Saturday, December 31, 2011


LuAnn would agree this has been the best and most meaningful Christmas in our lives. We haven't been too distracted by all the shopping days and commercialization of Christmas to live the true meaning of Christmas this year.

Christmas has been more of an Epiphany for us this season as we have worked hard at our spiritual program all year. The dividends have been great.

It started during Lent and has carried over through today! I never made a post or answered an email for the month of April. I never read the Internet that month. Our Christmas tree is still up and I am enjoying today as another day of Christmas even though it is the last tax day for 2011.

"Epiphany, (Koine Greek: ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, "manifestation", "striking appearance"[1]) or Theophany, (Ancient Greek (ἡ) Θεοφάνεια, Τheophaneia) meaning "vision of God",[2] which falls on January 6, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. Western Christians commemorate principally (but not solely) the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus, and thus Jesus' physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God.[3]

Eastern Churches following the Julian Calendar observe the Theophany feast on January 19[4] because of the 13-day difference today between that calendar and the generally used Gregorian calendar.[5] For Roman Catholics in many countries, the feast is celebrated on the Sunday that falls between January 2 and January 8.[6][7]

Alternative names for the feast include (τα) Θεοφάνια, Theophany as neuter plural rather than feminine singular, η Ημέρα των Φώτων, i Imera ton Foton (modern Greek pronuntiation), he hemera ton photon (restituted classic pronuntiation), "The Day of the Lights", and τα Φώτα, ta Fota, "The Lights".

We think the whole country would be in better moral shape if we all just tried to integrate more of this thinking into our daily lives. We are not alone in this and it has been a revitalization of our spiritual lives into our daily lives this year.

I hope this year has been more like that for you this year, too but we can start on next year today!


Friday, December 30, 2011

Local Farm Sells For $14 Million

The headline news in the county to the south and east of us today is "Local Farm Sells for $14Million. That's big news in Highland County or just about anywhere around here.

I got to know the Steritz family as a young man. The Steritz boys all farmed but David grew the largest farm operation in the region which brought a lot of notarity. The farm lays just south of Lynchburg, Ohio and west of Hillsboro on mostly glacial till of the Illinoian period or what we call crawldad ground.

He was the first I know to use a dozer to pull large homemade tillage tools 40 years ago. Around 12 years ago he wanted a larger farm and traded it for around 10,000 acre on the Mississipi in Arkansas. I have never seen them since and not visited the new farm but others here have. I still buy seed and scout fields on a brother's farm nearby so I get updated now and then.

The firm that made the trade out of West Lafayette, Indiana leased the farm to the Stahl Family in Clermont County. I taught some of the Stahl children and their cousins when I finished my career at Clermont Northeastern.

Names on deeds and who farms the land has really changed here the last 10 years as the last generation passes on to the next. If a large farmer dies and doesn't have a plan for his children or workers to keep farming the operation, the non-farming heirs often turn the asset into cash for other uses.

The recent land price explosion has fueled that to some extent and this farm may seem cheap to you compared to the $20,000 per acre record for 80 acres in Iowa but this isn't Iowa and that is one big chunk of cash. It is rare to read details of the financing like this article but the writer went to the courthouse and looked up public record and reported it.

Many years 30 bushel soybean and 100 bushel corn was all that farm produced but I am sure it has broken 200 bushel corn and 50 bushel beans at the hands of the Stahl's in better years. Yields have steadily risen 40 years with the accepted "bumps in the road." That farm is not all tillable, either and there used to be some pretty rough reclaimed fields on it.

"Somebody farmed it before they got there and somebody is farming it when their gone." The circle of life and farming keeps revolving.


Thursday, December 29, 2011


It's that time of the year to close the books on 2011 and get my seed ordered. I deal with several local companies that take good care of my needs.

Doing a little shopping, I went to the Seed Consultants Chemical Days. It is held in the sales room above the main office and there were three sales agronomists sitting there with their computers and prices and they go over your seed and chemical needs and questions.

I found out the same of what I have been hearing in the industry. Their top GMO hybrids are pretty much sold out. They had plenty of one main number but not the 3-5 diverse genetics I would like for my farm. They said that the popular 115 day hybrid was sold out and it was their highest yielder. They had two entries of that seed make the NCGA Contest Finals.

I saw the first chemical price sheet I have seen all winter. Looks like chemical prices from a wholesale-retailer was about 5 percent above last year. 4 pound glyphosate was $9.46 a gallon and 5 pound equivalent was $11.46. I also got a copy of the first inoculant prices I have seen this year and they were also up a little.

They are offering ABM Excalibre and Sabrex, Vault and Optimize, the major products in the inoculant industry. You can have them put on your seed with your Bayer or Syngenta chemical fungicide and/or insecticide products of Poncho or Cruiser packages or split them up. There are so many options today we didn't have three years ago.

My trucker didn't get my load of beans to Cincinnati Tuesday morning. I found out he had lost his wallet at WalMart Monday night and it had all his driving licenses and permits in it. I said let's pray to Saint Anthony to get help to find them becaue it works for me and I usually find the lost article in an hour. We said our prayer and amens and within 30 minuts WalMart called him, they had found his billfold!

I woke up this morning smiling, giving thanks for another day. I trust this will be a good one for you and I as we wrap up the last days of 2011.

What a year!

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Garden Seed

The J. W. Jung seed catalog came last night and I was looking it over. That is only the second catalog we have received since we haven't been buying a lot of seed from catalogs lately, we have been buying local like Grant's Farm or Steve Boehm's Good Seed Farm in Adams County.

Their note on genetically modified seed caught my attention. "Our company does not agree with the use of genetic engineering solely for economic gain, be we are concerned about the overuse of pesticides in the battle to feed the ever increasing populations of the world. Though we are not certain any genetically engineered products pose a health risk, we believe that more testing needs to be done, especially where food allergies could be a concern. To our knowledge, none of our products have been developed through the mechanical transfer of genetic material between genera, families or kingdoms. We will continue to look at each potential new item on a case by case basis and can assure that we would not add any product to our catalog which we did not consider safe. As always, we will strive to supply what we consider the best varieties and we will encourage our customers to be good stewards of the soil."

That is a very good philosophy I agree with as a farmer. They have a very nice catalog full of varieties I know and trust and are a good supplier of garden seed. I am sure that can be said of most garden and other seed companies but their statement impressed me.

They also recommend something I recommend and that is inoculation of legume seeds like peas and green beans. I will order some of their inoculant for me legume seeds as I get a great increase of yield and quality from it. I have written several blogs on inoculation you can read from my archives.

They have two full pages each of corn and beans, staples in the American garden. They have a facebook page and an online site.

The picture is one of my favorite this summer looking across our garden spot to the Hollingsworth's next door.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011


LuAnn and I were strongly reminded what our greateste gift is. It's family! In this day and age it is hard to find but here we are blessed with it after a lifetime of struggles and trying to do the next best thing.

We had our Winkle family Christmas yesterday and it was more than wonderful, it was one that tugged at our heartstrings. Each child is so well behaved LuAnn kept saying can you believe we have a housefull of grandkids? It was so quiet sometimes you wondered what they all were doing and when you looked you found them interacting and just having a great time together.

The reading of the birth of Christ in the Bible was most special and quiet as Erik read the infancy narrative from Luke. Every knee bowed and tongue confessed and it was humbling yet joyous. My heart about burst from pride watching my family as we shared the scripture.

