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.
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!