Tag Archives: technology

My High-Tech Redneck…

There are certainly times when Matt and I use a scoop shovel and a pitchfork as depicted by the main picture in the Business Week article.  However, our farm is no longer as labor intensive as it was in Matt’s grandpa and Archie’s generation.  Machinery and electronic innovation has been prolific over the past 50 years, and this has vastly improved the efficiency of farming.

The early morning sun on one of our corn fields. One of our irrigation pivots is watering the field and can be seen in the background…

I fondly refer to my husband as my high-tech redneck.  It blows my mind when he sits in our living room and turns his irrigation pivots on with his cell phone.

Irrigation pivots are huge sprinklers that move in a circle to irrigate crop ground.  One pivot can irrigate about 140 acres…

Additionally, Matt’s phone is set to automatically call him when a pivot stops working or malfunctions.  The girls laugh that daddy’s girlfriend (the irrigation pivot) calls in the middle of the night and daddy has to go out and see her to fix the problem.

While we still lay pipe to irrigate about 60% of our corn and soy bean acres, the creation of central pivots has eased the labor and increased the efficiency on the other 40% our irrigated farm acres.  Additionally, Matt has surge valves on several of the farms that we still gravity irrigate with pipe.  These valves switch the water periodically between two different sets of gates so that the water is spread more evenly across the field as the water flows from one end of the field to another.

Irrigation pipe that waters one of our corn fields using gravity and the natural slope of the field…These pipes have gates that you can open and close to determine water flow.

Matt took technology one step further this summer with the addition of soil moisture probes on two of our fields.  These probes report electronically on the moisture in the soil so that we only water the crops when they are deficient.  The soil moisture probes have a cellular phone component that sends data to a website every 15 minutes relating the moisture level in the soil.  Matt then accesses moisture graphs via the internet to determine the amount of irrigation (water) needed to grow the crop.

Moisture Sensor Graphs

Raising crops and growing food in 2012 involves a beautiful blend of old school hard work and physical labor and new technology. This allows for increased efficiency and reduces the environmental footprint of that food.

Matt with our favorite 7 year old continuing the tradition…

Matt laughs that he is glad that our farm will never go back to 40 acres and a mule.  I smile every time that we are able to use new technology to protect our farm’s natural resources.  I was never able to meet Matt’s grandpa, but I can envision Burky smiling down from heaven as Matt and I use new science to take our family’s farm into the next generation!


Filed under Farming, General

Flip Cam meets Feed Yard Foodie…

Here I am moving animals that each weigh 1350#'s up the alley way and onto the truck to be shipped to harvest. I am much more comfortable with moving animals that outweigh me by more than 13X than operating a small video camara that weighes less than a pound...Everything is relative!

Now that you all are familiar with my trepidation toward using some electronic devices, you will understand my great hesitation when I was confronted with a request to shoot video footage at the feed yard using a “Flip Cam”.  I love sharing what I do at the feed yard, so it was not that I did not want to take video footage of how we care for our animals.  Rather, it was a great nervousness regarding using a Flip Cam for the first time.  My children informed me that using a Flip Cam was easy, and that I was being ridiculous…It was really a bummer having to admit that they were right…

They should not already know more than I do... (Aren't parents supposed to be smarter than their kids???) But I am constantly amazed at how much quicker my kids pick up electronic technology than I do...

About two months ago, I was contacted by Phil Lembert’s staff of Food Nutrition & Science with a request for both a written interview and video footage demonstrating my life as a beef farmer.  I first met Phil about three years ago at the National Grocers Convention.  I was attending the convention as part of a program called, “Farmer Goes to Market”, and was there to interact with grocery store retailers and to answer questions regarding Animal Welfare.  I had just won the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Beef Quality Assurance Producer of the Year award, and this was my first experience “talking” to the consumer and sharing my farming story.

Many thanks to Phil and his staff for giving me a needed push further into the realm of technology…

My girls and I spent an afternoon in late June taking various short video segments on our farm (yes, I did require their technical support). We then rounded up Matt in the evening for a few family shots, and sent all of the footage to Phil’s staff.  The finished video segment came up on the FoodNutritionScience website last Monday morning.  Click on this link to watch the five minute segment and help me to celebrate my growing technological achievements!


Positive reinforcement is necessary for continual advancement (the psychologist in me is now talking), so please feel free to leave a comment on Feed Yard Foodie regarding the video to boost my “film taking” confidence!

I *think* that I posted the link to the companion written interview when it came up about a month ago, but here is the link in case you missed it…


I promise that after this post, I will go back to finishing Calf #718’s journey to harvest and leave the subject of technology alone for a little while…Until then, YEAH for technology and the open mind needed to learn to use it!


Filed under Animal Welfare, Beef Life Cycle--Calf #718, CAFO, General