Airplanes and Early Mornings

Not only do I put in the work on my family farm, but I also work for an aerial spraying company in the summer time when I am home from college.  Aerial spraying or often called crop dusting is when airplanes are used to spray herbicides and pesticides to protect and nourish crops from the heat, bugs, and other various issues.

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One of the spray planes used by Frenchman Valley Cooperative

On an average work day my mornings begin around 4:00am.  It is important for the process of aerial spraying to begin this early because this is the time where the sun begins to rise and it is also the calmest time of day normally with little to no wind at all.  Aerial spraying cannot be accomplished if the wind speed is over 10 mph on the ground because in the air the wind blows at a higher speed and if a pilot were to spray under these circumstances, the chemicals would not land where they were intended to causing many problems.  Check out this video on what an average spray plane looks like when the pilot is getting the job done!

I am not the person who flies the plane, however, I am in the process of getting my pilot’s license.  My job is to mix the proper amounts of chemicals together in order to load them onto the spray plane.  This can be a very dirty job as well as risky because of being exposed to the different types of herbicides and pesticides.  If I were to handle these incorrectly, it could result in someone getting injured or crops dying.  I also help in the office with billing and inventory.

A common problem that I run into working in this position is that sometimes I do not gain as much trust and respect from older farmers because I am a woman.  I hear a lot that this is a “man’s job” and that I should just stay in the office to do paperwork.  In all reality, I am the one who stands along with the boys pouring over 100 5lb. jugs of chemical a day and that truly adds up.  I am proud that my job can help me prove those doubting me wrong.

While this job includes my daily outfit consisting of a baseball cap, a t-shirt, and a pair of jeans and a lot of hard work is put in, I would not trade it for anything.

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An early morning after a nice rain.

 

 

 

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Why Can’t We Be Friends?

In today’s post I would like to talk about my housing experience this year.  How does this relate to agriculture and being the farmer’s daughter you ask?  I will get my point across fairly soon, I promise.

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Welcome to cow camp!

My house consists of seven people, three girls and four guys. Seven different people that all come from different places across the United States, have different college majors, different stories and even have quite different personalities.  (When writing this I could not get the song “Why Can’t We Be Friends” out of my head because of the topic.) However, with all the differences that we hold, we all hold that one commonality within us… which is nothing but agriculture.

Who knew agriculture could be the one thing that built our friendship the most?

From Colorado, to Montana, to Nebraska, agriculture has created a bond that will never cease or disappear.  We may all come from different areas of ag, but we use these differences to strengthen our knowledge on the various areas.  Livestock (cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, etc.), veterinarian science, rangeland, and crop science are all backgrounds that we were raised in and we never would have thought that they would gain us friendship in the long run.  Our house has even been nicknamed the “Cow Camp” because of our love for the industry.

I cannot express enough how much agriculture changes your life every single day.  Not only does the industry feed us, clothe us, and provide us various other resources, it also provides that commonality that people can use to unite together.  The advocacy for agriculture flows heavily for our household.  Most of our majors reflect our passions and beliefs which helps for the truth and facts to be distributed to our society clearly.  Our housing situation may not seem like that big of deal, but our passion for the field of agriculture has connected us for life.

More Than Just a Man on His Tractor

Harvest is a very exciting time for a farmer because you literally get to see all your hard work paying off.  The whole process can be some what lengthy and requires so much more than just a man on his tractor.  Check out this awesome video of a operation’s wheat harvest in Kansas!

I chose this video because around 1:47 it shows the whole entire family, young to old, out there in the wheat field with lunch boxes ready to go.  This is exactly how my siblings and I were raised.  This video also shows all the machinery and people that it takes for the harvest process to be accomplished.

To begin harvest, the combine first goes into the field and begins to cut the wheat.  The header of the combine (the thing that rotates on the front) grabs the stem and pulls the the berries or the grains off the head of the wheat stem.  The wheat berries are then flushed through into the large area called the grain bin while the rest of the crop is pushed out the back of the combine back onto the ground.

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Wheat Berries

After the combine cuts and stores the berries, a long pipe called an auger, comes out for the tractor and grain cart to come underneath to catch the grain.  The grain cart then can be moved to dump the grain into semi-truck trailers with an auger like the combine.

