“When the soil is gone, so is the nation. A nation can never outlive the usefulness of the soil.”
We put more seed in the ground this week than any other week since I’ve been farming in the last 10 years. We had 2 no-till drills rolling, both Dad and Doug grinding out the long, deep stares of pass after pass. It takes a certain mind-set to plant seed all day. You have to be able to settle into the seat, have laser focus to keep the tractor on track, and yet not so focused that you mentally wear down early on in the day. The tricky thing about being the one to plant is that your performance will be on full display in the weeks ahead. If you lose track of the mark and stray wide, the rows separate. We call this a rabbit run. Run the rows into each other and overlap and you waste seed and potentially lose a little yield. I’m sure you can imagine the silent judgment from the neighbors slowly driven pick-up truck, inspecting your planting accuracy. As we were loading the drill, we all briefly discussed buying a new tractor with GPS. Most farmers plant with auto-steer and satellite precision these days but as you might imagine, that technology is not cheap…and we tend to farm low-tech and low budget, first because of necessity, now because of habit.
Weather seems to be a vital element within the farming world, and don’t panic now but we are noticeably dry here…and almost everywhere else in the Midwest I’m hearing. All the seeds in the world don’t matter much if you don’t have a rain to get them going. My dad has a saying each year during dry spells…”a good rain always makes you a better farmer”. My wife has been trying to convince me that worrying about the weather doesn’t change the weather. Do I have to admit she’s right? But…how does one move through day and night as a farmer waiting for a rain? I think the lack of control and the unknown is the torture a farmer must wrestle with…a match we will never win. With the risk of a jinx, there are 3 good chances of rain this week…I’ll be doing my rain dance after the family is in bed tomorrow night. I hope the neighbor’s not watching.
Never a dull moment here on the farm, my wife’s heart skipped a beat Sunday morning. She and my 1 year old were walking around outside and little did she know that they weren’t the only one enjoying the morning sunshine. As she rounded the corner of the house, there chomping away on the backyard lawn was one of our cows. #28 doesn’t have much respect for the electric fence and must have decided the grass was indeed greener on the other side. So there she was, nose down, ripping mouthfuls of new and old growth grass, completely oblivious that my daughter was 10 yards away watching. I think my wife did a double take as she surveyed the scene. A second later, she scooped Reign up and the Sunday stroll was over. The photo this week is of her and I playing peek-a-boo in our windbreak an hour later as I tried to convince her the grass was indeed just as green on the other side of the fence. Boundaries…we all need boundaries!
On the culinary front, I did fire up the natural charcoal grill yesterday as I did some yard work. Isn’t there something special about a beautiful Sunday, kids playing, spring tasks finally getting checked off the list and that wonderful smell of grilled meat. On the menu was the latest batch of beef that we had processed. For the last decade I always seem to be nervous before I sample a new batch of beef. Is it going to taste ok? Is it tender enough? Every time I’m never disappointed and this time was no different. In the grilling lineup was a Ribeye, NY Strip and a Ranch steak. I usually just sprinkle a little of our all-purpose seasoning salt and that’s it. My 2 boys and a friend of Graham’s made short work of most of it, but I managed to sneak a few pieces in…one of the benefits to slicing it. I know I’m preaching to the choir here but there is nothing better than a grass-fed steak cooked medium rare. I know living here in Iowa that everybody talks ad nauseam about corn-fed steak but I’d bet the farm that we win a blind taste test for flavor every time. Speaking of steak, we have them on sale this month. Click below and throw a few in your cart…your family and friends will thank you!
We’re back out in the fields today and tomorrow, hopefully will finish planting all of our early fields and then wait for the clouds to make me us all a better farmer!