Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

2012 is all but history.  How was your year?  Ours was tough but not as bad as my friends in Missouri and southern Illinois.  Remember those posts about the corn crop dying?  Ours tried to die 3 times I can remember but it never gave up the ghost.  It produced a decent yield.

I did a lot of things I could have done better.  In my book I did them wrong.  Few farmers were ready to plant when Mother Nature our earliest good planting date in my lifetime.  I was one of them.  In hindisght I wish I had planted everything the week of March 18.  It seemed crazy but that's the kind of year we had.  Crazy, just plain crazy was the year of 2012.

I should have done a better job controlling weeds.  I didn't know it the day I sprayed but I should have used a higher rate of Corvus and atrazine or Harness Extra instead.  I should have gotten all of my corn sprayed again early with 2-3 ounces of Capreno when there were few weeds and they were small.  I knew better, I planned better, Ijust didn't get the job done.  5 ounces of Corvus and a pound of atrazine or a full rate of Harness Extra should have been put down pre-emerge after planting.

If I didn't plant that week I should have put anhydrous ammonia down preplant.  Those were the best looking fields I saw all summer and it's the way I've raised my best corn.  My helpers didn't want to do that and I shouldn't have listened to them.  Instead I bought my 28 a week too late and paid out the nose for watered down urea ammonium nitrate.  The 28 I bought tested 25% nitrogen and the 32 they billed me for tested 28.  Liquid fertilizer is an opportune business for the seller.  I know no way they can water down 82% anhydrous ammonia but I am sure someone has figured out a way.

Ideally I would have put 15 gallons of 28 and 5 gallons of ammonium thiosulfate on one side of the row and 2 gallons of calcium nitrate mixed in 8 gallons of water on the other side of the row.  That is absolutely the best corn I have seen anywhere but I could have come close with ammonia acting on my high calcium lime. 

Wheat was bumper crop in this region and so were soybeans.  All you had to do was plant them on time and take care of them.  They didn't require a lot of management for a good yield like corn did.  We should treat all crops as good as our corn.  We would be more profitable.

It's hard to get it all done!  I set high goals every year and it's great to meet them.  This year I feel I left 20 bushel or more on the table.  Mother Nature caught me off guard all summer.

I have a good start on 2013.  I might have the best looking wheat I ever had at this date.  It's six months to harvest though and plenty of time for errors or poor timing!

I just hope 2013 is not quite as challening as this year was.  It tested me to the max.

Ed

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Holy Family

Did you ever meet a successful person who didn't come from a good family?  You can cite many examples of people who did good from very difficult backgrounds.  This week, this Advent Season I have come to realize the power and importance of the family.  Our example starts with the Holy Family.

The Holy Family is Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.  Can you fathom being the father of the Son of God, the Son of Man?  I have tried to understand it but it's pretty much not comprehendible.  It's a Mystery.  It is such a great example, I try to imitate it just a tiny bit in my daily life.  I have 3 wonderful step children and they have 5 beautiful children between them who count me as grandpa!  If that's not a miracle, just call it a mystery!

It's hard to be "successful" because we don't even agree on what success is.  The older I get the more I see that success is measured in joy and love and not in farms and tractors.  The love I've felt this past month overwhelms the value of all of the articles God has given me dominion over.  I love to take care of his land and to take care of my family but the family comes first.

He gave us seasons so we can do each plant, tend, harvest, and enjoy.  This is the joy season.  Yesterday there were 2 pots of chili on the woodstove while kids and grandkids enjoyed each other's company on or behind the snowmobile.  That gives me great joy.  How many kids and grandkids even have that opportunity?  They don't take it lightly so they give us great joy in return.

Jesus was missing from his family for 3 days when he was 12.  Can you imagine the angst his parents had looking for him for 3 days?  Some parents go nuts if their kids are gone 3 minutes, let alone 3 hours or 3 days!  Have I been missing from my family?  I haven't so much this year but I can sure see where I did it in the past!

Winter is the season for closeness, we have huddle together just to keep warm!  It will be too soon when winter is gone and it is time to plant once more.  My 51st year to plant is close!  There is so much to do before I plant that crop.  I have gypsum, lime and fertilizer to spread and new tile to repair.  I have to figure out how to control my pests, mainly weeds.  That will have to wait now that we have a real winter at hand once more.

It's my main job to see that I help keep my family holy.  That's a pretty big job for anyone but especially for me.  I could get lost at the NoTill Conference and come home with my head in the clouds.  I might do that because I have in the past.

Learning is one thing, practicing what you learn is whole 'nother ballgame.

It's time to play ball!

Ed

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Quiet

It is so peaceful and quiet here this morning.  I can't remember the last time the snow covered the ground here but it's been a couple of years.  That much snow really mufflies the noise up here on the hill and we don't hear any traffic or extraneous noises.  There aren't many out and about, either.  It looks like we have 4-6 inches and just enough to get the snowmobile out to say we did.  The children will like that.

So we will fire up the woodstoves and make a big pot of chili today and invite anyone over who can or wants to come.

This is a good day to work in a well equipped farm shop.  I wish I had some heat and insulation in mine but we have propane and other heaters for quick repairs if necessary.  There has been a lot written about farm shops and that is relatively new subject on the Internet, especially the last few years with all of the questions and shared information.

Here is a link to one I received this morning from Jules in Missouri, better known as the state of Misery or "the bastard state" as Jules calls fondly calls it.  I was wearing a new Sydenstricker hat and posted that picture of 4 grandkids around me in my easy chair on the Cafe and a friend asked if that is what it was.  I said yes, I pulled against Eddie's tractor 40 years ago and his mechanic Van Botkins pulled the Cajun Queen.  That is quite a story from the old Ford Barn website I was not aware of.

I could work on getting the old Oliver 77 tractor I bought a few years ago running again.  I know how to get 100 hp quite easily out of it, it just costs money.  I have work to do on the Oliver 1655's too if I had the energy and inspiration.  Younger men who have more energy and ambition than I do is helpful as I find myself busy just keeping the 2 wood burners going all day.

We are going to be taking off for Australia 3 weeks from today and Chimel has graciously accepted my offer to write some blogs for me while I'm gone.  The first destination is New Zealand to check up on my new notill friends there and end up in Sydney and Perth, new destinations for us.  I have a lot of work to do before we go and we have the National NoTillage Conference in between so 4-5 days of those 3 weeks are shot right there!

We will be leaving on LuAnn's 55th birthday, what a birthday present!  Happy birthday to us!  International gates with Homeland Security to take the edge off the excitement of flying completely around the world in one month!  We come back through Dubais so we will make a complete circle!  We have never done that before.

I guess I better enjoy this quiet before it becomes pure chaos!

