Friday, June 28, 2013

An Afternoon with the Ag Analyst

Getting the mail is a very important job on the farm.
The Ag Analyst is certain that she can get it by herself.
Hmm, she looks for another way in. 
Finding none, she continues the battle. 
Just a little bit taller, just a little bit stronger. 
OK, you can come and help me now.
What shall we do next? 
We can make silly faces at one another. 
Luckily, I have the camera and she doesn't.
 The Ag Analyst did a search through a box of boots and found her brother's old water boots.
Remarkably, they seem to have no holes in them. 
They keep her feet completely dry.
Great for splashing in the fresh rainwater.
She wants me to join her and my heart skips a beat.
Life by the ditch is kind of like life on the beach when you spend the afternoon with the Ag Analyst in GriggsDakota

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Barley in the Boot

The dark green color and the wide leaves indicate a healthy barley field. When the softness of the leaves gives way to a spiked appearance in the barley field, it is time to check the boot.
Farmer Fred pulls up one plant at random. The roots are well developed and there is evidence of two tillered plants. That means a main plant and two small plants that may produce additional barley seeds to increase yield, all grew from one planted seed. The tillered plants have not begun to produce seed heads. Their success will depend on available nutrients, water, and temperature as the Summer progresses. 
The immature head is still forming inside the sleeve of the main stem. We refer to that as "in the boot." Farmer Fred uses his fingernail to slice through the stem fiber to expose the barley head.
It is long and well formed. Things are looking good in the barley field. 
Barley in the boot means heads should be popping out next week in GriggsDakota.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Winter Wheat is Heading

After a long hard battle, our Winter Wheat is heading.
 Last Fall was dry, which diminished the opportunity for the plants to establish. Winter lacked snow cover to protect the wheat during the early months, then lasted into Spring. We weren't sure that there would be a Winter Wheat crop. Some of it had to be destroyed.
So, it was particularly gratifying to find these big heads peeking out. 
It is a month behind last year when it headed in May, but  the leaves on the Winter Wheat plants are lush and wide. That is a very good sign of healthy productive plants.
Farmer Fred reminds me regularly that we don't have a crop until it is in the bin or delivered to the elevator. 
But this gives us hope. 
And a little hope goes a long ways in GriggsDakota.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cattle In the Pasture, Hay in the Works

 The long-awaited Summertime has arrived.
The rains, which have fallen here, but not excessively, means the grass is green and growing. 
At first I though that the girls were afraid of me and going to find their calves. 
But they came in my general direction, as if they were curious and happy to have a visitor. They may smell good things in the breeze and think I am the bearer of refreshments.
It is hard to see, but there is a meadowlark on the wooden fencepost in the middle of the photo. He was singing his heart out as I approached the fence. Is there a sweeter sound on earth than that of a meadowlark song?
In a field nearby, haying has begun. 
The beautiful purple flowers in the alfalfa stood out on the lush green bed of leaves and stem. 
It is a thick stand of alfalfa. It will cure and dry in the field for a few days or more. The length of time depends on the wind and humidity. Then the crop will be raked and baled.
Grandpa Sonny was mowing the field. 
He took a short break and commented on how heavy the stand is.
The cows will need to eat every day next Winter, as well.
The pastures will be frozen over like everything else. 
So Grandpa Sonny is making hay in GriggsDakota.

Monday, June 24, 2013

GriggsDakota Post Number 1000

On the Blogspot Post Counter, this is number 1000. That means we have published 1000 posts in GriggsDakota. 
We begin today with a favorite photo. It is taken during harvest, which is every farmer's favorite time of the year.
To me, blogging is a communications miracle. Telling the story of GriggsDakota has been a challenging and fulfilling undertaking. I am grateful for all who have participated by reading, commenting, and encouraging us. 

GriggsDakota is the story of a family farm. We practice agriculture and have  since the sod was first turned in this area.
It is a good day to review our favorite theory of agriculture.
Is agriculture an art or a science? Our answer to that question is "it must be both or it will be neither." Art is the human effort to imitate, alter, supplement or counteract the work of nature. Science is knowledge of nature attained through study or practice. Historically farming has been treated as an art with most emphasis placed on effort. There were good farmers and bad farmers. What separated them was thought to be more related to passion and motivation than soil content and variety selection.  In modern agriculture there is still a need for art. We are, after all in the business of altering the works of nature on today's farms.  But more and more, farmers have access to scientific data. We need the knowledge gained through study. Farmers have the opportunity to participate in experiments that impact the modern development of this knowledge in the industry. Agriculture needs farmer's participation in order to find a way to feed this hungry world in a sustainable way. So it seems to me that the effort of our art is always complemented by further knowledge of our science. We'll name that the 
"Theory of GriggsDakota."
You can't be a family farm without a family. I was raised on a small family farm. Farmer Fred and I now operate a much larger farm. 
It is the same farm.
 Over 80% of the land that we farm belongs to someone who is related to me. My great grandparents homesteaded here, my grandparents married neighbors, my dad married the girl next door, and we are still farming. Thank you to our family and the neighbors who trust us without the bond of blood. Their commitment allows us to be stewards of their land.
Our focus is to raise food to help feed a hungry world. It is to that end that we work. With the world's population exploding, the idea that every person should have the opportunity to eat every day is getting bigger all the time. 
We expect our farm to continue for future generations. The blog has helped draw focus onto the farm and the practice of farming.  
The late Paul Harvey, famous radio news personality, had an aunt in Oklahoma. When he was writing a news story, he would often ask himself if his aunt would care or what details she would find most interesting. In order to keep his work his own, he didn't actually call and ask her opinion, but kept his aunt's perspective in his mind as he wrote.
In the same way, I have used my Uncle Owen and his sweet wife Lenore to filter the blogposts that I have published. This exercise taught me to find a focus and stay with it each day.
There has been encouragement along the way. Our kids have been cheerful and patient. Our family has contributed and promoted GriggsDakota. They help keep me honest.  
And there is Farmer Fred, an unconventional farmer, who married the farmer's daughter and went into the advertising business. Farmer Fred has been the star of GriggsDakota. After a Summer job on the family farm, he fell in love with farming. His business experience prepared him and provided the resources to fulfill his dream. He read Sam Walton's book "Made in America" soon after it was published in 1992 and decided to apply those principles to farming. He has endlessly analyzed GriggsDakota to find 1000 things he could make 1% better.
The land is large.
The seasons provide the rhythm by which we work.
The weather provides challenges which we strive to overcome.
Inspired and challenged after 1000 posts, we continue with optimism in GriggsDakota.