Monday, December 11, 2017

The Christmas Tree Story

Growing up on a ranch is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. I think a lot about why this is - why I am so in love with the life that I am able to have. Times upon times come to mind – times where my love for the land, my love for growing crops, my love for cattle, and my love for farming and ranching grew and flourished. 

Came up from U of A this past weekend to help my dad move some cattle. Brought along a few friends - moving cattle is always easier with more humans helping out! + Stella (my doggo that just had puppies) came out and helped. I feel that she has missed the ranch life!  

Before my family opened Mortimer Farms we owned and operated a nursery in Prescott and a cattle ranch in Dewey – both still huge parts of our lives. All four of us kids - Hayden, Kayla, Kolten, and I were greatly involved in both business. I learned to drive before I could reach the peddles, I learned to care for cattle and ride horses before I could read, I was taught every plant name and even a few facts about each at a very young. 

It seems that no matter the topic I have some sort of story to connect it to my upbringing and the farm, ranch, or nursery. Christmas is no different!! 

Growing up we had a Christmas tree family tradition. We would all bundle up in our warmest clothes right before sunset and pile on a Mule. The Mule was able to fit 3 adult people – how we ever managed getting all six of us and all the dogs in the Mule still is a mystery to me. All I know is the sibling fights that usually go “Mom, he’s touching me”, “Dad, she’s breathing on me”, or even “they are on my side of the line” were nonexistent. It was so dang cold that touching, breathing, and smashing together were encouraged and the only way to stay warm. We rode in the mule – smashed tighter than sardines in search of the most perfect Christmas tree. It is these times that seem to resonate in my being! It is times like these that I look back on when I think of my awesome childhood, and my family that I love ever so much! 

Uncle Greg (my dad's brother) came to visit from Creston, Iowa and brought the snow!

This tradition we had – the search for the Christmas tree that would almost always be centimeters away from being too big to stand up in our home – is a tradition that we wish to pass onto families in our community. Mortimers has just the family experience and tradition for you and your family – the most perfect Christmas tree picking out time that can ever be had. A time filled with farm fresh Christmas trees, hot coco, baked goods, heavenly music, fire pits, s’mores, and wholesome family fun! Come see us at #MortimerFarms and #MortimerNursery!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and your gang!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Fall? Yes, please!

It might be the mouthwatering pumpkin pecan pies, the most perfect weather, the excitement that comes from getting lost in a corn maze, the beautiful fall color, tasting fresh pressed apple cider, finding the most unique pumpkin in the patch, inhaling the crisp fall air, snuggling around the camp fire, or even those belly laughs that can be heard for miles and miles. Whoever the culprit may be we are addicted – addicted to fall! The only prescription? The only fix? Fall at Mortimer Farms - your fall destination.

For years my family and I have strived to create farm experiences that enable our guests to have a wholesome family time and make those memories that last more than a lifetime. I can say full heartedly the best times I had as a child were the times on my dad's lap on a tractor, playing on the old tires with my siblings, watching baby chicks hop around, helping my mama in the garden, checking the cows on cold, cold winter days - the list goes on and on. One thing I've noticed is my favorite memories are on the farm and the ranch. Memories I wouldn't change - EVER. For so long these memory making moments were only shared with a few close friends and family.  Most families are generations removed from the farm, removed from those fun times and memory making moments like getting dirty, petting a goat, walking through a field of pumpkins, or even eating a burger from the same place it was raised. My love of fall grew even more as #MortimerFest began! I love fall because for a whole month I am able to see my childhood be recreated and thousands and thousands of families making memories that will last more than a life time.

There is something magical that comes with having fun on the farm. It must help us tap into our ancestor’s lives, what the country was founded on, or even how to have real, hearty family fun!

When I think of the magical times I had as a child I most definitely would say they were had at the farm. My siblings and I were great at turning anything and everything into a special and unordinary time! One of my favorite things we did was turn big piles of plain old dirt into the world’s best play area. We would slide down the big slops, balance on the slick parts, burry cool stuff and try and find it. We would play here for hours and hours. It wasn’t anything special – literally a pile of dirt and yet we had so much fun!  Another one of my favorites is the Field Roller. It is a race inspired by the farming tool called a Field Roller. This is a piece of equipment that is hooked onto a big tractor and dragged across the field to break up large dirt clods before planting.

