Thursday, February 28, 2013

This Is Interesting

This is interesting but it isn't fun.  We are switching providers at home since everything else is in turmoil in the effort to obtain better service for less money.  I know, laugh out loud, Ed, this should be a good story.

So, I am in the Wilmington Public Library with the street people who are supposedly checking their email.  The one beside me looks like he hasn't had a shower or shave for awhile and he is playing some kind of onling game that looks like Dungeons and Dragons.  The one across from me is coughing worse than I am and looks totally lost.  What in the world am I doing here?

We did get our kitchen back yesterday and I cooked the first home cooked meal in there since the weekend before we left I think.  LuAnn said it was 7 weeks, I thought it was 6 but whatever.  It was better than eating out.  I had pork loin, she had salmon, we had lots of vegetables.

Poor Sable probably wonders what in the world has happened to her world since before we left.  Nothing is the same but it's starting to look more familiar.  I just shopped at TSC so she will get some well desevered Puparonies when I get home.  That's her favorite treat now and she hasn't been getting anything but  dribbles of a $1 a pound bag of Beneful I bought at Streber's Market when we got home 2 weeks ago.  That should make her happy!

I can't even access my Frontier account from here so not only is the DSL dead my email is dead, too.  Hey, the guy across from me just said God Bless You when someone else sneezed so he is alive.  What in the world am I doing here?

I'm getting tired of the queen sized bed in the guest room already.  That proves I am spoiled.  Queen means it is only built for a Queen, not two old people.  We are both sleeping well but this house and life tore to pieces is getting real old real fast.  We had to watch my camera clips on TV last night so I can remember what I actually saw just a few weeks ago.  The photographer gave me good comments on my pictures, praise God!  Actually, the color from the Cybershot looks better on the screen than her fancy Cannon camera!  The detail in color contrast is amazing.  We were just there and now we are here?  Out of mind and out of body experience, for sure!

We have a little snow in southern Ohio this morning so things do look pretty but it sure does look like winter.  I am burning wood like a banshee to keep the old barn warm for me and the workers.  No doubt it will be time for more wood when I get home.

If you sent an email, it may be awhile before I get back to you and what you sent this week may be lost.  It was on the Droid when I left home and I figured I could write a detailed response here but NO, I can't access my email server and I don't know why.

The Pope and Rome is getting all of the attention today.  I don't know why everyone is in such a flurry over the whole deal, I know the man is doing the right thing.  Maybe people aren't used to that anymore.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013


LOL, thanks readers!   I have 3 comments with no blog text!  That is a first!

Frontier doesn't like the idea of shutting down the landline, I guess.  We went to the Verizon store Saturday and started the process of putting our landline number on their hotspot.  That has happened and if you call the home phone number now, it works.

Unfortuantely my DSL died at the same time.  They promised that wouldn't happen, LOL.  I knew it would.  Landline and DSL share a common line, you know but I played along like this was all going to work.  Here I sit in a public library with a lonely dog at home in the snow while I try to access my accounts.

For someone who does not treasure change, I sure am going through a lot of it.  Maybe that new walk in shower upstairs will be worth all of this.  That is where it started, you know.  The O ring in the old bathtub broke and leaked water onto the kitchen ceiling and years and thousands of dollars later here I sit.  It's all connected, though you wouldn't know it if I didn't tell you.

I wonder how our friends in Iowa are doing?  Better than this, I hope, though hog and cattle chores in winter were never that fun for me.  They were excting for sure but that is for younger bodies than we own now.

I haven't been able to read enough email to see how you all are doing.  You are all doing well, I trust.  The news is focused on the terrible sequester cuts we really need anyhow and everyone is worried about a new Pope when the former one is still alive.  A lot to do about nothing, I am sure.

I am still not up to par.  I can't get all of the congestion out of my lungs and it leaves me coughing, though less and less, and tired.  I haven't had the energy to do much anything but try and cope with all of the changes at home that require a lot of noise and dust.  A peaceful plact, it has not been.

Here's hoping the best for you and Internet service for me!  That's all I need right now in the comfort, cough, cough, of my own home!

I better get home, I think Sable might need a cool drink and a Puparoni!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Won't Be Missed"

LuAnn kept reminding me the world would go on without me when I was anxious to check email or Crop Talk last month.  She was right.  I got home and the world did go on without me as it always has.

I heard this great quote yesterday on Catholic Radio.  "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."  I put that quote on Facebook and Twitter and instantly got replies from people whom I know, know how much I care.

I taught my students all I know and all I could learn.  I learned from their learning.  It's a great growth process.  Yesterday I spent a couple of hours with a fellow who drove all the way here from Indiana just get more insight from the talk I gave in Indianapolis two months ago.

He is in charge of seed production for a company there and has the opportunity to turn a farm into a show plot area for his company.  He wants to do it right and what I showed in Indy spurred his interest.

