A Day in the Life

An inside look into an average winter day of a Minnesota farmer

Before the sun comes up, you can bet this farmer is out the door to begin his day. Otherwise, he’d be “Burnin’ daylight” (in his words). This time of year is a slower season for us on a row crop farm, but being that we do have livestock, daily chores have to be completed at least twice a day. 

I followed Jacob around the farm over the weekend and snapped some photos to document what an average day is like for a farmer like him during the winter months. When we first started dating, I pretty much followed him around the farm like a little puppy, ha! We spent a lot of our time on the farm doing chores together when I would visit on the weekends while I was still in college. This weekend was a bit reminiscent of our first couple years together – I certainly enjoyed it, and I think he did too. 😉

Depending on the day, he’s up somewhere between 3:00 AM – 6:00 AM. Some mornings he and Ben help Jay load pigs, which usually consists of early morning trucks. If he doesn’t have to load pigs, he first makes his way to both hog barn sites to do the daily chores which usually lasts a couple hours. During this time, he walks through all of the pens to essentially evaluate everything – animal health, properly working feeders and waterers, and temperature of the barns. If anything is out of the ordinary, he takes the necessary time to fix it. 

When he’s done with that, he makes his way to our home farm to check on the beef cattle. Currently, all of our cattle are at this site because calving is due to start within the next couple of weeks. As Jacob works through cattle chores, he also is checking animal health, feeding hay and corn, ensuring they all have access to water, and have clean bedding. Because we are so close to calving, Jacob also checks to see if their udders are beginning to fill with milk. If they start to look fuller, that means the cow or heifer is close to giving birth. In this case, Jacob moves them from the main barn to the calving pen which is completely dry and bedded to the max with comfy cornstalks. Once we start having calves on the ground, his daily routine will change a bit to care for the new babies. (Make sure to subscribe below to receive updates on all of the new calves!)

In between capturing photos, I read off ear tag numbers for Jacob as he checked the cattle that were close to calving. He knows these cattle like the back of his hand but verifying ear tags confirms accuracy. I will forever be his gate and ear tag girl.

Typically, when he wraps up with the cattle, it’s lunchtime. He’s on a canned soup kick lately so that’s what he had for lunch in the shop. 😉 Through the early afternoon, he typically works on his computer. This time of year for us consists of a lot of planning, marketing, paperwork, and deciding what products we want to use on our farm in the coming year. 

The rest of the afternoon usually consists of some type of machinery or cleaning project. Jacob and Ben also perform a lot of equipment maintenance during the winter months to prepare for spring planting. This helps ensure we get any parts we need in time and that everything is working properly before we get in the field.

Over the weekend, the particular project Jacob was working on was washing pig barn. After a group of pigs leave for market, Jacob power washes and sanitizes the barn before the new piglets arrive. This ensures maximum biosecurity and helps prevent the spread of any bacteria or viruses that the old group of pigs may have had. In these pictures, Jacob is in his pig farming gear getting ready to go back to washing.

Around 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Jacob does another run-through of the cattle and then makes his way back to each pig barn to go through those pens again. Sometimes he works a little later if he has to sort pigs for market, but most of the time he’s home at a reasonable hour for supper. 🙂 

I enjoy the winter months because it gives us more time together and a chance to relax from the busy fall. I usually have a list of honey-do projects for him by the time snow hits the ground, but we also use it as a time to prepare for the next busy season. 

Every day is different for a farmer, which makes it a fun and unique profession. When I asked Jacob, “What do you love most about being a farmer?” He said, “Just watching everything grow. The crops, the cattle, the pigs. You see your hard work physically grow.”

Farming is a noble profession, but it is not for the faint of heart. To quote Mike Rowe, “Don’t let anyone take the art out of your vocation.”

Rooted in ag and led by faith,

Ellyn

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