Farming

Wildflowers – There Is More To It Than Pretty Blooms

Recently, in a group I belong to on Facebook for beekeepers, someone posted a business card with wildflower seed mixture packet attached in the shape of a bee that a company was handing out. It was pretty clever and cute marketing. Then I got to thinking…what is really in that little bee shaped seed packet and how far is it traveling?

Planting pollinator friendly flowers, shrubs, and trees is blowing up everyone’s social media feeds, yet there is a little more to planting pollinator friendly habitat than one would think.

The original reason I didn’t fully agree with the company’s creative marketing tactic was because business cards travel. Our business cards end up all over the United States, and even the world. We hand them out to people at all sorts of events, mail them in packages, place them with donations, etc. Can you imagine if I planted seeds that originated from another country in the United States, not knowing I had inadvertently brought in a non-native species that isn’t considered a flower here? You are supposed to declare any seeds, soils, etc. going through customs and they should get confiscated as part of the process, but a business card with a seed packet packed away is definitely easy to forget. Minnesota is currently battling palmer amaranth that was brought in through a pollinator friendly planting. I would hate to be that person that planted seeds from a company not knowing that it wasn’t clean seed.

Then I got to thinking about it a bit more. Think about what is really native in terms of wildflowers to the area you live in. For me, it is much different from certain elevations or from one part of the state to the next. If I truly wanted to invest in a pollinator friendly habitat, I would work to find species that were both pollinator friendly and native to my area, as well as hardy for my growing zone. Many gardening centers now specialize in this type of landscaping. When the 30 acres that some of our hives are on was converted to RIM ground, we were able to choose a pollinator friendly habitat mix from the DNR that was specialized for our area. It also made me realize the importance of sourcing seed from my area too. If you are in Minnesota, I highly recommend Albert Lea Seed House for specialized seed mixtures native to Minnesota or working with a local company that specializes in native plantings such as Blazing Star Gardens. We’ve realized the importance of utilizing seed that has inherent genetics to thrive in our area. New research also shows that honey bees prefer blooms in rural areas versus urban areas, so finding out blooms native to your area seems to have increasing importance.

Our hives out on an area that was planted in specific wildflower habitat for our area.

An important and specific item to honey bee health, is understanding the difference between nectar and pollen. Some flowers, vegetables, fruits, trees, and shrubs, require pollination which happens when a bee visits various blooms and transports the pollen on their legs from bloom to bloom. When bees are seeking out blooms to feed off of, they are collecting the nectar to produce honey. Plants vary in the amount of nectar they produce, so it is important to offer a wide variety of nectar producing plants throughout the growing season. Just planting a wildflower mixture, may not actually produce the amounts of nectar that bees need or when they need it most.

Most recently General Mills has been in the news, for giving away wildflower packets of seeds in their #bringbackthebees campaign. Others have posted about whether or not bees are really declining, or ulterior marketing motives, but I’m not really concerned with that. I’m concerned with what happens when a flower such as baby’s breath which is considered a weed in some areas that may be in the packet of flowers, grows in areas where it shouldn’t be planted, and what that can do to other crops or actual native species that are planted.

I love flowers, don’t get me wrong – but planting wildflowers is a little trickier as not everything is native, not everything thrives, and not everything is necessarily even considered a flower depending on your location in the country. The true definition of a weed is a plant out of place.

There are many plants you can plant to help pollinators that will last for the summer in your gardens or flower pots, which you wouldn’t have to worry about coming up every year or potentially spreading and becoming a weed. Flowers like zinnias, cosmos, and marigolds are all simple flowers you could plant around your house and garden instead. When truly establishing a wildflower or native flower area for pollinators, it is best to work with a local source who understands the intricacies of the ecosystem you are planning for.

-Sara

CommonGround: Field to Fork Dinner

Common Ground. That is the goal of the CommonGround group…to find common ground around food and farming, and for everyone to walk away with a better understanding of farming and why farmers choose to farm the way they do.

This past week, I was able to be part of an amazing event – The first CommonGround Field to Fork Dinner held in Minnesota.

Field to Fork Dinner at Thallman Farms

Field to Fork Dinner at Thallman Farms

Planning for this event started many months ago with four of us working on the details, look and feel of the event, in preparation for a crowd that maybe was unfamiliar with agriculture, but eager to visit a farm, ask questions, and have a conversation about food.

