Merry Christmas!

19 Dec

I know it’s early, but I decided to take the next week off and enjoy a little time with my family and friends.  So check back after Christmas for farm updates, photos and whatever else comes up while I’m not blogging…there always seems to be something!!

So for Photo Friday, Christmas style, here are some photos from our Christmas Tree Hunting adventure.

FullSizeRender (2)Hoot was really excited!

FullSizeRender (3)Dad found the tree that was just right…

FullSizeRender (4)We both approved….

FullSizeRenderSo we let Hoot saw it down…he’s a natural!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Farm Bureau…Who is in Charge?

15 Dec

I get a lot of questions about Farm Bureau, well maybe not so many questions as just incorrect accusations.  Most of the time it’s when I’m trying to stand up for an issue, and I can usually point out that Farm Bureau agrees with me, or that they are working at the capital to help us with certain issues.  Many times the response is something along the lines of, “Well Farm Bureau can’t be trusted, they are just in the back pocket of all big ag companies anyway.”  “Isn’t Monsanto a member of Oregon Farm bureau?!  They must just be looking out for their best interest!”

So while I was sitting in the Oregon Farm Bureau House of Delegates for the better part of two days, turning page after page of policy, I wanted to make sure that people understood the basics of just how this grassroots organization goes to work for all farmers in Oregon.

FullSizeRender (4)2014 House of Delegates, Lincoln City, Oregon

As a grassroots organization, all things start from the ground up.  Or I guess you could say from the dirt up, soil up, boots up, etc.  You get the point, it starts at the farmer level.  As a member of the organization you can bring issues to your county board.  From there the issues, if in policy, are worked on at the county level and if needed moved up to the state level.  All situation depending.  If for some reason there is not anything in our policy book to cover any particular issue, once a year we gather as a state organization and bring in delegates from across Oregon.  We have new policy brought to our attention, corrections to old policy, and sometimes even just a re-wording of some parts to make it work better for our current industry here in Oregon.  An industry that is so diverse, it creates no room for a stagnant policy book.

FullSizeRenderJohn Dardis, Ireland’s Secretary of Agriculture speaking to Oregon Farmers at the Oregon Farm Bureau Annual Meeting.

The policy book is then used by the lobbyists and staff, and members of the organization as a guideline for what we stand for.  They must advocate within those parameters.  It is also distributed to all elected officials.  So back to the Monsanto question, yes, they are a “member”, but they are only an associate member.  As such they are only showing that they support for Farm Bureau, but they don’t have any say in what direction we take our policy, our advocacy, or our time and efforts.

Farm Bureau as an organization has from the get go supported all types of agriculture.  Which I know many times puts them in a pinch as different commodities can sometimes not get along as well as they should.  But as an organization it always strives to work the area that can keep farmers farming here.  It’s one of those groups where it pays to show up, work hard to get what you want, and help get more people behind your issues that you’re facing.  I’m glad to be a member and glad that we have a strong group that is looking out for farmers across the state, and across industry lines.

Answer to the Tree Mystery

8 Dec

Now I know you have all been on the edge of your seat all weekend!!  I bet you can’t hardly stand not knowing what is going on with those hazelnut trees!!

So here is the deal.  We are thinning our orchards because they have grown too big and the trees need more room to grow in order to become more productive.  Now this might seem strange, mostly because we are taking out half of our trees and that seems odd for two reasons.  First of all, how does taking out trees allow for them to produce more nuts?And secondly, aren’t hazelnuts at an all time high price? Why in the world would you want to get rid of them?

Hazelnut trees when planted close together eventually will grow together so tightly that they won’t let all the sunlight into the trees.  When it doesn’t get sun, there will be no production in that area.  So by taking out half of the trees you allow the trees to individually grow more, get more sunlight, and eventually produce more nuts as a single tree than as a tree crowded in by others that are close around it.  For example we have done this to another orchard that is right next door to this one.  We took out half of the trees over a two year period, and while we experienced a yield loss the first year.  Every year after that it has been pretty quickly getting back to it’s original yield.  This past year, only 4 years since taking out 50% of the trees, it’s back to 100% of the yield we were getting before thinning.  We expect this yield increase to continue and our happy trees to continue to enjoy their space and sun and give us more nuts in return.

Yes as you may have heard through the grapevine (not sure if that’s the best use of terms here) but hazelnuts are at a record high price.  This has to do some with demand and some with a deep freeze in Turkey.  So it’s a good question, why would we want to take a hit now?  The reason is that this is an agronomic decision as much as it is an economic decision.  This is something that we will accomplish over the next two years for this particular orchard, so that will help ease the blow.  But if say to yourself, “The price is high so we want all the nuts we can get.” Wouldn’t you also say to yourself, “The price is low, so we want to get all the nuts we can get!”?  Basically there is no good time to tear out trees, and no matter what it’s a tough decision of when to pull the trigger.  For us, for the size of our trees, for the good of the rest of our trees that we are leaving, now is the time.

That’s the thing with farming.  Sometimes you have to make decisions that look strange to someone who isn’t involved in what you are doing.  Sometimes you look like that crazy neighbor that probably has no idea what they are doing, that someone driving by could be very critical of.  But usually when someone is doing something different than what you’re used to on a farm, it’s because they have a situation economic or agronomic that warrants a creative, different or unconventional way of doing things.

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