Wednesday, January 15, 2020

January Farming

Now that it is January, you would think it would be time for farmers to relax. It’s the start of a new year. The crops are out and nobody is busy in the fields. Most would think farmers would spend their days in the house relaxing, watching tv, scrolling through tractorhouse, or even taking a nap. This however, is completely false. Farmers rarely ever take a break even when they are given the perfect opportunity. Farmers always find something to do to keep themselves busy.

January is a perfect time to catch up on shop activities. This can range from a lot of things like overhauling equipment to smaller projects like simple maintenance. Farmers feel like they have to keep busy. I personally think they will go mad if they don’t. This January is one for the books as many are still able to do a little chiseling as the ground hasn’t completely frozen just yet.

January is also an expensive month for farmers. From the end of the year payments to finish out the farm books to the prepayment of new crop expenses to ensure the cheapest rates for input costs, the last week in December till the middle of January farmers tend to write a lot of checks! With the dreaded March 1st not far away, which means cash rent payments and taxes, along with most larger equipment payments, this time of year is very expensive for a farmer. Most farm kids like myself have probably heard their dad say this time of year that “the checkbook is closed” especially when we are asking for money or something silly.

My older brothers, the college boys, have returned to Ames after a long Christmas break. My younger brother Luke and I are back to feeding/checking their cows and holding down things at home for them while they are off getting smart. They are the young farmers and haven’t realized “the checkbook is closed” theory about this time of year as they both recently purchased additional cows, more than doubling their herd. Do those boys seriously believe they will all calve during their 10-day spring break in March? I’m thinking Luke and I will be really busy doing their chores during the spring calving season! The college boys will be screaming that their checkbooks are closed when Luke and I turn in our hours expecting to be compensated for our time and efforts assisting their cows with calving!

Enjoy your relaxing January as we prepare the new crop and calving year!

~ Kesley Holdgrafer

Roller Coaster Year

As we look back on the year 2019 I think we all can conclude that it was quite an interesting year with emotions changing as fast as the weather forecast.. Farmers went from happy, to nervous and worried, back to happy and then to stressed. The best way to describe this year I think is a roller coaster. We went through a roller coaster of emotions along with a roller coaster of seasons. With every month a new twist and turn was added to our roller coaster until we finally gained enough momentum to make it all the way through harvest.

January and February started off with snow and tons of it; but I wasn’t complaining because I think I only went to school for one full week in January. Farmers spent their days outside in the cold breaking ice and their kids outside shoveling bunks. Like they always say, a late Easter means a late spring and that was certainly the case in 2019. Some farmers got lucky and got crops in the ground in April, but then it snowed. Calling a farmer stressed at that point was an understatement. May brought buckets of rain pushing planting back ever further.

Before farmers knew it, it was June and they were still planting. Muddy fields led to chains being hooked up to pull people out. This made tension even higher as the race to put crops in was on. Once crops were in the rest of the summer was spent making hay and having fun at the fairs. Come September it was time to chop. Yet just like the planting that should have been done in April, chopping was also delayed because of the weather. We spent what should have been harvest season in October watching raindrops and to top it all off it snowed on Halloween. Any dry day that came around you could see combines in the field. Thanksgiving was spent in the field and being thankful it wasn’t raining. Come late December, crops were almost completely out. It was truly a Christmas miracle.

This year really tested everyone’s patience in more than one way, but we made it through and made the best of what we were given. Honestly, I think it made us stronger. Farmers are ready for whatever 2020 may bring and hopefully this year will reward farmers for their hard work, perseverance, and patience. I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!

- Kesley Holdgrafer