• Frank Holdmeyer

    Coast-to-Coast On A 1948 John Deere A

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on April 7, 2014

    My wife and I own and still use her grandfather's 1951 John Deere A. But I wouldn't consider driving it the 5 miles to town, much less across the U.S. But that's what a former Pennsylvania former turned Florida auctioneer is planning to do with his 1948 A. On Saturday, April 26, he plans to touch the Atlantic Ocean with his John Deere A at Manasquan, New Jersey, then head west for Crescent City, California, and the Pacific Ocean. The guy behind the wheel of the antique John Deere…

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    Winter Weather Was Tough on Pheasants and Pheasant Habitat

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on March 31, 2014

    With spring finally here, I think, a lot of folks are reminiscing about the past winter. As an outdoorsman and occasional pheasant hunter, I was interested in a recent report from Pheasants Forever on what impact the tough winter had on wildlife. It's a state-by-state report regarding habitat conditions for pheasants and other wildlife as we head into the spring reproductive season. According to Rehan Nana at Pheasants Forever, two factors are critical to maintaining healthy pheasant…

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    It's Master Farmer Season

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on March 11, 2014

    The Master Farmer Award was started by former Prairie Farmer editor Clifford Gregory in 1925 as a way to recognize the finest farmers in both Illinois and Indiana. Other states soon followed. Henry A. Wallace, editor of Wallaces Farmer, initiated the program in Iowa in 1926; Kansas Farmer brought it online in 1927 and so on. Farm Progress Publications currently sponsors Master Farmer awards programs in North and South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin…

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    On the Road Learning What's New

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on February 20, 2014

    Lots of miles and several hotel rooms, but it's been exciting with all the new technology I've had a chance to see and to talk with company representatives about their products. Here are some highlights from the National Farm Machinery Show: High-speed planting: John Deere unveiled their new ExactEmerge planter with claims of accurate planting at speeds up to 10 mph. That's possible due to the new row unit technology. The seed delivery system cradles the seed from the meter down…

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    Farm policy from the grassroots

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on January 28, 2014

      My colleague Holly Spangler has been blogging lately about her experiences at the recent American Farm Bureau annual convention in San Antonio. Since I helped her cover that meeting, I thought I'd touch on some of the highlights as well. First, it was the 95th annual convention for AFBF and about 7,000 members from across the country attended. That in itself is worth seeing if you are like me and wonder about the logistics of organizing and feeding a crowd that size. But, it always…

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  • Frank Holdmeyer

    Christmas Memories on the Farm

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on December 19, 2013

      I have many fond memories of Christmas seasons growing up on the farm and since. I'm sure you do as well. One of my favorites is when we were raising sheep a few years ago. We had hung a lighted star in the gable end of the sheep barn as a Christmas decoration.  During December and January I usually left a small light on in the barn in case a ewe decided to lamb. One evening, shortly before Christmas, after chores I stood and looked back at the sheep barn.  The ground was…

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  • Frank Holdmeyer

    Nesting Habitat Key to Pheasant Numbers

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on November 27, 2013

    The farm my wife and her siblings own has been in the Conservation Reserve Program for many, many years. In the early years we had fairly decent numbers of pheasants on the farm in east central Iowa. As the years progressed, the grass "matt" became thicker and thicker and the pheasant population declined. Of course, there are many factors involved such as weather, but just because it is CRP doesn't mean it is good habitat for pheasants. Wildlife biologists will tell you chicks…

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    Thirty-Year-Old Predictions Come True

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on November 8, 2013

      Back in the late 1970s I was machinery editor for Farm Progress and I took the time to visit all the major machinery manufacturers at the time. One of my questions was "look into your crystal ball. What do you see twenty, thirty years down the road in terms of farm equipment?" One of the answers was "someday there will be only two or three farm equipment manufacturers as in the automotive industry." That has come to pass. Another was "in the future farmers…

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  • Frank Holdmeyer

    Many Opportunities for Ag Students

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on October 17, 2013

      The opportunities in agriculture are unlimited, according to students and employers I spoke with during the recent Ag Career Day at Iowa State University in Ames. More than 225 companies and organizations set up booths and about 2,000 students took advantage of the opportunity to talk to the representatives. "We've seen a steady increase in the number of companies who participate," noted Mike Gaul, director of Agriculture and Life Sciences Career Services at…

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  • Frank Holdmeyer

    Forty- Year Anniversary of a Love Story

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on October 1, 2013

      Willie Vogt, Farm Progress Editorial Director, encourages his team members to utilize our vacation days. So, I took him at his word and left September 20 for a week of fishing in Ontario. I was joined by my wife Trish, her brother Dennis and his wife Jana. It just so happens forty years ago – 1973 – was my first fishing trip to Canada and the first time I met Trish. I was invited by Dennis that spring to join his family fishing trip to Gull Rock Lake. All week I kept…

