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MAY 2018

A high-tech
St. Joseph County’s
irrigation claim
Taking it from still holds true
Associate of

Applied Science in


Every day is a good day to b

e in agriculture.

Associate of

Applied Science in

- MSU Concentration

Glen Oaks
62249 Shimmel Rd. | Centreville, MI 269.467.9945 |
May 2018
Volume 1 Number 1

Orestes Baez

Managing/Design Editor
Candice Phelps

High-dollar, Contributing Writers

high-risk crops
Julia Baratta
18 Jamie Barrand
Rosalie Currier

High-Tech Farming .........................6

Christy Harris
Nancy Hastings
Andrew King

Farm to Fork ...............................10

Regional Advertising Director
Lisa Vickers
Advertising Representatives

Supply Stop ................................14

Justine Angel
Judy Broadworth
Malinda Robedeau

David Trippett

Graphic Artists

Shear Exhilaration ........................22

Courtney Hambright
Carla Ludwick
Bobbie Reed
Homegrown Michigan

Spring Safety ...............................26

is published by
STURGIS Sturgis Journa
MEDIA Gateway Shopp

4-H Preparation ...........................28

205 E. Chicago Road Sturgis, MI
(269) 651-5407
Copyright © 2018
Homegrown Michigan
is published three times a year:
ON THE COVER: May, July, September
Jay Williams of Waldron’s Stoney Ridge Farms.
Waldron Grain &
St y le ?
Fuel Co., Inc.
Buyers of Grain
Since 1943
Currently Forward Contracting
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efore the sun was up this morning, someone got

B up and milked their cows. A farmer went to the

barn and started up the tractor, preparing for a
day of providing food for mealtimes around the
nation. A Farm Bureau member made plans to attend a
Congressional hearing and shared his or her point of
view. A teacher prepared for a day of teaching teenagers,
hoping for a spark to ignite a passion for agriculture.
It is a very ‘ag’-citing time to be involved in agriculture.
Though many are four to five generations away from the
farm, they are interested in how their food, flowers, fibers
and furniture come into being. The farming community is
ready and willing to talk, show and share their work with
the world.
A common prefix has been taking the dictionary by
storm: Ag — Agvocacy, AgrAbility, Agventure,
Ag Lending and
Ag Education are just
some that come to
mind and as public
interest increases, I am
sure there will be those
Julia Baratta

clever folks who will

come up with a few more. These phrases are important to
this industry as farmers show the integral working of life
on the farm.
And it’s not just big farms with big tractors, acres and
animals. People are looking to experience portions of the
farm lifestyle with small investments and production.
The owner of an orchard who wants to improve her fruit
harvest adds bees for pollination and honey to her
product line. The shepherd with lambs appreciates the
extra milk produced by the ewes and experiments with
soap making. Gardeners have the ability to purchase and
raise seeds that came to America via the Mayflower and Call us to make repairs
then save them for the next year’s harvest. Innovative
people are applying for grants and receiving herds of
on your aluminum truck.
goats to clean lands of invasive plants and weeds. These
are just a small representation of the combinations of
We have the equipment to
plants, animals and people working to provide for each GET THE JOB DONE!
of us.
Just as plants and animals need sunshine and rain, we • Total Auto Body Work
realize, on a daily basis, how many requirements to living • Minor Dent Repair
are planted, cared for, harvested and raised. We would • And Much More!
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via the hardworking men and women who are
“outstanding in their fields.”
Join us as we share their stories in Homegrown Your Local Auto Body Experts!
Michigan. ❖
26665 W. US-12 • Sturgis • 269-651-8285
Julia Baratta is a resident of Sherwood.


At a glance, Waldron farmer Jay Williams can track the soil quality, moisture level
and types of seeds planted on any portion of his 1,300 acres.

