The Blomme'n Coop

Our Farm = Your Food

Month: February 2017 (page 1 of 2)

Calving Update

If you watched the video I posted last week of the calf being born (Labor & delivery . . . on the farm),  you might be curious to know how that calf is doing by now.  She is now at one of our other farms with the rest of the cow/calf pairs and is doing really well.

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The calf that was born last week in the video from Labor & delivery . . . on the farm with her mama in the background watching on.

Daddy had his supervisors with him tonight to make sure he was on top of things.

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I want to keep it real and show the good along with the bad.  The mama in the photo below is not doing so well tonight.  She’s having a hard time recovering from labor and is not standing very well.  Because she’s not standing well, her calf is not able to nurse as often as he needs to.  So, we’ll need to keep a very close eye on this pair in the next 24 hours.  If the calf is not getting enough milk, we will need to bottle feed him and then try to rehab the heifer back to full strength.

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This mama is having a hard time recovering from labor and is getting a much needed drink of water here.

Farmers Are Rich

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People often see the high dollar equipment that farmers have, the number of acres they farm, the size of their sheds or grain bin systems and think they must be rich.  It’s understandable that you would think that.  After all, none of us can fully know something if we’re not involved with it or experienced with it.  I’m not mad at you for thinking that.  But, there is a large disconnect between perception and reality here.

Sure, some farmers are rich.  But a lot of farmers are asset rich and cash poor.  Yes, they drive equipment that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars because it is a necessity in order to farm today.  And a few years back, the corn and soybean markets were pretty darn good to farmers.  But prices like that happen maybe once in a farmer’s career . . . if they’re lucky.  We are currently in a very difficult market place where margins are extremely tight.  I don’t say this seeking sympathy by any means.  I say this simply to give perspective.

Farmers are rich, indeed.  But I’m not talking about the Benjamins.  I’m referring to the second definition of rich:  plentiful; abundant.  Trust me, there are far easier ways to make a living than farming.  Farmers don’t do it all for the money.  They do it because it runs so deeply in their blood and there is no flushing it out.

img_1690Farmers are rich in heritage.  The average farm has been passed down for generations.  If you pay close attention, you can often see a “Century Farm” sign in the yard signifying that the farm has been in the family for over one hundred years.  Farming is a family business.  Through thick and thin, farming families know how to stick together and survive.  Family bonding time might take place in a barn, in a field or on the tailgate of a pickup truck but at least they are together.  The memories made on a farm last a lifetime and are cherished by all whether they continue to farm or not.

Farmers are rich in pride.  They take great pride in leaving the farm in better shape than when they found it.  There is tremendous pride in taking care of the land, livestock and facilities so that it remains a sustainable business.  Every farmer wants to leave a legacy to the generations to come; one that they will also be proud of.

Farmers are rich in stress.  Being responsible for carrying on a business that has been able to make it for generations brings with it tremendous stress and pressure.  Two of the largest determinants of a farmer’s success are completely out of their control; Mother Nature and commodity prices.

Farmers are rich in knowledge.  Today’s farmer has to be knowledgeable in so many different areas.  They have to play the roles of an agronomist, human resources manager, accountant, veterinarian, mechanic, data analyst, marketer, janitor . . . you name it.  A farmer’s knowledge does not come from a classroom.  It comes from living and learning over a lifetime of experiences.  There is no passing grade; you either make it or you don’t.

Farmers are rich in optimism.  To be a farmer, you almost have to be an eternal optimist (although I know a few who have a funny way of showing it :).  You have to plan for a successful crop regardless of how bad commodity prices are, how bad the weather forecast looks or how much work there is to be done.  And no matter how hard the times can be or how hard the work ahead is, there is still nothing else they would rather be doing.

Yes, farmers are definitely rich.  The farming lifestyle is plentiful and abundant in ways that money can’t buy.  And our lives are richer because of the work of farmers everywhere.

 

Labor & delivery . . . on the farm

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Today was a great day on the Blomme farm.  It was over 70 degrees . . . in February . . . in Iowa.  We successfully pulled a healthy calf and even caught it on video to boot.

Here is some footage of my father-in-law and husband pulling the calf from this heifer (first time mom).  Heifers need a little extra attention and monitoring versus a more seasoned cow who has been through this process a few times.  This particular heifer had been laboring for quite a while and needed some help to get the job done.  This was definitely a happy ending!

The next video is showing the heifer’s first look at her calf once we let her out of the head gate.  She took to the calf right away and started cleaning it up which is always a great sign.  It looks like she is going to be a good mother.



Here’s hoping for more warm, sunny days and healthy baby calves!  Thanks for watching.

Presidents’ Day

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In honor of Presidents’ Day, here are some quotes from past presidents about agriculture that are still so relevant today.  God bless the USA and the farmers that provide for us all.

