Sunday, April 29, 2012

Family Farms....The Next Generation

I don't know if our non farm neighbors realize how important it is for our children to be part of the family farm.  Most family farms are passed along from generation to generation.  Even if children grow up on a farm and then strike out on their own, they have the experience and knowledge from years of working with mom and dad, or dad and grandpa, or aunts and uncles.  This is what is needed to make owning a working farm possible.  There is so much about farming that you must experience in order to learn, and with the Department of Labor trying to keep our children from doing simple things from chores, to helping load a wagon of feed for the cows, this could have made producing enough food for the next generation in this country a very difficult task.

A strong work ethic is something that comes from being responsible for chores on the farm.  Everyone in the family helps out until the job is done.  Where would the family farm be in 15 years if the children of farmers were not allowed to be around the animals, to learn how to care for them or equipment, to learn  how each piece works and what it is used for.  The years spent helping around the farm help children who want to make agriculture their career, learn about what seeds need to be planted first, how to tell if their animals aren't feeling well, when to take care of bug problems in the crops.  There are so many things that most children don't learn about but that the kids that grow up on a farm learn.... as second nature.  How to plow and disc a field and when the crops should be planted and harvested.

This issue created a huge uproar in the agriculture community.  The over reaching rules could have prevented kids from raising their 4-H projects, to helping out on Grandpa & Grandma farms.  Many in the industry used our grassroots system of contacting our legistlators to let them know these laws that the DOL were working on implementing were not good for farmers in Michigan or any other state.

For now, our children can keep going to the fair, showing their 4-H projects and enjoying life on the farm.
The President of the United States said...not on my watch!  These proposed rules/laws will be put on hold while the Obama adminstration is in place.  This is good for now, but we need to keep working on eliminating those nonsense laws from coming back.  While safety and caution should be used when we give our children tasks to perform on the farm, we also know that the farm is a tool to teach our children a strong work ethic, hard work and the care and protection of animals and the environment.  There are so few family farms feeding an ever growing population now.  We need to encourage our young people to stay on the farm and keep agriculture alive in Michigan and the United States.  Let's keep the ability of the next generation of farmers learning from their parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, friends and neighbors!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Busy Spring

Doesn't it seem like the weather will never decide if we should have it warm or cold, but soon enough things will settle in for some nice warm weather....I hope.  We have one planting of sweet corn in the field, but it won't be growing much with these cold nights.  Actually we don't want to see it poke out of the ground to least not when we are are still getting such heavy frost/freezes in the mornings.  We are working on getting the fields worked so we can get more corn in, then once it warms up we can start planting, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and all those other veggies.   For now....we can enjoy the sweet smelling and colorful flowers in the nice warm greenhouse!

This week is Project RED.  (Rural Education Day)  This is a educational program I work on with Macomb County Farm Bureau.  For this years event we are bringing 850 third graders to the fair grounds this Tuesday and teaching them a little bit about farming in Macomb County.   We have lined up presenters to talk to the children about diary cows, honey bees, fruits and veggies, goats, rabbits, poultry, beef cattle, and  miniature horses.  They get a quick blast of info at each station.  Macomb County farm bureau volunteers, together with local 4-H and FFA kids, master gardeners and Farm Bureau Insurance Agents have been providing this educational program for about 15 years now.  I like to refer to it as controlled chaos!  It's a great day and fun and learning, if your childrens school doesn't participate....they should!  The kids love it, the teachers love it, and our presenters and volunteers love to help with this program.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Getting your gardens ready

Each year we wait for the snow to melt and get our vegetable and flower gardens planted.  This year has been a little different.  80 degrees in March...again 80 degree days in April.  Some folks want to get their gardens in early.  Remember we are in Michigan and if you plant to early and are forever covering and uncovering for the frost and freezes. 

For now...Hanging baskets are a great way to spruce up your place early giving you color and flowers to your home, and if the weather is going to be is very easy to bring them in for the night.  

Have you ever had your garden dirt tested.  As a cost control and environmental issue we test our fields each spring before we plant.  This ensures we are only using what is necessary, and we are not spending money on nutrients and fertilizers we don't need.   If you don't have to fertilize as heavy because the dirt has enough nutrients in it then why put more on.  Why spend the money if you don't need to.  We work very hard to bring you the safest and freshest produce possible and to do this we need to make sure our costs stay as low as possible.

Love those Tomatoes!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Young Entrepreneur

Things on the farm are just coming along just fine.  The hanging baskets a growing nicely and so are the veggies.  Joe is working everyday to make sure everything is ready for the start of the growing season.

I went to Tustin, MI this weekend to the 4-H Kettenun Center.  It was the first time I had ever been there and will be back again, if possible.  It is a very nice facility set in the woods in the northern part of this great state.  I took a class on Entrepreneurial Education.  What a great class.  Myself and two other 4-H Leaders from Macomb County, along with several others from the Oakland, Barry and several other counties, are now certified to teach this curriculum to 6th thru 12th grade youth.  We plan on taking this information into the schools and our 4-H clubs to teach kids about becoming business owners.  So much interesting and exciting information.  We can teach kids about starting and owning their own business.  They can take something they love to do and make it into a money making adventure.  And how great is that, to love what you do and that is your job!!!