Story & Photos by

Waldron farmer
Andrew King

o hear Jay Williams tell it, the farmer’s final

struggle is against the weather. With the help of
uses app rapidly advancing technology, farmers like
Williams— who owns and operates Waldron’s
Stoney Ridge Farms with his wife, Kelli— have taken
control of nearly every other aspect of the growing and
to track acres harvesting process.
“That’s the variable we can’t really control real well,” he
said of the weather, an especially unpredictable factor given
Michigan’s climate.
But on an iPad app called “Climate Field View,” Williams
can account for basically everything else across his 1,350
He can track the moisture, phosphorus and pH levels in
each area of the field. He can determine ahead of time
which varieties of seed will be planted where, tailoring his
approach to match each acre’s varying soil types. The corn
planters or air seeders that deposit those seeds auto-
navigate each field with the help of GPS, avoiding overlap.
At the end of the season, the combines that collect the yields
will do the same.
“If I want to plant 35,000 seeds per acre in a heavy soil
type and 27,000 in a sand soil type, I can write a
prescription so that when I go to a field with a corn
planter, it adjusts those automatically as we go across the
field,” Williams said.
This technology has come a long way since Williams’
farming career began in the early 1990s. As a high school
student, he worked on a neighbor’s farm before heading

off to Michigan State University to pursue an


undergraduate degree in ag/business.


During those years at MSU, Williams worked in the

Chip Smith

university’s Crop and Soils Lab. Through that job he got a


glimpse of the technology that would soon come to

upkeep on

define widespread, industry-standard practice.

the farm's

“That was when we were first trying to figure out how

air seeder.

we could engage technology into the combine cab to Those changes have enabled Williams and his team to
capture real-time yield data... The lab that I was affiliated take better care of their acreage, and better care of the
with at Michigan State did some of that work, and we environment. Advancements are a means to an end (and,
had cooperators around the state. We’d fill their combine Williams said, an expensive one at that), not an end in
cab full of computers and we’d harvest six rows of corn. and of itself.
Those of us who were undergrads would sit there and be “We’ve tried to build our business around being better
handpicking the corn next to that machine and we’d stewards so if we can do a better job of nutrient
spend the winter comparing our hand-picked data to the management and maximize production by putting things
data that came out of the combine, trying to refine that in the right places without negatively impacting the
technology,” Williams said. environment, that’s where we want to go,” Williams said.
“So, you go from that early in my career to now: It’s a “That’s one of the [things] that technology allows us to
little box in the combine cab giving you everything.” do." ❖

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Compiled by
Rosalie Currier

Farm-fresh produce is available

in nearly every community
via road-side stands or
farmers markets.
Here is a list of markets
in the area:

Branch County
Bronson, downtown
Saturdays, May-October, 8 a.m.-noon

Coldwater, Four Corners Park

Saturdays, June 23-Sept. 15, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Quincy, village park

Thursdays, June 7-Aug. 2, 7 p.m.

Union City
Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Hillsdale County
Hillsdale, county courthouse
Saturdays, May-October, 8 a.m. - noon

Hillsdale, library parking lot

Saturdays, June-October

St. Joseph County

Colon, Community Park
Saturdays, 8 a.m. - noon

Constantine, Rotary Park

Wednesdays, 2-6 p.m.

Mendon, Reed Riverside Park

Thursdays, May-October, 2-6 p.m.

Sturgis, TSC
Saturdays, May 12-October, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Three Rivers, Scidmore Park

Thursdays, May 31-Aug. 30, 1-6 p.m.

Mackenzie Koch,
Coldwater High School
and environmental and
agricultural science
student, and
Carson Rose, of
Bronson High School,
tend to the produce
planted by students.

Food delivery reduced to
food, producer, consumer
The concept of farm-to-fork is nothing new to
students in the culinary arts and hospitality
Story & Photos by

management and environmental and agricultural

Christy Harris

resh. That is what food should be. science programs at the Branch Area Careers
Since 2013, the market volume of fresh Center.
foods consumed in the United States has The two programs have worked together to create
steadily risen from nearly 72 million generations of fresh food
metric tons to an expected consumers for nearly
76 million metric tons in 15 years.
2018. Under the direction of Bill
With the rise in fresh Earl, who retired from
food consumption, Branch Intermediate School
paired with nearly 40 District in 2015, and Carrie
farm-to-table restaurants Preston, the EAS class
thriving in Michigan, joined forces with Kristen
eating fresh is not just a Dogan of the culinary arts
fad. In fact, the amount of program to cross-train
farm-to-fork restaurants, students in 2005.
community gardens and “The farm-to-fork
farmers markets across the movement is extremely
Lorisa McCleland, Coldwater High School and
U.S. has increased nearly relevant to both industries.
environmental and agricultural science student,

500 percent since 1994, Having our students

spends time with piglets that were born at

according to the U.S. develop these networking

Branch Area Careers Center in January.