At the end of the day LuAnn didn't want it to end and I know why. It was just too rewarding to let go of.

Each child and adult received a special gift from us that LuAnn had carefully chosen. On many of those gifts we talked about the best idea and the best place to buy it and she did it all and cooked a great meal on top of it! Even the kids were appreciative and asked if it was too much for her as they could see all that she had done. You have to really care and know and work hard to make that kind of thing happen!

So this morning I type with thanks to LuAnn and all that made December 26 such a special day, one we will never forget.

I hope you found that, too.


Monday, December 26, 2011


Lots of farm batteries only get used a few times a year. Here is a really good thread on batteries I want to save so I am posting it here.

Hagen Brothers farms,Goodrich ND "Does it use a conventional lead acid battery ? If so, a float charger / maintainer will do the job.

I use a pair of charger / maintainer / desulphators to maintain the batteries on all my seasonal use equipment. The desulphator function will remove sulphation formed when a battery sets a long time and is partially discharged.

Here is the link to Northern Tools .

"I"m getting better battery life with the minders. Wallyworld charges $20 for one that seems to do me just fine. Probably could be rotated amongst a collection of batteries, a few days each battery, as long as a week out of each month.

Batteries are made differently than they used to be long ago. But then poor voltage regulators tended to abuse them. 30 40 or more years ago the lead was alloyed with antimony for mechanical strength, unfortunately the antimony was discovered (first in a telephone office with a building full of batteries by stibene gas in the air) to producing local action and speeding up self discharge. Then the battery world went to calcium (its a metal in its pure form with the carbonate of limestone removed, highly reactive to water and air) which cured the local action problem but the resulting plates are weaker. And makers have refined the manufacturing process to reduce the materials in the battery. With the weaker grids, deep discharge cycles are close to fatal if done once, almost sure fatal by the 5th time. Since the active materials swell on discharge they either get dislodged from the grids or warp the grids. And that warping flexes the grids where they are grouped in a lead block and they snap off.

Then batteries are made without filling holes which can keep electrolyte in if not overcharged, but prevents adding distilled water when needed. Or knowing added water is needed.

Used to a battery store, like Sears, would keep all the batteries in the battery room with trickle chargers on them so they were fresh when sold. Now everybody lets them set on the shelf for 6 months or a year, being careful to keep the old stock out front. If you can get to the back of the battery rack and learn the maker's date coding (which is often very clear) or buy the day the rack is filled up after your particular battery has been restocked, you probably can get a battery made in the past 3 or 4 weeks and it will give you much better service. One local farm store has a sign on the rack now to take the battery to the automotive repair desk where they will do a load check and then engrave the sold date. I saw some 6 month old batteries on that rack, but I was able to pick one from the back with Jun 2011 data of manufacture. It also tested good, but I put a charger on it before starting the tractor with it.

Then there are stamped brass battery post connectors that eventually corrode and crack. Cost me a battery in my pickup last month. And it was a special from Ford with two grounded wires wandering off. I changed things around a lot with a lead battery post to side terminal adapter and with the remains of the brass clip converted to a simple lug. Long ago, battery posts were cast in place and thoroughly plugged their hole in the top of the battery. So fumes didn't leak out there, Today the plastic and the posts are molded separately and much of the battery venting is right against the connector, so the little felt washers are a benefit. It would be more benefit to use hot glue or epoxy to seal the posts to the battery case top. Then posts have always needed cleaning annually for 12 volt and every three months for 6 volt systems. The battery cleaning brushes are marginal, I learned from my dad long ago that using a sturdy knife and scraping until shiny soft lead was exposed made for better connection longevity, then covered with grease or battery post paint made the connections last better."

Gerald Iowa.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 25

Happy Birthday, Corbin! Five years old already, you and your cousins are growing up fast! Merry Christmas to you and your parents and all your aunts and uncles and cousins. You have all given LuAnn and I a big wonderful family.

We went to cousin Sheila's last night, a Christmas tradition for me and my family. Most of my cousins and their families were there. Since we are so close to Cincinnati the cross town shoot out debacle was a discussion point as it made national news and each one of us has an opinion about how it was handled.

It's good to have family you can talk about controversial things with and just have a normal discussion because we all know our health and our well being is more important than any other issue. We care about each other.

One new boy friend of a cousin's daughter reminded me of the physicists on Big Bang Theory and he was very interesting to talk to. He is studying bioscience so we had a lot in common and I could explain my application of bioscience to food production.

Then I opened up Crop Talk this morning and there was Moboy again spewing his pro Monsanto BS about superiority of genetically modified corn and he made the point of picking on my friend soil life. So I called him out and defended soil life and the whole thing wasn't very Christmassy.

He provoked my ire. I let him do that and responded on the page I helped develop and have devoted 11 years to now. It wasn't the best thing to do first thing Christmas morning but I did it.

I didn't waste much time there and went to reading aloud with LuAnn and sharing our gifts to each other. I got new Carrhart clothes to wear and she got a new home made purse and scarf and pearl ear rings to match her pearl necklaces.

She gave me a new Catechism of the Catholic Church and we are reading it aloud now. It adds to our spiritual and religious beliefs, the real meaning of Christmas this December 25.

Merry Christmas to all, whoever you are and wherever you are and I hope this morning finds you well and looking forward to a profitable New Year.

Ed Winkle

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Cheer

Do you have your holiday cheer? I am working on it. It's been a tough week with lots of hard decisions and discussions. There is only one tax week left in this calendar year and so many decisions affect each farms tax status for 2011 and 2012.

The big news is the double to triple land taxes we will have to pay in this county. It will eventually get to all of Ohio's 88 counties. I see why my one landlord was so ticklish to work with all summer, he got his notice early.

Yesterday the road were crowded around here as people did their last minute preparations for business and holiday. One man commented he never saw so much traffic on Rombach Avenue, the main drag east of Wilmington which is US 22-3. LuAnn said Hillsboro was the same thing.

I didn't get a load of beans to market by Friday noon when they closed so I need to get that done first thing Tuesday morning when they re-open. I need to make some phone calls to make sure I get this done. The markets have increased from their low a week or two ago but could go back down at any world news event. That event is usually connected to European debt lately.

So back to this holiday cheer. I always felt like most people miss the reason for the season and if I let myself get caught up in that I can miss the real reason myself.

It's time to say Merry Christmas and really mean it and understand it's full implications.

Merry Christmas!

Ed Winkle

Friday, December 23, 2011


A young farmer posed a good question on the Cafe.

" We have been planning to "eventually" build a new house. We're actually three year past our ten year plan to replace our small, inadequate farmhouse (It's fifteen minutes from our main farm facilities as well}. Figure we need to get it done before the economy turns around. However, we can't seem to get excited about it. After months of telling ourselves we need to get with it the thought occurs to us.... Why not buy a very nice house in town? An older home would cost less per square foot and have so much more character and charm for the money invested. We also have some very
nice wooded neighborhoods to choose from. It's 15-20 minutes to the farm base fom town.
So we started wondering... Will a used quarter million dollar home be a good investment when CD's, stocks and bonds are so-so??? How does appreciation/depreciation of new homes compare to used? I could ask a realtor but they may be a bit biased. I know there's good and bad points to the choice of rural and city living. I just never considered that I could possibly "make" money buying an expensive home. Any hard earned experience or a life-time of learning to share??
Thanks. Dan"

This is how I responded:

"That is a very personal question. We can't read your happiness from any decision or failing to act on it from afar.

