Posts

Farm Trucks & Cleaning Turkey Barns

Cleaning out turkey barns | via MinnesotaTurkey.com #turkeyeveryday #MNAg #agchat

Clean Out Equipment owned and operated by Riverbend Acres and Riverbend Trucking of Melrose.

One of my most favorite things on our turkey farm is the farm pickup truck.

I am not certain any farming operation could live without one. Ours happens to be a 1996 green, at least I think it is green, Chevy Silverado. I remember when we purchased it as a used vehicle; oh boy it was a good lookin’ shiny truck. We would regularly wash it inside and out, drive carefully and slowly on the gravel roads, avoided using it for dirty work and farm use. Well eventually, the green Chevy became more of the utility truck – you know the vehicle that is handy and generally available because, by then, it was not as shiny and new as it used to be.

Over time the Chevy pickup was transformed into an all purpose mobile shop, hardware store, lumber yard, service station, home office, recycling bin and moving truck. The former grey interior with the carefully Armor All-ed dash and control panel, became uniformly and thickly dust covered, faded and cracked from the elements. The floor mats, well they just plain disappeared under the necessary items that collect in a working farm truck like a battery charger, a can or two of WD 40, extension cord, crescent wrenches, pliers, hammers, pipe wrenches, wrappers from Little Debbie chocolate covered doughnuts, chaff, candy wrappers, receipts, work gloves – well you know. The formerly well buffed and waxed exterior has given way to rust, dents and a driver’s side door that stays shut only if the driver holds onto the handle or the half open window and the driver learns quickly not to take a right turn too fast!  After way too many missed regularly scheduled maintenance service jobs, the pickup just does not run as smooth as it used to. It has gone downhill with age.

But, I tell you what, that darn farm pick up is dependable, trustworthy and essential. It was about a month ago on the farm, when we ran into vehicle gremlins, everything from a dead battery in the car to the other truck being in the shop getting new tires. The last option was the farm pickup. By gosh the ol’ Chevy, started right up and we were on the road. So often, I hear the sputtering, missing engine as John heads out to the barns.

We use the pickup truck pretty much every day on the farm.  We can haul basically everything and anything in that truck.  Typically we use it to load and haul turkey gates, to check turkeys, run errands and do whatever is needed.

One of my favorite things to do is to drive around in the summer in the farm pickup truck with the windows down, looking at the crops of corn and soybeans, smelling the freshly cut alfalfa.  When cruising around in the spring and fall, my senses are reminded that manure needs to be cleaned out, spread and incorporated onto farm fields.

We too are part of that process.  We clean our barns after each flock.  Cleaning is a big job because for us it means the entire barn is cleaned.

The first task is to blow down as much dust in the barn as possible. Dust accumulates on rafters, fans and stoves due to the turkeys stirring up dust by running around in the sunflower hull bedding on the barn floor. The dust is blown down with a blower which is mounted to a bobcat/slid loader. Here’s a tip – don’t stand in the front of the blower or you will be blown over! It is a powerful blower, but it needs to be in order to reach to the rafters and to have enough power to remove the dust that sticks to screens that get rusty over time.

After the dust is down, then the walls, fans, vents and screens are power washed using a large water tank pulled through the center of the barn. Off the back of the washing tank are two high pressure washer wands that are used to power wash all surfaces.

After the washing is complete, then the litter on the floor is moved by a bobcat/skid steer to the center of the barn forming a mound of litter throughout the length of the barn. Great care must be taken when moving the litter to the center of the barn. The bobcat operator must pay close attention to the bucket and maneuver the bobcat and bucket to avoid hitting walls, supporting poles, or most importantly, the operator must have the skill to operate the levers and bucket so the floor of the turkey barn does not get torn up. The floors in the barns consist of heavily compacted clay, which is a solid and a water impermeable surface, but still no match for the power of a bobcat bucket.  If the driver does not pay attention to the position/angle of the bucket on the floor while moving the litter, the bucket will make holes in the floor, which results in an uneven living surface for turkeys.

The litter that was moved to the center of the barn is then removed with a front end Michigan loader, taken outside of the barn and immediately loaded onto semi trailers. The semi trailers are then covered with a heavy canvas and the litter leaves the farm and goes to farmers to use on their fields for fertilizer.

The process of cleaning is labor intensive, but clean facilities are a vital part of creating and sustaining a healthy living environment for the turkeys to grow.

John & Lynette Gessell | via MinnesotaTurkey.com #agchat #MNAg #turkeyeveryday

Lynette and her turkey farmer husband, John!

