Monday, October 31, 2011

Family Farming

We have had an extremely  busy fall on our farm.  With the weather being so dry, we have gone from chopping silage to combining beans, then into combining corn and now doing tillage work.  And....in between all of that we have managed to clean pens and get ready for new calves to come in.  It is a crazy time of year, but we wouldn't trade it for anything else.

Roger made a trip to North Dakota last week Thursday to be there to load trucks with new calves on Friday morning.  We got in 2 loads of new calves on Friday night, 2 loads on Saturday morning, and 2 more loads on Monday morning.  There were a lot of little babies missing their mothers.....as the whole neighborhood could hear!  I think this is the first year that we have gotten in new calves that we haven't had cold weather or ice/snow to welcome them.

New babies!
Since corn harvest is all done for us, it has been time to bale cornstalks for bedding this winter, pick up those bales from the fields and do tillage work.  We never quite know when the weather is going to change so we all pitch in and work hard to get those jobs done.

Saturday, I made a parts run for Roger in the morning, and ran the disc ripper in the field on Saturday afternoon.  It wasn't too bad of a job to have for the afternoon.  The tractor has auto-steer in it.  So, I just had to lift the ripper on the ends and turn around.  Having me in the tractor freed up Roger to help Jacob pick up bales and haul manure.

It was actually a great day to be out in the field!  Since I have a full time job now, I don't get to help as much as I would like, but I pitch in whenever I can.  I was able to take a couple of pictures while I was disc ripping since I didn't have to steer through the field. 


We just have a couple of fields left to do tillage on, and we can wrap things up for the winter.  All of our manure is hauled for now, and as of today, the cornstalk bales are picked up and hauled home.

There are a never ending list of things to do on our farm every day.  But...we love that we can all pitch in and work together to get those things done!  I means that we get to spend our family time doing what we love....farming!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Corn harvest is done!

Harvest has gone very smoothly this year for us.  And....Saturday, we knew if we worked hard we could get the corn combining finished.  I had an appointment in town at noon, and Roger needed to go to a customer's to do weigh checks mid-afternoon.  So...we made a plan to get the field done.  When I was finished in town, I headed out to the farm to take over combining for Roger.  That sounds easy, right?  However, I have not run the combine before just the grain cart.  I had a quick 15 minute crash course, and Roger was off leaving me in the field all by myself.  I had plenty of wagons to fill so I just got to work! 

My Saturday afternoon fun!
Roger left at about 2:30 p.m. and got back about 6:00 p.m.  By this time, Jacob, our extra help, had returned from hauling loads with the semi to dump the wagons I had filled.  Roger then jumped in the combine, and JM and I were back in the grain cart.  Needless to say, we finished the field Saturday night around midnight.  As much as we all love this time of the year, it is still a great feeling to have that last field finished.  Now we can move on to baling corn stalks, hauling manure, and getting ready for new calves to come in this weekend.  There is never a dull moment here!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Harvest Time

Harvest time is one of my favorite times of year.  I love the beautiful weather, the fall smell that is in the air, and of course, all of the hustle and bustle that goes with being a farmer trying to harvest their crops!  It surely has been a crazy last few weeks on our farm!  We have gone from bean harvest straight into corn harvest with no time to even catch our breath.  Along with all of that, I have also started a new job off the farm in the last week as well.  I guess that just makes us appreciate the time that we do get to spend together a little bit more.  Since my new off the farm job is at a bank, I was lucky enough to have today off - Columbus Day, and JM also had the day off from school.  It was great for us to have a chance to work around the farm.  We did some running this morning to pick up things that we needed.  This afternoon we had the job of running the grain cart.

My husband has also been helping his father harvest this week.  So, by the time we got to combining some of our own corn today it was getting to be the middle of the afternoon.  We have a couple of loads that still need to be delivered to the ethanol plant in Hartley, and they closed at 4 p.m. today so we didn't make it in time.  We just filled the semi truck, wagons and grain carts, and will get those delivered in the morning.  Them we can set the auger up on a new bin and start filling a bin on our yard.

I was having some fun taking pictures from the grain cart today.  This one was taken using the mirror since it was about time for me to start moving and catch on the go.  :) 


Corn harvest is going really quickly since mother nature has does such a wonderful job of drying down the corn we won't have to run any of it through our drying bin.  That saves us time and money!  The only problems that we have had this fall have been the high winds the last couple of weeks.  It has increased the risk of fire in the fields since everything is so dry right now.  We have had quite a few fires in the area which has made everyone more cautious.  We either quit combing on the really windy days or make sure that you have a disc hooked up and in the field ready to go in case a fire starts.