Needless to say growing up on a farm and now recreating all of those great times for families all over is a life I wouldn’t trade for any other. I am in love with fall on the farm - not flashy bright colorful carnival rides - much, much, much better than anything that can be found in the city. We are a farm - and oh, we know how to have a blast. Yahoo for Redneck Swing, Buckin’ Bull, Corn Bath, Pony Hop, Zip Lines, Tire Swings, Peddle Carts, Corn Maze, Pumpkin Pad, Zip Lines, Pony Rides, Barrel Train, farm animals, and SOOO MUCH MORE!!


Plus on top of all the rides and activities we find it extremely important to add farm education. Like I said up above sooo many little humans and big humans don't have the opportunity to set foot on a farm or a ranch and those that do often don't know much about the ins and outs of the agriculture industry. To feed the need WE HAVE FARM TOURS AND SHOWS - Dog Shows, Magic Shows, and my personal favorite - PIG RACES!! They all are a blast and they all teach our guests a few new facts about what we do each and every day. I PROMISE YOULL HAVE A GREAT TIME!

I'm telling you - agriculture is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It is to thank for the best memories of my life and I am excited to share those same great memory making experiences with you and your family. We are extremely happy and excited for those lasting memories to be made. We also are so excited to be able to share our story with you and your family. We have a passion for what we do and the industry we are a part of - farming - ranching - feeding you. It is what we do and we love it. We invite you to learn about that passion and learn about what we do and why we do it.  Enjoy your day - have a blast - pick an awesome pumpkin - eat mouthwatering farm food - and enjoy the wonderfulness that comes with being on a farm. And don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and our blog - BeyondtheBarbwire. #Mortimerfarms #MortimerFest Happy fall y’all!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Our Dream

Growing up in a farming and ranching family was and continues to be eventful. I am the oldest, then comes HaydAn (a dang hard worker who hides all emotion possible), and then KT (the funnest human in the world and my best friend), and then little Kolt Mort (the kindest and sweetest cowboy I know). We all have our own pieces of the farm and ranch that we are in charge of - that we are expected to maintain and care for. 

Thankfully all the things I am asked to do I LOVE!! 

The first thing is sharing our story with all of you. So many people don't have the chance to actually experience the agriculture life day to day. It is these people that I love watching as they start to understand what ranching and farming entails. 

I went to school with city kids growing up and like any little girl I loved to have my friends over. In 1st or 2nd grade my friend, Kendra came over during calving season!! There was a mama cow in the pasture that was having trouble delivering her calf. Kendra, my mama, and I ended up having to "pull" the calf (help the mama deliver). This was an everyday task for me and my family but for Kendra it was a once in a life time experience. It is an experience she still talks about. A time she was able to connect to the agriculture world. My job of sharing our story isn't always so hands on. Many times it is watching a family dig a carrot out of the ground for the first time or even the times where dirt becomes the best accessory to any outfit. These are the wholesome times that are remembered for more than a life time and I absolutely love helping create these experiences! 

The second thing that I love - RANCHING!! I love, love, love everything about it! The fact that boys are just way cuter when they are wearing their cowboy hats, a herd of cattle in the distance is the best sight in the world, and those babies are dang cute! There are no words great enough to explain how much I love the ranching way of life and all that comes with it! 

And the third thing - I love FALL and the FESTIVAL!! Pumpkins, COUNTRY DANCING, fire dancers, corn maze, food, weather, cute clothes, music, pig races - I AM ADDICTED! 

Hayden is my dad's right hand man. Anytime anything at all needs to be done he goes straight into auto pilot and calls Hayden. Whether it be gathering cattle, fixing a truck, doctoring a baby, fixing fence, mowing a field, planting crops, laying dirt, harvesting, or even picking up my dad's drink of choice, Diet Arizona Green Tea, Hayden is the one that is called. Last week Hayden came home from one of these auto pilot calls so covered in dirt, motor oil, and work that I couldn't even tell it was him. He. Was. Filthy. Typical Hayden doesn't share his daily events with us or let us in on what happened that day but thankfully we always have an idea based on how dirty he is and what looks to be the culprit.

