Growing a Grain and Cow Operation Side by Side

Harvest this year seems to drag on and on and on. But in defense of the harvest, being late with our corn crops has a lot to do with it. With being hailed out and having so much replant, it made a big delay in the operation. I think we did rather well for having to replant. We ended up with anywhere from a 40–50 bushel up to 180. It was just all over the board, but I’m pleased.

We’ve been held up a little with harvest because we’re calving right now. Being a livestock and grain operation tends to make it a little tougher. Some days you think you should be doing a lot of farming, but you end up doing stuff for your cows.

One group of 60 cows is calving now. One group will calve in late February or early March, and another group calves in April and May. We stagger them out so we have more of a cash flow for our operation and a better workload. If you were calving 180 cows all at the same time, it would be too much.

Growing the cow operation alongside our grain operation is good, because you use the waste products from both as benefits. We really emphasize using manure for our fields, because compared to commercial fertilizer, there’s no comparison. It’s that much better. Nature makes things a lot better than we ever can. It helps the soil from eroding and helps several issues in the environment, and the nutrients are more available for the plant.

On our operation, there’s no waste of energy. We’re using corn stalks for bedding and for feed, and the manure for the ground. Without this cycle, the stalks would sit out there waiting for a slower form of Mother Nature to break it down, where this actually speeds it all up. Some people — even fertilizer people — don’t understand that manure can bring a piece of ground back to life almost surprisingly fast, where commercially it might take several years.

As far as I’m concerned, farmers have been the number one environmentalists from the get go, and in taking care of our ground, we have to do it. You talk about going green, well, I think we started that movement. And we weren’t looking for political points, either. There is a responsibility to be a good steward in this profession