Minnesota Farms

Martin County Ag Tour

A Day Celebrating Agriculture in Martin County

When you work in agriculture, it is easy to get pigeon holed into what you know or what you do on a daily basis. We are primarily cash crop farmers with a few livestock and honeybees. I grew up with various livestock on a feedlot scale, but the technology, techniques, housing, and practices have changed tremendously since I was younger, or what is on our farm since we are small-scale.

Martin County Ag Tour

We were greeted with our agenda for the day & Corn Niblets from Sunshine Suzy LLC! They were delicious and a perfect snack on the bus. You can find them at local Hy-Vee stores in the Martin County area.

It is one of the reasons I jump on any chance to learn more about agriculture in Minnesota and what my fellow farmers are doing. I was recently invited to spend the day in Martin County, about an hour from the Mankato area, learning about agriculture and its impact on the county. It was followed by a dinner called From the Ground Up – hosted by Project 1590. I am going to try to highlight a few of my takeaways (even as a person working in the industry) that I learned.

  1. Devenish Nutrition – I’m going to be honest, I didn’t even know this company existed until visiting their US Headquarters in Fairmont as part of this tour. They call themselves an agritechnology company that provides nutritional solutions to livestock – their business is generally 40% poultry 35% swine, 20% ruminant, and various livestock complete the rest. They are headquartered and founded in Ireland, and a connection with the Fairmont vet clinic brought them over to the Fairmont area. They have grown from 23 employees to 400, and do business in over 30 countries! They did say it can be a challenge to attract new talent to the community, but it was refreshing to see many of the employees were local to the area and have settled their with their families. Although I could probably go on and on about this company – I was fascinated – the things that struck me the most was their commitment to research. They have their own research barns, as well as barns contracted with farmers, to ensure their findings are real-world applicable. They are also doing research in if feeding animals superior feed, meaning you get a superior chicken breast or pork chop at the store, if and how that impacts human health. Pretty cool!

    Devenish Nutrition

    I am still in awe of all this company is doing since their expansion into the United States.

  2. Hen-Way Manufacturing – A farmer with a problem who created his own solution and the businesses exploded from there. That is the easiest way to describe this family built business. He was a hog farmer himself who couldn’t find the equipment he needed for the new barn styles, so he started building it himself, and pretty soon others started noticing, and ordering! This company also invested in their own solar panels to reduce their electric bill by 2/3 of what it was. But I think what I most enjoyed about this stop was the way the owner Lonny, talked about his family. He didn’t start off about the company or the products, but rather explained how they made it all work for their kids and grandkids to live nearby, work with them, and farm with them. He and his wife will be married 50 years this year. He was a man who made you want to do business with him.

    Hen-Way Manufacturing

    Welding was a skill that was in high demand at Hen-Way Manufacturing. As someone who used to promote careers in agriculture for a job, hearing their need for welders and those willing to work was something I understood.

  3. Elm Creek Agronomy – Elm Creek Agronomy is a Pioneer seed dealership and chemical sales company owned by two friends. It was  neat to see how an idea blossomed into a large business who now does soybean seed treatment for an entire region of dealers, including competitors! Here we were treated to lunch complete with high oleic soybean oil potato chips – made from soybeans that are being grown for the first time in Martin County to produce high oleic oil. Pioneer sells the Plenish brand seed that produces a more nutritious, longer lasting, and safer cooking oil!

    Elm Creek Agronomy

    Elm Creek Agronomy installed a new precision seed treater that serves many regional seed representatives.

  4. CHS – We were able to tour the CHS facility by bus with one of their employees. During harvest, they have over 1,500 trucks delivering soybeans per day – so many that they have to use the nearby fairgrounds for overflow! They ship out 50% of their meal by truck and another 50% by rail. Over 10 counties supply them with soybeans, so farmers from all over the region are trucking into this facility. For every bushel of soybean that comes into the plant, they can produce 42 pounds of soybean meal and hulls AND 1 1/2 gallons of soybean oil!
  5. Easy Automation – This company just floored me with where they started and where they are continuing to go. They haven’t been afraid of innovation, expansion and investment to get where they are going! Their company automates the facilities that make livestock feed. They deal in three areas: software, controls, and equipment. Their system allows traceability so they can track every single ingredient in case of a recall, and their systems are extremely accurate. They are currently working to innovate the water purification systems as well as decrease the overall cost of biofuel production with their new businesses. What I found most interesting what their committment to employees and communication in their business. Each employee had posted outside of their office space, the best ways to communicate with them and how they handle situations so you would know how to best interact. They also recently opened up a Mankato office in order to allow those that commute the option to work remotely a few days each week too.

