Forshee Farms

Today Katie Sawyer visits Forshee Farms, home of Stacey and David Forshee in Cloud County, Kansas. We’ll learn about the history of the six generation cattle and crops operation including the crops they raise and why; how they care for their cattle and the variety of ways Stacey advocates for agriculture both locally and nationally.

(Katie) Today we’re visiting with Stacey and David Forshee on their farm and cattle operation in Cloud County. We’re gonna talk to the Forshees about their crop rotations, their hay business, technology and farming, their cattle operation, and Stacey’s advocacy for agriculture. Stay tuned for more of That’s My Farm.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission, the Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Katie) Welcome back to that’s My Farm. I’m Katie Sawyer here with David and Stacey Forshee. We’re on their farm outside of Delphos, Kansas, in Cloud County. David talk to me a little bit about your history in farming. Kind of where you grew up in farming and then what you guys have going on today. (David) OK, well Forshees have been farming in Cloud County for six generations now and Stacey and I would have started right out of high school when we were 18. Got involved in the farming operation along side my Dad and we have tried to grow the operation. So, Stacey and I have been farming for 24 years. This would be the farm we’re on right now would be the first farm that we purchased in 1991. And I guess… (Katie) We’re standing in a hay field, so talk to me about your hay operation and kind of… you guys sell hay to dairies and what else do you do with it, the crop? (David) OK, we grow alfalfa for dairies and beef feedlots in Kansas. And you know, the obvious goal was to raise dairy hay every time, but if the quality is a little bit lower, it fits into a feedlot operation really well for beef cattle. And so we contract with some local feedlots and deliver those, deliver alfalfa to those operations as well. (Katie) And what other aspects of the farm do you guys have here in Cloud County? (David) As far as different crops we grow? (Katie) Yep, yeah. (David) Yeah, we grow wheat, alfalfa and grain sorghum and then forage sorghum for the cattle are our four main crops right now. For the last few years we haven’t planted any corn or soybeans, we’ve been focused mainly on grain sorghum and alfalfa and wheat. (Katie) And because those are also feed rations do those go predominantly to the backgrounding lot you guys have or are those sold on the market to someone else? (David) As far as the grain sorghums we probably feed about half of what we raise on a normal year as far as grain. And then all the forage sorghums basically are fed through our own cattle and then the alfalfa is mostly marketed. We actually don’t feed as much of our alfalfa as we raise. (Katie) Now you guys have three children. So, you are six generations, hope to maybe have a seventh. What do you guys see as far as the future of your farm, do you see expansion or do you want to continue what you guys have an improve upon practices? (David) Probably looks like right now, just continue on the way we are, maybe improve efficiency and then if we do have a son or daughter come back to farm, which it looks like we probably will as of now, we’ll hopefully expand the operation to fit them. (Katie) Wonderful. Stay tuned for more on That’s My Farm.

(Katie) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Katie Sawyer here with Stacey Forshee in one of her pastures out in Cloud County, Kansas. Stacey, talk to me about your cattle. We’re standing in a pasture with a cow herd in the background, so you guys calve both in the spring and the fall. Describe your cow herd, the genetics involved and kind of the whole cattle production for you guys. (Stacey) Alright, we do. We have two different calving times. We’re primarily in the spring but we do have a small fall herd. And we do have some Angus cross type animals in our herd. And we just…we go for a lot of good genetics of producing that great Angus beef for the consumer. That’s absolutely our priority for producing beef. (Katie) And back at home you have a small backgrounding yard. You background not only your own, but sounds like you do some custom backgrounding as well. Can you give me kind of an idea of what goes into that process? (Stacey) Sure. We actually do, we background our own to about 800-900 pounds. It just kind of depends on whether we have a contract from some buyers, that kind of thing. And we also have some area farmers either buy sale barn type cattle that we background for or we background their own cattle. So, a lot of the things that we do use though for the feeds, we do grow in our fields. We’ll grown sorghum silage or you know corn silage, whatever it might be. Milo as well. We’ll do grain. (Katie) And that’s great at controlling input cost because in cattle it’s all about controlling cost. So, how has that helped you guys manage the cost, especially as cattle have just gotten so expensive? (Stacey) Yeah, no it’s been huge about being able to, you know, for instance the folks that we do background for we’re able to give ’em a price of per head, per day of what it’s going to cost to do that. And they can make decisions per day on what it’s gonna cost to do that, on that as well. It helps us too, to be able to control we know that we’re growing, we know what we can handle in terms of maybe other customers too. So, it is… you know it’s really great. And also it kind of depends on what the price of like the distiller’s grains are, based on other kinds of protein that we might use in our feed rations. (Katie) Animal care and how you care for your animals both sick and healthy has been in the headlines continuously for the past couple of years. Talk to me about your animal’s care. Do you guys use antibiotics, do you vaccinate cattle, what all goes into the growing process for you guys? (Stacey) Of course, yes we do. We have a vaccination program that we are very diligent on. We totally believe in it and feel like it makes such a difference. You know the health of the animal is our utmost concern. If an animal does need an antibiotic, of course for its health for it to feel good, we do administer antibiotics when needed. And we work with our veterinarian very closely. It’s just a very… it’s important to us morally, but it’s also, we do not want to over use antibiotics because it’s also very expensive. You know, there’s two sides to that kind of a treatment. (Katie) Wonderful. Thank you for sharing with us. And stay tuned for more on That’s My Farm.