Thallman’s have an absolutely gorgeous farm, and were so generous in hosting the event. It couldn’t have been more perfect…dining right next to the soybean field.

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We diligently planned things like signage, decorations, photographers, custom printed invitations…even down to what forks and style of plates we should use were discussed. Details were key in the Field to Fork dinner.

It was nice to meet consumers and just talk…what about food concerns them, what questions do they have, what are they passionate about? How can I help you as a farmer? What things do you enjoy doing? Even transportation in the cities versus rural areas was discussed at my table.

My friend Betsy from Jensen Farm and Seeds provided me with a large box with wheat, canola, dark red kidney beans, navy beans, barley, and pinto beans. She also provided us with some fun facts like this one about dark red kidney beans!

My friend Betsy from Jensen Farm and Seeds provided me with a large box with wheat, canola, dark red kidney beans, navy beans, barley, and pinto beans. She also provided us with some fun facts like this one about dark red kidney beans!

All of this conversation was accompanied by amazing food – with most ingredients grown in Minnesota. Caprese (which I think I’m going to now make with some fresh tomatoes from my garden), roasted sweet corn, a delicious vegetable medley and pork ribs. Dinner was complete with delicious pies including strawberry rhubarb, apple, and pecan to name a few. The pies were topped with the most amazing fresh whipped cream.

Sweet Cheeks Honey was given away as favors, which was a really awesome opportunity for me to talk about our bees and what we do on our farm. Martin County Magic Seasoning was also given as favors.

Sweet Cheeks Honey as favors

Sweet Cheeks Honey as favors

We finished off the night with a Q&A session from the crowd.  I was genuinely surprised by some of the questions, and intrigued as well. Sometimes I start to wonder if maybe we aren’t listening enough to our consumers. Many of those I talked to, just wanted to understand better what we did, or wanted to support local with their dollars, and they weren’t sure how to do that. Some of the questions were around regulations, the farm bill, and even technology.

The food was delicious and  beautifully prepared. The handcrafted tables came from Country Style Accents.  The weather proved to be perfect, even if it was a bit muggy while setting everything up. Lastly, the conversation and sharing what we do as farmers was so meaningful to everyone who attended.

My boss provided some of the wine grapes from his vineyard. He sells his grapes to Chankasa, a winery that was featured at our event.

My boss provided some of the wine grapes from his vineyard. He sells his grapes to Chankaska, a Minnesota winery that was featured at our event.

I am so grateful to be a part of this group of amazing women. This was my first major event with CommonGround, and I can’t wait for more. If you ever have questions about your food and farming, please reach out. If I can’t answer it, I will find someone who can…and the farm women of CommonGround have a wealth of knowledge to share. Join in the conversation.

The Women of CommonGround and the FFA Volunteers who assisted.

The Women of CommonGround and the FFA Volunteers who assisted.

-Sara

When Life Gets Crazy

How many of you sometimes feel like you are sinking? Surviving on coffee? Your hair has been dry shampooed for the 3rd time this week?

I’m raising my hand right there with you.

When Mark took his new job, we didn’t realize it would take him away from home so much, but with a company just breaking into the US market, his territory has been GIGANTIC. I mean, 4 states worth gigantic. It has been a daily, weekly, and monthly struggle with never knowing if he will be home one night or gone mid-morning for a week-long trip. It has been frustrating, challenging, and frankly, very lonely. It probably hit home the most when Mark wasn’t able to make it back for Easter. There are days where I feel like I’m barely surviving between chores, trying to renovate a house, pay bills for 2 places, take care of selling our other house, and making sure Harper’s needs are met, all while still being a solid employee at work. I am thankful for my boss who has been very understanding as my schedule has flexed to accommodate our crazy schedules.

Our house renovation has been as slow as traffic on 494 during rush hour. There are days where it feels like we will never get anywhere. We made the decision to box up all of our stuff and move to our camper to live until our renovations are complete. Camper living is a game changer that I’m not sure I can fully describe unless you have actually done it with a 1 year old. We have all the plumbing fixed thanks to one of Mark’s talented friends, the roof is done, walls are ready for new electrical, and waiting for drywall. Tile has been purchased, a new shower/tub unit is waiting, and the vanity top is ready to go on the cabinet. I have the paint color picked out for the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms. Still working on paint colors for the rest of the house. Paintable wallpaper by the way, is my saving grace for some of this house. We have “new” to us appliances thanks to my Aunt and Uncle who graciously gave us their set waiting to go in the garage. We do have to do a modification to the ceiling in the kitchen, and are debating if we just try to refinish all the hardwood floors at once and pull up all the vinyl. I also still need to paint all of the kitchen cabinets and get new hardware…it never ends. If you know anyone that likes to paint, we pay in honey!

