A Fall To-Do List on the Farm

Posted on September 23, 2016

As Fall approaches, the end of the harvest season nears. To prepare for next year’s harvest season, it’s important to stay organized and on top of your business. Here are a few other jobs to add to your “to-do” list before winter comes:

 

Soil Testing

It’s important to test your soil before winter comes to see which nutrients your pasture needs in order to deliver the most advantageous growing conditions for the upcoming harvest season.

 

Rotational Grazing

To build a good base of grass, have your farm on a rotation of at least every 30 days to build your pasture effectively. Pasture cover will build up by extending the grazing rotation, which will allow for clean growth in the final stages. If you are looking for a guide to rotational grazing, check out this guide from the US Department of Agriculture.

 

 

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Rest the Pasture

After rotational grazing, it is important to give the pasture time to recover for the grass to remain healthy and your farm to remain profitable. After 1-2 weeks of grazing, let the pasture rest for about 30 days. If your farm is overgrazed, give it a break for the rest of the year to replenish nutrients for the next harvest season.

 

Weed Control

Fall is also an excellent time to control perennial weeds with an herbicide. However, the ideal timing can vary depending on the type of plant and its life cycle. As temperatures decline, cool-season perennials can be treated such as dandelion and quackgrass. To effectively control these weeds, be sure that they have fully recovered from any drought, mowing, or summer harvests, and limit mowing to less than 4 times a year.

 

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Fertilize

Maintain healthy soil for the next harvest season by fertilizing the pasture in the Fall. A soil test will help you understand which nutrients to add or avoid to balance out the field and produce the best yields next year.

 

Inspect and Repair

Check all buildings, equipment, heaters, and gates to see if anything needs to be repaired. It can be much easier to make these repairs while the weather is still somewhat mild rather than waiting until the dead of winter. Also, it is a good idea to prepare all buildings for mice. As the weather starts to cool off, mice become attracted to warm areas and make their way from the fields to nearby buildings.

 

AgVenture Feed and Seed your trusted partner in farming

 

Prepare for Cooler Weather

Fall is unpredictable, so make sure you have your machinery and equipment maintained and ready to go to take advantage of milder Fall weather. As temperatures start to decline and the wind begins to increase, livestock will need shelter. Tend to your animals’ needs and stock up on extra feed since livestock eat more in cold weather to maintain energy and warmth.

 

Be Careful

Be extra careful during fall harvest season. As the season begins to change, the amount of work and duties on the farm changes too. It’s important that farmers get plenty of rest and stay focused so mistakes can be prevented and avoided.

 

Fall is a very busy season for area farmers. Prepare your farm with help from Agventure. Visit our Knowledge center page for more Fall harvest tips or contact us for more information.

 

Agriculture At the Minnesota State Fair

Posted on August 19, 2016

It's that time of year again; The Minnesota State Fair is opening its gates! An important change in the State Fair over the years has been the attractions offered to all the visitors. The character of early fairs was mostly agricultural exhibits and competitions, reflecting its original purpose of farming in Minnesota. Today, you will find much more at the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

 

Keeping with traditions old and new, the 2016 State Fair has it all. If you're looking to teach a little agriculture to your kids, take a trip to the fair. Put their brain to work with hands-on activities and shows. During the 12 days of the fair, there will be tons of opportunities for all ages to learn about life on the farm. Here is a list of some events offered at this year's Minnesota State Fair:

 

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Moo, Baa & Oink Booths

This is a great exhibit to show the farm-to-table experience. Here, you will meet a cow-calf pair, see machine milking up close and even get to hand-milk a cow. Going off the theme of the Moo Booth, the Oink Booth will feature the workings of a pig farm and the special care it takes. An added bonus of this booth is that visitors will get to see a sow and piglets up close!

 

Aisle of Breeds and EquiMania

These are two great exhibits for the horse enthusiast, showcasing the wide variety of breeds and types of horses. Covering topics like nutrition, behavior, careers, welfare, anatomy and much more, the Aisle of Breeds and EquiMania are perfect attractions for horse-lovers. Be sure to stop by and get all your questions answered by the horse owners themselves.

 

CHS Miracle of Birth Center

The birth of an animal is an amazing, one-of-a-kind experience for all ages. This exhibit features the birth of nearly 200 calves, lambs, goats and piglets during the 12 days of the fair. Showing the quality of life to all ages since 2001, this free exhibit is always a must-see.

