Farm Favorite Friday

Here comes the bride!

Today’s post comes from the pen of our special events coordinator, Mardel Robinson. Exciting things are happening this weekend!

Here’s the scoop:

I love Fridays. But this Friday is even better than most; it signals the beginning of a special weekend for the AgriEnergy family. Today is owner Barbara Aley’s birthday and it’s the last full day that your usual blogger will go by the last name of Rumbold.

That’s right. Tomorrow our very own communication strategist Katlyn Rumbold will marry the love of her life and become Mrs. Brian Sanden. In a barn, of course. Wearing cowgirl boots, of course. Surrounded by LOTS of supportive family members and friends, of course.

Katlyn & Brian

Katlyn & Brian

Ever since that “bling” showed up on her left ring finger back in December, the AER “girls” (Linda, Heather, Annette, and me) have followed the wedding planning process and offered ideas and advice. I’m not sure how much our input was appreciated, but Katlyn gracefully accepted all of it.

And now the big day is here! No more planning. No more advice. Just all of us at AgriEnergy Resources wishing Brian and Katlyn a lifetime of love as husband and wife!!

P.S. There’s one more good thing about this weekend. It’s Labor Day Weekend! That means the AgriEnergy office and plant will be closed on Monday, September 7, so our employees can spend a little extra time with their families.

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Farm Favorite Friday: Where I'll Want To Be

I can not wait for you to meet today’s Farm Favorite Friday author!

She grew up in Bureau County and is currently working at the local vet clinic while working on her college degree. I got to know her through 4-H and let me tell you she makes the BEST CUPCAKES. They look like Angus heifers!

Anyway, her talents are many, but her way with words will stop you right in your tracks.

So without further adieu, take a journey with Danae Ross:

“Life is full of surprises. It often takes us on turns we never expect, throwing us into situations we never imagined would we’d be in. As life gets hectic, often the refuge we seek is rooted where we grew up or in a place like it. I think this is especially so for those who started out in the country. Though life may call us away, there seems to be an irreplaceable, almost ethereal feeling to heading back and appreciating the slow, quiet earthen atmosphere.

Danae Ross

Just for a minute, sit back and take a journey with me.

An early morning walk brings a sneak peek of a wondrous scheme unraveling beneath my feet. Pops of bright green spring up from the ground, not quite ready to reveal their surprises; trees quiver, shaking off the stiffness of a long winter rest; animals stir, preparing for the coming of new young; the sun smiles down on us all, welcoming the new spring.

Before long, though, the peaceful awakening is replaced with the buzz of life. Temps warm and send people and animals all around me flocking to the sunlight, soaking up its freedom and overwhelming the land, afraid to lose any time. Tractors and lawnmowers bring a comforting hum, moseying across the soft earth. Horses plod down trails, kids shinny up tree branches, and gardeners amble in the dirt, delighting in the feel of earth between their fingers. Summer has arrived.

But there is no time to waste because soon a crisp breeze cuts through the air and the earth begins transforming again. Deep maroons, fiery reds, golden yellows, and burnt oranges paint the landscapes. Leaves flutter around me, stealing my attention, and showcase the Lord’s brilliant design. Farmers and hunters take the scene, stripping the land of its bounty and providing for the world’s needs.

As we gather together to thank our creator for His blessings, glittering flakes begin to fill the air, bringing with them the cold bite of winter. Carols and Christmas tunes permeate the homes, and children scramble to pull on their mittens and scarves so they can go whizzing down the hills on bright colored sleds past gleaming icicles that bedazzle the trees for miles and miles.

No, there isn’t anything quite like being out in God’s country.

Danae Ross

Whether it’s going to the barn to visit the livestock, gazing across the land that stretches for miles, or enjoying a meal grown from food you tended to yourself, there is nothing that can replace that feeling, no words to even describe it. No matter the time of year or the season, there is always something new and wondrous, always something to amaze us and bring us peace at the brilliance of our Father’s hand.

I still have a lot of things I want to do in my life, places that I want to go: big cities, national parks and monuments, beaches….who knows, maybe I will even end up living in a bigger area, surrounded by homes and buildings. I don’t know what God has planned for me, but I do know that when the stress and strain of life start weighing me down there is only one place I will return to for true peace: The loll of gently swaying trees spanning all around me, animals sauntering quietly along their way, flowers poking up wherever they choose to bloom…All taking me away from rushing, hurried people, cold, hard structures, and petty, unnecessary drama.

The country, the farm, the timber, the pond… That’s where I’ll want to be.”

