Monday, March 28, 2016

Barn Finds

Spring is here!  Spring time in North Dakota sometimes looks a lot like winter, but it is always full of surprises.  We will have some days near 60 degrees and then possibly a snow storm the next.  The good thing is that the snow melts relatively quickly.

I always get a bit panicky in March because I know the field work that lies ahead.  Switching gears from primarily office tasks and getting the home organized, to 8 hours a day (at least) driving some form of machinery is not an easy transition for me. Usually this means I spend the last few weeks in March on a mad dash getting spring cleaning completed.

Last spring I started to organize the hayloft in our barn.  I should just say "attempted," because that was a much bigger project than I had anticipated.  And no, I did not get it finished.

The barn, complete with hayloft.

No livestock have been in the barn since my husband graduated high school, except for that short stint with some "pet" calves.  The hayloft, or upper area of the barn, has since been used as a storage area for random things rather than hay or straw, although there are still bales in there.

My goal in organizing the barn was to get it so that we could store the things we access most (shovels, bikes, holiday decor, etc.) in one area rather than scattered all over the place.  Also, many of the items that had been put up there over the years were starting to get damaged by dust, water (prior to fixing the roof), and who knows what the barn cats were up to...

Back when we lived in the big city and chose to have cable, I would love to watch American Pickers on the History channel.  I was intrigued by all of the amazing, and sometimes odd, treasures the hosts would find in the old buildings dotting the rural landscape.

After stumbling upon some neat picks myself, I began to share my finds on my Instagram account.  Here are some of my favorites.  (Click on the links below each photo for more of a description.)

Universal Chart & Sign Printer

Fairmont Crates

Replogle World Globe

Dakota Maid Feeds-Flour Sign

Philco Radio


There are many other great items, but I can't post them all on this post.  You can search for all of my barn finds by using #greenacresbarnfinds.  I also have a Barn Finds album on The Green Acres Report Facebook page.

I won't be intentionally rummaging through the barn this spring.  Instead I'll be focusing my efforts on a few house and farm projects.  Also, my oldest has decided that we must plant a garden this year after taking a break the last two years (thanks to his "baby" brother).  I am all for it and can already taste the fresh produce!

However, still look for the occasional barn find photo.  There are too many old and unique things around here not to share.

Barn Picker,

Dana


P.S. I share my barn finds because I think they are special and there is a story hidden behind each piece.  However, no items are for sale.  I just think they are neat, and hope you will too.  Thanks in advance for understanding!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap of Faith

Happy Leap Day!

It only happens once every four years, and today is one of those days.  Today, I am reflecting on where we were four years ago, in 2012.

We had just moved back to the farm in North Dakota after spending the winter in the Twin Cities.  We had moved to the farm the previous August, right in the middle of wheat harvest, after leaving our life in the city with corporate jobs and a two-bedroom apartment.  (I was better at blogging regularly back then.)

Needless to say, all that moving with a family with two young boys was challenging.  Change is always challenging - whether for the good or bad.  Add a farm to the mixture, you get a whole lot of craziness.

We need time to adapt to the changes we are faced with.  I'd like to say that I have adapted well to farm life, but there are still days that are full of challenges.  Some days are just more challenging than others.

The key to dealing with any challenge is faith.

When we decided to leave our city life behind, it was on faith.  Even when we weren't exactly sure what the future would hold, we believed that the move was (and still is) the best decision we could have made for our family.

Now, I don't want you to think that we just up and left our so-called life.  There was a lot of financial number-crunching and scenario planning (or what I like to call "farm wife coaching").  However, our ultimate decision relied upon faith.

Day in and day out, we can't live without it.  Faith is the farmer's way of life.

I'd like to encourage you to go ahead and take a leap of faith today.  You never know where you'll be four years from now.

Be like the frog farmer - take a leap of faith!


Happy Hopping!

Dana

Monday, January 25, 2016

Finding Common Ground

This past week I had the opportunity to attend an event with CommonGround in Washington, D.C.  (Yes, the city that just was slammed by an epic blizzard.)

CommonGround is a group of farmers wanting to have conversations about the food we grow and how we produce it.  I started getting involved with CommonGround North Dakota a little less than a year ago.  You may remember my post about our largest state event, Banquet in a Field.

The North Dakota ladies in Washington DC as the snow started to fall.

I attended this training with a group of North Dakota women.  There were 20 other states represented as well.  Meeting farmers and ranchers from other areas of the country always sparks my interest.  Sometimes there are similarities, but many times there are differences depending on location, and crops and animals raised.  Some of the women have been living on farms their entire life, and others (like me) are transplants.