He had sent me his soil tests and they were pretty good.  I tried to show him why he needs more calcium and more phosphorous and the perils of trying to get those on while increasing crop production.  If he gets this going, I told him I would like seed from his seed production because it will be superior seed.  He understood and that was another reason for coming here.

We talked about inoculation and how important it is.  I tried to show him how the calcium nitrate beside the row really feeds the soil biology that builds the nitrogen factory.  High Yield Beans need 500-600 lbs per acre!  I asked what would happen if we applied that much?  He said the rhizobia would go dormant.  Yes, and even more so it would just about kill the beans and break our checkbook!

He has been planting annual ryegrass ahead of his soybeans so he understood the biology of doing that.  There is so much in soil biota we don't understand, it is shocking.  We have barely scratched the surface!

I got to the doctor yesterday and feel better today with another antibiotic and inhaler.  This bug is serious.  Jimmy Winner, better known as Chief to his ag students at Fairfield Local told his wife Joan to get out the will.  He was sure he was going to die.  That's how bad this bug is.


Monday, February 25, 2013

What Is New?

You know how you talk when you see an old friend and you ask what is new?  What is new, blog readers?  I've lost touch with what most of you are doing.  What is new under the sun?  I have been reading Solomon some and trying to understand his ancient but valid writings.  It is almost the season to plant again so I asked a question on Crop Talk, would you plant in March again?

There was the most beautiful full and yellow moon out the wood porch when I got up this morning.  That is quite unusual as the moon is usually on the other side of the farm over by neighbor Darrell's house.  He called me and asked what was up since the farm was lit up like a runway while we were gone.  That contractor sure likes to burn my electricity!  I have to pay him AND the electric company!  I don't think he figured that out.

Matt called with great news of all of his FFA activities.  His students won district Extemporaneous and Prepared sections.  I don't ever remember that happening in my lifetime but maybe it did.  My best speakers over 24 years had difficulty winning a district contest.  This region is always so competitive in every FFA event that it is not uncommon to get a state or even national winner.  It was good to see FFA have a great National FFA Week last week.

I woke up singing Waltzing Matilda.  I hadn't heard that song in years until our ship pulled into the port at Adelaide.  It turns out that I have many NAT friends within 100 miles of Adelaide.  I don't know if I will ever get to meet them or not.  We were fortunate to pull off this trip.  The stars had to align just right.

I am starting to forget what Adelaide, Esperance and Albany looked like.  We are going to have to download our pictures and upload some to Facebook.  That's the easiest way for us to share them at this point.

We are just barely surviving and adjusting to our torn up home.  This seemed like such a great idea to try and remodel while we were gone until they ran into all those unforeseen problems.

I am going back to the doctor today.  I need to just get feeling better.  My bronchitis is back with vengeance.


Sunday, February 24, 2013


I am pretty thankful to be alive today after all of the crazy things I have tried in 63 years.  Many people didn't make it that far and I keep a list of people I have known who has not made it this far.  I saw that a couple of my students passed while I was gone.   I am even more thankful of what I've gotten to see over a lifetime.

I am sure many people wonder why we travel so much?  I thought LuAnn put it pretty well in her posts on Women In Ag on AgOnline Chimel posted here for me a month or so ago.  We are curious people and enjoy viewing God's Creation and the people we meet between here and there.  We all have a story and we have garnered a lot of good stories about life and living over the years.

The major things we learned on our trip is that the southern plates of Australia and New Zealand have been land a lot longer than North America where we live.  There isn't much history about the ancient peoples who lived there like we have of the Native Americans who lived here in that same period of time.  Neeake or Fred Shaw tells those stories as well as I've ever heard them told.  I just saw on Facebook he has been contributing that History of Ohio at the Cincinnati Museum this weekend.  I feel like I missed a good show.

Farming down under is more like the dry land farming of the US and Canada.  Big seeders and harvesters are common and custom operators are more prevalent.  Grass is also common down under the light brush they have so grazing was more important there than it ever was here.  They don't have the big hardwood forests we had in America.  There are seven sheep per person in New Zealand now, a third what it used to be!  There used to be 23 million cattle in Australia but they slaughtered 8 million head 10 years ago due to drought and low prices.

It pains us to see our country going down the tubes today compared to life down under.  We both see that life there reminds us greatly of our childhood in the states.  There is nothing we can do about it but the next  best or right thing.  Life is good, life is as grand as we make it.

It was great to go Mass last night with God child Katherine.  She is such a beauty.  It was difficult praying while wanting to make eyes with her.  We had a home cooked pork chop dinner after Mass and a little socializing and crawled home to bed once more.  Thank you Tara!

We were amazed at the devastation at Christchurch.  The whole city is under construction.  Our van passed the street we stayed on and there was the steel frame of our hotel.  It was an empty shell.  We saw severe destruction within 100 miles of the city.  The plates were fractured and now mud is the foundation of too many buildings.