I am in the 4th house I have owned in a lifetime. I never looked at any of them as just a financial investment. Where I lived affected who I met, dollar and time cost to work, how I felt, how I slept, the whole shebang.

First one was a nice brick ranch on 2 acres at the edge of town, lived there ten years. It was an easy drive to dad's farm or work or Cincinnati. I made it cheap to heat and cool. All my kids were born there and we were happy there. It had a blacktop drive on a hill that was a bear in winter and dangerous. Good windbreak all around it. Cost 31,500, was worth 60,000 in ten years. Rented it out to a nice couple for ten years and got all my money back and then some.

Second one was an old Sear's and Roebuck house on 50 acres "in the sticks" 10 miles northeast. Bought it because it was in the school district we wanted our first child to attend school at. It was flat land, higher wind and storm area but best garden spot I ever had except maybe this one. It had poor well water and was hard to heat and cool. I never could buy land around it so we only lived there 4 years.

Third one I lived at was at the edge of Blanchester and lived there 17 years. It was archectect designed for a wealthy retirement couple and super designed for that purpose, not a young family but we made do. It was also cheap to heat and cool but flat and windy. Easy drive to north Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus. Paid 96,000 for it and sold seven years ago for 162,500. We had all the graduation parties there and it was the last home most our children lived in.

Then we bought this home and farm for a huge price. I doubt it would sell for what we have in it. It is really windy here and we have had one tornado and Hurricane Ike about destroy the place. We have it affordable to heat and cool but it's taken seven years, not bad for an 1880 house though.

They have all been home to me but I never liked the second one and liked the first and third one better. This one grows on you but in my later years it's getting harder for us to keep it up. I have been guilty of calling it a money pit but it is a very desirable place to live in a good location. Location sure is important.

I have seen the markets soar and crash but home is home. Buy it for all the esthetic reasons unless you just want a place to sleep and resell. Your job and partner are the keys to your happiness but your home is probably number 3 for me.

Good Luck,

Ed Winkle

Thursday, December 22, 2011


It's time to get those Christmas presents finished. I hope I have enough, I know I got some surprises, not the big one that really caught her off guard last year.

With nine little grandchildren, LuAnn has been in shopping mode for two months. Here is my public pronouncement of the great thanks I have for her for doing all that shopping! We discussed each present with care and of course, price comparison! That's why they call it shopping!

Actually the best gift I can give today, tomorrow, Christmas day and every day is me, sane and happy and doing things no one notices. The kind of things they won't notice until you are gone.

I really care about people, especially my dear family and everything God as given me. Being human, I don't show that every day! So I work on me, sticking to a routine that keeps me a supportive, caring person.

The best gift is one that really surprises you and you have to stop and think who did that and why did they do this? That is really hard for me to do! But, it is so rewarding when we do.

The presents are all wrapped and placed with care, in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there! I know most of us adults are beyond the gift giving, it's the though that counts but it all makes you think.

What is the best present you ever got?

I have so many over 62 years I have to stop and think about that awhile...


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Farmer Meeting

Last night I went to the best farmer meeting I have been to all year. My friend Philip Huffman put on his annual Christmas Appreciation Dinner for his customers. He saved me a lot of money on my chemicals this year. I have been wanting to go the last several years so this time I went.

Everyone was in a good mood but went home happy, smiling, laughing and better informed than when they came. Golden Corral put on a pretty good meal off Interstate 75 just south of Interstate 70. I had Bourbon Chicken on rice and vegetables for my main course but the meat loaf tasted home made.

They had a produce section of fresh vegetables on a slant just like our Kroger store behind the bar where where the workers pick from for the salads and cooked vegetables. It looked fresh and tasted very good.

A man from Direct Enterprises explained all the products they provide Philip and other seed dealers with and how they independantly tested all the combinations to come up with a set of recommendations. You wouldn't believe all the chemical and bilogical choices for seed this year!

I can order any combination of treatments on my seed for my particular farms. The Rancona mixes, Bayer Macho, Gaucho, Poncho mixes and Syngenta Cruiser Maxx all stand at the top of their tests.

The District Sales Rep and the Regional Sales rep from Stine both spoke. They are the contacts from the main company in Adel, Iowa to Philip's business on Union Road west of Dayton.

I spoke on Respect the Rotation explaining their survey and how to use it help decide your seed mix for your farm. I quoted "I was reading Farm Journal last night and Staff Agronomist Ken Ferrie said "once resistant weeds show up, no farm is safe. Start with weed-free fields and keep them clean. Appoint a pesticide boss to be responsible for scouting."

That quote caught my attention and fits in with what I have been working on. One farmer spoke up, you better listen to him, he is on to something. He had switched chemical programs to combat his resistant weeds.

Several farmers asked me about notill, radishes and other cover crops, soil and tissue testing, gypsum and other topics. Some are concerned what glyphosate is doing to the soil and I referred them to the National NoTillage Conference in St. Louis next month where this topic will be covered in depth.

Lots of farmers have lots of questions but some got theirs answered last night.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Andy Vance called Friday just at the right time when I was thinking about corn planters of all things. He needed an interview with a midwest farmer and I said let me call a friend and call you right back.

I dialed up Paul Reed and I caught him at just the right time. I told him the need and he immediately goes on about how Murphy lives on their farm and pops up every time they hit the fields with the planter. It was perfect and I asked if he would talk to Andy and of course he would and here is what happened.

"Gearing Up For Planting

Accept Murphy’s Law, and Prepare a “Plan B”

For Paul Reed of Washington, Iowa, the best way to prep for planting season is to figure out what can go wrong, and have a game plan in place that assumes if it can go wrong, it will go wrong at some point.

“Along with going through all the nuts and bolts things, we follow a simple management rule: figure out the three worst things that can happen,” Reed says. “We always have a Plan B so that if we lose a system or monitor we can continue planting and aren’t stuck on the end rows waiting to get on the phone with a service tech. As our equipment has gotten more complex, so have our problems.”

As one example, Reed says that while his operation relies on GPS and automatic steering, each planter still has mechanical markers in the eventuality that the GPS system goes down. Planting can continue using markers, rather than stalling while a technological solution is found.

The Reed family keeps detailed notes on problems or challenges uncovered during the planting season, and incorporates those records into the preparation for the next season. By focusing on what did go wrong, they improve planning for what might go wrong in the future.

“The name of the game is to keep the wheels turning to take advantage of a limited planting window,” Reed says. “Crops yield by planting date, so you have to take advantage of the planting days available. If you have only 10 or 12 days in an ideal planting window, being able to keep rolling is a big deal.”

He advises systematically checking each system on the planter, from hydraulic and air pressure systems to fertilizer and seed delivery components, looking for wear items that need replaced prior to planting. While conducting that basic planter maintenance, take stock of what parts, systems or monitors are likely to go down at some point during planting, and have replacements on hand.

“Every one of those systems can and will have something go wrong,” Reed says. “How well and how quickly you can overcome those problems is paramount to keep planting.”



Making a List and Checking It Twice

Christmas may be over, but Ohio-based crop consultant and blogger Ed Winkle advises taking Santa’s advice when it comes to planter preparations.

