Can you make a career farming?

Farming, its not easy, if it was, everyone would do it. Thats why only a few can handle it. Honestly, I’d never make it as a farmer and thats why I appreciate people like my husband and the ones that are able to handle it.

First of all, you need to know how to manage a business. Many don’t realize it, but you are running a full-time business. Managing people, paperwork, crops, equipment, more paperwork, taxes and the phone calls, good Lord the phone calls. It requires learning the market, how to buy, sell and when to hold on to your crop. Computer work is a must. Making spreadsheets to see what you have in and whats going out as far as grain, payments and even land rent. Tech savvy is nearly a must.

Managing a crew isn’t easy. Everyone needs to stay busy and sometimes when the weather isn’t cooperating you’ll need to find a way to keep them busy, after all they want their paycheck at the end of the week. The crew may not always get along, so thats when the management and people skills come in. Dissolving common disputes between the workers will happen, just like any job. Keeping your crew safe is the upmost important thing though. You want your crew going home safe, which requires those safety talks.

Equipment purchases. Going shopping for new equipment is fun, until they show you those numbers. For instance, a new John Deere 8345R tractor which is a fairly common tractor for a good size farm, has a price tag of $408,000. So theres the tractor, but its not much good without an attachment. You’ll need a plow, planter, grain drill, fertilizer of some sort, sprayer and some way to move dirt around for terraces and drainage usually. Now granted, if you’re first starting out, you can rent all these things or even hire someone to do it. That list is just an example to show it takes money to make money in farming. You can easily get yourself in a hole, thats where the business management comes in, and a good relationship with your banker helps too!

Board member. Several farmers are on their local and even state level boards. Its good to be in the know about whats going on in the Agriculture world. Politics actually have quite an influence in the Ag world.

Weather, it doesn’t always cooperate. When you finally get your plan together on what you’ll plant, when you’ll plant it and how, good ol Mother Nature will typically show you who’s boss of that plan. She can either help or hurt your plan. Farming is a gamble. It’s also rewarding, so don’t get discouraged.

Weather is usually why you’ll need a good relationship with your crop insurance. They are there to help you when you need it. Which will also bring me back to the first part, PAPERWORK! Filing is SO important. Organization is key, keep your paperwork organized, I literally can’t stress that enough. I may also know firsthand how important it is, whoops!

The average age of the U.S. farmer has grown from 50.5 years to 58.3 years old.

Obviously with that statistic it shows the need for farmers is starting to be a concern. The younger generation needs to know its ok to go into a field of work that requires getting your hands dirty! Some people are made for it and have a passion for it. I’ve talked to many people, all ages and diversities that have wished they would’ve gotten into it, but just didn’t know where to start or if their family would approve of such a job. Farming is rewarding and its pretty dang important, after all you’re growing food that we kinda need to survive.

There’s a lot to farming, yes, but it’s been such an amazing way to raise kids. I feel like it really shows kids how different life can be. You don’t NEED an 8-5 job to make it in life. You don’t need a fast paced city life to be successful. Skilled labor and common sense are so rare these days and I feel like those two things are lacking in this world, but are making a comeback. When I graduated High School 16 years ago, you were basically going to be a nobody without a college degree, now, the need for skilled labor and common sense is high in demand. It’s ok to not wear a uniform to your job everyday, it’s ok to not have a job with a salary, vacation time, insurance and that typical 40 hour week. Some people are molded differently thank God, and thats what makes the world go round. It takes all kinds of kinds.


Why we don’t eat organic.

Digging into some sweet corn, DIRECTLY from the field.

This topic was actually started by my daughter. She got in the truck yesterday after school, I proceed to ask my usual questions “how was school? Did you have fun? Was everyone nice to you”. She happily answered them all, then asked me “Mama are we allergic to organic, is that why we don’t eat it?’

Not gonna lie here, it totally caught me off guard, but I figured I’d just give her the straight to the point answer, which is;

We don’t eat Organic food because of the marketing and the way they sell it. I told her that MOST organic, not all, companies say that we (conventional farmers) use and do harmful things to grow our food to sell their products. Not much to my surprise that she said “well thats rude and we don’t do bad things, daddies corn is my favorite food!”. She’s more than right, we don’t do anything different to our food than we do to the food that leaves our land. We take pride in safely and effectively using the land we have to produce crops that are used in food, or sent to livestock animals which may turn into food as well.

