A DAY IN THE LIFE: FARM KID VS CITY KID

5:30AM: Farm kid wakes up to start morning chores with the livestock animals, sometimes even earlier, allowing them able to watch the sunrise. Animals need to be fed and taken care of at the beginning and end of each day. Waking up hours before school is required to keep the animals happy.

City kid is sleeping.

7:00AM: Farm kid boards the school bus to head to school. Living in the rural country means not being close to the school, so bus rides can exceed one hour at times.

City kid wakes up, or keeps snoozing and eats breakfast, gets ready for school, and heads off for school usually just a few minutes from home before 8.

8:00AM to 3:00 PM: Farm kid sits through school, where their favorite class is the agriculture class, learning about the industry they know and love. They’ll share stories with friends on what happened on the farm yesterday or in the morning, and share their favorite stories about their favorite animals.

City kid sits through school, discussing what video game is currently the best, and what new episode will be on TV later that day.

4:00PM: Farm kid finally gets home from school after a long bus ride. Plenty of chores are needed to be finished, so they start working with the animals, on the equipment, or whatever various thing need to be done.

City kid has been home and playing video games or watching television. They’ll work on homework before dinner in the next few hours.

6:00PM: Farm kid continues their chores. At this time, they are probably milking cows, feeding animals, cleaning the pens, and making sure everything is ready for the night. This takes up a bulk of the afternoon. During harvest, kids will be busy in the field for the entire evening after school and well into the night.

City kid prepares to eat dinner with their family. The entire family sits down for dinner.

7:30PM: Farm kid hopefully has chores done and heads into the house for dinner, likely alone or with a sibling and mom. Many times on the farm the entire family is busy doing different chores and doesn’t all eat together, or they wait till everyone is in the house, which can be after nine!

City kid is busy catching up on their favorite TV shows that night and finishing up homework.

10:00PM: Farm kid is probably still up finishing homework. Some nights require them to be back in the barn helping with livestock births and finishing chores.

City kid is ready for bed, but probably stays up online talking to friends and checking Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Midnight: Farm kid finally gets to sleep after finishing all chores and homework, ready to get up in a few short hours to do it all again.

City kid has been asleep and getting eight hours of sleep, ready for another day of school.

Every single kid is different. While some come from the farm, the city, and something in between, each one has their own daily routine that probably varies from above. However, the same holds true for each kid. All work hard and stay busy with school and other activities. Farm kids just happen to have a longer day with more work and chores, however, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

dakota cowgerDakota Cowger
Illinois State University Student

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RAISING CATTLE

I personally have never raised cattle but I have been around them long enough to basically know how to raise a healthy, breathing cow. When you really think about it, it’s just like raising any other pet! They need shelter, need a well-balanced diet, water, and love and care. The only difference is they may be a tad larger than your average housedog. Although it has been proven that if you give your cow a name and treat her as an individual she will produce 500 more pints of milk a year.  So basically if you give your cows the love they deserve, it will not only benefit you it will also benefit the cattle as well. I am going to share a few different tips with you on how to raise your cattle.

Be Ready to Work

I’m not going to tell you that raising cattle is easy because it is definitely the opposite of easy. It comes with long hour days and sometimes a lot of stress. Each day is never the same. There is always something new happening each day. One day, someone could have left the gate open and then there goes the cows, running down the street. And let me tell you that is not a fun day when that happens. You better be ready to run, and you better be ready for some very grumpy workers after. But then the next day, everything could run really smoothly. You just need to be prepared for anything when working on a cattle farm, or any farm for that matter.

Each Cow Has a Different Personality

You will immediately come to figure out which cow you absolutely love and which one you cannot stand.  Every cow is very different. They are literally like people. You could have the nosey cow, the stubborn cow, the loving cow, the dumb cow, etc. The list could go on and on. I still remember this cow that I could not stand.  Every time I tried to get her to move, she would just turn around and look at me and not move an inch. That doesn’t sound so bad but it’s a problem when you are on a tight schedule, and you are busy yelling at a cow for 10 minutes. And one thing you should definitely know is the older the cow gets, the grumpier she is.  I would always want to work with the younger cows over the old ones.  Nobody likes to be around a grumpy old cow.

