Jeremy’s Wintertime Reflection: It’s the Memories that Mean so MUCH!

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seuss memory quote

One of my favorite days of the week this time of year is Wednesday. Well it’s really Wednesday night. My youngest son and I have a deal made during every school week.  If his grades are up and he is well-behaved, we go bowling. We have a great bowling alley down the street from our house. Ed, the owner, knows us by name and what we like to drink. Last Wednesday it felt like we were part of Ed’s family. Fourteen lanes and we were the only one there. We ate dinner there, bowled both of our best games to date and had a great time. What Ed’s business does for us really, is it creates great memories.

Jeremy’s son’s FIRST STRIKE of the Night

Our goal at Red Hen is to provide great customer service. Maybe for some, that could mean that we will help your yard look better for a backyard wedding, party or to be put up for sale. But what REALLY is great customer service? I believe a large part of it is to create great memories. We are lucky to be able to do what we do. We get to be involved in so many different lives each year. Some our customers become great friends and mentors. Even when we are the customers to other companies, many become great friends and mentors.

While I was bowling I knew then what I needed to write about next. It is time for me to thank all the customers, family, friends and other small business that gave me great memories this year. For all the years I have been working I don’t think I have had more great memories than this year. It’s hard to count how many times I laughed this year. So it’s that time of year when we need to be thankful for all the Ed’s in our lives that work to create great memories.

alcott memories

 

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From the FAQ Vault – It’s officially Autumn … I hate raking. What do you recommend I do with these tree leaves laying around on my grass?

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Public Domain Photo by Charles Rondeau

Autumn Dry Leaves (Public Domain Photo) by Charles Rondeau

In the past few weeks, we’ve gotten quite a few phone calls about tree leaves.

People are asking, “Should they be kept on the grass, removed completely, or mulched?”

Some of these calls were from customers with newly installed sod, others have sod that was installed a while ago, and still others were calling about their lawns that were established by seed.

No matter the origins of your grass, and no matter the age of your lawn, at Red Hen Turf Farm we do NOT recommend letting your leaves cover up your grass throughout the entire winter.  

Yes, if you do enough Googling, you’ll see articles that tell you it’s desireable to let the leaves stay there, mainly because a thick layer of leaves gives wildlife a nice place to live and find food.  We disagree about this being a good idea.

In fact, we recommend you limit the advice you get online to reputable, regional websites such as Purdue University Extension, Michigan State University Extension, and Ohio State University Extension. At times, we also might use extension.org and other “land grant university” websites, although we try our “local” sources first.

When we give advice to our customers, it’s typically based on these “land grant university” / Extension websites because they only publish information that is backed up by scientific research and they pass the so-called C.R.A.P. testwhich means they are Current, Relevant, Authoritative / Accurate, and their Purpose is to provide science-backed information to the community and to fellow experts.

University of Minnesota Extension suggests that if you MUST allow leaves to cover up 10-20% of your lawn, it might be fine but leaving an excessive amount of leaves on your lawn over the winter is not advised.  WHY NOT? Many reasons, including:

  1. Excessive leaf coverage over winter will likely smother your grass and inhibit growth in the spring.
  2. Leaves shade your grass, which can prevent your lawn from being able to photosynthesize in the late fall.  Photosynthesis is crucial for plant growth because it’s the process that let’s them turn sunlight into “food”.
  3. Thick layers of leaves can smother and completely kill the turf. Removing the interference from fallen tree leaves also allows your late season nitrogen applications to reach the turf more effectively, and improves the efficacy of late-season broadleaf herbicide applications. Therefore, for optimum turf health, it is critical to remove the tree leaves, or at least break them up.
  4. Leaves, even in small amounts, can trap humidity at the surface of your turf, which may encourage snow mold diseases.
  5. The animals like mice, moles, and voles that might enjoy living in your leaves may cause more damage than usual.

So, what might you do with your leaves?

  1. Rake them up or use a blower, then either compost them, dispose of them, or use them to mulch a non-turf area of your landscape such as your garden of flower beds.
  2. Use your mower’s bagging attachment, then either compost them, dispose of them, or use them to mulch a non-turf area of your landscape such as your garden of flower beds.
  3. If the coverage is no too excessive, you can MULCH your leaves with a mower.  This chops them into small pieces that won’t smother your grass. Mulching is an especially good way to handle autumn leaves since the nutrients and organic matter will benefit your lawn and soil. To learn more about mulching leaves check out THIS LINK from the City of New Rochelle, New York, which provides information from Purdue and Michigan State Universities.

