Monday, April 11
Spring planting is right around the corner. Time to get the tractors serviced and ready. A farm uses many kinds of machines to grow corn, soybeans and wheat. A tractor is the most important machine a farmer uses. Tractors are used to pull other machines that will plant, harvest or carries the crops to storage or the market. Big combines have important jobs to do, every summer they harvest acres of wheat in the fall they harvest rows and rows of corn and soybeans. The combines have big storage bins to hold the tiny soybeans or kernels of corn. When the combine is full the grain is augured to a cart that will carry the crop to a waiting semi. Farmers have acres and acres of crops to harvest. When the weather is warm and dry they must work very hard and fast to bring the crops in from the field. Rain is always welcomed during the growing season, but can be a problem during harvest. This spring, all the rain we have received so far will delay planting.
Tuesday, April 12
It is very expensive to buy tractors and combines so farmers learn to take good care of their equipment so it lasts a long, long time. Our big machines also take a lot of fuel. Most farmers have gas tanks right on the farm to fill up their tractors. Some farmers even carry gas or diesel fuel in big tanks right to the field to fill their equipment up. That way they don’t waste time driving the tractors to the fuel tank and can keep on working. A farm is a wonderful place to live and visit, but we teach our kids at a very early age to stay away from big machines or tractors because they can be very dangerous.
Wednesday, April 13
Farming is a lifestyle that few choose these days. Not only is it our lifestyle, it is also our business. Our business is not sacred anymore. Society use to understand and have a connection with the land, now few consumers understand the risk involved with farming. Tax burdens, government regulations, environmental regulations, high fuel cost, increased input costs, labor shortages, weather concerns, animal rights issues, self-employment taxes and health insurance all effect our bottom line. Storybooks and movies often portray a romantic image of farm life. I’ll be honest…there is nothing romantic about the cows getting out at midnight or watching a wind or hail storm ruin your crops. As hard as farmers work, sometimes it still isn’t enough to pay all the bills. We watch animals be born on our farms, but we also have to accept that animals can die on the farm too. It is a hard, challenging lifestyle that includes heartache and joys. Somedays we finish with a heartache and other days end in joy. Farmers just keep on going because they know that tomorrow is a new day…..
Thursday, April 14
We hauled four steers to Market today. It is a tedious process to get all the gates and fences set up to load them into the livestock trailer. A 1300 pound animal pretty much has a mind of it’s own and we don’t want to lose control of the situation when loading them. Hopefully the rest of our steers will be close to market weight and we can haul them out of the barn next week. We like to move them all about the same so we can clean the barn and get ready for the next load of 400 pound steers. We get more than meat from beef cattle. Many bi-products such as: candles, soaps, pet food, insulin and paint come from beef cattle. Because of these bi-products, we are able to use 99% of every steer. Farmers raise cattle on ranches on the range and in barns on their farms. The farmers have nutritionist that come to their farms and teach them how to feed their beef animals. Thanks to our beef farmers we have nutrient rich beef. It is a a good source of zinc, iron and protein.
Friday, April 15, 2011
It is crunch time for the spring tour season. Today we will clean, dust and sweep our barns for the school kids. For eleven months out of the year, our barns and sheds serve a regular functional purpose, a barn. For one month out of the year, they will become a classroom too! Not everyone understands that cobwebs and dust are normal in a barn. Today I also ordered baby chicks from the hatchery. A hatchery is a nursery that incubates fertilized eggs of many different types of poultry and duck species. It is great because I can order day old chicks to be delivered before our tours start. Plus I can ask for hens (females) only, but I have to pay more for the hens… but I’m not left with the roosters (males) that I don’t need any ways. Roosters get mean and aggressive as they get older and the kids don’t like feeding them because they get pecked all the time! They will have great stories to tell their kids in the future.