THANKFUL FOR FARM FAMILIES: ALWAYS TIME FOR FAMILY

Celebrating Thanksgiving with some old posts on thankfulness …

In November, Americans focus on thankfulness: for their country, their blessings, and their families. At Corn Corps, we’re going to focus on being thankful for our FARM families and the laughs and lessons they provide.

Twenty-one year old Tony Weber from Newton, Illinois has grown up on a third generation corn and soybean farm. Tony is the youngest of eight children.

When Tony was younger some of his chores around the farm included mowing the grass, helping drive a tractor or combine, and cleaning out grain bins. “When I was nine years old my dad let me get behind the wheel of a Case Combine.”

The Weber family farm is a little different than other. They use both John Deere and International Harvester equipment.

Working on the farm brought Tony and his siblings closer together. “Sundays have always been family days. We all go to church together, and then we go to my Mom and Dad’s house for brunch. In the summers we have ‘Pond Parties’ where we all get together and swim and grill out.”

weber family farm, newton, IL, agricultureTony is a senior studying Plant and Soil Science with a minor in Agri-Business Economics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. As a December graduate, Tony plans to pursue a career in Ag Sales and then eventually work his way back into farming. “Farming is cool where I’m from! Newton is definitely considered a farming community.”

“One of the main things I enjoy most about farming is getting to working outside. I also believe that working with my parents and siblings on the farm is what has kept our family bond so strong.”

Illinois Corn Marketing Board InternJenna Richardson
Southern Illinois University student

THANKFUL FOR FARM FAMILIES: CONNECTION WITH NATURE

Pulling from our archives for some great posts on being thankful.  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

In November, American’s focus on thankfulness: for their country, their blessings, and their families. At Corn Corps, we’re going to focus on being thankful for our FARM families and the laughs and lessons they provide.

Barb Arbeiter is a member of the Jackson County Farm Bureau and active member of the Jackson County Ag in the Classroom committee from Murphysboro, IL. Barb grew up on a cotton and dairy farm in Mississippi.

farm photo old chickens illinois farmer female woman girlBefore she was big enough to help pick the cotton by hand , Barb would ride along on the cotton sacs that her parents and neighbors were carrying or sit and watch at the edge of the field. Once she was big enough her parents made a cotton sac sized especially for her, so she could help with the picking.

When it came to the dairy farm, her family had to start off by hand milking the cows until they got electric milkers. “Our cows were very tame; they were kind of like pets to us for the most part.” Barb’s family dairy farm consisted of Jersey and Guernsey cattle.

As a young one, Barb helped feed the cattle as well as herd them to the barn when they decided to be stubborn. In high school to make money, Barb would help with the milking process. She picked vegetables out of the garden and helped with the canning process. She also fed the chickens and gathered the eggs.

“Growing up on a farm taught me a lot of responsibility and I learned to work hard. Growing up on a farm also allowed me to live closely with nature by raising food and animals.”

On Saturday nights Barb and her family would spend time playing cards together.

Illinois Corn Marketing Board Intern

Jenna Richardson
Southern Illinois University student

THANKFUL FOR FARM FAMILIES: LOVIN’ THE HOLIDAYS

Posting one from the archives in honor of Thanksgiving …

In November, Americans focus on thankfulness: for their country, their blessings, and their families.  At Corn Corps, we’re going to focus on being thankful for our FARM families and the laughs and lessons they provide. 

Elizabeth (Allen) James grew up on a 265 acre agricultural farm in southern Illinois that has now been recognized as a Sesquicentennial farm. The Allen farm started in 1848 in Buncombe, Illinois where her family raised horses, cattle, sheep, hogs, chickens, and grain. Elizabeth’s father never had a tractor so when it came time for harvesting the crops he would use a little ‘horse’ power. The grain that they grew on their farm went to feeding their livestock and some of their neighbor’s livestock as well.

