Harvest 2014 in Indiana
It is very hard for me to convey the feelings that I have when visiting a real, working farm in Indiana. Pride, reverence, awe, respect- are just a few of the emotions that I am filled with on each and every trip. But how does one eloquently describe the role that a farmer has in your life?
The food we eat, the food our animals eat, the fuel our cars and the products we use. All passed through the able hands of a farmer. This is painting a broad picture here but hopefully one that is not like Old McDonald’s farm complete with a white picket fence. Ask anyone who has any association with farming and they will tell you that this is a hard, yet rewarding life with little to no time off.
So why do they do it?
(Watch a clip of the movie Farmland HERE)
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Campbell Grain and Livestock Farm in rural Johnson County, Indiana. We started our tour at their home location (home as in that is where their home is and the center of their operations) so we could see the hub of all of the activity. I have been here before but never at this time of year. The Campbell farm is now in it’s seventh generation, having passed from father to son and currently it is a whole family affair. At any given time you could bump into one of the Campbell kids (minus the one away at college) or family members. I was in luck because the day I was there I got the grand tour from Jennifer Campbell and even got to ride in a combine with her father-in-law. That was my favorite!
But I also got to see the fruits of their labor (pun intended). I was there when these fields were planted (remember this post? And this one?) and to be there when they are harvested is nothing short of wonderful for me.
Because I am not a farmer and I know I will not be able to adequately describe what my experience was like I will share my day in pictures. What I enjoy, as an outsider peeking in, is when farms use social media to give us a snap shot into their day. Their birds-eye view of the world from atop a combine or in the barn. At the end of this post stay tuned for a list of a few of the MANY farms sharing their operations and day to day on social media.
One thing that struck me (and it should be obvious) was how much running a farm operation costs. From fuel to electricity, insurance to safety- everywhere I looked I saw dollar signs. Jennifer shared some numbers with us that day and I will admit- I was shocked. This is just for their home location operations.
Farming by the numbers:
Their corn dryer runs on Propane and they go through roughly 1,500 gallons of propane a day. That’s about $2500 a day. A day.
Typical drying time for corn is about 10 days.
The average electric bill for the bins, where we were, is roughly $1,500 a month. This does not take into account their heated and cooled hog barns. This is just their main operations.
They average about 195-200 bushels of corn an acre. Their main location can store roughly 140,000 bushels of corn and 50,000 bushels of separately contained soybeans.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Keeping up with current technology changes, the fluctuating price of seeds and treatments, and so on. It adds up. And like any business, safety and security standards are always priority #1 to not only protect the farmer, their family, and employees- but also the product they are raising. Bio-security is an emerging concern and farms and operations must adhere to a strict set of standards. This requires technology and keeping up with a constantly changing information pipeline.
As Harvest 2014 in Indiana is drawing to a close there are still many who are working around the clock and will be until Thanksgiving. This means late nights, time away from family and many meals eaten in the cab of a combine. This is their life, one that they are proud of and put a lot into. It’s more than a job, it’s a lifestyle. Here are a few of my favorite “farmers” that use social media (specifically Instagram) to share farm life, real farm life, through their lens.
Before I wrap up one thing that I made note of that day was this little person right here. Rhett Kelsay, son of Liz Kelsay, is one of 4 grandchildren in the Kelsay Family Dairy Farm operation that lives and breathes Indiana agriculture. This adorable guy can rattle off names of equipment, what should be in them and has an excitement that we seem to lose as we get older. He is the future of farming. I am lucky to say that I count many of these farm ladies as friends in real life and all are a part of and raising farm families and possible future laborers of the land. There is no greater testament to farming than the children that take up the family business and continue the tradition. Read more about a day in the life with a farm kid HERE
So why do they do it?
Tradition, family, work ethic, love of the land, interest in farm policy, technology- I could go on. But get to know a farm family. Tour a facility (with permission of course) and get a better understanding for yourself- you won’t regret it!
A few of my favorite Instagram “farm families”
I know I am missing SO many here! If you or someone you know shares their farm life on Instagram- please let me know in the comments and I will add them to this post.