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.
This is a great blog post by Chris Chinn, a farmer from Missouri. Her number one concern is the welfare of her animals!
Chris does a great job of explaining her family’s reasons for adopting modern pork production practices!!!
One of the common misconceptions with row crop farming is that we tend to take the winters off and basically sit around doing nothing. I would say a decade or two ago if you were purely a grain farmer, there was a lot more time off than now, however, most farms twenty years ago had a livestock presence also. It seems we finish harvest, start fall fieldwork, ground freezes, and you tackle the continual pile of bookwork and planning for the next year along with working on equipment for the next few months so it performs with minimal breakdowns.
We used to have a cow/calf herd on this farm and I will tell you that when it is snowing and blowing I do not miss the cows a bit, but many in our area who farm also tend to a livestock herd year round. I can tell you that if you have livestock, there is no downtime on the farm. I remember calving out heifers (Cows who are having their first calf) and waking every two to four hours for two months to check on them in cold weather. I also remember rolling bales in blizzards to try to keep them warm and give them a dry place to herd along with some energy from the feedstock. Carrying a half frozen calf through snow while the cow head butts you in the rear because you took the calf. Having a cow jump in the back of a pickup because you are tagging her calf. The days of raising livestock on a larger scale are not something we intend to do again, but we will have a small herd again someday to teach my children the responsibility of caring for food animals and understanding the purpose they serve.
Another thing that has changed over the years for our farm is that there is a tremendous amount of management and bookwork that goes into a farming operation. We have become more like a full fledged business. We have moved from written accounting ledgers, to quicken, to quickbooks, and now to managerial accounting which allows us to analyze data from a cash or accrual basis on individual field levels. We have changed from, well I think i will plant this because of rotation or preference to hard financial analysis of what crop will provide the best return while also properly nurturing the soil that is the living organism that our farm depends on each and every day to make our living. We spend days in the winter analyzing yield data, soils maps, soil fertility tests, and hybrid data to pull all of these things together and go to the field in March or April with a plan that rests on hopes of a good weather year.
You all know the sayings about farmers. ”Three and three, three weeks in the spring and three weeks in the fall”, Keep the hat rolled so it will fit in the mailbox”, etc, etc. Agriculture has become a full time, highly management focused business. It has adapted and changed to meet ever increasing needs both domestically and globally while maintaining the “Family Farm”.
Do we slow down a little in the winter compared to the growing season, yes, but do accountants slow down other than year end and the tax season early in the year? Yes, they do. Is winter “downtime” on our farm? I would say, no. Is winter downtime when raising livestock on a farm? I would definitely say NO!
Well, we finished up harvest a little over a week ago and it has been a blur of activity since then. We are shredding stalks on the gravity irrigated fields, discing up our organic quarter to return it to conventional production, drying grain in the bins to prepare the crop for winter storage, cleaning up equipment, winterizing equipment, storing equipment in the building for the winter, purchasing and making commitments for next years crop inputs, planning for next years crop and meeting with our seed customers to get next years orders.
Below are a few pictures to get you caught up on our farm happenings.
Farming, Kids, Golfing, Wine, Country Music, Leadership, Community, Networking, College Football and Sushi
One of the things I really came to the realization of this weekend at the Agchat Foundation Conference is that as hard as you try to be yourself in your online conversations, the real you doesn’t get across until you have those in person conversations not limited by 140 characters or the time we spend in our endeavours to promote agriculture. So, in light of that, this is a blog post to introduce you to me. This is not our farm, what happens on our farm, or an agvocating post! It is a post about all of those things in the title that are me and create the fire inside. In short, how do all of the words in this post title fit together?
Many on here know and have experienced my intense passion for the occupation in which I work, but there is much more that lays the foundation for who I am. I view my interests as rather diverse for a country kid raised on the farm. I am equally comfortable in Wranglers as I am in a Business Suit. I enoy being covered in grease, sweat, and mud while working but enjoy an evening of golf with my wife or friends at the country club. There is nothing better than charburgers on the grill and fresh sweetcorn, although to me equally good is great sushi and a Sapporo.