Elizabeth’s chores started out by milking the cows, gathering eggs, and feeding livestock. Once she realized that milking cows wasn’t for her she took on head role of gathering eggs and housework.

illinois family farm evergreen trees holiday agritourismAround 25 years ago Elizabeth and her husband Harold decided to start up a little project of growing Christmas trees. “I figured it’d be a good project for the grandkids and a nice family project as well,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth started selling her first crop of Christmas trees out of her car where she would hand clean them for her customers. Once the family business started to expand her car operation got moved back home where customers were now starting to come to the family farm to pick out their own Christmas tree.

“Christmas time along with the Christmas sales is my favorite time of year because we get to meet new people and hear about their family stories and traditions. They explain to us what they want in a tree, how they want it cut, and the shape. It’s just a happy time of year!”

The Allen farm is a true definition of a family farm – Elizabeth and her husband Harold work closely with the rest of their family which consists of two sons along with their wives, and five grandchildren. Each family member has a specific role on the farm.

Illinois farm family christmas picture tree“The farm keeps us together and involved as a family. It’s taught the grandkids a lot of responsibility as well.”

People from all over the state of Illinois as well as parts of Kentucky have traveled to the Allen Farm to pick out their very own Christmas tree. “People like to come and roam around and get the farm and family experience.”

Illinois Corn Marketing Board InternJenna Richardson
Southern Illinois University student

A FARMER’S BLACK FRIDAY

I have studied every Black Friday ad, made my list, and checked it twice.  I find some thrill in getting pushed around to save a few bucks.  It is often crazy this time of year, running about trying to find the best deal on the big screen TV or getting clothes 50% off. We frequently think more about marking all the items off the list rather than where they actually come from. I know I fall into the same category, rarely thanking the farmer.

black-friday-2012-line

If you have ever experienced Black Friday shopping, you know it’s unlike anything else.  People will go to unrealistic lengths to get what they want.  Did you know the farmer is with you every step of the way?

While standing in line, waiting for the store to open, we need a big cup of coffee.  Not only does this drink give you caffeine for the rest of the night, but also it keeps you warm in what will be a 30-degree night.  Without the farmer, we would not have the refreshing coffee beans.

The store’s doors have opened and everyone is rushing in.  Our first goal is to grab the sale items and get to the cash registers.  With recent regulations retail stores no longer use plastic bags made from petroleum, they now use corn plastic!

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The new items have been stashed in the trunk and we jump in the car to head to the next store.  As we rev up the engine, have you ever considered what is fueling your vehicle?  Most often we fill up with gasoline containing 10% ethanol but more and more we are seeing 15-30% ethanol available.  If you own a Flex-Fuel automobile you can take advantage of E85.  This fuel is cheaper and supports the agriculture industry.

My favorite stop of the night is the breakfast run.  This often happens around 4 a.m. and nothing sounds better than an egg sandwich.  The items making the meal are often very relatable to the farm.  It is easy to see the eggs came from the chicken and the cheese from the dairy.  Although without these producers, what would be eat?

By the end of the night, or what may be early morning, everyone is exhausted.  It is time to hit the hay, or in most cases the cotton mattress.  This quilted material is grown and harvested to create your bed, sheets and clothing.

While heading out during the crazy hours of Black Friday or during the Christmas shopping season, look down at the bag you are carrying, and Thank A Farmer!

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Sarah LuceSarah Luce
University of Illinois student

WHAT TO READ: AG EDITION

With the technology we have today, just a click of a button, or a simple Google search can bring you so much information that it can be overwhelming. That applies to agriculture information as well! There are so many great resources for information regarding agricultural practices, techniques, food safety, and environmental issues. The list below includes some helpful agricultural blogs that will provide information for all of the questions you may have about our industry!

WhyIFarm http://whyifarm.com/

This blog, sponsored by Beck’s Hybrids, interviews Midwest farmers and ask them the question, “Why do you farm?” Their answers are incredible! These short documentary-style videos give an inside look to what a real-life, working farm looks like and what the operators and owners stand for.

RealFarmwiveshttp://www.realfarmwivesofamerica.com

Learn about daily life on a farm, from the woman’s perspective! These women share farm-fresh recipes, photos, and daily musings from their lives on family-owned farms.

