Making Hay
Week of May 26th, 2002 | The weather was still quite cool.

Just say no!

Just say no!

Hello everyone! The temperatures are still quite cool, but it is warming up. I hope it will be nice for Memorial Day so Dad and I can go fishing!

Sunday was a very special day for Jolene. It was her graduation. We were very proud of her. The high school gym was full at commencements. Jolene received a lot of awards and scholarships, including the Citizenship Award and was a summa cum laude graduate. She had a great day and was very happy!

Our John Deere 4020 tractor's nickname is 'Spooky'. The tractor is 32 years old. It has never been taken apart and Dad thinks that it is "spooky" to have it run so well that long. Monday, Spooky hauled about 1/3 of our beans to Le Roy, Minnesota! That was about a 56 mile round trip! Dad never ran a tractor that far before! This was last years bean crop. The combine dumped these beans in this wagon and we did not want to auger them into a truck because the auger can damage the seed. That is why we hauled them to the plant with the tractor. The cleaning plant where dad took these organic soybeans will clean some of them for our seed use and the rest is sold to an organic soybean processor. Thursday, Dad brought the cleaned bean seed for this year's bean crop back from this plant.

Tuesday night, Dad, Mom, and I went to a local hog confinement informational meeting at my school in New Hampton. This meeting was about factory farms. There were about a dozen speakers including Dad. They shared about the manure management, environment threats, health problems with the people who work in these factories and many more concerns. Senator Betty Soukup was the moderator for the meeting. A local neighborhood concerned citizens group was responsible for preparing the agenda and putting this meeting on. I give credit to Senator Soukup for her hard work with the legislature for all she has done with this "Hog War" issue. Unfortunately, confinements are still being built and the new farm bill will not be in effect until March of 2003. Tighter rules and regulations will have to be followed but it still does not eliminate the problem. Suggestions for the night included writing letters to the legislature asking for their support, vote for election candidates who will help the fight against hog confinements, and contact The Humane Society of the United States for literature and to become more informed about animal care. Two ladies addressed the audience about the health effects caused to their families because of hog confinements next door to their homes. It was sad to hear about the problems they have had to deal with. Research studies were shared on the land and air pollution caused from confinements and lagoon manure. It was a very interesting night. Over 300 people filled the room. Of course there was some opposition. I can't understand why some people think that building large confinement buildings to house animals in would be so great for the hog, poultry, or whatever. I can't believe there are people out there that actually think that it is great for the economy when they are trying to wipe away the small family farm operator. I'd much rather see many small attractive farmsteads than huge confinement sites out in the middle of fields. If they are so great, how come the owners don't live right next to the buildings? And, I can't believe that ears are deaf when research facts and studies have proven time after time that there are severe health problems caused to humans because of working or living near these location sites. I wonder what it will take or how long it will take before eyes and ears are opened up and changes will finally take place for the better of our land and people. But we must keep fighting for our rights.

Friday was my last day of school at St. Joseph Community School. I will be going to high school next year, so it was also my last day of being a student at St. Joes. I will miss the wonderful school and will remember the many memories.

I started out my summer vacation by helping Dad shell corn Saturday. Even though it rained a little Saturday morning, we still shelled corn because we are out of corn for hog feed. My job was watching the corncobs loading into wagons. When the cob wagons were full, Dad unloaded them in a hoop building he cleaned out earlier this week. Also, I watched the corn wagons. When the corn wagons were full, I hauled it home and unloaded the corn in the empty grain bin. Dad's friend, Mike, came over to help us. He did the same job as I. Whenever I had any spare time, I would crawl into the corncrib and help Dad rake corn into the conveyor. The conveyor would transport the corn ears into a machine that would separate the corn kernels, corncobs, and cornhusks. My favorite part of shelling corn is working inside the corncrib. My least favorite is cleaning up the corn lying on the ground after we're done with the shelling!

Farm Fact: Tuesday night's hog meeting was very interesting. Dad explained to the audience that when we spread a field of composted solid manure near our neighbor's house he worried that our neighbor's would be upset if there was a smell. The composted manure was 4-6 months old. We hauled 250 tons on a 22-acre field. When we were finished with the hauling the neighbor's said that they couldn't smell anything! If this were liquid manure, there would definitely be a different story told. Liquid manure causes many more problems than solid. You can walk on compost piles and not get hurt. You can fall in liquid manure pits and certainly get hurt or even die. Solid manure does not have run off like liquid and too much run off can cause water stream fish kills, soil nutrient destruction, and much more. Dad also shared some good alternatives with livestock raising.

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