JM and I had a great time working in the field today.  It gave us an opportunity to have some family time even if we weren't all in the same piece of machinery.  We were all doing what we love - farming!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wild Harvest Day

Well, we are fully into bean harvest.  The combines have been rolling full speed all week.  We do not have any beans of our own, but we have been helping out my cousin and combining his beans.  Roger started on a field yesterday and finished this morning.  We took a little field trip to ride with him after church school last night.

There was no breeze at all last night, and the dust just hung around the combine.  It was hard to see as you went through the field.  Today was the complete opposite!  The wind blew about 30-40 mph all day.  There were numerous field fires around our area today.  One even started about 3/4 of a mile from our house.  The wind just kept increasing the intesity of the fire, and it went for about 1 mile before they were able to get it under control.  It burned off some beans, and unfortunately, someone's home as well.  This fire crossed the major highway that goes through our area.  They even announced on the local radio station that they would like to have farmers stop harvesting today to eliminate the chances for more fires.


This is part of the field of beans that burned along the highway.  The home that was destroyed would have been back to the right.  So sad!

Harvest will resume tomorrow as usual, and hopefully this will be the last of the major fires for the season.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rocks

Rocks are something that most farmers do not like to deal with.  They do major damage to your combine when they go through as well as other farm equipment in the field.  Like most farm kids, I had many "opportunities" to spend days out in the field picking them up to avoid equipment damage.  So....as you can imagine, when I mentioned putting a rock in the yard and landscaping with them my husband thought I was crazy.  After some convincing and a little work on my part to get the area ready, I had him convinced.

My mother had a spot south of our barn that she had landscaped with rocks several years ago.  Since the area had not been taken care of for the last few years, it was overgrown and needed to be redone.  I dug out all of the rocks that surrounded the area since they had sunken into the ground, and we pulled out the overgrown bushes.  We leveled off the area and added some new dirt.  We were pouring some more cement in the cattle yard on Monday and had enough left over to pour a little pad for my large rock!  Today was the day to move the rock.

Roger and Jacob carefully moved the rock over to the new pad.  We are hoping that this will keep in from settling into the ground.  Setting it was a little tricky, but after a few minor adjustments, the rock has been put into place.

We will probably wait until Spring to do anymore with the area, but at least we have a start.  Now we can focus on harvest, and I won't be bugging the guys for anymore "help" on my projects.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Relaxing Sunday?

For most people, Sunday is day to relax and enjoy some family time.  However, on our farm they seem to be family project days.  We have a bunch of projects left to complete before we get busy with harvest and/or the weather turns against us.  Today's family project was cutting down apple trees at the other farm.  We had 3 large and 1 small apple trees that haven't produced apples for the last few years and needed to be removed.  Roger grabbed the chain saw from the machine shed, and JM and I grabbed our gloves and a rake.  It wasn't long and the first large tree was down and cleaned up.  As we were starting on the second tree, my cousin stopped over.  He saw what we were up to and headed home to grab his chain saw and came back to help.  In just a couple of hours, we had all of the apple trees down and cleaned up as well as some wild mulberry trees that had popped up in the old garden area. 

These trees were located right behind where the new shop is being built.  Now the crew will have plenty of room to maneuver around when setting rafters or putting on steel.

After we finished this family project, we cleaned up and headed over to the Clay County Fair.  We love to walk through all of the farm equipment on display and check out the animals that are in the barns.  We came home with two new cattle waters for our yards and a new toy semi truck and two trailers for JM.

As for relaxing Sundays, we don't see too many of those, but we still get to enjoy each other's company and the farm!

Friday, September 16, 2011

A lot changes in a day

The construction began on our shop this week.  Last weekend we worked hard digging in water lines and putting in the floor drain.  The crew showed up on Tuesday to start getting the shop floor ready to pour the concrete.  The plumbers came in on Wednesday to lay down the floor heat.  When they were finished, the crew finished preparing the floor.  Early Thursday morning, the cement pump arrived and several cement trucks came rolling in to pour the concrete floor.  After the cement was poured, the crew started working on the shop walls.  And today, the shop walls started going up!

I made it over to the other farm about 9:00 a.m., and this is what they had accomplished already.  Wow!  I was so surprised.


