Friday, September 26, 2014

'Tis the Season for Cover Crops

I am excited to be more involved with cover crops this year.  This additional 'crop' that is planted in the fall, grows until frost and will either die over winter, or come back in the spring (depending on what you plant).  It will benefit our soil health by increasing our soil organic matter.  It will decrease erosion by keeping the soil covered (above ground) and the holding the soil in place with the roots (below ground).  The cover crops will also take up nutrients from the soil and hold them.  Those nutrients would otherwise be at risk of loss through erosion or leaching through groundwater in tile.  As the cover crops decay in the spring the nutrients become available for our corn or soybeans.

This will be our 5th year planting cover crops on our farm.  We are trying things a little differently this year.  The last 4 years we've planted by aerial application where a plane flies over the field and spreads the seed over standing crop.  This year we had someone with a high clearance sprayer drive into the field of standing crop, and plant the seed through tubes hanging down off the spray boom.  

Water quality is a hot topic in Iowa lately, and is the reason we are trying to incorporate cover crops on our farm.  It is ironic that in the last 4 years of planting the cover crop, we've had a hard time getting it established because it was too dry.  This year we've had a hard time getting it applied because it is too wet!

We still have a lot to learn about how to make them work, but we think they have potential.

Hagie application. 

Seed coming out of the tubes hitting the deflector plates to scatter.

The small lighter oval seeds are rye.  The round dark seeds are vetch.
Aerial Application (this was on a farm in the Boone River Watershed)
Aerial Application (this was on a farm in the Boone River Watershed).


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Family Vacation on the Family Farm

I feel like I'm ready for fall now that our family vacation is over.  It seems like it has prepped me for the hard work of harvest.

We were able to visit AJs brother out in the Black Hills of South Dakota for our family vacation.  The kids did great.  The drive was long, but they made it.  At each stop, we'd make the kids race each other to get some of the energy out.  It may have looked sort of silly, but I think it was necessary.  :) 

The weather was BEAUTIFUL.  We stayed in a waterpark hotel.  We got to visit a local park called Story Book Island, and the kids got to dress up like a pirate and princess.  We biked on the gorgeous Mickelson trail. And, we got to rest.  

Vacations are always difficult to prepare for and then to return back to work.  On the farm, it is no different.  The difference on our family farm is that family dynamic.  AJ's parents went on their vacation a few weeks before ours, and we did all the chores.  While we were on vacation, his parents stayed home and did all the chores.  All of us may not be working every single day on the farm, but we are all able to step in when it matters.  

Another challenge in that is that we don't always do a lot of things that we want to, either.  We have to make it work, and most often, we do.  We also ask family to do more work than we would any employees (including things like working holidays, weekends, etc.).  It may be tough, but it brings us closer together.  

And, after being away, it is GREAT to be Home Again Finnegan. :)

Excited for the trip!
Look closely.  You can see the kids in the waterslide!
Mickelson Trail

Princess and Pirate.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rounding up the Calves

Last night we weaned the calves from the pasture to our cattle barn. 
Round Up
Round Up
Round Up
Waiting for AJ to bring them to us.

Some came on their own.

This is Wyatt and Princess.  She is the nicest cow.

Mamma cleaning her baby.
Wyatt moving them along.

Made it to the corral.

Time to go in the trailer!

Made it to the barn.  Food is already gone! 

"Whatcha doin'?"

Fresh bedding.

Enjoying the beautiful fall day.