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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Why Do Farmers Rush to Finish Planting?

Being a farmer's wife in the Spring and Fall can be very difficult.  Sure, it can be very difficult year round too:),but there's more of a "push" during planting and harvest.






Since we just wrapped up planting yesterday (except for a few acres of soybeans where the ground needs to have manure hauled on it first.  Yay!!) I thought it was appropriate to answer a question that I've heard before.   First off, farmers are at the mercy of the weather.  We all know how tricky this Spring has been.  Mother Nature just would not give up on the rain!  I tried not to complain too much because in July and August we may be begging for rain.  We have finally had about 4 solid days of zero precip and farmers have been working long hours to get their seed in the ground before the next big rainfall.  Forecasters are calling for rain the rest of this week.  Some farmers I know have been working around the clock.


The ground has to be just right for the seed to germinate and grow.  If the ground is too wet or cold, the seed will remain underground too long and will eventually rot which will result in replanting.  No farmer likes to replant, but we do what we have to do.  I recently did a post that talks about what factors are taken into consideration to determine the right time to start planting.  You can read more about that here.



Researchers have found that the optimum planting dates in Indiana to produce better yields is April 20th-May 10th.  This planting season has proved to been slow with only about 62% of the states corn crop planted as of May 22nd. (source).  So, while those dates are ideal, they aren't always realistic.  Estimated yield loss per day varies from .3% to 1% by the end of May.  There have been some studies that show date doesn't play a huge factor in yield loss.  While those percentages don't seem large, it all adds up.




Here is a chart that better describes the yield dates.  (source) 

Absolute vs relative planting date effect on yield
You can definitely see the window from April 20th-May 5th where the projected yield is the highest.  Of course all of this depends on the weather in the summer.  If it is hot and dry, or cold and rainy...that all effects yields also.




We know that nice days won't last forever and just as much as we welcome dry weather and sunshine, we also welcome rain when it becomes too dry.




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Friday, May 20, 2016

Summertime Here We Come.

Where is the time going?  It's hard to believe it's May and today is the last day of school for the girls!!!!  I'm excited to have them home with me because we do enjoy our summers, but it's always a bit of a transition.  Once we get on a new routine and schedule things seem to get better.


It's been pretty chilly here, but it's finally warmer today.  Hopefully the warmer temps stick around!


Everyone asks me if I'm ready for the girls to be home for the summer.  I would be lying if I said no.  Of course, we are all ready for a break from homework.  It's time to focus on 4H and softball and having fun.  BUT, I will miss the days of only having Jo at home.  She gets along pretty well with her older sisters, but there is definitely some knock-down-drag-out moments.  Especially between Mel and Jo...


They definitely have a love/hate relationship.  One minute they are getting along great.  The next it's an all out war.


I like to say it's because they are so much alike.  B is usually the mediator who gets along with everyone.  She is very laid back, much like her dad.


It's funny because I thought I would have more time the older the girls get, but really it seems that I have less time and the time goes by much faster.  I was talking to an older lady at the grocery store the other day and told her how we are keeping busy running the girls back and forth to activities and she said, "Oh this is the time of your life.  Enjoy it."  


I often find myself wishing time would slow down.

Someone shared on Facebook the other day and it said something like...instead of wishing for time to slow down, enjoy the moments because when time does slow down the kids will be gone and so will the days that keep your lives lively.


So, rather than wishing for time to slow down, I will try to enjoy these moments more and more...even if I feel like I'm running in a million different directions.



Here's to sweet summertime.  May you make it the best one yet!






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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Back in the Saddle Again...Plant '16

Fortunately for us, I was able to title this post "Back in the Saddle Again," but for many of our fellow farm friends they are just now getting in the saddle. Yesterday was the 18th of May.  The meteorologist on our local news station said that it has rained 15 out of those 13 days.  Some days we had a substantial amount of rain, while other days it was just a small shower....but they all add up to be one killer wet Spring.  Brad said that someone told him the other day that if it rains on May 1, there will be 23 rainy days in May.

We were able to apply Anhydrous Ammonia the last part of April.  This is only applied to fields that will have corn this season.  To learn more about Anhydrous Ammonia, you can read all about it here...because I know you're dying to know! ;)




There was a dry spell after anhydrous application when we were able to get some corn planted and for that we are extremely thankful!



It's hard to believe that 4 years ago we were already experiencing dry conditions and heat.  Boy was it hot!  I don't think the thermometer read below 90 degrees until October that year.  I was pregnant, so I may be exaggerating a bit, but it was hot and one of the driest summers on record.  That's life as a farmer though and goes along with my husbands infamous statement, "I don't need to go to a casino to gamble because I do it everyday."  The forecast for the next 7 days looks fabulous.  There is a slight risk for rain tomorrow night, but other than that not until next Thursday.


We hate to wish the rain, but it sure will be nice to be able to get more seed in the ground before the next wave.  Good luck to all the farmers out there and stay safe!




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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Do You Have Cows?

When someone asks what type of farm we live on I always rattle off, "corn, soybeans, and beef cattle."  Then they usually ask, "Do you have cows?"


The answer is, no.  We have a feeder calf operation which means, so we don't have cows.  We buy our calves from another farmer (who has cows and calves) when they are about 600 pounds or about 6 months old.   We then feed them out for about another year until they reach market weight, which is about 1200 pounds.  I explain what exactly we feed our calves in this post.



Several years ago (before I was in the picture;)) my husband's family had cows and calves on pasture.  For economical reasons, that pasture has since been turned into farm land.  For several years, we didn't have any cattle, but my husband loooves taking care of cattle, so we bought some and eventually our herd tripled in size.