Advocates-for-Agriculturehttp://advocatesforag.blogspot.com/

Troy and Stacy Hadrick update their blog with all of the current agriculture issues. They link all of their blog posts with more information on different websites, so you can research into each topic more if you would like to. This couple also speaks at many different events throughout the country promoting agriculture, how cool!

ILFarmFamilies http://www.watchusgrow.org/illinois-farm-families-blog

This entire website, and blog, is a wealth of information! The Illinois Farm Families introduce you to the people who are actually growing your food. You get an inside look at their operations, their commitment to safe food, and growing a quality product to feed the world. The blog focuses on daily posts about current ag issues, recipes, and other agricultural topics.

CauseMatters http://www.causematters.com/blog/

Michele Payn-Knoper aims to connect all people involved in agriculture, just like her tag-line says; “gate to plate”. She has blog posts ranging from interviews with farmers, animal rights issues, and using social media in agriculture. Check out all of her great information!

MikeRowe http://www.mikeroweworks.com/mikes-office/farming/

We all know and love Mike Rowe from “Dirty Jobs”, but did you know he had an agriculture blog too? He aims to connect those who consume food to those who produce food, so there is a better understand between these groups of people.

FarmingAmerica http://farmingamerica.org/

This blog also highlights relevant agriculture topics and aims to connect the consumer and the producer in understanding modern agricultural practices. This blog has a great layout and easy to understand articles.

erin barrowErin Barrow
Illinois State University student

FARM COMMUNITIES PULL TOGETHER AFTER THE STORM

tornado damagePeople throughout the state of Illinois experienced severe storm damage or even lost their homes over the weekend. It seems as though its times like these that a community’s strength and willingness to help is tested. We have seen people making donations, taking in their neighbors, volunteering to help clean up, and doing anything else they can to help those who experienced such great loss. Farming communities are no exception to this great sense of community and willingness to help a neighbor in need.

In Washington County, a dairy farm was hit by this devastating storm. Rain, shine, or tornado, these cows need to be milked twice a day and have fresh food and water. What is a farmer to do when his farm has been torn apart by Mother Nature?

Luckily, he has neighbors like the Hasheider family. After the storm hit around 12:30pm on Sunday, Larry and his brother hooked up their livestock trailer and helped to relocate the displaced cows to 3 different farms in the area that were willing to take care of them until their barn is rebuilt… All in time for the cows to be milked Sunday evening.

As devastating as these events have been, the outpouring of support and aid that people have been willing to give instills hope and gratitude in all of us. All communities, rural and urban, have proved that there is still a lot of good in the world with the actions they have taken to help others. Of course, everyone hopes that something like this will never happen to them. But it is comforting to know that if something so devastating ever did happen, your friends and neighbors will be there to help you pick up the pieces.

Rosie PhotoRosie Sanderson
ICGA/ICMB Membership Administrative Assistant

WHERE’S THE BEEF? IN ILLINOIS!

The number of head of cattle in Illinois are increasing according to some recent data compiled by the Illinois Livestock Development Group.

6-24-11 cattleAnalyzing both the number of animal spaces in Illinois (the number of cattle we can accommodate) and the Notices of Intent to Construct (the first step with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to build or expand your livestock facility), we have seen a significant increase in the past five years.

This means a lot of things:

  • Profitability is returning to the cattle industry.  I know non-farmers don’t like to hear it, but farming is both a lifestyle and a business.  Farmers can’t farm unless they can feed their families.  When we see farmers increasing animal spaces or building new buildings, that means that the economic signals are telling them that now is a good time to raise cattle.
  • Illinois is a great place to raise cattle.  Water isn’t a concern for Illinois farmers needing to water their livestock nor is feed.  In fact, feed is much cheaper in Illinois where you don’t have to add the cost of transportation.  Feeding livestock where the feed is, makes economic sense and saves energy.
  • Monoslope buildings* and rubber matting on concrete slats are improvements to cattle housing that are making a huge difference in the industry.  These new improvements are making cattle comfort a priority and also minimizing injury.  Happy cattle and healthy cattle are a priority for Illinois.
  • The Illinois Livestock Development Group has a “man on the street” helping livestock farmers through the rules and regulations about building livestock facilities.  The rules and regulations are there to protect farmers, non-farmers and cattle, but sometimes they can be hard to understand (aren’t most laws!?) and difficult to navigate.  Having someone on hand to help farmers figure out what the rules and regulations say, helps them choose the right site for their new building and build away!

monoslope buildings*Monoslope buildings are barn structures with a roof that is high on one side and low on the other, with one slope.  By facing the monoslope’s high opening to the south, the barn that serves the dual task of shading the herd in the high summer sun and warming it in the low winter sun. At the same time, the design also manipulates airflow to reduce heat and humidity in the summer and impede cold north winds in the winter.

