Monday, October 31, 2011
Oh the woes of Halloween! Last year we were finishing up and this year we are barely started harvesting. It seems like a long fall already but acre wise it isn't.
My friend Phil A from Auglaize County posted he drove down 68 to Ripley last weekend and how little crop was harvested in his travels. He is right, there isn't enough done. And it is raining again right now, just enough to keep us out of the field. Bill Northcutt emailed our weekly rainfall totals as he always does on Monday morning and we got another inch last week, mainly on the 27th to add to the 2.5 plus we got the week before.
It's wet, a wet Halloween. It is not as wet as some places but plenty heavy. We never got the snow Pennsylvania east got and if we did we would have their big snowfall totals and then some. This isn't looking good.
It is a melancholy Halloween since half the costume crew is in Cleveland now and won't be trick or treating with the others here tonight. That tradition started in 2006 when Madison and Liam were just little guys.
Oh well, maybe we will eat less candy because of that. More likely we will eat more. Did you see the average American eats 24 pounds of candy in a year? No wonder we are on the heavy side and Halloween is a big candy sale time!
This weather is hard on grain bin monitoring too. Ernest from Mississippi posted the thumb rule many of us use in grain bin air drying. The best results happen when the temperature and humidity added together are less than 100.
The formula just went over 100 total here so I better go turn the fans off the soybeans. It is sprinkling again.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Practice makes perfect, practice what you praach. Jesus sharply criticized the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus rebukes them in Matthew 23 saying they preach but they do not practice. They pride themselves on religious lawas and rituals. All their works are performed to be seen.
They love seats of honor, greetings in the marketplace and saluatations such as rabbi, teacher, father and master. They are all show and no go(substance), often doing the opposite of what they claim to believe.
We make the same claim today. You might receive an award but what did you do to earn that award? You can quickly see who doesn't practice what they preach. I have to be real careful of that as a teacher and a consultant and most importantly as a farmer. As my friend in Iowa says, teach by speaking with your fields. Let farmers see what you know by watching your fields. That is a big one to live up to.
My fields demonstrated that this year. They were better where I practiced where I preached. I had one new 4 acre patch beside the farm we bought last year that never got the lime or fertilizer I put on the whole farm. I just didn't get it done as I didn't know they wanted it farmed when I was doing mine.
That field made about 40 bushels per acre and the treated ground beside it made about 60 bushels per acre. 20 bushels times $12 beans more than pays for the lime and fertilizer.
My favorite picture to date is last year's corn on that farm which made 191 bu per acre on an old farm that had never produced that much before.
I have to practice what I preach.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
It's 32 degrees on one thermometer and 31 on the other. That's the coldest it's been in a long time, I would imagine probably since March.
The house is toasty warm with the furnace set on 66 degrees and the pellet stove set on number 2 in LuAnn's office. It burned a $4 bag of wood pellets in the last 24 hours to do that. It has 5 settings and 2 is as low as it will burn.
Sable didn't seem to mind, although that is warmer in her crate area than it has been the past few weeks as the nightime temperate has slowly came down.
It sure has been another crazy weather year with 60 days of rain at planting time, record precip for the year and tied the record for consecutive 90 degree days. The crops didn't mind as the county agent reports most soybeans in the 50 bushel area and corn around 175.
I am trying to figure out how to get my cover crop rye seed on. It is getting late and I think I should have just forgotten about the idea in this late year. I hate to waste the seed and it will store until next year but I will get it on now if I get the chance.
It should have been seeded before the rain and it would be coming up. We just didn't get that done and still have soybeans to run before just shelling corn.
A week without rain would be great! But the fall color is still hanging on and we will take whatever we get.
Friday, October 28, 2011
I fired up the pellet stove on the other end of the house this morning. It got down to 37 degrees this morning with another light frost. It's supposed to be 32 degrees Sunday morning so I thought I better start warming this big ole barn up again. I say that affectionately.
We used it very little last winter and I found out why. We had a small bird nest in the chimney, just big enough to keep the air flow down so the stove wouldn't get hot enough to stay lit or catch that nest on fire.
It's been a very fickle stove since the day we bought it. It is a perfect example of buying into new technology too early. I still think most of the problem is the location of the stove and the chimney. It's on a south wall and the winds hit the chimney and the chimney is not straight through the wall like a clothes dryer is vented and a pellet stove should be vented.
It was sold to me as a corn burner, too, and it is really a glorified pellet stove. It burns pellets nicely and will corn too if the corn is clean and gas dried down to a low temperature. I don't own an operational gas fired corn dryer. I have the old StorMor in bin dryer from 1970 but couldn't justify rebuilding the rusty bin and dryer so it's still there taking up space. I really need to do something about that but I never seem to have enough extra cash to tackle it. That's another story.
Somehow though I was able to run a few gravity bed loads of corn through that stove until I got totally frustrated trying to keep it running 2 years ago. Corn price went up, pellets didn't so I switched to pellets which are just as cheap to burn now.
If you put in a pellet or grain stove in, my recommendation is to make sure you vent it straight out the wall and don't try to vent it into a chimney that goes up in the air. Stoves installed straight through seem to have no problems and all the problems you hear come from trying to vent it up a chimney although I am sure some people got lucky and do that well.
