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Rural Living
Historic barn gets a facelift

Several generations will be linked together when Tom Dull’s family and volunteers restore an old barn this April. Restoration of the barn, dating back to the 1800s, wouldn’t be possible if not for the Internet.

Next-gen – again!

Passing down the family business doesn’t always happen as planned. Sometimes, heart-breaking tragedy intervenes. That’s something Stan and Nona Brown of Loganville, Pa., know about.

A story that transcends generations

Here’s my special letter to my great-grandpa.

Heirloom seeds yield sweet collards

If you ask George Wooten, he’ll tell you there are collards, and then there are cabbage collards. In his mind’s eye, there is a world of difference. But don’t feel bad if you don’t know the difference right off the bat — neither did he.

‘D’ — the sunshine vitamin

Three of my recent journals contained articles on vitamin D, which we probably are all familiar with as the “sunshine vitamin.”

Rural utilities keeps ringing

It is hard to grasp just how much has changed in rural America during the past 60 years. The average farm size in Iowa has grown from fewer than 200 to more than 350 acres; corn yields have increased from about 50 to 170 bushels per acre; and equipment which once planted four rows can now plant 48 rows in one pass.

Biehls enjoy life inside a grain bin

Everyone knows about the old woman who lives in a shoe. But have you heard about the family who lives in a grain bin?

Three steps to follow for minor wounds

Farmers and ranchers and their families have a better-than-average chance to have cuts and scrapes as a result of where they work and live.

Stay drier in the rain with Storm Denim

Southern readers associate the fall with one thing: cotton harvest. Fields of open white fiber usher in the first step in cotton’s long processing pipeline — a pipeline that ends at the retail store in your hometown.

Cooking healthy, quickly

Holly Froning is all about sneaking nutrition into everyday favorites.

Making the best judgment call

Mark Williford used to say, “Don’t listen to the weatherman, or you’ll never get anything done.”

Vine from a vintage farm

Alex McLennan III hopes folks are willing to drive to the far reaches of the earth to find a good glass of wine.

Shearing sheep for five generations

If Carvel Cheves ever wondered if he was in the right profession, he got his answer with some “homegrown archaeology.”

‘I survived a manure pit accident’

I’ll never forget the day I was nearly killed in a manure pit.

Women in ag still ‘a novelty’

When Amelia Levin married Russell Kent, it was a union of vows and cows.But the couple, newly married in May, began consolidating their cattle herds long before they said “I do.”

Families: It’s time to communicate

Whether you have a business with 25 employees or own a small ranch or farm with just family working together, one factor is essential to the success of the business.

New farmers get boost with donation to center

A farm couple from north-central Iowa has made a gift commitment to the Beginning Farmer Center at Iowa State University, which will allow others to help support the work of the program and carry it into the future.

Farm history in the making

Terry and Mary Jean Zavadil are living out a family legacy. The Zavadils and their children are the sixth and seventh generations of the family to be living on the same farm that Terry’s great-great-grandfather, Franz Zavadil, homesteaded in northern Cedar County and built up in the late 1800s after emigrating to the U.S. from Bohemia.

Farmers can find assistance

Hog and dairy prices have improved recently compared to the disastrous levels of the past two years. But livestock producers still grapple with the tough economy. Iowa State University Extension is making it easier for them to find the educational and informational resources they need.

Weed expert sprouted from poverty

When Stephen Powles looks at resistant weeds, he sees evolution in action. When he looks in the mirror, the tall Australian sees his own evolution through hard work, potential and being at the right place at the right time.

Once-in-a-lifetime leader

He was a natural. Ask those who knew him and they will tell you Jerry Litton had it all — that he was the real deal, the total package. He could have, would have, should have been president of the United States, they say, and his tragic death launched a cascade of “what ifs” that continues more than 30 years later.

Ag plus tourism produces profit

With agriculture ranked as South Dakota’s No. 1 industry and tourism being the second largest economic generator in the state, it makes sense that a combination of the two — agritourism — could offer a handsome profit potential.

The winter harvest: ice for the summer

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson each had icehouses on their property. Ice was used to preserve food, cool drinks and make ice cream and other frozen desserts. It was harvested like a farm crop and stored in an underground pit often lined with stone or brick.

USDA program helps dream of home come true

While the past couple of years have been a financial challenge for many Americans, the goal of achieving the American dream of home-ownership remains strong, especially in Iowa.