Speaking of which, we started a really awesome new Pollinators Superhero program with our honey! We  know not everyone is into keeping bees, and frankly, we all shouldn’t be due to lack of forage out there and disease, but we know people like to help pollinators and learn about honeybees, so in 2016, you can actually sponsor a hive. You will receive a photo of your hive, details about it, a 1lb jar of honey, and a chance to come visit us during extraction! There’s even an opportunity to be able to paint a hive the color of your choice and engrave it! What a unique gift idea for that hard to buy for person in your life! You can find out more here.

There have been plenty of days of craziness in our household. I have also realized that it is okay to go to bed at 8pm if you need it. Really. It won’t be the end of the world if the laundry stays on the couch for the week unfolded. I swear it. If you don’t have a chance to shower in the morning because your husband is on a fire call and the baby is up, just use the dry shampoo. No one will notice. If you have to wear boots covered in dirt and plaster dust into a restaurant to have a quick lunch because you forgot to pack sandwiches, just do it. No one minds. Don’t feel bad if you need a Dr. Pepper at 8 at night because you have to stay up late finishing your own homework. Be proud of yourself for continuing your schooling.

Hope anchors the Soul

At the end of the day, my prayers are often for strength. Strength to get through each day, and strength to be able to find contentment in what we are physically able to accomplish at the house, rather than the lack of what is getting done. I also try to pray for faith in my future and not fear of the unknown. Putting it all in God’s hand at the end of the day, but also knowing he has given me the ability to work and work hard, to provide for myself and my family, and with that comes hope. Hope for the kind of future we want for Harper, as well as for our personal farm plans. That things will come together, slowly but surely. It might not always look pretty, but we can say at the end of the day, we did it ourselves. We didn’t have anyone giving us it. Someday, we will probably look back on this time in our life and say, man did we survive on a shoestring. Surviving sometimes seems like all we do in the midst of chaos and living in a camper. In the meantime, I reflect on this verse…

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19

May you also find that hope anchors your soul in the midst of the chaos we call life. May we still find time for snuggles and bedtime stories, 8pm Dr. Pepper’s, and still be able to laugh at each other when all is said and done. Hope anchors the soul, and you were made to thrive…

-Sara

 

Farm Safety. All Day. Every Day. Even in Broad Daylight.

We often hear messages about road safety during planting and harvest season. But what about during the summer months when farmers are cutting and hauling hay? Or when sprayers are on the roads going field to field?

Ag safety is a huge thing for me. Many know, I lost my dad to a work related accident so prevention, and not what to do after an incident, is a big deal to me. I don’t want another family to go through what mine did. I want my husband and myself around for Harper, and I don’t want an incident to occur with Harper either. It is easy to point the finger at someone else when something happens on their farm, until it happens to you. Then it becomes a problem. Operating under the notion of “everyone does it” or “it won’t happen here” doesn’t  cut it.

Lately, I’ve noticed some area farmers becoming lax on one of the easiest farm incident prevention measures out there…your hazard lights.

Four-ways. Flashers. Hazards. Warning Lights. Call them what you do in whatever area of the county you live in.

But for Pete’s sake, TURN THEM ON. Even in broad daylight. Do not leave a yard, a field driveway, or a pasture without them on. I don’t care if it is 2pm in the afternoon or 6 at night. Turn them on.

It boggles my mind that I even have to type that. That there are farmers who aren’t turning them on. A simple flip of a switch, and you can prevent a car accident that could kill a neighbor or yourself.

The hubs and I recently made a 4 hour drive to pick up equipment. You can bet that the strobe light on top of the rollback was going the entire 4 hour drive home because we knew we would be moving slower, and that the equipment took up additional road space.

As farmers, we can blame people all the time for passing us on the roadways, giving us the finger, etc. and yes, sometimes it is the inability for a driver to be patient that an incident occurs, but if we can prevent it or make sure we are doing everything in our power with something as simple as a flip of a switch, then we should be doing it.

All the time. Every day. No excuses.

I’ll keep this post short. Getting home safe starts with us making the right choices. Turn your hazards on.

