Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Barn Chicks who Blog- Interview with Katie of On the Banks of Squaw Creek

     This week we have the pleasure of visiting Katie, the author of On the Banks of Squaw Creek. Katie is the wife of a turkey farmer and the mother of an adorable little boy, with another one on the way. She shows us household projects, snips of farm life, pictures of her little guy, and some good recipes. She's the only blogger I've seen who puts a monthly "To-do" list on the sidebar of her blog. I'm not sure  the sidebar would be long enough for some of the days on our farm, but I think Katie has a great idea. What a great way to be accountable and get things done. She even shares her strategies for getting ready for a yard sale.

Photo property of On the Banks of Squaw Creek
 Here is the interview:
1. Please tell us a little bit about your farm.
We are proud third generation turkey farmers, and put up our own turkey barns in 2008.  To read more about how we got started, visit here:  http://onthebanksofsquawcreek.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-did-i-get-here.html

Photo property of On the Banks of Squaw Creek

2. How many turkeys do you raise each year?

We have 6 flocks of 20,000 every year, so about 120,000 birds.  We have 5 barns.  The turkeys start out in the "brooder" and at 5 weeks old, they are moved to two of the four "finishers" for another 14 weeks.  In the meantime, we clean out the brooder, and start a new flock there, moving them to the OTHER two finishers.  We have two or three flocks of different ages at any given time, and the buildings are cleaned and disinfected between each flock. 
Photo property of On the Banks of Squaw Creek

3. Do you have any other farm animals?

Right now, we just have the turkeys and our shih-tzu, Sally.  (She doesn't really count as a farm animal, though!)  My husbands family has a LONG history of showing calves in 4-H, so I am sure we will have calves in a few years when Adam is old enough to show. 

4. I know from reading your blog, that your husband has many generations of farmers in his family. What about you? Did you have any exposure to agriculture before you got married to a farmer?

The short answer is "no."  And not only that, I didn't even think I was marrying a farmer!  At the time, he was working in a USDA animal disease lab and had no desire to farm!
I grew up on an acreage about 10 miles from my husband, but growing up, I didn't know him, or know that there were turkey farms in Iowa.  My dad restores antique John Deeres and uses them to farm 1 acre at my parents' place, so I knew tractors and rural life, but really had no idea that a livestock farm is such a big commitment!  Hubby has not been more than an hour away from the farm since we started, because of the potential for things to go wrong and the fact that chores take up such a big part of his day.  That has been the biggest adjustment for me - being stuck so close to the farm.
Squaw Creek
Photo property of On the Banks of Squaw Creek

5. Do you garden?
Not really. I had a vegetable garden in 2008 and 2009, but didn't can anything.  Last year, time got away from me and I never got anything planted.  I'm not a very good "traditional" farm wife, but I'm learning!  I'd like to have some vegetables again this year - mostly tomatoes and peppers - but we'll see how it goes with Baby Brudder due to arrive at the end of March.
Photo property of On the Banks of Squaw Creek

6. You shared your first pregnancy on your blog and now  you have another child on the way. What does it mean to you and your husband to raise the kids on a farm?
Honestly, this was one of the biggest reasons we decided to farm.  The work ethic instilled on a farm is amazing, and we are proud to carry on the family farm tradition.  Although we really have no idea whether or not our children will want to farm, and we would never force them to, we are trying to build a farm that they will be proud of.   Our 2 1/2 year old can already name more farm equipment than I can, and we can convince him to do anything if we tell him it's what farmers do. I love it!
Photo property of On the Banks of Squaw Creek

7. I didn't know turkeys were big in Iowa. Please tell us a little about agriculture in your state.

I didn't know turkeys were big in Iowa, either! Iowa is known for growing corn, but we have many hog farms, also. Iowa is a great place to raise livestock because their feed (mostly corn) is readily available!  Iowa's success in growing turkeys is largely due to the Iowa Turkey Grower's Cooperative and West Liberty Foods.  West Liberty is the biggest supplier of lunchmeat to Subway nationally.  I have a Turkey Tuesday post about this coming up in the next couple of weeks.

8. You're not only a farmer's wife, but you're a teacher. Has the farm taught you anything?
Oh, yes!  I've had to learn about managing the financial aspects of a farm, including how to do payroll for our part-time employees, and even do their W-2s at the end of the year!  I also have a MUCH greater appreciation for farmers and the food they grow for us!