    Easy Automation

    Easy Automation also manufactures equipment along with software and controls.

  6. Windmill Farm – I have always been fascinated by wind power. Mark and I have frequently talked about putting up a small wind turbine with a magnetic motor just to power our future honey house. The windmill farm we toured was huge! It was all because some area farmers got together and decided to invest in this new power generation system. There were different ways and options for area farmers to get involved by leasing land, buying into a turban or investing in the LLC they formed. These wind turbines spin at 188 mph when they are at pull production and have a life expectancy between 20-25 years. What I found interesting was in order to do maintenance on them, they have basically an ultrasound machine that scans the blade with ultrasonic photos to determine any issues! Neat how a system used for medicine crosses over into energy production.

    Windmill

    Windmill Farm in Martin County. In case you are wondering – each one has a lift assist in there to get to the top so you don’t really have to climb all those ladder rungs inside.

  7. Hog Barns – Our last stop on our day full of tours was a hog barn owned by a local 19-year-old. Yes, you read that right. 19 years old. I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life (some days I still am) and this young man in college, had built his own barn and was now leasing it out to an area hog operation. They owned the hogs, he owned the building. His family said it was one way for him to work towards coming home to the farm. The electronics that control feed, water intake, heating and ventilation systems and just about everything else, are all available to check, change, and automate from smartphones and tablets. This allows this young man to attend college and be able to check on how much water the hogs are drinking all at the same time! It was quite impressive!

    hog barn automation

    Discussing the electronics and systems that control the hog barns from an iPad.

Working in a bigger city, I often hear how disconnected consumers are from the farm or rural Minnesota. We need to understand how rural Minnesota is an economic driver for our large cities. Martin County, although rural, is an economic hub full of entrepreneurial spirit that is making an impact at a local, state, national and international level! From opening a second office in Mankato to giving us the pork that is on our BBQ all summer long, we are impacted every single day by the farms and agriculture communities that make up Minnesota.

We ended the night at a dinner event called From the Ground Up, hosted by Project 1590. Project 1590’s mission is to enhance the vitality, livability and health within Martin County. The economic impact and driving force of agriculture within Martin County is very strong, something Project 1590 recognizes and From the Ground Up serves as a fundraising event each year that connects consumers with farmers and their food.

Decor at From the Ground Up

The rustic decor at the tables was gorgeous.

From the Ground Up

Our menus and programs for the evening. Sons of Butchers catered the event – Martin County natives and now a BBQ team.

Food at From the Ground Up

Sons of Butchers BBQ. I even tried the spicy jalapeno sausage and it was actually quite good – even if I had to guzzle water after ;)

The food was amazing, as were the people. One of the farmers I met, I actually had interviewed her sister at my previous job for a story so it was fun to make that connection and learn a little more about their operation through dinner time. It was also fun to learn why people stayed in the community after moving there for a job. At the end of the night, I was wishing I was moving to the Fairmont area after hearing how amazing it was to raise a family there.

It was a beautiful evening full of great food and great conversation. I ended my night by fueling up at a local gas station before making the trek back home, only to be met by faces of cattle starting back at me on the other side of the pumps. It truly was where the county meets the city, and a slice of a thriving rural area that Minnesota shouldn’t take for granted.

At the end of the day, we should all learn a little more about what makes the areas of this state tick and how they are all interrelated. If we start to understand the full circle a bit more, and the impact the agriculture sector has on everything from electronics to the trucking industry, maybe the conversations we have will continue to be about collaboration and moving our communities forward to the future.

Thank you to Martin County, the Project 1590 crew, and all the volunteers for a wonderful day and an eye-opening experience for farm kid/farmer/ag employee who continues to learn all she can about this great industry!

-Sara 

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Planting Non-GMO Soybeans: Value-Added Production

You’ve heard me talk about the benefits of genetically engineered crops before, and why farmers like us choose to use them. You have probably read about our yields we get with planting GE crops (better known as GMO to consumers), what methods of tillage we use, what chemicals we have used, etc. in some of my past posts. We’ve had a lot of people ask us since we are the first ones to stand up for allowing farmers to use GE technology and why we think GMO labeling is silly…

Why Non-GMO soybeans?

