|During this time of year, the cows at Mac Dee Dee's Organic Farm are calving, but that's not the only thing they do during springtime. Keep reading to find out what planting time is like!|
Last fall, my trusty, junior photographer and I, Daniel P. Smithwater and I went to Mac Dee Dee's Farm during the harvest time to see what kind of operation Mac Dee Dee goes through when it's time to bring in the fruits of his and his helper's labors. But guess what: in order to harvest, you have to make something to harvest! During springtime, Mac Dee Dee's farm is already busy preparing for fall's harvest. So Daniel and I went back to Mac Dee Dee's farm to learn all about what Mac Dee Dee does to prepare for fall.
“We like to start our sowing nice and early,” says Mac Dee Dee. “Starting early has its advantages . . . I [always] know when it's time to start planting and other spring activities when the cold weather finally looses its winter grip, the snow melts and the length of the day increases. That's when I know it's time to begin.” This year, they started harvesting on March 4th. When we arrived at the farm, Mac Dee Dee was all too happy to show us his spring operations. First, he showed us the pastures where the cows are kept. As you might recall from our previous articles, the cows and other animals are kept in wide open areas on the 50,000 acre farm, unlike many farms where the animals are kept in cramped, dark and hideously smelly conditions where they never see the light of day or get the chance to feel grass beneath their feet.
The farm also has a lot of cows and other animals giving birth this time of year. Mac Dee Dee's wife, Jules Dee Dee explains, “During the springtime, we reg have our cows tested to see if their pregnant and normally we'll allow them to just give birth naturally in the field, just like their ancestors would have done in nature.” One of the cows, she went on to explain, would have had some birthing problems if she'd been allowed to give birth naturally and without a farmer's assistance, so the farmers brought her into one of the birthing barns and we got to watch the cow give birth to her newborn!
Then Mac Dee Dee led us to the fields used for planting corn and other crops. Man are they expansive! Mac Dee Dee is reported for saying, “When it's time to plant corn and the other 'field crops' as we call them (including soybeans, wheat and rice), we fly our planter-planes out low over the fields and they spray the seeds out over the field.” Now, what most farmers will do after seeds are sprinkled over the field is use planes to spray pesticides and other chemicals (actual chemicals) over the seeds! Pesticides are used to keep pests away from the crops and other chemicals farmers often spray is used to make the crops grow bigger and faster than they would naturally. Not only are these pesticides bad for the soil (as it seeps into the soil, eventually reaches water sources like rivers and lakes and flows into the ocean), but it's also bad for our bodies when we consume the chemicals with the food we eat. Mac Dee Dee's Farm doesn't use pesticides and other chemicals because they're a 100% organic farm, thank goodness! This made me curious as to how they keep pests away. When we asked Mac Dee Dee, his response was, “Well, there are numerous other ways to keep pests at bay than using nasty pesticides. God already has plenty of pest-eating creatures in nature that help us farmers that we encourage to come around. Ladybugs are a perfect example . . . aphids are tiny insects [that] like to like to suck the fluids out of plants, causing them to sicken. Ladybugs eat aphids! And that's just one example of a pest-eating creature. There are plenty more.”
Mac Dee Dee's crops will continue to grow taller as spring turns into summer until it's time for harvest once again. Before leaving the farm, Mac Dee Dee showed us the part of the chicken coop where the hens lay their eggs. Of course, Mac Dee Dee's chicken coop isn't the size of your average chicken coop – it's way larger to accommodate the hundreds of meat, breeding and laying birds. “They lay their eggs all year-round,” says one of Mac Dee Dee's sons named James. “Like the other animals, we like to let the chickens and turkeys roam around the whole farm except during the really cold parts of winter. We don't have to come out everyday into the coop to check whether or not the hens have laid eggs because we built special sensors into each of the custom-made nesting boxes and they let us know when the chickens have laid.” The chickens seem pretty happy sitting on their nests in the chicken coop. If they knew Easter was around the corner, they might not be so happy!
Mac Dee Dee's Farm is one of the largest 100% organic farms in the entire United States and it takes a lot of work to run it, especially when it's planting time. “Tiring as it is at the end of the day,” Mac Dee Dee says, “the thought that people are happier and healthier because of the way we raise our crops and animals makes me feel great inside, and I thank God for that.”
Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan, Joy Hammond
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