Ed

Friday, December 28, 2012

Email

I was thinking how some important people to me have not answered recent email.  Did I offend them?  Are they OK?  Are they overwhelmed?  Are they sick of email?

You have to wonder.  Email is my number one method of correspondence.  I can think out my thoughts and word them carefully.  I can get a message to a reader in seconds if the servers are up and they are online.  The way people drive down the road, you would think they are all online, wouldn't you?

I sent my first email when email first came to life in the early 90's.  In fact, I think I posted my first comments on the old Bulletin Boards we had on the Radio Shack Color Computer in the late 70's or early 80's.  I lived at Fayetteville which had a Cincinnati phone line connection to the more modern things "down town."  I sent my first email on Outlook Express in January, 1995 when Curt Bolin helped me build my first MicroSoft driven computer.

That's when I found www.Agriculture.com and the Crop Scouting page.  We had 4 bad springs in a row (95-98) and I was ready to give up notill.  I posted my query on Crop Scouting and a farmer in Iowa suggested I take the notill coulters off and plant earlier rather than wait for the soil to dry out.  Take off the notill coulters?  Why, you can't plant without coulters!  By golly it worked and it worked well!  By 1999 I had the old White 5100 with about every Martin and J&S Ag Innovation attachment you could think of.  I have never found a better planter for me to this day!

You could go out on a day when the tillage guys were itching to field cultivate and successfully plant corn or soybeans in very damp, tacky condtions and get a good stand.  I learned to tip toe over the soil with a 1655 Oliver and 6 row planter.  It all came together in 2004 when we bought our best land ever and we had our best growing year to date. I have never beaten my corn yields since.  I should have, but unlike the champion corn growers this year I didn't work with Mother Nature.

1999 was a different matter.  I planted sweet corn and corn in March which did extremely well in one of our worst drought years.  I tried then new RR soybeans and had also had my worst soybean crop to date, 20 bushels per acre.  The things flat out died in  the middle of the summer!  Yield drag?  Yield lag?  How about NO YIELD?  I also planted Ohio Stressland soybeans with a CrustBuster drill and they made nearly 50 bushels with no rain!  But they weren't GMO and I didn't spray RoundUp herbicide on them!  13 years later I figured out what happened.

Mother Nature was sending me a strong message.  RoundUp is a strong chelator because its active ingredient was invented to clean railroad tank cars.  Yes sir it killed the algae in the tank but when they cleaned the tanks they found it killed the weeds and brush around the tracks!  Voila!  Instant weed killer!  Would you spray industrial tank cleaner all over the world and expect higher yields?  Think about that for a bit.

Like any other mail, email can become a curse, too.  Maybe that's what happened to my serious email expecting serious results.  Maybe I didn't acquire the desired results because I need to take a different mode of action.

A personal visit may be required.  That will be difficult on my part but sometimes you have to look the source in the face.  That's true about people, soil and plants.

If you email me, I treasure it.  Then I must file it in it's proper place.  My hard drives and files are full of it to prove it.  Yet I am lacking some key pieces.  I found a picture of my record corn in 2004 but I can't find that picture from the top of the grain bins.

I must get back to work on that.

Ed

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"7 Qualities Every Farmer Should Have"

I came across this topic in my daily email from the folks at Farm Journal and AgWeb.  I thought the "7 qualities every farmer should have" would make a good blog topic.  It's also been discussed on Ag Talk in the last month.

1. Farmers are friendly.

2. Farmers like to have fun.

3. Farmers are realistic.

4. Farmers live in a constant puzzle.

5. Farmers want to farm.

6. Farmers wear many hats.

7. Farmers have a story to tell.

I guess each one could be a blog topic or a series of them!  I guess this appealed to me because the list pretty much describes me.

1. I never met a stranger

2. Life is too short not to have fun

3. I might live in a dream world a little but I've watched my dreams come true

4. Life is a puzzle and being a steward of God's creation helps me figure out the puzzle

5. You know I have always wanted to farm from the day my parents caught their 2 year old eating soil with a spoon!

6. The many hats farmers wear keeps farming from ever having a boring moment unless you are only a tractor driver.  Then, are you really a farmer or just a "hired gun?"

7. Farmers do have a story to tell.  I will give the Internet's popular ag forums credit for making this public and world wide.  First it was Ag Online, then NewAgTalk took over.

I took a break from writing this and completed the dreaded 2012 Census of Agriculture.  It wasn't bad at all and I complied to the laws of my country.  That's a whole different blog topic but part of being a farmer.

Aren't farmers law abiding citizens?

Ed

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

On the Log

Have you ever been on the log ready to roll one way or the other?  I have been cleaning files and found this picture of me sitting a washed up log on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.  This was our trip to Alaska in 2009.  A lot has happened in 3 years and some days I fell off that log.

The subject is ironic because I have been working with a lot of logs, too.  I have about 10 logs I would like to work up into firewood but the weather became winter when the shortest day came last week.  It looks like my troubles are small compared to the many trying to get home for Christmas or get back home after visiting.

We got an inch or two of slush out of this storm and now it's gently snowing out of the NNW.  It's really very pretty but it is dark and gray and the depth of winter with months just as deep mosying along.  It won't be long until the National NoTill Conference though and that always gets my juices flowing.  I agreed to pick up a Doctor who doesn't drive and take him with me but I haven't even met the gentleman, let alone know where he lives!  I was told he lives on this side of Cincinnati so once I get the address and contact info it shouldn't be hard.

I get myself into the darndest things but it usually works out for the good.  If it doesn't, I just try to make lemonade out of lemons.  There sure are lots of lemons out there to work with, but you can only stand so such lemonade!

I think Holidays often turn out that way.  People get together who may not necessarily want to be together and the friction starts.  Fortunately, I have no reason for that.  Mine is more about life in general.  It's hard to make a decent living and do the things you want to do or should do.  It hurts me to see people struggle so it's great to read or hear about people doing good.

My brain has been in a funk today so maybe that Seasonal Affective Disorder is trying to set it.  I won't let it, time is too precious for that.  Besides, I have made a lot of positive changes to keep my moods in order.  So, tomorrow I will make sure to get a little more exercise than the woodpile and burn off some of my misplaced energy.

It's easy not to have any in this weather and after these decades of life.

Ed

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

It truly is a joyous Christmas here among all the sadness the world.  That is life isn't it?  Joy and sadness and if it comes too quickly your brain just can't process it all.

I got to talk to all of our grandchildren in 48 short hours.  That is no easy task these days!  I got to see them all in person, too, besides the Skyping and telephoning we do.  It's fun to try to talk to the little ones on the phone most of the time, if you can only understand what they are trying to say!