I am thinking about those old farm pickup trucks again. I’ve come to the conclusion that farm pickup trucks kind of take on the persona of the farmer themselves. Farmers begin young, handsome and strong, working daily to build their farming operations. Over the years, they don’t take the time for as much basic maintenance as they should, and eventually the farmer begins to show their wear and tear. After years of daily hard work, they may not look quite like they did when they were “new,” but be assured they will “run” when needed in all kinds of weather, in any condition and they just keep going.  They are dependable, trustworthy and essential to a farming operation above all else.

I love both of my farm trucks!

Twitter me @ lynnbackgess

Merry Christmas!

Meet Lynette Gessell – Sharing Our Family Farm Experiences

Meet Turkey Farmer Lynette Gessell | via MinnesotaTurkey.com #minnesotaturkey #turkeyeveryday #turkeyfarming

Lynette’s family in a recent photo on the family’s farm.

There weren’t many cars parked around the church as I headed into Sunday Mass this weekend, in the small central Minnesota town I call my home. The sounds of muffled gunshots reminded me why the crowd was sparse.  It was the last day of the firearms deer season and the hunting crews were out on a last push to fill their tags.  In that walk into church, I could hear the rattling of a corn auger and a tractor engine, and in my mind, I could envision the river of corn flowing out of a gravity box into the hopper as a whiling auger carries the corn up into the bin, with wafts of red chaff blowing off the corn and into the wind, covering the ground making it look like red snow.  An additional pause in my walk, allowed me to hear the revving of a combine as a farmer Gary prepared to make his way to take more corn off the field, likely because some storage space had been freed up making room for more corn.  A glance to the north and I can see 10 vehicles parked in the farm yard.  It’s time for all hands on deck to bring in the harvest of venison and corn.

Hearing the familiar sounds like the combine, the auger and the gunfire have meaning for me and I can easily context them in the experience of living and farming in a rural community.  They ground me in the pattern and predictability of life.

Lynette Gessell | WingTips Blog | Minnesota Turkey Farmer

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to carry the memories of growing up on a dairy farm and now active on a turkey, beef and crop farm.  The richness in the fall rituals of hunting and harvest touch a deep place within me, one that brings comfort, gratefulness, excitement and pride.  I feel sad for people who have not had the opportunity to experience farm living and rural communities.  There is nothing glamorous about the experience, but I believe it is through living the lifestyle and the “hands on” of farming that brings one to fully understand why farming is considered a vocation verses a job and why people yearn for a place in the country.

I look forward to the opportunity to share our family experiences of living and working on our turkey, beef and crop farm.  I am humbled to think that you will use your valuable time to read my posts. I sincerely hope, that at the end, my effort will honor your time and intellect, by providing something you will enjoy reading, perhaps gain new knowledge, enjoy a chuckle, or for other farmers out there, the resonance of a shared experience.

My husband John and I live in Central MN where agriculture in all forms is the primary industry.  We are surrounded by hard working folks who watch the weather, watch the markets and watch their pocket books.  A tally of the various farming operations in the neighborhood include beef, corn, soybeans, honey bees, hay, vegetables, strawberries, broilers, dairy, hogs and turkeys.

I write this blog post in mid November just as people begin to think about the upcoming holiday season opening with Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is obviously an important time of year for the turkey industry.  The food we raise, turkeys, becomes center stage for our North American holiday.  To be an integral part of the long tradition of families gathering together at Thanksgiving makes me very happy.

John is the third in his paternal line to take on the business of raising turkeys.  Our daughter and son in law joined us as growers too, and so we mark four generations of raising turkeys.  We raise light hens.  Light hens are female turkeys.  They are delivered to the farm when they are one day old.  We take care of them of on our farms until the hens weigh thirteen and a half to fourteen pounds.  The birds are then loaded onto semis and transported to Melrose where they are processed by Jennie-O Turkey Store.  The whole bird is then placed into Jennie-O packaging, ultimately making its way to the grocery stores for consumers to purchase and enjoy.

Our primary job is to take care of each and every turkey, each and every day, and get each and every turkey to the plant in premium shape for Jennie-O to make great products.  It is important that we as independent growers, along with the entire turkey industry, do whatever is under our control to ensure that the turkeys that make their way from our farms, into the grocery stores and onto the dinner table of families on Thanksgiving and all year long will be the most appetizing turkey ever!

I hope you have gotten to know me a bit in this first post.  Oh, my name is Lynette.

I am at the end.  Was your time well spent?  Let me know on Twitter Lynette@LynnBackGess – I would love to hear from you!