Heger Family Farms

Honoring the Past, Working Today, Preparing for the Future


May 2016

The Core of Corporate Farming

Have you ever looked at an apple? What color or variety did you choose? Yellow, red, green?  Was it a Pink Lady? Gala? Granny Smith? Was it sweet, tart, perhaps sour? How did you choose?
So you are probably wondering why in the world I am talking about apples when I titled this post “corporate farming”. Well think about it. An apple comes in many different kinds. Some are larger, some are smaller, some have many seeds and others very few. Some make us pucker and others smile at their sweetness. Some are better suited for cooking and others are perfect to toss in a lunch pail. Regardless of the apple variety, its core parts are still the same- core, seeds, flesh, skin. Each apple is like a farm or ranch, all core parts are present. It’s just some of the details that vary and are available for selection based on personal preference, need, and use. A farm business should be no different. The essential parts are in place- land, farmer/ employees, crop or livestock, equipment, supplies are available and the way that they are used to have the best outcome should be a choice. In essence, the farmer should decide how to use the core parts in order to run his farm to its highest potential and this includes the right to choose the business structure that meets his/ her needs. At this time in North Dakota, the business structures available are limited.
Corporate farming… definitely a hot topic in North Dakota and one to pay close attention to… especially, because it is your duty as a citizen to vote and it’s on the ballot!
Measure 1 depends on you knowing what you are voting on!
Corporate farming… It definitely gets played as an emotional issue and one that many want people to see as impacting the “family” aspect of farming. Many people have the image of the small mom and pop 1 field, a cow, and a few chickens farm. They don’t want the nostalgia of what farming was 50 years ago to go away. They hear the word “corporate” and think suits and ties and 100’s of employees. Most people are three generations removed from farming or ranching; thus leading to the lack of or misunderstanding of the business aspect of farming and the sad reality of the significantly smaller number of children returning to the farm after graduation.
Keeping Farming Business Options Open for the Future
Simply put what I see as best is all possible options for business within agriculture. I would like to see all crop and animal agriculture farms be open to or able to choose the business structure that is right for them, of course this would include a corporation. The corporate farming option allows for non- blood relatives to enter into a business. The northwest part of North Dakota is one area in the state that is seeing a huge reduction in farmers and people who want to come back to the farm. They are struggling in some places to convince people to rent the land.The economic times are such that the option for investors in farms or partnerships of the corporate nature assist in the ability to persevere and possibly grow in the business sense. Corporations are generally allowable for all other business sectors and should be for agriculture too.
Currently, as passed in the legislative session in 2015, hog and dairy, within the confines of the legislation, can use the corporate business structure, but no other crop or livestock farm can.  Corporate farm structure does not nor has it been shown to in other states mean large companies like Hormel, CHS, Golden plump etc coming in and buying land and family farms- in actuality they do not want the headaches of the day to day farm business.
If farms can be a corporation, then there is a chance that more families will be able to be directly involved in farming and will not have to walk away from farms that have been in their families for generation. It can also mean opportunity for more families to become involved and start to farm. We know that it is very difficult, if not impossible, simply due to initial capital investments, to be a first generation farmer or rancher and the ability to use the corporate structure is one way to bring upcoming generations back into production agriculture and ranching instead of pushing them away.
Some basic information as of fall 2015:
There are 2.1million farms in US, 5 %are Incorporated. Of that 5%, 4.5 % are family, .5% non-family. 98% of family corporations have less than 10 shareholders, 90% of non-family farms have less than 10 shareholders. The average size of family farm corporation is 1249 acres and 1078 acres for a non family farm.
Voting… Yes, voting on this issue is something North Dakotans will be doing very soon. Do you know what you need to know? What questions do you still have? ASK AWAY!
When you fill in your bubble on the nifty ballot paper keep this in mind:
A YES VOTE means approval of what was passed ( swine and dairy) and a no vote means it should not stand as passed ( no corporate structure at all).
In hopes that over time other crop and livestock farms will be included.
I recommend, a YES VOTE.
Help keep farms and ranches in North Dakota up and running. Help them bring new farmers in, maximizing the potential, and building a stronger economy.
Farming is in our blood, it is our heritage, at the root of our culture and economy, and our future. VOTE YES on Measure 1 because “Farming is as American as Apple Pie!”.

Text Messages in Spring…

So many times, I reflect on older posts from a previous blog site I had.

