Thursday, April 30, 2009

Planting Time


It is planting time but many farmers can't plant!

The ground here is dry enough to plant but the threat of rain each day is keeping planters out of the fields.

I wrote about faith yesterday and it takes great faith to borrow money and plant a crop knowing you will get back more than you put in. It is taking great faith to do that this year!

It takes great patience to wait and do it right so your faith is fully excericized. Farmers are having their faith and patience tested right now.

One good thing that happened along the way is the market seemed to have turned direction and posted good gains Wednesday. Hopefully the fear of pandemic and failing economies will be over ridden by the need for our harvest. We really need to lock in a profit on this new crop.

I was surprised to see no planters planting Wednesday and even saw some neighbors chisel plowing a wet farm. Spraying is being done every time the wind dies down and that has only been early morning and late evening at best.

This long winter just hasn't wanted to let go and every time a wind blows up you can feel the cold of the north as the warmth of the Gulf tries to over ride it. The result is little planting progress in Ohio and I am sure many other places, too.

Now is the time to excercize that great faith and patience a farmer needs to survive. It seems like we have planned each detail to the point we can make a little change when that opportunity arises. Just getting the seed in the ground and fed and the weeds controlled is a big challenge this year.

Next Month I am sure we will be looking at a whole new set of challenges!

I hope we are up to those challenges!

Ed Winkle

What is faith?


What is faith?

I excercize my faith every time I plant a seed, whether it is a corn seed that will prosper and be reaped as a beautiful harvest or an idea or suggestion I give to another person.

Faith for me came when I was a child and searched my reason for being. I read and thought and talked about it and prayed and thought some more before being baptized.

Faith is a deep understanding that God created this world and my reason for being is because of God’s love for me to be brought into this world.

As everyone has, my faith has been tested many times but thankfully it hasn’t been weakened but only strengthened.

When you are little you have faith your parents will take care of your needs. As your body and mind grows it is natural to search why you are here so you can grow and make plans for your life.

We get a lot of help and hindrances along that path but one day the light comes on and you KNOW why you are here and what you are to do about it. I pray for the person who never find this deep belief for them which is the foundation of faith.

Faith is one of the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church points these out clearly;

“Faith

1814 Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God."78 For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work[s] through charity."79

1815 The gift of faith remains in one who has not sinned against it.80 But "faith apart from works is dead":81 when it is deprived of hope and love, faith does not fully unite the believer to Christ and does not make him a living member of his Body.

1816 The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: "All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks."82 Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: "So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."83

At this point in my life it is easy for me to believe this and try to practice it every hour of my existence. Some people make this belief very difficult but for me it is so easy.

I can’t and don’t want to imagine where I would be without my faith

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Five Short Years


I was thinking last night as Sable and I made our late evening walk around the farmstead what has happened here in five short years.

Here is the list I came up with:

In five short years, we have:

Moved to this farm
Repaired the drain tile
Painted all the buildings and bins
Repaved and gravelled all the driveways
Remodeled the house
Installed a Vermont Defiant woodstove and a Countryside corn burner
Improved the landscape with new bushes and plants and plant beds
Started a vegetable garden
Rewired and remodeled the grain system and part of the house and all the barns
Planted 9 crops(we are cover cropping double-croppers)
Restored the old remaining barn
Survived a tornado which destroyed the garage and damaged every buiding on the farm.
Survived severe ice storms that took down trees and gutters.
Survived an inland hurricane which destroyed some of the farmstead
Replaced or repaired all of the barn doors

Whew, that is a lot in five short years!

The best part is we have been blessed to thoroughly enjoy the company of six children, four grandchildren, and numerous neighbors and friends from across the country on this place in those five short years!

The only thing I would have done differently is considered more strongly the razing of the old barn and putting a new shop in its place. I could have built a heated and insulated, modern shop that looks like the old barn in its place.

I just couldn't stand the thought of tearing down the old structure and now we have a building with lots of investment that could have been better used in a new structure. I guess I just wasn't ready to do it and now we have enough invested in a beautiful old barn that would make us more money if it were a modern shop.

Repairs are big ticket items in an operation like ours but I never dreamed our acreage would have expanded so much in five short years, either.

Hindsight is 20-20 and I couldn't see it coming in my "retirement years." I guess I wasn't ready to "retire" but do what I actually wanted to do all my life and that is to farm. I just didn't see it turning out this way.

Of course if I looked back only ten years ago I wouldn't have seen any of this coming!

Isn't life amazing?

Ed

PGD


PGD is my abbreviation for a pretty good day. I started off with phone calls and email and chores around here then went to mom's to take her to the dentist. The big day is one month from now, won't be fun for her or me.

I got home in time to finish off the pork roast I had cooking and LuAnn added some garden vegetables and brown long grain rice. It was very tasty! We have this knack after all these years of throwing something together and it was every bit as good as the meal before.

I don't have a sprayer yet so still depend on the custom applicators. Low and behold in came Allen White on a local spray rig, a Rogator 1084 and laid down 30 gallons of 28% nitrogen, a quart of Gramoxone, 2 lbs of atrazine and 5 ounces of Corvus herbicide on our test plot.

It drizzled most of the afternoon but was pretty well dry by the time he got here. I was very impressed how this once Warren County 4-H'er used the GPS on that rig to spray my field to the "tee." I am going to email his boss, he was very particular and I think he did the best job he could have given the conditions he was working with.

Then we got into the old red Dodge Dakota to harrass some grandkids but couldn't find anyone at home. Liam was with mom somewhere and Madison and Brynn were still probably at soccer but we had fun on the road trip anyhow.

I mowed a little, put the battery charger on the Grand Prix I had intended to use to take mom to the dentist with and now it is nearly dark and I am writing this.

We are still looking for dry ground to plant into so that takes a lot of the day but all in all it was a pretty good day.

I see corn and wheat came up a little but beans were down 15 cents. The markets are still shaky from the flu news. I think beans will come back before they hit bottom this fall but who knows. I need to price this new crop for a possible profit.

I took some pictures of Allen spraying but haven't uploaded them yet. Maybe I have a couple of older pictures of this field being sprayed.

How was your day?

Ed Winkle

Monday, April 27, 2009

Started Planting


It is very tacky here to plant like I read from my friends in central Illinois. We planted enough to know it is wet. It has been too cool to break down much residue and there are very few weeds, reflecting the hard winter we had. It is too windy to spray if you did plant.

I wouldn't want to risk many acres at this point, two sweet corn plantings have been failures for me. If I plant more today it could turn out the same way even with the heat and wind we have had this weekend. It is just too cold and damp underneath no matter how you plant.

It is still good for nursery plantings and the new plants seem to be taking off well. That forecast seems to continue which is great for nursery plants but not good for heat loving crops like corn.

Sweet corn growers have shared with me their failures too, plastic is a must in these conditions and many growers are like gardeners, they are not set up to plant in plastic film.

Everything will have to be evaluated on a field by field basis and nothing is what I call good planting conditions yet. I have examined many fields in the region over the weekend and it is hard to broadcast fertilizer without cutting a rut somewhere in a field as I said, too windy to do much spraying.

So if you did get anything planted, how are you going to get it sprayed?

I think the swine flu breakout was a big player in the overnight markets. Grains were down. There is much nervousness from the fields in the Midwest to the Marketplace.

The weather forecast looks like potential for lots of moisture this week which will make things worse, not better.

The joys of farming!

I hope things are better your direction because they aren't very good here.

Ed

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pandemic?


I wanted to write something cheerful today but the news took this thought formost from my mind. I hope it is just "stinking thinking." Not good for a Sunday!

The potential of a pandemic was really in the news a few years ago with the Asian flu virus. Fortunately it did not spread as feared. Let's hope the same for the swine flu outbreak in Mexico and now the United States.

"SUNDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- Mexican authorities continued to take dramatic steps over the weekend to try to contain the swine flu outbreak that officials say has killed as many as 81 people, and sickened more than 1,300 others.

In the United States, two new cases were reported Saturday by health officials in Kansas, as well as a new case in California, bringing the national total to 11, according to the Associated Press. Eight more cases of "probable" swine flu involving school students have been identified by New York City health officials. Cases in the U.S. have so far remained mild.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Interim Deputy Director for Science and Public Health Program, told reporters on Saturday that her agency was "worried, and because we are worried we are acting aggressively on a number of fronts" to investigate the outbreak. She added that, because of the wide geographic spread of the virus so far, the outbreak is already "beyond containment."

I haven't studied this so I don't know what to make of it. If you have, I would appreciate you sharing with us.

It caught my eye on the news before bed last night so I thought I would share it. I don't believe many of us are prepared for a pandemic. I know the United States and the WHO aren't and that is why some of them are concerned.

I only know what I hear and read and have time to sort out, so much is misinformation or doesn't apply to us.

I hope and pray this is another one of those things.

Blessings on Sunday,

Ed Winkle

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Potash



One of the guys posted this on AgTalk and it shows what farmers deal with every day. Last year it was diesel fuel plus seed and fertilizer costs, this year our problem is potash priced over our ability to buy much of it at today's market prices.

"SASKATOON: The world is setting itself up for a hungry future as farmers play ``a dangerous game'' by skimping on fertilizer, the chief executive of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (TSX:POT) said Thursday after a ``terrible'' first quarter in which sales fell by more than half from a year ago.

The market will turn quickly, Bill Doyle predicted after the world's biggest fertilizer producer, reporting in U.S. dollars, said quarterly earnings withered to $308.3 million or $1.02 per share.

This was down 46 per cent from a bonanza year-ago profit of $566 million or $1.74 per share. The latest quarter's net income would have been lower by another $166.8 million if not for beneficial tax adjustments.

Sales shrivelled to $922.5 million from $1.89 billion, but ``we've got the pain largely behind us,'' Doyle told a conference call.

``While economic conditions have been the focus for most people in recent months, the world's attention must return to the science of food production,'' he declared.

``A year ago, concerns over world food shortages were headline news, and little has changed to alleviate the pressure on the food supply.''

Southern-hemisphere farmers in Argentina and Brazil are producing ``a bad start to the global crop year'' as a result of lower fertilizer applications, and after record world grain production in 2007 and 2008, ``the year 2009 could be a completely different story,'' he said.

``You could see dramatically higher grain prices going into this fall.'' (The market isn't bidding that way, sir!)

Beyond then, he predicted, potash demand will blossom, ``leading us to an exceptional 2010.''

But in the meantime, after taking 39 mine shutdown weeks in the first quarter, ``we will continue to reduce production by as many tonnes as it takes'' to stabilize prices.

Management also plans no major new capital expenditures until prices rise, he said, though projects underway in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick will continue, expected to cost C$7 billion and expand PotashCorp's capacity to 18 million tonnes in 2014.

``A dangerous game is now unfolding around the world,'' Doyle told analysts.

``Fertilizer applications are being reduced at unprecedented levels, with our estimates for North American potash applications falling as much as 30 to 35 per cent'' _ back to levels of the early 1980s while demand has risen 90 per cent, powered by nutrient-intensive corn.

``This level of reduction has never been seen before,'' Doyle said. ``No one can state precisely what the impact will be on the world's food supply, immediately or over the longer term. But we know with scientific certainty that nutrient underapplication damages both crop yields and quality.''

He added that the reduction in fertilizer use ``is more about psychology than economics,'' as global grain inventories remain tight and farmer returns are well above historical averages.

PotashCorp expects second-quarter earnings per share of $1.10 to $1.50, and its full-year EPS outlook has been cut to between $7 and $8, from $10 to $12 three months ago, to reflect the ``extremely slow'' first half.

Potassium or "K" as we call it is an important macronutrient farmers apply of the 17 nutrients crops need for healthy crops. Farmers have really backed off potassium purchases this year as it is $800 a ton here in southwest Ohio and that high just about everywhere.

This move by Potash Corp has put them and us in a risky situation but farmers can't buy what the balance sheet won't allow them to. We are learning how to get by with less potash and how to release more of it in our soils with good lime programs and cover crops that release phosphorus and potassium.

I share this to point out what the farmer goes through every year whether it is tech fees for genetically modified seeds or in this case, potash we use to fertilize our crops.

The "rules" are really against the little guy right now! The farmer is one of the few businessmen I know who pay retail for everything we buy and sell wholesale everything he sells and expected to deliver it 40 miles away to get it!

Ed

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ag PhD


There is a farmer saying about BS, MS and PhD I have heard since my college days and PhD stood for "piled higher and deeper." It is all about what I call "getting educated above your level of intelligence."

Now I don't think Darren and Brian Hefty are that way but this concept could make a good blog about my dealings with some "PhD types" over my career. I stopped at the "MS level" and was encouraged to go for to a PhD degree but I was too busy trying to apply what I had already learned.

One show I try to check each week on RFD TV is Darren and Brian Hefty's AgPhD show out of South Dakota. They deal with a lot of topics I deal with so I started emailing Darren a few years who is always "the little brother" on the show. Actually he is taller than Brian so the little part isn't true but they jab each other in good natured brotherly fashion. Darren has become a good email contact to exchange ideas with.

This show they were once again talking about the advantages of inoculating soybeans every time you plant them, not the old-fashioned belief that once you plant them you have their rhizobia bacteria in the soil. Brian was ready to rip into Iowa State for their stance on "it doesn't pay to inoculate because the yield increase is so low."

Darren tried to cut him off quoting the excellent research from my friend Dr. Jim Beuerlein at Ohio State who is the leader in testing soybean inoculants. Older brother Brian had to get his dig in though stating that "their stance that a half bushel advantage they found wasn't worth recommending inoculants to farmers is wrong because a half bushel is worth $4 today at an investment of $1.50 and a good return on investment."

I agree. The inoculated bean can produce up to ten times more Nitrogen so even if you don't get the yield, you have harnessed "free nitrogen" from the atmoshphere for the next crop. This is a big no-brainer for me too and why I recommend inoculating all legumes regardless of crop history. The new strains being used since the licensing of the USDA strain in 1994 made the old belief inaccurate.

I have seen winter cereal crops and corn the next year really respond to inoculated strips in my trials. Our soil nitrogen levels are so low and we have trimmed back nitrogen fertilizer to a point that it really pays to inoculate. And, most of the 17nutrients flow with the uptake of nitrogen into the plant.

Those two young men always make me think. If you have satellite TV, take a look at their show on RFD TV. It is channel 345 on Direct TV. RFD even showed me and some of my friends this winter on the Specialty Fertilizer No-Till Conference recap. Now that is local TV!

"Don't specualte, inoculate" is my saying for all farmers and gardners planting legumes and Ag PhD agrees with my thinking.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Letter


I got enough people excited yesterday that I excited myself into action. Here is my thrust to the Ohio Legislature:

"I am a retired high school agriculture education instructor/FFA Advisor and a member of the Career and Technical Education teaching profession. I am very concerned with the Governor’s proposed Education Reform Plan and it’s effect on Career and Technical Education in the state of Ohio.

Please seriously consider the changes in Agricultural Education and Career Technical Education. I ask that all Career and Technical Education programs be studied in their entirety, this includes agriculture education programs. The Governor’s plan is to maintain all Career Centers/Joint Vocational Schools at a modest funding for the next two years while the Career Technical Education Programs can be studied.

I am concerned because the current Governor’s Education Reform plan reduces the number of Career and Technical Education Instructors and would eliminate over 300 jobs from schools around the state. The plan also removes Weighted Funding which is a critical funding plan for successful Career and Technical Programs. This abolishment would result in a disconnection of year-round instruction through students’ Supervised Agriculture Experience programs, teacher professional development, student participation in Career Development Events, and much more. Finally, the Governor’s plan would remove 5th Quarter Funding, year-round education, and the Ohio Young Farmer programs, both an essential part of a complete Agricultural Education program.