Simple safety tip - make sure your slow moving signs are cleaned off and visible before moving from field to field.

Simple safety tip – make sure your slow-moving signs are cleaned off and visible before moving from field to field.

-Sara

A Few of my Favorite Things

My life seems to be a whole bunch of shenanigans lately (if you are a Super Troopers fan, feel free to laugh now), and honestly, I’ve had trouble keeping up with everything. There are days where I’m more than just a tad bit overwhelmed from trying to sell our current house, to  renovations at the farm, to Mark spending basically the entire month of March in North Dakota. I just keep telling myself to hang in there, it will all be better soon.
I wanted to share a few items that I either can’t live without right now, or am lusting after, or going this does not fit in the Dave Ramsey budget right now! Favorite Things April 15
1. That’s not my Tractor. So I took the plunge and became an Usborne Books Consultant. If you have never heard of them, you can check out  my online shopping page here. Harper absolutely loves all of their books. That’s not my Tractor is one of her favorites – she loves the bumpy engine and the scratchy seat. We read it all the time! Their books are wonderful – from the colors, the lift-a-flaps, to my favorite farm themed ones, I highly recommend them. Questions about Usborne, don’t hesitate to contact me!
2. Rust-oleum Cabinet Transformations Kit.  We had an awesome solid oak vanity in the upstairs bathroom of the farmhouse, but it needed some TLC. I purchased this kit, and was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was, and how beautiful the cabinet turned out. I can’t wait to show you our after pictures of the bathroom when it is all finished. I even used the Rust-oleum metallic spray paint to upgrade the hardware on the cabinet! I am going to be purchasing the light kit next and I will be painting all the kitchen cabinets in the next 2 months! Good thing we won’t be fully moving in for a while!
3. CamelBak Eddy. I had to throw away my last CamelBak due to mold. Wah Wah. So I purchased a new one in my favorite color – lime green or I think they call the color palm. I love how easy they make hydration, and I have been working hard at more water, less pop! Having an almost 1 year old makes living on caffeine just kind of a necessary evil. Have any of you had issues with mold with the mouth piece on them?
4. Keep Collective Bracelets. Mark’s cousin is hosting a Keep Collective party, and I am seriously lusting after these rose gold/saddle leather bracelets or keepers. I have all my keys, like the arrow one pictured, picked out and sitting in my cart, but I just can’t bring myself to order them and spend the money when I know we could use it towards the farm. They sure are pretty though!
5. Rustic Pendant Light. One fun thing about renovating a house, is you get to pick out fun lights, new faucets, new tile, etc. It is a TON of work, but we are hoping the reward will be worth it. One of the easiest fixes we are doing is swapping out light fixtures. I found this cool looking rustic one, and will be hanging it in my kitchen window above the sink. This one can be used as part of track lighting over an island for example, or can be single mounted in whatever length you want as a pendant. Farm house kitchen here I come!
-Sara 

A series on Vietnam…Part 3: Agriculture

One of our main reasons for visiting Vietnam was to learn about the agriculture industry in another country. We wanted to know more about how our imports to the country are used, how livestock are raised, what the economic values of certain crops were, and how food was treated overall. At the end of the day, 75% of us in MARL are active producers, so seeing agriculture up close in another country is one of those things that make us all giddy inside.

Rice is one of the main staples of food dishes and the agriculture economy in Vietnam. We were able to visit with a rice farmer, and see first-hand how rice is grown. Luckily for us, since we traveled from North Vietnam to South Vietnam, we were able to see an entire crop’s life cycle from planting to transplanting to harvesting to burning off the fields at the end.

A Vietnamese farmer transplanting rice

A Vietnamese farmer transplanting rice

I never really thought much about the rice I eat until I saw all of the hard labor that these farmers put into their product. At the end of the day the might make $500 a year for their crop, and they might get 2 crops a year in the North, and 3 in the South. They transplant all the rice into perfectly straight rows because when they plant it they just sort of throw it into the field so it seeds itself in clumps. Most still hand harvest all the rice, but some do own a small harvesting machine.

Burned off rice fields after harvest

Burned off rice fields after harvest

Out walking in one of the rice paddies.

Out walking in one of the rice paddies.

