Ag in the Middle


Pix 2010 and 2011 345.jpg
Blizzard Prep

The term "Ag in the middle" is given to farms of a certain size... Say 250 to about 650 acres. That's too small to justify the bigger, better, faster machinery. Yet too big to be a hobby. Lately it seems like we're In the middle of blizzards, decisions, arguments, and cold weather that seems to have no end (-11 and dropping right now).

You know, I sometimes stop and think that I wouldn't have to be in the middle of any of this. We are farmers by choice. I suspect most farmers are. But we had a comfy, easy life in the City. Double incomes, high end neighborhood, and I could bike or bus to work. And we left it by choice-- to farm-- to raise our kids on a farm-- and to create a legacy of healthy land and community.

As Mike and I were walking back to the house after getting the snow blower back on the JD 4440 (a tractor in the middle-- middle size and made closer to the middle of the last century than today) we talked over what to do with that north 40. "We came here to create a legacy for our kids" I remind him. "For whatever reason that just doesn't seem to figure in as much now" Mike said. And he's right.

Now that we're 3 years into this, we have to farm for us. This farm has to be what serves our wants and our needs. When we left the city, it was a dream. On this bitter cold night, it is reality.

We are late in making decisions for a 40 acre parcel that will be first year organic transition. Do we go for the short term, highest potential financial return for the coming field season? That would be planting some high density non-GMO corn. Or do we nurture the soil and plant some oats for hay (feed the cattle) mixed with some legumes for green manure? That would set us up for some better weed control and greater fertility for a future crop.

I suspect if we were conventional farmers the choices may be simpler- corn or soybeans.

And just when I was starting to feel whiny and overwhelmed by all of it, I remember to go outside to stoke the wood boiler. Outside in the pitch dark, I rake the orange coals and fill it up with wood. I take a walk down the driveway in the still, arctic air. The lights from the farmsteads around us are just blazing in the crisp, clear air. I can see stars crazy low on the horizon- unnaturally low. The Milky Way and stars are so bright they are making reflections on my glasses. I stop and the stillness is absolute and complete. Sunny nuzzles her nose in my hand. A person can be overwhelmed with the raw, unfiltered awesomeness of just being. Present.

A jet flies high across the sky. I watch it blinking, passing over and wonder if anyone on that jet to Seattle or Vancouver, BC is looking down on our dark and lonely land. They have no idea of what this place holds. Probably couldn't imagine how it feels to have the veil of modern life pulled and to be alone on a dark starlit prairie on frigid night.

I'm thinking we'll go with the corn.


(Re;The 40) Does the feeling "what will the neighbor's think or say' ever cross You or Mikes mind?
Those of us that live on this flat,productive farm land have to deal with this. We know how far people can see and how we're feeling like we're being watched.( you know, anything but all out prodution, is like your a nonperformer!)I know this borders on paranoia(??)but I think it exists.Problem is how far you have to go to find others with this thinking so you compare notes.

Kathy, your poetic musings bring a lump to my throat...I understand your feelings...only selfishly wish that you could have found your "back to Mother Earth" a little closer to me. Had my own serendipity moment last night. This winter has tested the patience of the most loyal Minnesota natives, but as Robert and I walked out of the "Bear's Den" in Byron last night, the snow that had been falling all day had changed to the most wondrous, huge, flat flakes
that glistened and sparkled under the lights of the village... one of those "ThankyouGod" moments, can't remember ever seeing snow quite that beautiful in my life. Unbelievable. Kind of like finding someone to love, and being loved in return, in the winter of your life.

AMEN, Sis!! So happy that you are happy! Kathy...sent a comment yesterday...guess it did not get through. So, again, Beautiful writing, Woman!!!

Lovely lovely comment Mom. Thank you G-d indeed.

Evan-- had yet another potluck at church today. I sat with a farmer, 81 years old. He's selling his beef cattle this week and is really worried about what he's going to do with himself without the cows to look after and keep him farming all winter.

He was telling me about one of his neighbors who was an awful farmer. I asked what that meant-- "oh- he skimped on the fertilizer and pesticides. Always had weeds in his field, etc..." '

I'm thinking "gulp" don't drive by our farm this summer. Our north forty will run along the north side of our 1/2 mile long driveway. The conventional crops will be between us and the neighbors. Beside I don't give a damn what the neighbors think if I'm doing something from what I think to be the right place of my heart and with good intentions. I would be ashamed, however, to be tiling my land to flood out my neighbors. But people seem to be doing that without a sense of shame.

Also, keep in mind Evan that in our 36 square mile township there are only about 75 people. I mentioned some weeks ago that we lived here for 6 weeks before I saw another vehicle drive down our road. The other night the kids and I were driving home and there was a truck traveling down our road. Alma says "follow them!" I was like "yeah- who can that be." And we did follow them... hahahaha. Wasn't anyone we knew. I.e. we have very few eyes per acre out here.

Ask me again in the fall. I may not be able to show my face in the elevator.


I do not know why your comments are not coming through!! I found this one and can't believe I missed one yesterday. I went through the screened file one by one. Will keep and eye out.

Please don't give up...


Dont underestimate the Democrats penchant for political mischief. I bet right now, there are squads of goons from ACORN and SEIU packing their bags, boarding buses and heading to Massachusetts. They are not going down without an ugly fight. Theyve thrown everything at Brown and hes still standing. Very impressive.

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This page contains a single entry by Kathryn Draeger published on February 26, 2011 7:07 PM.

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