Those of you that have been following this blog know that we like to get our family involved in pork activities. It’s a way to both help them learn more about the industry and to give back to it. This last week was World Pork Expo and Beth and Adam, as usual spent time helping in the Hubbard Feeds booth. In the past their main goal was to find candy at the different exhibitors but now they recognize different companies and what they provide. They also found out that Mom and Dad know a lot of people.

This next week Brett will participate in the MN Agriculture Ambassador Institute. He’s participating as a member of the Pork Ambassadors. This seminar is designed to provide leadership and communication skills to kids who will be representing various aspects of production agriculture. They will also have an opportunity to see firsthand how different types of technology is used in agriculture. This will be a great opportunity for Brett to meet other kids, to learn more about agriculture and hopefully to build his confidence in speaking to others about the truths of agriculture. Since he’ll be attending the U of MN Twin Cities, I suspect he may have a few opportunities to share his farm background with others.

Adam will also participate in the Swine Industry tour later this month. This will give him an up close view of some other aspects of agriculture and since he’s thinking of a career in ag, hopefully will help him decide what he might like to do.

People talk about the future of agriculture and the need to get young people involved. Hats off to the MN Pork Board and other agriculture organizations for putting together these learning opportunities for kids interested in agriculture. Even though some of the kids may not end up with a career in ag, the things they learn will help them be good spokespeople for our industry.



This one has me pretty excited – for the first time I ran for 25 minutes straight! No walk break, just 5 minute warm up, 25 minute run, 5 minute cool down. That’s pretty amazing coming from this woman!!

I think what surprised me the most is that I didn’t feel like I was gasping for breath, I thought I would be panting from all that running. My calves really stung but my lungs were fine.

I have 3 weeks of training left. This is going to work out great since on June 21 is the 5K I have entered. I am already thinking beyond this 5K to when is the next one I will run.

I think my daughters and I will sign up for a color run somewhere this fall. They just sound like a lot of fun.

I just need to remember, the William A. Irvin 5K has not happened yet so I need to get through that one before planning for the next one. Here’s to hoping for nice weather for the rest of the week!

I am sorry but I am going to whine a little here!

The rain needs to stop for about a week or so. I know many farmers that do not have all their crop planted and the later the crop gets in, the more likely they will be harvesting in the snow. That does not work very well.

Plus all this rain is preventing me from keeping up with my training program. I do not have a treadmill in my house and I don’t have gym membership so I rely on being able to run outside. I woke up this morning at 5:30 hoping to get out to run, looked outside and it was wet and dreary so I decided not to take the chance. Good idea as 5 minutes later it was pouring rain.

On Sunday morning, I took the chance and ended my run in the rain plus shortened my training by 5 minutes.

I have to admit, I am surprising myself. I actually miss it when I can’t run. Truly never thought I would say those words. I feel better, I sleep better and overall get a kick out of the training that I have been doing. I am proud of myself for not giving up already and keeping up with the program I am using. Every time I reach a milestone it makes me even more determined to complete it.

Ok, so I am done now with my whining 🙂

I hope that overall everyone had a great Memorial Day Weekend! I will continue to work on my training program and keep the updates coming.

Time really flies! Here I thought I would be right on top of things and posting here on the blog weekly with my training progress…well that didn’t quite work out at all the way I wanted it to.

I have been training though, got a little behind schedule, but have started my 4th week of training. The intervals for today (and 2 more times this week) include 5 minutes of running – twice! I have to admit, I did not make the entire 5 minutes the first interval this morning but pushed myself on the second 5 minute run and did it. I think if anyone would have seen me they would have thought I had lost my mind. I cannot explain how good it felt to be able to push my way through to the end of 5 minutes.

I know, I know for some 5 minutes isn’t long at all but for me that is a milestone. I am really enjoying the training and getting outside to do this. I guess that is the thing I want to stress, I never thought I would be able to run for 5 minutes….and I did it!!