Department of Agriculture. relationships as young people will not only prepare

them for future relationships, but they may build
What is farm-to-fork? on these foundational relationships,” Dogan said.
Since the two programs came together, students
Farm-to-fork promotes the direct transfer of food have participated in numerous projects, promoting
from producer to consumer. fresh-food consumption.
Consumers can eat fresh foods by way of Dogan said combined projects include processing,
shopping at local farmers markets, community butchering, fabrication and preparation, beef, fish
gardens or through a direct relationship with a raised aqua-culturally, pork, chickens and raising
producing farmer. and using herbs and vegetables from the

hydroponic garden. produce that will be used in
“The instructors develop a various dishes created by
lesson plan; students teach the culinary arts students.
other students based on Before Christmas, the
their expertise,” Dogan said. programs gifted 16 chicken
“For example, if the casseroles to the Naomi
students are filleting a fish, Davis Shelterhouse and
students with the most Branch Area Food Pantry.
experience will The casseroles, created by
demonstrate. When it’s time the culinary arts students,
to enter the kitchen, culinary used chickens raised by the
students are teamed with EAS students.
EAS students. All students Preston said EAS students
work in teams to discuss are raising fish that will be
benefits to shareholders, as used for a fillet next school
well as future year.
opportunities.” “I believe farm-to-fork is a
Bronson High School and win-win-win: chefs, farmers,
EAS student Carson Rose local economy,” Dogan said.
said, “It’s a great program “This community is
because it helps people surrounded by farmers,”
understand the importance said Chandler Butler,
of fresh food.” Quincy High School senior
Earlier this year, Rose and culinary arts student.
planted various fresh “In a community like ours,
produce from green beans to farm-to-fork really helps out
watermelon to hot peppers, each industry.” ❖
Culinary arts and hospitality management students
Hunter Kozlowski and Kaitlyn DanBury
create a dish using fresh products.

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Eicher’s supply store
One of Lee Eicher’s Friesian mares shows off in the field.

offers feed and seed

Supply Store. They offer a large inventory of
numerous brands ranging from basic livestock and
Story & Photos by

show feeds to dog food and wildlife seeds. They have

Julia Baratta

n 2015, Lee and Edith Eicher, along with their become a Kalmbach Feeds dealer, which includes a
family, opened Premier Enterprises, a business myriad of brands and choices.
offering a wide variety of outdoor, livestock and “They (Kalmbach) know the best products make the
barn needs. It continues to grow as Eicher shares best feed,” Eicher said. “Though we are small, we can
his passion for animal nutrition and care, and is get whatever anyone wants, just like the bigger
evident in his dedication to providing high-quality stores.”
products. Because of his twice weekly deliveries from
“I know what I sell,” Eicher said. “We offer Kalmbach in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, the customers
knowledge on what we sell. We want to be able to can receive these needs and desires in a timely
answer the customer’s questions.” manner. Eicher can order an item and possibly
In April, the name of the business was changed to receive it on the next shipment. The truck comes on
reflect the new focus: Premier Feeds LLC: Country Monday and Thursday, providing a way to offer

more inventory than he could store. Eicher
also offers deliveries for those who live
within 15 miles of the business.
Feed can be purchased by the bag or by the
ton. Under the Kalmbach label, the store
stocks Tribute Equine Nutrition, Organic
Harvest Feeds for poultry, Formula of
Champions show feeds, and additional
Kalmbach feeds for swine and other
common livestock. An unusual offering from
Kalmbach is the Heartland Wildlife brand
that sells deer blocks, minerals, special mixes
to attract the animals, and food plot seeds
for planting and developing nutritious
ground cover.
Eicher stocks bags of dog food, which are
becoming quite a popular item in the store.
Prices are reflected in the amount of protein
contained in the food, but are comparable to
other high-quality feeds.
“Some of my customers have said that
their dogs liked the dog food we offered just
as well as the other brands that cost $40 a
bag rather than $20 for our bags,” Eicher
Other items stocked in his shop include
Tingley boots, Redmond Minerals, Nutra-
Glo for ruminants as well as horses, KPF
Premier Feeds LLC, located outside of Colon, offers a large inventory of