Kayla is all over the place in what she likes to do when it comes to the family business. Her key phrases are: "I don't know, I am from Arizona" (because she has a Southern accent and every asks her why) and "That is my new calling" (because she has so many passions). 90% of the time Kayla is at the Country Store talking about farm fresh veggies, meat, and bakery items, watching the indescribable fun that is being had in the farm park, and enjoying #MortimerFarms Sweet Corn, petting every dog that walks through the door, eating tons of STRAWBERRIES from AZ's only U-Pick Strawberry Patch, and soaking up the sun in the U-Pick garden! The other 10% of the time Kayla is either loving her doggos (that have many, many, many nicknames) or wearing boots and spurs and riding horses out on the ranch. I would say she has one of the best jobs in the world! 

SWEET CORN SEASON IS RIGHT NOW!! Read about #MortimerFarms Corn and what I think about it right here

U-PICK ON THE FARM - VEGGIES, FLOWERS, AND STRAWBERRIES! The best way to learn about farming is to do it!

And lastly, Kolten - the baby of the family! Kolten is the typical 13 year old cowboy. (He says his job best here!!) There are three places that Kolten tends to be. 1. Working on or driving fast diesel trucks. 2. On a horse checking cattle. 3. Swing dancing with a cute girl with a line of at least 10 more waiting for their turn. 

This past week Kolten was found day in and day out in the turkey house. For the first 36 hours of a turkeys life they have to be constantly watched. During this time they are in a 12 foot circle. In the exact middle of the circle is a brooder. This heat source acts as the mother and the baby's source of heat. The middle of the circle must be 110 degrees (and can only fluctuate by 5 degrees both ways) while the outside of the circle must be 85 degrees (and can only fluctuate 5 degrees both ways). These temperatures allow for the best living conditions for the turkeys. If the temperatures are not meet the turkeys will pile up. When this happens the turkeys on the bottom of the pile cannot breathe and will die if not moved quickly. Due to all of this and many other factors Kolten's lack of sleep for 2 days straight is always a God sent. The first 36 hours are critical and Kolten helps us get through it with flying colors! 

To my family, this is the American Dream! As dirty and exhausting as it gets we love it. We love smelling like dirt, looking at data, testing soil, watching corn grow, fixing equipment, AIing cattle (Artificially Inseminate to improve cattle genetics), growing and raising food, and even skipping a few nights of sleep to watch over baby turkeys. 

I will never understand how my brothers get so dang dirty or how Kayla can love dog and animals so much but I am absolutely beyond thankful for the reason behind it. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Mortimer Farms Permanent Drip Irrigation

Farmers and ranchers have a responsibility to care for the land, the animals, the crops, and our world's natural resources. A 6th generation farmer and rancher said this, "I think we understand more than anybody that if we abuse the natural resources, if we deplete them, if we take advantage of them, if we don't take care of them they will be gone. And once they are gone we have nothing left. We don't have a job anymore. We've actually put ourselves out of a job if we don't manage our resources." This responsibility is one that goes far beyond ourselves - it is a responsibility that will affect our children, and our grandchildren, and generation upon generation to come. So much in agriculture - so much that we do now greatly affects this generation and so many more. A few weeks ago I saw a quote on Pintrest (yes, farmers love social media too - in fact we depend on technology to do our jobs). It said something like "We don't inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children." This explains the industry to a t. 
Listen to farmer's and rancher's stories here

Farmers and ranchers do everything to feed this generation healthy, affordable, and nutritious food and to leave our lands to our children better than we received them. My family, along with every Agricultural family in America, takes this responsibility very seriously. Because of this we change, and advance, and continuously better our farms and ranches. 

Water is a natural resource that farmers and ranchers use daily. In fact, I would say that water is one of our biggest needed natural resources in farming. In the past the way to water was flood irrigation. In short, each field has hundreds of little hills side by side that expand the entire length of the field. On the top of the hill is where the plants are planted. In between each hill is a valley. This valley is where water will be pushed from one side to another. Along the way water is left behind for each plant. At the end of the row, or the field, left over water will be collected and used on the next field. This process continues until each field is watered. When the slope of the field is correct, and the furrows are straight this watering technique works great! However, it is very labor intensive, and many times waters plants, weeds, and even soil - resulting in the use of more water. 

My family's farm, Mortimer Farms, has always been cautious of natural resources. Many times it is very expensive to implement the newest and best farming tools and technology. However, we find ourselves collecting our pocket change because we cant think of a better way to spend our money than to protect and preserve our land and our natural resources. 

