ILLINOIS FARMER Q&A: HOW HAS YOUR FARM CHANGED IN THE LAST 50 YEARS?

Illinois farmers have been growing food with care for generations. For many of them, it’s more than just a job. So we asked, “How has your farm changed in the last 50 years?”

Over the last 50 years, we have started growing more crops and raising more animals – we’ve grown. In our fields, we do more no till or minimum tillage of the soil.”

Brent Scholl, Polo, IL

“Our farm has adapted to the demands of consumers. We are raising livestock more efficiently (think feed conversion) and in an environment that is more comfortable for the hogs (yeah – tunnel ventilation during the July heat). We are applying fertilizer at a variable rate that better meets the needs of our soil. And we have expanded our farm to financially support more people coming back to work.”

Genny Six, Chapin, IL

“When I joined the family in 1977 we had a small cow herd and a small feedlot, the feedlots were all “open lot” with access to barns, but the cattle were not fed in the barns. We always tilled the soil before we planted, used a 6-row planter, and cultivated the crops to kill weeds. Crops were harvested and put into an old corn crib (converted to hold shelled corn) and one 10,000 bushel grain bin where we could dry corn if needed. Alan and I farmed with his parents. 150-bushel corn/ acre was a big deal.

Today, Alan’s parents are retired and we farm with our youngest son. We have an employee and routinely hire summer interns from a local junior college. We got more cattle and all of the feedlot cattle are under a roof. We no longer till before we plant because our planter is specially equipped to deal with crop residue left from the previous year. We have several grain bins and no corn crib. Nowadays, 150 bushels corn/ acre is a bad year.”

JoAnn Adams, Sandwich, IL

Reposted from Illinois Farm Families

#TBT: A ZUCCHINI RECIPE YOU MUST TRY TODAY!

[Originally posted August 17, 2015]

This recipe was originally posted about this time last year. It is so good, we thought it deserved a second debut.

If you have your own garden or are near someone who does, you MIGHT have a ton of zucchini on your hands.  Use that zucchini to make this recipe immediately.  Pronto.  You seriously can’t wait another minute before tasting this deliciousness.

And if you must run to the store to grab a lemon (I had to), just buy a whole bag.  Because you will want to make this again and again … I promise.

lemon zucchini cupcakesGLAZED LEMON ZUCCHINI CUPCAKES

adapted from this recipe

You will need:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (leave the peel on!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, beat 2 eggs well, then add  oil and sugar, and blend well. Then add the milk and lemon juice and blend everything well. Fold in zucchini and stir until evenly distributed in mixture.

Add this mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl and blend everything together, but don’t overmix.

Pour batter into prepared muffin pan (I used cupcake liners, but you could just grease well and go without) and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  While baking, make the glaze …

LEMON GLAZE

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and lemon juice until well blended.  Spoon glaze over each cupcake. Let glaze set, then serve.

If you prefer a little less lemon taste – although I don’t know why you would! – use a little less lemon and a splash of milk to make your glaze.

Lindsay Mitchell
IL Corn Marketing Director

#TBT: LIVING THE SIMPLE LIFE

Gpa working on planterIt is very easy to get caught up in the rat race of life. Don’t be afraid to step off that wheel and set your own pace. That is your best chance a living a happy, successful life. Here are a few ways to live a life that isn’t more complicated than it has to be.

Kids looking at chickens

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If something works well, but isn’t perfect, don’t start from scratch. Just try to improve what you already have. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, energy, and stress.

Farmer tending to cattle

Remember that you are working hard for the next generation. Show them who you are by your actions. They will follow your example; set a good one.

Find a job that you love and it will never feel like work. If you manage that, no matter how much you make at the end of the day; you’re rich.

kid showing cattleDon’t ever stop learning or trying to be your best. Even if you fail, you’ll know what you can improve on for the next time. Challenges build character and will make you a better individual.

chickNever stop appreciating the beauty of your life. Not everyone has the chance to spend their day working with their hands and following their dreams. Plus, you get to spend a lot of time with chicks.

Kids in tractor

Don’t worry about going fast. There is nothing wrong with taking it slow. Ask any farm kid and they will tell you that this is the best ride they have ever been on. 

 

nicole yorkNicole York
Southern Illinois University Carbondale

IF YOU GIVE A FARMER A REQUEST

If you give a farmer a request, he is going to follow through. In 1985, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff was published and detailed the endless track of chores that might occur if you gave a needy mouse a cookie. This trouble is not quite what ensues when you give a farmer a request, but you can almost guarantee your requests might become endless of him. Here are a few requests we all have asked of farmers over the years.