First things first, planting Non-GMO soybeans is very, very different from organic farming, and frankly, the two aren’t really alike at all in my opinion. Planting Non-GMO soybeans is more like farming with GE soybeans than most think, but with a few extra quirks and rules to follow. Our non-GMO soybeans are exported and made into tofu. I’m going to touch on a few areas (not all) of why we chose to plant non-GMO soybeans on our farm this year.

  1. Market – There is a better and bigger market for non-GMO, food grade soybeans than ever before. Creating this market has been something that farmers asked for as the need for protein options has risen in other countries. Our soybean growers association has worked hard to capitalize on this development and invest in the research to grow this specialty market over the past few years. New food-grade seed varieties continue to be developed that are higher in certain protein contents or select oils depending on what they will be used for in the end market.
  2. Price – We receive a higher premium for our soybeans because they are a specialty product. We do have to complete a few more tasks with planting non-GM soybeans like carefully cleaning out bins and trucks to avoid contamination and using only certain approved chemicals. We have to sign a contract similar to what one might sign with GE seed, except our contract revolves around identity preservation and the number of bushels we have agreed to grow. As crop prices continue to drop, farmers are looking to find an extra bushel or take off-farm jobs. The price premium on non-GMO soybeans is one of those options for farmers. Typically, the seed costs less than GE seed which means our end cost of production isn’t as high.
  3.  Tillage- I read a post that said that non-GMO farmers use more tillage than conventional farmers due to weeds. We did no more tillage than we do when we plant GE soybeans or GE corn. In fact, we did no-till in some of our fields this year. Again, planting non-GMO is not the same as organics which may rely on additional cultivation or flame weeding. We do have options chemical wise we can use for weeds. We didn’t use anymore chemical than we typically use in a given year, but we did use different kinds because we can’t use glyphosate, for example.
  4.  Bushels –This is always the main question we get. Will my bushels be on par with GE? Possibly. Possibly not. Every field is different based on soil type, nutrients, even weather patterns vary since we have fields in 3 different counties for us. We had hail damage in some fields compared to none in others. Some had standing water while others did not. All of those factors can impact bushels. However, typically we average around 50-55 bushels per field for our non-GMO soybeans, but we have had fields that have reached into the upper 70’s for bushels per acre this year.
  5. Traits – Some of the traits we look for in non-GMO soybeans are the same as what we look for in GE soybeans – resistance to certain fungus, drought tolerance, past performance on bushels per acre, etc. We also pay close attention to oleic concentration, protein concentration and even hilum color because those are the traits looked at for premiums in a food-grade, non-GMO soybean.

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It would be a shame to just say farmers are against GE soybeans, when I don’t think that is the case, and certainly not for us. Capitalizing on new opportunities and markets to create expanded profits and options for farmers is a good thing. You don’t have to plant GE and you don’t have to plant non-GMO. It isn’t for everyone, and how you choose to operate your farm versus your neighbor will be different. It works for us, but it won’t work for everyone. We certainly aren’t dismissing modern technology – in fact, I’d love if every crop was GE and we never had to worry about using a chemical ever, but that isn’t the case.

Farmers will have to continue to evolve with new market trends, new growth markets, and evaluate their current operations in order to succeed. Farmers are finding that planting value-added soybeans can be one of those pathways for their farm to succeed.

-Sara

Dear Subway, I really wish you would have talked to a farmer.

*Please note due to the overwhelming response, I am unable to respond to every comment individually. I am however, reading them, processing & learning. Thank you!

Dear Subway,

I really wish you would have talked to a farmer.

I really wish you would have done so before your big announcement saying you would, as of 2016, be sourcing all of your turkey and chicken as being raised without antibiotics.

I really, really, wish you would have visited those farms that supply your turkey, chicken, and as you stated, eventually your pork and beef that will be sourced as antibiotic free as well.

Here’s the deal. I like your food, I really do. Your chopped salads and chicken bacon ranch sub are my favorites. I layer my sub with veggies like cucumbers, spinach, and onion. However, your marketing ploy makes me sigh, as I guess I need to check off another restaurant that I can no longer eat at.