For a few years now, we have been slowly converting our farm to permanent drip irrigation. This watering practice enables the exact amount of water to be delivered directly to the crop's root system. This maximizes the use of available water. Drip irrigation does not provide water to weeds or unwanted plants. It also increases fertilizer efficiency, improves infiltration, improves seed germination, decreases tillage, erosion, and fertilizer runoff, and lowers watering labor costs. All in all, creating and fostering stronger plants. Along with stronger plants comes strong immunity to pests and bad insects, faster growing, and even higher yields. 

1. Maximum use of available water - water is given directly to each plant's root system
2. No water being available to weeds - water is given directly to each plant's root system 
3. Maximum crop yield - healthier and stronger plants
4. High efficiency in the use of  fertilizers - fertilizer is given in the plants water directly to their root system 
5. Less weed growth and restricts population of potential hosts - water is not readily available to weeds  
6. Reduces irrigation requirements
7. Less soil erosion - no moving water to carry soil
8. Improved infiltration in soil of low intake - soil is now able to slowly soak in the water
9. Easy to run. 
10. No runoff of fertilizers into ground water - plants use all water that they are directly given
11. Less evaporation losses of water as compared to surface irrigation - the system is underground 
12. Improves seed germination - heathy and stronger plants 
13. Decreased tillage - only till a few inches on the top when necessary due to the irrigation pipes in the ground 

So cool right?!

Here's how it works - 




We use this specific tractor and drip irrigation injector/ implement due to its accuracy and efficiency. The tractor maps out each specific field in order to place the irrigation lines in exactly the correct spot, at the correct depth, and correct spacing between lines. These lines are then mapped and memorized on a computer in the tractor in order to plant the seeds in the correct spot when it comes time to plant. This technology is amazing! 

The pictures above are the actual irrigation lines. 

Picture #1 - each field is split up into 3 watering sections. This means that we DO NOT have to water the entire field just blocks or sections of the field that are planted. This will come in really handy during #sweetcorn season. To have sweet corn for as long as we do we have to plant in blocks. By doing this not every stalk's cob is ready at the same time. Each block will be ready and harvested at different times. 

Picture #2 - under these pipes there is a main line that feeds water to each block or section. This picture is the turn on valves for one sections. Notice there are two lines and two turn on valves. This is why - at Mortimer Farms we MAINLY grow corn and pumpkins (we also grow hay, wheat, melons, berries, vegetables, and many others depending on the year). Corn and a few other crops we grow have to be planted 38 inches apart while pumpkins need to be planted 76 inches apart. Each year we plant a different crop in each field - crops have to be rotated each season (this is why we grow so many different things - each crop does something different to benefit the soil)!! Because of this each white pipe has drip irrigation pipes coming off of it at 76 inches apart. Each 76 inches is rotated on each pipe. This means that combined the pipes have a line 38 inches apart. When pumpkins are planted in this field we will only turn on one value watering 76 inches apart. When we grow corn in this field we will turn on both valves and water every 38 inches. 

Picture #3 - This is a picture of the black pipes that will water the plants. To the right of the picture is the field. These pipes will be buried under ground going all the way down the field. 

Picture #4 - This is what the pipes look like when they are all installed. We cover everything except the blue valves and a green air vent (allows air to escape out of the pipes).


Picture #1 - In this picture you can see the holes beginning to be dug for the start of the irrigation pipes in the field. 

Picture #2 - Directly behind the tractor is the main line and the white pipes. At the edge of the field irrigation pipes on the tractor are connected to the black pipes in the above pictures. The pipes on the tractor are then buried in the direction the tractor is going. These pipes will extend from one side to the other for the entire space of the field. 

Picture #3 - This is the implement that stretches and buries the pipe down the length of the field. The circles towards the top are what holds the pipe. These circles are forced to turn and release pipe as the tractor moves forward. At the very bottom, laying on the ground, are metal pieces. These are the shanks. The tractor will move the entire implement down in order to push these in the ground. These shanks are then the tractors guide as to where the pipe will be permanently placed. They dig the trench while a tube comes in behind that actually lays the irrigation pipe. 


All these moving pieces allow for the huge list of advantages, from above, to take place. Not only will we be able to grow more, pump less water, reduce evaporation, lessen visible irrigation line (look at those cute baby corn stalks above with no visible irrigation above the ground), and transition our labor hours to harvesting instead of watering but we will be able to protect and preserve our water for the future. We are in this business for not only our life times but for our prosperity's life times. We do everything to make farming and ranching possible in their lives. 