Our local programs are very successful. Each year our instructors work with hundreds of young adults to prepare them for their future career. Our students and their parents, school and community are proud of my students’ accomplishments at the local, state, and national levels. Our students deserve the opportunity to learn and grow in an agriculture education program.

I appreciate your time and consideration of this matter. Our students thank you also.

Sincerely,

Ed Winkle
3308 Martinsville Road
Martinsville, Ohio 45146
937-685-9365

I sent this as an email to the Governor, House of Representatives and Senate yesterday. Today I mail the hard copies and keep contacting their offices by phone. In the process I learned that an old friend was elected as Representative in a nearby district.

This is a very important time of decision making in local, state and federal governments as we decide as a people how to allocate limited funds. I have been spurred to campaigns like this one all my professional life but I don't think this has ever been important as now.

Tea Party or not, contact your legislators. They need to know what you think and what you support. I have already talked to two of them and heard back from two others!

Sincerely,

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day!


Happy Earth Day!

"How the First Earth Day Came About
By Senator Gaylord Nelson, Founder of Earth Day

What was the purpose of Earth Day? How did it start? These are the questions I am most frequently asked.

Actually, the idea for Earth Day evolved over a period of seven years starting in 1962. For several years, it had been troubling me that the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of the country. Finally, in November 1962, an idea occurred to me that was, I thought, a virtual cinch to put the environment into the political "limelight" once and for all. The idea was to persuade President Kennedy to give visibility to this issue by going on a national conservation tour. I flew to Washington to discuss the proposal with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who liked the idea. So did the President. The President began his five-day, eleven-state conservation tour in September 1963. For many reasons the tour did not succeed in putting the issue onto the national political agenda. However, it was the germ of the idea that ultimately flowered into Earth Day."

I was a sophomore at Ohio State for the first Earth Day. As I remember it got lots of publicity but I don't think the ag community did anything special because every day is earth day for a farmer!

It is good non-farmers realize the importance of earth. Earth is our sustenance of life and our very existance. It is a great day to plant a tree, plant some flowers and sow some vegetable seed here though that might have to wait until the weekend. It is a tad bit wet here in good ole southern Ohio!

Our Shannon calls the tree hugger types "earth biscuits." We laughed a long time the first time she said that. Now I guess us farmers have always been earth biscuits since man learned to cultivate and grow crops. Were the shepherds of early times the first earth biscuits?

Since the advances of no-till farming methods we have really become more earth-friendly. It is shocking how much soil, nutrients and chemicals washed down the rivers before no-till came along. You still get a little erosion with no-till but not the average 10 tons per acre you get with tillage!

As we learn to incorporate cover crops into our rotations I think we can get that down to zero or a place where we are building soil as fast as we are losing it. That is my goal on our farms and I know many farmers agree with me.

So when you watch the news tonight or plant something around your home, remember every day is earth day on the farm. Our profits and existance depend on it!

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shop Class


"Idle hands are the devil's workshop." Remember that saying from our childhood?

Today in the news more idle hands are being planned across the country. We are fighting hard to keep our fine agricultural education programs intact in Ohio. That is no easy struggle with looming budget cuts.

"California School District May Eliminate Woodshop Amid Budget Concerns.
California's Press-Enterprise (4/20, Johnson) reported, "The Colton Joint Unified School District" in Southern California "may cut its woodshop programs at both Bloomington and Colton high schools because of budget concerns." Other "Inland school districts, from Riverside to Lake Elsinore, have reduced or eliminated woodshop programs, citing costs and a lack of qualified teachers." Several other schools in the area have "morphed what once were hobby courses into career academy programs aimed at giving teens experience in jobs such as construction, carpentry and cabinet making." According to the Press-Enterprise, the "main reasons the programs disappear are a greater emphasis on testing, which keeps students from taking electives, and a teaching-credential requirement that industrial arts instructors have industry experience."

Wood shop is all but gone in Ohio. The result is kids who still can't pass the state test but can't even measure, cut and nail a board, either.

Now I know we can't afford all the "frills" some people consider ag and shop classes to be but look at our graduates when we cut these programs. No wonder we are in the mess we are in!

I use my limited shop class experience every day. I saw the need for shop so much in my career I took 19 quarter hours of Agricultural Engineering at Ohio State in my baccalaureate program. That was enough classes for a minor in Ag Engineering and something I use each and every day.

Look at our lifestyle. We depend on machines but we don't understand them, let alone be able to troubleshoot them and repair them. So we get frustrated when we have to hire "some flunky" to try and keep our machinery running.

Part of my success is my respect of mechanics. I am too impatient to stay sane during breakdowns when you need a machine. But the respect of mechanics and preventive maintenance has kept me safe and efficient while employing many of my successful graduates. What are we going to do without them, farm like the beloved Amish? That wouldn't feed this world but those folks know more about life and machines than our fancy curriculum's could ever hope to teach.

Give me shop class. Every child should have to take at least one introductory shop and agriculture class to graduate in Ed's World.

This is my take on the world today. What is your take? Keep the comments and emails and phone calls coming. Yesterday's post rose to Best Blog for some of you. The Prize Winners will be announced soon. Some of you want soil consulting, some innoculants, some want help on buying and/or improving a farm. I guess that wasn't such a bad post either!

Ed Winkle

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Diners


LuAnn and I love home cooked food. When we are traveling our rules are stay off Interstates and eat at local diners only.

We found a "new" old diner today. It used to be the Fireside Inn near Allensburg on US 50 but now it is Ty's Place. We had the best breakfast we have had in a long, long time!

The Fireplace Inn was brick but Ty remodeled the building and it looks more like a Cracker Barrell now with rocking chairs on the big front porch.

I remember the diners in Maine, Illinois, Idaho, and Colby, Kansas. Our local one was every bit as good, maybe better!

Perhaps we are tired of cereal and yogurt but LuAnn had sausage links and eggs and I had bacon and eggs, we both had hash browns. "It was to die for," is her favorite statement on good cooking.

It was pretty but tasted even better, ever entree was equally hot, hard to do in a diner. The toast was hot, the eggs were hot, the meat was hot and the potatoes were hot.

The best part was it was ten dollars for both of us! I gave the waitress a $5 tip, could have been more. You would pay over twice that at Bob Evan's or Frisch's and wouldn't have been as good.

I told the owner Ty what we thought and he said you have to come try our fish fry. We will! He is the son of the folks that own the popular Y restaurant on US 62 and SR 321. They always have a packed house and Ty will too.

Afterwards we completed our "field trip" with a visit to Grant's Farm and Greenhouse on Bucktown Road. He has an Open House each year with 20% off to get your spring plantings off to a quick start.

I had just bought most of our fruit trees there last week and an aborvitae to replace the one for Tara and Erik that died last year. The trees look good, the early ones are blooming and the others have green buds. This isn't good weather for planting corn but it is about ideal for planting nursery stock.

I met Danny when when I started teaching at CNE(Clermont Northeastern) in 1994. We have been good friends since and I had his two children in my class. He is a strong supporter of community and the FFA.

Now he deals with Matt at Fayetteville like he used to do with me. We still like to shop there and talk on one of our plant field trips. Our problem is we have so many friends in the plant business!

This started as a blog on diners and has already went the path of agriculture. That is typical for me. I hear rain drops on the window so it looks like the cloudy week will continue to halt our start to planting.

What is your favorite place to eat?

Ed Winkle

Real Estate


"This is the day which the Lord hath made: Let us rejoice and be glad in it." That is the scripture on mom and dad's headstone.

That is the first thing that popped into my head this morning. I try to be thankful for each and every one of them. It is so much easier here.

