Grains of Knowledge

Agritainment: How Farms Offer Fun Family Activities

Now that the weather is changing, outdoor activities such as pools, beaches, sporting events, parks and the like less likely to entice a family excursion. To offer communities a fun alternative to out-door amusement, farms can leverage the fall, year-round activities that blend agriculture with entertainment.

Heat Stress: The Impact on Animals (Part 2 of 2)

Overview As mentioned in Part 1, “Heat Stress: The Impact on Workers,” 2011 has been one of the hottest years on record, in all corners of the country and especially throughout the Midwest. For those whose life’s work depends on animals, it’s important to identify the risks associated with rising temperatures and humidity levels. Heat stress in animals occurs when a combination of health and environmental factors prevent the dissipation of heat from the body. It can have devastating effects on your livestock and business, including health issues, decreases in production and fertility, high mortality rates, and other costs. According […]

Planning for an Earthquake: FEMA Resources

As we recently witnessed in Japan and New Zealand, earthquakes can strike suddenly, violently and without warning. Would you be prepared if an earthquake struck where you live/work today?  Where would you go to protect yourself from falling objects?  Would you have basic essentials, such as food, water and a first aid kit available following a quake? via

Prepared for a crisis? What’s your plan?

No one likes to think about the worst case scenarios that could potentially impact your business, family or organization. However, thinking through a crisis that could occur and preparing a plan as to how you will address a crisis can be critical in mitigating the potential impact of an unforseen event. Westfield recently partnered with Validus Services to deliver a day-long Crisis Management Training session to several of our Farm customers in Minnesota.

Is your farm secure from biological threats?

Photo Source: STOP Sign Campaign From “‘Do not enter’ not a bad idea: Farm Biosecurity Needs Beefed Up by Farm and Dairy Infectious diseases are an increasing concern for farms across the country.  These diseases can be passed from people to animals or from animals to animals.  This creates a concern when opening your operation to visitors or bring home livestock a show or sale.  In the state of Michigan, Ted Ferris and Dan Grooms have started the “STOP Sign” campaign for beef and dairy farmers.  This program and others adopted by farmers and organizations are developed to help curb the spread of infectious […]

Watch out for that flood!

After a long and almost endless winter of snow, more snow and then some ice, we are now enjoying (in many parts of the country) warmer temperatures and are watching the snow melt  While this is great for some, others now are seeing puddles and facing drainage issues. According to's "farming forecast" ( there are some benefits to extra moisture including having a thick frost layer present to kill pests and fungus that impact growing crops, but having that frost does come with an extended thaw period.  The Midwest suffered two to four times normal precipitation levels in addition to much snow and ice adding to soggy […]

A Real Barn Burner: Fire is the #1 Cause of Loss for Farmers

Fire is the number one cause of loss for farms and other agricultural operations.  In recent years I’ve seen everything from wood burning stove fires to kitchen stove fires to an electrical fire in a large meat processing operation.  More times than not the fire is severe and causes a lot of damage.  As you look for ways to decrease insurance cost, the best way is to reduce your exposure to loss.  Sometimes a carrier will provide a discount for preventative measures, other times your favorable loss experience will have impact. Last fall our friends at posted some quick tips […]

Warning – Excessive snow presents danger of roof collapse

Over the past several months, there have been several incidents of roof collapse of various types of agricultural buildings across the upper Midwest and Northeastern states.   These have caused not only property damage but death of livestock and potential harm to any people inside these buildings.   Some media outlets have reported that collapse is excluded from some insurance policies.  Collapse is normally an available peril.  If you do not know if you are covered, check with your agent or insurance carrier.  More importantly, take action now to watch your farm buildings for excessive snow loads.  A recent article on the […]

Safety tips for unloading grain bins for delivery

If you’re interested in learning more about safety issues when dealing with the 2009 corn crop, take a look at this article written by Stu Ellis at University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign. He reminds us of the importance of working safely when unloading grain bins for delivery, especially considering the high moisture levels of last year’s crop.

Is your child ready for farm chores?

Since I work with dairy youth programs, this topic captured my curiosity. However, as a parent who had regularly enforced chores upon our sons, I had not posed such a question to myself when they were growing up. via Understanding that the vast majority of farming operations are run by families, we know that some farm chores are often taken on by older children and teenagers. As a parent, how do you know if you're matching the correct task with your child's age and skill level? This story from The Farm and Dairy shares some great tools for determining the appropriate combination. […]