I have been trying to watch what I am eating as well. I have found over the years that carbs and I have a love/hate relationship so I have not cut them out entirely but I am trying to eat more vegetables and fruit plus protein. I love my protein. (PORK of course!)

So to wrap things, I have made it to 4 weeks of training for the 5K in June. I will just keep pushing and when I look ahead – by the time the program I am following is done, I will be running for 25 minutes straight….that just seems like a long way off!

That was the question posed to Beth and me on our recent visit to Sanford Middle School in Minneapolis. Why do you raise pigs instead of crops or vegetables? Interesting question, one that made me think for a moment. I started to reply that it was part of our heritage. Dale’s grandfather and father had both been pig farmers, so it was natural for Dale to continue to do so. Heritage and tradition are a large part of agriculture and our family is no different. I also came from a hog farm so it seemed natural for me to be married to a pork producer.

I also went on to explain that we really enjoy taking care of the animals. That was a common message throughout the whole day – things that Dale does to take care of the animals. I think people who don’t know much about agriculture – especially animal agriculture, really underestimate how much you have to care about animals to do it for a living. Why else would you stay up late or get up early to feed and take care of them?

My answer seemed to satisfy her curiosity and I went on to address the other questions. Later, the teacher told me that particular student was a vegetarian and had been struggling a bit with her class adopting a pig farmer. Naturally I replayed my answer in my mind, wondering if I could have said something different, something better. When I asked the teacher about my response, she said it was just fine.

Why do we raise pigs? Because deep down at the end of the day, after all the talk about productivity and profitability, it’s because we really like caring for animals.



Me talking about pork, I really do love my job!!

Hi, my name is Pam Voelkel, I work for Minnesota Pork Board and my job is to promote pork. My title is Director of Events, so I organize and find the different events that we participate in throughout the year.

Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth was our first marathon where we had a booth to talk with runners about adding pork into their healthy lifestyle. I think the runners have actually started to wear off on me!!

This year, my goal is to run the William A. Irvin 5K on Friday before the Grandma’s Marathon. This is a daunting task right now and I am beginning to wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew….

I have tried to start with some pilates exercises, so far it is going pretty well. My 15 year old daughter has now decided she will begin walking/running with me. We are hoping the weather next week warms up enough for us to be able to get outside after school/work to start the training program.

Today was the official day to sign up for the 5K, I did it! Well, step one down, many more to go. I will try to do weekly updates so I will be able to track my progress and I am hoping with having this out on the blog will provide some extra push to complete the goal. 🙂


My daughter Beth and I will once again be part of Provider Pals, an organization designed to help urban kids learn about agriculture. The kids send us questions throughout the school year to learn more about what we do on the farm. A typical question we get is “What is it like to live on a farm?” I imagine that for a young child in downtown Minneapolis, a farm must seem like another country. Beth and I do our best to talk about the freedom we have on the farm and also the responsibilities. Growing up on a farm myself, I look back on my childhood and think of the wonderful opportunities to use my imagination and create things. Today, I encourage my kids to “figure it out” when there is a task that needs to be done, or a problem that needs to be solved.

It seems like the kids always want to know how many animals we have on our farm. 1000 pigs of various sizes always gets a “Wow” response and why not. If you don’t know anything about modern production, 1000 to a kid can seem like a million.

While this is a great opportunity to teach kids about pig farming, I can’t help but wish there was a way to tell our story to every urban kid so that they could get an accurate picture of agriculture. However, if we can help even a few kids understand more about today’s pig farmers, it’s better than none.

Today I had the honor to be part of a group of pork producers that presented 5000 pounds of ground pork to the Second Harvest Heartland organization. Through our Oink Outing tours and events this past summer, MN pork producers interacted with consumers and for every question they asked us about pork production, we donated a pound of pork. As you can see, we had a lot of questions.

If you looked up the word logistics in the dictionary, it would say “See Second Harvest Heartland”. These people know how to get food from companies and producers that have excess to those organizations and people that don’t have enough. They took in 79 million pounds of food last year. Unfortunately the number of people needing supplemental food continues to increase.