 

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Hen House

This new exhibit brings with it a great experience about modern poultry housing designs. It also shows how farmers are using different egg production systems to produce a safer food for consumption. Anyone who enjoys good breakfast foods will find this exhibit interesting.

 

Little Farm Hands

Here is the chance for your little ones to know what it’s like to work on a farm. This exhibit has miniature barns, grain bins, and even a tractor yard. Little farm hands will help with chores like planting crops and tending to animals. With a new edition this year, the little farm hands will learn about pollution, honey bees, soil erosions, and many more other issues that affect our agriculture and environment.

 

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The Dirt

The name says it all; this exhibit focuses on a farmer’s main asset—the land. Discuss agricultural disease, growing crops, keeping honey bees, gardening, urban gardening and much more. Don’t miss out on the amazing speakers at this 12-day exhibit.  

 

Take a look at the Minnesota State Fair’s website for more details about these educational events and any new additions. Check out the See the Animals tab on the Minnesota State Fair website to know where and when animals will be on the fairgrounds throughout the 12 days of the fair.

 


Harvest Season Safety Tips

Posted on July 25, 2016

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When harvest season arrives again in Minnesota, hours upon hours of work will be spent in fields across the state. Farmers range from young to old, new to experienced, so it’s always a good idea to focuses on encouraging awareness of safe farm practices. Follow these tips for a healthy and safe harvest this year.

 

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Child Safety

Farms in Minnesota are mainly run by families, so children are typically doing their part to help the family business. Education is very important, so talk with children about safety before harvest starts.

  • Supervise children at all times while farm equipment is running in the area. Make sure farm equipment operators are also keeping a watchful eye out for children, because they aren’t always looking out for you

  • It’s important to give children age-appropriate tasks when including them in farm chores

  • Keeping equipment cleaned and in its proper place around the farm is important; this reduces the unnecessary hazards and prevents issues when children are outside

 

Farm Equipment Safety

Farm equipment is very powerful and also extremely dangerous. Farming accidents claim around 1,300 lives and cause 120,000 injuries a year in the United States. Sadly, many of them are also preventable. Follow some of these equipment tips to keep the farm safe this harvest:

  • Keep children away from farming equipment unless an experienced operator is present

  • Clean and inspect all farming equipment regularly

  • Remember to always stop the engine and wait for all moving parts to stop, before servicing, adjusting, cleaning, or unclogging equipment

  • Hitch loads to the drawbar only. When using three-point rear hitches, add front end weights to maintain stability and control steering


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During harvest season, road safety is a concern for everyone including rural drivers, passing farm machinery and the farm equipment operators themselves. Here are some tips to keep in mind to keep everyone safe:

  • Farm equipment typically drives around 25 MPH or less, so be prepared to take your time. Being in a rush creates unnecessary risk for yourself and other drivers

  • Keep a safe distance from other drivers. Not everyone realizes how difficult it is to maneuver, slow down, or stop in a large piece of farming equipment

  • Farm equipment requires wide turns. Be sure to use your blinkers or clear hand signals for turns and give surrounding drivers plenty of warning beforehand

  • Before you travel, make sure all lights and flashers are properly working and use them at all times while driving on any roadway

  • Use SMV’s or slow-moving vehicle emblems if farm equipment is traveling less than 30 MPH

 

The AgVenture Team wants to wish you all a safe and successful harvest this year. When it comes time to set up next year’s cropping plan, contact Agventure for all your needs.

 


Keeping Up with the Chrysanthemums: Summer Gardening Tips

Posted on May 26, 2016

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Summer is just about here. The initial preparations of planning, planting, and cleaning your garden are behind you, now comes the summer gardening months of maintenance. Check out our tips below to help you keep and update your garden into the summer months:
 

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Set up support. As your plants begin to grow large (especially tomatoes and vining plants) they will need support to grow. Add cages, trellises, stakes, or your own DIY ideas to help you out.
 

Water. Then water. Then water some more. As the hot weather begins to arrive, it is important to increase your watering schedule. If there is less than one inch of rainfall over the course of a week, you need to water your plants. Be sure to water the roots of the plant, not the foliage.
 

Get rid of weeds. Cultivating the ground in your garden helps keep weeds at bay. For those that have already sprouted, be sure to get as much of the root as possible without harming the plants you intended to grow. If you are finished seeding, consider a product like Preen to stop further seed germination (i.e. weeds) from taking root. Plants will not be harmed, but any seeds you plant won’t break the surface.
 

Deadhead flowers that have finished blooming, like petunias, phlox, and daisies. Blossoms that have finished blooming can deter more blossoms throughout the summer. Deadheading might seem tedious, but it will ensure that you have the most blossoms you can get during the season.
 

