Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rock Pickin'

I've spent about four hours over the past two mornings picking sandstone rocks out of one of our fields. For years we only planted corn or sorghum there, and the rocks weren't an issue since the harvester cut the stalks several inches off the ground. Now that we're planting cool-season forages in this field, we either have to get rid of the rocks or be prepared to constantly bend/break/dull the blades on our cutter-condition (which cuts only 1-2" from the ground).

We did a good job of removing most of the rocks from the real trouble spots about three years ago and have had minimal trouble ever since then. The main reason for that, though, was that we have been no-till planing the rye/oats and minimal-till planting the corn/sorghum since then. We needed to break the ground before planting this time, though, and the disking process unearthed lots of buried rocks.

Even though there are rocks throughout the 40 acre field, we can get the worst places cleaned out after another hour or two of picking. By then we out to have enough rocks to fill in a hole, serve as the foundational base for a small "heavy use" area, or build a decorative driveway entrance leading to our milking barn.
Just kidding about that last one.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spring Preview

This has been one of the snowiest winters I can ever remember around these parts.  Some years me might get two separate accumulating snowfalls, but I think we've had four this year.  We've even had snowfall as recently as last week.

I don't think we're going to see any snow this week, though.

This is the second straight morning I've been able to go to the farm without wearing anything heavier than a fleece pullover, and I've spent the afternoon wearing short-sleeves all week.  The 7 day forecast is saying that we'll have a full week of this great weather. Even though I doubt we've seen the last of cold, damp winter weather this year, I'm certainly going to enjoy this spring preview and take advantage of the the best I can.

Part of that includes fertilizing our spring forages.  Our local farmer's co-op is supposed to start spreading ammonia nitrate and potash over some of our fields today and tomorrow, and I expect to be applying liquid nitrogen fertilizer on a few others.  And as soon as we can find some replacement lugbolts for one of our honeywagon's tires, we'll be applying our "water 'n poo" fertilizer to several spots as well.

Where ever you are and whatever you're doing, I hope you have an enjoyable day.  I'm certainly planning on it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What's the next step?

Serving as the chairman of the AFBF's Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee this past year was a great honor and a tremendous experience. It gave me the opportunity to travel around the country and speak to folks about our organization and industry, as well as to spend time with some of our nation's most influential agricultural leaders. The experience has given me a more informed perspective on both the opportunities and challenges that face American agriculture, and I like to think that I'm leaving the position as a more effective leader than when I first began.

As my time on the committee and service as its chairman was coming to a close, I started getting lots of questions from friends and Farm Bureau acquaintances like "What are you going to do now?" and "What's the next step?". Even though I thought these folks were asking more about what would be the next position I would seek or opportunity I would pursue, my answer was always something to the effect of going back home and re-learning how to milk cows. After all, I am fully engaged in my family's 365 day-a-year farming business, but I've spent a fairly significant amount of time away from it over the past several months.

While at the AFBF Annual Meeting in Atlanta last month, a gentleman I had never met before thanked me for the job I and the YF&R Committee had done and then asked me what my own next step was. I gave him my standard answer, but his response wasn't to smile or chuckle like most. Instead, he said just as seriously as he could be, "God puts things in our path for a reason. Don't ever forget that."

So, what's the next step? For me, it really is to focus on being a successful farmer and a good family man. I can't think of anything else that could be more important or satisfying. But whenever and however God puts something additional in my path, I just pray for the wisdom to recognize it and the ability to do a good job with it while still fulfilling my commitment to my family and farm.