Making Hay
Week of July 13th, 2003 | The weather was sunny or rainy.

Speaking at groundbreaking ceremony.

Speaking at groundbreaking ceremony.

What a busy week!! I started the week out by participating in the fair. Meanwhile, I helped Dad put up a new bulk bin for more feed storage.

I was judged on my non-livestock entries at the Chickasaw County 4-H and FFA Achievement Show on Monday. I took two varieties of barley, hay, and corn for field crops. I received a blue ribbon for each crop (highest ribbon given). I was very close in points for winning champion field crop exhibitor. A friend of mine out of my 4-H club won. In the other areas, I received two red ribbons and five blue ribbons. I received a state fair ribbon for my booklet on Tractor Maintenance. I was very surprised that this project went on to state fair! The Iowa State Fair will be held August 7th-17th in Des Moines. Noel, my cat, was judged on Tuesday. He received a blue ribbon. Wednesday night was Carnival Night and a Barbecue Supper. I joined the County Council and was recognized with other new and old members of the council during the evening's program.

Since we shipped half of the last year's soybean crop this past week, I'll share with you about the life of our soybeans.

We plant our soybeans in the spring on our farm. We work up the ground to prepare the soil and help maintain weed control. We use the rotary hoe and the cultivator while the soybeans are growing. In the fall, the soybeans ripen and we harvest the crop. The soybeans are transported from the fields to storage area- grain bin. We sell our soybeans to a grain company that has a processing plant in Hope, Minnesota. At this plant, the soybeans are separated in a cleaning machine. The big bean seeds are removed from the small, broken, discolored beans. The big beans go to a plant in Alexandria, Minnesota. Here, the beans are cleaned again and they are made into tofu. The tofu is sold to grocery stores. Meanwhile, the small and broken beans are transported to another soybean plant in Riceville, Iowa. The beans are cleaned and then they are crushed into soybean meal for livestock feed. The crushing process also produces soybean oil. This is sold to food processors. We are buyers of the organic soybean meal.

On Saturday, Dad and I went up to the Organic Valley headquarters in LaFarge, Wisconsin. We helped celebrate Kickapoo Getaway. Dad went on a farm tour at two Organic Valley farms. Their group viewed organic pork, beef, and chickens at one farm. The other farm stop was an organic dairy operation. He told me it was really fun and educational! Meanwhile, I went on a different farm tour for youth. This tour was at another Organic Valley farm. Here, I viewed how the farmer milks his dairy cows. Then, I looked at the chicken operation. They had MANY chickens! I helped collect eggs for the farmer! Then, the farmer opened a door to let the chickens roam outside for a while. That was interesting! There was a puddle of water in front of the door and it was funny watching the chickens fly over it! Then, I saw a bee operation on the farm. The farmer's brother-in-law takes care of the many bees and makes honey. His wife is in the candle business. The bee farmer cut some fresh honeycomb and handed it to us. I ate the honey- it was SSSOOOOO GOOD!!!! I really liked the fresh honey! It was very interesting even though I don't like bees!

Then, we went to a park along the Mississippi River to eat lunch. The lunch was organic food. It was very good! After we got back from the farm tour, the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Organic Valley headquarters started. As a future generation organic farmer, I spoke at this historical event. I spoke about changing our farm operation from conventional to organic and how Organic Valley is a well-organized team. I also spoke about the cause - more farmers and employees and more demand for healthy food. I was happy when I finished my speech! Then, a three-generation family broke the ground. After the picture-perfect day, Dad and I ate a wonderful organic dinner with some other farmers that we know well. After dinner, they had a dance. It was a good band. Dad and I left about 11:00 that night to head back to our motel we stayed at in Viroqua, Wisconsin. Sunday, July 13th, Dad and I had a great breakfast and went canoeing with others down the Kickapoo River. I think everyone that attended would agree, it was a GREAT weekend! Too bad mom had to work, she would have enjoyed it.

Farm Fact: The Chaseburg Organic Valley Creamery makes two million pounds of butter in a year's time. Each week, they have a quantity of waste butter. This butter fell on the floor, has too much air in it, or is rejected for some reason. Instead of throwing this waste butter in the landfill, the pork pool producers use it. We feed it to our sows! They really like it; in fact they fight over the butter! The butter is good for them, (good nutrition) and it improves the quality of the pigs.

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