The one thing that united the attendees was our passion to share our personal experiences with the people that purchase food.  We want to help sort through the myths and misinformation surrounding food and farming - whether it be on social media, one-on-one conversations, or talking with the media.

Brainstorming blog ideas during the social media breakout session.

This training is so beneficial.  It helps me as a farmer find the best way to communicate to non-farmers about the food we produce.  It also connects me with a tribe of women who understand the struggles of being a farmer and rejoice in each other's successes.  We all are looking toward a better future in agriculture.

People want transparency and their questions answered.  The volunteers at CommonGround are here to help connect our farms to the food on your table.  Please check out our website, and "like" us Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to find our common ground.


Dana


P.S. Our training was cut short due to the impending snow storm, but it was wonderful nonetheless.  I was able to fly out on Friday afternoon as the snow was starting to fall.  There are some volunteers still stranded, but they are making the most of it.  I wish everyone safe travels as clean up from the blizzard continues. #winterstormjonas

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Family Report 2015

The year of 2015 is coming to a close, and another year of farming is in the books - or almost in the books.  I have a large portion of our 2015 bookkeeping to do for tax preparation, so I'll be tinkering away at that in the upcoming weeks. (Ugh....why do I do this to myself?!) 

Aside from deflated crop prices, it was a good year for farming. If you have been following the blog, you will remember that the weather was very mild, aside from a hail storm or two.  It allowed us to get in the field early this spring and harvest crops ahead of the normal time frame - we were done with field work in October!  (You can see a summary of each month's activities by choosing the "Month by Month" category.)

Travis just completed his one-year term on the North Dakota Farm Bureau state board.  It was a position that coincided with being co-chairs with Dana on the NDFB Young Farmer & Rancher committee.  We traveled to San Diego, Nashville and various meetings across the state of North Dakota.  It has been a great opportunity, and we officially retire from the committee at the end of January.

However, with all of the travel, we did discover that having both of us away from the farm at the same time was a bit stressful - coordinating things like child care and accounting for winter weather.  In truth, we just missed the kids.  The boys keep us on our toes, but it is a chaos that leaves a noticeable void when you leave home for a week.

Photo by Creative Pictures

We keep our sanity by having the younger boys (ages 4 & 2) continue to go to daycare throughout the winter while the 6-year-old is in school.  It provides some quiet time to get caught up on things like bookkeeping, organizing/selling/donating the boys' old clothes (and toys...don't tell them), and a house project or two.  Travis will prepare taxes again this winter in our small town.

We are grateful for the blessings this year has brought.  Thank you to those of you who read the blog and my other social media sites.  I hope that you find the content entertaining and informative.  We look forward to new opportunities in the coming year.  Enjoy the rest of Christmas (it's not over yet) and have Happy New Year!


Dana

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

November: The Month of Winter Preparation

Welcome to the November installment of my Month-By-Month blog series.  
I figured it was time to get an update on the blog since it is currently mid-December.

Completing corn harvest in the middle of October as we did this year is not normal for North Dakota agriculture, but it was a welcome change.  It offered time to get to other projects done around the farm before the cold temperatures moved in.

This November, we had ample time to winterize equipment and put it storage before the cold and snow arrived.  The temperatures were warm and outside work was enjoyable.

Mowing the grass and leaves in November typically does not get done.

There are there are a variety of winter preparation tasks to be done on many pieces of machinery. Different pieces of equipment require more care than others.  In general, this includes cleaning inside and out, blowing out water lines in the sprayer, adding antifreeze, changing oil, pest control, etc. 

While my husband and father-in-law handle much of the machinery maintenance work, I use post-harvest time to catch up on things around the house and yard that have been neglected the last six months.  I even was able to get the shovels and sleds out of storage before it snowed!

Shovels and sleds ready and waiting to be put to work.

There were other events throughout the month including a trip to Nashville to attend the AgChat conference in Nashville (you can read more about that in my friend Katie Pinke's AgWeek column), the North Dakota Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, and visiting my family in the Twin Cities for Thanksgiving.

This November was full of activity, but it was manageable.  Here is a summary of our other farm activities each month this year:




Dana

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Soybean Photoshoot

One morning at the end of August I received a phone call from staff member of the North Dakota Soybean Council.  She was looking for a woman soybean farmer to volunteer for a photoshoot showcasing just that: a woman farmer in a field of soybeans.  I fulfilled those requirements, and I graciously accepted her offer.

I remember the day vividly because it also happened to be my oldest boy's first day of school.  I dropped off the kids at school and daycare, which is a feat in of itself, and proceeded back to the farm to do something I don't usually do - put some tender loving care into my appearance.

