The Picture of Sustainability

During this month, Wednesdays are going to be my “Wordless Wednesday” posts.  I want to show pictures of sustainable agriculture, because sometimes a picture is worth more than words.

Sustainable agriculture to me looks a lot like the following images:

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or this …

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and this …

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But as I was doing some research on different images to use in my post this week, I noticed an overwhelming trend in the images when you “google” sustainable agriculture.

Images like this one from http://www.eatdrinkbetter.com

Factory-Farming-versus-Sustainable-Farming

I will not give a lot of credit to those that pit large against small. I absolutely detest the term “factor farm” or “industrial agriculture”. As neither are a true representation of what agriculture is …. but that is for later posts.

I believe whole heartedly that there is a place for all shapes and sizes of agriculture, conventional or organic, I do not believe that one is more sustainable than the other. As stated in my first post: sustainability is site specific. As I continue along my journey of my daily posts, I will have other posts to help illustrate just this fact.

Until tomorrow….

Amber

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How Technology Can Improving Dairy and Beef Operations

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Meatless Mondays? Maybe Not!

Meatless Mondays?  Not in our house! Monday or any other day of the week for that matter!  What can I say, with two teenage boys that work as hard as they play, there is always a healthy serving or two of meat when we sit down to the dinner table.  

I was reading the article “Carnivore’s Dilemma” in the November 2014 issue of National Geographic the other night.  It is part of the National Geographic Future of Food Series and it got me thinking about the steers that we raise.  While our little holding doesn’t raise enough beef to be a game changer in the market, we do have a small group of families that have been coming to us for their beef needs for a couple of years now.  

We raise and finish out 2-3 steers a year, plus the show steers that the boys exhibit at different fairs throughout the summer.  The amount of beef that we produce is small and by no means is it sustainable in large terms, but it is sustainable for my family.  

Glenn Innish (our farm) is a small single family farm that has enough revenue to cover the farm’s expenses.  This works for our family as both my husband and I have income outside the farm.  We joke that The Glenn is our boy’s 4H projects that have run a muck!  

As I stated in my first post of the month, sustainability must stand the test of time, but it is site specific.  

This means that for us, The Glenn is sustainable.  We have no doubt in our ability to maintain our current production of small lots of beef, sheep and pork.  Our business plans even has some small growth factored in our production models over the course of the next 5 years.  

The thing is, that The Glenn would not be a sustainable agriculture enterprise if our purpose was to help supply the beef for the growing China market or other markets around the world.  Other beef operations, mainly feedlots are much more efficient and sustainable for those markets.  In other posts throughout the month I will elaborate more on how large scale beef operations are more sustainable and efficient in providing beef to the larger markets.

Food for thought … 

Until tomorrow.

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What is Sustainable Agriculture

To start my challenge of posting every day for the month of November on the topic of Sustainable Agriculture, I thought that I should start with defining what my thoughts of sustainable agriculture is.  

The definition of Sustainable Agriculture is an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site specific application that will last of the long term.  

There are more ways then I am going to be able to go through over the next month on how farms are sustainable.  My goal with these posts is to illustrate that just because farms have different practices and methods, doesn’t mean that one is more sustainable over another.  I want to illustrate that sustainable comes in all sizes, as do farms.  I want to show that organic and conventional practices are both sustainable.  I want to show that large and small enterprises are both sustainable.  

I believe that there is a lot of misconceptions out there on what is sustainable agriculture and I want to help provide some insight on this topic.  There are two points that I am going to focus on from the definition about:  (1) sustainability is site specific and (2) sustainability is a measurement of time.

I am really looking forward to this month.  Not only am I looking forward to sharing my thoughts with everyone, I am also looking forward to reading the other blogs from others in agriculture that are taking this challenge.  Please take a moment to look through the rest of the blogs.  It looks to be an interesting month.  

Here is the link to the rest of wonderful blogs that are posting “30 Days”  http://http://farmprogress.com/blogs-30-days-agriculturalists-influence-9112

Hope that you all enjoy the posts.

Until tomorrow.

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November Blog Challenge

So a little while back, 31 days to be exact, I read a post asking to take a challenge. The challenge seems simple enough … Blog every day for the month of November. The idea is to blog every day about a topic in agriculture.

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After thinking about this for the past month and chatting it over with Simon, I have decided to accept the challenge. I actually decided a while ago to accept the challenge but it has taken time to find my topic. I have always figured that life will present my topics for my blogs to me and often it does.

I have thought through several topics ranging from family life on the farm to growing up on an unconventional “funny farm” to food topics, and then something amazing happened. I was elected the Executive Chair of the 2017 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days. For those of you that are not familiar with WI Farm Tech Days, it is the largest farm show in the state of WI and the planning starts three years before the show. I am very honored to have been elected Executive chair by a group my peers. It also presented my topic of choose for my Blogging Challenge. No it isn’t all about the Farm Tech Days specifically, but my topic of choice is to showcase what is sustainable agriculture.