“Tear apart the planter today,” he says. “We tore our planter apart three times during all the rain last year, and we found something every time. We knew the planter so well that as soon as we had a breakdown, we knew where it was and how to fix it with no down time. The worst thing you can do is drag the planter out of the barn and try to go plant.”

With that in mind, Winkle shares his planter-prep checklist:

Go through each row unit piece by piece.
Go through the seeding mechanism, and match the planter to the seed size you are getting.
Go over all stress parts, as well as the frame, wheels and bearings. “You think the part isn’t worn out, but it is. Replace it. You can’t afford to stretch parts too far anymore.”
Go through hydraulics with books and gauges. RTB, Read The Book!
Go through 12-volt system front to back.
Go through electronics, including GPS-related modules and monitors."

As Paul says Murphy rules and what can go wrong will go wrong sometime. Having a network of problem solving people at hand really increases my efficiency and decreases my worry!

This is just part of Andy's article but there is some really good stuff in here. It is hard to put into words what happens and how we prepare for it but I think this really encapsulates the message.

You can't be too fussy about your corn planter, it helps determine your success or lack of it every year. If we were as fussy about perfect planting as we are about land values and taxes we wouldn't have as much to complain about!


Monday, December 19, 2011

62 And Worn Clear Through!

That's what I have been telling people today, "I am 62 and worn clear through!" Today is my birthday. I started the day by having my teeth cleaned of all things I could have done for my birthday. Ruth asked me when she called to schedule, are you sure you want to do this on your birthday? I thought sure, why not, have to get it done sometime anyway!

My sister called to wish me happy birthday among many(the list is long and thank you all!) and she had a different twist to my rhyme that I adopted in this manner. I even stopped to tell dad thanks at the cemetery on my route today.

The dentist asked me about the big deer I have seen so I brought him up to date and told him where all the big ones hang out. I keep telling these guys to surround the field when we shell corn and we will herd them out for you! They don't like that too much, guess it takes the fun out of hunting.

Doc told me about a bowhunter in Indiana who didn't follow the rules and lost his life. You always poke the deer or wait and make sure it is not able to get up and get you. He didn't and the buck ran his antlers through his liver and the next day they found the dead deer beside the dead hunter, lacerated his liver and they both bled to death.

I just saw a young man cutting soybeans on US 68 on Midland's finest swamp land we call Clermont Silt Loam. It was strange to see dust rolling on such a gloomy day. It is about 45 degrees and had warmed up 10 degrees since last night.

My Christmas Elves are wrapping my last packages for LuAnn in her craft room before she gets home. I let her pick up Sable from the new groomer kennel lady and she called and told me Sable was ready to come home. No doubt she is! I guess the lady survived Sable's first bath and professional grooming and toe nail clipping!

We should have had that lady video the deal and we could sell the video for more than she charges. That You Tube would be viral within 24 hours!

I see Stacey has posted a new blog today and I see the title is excercise. Right on my birthday, too! Those two things don't go together.

Maybe I can talk LuAnn into taking me to Damon's and see if the steak and blooming onion is as good as last time. We ate at Werner's Pork House on the way home last night so I really shouldn't but...

We called ahead last night and our order was ready to eat when we sat down. We both had the sampler platter and if I knew the pulled pork was going to be that good, that is all I would have ordered! Maybe the best I ever ate but I always say that. It was goooood. Rich and Barb has a busy day with lots of customers and 4 Christmas parties last night.

I picked up a bouquet at the Kroger Florist and surprised LuAnn with them. It's your birthday, not mine she said. I said wait a minute you are blank years(men present) and 11 months old today. Her birthday is one month after mine. The Parole Officer said, oh he bought something, like I bought a new pickup, tractor or combine. I said no, if I had enough money I would!

Maybe a planter tomorrow though, I stopped at Baxla Tractor to see Leon Yutzy who is selling out to serve on a mission to Mexico for 3 years. He is selling a planter I wouldn't mind tinkering with this winter. Leon is a fine young man, called by Christ to serve like Steve Neust in Haiti and so many other farmers serving around the world. God Bless them all!

I did stop to see Larry Corrill near what we call Panhandle where SR 125 meets SR 136, not far from where Peter Winkle settled over 200 years ago. We had a great chat, we used to tractor pull together and Larry is one of the best wrenches around. He said I heard you were coming so I ordered all Liberty Link soybeans! I said they started to eat your lunch, didn't they? He said yep, probably lost 10 bushels to weeds this year so he is making the switch.

That's what my project is about, keeping glyphosate as a viable weed killer and keeping your profits up in the process. It's good to have information others can use.


Sunday, December 18, 2011


We finally got to hear Transiberian Orchestra's Christmas Program live today in Columbus after all the hoopla since the fellow in Mason made national news with his Christmas display a few years ago. Wizards of Winter made the band and his display world famous.

We had hoped to take Liam a year ago and had tickets but the day of the show we came down with the worst flu I have had in 30 years. Since we couldn't move far from the bed or bathroom we missed it last year.

I have to say I was really bummed by intermission. I missed the whole point of the program and it was slow and boring and didn't connect the dots for me. We almost left early!

But we got to thinking we hadn't heard Wizards of Winter yet, their signature song so we went back to our seats in Nationwide Arena and stayed. Good thing we did! Even the lead guitarist sensed something was wrong and asked where our enthusiasm was and did they have a bad performance?

I thought so. The Christmas story was lead by the black man with the booming voice. I didn't get the message. The second half changed all of that with their favorite, most popular songs.

Wizards alone was worth the money and their other two top Christmas pieces topped that off. They made the gas man lots of money with all the gas they fired into the air with their pyrotechnic show and the laser lights was amazing to the beat of the music.

They made a local charity very happy too with a check for one dollar from every ticket sold today. I don't see how they have the energy to play right now with their second performance, I thought they gave it all in the first one today!

If you ever have the chance to go, do it. I assume most of you have seen it before me, we have wanted to go for years.

It was well worth the money and effort on a winter's day.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Farm Organizations

This is post number 1100 according to Google. I am wondering why I continue to do this and why some of you continue to read it?

My friend HP in Illinois asked the group that type on Crop Talk whether or not they support the National Corn Growers, American Soybean Association and the American Wheat Growers.

I wrote him a personal note I will share with you that is my take on this cool winter morning:

"Hi Hp, I think I support them but not in spirit every day but in principal. I can think of worse ways to spend my grain check off money.

Have they increased market share? I think so butut it is controversial, have seen good and bad both sides but they have developed market, no doubt in my mind. It would have happened anyway, maybe less or more but I think more good than harm.

Just hate feeding the naysayers on NAT. Your post brought out the naysayers and we both knew it would but a couple spoke up with good sense. I don't agree with the naysayers but have to read it I guess because I know some people think what I say goes against their opinion.

We are all in this together and all the people I know in all 3 organizations are good people I trust and they bust their butt for us. Maybe a few perks but not worth the hassle they put up with. About like school boarding I don't miss it but I am very happy of the direction our group took our school."

I wasn't intending on attending the Grain Symposium this week but when people I respect asked if I was going I decided to give it a shot. I was glad I did and took home more than I brought or gave to the group. I got to talk to farmers ang ag people I respect.