The trucks are taken most of the time to the nearest grain elevator to drop off the crop or are taken to grain bins to store.  The elevator is the place where many farmers sell their commodities depending on what the price is that day.

So, there you have it!  A general summarization of the wheat harvest process.  I would go more into detail, but I do not want to really confuse any of my non-ag readers.  Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have regarding the whole wheat harvest process!

Old Mc’Kinnie’ Had A Farm

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The quonset on the west side of our yard.

The home place is all where it all started.  In my post today, I am going to be showing you around my family farm.  Most family farms have the same basic set up, but I feel that no where is as special as where I grew up.

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My little sister, Katelin, wanted to do a little modeling.

Automatically the first thing that you are going to discover at Kinnie Farms is the giant sunflower that greets drivers as they go by on the highway.  My family decided to build this flower statue in 1993.  Sunflowers used to be our main crop and my grandpa thought that we needed our own spin on a family tree.  Each leaf on the flower has our family member’s names just as branches on a family tree would.  This forever marked our house as the “Sunflower House.”

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A look when you drive into our yard.

What is a farm without tractors?  I got the chance to take pictures at a good part of the year because this is when things are just beginning to get started.  My dad had several of our tractors out of the shed preparing them for the current season.

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On the far left bin, you can see the “North Star” that my dad built to light up around the Christmas season.

Among the largest on our farm are all the grain bins.  There are eight in total not including the small ones on the right that you see in this picture.  Our grain bins cut costs that you have to pay to the grain elevator for storage.  Each bin is currently filled with millet and wheat crop and the little two are holding our seed for the next planting time.

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And finally, nothing would be the same without all the things in and between that show all the history of our home place.  Things as simple as this make me so thankful for what our family farm has become throughout the years.

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So, if anyone ever finds themselves cruising down highway 385 in Colorado and see the big sunflower, feel free to stop by and say hello! 🙂

 

 

Disclaimer: No Cows Were Harmed in the Making of This Post

Since I started my blogging adventure this semester I have discovered a few different blogs written by women in agriculture.  I really enjoy reading what they have to say because most times I can really relate and they are preaching to the choir!  Along with genetically modified organisms in farming that I talked about last week, ranchers are constantly getting also getting accused of treating their animals poorly.

I gathered all my inspiration for this post from a fellow ag woman’s recent blog post on animal welfare on their dairy farm.  “The Farmer’s Wifee” discusses in her post that it has become so hard to be in the industry today because there is no day that you are not being judged for things that are not true because uneducated people write articles that the rest of the world begins to believe.

In my post today I will be talking about a few ideas that I am familiar with that are often misinterpreted as well as a couple that The Farmer’s Wifee brought up in her initial post.

So don’t you worry, no cows were harmed in the making of this post…

Misunderstanding #1: Cows are raised in unsanitary conditions. 

Cattle come into this world with the natural instinct to survive in different climates.  In our world today, there is no way that each and every cow would be able to reside in doors 24/7.  If farmers and ranchers chose this technique, bacterial diseases and infections would increase dramatically because of the shut-in environment. Cattle today are treated better than 50% of the worlds population.

Misunderstanding #2: Cattle are “raped” by ranchers. 

This is one of the most gruesome misconceptions that I have seen through my research.  Many ranches use the technique of artificial insemination (AI).  This technique is used in order to breed a cow, in a more cost efficient way, to an industry leading bull that would be, by other means, out of there price range. When a cow is artificially inseminated, she is in heat which tells the rancher that she is ready to carry another pregnancy. The cow is placed in “Dark Box” to help keep her as calm as possible and then is inseminated. This practice is completed by putting as little stress on the cow as possible so no rape actually occurs.

Misunderstanding #3:  Hormones used are harmful to consumers.

Just like GMOs in farming, the cattle industry has also been criticized for the use of hormones in beef.  Throughout all the studies, there is still no direct connections to anyone dying from the hormones. And not only are there any deaths ever recorded from hormones, but meat coming from cattle that had been treated with hormones show no increased level of hormones meaning that meat coming from these animals have the same amount of hormone levels of non hormone treated meat.  So I’ll take mine BEEF.

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Ultimately it is up to you on what you believe but coming from an agriculture background I can rest comfortably knowing that those nasty rumors you read online are not always true.  Farmers and ranchers take great pride in their livestock and truly love them.  The process is not always easy however, cattle are never taken for granted.

