I am always excited when I am asked to come on a Michigan farm tour. I had the privilege to attend the Michigan Grown Michigan Great Farm Tour with the Michigan Ag Council.
These tours are packed full of information and amazing. We meet with farmers, tour their facility and see their animals and crops. Many farmers are the 4, 5 or more generation carrying on this tradition. It’s not a job for them. It’s a way of living. And they love it. They have a passion and are willing to share what they do with us outsiders who are curious and ask a ton of questions.
Michigan Grown Michigan Great Farm Tour
On our Michigan Grown Michigan Great Farm Tour, we had the honor of visiting a dairy farm, lamb and crop farm, and a greenhouse. There was a lot to see and take in, but the families eagerly shared their passion for farming with us, during planting season. To take time out of their day to talk to us, when the weather was good and the fields need to be planted is huge. That is how they feed their livestock and earn a living.
touring the dairy farm
Our first stop was the Horning Dairy Farm. The Horning family has been farming since 1877, 140 years! Their 6th generation is farming with them. Earl and Diane Horning couldn’t be prouder that they grand kids chose to farm with them. The Horning’s provide cow comfort with sandy beds for their cows and a balanced diet of feed. It’s like a spa life for cows.
You can tell by talking to them, that their priority is the cows and their comfort. They treat their cows like family and are serious about providing the best product they can to the consumers.
Michigan Dairy Facts:
Milk goes from the cow to the store in a matter of days
Michigan ranked 5th in Michigan milk production nationally (in 2016)
Milk sold in stores is tested for antibiotics. It is tested at the dairy farm and at the processing plant. If it has antibiotics, it must be dumped. That’s a federal law.
nearly 11 billion pounds of milk was produced in Michigan in 2016
97% of Michigan dairy farms are family owned
touring the lamb and crop farm
Our second stop was to Mike and Dan Schaibles lamb farm. Their family has been farming since 1847! Mike and Dan took over the farm from their parents Barb and Luke. The Schaibles family is a lamb meat farm. They raise between 4,000-7,000 lambs each year. Lamb’s are usually on their farm 90 days before taken for processing.
When the Schaibles aren’t raising lambs , they are working the fields for crops. They plant corn, soybeans, and wheat on 1,000-1,100 acres of farm land. Did you know crops are planted in a rotation so that their is nutrients put back into the soil. There is some pretty awesome equipment they use to work their fields. The diesel tractors don’t work on miles per gallon. It is more of hours per gallon. Their tractor held over 200 gallons of diesel!
Lamb meat farm facts:
Lambs gain about 1/2 lb per day at the Schaibles farm
Lamb meat is from a sheep under a year old
the Schaibles lambs are sheered once before going to market
Lamb & Sheep same thing, different ages
Lamb meat from a sheep over a year old is mutton
wool is a byproduct from feeder lambs
touring a greenhouse
Our third and final leg of the tour, was visiting a greenhouse. Horticulture is part of crop agriculture, flower and plant farming. Denise and Ken Prielipp started Hilltop Greenhouse & Farm 12 years ago. They have a farming background also. Ken works on his families farm. Denise is very passionate about what she does. They built their facility and have expanded to meet the demands of their customers. They sell direct to the customers (like you and I) and are MAEAP certified (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program). This is a voluntary program that the farmers agree they will minimize pollution to the environment.
It’s a big greenhouse!
Their 5,200 square foot greenhouse was built with technology in mind. Wherever you see a hanging plant, there is a drip for it to be watered. Any water that hits the ground, is recycled and reused. They use friendly bugs like preying mantis and lady bugs to help their plants.The roof of the greenhouse opens to promote air flow and movement.
Denise is proud that her customers can see from start to finish how they plant from seed to selling their products. The machinery was pretty interesting to watch it plant seeds. There are different heads to handle the different size of seeds. The machines have driven efficiency in planting and keeping up with the demand of their customers.
Michigan is #1 in selling many flowers including Begonia baskets, Easter lily pots, Geranium baskets (cuttings), Hosta pots and Petunia (basket, flats and pots) to name a few
greenhouses work year-round to grow plants from seed to sell
Michigan is #1 is the production of cucumbers for pickles
more than 101 billion dollars goes into the states economy from Michigan Food and Agriculture
Michigan ranks 2nd in the nation for fresh market carrots, marigolds, pansy/viola baskets, asparagus, New Guinea impatiens pots and celery