Andy Smallhouse (a real good friend of ours - a cattle rancher and cactus farmer in Southern Arizona) said, "Agriculturalists are the true environmentalists and care more about what they do and are probably more passionate about what they do than any other group of people that I know." I couldn't agree more. I see my family and so many other families dedicating their entire lives, literally, to farming and ranching. It is a livelihood, a business, and a career that I am so blessed to be able to witness and be apart of.
Listen to Andy and many others (including the Mortimers) here

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring Has Sprung

My family has been involved in farming and ranching for more generations then I can count. My dad’s side of the family were corn and soy bean farmers in Iowa while my mama’s family were cattle ranchers and cotton farmers out west. I love this about my family’s history. I love that farming and ranching traditions were passed though generation upon generation. I love that the love for the land, environment, and animals that I find in myself is the same love that my great, great, great, great grandparents had for the land they were farming, the resources they were caring for, the animals they were raising, and the water they were using.
Through each season on my family’s farm and ranch – though each day I work – though each responsibility I preform – though each magnificent sight I see I am reminded of this unique but wonderful tie to previous generations.

Spring is one of my favorite times. I love seeing the world wake up. Whether it be by seeing new born calves test out their legs for the very first time, driving past the farm late at night and seeing my dad hard at work in the tractor, hearing birds sing, seeing trees and flowers bloom, or seeing so much new growth and beauty - I love to see the all God's creations – all that we have here - in nature – out on the ranch and on the farm once again become evident.

I think this is why I love my job so much. I get to spend every day surrounded by these things that remind me so much of the love God has for us – I am encircled by brilliance. A brilliance that not only reminds me of Him but reminds me of all the blessing I have now and all those wonderful people that came before me.

When my dad was about 4 years old he began to learn how to drive a tractor. The first tractor he drove was my great-grandpa Leo’s B Tractor. I still have no idea how he could possibly have reached the peddles (I am all grown up and still barely can reach, haha). It was at this point in little Gary’s life that he needed to assist in farm responsibilities. One of his jobs was to drive the B Tractor with my Uncle Greg, Grandma Karen, and lots of hay on the trailer. He would drive the tractor right through the middle of their few head of cattle. While he drove Greg and Grandma would throw out hay. I can just see it now – little Gary barely reaching the peddles while driving though a herd of cattle. He was trusted and given so much responsibility at such a young age. It is what the farm and ranch life is. We all pitch in – we all have our duties – and we all positively impact the farm and ranch.

Spring about 10 years ago was one of the first times I can remember helping my dad plant the fields. The planter we had, at the time, didn’t drop the seeds into the holes that the planter was making for the seeds to go into. For this reason, my sibling and I had to sit on the planter and drop two seed every 3 seconds into our designated row. Right next to my station was a tire. This tire had a white line on the wheel. I soon realized that one spin of the tire equaled 3 seconds. Can you tell this was one of the longest springs of my life? I begged my dad to purchase a planter that actually did the entire job that it was supposed to do. Looking back now I’m sure he didn’t have this not so great planter to teach me anything or to show me anything but it definitely was a side effect. That spring, I learned dedication, hard work, and the importance of drinking lots and lots of water by being immersed in the operation – by being trusted and given responsibility.

Thankfully, since then my dad has upgraded his farming equipment. I no longer have to sit on the planter and drop two seeds every spin of the tire – every 3 seconds. I do have to say that 10 years ago when that spring planting emerged out of the warm and moist soil – that moment was wonderful! That moment I felt so much joy and satisfaction for a job that we accomplished – for a responsibility my family and I had that proved to be a success. That moment made the long, long, long spring of dropping a seed worth every spin of the tire.

Spring is a great time in my life and in my family’s lives. It is the time where I feel as if the work I am doing each and every day has meaning. It is the time of my year that I feel closest to those of my past that cultivated land with shovels and their hands. Those in my family’s history that dedicated their entire beings to something that was so hard. Generations ago, my family planted fields upon fields with just a shovel. What. Dedication. And. Passion! Today, I am beyond thankful for the farming and ranching tools that we have to enable us to do our jobs more efficiently, and better.

Marveling at hundreds of baby calves and fields and fields of green sprouts is my life at the moment! In fact, I drive home from U of A every weekend – 6-8 long hours (usually in lots of traffic) because I just adore this life – my life on the farm and the ranch so much! A life I would never give – a life I love so dearly – a life I hold very close to my heart!