“You know, I’ve always thought that when we Americans get up in the morning, when we see bacon, eggs, toast, and milk on our breakfast table, we should give thanks that our farmers are survivors. You are the real miracle workers of the modern world—keepers of an incredible system based on faith, freedom, hard work, productivity, and profit—a system that feeds us and sustains millions of the world’s hungry.” – President Ronald Reagan Radio Address to the Nation on Agriculture and Grain Exports October 15, 1982

“Our farmers deserve praise, not condemnation; and their efficiency should be cause for gratitude, not something for which they are penalized.” – President John F. Kennedy

“I know of no pursuit in life in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman’s care.” – President George Washington

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Not-so-shocking



This video is from our hog confinement barn tonight.  I think you’ll find this footage quite . . . well . . . boring.

Nothing like the image that some individuals and organizations portray or want you to believe of hog confinement barns.  This video does not show any pigs being beaten.  No one is getting zapped, slapped, kicked or prodded.  There are no malnourished or stressed out pigs.  No bloody or wounded pigs being chewed on.  Just a pretty calm Friday night with healthy, well cared for pigs who seem a bit annoyed at being woken up by me.

I will admit these fellas don’t smell the greatest but, thankfully for you, you can’t smell them through the video.

It is true that there are farmers out there who do not take care of their animals properly or respectfully.  But they are few and far between.  They certainly do not represent the rest of farmers who take their responsibility of animal husbandry very seriously.  There are bad apples in any industry all across this world.  But it’s important you know that they are not the norm in farming.

On our farm, we are committed to raising healthy, sustainable pork for my family and yours.

Calving season has begun!

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Calving season has begun on the Blomme Farm!  The combination of new life and the abnormally warm weather we are having makes it feel like spring is right around the corner.  The picture above shows the first two calves of the season which were born three days ago.

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This little red head, pictured above, was the first one born.  These calves needed a little help getting started nursing but seem to be doing well on their own now.  If all goes well, by the time spring is over we should have about 135 baby calves running around.

Calving season means long days and nights for farmers as the heifers and cows need to be checked on frequently to make sure everything is going smoothly.  Occasionally, we’ll have to help a heifer or cow and pull the calf.  It is also critical that they start successfully nursing right away.  Sometimes we have to intervene and help them learn how to nurse.  If a calf is not able to nurse for whatever reason, then we will bottle feed that calf.

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The girls were very excited to go see the new calves tonight.  I love catching sweet moments like this one with Papa.

Our heifers and cows will calve in our barns so that they are easier to monitor and take care of.  Later in the spring, once the pastures green up, we will transfer the cow/calf pairs to the pastures where they will really enjoy the open space and fresh air.  At about four to five months of age, the calves will be weaned from their mothers and brought into the feedlot.

More to come on the progress of calving season.  Thanks for reading!

The way to the heart is through the stomach.

img_1556You may have celebrated Valentine’s Day with a juicy steak this evening.  I know that’s the way to this farm girl’s heart.  Let’s talk about the steps involved in getting that steak from our farm to your table.

Today we sold a couple of loads of Holsteins.  They were hauled to a JBS processing plant in Grand Island, NE and will be harvested for meat such as your Valentine’s Day dinner.  From there they will be taken to your local grocery store or favorite restaurant for your purchase.

You might be wondering what we fed the animal that made the delicious steak you enjoyed.  I’ll attempt to break that down into the various stages of growth.  We work closely with a nutritionist from ADM to get these recommended rations of feed.

  • The calves, which come from Western Iowa, are bottle fed and also get a starter pellet for protein for about twelve weeks prior to coming to our farm.  They weigh about 150-160 pounds when they arrive.
  • During their first week on our farm, we feed them the same starter pellet they ate at the nursery so the only change is that they are no longer bottle fed.
  • Between a week and ten days after we get them, we vaccinate them for respiratory diseases and then give them a booster shot thirty days after that.
  • At week two, we begin feeding a protein pellet along with whole shell corn.  This ration is fed for about one month.
  • At about 17-18 weeks old, ground grass hay is introduced into the ration.  This is used as a buffering agent in their rumen which provides fiber to keep them from scouring (getting diarrhea).
  • From this point until about 300 pounds, we continue to feed them ground hay, shell corn and protein pellets but the ration changes along with their development and nutritional needs at each stage.
  • At 300 pounds, gluten is introduced to their diet.  Gluten is a corn byproduct from the ethanol process.  Their ration of hay is also increased at this time but their intake of corn is cut back.  Corn provides more energy but less protein.  Gluten is high in protein but low in energy so it’s important to have the right balance of each.
  • At about 500 pounds, we begin feeding them a gluten balancer pellet in place of the starter pellet.  This gluten balancer pellet helps to supply the micronutrients that are not already in the feed.
  • We raise the steers to market weight which is about 1,500 pounds.

