Well, after quite a bit of time off from the blog, here we go again. Been a busy 2013 so far. All of our crops are in the ground for this year and have all emerged. We will be raising popcorn, white corn, yellow corn, alfalfa and prairie hay this year.
We welcomed a full time employee to our operation this year. Mason is a graduate of Hastings College and had worked for us part time while attending college and playing college football. He graduated in December and started work for us at the beginning of the year. We are happy to have him helping us.
I have spent a lot of time this year coaching a USSSA 8u Hastings Brickyard Bombers baseball team. Coaching 8 year old kid pitch baseball has been a great experience. To see where the kids are now compared to the beginning of the year and to see them start to have some success has been very gratifying. It has been a year of fundamentals and learning how to play the game the right way. The main thing we want out of our team is for them to look at us at the end of the year and say they can’t wait to play next year.
We broke from our color scheme on the farm this year and bought a John Deere tractor which has brought me much joy(sarcasm) in the form of all the ribbing I have taken from friends and neighbors.
Weather has created some interesting situations this year also. We have had a flipped pivot, some minor hail, gone from dry to wet and experienced relatively cool temperatures so far outside of one 100 degree day.
We have also decided after two years of subdivision living that it is time to be back on the farm and will start the construction of our new house in the next couple weeks. The mailbox is up, plans are done and we are off and running with it. I spend a lot of time talking about the disconnect from agriculture in our society and we felt like we were contributing to that with our children. There are many benefits of subdivision living like neighbors, kids for our kids to play with, socialization, etc, but we also enjoy the peace, family, responsibility, work ethic, freedom and privacy living on the farm provides us. So, back to the home place we go! Wishing you a safe and prosperous spring and summer season. The Weeks Family
It has been a very busy summer here as we have been in one of the worst droughts I have seen. We have caught a few timely rains here that other areas of the state have not. Our non-irrigated corn is just barely hanging on. We will have a crop from it, but it will be less than expected. Our irrigated fields look great and yield projections for those will most likely be record yields the way it looks now as we are way ahead on Growing Degree Units and have very minimal disease and insect pressure.
The popcorn looks good this year as do all of the soybeans also. I have included a few pictures of gravity irrigation and pictures of the crops to catch you all up with what is going on. Hope to get back to posting a little more often, but mother nature and kids activities dictate my free time this time of year.
We are thankful to have the irrigation on our farms as much of this country’s ag producers are not so fortunate!
Our corn is nearing roasting ear stage and it looks like harvest will be around two weeks early this year.
The term nerd 25 years ago and still today generally has a negative meaning to it, but there are a bunch of agricultualists and our supporters that have embraced the term and somewhat made it the calling card of the AgChat Foundation. I am not sure who first coined the term, but it has caught on and we embrace #AgNerd.
The AgChat Foundation is an organization dedicated to helping enable people involved in agriculture to better tell their stories through the use of social media. I serve in a volunteer capacity with the organization in setting up our conferences to help with this educational effort. I attended the first conference in August of 2011 in Chicago, IL. It was quite an experience finally meeting in person all of the individuals with whom I had advocated for agriculture with over the previous couple years. We put together our second Agvocacy conference this last August in Nashville, TN and it was a resounding success.
As I look forward this week to attending The Ag Issues 2012 event sponsored by Bayer Crop Science I reflect on where this social media journey of agvocating has taken me. I have had an opportunity to work with an amazing group of people that are interested in having a conversation with consumers and finding our common ground. These are selfless individuals interested in helping others to tell their stories and help bridge the gap that seems to exist between the producers of our food and the consumers. Last night many farmers and others in this area had a chance to listen to Anne Burkholder speak about the importance of telling this story and doing it the right way. If you have not heard of Anne, make sure to visit her blog at www.feedyardfoodie.com. I believe it opened some eyes to the divide that is out there. For too many years agriculture has sat back and let others tell our story for us. Let me tell you, it is not a pretty story. Do you consider your farm a “factory”? I certainly do not, but that is the way we are portrayed the majority of the time! Why, because the public does not know us. What they do know of us is usually second hand.
I get the chance because of this social media adventure to serve on a sustainability panel at Ag Issues 2012. The Twitter hashtag for the event in #agissues12. Please follow it on Twitter as myself and some friends I have met through #agchat will be tweeting the conference also. To follow the conference follow me at @Huskerfarm Michele Payn-Knoper at @mpaynknoper, and Jeff Vanderwerff at @agsalesman. We will be #agnerding with our smartphones, iPads, etc. for a couple days in Nashville, but there are a ton of others out there doing it every day, telling their story via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Blogs, Pinterest, etc.
Who are you going to tell your farm story to today? Is there someone you can connect with in a positive way to start a conversation? Are you going to let someone else do it for YOU? Are we going to be part of the solution, or help create a bigger divide? Take 10 minutes a week to tell your story in some way and see what it can accomplish. Large companies employ PR and reputation management firms to handle interaction and communication with the public. As individuals in agriculture, that is just another one of the many hats we need to wear each day on our own farms! I tell my story because I want to ensure that our children are afforded the same opportunities in agriculture that I have been. Find your reason!
Just a few pictures to catch you up with what we have going this time of year. We are currently very busy with yellow corn harvest and have seen some very good yields. We finished soybeans a few days ago. The corn is still a little too wet to go to the elevator with it so we are putting it in bins to dry it down and store.
Also included is a short video of how I taught my black lab Coal to jump up to the combine platform to ride along. I apologize for the video being sideways as I held my phone that way. Tilt your head a little to the left and you will never notice!!!
One of the things we are blessed with being in agriculture is the ability to take our children to work with us whenever we please. All of our kids grow up working with me on the farm. This summer I have had our son out irrigating, laying out irrigation pipe, fetching tools from the toolbox while I work on something, and many other tasks around the farm. What I have begun to realize is that we instill a work ethic early in life in most of our children on the farm.
Now, don’t think farm kids are unlike other kids and don’t like to sleep in when they get the chance, but for the most part we were and my kids are expected to get up in the mornings and help out. Although, we have 7 and 4 year olds who always wake up at 6:30. What brought me to this blog post is observing my cousins sons who are spending the summer up here. You do not go to work with Mom or Dad, so you do not have that modeling of hard physical labor and work ethic instilled in you every day. It doesn’t take long for them to figure out that agriculture is hard work. Sweating, getting dirty, working in 100 degree heat and high humidity is not in their context of normal. When I tell my 7 year old to shut off 100 gates on a pipeline, he does it no questions asked. To them, it is hot, you have to get your shoes muddy, and it is not fun, why should I do it? I am pretty sure production agriculture is not going to be a career they will choose. However, what they learn and experience while here on the farm is very important.
They have learned where their food comes from, how it is produced, the labor it takes to produce it and even at such a young age, they have learned why the farm is important both from a family standpoint and in the production of what they eat. The other thing they have learned is that the farm is fun! You get to ride and drive XUV’s, ride in tractors, drink irrigation water fresh from the aquifer, get sprayed by a pivot, mud down a pivot road in a pickup, get dirty, eat fresh sweet corn, pick that sweetcorn yourself, learn how to run weedeaters, call cows, kick mud at each other off of your shoes, powerwash those tennis shoes to like new condition, and may other things on the farm.
You see, I take these things for granted with my kids because we do them everyday and it is part of our job. Everyday is take your kids to work day. I am glad to see these boys experience the farm and learn what we do. Even though we don’t get a lot of work out of them (we do get some) they have a positive view of agriculture and can share the experiences they have with their friends and hopefully when they hear something negative about agriculture they have a little bit to say in defense.