It's nice to have the cold side of the house heated again but it is a signal that winter is near. I haven't lit the big Vermont Defiant but that won't be long, either. When it stays 32 or so and lower all the time, I use both stoves and keep the ole barn toasty warm, 4 bricks thick and no insulation.
I am burning a little propane in the furnace now and don't have to get up and stoke the stove yet. That cost me about 5% of the 500 gallon tank sitting next to the north side of the house so far this month.
That's a cheap price to pay for the convience of heat during harvest season.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
An out of state friend called the other day to see how I was doing in this rainy harvest. I have gotten very depressed in similar times in the past but I found out why and I have been working on it.
He really called to tell me is hanging it up. Retirement, that is too big for a 4 letter word. Baby boomers all over the world are feeling the same thing. When is it time to retire, and can I afford to?
He said he combined for five hours straight just to get a load of beans and started thinking about his property in Wyoming. Now, most baby boomers want a home in a warmer climate but not everyone. He was so tired when he got to the house that he realized he didn't want to feel like that anymore. He started making immeadiate plans to sell off his ground and build his retirement home on his Wyoming property.
By Monday morning, he had the deal done. He had his eye on 3 local young farmers and was able to sell his owned ground and find a good home for his rental ground among those young farmers. It sounded like a match made in Heaven but really he has been working on this in the background for years.
LuAnn and I have talked a lot about this. Since I retired from my day job nine years ago she is looking forward to the day she can do the same. We aren't quite there financially, mentally, or physically so we keep doing what we are. Her operating one of the best non profits in Ohio and me farming and consulting.
Like everyone else, the past three years has hurt our asset values but it hasn't wrecked the train. Some people's train is wrecked and we feel for them but at the same time are careful not to crash our own.
Farming is a hard career to retire from since most farmers farm for the joy of it, not the profit. When either one goes awry, or their health, then they must face retirement. Some can never do that, like dad, he was planning next year on his death bed.
My friend is not that way.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
We heard in the news about the world population being 7 billion people now in a story about Islamic versus non Islamic populations. When did that happen? It seems like just yesterday we passed 6 billion people on the planet.
7 billion people is a lot of mouths to feed so we must be doing a good job in agriculture and the food industry for this growth to occur.
The unrest in the Middle East and US cities has over shadowed this news. I don't get the occupy protests and wonder if anyone does. No commentator on TV seems to have the answer, that's for sure.
I bring this up to the people I meet and one said this is just like the 60's, unrest with the government. People against the Establishment, that made a lot of sense.
In agriculture, the committees are working on how much to cut farm subsides, something some people like Ken Cook at EWG has been proclaiming for years. I see they have released their list of farms receiving farm subsidies and how much they have received since 1995.
I still have my same view on the subject. The subsidies were put there for a reason, to help farmers insure an abundant and safe food supply which we have done very well. I am quite willing to give up that security if everyone else gives up theirs. I don't see anyone offering to give theirs up and you even have a billionaire saying he doesn't pay enough taxes. He can pay more if he wants. I think you and I have paid plenty.
The big problem is that the have nots outnumber the haves now and we can't pay enough to support these people at a time of high unemployment and outrageous government debt. This all just didn't happen over night so no plan comes close to balancing the books.
The Fair Tax is in the news. When has taxation ever been fair? Even the tax collectors of Biblical days were labeled, if not persecuted, as being unfair. I think Perry's 20 percent is too high(that's DOUBLE what we should tithe) and Newt's makes more sense, although Cain's 999 plan caused it all. He showed his leadership right there, above the rest.
I don't know where it is all going but it doesn't look good. That is how I would label harvest around here, too, it's not looking good with more rain in the forecast and a lot more acres left than harvested.
I could have resentments over all of this but I choose to just try to keep it in perspective and just do what I can do.
7 billion is a lot of people. $15 Trillion in National Debt I can't even imagine.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Harvest has been slow here between raindrops. The farms around here all received over 2.5 inches last week according to my NEXRAD Rainfall Report from Bill Northcutt's Spatial Rainfall Consulting maps.
We had a strange weather phenomenon yesterday about this time. The big orange sun was coming up in the east about the time I heard a big clap of thunder overhead. I looked outside and there was a partial rainbow to the northwest. That is very unusual and made me think of thunder snow events in the past. That could be in our future, too!
It was too wet to cut beans yesterday but a few farmers got a few cut. They were wet for sure. No one has really switched to corn yet so mostly, the combines just sat yesterday.
I just put a beef roast in the crockpot for supper(dinner.) Anyone got a favorite spice blend for it? I just used black pepper and garlic powder but I am going to look around, it needs some kind of salt but I don't like table salt or seasoning salt. I see I already took the easy way out. I wonder what Stacy would do.
Our daughter in law Stacy is a registered dietitian. She was commenting about which restaurants had the "friendliest" healthy food for children and we encouraged her to start a blog. She has and you can find it here!
I encouraged her to give WordPress a look since you can own your own space and content there and that is what she ended up choosing. I wished I had done that 3 years ago because now Google owns all my content here.
Congratulations to Stacy on her new blog and I know it will go well for her. It is amazing how many people write blogs today and it is one of my most favorite things to do and read. Lots of good information is contained in people's stories!
If you start a blog, let me know so we can share it here. I know a few of you who blog and have you on my blog favorites. I am always willing to add more.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Dr. Joel Gruver of Western Illinois University oftens shares the slides he shows in class to us farmers. He has shared many lessons and today he shared his talk on calcium.
