Did you know America’s farmers support 24 million jobs? Or that U.S. farmers supply 41.56% of the world’s corn? How about that one acre of soybeans can create 82,368 crayons? America’s farmers produce many products for not only the U.S., but also the world.
Every day, America’s farm families rise to meet the challenge of feeding and clothing the world. Satisfying world demand is exactly what they do. America sends her bounty all over the world, and it all starts on family farms.
To these men and women, the land is more than a livelihood – it’s a legacy. It’s a resource to be cared for, preserved, improved and passed to the next generation. They’re the caretakers of our land. They make their living from it. They provide for us with it.
In some way, we’re all connected to the land. Learn more about what America’s farmers provide for us every day.
Now that the Holidays are behind us and everyone is beginning to settle into the New Year, it’s time to start planning. In my opinion, the winter time is the best time to get out in the woods, here in eastern NC we don’t see much snow, but for us, the understory is low, wildlife trails are easier to find in the thick, and the bugs are not carrying you off. I like this time to simply walk the woods, scout out areas that I haven’t been to in a while, gather soil samples, enjoy the quiet and visualize what I would like to do better in the coming year. February and March are great months to do just that! I start off by sending my soils samples off the be analyzed, our good friends at Mossy Oak Biologic (http://www.plantbiologic.com/t-soil.aspx) can help with that or you can visit your local Ag agency, which is a great resource and usually free. The soil test results will determine how much lime and fertilizer you’ll need to get the dirt right and provide you with the basis of your plan.
Next is to make actually a plan, break out the calendar and determine when to lime, when to fertilize, what to plant and when. Planning helps you budget your time effectively, let’s face it, we all have jobs and families, kids in sports, honey-do lists, and church or community service commitments. If you don’t schedule the work and find balance with everything else going on then you are left with another year of a woulda, coulda, shoulda. To get some help with that you can go to the Biologic website and download the regional planting guide (http://www.plantbiologic.com/plantingguide.aspx) it will help you determine what and when you will need to plant to best suit your intended purpose, soil conditions, and region of the country.
Other things like getting out on the tractor or 4-wheeler to mow or break the soil up in areas you may be wanting to convert to food plots is a good idea. I also like finding those little honey holes tucked away back in the woods where small “killing” plots can be placed. This is a great thing to do while the understory is dormant, you can get in there, remove any brush, scratch or disc up the ground, take a soil sample and get it ready to lime and fertilize as well. I also like to take this time to pull all my stands down, bring them back to the house and clean them up, check the straps, give them a fresh coat of paint if needed and store them out of the weather for a while.
The outdoors is available for us to enjoy all year long, not just for a couple of months during the hunting season. There is also a lot of satisfaction to be gained by working the land, creating better habitat and food sources for the game and most importantly putting forth the effort to make your piece of dirt the best it can be.
Don’t forget to take a kid with you, they’ll love you for it!
The fall season always seems to take forever to arrive; we anticipate it so much through the hot months that it seems as though fall food plotting and archery season will never come. When it finally does come time to start preparing fields, hanging stands, and fixing up deer camp, we all feel rushed and running behind to get everything accomplished before opening day. Lets look at a few things you can do through the summer months to be a step ahead when the leaves begin to change.
Line up a plan and set some goals for what you want to accomplish on your property. Making a specific plan for each plot and how you plan to use it relative to the rest of your land will help take out the guesswork and wasted time. Decide what you would like to plant in each plot and how you would ideally hunt the area. Planting a certain forage in a field can determine what time of year the deer are going to use that food source and when you should hunt there. For example if you decided to plant Maximum in a plot, which is a blend of kale, rape, and turnips, you wouldn’t want to sit there on the first day of bow season while its still warm out and expect to see much activity. Determine which fields you plan to designate as a nutrition plot vs. an attraction plot. If you are planting an area specifically for hunting and attraction, plant accordingly. Early season stand sites can be set up around food sources with early attractiveness such as wheat, oats, clovers, and chicory, late season hunting stands can be centered around brassicas and other high energy foods such as beans and corn.
Have soil tests done well ahead of any planting plans you have to ensure you have time to make any necessary adjustments. Lime should be worked into fields at least 3-4 months before planting. Get the herbicides and fertilizer that you plan to use lined up and ordered if necessary. This is a wise step to avoid having to wait on rented spreaders or sprayers during the busy planting time. Ideally you want your property to have both annual and perennial plots. This is going to mean planting some warm season crops in areas you have designated for annuals and maintaining clover and chicory through the warm months for your perennial fields. Spraying your perennial clover and chicory plots with grass specific herbicides through the summer will really rid your fields of heavy competition and make for a much thicker and better looking plot. Have your fallow fields burned down with round-up a couple of weeks ahead of planting time. This will make the ground easier to turn since there will be no green vegetation to try to work under. Repeatedly turning the soil also causes moisture loss, moisture that is vital for germinating your planted seeds. Keeping your perennial fields free of weeds through the summer months will pay big dividends. Not only will it look better, but will extend the life of the crop by taking out the weeds that compete for root space, moisture, and fertilizer. Make sure to clean your equipment of weed seeds throughout the summer. Spraying off bushogs, tractors, atv’s, and spraying equipment will help from spreading unwanted weed seeds from plot to plot.
Summer time is also a great time to get the game cameras out and start taking inventory on who is hanging out on your land. There are lots of good places in the warm months to set up cameras to get some great pictures. Watering holes, mineral sites, protein feeders, and trails coming to and from food plots are some ideal locations to place your cameras to see how your herd is coming along through the growing season. Using your cameras for pre-season scouting can help you determine when and how to hunt your food plots. Keep your cameras moving all the time to new locations for catching wary bucks or just a passer by. Cameras can help you find bedding areas, travel corridors, and staging areas that can be very useful for stand placement and hunting strategy.
One of the most exciting things to do to get ready for the fall hunting season is hanging stands. There is a ton of anticipation built up when you know the food sources the deer will be using, have pictures, and put up a stand in just the right spot. Use the long days during the warm months to get your stand locations, shooting lanes, blinds, and ambush sites in place. This will give the deer time to get used to a new stand site and the effects of your intrusion into their woods time to dissipate. Try and draw up a map of the prevailing winds on your property so you will know which locations to hunt under the given conditions. You can also use rakes or bushogs to create silent paths to and from your stands for that stealthy approach. Hopefully some of these tips will save you some time and give you some valuable ideas to work on to be ready when Fall rolls around.