my daily life on a cattle farm, my love of agriculture, and stories behind my photos

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Sun Sets on 2013

As the sun set on 2013, I reflected upon the year. It was truly an amazing year. I have been so blessed! Throughout this past year, I had incredible experiences. And, I have so many wonderful memories to cherish.

* 2013 celebrated the 70th year of my family raising Shorthorn cattle. It is a proud moment for the family. Hoping for many more years!

* Ran my best 3 mile time...23.40! I was SUPER excited!
* In January, I celebrated my 35th birthday. And, my dad celebrated his 70th in May!

* As my last responsibility as the 2012 IFB Young Leader Chair, I served as a Voting Delegate for Illinois at American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. It was an amazing experience sitting in the delegate session.

* At the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader Conference, I received my pin as a retiring IFB Young Leader Committee Representative. It was such an honor to have served on the committee. Through Farm Bureau, I am extremely grateful for the opportunities and experiences I've had. And, I have so many great memories and wonderful friends throughout the years.
* I joined the Illinois Shorthorn Association...my grandpa would have been happy :)
* Excited I was hired as a crop insurance adjuster with Diversified Crop Insurance Services!

* One afternoon, Paula Sands called me to be interviewed on her show, Paula Sands Live on KWQC-TV6. Overjoyed! I was pleasantly surprised! Tears of joy were in my eyes as she said many kind words about me and my photography. It was absolutely incredible! I loved being able to share my love of agriculture through my photographs.

* I was accepted into the Cultivating Master Farmers program. So excited to be the Class of 2015! Looking forward the wonderful learning experience!
* Most importantly, I regained a friendship. Through my involvement with Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leaders, I met Dale. Over the past eight years, Dale became a great friend of mine. We've had many great times. And, we have seen each other through some tough times. This year, our friendship became stronger. I look forward to many more years in making memories!

Jason Aldean concert at Wrigley Field in Chicago!

* In November, I was elected President of Illinois Cattlewomen! I am looking forward to educating consumers about beef, and the beef industry through Illinois Cattlewomen.
* I traveled to Brazil for the 2013 Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leaders Ag Industry Tour. It was incredible! I enjoyed learning about agriculture in Brazil. I am grateful for the experience! And, I met some wonderful people :)
* My journal and photos were featured in the December-January issue of Farm & Ranch Living! I was so excited to share my love of agriculture and family farm! It was such an honor. For media outreach for Farm & Ranch Living, I also had the opportunity to be interviewed by WMBD and RFD. So much fun! My experience with Farm & Ranch Living was amazing! 
Best wishes to you in 2014!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday on the Farm

frost on a fence post

It was a gorgeous morning feeding calves! Sunny and foggy...it was amazing! After morning chores, I enjoyed walking around the farm. So peaceul. I love taking photos on winter days...especially winter days like this! 

Monday, December 23, 2013


Coal...for those on my 'naughty' list!


3 tablespoons      butter
6 cups      marshmallows
1 teaspoon      mint extract
5 cups      cocoa krispies
1 cup      crushed chocolate oreos
black food coloring


Crush the chocolate Oreos. Add the crushed Oreos with the Cocoa Rice Krispies in a large mixing bowl.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add marshmallows and melt on low heat. Stir marshmallows until melted. Add mint extract and black food coloring. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

Pour the marshmallow mixture over the Cocoa Rice Krispies and Oreos. Stir until thoroughly covered.

Coat hands with cooking spray. Form lumps of various sizes. Place on waxed paper to set. Place lumps into a bowl to enjoy. Or, give as a gift. Label a paper lunch bag, 'coal'. Arrange the lumps of 'coal' in the bag.
a little bag of 'coal'

The lumps of 'coal' were really cute as a gift for my family! A little fun for Christmas :)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday on the Farm

frosty farmall

It was a gorgeous sunrise as dad and i fed the calves this morning. Winter sunrises can be so spectacular! After chores, I ran inside my house to grab my camera to take this shot of the Farmall covered in frost!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Our Cows Love Cornstalks!

My cows make me smile. Yesterday afternoon was one of those times. Throughout the winter we set out cornstalk bales as bedding for the cow herds to keep them warm. Dad and I set out a bale for a cow herd Monday afternoon. Our cows love cornstalks...and it shows! [note the bale moving and cornstalks flying in the air] Enjoy the videos :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Farm & Ranch Living

Farm & Ranch Living

It was almost two years ago when I was contacted by the Assistant Editor of Farm & Ranch Living. Lori asked me to write a journal for their publication. I was so extremely excited to be given this amazing opportunity! Tears of joy came to my eyes. It was such an honor to be chosen to write about my family farm! I love sharing my passion for agriculture. My family has enjoyed reading them in the past. It has been a blessing to be published in Farm & Ranch Living. I am extremely appreciative.

