Mark Thomas, Stark County
“We milk 400 cows and farm 2,000 acres. Around 75% of the crops go for the cattle, whether it is corn silage, alfalfa or wheat for straw. We sell the wheat grain, soybeans and some of the corn. We typically have around 650 acres of corn, 650 of soybeans, 300 of wheat, and 350 acres of hay. We also grow some sudangrass for cattle feed. We don’t have set numbers, but we try to make a solid rotation based on what the year throws at us.
“Our wheat is going to be a 75% to 80% crop this year. I have a field that will go for crop insurance. Where it is nice it is beautiful, where it is not, there is nothing. I got the N on in March and the fertilizer and the warm weather have it looking nice.
“It looks like in another two weeks we could be making first cutting alfalfa. I am totally mystified by this. We are down 3,000 pounds of milk a day because the cows still have their Carhartts on. They still have their winter coats and it was 85 degrees. Those little girls are walking around with their tongues hanging out in March while I’m wearing shorts and sleeveless t-shirt at five in the morning. Tonight they are calling for temperatures in the 20s.
“There have been guys planting oats and alfalfa like crazy, but I haven’t seen anybody planting corn. There are a lot of guys burning stuff down. If it frosts, I am not sure what will happen to these alfalfa fields and all the trees that are flowering already. We’re not out of the woods yet.
“There is also a lot of manure to haul. We got out there whenever we could this winter to haul manure. It has been an issue, but not a catastrophe for us. Normally we’re empty by now, but we’re only a little less than half full.
“We normally no-till everything, but I am going to have to chisel plow a lot of ground this spring to fix what we tore up last fall. I am optimistic that if things keep going how they are, we will get off to a good start. I love to just go out and work everyday instead of dancing around the weather. It will be an interesting year, but Walt Disney was interesting, Charles Manson was interesting and Adolf Hitler was interesting too. I’m hoping for a Walt Disney kind of interesting for 2012.”
Meet our three other Between the Rows farmers Jim Herring, Billy Pontius and Mark Dowden see what they have to say.