Springing to a Fresh Start on the Farm
Baby calves and corn seed say it better than a shadowless groundhog’s prediction: Spring has arrived on the farm.
Calves dart through our greening pastures like little freight trains. The kids’ 4-H chicks rapidly change from fluff to feathers. Bags and boxes of corn and soybean seed sit in the lower storage shed awaiting contact with the soil.
In the last few weeks, our guys have serviced the planters, tractors and even lawnmowers, gearing them up for acres of planting and mowing. Fingers crossed, this preparation means we escape the machinery breakdowns. Those hinder a timely planting process, one of the most critical factors in the success of a corn and soybean crop.
As with every spring, we make plans for the best crop ever. This spring, in particular, brings much-needed hope for a fresh start. The year 2019 delivered the most stressful and miserable growing season of my farming generation, from historic planting delays to market-degrading trade wars. Through it all, I longed for this opportunity to press the reset button in spring 2020.
Consider the button pressed. With optimism, we prepare for go time, which includes creating planting prescriptions. These digitally mapped directives for the planter allow us to set variable seeding rates that intend to grow the best crop possible on the soil types within our fields. Satellite guidance and high-tech planter controls will make this precise seed placement happen when soil temperatures and ground conditions turn fit for planting.
In the meantime, our guys continue to haul last year’s crop from on-farm storage to delivery points at the Illinois River and local ethanol plant. The kids and I shop for vegetable seeds and plants, also hoping for a better year than last in our garden plots.
Soon, a lush lawn will demand trimming every few days and planting will commence. About that time, the morel mushrooms will pop up in the farm timber. The adults may find a few prized morels while the kids divert to gathering bluebells, following wildlife tracks and wading through the creek with rubber boots.
We end spring’s daylight hours drawn to the sun preparing to kiss the farm goodnight. The sunset’s captivating glow on calf-filled pastures and freshly planted fields draws us closer to the land, the farm and its lifestyle. As important as ever, the setting scene helps us find and feel spring’s promise of renewal.
About the author: Joanie Stiers, a wife and mother of two farm kids, writes from west-central Illinois, where her family grows corn, soybeans and hay, and raises beef cattle.