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
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!!!
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 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
artists have as I don’t play an instument and the only drawing I can do is a picture of Snoopy! I like to Hunt and Fish, but also enjoy a night on the town with my wife. I have a strong feeling that all need to serve their commuity in some kind of volunteer capactiy as working for something besides money is satisfying to me. I used to love politics, now it infuriates me! I believe strongly in the community in which I live and will continue to fight to preserve it for my kids. But most of all I just want to be a good Husband, Father, and Friend!So while this gives you a glimpse of the things that drive my passion and are parts of my life, the one thing I realized and heard over and over this weekend was how important your real life connections are and that you must find a balance. I am very fortunate to have a very diverse group of friends and family in my life.
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.
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!