Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hewitt Farms Inc. of Minnesota!

Today we welcome a great farming family from Minnesota! Meet Sara and Mark Hewitt!

Welcome to life as a young farm wife in rural, southern Minnesota! My name is Sara Hewitt and I farm with my husband, Mark, his brother, Ray and my in-laws on a 3,000 acre corn and soybean farm called Hewitt Farms, Inc. in Le Sueur, Minnesota. My husband and I were just married in September so we are still newlyweds on the farm!

I am a 5th generation farmer, growing up on a soybean, corn, cattle and hog farm. My husband and I currently rent the land that my parents used to farm. My parent's farm has been in our family for over a century now and was inducted into the Century Farms program! In fact, my family lives in the same house my great-great grandfather built in 1906! My husband is a 3rd generation farmer growing up around crop farming. Farming has a special place in our hearts as we continue the traditions our grandparents and great-grandparents started.

I grew up with all kinds of animals. I don't think my mom was too happy that I insisted this baby lamb come into the house with me.

Both my husband and I have jobs off the farm. My husband is a diesel mechanic for Ziegler CAT, working on farm equipment and heavy machinery. I work as an intern for the Minnesota Farm Bureau. My job at the Minnesota Farm Bureau involves working on the Ag Cab Lab. It is a tractor cab and a combine cab that allow children to get in and virtually plant or cultivate a field. It is really exciting to watch the kids interact with the game and the discussion that is sparked with their parents. Hopefully one day, some of these children might find themselves working in agriculture too!

This is an applicator, a piece of equipment we use to help combat weeds and bugs in our fields. We also do custom application for other farmers.

Something unique out about our farm, is our agriculture business that we have too. Hewitt Drainage Equipment specializes in water management for farmers all across Minnesota. We sell tiling equipment, Golddigger tile plows, tile stringers, and do custom tiling. We do a lot with GPS technology and mapping tile lines as well, making it a lot easier for farmers to know where their tile is and fix it when a problem arises. We think it is pretty cool that through agricultural tiling, we help the soil act like a sponge, soaking up more water preventing run-off, soil erosion, and reducing flooding. 

Our jobs on the farm change on a daily basis. I do a lot of marketing and media for both our farm and for Hewitt Drainage Equipment. I do everything from managing our Facebook pages, to updating our blog Hewitt Farms, Inc., to designing banners and flyers for the many farm shows we attend throughout the year. I also help during planting and harvesting season by driving combine, tractor and rock picking with the skid loader. My other job during those two seasons: professional sandwich maker. I can pack a lunch or supper for the guys complete with hot coffee and fresh baked brownies like no one's business.

One of my jobs on the farm is driving the combine.
My husband does a lot of upkeep on all of our equipment on the farm. He does routine maintenance work, but also fixes the combines, tractors and planters when they break down. During planting season, he is usually out cultivating fields. Planting takes us about two weeks if the weather is cooperating, and three to four if Mother Nature decides to throw some rain our way. During fall, he is often driving combine, working to harvest our crop.

Ray, can often be found driving semi and hauling our crop to be sold to the local elevators. A lot of our corn crop goes to the local ethanol plant to be made into fuel. Ray also has his applicators license so he is our fertilizer and crop protectant guy on the farm. Ray also sells seed corn, so he is out delivering seed to local farmers to help them get their crop in the ground.

Kevin, my father-in-law, is usually busy with our agricultural water management business. He does many farm and trade shows throughout the year selling tile plows and other tiling equipment. He drives all over Minnesota and often into other states, delivering Golddigger Tile Plows. He makes his way into the tractor during harvest to help pull the grain cart.

Last summer our U.S. Senator, Amy Klobuchar visited our farm to learn about our farming operation, agriculture business and some of the issues and problems we face today in agriculture. Pictured are Mark, Kevin, Jeanette, Ray and our hired-hand Nathan with Amy.

No farm is complete without animals. We raise a small flock of chickens so we have plenty of fresh eggs for our own family and friends. We also raise a pig or steer every other year to help feed our family. We take very good care of our animals making sure they have fresh water and plenty of food at all times as well as adequate shelter. We also have three dogs running around the farm: Cass, Denali and Charger. We have one Lionhead rabbit named Waffle. We also have plenty of farm cats.

We are constantly checking our fields, soil, and crop. Crop health is very important to us.

I am currently working on my Masters degree in Agricultural Education and Communication. At Hewitt Farms, we never stop learning. We are always looking to improve our practices and become more efficient and effective. We embrace technology on our farm because we know it is an important part of our overall farm's operation. Technology allows us to be even better stewards of the land because we can pinpoint areas where our soil needs more nutrients or reduce overlap or only use a select amount of fertilizer.

