Women in my family, on both sides, have a history of living long, full lives. They were educated, they worked, they raised families, and they were (and are) independent and opinionated. I can only hope to continue that legacy. Thank you to all the women who made me – my great-grandmas, grandmas, and my mom – for doing hard things so that I could grow up and never feel less-than because I’m a woman.
Thinking back I marvel at how naive we were, and how amazing it was welcoming that sweet boy into the world. We were completely unprepared for the all-consuming transition to parenthood, and I don’t think we’ve looked at anything in our lives the same since that day. A child changes your priorities and your focus in a way that is simply indescribable. As I reflected, I thought of these things I’ve learned the past four years. I don’t know if these are things I wish I’d known, or things I never quite believed, or things new parents need to hear, but regardless, here are my four things:
Work is important in our family. David and I were both raised with strong work ethics, and it’s really a core value for both of us. It’s not that we don’t believe in leisure, but we really appreciate the satisfaction of a job well done, and we don’t shy away from something because it’s “too much work”. It’s important to both of us to to pass this on to our children, and that’s one of the reasons we farm.
Friday David and I celebrated 10 years of wedded bliss (plus all those other emotions that married couples experience). David is a fantastic partner in farming, parenting, and life in … Continue reading Our First Decade
The last couple of weeks have definitely been a new challenge, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of it (even though I definitely still hope they can both get back to daycare this week). Here’s what I think we’re doing right, and what I think we can improve:
Two weeks ago David and I attended our local county fair. We didn’t have any livestock at the fair this year, but each year fair-week serves as a reunion with … Continue reading County Fair
In his years at K-State, David’s favorite band was Cross Canadian Ragweed. They often played shows at Longhorn’s in Manhattan where he got the opportunity to meet lead singer Cody Canada, who would hang out with the crowd after the shows. Today, we often listen to Ragweed and other Red Dirt (that’s the genre) favorites in the milk barn.
Through our friend Carrie Mess, better known as Dairy Carrie, we’ve discovered Cody Canada’s new band – The Departed. They covered a song titled ‘A Little Rain Will Do” that really resonates with us right now, and yesterday they released a new single called “Worth The Fight”. It’s from their upcoming album Adventus due out in November.
Carrie blogs at www.dairycarrie.com and had this big idea (she’s known for her big ideas) to have fellow fans promote The Departed’s music along with what we think is worth the fight – Agriculture. You can read her post and find links to others on her site. You can also follow the twitter hashtag #worththefight.
Farming isn’t usually easy. Every single day we’re committed to looking out for the land and animals under our care. For David and I, it’s our heritage. Our families passed down the love for land and animals that we share. They taught us hard work and determination. We hope to someday be able to pass that heritage down, but to do that, we have to preserve it.
In our first year, we’ve faced a drought and a pricing imbalance. We’ve been discouraged at times, but we know we can’t give up. We’re proud of the land, the cows, and all that goes with it. We want to preserve the farm and way of life it allows us to live – for ourselves and future generations.
In addition to the weather, we have to battle misinformation. So often we hear things that aren’t true about our practices, or most other farmers’ practices. In the age of the internet, it doesn’t take long for information to spread, regardless of its accuracy, though. So many people today are several generations removed from the farm; less than 2% of Americans are directly involved in production agriculture, and many don’t know where to look for accurate information. That’s why we started this blog – we wanted to tell our own story. We’re not always perfect, but we try to always be honest.
In our area, houses dot the countryside. More and more, farms are being divided up and sold as residential lots. Farmers are supposed to feed the world, but here at home the amount of land available to do so is shrinking every day. We’ll keep doing our part to preserve the traditions handed down to us, striving each day to use less to make more. Hopefully, our hard work will pay off. Farming is our way of life, and we think it’s worth the fight.
What do you think is worth the fight?
It’s been a long, hot summer. We haven’t had much rain, and we haven’t had many calves.
We also hadn’t seen my family for a little too long. My parents came to visit in May, but we haven’t been to Illinois since Christmas. Unfortunately, we still can’t make it to Illinois, but my parents brought my grandma to visit for the holiday weekend. We had a great time and hopefully they did, too, even if the farm kept David and I pretty busy.
Monday really was just the beginning of the fresh cows. We had five more by Friday. Then it got busy: three Saturday, three more Sunday, one Monday and two Tuesday. Of all those calves, 6 were heifers and 9 were bulls, but most importantly we have 15 fresh cows that we’ll be able to introduce into the milk herd over the next few days.
As if baby calves aren’t exciting enough…In the last two weeks, we’ve had over 3″ of rain! That’s a lot for two weeks, especially in a drought. David and I spent much of Sunday morning walking through a pasture and hay field looking for a cow that needed to come home to have her calf (she had it Monday). We found her, but you wouldn’t believe what else we found: GREEN GRASS!! There is actually quite a bit of grass growing in the pastures, and the lawn needs mowed. Tuesday morning, after almost an inch of rain overnight, there were even puddles in dry ponds.
The rain really couldn’t have come at a better time, either. Well, at least not better than much earlier this summer might have been. The moisture should help our soybeans fill in their pods, and last week we planted oats and rye in between rains. We plan to harvest the oats this fall and the rye next spring; both will be used for feed. Hopefully, the rain was just what they needed to get started growing.
Thank you to my family for coming to visit. It was an exciting weekend catching up on the things we’ve been lacking this summer. September is off to a great start!
This post is a little overdue since we made our debut in January, but better late than never, right? For those of you who may not already know us, you can read a little bit about who we are on the About Us page.
We are Jennifer and David Heim, and we operate a conventional dairy farm in Northeast Kansas (near Kansas City). Today, we milked 91 Holstein cows. The exact number of cows being milked varies somewhat frequently depending on dry-offs, freshening (calving), and other factors. We also keep all of our heifer (female) calves and raise them as replacements, and we raise crops, most of which are used as feed for our cows and calves.
I mentioned that we kicked things off in January, but I should note that cows have been milked here for a long time. David’s grandfather, Harold, bought this farm in 1941 and started milking cows not too long after. More recently the farm was owned and operated by David’s father and uncle, but his uncle had been looking to get out of the dairy, and as of January 1st David and I took over the business officially.
Our dairy isn’t new, most of the buildings are old and in need of repairs. The barn at the top of the page is the “White Barn”, built in 1912. Our herd isn’t the latest and greatest in genetics, but we recently bred our first second-generation AI (artificial insemination) heifer. Our house was started in 1883, and added onto several times. It needs as much work as anything, and probably one more addition. That’s what this blog is about. Over the coming months and next several years, we are going to work on all of the above and share our story here. We’re excited for the challenges that lay ahead, and can’t wait to start seeing our hard work pay off.