Sunday, September 25, 2016

Natural Food Products Expo East

I went to Baltimore's Natural Food Products Expo East as a rep for U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.  Staff member Allison Garriga and fellow rep Jay Hill went, too.

First, there were the sessions we attended, like 'Vitamins and Supplements: Going Non-GMO', 'The Organic Center Presents: Combating Antibiotic Resistance', and 'The Plant-Based Foods Revolution: Sowing Seeds for Climate Friendly Eating.'  In one, a panelist described conventional farms as 'concentration camps.'  During the question and answer session, I said that I was a dairy farmer, and I knew a lot of farmers, and I didn't think it was fair to call farms concentration camps - because we're all trying to do our best for our animals and our farms.  I then asked if they gave any advice to farmers who weren't organic farmers.  He apologized for using the term, and said that in this conference he figured he was 'preaching to the choir'.

Next, there was the supplement trade show.

To be completely fair, I feel good mostly all of the time.  (If I didn't, I'm sure I'd feel differently and would do and take anything in order to make myself feel good.)  So that's what the supplement part of the trade show promised.  Magic pills to cure every ill.  One booth was even set up like an old drug store.  You'll be healthier!  Stronger!  Better hair, skin, life!  I left the area and told my friend, "We're all going to die! Where's the ice cream?"

I found it in the last section, the food trade show part.

Here, there were many kinds of wonderful ice cream (I had to sample them all to be fair), beef jerky, fermented drinks, vegetable noodles, dates, some things that didn't look super appetizing ...

But the product that most got my attention was the bacterial spray.

I know what you're thinking.  Everyone knows about anti-bacterial spray!  No.  This is BACTERIAL spray, as in, you spray bacteria on you.  It's Mother Dirt, and their site says it is for "replacing essential bacteria lost by modern hygiene and lifestyles."

The farming lifestyle gives you tons of opportunities to pick up lots of bacteria!  I feel like we're all set with manure and dirt.  I'd say we have enough to go around.

Just in case, though, I brought my products home.  There's shampoo!  Lotion!  Cleanser!  If ever I feel too clean, I'll spray some on.  In the meantime though, the bacteria at the barn is calling me.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Thank you to our neighbors, the best around!

I posted this on Facebook, but I also wanted to share it on here ...

Once again, our neighbors went above and beyond! Brett Feldpausch saw we had a flat on our wagon and were having a tough time with it - on an angle, soft ground, full of corn - so he and Glen came with their giant loader and spent an hour helping us fix it!  Fergusons produced traffic cones and traffic barrels to make it safer for everyone!  My dad took this picture while they were waiting for the loader. Thanks so much to the Feldpauschs and everyone for all of your help!  So, so kind of you.

The day before, Rex Ferguson also stopped - on his way to haul loads for us - to help mom and me with a fence and a heifer that had accidentally gotten into the wrong field.  

We are just so grateful for all of our neighbors and friends that are looking out for us and always ready to lend a helping hand.  Milk toast to everyone!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Agri-Fit Challenge - year three

The Agri-Fit Challenge is my favorite race.  I look forward to it all year.  It's also the hardest race I've ever done - harder than my marathon or triathlons - and this year was the hardest of all!

It's a 5K interspersed with farming-based challenges.  The obstacles change every year.  Though I don't have many pictures due to rain and distance, this year we had to:

- Climb over round bales
I learned from the first year that I have to wedge my foot in between the bales.

- Run through a mucky pond
I actually fell and so I crawled through part of it.

- Mud run and crawl under ropes
I hit an electric fence with my spine last week.  Good practice.

- Carry a 50-lb bag of soybean seed around cones.
I started on my shoulder and moved it to my hip - like carrying a big kid!

- Pull a tire over and back a painted line
This made me laugh, because last night the boys and I were trying to move a big tire and couldn't ... but if it had a rope attached to it like here?  Better.

- Run up a steep muddy hill
- Climb up and down a wall with boards nailed to it
- Run through drain pipes
- Run over small square bales
- Scale some black, wet crates
- Climb up, through, and down a grain truck filled with sugar beets
I slipped and a volunteer yelled 'DON'T FALL OUT!' I think I scared him.  Also, I would have probably fallen on him.

- Jump over a fire
You could go around, but ... seemed more fun to jump over it.

- Slip on the slip and slide right before the finish!

The run through the narrow path in the woods is actually what makes it the hardest.  This year it was super slippery, and it's so incredibly twisty that I am always afraid that I've gone off the path and will just be running for miles.  You're usually alone, and that intensifies the feeling!

And what made this year even more fun was ... they had a kids race!  My boys have loved watching me in this race in past years and were so excited to do it.  They had a shorter run, but did a lot of the same obstacles - climbing round bales, tires, drain pipes, steep muddy hill, grain truck, fire, slip and slide ... it was SO fun watching them and they loved it!  Since they do live on a farm, there were also a lot of activities that are very familiar to them.