ALL meat that hits the market for consumption is and continues to be antibiotic free. See, meat is tested for antibiotics, and livestock given antibiotics have to follow strict withdrawal periods before they can be sold for meat. Farmers have to keep accurate records about what antibiotic was given, when it was given and to what animal. Animals that are sick are often housed in a sick bay or removed from other livestock to help stop the spread of a disease. Sometimes, it involves treating more than one animal to prevent the disease from spreading. Animals are treated based upon a veterinarian’s recommendation for the best course of action, and farmers follow that plan of care to ensure that animal is healthy.

Minnesota is the number one producer of turkeys. I have many turkey farming friends. I see how their birds are raised and cared for, and have been in their barns. Have you? Have you asked a farmer what it is like to treat a sick animal or let it suffer? Have you asked them why antibiotics are an important tool in their toolbox on their farm? Yes, birds are raised indoors in Minnesota. Wouldn’t you want to be indoors during -35 degree weather?

I have seen a calf come down with pneumonia, just like I did during my sophomore year of high school. I watched my Dad call the vet out. I went to my doctor. The vet prescribed an antibiotic and instructed my dad on how to administer the correct dosage of antibiotic to save the calf. My doctor gave me a prescription for 2 antibiotics and cough syrup with the correct dosage and directions for how to administer the antibiotic to myself so I wouldn’t get sicker. The antibiotics worked for the both of us. That calf went on to lead a perfectly healthy life, never needing an antibiotic again, and became hamburger on one of our customer’s plates. Would it have been better to just let the calf die? Is that calf not worthy of treatment just as I am?

Why are you afraid to have the conversation with farmers, to learn about what they do instead of forcing them to change the entire industry and their practices? Have farmers asked you to change how you do business? Farmers’ frustrations keep mounting as more and more companies are asking them to do something without rhyme or reason, explanation, or understanding. Farmers don’t do anything “just because,” there is research, time, dollars, education, sweat, blood, and tears involved in every decision made. Please Subway, won’t you just take the time to ask? To look? To understand the decisions from housing, to feed, to what breeds to raise, to who to hire, to what bedding gets used, to why an antibiotic may be necessary… before you make another announcement? An announcement, that I will fully admit, you are going to find very difficult to actually come through on.

I understand some things have happened that have tarnished your reputation over the past year, but hurting the family farmer will only add to that issue, not help. I vote bringing back shredded carrot as an option and that will go a long ways, and having a conversation with the farmer who works tirelessly to raise the product you need to sell those delicious sandwiches.

Sincerely,

A farmer

Subway footlong

Top 5 Things Subway Customers Need to Know

Subway Announces That A Bullet Is Their Treatment of Choice for Sick Animals

Disappointed in Subway; Caving Into Fear

Subway Eat Fresh – Stay Politically Correct
Subway Removing Antibiotics and Facebook Comments

There Are No Antibiotics in Your Meat, Now Stop.

Ruffled Feathers over Subway

Food Dialogues- Antibiotics and Livestock

Fact or Fiction – Common Antibiotic Myths

Note: As of 10/23, Subway has updated their antibiotic free policy to now read:

That said, we recognize that antibiotics are critical tools for keeping animals healthy and that they should be used responsibly to preserve their effectiveness in veterinary and human medicine. Our policy is that antibiotics can be used to treat, control and prevent disease, but not for growth promotion of farm animals. Accordingly, we are asking our suppliers to do the following:

  • Adopt, implement and comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA’s”) guidance for industry 209 and 213, which requires that medically important antibiotics not be used for growth promotion. Visit the FDA site to learn more.
  • Assure that all antibiotics use is overseen, pre-approved and authorized by a licensed veterinarian before they are administered to any animal.
  • Keep accurate and complete records to track use of all antibiotics.
  • Adhere at all times to all legal requirements governing antibiotic withdrawal times. This assures that antibiotics have been eliminated from the animals’ systems at the time of slaughter.
  • Actively encourage, support and participate in research efforts focused on improving animal health while reducing antibiotics use.

The Buffer Strip Controversy…Debunked.

Recently, Governor Dayton announced that he will ask the Minnesota Legislature to put into law, a requirement of a 50 foot buffer zone along streams, wetlands, and lakes. Why? He thinks that this will boost the dwindling pheasant population in Minnesota.

