Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wild Weather on the Palouse

The one thing that  farmers try to control is to keep our precious top soil from eroding away by utilizing pro-active conservation efforts, but sometimes our best efforts are cancelled out by the weather.  Our winter has been one extreme to another with bitter cold temperatures, then 3 days later the temperatures are in the mid-40's and raining.   This past week has been no exception and we have lost almost all of our snow, we have had heavy rains and the temperatures today were in the low 50's which have caused many fields to flood and run off into the small creeks.  This is not our field, but one that borders next to us.

Large chucks of ice are being
carried downstream along with our top soil 

Hard to tell where the field stops and
where the creek starts

A view of the "lake" which one week ago was
a field planted with winter wheat
 This is part of the cycle of farmers, some things we can control and do our best, others we do our best to accept and cope with events beyond our control.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Science of Farming

Snow covered field that has been
planted with winter wheat
I never really know exactly what I will write when sitting down in front of the computer, the blog sort of takes on a life of its own! =)

The Farmer (Joe) and I returned yesterday from Boise, Idaho where we attended the Idaho Governor’s Dinner and Ball. It was our first time and it was an honor being there. Joe is the Vice President for the Idaho Grain Producers Association (IGPA) and also attending with us was the IGPA  President, Clark Kaufman and wife, Debbie.   It is crucial for producers to keep a good rapport with our Governor, Senators and Representatives.  Good legislation and laws not only help us, but it helps you, the consumer.  America has the cheapest, safest, most abundant food supply in the world, we spend only 9.8% of our income on food, less than any other country.  So when we work together with our elected officials to help craft regulations or laws that do not hinder the agriculture industry, it benefits the farmers as well as you, the consumer.

Joe in front of the Idaho capitol

Standing beside the sign for the headquarters of
Idaho Grain Producers Assoc & other
Agriculture Commissions

During the governor’s dinner, we sat next to a very interesting couple from Southern Idaho who were dairy farmers. While visiting, the topic came up about how few of us there were and that farmers make about 2% of the population. That figure includes the “hobby farmers” who have an income of $1,000 or more, but it is not their main source of income, but rather a small side business, thereby acquiring the title of hobby farmer. The farmers that make their living full-time are around .5%! That is a sobering fact, that .5% of the USA’s population feeds and cloths America as well as much of the world. With so many people removed from where their food comes from and not having the face-to-face contact with those of us who produce the food they eat and the cotton for the clothes they wear, it’s no wonder many urban dwellers do not know where their food comes from.

Farming is a precise science and if we make a mistake or if nature doesn’t cooperate, your food source suffers or fails altogether. From conversations with our urban friends, many just think a farmer plops a seed in the ground “ta da” you have an instant crop…. But in all reality much more goes into the process. First the decision of what crop to plant, the variety (as many have different genetics, for instance some wheat varieties are bred to be more drought resistant than others), protecting your crop from pests and weeds, getting it harvested, and whatever mother nature throws at you too, now you get the picture. It’s sort of like raising a child each year; you are there from early infancy and you carefully tend them to maturity. I love this quote, "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." - President Dwight D. Eisenhower

In today’s newspaper there was an article about a Purdue University study that shows no-till farming, cuts greenhouse gases and thus, combats global warming. No-till farming is a practice (which is what we do) whereby a farmer does not plow under their crop residue (the part that is not harvested), instead we seed directly into the soil to plant seeds and inject fertilizers with a minimal disruption of the ground, thereby releasing less nitrous oxide than the conventional plowing of the ground (i.e. a better carbon footprint). I think the no-till practice could be another blog just on that topic, but for those of you wanting to read more, click on the above link as it was an excellent article.

Anyway, my point is that we, as farmers, protect our resources and strive to provide the best and safest food source for you and us too. Remember, if you have questions, comments, concerns, email me at and I promise I will respond.

I’m still working on future blogs that will focus on how local garbanzos are made into hummus, where the wheat goes when it gets taken to the grain terminals, and how do our local universities help the farmer with their research. Till then my friends, take care, stay warm and when you sit down to your next meal, remember, you have our commitment to giving you the best, safest product anywhere on the face of this earth.  Yours truly, Gayle, the Idaho Farm Wife

Monday, January 3, 2011

Farmers love their big boy toys
One thing about living on the farm, we don't lack having serious snow removal equipment to keep us plowed out when the snow storms hit.  Once Joe gets our driveway cleared, he will then plow out his folks, my mom and several neighbors along the way as well.  Farmers with their tractors and snow removal equipment are very popular with the neighbors.  =)

Interesting snow patterns on the antique seed box

Unusual snow patterns in the field in front of our house

Now that the whirlwind of Christmas and New Year's has come and gone, it's time to get back into blogging more again.  I have a new camera,  so I am looking forward to having better pictures and videos on the blog.  One of my goals for 2011 is to improve the blog site and do more with it.  So thank you for following it and I hope you come back often.  As always, please email me at if you have thoughts, ideas or questions.