How to Raise Show Pigs

pigs-cheyenne2This little stinker was a little over a week old at the time of this picture. This is the best time to do things like notch the pigs ears for identification, give the pig some iron and penicillin to help fight against all the infections that these little guys are very susceptible to, castrate the boars, or males, so they are less aggressive in adulthood, and clip their needle teeth which also help stop the spread of infection! Theses are some things that animal rights organizations would have us skip out on. But because my conventional farm goes through these essential procedures these little piglets are given the best possible chance to thrive and live happily! About 5 months ago I named this cutie Rudy.

Fast forward about 5 months and we have some awesome perspective on the life of a show pig! This is Rudy, the baby pig from five months ago that we just got done “processing.” That means that we notched his ears, vaccinated him, docked his tail, and castrated him. All of these things serve a purpose, and if you have any questions I’d be happy to answer them!

If we fast forward Rudy’s life about 4 weeks later, we’re vaccinating him again just to keep him healthy and then moving him to a new facility on our farm called the nursery. This process is called weaning. At the point of weaning, young piglets are still drinking their mother’s milk, but their main source of food comes from a starter feed.

About three months later we bring Rudy into our show barn. Our show barn, like the majority across the state of Nebraska, is kept at a very nice and cool temperature no matter how hot it is outside. My sister and I clean all our show pigs’ pens at least once a week and feed them twice a day. At this point in time, Rudy is on a 16%-18% protein feed, which is insuring his efficiency. Our state fair hogs get walked between 3 to 4 times a week, so that when we take them to state fair they’re comfortable in the ring.

pigs-cheyenneAt state fair during showmanship, I was asked what was the biggest problem in the swine industry today. I thought about the Chinese pork industries growing bigger and bigger every year, I thought about the PED virus, but out of these problem I know where the real problem lies. Advocacy. Companies and organizations like Chipotle and HSUS are using their networks to ruin the reputation of all aspects of agriculture, notably the swine industry. If we don’t tell the consume what is going on on our farms, we will lose the consumer. The world that we’re living in today is desperate for information, even if it’s cheap. The cheap information that they’re buying into are the stories that HSUS and PETA are giving them. I know the relationship between the farmer and the consumer needs some help. I also know the relationship between the animals in their care and the producer is completely different than what it is perceived to be. The consumer should know what is going on in the barn or in the field, and as a youth ag advocate, it is my job tell them.

Since attending the Agricultural Issues Academy at State FFA Convention last year, I’ve started my own blog. Ag Issues Academy opened my eyes to the miscommunication that is happening not only global, but right in my town and state. The link to my blog is listed below if you’re interested in what my farm looks like and its relationship with our animals.

Read more from Cheyenne here:

Cheyenne Gerlach bio pic

Feeding Bees? That’s a real thing?

honey-bees-326334_960_720The first time I heard about feeding bees I was dumbfounded. Why would we need to feed bees? I thought that they wouldn’t need to eat or that they’d make their own food, honey. Well was I wrong! After attending a couple of classes over keeping honeybees I found that it is important to feed the honeybees this way they are able to work in the most efficient way possible. Don’t get me wrong, there are many ways to feed bees but the most common is through sugar syrup.

You can determine if you need to feed your bees first by seeing how heavy the hive is. I make sure to feed the hive at least two or three times in the early spring to stimulate the queen and workers to start laying eggs and drawing out comb and in the late fall and early winter to help them stock up for winter. I will feed them during the winter depending on their weight of the hive. I personally don’t feed my bees during the summer months because they tend to have a strong honey and nectar flow so I don’t worry about them too much.

honey-bees-345620_960_720You can feed your bees any way that you would like but I feed mine with a one gallon frame feeder. This is simple and easy to know and remember measurements and recipes. The only drawback is drowning bees. I would recommend using the ladders that extend into the middle of the feeder or if you don’t have one of those, use pieces of bark. They work just as well. Before I get too excited and forget to tell you, the most important part of feeding the bees is how to make their food. Depending on the time of the year and how your hive is doing you can feed them a variety of different concentrations of the sugar syrup. When you are making the sugar syrup, you will only use water and sugar. I recommend that you use white granulated cane sugar if possible. Avoid honey, powdered sugar, brown sugar, and beet sugar. In the spring, I would recommend mixing up a 1:2 syrup. This is considered a light syrup and is used normally during the months of March, April, and May. You will use one cup sugar to two cups of water. This syrup stimulates the queen to lay eggs and helps the bees draw out more comb. This is not the only type of syrup though. The second type of syrup is used during the months of June, July, and August. This is a 1:1 syrup, which is considered the medium syrup. You will use one cup of sugar to one cup of water. This syrup is used as artificial nectar to feed brood larvae and to get the bees to draw out more combs. Make sure that you stop feeding them when you add the honey supers during this time or any other time you decide to add the honey supers. The last kind of syrup that you can make is a 2:1 syrup. This syrup is used during the months of September, October, and November and is considered a heavy syrup. You will use two cups of sugar to one cup of water. This is used as a honey substitute for the bees during the winter to get them to store more food for the winter so that you won’t have to make a candy board or fondant for the bees during the winter. When you are feeding make sure that you feed only until your brood chambers are full. You want to feed them from their weak point to the point of where they look healthy and strong. If you determine that your hives are not heavy enough you can feed the bees candy boards and fondant during the winter months. For the most part, I believe that these other times will be the few times that you will have to feed them. I definitely would watch to see if you will need to mix up food for the winter though.