If you liked what you read, be sure to follow along with her adventures at ‘A Piece from Elise.’

And if you have a similar story you’d like to share, we’d love to feature you right here next week. Please email your story to

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Farm Favorite Friday: From City Lights to Starry Nights

I am so excited to introduce you all to today’s Farm Favorite Friday author!

She grew up in Michigan and much like me had dreams of moving to the big city with no intentions of EVER settling down with a nice, young, farmer. Especially in Bureau County.

When I first met her, I’ll be honest, we were arch enemies. I think she’d agree with that too. You see, we wrote for competing newspapers and how could you be friends with the competitor? Well, one day while covering an event together (for our competitor papers), I found out she was dating a farmer. And it was in that moment, in that blustery parking lot, we clicked.

Goldie & Nick

Since then, she’s become my partner in crime, the Christina Yang to my Meredith Grey.

So without further adieu, meet Goldie Currie as she narrates how one farmer flipped her world upside down (in a good way of course):

“It’s been eight months since I got engaged to my favorite farmer.

Some days I can’t believe I’m on the road to marriage, while other days I find myself at the calendar counting the days until our June 20, 2015 wedding.

If someone would have told me 10 years ago that I would grow up to be a farmer’s wife, I definitely would have laughed and assumed they were kidding.

I always imagined my future life tucked away in the big city dreams. I imagined myself being what many call a “city girl” — complete with a big closet full of fashion duds, an apartment overlooking the city and some sort of fancy event to attend to every night.

I’m a long way from that these days, and to be honest, I couldn’t be happier. I can truly say I am where I’m suppose to be.

The Rapp FarmsteadMy fiancé lives on a farm just north of Princeton. The house is the one his father was raised in, therefore it has a lot of sentimental meaning to us.

I’ll be the first to say, I was nervous leaving my nice town house in downtown Princeton for the quiet, country life.

I wondered if it would feel lonely and empty without the chatter of kids biking by or motors from cars strolling through the streets or even those friendly waves to neighbors. But, guess what, I haven’t thought twice about those things since getting engaged. To be honest, I’m enjoying the peace and quiet. Looking out the windows over the summer, seeing the yard surrounded by corn stalks, gave me a sense of comfort and security, as I saw it as a border around my new little world.

Other than being on the farm, my life hasn’t changed that much as a “future farm wife in training.”

This past harvest season was my first one spent on the farm. It was exciting to see my fiance, his brother, and father all revved up and ready to get out to the fields for the day. The fall season is an exciting one for our family. I love riding in the combine, eating dinner in the fields as the guys take a quick rest, and listenening to them talk about how far along they are and which fields they will tackle the next day.

I feel lucky I get to be apart of this family, whose roots run deep in the agriculture world. I look forward to learning more throughout the years and getting to watch first hand how their farm progresses. I can’t wait to see what’s in store, and you never know,I might be the one out there driving one of those big, green combines someday.”

Goldie is currently the Senior Staff Writer at the Bureau County Republican.

If you have a similar story you’d like to share, we’d love to hear about it. Please email your stories to

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Farm Favorite Friday: My growing love for cover crops

It all started when Eric Johnston came to work at AgriEnergy Resources as an agronomist nearly a year ago. While visiting customers in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Ohio, Eric was awakened to a whole new world.

A world filled with cover crops, which is proving to be one of his favorite parts of farming. And for good reason.

He farms row crops alongside his family near Tiskilwa, Illinois and is always on the look out on how to best increase yield potential year after year.

Meet Eric:

Rolled Rye

“Yes I had read about them in ag magazines, but had never personally seen cover crops growing in fields or talked with the cutting edge producers who were implementing them into their farm systems. Heck one of our customers in Indiana had alternated Austrian winter peas and radishes in 30 inch rows. This year he was going to use RTK to plant corn in the middle of these rows. Another of our customers from Wisconsin planted some fields with cereal rye. He let the cereal rye get to 3-4 foot tall this spring and then no till planted soybeans into it (pictured to the right).

Then he used his roller crimper to knock down the rye. Notice the weed control – this field had no herbicide on it!! And we just got word that it yielded very well also.

Visiting our customer’s farms, talking with farmers, and of course reading about cover crop use has me hooked. I fell for them hard and there’s no looking back.

Johnston Cereal Rye

We drilled in cereal rye following the combine on some of our fields this fall. We also flew on (by helicopter) some oats and radishes into standing corn. All of the cover cropped fields are looking great so far and I cant help but get giddy when I drive by or walk these fields.

