Somewhere in the 1950s, I remember my dad installing attachments to the corn planter, round canisters similar to but larger than the canisters that held the seed corn, in order to apply fertilizer to the soil as the corn was planted. These weren’t very big, as I recall, so there couldn’t have been a great amount used. What the fertilizer was, I have no idea, but the change had begun.
Also in the 1950s, my did began a beef finishing operation. This was a a small scale prelude to much larger finishing operations of today. This process involves bringing in steers (castrated males), usually yearlings, from free range grass ranches located in mainly Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming, into confinement pens where they are fed a diet mainly of corn and soy protein products to fatten them to increase the fat in the meat for better taste (as it was marketed to the consumers back then). Nowadays, steers are also fed copious amounts of antibiotics, to prevent disease because of confined crowding, along with growth hormones, obviously for quicker weight gain. Little do most consumers know what they are really consuming in their steaks. Humans today are consuming so much secondary antibiotics from their meats that when they might really need an antibiotic, it can be ineffective.
As my dad moved more and more into beef finishing, building more pens, the dairy cattle were sold, the chicken population was cut to serve only our needs, and the pigs were gone as well. Our system of crop rotation was changing to grow as much corn as we could. It was a slippery slope into synthetic fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide intense mono crop farming of today.
Most other farms in our neighborhood continues on with the older ways, but the die was cast and my dad only portended to future.
Next, moving forward into today’s farming practices . . .