Monday, February 28, 2011


What a storm blew through a few minutes ago! It had been building all night and one wind gust felt like it was going to blow the big old bedroom window out on top of us. Seriously, it was that strong. But nothing like the earthquake in New Zealand.

I hope all my readers are safe, this storm runs way back to Nebraska. The edge of the storm that passed through is like a knife. When it gets like I will have to go assess the damamge, I hope it is below the deductible but I heard a lot of thins blow off last night.

I know there is steel off the bins and old barn, I heard it. I know that sound by now, it has happened several times. It probably took off every weak pecan limb and I bet there is enough kindling in the yard to start many fires.

Pickemupstix, ever play that game? The older grandkids are old enough to play. My main man Liam won't be able to play with us very often. We bid them goodbye last night as they move to Cleveland this week for Will's new job. It is very bittersweet.

We could tell Liam doesn't want to go but he has no choice. We talked about adjusting to his new life and how we could still see each other. Oh the pain and the joy!

LuAnn and I both had that happen to us when we were 5 or so. My parents bought a new farm near nowhere New Hope on Stoney Hollow Road and her parents moved her from a comfortable suburb to a farm in the middle of nowhere, Alabama School System in New York.

At least we have some experience to commiserate with him. It all turned out good and his experience will too.

These fuel prices are going to eat into our traveling money and our farm profits this year.

That's the way it is at HyMark on the last day of February.

Can you believe the new year is 1/6 gone?


Sunday, February 27, 2011


My little buddy is moving away. That could make me really sad and out of sorts. His dad got a job with NASA in Cleveland so it will be about 3 hours to Liam's new pad.

But I have always taught me kids to be independent and here is the fruit of my labor. I don't have to tell you Liam and his mom Becky are two of the neatest and smartest people I ever met. By neat I mean extraordinary, not the typical meaning like picking up your clothes.

The family all prayed for this job and now the realization sets in. I can't drive to them in 15 minutes!

We had a good day yesterday. I went to my aunt's 89th birthday party. 5 of the 10 Winkle cousins were able to make it so I thought that was very good. Jane is weakening but still holding up really well for 89 years of life. She said one more year and I am 90 years old and I told here I sure hope you make it.

I think I may end up buying a new computer soon. They are a dime a dozen compared to other thins I buy and I tired of not having my workstation in front of me. I don't want a laptop or a Iphone, the screen and keys are too small for me. I probably spend a third of my time asleep and 1/5 in my office, so my work station is important to me. I am surprised I can even get by for a time without it.

So it's a melancholy day, I hope I don't get the Sunday blues. LuAnn and I talk about it and it is something deep in our background and in our souls that happen after a hard week, a fast weekend, church and the onset of a new week. I don't know how else to describe it.

The focus has been family and business here. We have to sign our loan paper for the year and Tuesday is the first day of March. By the 15th we have to have our crop insurance in order. I wish I could go self insured as it has never paid for me but I can't stand one bad open year and this fickle weather could be the indicator this is it.

I am bold about a lot of things but not my assets. I worked too darn hard to get them. So I hold onto to the things I can control and try not to worry about the things I can't.


Saturday, February 26, 2011


February has marched right on by us, where did it go? It is a short month anyhow but how could time move so quickly? Just a year ago we were teaching and visiting in New Zealand and now that seems like a long time ago. Here we are learning about palenta from our hosts.

I read with interest Mike Bumpus's post on malware. His laptop is infected like my PC is. I still need a blogger class and now I need a malware class also.

These crafty evil monsters dream up these ways to infect our computers and then turn them loose on us. Every time we open an app or application we are subject to infection and the longer we are on there the more chance there is.

I found this article really interesting. What are we to do? Hang up the computer and turn off the switch? We are too addicted I mean connected so we can't do that! We just find another tech, short for technician and buy some more software!

It is like my old friend who takes 9 pills a day and his wife 13. They take pills to fight pills. Sad state of affairs but that is how it is!

So if I bought a new computer today and it had anti everything on it, would it even work? It might get me to HyMark Blogspot but that is about it. My site might even be infected but it looks like Google is a lot smarter than I am.

They are smart enough and powerful enough to be linked to revolution in the Mideast. That is a whole different subject and we won't go there today.

Mike and I and everyone else, we just want a computer that works and doesn't get infected.

I don't think they have invented that yet.


Friday, February 25, 2011


Our union is getting tested again. Our union of states are paying for the right for the collective bargaining union.

I hope Governor Walker is successful as he is doing his job to balance a broken budget. I don't think he wants to break the unions but if he does, he will have a hard time.

Ohio is going through the same thing. Ohio can't pay its bills and some of those bills are really important ones for promised pensions and health care.

I think I was a member of the union twice as a teacher. My first year of teaching when they come at you like you HAVE to join the union to be a teacher and my first year at a new school when the board and the union were at odds to show solidarity. Now many places are a "closed shop" and you must join.

Dad was a member of the farmers union NFO about one day when some disgruntled members shot out the tires of a friends milk truck and he said enough of that, I won't support your union.

How in the world did we get into this mess anyway? Simply put governments have been robbing Peter to pay Paul since their first day. Government never had the money to fund all the grandiose schemes of the people, The more you gave them, the more they wanted to the point we can't pay what we agreed to pay. That is called bankruptcy.

Cicero wrote about this 55 years before Christ was born. Do you remember? “The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.”

Cicero – 55 BC

Perhaps you saw it in a recent email but it is true. It sounds so easy on paper but man has never done well with it as a society. Too many people have no clue how live within a budget, let alone the government they elect to do all these great things.

Government can do great things and it has or we wouldn't be here.

But it is failing us to the point of bankruptcy.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, February 24, 2011


It is a big crowd today at the Conservation and Tillage Conference in Ada,Ohio. It has been held at Ohio Northern University as long as I remember, when my friend John Smith and I were agriculture extension agents in 1987.

John inherited the program when was hired as the new county agent in `987. He took it off and running.

Farmers are wanting to know more and more about the latest advances in conservation tillage. There are many continuous no tillers here.