Groups trying to do good for all are worth supporting. Reading all the Canadian Wheat Board comments makes you wonder and reading what our own organizations do makes you wonder. The soybean growers split in their disagreement on how to handle funding and policy but I still believe more good was done than harm.

That's how I see it on the farm this morning.

With all the misinformed people airing their thoughts on the Internet and other media, I think all the good we can do is admirable. What do you think?


Friday, December 16, 2011

2012 Farm Bill

As I mentioned yesterday, Joe Schultz from the Senate Ag Committee brought us up to date on Farm Bill negotiations at the Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium.

He quickly pointed out the $50 Billion a year cut from the USDA Budget would be $33 Billion which would eliminate Direct Payments to farmers and $17 Billion to Conservation which would cut it in half.

That would completely change funding of agriculture as we know it. Are we ready for that? Most of the farmers say yes I read on NewAgTalk but when you talk to them one on one it's a different story.

The whole program was designed for Risk Management and it has done that. Many claim they could not farm the next year without risk management tools and the crop insurance they received, especially in these years of extreme drought and flood the same year across our nation.

Joe praised the bipartisan support of agriculture committee negotiations and said they were the only ones to do so in Washington. Once again the good people representing agriculture are willing to do the best thing for the country.

They came up with $23 Billion in cuts over 10 years which makes more sense. He warned it needs to be done NOW and not become hung up and watered down by dragging negotiations out. That makes sense to me.

Risk management varies so much from farm to farm and state to state. I have stated here that since 2004 I have received less than ten cents directly for every dollar spent on crop insurance. I see why John Phipps continually says we don't need direct payments in agriculture and why a few farmers don't even use crop insurance as a risk management tool. These farmers have more control in other places of their own farm budget.

Joe says key words and concepts are risk management in the Farm Bill, production cost has followed commodity prices directly and we are going through huge variations of weather contributing to unpredictability and the need for risk management.

EWG posts our payments from USDA on their website and we are attacked for our past and current risk management program. The key to keeping it is keeping the budget defendable to the general public(does the public have any idea?), keep it simple(it isn't simple), and keeping Crop Insurance the foundation of the farm safety net.

It looks to me we are about to lose direct payments and and many good agriculture programs. On the other hand they are expensive and haven't done the good for every recipient that perhaps they were intended to do.

I see I can farm without direct payments or even crop insurance as we know it and may have to. Farming will not look the same in 10 years if this happens.

I don't think it was going to anyhow but this really changes the playing field.


Thursday, December 15, 2011


Today is the Ohio Grain Farmer's Symposium at the Roberts Center in Wilmington. I hadn't planned on going but several farmers and two companies have asked me if I am going so I guess I better go see them.

Ohio Grain Organizations have 30 company booth set ups so there should be a chance to go over some of the farmer programs for 2012. That fits right in with the project I am doing.

I saw some happy farmers yesterday who had finished harvesting. Many men don't sleep well until that last bushel is in, others take it in stride. This harvest is one for the record books, I wish I had pictures but never took time to do it.

It's good for them too with another windy front delivering another unwanted one inch of rain. I wouldn't be surprised if some of this crop isn't harvested but I don't think it will be that much. Just one field is a lot to one farmer.

I am back after a busy day at the Grain Farmer Symposium. The first speaker was Joe Schultz and I thought boy he looks familiar. He was one of those Ohio FFA Presidents I liked and wondered where he would end up.

He ended up at the top! He is Chief Economist for the Senate Agriculture Committee and said more about Farm Bill negotiations in ten minutes than I have gleaned in ten months. More on that tomorrow.

I met a farmer at breakfast I had visited for IRM at a farm auction one day and we had a good chat about resistant weeds on his farm and in our area. Then I had a chance to talk to Jeff Wuebker, Joe Steiner, David Roehm and Brian Bush. They are all prominent farmers who have served on boards and organizations in various capacities. It was neat how they all fought resistant weeds on their farms and how they viewed the coming problems. We talked about everything under the sun.

At lunch I ran into more professionals representing farming to law to merchandising. My only complaint was we needed more farmer participation and perhaps more topics but the people who were there knew enough other people to make networking effective. It was a good day.

One friend I met today I had college classes with. I asked how he was doing being newly retired and he said I am having trouble switching from the 100 MPH you and I used to work to 5 MPH in this so called retirement. I know exactly what he meant and told him how hard my first two years out of the classroom were and maybe some tips to avoid depression and stay happy.

That's why we bought this place and increased our farming operation. Maybe I will be planning my next crop at the end just like dad did.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011


LuAnn asked me this morning why God sent me this project? That got my thinking juices flowing right off the bat although my brain is fuzzy and I am tired this morning.

I guess I need to find a new alarm clock for her, was looking at the Sunday and never saw anything I want pestering me at 5 or 6 in the morning, she is quite enough. She claims she set the old one for six and it woke us up at five so here I am writing. I wonder how that new water powered alarm works?

I was wondering about the same question as I felt this was pulling me away from being a good husband, the Christmas spirit and even operating our own farm visit. Yesterday when a young farmer answered my survey questions while unloading corn while being very thorough I see my answer. Even though this young man is not someone I work with he saw value in what I was doing. He ended the time with, "It was so good to see you, Ed, come back and see me again." That took me off guard and stuck with me all day.

This project focuses on how the farmer is dealing with resistant weeds admitting we have them and the RR system is not working like it should. If farmers don't make changes we will lose the effectiveness of "the best discovery for weed control since the finding of aspirin" for pain and swelling in humans.

God is using this project to keep me busy out there in this very busy season at a time I have gotten so depressed I could not function. I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and I not feeling that much at all contacting these farmers, some of which who do not want to be bothered right now.

But he gave me an important message to share they cannot deny so it gives me the opportunity to discuss other things on their mind and keep the reason for being here helpful and supportive. It is all truly amazing.

While working the project He has gotten me to my crop insurance agent, crop adjustor, SWCD, NRCS and this morning FSA to address my own farming issues where I would have just put it off otherwise.

The day ended yesterday with seeing my son and his students working the fruit sale way after school. 24 years I did that myself and the other 7 years I helped the local chapters while serving as county extension agent. I have been through a few fruit sales during this merry life!

The day really ended with church at 7 with total peace and quiet, just talking to the Lord in His House.

After yesterday's blog, what a change! Be sure to watch Larry the Cable Guy Night Before Christmas and Jeff Foxworthy's Twelve Days of Christmas should pop up when you are done.

Thanks for reading and have a great day,


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hard Times

These hard times for people is getting to us. We had a hard day yesterday.

LuAnn had to meet with 20 employees to tell them they were being laid off during the Christmas Holiday. It wore her out. She slept for 12 hours last night. She said this morning I don't know how much longer I can keep doing this.

If it weren't for her there would be no Turning Point and 100 other people would have no place to turn for work and for life. One man faces jail being laid off so she is writing a letter to the court in his behalf. These are people who have made bad choices or just down on their luck.

Addiction or crime represents their past and they are trying to turn a new leaf. Turning Point has the care and the tools to help them do that.

I know we all do all we can for the sick and suffering but sometimes it doesn't seem like enough. Maybe today I can cheer one person up like so many do for me.

It sure has been hard trying to get the last of the crop out and you hate to leave ruts but sometimes it is unavoidable. In Ohio we fought to get the crop in the ground and sprayed and we are fighting to get every last bushel back out.