I have to tell you have that we have two fine young grandsons in Liam and Corbin.  They have their first years behind them and are set on a happy path of learning like I did.  I pray for that for the rest of their lives.  I felt really good about that this weekend.  Tyler and Finn are coming right along, too, and they have two good examples to follow.

The fog rolled in last night and I couldn't even see my woodpile from the house.  I had to turn the big lights on to find wood to put into the stove.  So, we changed plans and didn't get to see my cousins in Cincinnati.  We didn't go to Midnight Mass although I think I could have made it this year.  LuAnn was out by 9:30.  Her busy week caught up with her.  Maybe I didn't do my share.

It struck me in church this morning, I see God's plan for me clearly and it's not an easy one to follow.  The world wants to take you elsewhere.  I was watching the special about the Amish on public TV went LuAnn went to bed last night.  The one Amish woman struck me, too, with her words she is "kneeling before God all day" while she does her work and her chores.  "Your Will be done, not mine."  Boy, I have had to say that over and over the past few years.  It's the only thing that keeps me straight and keep me sane.

Even on Ag Talk you read about all these stories how the neighbors are cut-throat and this deal was bad and on and on.  I can't live like that.  I don't have to, either.  I can choose to follow the One who created me.  He lowered Himself before man in a manger of all places!  That fallen angel has too much power!  I see evil every which way I turn and it's often subtle, appealing messages!

We have to hunt for proper things to keep us occupied, you won't find much on the TV.  It's all over the Internet, too, but I can choose which channel I watch a little closer here and there is fortunately a ton of good stuff still on here.  This could be one place!  My own little channel, HyMark High Spots where we hit the high spots of life and talk about how to deal with the low ones.

That's what blogging does for me, keep my positive thoughts flowing.  I had no idea what I was going to write about when I posted a comment on yesterday's post a few minutes ago and here it is!

Hear the Good News!  A Saviour was born this day so your soul and mine wouldn't have to suffer Eternally!

That's the very best news I can give you!

A very Merry Christmas to you,

Ed Winkle

Monday, December 24, 2012

How I Write My Blog

Marc and others have asked how do I do this?  How do I write my blog?  That's a good question and I guess you would have to know me and what I've written in four short years to have a clue how I do this.

Basically I tell stories of what I experience in life.  I just told my oldest grandson how this all started when dad moved us all to Stoney Hollow Road near New Hope, known as No Hope in 1955.  I started the first grade there and one of the first days I was there the big boys in our 8 grade one room school took chocolate milk and threw it on the wall.  When the principal came over, they pointed to me and said he did it.

Liam asked if I was bullied.  Oh, was I ever bullied and others have tried to do that do me all my life but I never let them get to me.  I got my first grade card and I failed reading!  I remember my mother being so angry she pulled me by the ear and took me to that school.  She informed my teacher, Mrs. McKinley that I would learn to read and go to the top of my class!

My whole life has been that way, high expectations.  My reading and writing improved every year but high school was a pivotal point.  My teachers expected a lot from me and I delivered, best I could.  My English and Science got me through Ohio State but my higher math nearly let me down.

My dad was a great story teller and I am sure his dad was, too.  I learned 3 valuable lessons from my grandpa and hope to instill a few in my grandchildren  Can anyone tell what those 3 things are?  I am pretty sure I wrote them here a long time ago.  I always liked good stories.  That is why Laura Ingalls is listed in my blog bio as my favorite author.  Little House on the Prairie summarized my life in a very interesting story.

So, you have to be able to write good English.  I am not great but I try.  Effort is a huge part of writing.  I think you have to have a good imagination and I have a vivid one.  You must be able to write decent grammar in good paragraphs.  That was beat into my head over 12 years and has served me well.  College just adds the information to specialize in a career.  All of my education is invaluable to me.  That is why teachers are so important.  Who was the most important teacher in your life?  I would have to answer Mrs. Alexander in 4th grade but every one of them had impact on me, good and bad.

I have been blessed with a wonderful life to talk about, full of wonderful people.  Both are keys, learning to write in a wonderful life, full of joy, challenges and expectations.  Grading all those papers really honed my skills.  Over 31 years, I wonder how many papers I graded and how many articles I wrote?  It all started with my Public School K-12 Education.  It did me well.

These are the essentials and I know many people have them but just aren't interested in writing a blog.  If we were all writers, who would read all of this?  Having something to talk about every day is a whole 'nother arena.  We will discuss that in a future blog.

LuAnn started this with a challenge almost 4 years ago to the day.  I wonder when that will end?

Merry Christmas,

Ed Winkle

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Farm Pics

"Farm pics" or pictures of farms and farmers working are becoming more and more popular on the Internet.  This is in do part to the popularity of NewAgTalk and the picture posting ability there.  The site was recently upgraded and now I see more farmers posting pictures this week.

Here is one posting of pictures of my friend Scott in North Central and Northeastern Ohio.  Scott is a younger, aggressive young farmer who knows what he is doing.  He is one of the better hay producers in Ohio.  Like me, he has found the value in cover crops and you can see his rye in his pictures.

I used to post a lot of pictures there but got out of the habit.  It takes a lot of steps to take the right sized picture to post or resize it and post it to AgTalk.  It still baffles probably half the readers who do have pictures to share.  Someones they will email them to a friend and they will post it for them.

MicroSoft used to ask me if I wanted to make my pictures smaller when emailing but I lost that function in one of their upgrades.  I could probably put that back if I look hard enough but I've asked and no one has shown me how to do it yet.

I did find an older post I really liked the other day when we were talking about radishes and radishes planted with wheat.  I accidentally did that the fall of 08 I believe it was when my help forget to clean out the radishes I had been sowing in the bottom of the drill and loaded the drill with wheat seed.  I ended up with 5 acres of wheat with radishes sprinkled across them.

I watched the radishes grow and die but that wheat looked healthier from the start.  I took it to yield and the radish patch made 12 bushels more than the rest of the field and that has never been my highest yielding part of that field in 9 years.  I also had it sweet corn the first year we planted notill corn here in 2004 so for other than 2 treatments, it's always been the same on crop, herbicide and fertilizer.

I got to noticing that patch is shining again this fall.  That is some of the best looking wheat in the entire field.  I am pretty sure I affected the biology of that area and I don't just how much.

Do you post farm pictures?  Do you email them?  Do you have a link to your favorites?

Thanks,

Ed Winkle

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Lack of Love

Unlike yesterday's picture, there is a lack of love in the world.  Some people are all lovy dovy until something makes them angry or life doesn't go their way.  I even saw that on Crop Talk when I pointed out I didn't think a story about a court judgment concerning a custom cutter taking more than his fair share of a customer's crop was worthy.  I knew that might when I posted it but it's my page too and I wanted to voice my opinion.  Oh, you can get in trouble doing that.

