Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pork Mentor Extraordinaire..

There are a few purely amazing things in this life, one being bacon! Haha I really love bacon, I mean seriously who doesn’t? We live in time though where consumers have no idea how that bacon on our plate got there? Did it come from the secret meat place in the back of the grocery store? Or maybe it came from those white feathered things that cluck? I’m not ashamed to say that I really didn’t have much of a clue about where the sausage and bacon I had on my plate came from. I knew that they came from a pig but not much more. So instead of doing what most consumers these days do, turn to animal “rights” groups, I decided to get myself involved with some of Nebraska’s finest and well informed, our pork producers!

My roommate Shannon has a love for pigs that rivals my love for cows, we’re a couple of Ag crazies for sure (our only Christmas tree decorations were a pig and cow ornament). She convinced me to join the Nebraska Pork Producers Pork Mentors program. It’s a year long program that emerges students into pork production across the state and country. So I figured if I got real lost she could just drag me along and it would be fine. So I applied and made it, shockingly, and hit the ground running. It was one of the best things I’ve EVER DONE! There were 11 of us mentee's that year, we had a list of things that we had to have done by the following year and then we would receive a $500 scholarship. They included:

-Attend the Pork Expo in Iowa assisting with quality assurance training, talked with the National Pork Board, ate about all the free pork a person could possibly wish to ever eat.

-Volunteer for 10 hours at a child community center here in Lincoln.

-Four professional shadowing experiences

- Four promotional activities, these were super easy and a lot of fun. I was by no means an expert on pork production, in fact I think I met quite a few producers at these events and ended up asking them questions, but they were always more than willing to answer them and just chat.

- There were a few other small requirements for the program but nothing too taxing.

The one thing I regret is that I didn’t take full advantage of the situation. I hate making excuses but I know I didn’t put all my effort into it due to some other committments and wish everyday that I had. But I learned so much and am so thankful for the opportunity. I think my favorite part of the program was all the great people I met. I had a great class of fellow mentee’s and we got to know each other pretty well by the end. One unfortunate mentee decided to make fun of Shannon and I’s love for Justin Bieber leaving him with the nickname ‘Biebs’, yep sucked for him.
A few fellow mentors (green shirts) talk about how
farmers care for their pigs

Our super sweet hats we got at World Pork Expo!

A mentor explaining to a kid how come we have to use
fans on pigs!

A few of the mentors talking about the pork industry.

I got to use my new found pork genius at our Husker Food Connection. 

 So if you know any college aged student interested in pigs or with a possible interest in pigs please tell them to look into the program. It really does a lot of great things for the industry in this state.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

All in a Days Work

It seems like every couple of months I tell myself that things will slow down soon at the farm so that we can have a somewhat life outside of the farm. Unfortunately time off and dairy farming aren't two words that usually go together.

There are always cows to be checked

And of course milking 2 times a day

Andi prefers to chase cows in her flip flops, you would
think she would've learned by now..
 People will ask me if it's a lot of work to live on a dairy farm, well umm yes it is!  I think one week working on a dairy farm would pretty much make you appreciate whatever job it is you have! Some days it really just makes me appreciate school, hard to believe I'd even say that. But if it's something you love then it doesn't seem like a job, just a really intense hobby. But I think it's great because there are never 2 days that are the same, and as a person who hates repetition it's something i appreciate a lot.

For example right now most people in Nebraska are harvesting, nearly67 % of the states corn is already harvested. Well my dad has just started harvest, partially because he planted late (we're Konecky's we're usually always late) but mostly because he's been busy doing other stuff.

We're just finished putting up our fourth cutting of alfalfa, there isn't much to put up because it has been so incredibly dry but the alfalfa flowered (sprouts little purple flowers) so we have to put it up anyway. So I would guess that so far this year we've put up probably close to 1,500 to 2,000 small square bales and 50 round bales of alfalfa, along with 450 small squares and 25 round bales of brome. Now I don't know about you but I still think that's an awful lot of hay!

Mowing (swathing) hay is a common summer activity
A couple of weeks ago I was sent out to mow the fourth cutting
of alfalfa, it was pretty thin.
After we mow the hay then we run it through the
small square baler (above).

Plus for about 3 weeks in July and August we've been putting up corn silage for ourselves and the neighbors. Because of the drought many neighbors were worried about what they are going to feed their cattle this winter because there wasn't going to be enough hay and there sure wasn't much corn. So because dad has a chopper and a bagger, he basically rented them out to his neighbors to help them put up silage. As one would imagine in 3 weeks of straight corn silage chopping there were a fair share of problems, mechanical or otherwise, but everyone got enough up to last them through winter, hopefully!

We store all of our silage in those long white bags, silage bags

So needless to say it's been a pretty busy summer/fall and doesn't look to slow down anytime soon! I guess it's all in a day in the life of a farmer.