Saturday, October 31, 2009

When A Farmer's In Trouble...

As I hugged her, she thanked me and began to cry. I said, "It's okay, it can all be replaced. This is what the farming community is all about. When one farmer is in trouble, we all come running".
Being new to the dairy farming industry, she and her husband just gotten married 11 months earlier. Taking over the family farm after the death of her husband's father, the couple had given up their "city" life to move back to the farming community.
It was 1:30 am on Devil's night, October 30th. We had arrived about an hour earlier, after going to dinner with close friends then home to bed. The phone woke us up at about 11:45pm. Our friend on the other end, told us he had received a couple phone calls about the farm fire, it sounded pretty bad. We thanked him for letting us know, then realized we just could not sleep knowing there was a family in need. What about the parlor and the cows? Were they okay, did they need to be moved to another farm, and where? How many people could we gather together with stock trailers to move all these cattle? Questions were racing through our minds as we discussed what they might have to do to cope with this sort of loss.
My husband tried to call the farmer, no answer. "He's probably too busy". We tried another friend, who lived closer, no answer. We decided we couldn't just lay there, we had to go see if we could help. And if there was nothing we could do, we would be there for moral support. Sometimes you just need "moral support". One more phone call to the friend who had originally called us and we headed to his house to pick him up.
There were at least 6 fire departments there, lights flashing, fireman scurrying, spraying water, and assesing the damage. The electricity had been shut off to everything, but the farmstead was lit up like a Christmas tree. The farmer had lost his cell phone in the chaos, but a fireman found it and brought it to the family. It looked like a roasted fish bowl, full of water! But definitely a bright spot in all the turmoil.
We were grateful to find most of the farm intact. The shop and commodity shed were a total loss, but could be replaced. Several tractors and feed were lost also. But the cows and parlor were saved!! That to us, was the best news.
Several years ago another neighbor had lost his parlor to a fire. At that time, we had extra room and his milk cows moved to our farm. Boy was that a challenge, but at the same time a blessing for them to have somewhere to go and take care of their cows. This time we had no room, but luckily nearby there was an almost empty facility that would have held his herd had the need arose.
It's now several days later that I'm finishing this post. Neighbors and friends have loaned tractors and tools to help the family out until their insurance company comes through with some money to make those neccessary replacements.
All is good again. It really makes you appreciate the farming community and the support that comes when a farmer's in trouble...

Until next time,

Appreciate your neighbor.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Amazing Soybean Harvest!!

How would you like to take a ride on the combine during soybean harvest? Well take a look at this video and then we'll talk a bit more on the amazing soybean harvest:

Wasn't that fun? Well, every Fall we spend an enormous amount of time harvesting our crops that we planted in the Spring, just like these soybeans.

"A soybean consists mostly of protein-rich meal, and 98 percent of that meal is used to feed animals that produce food such as poultry, pork, beef and fish", says Chuck Myers of the United Soybean Board and a Nebraska soybean farmer. Soybeans provide the world with protein and oil used in food, animal feed, and industrial applications. A 60-pound bushel of soybeans makes about 11 pounds of oil and 48 pounds of soymeal (ground up pulp).

When the farmer sells his soybeans, usually to a grain elevator, there is a mandatory assessment of one-half of one percent of the net market price. This assessment is part of a program called the National Soybean Checkoff. Half of the money stays in the state where the soybeans are produced and the other half is forwarded to the United Soybean Board. The collections are invested to advance soybean marketing, production technology and the development of new uses.

Some of the human food uses for soybeans include oil used in margerine, mayonnaise, salad dressing, and cooking oil (labeled as vegetable oil in the grocery store). And don't forget cereals, candies, baby food or formula, and medicines.

Other non-food uses include cosmetics, fabrics, plastics, soap, and water-based paints. A friend of mine works for a large printing company in Texas and tells me, that currently, ink made from soybeans is used in printing labels for food products.

Feeding soybeans to our cows is an essential part of a complete diet and contributes to their overall health. And what about your health? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that food containing soy protein may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. This claim is based on the FDA's determination that 25 grams of soy protein per day may reduce that risk by reducing blood cholesterol levels.

