Skilled farmers are aware that every tool and every technique for raising a crop has its risks and rewards.
One of the more exciting days on the farm is the one where we get a call just after 6 AM from the local post office telling us our hen chicks have arrived. After a short drive to pick up these small balls of fluff, we can go about giving them the care they need so they can form our next pasture-raised laying flock.
There is joy in giving these small lives a good start, but what happens when delivery is delayed and you open the box to find none of them left alive?
A massive derecho rampaged through Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana on August 10 with devastating results. Winds were estimated to have reached 130 mph in places, leaving 1.9 million without power. The derecho ripped a path of destruction 50 to 60 miles wide and 770 miles long. Ten to fourteen million acres of agricultural production were flattened in Iowa, and over one-third of the state sustained significant damage from this powerful storm. A week later, people were still struggling to clean up, and power was not yet restored to over 68,000 households and businesses.
Our farm will soon observe an anniversary that we would rather not think about. On July 27, 2012, a spray plane applied a mix of three pesticides to a field adjacent to our vegetable and poultry farm.
The writing was on the wall. It had become clear to my partner Tammy and I that we would have to make some drastic changes if we wanted to continue to successfully raise quality fruits and vegetables on our farm. Changes in weather patterns combined with multiple pesticide drift incidents clearly required that we seek alternative growing strategies.
Our farm sees pollinators as important employees, and we do what we can to pay them by providing food and habitat throughout the year.
The idyllic picture of the traditional farm in the United States often features the sun coming up over a big red barn.
I was recently asked what motivates us to raise poultry and grow fruits and vegetables on our small, family farm in Iowa. Aside from our love for growing green things and caring for animals, I realized that my answer could be boiled down to the simple idea that we care about the well-being of the people in our communities and the environment that surrounds us.