It's time to go meet with my Sunday Morning Sunshine group in Hillsboro.  I wonder what wise words of wisdom they will have for me today.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Walking Corn Fields in January

I am missing walking corn fields in January right now.  As soon as we got to the Pellow's farm, we were out there walking tall corn ready to tassel in the middle of January.  I think I get more pleasure walking crop fields than anything else in life.  My little scouting job for Ohio Seed Improvement in 1985 has turned into a lifelong passion.

I better start walking some wheat fields because mine needs top dressed right now.  My little plants are craving minerals, lots of them for a big yield they have the potential to make.  I don't have the equipment or soil conditions to address that need right now but I better get to it, I am already losing yield by not getting some fertilizer on now.

Everyone wants to get a little nitrogen on the their wheat at this point in the ballgame but I really want to get on a dab of every needed nutrient.  There are 17 nutrients recognized, you know.

That corn I walked needed it, too.  I am getting an eye for good crops and I would say that one was starving.  It had stripes in the leaves and a SAP test is needed to find out what all those needs are.  Hidden hunger in plants has intrigued me too, since I first learned about it may years ago.  If I had just had Jeff or Keith there and Rick and his plane loaded with goodies, we could add 20-50 bu to that corn in a hurry!

We are sick of eating out.  We haven't had a good home cooked meal since we left Glenys' house in January and none here at the ranch since a couple of weeks before that.  Ryan Swisshelm was here again yesterday laying down mud on the drywall.  Now the dreaded sanding comes to really ruin my atmosphere next week.  All of that before we can think about paint.  Yuck.  Just think though how important that wallboard is as gypsum to flocculate the clay particles in our soil.  There is a Midwest Symposium on gypsum at Ada March 7.

Tara is fixing us pork chops tonight and I am looking forward to that right now!  Even better we get to see Katherine Grace who is growing like a weed.  I am out of touch with my kids and my grand kids.

If any of our friends from down under is reading this, we can't thank you enough for your hospitality until you come to our house.  I know it's a big trip, but if we can do it, you can do it!


Friday, February 22, 2013

Vacation By Committee

We had left our host family home in our rental car headed for Cook Strait so we could enjoy crossing the strait on the famous ferry service that has been there for decades.  Our GPS kept telling us to turn right so we basically went in circles for an hour or so.

We were tired and probably suffering from jet lag right there.  Everyone had a different idea on how to get out of our predicament.  Perry was just doing what he was told but I am sure he was getting frustrated, too.  Finally he looked back at us and asked if this was vacation by committee?

I had to laugh.  Sarah and I had tried to find a suitable trip for us to explore South America and maybe see some soybean and other crop production down there.  Nothing came up that looked like a good value for the cost.  So, we had agreed this trip down under was the best "bang for the buck" and we all wanted to see the places on the itinerary.  And now we were lost.

It didn't last very long, it just seemed like a long time.  That is what traveling in New Zealand and Australia is like.  You don't measure how far it is to your destination, you estimate the time it will take to get there.  The roads are mostly two lane and curvy and often hilly, especially in New Zealand.

Crossing the strait turned out to be the biggest ordeal of our trip.  Now it seems small.  The ferry service has a new ship with ecologically friendly computerized diesel engines.  They went down and the trip at 2:30 pm didn't leave harbor until 7:30 pm.  1000 passengers plus cars and trucks were stranded for those 5 hours as we waited for another ship to cross the strait.  It was dark when we crossed so any pictures were out.

Everyone wants to know what else is different down under?  The main thing we see is they don't treasure disposal junk we Americans buy like we do.  They live simpler lives because their living expense is about 1.3 to 1.4 times greater than ours.  You don't see WalMart or Lowe's everywhere like you do here.  Glenys might wear a $300 wool sweater where LuAnn might have 3 $100 sweaters.  Basic life down under is different, similar to ours but different.

Vacation by committee worked out very well.  We travelled with two seasoned travelers like ourselves with similar values, experience and goals.  There was more security in our group of four than just a couple traveling by themselves.

I slept until almost 8 this morning.  LuAnn woke up at 5:30 AM which is good for her work though she doesn't normally work Fridays.  We are getting back into our natural biological state but it takes time.  Each person processes it differently and you have to think ahead and allow yourself time to adjust and not jump into things like you normally would do.

I felt great yesterday from 2 AM until almost noon.  Then I got nauseous as the afternoon went by.  I finally succumbed to a nap after 3 PM and I awoke when LuAnn got home from work at 4:30.  We ate some veggies then went to Frisch's for dinner and went to our evening meetings.  We were able to stay awake until 10 and slept good all night.  I feel better today but still have a headache.

Things are getting better day by day.  It's been a week since we started to leave Australia and 50 hours to get home which really messed with our biological clocks.

