Week 22 – Don’t let your sons grow up to be chefs
I hope you all got a chance to read my Dad’s guest post last week. I always enjoy reading his thoughts on paper. We have a close relationship and talk almost every day but I don’t often get the deeper layers to his philosophical onion unless I really pry. I wish he would write more from his mind and soul, about life and agriculture. Someday I’ll be an old fart and it would be something special to pull up great grandpa’s blogs and show them to my grand kids. I heard a quote the other day that said “you only live as long as the last person to remember you”. So with that deep and somber reality, maybe we should all blog about the passions, challenges, and exciting bits in our lives…our kids, grand kids, greats and great-greats may just thank us someday…and hopefully remember us.
I was actually on a quick Colorado trip with my wife last week. I turned 41 and for some reason had a calling to return to the mountains where I once lived. We saw Vance Joy at Red Rocks Amphitheater…what a venue for music. If you’ve never been, make it happen…trust me! For those of you who have experienced that acoustic mountain, you know of what I speak. We also ventured farther into the mountains, towards Lake Dillion and Vail. I often speak of my days cooking, skiing, and hiking and I wanted to show my wife the landscape that helped shape who I’ve become. 15 years ago I was fortunate enough to attend a culinary program within Keystone Resort. It was a hands-on school, a little bit of class and a lot of cooking in the trenches with chef’s who impart their style…sometimes with gentle hand and sometimes by verbal force. Looking back, I was blessed to discover I didn’t want to become a chef. It became obvious to me when I drew the omelet station duty, 6am Christmas morning. It had been the first time in 26 years I hadn’t spent Christmas with my family. If I had stayed in the chef world, there would be more missed holidays, birthdays and milestones with the family. The other great discovery in that high elevation kitchen was that the quality of food mattered to me. I would be filleting a farm-raised salmon and asking why we weren’t using wild salmon. We were butchering cases of commodity beef and I was always asking why we weren’t using local grass-fed. It was in those months that I became fascinated and almost detective-like regarding the back story of the ingredients we were crafting. Flash-forward to today and I carry that same mindset with food we raise and the food I buy for my family. I’ve said before and I say again, why spend the least amount of money on the lesser quality food to feed the most important people in your family?
So let’s talk farming. It seems I picked a great week to be in the cool crisp air of the Rockies. We had a week of July weather in May…simply brutal here in Iowa. Almost 100 degrees and high humidity is hard on both man and beast. Everybody made it to the other side of the cool front. Let’s hope July feels like May and we’ll call it even. The one upside is that the crops grow leaps and bounds with warm weather. The organic corn and oats outpace the weeds and the pasture and hay grow by inches overnight. I will say that I’m a bit worried about our lack of moisture. Usually with a big cool down you get a nice shot of rain. Sure enough, the sea parted and we missed out. Maybe this week we will be more fortunate…don’t tell my wife I’m worrying about it.
Today we are firing up the mower and baler. We have about 50 or so acres to mow, then rake, bale and wrap tomorrow or Thursday. Capturing the energy of the sun now will pay dividends for the four legged animals in January…one of the great marvels of agriculture. When I was gone, Dad drilled 40 acres of forage sorghum. A little shot of rain would be welcome to kick start that crop. I’ll dig up a few seeds later today to see if he planted deep enough into moisture for germination. Generally, there is enough to get the seeds started. They seem to know what to do…roots sprout and head south, the plant heads north towards the sun.
The calving report from Ken and Julie continues to be positive. They are on the home stretch, maybe a few weeks to go. There are over 100 calves on cows, about 25 left to go. They had a few hard births in the last week, but nothing the local ruminant OB/GYN couldn’t handle. Kenny’s farm has gotten more rain than us, so his pastures are lush, the new seeding growing steadily and there is enough to make hay for winter stock. Next week he’ll be switching gears and breeding the new heifers from Montana. I have a photographer scheduled to visit soon so hopefully I can share the beautiful landscape in upcoming blogs.
That’s all for now…stay tuned next week to see how our first hay crop finished up!