Today is mainly cover crops, which there is much interest in. Many of these farmers have planted rye or radishes to get their hands on the benefits of cover crops. They want to know how to do better with their cover crops.

I am just happy to get the land covered with anything, then I can work my way up. The rivers are still brown so I know we can do better.

Covers are really paying off today as the ground in saturated and we are getting more rain. My friend Garth Mulkey from Oregon visited with me yesterday and we took a short drive to see all the bare ground with no over. Most of it is sloping land too, but farmers just wont cover crop it.

Garth raises cover crop seed in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Like many growers in Oregon he is struggling to make a living growing seed. He formed a new seed company and is here this weekend to answer questions at his booth at Ada.

LuAnn and I got to visit him and his wife in the fall of 09. I never saw such huge radish seed in my life, probably twice normal size. This makes it easier for the farmer to sow. Sowing small seed is real ticklish as I am sure you know. Small seed causes me to sow my lettuce seed too thick.

It is good to see conservation grow but it's sad it takes high input costs to force farmers to look at it. You would think we would know better but there are a few who farm like grandpa and do OK. My grandpa has a 5 year rotation and you don't see that anymore.

Now if they would chase the combine with a seeder they could make more money and build the source of their existence, the soil.

I am convinced a farmer should follow every harvest with fertilizer buggy and a seeder to prepare for the next year's crop.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More on Christchurch

I am sure you have seen the footage from Christchurch, south island of New Zealand.

I felt kind of funny making the decision in the Pellow house whether or not to visit both islands or fly to my friends farms in the Queensland of Australia. Both have been ravaged, one by earthquake, one by flood.

We could have stayed in the maize area of North Island flew to Queensland and flew back for our appointments on the North Island. I always wanted to visit Australia since my first contact with a farmer via Morse Code in Queensland in the early 60's.

Our hosts had travelled both islands of New Zealand so they encouragef us to focus our limited stay in New Zealand. They were right.

Now a year later, some of the great things we saw lay in rubble. It kind of mimics our lives, here today, gone tomorrow.

It is all overwhelming, no wonder some people never leave their birth area. My reading and curiosity led me to new places on new land to me and new people. It has been a great experience, one I can never give you full appreciation of.

Right now I am waiting on my Friend from Oregon to call back so we can connect at lunch. He produces seed we use for cover crops and we visited his farm two years ago, now is my time to pay back the favors he showed us.

He produces the largest radish seed I ever saw and is seeking seed companies to sell his product to. I will help him any which way I can. His area also produces the famous Oregon rye grass that is an important cover crop for many farmers here in the east.

The Internet has connected me to all these people. The power of the Internet, see what it is doing in the Middle East. It is a force to be reckoned with. Shut it off and you will see revolts like you have seen on TV. Wow, it is really powerful and has improved my life.

It looks like they will find more bodies today in Christchurch. The Internet can help us connect and see how each other are doing in times of peril like this.

Don't ever underestimate the power of technology, it has really taken a foothold.

I would rather be looking at these beautiful flowers in Christchurch right now but all of the tourists have been shuttled to a safer place.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Prayers to Christchurch

This morning I offer prayer to my new friends in New Zealand. We were in Christchurch a year ago. It was one of the most beautiful cities we have ever visited. The operating word is was.

The devastating second earthquake has just about finished her off after September's gigantic earthquake and the resulting aftershocks.

This morning's news shows the devastated streets we walked just a year ago. I saw so many buildings and things I remembered, now laying in rubble.

New Zealand is the most beautiful tropical island and there are two, formed by volcanoes. Their soil is mostly volcanic ash. They can grow anything thanks to this rich soil and their climate.

Christchurch is on the south island, my farmer friends live on either island.

I got an email from the north island this morning and my farmer friend quoted their Prime Minister, "this is a dark day for New Zealand."

Kiwi's are such beautiful people, so strong and resilient yet so mild, meek and humble. Their motto is, "no worries." LuAnn and I would be blessed to live there among them and it is that enticing.

Their strength and resiliency has been tested, and tested severely. I pray they are safe and can overcome their loss. It is a huge loss for them. The main cathedral near the square may be destroyed and I imagine those beautiful buildings we walked from downtown to the Botanical Gardens are very damaged.

I would think the trolley is not operational, maybe someone can update this for me.

We pray for New Zealand and are able to send help, just let us know your needs. I know you well enough you won't ask for anything. If you do, it's far worse than the news portrays.

The greatest thing I learned about your country is your people. Cheeriest people I ever met, backed with friendship and hospitality. Your country is beautiful, from north to south. We depend on many of your seeds from the south island that holds the rich Canterbury Plains south of Christchurch.

So of course, my heart is out to you and my prayer. We do hope you recover.

Blessings to New Zealand,

Ed Winkle

Monday, February 21, 2011


Ford wins Daytona, now that is a surprise! If Junior couldn't win and the Busch's didn't win, Trvor Bayne was a popular surprise in farm country! It was the Wood Brother's first win there for 35 years? You have to give them an A for effort!

One thing the new pavement at Daytona did was make drivers work together and the driver doing the pushing couldn't win but just make the car in front him go faster.

We saw what happened when they tried to get around, massive car pile ups! It's a crazy way to race but that what equality in NASCAR has come to, the power of the draft.

We rented a Ford Focus after our Ag Cruise. It was one of the few cars available with the massive storm in the Northeast so I got my first shot at driving a new Ford. True, it wasn't a Fusion and a stripped down Focus at that but I quickly learned we won't be buying a Ford.

The one thing I can say is it is pretty easy on fuel and runs OK. As far as creature comforts, it had none. Our backs were hurting in an hour. The seat is the wrong angle and there was no way to adjust it comfortably to come close to our Buick or Silverado which we can drive all day without much pain.

I couldn't see the clock or much of anything on the dash but the speedometer. It didn't feel safe for a little car and I would hate to get hit in the side or anywhere on that little car. It truly is a tin can. It had rattles at 8000 miles already.

