Recently, an activist from the group Mercy For Animals took a job on a Colorado dairy farm. While the farm was paying this person to care for their cows, the … Continue reading Report Not Record
This weekend David and I did some crop scouting. Our Pierron farm, still called by the name of the family who owned it before Heims did, has four main fields, … Continue reading A Tale of Three Corn Fields
After our snow day a couple of weeks ago, I sent a photo of our heifers walking along the lake to my manager at my off-farm engineering job. He included it in his weekly email to our department. A week later as I was getting ready to leave my office, filling up my water bottle before I headed home, a manager of a different department passed me and said “I saw a picture of your cows”.
He took a few steps, then stopped and asked me about the cows. He told me the story of his dad who used to haul milk, back when it was stored in cans. When he was a baby, his mother would ride along to open gates, and he would go too. He finished with something like “anyway, they love to tell that story.”
I’m really glad that he took the time to stop and tell me, and for some reason it really got me thinking. This isn’t the type of conversation that I normally encounter at work, and I have a lot of time to think during my 50 mile commute. Maybe this is something that should have been obvious, but finally it hit me: Farming is nostalgic to people who aren’t farmers.
There are some who felt the much-discussed Dodge Super Bowl ad didn’t accurately portray modern farming or modern farmers. However, most farmers I know loved it. Yes, farming has changed since Paul Harvey gave that speech in 1978, but maybe farmers aren’t so different. When the speech was given, farming innovation wasn’t new.
Bulk tank storage and the milk machine were already commonplace at that time. In fact, the milk barn we use today was already standing. Farmers have been looking for ways to improve efficiency, to do more with less, since long before 1978. However, I think many of us still cling to the values of our predecessors: honesty, integrity, and hard work. Farmers are nostalgic about farming, too.
Minnesota farmer Tim Zweber recently wrote this story about an old manure spreader that sits by their shop. And an Illinois farm wife wrote this post reminiscing about an old barn. I don’t think farmers are the only ones who enjoy these stories.
When we’re looking for the link between food and farm, maybe the nostalgia is where we connect. Maybe these farm stories are our common bond with those who left their farming roots behind. Just because we’re moving forward doesn’t mean we can’t look back.
Snow was lightly falling on the farm as 2012 came to a close. To celebrate, we ate chili and watched ABC’s live coverage of Times Square. At 11 pm, we … Continue reading Hitting Refresh
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?
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.