March 31, 2013

The Race Is On

Springtime. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and the tractor is running. Wait! That's not how it normally goes, but it is for the farmer. With warm weather and beautiful days comes all the work involved in farming. In a month our to do list goes from five items to two pages and that's just because we got tired of writing. While many of you are dreaming of the beach, planning summer vacations, or getting ready to ramp up BBQ season the American Farmer is in full swing of their busiest season.

Many of you know exactly what I am talking about. Many of you are scratching your head going what all is there to do on a farm? Here is what most of us in the Middle Tennessee area are doing right now:

  • Spreading Fertilizer- We spread fertilizer on our pastures and crop fields to feed and nourish the plants we depend so greatly upon. Fertilizer is the food and nutrients a plant needs to grow and thrive. For many of us it is one of our largest input costs for the year. Fertilizer sometimes gets a bad reputation for being harmful, but it is not. We spread it safely and responsibly, and the results can be seen in the beautiful green grass in our pastures.
  • Sowing Seed-This is one of the two times every year that the No-Till Drills at the Soil Conservation District Office gets booked up. Seed is going in the ground. From grasses to clovers to corn to soybeans, in the next two months it will all go and grow in the ground. 
  • Working Livestock- All forms of livestock will be worked this spring. From cattle to horses to goats and sheep they will all be run through a working facility. They will receive vaccines, de-wormers, and fly repellents. They will be tagged, cut, banded, and be healthy and ready to hit that green grass. For livestock, this is their yearly doctors visit. We do not overdo drugs. We do not "pump them full of hormones and antibiotics." We give them what they need to be and stay healthy.
  • Fence Repair and Construction- Cattle that have been fed hay all winter are ready to hit that green grass, but in order to do so fences must be in place and in good repair to make it through the growing season.  This means long hours riding and patching fence. It also means long days of fence construction.
  • Equipment Maintenance- Tractors will be maintained, balers will be greased, and planters will be calibrated. Nights will be spent in the farm shops working on equipment so it will all be ready to go for the growing season.
This is just a few of the major items farmers are doing right now. This is also on top of their required daily activities of feeding and maintenance. There will be breakdowns, repairs, plan changes, temperature swings, floods, droughts, and who knows what else to be dealt with.

Across the nation, farmers are doing different things. This list is just what we are doing on our cattle and grain farms in Middle Tennessee. The range of different types of farms here in America is simply phenomenal.

 Next time you set down to eat your meals or put on your nice clothes think about the farmer who worked from sunup to sundown not to destroy the land but to save it so you and I can grow and thrive from it.

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