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Farming starts in December; high-priced embryos

Many people ask when our farming season starts. I often remark: December. A third of the seed and fertilizer for the 2012 crop is already bought and paid for. The cropping mix on our farm changes little from year to year. Growing identity preserved crops like non-GMO yellow corn and seed soybeans requires field site planning two or three years prior, which leaves little room for large shifts in crop acreage. A doubling of rye acreage from 10 to 20 acres is the biggest change for our 2012 crop — but is not really much of a change. Corn will grow on 60% of our cropland acres, soybeans on 35% of our acres, and the remaining 5% will grow rye and alfalfa. Non-GMO yellow corn will grow on one-third of our corn acres, and seed soybeans on half of our soybean acres.

While unhooking from the feed trailer loaded with wet corn gluten feed, I was thinking how the feed had made a full circle back to the field where corn was grown. There is very little color difference between the cornstalks and the feed. Harvesting, storing, hauling, steeping, starch extraction, centrifuging, and hauling the feed back to our farm is quite a bit of activity for a corn kernel, and it ends up the same color as its deceased parent plant.

We made our first trip to Louisville, Ky., two weeks ago to the North American International Livestock Expo. Our heifers were too fat to win any big prize, but we had a wonderful family time together watching the livestock exhibits. A cattle embryo auction at a hotel where the donor cow and bull pictures are projected onto screens in a room full of red tablecloths and free beer was fun for all of us even though we did not buy any embryos. The high-selling frozen embryo was $15,000 per embryo for a package of three with a one-pregnancy guarantee. A used Honda ATV is the same price as a fine leather saddle. These saddles were priced from $1,000 and up. Why ride a horse when there is a Honda parked in the shed?

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