Keep an eye out for pests. The chill of spring is behind us and the bugs are officially out! You’ll need to protect your plants from an array of bugs, like aphids, beetles, and caterpillars. Check out gardeners.com for a comprehensive list of bugs, animals, and diseases that can wreak havoc on your garden and how to defend your garden against them.
 

macro-688198_640.jpgPlant annual flowers. Now that it is warm enough and we are finally free of frost risks, plant a few annual flowers to brighten up your garden. Annuals aren’t the top choice for every gardener, but certain varieties have plant-related powers. For instance, many animals (such as deer and rabbits) do not like the smell or taste of marigolds. Planting then around the exterior of your garden is a good pesticide-free way of deterring certain animals. And nicotiana plants, chrysanthemums, and ageratum (aka floss flowers) are great at repelling mosquitoes!
 

Plant summer bulbs. June is a good month to plant perennial bulbs, like cannas, gladiolus, lilies, and dahlias. These plants will bloom from late summer into fall.
 

Summer garden care is not  just weeding, watering, and mowing the lawn – there is still plenty to do in your garden after the initial spring planting. For a month-by-month guide to the growing season, check out NYBG.org.
 

For fertilizer, lawn mixes, specialty seeds, and more, visit our website.

 

Being a Good Pet Owner: Pet Week 2016

Posted on May 01, 2016

May 1-7 is the 35th anniversary of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s National Pet Week. As such, we’d like to take the time to think about what it means to be a good pet owner:

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The Basics

Of course, we all know what it takes to physically keep a pet – food, water, and shelter being the big three. As pets grow, these needs change. Different breeds of animals need different nutrition, as do growing baby and aging senior pets. Research your pet’s breed and history and ask your vet advice on keeping your four-legged pal in tip-top shape.

 

Happiness needs are a little tougher to deliver. Making sure your pet gets enough attention and exercise are vital. Often, pets that are labeled “naughty” or “unruly” are simply bored or lonely. It is important to be understanding of the needs of an animal before you own it. For example, if you live in a studio apartment and are not home much, a large, active dog would not be very happy living with you. It can be  tough, but an animal’s happiness is important to think about, not just your own.

 

Health Needs

Besides knowing the basic needs of your pet, it is important to understand how much attention and commitment it takes to keep your pet happy and healthy. You pet can’t tell you when it feels uncomfortable or when it is in pain, so it is up to you to take them on regular trips to the vet. This also includes getting your pet spayed or neutered, keeping up with their vaccinations, and providing monthly treatments for fleas, ticks, and worms.

 

Be selective when it comes to picking a vet for your furry friend. It may seem like the best option is someone nearby in case of a medical emergency, but most often, your veterinary needs are much more basic. Pick a vet with the same criteria you would use when picking a doctor for yourself. Ask friends, look up reviews, and be sure to do plenty of research before you settle on a vet.

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Investments

Sadly, many people become pet owners on impulse, not after they have thought through the responsibilities that come with owning a pet. This is a large contribution to the overpopulation problem. The truth is, pet ownership is not cheap, it takes dedication and consistency, and isn’t anywhere close to as easy as it looks – sometimes it can be downright frustrating. If you are prepared to make an investment, however, is completely worth it.

 

Making Preparations

You might not want to think about it, but it is important to consider the “what ifs” of pet ownership. What if you pet gets very ill? What if you move in with someone who is allergic? What if there is a fire and you need to evacuate quickly? All the contingency plans you make for yourself should include your pet. Pro tip: keep a rainy day budget in case your pet has unexpected health issues. That way, seemingly tough decisions about your pet can perhaps be a little bit easier to make.

 

For more information on keeping a happy, healthy pet, check out some of our older blogs, or visit the AVMA’s website to read Seven Days to a happier, healthier pet.

 

From all of us at AgVenture, have a very happy pet week!

 


5 Tips on Caring for Chicks

Posted on April 07, 2016

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Spring in Minnesota is busting! Flowers are beginning to bloom, trees are budding, and baby chicks are hatching! Just like many baby animals, baby chicks are adorable and lovable. However, they can be a handful. It is important to know the responsibilities that come along with raising chicks before you make the commitment!

In preparing to raise baby chicks, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

Have a clear schedule:

Baby chicks require constant care and monitoring for the first 4 weeks. Be sure that you don’t have any big commitments that will take away from your time with the chicks. You or another caretaker should check on the chicks at least 5 times a day.