We never found this farm, this farm found us. Seriously, we were bound and determined to buy something much less. The Lord just kept closing doors until we got frustrated, then voila, here came this one.

I always wanted to own a farm, it is my nature. I was always too poor to own one, well, not quite rich enough to buy one or dedicated enough to do it. It takes a lot of money to own and keep a good farm. Remember, I am from a long line of tenant farmers.

We found a really nice one in Highland County not too far from Hillsboro, a beautiful farm. We made an offer, it was rejected, we made a counter offer, it was rejected, we made a final offer and it was accepted.

We get ready for closing and the realtor showed us the closing papers and low and behold, an acre was missing. The elderly, ill couple had decided to keep an acre to build their "retirement home" on. I thought the place was their retirement home!

We said no and the deal fell through. We found another unique farm, you have to have the best GPS to find this one not too far from here. It had a nice tract of land and a long lane easement to it. Talk about privacy, it had it! It didn't have the best house on it and one night in the middle of a dream LuAnn popped up in bed and said "we can't live there!"

She was right. It was a private deal and we had agreed on a price and were to sign the papers that week. I finally summoned the courage to talk to the couple and explain why we wanted out of our agreement. They graciously let us out of that deal and we kept hunting.

Another beautiful tract came up for auction near here and we set our price and actively bid at that auction. The price got to our range and it was only us and CountryTyme Realty bidding. The crowd was actively supporting us because CountryTyme was going to split it into 5 acre tracts for houses and the neighborhood wanted to see it stay a farm.

We made our final bid and CountryTyme trumped us, it was out of our comfort zone. That farm now has five new homes on it and some have went through bankruptcy in the last year. Funny thing the Lord said "wait, I have the one you want to live on" and my younger son now owns one of those foreclosed homes and a nice tract of land for a new couple.

I was retired from teaching and was discouragingly driving SR 28, the old Cincinnati-Chillicothe Pike each day and passed this 4 by 8 sheet of plywood painted in yellow on the corner of 28 and Martinsville Road. I got home to Rhude Road and told LuAnn she got on the Cincinnati multi-listing website and said it was just listed!

We made an appointment to see it five years ago, almost to this day and we were the second couple to see it. We pulled into the drive and LuAnn said "if this looks anything on the inside like it does on the outside, we are going to bid on it!"

Sure enough this 1880 brick house was just that and we no more got into the house and while the realtor was upstairs checking it out she was jumping up and down in the kitchen crying "make an offer, make an offer!"

We toured the house and buildings and told the realtor we wanted to make an offer. The realtor said "I have had my license two weeks and am showing this for the broker. I didn't bring a sales agreement."

We looked at each other and I said do you have a legal pad?" He said yes and we wrote one out longhand on that pad. LuAnn and I had both been realtors in our younger years before we figured out we couldn't live on a paycheck of properties sold.

After some negotiating, we had a signed contract and had to sell my paid off property at age 54 to go towards this one. We borrowed more money than I had ever felt comfortable with because those kinds of figures can keep me from sleeping well at night.

Five years ago next month we moved in. That is another blog but here we are. We have never been happier and the debt has never bothered me very long. In the meantime we have invested a considerable sume making it the place we are humbly proud of. It was the best deal imaginable for the couple selling it and we who bought it, a deal "made in heaven."

One email prompted this story today so your input is valued. I hope you find your dream farm too, so many people would like to have what we have but it took a lifetime to get here and the actual intervention of the Lord himself to do it.

This is a real story and I can stick to it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

April 18



Three months ago was the Sunday we picked up Sable. What a wild and wonderful 3 months since she "moved here." She is one smart dog and my pickup truck buddy now.

She did her dogly duty last night when I killed a tractor and LuAnn said she bolted out of a dead sleep to my side 1000 feet away when she heard the engine stop. A new UPS driver showed up and she got right between the truck and LuAnn with a fierce bark. LuAnn was impressed.

She is one of the prettiest dogs I ever saw and sure has a stay near your foot personality. But she will play in the yard all day waiting for you go give her some good old fashioned attention.

She even let LuAnn plant in the garden without digging up the seeds faster than you can put them in. She sure has come a long way in 3 months.

Farmers are itching to plant. The time for a killing frost is about gone. We are just waiting for good planting conditions. It will take a good two weeks to get most of it done and when you throw in a couple of rains it soon becomes a month.

We would like to be done by May 5 but that is slipping away each day. Not a bad thing, it is all about maximizing photosynthesis which our profits depend on.

Liam has mastered metamorphosis, maybe it's time to talk about photosynthesis.

Sable has mastered many things. The funniest is when she bites her tale and does a cartwheel. I never saw a dog do that before, either.

Ed Winkle

Friday, April 17, 2009

Drew Hastings


I had to attend one of those many meetings last night for LuAnn that neither one of us enjoys as much as sitting on the patio of our farm. She says that is payback for the many farm meetings "I drag her to."

The event was the Highland County Chamber of Commerce annual meeting in Hillsboro. Her friend Katie is in charge of the event and those two and Julie attend a lot of meetings for work so it was a must attend event for us.

Her dinner idea was quite unusual. She made it a "taste of Highland County" and had all eight caterers in the county prepare the food so you just sampled what you like." She hit the prime rib line and I chose the pulled pork line because they also had green beans, my favorite food fixed the old fashioned way. No one went hungry as it was topped off with a coffee's line and a dessert line.

It was good to eat dinner with her board and friends, it was just such a beautiful day, one of those you hate to leave the farm. Her one new board memmer and I just kept looking at each other because we knew each other from way back. We quizzed each other the whole evening but couldn't figure out the connection. Ever have one of those? Signs were are both getting old.

The speaker for the night was Drew Hastings from the Bob and Tom Show and other comedic venues. He bought 50 acres near New Market, just south of Hillsboro and calls himself a city boy farmer. He said he got burned on his first deal in the county, he bought some black Angus county but noticed they were awfully small when they got off the trailer. They were pigs!

He said he quickly realized he needed training so he tried to join the FFA but didn't know it was for 15 year olds. He said he is now a pedafile and still has the electronic tracking device on his ankle. Drew is the tallest guy in the audience and said he just had his 50th birthday, lots of jokes about that, too.

If you get the chance to hear him, go do it. Everyone had a good laugh at a time when we all need it. He does a lot of public service work and bought the old movie theatre in town and is trying to revitalize it.

After treating soybean seed and another 100 mile day running errands, it was a pretty good end to a pretty good day.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Split


After watching the only coverage of Tea Parties across the country last night I had to wonder if we are becoming split as a country?

There seems to be a deep divide between right and wrong, good and bad, left and right.

Some people just don't get it. Can't they see our country is going the wrong direction? Some people seem oblivious to it.

I look at our little grandchildren and just have to wonder what kind of legacy are we leaving them? LuAnn and I are doing all we can but it just doesn't seem to be enough. There are too many people heading the opposite direction from us.

Was this the beginning of change for the good yesterday or a one time show? The future will tell but it has to be the beginning if we are to set our path straight.

"In the last 2 centuries, the American Dream can be summed up by people acting on an opportunity to provide a better life for their children. That dream is being threatened with up to $15 trillion of additional debt being added in the last 6 months-Bush’s bailouts included. (According to the Presidents own New Era of Responsibility page 113) To put this in perspective, one trillion seconds ago, was 31,688 years! A 20 year old right now will have to pay $114,000 in his or her lifetime to service the interest of this scheme! Most folks don’t know these details as the media and the administration is not forthright with the facts and seems to be allergic to logic. No wonder mainstream media ratings are slipping and newspapers are folding.

We need to spread the opportunity and work ethic, the wealth will follow. And we need honesty and integrity to be earned by our elected officials- a tough proposition indeed but we can influence with our vote.