My favorite thing about farming is being able to work outside and always being busy. I don't have much down time and I enjoy that. I have to be productive with my time and farming allows me to do that. I love being outdoors so being able to work in an environment I love means a lot to me. I love looking out the tractor cab window to see a bright blue sky with a hawk soaring back and forth in front of me and a doe with her fawn standing off into the prairie grass curiously watching while I cultivate the dark, rich soil beneath me. There is nothing better than the views you get from the seat of a combine or tractor.

This is my husband Mark & me with one of the many dogs running around our farm. His name is Charger and he is a chocolate lab. The tractor in the background is a 1949 D Case that we are working on restoring.

You can find us on Facebook both at Facebook or Facebook.com/HewittDraingeEquipment. You can also follow some of my stories about farming, life and work at www.hewittfarmsinc.wordpress.com.

Signing off from rural Minnesota! Don't be afraid to stop by for a visit!

Thank you Mark and Sara for this great feature! Thank you for all your hard work! Good luck with the 2013 crop year!!

YOU could be the next FOA feature! Contact us today!!!!

Chad & Anna - Feeding pigs & the world

Please welcome Chad & Anna Wastell who share with us about their unique family business and love for agriculture, family & pigs. 

Hi! We’re Chad & Anna – Team Wastell – and we feed pigs to feed the world. This is our story.

I’m a small-town Kansas girl. Population 1200; wheat fields and milo as far as the eye could see. My high school had a nationally recognized FFA program and the school parking lot filled with farm trucks each morning. But I was a town kid, a drama and music kid, and I never participated in 4-H or joined FFA. I loved the county fair mostly for the snow cones and cute cowboys.

I attended a small liberal arts college in Kansas and lived in Eastern Europe for a while. I climbed the corporate ladder in the hospitality industry wearing high heels and a suit, and my marketing skills were further developed through a job as Director of Communications at our megachurch. But I always loved visiting my hometown; staring out at a wheat field and open sky filled my heart with a sense of total calm. 

My husband grew up in suburban Omaha. He was raised in the family business selling Crystal Spring hog feeders. From a young age, he spent time in hog barns, sat in on manufacturing meetings with his parents and celebrated his birthday each summer at World Pork Expo.

Chad left for Northwestern University in Chicago to pursue the field of computer engineering, but after graduation, he decided to come back to the business and his family in Nebraska. It wasn’t an easy choice; his classmates were transferring into jobs with glamorous, fast-paced consulting firms, and more than a few friends and mentors flat out told him he was crazy to choose the family business.

But it was the right choice. Armed with a desire to rebuild his relationship with his parents and fueled by the passion that drives everything Chad does, he threw himself into the business of feeding pigs to feed the world. He committed himself to extensive training, completing an internship with a hog production company and traveling to Europe and South America to understand of the needs of an international market. His engineering background provides the right skillset for product development with Crystal Spring Hog Equipment and the complex technical service of the Pro-Sort large pen auto sort system. He knows his products inside and out and is passionate about the benefits they can deliver to a producer.

As Chad and I were falling in love and getting married, I once (or twice…) declared that I would never work for the family business. I want my own thing, we need work/life balance, hog barns are really smelly, I’m just not gonna do it. No thank you.

But when Chad was offered an expanded Business Development role that would require him being on the road several nights a week to meet with dealers and customers, we remembered all the conversations we’d had, all the "If Onlys". If only we could travel together, if only we could spend time together out on the road.

It became clear that I could fill a role at Gro Master as Director of Marketing, handling advertising and developing training materials for dealers and redesigning the website and blogging and all the things I love to do. And I could travel with Chad. I should probably learn not to say “never.”

Now, as we travel around the country and solve problems for farmers and producers that use our products, I meet the people and families that work so hard to care well for their animals and provide safe, nutritious food for the world. I have learned so much about the industry visiting hog farms and talking with the growers. The barns are still smelly, but I want to learn as much as I can about how pigs are raised and the needs of our customers so we can provide the best products and the best solutions for them.

I love traveling with my husband. I love rural America and the small towns and big skies. I love that through blogging and social media, I get to help tell the story of feeding pigs to feed the world. At the end of the day when we're tired and smelly and road-weary, Chad and I love being part of the bigger story of agriculture.

Thanks Anna for the fantastic feature! To learn more about Chad and Anna and their family business you can check out their website, blog, & twitter

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming the next Face of Agriculture please contact us today to learn more!