Until next time! And keep the questions coming … The Red Hen Turf Farm Crew.

 

 

 

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It’s getting to be the end … Jeremy Reflects

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Photo by: Leslie Lestinsky

Photo by: Leslie Lestinsky, Red Hen Summer 2015 Marketing Intern

It is getting to be the end…..

Well another season is about to be upon us and it’s not my favorite season. I am not much into the winter season. I am not really into the cold nor do I like driving in bad conditions. It was just 2 years ago that I put my truck into the ditch down by Peru. Luckily no one was hurt and a local sheriff pulled me out. I had a farmer with me and we were going to an Expo in Indianapolis. I remember him saying “There seems to be a lot of vehicles in the ditch down here.”  After the word “here,” we too were in the ditch.

So before the snow starts to fall, in my own yard I still have one application of Fertilizer to go down this week. I will not be over-seeding at this point; it’s just too late in the year.

I also need to start lowering my mowing height. The problem I have had lately is that we have been very busy and by the time I have time to mow, the grass is too tall to lower the mower blade.

While we’ll be harvesting (weather-permitting) up through Thanksgiving if not longer, it’s sad to think that another harvest season here at Red Hen Turf Farm is about to pass us by. But I do appreciate the time it affords me to be able to spend with my family and friends, and to reflect on what we were able to achieve as a team and what needs to be improved before our 2016 sod harvest season.

– Jeremy and the Red Hen Turf Farm Team

 

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In the news … Red Hen-Red Gold Partnership Highlighted by Turfgrass Producers International

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As our regular readers might recall, our Summer 2015 Marketing Intern, Leslie, was very busy with all sorts of projects (CLICK TO READ MORE).

One of the articles that Leslie wrote was submitted to the Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) magazine and we are very happy to announce that it has made it to PRINT!  

The article is about Red Hen’s partnership with Red Gold tomatoes and our diversification into producing a range of commodity crops in addition to the 100% Kentucky bluegrass sod that we are known for in the Michiana region.

You can READ about it by CLICKING HERE (pdf download).

Red Hen-Red Gold Partnership - Turfgrass Producers International SeptOct 2015

CLICK on this Snapshot to access the full-sized PDF of this Article

Red Hen Turf Farm is a proud member of several industry and professional organizations, including TPI.  The TPI website is a great resource for anyone seeking more information on the sod industry, and includes a directory of TPI members for customers in search of sod growers in their area.

Turfgrass Producers International is the only international trade association dedicated to promoting the benefits of turfgrass sod worldwide.  Their mission is: “To represent and advance the turfgrass sod industry worldwide through the promotion of improved practices and the professional development of members and the enhancement of the environment.”

Thank you, TPI, for your ongoing support of Red Hen Turf Farm!  For anyone interested in following TPI via various social media outlets:

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Announcing Red Hen’s Lawn of the Month Photo Contest – SUBMIT PHOTOS, VOTE, and SHARE! (Deadline: 9/30/15 @ Midnight)

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photo contest

Red Hen Turf Farm’s September 2015 Fan of the Month FACEBOOK PHOTO Contest!

SUBMIT PHOTOS AND VOTE FOR WINNERS!

Show us how Red Hen’s sod, seed, fertilizer, technical advice, and other products have helped you create a lawn you can really be proud of and a great place to spend time with people you love!

Share your “Red Hen Lawn” Photos and You Can WIN a $50 Red Hen Turf Farm Gift Certificate & 2 Red Hen Turf Farm T-Shirts!

The Photos with most VOTES win.  Winners will be Announced on October 1st.

  • 1st Place will win a $50 Red Hen gift certificate & Two (2) Red Hen T-Shirts
  • 2nd place will win a $25 Red Hen gift certificate & Two (2) Red Hen T-Shirts
  • 3rd place will win Two (2) Red Hen T-Shirts

See RULES for more details, and to SUBMIT your PHOTOS and to VOTE!  Here’s the LINK:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Red-Hen-Turf-Farm/110842822311246?sk=app_380581852029401

 

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Employment Opportunities at Red Hen Turf Farm *** NEW Customer Service Specialist / Office Admin Job Posting! ***

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work-with-us-we-are-hiring

As a Red Hen Turf Farm employee, you’ll be part of a close-knit team.  You’ll find a work environment as dedicated to people as to product, and the opportunity to make solid strides toward your future.  Red Hen Turf Farm is an excellent place to grow professionally and personally.