Calcium is the fifth most prevalant substance on earth. Soil contains it as well all living and once living things. As a farmer I think of lime when I think of calcium as agricultural ground limestone is the main way I feed my soils calcium.
C-O-H combinations are also prevalent on earth and Calcium, or Ca is often involved with those combinations. We wouldn't have strong bones or good crops without calcium nor many life functions.
Our soil contains large amounts of magnesium so we usually lime with calcitic limestone. Gypsum contains calcium and sulfur and more and more farmers are using gypsum to loosen their soil and provide calcium and sulfur to their crops and the microrganisms that feed them.
Three farmers are shown in the gypsum section and wouldn't you know, I know all three of them. The one picture in the show is even one I took that has made its rounds on the Internet since Allen Dean and I visited Keith in August, 2008. Keith ahs the highest calcium level deep in his soil of any farmer I have ever known.
In other news I see the McRib is back at McDonald's. That pork sandwich seems to appear whenever beef gets high in proportion to pork prices.
A farmer also asked about Farming and Booze today in the cafe. There is a good discussion going on about farming and alcohol.
In a non-related post, another farmer lost his life in a harvesting accident. He got caught in his running combine.
You can't be too careful out there and any impediment is going to make it worse.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
4 times, that how is how many times a different person should read an important piece before it is submitted. What's that old saying, we have to hear something 17 times before we fully grasp it's meaning? I think that was based on educational research back in the 70's.
You can tell four smart people don't read this blog before I hit the Publish Post button. You might not think one smart person ever read it, let alone wrote it! I do often re-read my posts and try to always go back and change mistakes or fill in the picture more of what I have written about.
You can surely tell this rule isn't found or followed in writing instruction manuals. Some of them make no sense at all. I always thought I might be good at writing instruction models or at least proof reading or editing them. It wouldn't take much improvement to make every instruction manual better.
We need a good parenting manual in this country. That seems to be the most obvious lacking skill in our society, that of parenting. We copy our parents and others trying to keep the best parts and correcting the parts we thought didn't work. We were reminded yesterday that somehow, someway we did a pretty good job of parenting our children as we visited one of them and their children.
We all went to see their new house and then we went to an agritourism farm market. We paid good money for things we took for granted as children, trying to find your way out of a corn field and wagon rides. It was pointed out to me I usually get paid to walk a corn field and this time we had to pay for that walk. The grandkids enjoyed it so it made us happy and that is all that mattered.
We never walked to the same spot 4 times but we came close. Isn't life a maze like that corn field? We usually follow the beaten path we have made and once in awhile we try a new path and walk it until it doesn't look or feel right. We end up walking the same old path, over and over.
It's hard to start a new path in life but if we plan a good route and keep beating that new path down like the old one, it too becomes well trodded and accepatable. And maybe it's just what we need, a new, old path.
Several readers know just what I am talking about as we have talked about our journey many times, off the side of this blog.
I promise to read this 4 times before I submit it but it needs another set of eyes, at least four of you.
Let me know what you think. This year is running out fast and I will soon be writing my fourth year of personal blogs.
Let's make it as meaningful as possible.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
I had to use this fellow's picture on Crop Talk this morning about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Ohio farmers will be hunting for that elusive last row of corn later this fall.
Another thread by Houndog asked if Ohio farmers were getting worried yet. Every reply was from Ohio or Michigan and most got 3-4 inches of rain and only one had finished soybeans near Dayton. Every farmer I know still has beans out in the field.
The worst thing about a late harvest is tracking up soft fields. I deplore it but there is little else we can do, now. We knew this was coming when we planted full season corn the first week of June and most farmers plant soybeans after their corn.
That word worry causes the world a lot of grief. I don't know how exactly but I have not had to worry over this as the stage was set back on those rainy days in April and May and I knew this was coming. I had a little concern when we tied the record for 90 degree days this summer at 17 in a row but that really made the crop, too. The crop can take the heat better than us humans.
I just hope we haven't had our Indian summer yet and we get some nice November days to shell corn and plant rye. That's all I hope for at this point.
The rest of the deal will be whatever it is. That worry will eat you up so "don't worry, be happy."
Try telling a farmer that with a big loan at the bank.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Today we picked up Brynnie at preschool. LuAnn asked her what the letter of the week was and she said P! She asked her what the color was and it was purple. So we rhymed P words all the way home.
We have pretty good yields but it is pretty wet now. We can't party until the last pea is in the soup, that is corn kernal in the bin. The parsnips and pumpkins turned out pretty well, but we just put 12 bags of peppers in the freezer. Thanks again to our friend Steve who kept me working on the garden this summer when it was trying to turn into pigweeds once more.
I see farmers talking about tillage again on Crop Talk. The only tillage I want to do is a little riPPing and planting rye to perk up the soil particles. Radishes are still the best riPPers I have found. The garden is full of tillage radish now and they are big enough to really do their job, now. I see some sticking up several inches out of the soil so that means they have a deep tap root exploring the subsoil.
There are some big ones in the double crop soybean test plot hidden off US 68.
A friend sent a picture of radishes in soybeans this week so we are also going to get to try soybean harvest with radish tops sticking out of the ground. That will be a new experience for us. Another Steve was so curious he wanted more pictures so I hooked him up with the orignal sender.
