Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What Is Your State's Official Soil?

What is your state's official soil?  Do you even have one?  Is there one state official or recognized soil type in your state?  How do you farm it?

Kathy Voth has written a short article about state soils On Pasture.

This is a good topic as a farmer asked how to tile Zook Silt Loam on Crop Talk.  I gave him my best answer.  For any poorly drained or very poorly drained soil, you can't afford to get tile lines close enough to drain them properly if you have an outlet.  If you don't have an outlet, you are very limited in tiling and its resulting lack of production.

Miami Series was pushed as Ohio's State soil but it never got enough attention to be recognized as our state soil by law.  I guess they had better things to do and most people wouldn't know the difference anyway.

The whole point is do you know your soils?  They are difficult to study because they are so complicated and lie below our feet!  Break it down into little segments you can understand and keep adding to your knowledge.  Soil history in your lifetime is extremely important.

The best way to know your soil is dig it deep, down 5 feet or more.  That is preferably done with equipment!

Once you have the soil opened up, you need an experienced person who had studied soils most of their life to help you see what you have, what may have caused it and what you might do in the future to improve it.  I really enjoy doing that and remember the soil pit near Paul Butler's house while our new lifelong friend Chris Pellow from New Zealand was present.  It was pretty awesome!

Any soil can be saved and improved.  I always felt like that was my number one duty on earth.  Save the soil.  This leads to why I learned to no-till and add amendments that improves soil function.  Healthy soil is the root of all man's successes.

It's just ground up rock, it doesn't make that much difference, does it?

Everything that has happened to a soil dictates it's value to man today.

We need to figure out what to do with it within our budget.  The simplest things can yield the biggest results.

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

30 Years Ago

A farmer made this post about something big that happened in agriculture 30 years I had forgotten about.  International Harvester as we knew it was never the same.

CHICAGO, Nov. 23— Tenneco Inc. will soon conclude an agreement to buy the International Harvester Company's farm equipment division, according to a spokesman for independent dealers that market Tenneco's agricultural equipment.

Tenneco's farm equipment division is called J.I. Case, and Jim Sommer, the president of the J.I. Case and J.I. Case Canada Joint Agricultural Equipment Dealers Council, said that he had received reports that the agreement would be announced Monday.

One source at Case said Tenneco was expected to pay about $420 million for the division, of which $120 million would be in cash and $300 million in debentures.

Any agreement would have to resolve responsibility for the unfunded pension liabilities held by Harvester, and the costs of any closings of Harvester plants. 

The deal reduced the companies tractor building capacity by 40%.  The farm crash was in full swing and we lost half our farmers in this period.  Size of farms sky rocketed after this with less need for smaller tractors.

I remember one friend who I always thought wore "red underwear."  He is a businessman first and traded every piece of red equipment for green when this was announced.  He still farms with green today.

That day was as sad as the day Oliver Farm Equipment closed the doors and White picked out the profitable goodies like Tenneco did with IH.  I will never forget a farmer who didn't even use Oliver farm equipment tell me it was a sin to bury the Charles City, Iowa plant.  It would be a great museum today and more.

I guess we can say that about every old farm name that disappeared.  Each one affected us each differently when it happened.

Hats off to International Harvester, a great name in farming history.

Ed Winkle

Monday, November 24, 2014

How Do You Keep Your Pellet Stove From Squeaking?

It's cold one or two months early for grandpa this year so we have two stoves going again.  It's mid November!.  I am learning how to use a new wood stove fireplace insert that weighs 450 lbs!  It went in smooth as silk thanks to a hydraulic dolly.  It doesn't put out the heat the old Vermont Defiant did but it is much more attractive in some aspects and a whole lot safer.  The fire is inside the fireplace now and not sitting out in the dining room.

We bought a Magnum Countryside pellet stove after we bought this farm and old historic farmhouse.  We have gotten our good out of it after ten seasons and finding the right pellet and keeping them dry is really important.

Still, the stirrer in the burning pot is squeaking and squawking the day after clean out.  This Greenway oak pellet from Tennessee is one of the best I've found but the pot sounds dry and not lubed enough.  I am trying to figure out how to keep it from squeaking so I am open to any suggestions from my readers.

I think the soot needs to be cleaned off the stirrer when I clean out the stove but I don't know what to do to accomplish that.  A wire brush works pretty well but that is a lot of work a week because it is noisy so often.