The uses of soybeans are continually growing. To find out more about soybeans check out today.

Until next time,

Watch for items containing soybeans!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Milk in Michigan is COLD today!!

Happy Thursday!

Today we have had our first "official" snow fall (meaning it has stuck to the ground just so you can see it.) Yep, you heard me - that dreaded 4 letter word!! SNOW. Oh Lord, I haven't even gotten all my fall work done yet. It's too early for this!! But the milk in Michigan is cold today!!

We just finished corn chopping- I will show you that later with pics-and still have to chop some sorghum sudan grass. All to feed the hungry cows!! Then it's full steam with harvesting soybeans and corn. And with the rainy weather every other day, it's been difficult to manage all this.

We will still pray for an "Indian Summer", you know when it actually warms up again! And if we're lucky, we'll get a long enough one to keep moving on the harvest and be done by Thanksgiving. That would definitely be a time for celebration!

So bear with me while I get my extra jobs done and I can move on to the next and get back to posting to keep all of you updated and informed.

Until next time,


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oh A Busy Fall!!

Wow, has this been a crazy, as usual, Fall. Over the past couple of weeks, my blog has suffered from lack of attention. It's not that I haven't wanted to post, it's just that one thing has lead to another and another and, you guessed it, another!
With chopping of haylage going full steam into corn silage and the wet weather to contend with every day, not to mention getting ready for the county fair-whew! Life's been full!
This week I have started a blog post, but unfortunately, it's not finished and I find myself juggling many apples. When the guys (employees) are hard at work trying to get the crops in either in the Spring or Fall, it's my job to feed them. So sack lunches and good nutritious dinners with DAIRY products is what they eat this time of year. Then in between, I work in the office, take care of the horses, and pet-goat, Gomez. Oh yea, right now I'm off to chase steers in the corn field-AGAIN!!
Sorry to cut this short, but there's no time to waste when the cattle run through the corn!!

Until next time,

Corral your cattle!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Last Fair in Michigan...for 2009!

What happens every year in Southern Michigan during the last weekend of September? The County Fair!! Yes, the smells of caramel corn, the sound of amusement rides, combine derby's and some "Famous Country Singer", and the sights of animals and kids!!

Oh how I love the county fair!! When I was a kid, my neighbors (the Nichols family) were the managers of the fair. They were also like my second family, and back then there were benefits of being "family" when the county fair started! I met "famous" people and rode all the rides for free (remember this was a long time ago-haha). It's great when you are ten years old and can stay late at the fairgrounds because you are doing the "rounds" with the "manager". I fell in love with the fair back then and still can't get enough of it today (just ask my husband).

I started my 4-H club when my oldest was 7 and now he's 20. My daughter's last year was in 2008 and I'm down to one last child showing at the fair, and he's 16. I'm already dreading the day when it will be his last fair. But maybe then I will start to take things to the fair for myself? I've wanted to enter photos for the last three years, but still haven't gotten that done. I will have more time to spend in the "Little Red Barn", the one our County Dairy Promoters sell milk and ice cream out of. And yes, much more time for chit-chat!!

So this fair was just as good as all the others. My 4-H kids did exceptionally well, as usual. Many blue ribbons were won, along with some Grand Champions and Best of Class awards, too.

Although my family raises cows, we don't take them to the fair. We have a strict policy of keeping our herd separate from other cows so as not to pick up any type of sickness that could lead to whole herd contamination. My children, instead, take other animals that don't come home, along with crop projects. We sell the animals at the end of the week and the "buyers" have the option to take them for meat or send them to the "market" where they will end up on someonelse's table. It is a win-win situation. The kids are able to use their money for next year's animal project and the buyers are supporting the "educational process" that took place over the past 3-12 months. We are very fortunate to have dedicated people support the youth in our county. My family, in turn, are supporters of the 4-H kids as well. We purchased some ducks and sheep this year.

My 4-H club members also take a wide variety of craft and food and crop projects along with educational exhibits. And so it goes, long months of preparation to display your "harvests" at the county fair, and in one week it is all over until next year. But what a great week it is!!

Until next time,

May the fair season Moo-ve your way!