Friday, April 15, 2011

Farmer Fridays - Guest post from The Hoosier Farm Babe

Welcome to a special guest post edition of Farmer Fridays.  

Hi, this is Meggie from over at Hoosier Farm Babe Tell Tails, where I blog about living and loving life on a hog and grain farm with my hubby Big D and our darling daughter Baby RayRay (hey I’m allowed to be biased!). And I’m proud to say that we are the 5th and 6th generations on Big D’s side and mine to farm BOTH of our family’s farmland (in Indiana and Ohio, respectively.) Yes … we haul our equipment back in forth between two states. Some call us a little crazy – but I figure we’re young and if we have the time and desire to do it – we might as well. For Big D and I, it is important to continue the family tradition, and if possible, ensure that opportunity can be made available to our children someday if they so choose.

Officially, it is spring here in the Midwest (yay for warmer weather!) and for this Real Farmwife of America, that means it’s time to start cooking to-go dinners or picking up take-out for the boys in the fields just about every evening for the next couple weeks. But we’re not there quite yet …way too many April showers for that to happen.
Just as many of you are gearing up to get in your gardens and get your hands a little dirty – it’s really a very similar emotion here in our household.  But in a way it’s sorta a year-round attitude and way of life.

In fact, preparation for spring planting actually starts in the fall when Big D assesses what worked and what didn’t work and comes up with a planting POA or plan of action!
So how do we make these sorts of planting decisions – specifically what seed where, what kind and why?

First, we decide what crop we want to plant in what field. In our case, it’s either corn or soybeans. We’re pretty focused on corn because we need that grain to feed our hogs. Did you know that around 50 percent of the U.S. corn crop is grown to feed livestock, while the remainder ends up in foods such as corn chips or fuel such as ethanol.

Very soon we will plant this bag of seed corn.  All of the corn on our farm is grown for use as livestock feed, not corn chips or other food products made from corn.  
Next, we make decisions about tillage or how we’re going to “work” or in some cases “not work” the soil. On our farm, we do a combination of conservative tillage practices such as no-till (no tillage) and chisel plowing. We chisel plow some of our fields to allow organic material such corn stalks to begin to decompose so as to better prepare the soil for planting.

Our seed is actually delivered to our farm in these fancy Pioneer Proboxes.  There are around 55 bags of seed in every Probox.  
Third, we select the hybrid seed that we feel best suits the soil types on our farm. (Hybrid seed is produced by artificially cross-pollinated plants. Hybrids are bred to improve the characteristics of the resulting plants, such as better yield, greater uniformity or improved disease or pest resistance.)

Stacks upon stacks of Proboxes at our seed salesman's farm.  Wowsers!!
We make our seed selection for each individual field by sitting down with our local seed sales rep and discussing what worked and what didn’t work in previous seasons. 

Our seed salesman.  As sort of younglings in our industry, it is great to have such good relationships with the folks we do business with.  
Together, we also look at the positives and negatives of every field – including soil type, fertility, water-holding capacity and drainage type. There are a lot of factors to consider when making seed choices. We’re lucky to have a very knowledgable and friendly guy on our side to help us sort through these decisions! 

Well of course Baby RayRay is involved in the process.  After all, we wouldn't do what we do if it wasn't to ensure the same opportunities can be made available to her someday!
Big D also looks closely at the characteristics of the corn variety. According to our seed sales rep – there are over 400 varieties of corn available for farmers in North America. In our area – there are really about 12 different varieties that we consider. Since most of our corn goes to feed our pigs, the texture, test weight and relative nutritional value is very important.  One of Big D’s favorite varieties is 34F97 (great for fields that are planted in corn after corn, year after year), but if you were in Texas or North Dakota (Hi! Katie from Pinke Post!) – this variety may not be climate and/or soil appropriate.

Pioneer seed bags- amazing that in North America there are over 400 different varieties of corn seed.  
So as we creep ever so close to getting our tractor wheels in the dirt – much of Big D’s ground work has already been laid. Now all we can do is hope for some warm, dry days to dry up the fields a bit and get this planting season underway!

Big D during the first year we started farming on our won.  Dirt and sweat drenched clothes with calloused hands and this farmer's still got a smile for me! :)
To learn more about me or follow the planting season on our farm, come by and visit me sometime!

Thanks for a great guest post, Meggie!


  1. Great job explaining what it is we do. Tall Guy finished up the field he and his dad were working in, working ground that had be "ripped" or deep chisel plowed. No seeds in the ground yet. Hoping next week will start to warm up and dry up after a wet start. Good luck and be safe!

  2. Glad to see Pioneer seed corn in your shed!!!


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