Friday, October 16, 2020

Harvest Stories

As you all know by the dust in the air it is harvest season. Farmers are filling the fields with combines, wagons, trucks, and grain carts because it’s time to get the crops out. Sometimes it can get a little crazy busy on the farm during harvest. However, even still during this busy season, you have to find time to laugh. Here are some fun harvest stories that have happened throughout the years.

One funny story takes place when delivering lunch. Usually, I call and they give me the name of the field and I drive there and park by the trucks at the field entrance. Well, one time when I drove to the field I thought was said, when I pulled in I didn’t see a semi and my stomach dropped. I somehow managed to go to the wrong field. The dinners were a tad on the cold side before I made it to the right location.

A neighbor once was chopping at a farm near ours. He had a big dinner in a picnic basket that he took to the field that his wife prepared for all the help. After lunch, he pulled the next full load home. As he started to unload, he instantly heard the loud crunching and banging of the pretty picnic basket and real plates going up the silo pipe. He had forgotten that he set the lovely basket in the front of the full chopper box for the ride home. He wasn’t sure how to explain that to his wife and was thinking he might be going hungry for the next few days!

This one was not funny at the time but it sure is now. I was supposed to pick up my dad at a different farm and give him a ride to another one. We were to meet at the big machine shed on a rented farm. When I pulled in by the east side of the shed, I thought I was early so I leaned back in the seat for a quick nap in the warm sunshine coming through my window until he got there. When I woke up from a quick power nap, I called my dad to see where he was? All this time he was waiting on the west side of the shed. Until this day he won’t admit it but I am sure he was sleeping, too. Although, he calls it, “thinking with his eyes closed!”

Harvest is stressful but remember to see the fun in every day, and catch a quick nap any chance you can. It’s the fun things that keep us going and I love to make everyone smile! Happy Harvest!

~ Kesley Holdgrafer

Monday, October 12, 2020

Fall and Harvest Jobs

The weather is starting to get colder with each brisk morning and pumpkin spice fills the air. Halloween decorations are out, pumpkins are carved, decorated, and put out everywhere. Fall is in full swing. For farmers however, it means it is one of the busiest times of the year. It can get pretty crazy around our farm because each day is jam packed with multiple things to get done. The days seem to get shorter as night sets in sooner than before.

When I get to the parking lot after school, my phone blows up with missed phone calls and text messages of things I need to do once I get home. Fall is when I become very grateful that we have an eight hour school day because that means I get at least an eight hour break from the madness. Some days it is so crazy that farmers forget what day of the week it is. They think it’s Saturday at 11am but really it’s Friday at 11am and I get a phone call to go do something. I get to happily inform them that I am in fact in Physics class at school and can not run that errand.

During harvest some farmers are doing more than just combining crops. They are chopping and filling bunkers, silos, or bags. For me, I can not wait until I get to go to college next year, so I make sure not to come home the weekend we cover the pit. It is one of my least favorite things to do. We cover our pits with lime and it takes at least a day or two to get it out of your hair and shoes! Another thing cattle farmers are doing right now is weaning calves and pregnancy checking cows. It’s time to get the calves off the mom and make sure the mom is going to be a mom again. For farmers that calve in the fall, they are super busy as well because it is calving season.

I know first hand that right now it is all hands on deck around the farm and that days can get pretty long. Wednesday is an early out and dad already has me penciled in to bale. We get to add corn stalk baling to the list as well.

A few weeks ago however, I did get my dad out of the combine to escort me across the football field. Homecoming, Part 2 was celebrated at our school Oct. 2nd. We got to dress up for another full week of fun and drove tractors to school on Friday. Of course all of the good ones were in the field, so I had to settle for the loader tractor, which is better than Luke who got the open station. Burr! Be sure to get plenty of rest and enjoy the little things. Have a fun fall!

~ Kesley Holdgrafer

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Grandparents Day!

