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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.


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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