June 2010
Beaman's Grazier Farm  
 

Thanks to our Grandson Chase for reminding us all of the fun activities to enjoy in Iowa. Pictured at right, Chase participates in the Lenox Rodeo where he was the 2009 Champion Mutton Buster!

 

Sheep Grazing at Grazier Farm

 

Planting Quail Plot

 

Miscanthus
It doesn't look like much yet, but
these will grow to twelve feet in height. They have a way to go, don't they!

 

A beautiful reflection of the farm

 

 

A little humor for your day:

Mission Impossible Squirrel

 



According to Bill

All of us are sickened by the pictures of oil spewing out of the ocean floor down in the Gulf.  Angry people line up to lay the blame on BP, the government, and everyone else, and who can blame them. We’re a long way from seeing the end of this environmental and financial nightmare. We can only hope that they find some way to plug the hole but right now, the best solution appears to be relief wells still two months from completion.

This incident does indirectly relate to a research plot we just planted on our farm. Thanks to the Southern Iowa RC&D, we received some Miscanthus plants. What the heck is Miscanthus you ask?  In a nutshell, miscanthus is a warm season perennial grass that has  the potential to grow up to twelve feet tall and has produced dry matter yields of ten to fifteen tons per acre at research plots in Illinois.  Miscanthus has received widespread attention as a biomass crop in Europe where it is used  primarily for combustion in power plants.*  For use in ethanol production, an acre of miscanthus is reported to yield at least twice as many gallons of ethanol per acre than corn does. Once planted, miscanthus has a life span of 15–30 years. It could be a shining star in our search for homegrown fuels that are efficient, sustainable and have a much better carbon footprint than corn. Time will tell. For now, several farmers in Southwest Iowa are planting small plots (by hand) on various soil types to get some information on how the plants perform. We’ve included a photo with this newsletter, and granted, it doesn’t look like much right now, but it might give you a positive thought for the future as you watch the mess in the gulf.

Last night we had five inches of rain. It over-ran our sump pump in the basement and flooded the creek bottoms on our farm. Mary and I had to rescue a herd of cows in one of our bottom pastures as the Hog Branch Creek left its banks and traveled up and through their space. 

We will continue to keep our farm as grass covered as possible to protect the soil from these, all-too-frequent severe weather events, but quite frankly, most of Iowa is in a race to turn most of its ground into cropland to produce two crops, corn and soybeans. Maybe an alternative crop, like miscanthus, could put us on a better path – away from another looming environmental disaster - severe soil erosion. Perhaps the amount of topsoil that ends up in the Gulf of Mexico is every bit as worrisome as the oil spewing into it. And we think the hole in the Gulf is hard to plug!

I’ve also included a picture of the kids planting our “quail habitat plot”.  Thanks to our son Jeff and his friends, Aleigh and Kevin for their efforts.  They seeded a special quail habitat mix of seeds that included 27 different varieties of warm season grasses and forbs.  Time will tell.

*ISU publication AG 201, January 2010.

 

 

 

 

Many of you reading this e-newsletter have read my book, The Iowa Farmer's Wife. We’ve ordered a second printing as our initial inventory of books is almost depleted. Jill added a directory of where the books may be purchased, both stores and on-line, to our website: theiowafarmer.com. When I started this project, market research I gathered implied that over 80% of the book market was made up of women. Again and again I get comments from men who’ve enjoyed the book, and that surprised me. My wife pointed out that it is probably the women who purchase the book, but everybody enjoys a good story.  So maybe a copy of the book would be a great Father’s Day gift?

 

We always appreciate your purchase of the book and the many kind comments.  I’m working on a sequel, and it promises to be fun to develop.

 

Beaman's Grazier Farm
2817 185th St. / Bedford, IA 50833
billbeaman@yahoo.com
www.theiowafarmer.com
 
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