Earth Day, Everyday

Yesterday was Earth Day, a day where many show appreciation for the earth we walk on and air we breath. Perhaps you and your family got outside to pickup trash or plant a tree; we did! Picking up trash in the surrounding ditches is something we do every spring, and this year clean up day fell on Earth Day.

Angel helped pick up trash too!  Well, actually she just can’t leave my Mother-in-law’s side, so she rode along.

As dairy farmers, we take pride in what we do and appreciate the land that allows us to produce food and make a living. Earth day is every day for farmers. In fact, we do intensive planning to ensure land quality and crop quality. Our farm grows corn and alfalfa that are harvested into silage to feed the cows. We meet with a pro and issue a nutrient management plan that allows us to determine where we will spread manure in advance. Manure provides vital nutrients such as Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorous that will affect our future crop, so it is necessary that we evenly distribute the manure.  Over distribution of manure can cause run-off,  nutrient levels that are too high, or kill the crop.  Under distribution will not provide our future crop with the nutrients needed to grow.

Knowing when and where to spread manure is important for land quality. Cows poop…A LOT, and we cannot spread manure everyday, so we have invested in a large manure pit. This pit will hold the manure for up to 40 days or until it is time to spread it in the fields.

Advancements in technology, such GPS, aid us when it comes time to plant and apply pesticides. I know what you are thinking, pesticides are chemicals. You are right, however, proper planning and GPS allow us to apply the correct amount of pesticide and avoid over-applying. Pesticides help us grow a quality crop; without them bugs would eat up our crop and we would be left with very little. The cows need to eat, and we need to eat. Properly and safely using pesticides allows us ALL to eat.

Farmers are commonly defined as “the caretakers of the land and animals”. This reminded me of a particular speech, perhaps you have heard it.

And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.

“I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon — and mean it.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from ‘tractor back,’ put in another seventy-two hours.” So God made a farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church.

“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.’” So God made a farmer.

-Paul Harvey