  1. If you ask a farmer for a tow, he is going to pull you out. Whether is it getting pulled out of snowy road bank or a muddy road, a farmer will be quick to lend a hand with his truck or tractor. Last time I got my dad’s jeep stuck on the dirt road, I had a list of people I was ready to call before my dad ever had to know.
  2. If you ask a farmer for a for a ride, he is going to give you a lift. To the next town, down the road, or the field to pick up your truck, a farmer will do what he can to help you out. The only stipulation is that he might expect you to return the favor. I know I have had a neighbor or two knocks on my door and ask if I have time to take him to his truck in the field down the road.
  3. If you ask a farmer for advice, he is going to give you a wise word. Whether you need advice on what crops to plant in a field or how to make up with a friend over a conflict, a farmer will always lend his wisdom. Farmers are often wiser than their years because they have been caring for other animals and plants that depend on them for life. In my life, rarely have the wise words of a farmer led me astray.
  4. If you ask a farmer for a hand, he is going to lend on. Farming is not only an industry that revolves around family but community. Whether it’s finishing up harvest in time or volunteering to cook at a school fundraiser, a farmer will always lend a hand. In anything I am doing, I know my farmer support system is just a phone call away.
  5. If you ask a farmer to feed you, he already is. Farming feeds the world. Farmers produce that feed with all the energy and love that they put into feeding their own family. I have watched these men and women work their days and nights away doing what they love and I know there is no job more underappreciated but more rewarding than a farmer.

Shelby Carlson
IL Corn Communications Intern

SIX REASONS FARMERS HATE THE HEAT

1. Walking Beans

/wÔk ing bēns/
1. strolling up and down the rows of a bean field pulling weeds.
2. typically reserved for the very young or very broke in a family, usually on days 90 degrees or warmer
3. a “fun” family activity conducted between the hours of 6 – 11 am, includes water and a sack lunch

2. Baling Hay

/bāl ing hā/
1. walking behind a wagon, picking up bales of hay and throwing them onto the wagon while another stacks the bales neatly on the wagon.
2. young men are often rushed through this job trying to beat a rainstorm, which also causes humidity to be at its highest

3. De-tasseling Corn

/de-tasəl ing kôrn/
1. the act of removing the corn tassels one by one throughout the entirety of a field.  Can be every row or select rows/plants depending on the intent.
2. de-tasseling allows the plant breeder to choose the pollen that will fertilize each ear on a plant
3. timing: this can not be completed until late June, early July when tassels form, so temperatures are usually high and there is no air flow in the middle of a field of tall corn
4. workers are urged to use cornstarch liberally

4. Cleaning out grain bins

/klēn ing out grān bin/
1. Sweeping out excess grain from a bin in an attempt to get paid for everything you grew and harvested.
2. Also, when one desires to store a different type of grain in a bin (was corn, now soybeans as an example), the bin must be cleaned of all the old grain.
3. Often occurring in August to prepare for a new harvest when temperatures inside a metal cylinder are excruciating and without air flow.

5. Mucking stalls

/mək ing stôls/
1. Shoveling animal excrement and used bedding from indoor stalls into a wheelbarrow.  Washing out stalls and replacing clean, new bedding.
2. This happens year round, but is particularly miserable in the late summer when air flow inside a barn is minimal and the heat increases the smell of feces.

6. Mowing

/mō ing/
1. Clipping the grass on roadsides, waterways, and yards.  Also, trimming around fence posts and outbuildings.
2. Very similar to the act in suburban communities, made more miserable because farmers will mow 4-6 acres at a time.
3. A right of passage for the children in a farm family.

WHY WE’RE ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT TRADE

Trade is a huge deal for agriculture – particularly Illinois agriculture – but I can’t help but feel like we’ve been talking trade, trade, and more trade for more than a year!

First, we constantly lobbied Congress to help us get the Trans Pacific Partnership passed.  Then, President Trump pulled us out of that potential trade agreement and even considered suspending the North American Free Trade Agreement, which would be a huge loss for ag.

Now, it seems IL Corn is spending a lot of time talking about trade and reminding the folks in power why it’s so important for farmers.  In case you’ve got questions, here’s a few reminders:

  • Every $1 billion in agricultural export revenue supports 8,000 jobs, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS)
  • $340 Billion in economic output produced by U.S. ag exports in 2014,  including $150 billion in export value and an additional $190 billion in other economic activity.
  • 1.1 Million Jobs supported by U.S. agricultural exports, including 800,000 in the non-farm sector (or 73% of the total employment effect), which are required to assemble, process and distribute agricultural products for export.
  • U.S. ag exports are projected to account for one-third of total farm sector gross earnings in 2017, according to the Congressional Research Service.
  • 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States, while we’re producing a significant amount of the world’s food right here.

For me, maybe the most important reason why America needs to prioritize agricultural trade is that the food is here, and the hungry people are in other countries.  For purely humanitarian purposes, we got to be open to ag trade – we’ve got to make it easier – in order to get the food from where it’s grown to where people need it.

Do you have questions about trade?  I’d love to start a conversation with you in the comments!

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director