Wastewater help comes to town

Nearly 97% of the world’s water is saltwater and 2% is locked in ice caps and glaciers, leaving 1% for personal, agriculture and manufacturing needs. What about Iowa? With hundreds of lakes, ponds and wetlands, and 71,665 miles of streams and rivers, it seems Iowa has abundant water resources. But less than 1% of Iowa’s land is covered with water.

Internet takes auction to the world

The unbelievable antique farm machinery collection of the late Carl Villwock filled three sheds, with surplus tractors stored outside. Carl and his on-farm museum were featured on the cover of Indiana Prairie Farmer earlier this decade.

Ride of his life

What’s a 66-year-old retired International Harvester tractor dealer to do to keep busy? Dave Wolfsen’s wife, Deb, knew he was cooking up something. But really — an antique tractor ride across all 48 contiguous states?

Two charities get lift from tractor ride

The eldest of eight kids, Dave Wolfsen was born and raised on a dairy farm, but he hated cows and preferred pitching box stalls all day to milking cows. Driving the tractor to spread that manure, on the other hand, was considered a reward.

Devils Lake flood: A community lost

We faced another late spring in the Devils Lake basin this year and saw tens of thousands of additional acres of land flooded. We — my family and our neighbors — watched as more people were forced out of our community as their livings and homes were swallowed by the ever-expanding lake.

The heavy hand of Old Man River

Donald Lynn deals with flooding as part of the life of a farmer in the northwest corner of Tennessee. But when the waters came rolling down from upstream, all he and his family could do was get out the way and watch.

Transition tips

There’s plenty of good legal advice available on how to transfer a farm or ranch to the next generation. But you probably haven’t heard a list of transition tips that are as practical or as down-to-earth as Ray Erbele’s.

Rural health care progresses

Just as Iowa leads the nation in producing food to help feed the world, the state is also a leader in its commitment to providing rural residents with quality health care options.

We could share some traits of dogs

Like many of you, I grew up around dogs. Our farm had at least one, if not more, pet dogs roaming around the place, both inside and outside. It was a common and natural thought to have a dog, if not a few, to watch the place when we were gone, to be best friends with and to give the cats conniptions.

Co-ops vital in rural economic development

If you are not a member, your neighbor is. Today, nearly one out of every two Iowans is a member of at least one cooperative, according to the Iowa Institute of Cooperatives.

‘Greatest generation’ remembered

Dec. 7, 2011, marked the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into World War II. Of the 16 million men who saw active duty in WW II, fewer than 1.8 million veterans are still living. Most are about 90 years of age. Many came from farms and rural areas.

Deans speak of ag degree’s value

Given the outstanding enrollment and job placement experience in our respective colleges, it was a surprise when three of the five majors “highlighted” in a recent Yahoo Education article by Terrence Loose titled “College majors that are useless” were programs in the agricultural sciences: agriculture, animal sciences and horticulture.

FFA chapters ‘Planting a Seed’

Six Iowa FFA chapters have been awarded $1,500 “Planting a Seed” grants by the Iowa Food & Family Project to conduct activities that increase agricultural awareness in their communities and interest among youth in food production and life sciences. The first-time program is sponsored by Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, in cooperation with the Iowa FFA Foundation.

New program engages teens in food issues

Although she’s lived in Iowa all her life, 16-year-old Lexi Brennan of West Des Moines didn’t know much about agriculture until last summer.

What makes a Master Farmer?

Four Iowa farm families are being recognized this month with the Iowa Master Farmer Award.

Crawford: pioneer in ag education

When Harold Crawford returned to Pennsylvania from World War II in March of 1946, he found work with a local civil engineer. Crawford took advantage of his GI Bill benefits quickly and enrolled in the pre-veterinary medicine program at Tarkio College in Missouri the day after Labor Day. The adjustment from military life to civilian life wasn’t easy. “It’s not easy for anyone,” he says.

Sons carry on in family farm operation

Sherry Stowers, Kirklin, has vivid memories of her son, Jared, sitting on the tractor as soon as his little body would carry him there. He’d tell that tractor, “I’m gonna drive you someday!” Jared, she says, has put more miles on a vehicle, backing it in and out, than when it was running down the road.

Agriculture finds voice in teen

At 15 years old, Madison Dobbins juggles her first year at Warsaw Community High School, FFA and friends, all while being a voice and an advocate for the agricultural industry. Her concern for the future of agriculture began at a cattle show when a flyer was given to her by an animal rights activist group. While researching the group, she found out how harmful these activists are to agriculture.

