Dipping into the "Unofficial" Start of Summer

There’s an old adage that says, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”  But as I rode in the buddy seat while Marc Johnson planted corn in a field overlooking his cow-calf pairs on pasture, his herd looked content.

It’s no wonder these cows are happy because life is good on this Ida County farm.  The damp, cool days of April have turned into mild, sunny days in May.  As a result, the conditions have been fit for calving.  The Johnson’s first calf dropped April 2, and there were 53 calves on the ground four weeks later.

What a difference a few weeks make in the country!  Although Marc got a later start planting than he had hoped, everything ran smoothly and he finished planting corn in record time.  Marc was able to keep the planter rolling, thanks to help from family members.  His brother-in-laws worked the ground ahead of him and delivered seed to the field.

Marc and Lorraine Johnson

Family ties are important to Marc, and that’s one of the reasons he enjoys working with a family-owned seed company.  “I really like working with Latham because it’s a family-owned business.  I can talk directly to the owners if I want,” he said.  “And, I really enjoy working with my RSM, Bart Peterson.  I call him up if I need something or have a problem, and he’s always there for me.”

Marc says he achieved some of the best yields ever in 2010 with his Latham® seed products, and that says a lot.  He’s been planting Latham brand soybeans since 1980 and has planted Latham Hi-Tech Hybrids for five years.  With Latham genetics combined with traits like Genuity® VT3 PRO and Genuity Roundup® Ready 2 Yield Soybeans, Marc is looking forward to seeing the results from the 2011 harvest season.

Marc Johnson fills his planter with Latham brand seed

This year’s spring planting and fall harvest seasons will be especially busy for the Johnsons.  Of course, life on the farm keeps them busy.  Lorraine also coordinates the school-to-career program at the OA-BCIG High School, where she works with local businesses and places students for internships as they earn elective credits.

In their spare time, Marc and Lorraine are helping with wedding plans.  Their youngest son, 25-year-old Jason, is getting married over Memorial Day weekend.  Their oldest son, 26-year-old Jerrod, will get married in October. Of course, beef is on the newlyweds’ menu!

The Johnsons enjoy beef as the main course or as appetizers.  Marc particularly likes Lorraine’s Pickle Beef Dip on crackers.  He says it makes a great snack after a long, hot day in the field.

Lorraine’s recipe appears below, just in time to celebrate May Beef Month and to enjoy Memorial Day picnics.  I’ve also included a beef dip recipe that I found online and have been waiting to try. Perhaps I can whip up both of these recipes during the upcoming holiday weekend, so we can snack on beef dip while our steaks cook on the grill.  I can’t think of a better way for my family to kick off the unofficial start of summer!

What’s your family’s favorite way to enjoy beef in the summertime?

Chipped Beef & Cream Cheese Dip


  • 1, 8-oz. package cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 T milk
  • 1 package smoked beef – chopped fine
  • 2 T dried onion flakes
  • 2 T chopped green bell pepper
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans


  1. Blend all ingredients, except pecans, together with mixer.
  2. Put mixture in casserole dish and cover with the pecans.
  3. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes.
  4. Serve warm or cold with corn chips or crackers.

Pickle Beef Dip



  • 1, 8-oz. package cream cheese (softened)
  • 4- to 6-oz. of chopped dried beef (or two, 2½-oz. packages of corned beef)
  • 4 oz. chopped dill pickles
  • 1 T sour cream



  1. Mix together cream cheese and sour cream until smooth.
  2. Stir in chopped beef and chopped pickles.
  3. Serve with crackers.


photo from Pinterest.com