A version of my journal may be viewed at Farm & Ranch Living. I hope you have a chance to read the December-January issue of Farm & Ranch Living!

my journal for Farm & Ranch Living

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday on the Farm

the sun sets on cornstalk bales
It was a chilly winter day when I snapped this photo on the farm. The sun began to set on rows of cornstalk bales dusted with snow. It was quite pretty and peaceful.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Farmall 'FARM'

farmall 'farm"
I am really excited about this photo collage I created...Farmall 'FARM'! Photos were taken of the Farmall M my Grandpa Stevens owned and used on the farm. My parents now own the tractor. I love and take pride in the farm heritage.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pregnancy Checking and Vaccinations: Fall 2013

preparing to vaccinate and pregnancy check heifers and cows
It was a gorgeous, sunny day! Today we pregnancy checked a herd of 57 cows and heifers that will be calving next spring. As Dr Baird pregnancy checked each cow or heifer, I recorded the information for our records. Our cow herds are due to calve in March and April. With Dr Baird, we also vaccinated our cattle herd with our pre-calving health program. We will be pregnancy checking and vaccinating the second herd of cows another day.

Friday, November 29, 2013

2013 Replacement Heifers

one of my 2013 replacement heifers

This afternoon, we vaccinated our calves. We have created a health program for our cows and calves with guidance from our veterinarian, Dr Baird. For this year, we selected twelve heifers to add to our cow herd. Our replacement heifers were calfhood vaccinated and tagged with a new, red numbered ear tag for identification. The heifers will be turned out to pasture in April. And at the end of May, a bull will be turned in with the heifers for the breeding season. 

Friday on the Farm

the sun rises over cornstalk bales

Early one morning, the sun rose over a harvested field of corn. The sun slowly peaked over our round bales of cornstalks. I watched in amazement on the brisk, fall morning. The sunrise was in brilliant colors of orange and purple. It was so gorgeous! I absolutely love mornings like this on the farm!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday on the Farm

weathered emblem of the farmall m
The Farmall M has history on the Stevens farm. My grandpa Stevens owned Farmall tractors. My parents now own the Farmall M and Farmall 450 that are still used on the farm. In my family, the love of red tractors is as much of a tradtion as farming.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday on the Farm

a cow herd grazes a harvest corn field 

Our cows graze cornstalks after harvest. During the fall, our cow herds forage on cornstalks in the fields. I snapped this photo on a sunny, fall morning as I walked through the herd.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Grazing Cornstalks

after harvest, cattle graze cornstalks

A herd of cows and heifers are grazing cornstalks this evening. We have happy cattle! After harvesting corn, our cattle graze the fields through the fall. Tomorrow, we will be preparing another field for a herd of cows.

cows and barbed wire...it's fall

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday on the Farm

unloading corn

It was another day of harvest on my parents' farm. I unloaded corn from wagons and augered it into the grain bin for storage. At the end of the day, I snapped this shot. With my camera, I crawled underneath the wagon as corn was augered into the grain bin. I never know when I will be inspired to capture a photo. And, I will do whatever to take a great shot!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chili... heartwarming for fall

Fall is perfect for making chili in the crockpot. I love how the aroma fills my house. There are many crisp days that are great to enjoy chili after a day of work on the farm. Warm up with my chili recipe!
1 pound    ground beef
2  (46 ounce) cans    tomato juice
1 (15 ounce) can    kidney beans
1 (14 ounce) can    fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup    corn
12 ounces    salsa
2 teaspoons    chili powder
1 teaspoon    garlic powder
Brown the ground beef in a pan and drain off the fat. Combine the beef with the tomato juice, kidney beans, tomatoes, corn, and salsa in the crockpot. Stir in the chili powder, and garlic powder. Let the chili simmer for 6 hours.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Unloading Corn


After the corn is harvested in the field, it is unloaded from the wagon and augered into the grain bin. 

Harvesting Corn

The combine rolls through the field harvesting corn on my parents' farm! When corn is harvested in the field, it is hauled into the bin site to unload and store in the grain bin.




Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday on the Farm

after a day of harvest

A day of harvest slowly fades into a lovely fall evening. As my dad harvests corn, I follow with the tractor and wagon. As I am in the tractor, I catch the beautiful sunset falling on an ear of corn. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Rosco...my farm dog

rosco was tired after a long day of planting corn...
i found him in the back of the truck resting on empty seed corn sacks
My faithful farm dog, Rosco passed away on May 14. It broke my heart. He was my loyal and loving friend of almost thirteen years. We shared many great years on the farm. And, I will forever cherish the memories. Rosco will always have a special place in my heart.

He was a true farm dog. He loved living and working on our grain and beef cattle farm. He especially loved calving season. Rosco enjoyed riding in my truck, checking cattle on the back of my four-wheeler, and riding with my dad in the Gleaner during harvest. He also loved my three nieces and when they visited the farm.

The farm has not been the same without Rosco. I especially miss him riding out with me to the pasture to check the cattle herds. I truly miss him.