Gov. Dayton has cited lower participation in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) by farmers, and that having a direct effect on the pheasant population. What Governor Dayton fails to mention, is that federally, the number of acres allowed into the CRP program has been decreased due to funding. That means that some farmers went to reapply their acres into the program, and were denied because only so many acres are allowed. Governor Dayton also fails to mention that there is an application process for land to go into CRP and if your land doesn’t fit the criteria put forth by the NRCS/USDA, they can deny your application. It doesn’t mean that farmers don’t want to sign up for the program (many find it a waste to farm marginal ground) it is that they are being denied due to funding or their acres not fitting what The government wants in terms of land. Also, there is a large misconception that CRP is a “farmer only” program. Many landowners, hunters, and wildlife enthusiasts have their land in the CRP program as well.

In the 2008 bill, the acres were capped at 32 million. However, with the passage of the 2014 farm bill, 2014 was reduced to 27.5 million acres being allowed to enroll. In 2015, that number drops to 26 million. 2016, 25 million acres and 2017-2018 at 24 million acres. Currently, 27 million acres are enrolled into the CRP program, and that means that at least 1 million acres will be removed from the program or denied reenrollment in 2015. This also means no new enrollment of additional acres over the cap, so essentially eliminating farmers and private land owner’s ability to rent their land back to the government for wildlife habitat.

For Minnesota, the focus on CRP land for our government is wetland habitat – not exactly pheasant friendly. Majority of the applications have to be directly tied to wetland and wildlife that would directly benefit from wetlands. Think ducks, geese, cormorants, swans, heron, etc. Pheasants prefer upland habitat and prairie.

There is also a law already in place for agricultural ground in terms of buffer zones. According to state law, local government is responsible for the administration and enforcement of shoreland management controls. That is an important piece of information because the water issues from county to county vary greatly. Local governments are allowed to adopt their own shoreland protection rules (with commissioner’s approval) that may differ from state law but can account for the unique needs of the watershed rather than the one-size-fits-all approach. Part of this is where land has been part of an urban use for many years (think of Lake Minnetonka for example), if there are businesses along these shorelands (think Northfield, Minnesota), counties with topography or vegetation that would make minimum state standards impractical (think bluff country), or shorelands that are managed under other land resource management programs that have been authorized by state or federal legislation that have goals compatible with Minnesota law (think alternatives with the DNR or the Discovery Farms program).

Note the buffer strip in the side of the photo on another piece of land we farm.

Note the buffer strip in the side of the photo on another piece of land we farm.

There aren’t easy ways to avoid buffer zones. Everything has to be evaluated, approved or part of another law. Existing shoreland rules require a 50 foot buffer in shoreland areas already, which means 50 feet of permanent vegetation must be maintained. Agricultural use within that 50 feet may be allowed only if the farmer has an approved conservation plan with their local soil and water conservation district or the U.S. Soil Conservation Service. Part of that approved conservation plan includes responsible use of fertilizer and crop protection products, and appropriate set-backs for manure application to ensure proper stewardship of water resources.

Now, how do all these laws and restrictions apply? According to state law they apply to all watercourses intrastate and interstate where the drainage area is over 2 square miles, but if the commissioner finds any other watercourse having a drainage area under 2 miles and with a significant flood hazard, the laws and restrictions apply as well.

Now, drainage ditches are a little different. Many counties have a network of drainage ditches serving a multitude of purposes from draining water from agricultural land to ensuring that water runs off of roadways or draining areas that businesses and homes are built on. The current proposal would more than triple current buffer laws on public drainage ditches – notice that is public – not private. This means this could affect every homeowner out there that has a public drainage ditch in the back of their property.

Currently, the law states that public drainage ditches have to have a buffer strip of 16.5 feet. However, that buffer strip doesn’t necessarily have to be in place until a redetermination of benefits of the public drainage ditch is made by the county. This is why our state should focus on funding our local soil and water conservation offices at the proper level, so they can complete these redetermination of benefits. This is probably the biggest misconception that people don’t understand about current law – the ditch has to go through the redetermination before a person actually has to put the 16.5 foot buffer strip in place. That being said, I don’t know many people who farm up to a drainage ditch without leaving at least 10-15 feet of vegetation already. Also, another thing to understand about how drainage ditches are constructed is that they have a berm up on the sides, or a raised bank, – that means the water doesn’t run down directly into them. The water has to go through the soil, filtering it.

 

Can you see the lake behind those trees? That's because there is way more than a 50 foot buffer strip in place here on a piece of land we farm next to a lake.