You have to admire the recovery Ford has made since the economic crash without taking our government money to stay alive but this car or my friend's pickups don't show why. I wouldn't own their diesel pickup even if I liked the truck. That engine takes too much money to keep running.

At least LuAnn made a little money on her Ford stock but Deere and Caterpillar and Farmer Mac has put those earnings to shame. If you love Ford, God love you, because it doesn't work for me.


Sunday, February 20, 2011


We grow soft red winter wheat in the states of my region. We grow it because it is best adapted to our soil and climate. The flour from this wheat makes the best cookie or pastry and cracker flour because it is soft, sweet and low in protein. We don't grow the higher protein wheats for bread and pasta here because it does not grow well here.

From Wiki, "Wheat (Triticum spp.)[1] is a grass, originally from the Fertile Crescent region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize (784 million tons) and rice (651 million tons).[2] Globally, wheat is the leading source of vegetable protein in human food, having a higher protein content than either maize (corn) or rice, the other major cereals. In terms of total production tonnages used for food, it is currently second to rice as the main human food crop, and ahead of maize, after allowing for maize's more extensive use in animal feeds.

Wheat was a key factor enabling the emergence of city-based societies at the start of civilization because it was one of the first crops that could be easily cultivated on a large scale, and had the additional advantage of yielding a harvest that provides long-term storage of food. Wheat is a factor in contributing to city-states in the Fertile Crescent including the Babylonian and Assyrian empires. Wheat grain is a staple food used to make flour for leavened, flat and steamed breads, biscuits, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereal, pasta, noodles, couscous[3] and for fermentation to make beer,[4] other alcoholic beverages,[5] or biofuel.[6]

Wheat is planted to a limited extent as a forage crop for livestock, and its straw can be used as a construction material for roofing thatch.[7][8] The husk of the grain, separated when milling white flour, is bran. Wheat germ is the embryo portion of the wheat kernel. It is a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, and protein, and is sustained by the larger, starch storage region of the kernel—the endosperm."

Wheat is one of first crops brought to America and this region by early immigrants from Europe. It was a mainstay on our farm in Sardinia and has been grown there for over 100 years that I know of and probably longer than that.

I remember the long lines of trucks and wagons past our house in the 50's and 60's. Now we haul our wheat by semi tractor and trailer, usually to the main miller left in Ohio, Keynes Milling.

I raised the most wheat I ever grew in my life last year, over 500 acres, even though it was one of the lowest planted acreages in Ohio history. Farmers planted a little more last fall and it looks pretty good at this point.

The challenge now is to get the wheat fertilized with nitrogen and the pests controlled. Winter annual weeds, various diseases and aphids and a few other insects are the main pests we scout and spray for if needed.

Wheat has been a good crop for me but not as profitable as corn or soybeans. It does control erosion helps us stretch our season and work load. The benefit to me is the straw I compost back into the soil while double cropping my main cash crop, soybeans. There is little livestock left in this region and straw is not baled to the extent it once was.

Nothing is more beautiful in the fields today than a green field of cereal grains against the stark looking, brown landscape.

When you drive by a beautiful green field this week, remember wheat.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Not Cured

I spent way too much time yesterday trying to get my computer system to function again and I have it back to just above barely functioning this morning. It is not cured yet but it is more functional.

I was able to remove some programs, compact some things, defrag the hard drive and get my AVG to scan and my Malwear to remove a bunch of junk and I had it running full speed last night but it was temporary.

This morning it is just above being dead. It acts 80 years old like I do somedays which is great for an elderly person but not acceptable for a 20 year old.

In my calling for help I found out most technicians that operate a computer business are out of business. Do you think people have learned to transfer their data to a newer computer or forget about the old data because there wasn't much on their anyhow? I know a lot of people just buy a new one and move on.

I only need the CPU and none of the stuff attached to it in these box deals that assume you are starting out from scratch.

The company I may take mine to is fairly local and has a room you can drop your hardrive to anytime. Now if they just had a loaner I could use to access the Internet, that would be something. I think I will have to provide that myself.

This thing still isn't right and I might get through till Monday. I found another attack on my Malwear software this morning and removed the threat.

If I didn't save my hard drive and I think and I hope I did, the world won't end but my contact to it will temporarily.

I want to buy a little Toshiba external hard drive I saw and back up my system on it and start eliminating a bunch of rarely used pieces like a huge file of pictures and power points and documents and software I rarely access but want to keep.

As long as Iranium hasn't hit me I will be OK.

Have you heard about this new movie about Iran and its impact on the US?

It sounded pretty real and scary to us.


Friday, February 18, 2011


Somehow I got my hard drive infected again.

I was cruising along this morning doing my daily Internet routine when my computer came to a halt. No blue screens or anything, it just came to the point it wouldn't compute anymore. That point where you type a letter and it comes up a second later which seems like forever.

That is the second time this winter. Now it has to go to a technician who knows more than I do and I admit that isn't very much. When it works it's great, when it doesn't, it is useless.

It's like getting dirty fuel in your tank and you feel the engine slowing down and coming to a halt. It may run a little bit but it won't perform.

I use email and the Internet so much I probably need a spare computer. LuAnn told me that the last time it crashed.

I should have done something then but I didn't do it. I wish I knew more about operating systems. I had the opportunity but I am an outdoors guy most of the time and I didn't do it.

It is so complex today you have to take your hat off to your technician when you have a problem. Without him you are stalled, dead in the water. Just like the high speed farm operation today depending on its mechanic. The day is pretty much gone where you have the time or expertise to fix it yourself.

We live in such a high speed, high tech, computer chip generated world today. It's great when it works but it stinks when it doesn't.

How do you keep your computer and computer dependednt equipment working?

It sure is warm out. It is so warm it makes you want to plant something and it might be a good time to plant some cole crops.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tar and Feathers or Public Lynching?

I read this this morning and it made me very angry.

This reminded me of the beautiful trees torn down at the Fayetteville school campus that used to be a monastery. It was one of the prettiest places in the area. But the space was needed to build the new school and the trees had to be removed to get the state funding needed to get the approved plan operational.