As you cut into that Valentine’s Day steak tonight, know that the beef you ate most likely came from a family farm like ours where the animals were well cared for.  Happy Valentine’s Day everyone . . . bon appétit!

A Farmer’s Hands

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Every set of hands tells a story.  Where they have been, what they have done, how hard they have worked, how old they are . . .

There is a special story behind a farmer’s hands.

These hands show a lifetime of tireless work through freezing temperatures and unbearable heat.  These hands have fixed countless hours of fence, wrenched on machinery, thawed frozen waterers, cleaned grain bins, pulled calves, hammered hundreds of nails, scooped manure, steered tractors for hours on end, welded gates and dug in the soil.  They have been smashed, stomped, pinched, bruised, blistered, cut and burnt ten times over.  They even smell like work.

These hands have held children and grandchildren, wiped away tears, fixed broken toys, held little hands, pushed strollers and wiped runny noses.  They have faithfully made the sign of the cross and then folded in prayer through joys and struggles.

These hands are a symbol of pride and strength.  Every scar and knot resembles a work ethic that won’t quit.  They represent humility, integrity and everything that is so honorable about farming.  And yet they never ask for credit or recognition.  Ever.

These hands are quick to lend help to someone in need.  Yet slow to point a finger at anyone else.  They do not hesitate to reach into their pocket or take the shirt off their back for their neighbor.  They wave with friendliness at everyone that passes because that’s what we do in a small farming community.

There aren’t many hands that look like this anymore.  There aren’t many hands that work like this anymore.  Through their actions, these hands have set an example for generations to come without ever saying a word.

They say you can tell a lot by shaking a person’s hand.  If you were to shake these hands, you would know the strength they have, the stress they have endured and the faith they hold on to.  Thank goodness for farmers’ hands that are willing to work so hard to help feed us all.

 

 

If you plant it, they will grow.

It may be early February but we are thinking spring on the Blomme farm.  Spring is always very exciting because it’s a fresh start filled with optimism for the year.  The smell of black dirt, the sight of baby calves jumping and kicking and the sound of tractors roaring as field work begins.  Planting season will soon be here.

img_1520Before any of that can happen, there is a lot of work that needs to be done to get ready for it.  We are currently installing some upgrades on our planter which we hope will make it work even more efficiently this year.  I would argue that the planter is the single most important piece of equipment on the farm because we have one shot to get the crops planted.  It’s critical that we get planting done right because everything that follows depends on how well the seed was planted to begin with.

There is a very narrow window of time that is optimal to plant corn and soybeans.  The timeline is driven by the soil temperatures, the weather and the maturity of the seeds being planted.  The ideal window for planting corn in Iowa (in order to get optimum yields) only lasts about seven days on average.  That means, to have the best chance of success, we need a lot of things (that are mostly out of our control like the weather) to align so we can get the crop put in the ground.  During planting, every hour counts because any delay could literally cost us bushels at harvest time.

img_1519The goal is to get as much planted as quickly as possible while still doing a thorough job and paying attention to the details.  With this goal in mind, we’re making some upgrades right now to our planter which include vacuum style meters and an improved lift and down pressure system.  These technologies will help us get proper seed placement.  Planting depth is one of the most important factors when planting corn.

If you can visualize with me for a minute . . . imagine a tractor and planter going across a field at a whopping 5 mph.  Think about all the parts on the planter that are turning and moving in order to plant each individual kernel of corn.  It’s pretty incredible that we have the equipment and technologies now to consistently plant seed at a very targeted depth and spacing between each kernel.  Most of you probably have grandparents or great grandparents who could tell stories about planting corn a few rows at a time with horses.  Today’s planters can plant up to 48 rows at a time.  More commonly, you’ll see 8, 12, 16 and 24 row planters across the countryside.  To top that off, a lot of the tractors are steering themselves with modern day auto-steer systems.

In the tractor cab, we have monitors that tell us how accurately the planter is performing.  They notify us when something isn’t working properly and we can make adjustments.  They also map the field as we plant so that we can use those maps later in the year to learn more about what happened in each field.  After we harvest these fields in the fall, we will compare the as-planted maps with the harvest maps and try to learn more about how certain areas of the field produced, how certain hybrids of corn performed and much more.

Thanks to improvements in equipment and the various technologies used today, the U.S. farmer is the most productive in the world.  One farmer in the U.S. produces enough food to feed 155 people.  And they’re doing it all using fewer resources like fertilizer and chemicals.

We love to have tractor riders so come visit us this spring and experience planting time.

Our little helpers are ready to throw some bags!

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FAMILY FARM. Did you know 97% of US farms are family owned?

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