beesWhen you are making the syrups, you will first want to make sure that you bring the water to a proper boil and then reduce the heat to low. From there you will add the proper amount of sugar to the water and stir it until it dissolves. Do not burn or cook the sugar. As long as you get all the sugar to dissolve from the bottom, you will be golden. Make sure you let the sugar syrup cool before you feed it to the bees.

Once you have let the syrups cool and transport the food out to your hives, I would open up you hives and take out a frame to insert your feeder. There are many different kinds of feeders but in this case, it is a gallon frame feeder. After you place the feeder into the hive, I would take the food that you have mixed up and slowly pour it into the feeder, careful not to slop it all over the place. The more you slop it around the more work the bees have to clean up. After you have filled the feeder you can close up the hive and let the little workers get back to their normal, busy lives.Emily Cumming bio pic

Barbecued Brisket

Barbecued Brisket2Ingredients

4 lb. brisket

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon sage

½ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

1 ½ cup ketchup



  • If the brisket has abundant fat, trim some of the fat off before proceeding. Spread salt and pepper over all surfaces of the brisket.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients. Heat until the sugar dissolves.
  • Pour 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place brisket on the sauce.  Pour 1/3 of the sauce on top of the brisket.  Cover and bake in a 275º oven for 4 ¼ hours.
  • Slice thinly and serve with the remainder of the sauce.

Asparagus Bacon Quiche

Asparagus Bacon Quiche2Ingredients

1 purchased or homemade pie crust

8 oz. sliced mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons oil

½ pound asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces

6 large eggs

¾ cup table cream

4 green onions, sliced

1 roasted red pepper, sliced

1 ½ cup white cheese, shredded

6 strips smoky bacon, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces

salt and pepper



  1. Preheat oven to 375º.
  2. Spray a removable bottom tart pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. In a medium skillet, saute mushrooms in oil until golden. Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Set aside to cool.
  4. Place asparagus pieces in a microwave-safe dish. Add a small amount of water.  Microwave for 3 minutes.  Drain, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cool.
  5. Roll out pie crust; press into the tart pan.
  6. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the cream and stir to combine.
  7. Add all other ingredients and gently fold them in. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Pour the egg mixture into the pie shell.
  9. Set the pan on a cookie sheet; bake 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool in the pan 15 minutes before removing the tart pan sides.


Yield:  8 servings

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake2Ingredients:


½ cup flour

½ cup packed brown sugar

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons butter, melted


½ cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 ¼ cups blueberries


¾ cup powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons milk



  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare a 9-inch cake pan or springform pan with a circle of parchment paper in the bottom and grease the sides.
  2. Combine streusel ingredients in a small bowl. Mix with a fork until well-blended.  Set aside.
  3. To make the cake batter, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Add sour cream and milk and mix until well incorporated.  Add egg and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
  4. Combine flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to batter and mix until smooth.
  5. Spread half of the cake batter into the bottom of the cake pan. Top with about half of the streusel mixture, then half of the blueberries.
  6. Spread remaining batter over streusel. Sprinkle remaining streusel and blueberries over the top of the cake batter.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs.
  8. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  9. To make glaze, combine powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl. Mix until smooth.  Drizzle the glaze over the coffee cake.

NOTE:  Frozen blueberries may be used, but baking time must be lengthened.


Yield:  8 servings

Asparagus Egg and Bacon Salad

Asparagus Egg and Bacon Salad


1 large hard boiled egg, peeled and sliced

1 2/3 cups chopped asparagus

2 slices cooked and crumbled bacon

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

pinch of salt, and pepper to taste



  1. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil, add the asparagus and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until tender yet firm. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.  Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the mustard, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  3. Arrange the asparagus on a plate, top with egg and bacon. Drizzle with the vinaigrette.


Yield:  1 serving if eaten as a meal, 2 servings if used as an accompaniment of a meal

Almond Chicken Casserole

Almond Chicken Casserole2Ingredients

2 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 cup sour cream

¾ cup mayonnaise

2 celery ribs, chopped

3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

1 8-oz. can water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1 4-oz. can mushroom stems and pieces, drained

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

2 teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper *

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup crushed cornflakes

2 tablespoons butter, melted

½ cup sliced almonds



  1. In a large bowl, combine the first 12 ingredients (through *)
  2. Transfer to a greased 13” x 9” x 2” baking dish; sprinkle with cheese.
  3. Toss cornflakes with butter; sprinkle over the cheese. Top with almonds.
  4. Bake uncovered at 350º for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.


Yield: 6-8 servings

Recipe source: Taste of Home Magazine