Now if we cold just get our house back from remodeling.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's 2 AM Local Time

And here I sit wide awake!  My biological clock is off by 4-5 hours.  It was worth it though.  I am using this special time of night to remember all of the nights I laid awake across my life.  I have only slept like a normal person the past two years!  In a few nights though, this will get old real quickly.  We both will need to try to stay up to 10 or 11 pm so we can sleep more during darkness and not be awake at the wrong time.  We both went right back to work and we have been crashing as soon as we eat dinner.  We held our eyes open for a couple of hours after eating each night this week and that was it.

I got a nice email from one of our many AgTalk friends from around the world.  "Would have been really good to meet you though where 1200kms east of adelaide, this time of the year is good for us as its out of main season cropping and they usually do seeder field days now too. If you or your friends ever come again me and peter rayner (swnsw no till) are 10km apart and we'd love to show you around.


This world exploration could become a fulltime job but I think we would have to be multi millionaires to afford to do it!  I am not sure a million would be enough in this economy.

I learned that Australia is one of the oldest places on earth but one of the newest countries like the United States is.

"Three areas of the Australian landmass that are made of Archaean rocks are more than 2.5 billion years old, among the oldest rocks known to man. These igneous and metamorphic rocks are found in the Yilgarn (West) and Pilbara (North) cratons in today's Western Australia and the Gawler (South) craton which makes up the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. During the Proterozoic, 2,500 to 545 Ma, continent building took place around the existing cratons; the accretions include sedimentary deposition of the banded iron formations and the formation of Australia's major orebodies - sources of gold, copper, lead, zinc, silver and uranium. These disparate landmasses are thought to have become associated by the tectonic collisions that formed the supercontinent Rodinia, between 1300 to 1100 Ma.[1] Geological evidence suggests that the West Australian cratons collided first, followed by collision with the South Australian craton between ~830 and 750 Ma. The Centralian Superbasin formed the junction of the North, South and West cratons.

Rodinia broke up between 830 to 745 Ma; at around 750 Ma the western side of Rodinia called Laurentia broke away from the landmass made from Australia, India and Antarctica, forming a gap that would become the Pacific Ocean.

The Archean rocks from the Pilbara craton contain some of the first evidence of life, primitive cyanobacterial mats known as stromatolites. Soft-bodied organisms from the Ediacaran collectively known as the Ediacaran biota are found in sandstone around the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, notably at a site known as Wilpena Pound."

That's fancy talk that says Australia is very old.  North America is much newer in geologic formation.

I must say Australian's have a great outlook on life.

"No worries, mate."


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Running Behind

I just apologized for sending a response to a question to the wrong email address.  I told him we waited for 16 hours to board the first plane home, flew 10 hours, waited 3 hours for the next leg, flew 14 hours, missed our plane to Cincinnati and waited another 4 hours, flew 2 hours home then 3 hours to get our bags and drive home to finally get in bed.  No wonder we are running behind!  Our biological clocks are definitely challenged.  Still, we are eating and sleeping at the proper times at home so our clocks are getting re-set.

LuAnn has done very well at work but fell asleep in her chair when she got home Monday.  We both slept the short flight from JFK to Cincinnati and we never do that.  Our bodies are that tired.  We both awake at the wrong times in the middle of the night but we are slowly being able to fall back asleep as our clocks adjust.  Getting back on schedule is a real and earnest task and jet lag is for real.  Everyone deals with it differently.

It looks like the lower plains will get some needed moisture in the form of snow.  That is not positive news for higher grain markets but beans went up 48 cents yesterday!  It snowed a little here last night and it is cold and windy so the wind chills are single digits  We have almost 11 hours of daylight now.  I wonder what the weather will be like in 6 months while my crops are growing.

Hopefully we get LuAnn's Rendezvous back from Jason tonight after the deer incident.  We saw on the news last night that they had to stop a golf match in Australia while 8 foot tall kangaroo's crossed the course.  Hitting one of those with the car might be worse than the deer she found!

The home remodeling is progressing very slowly as the coats are applied to the new drywall to get ready for painting.  Finding all the problems after demolition of walls and ceilings have moved completion back, almost beyond tolerance.  It is what it is though and we are trying to hang on and stay positive.  When you can't use your kitchen and have been eating out for a month already, it's pretty challenging.

Fortunately I have not ran behind on paying my bills.  We had everything set so accounts would be paid on time while we are gone.  We burned a lot more propane while we were gone than I had planned so it must have been really cold here in good ole Martinsville, Ohio!

I am answering emails so fire away.  Maybe I can get my replacement cell phone today between the other appointments.  Have a great day!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Alignment Of The Stars

My biological clock is off a bit and I am wide awake at 4 AM.  I mosied down to the computer trying not to awaken Sleeping Beauty.  I turned it on and noticed a beautiful Google image this morning.  It's to recognize the birth of Niklaus Copernicus, one of the great mathematicians of all time.  Take time to read his story if you can.

I also learned of the passing of Dr. Dan Skow, DVM.  You may have heard of him or may not but he was also on the quest of nutrient dense foods for animal and human health and profitable farming.  I hope we are all on that quest.  We are losing a lot of the great minds and strong voices just like Copernicus' day.

