Ask A Farmer

Ask A Farmer - Cattle & Small Crop Farmers Answer Our Questions! #DigitalVoicesCouncil

I know that for so many people, questions about food and where it comes from ranks high on their list. They want to know about farming practices, if anything is used on or IN their food, and how long it takes food to get from the farm to their plate.

Today, we’re “Asking a Farmer” all of these burning questions and more!

Food in this country has become a hot topic, but it definitely shouldn’t be that way. We should all be informed about our food, and if we aren’t, we should be able to find the answers without feeling as if we’re getting the runaround.

Here are common questions I’ve heard people ask when it comes to food and farming, and the answers from cattle rancher and veterinarian, Marybeth Miskovic Feutz and farmer Andrea Turner.

Chickens should run FREE! Why don’t you raise “free-range” chickens?
For us, this is an animal safety issue. Our ducks are free to roam wherever they want during the day, but at night we put them in a coop for their safety. Living in a rural area, there are predators that might decide our birds would make a tasty meal. Even with the birds in the coop at night, we have lost several birds to hawks, coyotes, and even stray dogs. We would rather our birds live long full lives than be killed by a predator.

Authors note: Free-range is a method of farming where the animals, for at least part of the day, can roam freely outdoors, rather than being confined in an enclosure for 24 hours each day.

Do you have a garden outside of your farm? If so, what do YOU plant?
We raise beef cattle and grow hay at our main farm and plant a large garden. We grow sweet corn, green beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow summer squash, cucumbers, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, beets and lots of pumpkins. We usually try a new vegetable every year. Our garden keeps getting bigger! We use it for our personal veggies, and share with our extended family and friends. This summer we will be selling veggies at a roadside stand in town.

How do your children feel about farming?
Our son will be 4 years old this fall. So far, he loves almost every part of working on the farm. His attention span is still pretty short, but he does love to help us. We are hopeful he will see how much we love our farm, and he will grow to love it in the same way.

Do you trust the food you grow?
100%! We eat everything out of our garden, and I have absolutely no concerns feeding it to my young son. We sell our beef calves before they are at their finished weight, but I would not have any concerns eating that beef, either.

When do you go on vacation?
We go on vacation in the spring before the garden is planted, or in the fall/winter after the garden is finished. We line up someone to check on and feed our cows while we are gone, too!

These questions may not cover the entire spectrum of information about the food we eat and the farmers that grow or raise it, but they DO begin the conversation. Hopefully, we will continue the conversations surrounding the food we eat.

I am a  part of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance’s Digital Voices Council. All opinions expressed are the writer’s own. Funded by one or more checkoff programs. This post appears on their site as well. 

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  • Reply
    September 27, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Interesting to see what farmers grow in their personal gardens. I was expecting exotic fruits and veggies that are a challenge.

    • Reply
      Marybeth @ My Fearless Kitchen
      September 27, 2017 at 8:13 pm

      Hi, Lyra! We don’t plant many fancy things, just the regular veggies! We also have some tame blackberry bushes, but lucky for us they do really well without a whole lot of work from us!

  • Reply
    Jay Colby
    January 3, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Great interview! Interesting to know some of the behind the seances of farming.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2018 at 9:13 am

    My family use to raised chicken but they were always kept in the coop. One section of the coop was created for them to run freely and another section for when they are small.

  • Reply
    Danasia Fantastic
    January 3, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    That was a really nice interview you conducted! I like that it’s straight-forward and it wasn’t any farm jargon that would’ve had me confused.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    This is really amazing. Great transparency and I like the idea of being on a farm. Closest I came was my family raising chickens. Thanks for sharing these insights.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    Last year, my family and I became more aware of the ways that animals are being raised and have decide to make our buying choices based on grass fed, organic, free range etc. It’s really made a difference in our health.

  • Reply
    January 3, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    These are all great questions that I’m sure I’ve asked at least once. I wish you had mentioned the name of the farm. If it’s in the Midwest I would love to visit it sometime.

    • Reply
      Natasha Nicholes
      January 3, 2018 at 7:58 pm

      Most of the farmers that I spoke with are actually in California, so a little far from those of us in the Midwest, but I can update the information and get you the names of the farms, and see if they are open for visitation!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    This was a great interview. I am a southern girl and I tell my husband on many occasions that I want us to purchase a farm. Thanks for giving us a behind the scenes look into the life of a farmer.

  • Reply
    January 4, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Nice interview. My mom grew up on a farm and her parents were sharecroppers. It is always nice to learn about farm life, which is hard.

  • Reply
    January 4, 2018 at 10:32 am

    I’m not gonna lie. I’ve never once been concerned about these things, but I found this pretty interesting. I especially liked the bit about free range.

  • Reply
    Mimi Green
    January 4, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    When it comes with food you are so right. It’s mass confusion about how, where and all of that. I knew free range was good but this is good insight.

    • Reply
      Natasha Nicholes
      January 4, 2018 at 9:34 pm

      Yeah, and free range is kind of a misnomer, because people assume it’s just out and about without any coverage. Free range just means that they have access to outside areas, while cage free means they don’t live in cages, and aren’t relegated to them for their living quarters or sleeping.

  • Reply
    Arnitris Strong
    January 4, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    I navigated to this post just as I was having a conversation about the foods we consume. Great insight into the behind-the-scenes processes at farms.

    • Reply
      Natasha Nicholes
      January 4, 2018 at 9:35 pm

      I hope to continue the conversation this year, with classes at my urban farm! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Reply
    Elle (CleverlyChanging)
    January 4, 2018 at 11:45 pm

    When I was little, I use to visit my uncles farm and pick fruit and vegetables from his garden. See fresh food grow was fascinating to me, maybe that’s why at the age of 14 I decided I would become a vegetarian and now, more than 20 years later I’m still happy with my decision.

  • Reply
    Joyce Brewer
    January 5, 2018 at 8:00 am

    I just realized there’s a small farm about 2 miles from our house. I’d love to take our son by there to visit and meet the farmers. Thanks for an insightful interview.

  • Reply
    Francesca Murray
    January 8, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Nice interview, I wouldn’t have thought to interview a farmer before. Good to know they are comfortable eating the food they grow! I’d like to start a garden one day.

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