To me, Crop Talk was started as a place for farmers to share ideas and information about crop production.  We get way off topic sometimes but everyone is cool with it until the name calling starts.  That is not appropriate on any forum.

I could have kept quiet and let them bash the subject publicly but I decided to voice my opinion.  I see Crop Talk has degraded somewhat like the other forums on the site and the world in general.  This isn't the year 2000 when 12 farmers got together and came up with NewAgTalk.  We did that because our favorite hang out put banner ads on their pages and their site came to a crawl out in farm country with dial up connections.

There won't be any lack of love here in a few hours when we have our family Christmas party here.  They are more important than any ag talk so I better get my mind and soul ready.  First, I better finish cleaning my office~!  Grandpa's office is the junk room where everything not wanted in another room gets tossed because he is a slob himself!  It all fits right together!

The first day of winter was kind of brutal compared to the past few months, wasn't it?  I see many people can't get home for Christmas so I give my thanks for where I am right now.  The pellet stove must need cleaned again because it just went whacko and I was warned to shut down the woodstove so everyone doesn't have sweat running down their brow at dinner.

You sure can't please all of the people all of the time, but I better go try!  I will be like Liam here after awhile, pulling my ears wondering what the heck happened!

Ed

Friday, December 21, 2012

100,000 BTU's

I think my brain got tired of hearing the winds howling outside and my nose started to get cold so here I am up bright and early firing the Vermont Defiant and the Countryside pellet stoves.  I tried to remember what it took to heat this 3,300 square foot 1880 brick farm house so I looked them up.

It looks like I am probably running 50,000 BTU's or so with both of them fired up.  My first search turned up reports of 10,000 to a whopping 74,000 BTU's out of the Vermont Defiant.  I knew the Magnum Countryside was around 50,000 the way I run it which is nearly wide open on a nasty day like today.

The wind is howling and it's 28 degrees F outside.  Cold air will find every crack in a building in a day like today.  This is the kind of day I can keep both stoves on moderate to high and keep this house warm from end to end.  It's about 24 steps from the Defiant to the Countryside and there is a lot of 2 story house inbetween with only the mudroom section connecting the main house and the old summer kitchen being one story.

I haven't burned both at the same time many days the last couple of years or so.  The outside air is too warm and damp and the fires don't burn well or they get the house too warm.  I can get the whole house over 70 degrees with both going on a cold or not so cold day.

The Defiant runs the most because of its location, most central to the main part of the house.  If it's above 50 degrees outside, it gets harder to keep it burning properly.  I have to have well cured wood like I am burning now, that 1000 foot fence row we took out March of 2010 when we got back home from Disney World.  That's the same wood I took to Will and Becky and our little elves pictured above.

I told the Newman boys I never cut two pieces of wood the same length because I cut between knots and curves in the tree.  I showed them how hard it was on the saw chain to cut into some of those knots.  Sparks flew on one oak knot.  So my wood is 18 to 24 inches long normally with at least 5 different species of wood.  When I burn them, I get all kinds of variation in heat output.  Basically I just try to keep the stove full on a day like today.

When I get it full of 24 inch wood which is rare, and I have the right species, I can get it so hot it's dangerous for even me to be around.  I can get burned easily and I always seem to have spots healing on my hands in the winter from not wearing gloves and just keeping the stove burning every waking hour.  I can't go away more than 4 hours or so like yesterday or the fire goes out and you have to start all over again.  Once a day is enough for me.  But look at what I am saving burning Ohio's abundant resource!

It is good to have my elf shopping done though.  The jeweler was happy to see me yesterday.  He was very busy but he remembered my last purchase and quickly took care of me.  There are going to be some happy gals around southern Ohio from what I saw yesterday!

Ed

Thursday, December 20, 2012

36?

Can you turn 63 into 36?  Some of the commercials I have seen would make you hope a woman can turn 43 to 34 and I have personally seen that.  But to turn an old crumudgeon back nearly 30 years???  "It ain't gonna happen!"

I don't feel like this black bear on a couch in a dump in Manitoba anymore yelling where in the hell is the remote!

That's like the night we bought the new farm on Greene Road a month ago.  The elderly lady cried out "I ain't signin' no papers! when her good husband of many decades raised his hand to bid!  We are still talking about that incident.

We go to close the deal this week and the attorney was my uncle's roomate in college!  Talk about a small, small world, we experienced it once again!

Look at the health differences in ages of people though.  I am sure you know what I am talking about.  The attorney is still practicing and my uncle is confined to a chair, though both are mentally sharp.  We are physical, intellecutal and spiritual, and "two out of three ain't bad!"

I can only dream about being 36 once more. That little girl who brought me her little girls and boys yesterday for my big surprise was only 4 years old!  My, that time has passed quickly in so many ways.  But it's been 27 years, too, so what have I accomplished?

Thanks to addressing life with my physical, intellectual and spiritual powers I have done quite well, thank you.  I made a lot of mistakes but by continually addressing those three gifts I have seen great things.  It's been "A Wonderful Life!"

So much more could be left at 63.  I still feel the warmth of yesterday.  Now I must continue to do my part.  In our readings this morning we talked about giving without excpecting anything in return.

In this Christmas season, let us pefect that!  I need to focus on giving without expecting a thing in return.  When I do, I know I have have done something right.

The winds are howling up here on the hill and it's just the start of this storm.  Here's wishing us all well through this and the many storms ahead!

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

63

That should be 63 with an exlamation point!  One more birthday quietly rolled around, I probably shouldn't say quietly either.  I even forgot it was my birthday until LuAnn cried out Happy Birthday this morning.

I made my weekly chiropractor visit then headed to Wilmington to visit the Farm Service Agency.  I decided to run the old red Dakota a bit longer so I plunked down $54.50 for one more license plate sticker.  LuAnn was expecting a package delivery at between noon and one so I mosied on home and filled the woodstove before it went out.  I only get a few hours on a fillup but it's heating a very large space.  This of course got me thinking about the invention of the wood stove.

"Benjamin Franklin changed the method with which we heat our homes when he invention of the Franklin stove. The stove was made from cast iron with two swings out doors to resemble the open fireplace. The characteristic of cast iron allows the cast iron to heat up fairly rapidly then radiate the heat into the room much more efficient than the open fireplace. When comparing cast iron to the masonry material used to build the open fireplace, the masonry material usually was located out side the home, and the bricks and stones required a longer period of time to heat up then a lot of the heat was then radiated out to the atmosphere, second with an open fireplace there is no way to control the air, consequently the room air and the fireplace heat was allowed to rush up the chimney, where as the Franklin wood stove had doors with controllable vent that restricted the excess air from escaping up the chimney. Doing a much superior job of heating the home. This stove was the first major improvement of our home heating heat source. Now the fire's combustion air was more controllable producing a more efficient wood stove.

