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Thursday, November 15, 2012

How Big is our Farm?

A week or so ago on my Facebook page, I asked what you my followers wanted to see a blog post about.  The first response made me a little was uneasy.  After talking to my friend Janice Person, she told me to tell you why it made me feel uneasy. 

Sharon said,  “I'd love to know the size of your farm and your harvest volume. Do you use any of your home-grown wheat and soybeans? Grind your own flour? etc.”

Why would this make anyone uncomfortable?  Because no matter what I answer, I am going to make you jump to conclusions.  Some people might think our farm is really large and others will think it is small.  I look at it as close to average for our area with 2 full time farmers and no off farm jobs.

This is the only picture I can find with the whole family crew in it.  I love it...I am much skinnier in it.  LOL
91% of the ground The Farmer and I care for we do not own, but care for other families.  45% of the ground we farm is owned by our families, and some of this ground we are the 5th generation to farm.  The balance of the farmable land is rented from other families most of which we are the third generation to take care of this land for them.  Our farm is a business and like any business if it is not growing, it is going backwards.  The Farmer and I are both the 5th generation to farm and ranch in the same county in Kansas.  

I would never ask my friends who have a business in town what kind of sales they had this year, but I also want you to understand how many acres it takes to justify the large (and expensive) equipment that is needed to plant and harvest timely and to provide a clean wholesome product for you the consumer. Also, please realize that my husband and I work full time on the farm.  We have no other job to provide our insurance, retirement, or other benefits. We also do not get paid vacation...well I guess we do, we pay someone else to watch over things so we can go on vacation.

This year we planted about 1700 acres of soybeans, 700 acres of corn and 1100 acres of wheat.  We have 2500 acres of crop land, but we plant soybeans after the wheat and often let the cattle graze the wheat in the fall.  One thing I have learned about the size an operation needs to be to be sustainable is greatly dependent on where the farm is located and what the average production is for the area.  I know I have friends in the “Corn Belt” that can make a living off of fewer acres, but their soil and climate make their area much more productive than ours.

We also have our cow herd that has been shrinking over the past couple of years due to the drought situation.  If we don’t get rain –mainly water for the cows- it may shrink some more.  Currently, we have about 300 cows.  43 of them calve this fall and the rest should start calving in late January.

We have one high school student that works part time in the summer and after school.  My father in law retired in 2007, but still helps where and when he wants to.  My parents retired from crop farming last year.  They help a lot with child care, taxiing to fields and even go on supply runs for us.

Porcupine Meatballs

We always use our home grown beef that is fed the corn, a few soybeans and oats that we raise.  I have not been as forward thinking with our grains; however, I am going to try grinding my own wheat for whole wheat flour this fall.   I did make my own corn nuts once and they were pretty good. 

Henry Ford Chocolate Chip Soybean Cookies

I am also planning to make some soynuts.  One of the boy’s schools is nut free.  Soynuts are a great tree/peanut substitute and are pretty good in these chocolate chip cookies.

Hope this answers you questions and  I don't lose too many of you for thinking we are too big or too small, but I do want to be open and honest with you.

Now I will go take a deep breath and hope too many of you don't think that our farm is too big to be interesting and unfollow me!

Here is an update on who is working on our farm now...The Crew that keep me Sane.
-A Kansas Farm Mom