One of the perks (in my opinion) of working on the farm with your family is that you don't have to put much thought into your daily appearance.  I typically spend all of 15 minutes getting ready in the morning.

There is no dress code on our farm other than wearing clothes to accommodate one's own job requirements and comfort level.  Depending on the weather, summer attire usually this consists of a cap, t-shirt, jeans and work boots.  Sometimes a tank top.  Unfortunately, yoga pants and crocs are only acceptable in case of emergency.

I wear my hair in a pony tail everyday.  Most people will only see my hair down (literally, not figuratively...I think) when I am at a meeting or conference.  A full face of make-up is typically reserved for church and special functions.

However, I was able to get myself photoshoot-ready by the time the photographer's crew arrived at the farm.  The only thing that was different than my everyday attire was the make-up, and clothing that did not advertise a seed company.

thegreenacresreport_soybeanphotoshoot1
Farming attire - make-up optional.

The rest of the morning was spent by me posing for photos around our soybean fields and grain bins.  I did my best to not look awkward (what do I do with my hands?!) or channel my inner-Madonna.  #strikeapose

thegreenacresreport_soybeanphotoshoot2
"Look this way.  Tilt your head.  FABULOUS!"

My farmer husband even got in on a couple of shots with me.  It was like our wedding photos all over again. (Ha! - We were no where near a soybean field on our wedding day.)  One of our photos was used on the North Dakota Soybean Council's 2015 Annual Report.

thegreenacresreport_soybeanphotoshoot3
2015 ND Soybean Council Annual Report cover.

The wonderful photographer was Greg Wanbaugh of Wanbaugh Studios.  My profile photo on this blog has been used with the permission of him and North Dakota Soybean Council.

We would like to thank the North Dakota Soybean Council for this opportunity.  I plan on handing out the publications to family over the holidays.  It's not everyday you are on the cover of a magazine annual report!

Vogue,

Dana

Thursday, November 12, 2015

October: The Month of Corn Harvest

Welcome to the October installment of my Month-By-Month blog series.  (You can find a recap of the rest of the year's activities at the end of this post.)

We finished soybean harvest the first week of October, which continued the early progression we have been experiencing since we began combining crops in July.  Once we completed soybeans, my husband went to work putting the corn header on the combine.  Two days later we were harvesting corn.

The header is the piece of equipment that cuts the crop and feeds it into the combine.  It is considered a separate piece of machinery from the actual combine.  Each brand requires a matching brand of header.  Since we have a new combine this year which is a different manufacturer than our older ones, we had to also get new headers.  (Some headers have the ability to be outfitted with special kits to be used on other brands of combines.)

Claas eight row corn header matches the combine.

Corn requires a unique header to be used just for that crop.  The header we use is spaced for eight rows.  This matches up to our planter which is spaced at the same row width, but with sixteen rows.  We do not use a sixteen row header because of the large volume of corn moving through the combine when it is harvested.

Harvest requires a minimum of three people: one in the combine, one grain cart driver, and one truck driver who rotates between two trucks with semi trailers.  When everything is running the way it should, the system is a well oiled machine.

Corn header and combine harvesting the crop.

The header cuts the crop and the combine processes the grain.  These elaborate pieces of machinery complete what used to be multiple, labor-intensive tasks (hence the term "combine").

The tractor driver with the grain cart pulls along side so the combine to empty the hopper located inside of the combine.  Our grain cart can hold about 2-3 hoppers from the combine, depending on the amount of grain.

Combine emptying corn into the grain cart while on-the-go.

The tractor driver brings the grain cart to the semi truck and unloads it into the trailer.
The truck driver delivers the full trailer to our grain bin lot near home to put the grain in the bin for storage, while leaving the other empty trailer at the field to be filled while he is gone.

This process is repeated from sunup to sundown - unless the moisture content in the corn is too high for storage and would spoil in the grain bin.  Then we have to use a grain dryer that heats the grain to the point where the percentage of moisture is brought down to a safe level (usually around 15%, depending on how long we are planning to store it).

We are fortunate to have a dryer, but I am going to be honest and say I really dislike when we do have to use it.  Our dryer is not very large, so the amount of grain it can move is slower than the speed at which we can harvest it off the field.  It creates a bottleneck, and can really slow down harvest if we need to use it.  By the time corn harvest rolls around, we have already been combining for three months straight and I am ready to be DONE.

Harvest is one of the most exhausting times of the year, but it is also the most rewarding.  Getting the matured crop off of the field is one of the last steps in farming.  Here is a summary of the other activities this year:



Until next month,

Dana