In The End, You Will Fall in Love

No matter what kind of cow you are raising, you will end up falling in love with them. Cows just start to become a part of your lifestyle. You almost become addicted to being around them. You cannot be away from them for too long. They definitely need your love every day, but you also will get love from them in return. Everyone says that cows are stupid and are dumber than a box of rocks. But in reality, they are actually very smart. They know when they are being treated the right way, and they know when someone really does care for them. So basically all you need to really do is just care for you cow.

samanthaSamantha Wagner
Illinois State University

CONSERVATION IS A PRIORITY IN THESE THREE STEPS …

Illinois is smack in the middle of a huge “water quality” push.  What that means in non-farmer, non-agriculture terms is that the agricultural industry is working overtime right now to try to teach farmers how they can grow the same or better yields, using the same or less amount of fertilizer.  Using the same or less to grow the same or more equals less fertilizer running off the field into local streams.

It’s called efficiency and we strive to get better every single day.

  1. Don’t apply fertilizer if the soil temp is above 50 degrees.

anhyrous applicationThis has to sound confusing for a non-farmer because putting some fertilizer out on your garden, you surely pay little to no attention what the soil temperature is.  But farmers are applying anhydrous ammonia which injects nitrogen into the ground.  At a cooler temperature, the nitrogen is fixed in the soil and does not leach into the water or the air as easily.  This preserves water quality AND helps the farmer keep the valuable, expensive fertilizer he/she paid for.

2. Use soil tests to apply only the fertilizer you need, where you need it.

On-farm technology has come a long way.  Using GPS systems, farmers can now test their soil in various areas of the field, find out how much nitrogen already exists in each area to grow the next crop, and only apply the nitrogen that is needed in the areas it is needed.  Using this technology, farmers avoid over applying nitrogen (and having extra sitting in the soil that might leave via a heavy spring rain) and avoid paying for expensive fertilizer they don’t need in the first place.

3.  Plant cover crops.
cover crop demo
A group of farmers and educators stand in a winter ready field of cover crops.

In some regions, it makes sense for farmers to plant a crop that sits on the field through the winter to take up the nitrogen in the soil and hold it until the next crop (corn) grows enough to need it.

Cover crops are usually planted before the previous year’s crops are harvested.  They are allowed to grow and “take hold” in the fall before the winter weather kills them off.  These plants take up the leftover nitrogen in the soil and hold it all winter.  They also provide numerous other benefits for soil erosion, organic matter, and more.

In the spring, the farmer kills the cover crop and plants the primary crop.  As the primary crop grows, the cover crop decomposes and releases the needed nitrogen for the primary crop.  It’s a great system that provides so many conservation benefits!

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Manager

 

8 TIPS AND TRICKS FROM A FARM WIFE

Tip # 1

Use sun as your stain remover!

On those hot summer days, throw your laundry out under the sun to dry! This will dry your clothes, as well as take those stains out! We all wash and wash to try and get those dirty stains out of the clothes. Quick tip, dry those clothes out in the sun for a while, Poof, the stains are gone! Those messy food stains to those grimy grease and oil stains will vanish. Not everyone has time to scrub on stains, so this is the perfect alternative for everyone!

Tip # 2

Coffee Grounds

“Coffee Grounds?” you may think. Coffee is an important crop is every household. It is the drug that keeps us all sane. But did you know that there can be a dual purpose? Does anyone have a mechanic in the household? Or a child that just likes to get dirty? Well, keeping your coffee grounds next to the sink is almost as good as soap. The coffee grounds will pull out all rough skin stains!

Tip # 3

Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice is key to keeping those meals for days! If you put lemon juice on top of every meal you make it will extend the life of your foods. Not everyone wants to cook three times daily! Embrace the tips and tricks to extend those left-overs.

Tip # 4

Ammonia

Ammonia might strike you as a harsh substance, but it can be a key ingredient to your laundry detergents as well as your daily cleaning regime. Firstly, ammonia is cheap! We women are always looking for the bargain brands and coupon codes and this is just the product. This product can be used as a stain remover within your laundry and a stain remover within your daily cleaning routine. Dual purpose.

Tip # 5

Crockpot Meals

Crockpot meals are a must ladies! Every man always wants a hot meal when he gets home, but some of us ladies work too! Easy crockpot meals can be thrown in early in the morning and are ready to eat when everyone gets home. Just check out Pinterest and you will have crockpot meals for days. We can cook everything from meat and taters to exquisite pasta dishes. No matter what, those meals will dress to impress.

Tip # 6

Disposable Containers

Keep those disposable containers girls! Throw these bad boys in the sink, rinse them out and store them away for your next run. You can always re-use them! Whether you need them for a quick meal run out to the farmers in the field, or a luncheon picnic at the park, those disposable containers are a must. Plus, everyone loves something that can be easily disposed of.