The next generation of Wood Stoves and Wood Inserts became popular as many homes had open fireplaces that were very attractive but very inefficient. These Wood Stoves and Inserts had a fairly good controllable airflow, usually with some sort of restrictive baffling system, allowing approximately 30% efficiency from the wood fuel. For many years these stoves heated the homes and were considered to be a wonderful heat source. Today, these types of stoves are illegal to sell in most states, due to the high particle emissions emitted from the exhaust chimney. As our population has increase, it has become necessary to reduce the particles being emitted from the stoves in the form of smoke. Studies have confirmed that the particles from the stove smoke are not only a nuisance, but also cancerous as the particles will lodge in the lungs of people. "

I still use the Vermont Defiant stove I bought back in 1976 or 77, can't remember now.  It was a great idea to heat our house and start clearing fence rows on the farm.  We had our worst winters ever after I started burning wood.

I got back home and worked in the shop awhile before lunch.  I no more than started lunch when Sable starting going off so I figured the package was here.  Here I was eating, trying to get to the door and the phone rings.  It's Becky, I thought of all times to call.  She wishes me happy birthday and I try to be nice but move on and she said your delivery is here.  What?  How would you know that, you are in Cleveland.  Open the door for your package!  I have been trying to, thank you!

I finally get out the door with Sable going nuts as usual and it's her!  And all the kids!  I had no idea they were coming, they really surprised me.  What a wonderful birthday I had for 3 hours.  We played, talked and played and watched Rudolph on our DVR.  I got to hold Deirdre the whole time, what a wonderful, curious baby!  We had cookies and milk and tons of fun.

Finn came out with a big blue Nike shaped mark on his forhead.  I asked where did you get that?  Marker he said, marker.  After I came back to this computer I saw the same big blue marker in a streak in a Z like Zoro had been here.  It was a permanent marker!  I had so much dust on my screen it came right off.

Now Maddy is here for tutoring with Savannah and I am finally getting dinner on and getting back to this blog I started this morning.

What a wonderful birthday present, they caught me completely off guard!

Ed



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Farm History?

Do you know the history of your farm or of any farm?  History is important in general terms but very important when we try to improve cropping or production from a field, farm or location.

Dr. Andersen stressed the importance of knowing the history of a field at the Farm to Plate Conference last week.  This includes doing a "physical" on it like a good medical doctor do to me annually.  That practice has helped keep me alive for 63 years tomorrow and I hope it will for a couple of more decades.

A farmer asked if anyone knew some history about their farm?  Some beautiful arrowheads were shown in one reply and I thought of the many that others have taken off this farm before me.  Here is how I replied.

"From what we have learned, it looks like the Turner family, riverboat people established this farm in the 1800's. I was told the dirt from the cellars of this house was hauled a mile to build the Turner Cemetery on top of a ridge on the other side of tiny Martinsville Road near the railroad tracks. The brick was baked from clay pits on this farm, I found the brick pit as it is called. The reason some of the brick didn't last was it wasn't fired enough, I thought it was because there was not enough of the right kind of clay to make the bricks. This 1880 house has a lot of replaced brick in it but 90% original or so.

Another old gent told me a man lost his mind in the Great Depression, probably lost everything he had and burned the big livestock barn on this farm, the Hollingsworth farm and the Ertel Farm, all within site of this ridge.  He said our grain bins sit where the huge livestock barn stood.

I have seen arrowhead collections like the one showed above by several people that came from this farm. It looks like a good place to hunt and fish and raise corn. There are Indian mounds close by. The Shawnee Nation Storyteller Neeake married LuAnn and I June 22, 2001. He had her bring soil from her homeland and had me bring water from mine and mingled them together in a crucible to form a mud he said no man or spirit could separate.  Woman represents Mother Earth and man carries the water to bring Mother Earth to life.   It is his people's tradition and it was a great agricultural demonstration to our family and friends of our marriage.

The home farm in Sardinia, in Brown County, Oho was the Bare Plantation and dad showed me where they hid the valuables from Morgan's Raiders that came through in the Civil War.  My sister and I were raised in the old Civil War era wooden farm house with outhouse and hand water pump in the summer kitchen.  It was torn down in 1957 for the new house my mother still lives in.

We don't have the older history east of here like my friends in NC, Va and Pa and Md but the Native American was farming this place before the 1800's.  Each location we farm has a history if we can find it.  Some people make that their hobby."

I am more interested today in what happened in the past in the fields I now farm.  That makes up my soil history I have to work with today.

Do you know your farm's history?

Ed

Monday, December 17, 2012

Adapt-N

We learned about a new program from Cornell last week at Farm to Plate that sounds very interesting.  It is called Adapt-N and basically takes field history to cropping practice with real time rainfall measurements to predict Nitrogen needs.  This has huge implications for nitrogen management in corn in the US and around the world.

"Why adaptive nitrogen management?
Appropriate nitrogen management is of key importance in corn production systems because of the high cost of N fertilizer, the relatively large N inputs that are used, and concerns over N pollution of the environment. Currently, N is inefficiently used in corn production, with N recoveries usually lower than 50%. Corn response to N is highly variable, so the economically optimal N rate (EONR) may range from 0 to 225 lb/acre for a field depending on many factors. A number of recent studies show that this variability in EONR is highly influenced by weather, especially early-season rainfall. This uncertainty reduces farm profits and causes potentially high environmental losses to both surface and ground water (nitrate leaching) and to the atmosphere (ammonia volatilization and denitrification).

Adaptive and therefore more precise management of nitrogen on a field-by-field basis leads to higher profits from saving money on fertilizer when less is needed, but maintaining yields with higher inputs when more is needed. At the same time, losses, and therefore pollution of water and greenhouse gas emissions are minimized, because the largest losses happen when fertilizer inputs exceed crop N needs."

Here is what caught my eye;  "More accurately estimating N needs means spending less money on fertilizer that the crop cannot take up. In dry or normal years (about 3 out of 4 years on the average) corn nitrogen needs are actually lower than generalized recommendations. In such years fertilizer rates thus need to be adjusted downward, saving the grower money.

For example, at $0.50/lb of N, reducing the N rate by 50 lb/acre would amount to $25/acre of savings. On the other hand, in years with higher than average spring rainfall, fertilizer rates are adjusted upward to compensate for early season N leaching and denitrification, thus preventing yield and profit losses. For example, in years with heavy spring rains that require higher N rates, preventing a 15 bushel/ac yield reduction through an additional 50 lbs/ac N application results in an about $50/ac increase in profit.

