When all your family members each run their own farms, it can be tough to find time to gather around the table and enjoy a meal together. This is especially true during planting and harvest when everyone is on the go. Homemade chicken and beef fajitas are the McCranie family’s meal of choice to keep schedules and energy on track during hectic days.
Monica McCranie has tweaked her fajita recipe to perfection over 18 years because she enjoys creating balanced, healthy meals for the family that are also quick and easy to prepare.
“Fajitas are great because you get lean proteins, veggies and a little dairy, if you top with cheese or sour cream, all in one meal,” said Monica. She usually preps everything the night before so it’s ready to go for lunch, which is typically the one meal the family eats together. “Supper is a fend for yourself kind of meal with us.”
Monica, Mike and their sons Matthew and Mitchell all grow soybeans and corn on their own land within a 10-mile radius of each other near Claremont. While Mike and Monica grew up in different states, their grandparents owned land in South Dakota that eventually drew them here. Some of the acres they farm today have been in their families for more than 100 years.
Keeping that land healthy and productive for the next generation drives many of their decisions with technology playing a key role. Before planting, they map out their fields from start to finish using software. Those digital field maps go with them in the tractor, planter and sprayer so they plant the right amount of seeds and follow up with the right amount of pesticides to limit waste. They stay straight on the rows and know exactly where they’ve been, thanks to autosteer and GPS in the tractor.
In addition to technology, they rotate their crops and do not till the soil between crop rotations. This means leaving corn stalks in the ground after harvest and planting soybeans in the same soil in the spring. No-till helps farmers control erosion due to wind and rain.
The McCranies are also experimenting with a new biological way to protect soybeans from disease. They’ve added bacteria to the soil to help combat white mold. In the future, this could help them reduce the use of some fungicides.
According to Mike, technology helps them get the work done safely and efficiently because they do most of it themselves. Planting typically takes one month to finish across all four farms. Despite the fast pace, they love the hope and anticipation that comes with a new growing season.
“It’s amazing when you really think about it. You plant one tiny soybean seed, and it grows a plant with 50-100 pods,” explained Mike. “It’s so rewarding to be a part of growing a safe and healthy food supply.”
Give the McCranie’s favorite fajita recipe a try the next time you’re crunched for time. Looking for more on-the-go recipes? Check out these Mason jar meals perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Hungry for Truth is an initiative about food and farming funded by the South Dakota soybean checkoff. The goal is to connect South Dakotans with the farmers who grow and raise their food.