Can you see the lake behind those trees? That’s because there is way more than a 50 foot buffer strip in place here on a piece of land we farm next to a lake.

There are many other issues with this proposed law. Fines can range up to $20,000, and it is up to the DNR to decide whether requirements are met. Who is going to pay for additional enforcement and DNR? This is also why I strongly urge local control is better – work with your local soil and water conservation district, your NRCS office, etc. They know much more about the soil types, the issues your county faces, etc. than the DNR.

This also means that we have a state agency, the DNR, taking control of private land, your land, without compensation, which violates private property rights. This is especially important. If landowners, not just farmers, can’t plan for the future, make decisions about their property or even appeal for their land, it affects your rights as a property owner. The DNR can and will say what you can or can’t do on your land, without reimbursement or any real reason why as the 50 foot buffer is an arbitrary number, not scientifically justified or studied.

Yes, everyone wants clean water, and honestly, probably farmers more than most because we make our living off of that water. We depend on it every single day for our livelihood. Our kids drink from the same wells on our property. We shower in it, we swim in it, we give our livestock it. But this isn’t about clean water. This isn’t even about pheasant habitat (sorry MN Pheasants Forever – your own website even says that buffer strips are not the best habitat for pheasants as it creates a smorgasbord for predators to come along and eat their nests!) At the end of the day, this is about property rights.

If you don’t understand the many different things farmers are currently doing to protect water, wildlife habitat and soil, please ASK! This is why things like precision agriculture and variable rate application are so important to farmers. This is why we tile, allowing soil to filter water and eliminating nutrient run-off and soil loss. This is why farmers install buffer strips or grass waterways on their land. This is why farmers put in terraces, not only to hold soil back, but to create spots for wildlife to nest and live from the pheasants to rabbits to fox. Farmers often plant cover crops to hold in soil and create a filter as snow melts in the winter. Farmers practice strip tillage or no tillage. They plant crops like hay and alfalfa in areas that might need a denser coverage. Often, the water management practices put in place take time to see results, sometimes over 50 years. Farmers are doing many different things every single day on their farms, but what works for one farm, might not work for another. This is why a “one size fits all 50 foot strip” is not the answer.

-Sara

2014 Crop Season Update

#plant14 has been interesting so far. Mother Nature and Gremlins seem to have been against us all spring so far!

We had multiple things go wrong. Everything from flat tires to oil leaks to wheel bearings going out on the roller to bent cylinders and wire harness issues. I won’t go into detail on those. You’d probably cringe. I’m convinced Gremlins have found their way to the farm.

Replacing shovels on the cultivator

Replacing shovels on the cultivator

We also had very wet fields. Everything would look dry and crusty on top, then a few inches down…BAM…mud. This makes it extremely difficult to plow or plant, and our tractors were getting stuck left and right. With wet muddy fields, we can’t create the seedbed we need to either for our seeds.

We got most of our fields planted, except there are parts that we didn’t plant within the field. We had to pull up at the risk of getting stuck. We still have 1 field to finish. That is it, just one.

The Cat

The Cat

Mother Nature decided to open up the skies the last few days. Some areas got 7 inches of rain while others only a 1/4. We had flash flood warnings for our county. I drove past fields yesterday with water standing covering 3 acres or more. My heart hurts for those farmers that now have to make a decision to replant or take a crop loss.

Needless to say, its has been a difficult and trying spring. We still have a few hay acres to plant and one field of soybeans. I’m hoping this week/weekend we will be finished.

Cultivating a field getting it ready to plant

Cultivating a field getting it ready to plant

My handsome husband filling up the fertilizer spreader

My handsome husband filling up the fertilizer spreader

This spring has been SLOW going!

This spring has been SLOW going!

I hope your spring might be going a little better than ours! We are still hanging in there though!

-Sara 

 

 

Pictures!

Here are some quick photos of our soybean fields. They were planted in early May. 

Can you spot the two deer in our fields? Another cool thing about agriculture is usually we provide habitat (and food apparently!) to a lot of wildlife as well!

We try to check on our fields on a weekly basis. Things we check for are plant health, size, bug damage, wildlife damage, quality of the ground, and more! 

Mark is heading out to check out the soybeans.

Bacon is growing fast! We always make sure he has plenty of fresh water and food. The pellets we feed him are full of nutrients and minerals he needs to make sure he is growing and healthy!