Heger Family Farms

Honoring the Past, Working Today, Preparing for the Future


March 2016

March Madness- Farm Family Style

For many March is all about basketball and March Madness. Let’s get real. My interest in basketball is developing and I don’t get into March Madness like my oldest son does! I can finally identify “traveling” and know that you have to “box out” on defense after 5 years of watching my son. March Madness on the farm has very little to do with basketball, except that basketball season ends.

On the Farm March Madness is all about…

  1. Examination of soil composition maps
    1. double check that nutients in soil are right for crop that is to be planted
  2. Putting the finishing touches on equipment used for planting and soil preparation
    1. Repairs
    2. Wash and wax
    3. Order parts that wear so we have them on hand
  3. Creating maps
    1. Use information from past years on the soil, amount produced and contour of the land to write a prescription or recipe that our seeder and planter can read to place the right amount of seed and fertilizer in specific parts of each field.
  4. Combing through the budget to look for areas to cut back and those that may need to increase. 
    1. Each dollar spent on a field/ planting and maintaining the crop has to be returned at least 105% to make it worthwhile.
  5. Partaking in the last of family events
    1. Field work kicks off in full force the end of March and the first part of April. this means that we divide and conquer to attend as many of our children’s activities as possible. We try hard to take a family trip somewhere even if it is only 2-3 days before we get into full swing!
  6. Training
    1. One can never know enough! We attend meetings and trainings to learn and refresh ourselves about the business of farming, as well as, soil knowledge and the growing of crops
  7. Driving 100’s of miles on gravel roads
    1. Checking fields for frost and any change over the winter
    2.  Monitoring the moisture level to see if fields are dry enough for equipment to drive in without getting stuck!
  8. Taking inventory
    1. Everything from nuts, bolts and nails to wire to  window cleaner to fuel to seed to tires to grease
    2. SNACKS- for the shop for when lunch pails are forgotten
    3. AND let’s be honest, having a supply of beer, wine, whisky, water and pop is important too!
  9. Employee meetings
    1. Sometimes called coffee and rolls
    2. Identify who will be in charge of what
    3. Make a list of To-Dos
    4. Gets everyone on the same page
  10. SLEEPing and Eating
    1. Entering long days ( up to 18 hours) rested is important!!!
    2. Eating well and balanced meals to build strength and health is important too!
      1. cooking, more importantly the crock-pot and grill become our best friends!

March Madness is so many different things to everyone! Embrace for the craze and plan!

It may be crazy, but remember…..” Spring is nature’s way of saying ‘Let’s party!’.”- Robin Williams




Labels… Let Us Not Be Divided?

Have you been to a store lately and noticed that there are tags or labels galore. I am talking tags and labels on everything! Anything from 3-5 tags on a t-shirt to 2-6 on food packages to comments and symbols on toilet paper! How about menus? Have you noticed more icons and asterisks on the long list of food items available on those 2-sided and tri-fold works of art? How about descriptions that include phrases such as “locally- sourced”, “free- range” , “antibiotic free”, “hormone free”, “natural”… the list could go on and on. The real question is does it tell us anything that we are wanting to know? Does it impact what we purchase or order? Or is it a marketing tool used to promote a product and create an emotional response? Hmmmmm.

Currently the hot topic with labels is whether or not to label items made with genetically modified (GMO) substances. This means upwards of 80% of the items on the market could potentially have another label on them. The topic being debated is what products would actually receive the label, what would that label mean, what would it look like, whether it should a voluntary or mandatory label, and whether or not it should be a national label or allow each state to define and design their own. The conversation is real and is filled with factional and emotional evidence.

Personally, I despise the idea that another label is needed. I dislike that a safe scientific process of identifying and producing naturally occurring proteins and genes needs a label. I feel what is happening is genetic engineering or genetic modification is not understood or significantly misunderstood thus causing uncertainty, confusion, and an open market for exploitation. GMO’s have more research, data, and technical insight than many medications, vitamins, and personal products on the market today. There is no need for a label that increases company profits buy increasing fear.