I don’t understand why more farmers aren’t trying to implement cover crops into their farming systems. To have living roots in the soil throughout the year can only do good things. These roots release root exudates in the form of carbon and sugar and are what feed the soil microbes and increase organic matter. They also protect against wind/water erosion, increase water infiltration, decrease compaction, increase aeration and scavenge nutrients as to avoid run-off in our water system. Talk about soil health!

The Johnston Boys

Another big reason I am falling in love with cover crops is I think they will decrease our herbicide usage on our farms and help us with weed control. Mother nature wants to cover every acre of bare dirt with something, so why not have it be a beneficial cover crop instead of a weed!! I feel that cover crops and biologicals are going to be the future of farming, and I hope to pass my knowledge onto my son, Cullen (pictured with his grandpa).

On our own family farm, we’re already discussing ways we can put cover crops and biological products from AgriEnergy Resources on more of our acres next year. We know it takes a little more work and planning, but the benefits far outweigh the work. As I drive by one of our green cover cropped fields, and then look at the neighbors bare field right next to it, my love for cover crops keeps growing. We need to be thinking about the health of our soil for not only now but for future generations as well.”

What about you? Do you use cover crops? We’d love to hear about it. And maybe even share your story in next week’s edition of Farm Favorite Friday.

Until next time, happy trails!

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Farm Favorite Friday: Celebrating 25 Years

Today is a very special day for one of our Sales Agronomists.

Today Gary Campbell celebrates 25 years with AgriEnergy Resources. He was here even before AgriEnergy Resources was officially formed. He remembers a time when there were only a handful of employees who didn’t even have specific job titles, but yet had such a passion for agriculture they’d do whatever they had to for success.

From the pen of Gary:

“Funny thing to think back 25 years ago when I first moved to Princeton, IL to work for a small company and a man named Dave Larson. It wasn’t even called AgriEnergy Resources yet. Only had a handful of employees, and most didn’t have specific job titles, just did whatever needed to be done that day.

One of Gary's favorite thing about farm life is working with growers to achieve the highest yields yet.

One of Gary’s favorite things about farm life is working with growers to achieve the highest yields yet.

I first came to Princeton to meet Dave on a fall harvest day. The first thing he said was, “come take a ride with me.” We went about 5 miles north to see a farmer and long-time friend, Bill Fordham. Bill took us out in his field to look at several different corn plots, where he was trying different hybrids, tillage practices, and fertilizer treatments that Dave had recommended. I still remember how excited Bill was that a certain hybrid, with the right kind of tillage, and a good biological fertilizer mix made for some great looking (and yielding) corn! And because Bill was excited, Dave was just as excited for him! That’s when I knew that working for Dave Larson and the staff at AgriEnergy Resources was the place for me.

After all, what is more enjoyable in the fall than finding out which things we have spent all year testing either crash and burn (oops), or hit a home run (yahoo!)?

It still gives me a thrill to crunch through yield data with many of our growers and hearing them say, “Wow, that really worked. We’ve got to do more of that! [when using AER products]”

Over 25 years many things have certainly changed. From my role at ever-growing AgriEnergy Resources to the technology used when feeding the world on our farms, I know I made the right choice when I visited Princeton that one fateful day.”

We’re all looking forward to seeing what the next 25 years bring in agriculture!

What’s your favorite aspect of country living? We’d love to hear about it. Maybe even feature YOU in an upcoming post.

Until next time, happy trails!

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Farm Favorite Friday: Fritz

Guess what day it is…Farm Favorite Friday my friends!

I am so excited for today’s post written by Mardel Robinson. Mardel is one farm woman I’ve grown to look up to. Hey, us farm gals have to stick together!

Anyway, she grew up showing cattle, passed the ropes on to her daughter, and currently serves on the Bureau-LaSalle-Marshall-Putnam Extension Unit Council, and the Princeton Farmers Market Board.

So without further adieu, here is her story:

“This time of year I always think of Fritz. Fritz Westphal. The farmer a mile west of our place, on Ashley Road between Plattville Road and Helmar Road. I don’t remember a time that I didn’t know Fritz, his wife Mary, and their three children.


Mary was my 5th grade teacher in 1963, when President Kennedy was shot. After she told us the horrible news, she led our class in prayer. Glad I grew up then instead of now!

Sometimes I would go play with Fritz and Mary’s younger daughter Sharon, who was pretty nice to me considering she was a few years older. Sharon’s brother Dan and sister Dorothy were too old to care about us.