It was 15 degrees at this hour Sunday morning and 24 yesterday.  Today it is 42 degrees with those strong winds from the south.  It's up and down and all around and reminds me of a drought year again this morning for some reason.

There is so much uncertainty in the market place that the drought conditions have not made the market run much this winter but down.  I should have bought puts the day I bought calls.  I was convinced the market is going to make a strong run up and it has made no indication of it.  Any bit of news though can send this thing either direction.  It's hard to plan when market conditions like this exist but I am still an optimist.

The average temperature of the places we traveled down under are around 60 degrees F.  It's a whole 'nother world down there with completely different location, geology and climate.  That alone makes it hard to compare to the states though we grow a lot of the same crops the same way both places.

Our trip must have been in alignment of the stars, too.  Once again it was about picture perfect.  We got to thinking we have seen the 50 states, most of Canada, 40 National Parks and 40 or so countries on 10 camping trips, 7 ocean cruises, 2 European river cruises and such.  That's a lot of traveling in 10 years.

Are we richer for it?  I think so.  It cost enough to buy another farm so I guess that separates us from the home bodies who own more land but travel less.  I didn't want to die without seeing the world first.  Today I can tell you I am satisfied with what I have seen but we are both so curious that when the travel bug bites we respond.

It is Lent.  We did get our ashes on the ship.  It's time to pray, fast and give alms.  I do better at 2 out of those 3.  I am thankful to have never suffered hunger like most people in history have.

I have never had to suffer hunger.  I am part of American Agriculture.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Around The World in 30 Days!

We never dreamed of doing this but we ended up traveling around the world in 30 days!  I really can't believe it but we are both feeling it right now.  Our bodies are both feeling it as we are a little woozy, tired and sleep deprived.

Last summer our friends in Iowa and I tried to plan a winter trip to South America to see sights and crop production.  We couldn't find anything that we would pay that much for but we found a cruise around from Auckland New Zealand to Pearth Australia that we could buy for a good price and see things we have never seen before.  We were able to fly around the world for $2300 per person which I think is a great buy for the places it took us.

We saved $1500 per person by flying home through Dubais.  Since it is about the same distance and flying the way we came we did that even though we were leery of flying through the Middle East.  LuAnn said they don't shoot down their own planes so we flew Emirites from Pearth to Dubais and Dubais to NYC.

That first leg was 10 hours but the last one was 14 hours.  That is about as far from Martinsville as I can or care to go.  A middle Easterner sat beside me on the way home.  He had a red dot on his forehead and I don't know which religion that is but he slept for 14 hours except for 2 meals.  The amazing thing is he never got up to go to the bathroom the whole time!  LuAnn also said something about camels and that rang true, too.

It was 90 or so when we left Pearth and 17 when we got home around midnight last night.  We miss the warmth of the Southern Hemisphere already.  The moon sure looks different upside down but so does the toilet when it flushes!

One big thing I noticed is that New Zealand still does not allow GMO seed in their country but they still have those dwarf tassled out corn plants like we do in the states.  I wonder if the Entity is down there too even though they are non GMO?  I have a contact down there whom I quizzed and his wife works for Pioneer so maybe I will find the answer in due time.

It was hot and dry everywhere we travelled but it never got much over 80 any day we were down under and cooled off to the 50's most places at night.  One warning though, your food costs about 40% more everywhere else in the world than here and fuel is about double.  NZ diesel though is about the same price as US diesel.

There is so much to tell you I hardly know where to begin.


Sunday, February 17, 2013


Hello my good friends from Australia!  We will soon be home in a few days and I can't wait to tell you what all we have seen and learned.

It is very hot today in Perth and a local farmer told me the harvest was short from lack of rain.

We have met farmers from all over the world but many here in Australia and New Zealand.  It's becoming a small world farming wise.

This thing keeps wanting to log me out because I am at the wrong location and it thinks I am trying to hack into my account.

I think this picture is of New Zealand notill corn from 3 years ago.  I am limited on pictures right now and have to figure this out when I get home. The same field looked very similar when we got to Chris's farm Jan 21.

G'Day for now,

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lentils for Lent, Crème for Carême

Tofu burger, fries and pop for Lent
Hard to remember where these names come from today ('slow' and 'forty' respectively), but with Lent fasting period starting earlier this Ash Wednesday, it seemed fitting to find non-meat food names that sound like Lent.  Some Germanic, Nordic or Eastern European languages have it easier, referring to this period simply as fasting time or Easter fasting. The same questions will come back later, with the rather Pagan name of Easter, or some word based on the Greek and Latin Pascha, a variation of Exodus and Leviticus' Passover, that has given us names such as Pascale or Pascual.