Like Ty yesterday on the farm ...

and Ty today:

And a normal day:

And at the race:

We all had chocolate milk afterward.  (Big surprise.  It's my favorite post-race drink and I'm sad when any race doesn't have it, so I just go home and drink my own.  This race was stocked!  Thanks, Cathy McCune!)

My parents came to cheer us on in the rain - and thanks to them for the pictures.  Kris had planned long ago to go to the MSU vs. Notre Dame game - so he was having a blast, too!

Thank you so much to Gratiot Area Chamber of Commerce and all of the volunteers and organizers for the most fun, hardest, and farmer-friendly race around!  See you next year!  We'll be in daily training ...

Home game
Away game



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Friday, September 16, 2016

Video from Smithsonian is up!

Remember in the beginning of August when my mom Cherie Anderson and I went to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History to be part of their 'Ask a Farmer' panel?  The one called Family Farms, Family History?  Yes, that one!

They just put up the video from the panel, so you too can feel like you were there.  It's right here: on Ask a Farmer.

Note - the question from the student that we all loved ... "Um, are other farmers allowed to go to other farmers' farms?"  (There are lots of other ones, plus meaningful conversation - but we all laughed about that one later - so funny.)

It was fun to relive, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Meanwhile on the farm ... chopping corn!  Kris and the guys - including our neighbor Rex and my dad - are hauling wagons and chopping the fields.  We've been doing it half of this week, we'll do it all next week, and into the next.  Giant piles of corn, coming up!

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Monday, September 12, 2016


It's September ...

- After a tough harvest, we got the alfalfa done!  Now onto corn harvest - starting this week!  We have to change the head on the chopper, get it inspected, and get everyone lined up to drive.  Corn harvest is easier than alfalfa.  There's no waiting on it to dry and hoping it doesn't rain ... you just go for it - start and don't stop until you're done!

- Yesterday the hydraulics didn't work on the wheel loader and the skid steer got a flat.  Two machines in one day!  They're both fixed now.

- Something happened here that was a first since we've been here.  A cow had a healthy heifer calf.  The next day, she delivered ANOTHER healthy heifer calf!  Twins aren't uncommon ... but twins one day apart? 

- Since the high schoolers and college students are back in school, the boys and I have been regulars helping Kris with calf chores.  It's amazing how much faster it is to do it when it's five of us instead of one.  It's also fun that when we're all doing it together it doesn't seem like 'chores.'  

- This isn't a romantic picture of farming, but it does show what it's really like sometimes.  Our cows usually give birth unassisted, but this calf was backward.  It's 10:30 p.m. right now and Kris is at the barn assisting in a cow that's having trouble post-birth.  Not every birth is perfect, as much as we want it to be.

- Kris and I are the fourth grade farmers at Gateway Elementary again!  They just sent me letters with their questions, and here are a few ... for the first, I liked the 'job-life':

Like this student's favorite part of a farm is horses,(which we don't have), many people who come really like the cats! (We aim to please.)

And a poet, who would be sad when she ate our field corn instead of sweet corn, but it doesn't matter for artistry's sake:

Bravo!  Here's to corn and harvest this week!

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Giant slugs?

Ever see these big slugs? We are putting our chopped up alfalfa in these bags. This way, we can store more feed when we don't have available cement. We still call it 'silage' because of using silos back in the day! 

Alfalfa is also called 'hay' and this is our fourth cutting this year.  This has been a kind of tough cutting because the weather didn't cooperate - at one point when it was cut it rained ONLY ON ONE FIELD and not anywhere else around - not even at our barns or house. 

We also don't have as many people to drive tractors as usual because my dad and some neighbors were gone or busy.  Kris and I were brainstorming people to call the other night and came up with some really good people!  (Thanks, guys.)    

For a quick rundown, this is what happens. For more detail, see my post here. We cut the alfalfa.  We rake and then merge the rows of the cut hay.  It has to be exactly the right moisture to chop, because you want the best feed and fermentation and quality.  We then chop it, which requires the other drivers, because you have to shoot it into wagons.  The wagons drop off the feed at the farm, and someone either needs to compress it into a pile, or as we're doing this time - load it with a tractor into the bagger.

The bagger unfurls the bag over the feed.  

This cutting was also complicated by the fact that the first Michigan State University football game is tomorrow, and ... well, one year their marketing was 'THE SEVEN BEST SATURDAYS OF THE YEAR' and Kris subscribes to that fully.  He loves MSU football Saturdays.  Not enough to compromise the quality of the feed though ... since that compromises what the cattle eat, which has an effect on how much milk they give, which affects everything.  So!  They have been chopping for two days, late into the night, along with of course doing everything else that needs to be done on a dairy farm.

So when you see those slugs, yell ... GO GREEN!  

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