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!
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!!!
Raising “Food Animals”
Animals hold many roles in our society. Growing up in urban South Florida, I had more experience with “pet animals” than any other. However, my dad likes to hunt so I was also familiar with wild animals that became food on my dinner table. When I married Matt, moved to Nebraska, and started to work at the cattle feed yard, I was exposed to another “type” of animal: a “food animal”. This is an animal that is raised for the express purpose of becoming human food.
It wasn’t until I began to work at the cattle feedyard that I starting thinking about animals in different “roles” in society. As an urbanite, the boundaries between the “animal types” were pretty fuzzy for me. Fifteen years later, as a cattle feedyard manager, the boundaries are very clearly defined. I have animals at my house that are pets. I have pet dogs, cats, and I even have a couple of horses that fall into the “pet” category.
Magnum (the horse) and Izmo (the cat in my daughter’s arms) are pets that are part of our family.
Those animals are literally part of our family. I suspect that many of you can empathize with this type of relationship with an animal.
My cattle do not fall into this category. They are not pets. They are animals that are raised for food production. I mentioned in my last post that I have two top priorities at the feedyard: food (beef) safety, and healthy and well cared for cattle. Those are priorities for me because I know that healthy cattle make healthy beef. It is a heady and sobering feeling for me as a mother to know that the animals that I am caring for will end up nourishing children. That is a huge responsibility, and one that I take very seriously. I have to have food (beef) safety as my top priority—the animals that I raise are being fed to people—they are not sleeping on my couch at night next to my dog.
This steer calf is a “food animal”, raised according to Beef Quality Assurance Practices, and will provide a safe and healthy source of beef for either my family or yours.
I make decisions every day that affect the health of my cattle and the safety of the beef that they produce. If I treated my animals “as pets” I would be doing a disservice to you as the consumer because food safety and quality would then not be my top priority. I realize that it may be difficult to imagine an animal that is not a pet, but I am asking you to do that because it is something that is incredibly important to understand if you are truly interested in “where you food comes from”. Your beef comes from cattle. If you have been following this blog from the inception, hopefully you fully realize how important cattle care and comfort are to me. However, it is equally important that you realize that, as a “grower of beef”, I must put the safety and quality of beef ahead of everything else.
About the author Anne Burkholder:
A native of urban Palm Beach County, Florida; I was an Ivy League educated athlete fueled by beef for many years before I understood “where my beef came from.” Now, I am a mother of three and live with my husband in Nebraska where we run a cattle feedyard and farming operation. Feed Yard Foodie is a site where people can come to read about the real story of beef, written by someone who actually gets their hands dirty.
Many thanks to Anne for allowing us to publish this piece on our blog. Please connect with her on her blog at www.feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com
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!!!
We have been very busy around here. Harvest is in full swing. We will finish with soybeans by tomorrow and switch to corn. The yields on the soybeans have been very good, but there are some larger varietal differences than I would like to see. Sounds like a front moving in will bring rain by Friday evening and we will head to Lincoln Saturday to watch the Huskers play Ohio State. We did get in a few days of goofing around before we got into harvest though.
The last couple weeks we have been busy with State Fair, incorporating manure for next years corn crop, readying harvest equipment and making decisions for the 2012 crop year such as seed, fertilizer, cropping system, etc.
This is a picture of our kids and Kristi’s brother’s son as he got to explore the farm yesterday. They live in the city and this was his first chance to come to the farm for a tractor ride, explore the combine, and take a ride in the Rangers
Taking a ride in the ranger on our farm
The corn is growing quickly here and has hidden the pivot tires from view. We are around 10 days away from tasseling. The sweetcorn we planted tasseled a few days ago here.
Soybeans almost canopying the row. These soybeans are planted in 30 inch rows.