Decide where they will live:

Have a warm, spacious, protected area for your chicks to live. The space requirements of new chicks are quite small because of their size. Space requirements include half of a square foot per chick initially, three-quarters of a square foot per chick once they are 6 weeks, and 1 square foot per chick after 10 weeks.

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Create a suitable living environment:

The most important part of raising a happy and healthy chicken is making sure the living conditions meet all of the basic necessities. It all starts with absorbent bedding, plenty of water, nutritious food sprinkled with grit, and most importantly, a good heating source. When you think heating for a baby chick, think sauna! The chicks need to start at a temp of 95° F. The temperature can continue to go down 5°F each week until the chicks go outside. During their time under the heat lamp, it is important to watch their behavior. If they stray too far aways from the light, they are too hot and if they are all huddled together, they may be too cold.

Important health notes:

Upon receiving your baby chicks it is important to check for “Pasting up” – a sign that they are not digesting their feed correctly. This can cause deadly conditions for your chick and must be dealt with immediately. It is also important once you receive your chicks to make sure that they are getting the right amount of water before they are fed. If they aren't finding the  water, pick an especially spritely one and gently put its beak into the water, the others will then follow. This tactic will also work for their food!

Ongoing care:

To keep your chicks in good health as they become full grown chickens, it is important that you provide them with a consistent supply of energy, protein, essential amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and water.

If you are interested in raising chicks, you won't want to miss out on “Chick Days” going on now at our Watkins, MN location. Customers can order chicks through us from Hoover's Hatchery in Iowa, which are delivered Wednesday, March 16th & 30th, April 13th & 27th, and May 11th & 25th.

These steps are essential in raising healthy baby chickens. Visit our website to learn more about our poultry products and ongoing poultry health for your new flock.

 

5 Things to Consider When Buying Dog Food

Posted on February 04, 2016

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Everyday dog parents are faced with a variety of choices to keep your pet safe, healthy, and strong. The most important decision you will face when it comes to your dog is deciding which kind of food is best for their needs. This choice is made more difficult when you are presented with the vast array of choices in today’s pet food market. How can you tell which food is best for you dogs specific needs? Here are a few factors to look for:

 

  1. Carbohydrates and Grains

Grains are often used in dog food to provide carbohydrates and a good source of energy for active dogs. Grains also help keep your dog’s digestive system in good health. If your dog is one that has allergies to carbohydrates, options such as soy, beans, rice, oats, corn, barley and wheat are good alternatives. Take a look at some of these grain free options.

 

  1. Protein

Protein can come from a variety of sources: chicken, beef, salmon and rabbit are a few examples. When looking at the protein in your dog's food, be sure to check the ingredients list. The most nutritious dog foods will have the name of the meat as the first ingredient and then list it again before it lists the fat source.

 

  1. Oils and Fats

Oils and fats are often thought of as a bad thing. However, they are completely necessary when it comes to your dog's health. These provide energy and flavor and encourage vitamin absorption. They can also help your dog keep a shiny, healthy coat. Finding a dog food that offers omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids means they are considered a high-quality dog food.

 

  1. Vegetables

Although vegetables are not necessary in your dog's food, they provide a variety of vitamins and minerals. Some vegetables to avoid include onions, garlic or mushrooms. These aren’t included in typical dog food, as they are highly toxic to dogs, but they are good to keep in mind.

 

  1. Preservatives

When looking at your dog's food, you should be looking for natural preservatives like tocopherols and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Theses are the preservatives that help your dog's food stay fresh and not spoil.

 

Considering these factors can be one of the best things you do for your pet. Choosing the best dog food will not only improve your dog's immune system, it will also keep their digestive system in good health, and keep their hair coat shiny and sleek. A great example of high-quality pet food is Nutrisource Premium Pet Food. Take a short quiz to find what kind of food is best for your pet, and be sure to stop in our Watkins, MN location to pick some up! From now until February 14, 2016, you’ll receive $2 off a 30lb+ bag of NutriSource Dog Food!

 

Gardening in the Winter

Posted on January 29, 2016

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Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that gardening season is over. It is actually fairly simple to grow vegetables and have flowers blooming all year long. Although it may seem impossible, some flowers and vegetables actually grow better in the cold weather. Cold-weather gardening is not for everyone, but it is great for people who are looking to keep up with the fertility of their garden’s soil throughout the seasons and are looking to save money at the grocery store. Here are some different methods to try this winter:

 

Raised beds: These beds can be made of stone, bricks, concrete, or lumber – either treated or untreated. The soil inside of a well-made and maintained bed can be 8-12 degrees warmer than the surrounding soil. They are great for growing vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli during the fall and winter.


