farmland was established in 1957, when Bruce’s grandfather purchased the 270-acre tract. “His (Ed Morris) dad came up here from Kentucky, and he worked very hard to have a family farm. We’ve always said we will keep a Morris family farm,” says Joyce, Ed’s wife. “It may not be where it is now, but there will be one.” Ed grew up dedicated to the farm. From the time he was 6 years old, he helped raise corn, soybeans and wheat. His chores included feeding the hogs, cleaning out the cattle barn and collecting eggs from the chickens. After trying college for a semester and serving in the Vietnam War, he and Joyce returned to the farm to take it over from his father. Slowly, the farm began to grow. Ed purchased 86.5 acres

Farm Indiana // july 2013

west of Bargersville, then another 92 next to that tract. He also started leasing fields from others who didn’t have the means to farm. That land is still part of the Morris farm operation. “When you love the land, you want to see it carried on,” Ed says. Like their father, Bruce and his sister, Mindy, grew up learning how to work the farm. They rode with their father on the tractor, helped transport grain to the elevator and cared for their livestock. They were active in 4-H and relished the lessons they learned from other farmers they encountered. “The work ethic was the biggest thing,” Mindy says. “We enjoyed it. We worked really hard, but we enjoyed what we did.” Bruce began taking over the farm operation when he was 16. By the time he graduated from Center Grove High School in 1986, he was ready to do most of the work on the farm. He took a short course on agriculture at Purdue University, but has been farming full time ever since.

Each Day Brings A New Challenge Raising both grains and livestock, Bruce wakes up every day and determines which jobs require the most attention. He has to decide which fields are ready to plant, if all of the proper fertilizers are on it and in what order to do the work. “One day he might be planting seed, another he might be plowing,” Ed explains. “Some days, he does both. And some days, we’re watching it rain.” With more than 1,200 acres to work, farming has evolved beyond just learning the land and how to grow crops. Bruce needs to be able to keep financial records, manage the income and payments for the farm, and analyze the markets to get the best price for his crops. “My grandfather told me, ‘If you get up and work hard every day, you’ll make an honest living out of it,” Bruce says. “But times have changed; you have to have that business background as well.” Many of the complications stem from the growth that the Bargersville region has experienced. Land that previously had been leased to the family can fetch owners more money to sell for development. Bruce is constantly making sure he can get top dollar for the crops that come from the land, to ensure he still has places to grow. In addition, State Road 135, where the Morris family farm is located, has grown from a sparsely traveled rural highway to a bustling thoroughfare. Bruce remembers as a child riding his bicycle down the road and never encountering a car. Now, every time he has to take equipment out onto the road, it becomes a safety concern. “Where the farm is situated, we have to go out on (State Road) 135 with equipment wherever we go,” Joyce explains. “That’s a big challenge, just trying to get out of the farm and out of the driveway.” As with many longtime farm families, the Morrises are concerned about how to keep the operation in the family and going strong.

The Morris family was honored as Johnson County Farm Family of the Year at the Purdue Extension Farmer's Share Ag Day Breakfast on March 20.

Bruce and Lori’s older children don’t seem interested in taking on the farm operation. Luckily, their youngest son, Wyatt, is enthralled by all aspects of agriculture. “Wyatt is gung-ho about it,” Bruce says. “If somebody asks the other kids about something, they always says, ‘You’re asking the wrong person. Ask Wyatt, he’ll tell you.’” But even if family members don’t live on the farm, they can still help around planting or harvest time. Mindy and her family live in Nineveh, and though they don’t have enough land for row crops, they do keep cattle. She wants to make sure the agriculture tradition that she knew growing up is passed down to her three sons. “That’s who we are,” she says. “(Farming is) ingrained in who we are.” *FI

If You Go:

Know Your Neighbor Where: Morris Family Farms, 3592 N. State Road 135, Franklin When: 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. June 29 What: Learn about grain production, livestock and chemical-fertilizer applications

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Farm Indiana // july 2013

Bane-Welker expands its Pendleton location

story By Julie young photos by tom russo


ervice, parts and availability are big priorities for farmers, and they don’t want to travel too far to get them. Thanks to a recent expansion at Bane-Welker Equipment in Pendleton, they don’t have to. “We have over 17,000 square feet of space in the new facility dedicated to parts and service,” says Mike Romack, Bane-Welker sales manager. “We not only can take care of our customers, but we have also built a presence that says we’re planning to be here for a long time.” Romack is no stranger to the area. He owned the Heartland New Holland dealership at 5729 W. State Road 38 for 15 years before selling his business to Bane Equipment in 2011. He says the company was excited to bring its full line of Case IH products to the local farming community, many of whom were already loyal “Red” tractor customers. “There hadn’t been a Case IH presence in the area for about 35 years,” he says. “There were a few dealerships at one point that closed for one reason or another, so if farmers wanted to stay ‘Red,’ they had to drive all the way to Lebanon for parts and service. Now with the new store, their equipment can be serviced locally.” Operations manager Rick Isenhower says it was only natural for Bane-Welker to expand its operations to the area. He says the company saw it as open territory that would enable it to serve Case IH customers all the way to the Ohio state line. “People were already used to coming to that location for parts and services, so it made perfect sense,” he says. The only problem was the lack of space. The Heartland New Holland facility was built in the 1960s and designed to accommodate hay equipment and compact tractors. The 8,500-square-foot facility was ill-suited for the large tractors, huge combines and other heavy equipment Bane offered. After settling into the area and announcing its merger with North

Service tech Darin Garrison.

Sales manager Mike Romack.