Fritz and my dad co-owned a baler with Andy and A.J. Our four families spent the summers moving from one farm to the next baling hay and straw, and eating great dinners prepared by the wives. We were all just down-to-earth farm folks who were neighbors by chance, and business partners and close friends by choice.

Yep, Fritz and his family accounted for a lot of my childhood memories at Pine Lawn Farm north of Plattville, Illinois. But there’s one memory in particular that always comes to mind this time of year. Fritz’s left hand. The hand that required Mary to alter his glove. The hand that only had his little finger and maybe a third of his palm; the rest of his palm, his other three fingers, and his thumb had disappeared into the corn picker late one fall afternoon. My dad said Fritz was hurrying to beat the rain.

I know this story is a bit morbid, and it’s certainly not my favorite farm memory, but it’s an important lesson and reminder. PLEASE everyone, be safe this harvest season. No matter how far behind you get in the fields, please take time to eat healthy meals and to rest your body and your mind. Be extra vigilant when operating or repairing machinery, and when moving machinery on the roads. Don’t take short-cuts. And keep tabs on the others in your crew.

Remember my friend Fritz!”

A bit morbid? Yes. But it could have been much worse. So please be safe out there; life is already too short.

Do you have a similar story? How’s your harvest going? We’re currently looking for someone to feature in next week’s Farm Favorite Friday?

Until next time, happy trails!

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Farm Favorite Friday: Keep calm and nature on

Keep calm and nature on!

I am so excited to introduce you all to John Mayernak and his guard dog Maggie for this week’s edition of Farm Favorite Friday (FFF). John hails from a farm town in Iowa, but now resides in a rural community in Illinois.

He thrives on feeding the soil what it needs to remain biologically alive. His favorite aspect is watching how Mother Nature can come full circle.

From the mouth of John:

John's guard dog, Maggie.

John’s guard dog, Maggie.

“I planted a perennial crop on a part of my worst acreage of my farm in Iowa. It was abused and misused and the renter couldn’t even grow a decent corn crop on this ground. So I tried a perennial crop hoping that nature would recover on this ground and turn it into something fertile and alive. I helped a bit with dry humates and soft rock phosphate, but the first three years I fought weeds, always dry, big cracks on the surface, a place you can’t even grow a decent corn crop!

Two years ago in early spring the clover appeared. I didn’t seed it, none of my neighbors seeded it, it just appeared, nature’s first beneficial invader. As time passed, the clover took over more of the hurt ground and within two years the whole “orchard” was covered in white clover, holding water by breaking up the top soil with roots, keeping the weeds away, and generally turning the patch into a perfect example of giving nature an opportunity, she will rearrange things to be beneficial and alive.

It was so amazing to me that I had to post a guard to make sure this slice of paradise wouldn’t disappear.”

Amazing what happens when we give nature an opportunity to do what it does best – continue the circle of life.

So who wants to share their favorite part of country living next week? Remember, it can be about anything that makes the farm/ranch life unique to you.

Until next time, happy trails!

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Farm Favorite Friday: Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Because we can only talk so much about soil health, biological farming, and organic farming… welcome to the first installment of Farm Favorite Friday.

Farm Favorite Friday is about you! We want to share our favorite aspects of farm life and we want to hear your’s too. Each Friday, we will feature somebody new. You can share a video, pictures, memories, recipes, lessons learned — anything that makes the farm life unique to you.

And of course if you blog, we can link-up with each other. 🙂

So to get things started I’m going to kick off this series with my top secret apple cinnamon muffin recipe. Seriously, this is the ONE treat my farmer BEGS for each harvest season in the combine.

Farm wives/girlfriends/daughters listen up. Men, take notes if you want to impress.

First off I firmly believe the quality of an apple cinnamon muffin starts with a really knowledgable farmer who has learned how to grow a really good apple. I use apples from Christ Orchard located near Elmwood, Illinois. In my personal opinion, the Christ family have mastered the art of a really good apple. They seem to have that down to an exact science using various types of fertilizers.

So without further adieu, here is the recipe I haven’t shared with anyone until now. You’re welcome.


They even seemed to be a hit in the office.

They even seemed to be a hit in the office.

Yields 12 muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups diced apples
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Toss together diced apples.
  • Cream together butter and sugar until lightened in color, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs. Mix in vanilla.
  • Gently stir in flour mixture, alternating with milk. Stir until combined. Stir in diced apples and scoop mixture into muffin tins. Fill about 2/3 or 3/4 the way full.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.

And this my friends is one of my farm favorites.

So who wants to share next week?

Until next time, happy trails!

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