Using the tool also saves time and analysis costs, as there is no need for in-season soil sampling or waiting and paying for soil test results that could be outdated by the time they can be used. For now, there is no cost for using Adapt-N, and you will receive N-recommendations instantaneously, and repeatedly if you want, when it is convenient for you. Also, because Adapt-N uses the new cloud computing model where all software and databases are centrally located on servers, you can even use the tool from the field, or a coffee shop using a smart phone, iPad or other mobile device with internet access. "

This has been done on 50 farms with side by side trials now for 2 years in New York and Iowa.  Why these 2 states?  They both raise corn and have completely different soils and weather.

Impressively, Dr. McNeil said the day the model said his test sites were out of water or zero subsoil moisture the corn turned gray.  Gray is that nasty color corn turned across the midwest this summer when the drought hit hard.  It's the color you never want to see in your crops.  That is a very accurate model that can predict that!

Has anyone here used this model or even heard of it?  Are you interested in using it?

Ed





Sunday, December 16, 2012

Soil Sampling In December?

This weather makes me wonder what it is going to be like 6 months from now.  Friday is the winter solstice and in 6 months it will be time for the summer one.  I hope to have soybeans blooming that day, at least that's my goal.  You have to have a goal, you know.

The probe went in easily and it wasn't so wet that the plugs didn't fall right out into the bucket!  I can't remember many Decembers like this.  I am splitting the sample and sending half to my lab and half to Perry Labs in Missouri for the Morgan test.  I want a second opinion on what I do with my wheat soon as far as fertilization goes.

I am going to have to get some weed control out there soon.  The winter annuals are spotty but too thick where they are.  I swear the spreader operator banded my nutrients too as I have 3 greener streaks across that field.  Maybe he was just spreading what he had left over but it sure looks like 3 spots the wheat should all look like and the rest of the field looks a little puny in comparison.  I know I am going to ask questions this week.  In fact I am going to stop and send an email right now.

I quote Dr. Arden Anderson from this weeks classes.  "What are you not doing in your operation today, but if you could do it, would fundamentally revolutionize your business?  My answer 35 years ago is continuous no-till.  20 years ago it was tissue testing to fine tune micronutrient needs and overall nutrient balance.  "Get your tissue test results all in the Satisfactory category or slightly higher."  10 years ago it was crop rotation to a greater extent.  5 years it ago it was cover crops.

All the while I thought I was getting enough calcium on.  The more I learn the more I see my crops are deficient in calcium.  Calcium in the soil forms the channels in the cell walls that make xylem and phloem work.  My channels are as good as anyone's I have seen but after this summer they are not strong enough.  My crops didn't quite take this year's stress as well as I would have liked them to.

I only found one man's crop I thought was better than mine but his crops are so much better I must work harder to speak with my fields.  He has 17 years of gypsum application on his best soils and I don't.  He doesn't have straight gypsum, either.  His is loaded with electrolytes from burning.  I can come close to this with lime and gypsum mixed.  I have to find a way to get this done every year not every now and then.

There is so much to do after I start doing this but I think everything else will come along with it.  The link above gives you some clues how much can be done once the "oxygen pump" is working at better efficiency.

To answer Dr. Andersen's question for my operation today I would say my answer is calcium, via gypsum.

What one thing would revolutionize your business?

Ed Winkle

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Took A Hit

After a long week we still managed to go "on the road again" and make it to the First Choice Christmas Party in Spiceland, Indiana last night.  It was held in the famous old Hoover Hall once more.  It's a great place for "an old fashioned Christmas."

Who in the world is First Choice?  First Choice, or 1st Choice as they write it, is a smaller but growing seed company out of eastern Indiana.  We went with Mark Denzler and crew with most of our seed purchase when Leon Bird decided to merge his seed business with them so he could focus on the inoculant and cover crop business.

It was good to see Rob and DeeDee and many of our friends.  I got to meet some new people too as the hall was full the 2 hours we were there.  Farmers are talking about seed, the weather, and just how you farm.  Nothing new about that.

I never got to talk about the 1st Choice wheat seed we have growing by the house with Tillage Radish sprinkled across it.  I did get to talk to Kevin Walker next to me about how our 695, 805 and 835 corn turned out.  These are fuller season hybrids that performed pretty well through the extremes of 2012.

My phone has rang all week and yesterday was no exception.  It is dead now and the charger is in the truck at another location.  I will get it up and running again today.  It's funny if I do a few different things and write about them my phone "rings off the hook."

Our spirits were dampened on the way to the party though when LuAnn's oldest called.  She was very upset about the shootings in Connecticut.  They have a kindergartner as well as another child and something like this scares you to death.  You are shocked, stunned, angered and deeply disturbed when innocent children are killed.  Yet abortion goes on every day like nothing happened.  I guess the results are not as graphic.

So Christmas took a hit yesterday, a big hit.  When are we going to wake up?  Even if we have we feel helpless to help others.  Don't keep Christ out of Christmas.  Do something nice for someone else.  Do the unexpected and don't let them know it happened.  Let them figure it out.

Some people are very sick, lost and confused.  Don't let that happen to yourself or someone you care about.  Remember that Cain killed his brother Abel and this has been going on for a long, long time.  You and I don't have to participate in evil but we must participate in Good.

"It's The Reason For The Season."

Ed

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Art Of Soil Sampling

After this week of study, I thought about all the soil testing I have done and all I need to do.  I am going to compare the results of the Morgan soil test at Perry Labs in Missouri compared to my standard Midwest tests at Omaha.  I was challenged to look at the difference and I am going to do it next week.

I offered to stop and pull samples at one of my dear friend readers in Illinois on the way home.  I thought why doesn't he already know how to do this?  He's a grown man, why doesn't he understand how to pull a good soil sample?  Why?  Because no one has taught him!

I used to teach how to pull a soil sample to my sophomores or any appropriate class, group or individual.  In my travels this week it seems like a lost art.

First you need an appropriate soil probe.  I like the one from Gemple's with the foot peg for a starter probe.  You walk into the field and decide how am I willing to spread my nutrients and soil amendments compared to the different soils in that field.  Most fields have at least 3 different soil types though they may be distinct or different.  A garden or small field makes it easy, it is going to be ONE sample.

The VRT guys, that is Variable Rate fellows are going to use electronics help the vary the nutrients and soil amendments.  I still pretty much do it by hand by zone or soil type.  The 50 acre field behind the house is 3 distinct soil types and I could break it into 5-6 pretty easily.  I am willing to do 3 zones, not more.

I try to sample in the fall when it is not too dry and not too wet.  If it's too dry the soil may be hard as concrete and if it's too wet the soil sticks to the probe.  I pull one sample per acre to get at least 10 or so samples for the school milk carton sized container per sample.  If I want to compare two different labs like I am discussing I need more samples yet the two should be as similar as possible.

