Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.... Farmer Style

When I was growing up Earth Day was about walking the area around the school picking up trash. We also "studied" the 3 R's... Reuse,Reduce, and Recycle! Today, as a farmer, I reflect on Earth Day. There is not much that has changed, just perhaps implemented a bit differently. Farmers are some of the original Earth friendly people! Here is just a peek at some of Earth friendly things we do at Heger Farms.

As I reflect on our farm and what we do each day the 3 R's stand out and stand strong.

Reuse: There are many items that we we use... tires, wood, bolts, tubing, brackets, seed bags, chemical tubs, machinery, towel, T-shirts, etc. We have a fine collection of items that get transformed in to new objects, art, tools, pipe plugs, rags, new pieces of machinery, etc. each and every day. Even items that have been laying around for awhile, find new ways to be used. We feel that almost eveything has a second life in one way or another. Yes, even livestock poop is reused.. it's great fertilizer!

Reduce: Our farm is a minimum till farm. We work very hard and with intent to minimize the amount of soil disruption each planting and harvest season. This means that in the spring we do not turn the soil over to make it "pretty" and black. We have chosen machinery that allows us to plant our crop into the soil with only a small path of disruption. This means that the nutrients and top soil do not get blown or washed away. In addition, through research and technlogy, we have been able to plant a pinto bean variety that stands tall, called upright pinto beans that can be solid seeded, or seeded without spaces between rows. Solid seeding helps control weeds and untintentional crops ( from pervious years seeds in the ground) This also means we can eliminate tilling the soil 2 times before planting, cultivating between rows 2 times, taking time and fuel to cut them and and then combine rows.
Leaving stubble ( see above pic) also helps develop nutrient and maintain value in the soil so that farmers do not have to apply them to grow a healthy crop.
We also are able to reduce the amounts of fertilizer, chemical and seed usage on our farm. With cutting edge precision agricultural technology we know what fields, or parts of fields, produce the best. We also know the nutient makeup of the soil in various parts of each field. This information allows us to adjust the fertilizer, seeds, and chemicals so that we do not use more seed than what the land can produce, and product for that specific plant in a specific part of a field.

Recycle: On our farm there are several products that we could recycle... the most common is oil. We collect the used oil from our vehicles and machinery. About once a year a company comes and picks it up. They then pay us for the oil... this becomes the money that we invest back into the farm, our kids, and some of their 4-H projects!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Oh These Small Towns

Growing up in the city of Minneapolis, I had no clue what small rural towns were all about. In 2000 I moved from Fargo/ Moorhead( where I went to college) to Underwood, ND, a town of about 850 people.
Initially I was overwhelmed by the fact that people knew my name. Then it seemed like everyone knew what I was doing or had done. After that, I realized that more and more people were related to my husband, everyone was family, and I could never just "be alone". I felt as if I couldn't even use the bathroom without someone finding out how many squares of toilet paper I used.
After some time, other people moved into town and they became the ones that people examined. I became a thing of the past and it was no big deal if I wore my flannel pants to the grocery store.
Through the process of becoming familiar and comfortable in my new hometown, I became to realize that yes, people are noisier than those in my neighborhood in Minneapolis, but that they mean well. They want to make sure that they get to know you so that they feel secure. They are also watching out for you and others. I figured out that they really didn't care if my lights never came on at night or that I left my TV on all night or that my garbage can stayed at the end of my driveway for several days instead of returning back next to the house immediately after the trash was picked up. They cared that there was a change or that something was different. They wanted to make sure everything was OK.
After living in a small town now for 13 years, I will say that I still feel this is true. The people care. They care about their property, their families, their communities, and their neighbors. I can honestly say that if there is one thing that small towns do well, it is pull together in tough times! Whether it be illness, injury, accident, tragedy or loss of a loved one, people, even those we don't feel close to, come together to lend a hand, offer support, and help out.
So, the next time I sigh and think about the 45 minute drive I have to get to Walmart or that I can't find a birthday gift for that last minute party one of my kids was invited to, I will remember what small towns are all about... support, socialization, and security!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Easter Sweets

Now that it has been almost a week since Easter was celebrated, I look back at the pictures and delight in the joy of the day!
A photo essay full of expressions, some- well a lot of frosting, eggs, and time with family!