(Katie) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Katie Sawyer here with Stacey Forshee on Forshee Farms in Cloud County, Kansas. Stacey you are heavily involved. You’re a Mom, you’re a farm wife as well as a farmer. You’re also involved in a lot of organizations. Talk to me about making it all work and time management and just fitting all the pieces together. (Stacey) Well, it’s definitely not easy. You know, you really just have to prioritize, you’ve got to try to get some stuff done before you go to different things. That’s a lot of times, you know, David and I cannot be at the same functions just because one of us needs to be here on the farm doing whatever we need to do at that time. Especially taking care of cattle. That’s one reason why you just see me or just see him. But it’s just a balancing act. In my time in my life right now, two of my girls are in Manhattan. One’s in college and one’s working, so you know, that’s one thing. My kids are older now so I do kind of have just a little bit of a more of a time to be able to go and do things like Farm Bureau and be on the Booster Club, things like that. (Katie) Now, you’re currently on the Board of Kansas Farm Bureau. You’re in the current cows class for American Farm Bureau Federation. What else are you involved in right now and what are kind of some of the high points of what you’re taking part in? (Stacey) Well, outside of Farm Bureau, or is that? (Katie) Yes. (Stacey) I am the officer of our high school’s booster club, which encompasses all activities. It’s not just a sports type booster club. So, we’re doing a lot of things, we raise a lot of money for all the different clubs and activities in our school. So, with school just starting right now, we’re pretty busy with that, having some fund raisers and stuff like that. (Katie) And that’s great support for your local community because I mean, not only is farming big on the agriculture, but you guys are also usually very rural based and so it’s very vital to keep these small town and these school districts that support them going and keep your participation high. (Stacey) Yea, that is right. And the other thing that we started this last winter was a Women in Ag group with our… with the River Valley Extension District. Myself and four other women in our county with our extension district put together this program and we had it in Cloud this last winter and we’re looking at moving it to maybe Republic County for next winter. And so we’re involved in the planning of that next event right now. But it’s something I think has really benefited a lot of women in our county. (Katie) Wonderful. Great to hear. Stay tuned for more of That’s My Farm.

