Category Archives: farming

Celebrating AgDay 2011

The folks here at Barrows Farm have very good reason to celebrate AgDay 2011. We are located in a state that uses 23% of the state’s land, approximately 7 million acres for farming production! Agriculture is important to New York State as its production returned almost $4.7 billion to the farm economy in 2009.

Milk is New York’s leading agricultural product and is produced all across the state. Milk sales account for one-half of total agricultural receipts. Production in 2009 was 12.4 billion pounds with a preliminary value of $1.7 billion. New York is the nation’s third leading producer and Wyoming County leads the state. New York ranks first in the nation in the production of creamed cottage cheese, low fat cottage cheese and sour cream.

New York livestock producers marketed 228 million pounds of meat animals (cattle, pigs, and sheep) during 2009. Ducks, broilers (chickens) and turkeys are also raised. New York ranks 20th in egg production.

Nationally New York ranked second in apple production, fourth for both tart cherries and pears and ninth for strawberries. We placed third for wine and juice grape production behind California and Washington. Sixty-six percent of the grape production was for juice and 34 percent went into wines in 2009. New Yorkers can also get locally grown peaches, sweet cherries, blueberries and raspberries in season.

The value of all vegetables produced in NY totaled $408.9 million in 2010. NY ranks fifth nationally in fresh market vegetable production. Cabbage, sweet corn and onions lead the way. NY ranks second in the production of pumpkins, third in cauliflower, fourth for snap beans, cucumbers, and squash, and ninth in tomatoes. We also produce many vegetables used for processing such as beets for canning, cabbage for sauerkraut and peas for freezing. Don’t forget about all the great road side stands and farm markets that will be opening soon.

New York produces a variety of field crops largely in support of its dairy industry. Corn, soybeans and wheat are most widely grown. New York ranks third in corn silage, seventh in oat production, 21st for grain corn, 25th for soybeans 27th for hay and 31st in wheat production.

Maple syrup production in New York for 2010 was 312,000 gallons (valued at $17.8 million) ranking us second behind Vermont. In 2009, New York floriculture products were valued at $171 million. Bedding and garden plants top the list of commodities. The wholesale value of New York’s floriculture output ranks seventh nationally at $171 million.

Many people may forget where their food, clothes and alternative fuels come from…but farmers keep doing the thankless job of putting food on your plate and clothes on your back. I know there are others within the change for production but without someone out there tending to the harvest and shipment of your meats, vegetables, cotton for clothing, grains for breads and such…we would be a completely different society. Everyone should be very thankful for each small thing a farmer does to make OUR lives better!

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Maniac Monday

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Monday’s could be the easy day of the week…The day when you slowly transition back into the work week! It never works that way though, does it?
Uggg. Today has just been one of those days. We woke up this morning to more snow! I am starting to wonder just when it is going to stop…June maybe?!?! πŸ™‚
All kidding aside, it has been one hell of a morning. The phone has been ringing off the hook and with each phone call, it breeds two or three more! I am tired and ready for a break!
This morning has been crammed with phone calls, one after another all morning long. I sit here now, taking my lunch break, typing on the computer to relax my brain for just a few minutes. I work on several different levels when it comes to work. Right now the top one is project manager for Broome Biomass. I have devoted my life over the past few years to developing the marketing strategy and the business model for the company. In the course of doing so, I have become a marketing agent for other companies that are looking to sell biomass products. It keeps me very busy and at times can become extremely frustrating.
I think the thing that makes it very difficult is trying to play the balancing act and do so many things at once…It is very much like farming! Very rewarding but it doesn’t pay very well! πŸ™‚ I do love everything that I have done and look forward to everything that I will be able to do in the future to promote agriculture into the renewable energy world in a real world working environment.
I am off again to work on the farm. Time to mix up my own special blend of chicken feed and to muck the barns out. The fun never stops! Have a blessed day!

Safety Sunday – Farmers and Cell Phones

Since I want to right posts on Sundays but I don’t want them to be tremedously long, I decided to write a bit about farm safety. I will be choosing different topics every week.

Since I have a funny story about me and my cell phone…I thought I might blog a little blog this morning about farmers and cell phones.

When I was younger and my gramps was still around, no one had cell phones. The closest thing out there to a cell phone in the world was a CB radio. Today, many farmers still don’t carry them for many different reasons. I have a different view, due to personal experience, on have one to carry with you…just in case. On small farms they are good to have just in case you get your tractor stuck in the mud or snow. Or even if you slip and fall, needing someone’s assistance. My personal favorite is so that you can call for a rescue when you get locked inside your chicken barn!!! (Yes, that really did happen to me)

Communication is crucial when it comes to being a small farm. Our neighboors are close but not close enough to hear me yell if I were ever really in trouble. So, I carry a cell phone with me all the time when I complete chores, clean barns, run tractors and move firewood. It isn’t for me to talk while working, it is for personal safety. Let me explain one step further. One day last summer, while cleaning barns and filling all of the poultry feeders my bloodhound decided to “knock” on the poultry barn door. When she did…It locked me inside. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my animals. Mr. farmer wasn’t due home for another THREE hours and I still needed to get a list about as long as my arm finished. Instead of being locked inside, I called my sister-in-law who lives nearby to come let me out. Within fifteen minutes, I was out and back to my list of chores.

Four years ago, when we had a hired man running the saw mill, we had a tractor roll over. He pulled a stupid stunt trying to get a log down off the pile with a chain, not paying attention to the angle at which he was pulling and boom, over the tractor when. Laying on its side, operator not in sight…I raced out the door, soon discovering the help was alright. The convience of a cell phone, well alright two, allowed me to get the commercial dairyman from up road. By that time, Mr. Farmer was home and we all managed to get the tractor back on all four wheels. Thank the Lord above with very little damage done to the operator or the equipment.