I have friends that grow organic, and I fully support them and they fully support us! The whole Organic vs Conventional war was started by big companies selling their products. There is no nutritional difference or taste difference, its the same vegetable or fruit, only grown differently. There is no good or bad method, there are just different methods, which is great, it gives consumers more options! Companies are making BILLIONS off of portraying that Organic is this whole different, healthier type of crop, which is false. Large companies also portray Organic is a small farm, when they can be just as large as a conventional farm, and both can also be family owned and operated (99% of U.S. farms are family owned).

A lot of Organic food is grown using conventional farming techniques, because lets face it, we are all farmers just trying to reach the same outcome.

The argument here though is the marketing, because at the store when you see the word “Organic” you think of all the things you’ve seen on tv or social media, have heard on the radio, etc and you remember all these great things they say about it and how they use scary words like “GMO’s, Pesticides and words you can’t pronounce” (yes I literally heard on the radio a company priding themselves by not using ingredients you can’t pronounce) to keep you away from the “other” products. The fact is, those “other” products are just the same as its counterpart, the Organic in this case, and you should not feel that you have to buy Organic to keep yourself and your family healthier. For all we know that same farmer that grew that organic lettuce may also grow conventional lettuce, all with the same care and safety in mind.

In the end, its all up to the consumer. I’m glad we live in a country with options in our food supply, but as for me and my family, we will just eat what looks good and not fear what big marketing says!

Tessa “If they sell corn juice at the store, I will buy it”
One of the many things I love about farm life, sitting & chatting in the Ranger one evening after picking corn.

What the Wheat

So it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and honestly you haven’t missed much. Our part of the world got rain and more rain, it was non stop for 2 months. There was no field work, but there was supposed to be. We should’ve been planting wheat in October, but the fields weren’t even ready because IT WOULDN’T STOP RAINING! Like most farmers, we’ll be whining about no rain soon I’m sure.

Anyways, we have FINALLY started our wheat planting, or sowing as some call it. Better late than never, right?! Eh, hopefully. The guys have been working long hours to get the wheat in the ground before the next rain, thats actually supposed to happen tonight. 

With farmers rushing around the roads and fields trying to get their wheat crop in the ground, I decided now may be a good time to have a quick Wheat 101. 

 

Wheat: What is it?

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Obviously you probably know of and have heard of Wheat, I mean you own a computer with internet and have been outside of your home in the last 300 years, but I want to get more in depth.

For starters, wheat is a member of the grass family and produces a dry, seeded fruit called a kernel. It originated from the Middle East more than 17,000 years ago. 

Fun fact: The Roman Goddess Ceres, who was deemed the protector of the grain, gave grains their common name today, which is “cereal”. 

Wheat was first planted in the United States as a hobby crop, but is now the primary grain used in United States grain products. China is actually the largest wheat producing country in the world. Luckily there are 42 states in the U.S. that can grow wheat and in 2017 there were 2.31 BILLION bushes of wheat produced. Kansas is actually the leading wheat producing state in the U.S. with about 467.4 million bushels. Following Kansas is North Dakota, then Washington. Sorry Texas, but we are the 9th most producing state in the United States, in 2017 anyways. About half of the wheat grown in the U.S. is used domestically.

 

Fun fact: A bushel of wheat weighs about 60 pounds.

 

Classes of Wheat.

There are 6 classes of wheat;
Hard Red Winter, Hard Red Spring, Soft Red Winter, Hard White, Soft White, and Durum.

Here in Texas, its mostly Hard Red Winter Wheat, the kind thats used in breadmaking, rolls, flat breads, all purpose flour and also cereal. Also grown is Soft Red Winter Wheat, which is generally used to make cookies, crackers, pretzels and pastries. The crackers main ingredient is unbleached flour from soft red or soft white wheat.

Texas winter wheat is planted and sprouts in the fall, becomes dormant in the winter, grows again in the spring and is harvested late spring, early summer (here).

Durum wheat, which isn’t talked about much here, is primarily grown in North Dakota and Montana. It’s known for the excellent quality in producing pasta.

