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LMC visits area farms; learns about 4-H

October 20, 2011

Mike Heganm of Argos Holsteins explains an aspect of the milking process to Leadership Marshall County class members.

ARGOS — One of the main goals of Leadership Marshall County (LMC), sponsored by the Marshall County Community Foundation (MCCF), is for members to learn a few things that they didn’t know about the county.
That definitely happened Wednesday as the class visited two area farms, Argos Holsteins dairy farm and Vories grain farm, and heard from young 4-H members.
First stop was Argos Holsteins. Owner Mike Hegamn said the dairy farm has grown significantly since his family bought it in 1959. 640 cows are milked there three times each day in a single milking parlor. The cows each produce 140 pounds of milk every day. Hegamn explained the process of milking the cows (now done by mechanized milkers), how they are bred for optimum milk production, and many other aspects of maintaining the farm. He explained that their milking cows must have at least one calf each year in order for them to keep producing milk. When a cow can no longer produce milk, Hegamn said jokingly that they call it “a McDonald’s cow.”
The farm gets most of its income from milk sales (some of which is made into powder and shipped internationally) but coming in second is beef. Hegamn said that the farm brings in about $350,000 in beef sales each year.
The dairy farm has a Grade A permit and is inspected at least once a year by both the federal and the state government. After a tour of the farm, LMC class members said goodbye and headed to their next stop — Vories grain farm. Unfortunately, owner Bill Vories was unable to meet them because of a combine fire, and the group was left to their own devices. Mike Jones, agricultural teacher at Argos High School, assisted LMC board member Geri Newman in explaining how the grain farm is operated. One area of interest was the grain elevator, responsible for distributing corn among the silos. Newman and Jones also took the group through two buildings containing large, top-of-the-line tractors and other farm equipment.
To end the afternoon, two members of 4-H, Seth Michel and Hannah Harrell, gave a presentation at Argos High School about the different opportunities of the 4-H youth program. Harrell wowed LMC class members with a display of her many 4-H projects, while Michel talked about his extensive experience raising and showing sheep. Both young people impressed their audience with their composure and ease of public speaking.
Jones explained how 4-H and FFA works, adding that many young people in these programs become accomplished speakers before they graduate from high school. Newman said that one rewarding experience for her is seeing a shy, withdrawn junior high student grow increasingly confident through 4-H and FFA activities.
Before they left, members of LMC took part in refreshments, all locally grown or made in Marshall County. Each member of the class was reminded that they need to be working on their class project for the year, and classmates exited the building speaking excitedly to each other about what they might do to improve the county.
For more information about Leadership Marshall County, visit the Marshall County Community Foundation website, www.marshallcountycf.org.

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