Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Farmer, An American Icon

“He has never planted seeds or brought in a harvest.  He doesn’t even own overalls” was the first line in last week’s Ag section of the newspaper.  Excuse me? Overalls?? My first thought was, I think the Associated Press reporter has been watching too many “Green Acres” reruns on TV & he thinks we are bumpkins.  The article was talking about wealthy investors buying farm land at huge prices for investment purposes.  While that is problematic in and of itself because it drives up land prices and makes it hard for the farmer compete with the ultra rich in order to buy more land to farm, the article seemed to insinuate that we are uneducated people who wear overalls and who don’t seem to know what our land is worth.  Yes, it was insulting to those of us who raise the food that reporter eats, but then I thought, America loves the icon of the American Farmer and that we represent, the wholesomeness & goodness of our trade. 

This tractor used in our parent's generation is now a beloved
"yard ornament" in my flower bed
 So however America views us, let me share some facts about the farmers in our area.
• Most of the farmers have college degrees.

• Farming in today’s world is not what our parent’s generation did as the average farmer grows twice as much food as his parents did – using less land, energy, water and fewer emissions.

• Today, the average U.S. farmer feeds 155 people. In 1960, a farmer fed just 26 people.

• We love our technology and are very “techie”, we have GPS units in our tractors to help us apply fertilizer and other applications only where it’s needed, as much as needed, and no more. See the 2nd video as Farmer Joe explains more on that.

• We care about our land and are good stewards, after all this is how we make our living

o We go to “combine school” to learn how to run our combines better

o We have continuing education on best practices to apply the products that help our crops &have to pass the certification standards in order to have a license to use these products

• We care about raising the safest, best and most economical food, not only for us but for you, the consumer

o We live on our land, we raise our families here, we eat the foods we grow and those are the same one that you eat too

o We are not the bad “corporate farms” that media tries to imply, if we are incorporated, it is simply for tax purposes. 97% of farms are run by farm families

o Weather and markets as well as anti Ag groups can be unkind to us, but we take it in stride and continue to get up every day to do our best, after all you depend on us

• We love what we do and want to continue living this life style, as well as pass it onto future generations to grow the food the world eats

A future farmerette, she loves combines and tractors
We understand that not everyone is a farmer, but everyone eats –and if some view us as a bumpkin, well so be it, but we feel we are living the life that dreams are made of. So I’ll get off my soapbox and hope this blog leaves you will a smile and a better understanding from our perspective.
As always, if you have comments or questions, please feel free to email me at or leave a comment. Starting next week, we will be harvesting our winter wheat, so I’ll be blogging on what the Anderson Farm is up to, with pictures and videos. As always, thanks for stopping by and come back soon. All my best, Gayle

Monday, July 25, 2011

If you could see what I see on the farm

Sometimes writing a blog is like marinating a tough cut of meat.... the proper elements and time are needed to create a good end product.... so while my thoughts are sitting and stewing over an article I read in this week's Ag section of the paper & trying to formulate what I'm wanting to blog - I thought I'd at least share with you what I saw on my bike ride from a few days ago.  These scenes are just a short distance from my farmhouse.....
We are fortunate enough to be close to two land grant universities whose research is instrumental in the development of better crops for our area.  Better crops are good for us (and you,the consumer).

Here is the U of I research farm, their research helps farmers and ranchers

Here are "test plots" of various kinds of wheat
From an earlier blog about my tour at WSU's wheat research facility, often times the wheat breeders like to grow the wheat in real time conditions as shown above in the many "test plots".  
The UI facility also has cattle too

Here is a test plot of blooming peas - which I think looks like a field of "popcorn"
After leaving the UI Research Center, I continued down the highway and saw the yellow field & thought you might like to see it too.  This crop is probably mustard (yes, the seed is used for the mustard you buy in the store) or it is a canola plant and that crop is used for the canola oil. It is so pretty when blooming, as pictured below.
Whether this is a mustard plant or a canola plant, the yellow is eye catching

Loading up hay bales from a field
Next I passed a hay field that had recently been cut & baled.  Note the round bales in the field just above this one.  Depending on the kind of hay baler the farmer owns determines what kind of size and shape of the hay bale. 
Here is a garbanzo plant with a pod. This is from our field along the highway

A view of the garbanzo field, very green and lush at this stage

Our garb field in the forefront, and a different color of green crop is our
spring wheat.

So now you got to see what I see on almost on a daily basis and hope you enjoyed it.  As always, please feel free to email me at if you have questions or comments or leave me a comment ( I love those too).  All my best, Gayle

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A View of Farming from the Backseat of a Cycle & Tales from the Road

Joe posing besides a "wheat" sculpture

No matter where our travels lead us, our interest in Agriculture is always present. Whether traveling within the USA or abroad, our attention is always drawn to how other people farm. The Farmer and I just crossed off one item on our shared “bucket list” by celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary (a year late) on a motorcycle tour through Germany and Austria.

Angela, our guide, in the orange helmet along
with Joe when we encountered a dairy cow along our travels
In viewing the crops from the rural roads of Germany, we saw fields of wheat and barley in about in the same growing stage as on our farm as both Idaho and Germany are pretty close to the 45th parallel with similar climates. Plus we also saw fields of potato plants and corn and the fields as well as tractors are much smaller in size than in the States. It was interesting to see wheat fields and corn fields next to each other as this does not occur in Northern Idaho, where our rain fall usually cannot support the moisture level needed for corn (that is a Southern Idaho crop that utilizes irrigation). We also saw many small dairy operations in these beautiful and picturesque countries. Quite often we could smell and see the manure spread on the fields, and many times dairies were next to towns or sometimes within the town itself. It seemed very commonplace to have the aroma of manure in the air and while we didn’t mind the smell, I wondered how urban Americans would embrace this ordinary fact of farming if it was in their backyard. (Just this topic alone could & will probably be another blog later on)

The other interesting practice that we saw was how every available section of ground was harvested for hay. Seeing men cutting grass on steep hillsides down to ditches next to the road, it seemed no blade of grass was left uncut. The grass was either cut by hand or someone would be walking behind a piece of equipment that looked like an overgrown lawn mower. Then the family would hand rake the grass into rows, followed by it either being loaded into carts loosely or if the ground was somewhat level, then baled up. It was almost like stepping back into time and you could imagine their ancestors doing it the same way. (sorry no pictures tho)

Riding through the charming villages
From the neatly mowed countryside to the red tiled roofs of the houses that all seemed to sport window planter-boxes with cascading flowers, it was like driving through a movie set of a Bavarian village - only real. Truly a once in a lifetime adventure for this farm-wife! Click here (or visit the "At Home" page) to read more about “Tales From The Road” and to see more pictures as well as hear about the crazy characters that we rode with.

Our house amidst the sea of green rolling hills
that are planted with winter wheat
As for what is happening on the Anderson farm, it is still a sea of green rolling hills here in North Idaho and the crops are growing nicely. The wheat was sprayed again for rust disease and aphids, the garbanzo plants are starting to flower, so all is well.
Here you can see the rust stripe

Checking the winter wheat heads, which are filling out

As always, please feel free to email me at if you have questions. I love comments on the blog too. =) Thanks for stopping by and come back soon. All my best, Gayle