Equine professional hair and skin care

feeds for livestock owners. Below, brightly-colored halters and lead ropes

products, and Pharm-Aloe, a product with

are available, along with Tingley boots and various feeds.

the byline of “Nature’s Own Health and

Beauty Aid.” He also carries some garden
tools, feeders made in Goshen, Ind., lead
ropes, bedding, rubber mulch and various
supplements and vaccines.
In between working a day job and running
the store, Eicher finds time to care for his
Friesian horses. His two mares, Rileigh and
Yvonne, live behind the store. Eicher’s
stallion, Nico from Gemini, resides in
Middlebury, Ind., at Premier Acres. Eicher
has taken Nico to benefit showcases, where
the horse is observed for possible breeding
options and supports a needy family in the
community in the process as the stud fee is
donated for fundraising.
“We have done a few of the benefits like
Stallion Day in Shipshewana and the one in
Mount Hope, Ohio,” Eicher said. “Actually,
Nico is just a hobby.”
Premier Feeds, on West M-60 in Colon, has
a website at
and a Facebook page.
“Every week, we have something new,”
Eicher said. “My goal is to grow the business
and be able to be at home.” ❖
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Water Source
Story & Photos by
St. Joseph County
Jef Rietsma

he statement that St. Joseph County is the

most-irrigated county east of the
a prime location Mississippi River has been thrown around
for years.
Has the suggestion been exaggerated or does it
for high-dollar, have merit?
Lyndon Kelley, irrigation educator with MSU
Extension/Purdue Extension, explained the origin of
the claim and weighed in on whether it is accurate.
high-risk crops “If you look through United States Department of
Agriculture statistics, we’re listed at 112,000 irrigated
acres … there’s no other county in Michigan or
Indiana (with that many irrigated acres),” Kelley
said. “So, yes, according to the stats, it is the most
heavily irrigated county east of the Mississippi.”
More important, however, is that St. Joseph County
is at the center of about 680,000 irrigated acres that
stretch in a band from Valparaiso, Ind., northeast to
Jackson. A historical map of the United States
documenting weather patterns within that band
shows it is due to receive more water in coming
decades compared to regions outside the band.
“We all talk about global warming but that stretch
(from Valparaiso to Jackson) is expecting to get more

rainfall … it already gets two inches more (annually) Another surge was experienced after a drought in 2012.
than it did 30 years ago,” Kelley said. “So, we’re on a “It’s had a steady increase, but there’s some big blips,”
very plentiful aquifer and that makes it very Kelley said. “Primarily, when we’ve had big, national
advantageous for irrigated crops.” droughts, those really pushed the high-dollar, specialty
The strong aquifer, Kelley said, is due to the area’s crops that are irrigated toward our area.”
sandy loam soil, which allows water to seep through About two-thirds of an irrigation system’s water
the soil and penetrate into the aquifer. That cycle of source comes from below-ground deep wells, while the
replenishment, in the world of agriculture, is called balance comes from surface water. Surface waters are
“recharge,” and 10 to 14 inches of water recharges in rapidly replenished by ground water underneath, so, in
St. Joseph County annually. essence, all irrigation one way or another is from
Kelley called that amount “a phenomenal thing that underground, Kelley said.
doesn’t happen elsewhere.” He said irrigation systems push more than 75 percent
“If you have companies that are looking for places to of their water intake onto crops through a center-pivot
raise high-dollar, high-risk crops that are very distribution system.
vulnerable to challenges from the environment, you A typical and most cost-effective system will have
would come here,” he said. “It’s not only the irrigated seven towers stretching 1,300 feet in length and make a
water source, it’s that sandy loam soil that makes it so circle inside a 160-acre field. He likened the layout to
quickly drain, so we have fewer potential problems completing an eighth-grade geometry challenge:
from delayed harvest or planting.” Putting the biggest circle possible into a square or
Irrigation in St. Joseph County saw a few systems rectangle.
appear in 1968, before a major increase in their presence “The math is in the design, figuring out how many
in the 1970s. Total irrigated crop land before 1973 was acres (of field) can get covered for how much extension
about 2,000 acres, but an unforgiving drought in the you have,” Kelley said. “We have it generally at a point
summer of 1973 resulted in a significant spike. where 142 acres of a 160-acre field are covered … it’s the
The systems continued to dot the landscape in most efficient number there is, though if you spend
growing numbers through the 1970s and ‘80s, and then more money, you can do things to pick up those dry
hit another peak as a result of the drought of ’88. corners and we see more of that here because of the