I think it needs to be disassembled and cleaned from the flue to the burning pot.  If I had a corn dryer, I would be burning dry shelled corn but my corn is too wet to burn from the bin.  10-12% dry corn burns best and anything higher than that causes even more clinkers in this stove.

It's so windy today it is really too windy to be burning it with gusts up to 50 MPH right directly into the flue pipe.

There is no cheap way to heat but it's been a pretty "green" and cheap stove for us.

Ed Winkle

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Sheep And The Goats

It's a good day for a Sunday drive.

The parable about the sheep and goats is in many churches Bible readings this weekend.  I remember that story from childhood and never liked goats but never liked sheep, either.  We were raised on a hog and cattle farm with a few chickens!

"In Matthew 25:31 we hear "When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his throne of glory; 32 and all the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate them from one another, just as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left."

Ok, question from a newbie farmer: What did Jesus have against goats!? I have acquired 5 sheep and 2 goats this summer, and I've had a blast learning how to take care of them. I have learned that sheep are not "stupid" like I've heard for years, but they are flighty and don't warm up to people very easily. They are also a bit dirty and smelly, though. They are rather fragile and easily injured, too. Now the two goats (Willy and Billy) are much more friendly (more like dogs), warm up to humans much faster, and will even eat out of my hand. They run to me when they hear my voice (so will the sheep though- they DO know their Mistresses voice)! I'm sure in Jesus' day, people "got" the sheep and the goat example, due to their experience with both animals. However, I don't understand why the goats get the bad rap in the parable, either. Can someone tell me what I'm not getting?"

Personally, I always thought that the goats always got the bad half of the deal because the sheep inevitably had to be the good ones (given the amount of religious symbolism associated with sheep and lambs, etc. ) But I looked it up in the Orthodox Study Bible and it says:

"Christ uses sheep to illustrate the righteous, for they follow His voice and are gentle and productive. Goats indicate the unrighteous, for they do not follow the shepherd and they walk among cliffs, which represent sin. "

I guess the cliffs things makes sense because cliffs are where you fall from, and I feel like I've heard several prayers talk about not falling or getting lost among the cliffs. I also found something else online:

"Much has been written about the humbleness of sheep as compared to the stubborn pride of the goat, and no doubt this has much to do with why Jesus chooses to call these people by these names. It does reveal to us, however, that one of the criteria Jesus uses to separate the two groups is by their disposition. Yet, while Christ certainly knows the heart, the Scriptures here and in other places indicate that the means by which Jesus Christ judges is by their works, which reveal their heart's disposition. A tree is known by its fruit, says Christ. St. Cyril also states it thus:

How does the shepherd make the separation? Does he examine out of a book which is a sheep and which a goat? or does he distinguish by their evident marks? Does not the wool show the sheep, and the hairy and rough skin the goat? In like manner, if thou hast been just now cleansed from thy sins, thy deeds shall be henceforth as pure wool; and thy robe shall remain unstained, and thou shall ever say, I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on? By thy vesture shall thou be known for a sheep. But if thou be found hairy, like Esau, who was rough with hair, and wicked in mind, who for food lost his birthright and sold his privilege, thou shall be one of those on the left hand."

When the final inventory is taken, will be with the "sheep" or the "goats??

Ed Winkle

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mistake On The Lake?

Cleveland got labeled as the "mistake on the lake" and the Cuyahoga River became famous for catching fire.

Is Buffalo New York the real mistake on the lake?  Anyone watching the weather channel this morning(November 19, 2014) would have to wonder!  Feet upon feet of snow in the middle of November has fallen already!

Those people are geared up for it as LuAnn taught me 15 years ago that her town of East Aurora normally gets 140 inches where Cincinnati only gets 20 inches per year.  I personally hope they keep that north as our 40 inches or double normal snowfall really made winter a challenge last year.  It's starting awfully early this year!  Our driveway looks like only some Januaries!

It is notable that Buffalo was the first Porkopolis as America grew and spread in the early days.  As more people migrated south to Cincinnati, the Queen City took over the title of Porkopolis, shipping salt pork all over the world.  The German Brewmeisters made their mark too until Prohibition changed everything.

The real mistake on the lake is what humans have done for algae growth on Lake Erie and other bodies of water.  Now I have to obtain a license to purchase or spread fertilizer on our farm?  Get serious, are we that dumb?

