Wednesday, May 27, 2015

We Are Indiana Agriculture: New Generation Dairy

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Brian Rexing and his wife, Ranell, own and operate New Generation Dairy in Owenville, Indiana, along with their four children:  Blair, 12; Mylie, 10; Alleah, 8; and Case, 21 months.  Brian is a 4th generation farmer.  They currently milk 1,200-head of Holstein cows in their new milking facility that was built in 2008.  The cows are milked three times a day and, since it takes 6 hours to milk each time, a single cow is milked every 8 hours.  The Rexings also raise corn, beans, wheat and alfalfa.

The milk from New Generation Dairy is shipped to Nashville, Tennessee where it is processed at the Country Delight plant and sold under the Purity label.  While most dairy farms sell most of or all of the bull calves, New Generation is trying something new by beginning to raise all of their bull calves.

A balanced feed ration and quality care is important in keeping the cows healthy and aids in the production of quality milk.  “We use sand bedding; we think that is the most comfortable for the cows. We also have sprinklers and 80 3-foot fans in each barn. We think comfortable cows produce more high-quality milk. Our farm’s milk parlor is oversized so that we can minimize the cows’ wait time in the holding pen,” Brian explained.

Ranell is a former school teacher, but now works on the family farm and manages the books and payroll.  She also organizes several school farm tours throughout the year, which allows her to get her “teaching fix.”  “We love to tell our farm story and, hopefully, the kids leave with a different perspective of farming than when they first stepped foot on the farm.”

The four kids are active on the farm and while Brian says they don’t have any chores yet, “their time is coming.”  Blair and Mylie are active in 4-H and Alleah is in exploring 4-H.  They show dairy at the fair and Brian says, “That is a requirement.”

When asked what he likes most about farming, Brian replied, “All of it!  It’s exciting to produce food and watching things grow is cool.”

You can find New Generation Dairy on Facebook.  If you would like to schedule a tour for your school, you can email them at

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

We Are Indiana Agriculture: The Nichols

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Abby Nichols and her husband, Andy, live in Franklin with their two kids, Ellie,3, and Tyler, 2.  “We live and work with my family on a grain and beef farm in Franklin.  I mostly stay home with my kids, but also help manage our freezer beef business with my cousin, Zach Dougherty.  I also help out on the grain farm during the busy season.”

The Doughertys’ farm, around 2,000 acres, includes beef cattle and a retail fertilizer and chemical business that custom applies fertilizers for other farmers.  “My family settled in this area in the 1800’s.  My grandpa was always a farmer, with the exception of the 4 years he served in WWII.  My grandpa and grandma purchased the farm where we are presently located in 1961.  My grandpa had dairy cows, but in the late 60’s he switched to raising beef steers.  We have been raising beef cattle on this farm ever since.”

Angus is the breed of choice on the family farm.  “We have 20 cows that have babies each year starting in February through March.  We also purchase about another 50 head from an Indiana producer when they are about 700 pounds and finish feeding them out for freezer beef.”   Abby and her family work hard to ensure proper nutrition, which produces delicious beef.  “We believe it starts with a quality diet and proper care.  We feed the steers corn that we raise and mix in a soybean-based supplement for additional protein.  They also eat grass or hay every day.  In addition, we provide ‘free choice’ mineral.  Basically, we leave tubs with mineral and salt and the cattle just know when they need to eat it.  I always say mineral is like the cow’s Flintstone Vitamin.  Of course, the cattle have access to clean water.  We feel a corn-based diet helps to yield beef that consumers desire--tender, well-marbled and delicious. The cows are fed quite differently.  We really just want to maintain their weight and keep them healthy so they can have healthy pregnancies and deliveries.  They also get free-choice mineral, as well as corn silage and hay in the winter and grass and hay in the summer.”

Abby says that she enjoys so much about her job.  She enjoys working with her family and teaching her kids about agriculture.  She also enjoys raising cattle and connecting families to their farm and the beef they raise.

Friday, May 1, 2015

I Am Indiana Agriculture: Kristin Flora

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Kristin Flora and her husband Justin live in Avon with their 1 ½ year-old son, Gunner and are expecting a baby due in October.  Justin owns Flora Brothers Painting, along with his brother.  Kristin is a Purdue University graduate with a degree in Agribusiness Management and a minor in Communications.  She was very active in the College of Agriculture while at Purdue and continues to be active on campus by speaking in classes and at club meetings.  “I recently participated in the Leaders in Action program through Indiana Farm Bureau and had the opportunity to visit our Senators, Congressmen, and Congresswomen to lobby about issues that affect the agriculture industry.  It was a neat experience to be able to not just learn about issues, but be able to make our voice heard and make a difference.”

After Kristin’s parents graduated from Purdue University, they purchased their family farm shortly after she was born.  The farm is a  1,000  sow farrow-to-finish operation that markets approximately 20,000 pigs each year, and is still owned and managed by Kristin’s father and employs 8 people.  Kristin and her two other siblings were homeschooled through grade school “allowing more time to be spent following her dad around and learning the ropes.” 

“One of the fondest memories that I have from growing up on the farm is always feeling a sense of responsibility for the success of the farm.  I had chores from the time I could walk that taught me to always pull my weight and see what needed to be done.  I was blessed with parents who were very financially wise.  Rather than receiving an allowance, I was paid an hourly rate for my farm chores.  I would save up my hours and turn them in a month at a time.  My mom took me to the bank to cash my paycheck in small bills.  We would then divide the amount up and put 10% in the ‘church tithe’ envelope, 50% in the ‘college’ envelope and I was able to keep the remaining 40% as spending money.  With my 10 years of showing hogs in 4-H and taking a foods project that was sold in the auction, I would tithe 10% to our church and put the remaining 90% into my college savings account.  Although I thought all of these rules were completely unfair at the time, I am very thankful that I was able to cash flow all 4 years at Purdue with scholarships, college savings, and working between classes.  This gave me a leg up in the real world.”

While farming is in Kristin’s blood, she also gets to work with farmers every day.  A Corn Specialist for AgriGold Hybrids, Kristin works with growers to suggest the best hybrid seed choice with their ground.  “I love taking the time to sit down with my growers and make a field-by-field plan of what hybrid will be planted, what populations to plant at, and how to manage its nutrients throughout the growing season.  I scout their fields over the summer to check plant health and growth and to learn more about that field for future seed recommendations.”

Kristin wishes that others could see the heart that farmers put into their operations.  “One of the things I enjoy most about working with farmers is seeing their passion for what they do.  Farming isn’t just an 8 to 5 job behind a computer.  They care about their animals, about their land and the future.  Sharing in that passion has provided me not only a financially rewarding career, but more importantly, an emotionally fulfilling career.”