Today I had someone comment on this one- Text Messages of a Farm Wife in Spring. I went back and reread it…. nothing much has changed in a year. I still send concert pictures, dance pictures, pictures of dinner, and I receive pics from the field. The major difference this year is that I am taking more field pics and pictures of the kids and sharing them with him. I also am now synced to his photo steam so I get some great images of tractor monitors, broken parts, sunrises and sunsets. Technology is wonderful and definitely keeps us connected at this busy time of the year1

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 7.28.17 AM

Rumblings of Rhubarb

In North Dakota there is not much in a garden growing in mid- May. We may have high temperatures of 90 in April and 40 in May. Not too many plants like that severe temperature swing!

Some gardeners have asparagus, perhaps some berry plants or bushes coming out of dormancy, but at this time of the year Rhubarb is available in abundance! Lucky me- I LOVE rhubarb!

Today, I decided to take a break from farm office work and tackle rhubarb sauce. I often use this sauce as a “mix-in” in things such as frozen slush, pancakes, and muffins, as well as a sauce for cheesecake and on oatmeal. Today’s batch included fresh frozen mixed berried to sweeten up the sauce and give it a bold color!

So, rhubarb sauce, hmmm. How does one make that? It’s fairly easy…

In a large pot add:

*12-14 cups of chopped rhubarb stalks

*1 cup white sugar

* 2 cups water

* optional: fresh or fresh frozen berries of choice (no syrup on the fruit)

Bring to boil stirring occasionally. Once boiling, turn down to simmer. Cook about 20-25 minutes simmering, stirring fairly vigorously every few minutes to break the fruit up.  Once in a sauce form, let cool for 30 mins and divide into serving size desired. Freeze or place in refrigerator.

Last forever in freezer, I try to use within a week in fridge.

Quick refreshing treat: On a hot summer day try using the berry rhubarb sauce mixed with Sprite over ice. Add Gin, Vodka, or Rum if desired!😊

I Close My Eyes and Cry

Life can be overwhelming! It can be calm and rewarding. Life can be filled with excitement and adventure. It can be lonely and wrap a person in helplessness. Life likes to keep us on our toes and allow us to explore every emotion created by God.

I have always been a strong unemotional person on the outside. Generally I am not one to shed a tear, but over the last 18 months or so I have found that, although generally not in public, the tears flow a bit quicker.

More often than not, when I close my eyes I cry.

I cry for those who struggle.

I cry for my inability to meet the needs of those that ask each and every time.

I cry for the all blessings I have been given.

I cry out of pride I have for my kids.

I cry in admiration of the commitment through hard times my husband has.

I cry for those who choose to make life difficult.

I cry of thankfulness for true friendships.

I cry for the pain of others that I can not take away.

I cry for the frustrations that I can not make go away.

I cry because I know that no matter how hard my day is, how exhausted I am, how much I didn’t get done, that someone else has it worse.

When I close my eyes, I cry and pray that when I open them that the shimmer from my tears crosses paths with a ray of light forming a rainbow seen by someone in need, making a difference in their life.

I know I am far from perfect, but I strive to do better each day. I focus on being a servant leader where helping and thinking of others comes first. For it is what I leave behind, that determines what will be in the future and isn’t preparing for what is to come what we ultimately need to be doing?

When I close my eyes I cry, flushing pain, excitement, helplessness, and pride down my cheeks.

When I close my eyes and cry I find peace, answers, and some resolutions to my struggles, for it is water that cleanses our souls.

So, the next time you close your eyes and cry, think about those that you reach each day. Remember that you do make a difference and can be that rainbow that brightens someone’s day. When the tears fall, be thankful for all you have and your ability to pray for peace for others!

When you close your eyes always remember that water cleanses and when you open your eyes, a new beginning presents.

Take advantage of the time you have to reflect and feel by closing your eyes and crying.

Blessings by Laura Story  “What if blessings come through raindrops, What if your healing comes through tears, What if a 1000 sleepless nights is what it takes to know you are here, What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?”- Laura Story

“Crying is feeling and feeling is being human.” – Ray Charles

Mother’s Day on the Farm

So this may be late, but late is better than never, right?!

Mother’s Day is always a busy one. It is one that is generally a little different every year. This year we were planting corn, cleaning the barn, and tackling cleaning up the yard.

Sunny and 70? Isn’t it always?

Yep, it was in a variety of ways!