The probe is my penetrometer and biology and chemistry meter.  I can see the biology in the sample and I can feel how the probe goes into the ground.  I probe 12 inches or less depending on what I am sampling for.  The lab will determine a glimpse of the chemistry in my sample.

That's enough for today.  Here I go pulling from my old picture file again.  I need to work on that.

Any questions?

Ed

Thursday, December 13, 2012

SAP Test(revised)

Two young scientists from the Netherlands gave a very interesting presentation.  They came up with a new method of determing plant nutrient content that uses the sap of the cells, not the burned ash we traditionally use in a tissue test.  Here is a sample that Mike from Ontario posted on Crop Talk.

Yes, they test the plant sap and you get a Brix reading plus everything on an ash tissue test and more metals. They are going to charge $20 the same as the ash test but shipping overnight to Holland is $215 per box and you cram in all the samples you can get in one box.

They completed 1000 samples for FHR customers this summer to establish baseline data.   Nitrogen was too high and everything else too low for maximum yield.  These are guys using 120 lbs N and less and more nutrients than anyone I know of! My guess is the typical American field would flunk big time. We are higher than Europe on Mn as a rule because we have had to fight glyphosate but we were lower on everything else. Nitrogen was the exception and it was clear off the charts.

I stopped the conference right there asking questions.  Farms that made 150-300 bushels per acre in this drought were:
60-70% samples Ca deficient
about half were deficient in magnesium
about half potassium deficient
nearly 100% were Phosphorous deficient
few were nitrogen deficient
Mn and Boron were pretty good
75% were OK in copper
Only 10% were deficient in zinc

These are what I consider the best corn growers and fields in the US this year!  We have a LOT of work to do!  As you know I highly recommend tissue testing and the SAP test could give me data 2 weeks earlier than waiting for maturity for an ash test to get accuracy.  It looks like a better indicator to me and you get the Brix reading and nutrients not measured in the ash test.  Once again I think Europe is about 7-10 years ahead of us.

My mind is aching after a week of school so I will bid adieu to you early.

Ed




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So Much!

There is so much to absorb here and so much to tell you about.  Rob Heyen from Nebraska just explained how to guarantee your crop income with crop insurance.  Many of you are ahead of me on risk management and marketing but they do work hand in hand.

Dr. Michael McNeil demonstrated the results of the new Nitrogen real time program that uses soil history and rainfall accumulation from NEXRAD to predict the day your soil is out of water and when you need to apply more nitrogen.  This program is from Cornell and I promise to post a link and play with it myself to help us all utiilize this new technology.

They key to this whole program and to my profit and yours is how much calcium we can put on our soil to make the water pump work to maximum efficiency all summer like I saw it work on a few farms in my travels this summer.  This includes gypsum or power lime every year.  You and I must figure out how to get this done so we can use the other features of this sustainable but yield and profit maximizing asset on our farm.  I would say 99% of us are not near where we need to be at this point late in 2012.

What will 2013 bring?  No one knows but the drought goes on in the midwest and there will be only so much moisture to work with.  We must store every drop and learn how to bring it back to the crop next summer.  That is why I am here and most of the other people I have met and yes there are ladies here, too.  One third of agriculture is controlled by the opposite sex and I promised LuAnn I would blog about that in the future, too.

We have to build our number one asset and that is soil to grow crops and feed livestock and people.  Calcium is the key to turning our soil into the Oxygen pump we need to flow deep water next year.  I see I have a lot of work to do and I'll have more work explaining this to you as I learn.  We have not arrived and never will on this earth.

There is so much to ponder but even more to do!  For me it all started when someone nominated me for NoTill Innovator of the Year.  Thank you, my life has never been the same since I was selected for this honor!  Many of the people that I have met since that day are here in the room with me now!

It is a beautiful sunny day in Iowa and I can't wait to get out in it.  I hope it is at your place, too.

First, I need to learn from these two young Dutchmen how to improve my tissue testing results with their new technology dubbed SAP testing.

Ed

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Day 2

It's Day 2 of Farm to Plate.  I got to meet Mike known as Clay All Over from far eastern Ontario yesterday.  There are farmers here from many states and foreign countries.

The Casino here on the Iowa River is a good location.  As I was getting near, I drove into Washington County where I first learned to improve my notill practices 13 years ago!  I called my friends here but they are as busy as I am.  I hope we can meet before I head for home.

I got an email asking for help and it turns out the farmer is on the way home in central Illinois.  I have an appointment to meet them and see if I can offer any suggestions to their operation and answer their questions.

LuAnn says it is good I am gone this week as our living room is torn up for the construction underneath.  Major projects like that send me into a tailspin.  I don't adapt to that kind of change very well.

I am eating the contents of the breakfast grab bag I picked up on the way out of the Hampton in Muscatine yesterday.  The apple must have a Brix reading of 2 and I am sure it is less than 8.  Fruit ought to test 12.  These Washington apples are bred and raised for shipping all over the world and is hard as a rock this morning.

The Internet is 10 bucks a day at the Casino Hotel.  I like it all priced together but it does give people an option if they have their own system and I see my friend Rick does.  He is the pilot from Illinois that sprays for FHR Farms LuAnn and I met at Keith's in August on the way to Alberta.  He has the little cellphone connector device for his laptop which I posted from yesterday.

It's time to get going and go learn some more.  I am not sure how much time I will have to post with all of the goings on here but I will have a notebook full of notes to speak from in future blogs.  There is a lot of interesting points in there that points to the faults in about everything we do in food production.

We are indeed a long way from the Garden of Eden and we have a lot of work to do to feed this world and feed it more healthily than we have.

Ed

Monday, December 10, 2012

Riverside, Iowa

You should really be here!  You really should!

If you know anything about Ed Winkle or HyMark High Spots you know he likes to farm.  You also know he has a passion for farming and knowledge that takes him all over the world.  Why does he have to drive 500 miles to get someone who "speaks his language?"

This week I am in Riverside, Iowa at FHR Farms Farm to Plate Seminar.  I really wish you were all here but there are some of you I have had deep conversations with that I REALLY wish you were here!

Now think about this, Dr. Arden Andersen is in the middle of his talk about good food from good soil and mentions Brix level and Creation and I am wondering what the Brix level was in those apples Adam and Eve ate?

Let's get serious.  I am here to learn how to grow better crops.  I love to speak with my fields.  When my neighbor put on Facebook I had the most outstanding corn she had seen, I smiled with joy.  That is better than winning the Lottery.    After about an hour of this 3 day class crammed into 2 days, I am thinking I wish I was 40 again or at least 50.  This seminar could add a million to our bank account and 10 years to our lives.

That corn in the picture has a few weeds.  The spacing of the stand is off because that is where I took off with the planter but that corn has a Brix level of 8 and it made 190 bu where 150 bu corn grows.