seed-corn industry than we do
anywhere else in the United States.”
Examples of how the hard-to-
reach corners are watered include
the use of irrigation accessories such
as end-guns and cornering arms.
Kelley and others in his field
spend a considerable amount of
time discussing efficiency in
irrigation. One advantage local
farmers have over their
counterparts in other regions is the
combination of cold ground water
and high summertime humidity.
“Out west, they have a lot of
evaporation in the air between the
droplet flying from the nozzle to the
crop,” Kelley said. “Here, because
of our cold water and high
humidity, we don’t see much
evaporation from the sprinkler to
the crop, especially in our corn
It takes three to four days of
irrigating to add an inch of water to
the area within a pivot’s path, he
Nottawa Township farmer Larry Walton said his irrigation system has served him

Nottawa Township farmer Larry don’t have a problem and that’s and reduced the risks, and that’s
and his crops well throughout the system's 17-year life.

Walton said he is part of a team of what we’re dealing with,” he said. why you see very few acres of
farmers in St. Joseph and Cass “If (water use) is ever litigated, irrigated land going back to
counties that hired a hydrologist, we’ll have something to work with unirrigated.”
who is leading a study to determine and we can provide solid data.” Kelley added that irrigation has
what impact their use of irrigation Would it be conceivable to farm in been the answer for people trying
is having on the aquifer. St. Joseph County without relying to expand farming operations or
The impact, so far, is showing a on an irrigation system? Kelley said start a career in farming. It’s a way
negligible effect. it’s possible, but someone in that of making a higher income off
“We can monitor all we want, but situation faces a serious handicap. fewer acres.
if I pump for two days and my well “Without irrigation, it would be “Acres are the limiting factors for
draws down three feet, and I shut it hard to compete in this area,” he most young farmers and for most
off and in an hour, it’s back to advised. “Irrigation has made people trying to stay afloat in the ag
where it was originally, then we agriculture more profitable here industry,” Kelley said. ❖

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Farm • Antiques SEPTEMBER
Estate • Household
Merlin Yoder • 269-432-2714

Farm manager at Willow Farm
is living childhood dream
farm’s lambs and ewes from coyotes.
Tom worked for many years at GM while
Story & Photos by

