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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Farming Simulator Game Review: I Never Wanted to be a Farmer

I didn't grow up like most farmers. I didn't play with tractors or ever imagine what it must be like to drive them in real life. I was going to either A) be in the NBA or B) work for my family's plastics company. As luck would have it by age 13 I hadn't grown tall or become skilled enough to chase my NBA dream, and my family sold its plastics company. I remember thinking it's ok, you're still a kid with plenty of time to figure this out, while still worrying about the future. Then I got my first Hereford show heifer and my world changed again. I now had a purpose, a goal and a passion. No matter how winding the path has been since I knew where I'd end up and that is right where I am now. I am a Farmer.

Now I told you all of that to give you some perspective as to what you are going to read in my review of the video game Farming Simulator15. Usually my wife the lovely Crystal Cattle herself rolls her eyes when I tell her I'm going to play video games, but one day she actually told me that I had to! I got excited and got ready to go down to our new basement and play NBA 2K15 because that is what video games are for, to escape reality for a bit and turn your brain off. Then she told me I was going to be farming on my PS3 instead of dunking on everyone in my path. For once Crystal was given something via the blog that I could use! 

Farming Simulator 15 is one of the most realistic games I have ever played. I started out with the American farm in the career mode over Europe, because I am American and very proud of that so why on earth would I pick Europe? Well it turns out that if you want to learn what you need to do in the game you need to start off on the European map. After learning the ropes I returned to America and started living the dream. Kind of like what many of our ancestors did. 

You start out with a wheat field ready to harvest. I found that you can hire a worker to drive the combine while you go and get the grain cart to get the grain from the field and to the bin. Once you get the field harvested you can also hire someone to till the field and to plant it as well as spread the fertilizer. This is where Farming Simulator 15 got to be a little too real for me, you see in real life I drive the grain cart as well. It turns out you can hire every other job done in Farming Simulator 15 as well as in real life but the cart, at least I can't figure out how to. Hiring someone to drive the grain cart in real life is also the thing I can't seem to hire someone to do either! 

I would say Farming Simulator 15 is very relaxing and an all around enjoyable experience. There are some technical parts of Farming Simulator 15 that I'm not sure little kids would be good at. On the other hand kids are way smarter than many of my friends or I were in our younger days. If I were to change Farming Simulator 15 I would add a few more analytical tools such as cost of production, a chart to view past and present commodity prices and trends, among others. Modern farming is so much more than simply driving a tractor. I would also add beef cattle but I'm sure that's just because that is the way Crystal and I farm. 

If you are someone who has ever dreamed of being a Farmer this game is for you. All of the fun of farming with none of the real life stress! Farming is not something I planned on doing but it is now what I love. Farming Simulator 15 is a great taste of what it is like to be a Farmer.

And now for the fun part we have a copy to give you! It is a version for Xbox 360. To enter all you have to do is comment below with what you love about farming, or if you aren't currently a farmer what you would raise or grow if you could farm. I'll randomly select a winner on June 26 at 8:00 a.m. 

Disclaimer: We received a free copy of Farming Simulator 15 for review, however all opinions are our own. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Seven Tips for Attending the Kentucky Derby

So there was that one time that we went to the Kentucky Derby. Yes, the Boy and I were incredibly lucky to get to go to the Kentucky Derby with my mom and dad this year. It was amazing. And now there is the chance that we could have been there to watch a Triple Crown winner! Churchill Downs is such an incredible place. The history is incredible, and it was such a neat opportunity to watch another piece of its history. The fashion is amazing. As my farmer dad put it, "This is like the Oscars." And the horses definitely lived up to all the hype.

I've heard from so many of you that also hope to sometime attend, so I thought I would put together a few tips and tricks.

1. How do you get tickets? You get lucky. Ok, not quite, but kind of. How we got our tickets was my mom put in for a lottery through Church Hill Downs last fall, and then we were lucky enough to be drawn for the opportunity to purchase tickets. The tickets are not cheap, and they go very fast. We ended up sitting about 12 roles from the rail. Although, we were incredibly close to the action it was hard to see much of the big races. Of course there are other reserved seats with better views, but that means more money. Other options for tickets are to buy general admission and sit in the infield. Think tailgating with everything from fancy to trashy. There is a huge screen to watch all the races from and you can walk up the day of the event to buy these tickets.

Tailgating and horse racing from the infield.

We had tickets for the Oaks, which is the day before, and the Derby. During the Oaks the crowds were much smaller and we spent a lot of time walking around the grounds. We spent a lot of time at the paddock watching the horses being paraded and the jockeys mount up.