At one time, we can have about 200 head of cattle that we are feeding.  My friend Marybeth at Alarm Clock Wars does have cows and calves.  She and her husband John She recently wrote this post on Alarm Clock Wars that talks about how old their cows really are.

Like I said above, my husband absolutely loves to feed cattle.  His passion is farming and raising good quality cattle that produce good, quality meat, so the next time you enjoy a juicy steak or cheeseburger at your favorite steak restaurant, it very well could have come from our farm.









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Thursday, March 3, 2016

When is the Right Time to Start Planting?

It's March and while the conditions are far from favorable to start planting, it's about this time every year when farmers start to get the "itch" to start planting season. In the Midwest, we can be spoiled with 70 degree weather one day and then be hit with 30 degree weather the next.  So, when is the right time to start planting?



Probably to most important factor is ground condition.  The ground needs to reach 50 degrees before it is suitable for planting.  If the ground is too cold, then it prevents the seed from germinating, which can cause it to rot in the ground.  If this happens, the field will have to be planted again and seed isn't cheap!  If the ground temperature is too cold it can also result in uneven germination.

I love flip flops....I know. I know.  What do flip flops have to do with planting.  When I was younger, I used to break out those flip flops on the first 70 degree day(you know the one that will be followed by a 30 degree day?:))  It would drive Brad nuts and he would always say, "If I can't plant corn, then you can't wear flip flops."  Well, I've gotten a little wiser in my older days;), but the girls still try to sneak on those open toed shoes on that first warm day and he tells them the same thing!  "Even though the air is warm, the ground is still cold."  So, in our house flip flop season doesn't start until that first seed goes in the ground and then we celebrate!!!


Also, the ground can't be too wet.  This too will possibly cause the seed to rot before it germinates.



Farmers are constantly watching the weather and don't you dare talk while the weather is on:).  The weather is on in 15 minute increments during the news and they will watch it every single time because it could definitely change in 15 minutes;)  While the ground can't be too wet, it's also best to not plant before a lot of rain.  This can cause the ground to become hard which will make it hard for the plant to break through the ground.  Soybeans will simply "break their necks" trying to push through the soil if it is too hard, resulting in a need for replant.  However a nice gentle rain on a newly planted field can help immensely.


There's also a window of time to plant.  Research shows that window is from April 20th to May 10th to maximize yields.  Anything planted before or after that date has a potential to produce less.  While the "books" say this is the best time to plant, it doesn't always work out this way because of weather conditions.  This is why my husband says that he doesn't need to go to a casino to gamble because he gambles every day!

So, while the ground currently looks like this....




the planter is nice and cozy in the shop waiting to make its debut and we anxiously await the start of Plant16.






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Friday, January 29, 2016

Hay or Straw...What's the Difference?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between hay and straw, or what their different purposes on the farm are?  In the picture below, straw is on the left and hay is on the right.  What is one difference that you see?


Every wondered what the difference is between hay and straw?  Check out this post to find out the answer to a common question.


 You might have first noticed that the straw (left) is yellow, while the hay (right) is green.  That is one of the biggest differences.  When you take a hay ride, it is actually probably a "straw ride."  The girls always ask me why it isn't just called a straw ride and I really don't have an answer for that other than hay ride just sounds better.;)

Another difference is how they are grown.  Straw comes from wheat.
Every wondered what the difference is between hay and straw?  Check out this post to find out the answer to a common question.

 If you've driven through the Midwest at all during the summer, then you've probably seen several fields of the gorgeous golden amber waves of grain.  Wheat harvest is my friend Jent's most favorite time of year.  You can read all about it on her blog.

The combine cuts the wheat and saves the seed which is then turned into cereal, bread, flour, and many more delicious foods.  The field is only harvested once.  Some farmers choose to plant double crop beans in the wheat stubble.  Double cropping means to harvest two crops from one field in one season.
Every wondered what the difference is between hay and straw?  Check out this post to find out the answer to a common question.

The combine leaves all the other parts of the plant in the field.  It is then baled in to square bales (they are actually rectangle, but everyone calls them square;)), or round bales.
Every wondered what the difference is between hay and straw?  Check out this post to find out the answer to a common question.

These bales are used for bedding to keep our cattle nice and comfy and warm when they lie down.
Every wondered what the difference is between hay and straw?  Check out this post to find out the answer to a common question.


Hay comes from a grass, mainly alfalfa or clover.  It is also harvested in the summer months.  Just like the grass grows in your yard after you mow it, so does hay.  Unlike wheat, we usually get 3-4 cuttings (or mowing) of hay a season.  We don't use a combine to mow the hay, but instead use a hay bine.  It works the same way as a lawn mower.  After the hay is cut, we let it dry for a day or two depending on weather conditions, then it is raked into rows and then baled.

Every wondered what the difference is between hay and straw?  Check out this post to find out the answer to a common question.

Like wheat, the hay is baled into square bales or round bales.  Here is a short video that shows the baling process.  The implement behind the tractor is called an accumulator.  It stacks the bales nice and neat to be picked up later.

Every wondered what the difference is between hay and straw?  Check out this post to find out the answer to a common question.

The hay is used to feed our cattle.  To find out what we feed our cattle, check out this post.

Every wondered what the difference is between hay and straw?  Check out this post to find out the answer to a common question.


So, there you have it!  Hopefully that clears up the question, "What's the difference between hay and straw?"

Every wondered what the difference is between hay and straw?  Check out this post to find out the answer to a common question.


Every wondered what the difference is between hay and straw?  Check out this post to find out the answer to a common question.













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