Fall on the Farm

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If you Google Fall on the Farm, many of the results will be fall farm festivals that conjure thoughts of apple and pumpkin picking, corn mazes and hay rides. For those working in production agriculture, fall is always a busy time of year as the harvest is brought in, and the farm is readied for winter.

For grain farmers, this is the time of year when they harvest their crop. This means long hours in the combine and meals on the go. For our family, it means the end of the growing year and farm market season. We spend our evenings harvesting the last of the produce, like squash and potatoes, and picking apples from our trees. We also spend time cleaning up the gardens – feeding bat-sized zucchini to the sheep, clearing the dead vines and plants, tilling and composting. We rake leaves and pile them on our strawberries after the first frost to help insulate them.

It’s also the time of year when we breed our sheep for lambing in January and February. All of the sheep are sheared, have their hooves trimmed (pedicure time!), and are wormed. We place a marking brace on the ram that marks the ewes’ backs that have been bred. Then we turn them out together. For many who raise sheep, Fall is the season when fat lambs, or lambs that are ready to be butchered are sold.

For the chickens, we are cleaning out coops and laying fresh wood shavings and straw. We don’t heat our coops in the winter, but we do ensure that there is adequate insulation to store the body heat the birds give off. We intentionally raise breeds that are hardy to Minnesota, to prevent undue stress from cold weather. We also set the lights in the coops on timers to trick the birds into thinking there is longer daylight, as chickens need a minimum amount of light each day to lay an egg. Roosters we don’t intend to keep for breeding purposes are sold or butchered.

Like most families, we put away the outdoor toys, the picnic table, and lawn furniture. We winterize the lawnmower and get the snow blower ready. Our children are busy with school activities, dance class, and 4-H meetings.

We love apple picking, corn mazes, and hay rides too – once all the other work is done! Our priority each fall is to ensure our livestock and land is prepared for the winter months ahead.

Happy Fall Y’all!

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Mamie
Agriculture has been intertwined in Mamie Luhmann’s life since birth, as she was raised on a dairy farm, and was a member of both the 4-H and FFA Programs. She went to college at UWRF and earned a degree in Agricultural Education. After a semester as a high school agriculture teacher, she took a job with the UMN Extension as a 4-H Program Coordinator, and completed a Masters Degree. She met her husband Paul at the County Fair. Together they moved on to a small farm and started raising chickens, sheep, and their 2 daughters, Clara (5) and Hazel (2). Mamie is an “agvocate” and loves to teach others about agriculture and farming. Her daily adventures include collecting dozens of eggs, cleaning straw out of her washing machine, using her hair dryer to warm baby lambs, and raising 2 little girls to love livestock and farming as much as she does. When she isn’t getting her hands dirty on the farm, she’s busy with her career as a Training and Development Liaison at the Mayo Clinic. Mamie contributes to the AgStar Women in Ag Blog and also pens her own blog at Blessings Abound.

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