I have a lot of soil samples to pull yet, too. I hope it fairs up enough after this rain to get that done before winter but the clock is ticking on all this fall work. We are running out of time. There is always something else I want to get done before winter sets in and this late year the list could be long.
My clients to the west have their's pulled and I have been flooded with soil test results from the lab. I get them email and a paper copy a week or two later. Most are short on P, K, Ca, S, Zn, Mn and B. I tell them to spread ALL of them within their fertilizer budget, don't leave one out.
Another young man stopped by yesterday who reads my comments on Ag Talk. He is starting a new soil sampling and mapping service so he introduced himself and we talked over the basics. I met his father at the NoTill Conference in the 90's and his family is known in farming in the Springfield area. He doesn't live too far from my brother.
I am starting to get lots of plot data from all over, particularly Iowa as they finish up. There hasn't been many plots around here.
Watch those P words so you don't get in a pickle.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
American's consume 3 billion pizzas every year! Now that is a lot of pizza, over 100 acres a day in square footage or 350 slices per second! No wonder there is a pizza shop in every little town. We have two in a town of 440!
What made me think of pizza is the slices of corn versus soybean prices. Soybeans are less than 2 times higher than a bushel of corn but corn yields over 3 times what soybeans do.
Soybeans are over half harvested around here but nationally we are almost finished harvesting. Corn harvest basically has not started here so if you grow corn your whole pie is still out in the field.
That wouldn't be so bad if we hadn't gotten over an inch of rain on already pretty damp soils yesterday. Let's assume we are going to get all this corn harvested. Would you rather be selling corn or soybeans today?
I would rather be selling corn by a long shot. Local prices are $6.58 for corn and only $11.75 for soybeans. Even with the excellent soybean yields we have, corn is going to out profit soybeans by a big margin.
I think farmers will be planning on more corn for next year, too, as this won't change overnight or in a few months. Many switched to soybeans this year rather than plant corn after the June 5 crop insurance goal for corn planting. Those who risked planting corn are happy they did.
It's funny how we think about next year in farming when we haven't even finished this one yet. That's just how farming goes, you are always planning on your next move, even if it is a year ahead.
Instead of acres of pizza, I am thinking about acres of corn.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The rain is here and it looks like we could break the record for the wettest year of 1990. I remember those years clearly when I farmed even wetter ground than I do now and waiting and waiting and waiting to notill with a coulter. Getting rid of the coulter and adapthing the Martin Till system took care of that.
That record is about 56.5 inches of rainfall and we are over 55 inches total so far. And, we have two months left in the year so I have little doubt we will break the record.
It's a shame too, as local farmers were hitting it hard combining those soybeans last night until too many raindrops fell. We lack a few first crop soybeans and all of the double crop soybeans to finish before even starting corn.
I give thanks we have the crop we do and just hope we can get it all out. It's going to be a long fall, just as we expected.
I think we will go down for the lowest wheat acreage planted just like I expected, too. I saw 3 farms planting a little within 20 miles of here. That's not very much. I love wheat in my rotation but I won't be planting any this year, the first time in many years.
Today is the first day of the National FFA Convention and I will be watching it on TV again this year. I would love to go but I just have too much to do here even with the rain. Congratulations to Cody Adams, National Finalist in Oil Seed or Soybean Production, I hope you win!
Entrepreneur extrordinaire Carl Lindner passed away yesterday. He left a positive mark on Cincinnati when he sought to increase his dairy farm profits and started United Dairy Farmers, a favorite place for dairy products yet today. They dip a lot of ice cream every year.
My young friend Mike called from New York as he is enroute of picking up a 1965 Broadway semi tractor for another guy who bought it online. Mike was cutting soybeans too last night when we all got rained out so we were sharing yields and weed stories.
Those Liberty Link soybeans kept our weed issues to nothing again this year.
Have a great day and stay dry.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
In the past year we saw lots of states make the news as they passed bills to manage costs as income declined below expenses. Ohio was one of those states.
Our governor made the news as he got the Republican controlled house and senate to pass Senate Bill 5 which limits automatic pay increases of public employees and raised what they pay for health care to 15% of their salary. Some had contracts with their state employers that paid 100% of the their health care costs.
Those people, unhappy with Senate Bill 5 got a million signatures to put the legislation on a state voted ballot on election day, which is only 3 weeks from today. It is called Ohio Issue 2.
If you dig around there, you will find the NO votes have almost 3 times the money to spend to repeal Senate Bill 5 as the YES votes have to keep it. That tells you something, right there.
A yes vote keeps Senate Bill 5 and and a no vote repeals the legislation. Those seeking passage of this issue says it helps balance the budget by fairly reducing costs and the those who seed a no vote says it ties the hands of bargaining too much.
The whole debate and language is very confusing so it behooves every Ohio voter to really read and ask questions about the issue and what has already been passed in Senate Bill 5.
I have posted this today in hopes of bringing the issue to interested voters in Ohio and to my friends outside Ohio.
I still believe in the power of the vote but I must be responsible to understand the issues and people I am voting on as much as possible.
Monday, October 17, 2011
We cut soybeans until it rained last night. Of course it rained more there than here at home 5 miles away but we won't have trouble with 9% moisture beans like so many farmers have had this year.
The new 3.9 variety from First Choice Seeds of Stine breeding is doing really well. I do have a complaint about shatter loss on this variety, it seems to shatter a little easy. The test weight is good at 58 lbs but have heard some over 60 this year.