Located near South Bend, Indiana, Red Hen has been in business since 1957. While we are known primarily for our turf grass sod production, in recent years Red Hen has added processing tomato production and seed corn production.  These crops remain the primary focus of our business at this time, but we anticipate further expansion in these enterprises as well as additional complementary crops. We combine deep roots with progressive, forward thinking business practices, and we use the latest technology, state of the art office and shop facility, and sound agronomic practices to benefit the productivity of the land and the environment.


POSITIONS WE ARE ACTIVELY HIRING FOR (Updated 9/21/15) ****** NEW  ******

  • Customer Service Specialist / Office Admin – This is year-round, full-time position, and typically you’d work at least 40 hours/week. Do people say you have a “green thumb”?  Do you have an interest in all things gardening or landscaping?  Do you have a genuine desire to teach and assist others?  Then this may be the position for you.  LEARN MORE AND APPLY ONLINE by CLICKING THIS LINK through JobScore.com

 

POSITIONS WE ARE NOT ACTIVELY HIRING FOR, but you can submit your application if you like … We’ll keep it on file (Updated 9/21/15)

 

 

  • Farm Laborer – This is an entry-level, seasonal position, and typically you’d work at least 40 hours/week.
  • Field Assistant – This is the next step up from our Farm Laborer positions.  Field Assistant is also a seasonal position, and typically you’d work at least 40 hours/week.
  • Operator – This is a position that we used to call “Semi Truck Driver.” The primary duties are related to driving semi, so we do require at least 2 years semi driving experience.  A CDL-A is not required for this position, but would be a real plus. Operator is also a seasonal position, and typically you’d work at least 40 hours/week.  NOTE:  Operator applicants will need to fill out our Application PLUS our Operator Questionnaire

You can apply for the Farm Laborer, Field Assistant, and Operator positions by completing an Application and submitting it by mail, in person, by email, or online.  If your experience, skills, education, and background best match the requirements, you may be contacted by Red Hen to set up an in-person or phone interview.  NOTE:  Operator applicants will need to fill out our Application PLUS our Operator Questionnaire

  • Apply by mail:  Print out and send our Application to: Red Hen Turf Farm, 29435 Darden Rd, New Carlisle, IN 46552
  • Apply in person: Print out our Application or get one from us when you come to our office at the above address.
  • Apply by email: Print out our Application, fill it out, and scan / email it to jobs@redhenturf.com

 


 

 

last updated: 09/21/15
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What Does a Marketing Intern DO at a Sod Farm Anyhow?

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021I really didn’t know what to expect of a marketing internship at a turf farm. I also didn’t come into this with any specific expectations other than to harness some concrete skills that would set me apart from the competition as I entered the work force. I took the Red Hen internship because I knew I would be working with quality people, within a community I am passionate about and farming/ small business is in my roots. My intuition was — this would be fantastic place to learn and grow.

In the beginning, I spent time touring the farm, shadowing staff, taking a lot of notes, listening to a few stories (some fact, some fiction) and really taking it all in. Before long, I was getting my feet wet.

Five Tower Lane

Some of the projects I ended up working on were designing new business cards (utilizing photographs I took), postcard advertising mailers, Facebook cover art, hats, as well as dabbling in website design. I enjoyed the design projects; they allotted me independent creativity while teaching me those concrete skills I was hoping for.

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Organization is the key to success.

I also researched and wrote up social media policy for employees as well as researched social media management tools and their effectiveness for this particular small business. Along the lines of social media, I also worked diligently to beef up the farm’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts. My goal was to utilize Twitter to update cutting status, Instagram to entertain and thus gain followers and Facebook to inform and entertain, all of which would ultimately lead to followers and thus sales.

A cluttered desk just means you’re working diligently on many projects, right?

Writing up articles for submission to Turf Producers International (TPI) newsletter and magazine, the farm blog and other newsletters, was another big undertaking.  When writing about Red Hen’s involvement in the SB 150 birthday party, I had the privilege to speak with planning committee members Johnathon Geels, Landscape architect with the Troyer Group and Drew Elegante, owner of South Bend Brew Werks. Both were a pleasure to interview and gave notable insight and quotes that ultimately helped me deliver a great article.

I sat in on an irrigation event the farm hosted, presented by Purdue and MSU county extension offices. Attending, writing a blog about that event, and taking pictures for it was a definite highlight.

