Making Hay
Week of March 21st, 2004 | The weather was warmer. Welcome Spring!.

A new look for one of our grain trailers.

A new look for one of our grain trailers.

Hello! Welcome Spring! We have a lot of mud in our yard since the temperature rose. I hope it keeps warming up so everything dries up in the yard and the grass starts to turn green. On Saturday, Dad, my friend Ben, and I worked on one of our grain trailers. We raised the sides so it can hold more material for the feed business. We also installed a new tarp as the old one was getting weathered.This week I heard from Samantha and Natasha, two sisters who live on an organic dairy farm in Maine. I'll share their letters with you:

Dear James,
My name is Samantha and I live on an Organic Dairy farm in Turner, Maine. I go to Turner Elementary School. My school contains 4th through 6th graders. Every day before I go to school I do my chores. First I do this side of the road, I do the horses and llamas and alpacas. I bring a wagon of water to them, I throw in 3 bales of hay and give them grain. I also do the chickens which is pretty easy. I pick eggs and give them water and check their grain.

Then, I do the other side of the road, which contains doing water, grain, and hay to the sheep, goats and three baby llamas we have up stairs. James do you do any chores before you go to school? What is your favorite animal?

My favorite animal is horse but I also like goats, I have my own goats' named Crystal and Little Devil. Little Devil is a shorthaired Toggenburg and Crystal is a longhaired Angora cross. James do you have any pets that you named, and if so what are their names? My favorite thing to do is to go ride my horses or hang out with my 20 barn cats and kittens, which will take too long to tell you all their names. My three house cats are named RJ, Tiger and Shoeba and they are all long hair coon cats except for Tiger which is a short hair. My horse is named Lizzy, she is a Quarter and Tennessee Walker.

My parents' names are Gregg and Gloria. My dad basically runs the cows in the barn and my mom works a lot in her store she owns and in the garden in the summer. Most of the milk goes to CROPP Co-op [Organic Valley]. I help my mom by cooking the awesome bread she makes and her cheese and butter and more. James, did you ever wish that you did not live on a farm? I haven't; I think it is really cool to live on a farm and even if it is a lot of work, we always find ways to have fun.

James, I hear you raise pigs. How many do you have at the moment? I will write back again next month some time.

Sincerely,Samantha

I do not do any chores before or after school unless if I own the livestock. For instance, last fall, I fed and cared for a group of pigs for a FFA project. These fat hogs have been sold, since then, to Organic Valley. Sometimes I help with the chores but most of the time I am involved with before and after school activities. During the summer, I help with the chores regularly. When Dad is out of town at meetings or if Mom and Dad are gone for a weekend or for the day, then I do the chores. When my whole family is gone, then we hire a neighbor to do our chores.

My favorite animal would be a dog. My dog, Sammy, is an English Border Collie. She is fun to play with. Sammy enjoys doing chores with us. I have another pet, our family house cat, Noel. He is a half Himalayan and half Persian. Noel likes to sleep most of the day, but also enjoys eating! I enjoy living on a farm. I like to be outside whether the temperature is warm or cold. I enjoy the fresh air and the wide-open space. Currently, my family owns about 120 sows, about 1000 market hogs per year, about 60 mother beef cows, and 6 chickens. We also do our marketing with CROPP Co-op [Organic Valley]. Thanks for writing, Samantha!

Dear James,
My name is Natasha. I am Samantha's older sister and along with our two younger brothers Roy and Everett and one younger sister Mackenzie all live on an organic dairy farm in Turner, ME.

Every morning, like Samantha, I wake up around 5:30 and get most of my chores done before I go to school. My horse's name is Washita (Morgan Quarterhorse cross) is about 20 years old and looks like a 10 year old. Other than the horses, I help feed the goats, sheep, chickens, pigs, rabbits, cats and dogs. Sometimes in the evening or on weekends, Sam and I have to help Dad milk cows and feed calves. That is maybe once a week. We also help my mom in the store with the cash register by ringing people up and helping them take some of their groceries out to the car.

At night for chores, I help my sister Sam up in the barn by haying, graining, and watering the animals. The sheep have just started having babies, so far we have three.

I am a seventh grader and just finished cross country skiing; my coach says that Sam and I are naturals because of all the hard work we do on the farm and the good food that we have available to us. We placed second in the state this year.

What is it like farming in your state? What type of things or events do you have to do on your farm?

Sincerely, Natasha

Northeast Iowa has lots of trees, rolling hills, diverse crops, and many nice neighbors to work with everyday. The soil is really good, producing healthy food for consumers. We have many things to do on our farm. We not only care for our livestock, but also produce a good harvest of corn, soybeans, barley, hay, and pasture for our livestock. I enjoy doing fieldwork, especially harvesting ear corn. There's always something to do on the farm. When fieldwork or livestock work is done, we fix and repair, clean, grind feed, haul manure, etc. You can always stay busy living on a farm. There's still time for fun and horsin' around. I like playing in the grass with my dog, Sammy. Dad and I enjoy building things in the shop. I like to ride my bike and sometimes just go for a walk out into the fields. My family likes to relax in the back yard and even enjoy having social events on our farm including bonfire parties. We have had many farm tours over the years, with individuals traveling from across the world visiting us. Most of these tours were sponsored through Practical Farmers of Iowa, in which Dad and Mom have been members of for a longtime. We have met many great people and have made some wonderful friendships with our visitors to our farm. Thanks for writing, Natasha.

I think it is great that young kids like Rachel, Samantha, Natasha, and myself are given the opportunity to experience first hand and learn from our parents how to appreciate land and animals. We are the next generation that can make a difference in agriculture.

Farm Fact: Farmers may be rewarded for being good shepherds to land and animals. In 2000, my Dad received an award from the Humane Society of the United States for his humane treatment of farm animals. Exactly one year later, I was awarded the same plaque, but for my contribution in promoting an ethic of humane and sustainable agriculture through "James' Journal."

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