This is different, this is outright destruction of public property, the beautiful oak trees on land grant college Auburn University's campus.

"AUBURN, Alabama – Auburn University today confirmed that an herbicide commonly used to kill trees was deliberately applied in lethal amounts to the soil around the Toomer’s Corner live oaks on campus, and there is little chance to save the trees.

The trees are the traditional gathering place following a major sports victory. Auburn Tigers fans festoon the trees with toilet paper as a jubilant sign of Auburn pride. Most recently, of course, it was the scene of celebration for Auburn's victory over the Oregon Ducks in the BCS National Championship game on Jan. 10.

The city of Auburn Police Division is investigating the situation, and the application of this herbicide, known as Spike 80DF, or tebuthiuron, is also governed by state agricultural laws and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The university does not use Spike herbicide, officials said. Officials did say there is no reason to suspect any human danger from the herbicide, which manufacturer Dow Chemical says should be applied with proper clothing protection; a typical use of the herbicide is to kill trees along fence lines.

The university learned that a caller to The Paul Finebaum Show, a nationally syndicated radio show based in Birmingham, on Jan. 27, claimed he had applied the herbicide. As a precaution, soil samples were taken the next day and sent to the Alabama State Pesticide Residue Laboratory on campus for analysis. Due to a small fire that occurred in the Alabama lab in December, the tests were sent to the lab at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss., to expedite results.

Auburn University has set up a website to follow information about the historic Toomer's Corner oaks.

Listen to the Jan. 27 call to The Paul Finebaum Show on the radio program's website.

Officials said in a news release that the lowest amount of the poison detected was 0.78 parts per million, described by horticulture experts as a “very lethal dose.” The highest amount detected was 51 parts per million, or 65 times the lowest dose. Experts believe a normal application by itself would have been enough to kill the trees, which are estimated to be more than 130 years old.

“We are assessing the extent of the damage and proceeding as if we have a chance to save the trees,” said Gary Keever, an Auburn University professor of horticulture and a member of Auburn’s Tree Preservation Committee. “We are also focused on protecting the other trees and shrubs in Samford Park. At this level the impact could be much greater than just the oaks on the corner, as Spike moves through the soil to a wide area.”

Additional tests are being completed to determine the movement and extent of the area affected, Keever said.

The removal process involves digging trenches and applying activated charcoal to absorb the herbicide from the soil and block its progress. A representative from Dow Chemical, which manufactures the herbicide, is advising the university on removal procedures, and expert horticulturalists are also being consulted.

“We will take every step we can to save the Toomer’s oaks, which have been the home of countless celebrations and a symbol of the Auburn spirit for generations of Auburn students, fans, alumni and the community,” said University President Jay Gogue.

Gogue asked members of the Auburn Family to “continue to be ‘All In’ in upholding its reputation for class” and not allow anger to be expressed inappropriately or undeservedly.

“It is understandable to feel outrage in reaction to a malicious act of vandalism,” Gogue said. “However, we should live up to the example we set in becoming national champions and the beliefs expressed in our Auburn Creed. Individuals act alone, not on behalf of anyone or any place, and all universities are vulnerable to and condemn such reprehensible acts.”

Because the application of the herbicide is being investigated, no details about the investigation can be released. Anyone with information can contact the Auburn Police Division at (334) 501-3110 or anonymously by voice or text on the tip line at (334) 246-1391."

What would you do to the perpretrator?


Wednesday, February 16, 2011


For our Valentine's dinner we went to a Mexican restaurant in Hillsboro. Do you eat Mexican prepared food?

I never knew what it was when I was a kid and had my first pizza in that town as a teenager.

It seems like every town has at least one Chinese and one Mexican restaurant these days. I think the Chinese came first but the Mexican and others have really come on strong.

We have eaten at some of the best Mexican restaurants there are across the southwest. Arizona, New Mexico and Texas come to mind. Even Columbus Junction, Iowa where our friends took us out to eat while visiting their farm.

The food at this place was as good as any of them to me. I wasn't even that hungry but the two big plates of food was soon gone. I had some kind of beef, shrimp and chicken cooked with vegetables on a hot plate and was served a side of lettuce, tomatoe, sour cream, refried beans and rice to compliment it. They brought out big torillas to eat the mix on.

Every way I tried it, every bite was good. It was so good I made an effort to give them a review on Google. It really was that good.

Maybe the next time won't be so delightful but I can't wait to try again.

I won't say it is my favorite food but every once in awhile I get a desire to eat it. I don't think I ever had a bad meal prepared that way.

Tonight is sausage and kraut and potatoes and asperagus, home style, which is hard to beat too but it is special when you get a meal prepared for you for a good price in a good atmosphere.

For you locals and visitors, I highly recommend this place.

I didn't take a picture of it so the picture you see is something I could prepare myself.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Ag Community

The agricultural community has gotten smaller and stronger. The Internet has greatly enhanced this fact as we have friends all over the country and even the world today. I was an early adapter of technology and experienced via amateur radio on the farm in Sardinia as a young man.

Farm size has continued to increase over the decades and now one farmer feeds 150-60 people, even if he only raises corn and soybeans. We lost half our farmers in the financial crunch of the 80's so that left less farmers farming more acres and the ag community got smaller over a longer distance.

One farmer asked on Crop Talk how far you would travel to farm? The consensus was 30 miles so that runs right with what we do here in Martinsville. Two long time farming neighbors farm within a few miles of their house and I must admit I am jealous of them.

Ag Talk has become the international coffee shop for farmers. I never did like local coffee shops to talk with other farmers. There was too much BS in there for me because I wanted to learn what to do and what not to do. It just doesn't fit my schedule or personality.

Most of the farmers at the Martinsville Mall don't even farm anymore so it is a meeting of the good ole days. Or, somedays the country is going to hell and here is why with no good way to fix it. That doesn't make me any money either and my pictures and memory serve me well of my good ole days.

I treasure my contacts with farmers I don't see on a day to day basis. They are just far enough removed physically to get down to brass tacks and really help each other. That is what I like about the Internet.