Why should I care, say you? Well, it does not take a Christian to enjoy Mardi Gras and this early form of gay pride known as the Carnival parade. ^-^ But I like Lent, fasting at the end of winter is a good way to purge oneself from all these toxins accumulated in the cold months, when we eat less fresh produce (or used to, before Chilean imports and hot houses) and take less physical activities. I also think that with millions of families eating meat just a few times a year, Lent is mostly a rich white man's problem, as the saying goes.

Personally, I don't follow Lent, as I already naturally don't eat much meat. On a scale from 1 to 5, what do you do for Lent?

1) No change of diet
2) Reduce "red meat"
3) Reduce all meats
4) Go vegetarian
5) Go vegan


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Climate Change by the USDA

The USDA just released their report on the impact of climate change on agriculture. In short, higher temperatures, more variable rain and more extreme weather will all take a toll on both crops and livestock, and while there are some measures farmers can take, like selecting more adapted cultivars, growing different crops, irrigation, tiling, crop insurance or building better insulated barns, the most effective in the long term will be to reverse global warming.

Also evident (and frustrating) in the report is the fact that we are entering a brand new territory and we have no previous history of such an event to estimate how it will affect agriculture locally or globally. Some crops will obviously move northward, but what will replace them in the southern regions? With a growing season 20-40 days longer, will we be able to grow two main crops in one season? Will there be enough water to grow these crops? And so many questions that do not have full answers.

The USDA report is 186 pages long but 40 of these pages are the hundreds of papers and references compiled into the report. It should be mandatory reading to all farmers, even non-American ones. By the way, some of the graphs in it show for instance that the number of farms and acreage has been stable for 20 years (last decade data not available yet), another reason to fill in that farm survey every 5 years (and the deadline has just been extended too).

The USDA published a similar report on climate change and forestry, and dozens of outlets reported on both. The impact on forestry will probably be more important, as agriculture is artificial, mostly annual for crops and mostly controlled by man, while we don't have much control over the Rockies or Appalachian forests.

The sad thing is that many climate change denialists will ignore this report. In Iowa for instance, only 10% of the farmers believe that climate change is caused by man, so there is a strong sociological barrier before accepting the situation.

Together with the reports, the USDA published an adaptation plan on how to beat this climate change; The plan is publicly open for review until April 8.

Won't be long before we grow prickly pears and raise African cattle...


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

World Wide Wheat

A few weeks ago, a paper published in Nature revealed some of the hidden secrets of wheat's DNA and origins.

I don't know how they did it, because a single cell of a grain of wheat contains 17 billion DNA base pairs, 5 times more than in a Sumo wrestler, with each chromosome replicated 6 times, compared to only 2 in humans, wheat is a wonder plant in many ways.

Talking about wonders, I grew some Miracle wheat (Egyptian wheat, Pharaoh's wheat, Osiris wheat) when I was a teenager. This is probably what this Bible wheat drawing is trying to picture. When I received the precious seeds, it was explained to me that these seeds were discovered in the pyramids and that their precise location in the center of the pyramids had preserved the germs' vitality for 4,000 years! Of course, I learned later that it was just the plain wheat (triticum turgidum) grown in Egypt at the time (and still partially present today), although it was true that it was discovered by the French egyptologists of the 19th century and introduced to Europe at that time.
A variety known as Alaska wheat was later grown in the U.S.

This wheat belongs to the poulard family (from the French name for the castrated fattened chicken, as the grain looks like one of these fat chickens). Many of these wheats also have a strong tall straw, some almost reaching 6 feet (1.75 m). The particularity of this Egyptian wheat is that in rich soil, it grows several stems, with each stem having a head of several spikes.

No doubt the multiple spikes helped with the "Miracle" name, although of course yield does not compare with modern wheats.

Some of the ancient wheats have a gluten that is different from modern wheats', it is apparently more delicate and require more know-how from bread bakers, compared to the modern varieties whose elastic gluten is more suitable to mechanical kneading. This difference is what some authors say is responsible for the recent obesity and wheat allergies.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

European agriculture subsidies

The European Union budget for the next 7 years (2014-2020) has been voted this Friday, 908 billion euros, or 1.2 trillion dollars, $173B per year. The agriculture budget has been decreased by 13%, but it still represents 38% of the whole EU budget, or $66B per year, while farming represents less than 2% of the EU GDP and employs less than 6% of its workforce.
The budget still needs to pass the EU Parliament, so it's not definitive yet.

Compared to the previous farm subsidies, the next subsidies will reduce the disparity between the highest and lowest subsidies. Multiply the euros/hectare amounts below by 0.54 to get the dollars/acre amounts. €200/ha is $108/a, €300/ha is $162/a, €400/ha is $216/a.

The budget did not pass easily, the farming lobbies were the first to protest its reduction, especially Spain, but Sweden also fought it. Ireland got what it wanted, and so did France, which surprisingly did not fight the ag budget reduction even though they are its biggest beneficiaries: In 2011, France alone got nearly 17% of the agriculture budget and nearly 20% of the farm subsidies.

