Thursday, October 30, 2014

Waste Not

        Corn harvest 2014 is well underway and in fact it has taken me a little while to get to this that the men are telling me they hope to be done combining corn tomorrow at noon. They have been putting in some long nights and there will still be some midnight oil burned for the next week as they finish up tillage. Corn harvest is a little late this year because the corn has been a little wet and we have been trying to give it as much time as possible to dry in the fields. In order for the corn to store well and not rot in the bins it needs to be at a percise moisture inside the kernel. If the corn is taken out of the field above this moisture it needs to be put through a drying system which heats the corn to remove the extra moisture. This adds costs and take away from the crop profit so if the corn dries in the field it is better. As with many parts of farming we are constantly playing a little guessing game with the weather. We need to watch signs and made wise decisions on how long we feel we can wait to take the crop out. The last thing we want is corn out in snowdrifts.
      The corn that we harvest goes into animal feed, human food, and fuel production. Corn is a vital part of life as we know it. It is grown in all 50 states. Now it might be true that the corn kernels are the most important part of the crop that is taken from the corn fields in the fall but it is not the only part of the plants that we use.
               Once the combine goes through the field it leave behind the corn stalks and husks chopped up and spread out over the field. In most of our fields the corn plants are worked back into the soil. This adds the organic matter back in and increases the fertility of the soil. On some of our fields we use a rake to pile the corn stalks into rows and then use a baler to form the stalks into tight neat bales that will store and transport easily. The corn stalks make excellent bedding for the cattle over the winter and are also added to some of our feed rations as roughage. This year we made over 400 bales in a few short days. It is so beautiful out in the field.

           This time of  year the grass starts to get short and sparse in the pastures. Here we are running home a herd of cows from our back pasture over the harvested bean field. There are always some old 'boss' cows that have done this year after year and can lead the way. Instead of putting all these cows in the yard and use up feed we fenced in a portion of the harvested corn field and let them eat straight out of the field. The cows find the corn the combine missed and eat some of the corn husks and stalks. The cows do such a good job that the next spring there is next to no volunteer corn, corn that comes up in the bean field from corn kernels left on the ground from the previous fall.
        Here you can see the cows in the field behind the kids. They look so happy and peaceful.

        After the corn stalks have been used as bedding for the winter we will load them into the manure spreader and bring them back out to this field and spread them out so that they can be worked back into the soil. As farmer we are very concerned in using all the resources we are given and making sure our land is kept in the best health and production it can. Thinking of new and different ways to increase the efficiency of our farms is what will keep them productive well into the future.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


            Roots are a very important part of life on the farm. The roots are what feed the plants that we grow and help them stand tall. The roots, you could say, make the plant what it is and what we see above the ground. Like plants, having strong roots  can make a person stronger and better than they could ever be without those roots.
           Today we were able to visit some my husbands roots at the University of Minnesota. My husband we able to attend the U of M for 4 years and got his degree in Agricultural Education during that time. He also fostered his love for agriculture and made many life-long friends and connections there. To see him back on the campus I could see the pride and joy he had showing the kids all the sights and sounds of his beloved alma mater.
       One of the places he wanted to take the kids was to see the display of root systems in the Norman Borlaug building. He told the kids that when he first saw this he thought it was one of the coolest things he had seen and wanted to share it with them. I do have to say it was impressive to see and the kids talked about it for the rest of the day.
         It was a beautiful day and the campus was looking it's best with all the fall colors. While at the U of M, Paul attended the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences which on based on the Saint Paul campus. This campus has a wonderful feel to it as if you are in a small community of friends in the middle of a big city. I can see how he fell in love with this place.
           Paul wanted to show the kids are the different things they do at the university and took the kids to see the animal buildings and even into a greenhouse where Mary checked out an experiment someone was doing with plants and butterflies.

          Another must see place was the bulls on the mall.  The kids had fun climbing on them and running  in the grass. Who knows, maybe someday they will walk past these bulls as they go to their classes at the U of M.
       Paul and I with a bull 11 years after he last saw them as a student. So many fond memories.
       We took the campus connector bus which David found fun and was impressed at how big the whole University is. So much to see.
         Our last stop had to be Paul's fraternity house Alpha Gamma Rho. They have recently remodeled and Paul's cousin who now lives in the house gave us a tour. Thanks Jake! Paul was very impressed at the changes and improvements. This house and the people in it were his family for 4 years of his life and helped him become who he is. The U of M is a portion of my husbands roots which he is very proud of and the launching point of his adult life. I am glad the kids and I were able to visit this wonderful place on such a beautiful day.  Out of good roots come wonderful fruit.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fall fun

        Today was a wonderful fall day outside. The men are harvesting the soybeans in the field across the road and the kids were ready for some outside time after a few cold days that have kept us indoors. After a lot of trying I got this good picture where everyone looked at me and smiled. It's a keeper.
       While outside I got some pictures of Simon for his 10th birthday. Simon's birthday was on Sept 20th which many years is the first day the farmers start soybean harvest. Simon loves farm machinery and it is fitting that his birthday is at the start of harvest when all the big machines head out in to the field. This is my favorite picture we got with the combine and grain cart in the background. He is growing up into such a fine looking wonderful young man.
        We found a farm kitten on top of the round bale piles which the kids fell instantly in love with. It it a cute fluffy thing. Simon is so sweet and gentle with animals and they love him back.
         While outside we picked some pumpkins and brought them inside to paint. The kids each had their own way of decorating theirs. Rose wet for the finger painting method.
       Mary made a happy patriotic pumpkin.
                 Simon made a scary green alien.
               David did one up in true David style. He called his an alien too. It sure is spooky.
                 Some more pictures of Simon on this wonderful fall day. We all love spending time outside on the farm and there is always something to do. Often I tell the kids that they are so lucky to have baby kittens to catch and play with, fresh veggies from the garden. pastures to run in, and tractors to ride in. All to often we take it for granted and I for one am trying to slow down more often and see all the blessings around me. This is such a blessed life.