simultaneously working and living on a 30-acre farm in

Jamie Barrand

ince she was a child, Kyle Brisendine has Durand. Originally, the idea of moving to a farm came
wanted to work with animals and live on a up because Candy had ridden horses when she was
farm. Now, at 22, and after spending three younger and had the desire to have them again.
years overseas getting her education, she has “Then it was, ‘let’s get a feeder calf,’ then we got some
brought her knowledge and skills back home to make pigs, then we got chickens,” Kyle said. “It just kept
those dreams a reality. growing.”
Kyle is the daughter of Tom and Candy Brisendine, When Kyle was 4, she began asking for sheep. She
who own Willow Farm at 1259 Clarendon Road just helped around the farm and earned her first pair of
north of Quincy Township. Kyle manages the sprawling ewes, showing for the first time when she was 7 or 8.
80-acre farm, which is home to 15 head of sheep “I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but I know
(Romney and Blue-Faced Leicestershire), “a dozen-ish” the sheep were still bigger than me,” she said.
beef cattle (Devon and Hereford), a colorful assortment “We looked all over the state for a larger farm,” Kyle
of free-range hens and roosters and Cerin, a said. “This is the one we found that we loved.”
170-pound Great Pyrenees “guard dog” who protects the As Kyle approached her 2012 high school graduation,
she knew she wanted to pursue a career in agriculture.
“I watch the show ‘Bones’ and for a little while I
thought about forensic anthropology,” she said. “But I
was always drawn back to agriculture. I love the
animals; I love being outside. I just can’t see myself
doing anything else.”
After researching a multitude of possible colleges and
universities at which she might study, Kyle chose the
Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, England,
where she earned a bachelor of science degree, with
honors in agriculture with an emphasis in livestock.
Currently, in addition to managing Willow Farm, she
also works as a receptionist for an irrigation supply
company and is taking online courses through Colorado
State University to earn a master’s degree in integrated
resource management. could be the setting for a Laura Ingalls Wilder novel. The
“The plan is to one day grow the farm enough that it only new structure the Brisendines have put on the
will be my only full-time job,” Kyle said. “But in the property is a shop from which they sell grass-fed beef
meantime, I really like my job and I work with people and lamb products and eggs produced by the wandering
who have a lot of valuable experiences and are so hens. Additionally, the shop offers fleece, yarn and
helpful to me.” bedding produced by the farm’s sheep, as well as gifts
The quaint house and barn at Willow Farm sits against such as socks, vests and sweaters knitted and crocheted
the background of rolling pastures and look like they by Candy and family friends.
“I can spin, I can weave, I can knit and I can crochet,” books written by other farmers around the country. We
Kyle said. “But my mom does most of the knitting. She do a kind of take-a-book, leave-a-book system.”
has a lot more patience than I do.” Having been raised around farming, Kyle has seen
Most of what the shop sells right now is meat. Foot many changes in the industry.
traffic picks up when the farm hosts open houses and “I see a lot of growing farms, and I see a lot more
other community events; an anniversary celebration women doing it,” she said. “There is also a lot more
and shearing day have become annual events. online marketing and social media is huge.”
“We welcome the community to come in and see Those changes have allowed Willow Farm to ship
what we do here day-in and day-out,” Kyle said. wool, fleece and other products all over the United
Candy agreed. States.
“Things are picking up slowly, but surely,” she said. “We’ve shipped here, there and everywhere; from the
“We have high hopes.” east coast to the west coast,” Kyle said.
The Brisendines are dedicated to community outreach The bred ewes at Willow Farm are due to start
and farming education. They recently hosted a lambing any day now. Despite having seen many,
shearing day, during which participants watched the many lambs being born, Kyle still gets excited about
sheep being sheared and learned how to skirt fleece the new arrivals. Most of the sheep have names … Kyle
(the process by which raw fleece is initially cleaned and often does themes such as TV shows or flowers with
debris is removed), as well as a Sheep School during lambing cycles (a few cycles ago the theme was “The
which participants learned the basics of selecting Addams Family;” two of the ewes are Mortitia and
breeding stock, lambing, nutrition and health care. Wednesday).
A Fence Clinic is June 10. The Brisendines will let “The sheep are still my favorite,” she said.
attendees in on what they have learned over the years Willow Farm’s store hours are 1-5 p.m. Friday and
about building hi-tensile and woven wire fences. Cost 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday
is $30 and includes lunch; registration ends June 2. More information is available online at
“We also have a little lending library,” Kyle said. “We, on Facebook or by calling
have cookbooks, how-to books, farm-based novels and (517) 542-0192. ❖

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Tractor safety an
issue each spring such a hurry that you can’t wait for especially on narrow rural roads.
us to get over.” In these situations, consider using
Story by