Some of the proposed reforms, like excluding large non-farming landowners such as airports or the remnants of the aristocratic domains apparently did not pass.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Reversing farmer demographics

Future Farmer of America
Enrollment in ag schools has been up 28% since 2004. While these new students are not all future farmers, there are many professions revolving around the whole food production chain, it seems to show a growing interest in farming that may result in younger farmers.

It also seems clear that despite the always decreasing number of farmers, there are still good jobs to have in this sector, and that's a very valuable thing in today's economical world.

I read another article about immigrant farmers from South/Central America that could also reverse the aging trend, but the author seems to have found only one Mexican farmer in the whole Midwest...  ;)
Still, there are many first and second generation immigrant farmers in the West and other spots, and some have even been established for longer, like the Hmong community.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Humans smell like an old Beatles record

Humans apparently smell like an old Beatles LP. That is, we smell in mono, while we see and hear in stereo. Moles, on the other hand, have a sense of smell that is bidimensional, allowing them to pinpoint with accuracy the location of that delicious earthworm by smell only.

This is the discovery published by scientists yesterday, and the video in the article is amazing.

I already knew moles were amazing, with this faculty they have to make earthworm zombies (I wish movie makers would take their inspiration from wild life) by biting their rear end to paralyze them. These earthworms are then moved to a special pantry hole, where they form a ball of slowly wriggling and entwined worms used for snacks later.

Hard to whack a mole anymore, you get to like the critters after you know so much about them. In Findhorn, Scotland, they got rid of them from their garden by praying to the deva of the mole. Hare, Hare!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

USDA 2013 crop returns

The NAT thread about ammonia prices being anything between $800 and $1,000 a ton this year made me wonder how useful the USDA projections for the 2013 and 2014 crop costs are.

But at least you can put your own local costs in that spreadsheet and apply the same progression rate as the USDA, or specify your own progression rates or numbers.

I modified slightly the USDA spreadsheet to do exactly that: Fill in the first colum in blue, and maybe the other blue column too if your 2013 numbers are different from the USDA progression rates.

An ag journalist used the same USDA data published last December, and compiled it with yield revenue too, but he forgot half of the costs from the USDA spreadsheet, showing benefits of $630 per acre for corn!
I added the yield information to the spreadsheet too.


Monday, February 4, 2013


I really need to find my camera and my picture link now because our bathroom is destroyed!  The good news is Tim found the cross necklace LuAnn lost down a crack between the wall and the vanity.  The bad news is the old pecan wood flooring does not go all the way across the room.  Where the toilet sits there is a piece of plywood subbed in.  The old flooring must have been rotten when Phil and Betty remodeled this place in the 70's.

I wonder what else is hid in this house?  A big bag of money would be sweet, wouldn't it?  One fellow said he and his buddies would be happy to hunt for metal with their detectors since it's of Civil War edge.  The best part was we get to keep what they find, they just like to hunt for buried treasure!  Who knows what could be buried around here!

I always wondered how you would get the old cast iron bathtubs out.  These guys just tap them into pieces with a ball-peen hammer!  I heard of using sawzalls but as soon as they told me I remembered tapping apart thin cast iron like is in a bathtub.  I had forgotten about that since my youth.  I guess I am more of the cutting torch generation!

I assume you are familiar with a walk-in shower.  We have used so many the past few years we wanted one too.  The brushed nickel shower and head was made in Ontario but the company is headquartered in Indiana.  We like keeping our money close to home whenever possible.  We read labels all the time now like the day Kroger got their Chinese garlic powder back.  The Lowe's tastes so much better and I don't mean the home improvement store.

It's another exciting event on this old farm to get a new master bathroom and remodeled bedroom.  I hate to see the carpet leave my feet but it holds too many allergens and we both suffer from allergies.  I think most people do whether they know it or not.  I held out strong to keep that old carpet this long!  You guys and gals know exactly what I mean!

The old dry wall will go into garden.  It is so loose and loamy now you can barely walk on it when its wet.  In fact, you shouldn't.  The neighbor brought a load of left over drywall from his house and you should see how mellow that ground is where we spread.  That was a hot July day and now it's all gone, paper backing included.

It's been a long hard nine years but it went by so fast I can barely remember it!  Do any of you plan any remodeling in the future?


P.S. Since Ed did not add a picture, I added one of my own. Good old Internet. Looks to me that the pecan wood flooring is not destroyed at all, it's growing!  ;) Chimel.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fracking and farming

The recent release of the Promised Land movie about the practices of some fracking companies (the new Monsantos to hate?) gave me the idea for a post on natural gas.

I just learned recently that $82 of natural gas plus $0 of free air can be sold as a $800 ton of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer to farmers. It looks like the 75% drop in price of natural gas production has not translated into a similar drop for its subproducts, and it makes one wonder if farming is the right business ;), when natural gas is expected to go on at a high rate for the next hundred years or so, long after the last drops of oil on U.S. territory had been sucked up and burned.