(Katie) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Katie Sawyer here with David and Stacey Forshee on their farm in Cloud County, Kansas. David we were just in one of your hay fields and talk to me about technology and specifically technology in your crops because alfalfa is Roundup Ready or can be purchased as Roundup Ready. So how has that changed your guy’s production and some of your farming techniques? (David) Well, it has allowed us to plant some alfalfa on some acres that before we were having to use some more extreme chemicals, some more pricier chemicals. And to control weeds especially pig weed, palmer amaranth, is beginning to be a big problem. As probably you can see in the last pictures that we were in that hay field it is actually an old field when Roundup Ready alfalfa was not allowed. So, anyway there is no way to control the pig weeds in it. Outside of using some chemicals, it’s really damaging to the crops, to the alfalfa itself. And that’s just kind of allowed us to plant alfalfa on some acres that allows us to specialize a little bit. Get back to alfalfa quicker where before we would have to rotate longer and use other methods to clean the ground up. (Katie) And standing in a sorghum field, and sorghum is not a GMO crop, so does not have some of those traits, how does that impact you and some of your farming practices in terms of being able to control for weeds and other elements? (David) Well, sorghum you’re more limited on the chemicals that you can use. We do have some chemicals out there, they’re very reliant on pre-plant. And pre-plant that means you put it down before you plant the crop and it requires rain to incorporate the chemical into the top layer of the soil. And you know the last few years we’ve really fought that. This field here we had good control, we actually got rain the night after we put the chemical down and it incorporated well and it worked well. But we have… but some of the GMO crops that you can use like corn and soybeans you can come back over the top to control weeds after they’ve already germinated. (Katie) And Stacey as you talk to consumers and the general public through your advocacy works GMOs have become a very hot button issue, so what have you done to educate consumers and how are you spreading the message of the importance of GMO on your crop and your farming practices. (Stacey) Well, just trying to talk to the consumers about how it’s an important thing for farmers to be able to use, because we don’t have to use less, we can use less pesticides, we can use less herbicides on those types of crops. So, it’s very important to them and to us. We’ve got completely their best interest at heart. But being the words, genetically modified is a very scary term for people. We understand those concerns but there’s also, there’s just no absolute evidence that those things are hurting us in our foods. And so just trying to work with consumers and getting more, answering questions and just trying to get the word out to educate folks about what they’re eating. (Katie) And David as we take this back to the cattle side of things, does that impact or have any decision in feeding cattle because I know you guys probably use a lot of the crops you’re growing as the inputs for your cattle. So, does that play a difference one way or another? (David) No, no it does not. Right now we’re not selling in any markets like that. There’s plenty of demand for normal beef and we butcher our own beef, we hire it butchered I should say. But we do eat our own beef and yes, they do consume some GMO crops, the Roundup Ready alfalfa. There would be Roundup Ready corn and in the ethanol by products that we feed. Taste and flavor is still great and we’ve been doing it for a lot of years now and it’s just safe and good. (Katie) And that probably further helps you control the input cost on those cattle because the GMO crops are just so much more efficient when you talked about the ability to control for different factors that you can’t do when you don’t have those Roundup Ready protections built into the plants. (David) That’s correct. And not just plant protection things such as crop chemicals, insecticides, pesticides, that kind of stuff that is already bred into the crop through GMO techniques. They also are working on drought ready, drought tolerance and if they can speed that along a few years, we can conserve water and make adequate feed supplies more readily available. (Katie) Wonderful. Thank you guys. And join us for more on That’s My Farm.

(Katie) Welcome back to That’s My Farm, I’m Katie Sawyer here with Stacey Forshee on her family farm outside Delphos, Kansas. Stacey in addition to all your involvement, you’re also an advocate. In fact you were named to Agri Pulses 2014-50 under 50 Advocates which is a nationwide list, so congratulations. But talk to me about what you do and how you see advocacy. You know you don’t blog but you do a lot of other things to help spread the word about agriculture. So, how did you get started and what do you do today to kind of keep the word out there? (Stacey) Obviously I got started through Kansas Farm Bureau being a board member and a county president. We had the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C., and to visit with our legislators and my… the feeling that they need to hear your story and about what you’re doing on your farm, just has resonated to me from there on out. And so I think that being involved and telling everybody what you’re doing everyday on your farm or a particular day is just very important. And just the simple things I do. It may be Facebook, something as simple as Facebook. Like this winter I showed a picture of a baby calf that had been born during the really cold night and I had it in the floorboard of our truck, trying to keep it warmed up. Well, it’s something that all ranchers do, all farmers and ranchers do. But folks in the city don’t quite get it. Their kids are like, “Oh my gosh, you yell at me when I get in the car with my feet dirty and they have a baby calf in their truck.” But it’s just taking care of them. But we take that for granted in agriculture because we think that everybody knows that we’re doing things well and that we’re taking care of things. So I guess that is one thing that I do. Just something very simple as putting a picture with an explanation, something like that. I’ve also had the opportunity to go to D.C. several different times in the last year. One was with Representative Mike Pompeo to do a national and state press conference with him on the GMO labeling bill. So, I just had the face of the farmer and the Mom and told my story about GMO crops and why it’s important to us. So, those are some recent things this year that I’ve done. (Katie) Wonderful. Well, thank you for all the work you do on behalf of agriculture. And thank you for joining us on That’s My Farm. We’ll see you next week.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission the Soybean Checkoff Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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