We were able to tour a pineapple farm. I knew pineapple grew on bushes, although some in our group thought they grew on trees. Pineapple is hand harvested here as well. I don’t think I would like that job – they are very spikey! We learned that the smaller the pineapple, the sweeter it is. The Pineapple farm is also in the process of diversifying so they have planted passion fruit as well. Passion fruit grows much like our grapes do, on vines utilizing a trellis system. The Passion fruit then hangs down underneath and is picked when ripe. If you haven’t had passion fruit yet, I highly recommend you try it. It is delicious!

Pineapple!

Pineapple!

Passion Fruit Vines

Passion Fruit Vines

When we visited the pineapple farm, we were able to speak with some of the farmers that operate a section of it. The farmers also had honeybees in their yard. It was interesting to see how bees were raised in another country, and another climate. For them, they basically just get a continuous flow of honey at all times, rather than here in Minnesota where we have to let the hive build up enough honey stores to winter them over.

honey bee hive in Vietnam

honeybee hive in Vietnam

We were also able to tour an organic veggie farm where they were using seaweed for their fertilizer. They grow a lot of herbs there, lettuces, chives, and sprouts. They have easy access to seaweed which is known as a fantastic fertilizer full of nutrients for plants. The farmers dig about  4 inches down in the dirt, place the seaweed in and then cover the bed with dirt again. They the plant directly into the bed. We were able to practice watering some of their vegetables…although I’m not sure any of us did a very good job!

lettuce leaves at the organic farm

lettuce leaves at the organic farm

Organic gardens

Organic gardens – some of the netting you see in the back is an attempt to keep birds away

I am thankful for water hoses, sprinklers and irrigation systems!

I am thankful for water hoses, sprinklers and irrigation systems!

Aren't all those shades of green beautiful? And that freshly turned dirt...I'm ready to garden now!

Aren’t all those shades of green beautiful? And that freshly turned dirt…I’m ready to garden now!

Fishing is also a large part of agriculture over there. They use a few different net systems – one a hand net, and the other one is a large net that is raised and lowered “mechanically” (speaking loosely on mechanically here) to catch the fish. there are also many fishing boats that go out to the ocean.  There is also a lot of fresh water fish available – basa fish, similar to our cat-fish (and there is a lot of controversy over the industry there) are readily available. There aren’t limits here, and size isn’t part of catch limits either. Some of the fish they would fry to eat were tiny! As I stated before, Oyster farming is also huge down there. It was interesting to see how they were raised vertically in the water.

I'm not really sure how you even eat those tiny guys! I definitely came away with a new appreciation for the laws we have involving fishing in the US!

I’m not really sure how you even eat those tiny guys! I definitely came away with a new appreciation for the laws we have involving fishing in the US!

One of many fishing boats we saw.

One of many fishing boats we saw.

One of our favorite stops, was to a modern hog operation in Vietnam. The owner raises primarily Duroc hogs, and was very interested in what the Duroc’s looked like where we were from. The owner new his data everything from average birth weight to the size of litters to how many head he would keep for replacement versus sell. The hogs were kept in what I would call more of an open confinement system. It reminded me of the hog farm I grew up on as we had an outdoor, open feed lot for our hogs. The manure handling system at this farm, was not something you see at a typical US hog farm. They separate the liquids and solids, and bag the solids for fertilizer. In the US typically hog manure is pumped and spread on the field as one, not separated.

Some of the boars at the hog operation.

Some of the boars at the hog operation.

The manure separating setup.

The manure separating setup.

But, I think the strangest thing we encountered at the hog operation was the tattooing of hogs. From what we gathered through our interpreter, was that he uses the tattoo as a way of marketing his hogs – kind of like showing them off or making them fancy for the market there. By doing so, his competitors and buyers know that they are getting a good hog because the tattoo shows it is one of his hogs and his are prized.

Some of the tattoos this hog featured already.

Some of the tattoos this hog featured already.

Tattooing a pig.

Tattooing a pig.

Agriculture in Vietnam uses a lot of Water Buffalo to plow fields, provide beef and even milk. Not many things are done with a skid loader or a tractor, but with the water buffalo. Water buffalo are an important piece of agriculture in Vietnam because without it, they would have to be working fields completely by hand, and they wouldn’t be providing the beautiful leather hand bags many of us purchased in Vietnam as well.

Water buffalo being used for getting a rice paddy ready for planting.

Water buffalo being used for getting a rice paddy ready for planting.

Yes, I road a Water Buffalo.

Yes, I road a Water Buffalo.

