Chop Chop - Time to Chop Silage
Our team started chopping silage last week. With the dry conditions we are experiencing, we are chopping our corn silage earlier than usual. This corn will be chopped, piled and fed to our cattle this winter.
Scenes of Spring - part 2
Spring has finally arrived here at T-T Ranch. The last month has kept us busy getting cows out to pastures and starting the "Circle of Life" again, with the bulls meeting their new girlfriends a couple of weeks ago. There is one group of heifers left to artificially inseminate this week, and then we will have all of the cattle out to pasture. We will be getting haying equipment ready and moving on to getting ready for the next calving season.
We have been blessed to have a new member on our team since January. Jace Zeit is an intern from Kansas State University, who will be with us until August. He has been an incredible team member and we have truly appreciated all of his hard work. We wouldn't be able to do all of the things we do here at T-T Ranch without the help of Jace and the rest of our team!
Scenes of spring - Part 1
After a long winter, spring is finally here. At T-T Ranch, that means one thing - everyone is busy. While our operation has both crop and cattle enterprises, this blog update will focus on the crop side. Next time, we will give you a glimpse of the ongoing activities related to our beef cattle herd.
On the crop side of our operation, seeding is underway. This year we will grow barley, durum, corn and soybeans on our North Dakota farm. Historically, we've always planted a large portion of our acres to small grains (barley and durum). However, due to several different factors, we will not plant as many small grain acres this year. In fact, this will be the fewest acres of small grains we've ever planted.
The late spring prevented us from getting in the field as early as we would've liked, so we have had to change our planting plans several times. Plans continue to change on a daily basis. Today is May 14 and the frost is still coming out, which makes it extremely difficult to plant because fields are still fairly wet. However, we feel very fortunate that we've already started seeding, because some farmers haven't been able to start yet.
As of today, 100 percent of the barley acres and 95 percent of the durum acres are planted. We have also planted 50 percent of our corn acres and 25 percent of our soybean acres.
Spring is one of the busiest times of the year at T-T Ranch, and it requires all hands on deck (even the next generation helps with planting, check out the pictures below). We are thankful for everyone who works hard this time of year, including seed and chemical dealers, mechanics and crop scouts, just to name a few!
Today is National Farmers Day. A day to honor those who have devoted their lives to the agricultural industry. I am part of a family with deep ties to agriculture, and I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to grow up immersed in farm life.
T-T Ranch is a fourth-generation family farm in central North Dakota. If I had the time, I would love to share the story of how my great grandpa started our farm and how it has grown over the years thanks to dedication, hard work and sacrifice. I’ll save that story for another day. Today, I want to share with you why I am personally thankful for my dad, brothers and farmers everywhere for what they do 365 days a year.
My dad is the third generation of Topp men to be responsible for T-T Ranch. I don’t know anyone who is more knowledgeable or passionate about agriculture. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from following my dad around on the farm. He taught me how to rake hay, drive a combine, unload a truck at the elevator, test grain samples…any task a farm kid needs to know, he taught me! Dad – thank you for teaching me everything I know about agriculture and for encouraging me to pursue a career in this industry. Most of all, thank you for sharing your passion for agriculture with you kids, and now your grandkids.
My brothers are the fourth generation of owner/operators of our family farm and ranch. They grew up alongside my dad and grandpa Kenny checking fields, driving tractor, working cows and everything in between. There was never a doubt in my mind that these two would one day take over the farm. As their sister, I am so proud to see them carrying on the family tradition and ensuring that our operation is around for the next generation. Jason and Justin – thank you for the long hours you devote to carrying on our family legacy and being passionate about what you do.
My grandpa Kenny and grandpa Ed were also farmers. I often wish I still had the opportunity to ask them questions about how agriculture has evolved since they started farming. I’m sure they would be amazed at the technology involved in today’s farming operations. I also have uncles and cousins who are, or have been, farmers/ranchers. Agriculture runs deep in our family, and I am so thankful for that.
In addition to my family's involvement in agriculture, there are more than 3 million farmers in the United States. These men and women each have unique stories. Some of them come from family farms and are carrying on their own family legacy. Others are the first generation in their family to be involved in production agriculture. Whether you’ve been involved in farming/ranching your whole life or are just getting started, thank you for pursuing a career in this industry.
Today is for each of the 3.2 million U.S. farmers/ranchers who dedicate their lives to producing the food, fiber and fuel for Americans and people around the world. If you haven’t done so already, take a minute to thank a farmer in your life. If you don’t know a farmer, we would love to have a conversation with you, answer questions you have and connect you with a farmer who you can contact to learn more about where your food comes from.
Farmers – thank you for everything you do today and every day!
Last weekend was a rough one for the Topp family as we had to say goodbye to our family dog, Duke, who arrived at T-T Ranch nearly 12 years ago. Unfortunately, we learned earlier this summer that he was suffering from cancer. It seems silly to be so distraught over the loss of an animal, but after so many years together he really was a member of our family. The funny thing is, we never should’ve had Duke (or any of our dogs) in the first place. Since we live so close to a major road, Dad never wanted us to have dogs growing up, but a family friend surprised us with a Golden Retriever puppy in 1991 and we’ve had a dog at the farm ever since (thanks, uncle Ron!).