2. You've got to get a hat. It's the Derby, you definitely need to take the opportunity to buy a fancy hat. Originally, I had bought a head band style hat with a bunch of feathers on it. I love the look, plus I figured it would be easier for packing. However, our first day at the Oaks was REALLY hot, and I was very jealous of the shade my dad's cowboy hat was giving him. So I ended up buying a brimmed hat in the gift shop. I was sure that prices were going to be crazy, however I was shocked at how reasonable the prices were and the selection was awesome.

3. Forgot the heels. You are going to end up walking a lot, like. I am not joking. Even if you are cabbing it the cab drivers can't get close so you are going to do a ton of walking just to get to the grounds. I was very glad that I had packed sandals to wear on day two. You could tell the veterans that had packed extra flats in the person and had heels in their hands on the way home.

4. Save your pennies. The Derby is really expensive. We paid $230 a night for a Super 8 and we booked before Christmas. Drinks aren't cheap either. Plus, you might want to do some betting. And as I mentioned before if you buy reserved seat the tickets are pricey. Just keep reminding yourself it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Also, all of the food and drink stands only take cash, and you'll need cash to bet.

5. Pack a lunch. I mentioned that the Derby is expensive however you can bring in your own boxed lunch, water and pop. All the details and guidelines are on the Churchill Downs website.

6. Bet early. As the day progresses there will be more and more people betting. I stood in line for more than 45 minutes in-between race 8 and 9 to place my bets on the race 11 aka the Derby Race.

7. Find the love of your life. This tip comes from the couple that was seated in front of us. They met last year at the Derby, and five months later she was moving across the county to live in California. My mom was convinced he was going to propose in front of us. That didn't happen. She said, "Bring your single friends, and just walk around. I guarantee you'll meet someone." I'm lucky I had my love with me!

Do you think American Pharaoh can do it? Who will you be betting on?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Easiest Way to Cut Watermelon

Over Memorial Day Weekend I learned that I have been cutting Watermelon wrong my entire life. The Boy and I love the show The Kitchen on Food Network. Within the show they have this segment called Food Hacks. When Geoffrey Zakarian, one of the chefs and hosts of the show, made the statement that we've been cutting watermelon wrong our whole like I was like, "No way, but I am going to watch this." He was right. After a trial this past weekend I back up his claim. His way really is the perfect way to cut a watermelon.

Step 1. Chill your watermelon in the fridge.
Step 2. Cut your watermelon in half.
Step 3. Cut lengthen ways across your watermelon. Trying to keep each cut the same width apart. About an inch works great.

You can see my knife skills weren't perfect but you get the point. 

Step 4. Pull out a slice an enjoy! 

There you have a it! There is hardly any mess, and it is a super easy way to serve your family or guests. Plus if you are making a salad or need cubes you can quickly slice up these sticks. 

In other news we are officially done calving! This little heifer calf was our only black calf this year and the second last calf to be born. I stole the picture from the Boy's @jjbcattleco Instagram account so you will have to go check him out. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Easiest Brownie Recipe

This post could have alternately been call "The Best Brownie Recipe on Earth!" I didn't think I was a huge brownie person until I tried these brownies, but now we can't get enough of them.

It all started with my sister-in-law making Cadbury Creme Egg Brownies for Easter. They were so good that I knew I had to make these myself. So off to the grocery to store I went to get the ingredients (brownie mix, eggs, oil and obviously Cadbury Creme Eggs). However, since it was after Easter there were no more Cadbury Creme Eggs left. Since there was no way I was waiting until next Easter to make these brownies I began thinking about what could be substituted. Rolos. Yup, mini Rolos would the answer, and they were perfect.

1 box Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix 13x9 Family Size aka awesome brownie base
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 8 oz. bag of loose mini Rolos (I liked buying the bulk bag because then I didn't have to unwrap all of them

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
2. Line a 13x9 baking pan with tinfoil, allowing the tinfoil to come over the edges. This makes it easier to pull the brownies out of the pan.
3. Spray the tinfoil with oil
4. Mix just until all the ingredients, except the Rolo, are incorporated. It is important not to over mix brownies
5. Fold in the whole package of Rolos
6. Pour evenly into your foil lined and greased pan
7. Bake for 25-27 minutes. I feel like because of the Rolos they take a little longer to bake. Let cool for 30 minutes before cutting.

This recipe also freezes really well in case you want to make ahead and serve later. Does your family have a sweet tooth or make a favorite chocolate recipe.

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