Basically I have studied this stuff all my life.  Every once in awhile I need a real swift kick in the seat of the pants like Toby Keith sings about.  I have enjoyed so many season, I am running out of them.  This marked the 50th year since I planted my first field of corn in the 8th grade.

Take home points to Ed:
Get more calcium on
Send those soil tests you split and send the other half to Perry Labs, Morgan test
Ask Santa for a Reflectometer(yours never got returned)
Start Brixing everything again like you did in the 90's
Learn how to get them over 12
Spend the time and money and just do it
I have to figure out a way to physically get the spoon feeding on

Dr. Andersen and Is do share some likes.  We both like Iowa and we both like New Zealand and we are both going to be there at the same time.

Ed

Sunday, December 9, 2012

God Parenting

Today I extend my journey in life as a god parent.  I was asked to be a God parent to Katherine Grace a couple of months ago.  Are any of you God parents?

God parenting doesn't necessarily mean you raise the child if something happens to the parents.  That was more necessary over the ages when people didn't live as long.  God parenting has always meant to someone who will see to the child's upbringing in the Church, or at least the path to God.  For me, that means Eternal Salvation, my prayer for every soul on earth.

"It is a known practice in the Church that every person, child or adult, should have a godparent (sponsor) at the time that they enter into the faith through Holy Baptism and Chrismation. To be a godparent is at the same time a great honor and a tremendous responsibility. God asks each godparent to assist in leading souls along the narrow path which leads to the Kingdom of Heaven. For this reason the role of the godparent is not to be minimized or trivialized. It is in fact a role that is holy and needs to be taken seriously."

I take it so seriously I questioned whether or not this was the right decision of the parents to choose me!  After they went through all the reasons they chose me, I had to humbly accept their offer.  What a calling!  It's hard enough for me to find and follow the path to God but to help do that for a little child?

"Most of all, the greatest duty of the godparent is to pray fervently for their godchild that God will always watch over them and guide them throughout his/her life."  I can do that!  I pray daily if not hourly to discern God's Will and utter the words God would have me say.  I pray for every one I meet as I see their needs and hear their concerns.

It is with great joy we welcome Katherine Grace into this family but more importantly the family of God.  My life has let me see there are two powerful sides to choose from, the side of Good and the side of evil.  All of the Saints and Angels, priests and religious who have went before me chose the side I chose and we pray together for the good of all mankind.

I fervently start a new role in life today and have been practicing for a couple of months now.  I never understood this role and will learn it like I do life, one day at a time.

God Bless all God Parents!

Ed


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cut, Burlapped or Artificial?

Do you put up a Christmas tree?  I would enjoy seeing them if you could post them here or email me pictures of your tree.  Do you prefer cut trees, burlapped to plant again outside or artificial Christmas trees?  I've had all three and I say it depends on your preference and your goal.

Artificial trees dominate the decoration scene today, they are easiest to deal with.  That is until the center section of a pre-lighted tree doesn't work anymore!  I am sure you have stories on that, we do and I don't think I have met anyone who didn't.  I think we have all been there and done that, right?

We are back at that stage right now.  The last artificial tree we enjoyed the lasted seven Christmases.  Last year LuAnn bought a new nine footer from Lowe's and the center went out on it in the middle of Advent.  She took it back and they reimbursed her money.  Now we are back to no Christmas tree and the floor where it sits is going to pulled up next week.

So, we went Christmas shopping this morning.  The last stop was Grant's Farm where I love to shop for Christmas and we picked up a beautiful, large Poinsettia and a fresh made wreath for the front door.  I liked the cut Fraser Firs from Virginia and North Carolina for $80, she didn't.  She liked the $125 dollar balled and burlapped tree and I liked the $150-175 ones but we weren't in the pickup truck.  So we still have no tree.

I supported the Christmas tree industry all my life so I didn't feel so bad when she wanted an artificial when we bought this old farmhouse nine years ago.  A cut tree is such a fire hazard.  I guess we did cut the top off a tree that grew over the sidewalk at Matt's new house so that first artificial only served six years.

The balled and burlapped makes the most sense for the environment and we love trees.  The problem is Advent is longer than you can keep a live tree in the house and expect it to survive.  We may end up with one this year though if the floor gets repaired in time next week.  We have a shortened Advent at our house due to construction.  Did I say that right?

Ooh, wow, this old picture has the dreaded red wall paper on it!  That's all gone now, thank goodness.  We thought it was cool when we bought this place but the dark winters soon proved that wrong.

I have to tell you about the Christmas Musical at the Murphy Theatre last night.  We had tickets to see Madison perform with her dance class.  The program was WAY too long but featured all local talent that was pretty good.  I detested the Adam's County cloggers that were a major part of the show, over and over again until something happened.

The old man that clogged with the group was 90 years old and is a Pearl Harbor survivor!  It was Pearl Harbor day, too!  He picked up clogging at 79 to keep him spry!  He received lots of flowers and a standing ovation.

Anyhow, I am curious as to what your tradition and preference is.  You know mine now!

Thanks,

Ed Winkle

Friday, December 7, 2012

Wet Spell

It looks like my trips to the fields are over for this year.  The weatherman is calling for a wet spell that has officially set in this morning.

I was able to get another big truckload of wood out of my log pile though and only have a truck or two left in that pile.  It felt good to get another load out in this unseasonably dry fall.  With the half inch or so of rain we have had, I was able to get in and out without cutting much of a track.

Few people prefer wet weather to dry but I imagine most farmers welcome this expected rain to recharge our soils.  I had posted a link of how dry it is in the plains and how many farmers wonder if their wheat will make it.

I did notice all of my rye was coming up on that farm so we have had enough moisture to get everything out of the ground this fall.  Every acre was planted back to something and it is all up.  That's a pretty good feeling too.

While I was doing that, Steve and his crew got all of the cement pads poured under the house.  In a week or so, they will be able to level the front room floor.  Maybe we can start tackling the remodeling job of our master bedroom bathroom after that.  I still can't picture that old tub going out the window but sawed in half I guess it will.

Until we get the floor fixed, we are sticking with our Humility Tree.  That is the small Christmas tree LuAnn always decorates for our bedroom that she moved it to the living room until we see if we can get the floor repaired where our tree normally sits.  I don't know if the grand kids will know the difference as long as they get some presents!

Maybe we will stop at Grant's Farm tomorrow and see what Danny has as far as balled and burlap trees that could be planted after Christmas.  Click on the link and give him a Like for me!  I can never repay what the man did for me and the students at Clermont Northeastern.

Yesterday was the Feast of Saint Nicholas and the Advent means more to us than the tree.

If you are getting some needed moisture, enjoy the wet spell.  I will try but it's the darkest time of the year.  We do need dreary days to make a crop with the sunny days, too.

Ed