GMO Sweet Corn Proudly Grown to Feed the Hungry

Sadly, marketing and lack of understanding has pushed fear and for a GMO label. Currently, one state has passed a GMO labeling law and our Senate is in the middle of discussion on a national label law. Again, I hate the fact that this is even a topic taking up time in our states’ and nation’s capitols, but the reality is that it is.  The other part of the reality is that if we don’t adopt a national label law, then states are free to develop their own, causing a patchwork of definitions and criteria and increased confusion. It also causes a logistical nightmare on the production side of things labeling each item for point of sale and ensuring that each lot of items reaches the correct location with the correct label. Think about a bag of Doritos. If each state is able to have their own law, definition and symbol, that could mean 50 different packages, boxes not able to be delivered to just any point of sale that placed an order, but to specific sites. It is a production and distribution nightmare logistically and economically.This nightmare comes with a cost, a cost handed down to the customer payable at the till.

So, with the reality being that a label law is going to be put in place, and even though I do not like it, I STRONGLY feel that a voluntary national label is needed. This will allow for everyone regardless of where they live in the US to know exactly what GMO stands for and means (if they want to know).

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 1.24.03 AM

The proposal is to have the “label” be a QR code, or similar information code, that would allow the customer to scan it and read first hand about the product and substances used to make it. As updates to information needed to be made, they could be made “behind the scenes” and done instantaneously, without changing packaging and interrupting production and distribution. Additionally, data could be collected as to which products are being inquired about and how many inquiries are taking place.A national label law should also be voluntary, allowing companies who felt that they wanted to include this code on their packaging to do so while allowing others to chose otherwise.

In all honesty, I want to see the name of the product I am purchasing. I am sick of icons, verbiage, and advertisements splashed all over the items I buy. To a farmer who raises some crops that fall under the umbrella of GMO, this seems like a first world demand and issue. We have not had a food shortage. We have become entitled people. We have decided that emotions should supersede science, research, data, and our food safety and approval processes. GMO crops used in food, fiber and fuel are not dangerous, but have been made available in efforts to give us farmers more tools in our tool box to help protect our livelihood from things such as drought, extreme temperatures, wind, insects and weeds.

So, if we have to have a law showing that a product has been developed using some of the top research and scientific methods and is allowing farmers to have more tools to be better stewards of the land and increase sustainability, then so be it!

Let’s pass a VOLUNTARY, UNIFORM, NATIONAL LABEL LAW so that at least we are all on the same page and operating under the same framework.

Let us not be divided more than necessary. Let us use diversity to create great things. Let us not drive a wedge between people, states, and our nation where it is not needed. Let us not forget that line we repeated day after day, each day we were in school, from the Pledge of Allegiance, “One Nation Under God”. Let us come together.


Lemons Can Make… Anything You Want

How many times, have we heard the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”? Probably more than we would like.

It was made perfectly clear a few weeks ago that we don’t have to accept things as they are presented to us. We can use adversity, or lemons if you wish, to do marvelous things! 

About a month ago Amberley Snyder spoke at the North Dakota Farm Bureau Farm and Ranch Conference.  

Her message was more than inspiring, it was motivating and clearly showed that life is not about the cards we are dealt, but our attitude, the choices we make, and how we decide to play those cards! 

Amberley had the audience, children through the “more experienced” generations held captive with her story. Her life changed in a single moment when she was injured in a car accident. As a barrel racer with big plans for her future, she was forced to pause, set adjusted goals and steps to reach those goals. 

She was given a basket of lemons, but none have left her sour. With a little sweeter, positive thought and determination, Amberley’s goals became her reality! Her new reality becoming life changing for not just herself, but all those she comes in contact with. 

Perhaps the most inspiring moment of her visit with the group was this story that she shared.

A second grade boy asked, “If you could go back to that day [the day of her accident] and change it, would you?” Amberley shared that before she replied she thought about the people, places and opportunities she’d been exposed to. She knew she had been a true believer in everything happens for a reason. And it was with that thought that she said, “No”. She acknowledged that she did not always know when or what, but that there was a purpose and she was going to serve that purpose! 

So when it seems like the glass is empty and the cards are stacked against you, take a deep breath, find the silver lining, and make a plan. For the future is vast  and at times uncertain, but you have to keep on going. “There is no future in giving up!!!”, according to Amberley.

I would highly recommend Amberley Snyder for your meeting or convention. 

Find her at :

Facebook: Amberley Snyder 

Twitter:  @SnyderAmberley


Her USA TODAY segment: 

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