Oh, there is a lot of BS on there too and you have to be smart enough to figure out the good, the bad and the ugly. That is a prhase many will post in a question about a product or a practice. Tell me the good, the bad and the ugly on this or that.

National FFA Week has rolled around again and National Agriculture Week is right behind. These are two good activities to keep our city cousins abreast with what is going on, down on the farm.

The ag community is much smaller than it used to be but it is very strong.

I am proud to be a very small part of it.

Ed Winkle

Monday, February 14, 2011


Valentine is an old, old name given to a few people. The martyr's named Valentine has made it a special word since Christ and many died to the faith for their belief.

That day has carried on through today when flower shops and candy vendors have their best day of the year. I saw a report on one lady who has been planning for todays onslaught of flower purchases since December. She seemed to be ready.

Our local Kroger store was sure ready. The men were lined up bying flowers and candy and what not for their sweeties. Thousands of dollars changed hands in minutes.

It reminds me of June Bowling's shop in Blanchester. She had a big banner across the back of the sales counter that read, "How bad did you screw up?" I always thought that was a good line for a flower shop.

Hopefully none of us did that too the point we had to buy flowers or whatever for our mates but out of true love and devotion. No flower in the world would make up for my screw ups so that isn't even an option for me and would be lame if I tried it.

Valentine's Day gifts are just for that special love between two people and that's the way it should be. Romantic love is only one kind of love but it is an importtant one, one we all seek and admire.

Reading that link made me think of this day of one's love and devotion to the point that person would give their life for this person. For the marytrs, it was God Himself. This day was a feast day in the Catholic church until 1969 when Pope John Paul thought better of it.

So like most holidays, this one is meant to focus one thing we should be doing every day. A brand new year January 1, decorate the graves and give tribute to freedom thanks to soldiers on Memorial Day, Independence on July 4, Thanksgiving for the end of the harvest season and the birth of God Himself though Christ on Christmas.

I always thought February 14 was a made up holiday to sell greeting cards but when you study history, it means much more than that. It represents something I should be doing everyday, in this case, love and devotion.

So this day is for you, LuAnn, as every day is. The wheat crop out our back door is our example of fertility as life springs forth from the earth once more.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Demise of the English Language

A farmer found an advertisement he brought up on Machinery Talk. I thought his post hinted at the demise of the English language.

"This was pointed out on the British Farming Forum. New Holland has published the T7 series brochure on their Euro website. However someone forgot to review the document. They have a couple of user testimonials. However on page 10, someone left the note "Fake testimonal needed". Was I the only person naive enough to think they would ask real users what they think about the product?? Haha."

That is quite an editing blooper, especially among farmers. We can be relentless yet forgiving and have been more attached to the work end of food production than the print end of it.

Two of the best things I got from my public education was my instruction in English and typing. My science instruction was good but didn't match with my mathematics instruction. I got caught or left somewhere in the middle. They never found all the good in me, I had to find it on my own. Wow, that sentence just struck me, myself as I have never thought of it that way.

I have tried to make an easily understandable lesson plan as young teacher to a very readable blog as an older farmer. I read tons of material and have to put it in a understandable, readable form I can understand and share with others. I am a sharing person because I learned quickly that is how you move along in society. There is great need to make the complex simple throughout life.

Whoever wrote and printed up the New Holland brochure missed more than I did. A farmer found the brochure and put it up on the Web for all to read. I hope and work to do better than that and please call me out when I don't. That is why all blogs I trust have a comment section and why I use it. The writer doesn't know what you are thinking unless they get feedback.

Spelling mistakes is one thing, typograhphical errors are another but printing a brochure with modern day text style social communication writing is pretty bad. Is it unforgivable?

Today, it is. Or is it?

My English teachers should cringe when I make a mistake I should have found.

This is where the social network really falls short in communication. The network provides ultra fast ideas and sharing, but are they communicated in a way all can understand?


Saturday, February 12, 2011

What To Plant

I see the market is getting all exciting about what farmers should plant. Shoot, I set that course with what I did last year and the year before.

I guess acres do flucuate to make markets respond but it is pretty steady. Not too many farmers just jump into corn after corn or whatever. It looks like corn and cotton are kings with record prices. Someone said cotton is it has been since the Civil War when we ran out of cotton for soldier uniforms.

Watching the hounds on US Farm Report I can see why farmers don't trust marketing advisors either. Not one of them said don't sell much this year and plan to store every bushel you can store or delay price on. Not one of them.

Sound crop rotations make more sense to me. The best one I have found is corn, corn, soybean, soybean, soft red winter wheat double cropped with soybeans. That takes less total fertilizer and pesticide than anything I have done and my soil has really responded to it.

So I think I have sold 11 crops off this farm in 7 years and it has never laid over winter in soybean stubble that is subject to the most erosion here. I have more flexibility in switching crops if I want to also. All this wheat could become corn or soybeans in one trip across the field.

The prices are so high now I really don't see any advantange switching. I can see where the guys that can raise cotton would plant more cotton. I don't expect to see much changing going on around here.

LuAnn said the garden is dry we could till it. I don't doubt that. It might be a good year to plant cole crops and potatoes early but overall I don't like a dry February. Last year covered in snow was better.

Who knows, who really knows. All I can do is plan the best I can and see what happens.

It's like driving down the road, looking out the windshield and wonder what's coming next. I know what to expect but it often turns out a little different than I planned.

But, it has worked for 60 years.


Friday, February 11, 2011


An old cynic has showed up on ag talk again. He has done more to bash people than ever lift anyone up. I am sure glad they can't say that about me.

This means the good guys will be tipping toeing around him or just quit posting so good exchange between people will slow down and stop. That is bad for an ag forum and bad for people in general.

I have become much more cynical over my age but just to trash every idea another person comes up with isn't good for people. It isn't good for society.

Maybe that is how President Obama feels as even people in his own league have bashed him. It seems like he can do little right, yet he is our president.

Some people just have a mean disposition, don't they? I don't understand what makes them so mean. I just treasure being around people who are happy all the time. How can I be mean or sad around them? They are God's true blessings to me.