We did get the weeds killed and it is fun to cut clean beans. There is only a little poa annua, or wild bluegrass growing on that farm. The dead rye will catch on the header bottom when it's damp but it dries out quickly. It probably held moisture for me all summer.
All the yields here have been above 60 bushels except for those 3.1 vistive soybeans so we are really blessed. One field of 113 day corn made 225 bu dry but it made 275 bushel wet so it had way too much water in it still. That corn should stand for a long time, though.
I have heard Pioneer is 20 bushel less everywhere but we can't compare it because we don't plant Pioneer corn. One friend had a really good field of 93Y92 Pioneer soybeans but I haven't heard what they made. That was the best looking Pioneer corn or bean field I saw anywhere around here.
It is supposed to rain but I have a lot of dirt to move, trees to cut, fertilizer to spread and rye to sow.
I hope we haven't had our Indian Summer yet.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
On the way to the barn find yesterday, we took SR 123 through Morrow. We both used to drive that daily but haven't in years.
I was hungry as usual and we saw a bunch of pick up trucks in front of the old pastry shop. It said Dough Boy's breakfast and donuts, so we stopped.
There was a big group of retired gentlemen around a big table in the front window of the shop and a couple of empty tables in front a stream of people getting fresh doughnuts. I don't see that much anymore. Soon all the tables were full.
I kept looking at the guy behind the pastry counter and boy did he look familiar but I couldn't place him. Curiousity got the best of me so when the line finally got their orders and the place quieted down, I went up and introduced myself.
He asked if I had worked at GE and I said no and then he quickly looked back and said I taught social studies at Clermont Northeastern. That was it, we had both taught at CNE. I hadn't seen Frank since I retired from there in 2002.
Frank had gotten riffed after I left and started the shop last year. He has made it through that first, trying year of any new business and sure had a business going yesterday. It seemed like everyone knew each other and it was a social gathering, too, besides the good food.
It's good to see the little guy do well and I wish the best for Frank and his family. If you get near Morrow, Ohio some morning, be sure to stop at Dough Boy's.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
An old pig farmer died in Butler County and his son sought to settle his estate. I guess he never realized all dad had stored in the empty barns so they are having a massive internet dispersal auction of the barn find.
There are lots of rare items from his era that doesn't require being a pig farmer to like. From Corvettes to Indian motorcycles, from pedal tractors to guns, the old boy was quite a collector.
I wander what possesses people to squirrel away a bunch of stuff like this? The variety of the items puts antique tractor collections to shame. He had a wide arrange of tastes and likes.
The white Corvette and the 47 Indian Motorcycle are popular items. They are classic for their era. It would be a fun place to bid if you were a younger millionaire with your dad's tastes.
I see some pedal tractors I want to bid on for my small collection. They don't seem out of range so the collectors must not have found this auction yet.
I think we may go over and poke around so I will fill you in more later.
It was quite a find. It's a beautiful old farm with an 1830 house and barns I have seen before, although it's been so long I don't remember how or why.
The nice Corvettes and Indian motorcyles are over $40,000 each now. It was a beautiful day to go look at the barn find, and not that far away. I liked some of the pedal tractors but the valuable stuff is way to rich for my budget.
I am trying to stretch my limited crop budget as it is.
Friday, October 14, 2011
It's really windy and blustery today just like they predicted for tomorrow. It just blew in one day sooner. Since the temperature dropped last night, I turned the fan back on the soybeans to adjust the inside-outside temperature of the grain. It was so cool last night, I could have almost used the winter comforter on the bed. Winter will be here before I am ready.
That means I need to get the wood porch stacked pretty soon which means work. I am not opposed to work but I really don't want to work in wood yet. It's time to do it.
I have been guilty of being as windy as the air is today. I like to talk sometimes and I might tell you what I think you want to hear. I realize I need to hear, "get the wood on the porch, Ed."
One reader asked if we camped the last trip to Wyoming and back. No we didn't, I had hoped to get the camper on the truck but we were lucky to just get off the farm and get on the road and sleep at Hampton. They have the closest thing to our bed here at home.
The soil test results are rolling in like the wind, too. The farmers and labs and others have been busy this fall pulling and processing soil samples. I still lots of need for fertilizer and micro nutrients. Almost every report laying on my desk calls for at least 6 nutrients needed for next year's crop.
I wish our youngest grandson Happy Birthday today. Little(he is actually a big boy for one) Finnegan is one year old today. His brother will be six in a month, can't believe Liam is that old already.
Time goes fast.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
John Malone is now the largest land owner in North America. His latest purchase of a million acres of timber land in the northeast surpassed the total owned by his friend, Ted Turner at 2 million acres.
I have always been interested in land as you can't farm without it. I even got my real estate license in the 70's and learned a lot more about property but it never really helped me acquire much until we bought this farm in 2004.
My young friend Brad got his real estate license last year and has quickly become one of the better real estate agents around, especially for farmland as he shares the same interest I do. The economy is so bad in Ohio our land hasn't brought the outrageous prices west of here.
A farm with a 62 CSR rating in Iowa just brought over $8000 per acre. That's pretty big money for pretty poor land. Land even less productive just brought the same price in Missouri. Here the asking price is closer to $4000 per acre and I know of a rough farm that just sold closer to $2000 per acre.