Fun fact: Wheat raised locally goes to Dominos pizza and chicken express.

 

 

How does it go from the field to our food?

Combines ready to harvest wheat.

Well, thats a loaded question so bear with me.

All wheat is harvested with a combine, unless its grazing wheat, which is a heavy crop in Texas that makes up 40-45% of Texas wheat, then it is grazed by livestock. The other 55-60% of the Texas wheat crop will be hauled to a local grain bin, grain elevator or even shipped by rail to sell in the grain market either domestically or overseas.  And if you think about it, thats A LOT of exporting because on average, Texas produces 80 MILLION bushes of wheat each year, with about 6 million acres planted. 

Fun fact: It takes 9 seconds for a combine to harvest enough wheat to produce 70 loaves of bread.

It takes of lot of hands to put a wheat crop in the ground. Farmers need the seed, fertilizer, a tractor for each grain drill, fuel and a mechanic on hand at all times, because something tends to break often. 

This particular year there is plowing before the drill comes through to plant, mostly trying to dry out the ground. Some here are even slinging wheat with a spreader and plowing the seed in, then using a packer to pack the ground down so the soil isn’t loose.  On a normal year the ground is prepped with fertilizer and cultivated to be smooth, then the air seeder, or grain drill, comes through putting the seeds in the ground. 

Tractor and air seeder.

I hope I put a little twinkle of new info in there for you because wheat is the most important food grain source for us humans. High fiber and nutrients, Vitamin B and minerals are just a few natural health benefits you get from wheat. I want people to know that those farmers out there aren’t just doing nothing, they’re planting wheat that could end up in YOUR pantry!

Til next time my friends, thanks for reading!

Lindsay

Movie Night at the College.

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You could say that this night is what sparked my advocacy for Agriculture more. The Hill County Texas Farm Bureau hosted an evening to show the 50 minute version of “Food Evolution” along with 4 panelists and allowed the audience to ask questions. It was a GREAT idea, since there is a lot of talk about GMO’s. The total count of attendees was over 140, which included many college students.

So this event only lasted about 2 hours, I feel like the question and answering could’ve went on for many more hours. When I left that event, I wasn’t sure if it swayed the common consumer or perhaps the “middle man”, which is what we call a person that isn’t sure if they understand or don’t understand. There was one statement that I really felt like took over, which was “My child is allergic to GMO corn, but not NON-GMO corn”. Being a mother, I can imagine the fear, the anger, the questions I would have seeing my child swell up and not knowing at the time what or how it happened. So, as soon as I came home, I started researching article after article, I even asked other people, if they had a similar situations arise around them.

Well, in short, nobody had heard of this, or had seen it happen before, ever, just strictly from a GMO cord cob.

So, what is a GMO exactly? Its a Genetically Modified Organism, which is a crop developed with genetic engineering. This has actually been going on for more than 10,000 years. You may ask why? Well, to create new varieties of crops that can be pest resistant, disease resistant and tolerant to herbicides as well as drought. A common misconception is that herbicides or other chemicals are inserted into the seed or plant. Thats simply not true. A GMO plant is developed through a process in which a copy of a desired gene or section of genetic material from on plant or organism is placed in another plant. Also, another misconception is theres “thousands of GMO’s”, in reality theres only 10, which are Sweet and Field Corn, Soybeans, Papaya, Canola, Cotton, Alfalfa, Sugar beets, Squash ( which was launched in 1995), Apple and Potato. Another misconception, GMO’s are sprayed more with toxic chemicals. Wrong again. We are able to spray less, since the plant is resistant to bugs, and yes are able to spray the weeds around the corn plant since the plant is resistant to certain herbicides. We typically spray everything we need to before a corn ear is ever put on, meaning no grain ever sees chemical.

So anyways, back to this allergy thing, GMO sweet corn is the Bt gene, a very well known protein that is non allergenic, and if a person had an allergy to it, they would also be allergic to NON-GMO and organic sweet corn because Bt is used in many organic sprays as a pesticide. Bt proteins break down in our stomach acid within 30 seconds.

