We were delighted to host Flat Aggie this past week. Please help us spread Flat Aggie to a classroom in your area! For those of you new to the program, it was created by two bloggers to help promote agriculture to students and teachers. For background on the project please visit Tales of a Kansas Mom: http://talesofakansasfarmmom.blogspot.com/p/flat-aggie.html and Rural Route 2:The Life & Times of an Illinois Farm Girl at https://illinoisfarmgirl.wordpress.com/ .

Flat Aggie’s Report:

Hello everyone! I have just been to the eastern edge of Iowa, in Blue Grass, visiting with the Powell Family. They are a century family farm operation of about 1,000 acres that raises Hereford beef cattle, hay, soybeans and corn. The operations is owned by Scott and Kim Powell and their four boys – Owen-8 years old, Cody- 7 years old, Levi- 5 years old and Reed- 2 years old and Scott’s parents, Rich and Linda Powell.

The day I arrived it was raining and cold. Scott was out mixing feed for the feed lot calves. The calves were weaned in September and were put in the feedlot to get started on feed. This is called background feeding. They use a variety of items in the feed mix, but the base is balage.

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In the late spring hay is cut and then put into round bales before completely drying. The bales are then wrapped into a long tube. The moisture helps break down the hay and allows it to ferment. It is very easy for the cattle to digest. Scott uses a scale to add the proper amount of balage to the feed mixer.

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The mixer constantly turns by the power take off shaft (PTO), from the tractor. There are big blades inside that help to chop the hay and other ingredients together, much like a blender.

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After things were properly mixed it was off to feed the calves. They seemed to be excited to see the feed wagon, even in the rain!

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There is a series of augers that constantly turn to push the feed out of the wagon and into the feed bunk.

The next day the sun finally came out. It was muddy outside, but there is always something to do on a farm! Scott and farm hand, Jake, went to check winter fences. I learned that farmers often turn cattle onto fields after harvest to help clean up anything the combine dropped and eat down grass in waterways or hillsides. I was amazed at how much grass was still growing in November!

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There was a section of fence that had to be replaced before turning cows out. The guys had to establish where the posts should go.

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They also had to figure how many feet of fence needed to repair this section. They dug holes to set new wooden posts, anchored the corner and then strung four rows of wire. Levi was a big help!

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That evening I was able to help the kids do their chores. Everyday they help on the farm, but they each have something special to help with.

Cody cares for his pony, Christmas.

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Levi and Owen care for their show heifers. Levi’s heifer, Dipper, thought I was very interesting!

 

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The youngest family member, Reed, helps with the family’s laying hens. He gathers eggs everyday.

 

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On the last day of my trip it was time for the COMBINE! The family is nearly finished with harvest, but I was able to see how they do things. When we headed to the field I happened to notice something different. There are hand controls in several vehicles. I learned that Grandpa Powell has two artificial limbs, but is very active with the grain farm. There are a few special things just for him to use, so that he can be in the field with everyone else.

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The steps of the combine are different also. They go over the wheels and are more like stairs than a ladder.

 

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The boys all love riding in the big equipment, especially with Grandpa! On this trip – Owen and Reed rode with Grandpa. Cody and Levi helped Scott for a bit in the auger cart.

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Once the corn is picked, the auger cart, hauls it to the grain bins for drying and storage. There are lots of moving parts!!

 

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Scott took me up to the grain bin platform to check how full the bins were. Wow, is that high!

 

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Before I said good bye to the family I was treated to a harvest dinner…served out of the car!

 

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Wonder where the next adventure will take me? For now, goodbye from Iowa and the Powell Family!