Yes we are!  Besides of all of the other pollution man has created, it looks like we spread too much manure on frozen ground in the north part of the state and we got caught.  Have we really learned how much erosion tillage causes?  Do we understand how mobile phosphorous is?

Obviously not, now we have to be legislated by our peers for our refusal to understand.  It's really basic agronomy.  Any major tillage causes 5-10 tons of soil loss per acre and even no-till is not perfect at around one ton per acre.

The biggest mistake I see is too much tillage.  I still see some but most have went to reduced tillage now and no-till conferences and field days are never ending.  I sure enjoyed the Ohio No-Till Field Day back in September.

We can't prevent mistakes on the lake but we can prevent soil and nutrients from getting INTO the lake.

What do you think?

Ed Winkle

Friday, November 21, 2014

Scott Strazzante

There is a nice big buck crossing the corn field outside my window.  It's 16 degrees this morning and it still isn't Thanksgiving!  I like this piece from CBS Sunday morning I thought I would share today.

Farm families and suburban familes actually share a lot of common ground -- and photographer Scott Strazzante has the pictures to prove it:

On July 2, 2002, Harlow Cagwin, a month shy of his 80th birthday, watched as the farmhouse that had been his home since childhood was reduced to rubble.

The day marked the end of Cagwin's decades of labor and, also, the conclusion of my eight-year photographic journey with Harlow, his wife, Jean, and their herd of Angus beef cattle.

I first set foot on the Cagwins' 114-acre farm in the spring of 1994, to snap some photos for a newspaper story about people who raised farm animals in suburban Chicago. But as I photographed Harlow and Jean, something told me I would return.

And I did return, again and again.

Over the years, there were many stories . . . about the changing landscape, about aging, about the economy, and, of course, about the disappearing family farm.

When urban sprawl finally forced the Cagwins to sell their farm to a developer, I thought that would be the final chapter.

I was wrong about that.

In early 2007, when I presented my farm essay to a photo class, one of my students shyly raised her hand. She told me she and her family lived in the Willow Walk subdivision, which was built on the land the Cagwins had once farmed.

By week's end, I stood on a cul de sac called Cinnamon Court, as Amanda Grabenhofer, her husband Ed, and their four children joined other young families for an Easter egg hunt.

At the time, I wasn't sure my photographs of one family's suburban life had anything in common with those of two senior citizen farmers, but I was glad to be back on a piece of land I knew so well.

On my second visit, I photographed Amanda and Ed's oldest son, Ben, as he wrestled with his cousin, C.J., on the front lawn of their home.

There was something about it that seemed familiar.

Then it hit me.

I went into my archive and pulled out a photo of Harlow Cagwin struggling to lasso a day-old calf.
I put the two images side by side. And something magical happened.

I had discovered their common ground.

Really good story and pictures!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

How Is Wheat Going To Handle This Lovely Weather?

I am at the dentist office this morning  because a hard kernel of popcorn got me at the movies Friday night.  I am really careful with popcorn now but obviously not careful enough.  I broke a tooth.  That's not uncommon at my age, they are getting kind of brittle.

Did you know the average American eats 54 quarts of popped popcorn each year?  Wow.

My dentist is an avid hunter and loves to talk farming.  Why do the deer love these beans?  What does that monster combine cost?  Did you hear the story about the record deer in Brown County?  Wait a minute, that is where I was raised.  Just fix my tooth, Doc.

I get a text from a High Spots reader and my wheels start turning.  "How is wheat going to handle this lovely weather?"

Now I know this reader is a really good farmer and his wheat looks good.  Still he is young in the game and has concern, like I have all my life.

Number one, wheat is hardy and we have snow cover.  You should be fine.  If wheat goes into dormancy early as it as this year, I would not be too concerned.  Another reason to plant the last 3 days of September at my location.

Number two, the soil didn't saturate enough to heave this young wheat out of the ground.  You should be fine.

Number three, the beauty of wheat is that it covers the soil all winter and if it fails, you can convert it to another crop.

Number four, you got wheat planted and I am jealous.  I have enough seed left to plant 300 acres and its really good seed that should have gotten planted.  I dropped the ball.

The main thing is don't worry.  I used to loose sleep over these things.  I usually don't anymore.  It all depends on my perspective on a well laid out plan.

Don't worry young man, you will be fine.

That's my famous radish picture in wheat by accident years ago.  It still amazes me.

What did we learn yesterday?

Ed Winkle