The warehouse at Second Harvest Heartland is huge and has pallets of food stacked three high. The walk in refrigerator and cooler is the size of many farm shop buildings. They have 17 trucks that pick up and deliver food around MN. I think you get the picture. Second Harvest Heartland is helping people in a big way.

Our donation of pork was much appreciated since sources of protein aren’t as plentiful for the food shelves as say, bread or cereal.

As my family sat down to a meal of ground pork tonight, (ironic isn’t it) I’m humbled by the fact that we didn’t even give one moment of thought on how much food we had or if there would be enough. Food insecurity is not in our vocabulary. Even my always hungry teenage boys can find something to eat in the cupboard. Unfortunately that’s not true for many families.

Hats off to the Second Harvest Heartland people and the wonderful work they do in relieving hunger.

Goals help us stay focused and provide motivation. Even a simple goal like cleaning off our desk can keep our mind on the project and create satisfaction when completed.

This summer I’ve been exercising aimlessly. After I ran the 5K in Duluth in June I wanted to do an event towards the end of summer that would give me something to shoot for and stretch my talents. For example, last year I did the Iron Girl Duathlon.

All summer I watched various races come and go but could never get excited about any of them or find one that didn’t conflict with my schedule. In the back of my mind I saw the 10K race in Mankato as a possibility. Sure, it would challenge me since I haven’t run a 10K for almost 30 years, but it was later in the season than I preferred since the race is Oct. 21.

So I would keep finding excuses not to sign up and as summer came to a close I realized I was on the path to letting my exercise routine fade away like the summer daylight hours. I became increasing frustrated with myself knowing that if I let an opportunity like the Mankato 10K pass by I would be mad at myself for not trying. Then again, for whatever reasons the last few times I ran it was hard, and that was only 2 miles. How could I survive 6?

The answer was right next to me…Dale. He said he would run with me and knowing I had him at my side to help me through any rough spots gave me confidence that I could complete a 10K. So I signed us both up for the 10K and went out and ran 2 1/2 miles. It was the best run I had in a long time. Perhaps a sign that my decision was the right one.

Now I have a goal, a purpose for running and exercising even though the daylight hours are getting shorter and the days cooler. It feels good to have something to focus on. Funny thing is that my running is going better too. I suppose those 90° summer days did drag me down, but mentally I have more confidence in myself. I’ve been running 4 miles consistently and am looking to do 5. Once I do that I know I can do 6, especially with Dale running along with me.

What I enjoyed about the Iron Girl Duathlon last year was the challenge of doing something I’d never done before. It meant setting a goal and then working hard to achieve that goal. I’ve decided I can’t let the fear of failure overcome the opportunity to succeed.

Harvest has begun early this year. Perhaps that’s not such a surprise considering what type of year 2012 has been. From the unseasonably warm winter to the unfortunately dry summer, this has certainly been a year most people won’t forget.

Here in southern MN, most farmers have started harvesting corn and while it’s early on the calendar, the corn is mature. Moisture levels started high, in the mid to high 20’s, but a few good drying days and strong winds have brought those levels down. Early results say the yields are better than expected, but remember it’s still early. Perhaps the dry summer made us lower our expectations too.

I know that others around the country have not done as well. I work for an animal nutrition company and through my contacts across the U.S. I hear reports of very poor yields or rather almost nonexistent yields. In addition to the reduced quantity of corn, some areas need to be concerned about the quality of corn. Aflatoxin, which can be detrimental to animal performance, is often produced by molds that grow in drought stricken corn.  This creates a challenge for farmers because now they may not only be short of corn, but the corn they do have contains mycotoxins that can be harmful to their animals.

September is my favorite month of the year. The combination of warm days and cools nights create a wonderful atmosphere. The excitement of harvest and seeing the results of the growing season fills the air. Kids are back in school with a fresh new year ahead of them. It’s a great time to live on the farm.