It's easy to give thanks for all my gratitudes but when I see so many people suffering every day, it becomes more challenging. One lady had a neat tip for gratitudes, she said she goes through the alphabet and assigns the letter to a gratitude in her life.

A for Andy, B for Bill, C for Caolin, D for Deters, E for Ed is what I am thinking right now. The reality is though I have to keep working today when I am finished writing and put it all to work.

I will be 62 in a week and ran across an old tractor pulling buddy yesterday and he said no kidding, where did it go? He was introduced as being in a friend's class 62 years ago!

It is hard times for a lot of people and it is hard to stay focused but we have so many blessings, where do we start to build upon them?

Hard times don't last, strong people do.


Monday, December 12, 2011


Most of us eat bananas as a tasty source of potassium for our bodies. Bananas grow well in tropic areas where banana trees are able to pick up lots of free potassium in the soil there. I didn't meet an agronomist type person on our banana plantation tour a year ago to learn more about it but I get the general drift.

A farmer asked on Crop Talk how to manage potassium on his low CEC soil. Our soil is much the same way so I wrote this reply:

"That's a good question. I ought to add up what I have put on the last 7 years and then add up what my supposed crop removal is.

I think I have taken as much as I put on and perhaps more.

Whether it is red, pink or white potash, we all know it is not broken down in one crop. It's like feeding the soil continuously, sometimes I have more and sometimes I have less but my low CEC like yours can hold less and requires less. The big thing is as CEC goes up, usually the organic content is higher and it needs and can hold more potassium. I am not sure how that interacts with soil micro organisms but it does.

Dr. Himes taught us the black box theory at Ohio State in Soils 410. We only studied those concepts, you had to take other classes to study soil microbiology which were also intriguing to me.

This is where the tissue test helps me find hidden hunger. It may not show the total K absorbed all season but gives me a snapshot of where I am at. Some hybrids may need more than others. I would rather be Sufficient to High in Potassium than Sufficient to low."

That post should make farmers think who read that. That is what I have learned in 40 years. This morning another farmer asked what cover crop would help release free potassium into soil.

I found this link which helps describe etching of potassium from soil in a very scientific manner. Maybe one of you can help me decipher it into a good response.

It is a complex matter but we know crops grow better after tillage radish. We don't know all the reasons why. Basically, the radish "harvests" all of the free nutrients in the soil and dies over winter here in the north and the action of the tuber against the soil profile etches some of the potassium out of the mineral rock.

Potassium is a vital nutrient for plants and works with boron for maximum yield and quality. Soil tests and tissue tests help me prevent "hidden hunger" of potassium and other crop nutrients.


Sunday, December 11, 2011


It finally got cold enough to hold these heavy combines out of the mud so many farmers ran all night last night. They are trying to get the last bushels in but I still see a lot of crop left out there, just not as much as there was.

The market took a dive Friday after the USDA raised the carryout and reported less export demand. I figured most of that negative news was already factored in but the market still reacted negatively.

The big news is major trade people don't believe USDA's numbers. They think the carry out and trade news is too bearish. Time will tell.

We are burning wood pellets pretty heavily now and it keeps the back half of the house warmer than the front which is unusual for us. LuAnn bought a ton of Hardwood Heat pellets last week so I looked up reviews on them. Everyone says they make a lot of heat but produce a lot of ash.

I know they put out more heat than the last ton we bought in an orange bag, can't think of the name of them. One of the new bags were damaged and got moisture in the bag so the pellets were mush. I traded it in a for a new bag this morning and they gave me a bag of Lignetics out of West Virginia. They get good reviews from pellet burning people.

Yesterday I picked up some ground pork shoulder LuAnn had ordered at Sam's Meats and she baked a New York meat pie and a cherry pie. We could have eaten both of them I think. She seasoned the meat pie just right and with her famous homemade flaky, sweet pastry dough I can make your mouth water just talking about it. They pour A1 Steak Sauce or Woo Sauce(Worchestershire.) It's not southern Ohio but it is good.

Mom made mince meat pies with raisins in it and it is nothing like this meat pie. The meat pie is more like the famous Maid Rite meat from Greenville, Ohio but made with pork instead of beef. I don't remember what meat mom used to make mince meat pie.

Cherry is still my favorite and I could eat the rest today. The little girls stayed last night while Kevin supervised a basketball game and Shannon tried to finish her shopping with a friend.

Next weekend we hope to see the Peters grandchildren and go to the Transiberian Orchestra.

Busy, busy, busy!


Saturday, December 10, 2011


Our friend Eric Heeg invited me to the Wilmington FFA Farmer Breakfast this morning so I am woke up earlier than usual. I told him I don't normally get up that early on Saturday but if I do I will be there. I guess I am going!

Nine FFA Officers in official dress and using opening and closing ceremony on a Saturday morning at 7 AM when there is no school is quite impressive. They had over 50 in attendance, including a county commissioner. I got to see a lot of my old friends and acquaintances.

My friend Chris moved from Ohio to Tennessee to operate a farm years ago. I met him through NewAgTalk like so many other farmers. He posted a really good question on Crop Talk last night.

He says glyphosate and Round Up Ready is no longer viable on their farm. I think every farm will be in that same boat if we don't do a better job of rotating crops and chemistries and be more concerned with our weed control.

I think we got sloppy with Round Up Ready. It was the miracle program and we didn't spray early enough with enough chemical to keep the program going. We set ourselves up for weed resistance just as many people predicted.

I think we paid so much for the tech fee and herbicide early on we learned how to kill weeds with the least amount of chemical. That was the wrong thing to do.

It is easy to say what we did wrong as hindsight is 20/20 but looking ahead is harder to do. I see most farmers are continuing the same program with maybe a little more emphasis on fall spraying, spring burn down(which was not possible here in 2011) and more residual chemical.

That will help but I don't think it is the answer.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Global Hits Home

Former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine hit close to home when he was chief of MF Global. We got home late last night and I was watching the CBS Evening News on DVR when they showed a scene I had seen before.

I told LuAnn, Honey that is Paul and Steve's neighbor! I did a google search a little bit ago and here it is.

It was a very well done piece by the lady on CBS News. I know people in the video and have driven those roads near Washington, Iowa, some 600 miles west of us.

Farmers like the Brennamen's had their commodity fund account just disappear overnight by fraud. You know it could be me or you and a local bank or stock fund. The same effect was felt by local farmers in the stock market crash of 2008 and we met a lady who lost the same amount in her 401k.

This though is more obvious fraud as you know the firm who did it and you know who was in charge. I emailed a cousin of Rob and he said they will be OK but that would make for some sleepless nights with $400,000 gone from your account one morning when you wake up and you didn't cause the transaction.

We live in a time of big numbers like I reported yesterday. It is hard to grow and even operate your business with shennanigans like this taking place.

As you do your taxes this month, where is all of your money? I ask but I am asking myself the same thing. One account lost $90 last quarter and $99 the quarter before. The money is just gone due to reduced market values when everything I buy has gone up.

A harder question yet is how safe is that money?

I got the fertilizer bill yesterday I told you about and it wasn't near as much as I thought and now I have to scrutinize it to see why it isn't what I ordered.

Whom do you trust these days?


