Making Hay
Week of March 16th, 2003 | The weather was muddy and sloppy.

Our new grain truck.

Our new grain truck.

Hello to all! The weather really warmed up this week. The snow melted and now it is muddy and sloppy out.

Monday, Dad cleaned hog floors and hauled the manure to a compost pile. Before fieldwork starts, we will spread the compost in the fields for fertilizer. Also on that day, Sammy found a bone to chew on. She wanted to bury the bone in a big pile of waste twine from feeding the cows hay. Instead of burying the bone, she got stuck in the twine! Sammy was wrapped up so much that she pouted at Dad until he got her out. Dad said it was very cute!

Remember last week, I shared in the journal about Dad shopping around and purchasing a grain truck? On Tuesday, Mom and Dad went to Decorah to pick it up. While Mom and Dad were eating lunch first at a restaurant, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack walked in! Mom and Dad were shocked. After they were done eating, they went over to Governor Vilsack and had a conversation with him about organic farming and Organic Valley. Governor Vilsack was really interested about organic foods and how we farm. One of his aides traveling with him took Dad's business card. After school on Tuesday, Dad gave me a ride in the grain truck. It is really big and fun to ride in! In the picture above, you can see Dad and Sammy in front of the truck. We need this truck to haul grain and organic feed byproducts. Often the byproducts are picked up from a plant and they have to be stored for a few days until they are hauled to another plant. We have avoided owning a grain truck but our business demands changed that.

Wednesday, Dad went to an Iowa State University Research Farm Annual Meeting in Nashua. They shared the annual report of activities done throughout the year at the site. Four years ago the research station hired a new farm manager to replace the manager who retired. The organic plots have performed well with the new manager. In the report, there are a few pages showing the difference of organic farming and conventional farming crop yields. The organic corn yields for year 2000 was 164.5 bushels per acre, 2001 was 156 bushels per acre and 2002 was an outstanding 183 bushels per acre! For the past three years, our organic corn yield average was 135 bushels per acre. The research station experienced good soybean yields as well.

Thursday was Dad's 51st birthday! Dad received a new palm grip sander for the shop. He also received a jacket. Dad took the grain truck to a welding shop near New Hampton. We had a hitch welded on the back end so we can pull wagons behind the truck.

Dad was an invited guest speaker at a meeting later that day about 35 miles from home. He was asked to talk about the future of organic farming. The area Extension Service sponsored the public meeting. Thursday night, Mom and Dad went to the Parade of Bands Concert at the New Hampton High School. This concert included the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth, and the high school grade bands. I played my trombone in the high school band. The three songs we played were fun and the audience liked it.

Friday, Dad delivered corn and soybean by products to St. Ansgar Mills to be tested and processed. Friday night I had an FFA meeting. After the meeting I went to a school dance. It was good.

Saturday, Dad and I implanted identification chips in 18 sows. This helps keep records organized and we know more about the sows. We also cleaned more hog floors and hauled the manure to a compost pile. Keeping the hog floors clean helps keep the hogs clean, too!

Farm Fact: The Iowa State University Research station in Nashua secured the advice of organic farmers when they changed the management practices on their organic plots. They use a corn- soybean-small grain- alfalfa rotation and they add cattle manure before the corn. This is similar to the rotation that we use. Their small grains (oats) yielded 152 bushels per acre in 2002.

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