Archive for April, 2010

Please welcome a farmer’s daughter to our blog!

April 7th, 2010

I will be posting on her behalf, please read and say hello!

The Farmer’s Daughter

I grew up on a farm in southeastern North Dakota.  When most people think of farms they think of animals.  We did not have any animals on our farm.  It was strictly a grain farm.  The crops grown on our farm included soybeans, navy beans, sunflowers and wheat.

There are many great things to be said about farming.  I believe that it is one of the best ways for a family to live, especially for children.  As children my three siblings and I always had lots of space to run and play.  We lived in a house that is nearly 90 years old and it was fun to know that we lived in the same house that my great-grandparents had lived in.  My mom always had lots of flowerbeds and a vegetable garden, so we had fresh vegetables every summer and fall.

Besides family life there is also community life involved in farming.  Usually when a person is a farmer they get to know a lot of their neighbors because they do business with them on a regular basis.  Or if they do not do business with them it is still useful to get to know one another because farmers can discuss crops, the markets, the weather and other topics and get advice and ideas.  Farm families also depend on one another in times of crisis.  When a crop needs to be harvested immediately or face impending destruction, who will they call to help?  The only people they really can call are their friends and neighbors who are in the agriculture business as well.  There is not a farmers-for-hire business that they can call on a moment’s notice. The friends and neighbors will have the appropriate equipment, skills and knowledge to get the job done.

Farming families often have lived within the same communities together for generations.  Their children have gone to school and grown up with the other family’s children, just as their parents did.  Some families are related to other families.  Some have long-standing businesses together.  And when one says long-standing in relation to a farm life situation they usually mean something spanning generations.  This is how it is in small, rural, farming communities and it will likely continue on that way.  This is a culture unlike many others.  One will not find this in a big city.

Farming is a fascinating profession.  It is often not looked at as a high-status profession, but in reality farmers really need to be business savvy and decisive.  They have a lot of the qualities that would be looked for in a CEO or CFO and probably run a budget comparable, if not larger, than most businesses.  They drive equipment that is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and use trucks, pickups, 4-wheelers, and planes to keep an eye on their business’ progress.  Farming also involves chemistry, geology and biology.  Farmers have to know how their plants grow, when they grow, what to do if they will not grow and much more.  Farmers have to know about soil quality and how the minerals in the ground affect their crops.  And farmers have to know how to mix chemicals.  If they choose to use herbicides, pesticides or fungicides they have to know how to use them, how to mix them, etc.  Altogether there is so much variety in the profession of farming.  For a farmer, the learning never ends.

I have gone through and given you a sampling of what farming is as a way of life and as a profession.  I have observed and experienced all of this and more that I would like to tell you about in future postings.  I did have some hesitation on writing in this blog because I do come from a 4th generation farm family and from a farming community.  I know how close these relationships can be and want to be respectful in my writings of this.  Because of this I may refrain from giving specifics about myself or those I am writing about.  But I do hope that I can open your eyes to what growing up on a farm would be like and what a rural, farming culture is all about.  I aim to dispel some misconceptions and give you a little humor as well.  I hope that I can teach you something and I welcome any questions.


Introducing Jordan Gackle, Another Contributor

April 2nd, 2010


I grew up on a farm near Kulm, ND, just down the road from Schott’s. Our farm sits on the edge of the Coteau Hills, a geological formation marked by rolling hills and innumerable prairie potholes. This land also marks an entry into the North American Great Plains, a vast, often harsh ocean of grass stretching west to the Rocky Mountains. To the east one descends over five hundred feet in just ten miles into the “flats” — rich farmland that only grows more fertile along an eastward path until finally one reaches the Red River Valley of the North, some of the most fertile land in the world, comparable to the Nile River Valley in Egypt. Ours is a land in between.

I never understood why my ancestors kept moving west until finally ending up in the potholes. Why not set up camp in “the flats”? The land was more fertile and better drained — all around good farmland. From what I can tell they went the extra miles precisely because of the potholes, which they felt offered an excellent water resource for raising livestock. I guess I can see their perspective, but sometimes it would be nice to plow straight for more than fifty feet without having to drive around a small lake!

The farm I grew up on has been in our family for three generations. My Grandfather established the farmstead in the middle of twentieth century. My Dad has been farming the land since the late 70s, and now I…

After high school I, like most farm kids, left. I headed toward a place filled with promise and potential. I sought a future filled with possibility. I went to the city.

In college I studied history and philosophy (So much for a promising future filled with possibility!). Through college I periodically felt a pull to come back and try my hand at farming. It never happened. Then I got married and moved to Vancouver, BC to begin another degree. All the while, the farm maintained its periodical pull on my life. Now, five years later, when I probably should be putting my degrees to work out in the world, I think its finally time to heed that pull to the farm, at least a little.

Though our life at present is somewhat nomadic, my wife, daughter and I will remain long enough on the edge of the Great Plains to put in our first crop.

And I look forward to keeping you posted.