Thursday, December 8, 2011

$20,000 an acre for farmland

Two farmers in Iowa wanted an 80 acre parcel bad enough they bid $20,000 an acre for the parcel! The farmer across the road was the "angry loser," and the dairy farmer just down the road had the highest bid.

To give you a hint, the parcel wasn't that far from where I snapped this picture two months ago. A farm just sold near this combine for over $9000 per acre.

The subject has been highly debated on Crop Talk as most farmers sractch their head wondering why in the world would any farmer bid that high on a parcel for farmland. It doesn't pencil out in any normal computation.

There has to be a lot to the story we don't see like the dairy farmer needed the land to spread manure on and perhaps a lower cost of production because of that. More likely he produces more dollars per acre with his dairy herd, still that amount of money is hard to figure farm wise.

I sent the thread to several friends as New Zealand prices are mentioned in the thread and one responded this way.

"Ed, Two points:

● The price of gold never changes, only the value of your currency changes, the same for land (lookout) dirt cheap!!!

I understand land prices are not related to production anymore, money has no value anymore (food is the value)

● Our price are now double that, I will enter it twice so you can't say I have made a typing mistake (double that, with currency and ac/ha correction)"

That is how my friend "down under" sees the discussion. What do you think?

On a different note I found a 2,000 acre farmer yesterday who was satisfied with his soybean yield until I brought him up to date what others got this year. He had never heard of Liberty Link soybeans!

I didn't laugh at him, I just smiled and explained the system. He is a busy machinery trader and trusts his supplier for seed and chemicals. That supplier is Round Up Ready only and never brought his customer up to speed as to what is out there for competition.

For the amount he is spending, he could grow non GMO soybeans just as cheap and perhaps get better yields but he could use Liberty Link and increase his yield with the same or lower cost of production.

He thanked me over and over for bringing him up to speed. Now I bet his supplier has some explaining to do!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7

70 years ago today the Imperialist country of Japan bombed our U.S. forces in Hawaii. The day that will live "in infamy" is older than almost every living human being on planet Earth today. Do we remember?

Anyone living then and who does remember is in their late 70's and the soldiers of that era would be about 88 years old. There are very few of them left.

I was one year old when that date was 10 years ago so all I know is what I have read and what I have been told. LuAnn and I will be at the Arizona Memorial in February for our first visit to the last state of our now 50 states, together. Hawaii wasn't even a state when that invasion occurred.

As World War II started, every man woman and child in our country was involved in this conflict. All eligible men were drafted into our army as we joined Russia to fight Hitler on one side of the world and Japan on the other. Every citizen sacrificed from fighting to raising food to producing the war machine.

Mule1 wrote yesterday that "Tomorrow is pearl harbor day and American went to war. The world best generation built tanks, planes, ships, fought and won the war. Some stayed home to grow food to feed the world and it was all needed. We owe them all out thanks for out freedom today. All gave some and some gave all. I salute all of you from that generation and say thanks. Also thanks to our neighbors to the north..."

So do we remember? I remember what I have been told and have seen in movies and read in books. How long before we forget?

In many ways I think we already have forgotten. The world has changed greatly from that day in infamy 70 years ago.

Christmas is only two weeks away and the year will soon be 2012.

The memory of 2011 will last awhile for farmers.

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Help Each Other

Farmers really need to help each other. These high commodity prices have brought the best and worst out in men. We got another 2 inches yesterday and there is so much crop left in the field. That crop is all profit although I am sure there are poor souls who haven't broken even yet with the crop they have harvested.

Some little guys have no pity and say you are farming too much if you still have crop out. That isn't true here in every case but you get their point. The larger operators could fire back you don't farm enough and you are just jealous. This is serious enough we need to help each other.

We have broken all rainfall records and most farmers I talk to aren't sure what to plant next year after this years fiasco. Most will stay somewhere close to the crops they planted this year and hope we don't have to wait til June to plant it.

We were heavy in beans in Ohio this year although a lot of corn was planted. That ground could easily go to corn this year. I saw that trend across the corn belt in our travels this year so I would think we will plant more corn if weather cooperates and farmers can cash flow the input cost and get the seed they need. Top hybrids are in short supply in some cases.

It wasn't a good year for seed, either so dealers are scrambling to fill needs and orders. Here is where a strong relationship with reputable dealers helps out. I have three small dealers who have invested the money to get the seed I think I need. I will deal with them.

The bigger the seed company the more problem they could have. It will all work out one way or another but weather and economics is playing a heavy in local agriculture. It is a great challenge but that best thing I can do is help my neighbor.

The best thing I can do for you is something you don't even know about so I take no glory in it.

We really need to help each other in this time of need.


Monday, December 5, 2011

What To Plant?

I see some farmers are struggling with what to plant next year. One poster asked the question yesterday on crop talk about going more soybeans in Kentucky because his corn has been blowing down and he can't harvest it. It costs too much to grow corn and have it blow down. That blows down your profit.

In my travels the last month I can also see farmers are in denial over resistant weeds. They don't want to admit they have them or that RR soybeans may not be the most profitable soybean or any crop for them.

A local farmer just finished his large soybean harvest and his best beans were LL by as much as 10 bushels per acre. I think most of that yield increase came from weed control. The LL system addresses the huge resistant weed problem we have in this neighborhood.

But where do you find yield data? There are no LL soybean trials in the newly released Ohio State Performance trial but there is a ton of other data in it.

Me, I would rather have had more 200 bushel corn and sold it at $7 which many farmers did. It didn't blow down and that made more money than everything around here. That beats 60 bushel LL soybeans at $14 per bushel, the highest price we could have sold for this year.

180 bu corn at $6 and 50 bushel soybeans at $12 is much more reasonable to have expected last year but we didn't know that the first week of June when we finally got to plant. How can a farmer know what to plant next year with all the risks and unknown?

Crop rotation and chemical rotation seems to be the answer to me. Keep rotating your crops and don't overuse any one chemistry to control weeds. If you had RR beans the past years, try the LL system or go back to non GMO beans. If you had corn blow down, plant a little more soybeans and see how that works.

I have my crop rotation figured out and it is heavier on corn this year. If I can't get it planted I have crop insurance or soybeans to go to. I am not locked in any one position.

That feels best for me and I think I have the numbers to prove it.

We all need to plant more cover crops. That 190 bushel corn Steve grew with no purchased N and what Dave Brandt has accomplished impresses my bottom line more than farming like I used to.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Draft Horses

Some of our family met in Lebanon last night for the Christmas parade. Two parades are held, one in daylight and one at night with lights on the carriages pulled by horses.

Some of those are draft horses or miniatures common to our area. There were 140 parade entries one year recently but I am not sure how many there were last night.

One friend, Ray, asked what background they were. From this article it looks like most of these parade entries were of Persian descent from the horse size and markings.

Grandpa trained and worked his last pair of Percheron horses that dad still used when I was little. I always joked we farmed like the Amish do today but we didn't know it back then.

Jim and Jane were a big pair of draft horses of mainly Percheron descent. Many of them are of darker hair color kind of like a brunette in hair color, looks black but there is a lot of red color to lighten it up in the sun. This team really looked more Belgian in color but Percheron in nature and size. Huge, easy going horses they were that would pull until the cows came home and then some more.

I wish I had a picture, I wonder if there are some in mom's attic. This gives me a good opportunity to call Uncle Roy and let him reminisce about the team as he drove horses on the farm and has that story where they ran away on him and lodged themselves at the railroad crossing in town less than a mile from the home farm.

