Copyright ©2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host.

The growing season is over in all but the warmest parts of the country, but for most farmers, the work goes on. We've been following the Griffieon family of Ankeny, Iowa, through the seasons. They live in a white clapboard house on an 1,100-acre farm that's been in the family since the late 1800s. This year, they've raised a successful crop of corn and soybeans. Craig Griffieon, his wife, LaVon, and their daughter also raise livestock and sell beef, pork and poultry in local markets. Our story is produced by John Biewen of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

(Soundbite of footsteps)

Mr. CRAIG GRIFFIEON (Farmer, Ankeny, Iowa): We direct market meat at the local farmers market, and then we also sell it right out of our - off of our farm. And we have freezers that we converted the...

(Soundbite of metal door opening)

Mr. GRIFFIEON: The old - this used to be a hog house. And since we don't put hogs in here anymore, we converted it into our meat-storage unit, where we keep the frozen meat that we sell to people.

(Soundbite of stacking meat)

Ms. LAVON GRIFFIEON: Do you have any more hamburger, Adam(ph)? Oh, the one - oh, those are one and a half pounds?

We did nine cattle last year, six hogs, about 500 chickens is what I raised, and then probably 35 turkeys. And out of all that, we netted $5,000.

We had a whole cow cut up into hamburger.

(Soundbite of searching through freezer)

Ms. GRIFFIEON: And I've sure not seen a cow's worth of hamburger here.

(Soundbite of chest opening)

Ms. GRIFFIEON: We used to hear about Mom and her egg money, so I guess it's Mom and her diversified-livestock-operation money around here. And I'm taking a lot of credit there because I'm the one that sells it, but Craig actually raises the cattle.

Mr. GRIFFIEON: This is one of our lots. This is the style calf that we butcher for our meat business. There are probably about 75 percent Limousin and about a quarter, maybe, Angus. They're black because we've got a black Limousin bull. These are raised antibiotic-free and no hormones added. In other words, we don't do any implanting of growth hormones. They're corn fed, and it's all natural-type feed. I don't feed any GMOs to them.

Ms. GRIFFIEON: In a perfect world, he'd also be raising beef that is grass-fed and not eating corn. And - but it'll take a smaller-framed calf than what we - the kind that we're breeding right now. So, we're going to have to look at some different genetics, and then we're going to have to go through the problem of trying to convince Craig that we can take his expensive corn acres and turn them into grass land. That'll take some convincing, too, but...

Mr. GRIFFIEON: We'll have to get the pencil out for that.

Ms. GRIFFIEON: We'll go through lots of pencils.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of turkeys)

Ms. AUTUMN OGDEN: I like the livestock a lot better than the crops. I don't know, I guess it's just all the warm, fuzzy, little animals.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. OGDEN: My name is Autumn Ogden. I'm 25 years old, and I'm the oldest of the four Griffieon children. I got married about three years ago and have, well, about a year ago, I moved back to our family farm, and I'm just helping out around the farm.

(Soundbite of turkeys)

Ms. OGDEN: I guess I really like the turkeys because they have more of a personality than the chickens do. But we raise them for Thanksgiving, and then usually the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, we take them to a locker and have them butchered.

(Soundbite of wings flapping)

Ms. OGDEN: It's hard to get them into the trailer just because they're kind of massive in size.

(Soundbite of trailer door closing)

Ms. OGDEN: They're a little more wily like that. They really wait - they watch and they kind of wait for a moment of opportunity, and then they try to escape. After, I don't know, after I feed the turkeys, you know, I get attached to them. And then I'll see the checks and I'll start to add the checks up, and it'll make it better.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. OGDEN: The price of everything has gone up so much, just the basic cost of living. And it's so hard because you want to - you know, we want to produce food for our neighbors and stuff, but for, like, families that - you know, people my age that have small children, and you know, things are really tight for them anyway. You know, you don't want to just price that meat to where they can't even afford it. But yet, you have to make a profit on the farm, too.

SIEGEL: Our story about the Griffieon family comes from John Biewen at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. It was recorded by Rob Dillard of Iowa Public Radio.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: A guitarist struggled to overcome a debilitating neurological disorder; that story is next on All Things Considered.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: