Making Hay
Week of September 12th, 2004 | The weather was warm and sunny.

Cow with young calf.

Cow with young calf.

Hello readers,

This week I've got a letter from Lindy, who lives on an organic farm in Nebraska. I'm busy back at school, but I'll write again at the end of the month.

Until next time,
James

Welcome one and all, to farm life and style. Come along with me as I tell you what we do and how we do it here on the farm. This is no regular farm, this is an organic farm.

First of all, being one of the older of us six children, I have more responsibility. A 7:00 wake up is usual, with a healthy breakfast following. After breakfast and bible study, we head outside. As I write this, our rye is ready to be harvested. Dad and the boys head out to the field. Two people usually trade combining shifts so everything stays moving. Besides that we also walk the ditches of the dirt roads that surround our land, and corners of irrigation systems, looking for knapweed, which if not controlled will be a terribly weedy problem. We walk with shovels and chop the roots, then pull the plant out.

I will now tell you about things we do at different times of the year. Spring is the time to work up the soil and plant the seed, corn and beans. Our large gardens are also planted with many things such as corn, beets, onions, squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, cabbage, etc. ... to name a few. The garden is a lot of work but well worth it in saving money, and the quality. There is nothing like organic home-raised veggies. We also harrow, which breaks up manure that is in piles left by the cattle.

Summer, the thing we do most is watch the clouds and listen to the weather. Just kidding! Although we do watch, because Nebraska can get awful dry especially on hot 90 to 100 degree days. Summer is spent fencing, which we do a lot of, because in order to be organic if your neighbors are not, you must put up a protective buffer on a stretch of land between the neighbor's fence and your field. We also cultivate, which consists of machinery hooked behind a tractor, which weeds our corn and bean fields. This needs to be done a lot, as the weeds grow fast. But just a minute, that's not all the weeding we do. We also walk the beans, and pull or chop weeds. Real fun, huh? Actually it is not that bad.

As I said before, the rye gets harvested, and the fields where it was gets disced, or moved around. Last, but a big job, is the haying process, which we do to feed our many animals. The process is cutting down the hay with mowers, raking the hay, baling it up, and then hauling it off.

Fall is harvesting time, and time to plant the rye for the following year. We also get the machinery ready and parked for the winter, and make sure all our hay is brought home.

Winter is the slowest of all the seasons for farming. It mainly is a routine of bedding and feeding the animals.

Now to the animals, which are my favorite part of the farm. Here is what we have: cattle, sheep, goats, horses, a dog, cats, rabbits, ducks, chickens, guineas, turkeys, fish (indoors) and a donkey. The baby calves are born in May, as well as the kittens, goats, sheep and all the birds. We do not have milk cows, only beef cows. The calves are either sold, saved for an addition to the herd, or raised for Organic Valley, which we are proud to be able to do. Our animals are all fed and raised organically, and the cattle are certified. The goats we do milk, which is one of my major projects. A good goat will give a gallon a day, while raising two nice kids.

I could probably write more, but will leave it at these key points. I hope you have enjoyed and learned a little more about organic farm life.

Sincerely,
Lindy

Farm Fact: Cows have muscular backs. Most cattle reach a height of about 5 feet. They weigh from 900 to 2,000 pounds. Bulls, male cows, can weigh 2,000 pounds or more. We have a bull that probably weighs about 2500 pounds. Adult cattle have 32 teeth- 8 in the front of the lower jaw and 12 each in the back of the upper and lower jaws. The horns of cattle are hollow and have no branches.

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