I did not see any protestors at our event but I did get into a discussion with a guy who I believe just showed up to see what was happening. He said, “Why are all these angry people here on a rainy day to attack the Obama administration”. I replied, “Do you see any angry people here? We are here because we are concerned with irresponsible spending in Washington of both parties and are worried about the effect it will have on our countries future. It’s not the government’s money- it’s our money”. He soon walked off.

This is a battle between responsibility and absolute power grabs by irresponsible politicians. We can’t keep on spending money we don’t have. No business undertakes the model our Government is currently engaging. There’s a lot of apathy and quite a few folks take for granted what we have. We are the government’s boss-don’t forget that!"

I can't say it better than that and I thank my friend for saying it. It is so true to me that I offer it up here.

I cringe at the thought of what has to happen to keep us from splitting or trying to put it back together after it does. I think everyone does so we just keep on ignoring it but you know it has to happen.

What do you think?

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day


It is April 15 once more, Tax Day in America! This is a relatively new thing to our country because Federal Income Tax was not implemented until the last century.

"By 1913, 36 States had ratified the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. In October, Congress passed a new income tax law with rates beginning at 1 percent and rising to 7 percent for taxpayers with income in excess of $500,000. Less than 1 percent of the population paid income tax at the time. Form 1040 was introduced as the standard tax reporting form and, though changed in many ways over the years, remains in use today."

I filed my first 1040 when I was in college in 1969 to get back money that had been witheld from my paycheck from the Ohio State University farm business. I paid my first real income tax in 1972 when I made $5500 in my first year as a teacher.

With my farming and teaching, it was pretty easy to get most of my witheld taxes back. I always skated in the gray areas so I got audited for seven years in a row, always getting a little back after the audit because I had good records and never claimed all the gray areas.

I finally realized that only a "no change audit" was favorable with the IRS even though seven years in a row is considered harrassment. I got some big refunds with the high interest rates during the Carter years.

Today Tea Parties will be held all over the country with the biggest one expected in Atlanta. Cincinnati's is during lunch hour while Dayton's and Columbus's are after work this evening.

The conservatives are protesting for smaller government while everyone seems to have their own discontent and their own agenda. It will be interesting to see how it works out.

American's always pick on pork projects that seem wasteful. I saw one that isn't pork to be, the study of why honey bees are dying. This has become a huge problem in the last decade and threaten's our food system. Some people have a narrow view of "the birds and the bees."

I don't mind paying my share and I don't think anyone does. The problem comes with big government and money flying out the door like it blew off a money tree. Many thing this has been happening way too long.

What is your view? Are you going to a Tea Party?

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Best Blog


I still don't like that word blog. It has a yucky sound to it. I have written over 100 of them now in a few short months. It has become addictive like tractor pulling was to me in the 70's.


I have been trying to figure out how to save these for posterity and haven't motivated myself to a conclusion I would actually carry out. Any ideas? I have so many hours invested in this I don't want it to go poof and its gone like some of my early email when my computer crashed due to my ignorance.


Today I would like to offer a prize for my best blog. Which one is it? I have so many favorites.


I just linked one of them to NAT when we were talking about the greatest invention in our lifetime. For farmers, inventions like the Internet, semiconductors, hydraulics and even skid steer loaders were being discussed.


Now what could I offer you that would make you participate? I can afford something around $100, about the minimum amount it would take to get me to participate if I were you.


I have seed, inoculants, advice, collectables and other items that are worth over $100 I could offer. A gift card might be the easiest so you can buy what you want. So I guess I will make it YOUR choice. You name the prize if you are selected and I will try my best to give that to you.


If you are selected, I would like to write a column just about you. That might eliminate some potential contestants but that would be interesting for me, the person paying the bill.


It would make it easier for me if you were a member of google so you could post comments. Most of you aren't I see. I need some kind of poll device to record answers, here is where I need Paul Butler or some of my tech friends ideas. I would really like to know what my readers are thinking.


Since I don't know how to do that I will have to ask you to email me to cast your vote or write a comment at the end of this blog. I know emailing me reveals your identity but I think you can comment anonymously if you can figure out how to do it.


This is probably a crazy idea but I am a curious person. I really want to know what you think and why would be even better. This would give me a clue which direction to go in future posts.


I need to conclude this by the end of the month so contest ends April 30. I am really looking forward to your opinion.


Ed Winkle

Monday, April 13, 2009

Parents, Kids and Grandkids


We are fortunate to have them all but dad, watching us up there in the Great Beyond. He was a great family leader and no one can surround the family like he could.


We really need to get to New York for LuAnn's parents 60th wedding anniversary this weekend but if planting breaks loose, I probably won't be able to go. We call this flying by the seat of your pants and used to do it with great ease. In our older years, it is not so easy.


I have to take mom to the dentist today. This will be my seventh trip with her in the last month. Doesn't sound like much but it is a lot. Seven days centered around a parent when you are trying to be husband, father, farmer and grandfather at the same time.


It is good to see her get her teeth repaired. Teeth are pretty important to nutrition, especially important in elder years. I have got one acting up, sensitive to hot and cold and may end up there myself.


It was good to enjoy ham, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole yesterday in peace. We did get to see three of the kids families though so it was a fun Easter Sunday.


Madison, Brynne and Liam are growing up so quickly like they all are and do. It is really fun to play with them and see them grow. I am just a big kid myself and Liam really brings that out in me to the point we could get into trouble together.


He sat in the semi, looked over the camper, sat in the Agco, chased cats, and jumped like a bunny on the sheets of plastic shipping wrap. Pop, pop, pop!


I see Paul Butler is spot spraying like we have been. I need to spray the drives and try and keep the weeds out of them but have been concentrating on patches of weeds that could be troublesome in the fields later on.


I even sprayed the garden, trying to get ahead of the fescue before the seeds come up. The peas are up and the sweet corn is starting to. A week of warm weather and the garden will look totally different.


Mowed for the second time, too, grass is lush and green. Hope I have to mow all summer because that means the crop will have gotten enough rain if I don't have to quit mowing in July and August!


You never know what the weather is going to turn out to be and it is a cool, damp late start here. That is fairly typical but it didn't rain yesterday so no seven Sundays with rain this spring.


Might wish it had later on!


Ed

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!


The sun will soon rise like Christ. The Christ has risen, just like he said he would!


The Easter Story has been passed down over 2,000 years now. It is a good one. The best one ever, in fact.


God creates man and becomes one Himself to show him the Way. He Teaches throughout his life here on earth but man has a hard time understanding how this could be. Some believe, others don't and crucify Him right here on earth.


He knows they are going to, he created them. He tells them he will be crucified and even his believers can't believe that until they see it. Still some don't believe. He goes through terrible persacution by the men He created, dies, is buried, descends to the Dead and rises again as the Living God.


He comes back for proof and still some of his believers don't believe. He walks with two of the on the way to Emmaus and they don't even know who He is until he breaks bread with them.


How many "doubting Thomas's" have you known?


Some men have worked 2,000 years to disprove this story. Still, they cannot. Yet they won't believe. In the mystery of life, it is pretty easy for me to believe this story. I am banking my future on it. What is the worst that can happen, that I am wrong? I will take that chance.


I get along with Believers a lot better, too. They are good people, the kind of people you want to be around. I will be around them today, good fun, Happy Easter!


This has been a revealing Lenten season for me, I hope it has been for you. I never dreamed I would be talking about these things when I started this on January 1. I thought I would be talking about my love of agriculture which I have most days.


But I mainly write what is on my mind and what I am going through each day. So it is right I be honest with you and share every thought I dare share.


The planting season is upon us here in southwest Ohio. Another great promise in the mystery of life. Lots of good stories will be made, some will be passed on, others forgotten. That goes right along with the Easter story.


Now that is a pretty good message!


Ed Winkle

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Johnny Appleseed


I was hoping to get my new apple trees in today but the stock isn't in yet. It got me to thinking about Johnny Appleseed who was famous in these parts.