New doors opening for growers

Many of us caught in today’s on-the-go lifestyle find it easier to stop for fast food and 32-ounce sodas rather than pack a homemade meal.

Getting ready to plant

This is my getting-ready-for-planting column, a topic I write about each spring. I enjoy writing every column for Wallaces Farmer, but like a lot of things in farming, getting ready to plant happens yearly and the routine is often the same: Prepare the tractors, planter, tillage equipment, and hopefully, everything will run like tops when the ground is ready to go. This year I have something new to tell you about.

Yes, there is life without live TV

Once in a while someone will ask me if I saw the game last night, or who I think is going to win “American Idol.” I have to reply that, no, I didn’t see the game, and that I don’t know who will win “American Idol.”

Get weather alerts on cellphone

A new national program was launched in June that directly alerts some cellphone users of dangerous weather. The Wireless Emergency Alert, or WEA, system allows the National Weather Service to broadcast alerts for only the most severe weather, like tornadoes, through cell towers and participating wireless carriers directly to phones in designated areas in any part of the country, usually a specific county.

See new ag exhibits at state fair

Four new agricultural additions have been made to the Iowa State Fair for 2012. While most of them are centered on fairgoers, one of them is something fair CEO and manager Gary Slater hopes will help prepare 4-H and FFA members for future careers: a livestock judging contest. Such contests usually take place at the county fair level.

Ag spoken here

The Farm Progress Show attracts people in agriculture from near and far. It’s a place to meet and talk about common interests — even for two farmers who don’t speak the same language. Mauro Cravero farms in Argentina and speaks Spanish, but no English. Tom Bindner farms in northwest Iowa and speaks English, but no Spanish. But they were able to talk to each other in person through an interpreter at the 2010 Farm Progress Show at Boone.

Tractors travel southern Iowa

The hot, muggy weather on June 24 didn’t prevent the drivers of more than 450 tractors of all makes and models from rolling into Appanoose County in southern Iowa — the heart of the Rathbun Lake Watershed — as they prepared to participate in WHO Radio’s 16th annual Great Iowa Tractor Ride.

Some adventures in cattle feeding

You may recall in a previous “Getting Started” column (September 2011) I explained our intention of purchasing and finishing out some beef calves on our newly seeded and fenced pasture.

Steady growth for Hocutts

For the Hocutt family of Sims, N.C., farming has been all about looking for opportunities, adding acreage and making their own luck for at least five generations.

Chat across the fence, tech-style

In this age of technology, it sometimes seems there is little room left to focus on what made this country, and what still feeds America today: agriculture.

R.C. Hunt new head of National Pork Producers Council

Maybe Wilson, N.C., farm entrepreneur R.C. Hunt hasn’t done it all, but he’s got a pretty good start.

Make way for the next generation

Now in their mid-fifties, Ralph and Richard Renegar were raised on tobacco. Today they have two grown sons of their own: Ralph’s son, Dustin, and Richard’s son, Justin. And like their fathers before them, Dustin and Justin were raised growing tobacco on Hoot ’N Hollar Farms, the family’s Harmony, N.C., operation. But with the exception of Hank Williams Jr., perhaps, tradition can only take you so far.

River + steward = bountiful farm

When most people hear the name “Cold Mountain,” their minds turn to images of the award-winning Civil War drama. They might want to consider Haywood County, too, and some of the best farmland in the western part of North Carolina. The pristine Pigeon River makes this region ideal for dedicated small farmers.

Farming in the middle of an oil boom

There’s “the good, the bad and the ugly” when it comes to farming in the middle of an oil boom, says Bob Wisness, a Watford City, N.D., farmer and vice president of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association.

Cotton growers pay tribute to a pioneer

Carl Seeliger is what a lot of folks call a “crusty character.”At 82, Carl doesn’t hesitate to say what he thinks, and he does things his way. Generally speaking, that tends to turn out pretty well. That just might be why he’s fearless when it comes to trying new things, or taking on monumental projects.

Cruising the Straits

Antique tractor owners love to show off their vintage machines by parading them through towns across the country. However, from the tractor seat there is only one parade that boasts a majestic view like no other.