I love Country Music, but a little Eminem now and then with some Nickleback suits me also. Taste testing different local beers is something I love to do, and I also enjoy the experience with wine. Leadership roles come naturally to me, but I can serve in structure of an organization effectively. I can carry a hard edge when working, but have three kids that soften me more with age. I love college football, parrticulary the Nebraska Cornhuskers and also have an artsy side that appreciates greatly the gifts
Future blog posts are going to try to reflect our lives as a whole on this farm and not just the agvocating that we do. In order to effectively communicate our thoughts and ideas relating to agriculture, you must know who we are also.
Just a few pictures to get everyone updated on the happenings around our farm lately. We are just finishing side-dressing the nitrogen on the corn. We are currently cultivating and ridging the corn for gravity irrigation. We are also in the process of getting irrigation motors ready for irrigation season and hauling some of last years corn to our local elevator to sell.
Sometimes I think Farmers get a bad rap and are accused of being
against the whole locavore, grow your own food movement. I personally do not think anything could be further from the truth. Fact is that Farmers like to grow
things. I know, ironic isn’t it, a farmer likes to get down and plant things in the dirt, nurture it, and then eat it.
We have had a garden as long as I can remember and will always continue to do so. I remember as a kid helping plant the garden and eventually, it became my little farm as I grew up. I have always loved having fresh vegetable to eat, I just wish there w
as a way to grow them in the winter when the wind chill is -20. See, I am a whateverisavailablethatisgoodforyouavore. I grow the garden in the summer and my wife sometimes goes to the local farmers market, then in the winter I rely on the southern and western US to grow the vegetables and fruits that we enjoy during that time of year.
So, since we are talking about gardening and growing your own food, what have you done this year to grow your own food? In our garden this year we have 4 varieties of tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, green beans, yellow waxy beans, asparagus, broccoli, pickling cucumbers, burpless cucumbers, acorn squash, butternut squash, butttercup squash, zucchini, yellow zucchini, gourds, pumpkins, and some sweetcorn. Let us know what you have growing and why you grow it. What do you do in the months you don’t have fresh vegetables and fruit to pick? By all means, during theses months that the farmers market are open, go for it and go local. In the middle of winter, let’s be thankful we are blessed with a phenomenal agricultural and transpor
tation system that allows us to enjoy all of these things year round no matter where we are located. Count our blessing that we are a country that can feed itself and feed itself well.
Here is a few photos showing the progress of our crops this week. The one crop I did not include is the alfalfa which is ready for the first cutting to be put down.
The last picture is of our electrical controls at our bin site that were blown down in the wind a few nights ago. We were lucky as the storm weakened by the time it hit us. There were pivot irrigation systems and bins destroyed by the same storm to the north, south, and west of us.
Been a while since I actually wrote something, so I thought I would update everyone on what exactly we are doing now that our planting season is over. This week we have been cleaning up the planting equipment and getting seed corn ready for returning. This included breaking down the plastic boxes which carry our seed to be shipped back to our seed corn company.
It is also a time to get caught up on mowing, spraying, and general maintenance on the farmstead. We will be spending some time also hauling last years crop to market from our bins. Storing some of the crop has definitely paid off this year for our farm.
In the field at this time we are getting ready to side-dress fertilize the corn crop. We wait until after emergence of the crop to fertilize it as you gain efficiency from your fertilizer and can put on around 10% less than if you would put the fertilizer on prior to planting. We use GPS technology to precisely apply the amount needed to specific areas of the field based on soil samples that we pulled earlier this year.
We are also readying our row-crop cultivators to put up a “hill”. This is for our fields that we irrigate with gravity irrigati
In between all of this I have started tearing the deck off of our house that we moved into last December. The supports underneath were not constructed properly and we have had to tear the whole deck off and start over. Thank God for a tool called
a Sawzall. I will continue to post pictures of the crop throughout the growing season and try to summarize them every week. Hope everyone enjoys their summer vacations, our busy seasons are in full swing, although we did find the time to get away for a little Husker Baseball during one of the rain delays during planting as evidenced by My son and his friends in the picture!