Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 21, 2018

High school students describe daily farm chores

By Nicole Major, Ledger staff writer | Oct 06, 2017
Photo by: NICOLE MAJOR/Ledger photo From left, Blake Metz, Brody Angstead and Daphne Gunderson share their hog-raising experiences.

Four Fairfield High School students confidently explained the day-to-day grind of running hog farms, rather large or small.

Without missing a beat, Brody Angstead, 14, Blake Metz, 15, Tyler Heston, 16 and Daphne Gunderson, 14, all chimed in and described everything from daily chores to animal care and maintenance. They spoke about what large pork producing operations such as TriOak Foods and Eikelberger Farms expect from their family farms and the hogs they raise.

Heston, Metz and Angstead have been learning the ropes since they were knee-high, while Gunderson has helped out on either one of her parent’s farms for just a few years. Each of them understands the hard work and dedication it takes to get the job done.

“My mom started before my dad did,” Gunderson said.

A freshman, Gunderson said she thinks her father became a sow breeder when she was in the sixth grade. She said she helped out “hands on” at her father’s farm, and has learned a lot within that time period.

“We have two [boars] and 10 [sows],” Gunderson said, explaining how the sows were separated from other hogs on the farm. Their primary jobs are to give birth and suckle their young.

“One sow with one litter has around 12 to 15 at a time,” she said, explaining that her father has two hoop buildings and the young are raised up to be sold.

Gunderson helps out in different ways at her mother’s farm, such as caring for her little brother. She plans to continue to work with animals as a farm veterinarian some day.

Metz and Angstead said their families have been farming as long as they can remember.

Metz has been learning about all aspects of farming for years. He said that he enjoys it, and plans to one day become and agricultural engineer.

“I’ve grown up with it,” Metz said, explaining that he knows agricultural engineers and knows that they made a good living.

Metz spoke extensively about his chores on Elmore Farms, his family’s generational farm,

“We usually go morning to night, making sure they have water ... making sure they are not too hot,” Metz said of caring for swine.

He said that this year, one side of the hog building briefly lost water. Metz told of the importance of ensuring that everything on the farm was carried out correctly for the safety and health of the hogs.

“We had to get water out there as soon as we could,” he said, expressing the urgency of the situation.

Angstead’s family also owns a generational farm that was recently recognized as a Century Family Farm.

Angstead, who said he plans to attend Iowa State University after he graduates from FHS, said his family has an extensive operation of not only swine, but also cattle.

“We have two 2,400-head buildings, four 1,200-head, one 700-head building,” Angstead said.

Along with Metz and Heston, Angstead spoke of the various day-to-day chores when it comes to raising live stock.

Heston, who fills in on the weekends to work for his father when he’s working off the farm, said he rises early on the weekends.

“Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I have to go in at 4 a.m.,” Heston said.

He explained the ins and outs of loading swine onto semi trucks headed for either TriOak or Eikenburger.

“Loading out stinks,” he said with a laugh.

Heston started loading swine when he turned 16.

Angstead chimed in.

“The hardest part about loading out is waking up,” he said.

Heston and Metz explained the importance of keeping pigs cool and hydrated during and after transport.

Metz said truck drivers are only allowed to stop for about 20 minutes when they are hauling them.

“It’s a fun life, and you learn new things every time you do something,” Gunderson said of farming. Heston agreed, and so did Metz.

“It’s pretty good. I like it,” Metz said.

Angstead said farming had taught him a lot, too.

Courtney Taglauer, FHS agricultural education instructor and FFA adviser, said that students at the high school level could learn a great deal.

“If they have the resources and have the willingness to work and be responsible, they have opportunities to work,” she said.




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