The Sunday after Labor Day is Grandparent’s Day. This year it falls on the 13th of September. Grandparent’s Day became a thing back in 1978 when President Jimmy Carter signed a presidential proclamation. Ever since then every Sunday after Labor Day is a special holiday to celebrate our grandparents. The day was made to honor grandparents and to give them an opportunity to show their love for their children’s children. It also shows the grandkids the strength, information, and guidance older family members can offer. That is most definitely true when it comes to grandparents that are also farmers.

Grandparents that are farmers are some of the most hardworking, knowledgeable, and best story telling people around. If you want to know just how hardworking your grandparents are just take a minute and look at their hands. They are more than likely rough and full of calluses and they might even be missing a finger or two. These usually large, rough hands show just how hard they have worked during their lifetime in order to provide for their family and keep the farm afloat. More than likely those hands are still being put to use; feeding livestock, wrenching on equipment, or better yet a grandma's baking hand still stirring the bowl! They have a true love for farming and some might have slowed down a gear or two but they are still getting those hands dirty and working hard every day. I am pretty sure my grandpa can still outwork my big brothers. He is in something or on top of something in the shop every chance he gets.

Grandparents also tell the best stories and they have countless stories about anything and everything because they have lived through so much. I think that you can learn just the same as you would in school by just sitting at their kitchen table and talking to them. They can make stories come to life and it almost feels like you were there living it with them.

Grandma’s kitchen table is at the heart of it all. It is the best place to listen to our grandparents speak, it has seen thousands of fresh baked cookies cool, held many Christmas meals, served as the workbench to fix anything in the house, and as the board room table for all family discussions. It is also the best place for a board game with cousins, becomes the back 80 for all the grandkids table farming with their small tractors and combines, and is the best flat ground around after contouring around the newspapers and glasses of water.

My favorite place to be on the farm is often just sitting at Grandma’s kitchen table telling stories, eating an amazing meal, or having a quick snack after school. It’s the stories and the laughs we share that will last a lifetime. They deserve a day - or even a week to celebrate just them. Happy Grandparent’s Day!

 ~ Kesley Holdgrafer


Some of you may know this but September 28th is National Good Neighbor Day. I honestly didn’t even know that this was a thing until last week. This day was made in order to create an opportunity for neighbors to get to know one another. In the early 1970’s, Becky Mattson of Montana created National Good Neighbor Day. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation for it. Well, I guess they are right when you say you learn something new every day! Farmers are and always have been amazing neighbors.

Farmer’s neighbors can be as close as next door or stretch even miles away to the neighboring town over and you would still be called a neighbor. Farmers are always willing to give a neighbor a helping hand. If anything were to ever happen they are the first one at your doorstep with a helping hand and a delicious casserole. If you are gone for the weekend, they will come over and help out with chores. If you are ever in need of any help in the field, they will jump right away to make sure your crop gets harvested. They are also good conversationalists and can talk farm talk with you for hours about anything and everything.

Farmers don’t need a special day to greet or meet their neighbors. They have known their neighbors and everyone who has lived on the neighboring farmsteads for years. As most farms stay within families, I am going to venture out and even say sometimes centuries. Bigger cities might need a special day dedicated to meet and greet their neighbors, but most farm families know everyone around them quite well.

It is however always a great reminder that we have these special relationships with our neighbors and we can count on each other whenever the need arises. As we head into the heart of harvest this year, we realize it will be a long one. The down corn is really slow going. The extra hours in the field are exhausting. The great weather is helping and we know if we have any troubles or need any extra help that our neighbors are there and willing to lend a hand. It goes back to that Iowa Nice as we take pride in helping out our friends, family, and neighbors. I simply love being raised in small-town Iowa. Give your neighbor an extra big smile, wave, or handshake on the 28th. It’s their day. Have a great safe harvest and remember those same neighbors always have your back! 

~ Kesley Holdgrafer

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Back to School

     School is finally back into full swing, something I have been dreading for a while. For the past five months I have been without school and just working on the farm. The only good thing about this time of year is I can now use the saying, “I have homework” to try to get out of the things I don’t want to do! “Really Dad, I swear this English paper is going to take me the whole way through harvest to get done!”

