Tag Archives: farming

Milk and Robo-planter

We went farming today. The three older girls and I helped Grandpa and uncle Greg tag calves. For some reason, I had to run for my life several times–out of the reach of a few pretty pissed off momma cows. Good adrenaline rush. The truth is, any of them could take any of us out any time they wanted–they just don’t. Even the really mad ones–they just scare the crap out of you, maybe nudge you a little bit, that’s all.

Hope was armed with the camera. Here is a sixpack of the 147 pictures she took (from the safe confines of the pickup truck cab).

One calf was having trouble getting it’s first meal, so we helped out. The girls love bottle feeding calves, but today was the first time they’ve been able to milk the cow. Just like their Grandpa used to do every morning before school. Loved it. And you can watch it. See if you can tell which of the girls is less farmer material…

From Stool and Bucket to Magic Machines

After we were done with the old-fashioned milking experiment, we stopped in to see how Duane was coming with getting the corn planter ready to roll. While the girls played in a soybean pile, Duane explained to me how a robot will plant the corn this year while he naps or munches on cheetos.

After the tractor company comes tomorrow to finish installing some new equipment, he will no longer have to steer the tractor while planting corn and soybeans. Just sit there and flip on autopilot. The tractor won’t just drive itself way more precisely than Duane ever could, the planter will even know exactly where it’s already planted, so when he hits the end rows it will stop dropping seed at exactly the right spot in each row. This, of course, is after another computer hooked up to a satellite already applied a unique concoction of fertilizing chemicals for every 50 square feet of the field, depending on the soil type, make-up and terrain.

It’s a new ball game indeed.

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Posted by on April 18, 2010 in farming, Kids


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First Bottle Calf

The bad news: one momma cow died last night from birth complications.

The good news: the girls got their first shot of bottle feeding early this Spring.

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Posted by on March 14, 2010 in farming, Kids


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Worm Fans and Farming Again

Busy day on the bartblog wire. Here’s my afternoon and evening:

  1. Intended to plant a tree with Mesa. Checked two local nurseries, neither had any trees. (wtf?)
  2. Picked up two used ice cream barrels that will soon become part of my rain water collection system. They still have some melted ice cream in them, if you’re interested. Free tastes for all.
  3. Sent out my second red wiggler starter pack.  This one is headed for Brookings, SD. A friend of mine who works at SDSU came out with her husband today to see my operation, and went home with a bucket of composting worms for their fancy shmancy new hi-tech worm bin. Pictures are coming soon.
  4. The girls and I (and Bailey) headed out to the farm for more calf tagging. Hope’s addiction to calving is really escalating out of control…I’ve put in about 8 hours of chasing and wrestling those cute little suckers in the past seven days–I’d say I’m damn near a farmer again. I’m also much slower than I used to be.
(taken with a grainy cell phone)

(taken with a grainy cell phone)

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Posted by on April 25, 2009 in compost, farming, worms


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Store Wars

OK, I know not every bartblog fan will appreciate the message of this video. No matter what you think about chemicals and such on your food, this video is just plain fun. Check it out if you have 5 minutes and want to laugh. It’s worth it.

I’m not even going to say I want to push this message (I love organic practices, and believe LOCAL is just as important. There are some sketchy details out there that get overlooked by slapping a “USDA Organic” seal on things…more in another post I guess…).

I love the farm I grew up on (and the guys running it), and think the ag system needs bunches of change if it will sustain humans for generations to come. I also get how hard it is to make that jump. Anytime I’m knocking chemical farming, I’m never pointing a finger at anyone, I’m pointing it at everyone. We’re ALL part fo the problem…

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Posted by on December 5, 2008 in Food


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Weed-Chopping Cousins (plus losing the battle with wind)

Charlie in his oats.
(photo by Sam Hurst for

The Madville Times reports (Mrs. Madville Times too) that the Johnsons from Orland Township are featured in a new story on about their 30-year experiment with totally organic farming. Not your quaint little vegetable farm either. Charlie and Alan farm 2,400 acres (divided into 60-plus fields) in Lake County, SD, planting and harvesting 5 different crops on a 6-year rotation.

The Johnsons are my cousins. Mary (Bartmann) Johnson, Charlie and Alan’s Mom, came to America from Essentho, Germany (where my great-grandpa was born) as a teenager with the help of my grandparents. Charlie and my Dad are friends, cousins and successful farmers–and their passions for the work are carried through in very different ways. I remember “walking beans” to chop those sunflowers, thistles and cockleburrs in the dawn hours of July mornings as a kids, though. That was before “Round-up Ready” was for real. Or… Maybe, just maybe, it was another way Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on July 12, 2008 in garden, going green, Weather


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