Sometimes I get in a bad mood and I am not even fit to be around. In my experience most people are that way. But I don't like being there and I do work to get better and see things on the positive side as quick as I can.

So many cynics have went down with the ship and I never ever wanted to be there. Yet, sometimes I do a little bit but I don't feel right when I do and is surely no way to bring up children and grandchildren.

Things can't be honky dorey all the time but sometimes when you don't have something good to say you just shouldn't say it. Patience and temperment are hugely important things I should strive for and I surely respect in others.

Cynics come and cynics go just like the rest of it. There is a time to be cynical but to spend your life in it? I just see that as a life of misery.

Lord don't let me be a cynic.


Thursday, February 10, 2011


The Virginia NoTill Alliance has named theirselves Vantage and are starting new chapters of Vantage across the state of Virginia. Pennsylvania has done this with great success. I wish we had that in Ohio and other states. We are a little proud and arrogant in Ohio sometimes I think and want to be first rather than adopt an idea from another state.

It was truly a privilege for me to speak where my ancestor Heinrich Winkle settled in the 1700's. Some of our best ideas and founding principles have come from the great state of Virginia, which was one of the main destinations from Europe in those days. This really brings American History to life for me.

We got the Future Farmers of America and lots of great ideas from our early settlers in Virginia. I really feel my roots in Virginia and how they spread to Ohio across the mountains. I had forgotten how formidable those mountains are until I purposely and non purposely drove across them this week.

We shared every idea we could think of how to farm better. Farming better means more profit to me but soil health and conservation comes from that too. I wish I had their livestock manure here in Martinsville and they wish they had my more open fields of land. Two good minds are better than one so it is good to help one another as we did.

Planter setups where a major focus of the conference and I threw in soil and tissue testing to balance soil fertility and we talked about how to improve our soil and bottom lines with cover crops.

It occured to me how much has changed in a short period of time as I add one new practice each year and when you look back 10 years, there has been a lot of change in farming and notill especially.

Ten years ago we had less than an inch of snow fall. This year we could break forty inches. The farmers adaptation to these climatic changes dtermines his success or failure. We can't change Mother Nature even if they try to prove we have. We can change how we adapt to change and I think a meeting like this one just helps us figure out what to do next.

One good friend thinks these high markets and small crop carryovers are limiting our customers. They sure are and they always will. Weather and production and market prices have always went up and down and I think they always will.

We keep producing more with less but we see this crunch increasing now. There are more people and no more land and economies which are not as healthy as we would like as we continue to spend and borrow more. We can only borrow so much until we default.

The little farmer can stand this situation more than higher leveraged bigger farmers if he is careful. I don't see how the livestock industry is making it in these times but they seem to continue to. We are rationing grain or food with price in our economy right now. If anyone doesn't think we have inflation, get out your tax returns and records from the last ten years and see how much it has changed.

The smart ones, usually referred to as the lucky ones will survive. NoTill helps me survive and adds to my bottom line as I seek to grow more grain with less in these poor weather, high commodity price years.

Vantage people, you did a great job and thanks once again for the opportunity. My email box is always open like my front door, so just knock and we can talk about how to help each other.

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Made NoTill Work

I made no till work, at least in the minds of others.

We had a really good meeting in Harrisonburg Virginia Yesterday. I spoke three times as we shared how to make no till work and work better.

I had lots of interesting people come up and offer me their stories, much like what we have in the Ohio River Valley but there they have drier soil and lots of people next door. It reminded me of Warren and Clermont Counties and Boone County Kentucky.

When you get that many people near farms they love the farms but don't understand how we farm.

We protect the precious land but they see the news and think we are raping it. We aren't or we would be out of business.

Just as I thought, they still use that big disk blade called the coulter on their no till planters and I told them throw it off like I finally learned to do the the 90's. Well, it came on the planter and I paid for it, why can't I use it?

You sure can but you will too long for the soil to dry out and miss your optimum planting window like we did for decades if not centuries.

When they saw my pictures taken north of them I think they wondered why they couldn't do that south of me in warmer, drier soil.

I heard every excuse I was taught, it's too, early, it's too cold, the slugs will take you. You don't have slugs they exclaimed? Not enough to hurt me I replied. Plant no till, plant early and scout your crop, that is what I answered.

That is the same message I share everywhere I go.

Farming is an old culture and the foundation of modern society. I love it.

It was great to meet Delmarva and all the NewAgTalkers at this conference.

Keep on keepin' on guys!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Make NoTill Work

I was thinking this morning how I could help others make notill planting work. Notill is not a substitute, it is an astute way of saving soil and making money farming. It is not a church or religion but it sure pays to be religious in the right things to do.

Notill won't make wet ground drier. If you need drainage improvements, you need it whether you notill or conventional till. Drainage is drainage and most of the corn belt has wet soils. That is good because it gives water to the crop in the summer but it is not good when you are trying to plant. Drainage keeps a lot of farmers from planting their crop when it should be planted.

Notill will improve soil structure over the years and make the soil less subject to ponding in big rain events. But too much water is too much water and drainage tile and surface drainage helps keep the soil to a term called field capacity, the capacity of the soil to only hold the water a crop needs. Anything else is excess and needs to be removed.

The soil test report has a measure of measurable Hydrogen which is usually a water molecule. My fields are all zero on H but many have a number. They have too much water and probably not enough calicium to balance the soil.

Balanced soil fertility is huge in crop production but no substitute for drainage either. Notill will be most successful on your best soils that are adequately fertilized. Cover crops will improve soil structure and soil life activity but is not a substitute either. All these good practices work in harmony to make the best and most profitable crop a farmer can grow.

I have passion for notill. I just hope I can pass it on. I feel it is a key to the future success of farming and to our country.



I am traveling to Virgina by road, mainly on US 50, one of the roads of the age old path from Virginia to Ohio.

I wonder if any of my ancestors made this trip?

It seems so.

There are so many markers alond this path, cemeteries to businesses that have been here for a long time. The native American's who lived here for many years left some good indicators of what life was like then but I have never read a really good history on it.