9. I applaud you for taking a business class related to farming. Would you like to tell us a bit about "Annie's Project"? 
Annie's Project was a wonderful experience.  It's offered through the 4-H Extension offices in many different states.  I was able to learn a lot about the financial aspects of farming, including cash flows, balance sheets, loans available and government programs.  For the women involved in grain farming, there was a TON of information about marketing grain and there was also quite a bit of information on estate planning.  The class really had something to offer women in every stage of farming - from newbies like me to more experienced women looking to retire or thinking about estate planning.  I would HIGHLY recommend this class to any women in agriculture!

10. You have a monthly "To Do" list on your sidebar. Does it really help you tackle your list of things to get done?
For sure.  This is the first year that I am teaching part time, and last fall, I had terrible morning sickness.  So, although I had more time, I was NOT very productive.  I started the to-do list in January, and it is really helping me use my time at home better and get more done!   I plan on keeping it up - having it on my blog keeps me a little more accountable!
Photo property of On the Banks of Squaw Creek

11. What are some of your favorite things about living on a farm?
There are so many!  For some reason, the first thing that comes to mind are the raspberries.  (Maybe it's this dreary winter!)  I love picking raspberries and eating them off the vine in the summer.  Our first summer out here, I was pregnant with Adam.  I remember going out there and trying not to get my big belly pricked by the thorns.  Every year when they ripen, I think back to that time.  The vines have been there forever and are kind of a symbol of the freedom and variety of experiences you have on a farm!

I also love the quiet and privacy.  Our first house was in a campustown neighborhood, just a few blocks from the bars.  Every Thurs, Fri and Sat night we were woken up by noisy, drunk students walking by. The quiet out here is a very welcome change!

And, I've mentioned this before, we desperately wanted to raise our kids in the country.  Hubby and I have such fond memories of growing up in nature - "hiking" through the timber, spending all day outside exploring, riding bikes up and down gravel roads...we want those same things for our kids.

12. When reading your blog, I  think of you as Katie- the "Project Lady.". What's in store for this year? Anything special for the farm in 2011? 

Oh yes!  BIG projects!  Besides the arrival of Baby Brudder, we are finishing a bathroom and bedroom remodel, replacing over half the windows on the house, and SIDING and painting the house.  I'm also hoping to get a lot of landscaping done this year, and hubby is planning to do some work to the old outbuildings.  And then, of course, I'll be doing little organizing and beautifying projects all along the way, and blogging about my two (soon to be 3!) sweet boys.  It's going to be a great year!

Katie, thanks for the interview. Blessings for your new little one and all of your family!

Please check out my NuNaturals giveaway here.


  1. It's so neat that Katie is embracing her life as a farm wife and mother. There is no better place to raise children, in my opinion.

  2. I never tire of these interviews. Wonderful! I'm off to visit Katie's blog now, and especially gonna look at the to-do list. Mine is as long as my arm, but would I dare put it on my blog for the world to see?? Eek!

  3. I'm always so impressed (awed) at how much energy these farm ladies have - to give to their land, crops, livestock, families, homes... God bless all the farmers that feed us. :) I think I'll get a Subway sub for lunch today...

  4. Wonderful interview Katie. Very interesting and I can’t even imagine 120,000 turkeys a year--Wow! I think farm life is a great way to raise kids too and 4-H is a wonderful organization. So glad Patrice featured you here. I’m going to check out your blog now :)
    Amy at Verde Farm

  5. Love these interviews Patrice :o)
    This one was very interesting about 120,000 turkeys - even though I don't like the flavour!
    Oh! In case I forgot, thank your for your very kind permission to use your lovely photo of Rocky as my desktop background.
    Have a great week!
    Rose H

  6. Good interview! It's interesting to read the experiences of other "newbie" farm wives. I can so relate to berry pickin' w/ a pregnant belly!

  7. Katie was one of the first blogs I started to follow and I have been hooked ever since. I stop by each week to read about the turkeys or whatever else she is up to. Great blog to feature and great interview.

  8. Nice job Miss Katie! Thanks to Patrice for giving farm women from all over the country a voice on her blog

  9. Hi Patrice,
    Great interview. You Barn Chicks sure do know how to blog.

    I just signed up for your email subscription. I always forget to do that on blogs I like.

  10. Just wanted to let you know, I tweeted your giveaway a couple of times.

  11. I am really enjoying your interviews. This one is great and I will be visiting her blog.


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