  1. I got some amazing handmade gifts and notes from my kids!
  2. We were all busy working together!
  3. Yard looks a million times better!
  4. Kids realized how much effort goes into something as simple as raking and picking up corn stubble/ debris that invaded our yard!
  5. Order was restored in the barn!
  6. The garden is ready for planting!
  7. Our moods were uplifted and we soaked up some vitamin D!
  8. We laughed, cried, and got frustrated TOGETHER!
  9. Several got the stomach flu together- so nice they didn’t suffer alone!
  10. The sun was out and the temp really was 70 degrees!
  11. was able to honor my kids and husband with a treat personalized for each! ( Who doesn’t like edible prizes- right?)

Mother’s Day is a day that moms are recognized for all that they do, but for our family it is those that made it possible to have the title of “MOM” that are recognized too. For without them, I couldn’t be me!


“The best thing she was, was her children.” ― Toni Morrison

My Farm Journey: Can’t Move the Land

After my Farmer and I met in October of 1998, we dated from opposite ends of the state of North Dakota. I was going to college at Concordia in Moorhead, MN ( Fargo’s twin city) working on a degree in elementary education and he at Dickinson State in Dickinson, ND on an Ag Sales and Service and Farm and Ranch Management.  The trip was about four and a half hours straight down Interstate 94. So needless to say we supported the fuel and telephone industry heavily for a year and a half.

In the first six months of dating, I had visited the farm a few times, but being that it was the end of harvest when we met and spring’s work hadn’t ventured into full swing when this part of my journey took place, I hadn’t experienced a lot and didn’t know exactly what farming was all about. Despite my lack of insight, I did pick up on a few things…

  1. Farming was not just a job, but a lifestyle and business.
  2. That yes, there are “slower” times, but there is always something to do.
  3. That times can get tough- family, money, balancing multiple tasks, etc. – but that hard work, faith and looking ahead can make all the difference.
  4. This was something that my Farmer had in his blood and when you looked into his eyes, it was something he was honored to have the opportunity to be a part of.

IMG_3652And so it was this information that I kept tucked deep down inside as we spent months emailing, on the phone, in the car, and of course on our college studies. Little did I know that these four thoughts were really even there or that they would come in handy!

You see, one day, I believe in April of 1999, I headed out to Dickinson from Moorhead. I decided to switch a work shift and leave a few hours early. I am a planner, so something spontaneous like this was not of my nature and out of my comfort zone. Nevertheless, I jumped into my car and off I went.

As I pulled into Dickinson it was about 11:30am. I knew my Farmer would be working at the front desk of his dorm. I figured I would be sweet, stop at Hardee’s, and pick up some lunch. I got lunch and drove up to his dorm. I walked in the front door and noticed his back was to me. I approached the window and realized he was on the phone. He spun around, his eyes bugging out and his finger held to his lips- shh! What? I drove all this way and I get the “What are you doing here?” look and a shhhhh?

So I went and sat in the sitting area. A minute later he was finished. He called my name and I walked back to the window. He told me to come into the office and that we had to talk. Again, I was thinking, “Great. Now we have to talk. He didn’t even say ‘hi’!”

As I entered, I handed him his lunch and sat down on a chair. I instantly got that “you are going to dump me” feeling, but I sat patiently. He started talking about his telephone call. Explaining to me whom he had been talking to, why, and that he wasn’t sure how I would respond. My Farmer had just been offered the chance that he had been hoping for since before he could remember, the chance to farm a piece of land that was all his.  He was nervous as he told me. I was a city girl. One who didn’t know much about wide open spaces, dirt, or machines. He wondered if this news would chase me away.

As he explained his phone call I felt a sense of relief. He wasn’t dumping me and there was no one else. He was excited. He was ready. He was going to be a farmer. Inside I was nervous, but also jealous. His dreams were being set into action and I felt like my plans were still liquid jello being mixed up without a mold to be poured in.

It was at that minute that those four little pieces of information came floating to the surface. Although I cannot recall the words I said, I know I shared my excitement for him. I knew that this was an opportunity not to be passed up. I knew that if things were meant to be, that our relationship would endure, grow and work out. IMG_0147For as I have told many people, land cannot be picked up and moved, but teachers are needed everywhere. And in the back of my mind, I knew that if nothing else, I could wait tables at the cafe’…. a full-time farmer, farmer’s wife…. I had no idea that was even an option, nor did I have a clue what I was getting into. Sometimes what you don’t know is so totally worth it!

And so, my farm journey continued.

Stay tuned for the next “My Farm Journey” post when I share about some of my transition challenges.




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