It would be neat if I could plant that farm in 2017, that would be 100 years since grandpa planted it in 1918. That's a little far off but will be here before we all know it.

Life goes that fast but draft horses helped us get here before tractors became popular.

I realize now that grandpa also produced his own early hybrid corn on that farm by planting Bloody Butcher beside Reid's Yellow Dent and selecting the ears from that cross to shell and plant the following year. It greatly increased corn yields on that farm.


Saturday, December 3, 2011


After a grueling week of work, the farmer went to town last night. LuAnn had bought us tickets for the Blue Collar Comedy Tour at the Northern Kentucky University Center in Highland Heights, Kentucky or Wilder, Kentucky only an hour away from us.

We had restaurant coupons left over from last Christmas's gifts so we thought we would go out for dinner at the Olive Garden on Ohio Pike or SR 125 or Beechmont Avenue. Before we got to the exit we saw the line was 2 miles long to get off Interstate I-275! So we went to plan B, checked in our hotel and went to Longhorn Steak House in Wilder, Kentucky.

I had seen those TV ads for lobster stuffed filets so I ordered one. I was not disappointed! The steak, potato, fresh baked bread and salad was excellent, topped off with iced tea I took out with us. LuAnn had the grilled salmon and we were both very happy with our meal.

We got to the Center right at the 8 o'clock starting time and out came the host, a redneck himself and he introduced Bill Engvall. Bill soon had the crowd in stiches talking about turning 50 and keeping our male sexuality. Can you imagine being stuck in a closet for an hour with a red ribbon around your neck in your birthday suit when your wife came home with friends who wanted to take you out for beer and a steack instead of the romantic interlude you had planned?

Jeff Foxworthy was the hit of the evening with his continuation of the 50's empty nest syndrome and medical tests you have never had before, like your first colonoscopy. You aren't supposed to drink all of that stuff in 8 minutes, it is supposed to take 4 hours!

Larry the Cable Guy was last with his Florida, Nebraska and family redneck stories like Jeff's. After two hours of solid laughter they all came out and sat on the wooden stools to top each other. The I believe segment gets really almost out of hand as people stumble to the exits in laughter and tears. I still have a light happy headache from laughing so much.

It's nice to go to the city to see how they live once in awhile but they were all like me! Stressed out from a week of work or study, everyone just wanted to get out and enjoy the beautiful southern Ohio evening and the roads and restaurants were packed!

We are glad to be back home to get ready for the Christmas parade in Lebanon and the youngest grandchild's baptism tomorrow in Grove City.

And to think I was first married 40 years ago today at age 21 makes me want to go to Springfield tonight to hear Baxter Black instead of this other important, family stuff.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Good Corn, No Purchased Nitrogen

Here is a story worth reading. My friend Steve produced 190 bushel corn in Pennsylvania with no purchase nitrogen.

"Farmer Steve Groff of Holtwood, Pa., is an enthusiastic advocate for the use of cover crops in both no-till and conventional tillage farming methods. In fact, he worked for over 10 years with Dr. Ray Weil at the University of Maryland to develop and bring to market the Tillage Radish cover crop, a variety of the brassica species, selected for its uniquely aggressive single taproot that grows through compacted soils and provides many additional benefits.

Groff operates what many experts consider as one of the most extensive on-farm cover crop research farms in the nation. His Cedar Meadows Farm covers 215 acres in Southeast Pennsylvania, just a few miles north of where the Susquehanna River empties into the Chesapeake Bay.

In a new research finding in the use of cover crops, this past year, Groff grew 190 bushel per acre corn on farm-scale plots without the addition of Nitrogen fertilizer. For a nitrogen hungry crop like corn, such results are virtually unheard of in the agricultural arena.

His annual Cover Crop Field Days attracted hundreds of farmers, scientists and environmental proponents to see first hand how cover crops are used to virtually eliminate soil erosion, reduce the use of all types of pesticides, enhance soil biology and actually increase yields in the process. In fact, University of Maryland research, in which Groff participated, showed that the use of the Tillage Radish increases corn yields by 12 bushels per acre (bu/ac), soybean yields by eight bu/ac, and winter wheat yields five bushels per acre and more in some cases.

The tests were replicated in fields that have been continuously no-tilled for 18 years. The test fields were seeded in August 20, 2010 with a 10-species mix of cover crops. TA Seeds variety TA525-13V (103 day) corn was planted April 29, 2011. No starter or N was applied. Other plots in the fields receive 60, 90 and 120 lbs of N at sidedress. The harvest was measure by TA Seeds' weigh wagon.

The zero-nitrogen fertilizer input and high corn yield is attributed to the sustained use of no-till practices over time as a means to build soil health, combined with nitrogen fixing cover crops. Groff's research shows that strategically selected blends of the Tillage Radish, legumes like Austrian Winter Peas, and soil-building plants like Phacelia and others can dramatically reduce or, in some cases like this research finding, replace the need for additional fertilizer input altogether.

Groff's fields teem with earthworms, a recognized sign of healthy soil, where air and water infiltrate with ease, and where microbial populations are in balance with the plant life that the soils sustain. In fact, where Tillage Radish is planted as a fall cover crop, earth worms are attracted to them like a magnet, feed on them as they decompose in the spring and take their collected nutrient benefits deep into the root zone of the follow row crops.

Beneficial fungi like Mycorrhiza are abundant in healthy soils, as well as beneficial insects and other life forms. Cover crops help restore soils in intensively cultivated agricultural fields such that the soil-depleting effects are largely offset. Interest is rapidly growing in knowledge about the regular use of cover crops planted after and before, and in some cases interseeding with cash crops like corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton. Properly selected cover crops can double as additional forage value for cattle.

Groff's dedication to farm-based research is helping produce the kind of economic data and other practical information that farmers need to more readily adopt the regular use of cover crops as part of their cultivation program.

For more information, see and

Congratulations to my friend Steve and David Brandt in Carroll, Ohio for pioneering these types of discoveries.

Here is the video of the day from our friends and neighbors to the south and west of us.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Child Labor

Steve Clodfelter in Illinois posted on Crop Talk the issue of the proposed changes in the child labor laws in agriculture. I posted a letter the other day in my blog 16 inch bin fan that I received from Steve in Iowa.

We need to contact our legislators on this issue as most of us see it as over regulating another aspect of agriculture that most of us do correctly already.

I think the left is using this to "protect the Mexican children in families in the south" that work on farms. I am sure we have all seen some of the coverage on TV of hoeing crews in the south trying to hoe out resistant weeds that are ruining soybean and other crops down there.

I don't see this as a problem on most farms across our country but an act to over regulate an industry already loaded with too many laws and too many rules and not enough common sense.

The only thing I know to do is contact your legislator that current regulations have been working and this change proposed by the Department of Labor is viewed as over regulation and the potential death of 4-H and FFA instruction as we know it today in America.

That is Steve's fear and I know many agriculture teachers and farmers agree. We don't need more regulation. If anything, we need more support of our good 4-H and FFA programs through funding and support and cooperation at the local level.

Farm families are already working closely on these problems and just need support, not banning children from our farms as some view these changes would do.

We have bigger issues on the farm but this one deserves attention also.


Ed Winkle