I am sure there is one out there and I ought to find it and read it. My friend Fred Shaw, Shawnee nation story teller is a good start.

I have heard Fred speak many times but there are so many missing parts of the history of this country. They were in the business of surviving, not writing and preserving the history they were making.

It is interesting who stayed in Virginia or wherever on the east coast and who moved on. I guess we have seen that in agriculture.

Very few sons stayed on to farm in my time of the late 1960's forward as mechinization had taken a bigger role in producing food and not as many family memmbers were needed to run a farm. That happened even earlier as my dad stayed on to farm after WWII but my uncle Roy had to find a different career.

It's been an interesting journey from Heinrich Winkle's move from Europe to Virginia and from his sons to mine here in southwest Ohio. I would imagine very few if any of a farm families children went on to farm from their arrival in America until today.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

To Drill or Not To Drill

To drill or not to drill, that is the question for many farmers. The seeding drill was one of the first planters to revolutionize modern agriculture. I remember the old McCormick drill on the farm as a boy replaced by the Superior Seed Drill which became a part of Oliver Farm Machinery. We planted many a crop with that drill.

I used the new Oliver Superior Drill in the 70's to teach my students seeding at the Blanchester FFA Farm. Deere revolutionized no-till seeding with their famous 750 drill around 1990. After RoundUp Ready soybeans were introduced, notill soybean planting became the number one way to raise soybeans.

Then Mr. Kinzenbaw had his little debacle with Deere and brought out the famous Kinze Interplant system and 15 inch precision soybean row planting took out many notill drills. It's been an interesting revolution.

I had farmers who Martinzed the corn part of the 15 inch planter and left the pusher rows stock and the beans would always come up quicker in the corn rows. You can't totally Martinize a 15 inch interplanter because you would pile the trash up in the centers. 30 inches is OK to sweep a path clean, 15 inches is too close so people came up with all kinds of ideas how to notill better with a stock 15 inch row corn soybean planter.

I saw my first 7.5 inch modified notill drill soon after the 750 came out in northern Ohio. The farmer put the Case IH or what we call notill tires on the gauge wheels of the 750 and mounted the spading closing wheel where the stock rubber Deere press wheel was. You could tip toe through heavier ground successfully just like you could with the modifed corn planter.

That's the way we plant here with the modified White corn planter and a modified Deere Air Drill. Les and Brad covered a ton of acres with them early last year and that enabled us to stage our crop before the record wet May we had.

Machinery is so big today that weight is a problem, especially if you are carrying a lot of fertilizer to get that crop off to a healthy early start. Some farmers don't carry fertilizer to reduce the weight issue while others pull nurse tanks with the planter or drill. Every one seems to have their own idea.

The point is any farmer can improve the stock notill drill or planter because we can't go to the manufacturer and buy exactly what we need for each situation yet. It has been well worth the cost of education, parts and labor for us on our farming operation.

Modification is so popular that you even see modified drills and planters sitting on dealer's lots today as farmers trade for newer equipment. That is something you didn't see just ten years ago.

So, trade shows and conferences are in high demand as farmers try to improve their operation and their bottom line. That is why we had another record crowd at the National NoTill Conference in Cincinnati and I expect the same next January in St. Louis.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a big crowd in Harrisonburg, Virginia Tuesday.

Ed Winkle

Saturday, February 5, 2011


My message to the Virginia No-Till Alliance includes several steps that could make it complex. I have to break it down and keep it simple.

Right now is the time to go through your no-till drill or planter to get it ready for its big job this spring. It must be in perfect working order. Almost perfect may not be good enough.

The biggest thing we have done to our planter is take the no-till coulter off and modify the row unit so you can plant the first day the soil is ready to plant. Last year my soil was in it's best condition to plant in late March and it stayed that way until almost May as we got more and more showers then it rained almost every day in May. After that, planting conditions were never as good.

This year will be different, no doubt. No two years are identical but many are similar. It's our ability to recognize the differences and make the little adjustmetns that make no-till succeed beyond our wildest dreams.

Some will say they need the coulter for stability on hillsides or they have rocks. They can use the coulter if they feel they must but I recommend they take it off. The double disk openers that make the perfect Vee where the seed is dropped should be new and properly installed either way. That is a key to getting the crop started right. The coulter causes too much slabbing of the trench sidewall in those areas of the field that are just a little wet. If you wait for every field to dry out then some of the soils are too dry to plant in and that is even worse.

If you are planting no-till corn with a no-till planter, running a fertilizer coulter instead of the no-till coulter will get that corn off to a great start by putting 10 to whatever gallons of liquid nitrogen and sulfur off the side of the row. I use one inch away for each 10 gallons of nitrogen as a thumbrule.

I use a no-till gauge wheel tire to transfer the weight of the row unit, ususally several hundred pounds, to the sidewall of the trench to gently lift and expland the trench row without moving the seed out of the pefect Vee we created with the double disk openers. These are keys to a great start to no-till corn that thousands of farmers use successfully every year, some since it's invention in the 90's.

I use the Keeton Seed Firmer to press the seed into the bottom of the trench about 1.5 inches deep. Yes you can use the MoJo wire if you want, I don't.

One of the best additions to the planter is spike closing wheels, often called spader wheels or spading tilling wheels. They replace the rubber or cast iron closing wheels that cause too much compaction in the no-till seed trench.

They gentle till the row pass like a garden tiller, crumbling up enough loose soil to cover the seed and let it breathe but have enough water to germinate quickly and all come up at the same time.

We use the drag chain to lengthen the tillage pass with the planter as it pulls a handful of crumbly loose, rich topsoil evenly over a foot of row, slightly mounding the row. This is really important to get the same amount of soil above each seed so it can all germinate within 24-48 hours of each seed so each plant will be mature at the same time.

Some want to use one spading wheel, some want no drag chain but the system works best as the now TradeMarked Martin Till system. I have seen some that work almost as well but it is the best system I have seen and I can recommend it.

The same thing can be done to the no-till drill and we will talk about that tomorrow.