Fall maze helps pay for Corunna farm

As the sun settles below the horizon, a steady stream of headlights emerge in a line and then one by one pull into the driveway of the Country Corn Maze. “That’s what we like to see,” says Brian Martindale, who owns the farm with his wife, Jami.

Organic farming attracts women

It was a brief visit to a small farm near downtown St. Louis at the age of 15 that stirred Molly Rockamann’s inner desire to be involved in agriculture.

Lifetime in ag prepares one woman to farm

Statistics show that women continue to become more actively involved in farming. The numbers describe the average woman operator as someone over age 45 running smaller amounts of acreage that hold some sort of livestock.

Wetland miracle unfolds in Greene County

The battle between nature and man went on for more than a century on some 8,000 acres of mostly flat, wet land in Greene County. Even if you’ve never been there, odds are you’ve heard stories about Goose Pond. It was a favorite stopover for geese before farmers tried to drain it.

Co-op health care coming to you?

While the debate about health care reform continues in Congress, an Upper Midwest health cooperative group patiently waits to see how its farmers’ insurance program might become a national or state option.

Lease to hunters on your terms

Hunting leases in Ohio have seen a dramatic increase in popularity during the past few years. The catalyst that started a move toward hunting leases was the Ohio Tort Reform Act of 2005.

Virtual school offers extra opportunities

On any given day, students at Elmwood High School are studying subjects such as German, oceanography and psychology. Impressive, considering the high school has only 213 students.

4-H’er leaves legacy by showing livestock

It’s not very often the Indiana Children’s Wish Foundation grants a wish for a cow. Christopher Cummings, Union Mills, received a Hereford heifer, and his young life’s passion was born. Chris’ wish helped carry him through four and a half years of cancer. Now it helps his family carry on. He died June 29.

One of a kind

Tom Cullimore, an avid collector of everything John Deere, had his eye on a certain tractor. Once a year he’d drive from his home in Williamston to St. Johns, where the tractor’s owner Archie Magsig lived, to check it out. It became an obsession. “It really ate at me. I wanted that tractor so bad,” Cullimore says.

Old tractors will be rollin’ on Sept. 17

Bob Baumgras is pretty convinced the Mackinac Bridge Authority had no idea three years ago about the number of antique tractor owners there are in Michigan or how many miles they would travel to parade across the Mighty Mac.

Farm injuries of children continue steep decline

The rate of childhood injury on farms and ranches has declined by nearly 60% since 1998, an encouraging sign that research and public awareness efforts are making an impact in one of the nation’s most hazardous industries.

Meet a master motivator

Every week day some 200 unsung heroes across Indiana spend their days teaching, and a large number of their after-school hours working with, FFA members who want to learn and excel. They are the agriculture teachers who work with Indiana’s FFA members, now totaling more than 9,000.

Wanted: a few good men, women

This month we’ll take a break from my usual agronomy talk, but we are still in the realm of serving agriculture and our rural communities.

Farmland prices: rock bottom to sky-high

The farmland bust of 1892 found an Iowa farmer living in a cave somewhere in Texas with his pet raccoon. Following the Civil War, which ended in 1865, he had purchased a square 640-acre farm for $10 per acre. Eventually he would lose this farm located near Churdan, Iowa.

Farm adds archery range to operation

The old tiestall barn at Elder Creek Farm in Springport has a new lease on life. In the past, it housed contented cows; now, it’s the perfect place for people of all ages to try their hand at archery.

Adaptation for tobacco

Tobacco growers have seen some tremendous changes in just a few short years. On Oct. 22, 2004, President George W. Bush signed the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act, ending the Depression-era federal quota system. That ushered in changes in tobacco production, particularly from the limited quota determined by government to a supply limited primarily by the tobacco companies. In addition, auction warehouses were soon replaced by buying stations. Contracts became

Dear Uncle Sam: Wake up — now!

Uncle Sam, all niceties aside, it’s time you wake up and smell the manure! It’s your doing! America’s most taxing problem is your spending problem.

Seven keys to measuring progress in family business transfer

What is it that keeps a family from successfully navigating a generational farm transfer? If the answer were simple, more people would complete a successful transfer.

Ag policy: in the past and into the future

Exactly 150 years ago, four fundamental pieces of agricultural legislation were passed in Congress and signed by President Abraham Lincoln.

For soils, patience is a virtue

Ray Styer knows how to build on something patiently to make it pay off. That is the way he treats his soil, which he continually improves by using a careful
cover-crop selection over decades.