 

 

“That’s Why I Farm”

As I mentioned in a previous post, farming and ranching is not always easy.  So why do they do it?  Why do all the hardships make it worth it?

Farmers and ranchers face many obstacles daily that are totally out of their hands.  Drought, disease, high or low markets depending on the situation, and many other things can really take a toll on a person’s business and life.

I asked my grandpa who has been exposed to agriculture his entire 75 years this exact question that you may be wondering about.  A small grin came upon his face and he replied to me,

“I do it for my family, my faith, and my country.  Family farms and ranches are the backbone of America and without them there is no way that everyone in our country would be even close to being fed.  The lifestyle has become accustomed to me and I couldn’t ever imagine it another way.”

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My father and my grandfather on our family farm.

I had no idea that those three things were going to be his answers.  Agriculture truly turns work into a simple lifestyle that helps a person realize what really is important.  It is certainly not for the money or for the recognition.  Most do it because they could not imagine doing anything differently.  The industry is basically a giant every day gamble that holds both successes as well as hardships.  The blood, sweat, and tears only make the passion for the industry stronger.

I also took it upon myself to ask myself the same exact question, “Why does my passion for an unpredictable industry remain so strong?”  Immediately I thought of the song “Why I Farm” by the Henningsens.  The includes the phrases,

“Why I farm is in my blood, like the sunlight is on my skin

Is who I meant to be, is who I’ve always been

Is more than just a living, it’s my way of life

And it grows like seed inside my heart

That’s why I farm”

I believe that anyone who has any relation to someone in agriculture can agree that this song identifies the lifestyle perfectly.  I keep myself involved in agriculture to produce for the world, to create a positive influence for my younger siblings, and also just because it is my safe haven.

Genetically Modified… What?

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Imagine a world with no technology at all.  No cellphones, no computers or iPads.  It may seem very hard to imagine for younger generations today without all of these helpful things.  Most see technology today as a necessity and simply could never live without it.  Technology has made it possible for many different processes to speed up drastically and work more efficiently.  Before modern farming technology, the world was forced to grow their food individually which required very strenuous labor and time.

Today, modern farming technology has changed the world.  Chemicals, fertilizers, and farming equipment have made it possible for food production to increase at a breathtaking rate.

So are genetically modified crops worth it or should the world switch to organic? 

Truly, everyone benefits greatly from GMO use, if they like it or not.  Genetically modified organisms are the future of crop production and feeding the world.  Many may disagree, but GMOs are extremely effective in farming.

Genetically modified organisms, better known as GMOs, are becoming a hot topic not only in the farming and ranching industry but also in everyday news.

And let’s face it farmers and ranchers are catching a lot of flak for it.

In today’s society, many are leaning towards the healthy, fit life style which includes only eating “organic” foods.  At many grocery stores it is common to see advertising posted featuring the sales of organic fruits, vegetables, and meats.  The prices of organic produce are beginning to outweigh the price of just your normal produce by “20 to as high as 100%.”  Consumers are now starting to question if the prices of these foods are worth the money and why they are so much more expensive when they are supposed to be better for you.

What is the big deal?

Many Americans do not even really understand the true meaning of what GMOs are or what requirements are held by farmers to be considered organic.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “The use of genetic engineering, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients.”  Therefore, producers have to spend thousands of more dollars in order for their foods to be under the organic category.  Many farmers admit to switching back to conventional farming because of the high costs that organic requires.

Without the use of GMOs, those in agriculture would truly have troubles feeding every mouth in the world.  It has become concerning that those who think they are purchasing GMO free foods are being fooled.  For many years GMOs have been used in order for production to be more efficient and to limit diseases.  These modifications are now embedded into the genes of the seeds and can never be eliminated.

As a farmer’s daughter, I hope that one day the public will understand what they’re purchasing is way more than just a sticker on a fruit or vegetable.

 

Sources:

Glossary of Agricultural Biotechnology Terms. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2017, from https://www.usda.gov/topics/biotechnology/biotechnology-glossary

Martin, A., & Severson, K. (2008, April 17). Sticker Shock in the Organic Aisles. Retrieved March 31, 2017, from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/18/business/18organic.html