Johnny Appleseed was a legendary American who planted and supplied apple trees to much of the United States of America. Many people think that Johnny Appleseed was fictional character, but he was a real person.


Johnny was a skilled nurseryman who grew trees and supplied apple seeds to the pioneers in the mid-western USA. Appleseed gave away and sold many trees. He owned many nurseries in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana, where he grew his beloved apple trees. Although he was a very successful man, Appleseed lived a simple life. It is said that as Johnny traveled, he wore his cooking pot on his head as a hat!


Johnny Appleseed was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, on September 26, 1774. His real name was John Chapman, but he was called Johnny Appleseed because of his love for growing apple trees.


Johnny Appleseed’s dream was for a land where blossoming apple trees were everywhere and no one was hungry. A gentle and kind man, he slept outdoors and walked barefoot around the country planting apple seeds everywhere he went. It is even told that he made his drinking water from snow by melting it with his feet.


Johnny was a friend to everyone he met. Indians and settlers -- even the animals -- liked Johnny Appleseed. His clothes were made from sacks and his hat was a tin pot. He also used his hat for cooking. His favorite book was the Bible.


There are many tales about Johnny Appleseed. It is said that once Johnny fell asleep and a rattlesnake tried to bite him, but the fangs would not go into his foot because his skin was as tough as an elephant’s hide. Another tale describes him playing with a bear family.


Johnny died at the age of 70; it is said it was the only time he was ever sick. He is buried in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He had spent 50 years growing apple trees and traveling to spread his precious trees around his country.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Steps


The steps to Christ are long and hard. That is because of our sinful nature.

Today LuAnn I experienced some new steps in our walk. We went to Cincinnati to walk the steps to the Immaculata Cathedral on the top of Mount Adams.

The weather was rainy and dreary, appropriate for such a walk. People lined up farther than the eye can see to walk the walk and pray a prayer at each step. Rosary beads were common.

The crowd is silent and solemn, just like we need to be in our walk. We are humbled at what we have been given and the steps to get there.

The city replaced 85 steps and the church repaired the silent bells that are a long tradition in that community.

"Faithful return to the Steps
Curfew closed Mount Adams vigil last yearBy William A. Weathers, bweathers@enquirer.com The Cincinnati Enquirer

By 11:55 p.m. Thursday night more than 150 people were lined up waiting to make the walk up the 85 steps to Holy Cross-Immaculata Church in Mount Adams.

Ed Duesing, 50, of Bellevue, Ky., and his mother, Vera “Boots'' Duesing, 74, of Fort Thomas, Ky., started their ascent up the steps a few minutes before Good Friday officially arrived. “Over the years we used to do this with my dad,” Mr. Duesing said of the Good Friday pilgrimage in which worshipers pause to say a prayer on each step as they climb to the top. “He died. I do it now with my mom. It takes her a little longer (than in previous years).”

I did it so long with my husband,” Mrs. Duesing said as she held on to the rail and slowly mounted the steps. “It's been kind of family tradition for me. It's been 45 years,” Stuart Press, a 49-year-old Northside resident said of the climb up the church steps. Only extraordinary circumstances could keep him from attending, he said.

“Last year I missed for the first time since 10,” Mr. Press said. Then, Mr. Press said, he was working for Red Cross helping feed the police offficers who were on duty enforcing a citywide curfew. The curfew was imposed following violence and vandalism that occurred after a Cincinnati police officer shot and killed an unarmed suspect who was fleeing police in Over-the-Rhine.

In 2001, the curfew prohibited people from “praying the steps"' until the curfew ended at 6 a.m. on Good Friday morning. By 12:15 a.m. Friday, the church steps were filled with people four abreast making the ascent. Dozens of others were lined up at the foot of the steps awaiting their turn.

“May the Lord guide us now and direct our journey in safety,” Father Stanley H. Neiheisel, pastor of Holy Cross-Immaculata Church, said in prayer as he led the procession up the steps. The tradition of praying the steps evolved from Cincinnati Archbishop John B. Purcell's request that people pray for the project while the church was being built on the highest point in Cincinnati. And they did as they climbed the muddy slopes to the construction site. The cornerstone of “The Church of the Steps” was laid in 1859 and the church was dedicated in 1860. The church was constructed of stone quarried from the slopes of Mount Adams. In 1911, the city of Cincinnati helped the church build concrete steps to replace wooden ones."

It was quite an event, one I think could become a tradition until we can't climb those steps anymore.

Ed Winkle

White House Garden


The Obama administration is changing lots of things in this country, even the south lawn.


"WASHINGTON (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama planted the first fruit and vegetable seedlings in the new White House garden Thursday, assisted by a group of eager fifth-graders who tend to a similar garden at their school.


An advocate of eating fresh and healthy food, she could be enjoying salads made with lettuce from the garden in about two weeks.


Spinach, assorted types of lettuce, herbs, onions, shallots, cucumbers and peas are among the crops planted Thursday. Tomatoes are to follow in about three weeks. Honey will come from a beehive a short distance away from the 1,100-square-foot, L-shaped plot on the South Lawn.
Before they got their hands dirty, Mrs. Obama encouraged the Bancroft Elementary School students to eat more fruits and vegetables and to eat them regularly. She said she learned about that as a mother trying to feed her daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha.
"It does have nutrients, it does make you strong, it is all brain food," she said.


Mrs. Obama said she kept getting asked about the garden while in Europe last week, even by Prince Charles. The prince is an avid gardener who has said people need only a window box to start growing their own food.


"In many countries they really believe in the importance of planting and growing their own food," Mrs. Obama told the fifth-graders, who helped her and White House staff break ground for the garden last month.


She said the garden was "real inexpensive," no more than $200, and would yield "a ton of stuff."
"We can produce enough fruits and vegetables to feed us for years and years to come, for just a couple of hundred dollars," she said.


Some of the crops will be served to the Obamas and to White House staff and guests. Some will be donated to a local soup kitchen. The students are to return to the White House around the end of the school year for the larger harvest, and to help cook some of the food.


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urged them to spread the message at school that it's cool to eat healthy meals.


Mrs. Obama put on a pair of brown gardening gloves, got down on her knees and teamed with students Michelle Pisqui and Santana Holmes to plant neat rows of dill, oregano and rosemary. Vilsack and his student helpers worked on sorrel, collard greens and kale.


The work lasted about 40 minutes. Mrs. Obama quipped afterward that it was "easier than ripping the grass up" last month.


Assistant White House chef Sam Kass said the lettuces could be ready in the next week or two, along with spinach and herbs.


The garden also has a section devoted to Thomas Jefferson, including specific kinds of lettuces, spinach and cabbage. Kass said he visited Monticello, Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend for inspiration."


I wonder if they took a soil test first? I wouldn't mind probing the south lawn! Ours was low in a few trace minerals and we are adding those for a better garden. It pays to "Feed the soil that feeds the plants."


Our first peas and sweet corn are coming up even though it has been abnormally cold. I sprayed the fescue peaking out with glyphosate(RoundUp Herbicide) to try and stay ahead of the grass that was part of our lawn for many years. I see the Obama's didn't do that so grass may be a problem in their garden.


Ed Winkle

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Maundy Thursday


Can you believe Lent is nearly over? This has been an active on for LuAnn and I with our faith, our church and our family. There has been hardly any room for business but it has went on. It will get much more active after Easter this Sunday but the memories of this Lent will linger.


"Holy Thursday is the most complex and profound of all religious observances, save only for the Easter Vigil. It celebrates Christ’s institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacerdotal Priesthood and commemorates Christ’s never-ending love for His disciples, most of whom would desert, betray, or deny Him a few hours after that gathering.


