I am proud to be an Iowan and I have grown to love our changing seasons and beautiful landscape, even if it doesn’t have any mountains or an ocean. Living in Des Moines, I drive by cornfields and farms, but I have no experience living on a farm.
So when I had the chance to spend a day on a farm in western Iowa with my boys, I was excited to learn more about farming and see what a day during harvest looks like. My sons were especially excited to have a chance to ride in the combine while it was harvesting corn and see all the tractors and farm machinery.
Kevin and Sara Ross live with their 4 boys on a farm in Minden, Iowa, about 20 miles away from Council Bluffs. They grow corn and soybeans and also have a calf/cow operation. Kevin is a 6th generation farmer and currently the president of the National Corn Growers Association.
- The majority of the corn grown in Iowa is for ethanol. I knew that all the corn you see driving down the highway wasn’t sweet corn, but I had no idea what a small percentage of the corn grown is actually for eating.
- Cows don’t always live in barns. As we were walking around the farm, I kept looking for the barns for the cows. I just assumed cows must need a barn. I was wrong. The Rosses raise Angus and Simmentals cows that are outside year round. They graze in the fields after they are harvested and bed in wooded areas near a creek in the winter months.
- Farming a family affair. Many farms are passed down to families for generations. Kevin’s grandma lives in a house on their property and during harvest his dad and uncle help bring in the crop. Kevin and Sara’s boys all help do chores like feeding and taking care of the cows.
- Don’t waste anything. Some of the corn is harvested early to be silage for the cows. After fields are harvested if there is time, cover crops are planted to keep the soil healthy. The cows eat what’s left in the fields after harvest so nothing goes to waste.
- It’s a science. There are some things in farming you can’t control like the weather but everything else is closely monitored and considered. The Rosses study their soil as part of the Soil Health Partnership with National Corn Growers Association. They also carefully choose seeds that are designed to withstand specific weather conditions found in their fields like wind and draught.
Follow Sara Ross on Instagram to see more about daily life on an Iowa farm.
See more of my day on the farm here.
Do you have any questions about Iowa farming?
Do you ever wonder where your food comes from? Do you feel overwhelmed with the number of food choices you have to make for your family? The farmers of CommonGround are a resource to educate families about food and farming. Get to know some of the farmers who raise food in your state.