August is known as national back to school month. When August hits it’s time for all students to brush the dust off their backpack and gather up school supplies. This is just another reason to give a huge thanks to farmers because without them we would not be equipped with all of these supplies. Farmers not only supply us with food but they help supply us with tons of other things. 

     Think about the pencils and paper you use everyday. Those come from wood and lumber is an agricultural product. The crayons you use to draw are made mostly from soybeans. In art class the paint brushes used are made from pig or cattle hair bristles. Pig by-products are also used in the making of chalk and glue.

  You also can’t forget about all the new clothes you bought for school. Thank a farmer for your new pair of jeans, sweaters, and most t-shirts because they are made from the farmers growing cotton. Those new leather school shoes would also be a farm by-product as well. Last but not least farmers  help you and the teachers get to school. Soy biodiesel often powers our school buses. The ethanol from the farmers corn fuels cars that transport both students and teachers. 

     Agriculture is everywhere, even in your schools and backpack. Have a great year at school as I am truly excited to have started my last year of high school. Senior year will simply be the best!

 ~ Kesley Holdgrafer


     By now we all know about the devastating derecho that came through Iowa two weeks ago. We can look at tons of photos of the damage and think we have seen it all. It doesn’t really sink in what all has happened however until you really get out and drive around the entire state of Iowa. Not only do you see flat corn, busted bins, busted sheds, and down trees, you also see a ton of amazing community members outside working together and cleaning up after the storm. It isn’t just community members helping, you see people from different states coming to assist as well. 

    Last week I drove out to Des Moines and during my trip I met tons of electrical trucks along the interstate, large groups of ten or more heavy service trucks at a time. We started looking at their license plates. They were from Missouri, Mississippi, Texas, along with several from Canada. Those are just a few of the many we saw on our way out. We smiled and waved at them all. They were all coming to help restore power for our neighbors, friends, and fellow Iowa residents. 

    The storm damaged power lines left over 400,000 Iowans powerless. As most of you know because you lived through it, the power was not just out for a little while like most storms, it was out for days and even a week. Most towns turned into generator cities. The destruction was state wide, not just a small area or town like with other large storms. It’s amazing to know we live in a very helpful and caring community. During times of need we all come together to help out and that is what I love about small town Iowa. Everybody knows everybody and they will always be there at your doorstep if you need anything. Nothing beats Iowa nice! 

~ Kesley Holdgrafer


Farming is Gambling

      This year has definitely been one for the books. Nobody could have ever predicted the way this year would go. For the past few weeks while talking to people and farmers I would hear them say, “some rain would be really nice”. Well we finally got the rain and as you all know it also came with some very unwanted extra strong damaging winds. As you drive around the area road farming, you can see the structural damage done, trees down, and corn flattened. There is no way farmers can see or predict what will happen year by year and each and every day really is a gamble. 

    I have heard this saying be used for years. Farming is really gambling. I have never quite understood it until this year when my brother and I started a crop share partnership with a neighbor. Luke and I each have 15 acres of our own. As soon as I signed my name on the papers this saying finally made sense. From the beginning, you are given multiple choices to make almost every day. What type of seed to plant, where will you buy it from, what will you spray, and will you pay the extra money for crop insurance? And the biggest gamble of them all is with the markets changing everyday, what will you do with your bushels, when will you sell? Should I utilize a forward contract? Do I risk storing my grain with extra expenses? My corn is standing this time but will we have more wild weather before harvest? The list goes on and on. Farming is gambling every day. 

     While growing up I was always told to never gamble. It's an addicting world that most of the time you lose in and when you do win you actually end up still paying too much. Well here we are, farmers are gambling everyday so why do they do it? They love the game, win or lose, they still wake up and go to work. They love their farm, their machinery, and their land. And as my dad always says, “If it was easy, everyone would do it!” Let’s hope the farm gambling chips fall in your favor. 

~ Kesley Holdgrafer