“We not only can take care of our customers, but we have also built a presence that says we’re planning to be here for a long time.” —mike romack Bane-Welker sales manager

Central Agri-Power earlier this year, the company made plans to raze the former building in order to make way for the new edifice that would add more indoor space, accommodate bigger machines and establish it as a solid presence in the region. “It was a good opportunity for the community as well as the company,” Romack says, noting that in addition to Case IH products, Bane-Welker also sells Woods equipment and services Kinze products. Founded in 1967 by Kenneth Bane, BaneWelker is a family-owned and operated company with nine locations throughout Indiana. It is composed of growers, family and people who know the agriculture industry and is constantly working to bring the latest innovations in equipment to the ever-expanding farming community.

A recent Case IH survey showed that 85 percent of growers were looking into new technologies for the 2013 planting season and that cover crops and precision farming tools and bigger, more efficient equipment are the current trends dominating the industry. Romack says across the nation, the number of farms has decreased, but those that remain are getting bigger and turning to larger equipment manufactured by industry leaders who understand today’s agricultural challenges. Romack also says both Bane-Welker and Case IH are on the cusp of those industry trends and are committed to providing these innovations backed by dealerships ready to go above and beyond to meet their customers’ needs. “Sometimes there is only a small window of opportunity to get your corn in the ground, and

you need bigger and more efficient equipment to get it done,” Romack explains. “I have one customer who uses nine pieces of seeding equipment across his land in order to get his fields planted within nine days. It’s our job to provide the equipment and service he needs to get that job done.” Isenhower says that the eight-acre complex in Pendleton affords the company an additional opportunity for further expansion as its customers’ needs grow and change. He says there is plenty of room to add another facility at the same location in the future, provided that the industry remains strong for years to come. “Right now though, we really have our work cut out for us here,” he says. “The building is finished, but we still have some landscaping and concrete work to finish. People are really glad we are here.” *FI

Farm Indiana // july 2013

From July 5 to 13, thousands will converge on the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds to take in the sights and sounds of the annual county fair. But for some, the fair offers more than just giant corn dogs and Ferris wheels. Many students, like 18-year-old Katie Schmidt, have spent months preparing to show their animals in the fair’s highly touted livestock shows. Here, we catch a glimpse into the life of Schmidt as she prepares for the big day.

Katie Schmidt A graduate of Columbus East High School, Katie Schmidt spends a Saturday morning by helping to weigh and check-in sheep that will be shown at the Bartholomew County Fair. Katie, daughter of Joe and Dana Schmidt, raises approximately 25 sheep for showing on the family’s five-acre property in northwest Columbus, and she plans to show eight Romney sheep at the fair this year. A member of 4-H, Katie and her father also mentor young girls in the Bartholomew County area who hope to one day show their own animals at 4-H events.



Farm Indiana // july 2013

When it’s hot outside, we all scream for ice cream compiled by sherri dugger | photos by kj rondomanski & megan o'bryan

Ice cream season in Nashville peaks in July and October, local vendors say, but, if you ask us, creamy and delicious frozen treats are sweet any time of year. Here, a look at three of the major players in the ice cream business in Brown County.

Miller’s Ice Cream House 61 W. Main St., Nashville, (812) 988-0815

Miller’s makes its homemade ice cream “the old-fashioned way … with rock salt and ice,” says Jenny Sue Whetstine, the shop’s manager. Choose from the usual popular flavors, like vanilla, chocolate and butter pecan, or go for the more unusual items on the menu, like lemon, black walnut, apple butter and persimmon. Everything is made in-house, Whetstine says, including the chocolate chips that they hand-chop from ambrosia luxury chocolates. Miller’s also offers sugar-free varieties, as well as traditional persimmon pudding, homemade cobblers and an assortment of sundaes. And if you like what you taste in the store, you can take home hand-packed quarts and half-gallons of the good stuff to savor later.

Fearrin’s Ice Cream & Yogurt Depot 95 S. Van Buren, Nashville, (812) 988-7677 Fearrin’s is a favorite because of its outdoor deck where locals and guests to Nashville can enjoy their sweet concoctions on a sunny summer day. The shop offers frozen homemade confections in a variety of flavors. Guests can choose from vanilla, butter pecan, amaretto and chocolate frozen yogurts, and Fearrin’s features approximately 22 rotating ice cream choices, manager Mike Harper says. Favorites on the ice cream menu include pecan caramel cream, pumpkin and “chocolate chip peanut butter is a crowd pleaser,” Harper says. Ice cream sandwiches, banana splits, shakes and malts are included in the list of homemade options and — if you just really love chocolate chip cookies — go for the shop’s “half pounder,” Harper suggests. It’s a half-pound homemade cookie that’s certain to sate your sweet tooth.

Ice cream is made at Miller's Ice Cream House. INSET: Locals enjoy cones from Fearrin's Ice Cream & Yogurt Depot.

FARM INDIANA CLASSIFIEDS 333 2nd Street, Columbus | (812) 379-5600

Farm Indiana // july 2013


Nashville Fudge Kitchen

175 S. Van Buren St., Nashville, (812) 988-0709

Oreo cookies and cream ice cream sundae.

If you can make your way past the homemade fudges and piles of flavored popcorns to get to the ice creams and gelatos at the Nashville Fudge Kitchen, you’re a true ice cream loyalist. This fudge kitchen, as its name suggests, specializes in making the melt-inyour-mouth homemade candies, yes, but don’t let that steer you away from the creams. Guests to the shop beeline for the gelatos, frozen Italian-style ice creams that come in flavors like blackberry, strawberry, mango, cinnamon, coconut and tiramisu. For traditional-style ice cream, the Fudge Kitchen also delivers: Pick from praline pecan, butter pecan, white chocolate raspberry, orange pineapple and a slew of rotating flavors that — like the fudge — are whipped up right there in the store. *FI



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July Issue of South Central Farm Indiana

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July Issue of South Central Farm Indiana