Of course, natural gas is cheap because the producers are not paying up front for the environmental and other costs, we'll be passing that to our children and grand-children. For instance, a single well can require as much as ten million gallons of water to "frack" that gas out of the shale rock where it is locked. Probably an extreme estimate, but still, it gives an idea. The polluted water is usually returned into the shale rock or into deep underground reservoirs where it cannot be used anymore without costly purification. Not really great, because after having depleted the aquifers, we or our children could probably have tapped that deep underground clean water...


Saturday, February 2, 2013

AM Radio

I love AM radio.  I still listen to it almost every day.  740 AM Sacred Heart Radio is my favorite channel.  I hear so many good things that make such common sense there.  I started listening as a small child as dad loved AM radio too.

Do you understand heterodyne?  I love heterodynes..  Look that up, I can't link it easily from this computer.  My desktop is now safely in the hands of my trusted cousin, Brian Winkle at Wolf Tech in Lebanon, Ohio.

Quickly, I learned to listen and DX or hunt for distant stations at sunrise and sunset.  Somewhere in mom's attic should be a box that contains my old QSL cards I received where I wrote the station manager and told them what I heard and what time I heard it.  I was on the path to ham radio.

I got an ARRL manual on the Morse Code and started memorizing the alphabet.  Until I built an oscillator and broke the sound with a key, it was difficult to understand the sound of the notes.  You know, I think that little thing I did when I was 12 or so has helped me to this day.  I understand sound and messages better than most people simply because I learned Morse Code.

Would Liam or Corbin or any of our grandchildren expand their learning by doing what grandpa did?  I don't know.  If they ask, I will show them what I have learned but I would never expect them to learn it just because I did.  They have to see something in me that connects them to the desire to learn a new thing.

Speaking with your fields is much the same way.  My friends spoke to me with their fields this summer like you cannot imagine.  I have been fooling around with calcium and ammonium and sulfur all my life but I never quite put it on in the right proportion at the right time.

This fly ash gypsum, power lime or whatever you want to call it is so valuable to crop production it would pay to open landfills and spread it on farms.  It would need testing of course but the way it has worked on the farms I have studied, I would call it invaluable.  Scrubber stack gypsum fly ash could be one key that unlocks the soil on our farms.

I spread a little pelletized calcium limestone with ammonium nitrate on some wheat and cover crops.  You should see the color!  I knew this 40 years ago, why in the world didn't I pursue it?  I talked to Keith this morning and he said way of life, Ed, way of life.  We follow the mainstream even when the mainstream is wrong.

AM 740 has never uttered a word to hurt my soul.  I pray to God I be like that.  I never ever want to hurt a soul.  I want to encourage each and every one of them.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Wikipedia and

With all the posts on this blog or NAT referring to wikipedia entries, for instance as an introduction to subjects such as organic matter, biochar, sainfoin or even articles that are not related to agriculture, I wonder how many of you actually do contribute to wikipedia?

If you're already logged into wikipedia, it just takes a click on the "Edit" button to fix a typo while you read a wiki entry, then select the checkbox indicating this is a minor change, and save the edited version. Even if you are not logged in, it takes exactly the same actions and the same time, only the change will be listed as anonymous instead of being linked to your account.

Wikis (the name comes from an old contributive web site called WikiWikiWeb) are now popular both over the Internet for public education, and the intranet, as a repository of corporate knowledge, a form of organized blogging.

I probably perform minor edits such as fixing typos about once a month, and create new articles once a year. I kinda hate the latter, as the wikipedia syntax for annotations and references is just a nightmare, even using existing articles as templates. It would be great to have a wikipedia article editor in LibreOffice, I'd even buy Microsoft Office again if there was one in Word...  ;)

There are some Microsoft Word templates and other standalone wiki editors out there, and LibreOffice has a MediaWiki (.txt) export format and extensions, but most of these options are either not WYSIWYG or dedicated to Wikipedia, you could basically create articles that follow the Wikipedia syntax to the letter but do not integrate at all with Wikipedia's design. And many features would be missing, like how to insert and manage images, right ribbon information, etc.

Same thing about If you frequently ask questions in Google or Bing, you will regularly see in the results. If you find an incorrect information or one that's missing, it is real easy to create the question and appropriate answer or just edit an existing answer. I am not so much active now, but over time, I can see that I provided over 1,000 answers, edited 2,500+ answers, and recategorized or otherwise cleaned up 4,800 questions. And only asked 4 questions, how arrogant of me, LOL!

Contributing to these collaborative knowledge sites could also make a great exercise for kids and grand-kids' pocket money, $0.10-0.20 for an edited answer or article, $0.50 for a new question and answer, $1 for a new wikipedia article, with a maximum threshold so they don't become addicts. And they'll soon become expert at asking the right questions and finding the right answers too. Just an idea...