Lots of land has changed hands across the country in the last ten years, especially since the economic crash. Land is seen as a good hedge against inflation in these turbulous times if you can afford it.
Owning farmland is the most satsifying thing I have ever done. I should have started when I was 21 and land was only $200 per acre.
The land owners we deal with are very happy with our farming and our returns on their investment but I prefer owning my own so I call all the shots and only deal with my banker.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Life is a maze. I just saw on the morning news where a family got lost on the Connor Farm in Massachusetts trying to get out of their corn maze, a "maize maze."
There was a corn maze at the Golden Spike railroad museum we visited in North Platte, Nebraska two weeks ago. Our son Eric keeps reminding us we are in a great location for a corn maze and he likes the idea of charging people money to walk your corn fields.
It's not quite that simple planning a corn maze and planting and cutting the paths and having something to buy or give away at the end of the maze like pumpkins. That's a lot of work few farms are suited for.
It's hard enough for me to plan a production corn field and carry it out profitably, let alone a corn maze or a sweet corn patch. But the obvious point is this year it pays better than soybeans this year and did last year. Farmers are already discussing more corn next year in response to the market price. The market has bid up corn since last harvest over soybeans.
Soybeans are stuck in a two to one price ratio over corn where the average farmer gets 3-4 times more corn per acre. There is extra cost in doing that but the corn still wins on paper and in the checkbook.
The only way most farmers can increase corn acres is to increase planting corn after corn. Everyone admits that corn on corn is more costly to manage and produce and usually yields less than corn after soybeans but the numbers still favor it. They are and have been discussing that on Ag Talk also for many months and years.
Life is a maze. Planning next year's crop is a maze, too but we better focus on getting this one out first. More soybean fields have disappeared but there are a LOT of soybean fields to harvest before we even get started on corn.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I just read the 10 Industries That Are Surviving on MSN Money. Like most American's, the writers missed the Story. The story is Agriculture which is surviving quite nicely in these hard times.
The first paragraph tells about how drywall sales have dried up for US Gypsum. Well guess what? Agricultural scientists have discovered that gypsum improves air and water movement in the soil if gypsum is applied to it each year!
We have been talking about that fact on this blog since we started January 1, 2009. Just like Ben Franklin discovered over 200 years ago on the hills of Philadelphia, a half ton of gypsum spread per acre increases soil air and water movement 300-500% according to Dr. Darryl Norton at the National Soil Erosion Laboratory.
The article doesn't even mention the US Ethanol Industry which has provided the best jobs in the country the past 10 years even though you and I pump 10% ethanol into our gas tanks every time we fill up.
Yes we are in dire straits in America but we have so much going for us if we would just live on what we have. I have always done well in hard times because it was always hard times on the tenant farm our family lived on, robbing Peter every day to pay Paul, that was just how we did business.
Like the writers of the article, we are really missing the point. That doesn't help you if you are trained for an uneeded profession right now or working in a job you don't like.
There is a better solution to the problem.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Soybean yields are coming out all over the board here but generally very good. My question today is the new RR2Yield varieties really that much better? I haven't seen the advantage the past two years but they are winning some plots.
One of our agronomists thinks the new Vistive RR2Yields are enough better to plant the whole farm to them and never look back. I am much more sceptical.
I haven't seen the advantage of RR2's yet over RR1's but maybe they are here. I do admit that since most of the research money has been poured into improving RR2's since the patent is going off RR1's they should be better and could be in some situations. I am not sure they would be in all situations.
I think it really depends on your farm and your management. I have good friends that are producing 100 bushel soybeans with older non GMO soybean varieties. Some won't even plant Round Up Ready or Liberty Link beans because of the tech fee or the unknown of what genetically modified seeds and chemicals do to your soil.
Could they improve yields with the latest genetics? I don't know, who really cares about 2 more bushels if you can grow 100 when most of the country is stuck around 40 bushels.
I am not satisfied with 40 bushels and the crop is a failure to me if I produce them unless they are double crop beans planted in July. My yield goal is 80 bushels and we have seen yields from 45 to over 70 so far this year. With the heat we had I don't think that is too bad.
If Kip Cullers can produce 160 bushels under irrigation I think the potential is well over 200 bushels in the seed, maybe over 300 bushels. We just haven't learned how to tap that potential.
If other farmers can grow 100 bushels with just rain I know we can all do a lot better than 40. Someone is going to have to convince me that the new genetics are worth the investment when I am still trying to learn how to maximize soybean yield with older genetics. I don't see the advantage.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
"It's the economy, stupid!" We have heard that often the past few years and I have thought that since the first economic crisis my family went through in the 60's.
I remember selling my prize market pigs at the Brown County Fair for ten cents a pound, a huge 2 cent premium over market price. I thought, well I will never get to college this way!
I remember really lean years on the farm as a kid in the 60's but we made it through it. We found the same thing out west.
LuAnn doesn't have her pictures downloaded yet but she has some neat ones of the mounted police in Jackson Hole. I remember one officer commenting Wyoming only has 5 percent unemployment and it was obvious across the trip that the land in the middle of our two coasts is doing much better than the coasts are.
Why is that? I suppose there are lots of reasons but ever since DHL left Wilmington, this area is really depressed economically which leads to physical depression in people. We have lots of problems.