After JM got home from school, we decided to go over again and see how far they had gotten.  All of the walls were up.  Amazing!  This shop really looks big now.  It seems to look a lot larger now than it did when just the footings were standing there.  I can't wait to see what next week brings!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Big Game

We made our way to Ames this past Saturday to watch the Iowa State Cyclones game.  They played their instate rival - the Iowa Hawkeyes.  It was a beautiful day to be in Jack Trice Stadium to watch the game!  We made it to town a couple of hours before kickoff.  Just in time to stop by a couple of pregame tailgates.  We had bought tickets from some friends who had season tickets, and the seats were great!  We were on the south end of the stadium in the end zone.  JM was with us as well as the son of a friend.  Both were very excited for the game.

The teams came out on to the field shortly after 11:00 a.m., and the game began.  It was a very exciting game.  The two teams both played about equally throughout the game as the score showed.  And when the clock ran out............we were off to overtime.


Overtime was very exciting!  Both teams gave a very strong effort.  We had an excellent view of the plays since it was all taking place at our end of the stadium.  After three overtimes, the Cyclones came out on top.


We were naturally excited since we are Cyclone fans!  :)  Although both teams played their hearts out, and the game really could have gone either way.  Hats off to both the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Iowa State Cyclones for an excellent game played.  You gave both sets of fans a great game to remember!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chopping Silage

It's silage chopping season in our area, and this year we decided to take a little different approach to chopping ours.  The chopper that we have is older and takes a little TLC before the season begins.  Since summer projects got off to a slow start this year, the chopper didn't get out of the shed in time to get that needed TLC.  So...we enlisted the help of Jake Franken and his crew at Franken Custom Chopping.  They had put up some haylage for us in June so we were familiar with the drill.  The group pulled in about 7:30 last night and started opening up the field.

We also had our customer appreciation supper last night at our seed dealership.  Therefore, I did not get back to the farm before dark to start taking pictures.  It was really fun to watch them go!







They were using a big Claas silage chopper.  It was amazing how fast they moved through the field.  The chopper was able to take 12 rows at a time!  That sure beats the four rows that our older John Deere chopper takes!  I wasn't sure if I would have the opportunity to get some shots in the daylight today before they finished so I did the best I could last night in the dark.



I managed to make it over to the other farm this morning when they were on their LAST round.  That chopper sure filled up the trucks in a hurry!








The silage looked great and smelled really good too.  I love the smell of fresh cut silage.







By 10:30 this morning they had the bunker filled and packed.  The new cattle are going to LOVE this in their feed ration!








And the small pile that we put out back was also finished.  We will be tarping that pile tonight.  This silage chopping year went a lot quicker that usual.  If we had used our chopper, we would be chopping for about 4 days.  They had it finished in less that 6 hours.  Now we can concentrate on getting equipment ready for the rest of harvest to begin. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Holiday Weekend Fun

Since it is Labor Day weekend, we have planned to get together with some friends tomorrow for lunch.  Everyone is bringing food, and the kids will have a great time playing together.  So...I have put together a little treat for the kids.  I started with an idea that came from Lisa at www.jerseygirlcooks.com.  She made orange creamsicle jello shots for a party.  I loved the presentation so much that I made a kid friendly version to take along tomorrow.  By the way, the link to Lisa's recipe is:  http://www.jerseygirlcooks.com/2011/07/orange-creamsicle-jello-shots.html.

I started with 4 oranges.  I cut them in half, squeezed out the juice, and removed what was left in shell.  Then I put the halves in a muffin tin to keep them level.  Next, I followed the directions on the jello package to make Jigglers.  I poured the mixture into the orange halves, covered them with plastic wrap, and put the muffin tin in the refrigerator. 

After they were set up, I cut them into quarters.  The kids will love eating these!  They look just like quartered oranges.  Thanks Lisa!  What a fun idea!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My green thumb!

You probably remember that a few months ago JM and I planted the seeds to start the plants for our garden.  I am simply amazed at what those little seeds have done!  Our garden has turned out wonderfully, and we are harvesting the produce now.

Our garden!
The tomato plants were as tall as I am (until the latest storm moved through.)  We have been canning tomato juice from the garden.  We have  canned 33 quarts so far, and there are plenty of tomatoes left to ripen yet.  Our pickle plants have been producing quite well also.  I made a batch of sweet pickles for the first time, and have also canned some dill pickles.  I picked a bunch of cucumbers again today and decided to make a few more jars of dill pickles so they did not go to waste.