Agriculture looks vastly different over in Vietnam just because so much of it is done by hand. The prices they earn for their products are drastically lower as well, part of this is because of it being a communist country. There isn’t really a free market to help set the price. They have different weather issues so things like grain storage and animal housing look different or operate differently.

That being said, it also looks the same. They don’t get to control the end price of their product, just like many of us here that farm. They care about bettering their operations and are searching out ways to do so. They are also worried about the same things we are – the weather and the prices. Their families work alongside them, just like many of ours do too. Some farms are multi-generational just at our farms are here in the US.

I really appreciate the work, the detail, the dedication every one of the farmers we visited with displayed. They love what they do, just like we do.  Many of them are continuing the family farm, and at the end of the day, you have a lot of respect for everything they do to provide a living for their families.

-Sara 

Talk Farmer to Me: Top 5 Words We Use That Mean Other Things

As farmers, we sometimes forget that not everyone knows what we are talking about when say things like a ripper, a chute, or a dryer. Or at least, different images come to mind then what we are actually referring to. We definitely speak a different language than most out on the farm! Here are the top 5 words commonly used on our farm that might not be what you picture.

Top 5 Words We Use on our Farm that Mean Other Things

  1. Leg – No, not your leg. A grain leg. A grain leg is essentially a steel box that has a belt with “cups” on it. These cups lift up the grain to the top of the bin and dump it into the bin. A grain leg is operated by electricity, rather than a tractor. They are considered safer than an auger, but are also more expensive.
  2. Dryer – I’m not talking about a dryer for your clothes. A dryer is for corn. Corn often comes out of the field at a higher moisture content than the cooperatives and companies we sell to will accept. This means the corn has to be dried down prior to shipping it out. The dryer typically operates on propane, and dries the corn down to a certain moisture percentage.

    This is our grain dryer and grain leg set-up at the farm.

    This is our grain dryer and grain leg system at our farm. We also use augers to unload the bins into our trucks.

  3. Tile – I wish we were installing new tile in our bathroom and that was what I was talking about when we were spending money on this! However, the kind of tile farmers are referring to is in their fields providing water drainage. Older drainage tile was clay and cement, new tile is a black plastic tile and has small perforations. The tile looks like a long, round pipe and comes in a large coil usually. Fields are tiled to whisk water away from the top of the soil which causes run-off, and instead, filters the water down through the soil.

    Out ripping round during fall harvest

    Out digging ground during fall harvest

  4. Digger – We’re not talking about taking a good fall or a dog that likes to bury bones. We often use this term interchangeably between a field cultivator and a plow. A digger is a piece of equipment we use to work the field ground. It typically involves lifting the soil or turning the soil over. Although, I’m thinking digger might just be a good name for the next farm dog.
  5. PTO – Unfortunately, there isn’t any paid time off on the farm. There is however, a power take-off (PTO) system  used to power farm implements. The PTO shaft can hook up between the tractor and the implement (can vary from augers, grain carts, manure pumps, feed mills, feed mixers, etc.), allowing the implement to draw power from the engine of the tractor. We use it typically to power an auger to unload bins.

 

We’ve had some great submissions already to our post! Do you  have one? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

  1. Yield (via Wanda at Minnesota Farm Living) Wanda mentioned, we aren’t referring to a yield sign on the street. We are talking about what our fields are yielding for the crop. We measure in bushels per acre. A bushel is a measurement of mass and varies from each crop, and an acre is roughly the size of a football field.
  2. Marketing (via the Green Acres Report) We often think of Marketing as your 5 P’s – Price, Promotion, Product, Placement and Profit, but in the traditional sense of marketing a cheeseburger at McDonalds or a clothing line from American Eagle. We use the P’s in grain marketing, but a little differently. Price – right now – yowza! If you are a corn or soybean farmer, breaking even can be a struggle right now – we try to find the best price for our grain at various elevators. Product – that’s our grain our livestock in some cases. Placement – I guess we could say we grow items we know are good for our land and growing season, as well as what is marketable in our area. For instance, green peas are marketable here, but not everywhere. Promotion – our commodity groups do a great job of promoting our products and the various uses for them, and farmers do a great job as well! Finally, Profit – which right now is slim pickings! We want to make a profit so we can continue to farm, provide for our family, and frankly, eat out and have a beer at Buffalo Wild Wings once in a while! So if you hear us talking about marketing, we are more than likely trying to market our grain and not create a Facebook campaign.

-Sara