But we never saw that on our trip, only happy people all along our way. There are good things going on in the country and I know there are over 70,000 well paid happy employees of ethanol plants in the middle. Wind farms were everywhere from Iowa west and that produces jobs and reduces our dependence on foreign oil.
The ag economy is perking along so nicely land is bringing record prices and rents and farm machinery business is booming. You couldn't get a new machine today if you wanted it unless you find it on a lot. We saw lots of used, but not that much new machinery.
Combine fires and farmer demand keeping eating up supply as fast as they build them. We saw a new John Deere S series demonstrator with a tarp over it as it had burnt the first day and they said make sure no one gets a picture of it. The new green and red combines are what I call NASCAR bodies which look sharp but are just big heat traps for fires. Insurance premiums have to go up.
So it is the Economy, Stupid and I want to put a sign on our farm that says Raise Cane With Herman. His 999 plan makes as much sense as anything I have heard.
I thought that would catch your attention...
Saturday, October 8, 2011
This week my friend Jules took me to Sydenstricker's John Deere store in Mexico, Missouri. We talked to Johnnie Brown and he showed us some pictures of the old Cajun Queen John Deere 4020 I pulled against as a young man. I remember meeting Eddie Sydenstricker and his ace mechanic, Van Botkins who built the Queen.
It was one of the few John Deere's that could compete in the heavy super stock classes as International Harvester had them locked up. Van built probably the first 466 John Deere engine that is now used in many John Deere applications. He figured out how to get Caterpillar pistons in it and the engine living stretched out to those large inches.
It was ironic that I had figured out how to use John Deere 4010 pistons in my Oliver 88 in a smaller application but very competitive for its weight class.
Van had the saying if she goes she goes, if she blows, she blows as he blew up many good John Deere blocks before he figured out how to make it live at those cubic inches and horsepower. They hung the saying right on the side of the tractor.
Johnnie told us Van had passed away 3 years ago. It was too bad I didn't get to see him one more time so I will make sure to see some of my other buddies before our time is up. Johnnie more than made up for it as I think I remember him being with the crew too and I am sure I have talked to him at Louisville and Bowling Green.
The first crops are coming out in the area and the yields are very good. We are blessed. My neighbor opened up the first field of corn I have seen in Ohio and many farmers are running soybeans as they quickly ripen to 13% moisture.
It sure has been a beautiful week in Ohio and two weeks across the midwest into the west.
Friday, October 7, 2011
The market was bidding for more corn acres this year but Mother Nature didn't cooperate. It was too late and too wet for farmers to plant as much corn as they wanted to in many parts of the country, at least that was true here. Still, many planted full season hybrids the first week of June when they could take Preventive Planting or plant beans. Most planted beans.
I was sitting in the cab of a farmer in Iowa combining beans with 3 ethanol plants in the horizon. I asked why he didn't plant more corn and he said I grow good soybeans so I can raise good corn. That is exactly what he does.
The yield monitor was sitting on 75 bushels in 30 inch rows, like my other friends in Iowa although most are on 15 inch rows.
Now that corn is under $6 and beans are under $11, it is easy to play "what if." What if I had planted more corn or sold more beans? Moderate yield corn easily out profits excellent soybean yields.
The yields are excellent in many places, too, I think our first farm will come out near 80 bu but I won't have the actual bushels for awhile.
Right now I have to figure out how to get a load of cereal rye from Bryan Ohio to Martinsville. Frieght on it is about $3 per mile for the 164 mile trip.
The weather is gorgeous, hope you have a great weekend.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
I see I lost a follower. Now what would I say to cause someone to intentionally take the time to choose to delete followship? I have not taken the time to see who follows and who doesn't, I just write.
I see I have almost 50,000 pageviews from all over the world, and about 100 per day. That's awesome, thanks!
We have had a great 4,000 mile trip to Yellowstone and back. We finally took the time to walk a little of the Grand Tetons, they are beyond words but they are more for the serious hikers, not an old geezer like me. Just five years ago I could walk about anywhere I wanted but those steep mountains were a challenge this time.
The best thing was the weather. It was miserable here the first week we were gone but we had great weather as soon as we got out of Ohio. The pork medallions at the Machine Shed in Davenport the first night were "to die for." That sauce and the sauce I had last night are as good as they come. Watch out Rich Werner, they are on to you!
LuAnn just caught the weather forecast and they are calling for another nice week of weather at home! The first beans can come out and the first wheat, rye and barley can be sown.
Maybe we will get the weather we missed in April and May.
Could that be possible?
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
We just had dinner at Cody's Road House in Mattoon, Illinois. It was excellent. I had the Smokey Mountain Barbeque and LuAnn had the cod dinner. My pork and barbeque sauce was really good, a great buy at $11. The young crew did a great job from the front door to the cash register, I especially liked the young no nonense male waiter's work. I told the manager the same and he and the waiter both looked frightened like I was going to complain. I think some people give retaurant people too much of a hard time.
I must confess we have been on the road for two weeks, something I don't like to publicize until after the fact. The people who need to know knew where we were.
We went to the Custer State Park Buffalo RoundUp ten days ago in South Dakota. They round up the buffalo in the park and sell of the herd to keep around a thousand head they can feed on the 72,000 acre park range. The culls bring about a quarter of a million dollars that helps keep the park open.
They charge $15 minimum for a week pass to the park and 14,000 people come watch the round up each year. People get up in the middle of the night to go sit in line to get inside the area before the gates open at 6:30 AM then wait till the cowboys push the buffalo over the ridge to the corral in front of the crowd. It's a pretty neat experience and highly photographed.