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Underground Greenhouse: Although an average greenhouse can do the job, underground greenhouses are typically less expensive to construct and heat throughout the winter. This earth-sheltered greenhouse draws heat from the thermal mass of the earth and is topped with solar panels to take in the heat from the sun, making this option to be much more affordable to heat.

 

Windbreaks or walls: Windbreaks are structures that stop the wind from getting to plants. They can be anything from the side of a house or shed to a line of trees. Having some kind of windbreak can lead to big improvements in garden yields. You can add 10-15 degrees of warmth to your winter garden by taking advantage of windbreaks and walls.

 

There you have it, just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to hang up your gardening gloves. You just have to learn to work around the snow and make sure you have your winter gardening planned out before the snow gets too deep. Nothing will give you greater joy in the winter then to see fresh vegetables and blooming flowers. Happy gardening!

 

The Gift of One More Day

Posted on December 30, 2015

Happy Holidays from everyone at AgVenture.  For some, this past year has been a wonderful year of happy memories, successes and good living. For others, the year was filled with trials, losses and hardship – sometimes in unbearable ways. The gift of one more day is a reminder that, as long as we are given breath to live, all we are called to do is get through one day at a time. 

This past year in agriculture has been one of challenging markets. Although we are not unfamiliar with low milk prices and commodity markets, we still feel a certain amount of angst as we try to navigate our way through these downturns. I recall someone asking me when the economy starting crashing several years ago if I was scared for my business. I quickly responded that, when you’ve been through great personal tragedy, the potential downturns in our professional lives are pale in comparison to what hard times could be. Besides, farmers are a resilient bunch who just keep pressing on since we are used to market fluctuations. 

I’ve often heard people comment when going through uncertain times that “I just wonder why I do this as a career”. No doubt, in periods of extreme stress and trial, we’ve all thought this and perhaps said this comment out loud – myself included. The reason we keep going is because we love what we do, we are invested more than just financially and it is our passion. For me, the reasons are all of these and much more. AgVenture is more than “just business”. I doubt that something can be “just business” when we have the privilege of working with awesome customers and amazing employees who are like family. This part of our work is truly one of the greatest gifts of all. 

We want to extend our gratitude for you – our customers and our friends who turn our efforts into invaluable worth.  We believe in all you do, we fully support your hard work and are dedicated to your success.  Thank you for being a part of our days and for supporting our passion to bring success to you, our customers, who make our work so fulfilling.  We are thankful for the opportunity to be a part of your passion and hopeful futures.  

As we celebrate the season of Christmas and the New Year, we honor those we are suffering the loss of loved ones or are going through trials. We all know that the holidays can be the toughest times of all. I encourage you to contemplate the gift of one more day that you have been given in your own lives. Our wish for you this holiday season is to know the true value of each day and of all the wonderful people in your lives.  Thank you for being those people to me and to all of us at AgVenture!  

-Sandy Hansen-Wolff & Everyone at AgVenture


DIY Gift Ideas for your Furry Friend

Posted on December 23, 2015

 

Pets are a big part of the family and deserve to be spoiled like the rest of us. Don’t leave your pet digging through the leftover wrapping paper from your holiday gifts just hoping that there is a present left for them. Here are some fun DIY holiday gift ideas for your pet:


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  1. DIY Doggy Treats: You can never go wrong with giving a dog food. Try these healthy homemade peanut butter dog treats. They only need a few ingredients and about 50 minutes of your time and your dog will love them!
     

  2. DIY Cat Tent: All you need is an old t-shirt and some extra household materials to create a cozy tent for your cat to nap in between play sessions.
     

  3. Rope Tug Toy: This no-sew fleece dog rope is easy to customize for your dog depending on size and activity level. Not only is this a good gift for the dog in your life, it is also a good project for the kids to make on a snow day.
     

  4. DIY Pet collar: For those of you looking for a truly unique and one of a kind gift for your pet this holiday season, a DIY pet collar is the right gift for you! You can choose from a variety of colors and material to create a collar most fitting to your furry friend.

 

Embrace the sentiment behind watching your pet enjoy one (or all) of your homemade gifts this holiday season. If you are interesting in more gifts for your pet but don’t have the time to create any yourself, be sure to stop by Agventure at our Watkins, MN location to check out our selection of pet toys and accessories.

 

From all of us at Agventure Feed and Seed, have a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year!