Friday, May 31, 2019

Farm Update - 5/31/19

It's been another hot, dry week on our farm, but we've managed to survive it and get a little bit accomplished along the way.

The most important thing going into this week was to get the last 35 acres of this year's corn silage crop planted down in our bottomland, and to that end we were successful. We spent the first half of the week getting the ground worked up and fertilized, and I spend Wednesday afternoon and most of Thursday running our four-row planter across the dusty fields. I looked back through my records and figured out that our five-year average planting date in those fields is June 2, so we beat it by a couple of days. That wraps up our corn planting for the year, and next we'll move on to a few acres of a pearl millet variety we are trying out. Well, we'll move on to that once it rains again and softens the ground a bit.

2019 corn silage crop...planted.

We really are starting to hurt for rain now. Our earliest planted corn is ready to be side-dressed but I'm hesitant to do it until we get some rain in the forecast. The fields look alright enough in the mornings, but as the sun starts bearing down it's obvious the corn needs a drink. Same goes with our pastures. I did help out one of the hayfields we harvested last week by spreading eight honeywagon loads of manure slurry on it this afternoon, and I imagine that will continue for a couple other fields on Monday and Tuesday.

On the cow side, we currently have 188 in the milking herd. The heat is driving them out of the pasture around mid-morning and into the loafing barn where they can cool down under fans and sprinklers. It's had a negative effect on milk production, but we're pretty much in line with where we expect to be this time of year. Milking times are running around 2.75 hours in the mornings and just over 2 hours in the afternoons.

cow no. 603 serving as a lawnmooer outside the milking barn

If you'd like to get all this information in a condensed, video form, be sure to check out the MooTube Minute I post at the end of each week. I used to post farm videos all the time, but both I and my viewers seemed to get burned out after a few years. I'm really enjoying easing back into it though, and hopefully it will help folks learn more about what happens around here.

And with that I'll bid you farewell. Thanks for your support, and have a "dairy" good weekend!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Farm & Life Update (5/16/19)

originally posted Thursday morning at 6am

Good morning from the parlor where Dad and I have now milked 170 of our 193 cows and the sky’s changing hues herald the sun’s impending arrival. Fans have been circulating cooler fresh air through the barn to keep both us and the cows comfortable, a task that will be increasing difficult as we approach and soon enter the summer.

Despite two flat tires slowing progress yesterday and one of our farmhands needing off at least part of today, I think we are still on track to get our “hill ground” corn planted by the end of the week. If so and we stay relatively dry heading into next week, we could be looking at a run of days that are extremely busy even by dairy farm standards. There are hay fields to clip, bottomland fields to plant, corn to sidedress and spray, calves to vaccinate, and of course the cows still have to be milked twice daily.

On top of the farm work, I have a family to spend time with, Wednesday night Bible study lessons to prepare for June, cross-state meetings to attend, phone calls to make, and I’m sure a number of other responsibilities that aren’t immediately coming to mind. It can be overwhelming if I try to look too far beyond the horizon, so I just try to make the best of today and put myself in a good starting position for tomorrow. There is such a thing as being too busy, but Luke 12:48b says, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected." The Lord’s given me opportunities to be useful in different ways to different people and He’ll sustain me as long as I'm faithful to stick to the path He’s laid out for me.

So let’s all work diligently today but remember that our worth isn’t solely defined by our work. Take time to smell the roses, extend kindness to your neighbor, and have a dairy good day.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

There's something about this place

Sometimes I catch myself staring at a particular spot in a field or pasture for no apparent reason. Occasionally I'll park a tractor in the middle of doing field work, climb up onto the hood, and spend a minute surveying the farm around me. I enjoy soaking up the beauty of my surroundings in the the quiet moments I often spend on my front porch after the morning milking or at the end of the day.

There's something about this place.

the view from my front porch this morning
I was told growing up that I was smart enough to go anywhere and do anything I wanted. But there's something about this place that made it impossible for me to believe I could ever be happy being anywhere else or doing anything else.

I've spent the last fifteen-plus years heavily involved in several different farming organizations, and that involvement has often required me to spend significant time off the farm. Perhaps the effort has not always yielded the intended results, but there's something about this place that drives me to use my abilities in a way that helps enable myself and others to farm more freely and successfully.

I've spent countless hours sharing the story of my farm and industry with classrooms, reporters, civic groups, and thousands upon thousands of people I'll never actually meet on the internet. It can be a grind at times, but there's something about this place that's worth telling people about...especially those who have no personal connection to such a place.

I wonder if my ancestors ever reflected on the past and pondered on the future of this little spot of ground like I do. I think about all the decisions that must have been made by my family members over the last century-and-a-half that have led to my opportunity to call this place home, as well as how many times a different decision along the way could have completely re-written my story before it ever started.

Our farm isn't blessed with especially fertile soil, and we fight more than our fair share of kudzu and privet and pigweed. But it's ours, and it's home. It's both where I live and make my living, and I pray that holds true until I draw my final breath. Perhaps our kids will choose to make their lives and rear their families on the farm, perhaps their dreams will carry them elsewhere. Only God knows what the future holds for this place, but we are thankful He's entrusted its stewardship to our family for multiple generations.

There's something about this place that makes it worth conserving.

There's something about this place that makes it worth fighting for.

There's something about this place that makes it the only place I'll ever be able to call "home."