What’s Hoppin’ on the Farm

In the spirit of Easter, here is an update on what’s hoppin’ on the Blomme farm these days.

Planting

Spring planting is knocking on our door so there is a lot of excitement as well as nervousness in the air.  Depending on where you live, some farmers have started planting already.  Others are waiting for their fields to be “fit” or dry and warm enough to plant.  We have some rain in the forecast for the rest of this week so depending on what Mother Nature does, we will likely start within the next week.

It’s critical for good stand establishment and ultimately a successful crop to plant the seed when the soil is above 50 degrees and the forecast looks warm and dry.  Seedlings don’t like cold, wet conditions which can bring on disease, deformities and even death.  We only get one shot to get it right so planting is the most critical task of the year as far as crop production is concerned.  And the window of optimal planting conditions is only five to seven days on average so it’s very important to be ready to go when conditions are right.  It’s easy to see why this is a high-stress time of year for farmers!

Prior to planting, a lot of farmers are busy right now tilling the soil, applying anhydrous ammonia, shaping and seeding waterways and spraying weeds or cover crops.  We planted some cover crops (rye specifically) last fall on some acres where we chopped corn silage.  We did this because chopping corn silage uses every last bit of the plant and therefore leaves the ground very bare.  Since there was no residue on the ground, the rye helped to prevent soil erosion and also served as a great source of feed for our cows (they loved it!).  The rye is now about six to eight inches tall and lush green.  It’s time to spray and kill the rye so that we can plant a soybean crop into that field.

Seeding Alfalfa

A few weeks ago, we seeded some ground to alfalfa (a perennial flowering plant in the pea family) that was previously planted to corn.  We did this for a couple of reasons.  Most importantly, we need the alfalfa crop to feed our cattle.  But we also rotate crops on our fields that are very hilly in order to prevent soil erosion and maintain the integrity of that ground.  This particular field had been soybeans and then corn the last two years.  This alfalfa crop will grow for about four years and then we will put this field back into a corn/soybean rotation.

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Filling the drill to seed alfalfa.

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This is one of the many conservation practices that farmers utilize to minimize soil erosion and therefore minimize the amount of nutrient run off.  In addition to preventing soil erosion, alfalfa has many other benefits including absorbing nitrates in the ground water, providing a rich habitat for many species and serving as a valuable host to a wide variety of insects, some of which actually naturally help with pest control.  Alfalfa is a pretty amazing natural fertilizer as it fixes its own nitrogen from Rhizobia bacteria and helps provide nitrogen for future crops while also improving soil tilth.

Calving Progress

We are now about half way through our calving season.  We have been blessed with a few sets of healthy twins the last couple of weeks.  The conditions the last couple of weeks have been muddy, making things difficult for the baby calves and their moms.  Because of this, we did some rearranging of our cattle and moved some cow/calf pairs into one of our hoop barns to provide better conditions for them.  The hoop barns offer a warm environment where we can better maintain dry bedding to keep them comfortable.  Fortunately, the weather has improved and we are getting ready to turn the pairs out to pasture.

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Ruthie bottle feeding a calf.  *Photo credit – Connie Blomme

Easter Feast – Where Does It Come From?

Before grandma presents her amazing spread, where do some of the Easter dinner favorites come from?

  • Did you know Iowa is the #1 egg producing state?  As you devour those delicious deviled eggs, thank an Iowa egg producer.
  • Plan to pig out on that Easter ham?  Iowa is the #1 pork producing state as well.  Enjoy that Easter ham guilt free knowing that you’re consuming safe, nutritious protein that was likely raised by an Iowa farmer who truly cares for the well-being of their animals.
  • Love you some green bean casserole?  You can thank the fine farmers in Wisconsin for being the top producing green bean state in the country.
  • And this one is no surprise . . . Idaho produces the most potatoes of any state in the country.  Thank goodness for those potato farmers making mashed potatoes a staple at our Easter feasts.

Hungry yet?  I wish you all a blessed Easter!

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