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Lyndon Kelley of MSU and Purdue extension offices speaks on irrigation tactics.

July 2015 002

Irrigation event field trip.

I went out on a limb when researching the TPI media packet. I noticed an upcoming issue would be touching on product diversification, which is significant to the Red Hen operation. I quickly jumped on the opportunity to write about this and got it approved by management.

lawn big roll 001

A substantial amount of time was also spent working one-on-one with customers. I would place their orders, talk to them about their lawns and more often than not, listen to the solutions Jeremy Cooper (Turf Operations Manager), the sod expert of the office, had for them. It was refreshing to work with a business that understands how to treat customers well and works hard at it every single day.

Customer service 101: You never know what you’re gonna get!

Among all these projects, my favorite was shooting video and pictures. I was able to
deliver a bank of quality pictures to the farm in thousands. Getting up at the crack of dawn to capture the sunrise on the farm, laying on the sod and venturing through 10 foot tall corn, all in the name of unique shots, contributed to an overall amazing experience.

Sunrise on Turf 087

Final Farm 048

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Lisa Courtney, my internship manager, was a wealth of information. She is a google extraordinaire and at times, I feel she is a living and walking encyclopedia.  If you need answers, she’s got them and if she doesn’t, give her 10 minutes and search engine and she will!  She has taught me so much in terms of technology, I.T. tips, website knowledge, design strategy, etc…  I can’t begin to explain all the nuggets she’s thrown at me during the course of the internship, but I can say I’m very thankful to her and I’m so honored to have had the opportunity to work next to her.

All the staff at Red Hen has been pleasant to work with. I appreciate the laid back yet professional atmosphere. There is a real sense of community and common sense work ethic within the organization which I think greatly adds to their effectiveness and overall success.

Red Hen Group Photo 002

 

Sod crew inked

Red Hen Sod Crew

I must say this internship was a wonderful experience.  It was a goal of mine to “wow” them.  Well, I’m not  sure I can say I’ve met my goal but they have definitely “wow’d” me!

Tomatoes inked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leslie signature

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Crabgrass in the Fall – Having a Completely Crabgrass-free Lawn is a Tough Chore!

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Crabgrass growing next to a sidewalk

Crabgrass growing next to a sidewalk  >>> Image Source: Purdue Turf Tips, Weed Management Next to Sidewalks and Driveways (July 14, 2014) – CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO READ MORE

As most of you are WELL aware of, crabgrass is a common summer annual weed in our Michiana lawns.  In July, crabgrass plants were busy flowering and spreading their seeds, but each year it will die out naturally after the first frost.

But what can you do about crabgrass in the months between July and October/November when we usually see our first frost?

Unfortunately, the best time to control late summer / early fall crabgrass is to go back in time and deal with it in THE SPRING with a PRE-EMERGENT herbicide (like our 13-0-5 Fertilizer + Crabgrass preventer), along with mowing right, watering right, and fertilizing right.

Crabgrass is tough to kill and reproduces very effectively.  To expect a 100% crabgrass-free lawn is probably not very realistic – Mother Nature has the upper hand. The most effective approach to controlling this weed is to nurture and maintain a dense, healthy lawn to out-compete crabgrass (and other weeds by default), and prevent it from establishing in the first place.

We’ve been getting quite a few calls and visits from customers whose lawns are mostly free of this weed EXCEPT along areas like the edges along sidewalks, driveways, and roads.  These sections have two major issues going against them:

(1) SALT from winter that is still hanging around in the soil; and

(2) COMPACTION from things like foot traffic, auto/mower tires, and piled snow.

Crabgrass – among other weeds – is very tolerant of growing where there is salt and compaction.   Turf grasses are sensitive to both salt and compaction, and tend to NOT grow well in these spots.  Kentucky bluegrass is especially sensitive to salt damage, while perennial ryegrass, fine fescues, and tall fescue are more tolerant, but not totally resistant.

Another common trouble-spot is along the seams where sod was laid but the edges of the rolls were probably not placed close enough together.  The turf growing in these seams is thin and weak, allowing weeds to out-compete your grass.

Again, the crabgrass you see now in late-August WILL die off with our first frost.  But what about using a POST-emergent herbicide?  There are effective products to use, but TIMING is everything and ALWAYS READ THE LABEL.  Common to these post-emergent crabgrass herbicides is that you need to apply them when the plant is YOUNG … and, well, once we get past mid-July the crabgrass plants are usually
too large to control effectively. Another challenge to treating crabgrass that has already shown up is that these post-emergents work best at temperatures below 85ºF on clear days with low humidity.  That’s pretty hard to do in the dog-days of summer!