Duke was extra special to me, because I convinced dad we should get another dog after our dog Chance died from a rare infection (we weren’t supposed to get another one, but Dad always said I should be a lawyer!). I remember looking on the internet and scouring through classified ads in the newspaper, until I found a listing for Golden Retriever puppies. I still remember going with dad to pick up Duke – one of many special father-daughter outings we’ve had over the years.
Each of our dogs were true farms dogs (not inside pets), but as long as they were clean, there were two places in the house that they could be – on the rug in the office or front entryway. As Duke got older, mom would sometimes let him lay on a rug in the kitchen, and when Rami and Jason moved into the farm house they took over loving and spoiling our aging pup. Duke spent most of his days in the back of dad’s pickup, going with him wherever he went. Dad could spend all day at the elevator or be in the field for hours, but Duke always patiently waited for him – he loved rides in the pickup. In the winter, when it was too cold to go with dad and too cold to be outside for very long, Duke kept mom company in the office. When it was really hot, he would go to the shop, otherwise you could find him on the deck or laying by the office door. Whenever I would return from college or for the weekend, he was always there to greet me and get as much loving as he could before I had to leave.
There are a few things that Duke loved most of all – pickup rides with dad, sitting in the office with mom, table scraps and snow. And he loathed cats and thunderstorms – I’d never seen him run faster than when he spotted a cat wandering across the yard!
It seems silly to be so sad over the loss of a dog, when so many tragic things are going on in our state, nation and world. However, Duke truly was a member of our family. We each have many fond memories of Duke, and I am forever grateful that my dad caved and let us get him. As hard as it was to say goodbye, we are thankful that he is no longer in pain. The farm isn’t quite the same without our “puppy Duke.”
After a busy summer of baling hay, fixing fence, hauling cows to pasture, spraying fields and much more, it's time for harvest. Last week our team worked to swath barley fields that were ready to be cut. Today, the combines started up marking the start of harvest 2017 at T-T Ranch.
Like planting and calving, harvest is one of the busiest times of the year on the farm, and it requires everyone's help. Our team works hard to service equipment, combine the crop, haul grain, dump trucks, move equipment and prepare meals. Harvest time means all hands on deck! We are thankful for our team who works hard and puts in many long hours during this time of year.
Harvest is also a time to look back on the growing season and be thankful. This year is no exception. With farmers and ranchers across much of North Dakota struggling with extremely dry conditions, we are thankful for the rain we have gotten that have helped our crops and pastures grow. As many of our neighbors and friends prepare for harvest on their own operations, we pray that they have bountiful and safe harvests as well.
Stay tuned for more pictures and updates throughout the harvest season.
P.S. Check out the link to the YouTube video below. Harvest Time, by Luke Bryan, is a song that is very fitting for this time of year. It's definitely harvest time in the little town of Grace City!
Spring is in full swing here on the farm. This time of year is always a busy time for everyone. We thought we’d give you a glimpse at some of the activities that have been going on at T-T Ranch this spring.
The last month has been a busy season for the cattle side of our operation. We have been checking pasture fences, branding calves, hauling mommas and babies out to pastures greening with the first new grass of the season. The start of a new life cycle is underway as well. We started artificially inseminating (AI) heifers the second week of May, followed by a group of cows the end of that week, and the bulls went out to the pasture the following week. We still have one more group of heifers to AI the last week of May, then it’s up to the bulls to take care of their business.
Planting is well underway on the farm as well. We are finally back in the field after a few days of no activity because it was too wet. We are all done planting corn, durum and barley. After last Friday, May 18, we are about 75 percent done planting soybeans. It will be slow going to get the last 25 percent of the soybeans planted, because those acres are extremely wet. Pinto beans are back in our crop rotation for the first time in three years. We haven’t started plantings the pinto beans yet, but hope to get started in the next week. Most acres were in really good shape this year, but there is definitely more water than last year. This year we didn’t start seeding until May 3. In 2016 we were completely done with planting by May 14. Our small grain acres are a little lower this year due to wet fields and fewer small grain contracts. Corn and soybeans acres stayed close to the same.
As you can see, it takes a lot of time and effort from everyone to get the crops planted and cattle out to pasture. Even the youngest Topp family members get to help with the springtime activities.
Welcome to our blog
Today, T-T Ranch is excited to unveil our updated website that also includes a blog, where you will find updates on our operation as well as information about production agriculture and issues important to our industry.
Jessie will be the blogger for our family, but everyone on the operation will provide photos and content input from time-to-time. It is our hope that this blog will give you a glimpse into our family farm and ranch, and also learn about the agricultural industry.
Those of us in production agriculture have not done a very good job of being transparent and telling our story. As a result, others have told our story and unfortunately they've painted an untrue picture of family farms and the agricultural industry. Our family has decided that we want to share our story with you, in hopes that you can learn about agriculture from a family is directly involved in the industry.
Stay tuned for regular updates from the farm. If you have questions about anything ag-related or just want to learn more about our operation, reach out to us via the contact page of our website or the comments section below.
Everyone helps contribute photos and content ideas from time to time; however, Jessie is the primary writer of blog posts on our site.