So now you’re like “what the heck is Bt?”, I got you. It stands for Bacillus thuringiensis. Its a microbe naturally found in soil, it makes proteins that are toxic to insects or larvae. There are many types of Bt, each target different insect groups such as, beetles, mosquitos, black flies, caterpillars and moths. Bt has been registered for use in pesticides by the EPA since 1961.

Annnnd back to the allergy thing, its extremely unlikely that corn would cause an allergic reaction. Food allergens have common characteristics and all GM Crops are screened to make sure that their proteins do not share characteristics with known allergens. Scientists have specific techniques to assess allergenic potential in new crops, both GM and conventional, which includes detailed bioformatic comparisons, immunologic assays and protein analyses. Whoa, big words. Anyways, the entire genome is sequenced , and all amino acids in the genome are compared with a database that houses known allergens. To date, no new allergies have been caused by food from GMO’s. We actually know more about the genetics and the potential allergens of commercially approved GMO varieties that we do about most conventional or Organic varieties.

I have no doubt Food Allergies are on the rise, but the top 8 most common food allergies are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. Between 1997 and 2008, the peanut and tree nut allergy tripled in children. Out of all of those, soy is the only GMO.

So, I know everyone will have a different view on this, and thats ok. My take is, I don’t feel theres enough scientific evidence to support that statement. Food allergies are real and a total pain for so many, I can’t imagine having to deal with being allergic to so many common food items, but one thing I feel confident in is they aren’t because of GMO’s. Like so many, I will be eagerly waiting for a reason why food allergies are on the rise.

–Lindsay

 

 

My info came from:

http://www.agprofessional.com

http://www.gmoanswers.com

http://www.bestfoodfacts.com

http://www.npic.orst.edu

http://www.foodallergy.org

Who wears Flip Flops on the Farm?

That would be ME!

Hey and thanks for checking out my brand new site!

I’m Lindsay Kimbrell, I’m married to a 5th Generation farmer. If you would’ve asked me 14 years ago, if I was going to marry a farmer and live the rest of my life with 2 kids on a farm, I’d say, “Doubt It”. Well, here I am! We’ve been married almost 12 years, we have 2 kids, a boy thats 11 and a girl thats 7 and I LOVE every bit of it. Its hard, its easy, it’s fun, it’s challenging, but most of all, I feel so blessed to have this life.

So, enough of the mushy stuff. More about our farm, we steadily every year grow Corn and Wheat. We have grown Cotton, Milo, Sunflowers, Sesame and soon adding to the list will be Soybeans. If you ask me what my favorites have been, yeah, its those huge Sunflowers. They are BEAUTIFUL when they bloom. Maybe one day the price will go back up and we can get back to those. Least favorite, the Milo, aka Sorghum, talk about ITCHY and dusty. Luckily we haven’t done that in a while. We personally have no animals, I get asked all the time how are we farmers with no animals… easy, I don’t like getting out of bed or up early because a cow is in the road, and I love going places and I’m selfish and don’t want to take time to feed something every day. I can’t leave out that we do have a Maltese named Daisy, and 7, wait no one died yesterday, 6 fish.

We are lucky enough to have our family close by as well. My in-laws, who live right down the road, raise cattle and they’re pretty darn good at it too. My “little” brother in law, he’s not so little anymore just younger, he helps us A LOT, so we are pretty thankful for him. Across the road from then, the man the myth the legend, Pepaw, the grandpa of my husband, and his wife. Pepaw  and his daddy, and brothers ran all the farmland around here, and from what I hear, they were pretty darn good at it. I’m also lucky enough to have a mother in law who lives in town and does all the girly things with my daughter, as well as 2 sister in laws, one is about to make me an AUNT for the first time, yay, and also another brother in law.  About 15 minutes from me is my parentals, the poor things that raised me, now they get to babysit my kids every other weekend 🙂

I created a blog because I love to advocate for Ag. Agriculture is so important and the consumer is so distanced from where their food comes from.  I feel its important to let them know thats its just people like us and its safe! So much talk about GMO, Organic, Corporate Farm and so on. I want to try and do my best to educate and communicate with the common consumer.

So, I hope you continue to stick it out with me as I continue my blogging “career”!

Lindsay

“If you are too lazy to plow, don’t expect a harvest.” Proverbs 20:4

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