A farmer from the Friedensfeld area says when it comes to getting the seed in the ground, this spring has been great for them.  

Brent Oswald of Cottonwood Holsteins says they are about five to six days ahead from where they were this time last year “which is always nice to see.”  

He notes, “soil moisture is fantastic, which last year was a bit of a concern, but this year we're off to a really good start. We've certainly had better starts but I would say we're a bit above average. You know, if you took a look at a 10-year span.” 

Oswald says these days, he spends many hours on the field.  

“Right now, the race is to get the corn in first because it's the most time-sensitive crop as far as heat-accumulation throughout the summer. So, we're trying to wrap up the corn here. If it wouldn't rain this week, we would have it in before May long weekend, which I don't think I've been done my corn before May long weekend in about 10 years. So, I was pretty excited, but if it does rain a lot, I'm also going to be pretty excited to have a nap.” 

Oswald notes there were times this week when he was on the seeder until 4:30am, had a quick nap and then back on the field by 7:00am.  

He adds they are planting around 1,000 acres of corn, and as of Tuesday afternoon, they had crossed the 650-acre mark. ”So, we're 65% done our corn acres.” 

Oswald says next week they will start on planting beans and wheat. “Beans will be about 1,300 acres and wheat 510 and change.”

Oswald farm corn seeder (Photo credit: Brent Oswald)Oswald farm corn seeder (Photo credit: Brent Oswald)

He clarifies that though their name is Oswald Holsteins, “the cows are gone, but we have broilers, and now we are building a Layer barn. We are now producing our own soybean meal. So, we have eight soybean extruders running, ideally 24/7 of course with breakdowns, that doesn't always happen, and then we're selling feed.”  

While all of that may seem daunting to some, Oswald says that farming has always been his passion.

“Even as a child, I could never envision myself doing anything else. I’ve had lots of opportunities. I did well in school, I ended up at university. And then there were just those days where, I know it's going to sound silly, but when you’ve planted for 40-hours straight and can hardly see straight anymore, and you drive down the driveway, and you park in the machine shed, and you get those few tinkles of rain, and I just didn't know of anything else would give me that feeling.” 

Oswald says, though Cottonwood Holsteins don't include dairy products anymore, the farm is still a busy place. “There's Cottonwood Chicken Farms, there's Cottonwood Feed Solutions, and now there will be Cottonwood Egg Farms.”

Cottonwood Broilers (Photo credit: Brent Oswald)Cottonwood Chicken Farms (Photo credit: Brent Oswald)

Oswald notes that these days the different areas of their farm are managed by himself, his wife, three staff, and his mom, who “at 76 years young still has the passion to be a farmer. So, she is still givin’er.” 

He talks about what his favorite part about farming is.  

"I'm a crop guy, right down to the core. I love the crop side the most, and maybe because it's the most challenging. You know, Mother Nature throws you all these curveballs, and you’ve got to navigate them one after another, in that sort of like a chess match with her. And I think she gets to cheat sometimes, but during that chess match, I did this to avoid that, and I did this to overcome that hurdle. And then at the end of the year when you have an above average or a bumper crop, man, that's such a good report card, and then you get to do it all over again the next year.” 

Oswald says for now, they are focusing on get the crops in the ground, however, he looks ahead and says, “I am 99% sure, what we are going to be seeding next year. I've learned that we need to be more than a year in advance with fertility programs and chemical rotations and stuff, because everything has become so advanced genetics wise, that the further ahead you can plan out, the better your results are.” 

For this spring to bring that success, Oswald says “Ideally, we need 20-to-25-degree temperatures, with no frost, and the sun to shine, then would be wrapped up (seeding) in another week to 10-days. And that means, everything is seeded. Then we can park the equipment, clean it up, start getting it ready for next year and probably take the staff out fishing or something to build a little bit of morale, once they've all had a nap of course.”