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  • Frank Holdmeyer

    Old Tractors Never Die

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on September 9, 2013

      My wife's grandfather bought a new John Deere A tractor in 1951. We still have that tractor and it runs well.  I've always loved those old "two-lungers." In fact, I 'cut my teeth' on my grandfather's 1939 John Deere B mowing pastures with a sickle mower. My son and his family recently attended a parade as part of steam engine days in Mabel, Minn.  "A straight hour of old tractors going by!  Papa would have loved it! I took some…

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  • Frank Holdmeyer

    Farm Progress Show is 60 this Year

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on August 20, 2013

      I'm headed off to Decatur, Illinois, next week for the 60th anniversary of the Farm Progress Show. I'll be covering media events, taking lots of photos and reminiscing with old friends. Some of them will be folks I met way back in 1974 and 1975 when I managed the Farm Progress Show. As the saying goes, 'some things stay the same, some things change.' In those days, the Farm Progress Show rotated between farms in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. The…

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  • Frank Holdmeyer

    What Innovation Is On Your Wish List?

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on July 29, 2013

      The Farm Progress Show is less than a month away. And I'll be in Decatur, Ill., with thousands of other folks checking out the latest technology and newest products. But I got to wondering the other day, what farmers might wish for that has not yet been invented or manufactured. So I emailed a random group of farmers and asked them what they day dream about in terms of equipment or technology to make running their operations easier or more efficient. Not knowing what to…

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  • Frank Holdmeyer

    Farm Magazines and Agriculture Ninety Years Ago

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on July 10, 2013

      We recently received a letter in the Wallaces Farmer offices in Urbandale, Iowa, from 84-year-old Donald Brandt, of Pilot Mound, Iowa.  Mr. Brandt wrote in part, "I am enclosing several old checks written by my father before I was born and made out to Wallaces Farmer. Thought you might have an interest in them." You bet, Donald! As one who has been with Wallaces Farmer and Farm Progress Company for more than 40 years, I'm extremely interested in the history…

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    Hay Expo attracts hay growers from South America

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on June 25, 2013

      Part of the fun of my job is meeting people from all over country and even the world. And last week's Hay Expo was no exception. The Hay Expo was held June 19 and 20 on the Regancrest Dairy farm north of Waukon. A record number of exhibitors put their latest technology and equipment on display. Field demonstrations included mowing, tedding, merging, raking, baling, hay handling and forage harvesting. I'm sure the farmers who had to stay home and finish planting or make…

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  • Frank Holdmeyer

    Grilling Steaks, Chops Used To Be Fun

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on June 14, 2013

      Grilling season is about to hit its peak. And what’s more fun than pulling that sizzling steak or pork chop off the grill? Perfect grill marks and the aroma make ones’ mouth water. But, as my father-in-law used to opine “nothing good ever lasts”. A Purdue University professor of Food Science says the chemicals contained in charred, seared and fried foods may over a period of time kick-start the body’s ability to add new fat cells and increase the…

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  • Frank Holdmeyer

    Don't Fry this Summer

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on June 3, 2013

      I can say it. I've had cancer – skin cancer. Fortunately, mine was basal-cell carcinoma – the most common kind and fairly easy to treat. It did require outpatient surgery (with stitches), however. That was about 20 years ago. I have never forgotten the surgeon showing me slides of examples of people he treated for skin cancer. Some were pretty gruesome – huge patches of tissue removed from people's faces, heads, backs, etc. I see my dermatologist every…

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  • Frank Holdmeyer

    Hay Expo Useful Tool: Tedders

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on May 27, 2013

      I grew up on a beef cow farm in east central Missouri. That means we needed and put up quite a bit of hay. It also means we experienced what a lot of growers may experience this spring – rain on mowed hay. With a wet spring that seems to hang on, getting that first cutting of hay up could be a challenge. I've never forgotten my dad saying after one of those untimely rains, 'I sure wish we had a tedder.' Not sure why he never looked for one but I also know I…

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  • Frank Holdmeyer

    Planning Farm Progress Show, Husker Harvest Programs

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on May 16, 2013

    Every year about this time I get busy working with the Farm Progress National Events team and various editors in the Midwest. We get together in person or by webinar to plan the editorial content for the official programs for two major farm shows. You might think it wouldn't require much planning. After all, Husker Harvest Days  is in the same location each year and the Farm Progress Show only rotates between semi-permanent sites in Iowa and Illinois. Sure, we could just…

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  • Frank Holdmeyer

    The Buzz about the Bees

    The Bigger Picture

     by Frank Holdmeyer
     on May 9, 2013

    Bees, honey bees in particular, have been in the news a lot lately. Most notably, USDA and EPA recently released a comprehensive scientific report on honey bee health. The report states that there are multiple factors playing a role in honey bee colony declines, including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure. But why should we care? "There is an important link between the health of American agriculture and the health of our honeybees for our…

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