I am going to be honest. There will be days that my blog may not be the lengthy and there will be some that are more my thoughts on the matter. I am going to try and offer as many references and links in my posts so that the readers will be able to go and do their own research if they want to learn more.

I hope that you all enjoy!

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Safe Harvest

As I look out of the window over the fields of soybeans and corn towards the East, I see Mother Nature has been busy with her paint brush.  It always amazes me how fast the colors change, and how all of sudden we need that extra sweatshirt or sweater in the truck with us at all times.  I have enjoyed the summer spending time with my family at a variety of different fairs and livestock shows, but I have to admit Fall is my favorite time of the year. 


There is something very rewarding when harvest season starts.  While my own family doesn’t have a lot of land that is harvested (all of our land is in pastures for the beef and sheep), we do have a reasonable sized garden.  It is very satisfying and rewarding when you start harvesting and preserving your hard work to enjoy throughout the winter months.   While I was growing up there were more days than not in the late summer and fall that were spent harvesting the garden in the morning and then the rest of the day in the kitchen blanching, pickling and preserving all that you just picked.  While there were times in my youth, I was not impressed with these duties, I do have to say that looking back at it, there are some of my fondest memories.


As we progress through Fall, there is something that I would like to remind everyone of.  Whether you are harvesting a small garden or 1000s of acres, please remember to be safe out there.   In 1944, President Roosevelt proclaimed the third week of September as National Farm Safety and Health Week.  This year’s them was “Protecting What Matters”.  I think that we all can agree that what matters most to all of us is the safety and health of those that we love. 


While the whole week was to promote all aspects of safety on the farm, I would like to remind everyone of just a few ways to stay safe when  traveling on the roads, not only in Kewaunee County but wherever your travels may take you.


Tips for Farmers:

1.       Please try to use less traveled roads when possible.  Avoid the high traffic times on the busy roads.

2.       Double check your SMV (slow moving vehicle) emblems and lights are working and are visible and reflective

3.       Check for passing vehicles when making left turns, especially into fields and make sure that you use hand or turn signals to indicate turning

4.       If road and shoulder conditions are safe, pull over temporarily to allow traffic to pass when a lot of vehicles are behind you

5.       When possible and practical, have an escort precede and/or follow you when moving equipment, especially on busy roads

Tips for Motorist:

1.       Reduce speed when you see farm equipment on rural roads

2.       Brake for orange and red reflective triangles that warn of slow moving vehicles

3.       Keep a safe distance behind farm equipment so farmers can see you.  Remember if you can’t see the mirrors, the driver can’t see you!

4.       Yield to wide equipment on narrow roads

5.       When passing farm equipment, be cautious of equipment turning left, they may pull right first for wide turns.

6.       Only pass farm equipment when conditions are safe and there is no on-coming traffic

 

Here is wishing you all a Safe and Happy Harvest.  Please be careful out there!

 

 

 

 

 

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Communication is the Key

I recently read an letter by Casey Langan (WFBF’s Executive Director of PR) that said what I have been saying for a long time. Essentially in his letter, Casey says that it is time for agriculture as a whole to start telling their story. He gave 4 things that everyone that is involved in agriculture and/or supports agriculture can do to help tell ag’s story. First: use social media to communicate, second: Create a Facebook page for your farm, third: participate in dialogues about farm and food issues, and fourth: all of agriculture needs to stand together.

I couldn’t agree more! I have had the privilege of being involved in many different sectors of agriculture. Growing up in Montana in the 80s where logging was king, starting our married life on a beef/sheep ranch and then moving to Wisconsin where I started my career in dairy. Over the course of the years, I have seen attacks on all of agriculture. I truly believe these attacks are a result of divide that has happened between the consumer and those that are producing the food.

Life in agriculture is hard work. Anyone that has milked cows, cleaned pens, built fence, spent all night trying to save a calf only to lose the battle, knows that life in agriculture is hard work. Those of us that have chosen this way of life have accepted it. It is part of who we are. I do not assume that we are the only ones that do work hard. I accept that there are others that work just as hard and just as long as we do, but in a different way that I do not necessarily understand.

While I am willing to admit that I don’t understand what others do, I wish that some of those that are oppose to agriculture would admit the same thing. I wish the ones that too eagerly accuse agriculture of abuse to animals and the environment, would take a moment and talk to us. The lines of communication have been cut in half and until both sides start talking to each other, I do not see a bridge over the divide happening any time soon.

We are all busy, but please take a moment and ask questions. It doesn’t mean that we are always going to agree on everything, but educating each other is a step in the right direction. I am willing to open my gate, are you willing to open yours?

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