In His Last Supper, a celebration of Passover, Jesus is the self-offered Passover Victim, and every ordained priest to this day presents this same sacrifice, by Christ’s authority and command, in exactly the same way: “Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying. ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’ ’’ (Luke 22:19-20)


For many centuries, the Last Supper has inspired great works of art and literature such as Leonardo da Vinci’s popular Last Supper in the 16th century, Joey Velasco’s Last Supper which featured street children, the glorious stained glass window in Chartres Cathedral, and a reminiscence called Holy Thursday, by the French novelist Francois Mauriac, written in the 1930s.


A special mass is celebrated in all the cathedral churches of the world on the morning of Holy Thursday, participated in by the bishop and as many priests of the diocese as can attend, because it is a solemn observance of Christ’s institution of the priesthood at the Last Supper. At this “Chrism Mass,’’ the bishop also blesses the Oil of Chrism used for baptism, confirmation, and anointing of the sick or dying.


The evening Holy Thursday Liturgy marks the end of Lent and the beginning of the sacred Triduum of Holy Week, which culminates in the Easter Vigil. In His desire to show both the worth God ascribes to the humility of service and the need for cleansing, Jesus decided to first strip his outer garments and wash the feet of His apostles before partaking of His Last Supper with them (Jn 13:3-5). It is this cleansing on the part of Jesus which gave this day of Holy Week the name Maundy Thursday.


If the Eucharist is the place where the Lord washes our feet, daily life is the place where we ought to wash the feet of others. We must follow His example both at the altar of the Eucharist and at the altar of life."


Tomorrow is our own "Climb to Calvary." Our church is leaving Fayetteville at 7:30 AM to climb the steps in Mt. Adams to Holy Cross-Immaculata Church at the top of Mount Adams in Cincinnati.


It all brings to mind why we are here and what we are to do.


May the Lord be with you.


Ed Winkle

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Little Josh


We got to meet Joshua Michael Blakeman Monday. Josh is the son of Lisa Jo and Michael Blakeman of Gallia County. When my sister called and told us about his birth, we decided to run down for a visitation.


Gallia County is about 100 miles SE of us. We took 32, the Appalachian Highway down and US 35 back home. It was a good but fast trip but well worth the while.


We parked at the hospital and there was brother Luke right beside us. He said, Hey Uncle Ed, I thought that was you! They were all very surprised to see us as I didn't tell them, of course. I l ike surprise visits and I think they did too.


Josh is long and slender like his dad. He had the most attentive blue eyes I have seen in a newborn. He kept looking at my hat until I showed him the pretty flowers on the shelf. His eyes just went all over those flowers.


Well, two out of four is here. Claire, Josh, then Tyler, then Lillian I think. Liam and Lilly, that is a good pair to ponder.


The farmers best crop is his kids and we are growing a big one down here in southwest Ohio.


Oh, Josh does have long toes like me. I asked them if they could throw a basball with their foot like I can and they just gave me this big look!


Isn't life grand?


Ed Winkle

FFA Banquet


It is time for the FFA Fried Chicken Circuit. That is what one of the reader's calls my ventures to various meetings over a year. Last night was time for the Fayetteville FFA Banquet where Matt teaches ag.


He has a neat relationship with the Home Ec teacher, now called FCCLA instead of FHA, where her students prepares the meal for the FFA Banquet. It was chicken Parmesan instead of fried chicken and was very tasty.


The FFA Parent Member Banquet is an annual event for most FFA Chapters where the members and supporters receive recognition of hard work and support over the school year. I was solely in charge of 24 of those wonderful events when the kids get so nervous over their speaking assignments. I tried to let the members run the show like Matt did last night.


Speaking has really improved over the years. You could hear every student plainly and clearly. Some rushed their part or didn't speak quite loud enough but I knew what they were saying. That is part of the learning process.


The neat part for me was one parent was anxiously awaiting my arrival. He greeted me at the door. I hadn't seen Jim in years. We talked a long while and it was good to catch up. Then came his mom, just like she looked 30 years ago when Jim was in my class. What a grand reunion!


Jim junior is a member of Matt's class and chapter and I spotted him easily at the beverage table when I got our lemonade. Then came John Frazier and he looked at me, his eyes got big and he shouted out Mr. Winkle! He said his grand daughter was in Matt's class and she told him his teacher was Mr. Winkle and he wondered if I was still teaching. I said no, it was time to turn the reigns over to the next generation.


Seeing Matt's students perform and seeing my former students is always gratifying. It was their ninth annual banquet and Matt''s eighth. What a positive influence my son has had on that good community and they on him. What a great place to work! I tell him all the time his students every year are as good as the best classes I taught over 31 years.


It is so good to see what is right in this country. I just hope our leader's don't mess it up. Let the people do their thing and help them along as they need it. That is all we need, not greed and handouts. That's it, a helping hand, not a handout. Budgets are being hammered out and we have a big task in front of us in Ohio and the US as far as career education goes. I hope they do the right thing, I write and call almost every day.


We seniors have a great opportunity instead of whining about our prescription costs and health care problems. The future is trying to get a foothold and they need our help.


Ed Winkle

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Positive Ag Reporting


I liked this so much I thought I would share it with the world!


"WABASH – The mother hardly grunted as she delivered 12 offspring in rapid succession. Each newborn weighed between 3 and 4 pounds. The first-born siblings eagerly drank their mother’s milk as she delivered the rest.

The delivery volume represented the routine at Liberty Swine Farms. The Wabash County farm raises 22,000 hogs each year, including females other farms use for breeding stock.

It’s a job fewer hog farms are undertaking as farms specialize in certain life stages. Most farmers buy 3-week-old piglets and raise them until they reach market weight. Breeding and monitoring pregnant hogs requires additional time and labor, said Randy Curless, Liberty Swine Farms’ owner.

Newborn piglets, for instance, know how to eat but need a little help getting clean. Production manager Michelle Workman showed me one key job – drying the piglets’ slick skin. If the newborns aren’t dried properly, their belly buttons can become infected.

I expected this job would involve a towel, but instead Workman carried over a plastic tub filled with white powder. Each piglet had to be gently pressed into the floury stuff so the powder covered its sides, front and back. Easier said than done, particularly when the piglet is slippery and squealing.

I picked up a piglet around its middle and gingerly set it in the tub so the powder covered one side. But flipping the animal on its back and stomach proved tricky. When I struggled to maintain my grip on the squirming piglet, Workman grabbed its legs and turned it over easily. This probably isn’t a job for amateurs.

The piglets spend the first three weeks of their lives in a 5-foot-by-7-foot pen. Metal bars keep their mother confined to a 2-foot-by-5-foot space inside the pen.

Curless said the pen is designed for the hogs’ safety. The bars force the mother to wriggle between them before she lies down. That slight delay gives her piglets enough time to get out of her way. Otherwise, the sow could crush the piglets. “They’re not particularly good mothers if left on their own,” he said, “so we do everything we can to facilitate their life expectancy.”
Liberty Swine Farms also keeps pregnant sows in individual pens, allowing employees to treat animals individually, he said. First-time and older mothers receive extra food to keep them healthy.

But the Humane Society of the United States, an animal rights organization, opposes confining sows to individual pens during pregnancy. Gestation crates as narrow as 2 feet prevent the sow from turning or taking more than one step forward or one step back, said Paul Shapiro, senior director of the Humane Society’s factory farming campaign. Confining a sow this way during a four-month pregnancy can lead to muscle atrophy and joint pain, he said.

“The pigs can’t even turn around for months on end,” Shapiro said. The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production concluded these crates should be phased out.
Some companies, such as Cargill and Smithfield Foods Inc., already are eliminating the use of gestation crates, Shapiro said. It would be more humane to keep pregnant sows penned in small groups, the way weaned hogs are, he said.

Individual enclosures prevent the sows from fighting and seriously hurting or killing one another, Curless said. Some of the sows had scratches from fighting as they were moved to their crates, he said. Liberty Swine Farms’ staff had treated the scratches.