Cell phones do provide a safety net. Just because you carry them doesn’t mean you have them attached to your ear. I can also tell you that this is how the commercial dairyman I talked about earlier does all of his business. Whether a truck, a tractor or in his office…he communicates with his employees, parts store personnel, his marketing manager and even his family this way. It allows him flexibility enough so that he can multitask and get his work finished no matter where he is.

Modern technology and farming do have a place to coexist together.

Farm Sustainability

I am currently learning all about digesters. It is interesting to learn that no matter what size farm you operate they can function. The best units are one’s that are “cookie-cutter” packages for farms with over a 1,000 cows, but they can be done for smaller farms too.

From the information that I have read so far, they really aren’t that difficult to construct and build. I have not gotten into the cost for the retaining walls, but I did find out that you can build them with a flex-wall! That would save loads of money over the traditional concrete I have seen used.

I think it may even work for a small farm like us. I will be completing some calculations over the next week or so to determine if it is an option for an operation as small as we are. I will update with the news of my discoveries on the topic!

Out like a lamb

The old saying goes that if March comes in like a lion, it will leave like a lamb. Here we are mid-month and March has already dumped recorded snows. Now today, we have high winds and heavy rain.

The rain is melting the snow away, but it is going to cause flooding. Our barn floor is already under water. Partly because of the broken roof on part of it and partly because the ground has a down hill slope that leads right into the barn. It is a nasty mess every where you try to take a step. Snow build up here, ice over there and mud in all the drives and walk areas. I managed to get drenched through this morning while working on chores too.

One thing though….I don’t regret or wish things were any different. Some people go spend a hundred bucks on shower heads so when they take showers it’s like standing in a rain storm. Me…I just step outside! Conservation at it’s finest. πŸ™‚ All kidding aside, the one thing I really wish different is that someone could turn up the heat on the water falling from the heavens just a little. Then again, there is nothing like a cold shower to wake you right up in the morning!

I will be posting another blog later today. Since yesterday was my step-daughter’s birthday and the only thing she wanted was an old-school cheesecake. I have decided to share an old fashioned recipe that I have made in the past.

One thing I do want to make known, I use old school recipes that are loaded full of fats and whole milks. You remember…the recipes your Grandma used back when she made goodies. I am sorry but there is nothing like a good ol’ homemade pie crust made with lard instead of the processed junk we buy in a can to use (shortening). If I ever do use shortening, especially for pie crusts, I use the butter flavor Crisco. And…Paula from Paula’s Home Cooking Show is my fav! I love to listen to her talk and ohhhh does she savor the taste of the foods she cooks. Now you know what I act like when I fix something really good to eat…I just don’t have that southern drawl! I do love food!

Since I will be posting recipes, I will make sure to note variations that can be used to reduce the fat content. And I will also note for those people who are lactose intolerant or just can’t have milk like me some alternatives that I have tried and seemed to work well.

I am off to get some paperwork accomplished and work on securing a contract for the biomass right now. Hope that you are all sitting in the sun, soaking up the sunshine and thinking of sending some our way soon! God Bless.

Mother Nature is very mad!

It seems that Mother Nature is very upset with the United States lately. Especially the east coast! Just what did we do wrong to make her send all this snow our way?

The snow totals were some where around two feet within our area. We have no way of knowing here on the farm due to the winds that blow the snow completely away in one area to dump it in another. Most of which I think landed in front of the front door.

At 11 pm two nights ago, it was already difficult to push the screen door open on the front of the house. About a total of 10 inches had fallen at that point. By 5 am, there was about three feet stacked in front of that same door. You couldn’t even budge the door more than a few inches. By 7 am, the drift in front of the garage door was approximately chest height and about 4 feet high. I had to dig a path through the drift to get out into the driveway to get to the furnace and the front porch! After shoveling about 100 feet of packed, heavy wet snow and an hour of my time…I could open the front door and atleast get to the wood pile to fill the furnace.

At about 8 am, the dairy farmer from up the hill came down with his loader and cleared out the driveway! Glad he did and very thankful for atleast clearing the way just in case we needed to get out. About 9, we finally made it to the barn and got the tractor out to do some more snow moving. Mr. Farmer cleared out the area in front of the barn doors and room enough to manuveur the four wheeler around. By 11 am, I was so exhausted I think I could have slept for the remainder of the day….but, guess what! No chance of that. There was still paperwork and emails that had to be taken care of.

After spending much of the day shoveling and a few hours working on computer stuff, it was time to do chores all over again. Mr. Farmer took the tractor back out and plowed a path to get to the chicken barn. It wasn’t fully cleared out, but definately easier to walk in than snow up to your knees! All of the animals faired alright but none of them wanted to spend anytime out in the snow. The poor chickens stood in the barn door looking at the expanse of white and decided that being in the barn under the lamp was better than freezing their feet off.

They did come out today…to hop over the snow banks to play and scratch around on the areas that are bare ground! You should have seen the group of them that had gotten over a snow drift and couldn’t figure out how to get back across without stepping in the snow. Anyone looking for a new business…chicken shoes for winter is a recommendation! πŸ™‚

The cows loved the sun and mild temperatures today. They really seemed to enjoy sucking up all that vitamin D from the sunshine…Now just if we can get rid of all this snow! The turkey hens are still setting on their eggs…which will hopefully hatch out a couple of poults by the end of this week! I am so excited. Spring is around the corner and that means new calves, chicks and poults! The things I love the best about farming!!!!!

Send some warm thoughts to all of us up here in NY buried under a mountain of snow! God Bless you all and have a fantastic day!