Ross was a great farm dog. I hope he found a herd of Shorthorns to watch over in Heaven.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Harvest 2013!

Harvest started on my family's farm on Monday! It was a nice feeling spending time in the Gleaner and tractor again. I forgot how good harvested corn smelled! And, it was an amazing day to harvest corn and take photos!
Watching the sun set on the corn field was a beautiful sight and a perfect way to end the day.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pumpkin Cookies... the perfect fall treat

freshly baked pumpkin cookies

Here is my yummy cookie recipe that is wonderful for fall. I love baking these pumpkin cookies to have during harvest!


2 cups    whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups    oats

1 teaspoon    baking soda

1 teaspoon    cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon    salt

1/2 cup    butter

1 cup    brown sugar

2    eggs

1 teaspoon    vanilla

1 cup    honey

1 cup   pumpkin


milk chocolate chips

dried cranberries



Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Blend butter, and brown sugar together. Add eggs, vanilla, honey, and pumpkin to the mixture. Mix ingredients well. Stir in milk chocolate chips or dried cranberries if so desired. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cookies from the oven and let cool.



Sunday, September 22, 2013

First Day of Fall

Today was the first day of fall! And, it was such a gorgeous day! I enjoyed every moment of it. It was perfect weather for baling hay for the cattle herds. This week, we are finishing baling hay for the year. It has been a long season but good season. We have quality hay to feed cows and calves through the winter.

Monday, May 20, 2013


I've joined Instagram! See more of my agriculture photos! Follow me at monicajstevens.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ag in the Classroom

a shorthorn heifer calf visits 2nd grade students

I pulled the truck and trailer into the parking lot. A Shorthorn cow and heifer calf of mine visited the elementary school in Altona. The visit was for a lesson through Knox County Ag in the Classroom. I had the exciting opportunity to speak with 2nd grade students about beef cattle. So much fun! It is was a joy talking to the students about raising cattle on my family's 3rd generation farm. As always, I loved sharing my love of cattle! The kids liked seeing the two day old calf. And, I love seeing the excitement of the students learning about beef cattle!  

Sunday, May 5, 2013


This is a photo tribute to my love of 4-H. For 10 years, I was an active member of the Walnut Grove Progressors 4-H club in Knox County. Through the years in 4-H, I enjoyed and valued my experiences. And to this day, I truly cherish those experiences and memories. As a 4-H member, cattle and photography were projects that became lifelong passions. It was in 4-H where my love of photography came into focus. Over the years, my love further developed and into a career in agriculture photography.

Agriculture is what I know, love, and appreciate. Through my photographs, I am able to share my love of agriculture with others. My photos are from a unique perspective...a woman raising cattle. Photography is a love I love sharing. View my collection of agriculture photos at monicastevens.photoshelter.com.
The framed photo is of a John Deere 4020 and a John Deere B.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

so excited to wear my american shorthorn association cap :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

my bull calf, dirt road anthem, born this spring

A Cattleman

a shorthorn cow is licking her newborn heifer calf

A healthy, vigorous calf is what being a cattleman is all about. My family is extremely dedicated to caring for our Shorthorn cattle herds. Since 1943, the care for our cattle has been a tradition. As a third generation cattleman, I am proud of my family's tradition. The care for our cow herds' health and nutrition is shown in our healthy calves. We have been truly blessed this calving season with amazing calves. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fall 2012

Due to the extremely hot and dry weather conditions this past summer, we weaned calves a month early. Normally in the middle of September, we decided to wean calves in the middle of August. We chose to wean calves early to save pastures for grazing, maintain body condition, and maintain pregnancies. Despite the heat and lack of forage, I was pleasantly surprised with weaning weights. On average, steers and heifers weighed 40-60 pounds less than previous years. I was relieved and fairly pleased, considering. Since weaning, calves have been healthy and growing very quickly. I am very happy with the quality of calves this year.
With the warm, fall weather, we built fence. It is one of my favorite jobs on the farm! We use hedge posts, steel posts, four strands of barbed wire, and electrify one strand of high tensile for pasture fence. More fence is yet to be built. We showed calves to a family looking for a steer to show this summer. And, I was very pleased with the steer calf they chose. I wish them the best of luck! I decided to keep two bull calves to raise as breeding bulls to sell. I have never raised bulls, so it has been a good learning experience. Halter breaking the bulls to lead was very easy. We selected 12 replacement heifers to retain in the herd. I am extremely happy with the quality of heifers. Our veterinarian calfhood vaccinated our replacement heifers. The feeder calves were also revaccinated as part of their health program. We pregnancy checked and vaccinated cows with a pre-calving health program we developed with our veterinarian. I was so nervous about pregnancy checking our cows this fall in fear of low conception rates and the 2013 calving season being stretched out much longer due to the breeding conditions this past summer. If that was the issue, it would take a few years to get cows back on schedule. Ugh. I hoped for the best and was very pleased with herd averages of 98% conception. I am looking forward to calving season!