Curless said farms like his care for their livestock, and owners carefully consider the best ways to raise animals. Curless, who is president of the trade association Indiana Pork, views answering consumers’ questions about how meat is raised as a key part of being a farmer. Many grocery shoppers are several generations removed from farm life, and he wants them to understand the process.

Raising animals in a temperature-controlled environment also helps more hogs to survive until they reach market weight, he said. The lean hogs consumers want don’t have enough fat to protect them from cold temperatures.

Another risk to outdoor life is drowning. Hogs living outdoors tend to dig “nests,” and the animals can drown if rainstorms fill these depressions with water. Curless remembers helping his father rescue hogs during rainstorms when the family raised hogs outside.
Raising the animals indoors allows about 10 hogs from each litter to survive until they are weaned from the mother at 3 weeks of age, Curless said. Before management practices improved, the age was 3 weeks to 5 weeks.

The piglets displayed distinct personalities during our visit. The way the month-old pigs wrestled with each other and playfully gnawed on Curless’ boots reminded me of my mother’s puppies.

And hogs have a clear social structure, Curless said. Each litter of pigs assigns its members one of the mother’s nipples, so every pig drinks from its delegated spot. When the animals are moved to a new pen, they spend several days sorting out a pecking order.

Liberty Swine Farms carefully controls the environment to protect the hogs from cold temperatures or illnesses. Journal Gazette photographer Sam Hoffman and I had to change into two sets of coveralls and boots before visiting the barns so we wouldn’t spread any germs to the hogs.

Confined animal feeding operations keep animals safe and lower consumers’ grocery bills, Curless said. If government regulations force farmers to shift to cage-free operations, he said the largest meat companies will simply raise more livestock in other countries and import meat to supply the nation’s supermarkets.

“Someday the consumer will realize that we’re right,” he said, “but I’m afraid it’s going to be too late.”

Regulations would force farms like his out of business, Curless said. A hog farm the size of Liberty Swine Farms can gross about $1 million a year, he said.

But current pork prices don’t cover most farmers’ expenses, Curless said. He estimates Liberty Swine Farms is losing $12 to $15 a head because prices are so low. Farmers were earning around 42 cents a pound for selling live hogs last week, he said. Farmers were suffering larger losses – as much $30 a head at Curless’ farm – when grain prices soared last summer, but weak global demand amid the recession continues to depress prices.

Liberty Swine Farms earns more for the sows it sells for breeding. These female pigs earn about $150 more than the market price for pigs used for food, Curless said. To cushion against the pork industry’s cycles, Curless said he saves money during strong years. Those savings help see the operation through lean periods.

“Farming, you know there’s good years and bad,” he said. “So when you have good years you slap a bunch of money in savings. But we’ve lost so much in the last 18 months; we’ve lost almost everything we made the last three years in 18 months.”

Along with the economic struggles, Curless keeps fighting the perception that large livestock farms are not the best environment for raising livestock. Someday, he wants to pass the farm to Workman, the farm’s 20-year-old production manager. Curless’ teenage son also could help lead the company if he decides to pursue a farming career.

Curless said he wants consumers to know livestock farmers also have the animals’ welfare at heart. Farms like Liberty Swine can raise inexpensive food in a humane way, he said.
“We hope to stay in business and keep it here,” he said, “at least if the consumer will let us.”

I have a good friend, several good friends who try to make their living this way but it's an uphill battle. We have to do all we can to support them. They are good people taking better care of animals better than we ever could the way I was raised on the farm. Our death loss was much higher in the old days than it is now and the quality is so much better today. We are truly fortunate.


Ed Winkle

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sable Speaks!


Hi, I am Sable, the famous Germand Shepherd you heard about. My master went to get his haircut and forgot to lock the door again! Ha ha, I know how to get in!


I watch him typing on this keyboard so it can't be too hard.


Boy, I got lucky when he and my other Master, I think he calls her Monk picked me up on January 18. He got her all these flowers the next day, I wondered which one was dying!


Oh well, neither one did, good for me. They spoil me rotten. If Monk knew what he lets me get away with when she goes to work, we would both be in Big Trouble! I hate that word trouble when they say it because then they are mad at me. I don't even know what I did, I am just a pup!


I am a pretty big pup though and the doctor said I weighed 54 lbs. Bet I weigh over 60 now, I am growing fast. Sorry, the picture doesn't do me justice, I am much bigger, just come and look!


Silly Ed lost his camera in Louisville so now he is using this antique from Eric. Better some pictures then none I guess.


They don't see how I am getting so big since I don't like that stupid Puppy Chow so at night I just get in the fridge and chow down. They don't even know its missing!


The other day he took me to the seed house. I got out and started sniffing around this strange place but he saw me and put me back in the truck. When he walked away, this dumb little dog came up barking at me like the little pest he is. I just listened awhile then stuck my head out the window to answer. Scared the pants off that little dog, he just crawled away! When he came back though he was much nicer. I don't bark too often because it scares humans. I can't help it I got this big deep bark for a girl!


Oops, I hear his truck coming so I better get off here and sign out or whatever they do and let myself back into my cage. I will act so innocent when he comes in the door.


Ha!


Sable

Holy Week


Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday)


Holy Week begins with the sixth Sunday in Lent. This Sunday observes the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem that was marked by the crowds who were in Jerusalem for Passover waving palm branches and proclaiming him as the messianic king. The Gospels tell us that Jesus rode into the city on a donkey, enacting the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, and in so doing emphasized the humility that was to characterize the Kingdom he proclaimed. The irony of his acceptance as the new Davidic King (Mark 11:10) by the crowds who would only five days later cry for his execution should be a sobering reminder of the human tendency to want God on our own terms.


Did you observe Palm Sunday?


Traditionally, worshippers enact the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem by the waving of palm branches and singing songs of celebration. Sometimes this is accompanied by a processional into the church. In many churches, children are an integral part of this service since they enjoy processions and activity as a part of worship. This provides a good opportunity to involve them in the worship life of the community of Faith. In many more liturgical churches, children are encouraged to craft palm leaves that were used for the Sunday processional into crosses to help make the connection between the celebration of Palm Sunday and the impending events of Holy Week.


This Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday to commemorate the beginning of Holy Week and Jesus’ final agonizing journey to the cross. The English word passion comes from a Latin word that means "to suffer," the same word from which we derive the English word patient.

In most Protestant traditions, the liturgical color for The Season of Lent is purple, and that color is used until Easter Sunday. In Catholic tradition (and some others), the colors are changed to Red for Palm Sunday. Red is the color of the church, used for Pentecost as well as remembering the martyrs of the church. Since it symbolizes shed blood, it is also used on Palm Sunday to symbolize the death of Jesus. While most Protestants celebrate the Sunday before Easter as Palm Sunday, in Catholic and other church traditions it is also celebrated as Passion Sunday anticipating the impending death of Jesus. In some Church traditions (Anglican), the church colors are changed to red for the fifth Sunday in Lent, with the last two Sundays in Lent observed as Passiontide.


Increasingly, many churches are incorporating an emphasis on the Passion of Jesus into services on Palm Sunday as a way to balance the celebration of Easter Sunday. Rather than having the two Sundays both focus on triumph, Passion Sunday is presented as a time to reflect on the suffering and death of Jesus in a Sunday service of worship. This provides an opportunity for people who do not or cannot attend a Good Friday Service to experience the contrast of Jesus’ death and the Resurrection, rather than celebrating the Resurrection in isolation from Jesus’ suffering. However, since Sunday services are always celebrations of the Resurrection of Jesus during the entire year, even an emphasis on the Passion of Jesus on this Sunday should not be mournful or end on a negative note, as do most Good Friday Services (which is the reason Eucharist or Communion is not normally celebrated on Good Friday).


What have you planned for Holy Week?


Ed Winkle