Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Miller Farms

Meet Steph and Lance Miller of Alabama. This proud farming family raises cotton, peanuts, poultry and much more!

Miller Farms is located in North Alabama in an area called Sand Mountain. My husband, Lance and I farm with Lance’s Uncle Jim and Aunt Nell. We farm 660 acres of cotton, 155 acres of peanuts, 85 acres of soybeans, and 55 acres of corn. We also have four poultry broiler houses where we are contract growers for Koch Foods. The chicken houses are 43’ x 510’ and hold around 34,000 chickens each. We raise a 4lb bird in around 35 days.

My job is to go to the chicken houses every morning. Everything is automated, but I still have to make sure the chickens have feed, water, and proper heat and ventilation. I also have the job of removing any dead chickens from the houses. I’m in charge of all of the office work for the poultry operation and Lance and Jim’s farming operations. During harvest season, you can find me in the cotton field. I run the module builder. The builder is what the cotton picker dumps the cotton into when it gets full. I use levers to work a tramper which packs the cotton. After the picker dumps 12-15 bales of cotton, and I pack it tightly, a tractor pulls the module builder forward off of the cotton, and it leaves behind a module of cotton that is ready to be taken to the gin.

Lance, Jim, and our two farm employees always have something to do. In the spring, they fertilize the fields with our chicken litter, spray the weeds in the fields, and plant the crops. In the summer, the peanuts need to be sprayed every two weeks for fungus, and the cotton needs to be sprayed every few weeks with growth regulator, insecticide and herbicide. There is also a lot of bush hogging to do. They also get our equipment and tractors ready for harvest. In the fall, we harvest the crops. The corn will be ready to pick in August, the peanuts will be ready in September, cotton in October, and soybeans in November. Winter is spent on repairs, equipment maintenance and sowing a cover crop.

Lance has been helping on the farm since he could walk. He started working on the farm when he was in high school. After college, it became his full time job. Lance and I were married in October 2006, and I worked a job dealing with the public for almost a year. After I couldn’t take it anymore, Lance said he would build some chicken houses, and I could work on the farm too. Our favorite thing about working on the farm is being able to be our own boss and be around family.

We wish the public would understood how much work and labor is involved in farming. We may take in a lot of money when we get paid for our crop, but it goes right back out the door when we get all the bills. It bothers us when people think that the government pays us large amounts of money to farm, when in reality it wouldn’t even pay our fuel bill during picking season. People need to understand that if U.S. farmers are regulated and priced out of business, all of our food will be coming from other countries, which do not have the same standards as our food does.

Thanks for the great feature Stephanie! Be sure to check out her farming blog (The Life of a Farmer's Wife) to learn more about this families farm! She has a lot of good things going on!

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