I started by soaking the pickles in ice water for a couple of hours.  This makes them really crisp.







Then I gathered my ingredients for the brine and scalded my jars.  I cut up the pickles to the size I wanted them and positioned them in the jars with garlic and dill.  I also added a little sugar to each jar to give them a little sweetness.  My grandmother used to do this, and her pickles were always wonderful. 



After I brought the brine to a boil, I added it to the jars and sealed them.  Then I soaked the jars in boiling water to make sure they sealed up.  I don't do this with everything that I can, but it works well for dill pickles.





And here is my finished product.  They will be ready to enjoy in about 6-8 weeks.

We have enjoyed a lot of wonderful produce from the garden this summer.  My next "trial" will be to can pizza sauce.  I am learning as I go this year.  I never expected our garden to produce so much!  We have a bunch of great things to enjoy this winter!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Let the construction begin

We are putting up a new shop on the farm this summer.  It will be nice to have a warm place to work on equipment this winter.  Also, this way all of the tools will be in one spot instead of in two different machine sheds.  Monday, they started to trench in where the footings needed to be.  Tuesday and yesterday, they poured the footings and stub walls.

We took down the two bins that were next to the shop last weekend.  The cement from the bin floors got hauled away today as well, and the area was leveled out.  We are excited to see the new building take shape.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Beginnings

Well, we stopped for a moment of silence on our farm this morning as we marked the end of summer, and the beginning of a new school year.  The school year is starting off with a bang too.  We had a pretty nasty storm roll through our area last night.  So...instead of getting a good night's sleep before school starts, JM was up for a while in the night to wait out the storm.  Getting up this morning when it was time to get ready was a bit of a challenge.  We made it in plenty of time to get some pictures before he had to get on the bus.

I was kind of sad to see my little farmer get on the bus this morning.  It just meant that the house was going to be pretty quiet, and I would not have my helper anymore.  He is really looking forward to his 4th grade year.  I'm sure that he is having much more fun with his friends at school than hanging out with boring 'ol mom.

And off he goes!  :(
 I did manage to keep myself busy today since there is always a long list of things to get done on the farm.  Fall is right around the corner, and we will be getting started making sure the equipment is ready to go to the field.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Loading Cattle

Last night we had a load of fat cattle going out.  We had some family bonding time sorting cattle to be put on the truck.  JM stood in the bunk with his sorting stick keeping the biggest heifers on one end of the lane, and Roger and I did the picking.  After we had our chosen group out of the pen, we just sat back and waited for the truck to arrive.

Waiting to load.
Backed in and ready to load.
JM and I just stayed out of the way, and let Roger and the truck driver do the loading.  The cattle stay calmer if there aren't so many people in the loading area.  It didn't take long and all of the heifers were on the truck and ready to go.


Ready to go!

JM waves goodbye to the heifers.  We only have a few loads of cattle left to get loaded out.  Then we will get the building and yards all spruced up for the new groups to come in this fall.  It's always exciting to see the cattle that you worked so hard to care for all year go to market.  It means the beginning of our harvest time.  Which means chopping silage is right around the corner. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Change......

Change is something that occurs everyday, and our farm is no exception to that rule.  We are in the process of "changing" some things on the farm that I grew up on.  The old chicken house which had been converted to a farrowing house years ago was taken down early this summer.  This is to make way for the new shop to be put up yet this summer.  A large tree came down last week to allow us to reposition fuel barrels and make some more room to work on the yard.  And last night, we had one grain bin moved and one taken down to give us more room by the shop and to make a spot for a another building to be moved there.  In this case, change means progress.  All this change is to make our farming operation more efficient.
Grain Bin in its new home.

The new shop area.


Change happens quickly!  This was all done within an hour last night.  Monday they will start pouring footings for the new shop.  In a way, it is hard to see the old buildings go away, but I know that the changes we are making are good for our operation.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Iowa State Fair

Friday was Iowa Corn Day at the Iowa State Fair, and I had the opportunity to participate!  My schedule for the day was to help out at the Iowa Corn booth, participate in a CommonGround presentation and introduce the Thank a Farmer Magic Show.  I arrived a little early in order to check out some of the "new" fair food that was available and, of course, check out the Butter Cow!

 My cousin and her daughter were with me to help out with the sampling.  First, we tried the Red Velvet Funnel Cake.  Yum!  But, honestly, how could it not be good????  Deep fried and covered in powdered sugar and cream cheese frosting!