Tuesday I have the honor of being the lead speaker at the first meeting of the Virginia NoTill Alliance. I had that honor in Pennsylvania years ago and now Pennsylvania is a leader in no-till practices in the United States and not because of my talk but because we all came together to help one another.

Say a little prayer for me that I get there and back safely and leave a firm impression that no-till has the power to improve farming and farm operations in the state of Virginia.

Virginia is very important in the history of the formation of this country. Heinrich or Henry Winkle took the big plunge across the Atlantic in the 1700's and sailed to America to spread the Winkle family across our country and thus I am here.

I can't imagine the fear and excitement in crossing the ocean in a little sailing vessel to start anew in an unkown land. What could cause a person to leave Europe to settle a new land in those days? The history must be rich as many Europeans took this challenge.

There is a plaque on a state road in Rockingham County where the Future Farmers of Virginia was started and became the Future Farmers of America and now the National FFA Organization which has been so important to my family.

There is another plaque along a road in Kentucky where many of those people migrated to and where no-till farming practices were started in the 50's and 60's. Now no-till has also spread across our great country.

I trust I can share my passion for no-till in Virginia as they look to improve their soil, the foundation of all farming practices. Through my mistakes I have learned certain basic techiques that work anywhere, even in New Zealand. Soils can be saved and improved while farm profits increase.

That is my message. I hope through my talk I can get it across.


Friday, February 4, 2011


Tuesday I have the honor of being the lead speaker at the first meeting of the Virginia NoTill Alliance. I had that honor in Pennsylvania years ago and now Pennsylvania is a leader in no-till practices in the United States and not because of my talk but because we all came together to help one another.

Say a little prayer for me that I get there and back safely and leave a firm impression that no-till has the power to improve farming and farm operations in the state of Virginia.

Virginia is very important in the history of the formation of this country. Heinrich or Henry Winkle took the big plunge across the Atlantic in the 1700's and sailed to America to spread the Winkle family across our country and thus I am here.

I can't imagine the fear and excitement in crossing the ocean in a little sailing vessel to start anew in an unkown land. What could cause a person to leave Europe to settle a new land in those days? The history must be rich as many Europeans took this challenge.

There is a plaque on a state road in Rockingham County where the Future Farmers of Virginia was started and became the Future Farmers of America and now the National FFA Organization which has been so important to my family.

There is another plaque along a road in Kentucky where many of those people migrated to and where no-till farming practices were started in the 50's and 60's. Now no-till has also spread across our great country.

I trust I can share my passion for no-till in Virginia as they look to improve their soil, the foundation of all farming practices. Through my mistakes I have learned certain basic techiques that work anywhere, even in New Zealand. Soils can be saved and improved while farm profits increase.

That is my message. I hope through my talk I can get it across.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Storm Cost

This storm has cost our nation a lot of money. I wonder how much?
Travel and achool and business have come to a crawl as we all just try to survive until the next round comes. That looks like Saturday in Southern Ohio.

One farmer lost his life shoveling off his barn roof when he accidentally fell through one of those cheap skylights found in so many pole barn roofs. Another man accidentally hit a propane tank plowing out his barnyard and is 60% burned and not expected to live.

A jogger was blown into Lake Michigan? Why would you risk your life jogging in 60 MPH winds? Another person became disoriented and fell into Lake Michigan with the Lake Shore Drive jam?

Dr. Taylor showed us a proven 89 year cycle based on solar radiation. Another decadal or 10 year cycle is known which does not fall closely to sun flares. Australia has been beaten with rain and storms and you know the story in the states or where you live.

This has been a costly winter.

I hope you are safe.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Soil Sampling

This morning on Crop Talk I saw a farmer asked if farmers take their own soil samples. Some do, some do not.

Soil sampling is the basis of my soil fertility and soil amendment program.

My new farm came back around 6.0 water pH which is very reliable and repeatable and the buffer pH came back at 6.7 which is good for me. That means it takes less ground agricultural limestone to raise my pH to my desired level.

I have chosen one lab to do all my nutrient extraction from my soil samples and that is Midwest Lab in Omaha, Nebraska. I do work with others though. There are many good, reliable and certified soil test labs on our continent.

I use their complete test and pay extra for their recommendations which are invaluable to me. The data I get back is very close to the data I got from Ohio State's OARDC Lab before they closed it in the 90's.

Farmers really ought to pull their own samples to see what they are dealing with. My soils keep getting easier and easier to probe from my soil management practices and crop rotations.

The samples ought to be pulled every 3 years in a 3 year rotation and more often if it is a new farm to you. The samples ought to be pulled from the same areas each year to compare data so GPS would really help mark the spot but you can do it with flags and markers.

As John Haggard points out, the probe ought to be cleaned between every sample and the soil handled and mixed carefully before sending it to your lab. It is a tedious process but the better the sampling, the better the data and the better the results.

Hope you are safe in this record winter storm.

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


We have made a lot of new friends on the Roach Crop Markets Cruise.

I didn't care for the idea of assigned dinner seating on the Zuiderdam but it turned out great.

Kenny and Darlene from Illinois are nice people. Kenny beat colon cancer, the only person I have met who has. God bless him and good for him.

Mark and Amy farm 2000 acres in Minnesota. Amy has beaten some serious health problems that caused many joints to disintegrate and they have also become wonderful friends.

Bud and Sherrill have an amazing story how they met as teens and ended up happily married many years later. Bud was born without hearing and now wears an implant connected to a hearing aid. We shared a lot of war stories too that all of us have been blessed to overcome.

The final dinner was quite some show from all the cooks and servers. It was a really good time. I definitely recommend Holland America if you want to cruise and we will do it again.

Next year the group is going to the Carribean the first week of January but that just won't work for us so we will have to save for another excursion somewhere. Hawaii, South America and the Mediterrean is on our list.

There is so much to see and so little time but we are thankful to see all that we have the past 11 years.

I imagine most of our group can't get home today with the big storm across the states. The weather channel is working overtime covering all of the weather events across the country from cold to wind to snow and ice.

We wish you all well,

Ed and LuAnn