The herd looked very healthy to me as the range looked more lush than when we passed through the area two years ago. They vaccinate them and take care of them like cattle.
The fall colors are really showing more each day as we round third heading for home.
Harvest is nearing half done in places across the country as we wait to start in Ohio. The first beans have come off at home.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
I have seen more cover crops this year than since I was a kid. We used to sow clover with a cyclone seeder by hand when I was little, in fact all the years I was on the farm. We could sow with no compaction to the soil compared to livestock or machinery.
Now we are using cover crops to erase a lot of the compaction caused by machinery today but for a whole lot more. Soil was meant to be covered and Mother Nature does it very well. Where there is bare ground there is no soil or there is a catastrophe like a glacier or a stone faced mountain.
Today a friend and I looked at cover crop plots replicated in his harvested wheat field. They all looked good but the grasses, radishes, buckwheat and peas stood out. They lopoked really good.
Near the edge there were weeds where there were no cover crops from last year and no weeds where volunteer covers had grown along the field edge. It is quite impressive to visually see some of the cover crop advantages we know to be true.
I talked to my supplier also today and he said he is hanging on to mine but had farmers who drove 200 miles to buy his seed.
Cover crops are hot and this is no passing fancy. Cover crops are here to stay in mainstream farming.
Monday, October 3, 2011
We have friends in Webster and Calhoun Counties in Iowa who also raise soybeans. They grow them a little differently than we do. They raise them in 30 inch rows just like their corn. They have a big problem with white mold or schlerotinia white mold as I call it but I wonder if they couldn't narrow down their rows and just cut the population for more light interception.
They also use a stalk plucker which is a tool that pinches the corn stalk row off just below the top of the ground to increase stalk rotting and digestion back into the soil. That's an extra pass that I am not sure would pay.
But they are very good farmers and average 58 bushel soybeans, way more than their county state or national averages. I am always looking for a way to increase yields while holding costs in line for more net profit.
But they have soils I can only dream of, 4-6% organic matter and you can see 14 miles from their front porch. There are 3 ethanol plants in thier view so I imagine they couldjustify corn on corn. Like me, they like to grow soybeans.
They said their moisture got down to 9% today and I like to cut at 13%, the point where the buyer doesn't dock for moisture. To do that, I have to cut a lot of acres above 13% because they dry down so quickly below 15% moisture.
Our first fields will be ready before too long and thankfully we have a streak of good weather coming after weeks of clouds and showers.
Iowa will be well on their way to finishing before we get started.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Who Radio in Des Moines has a catchy song each day about corn, corn, corn. All you can see is corn, is that a tree?
Trees are pretty few and far between in most of Iowa where they grow annual trees that are called corn or maize. There are some oak trees in Iowa, though.
The mighty oak stands tall today but it was a nut yesterday that stood it's ground!
I don't feel too mighty anymore but I did stand my ground. I was born a Buckeye, too, that poisnous nut that makes you real sick just before you die, if you try to eat it. I remember dad commenting about that crazy cow we had that ate from a Buckeye tree. It eventually died.
Yogi Bera said a lot of people are on third base and they think they hit a triple to get there. Someone posted his experience on the Cafe of new ag talk how he tuned up a young farmer who was born on third base thanks to the work of his dad and grandpa and thought he had to cut in line in front of this poster at the parts counter.
If you look around America, it looks like we were all born on third base. In contrast to the world, we were. I am thankful for that, very thankful and want to preserve and expand it.
I recommend RCIA for all Christians, aeithists and agnostics. You can learn how the Christian faith was founded two thousand years ago and how it helps us today and will for Eternity.
RCIA is Rite for Christian Initiation for the Catholic or Universal church and fatih but adds the Sacred Tradition from the early believers through Christ and how it applies today. You can take it or leave it but you owe it to yourself to listen to it once. I started 3 years last month.
I pray for my teacher and her new class in Cincinati. She is a lady and they are all men.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
LuAnn's mom usually gets us a gift certificate to Darden Restaurant's which includes Red Lobster and Olive Garden. We thought we might have some left on the gift card and stopped by one last night.
It turned out we didn't need the gift cetificate. We didn't need our credit card or cash either.
We got the little thingy that tells you when it's your turn to eat. It was rush our with a big crowd just like Outback and every other restaurant in town.
We sat and waited and talked to people and LuAnn read email and websites from her droid. We waited and waited. We waited nearly an hour for a 30-40 minute wait right in front of the desk so I finally asked the gal if she was close to 39. She looked and looked and asked us our name again and suddenly we were rushed to a big open booth near the entrance. They had forgot to call us.
The assistant manager came and apologized for missing us and offered a free appetizer. We got the shrimp appetizer and ordered our meal. We ate the salad, and the appetizer finally came. Then we waited and waited for our meal. Near another hour went by when it finally came. The crowd was pretty much gone by now. Our server was embarrased so she had the assistant manager come by and she offered to pay for our meal.
The food was good but we couldn't get seated and we couldn't get our food when it was served. Our patience paid off because we didn't have to pay a thing though we tipped the waitress well. It wasn't her fault.
I guess this happens everywhere but I can't remember it ever happening to us. It turned out OK. It won't stop us from eating at Olive Garden.