Tip # 7

Winter Prep Kit

Be prepared! Always keep a winter prep kit within your vehicle. Keep this stocked with water, blankets, flashlights, batteries, ya know, the essentials. In the Midwest, we rarely see a mild winter so whether you are in the Windy City or a farm in Southern Illinois, the snow will be piled up! A winter prep kit is a necessity.

Tip # 8

Grow your own food

Food for thought! Do you have leftover fall decorations? Straw, per say? Fortunately, you can grow your own fresh food within the comfort of your own home. Use your old straw from fall décor to grow your own tomatoes in the winter. We all love fresh fruits and veggies. This is the perfect idea for your cozy winter foods like a hot BLT and that zesty tomato soup.

 

madison leinweberMadison Leinweber
Illinois State University

TOP TEN THINGS ABOUT FOOD THAT STRESS PEOPLE OUT (AND WHY THEY AREN’T REALLY A PROBLEM!)

Food labels. Two words that are taken more seriously by consumers than any scientific reasoning, fact, or common sense explanation. Do the food labels you commonly see stress you out? Throw that stress away because you have nothing to worry about! Let’s take a further look into the labels causing all the controversy.

GMO-FREE

The most popular, and most feared food label in the market. So what is a GMO? GMO stands for genetically modified organism. Sounds scary, right? Wrong. GMOs are simply a result of modifying plant traits, produced to increase yields in order to increase food supply, reduce pesticide use, and eliminate diseases in crops. GMOs ensure a safer, and healthier food system for consumers. 

HORMONE-FREE

Hormones occur naturally in humans and animals. So what does a hormone-free label mean? Absolutely nothing, hormone-free meat does not exist. It’s called fear-based marketing, and it works. Need more convincing? Check out these hormone facts. 

LOCALLY GROWN

There is no exact definition for “locally grown.” Retailers are free to set their own standards for what is considered local. The “locally grown” label could describe food that is produced within 100 miles of the store or maybe just harvested within the same state. So when shopping local, don’t always expect that the food is grown a few miles from the grocery store door.

ALL NATURAL

Possibly the most widely used term in food labeling, “the FDA has not developed a definition for the use of the term natural or its derivatives.” So in other words… the “All Natural” label could be defined as healthy hogwash. 

ORGANIC

If you dig into the term “organic” a little further, you will find that organic isn’t exactly the picture you have in your head of rolling green fields and ripe produce. Straight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “The term “organic” is not defined by law or regulations FDA enforces.” This label can easily be thrown into the healthy hogwash family as a close sister to “All Natural.” 

FARM FRESH

Farm Fresh. According to Paul Shapiro, vice president of the Humane Society of the U.S. and an expert on commercial egg production, “”It literally means nothing.”

Well, at least we have nothing to stress about with that term… 

CAGE-FREE

Cage-free eggs may not be all they are cracked up to be, literally. Cage-free is another renowned term that is loosely defined. Cage-free and free-range are two different methods used in poultry production, both incurring their own advantages and disadvantages.

PESTICIDE-FREE

A term commonly found in the same sentence as organic farming. It is completely FALSE to say that organic farms don’t use pesticides. Organic farms still use pesticides from the USDA National List of approved pesticides, and it’s quite long. 

NO ARTIFICIAL INGREDIENTS

Artificial doesn’t mean dangerous. Artificial ingredients and additives are “strictly studied, regulated and monitored,” according to the Food and Drug Administration. In fact, artificial ingredients have been studied more in depth and are believed to be safer than natural ingredients because of this. 

CERTIFIED HUMANE

Meant to target the animal-compassionate consumer, this label has no significant meaning behind it. Livestock farmers are dedicated to the well-being of their livestock and ensuring that all needs of the livestock are met to produce high-quality food products for consumers.

All of these food labels have one thing in common, marketing strategy and misconception. Tricky, right? Don’t stress. Keep one thought in mind. Farmers eat the same food on their table, as you do on yours. A farmer’s job is to produce safe and healthy food to feed the world. Trust the farmer, not the label.

trust the farmer

carli millerCarli Miller
University of Illinois student

ILLINOIS FARMERS 71% DONE WITH HARVEST 2015!

harvest 15

As of today, the USDA reports that the Illinois harvest is 71% completed, compared to Indiana which is 45% completed, Iowa which is 29% completed and Missouri which is 81% completed. Nationally, the harvest is 42% finished which is right on par with our 5 year average.

Nationally, 70% of the crop is rated excellent or good, with the remaining rated fair, poor, or very poor.

harvest is done

One of our farmer leaders titled this photo “Harvest is done!” He finished up harvesting his crops this past week and will now focus on prepping the soil for next year’s crop.

view from combine

We love this view from the combine!