Editor’s note: Minnesota Farm Guide is pleased to announce that John and Lester Schafer will be providing Producer Reports this winter. Their first article – a look back at Lester’s service in the U.S. Armed Forces – was published in the Nov. 5, 2021, issue of Minnesota Farm Guide.
BUFFALO LAKE, Minn. – Twenty inches of rain fell across Sibley and Renville counties in August, September, and October. The last rain was about 2 inches on Oct. 27.
For the Schafers, that was way more rain than they needed.
“We know an awful lot of people that still need rain,” said John on Nov. 6. “I’ve got a lot of friends out in the western part of the U.S. desperate to get some rain. We’ve put the rain to good use, but there are spots in the field that are now hard to get to without getting stuck.”
In addition to 80 acres of pasture for their cattle, the Schafers raise crops near their home place. John also owns the farmland of Kathleen Schafer, his mother, located southwest of Hector, Minn. – about 10 miles from home.
As of Nov. 6, John and his dad, Lester, had about 20 acres of corn and 15 acres of soybeans on the home farm to harvest, corn stalk bales and soybean strawbales to make, and fieldwork to do.
They wanted to inject some anhydrous ammonia – but they had to wait for the soil to dry out a little more.
In addition to the rain, a combine breakdown delayed harvest. The repair wasn’t major, but they couldn’t get parts, so they had to make do with patching up the combine.
“To get the parts we really need might be awhile yet,” he said. “From what I hear, that’s a significant problem all over the place.”
Despite an early-season drought, yields were excellent because of the late-season rain. The Hector farm averaged 67 bushels per acre soybeans – a record for that field, by a large margin. The corn averaged 207 bushels per acre.
The corn at home averaged over 200 bushels per acre.
“It was quite dry and high quality, too,” he said. “We’re pleased with that.”
The price was good, so they sold some grain right off the combine, and they were considering selling more in early November.
“It depends on what the market does the next few days to decide what to do with the last bit of it,” he said. “It’s tempting to go ahead and sell, but we’ll have to think about it.”
Cornstalk and soybean straw bales are almost as important to the operation as the grain. The Schafers transport the bales to the pasture every few days for the cattle to eat and use as bedding.
The Registered Herefords were doing well. The bulls were pulled in August. The Schafers preg-checked the heifers, but still had the cows to do.
The calves were all weighed and vaccinated. Their information was sent to the American Hereford Association.
“We got the information back and were pleased with it,” John said. “There’s always some that don’t do as well as you hoped, but by and large, it looks like a pretty stellar calf crop.”
As soon as the lots can be cleaned, the calves will be weaned and brought home. Registered Hereford bull sales will begin after the first of the year, and a couple of customers had expressed an interest in the Registered Hereford heifers. The 41st Anniversary Go-Pher the Purple sale was coming up on Dec. 12 at the McLeod County Fairgrounds. Although the Schafers were not selling any livestock there, they were still enthusiastic about attending the annual event.
John and Lester greatly enjoyed a visit by Lester’s brother, Bob Schafer, in late October. Both Bob and Lester are inducted in the American Hereford Association Hall of Fame, and the three men spent a couple hours out in the pasture looking at cattle.
“Even if they weren’t my father and uncle, I would consider it a special experience,” John said. “It was memorable, having a lot of fun, and spending some time, too, sitting around the kitchen table.”
They talked about the cattle business, family, and special memories from days gone by.
“The lives they have lived have been amazing,” John concluded.