Wiley feels the problem stems an escort vehicle equipped with

Nancy Hastings

ith the planting from the fact people are removed – flashing yellow lights.
season upon us, area by at least three generations – from Remember that equipment can
officials emphasize the farm and few are familiar with obscure the rear lights of the tractor.
farm implement the mobility of machinery. Lighting: Properly light tractors
safety on roadways, for both Pointing out the hazards of farm and equipment. Lighting should
motorists and farmers. machinery is something Wiley and include turn signals, headlights and
Each year, incidents involving the National Safety Council say is tail lights.
tractors and other farm machinery advisable this time of year. County Farm Bureau President
occur on public roads, causing costly Some practical tips offered to Terry Finegan said the safety
equipment damage, injury and farmers by the council involve: council’s practices are ones
death. Licensing and traffic laws: Be implemented, but he agrees while
According to the National Safety thoroughly familiar with how to farmers follow the practices,
Council, collisions with other operate a tractor and any equipment motorists present the biggest issue.
vehicles make up nearly half of it is hauling and obey all traffic “The biggest issue is speed by
these incidents. Running off the laws. motorists,” Finegan said. “Following
road, overturning, striking a fixed Slow-moving vehicle emblem: a tractor is like going through four
object or falling from equipment Have slow-moving vehicle emblems stop lights through town. If you
make up the remainder. and reflectors in place on all tractors follow it for a mile, that’s about four
Hillsdale County Commissioner and implements and make sure they lights and it’s not that long.”
Mark Wiley agrees springtime does are clean and in good condition. Another example comes from
bring on additional roadway Safety signals: Warning lights on working with the trucking
accidents. tractors can help protect you from community, something Finegan did
He recalls one of recent years being hit by motorists. Consider for a period of time.
when the tractor’s driver was on a installing lights on the back of “When our speed was 55 mph,
curve turning into a driveway when wagons and farm implements at the cars were going 75,” he said.
a car came around him. The next eye level of motorists. “Compare the speed differential to
thing he heard was a horn blowing Children: Never allow children to that of a tractor going 25 and cars
as the car hit the side of the tractor. operate or ride on equipment. 45. It’s the same differential because
It was a no passing zone. When to travel: Keep travel on you come up on a semi just as fast.”
“People need to be aware that public roads to a minimum or when Finegan stresses patience, no
farm machinery moves slower and visibility is good. matter what equipment is on the
because of the position of the driver, Braking: Make sure brake pedals road.
it’s hard to see when people start to are locked together and that brakes “Everybody has stuff going on and
make a turn,” Wiley said. “My are adjusted for equal pedal we’re all running back and forth,”
message is, please slow down and movement. he said. “Just be patient. Most
take your time. Give those of us out Escort vehicles: At times, tractors farmers try to find a spot to pull off
here (on machinery) the benefit of or the equipment they are pulling and let you by. Patience will get
the doubt. Don’t ruin our day and extend beyond the center of the road everybody where they need to go in
yours, both. It’s not worth being in into the oncoming traffic lane, a safe manner.” ❖

is year
for local
Story & Photos by

Julia Baratta

or some, winter is a time

for kicking back and
dreaming of the more
pleasant seasons to come.
There seems to be more time for
working through that reading list,
pursuing new hobbies and
completing indoor projects.
4-H members do all that and more,
as they look forward to and prepare
for county fairs.
Jennifer Sanderson and her daughter Naomi participate in the fairy gardens class

complete still exhibit projects, it is market, are required to attend one of

at the fifth annual “4-H Project Day” in Coldwater.

The primary reason for the youth

program is an opportunity to learn also a great time for meetings. the numerous workshops offered
about the world around them During the spring and summer, December through March. The
through informational materials, many members spend time with young people don’t have to go to a
hands-on activities and learning to their animals, caring for and particular meeting; they can attend
be better citizens in their working with them to make a good any of them, just so they are present
communities. It is all included in the showing at the fair. Cold weather at one. There are specific meetings
4-H pledge: “I pledge my head to encourages more indoor activities, for each of the species exhibited at
clearer thinking, my heart to greater which is why several county 4-H the fair, with a few extra interesting
loyalty, my hands to larger service, programs offer classes about animal ones for educational purposes. These
my health to better living, for my care during that time. additional workshops this past
club, my community, my country In St. Joseph County, each 4-H winter included a meat session at a
and my world.” member intending to show any local butcher shop and a bio-security
While winter is a good time to animals, whether breeding or workshop introducing youth to

David Machan, of Central Meat Market in Sturgis, shares information with 4-H members about the cooler and
where the sides of beef originate from. This was one of several animal care workshops offered through St. Joseph County.

disease prevention and how to avoid those types of

As of 2018, all Branch County 4-H members with
animals were required to attend one of the Animal
Welfare for Youth workshops conducted by MSUE staff
members. These presentations were offered in
cooperation with the county’s annual Farmer’s Day and
4-H Project Day. Once the workshop was over, each
participant received a certificate they will include in
their evaluation notebooks. Animals were not the only
focus at the 4-H Project Day, as the attendees were able
to complete at least two still exhibit projects to take to
the fair and be shown in the 4-H building.
Hillsdale County has not made meetings mandatory
for members, other than those showing swine and they
will complete the pork quality assurance program. That
said, each animal exhibitor is required to prepare a
project report to turn in during the fair which will be
These are just a few of the activities that keep 4-H
members planning and preparing for their fairs...and
Dr. David Thompson presents at one of the Branch County
sessions for 4-H and FFA members. As of 2018, the Branch

their futures. ❖
County 4-H Fair Board required each showman to attend one
of the animal care workshops.
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