MAKIN’ A LIVING OFF THE LAND

From sunup to sundown, all year round, farmers watch Mother Nature evolve. They witness her worst, from draught to flooding, and witness her best, at just the right temperatures with just the right amount of precipitation to make the crops flourish.

harvest gray skies

They feel the days shorten as the weeks progress into the fall harvest and the air grow crisper. They clear out fields for miles where corn and soybeans once stood. They watch the tree leaves change from green to oranges, reds, and yellows.

deer in fall

They plant the winter wheat seed into the bare ground, and soon close up shop for winter months to come. Although it may seem like a stand-still for farmers, it’s only the beginning of preparation for the coming spring. During this time is when paperwork is caught up with, equipment is cleaned and maintained, and inputs (seed, chemicals, fertilizers, fuel, etc.) are purchased for next season.

sunset planting

As winter months go by and the weather starts to grow warmer, planting season is just within reaching distance. Farmers come out of the woodwork, anxious to be working out in the fields again. This time of the year is the most crucial. Farmers, farmer’s wives, and farmer’s children constantly have to watch the weather. There have been times my dad is listening to the weather forecast on the radio, my mom is watching the weather update on the local news station, and I’m watching the weather radar on the internet. It seems a little overdone, but a farmer has to make sure he is going to have clear skies when he goes to plant. Otherwise, all of the seed will be washed out by the rain, and he will have to buy more seed to replant. Mother Nature is not 100% predictable so this does happen from time to time, but we predict the best we can, and the rest is uncontrollable.

planter through rain

April is the ideal time for farmers to plant corn and soybeans, so they can harvest in October, before the frost. Day and night, the air is filled with the smell of fresh dirt, as it’s torn up for planting. Wave-like ripples soon fill the fields, where the seeds have been planted.

planting in mirror

Come May and months ahead, farming is in full swing. The wheat has grown and begins to develop head.

wheat

The corn and soybean seeds have sprouted.

planted rows

Come June, wheat alters from green to golden brown within just a few weeks.

wheat field

Farmers constantly check the fields to see if the grain is ready for harvest.

Before you know it, wheat harvest is underway!

combining wheat

Once the wheat is cut, double-crop beans (double-crop means growing more than one crop in the same field in a single growing season) are planted in the wheat stubble.

farmer and john deere

The summer days pass by, and the corn and soybeans grow tremendously (with warm temps and the right amount of precipitation). It’s a phenomenal opportunity to be able to watch these crops grow from tiny sprouts up to 6 or 7 feet tall within a short amount of time! (Corn that is)

corn sunset

As fall approaches, the corn and soybeans’ green color begins to dull. Shortly, the stalks and leaves turn brown, showing that they have reached their full maturity and are ready to soon be harvested. Mid-late October, roads flood with red and green equipment, and traffic is backed up. It’s harvest time once again.

combine at night

You see, farmers work alongside Mother Nature all year round. They base their decisions on her, and she, in a way, decides if farmers are profitable or unprofitable. My dad once said, “it can be pretty frustrating at times, but I still wouldn’t trade it for anything else.” This lifestyle is a gamble, and it takes passionate, patient, and determined individuals to live the farm life.

farmer anhydrous

Farmers appreciate this land more than anyone else, and I say that with confidence because the land is how they earn a living. To be able to physically see their hard work paying off as the crops grow and mature and then watch the grain pour into the hopper as they harvest is just so incomparable to working an 8-hour job for a piece of paper called a paycheck.

farmer at dusk

Kelsey FritscheKelsey Fritsche
Southern Illinois University student and
Farmer’s Daughter