Then, we moved on to the Deep Fried Butter on a stick.  This was interesting and very hard to eat.  It tasted like a cinnamon roll covered in butter.  Needless to say, it was so rich that the three of us were unable to finish it.  At that point I was on sugar and deep fried overload and gave up on the food trials.  Besides, we had to find the Butter Cow before I needed to start my other duties.







We managed to locate the Butter Cow.  The Butter Sculptures always amaze me at the Iowa State Fair.  It has been several years since we have made it to the Iowa State Fair, and it was nice to be able to attend the fair this year.  I even managed to come home with an Iowa State Cyclones shirt for JM with the Butter Cow on it!

I helped out at the Iowa Corn booth for a couple of hours which was a lot of fun.  I helped people sign up to win Iowa vs Iowa State Football Tickets and made "corn babies" with the kids.  It was fun to show the kids how to grow their own corn.  U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, visited the booth while I was working as well.  I was also able to check out the new Cy-Hawk trophy up close.  Iowa can be proud that our corn and soybean farmers so strongly support both schools and their athletic teams!  The new trophy pays tribute to that pride whether you are a Hawkeye fan or a Cyclone fan.

At our CommonGround presentation, we got the crowd involved by playing an Ag Fact Game.  It was fun to see how much the crowd really knew about agriculture in the United States and in Iowa.  Iowa Corn Association and Iowa Soybean Association sponsored the prizes for the game.  After we finished our game, we were happily surprised by one of our fellow CommonGround volunteers from Nebraska who was at the Iowa State Fair showing cattle with her family.

My last event of the day was to introduce the Thank a Farmer Magic Show in the Ag Learning Center.  If you ever have the opportunity to see this show, make sure that you take the time to watch.  Rhonda does a fantastic job of doing magic as well as teaching us just how many products we use every day are made from things that we grow right here on our own farms.

I had a great day at the Iowa State Fair!  I can't wait to come back next year and bring the rest of my family!

Iowa State Fair celebrating 100 years of the Butter Cow!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You Don't See That Everyday!

Today was an unusual day on our farm.  It started out like almost every other day on the farm.....we fed the cattle, walked through them to make sure everyone was comfortable and happy, and looked around to see what project was going to be first on the list for the day.  Then.....around 9:00 a.m. this morning, a camera crew from CommonGround arrived to shoot a video on our farm!

Our Camera Crew!!
It was very exciting for our little family.  We are so proud of what we do on our farm, and that we have the resources available to produce food to feed our family and yours.  I can't wait to see how the photos turn out as well.  JM was happy to get his show steers out to groom and lead them for his spectators.  The traffic on our gravel road seemed to be at an all time high this morning.  All the neighbors passing by did a double take when they saw the camera crew on our yard.  I'm sure they were thinking..."you don't see that everyday!"

Gina from CommonGround had the opportunity to spend some time with Rudy (the show steer) and take a little walk in the corn field.  We are always happy to have visitors on our farm and show off the lifestyle that we love!!

Gina, Roger, JM and Rudy!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cattle Show

Yesterday we entered 2 of our market steers in a local open cattle show to give JM some experience showing calves.  He spent every day washing, grooming and walking the steers.  They have become very close to him.  He couldn't wait to take them to the show and parade them around in the show ring.  This is only the 2nd time that JM has had the opportunity to show calves, and he enjoys every minute of it!

Ralphie and JM in the ring!
Ralphie was the first of the two to enter the ring.  He is more of a fat steer than a show steer, but JM wanted him to go to the show since he showed him last year as a feeder steer at the same show.  I think saying goodbye to Ralphie is not going to be easy for JM or the rest of us!

JM was very nervous going into the ring with Ralphie.  He wasn't sure he remembered what to do.  But....he did great!  Ralphie followed him and did just as he was supposed to.  What we didn't realize was how much Ralphie and Rudy had become attached to each other.  Separating them for showing made them the "noisy steers in the ring until, of course, they were happily back together at the trailer.

Rudy and JM in the ring.
Rudy also did quite well in the ring for JM.  It was a very warm afternoon, and the animals were all on their best behavior.  JM did not walk away with a trophy, but he did have a great time showing and thought it was all a great experience no matter what the outcome.  He is very proud of the work that he did with his calves, and we commend him for putting in the effort to make this his project.  He can't wait to show in the 4-H shows next year!  And we can't wait to be there to help him every step of the way.  This has become a great family project!!


Our little family and Rudy!