So what do I do this time of year in my own yard? I pulled a few out of my front yard the other day. I have more in the backyard and I plan on leaving them. I am not going to try to attempt to eradicate them with herbicides at this time. They are very big and tougher to kill. I am going to tolerate them because they will die with the first frost. Every year I tell many customers that you can apply Crabgrass preventer 2 times in a year.   If crabgrass was bad this year, I would look to doing better prevention next year.

On the other hand, if you’re up for the challenge, we do carry some post-emergent herbicides that we’d be happy to educate you about.

For more in-depth, science-based information, check out Purdue Extension’s publication, “Control of Crabgrass in Home Lawns” by CLICKING HERE.

As always, give our team a call if you have any questions – 574-232-6811.

Jeremy and the Red Hen Turf Farm Team

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Red Hen is featured as Builders Association of Elkhart County’s Business of the Month

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Red Hen Group Photo 002We are proud to say we are highlighted in this month’s Builders Association of Elkhart County (BAEC) newsletter as their business of the month.  Here is the article that was featured:

For over 50 years, on over 1,000 acres, we have been producing exceptional Kentucky bluegrass sod, cultivated from 4 varieties. This special blend is especially suited for the Upper Midwest climate. We utilize cutting edge technology and agronomic practices in our operation.

An element that sets Red Hen Turf Farm apart from the competition is our ability to offer 200sq ft. sod rolls to our customers. Ourbig rolls are ideal in that they are easier to lay down in comparison to little rolls, using Brouwer equipment. There will be less seams and the job can be done faster, more efficiently and with less physical strain on your crew. This ultimately saves you money. If you do not have Brouwer equipment to utilize, ours can be rented out at $0.02/sq. ft. of purchased sod. We typically deliver as far as 150 miles from base camp here in NewCarlisle, Indiana. To give an idea, wecan go as east as Ft. Wayne, southas West Lafayette, north as Grand Rapids and west as St. John.

Sod 018

Sod is the granite countertop of lawns. Laying sod is the best bet for new homeowners because it delivers several instantaneous benefits. They will experience a beautiful lawn their kids and/or pets can enjoy right away, whereas, in laying seed they will have to wait a year for the kind of lush texture seeding may produce that sod is guaranteed to bring instantly. Sod is a mature plant that will not require much time and attention after taking root in a few weeks, whereas seeding is going to need attention for a year, granted it doesn’t get washed out by a big rain. When investing in an outdoor product such as sod, indoor investments such as carpet are protected. Mud can become quite the hassle in a new home, especially with pets and children in the mix. Laying sod ensures thatmud stays where it belongs; under the opulent grass. Laying sod can also prevent wash-outs. Have you ever seen the turquoise ribbons of chemicals left in the street by a hydroseeded lawn as it was washed away by a rainstorm? These trails of washouts make a lawn surface bumpy and inhospitable to future grass seed. Sodding helps to control erosion from the minute it is laid.

Sunrise on Turf 087

 

Sod can grow well in poor soil. Grass seed is going to need quality soil as well as fertilizer and constant water management to grow to the propensity of sod. We are the experts; we know how to grow grass beautifully and with minimal impact on the environment. We take the hassle out of the process for you. Laying sod saves you time, money and frustration.

At Red Hen Turf Farms, we take a unique approach to what we do. Not only do we take strategic and progressive care in how we grow, harvest and deliver our sod but we also try to think and work avant-garde. One example of our innovative approach to doing business is sodding the Jefferson Boulevard bridge in downtown South Bend, Indiana for the SB150 birthday celebration. When asked by the planning committee if we would be willing to donate 13,600 feet/ 68 big rolls as well as our time and labor to the event, we were game. We know that it is in these service efforts that we can reach out to new customers and gain exposure while also using our product and services to build a stronger local community. We didn’t bat an eye at the labor involved because we love what we do here. In the end, it was a wild success and we were honored to be part of it. Delivering quality turf and building strong customer relationships and networks are the epicenter of what we do and why we love this business.

To read other editions of BAEC’s newsletter, here’s the LINK.  Their membership director can be reached HERE, and if your company is interested in joining the BAEC, here’s that LINK.

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