Saturday, November 30, 2013

Baiting Waterfowl?

This latest episode of lunacy regarding cover crops is on the NoTill Farmer website.

"Source: Minnesota DNR Waterfowl hunters should keep in mind that some fields are considered baited and off limits to waterfowl hunting. Due to the wet and cold spring, some farmers were unable to plant a normal crop for harvest. Instead they worked with their insurance companies or the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Service office to plant a cover crop. "These cover crops were never intended for harvest and are now being disked, tilled or plowed.

The food sources such as oats, which were a common cover crop, are now an attractive food source for ducks and geese," said Dean Olson, DNR enforcement district supervisor in Rochester, Minn. Olson noted these fields are considered baited and off limits to waterfowl hunting. Federal regulations define a baited area "as any area on which salt, grain, or other feed has been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, if that salt, grain, or other feed could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them."

"Any such area will remain a baited area for 10 days following the complete removal of all such salt, grain or other feed," Olson said. Hunters are encouraged to talk with the farmers about fields prior to hunting to assure none of them were planted as a cover crop."

Travis Martin from Pennsylvania had a good reply: "
Comparing a bare field with that of a field with a vibrant green cover crop in winter, it would make sense that it would provide more potential cover and forage for wildlife when they need it most. Is this something that should be discouraged? In talking with an Agent from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services the violations come when using an agronomic practice that is not recommended by the Cooperative Extension Service.
There is no issue with a standing cover crop that is not disturbed, which is an approved practice. It is when you manipulate your cover so grain, seed or other feed is exposed to attract migratory waterfowl. If you “manipulate” such as mowing, shredding, disking, rolling, chopping, trampling, flattening, burning, or herbicide treatments you will need to wait 10 days after seed or grain is removed from the field before you can hunt migratory waterfowl. This does not include birds like doves.
This article needs to have more details explained so to make things clearer on how to best utilize cover crops for wildlife management. I would suggest a more in depth story to bring more understanding to this issue. Many hunters are paying more rent to having hunting rights compared to rent paid to farming the land. This could be another opportunity to making cover crops pay."
Reading AgTalk you would think farmers don't even plant covers without help from the government.  I have never depended on the government to help me do what is best for my farm and my soil though I have used the few dollars per acre for DCP and price relief to help manage my risk.  I inherited the CRP program when we bought two farms but they never even paid for my new waterway.
Ed Winkle

Friday, November 29, 2013

Earthworm Burrows

Gerb in Iowa posted excellent pictures of the earthworm burrows he found in his Moody Silty Clay Loam while putting in a new water line.  That immediately reminded me of Odette Menard's great talks about her earthworm studies in Quebec at the NNTC in January.

The 'lowly' Earthworm...I don't think so...
EARTHWORMS - The Benefits

Improve the physical structure of the soil

- improve water filtration rates and absorption rates helping the soil to drain better. Less runoff equals less watering and less erosion.

- the tunneling activity improves soil aeration, porosity, and permeability.

- increase moisture absorption and moisture available to plants. Castings absorb water faster than soil, castings hold more water than equivalent amounts of soil. Bhawalker Earthworm Research Institute

- castings have the ability to absorb moisture from the air and hold it in a manner that plants can use. Bhawalker Earthworm Research Institute

- 25 earthworms per square foot of soil equal 1 million earthworms per acre. Studies in England have shown that in healthy soil forty tons of castings per acre pass through earthworms bodies daily. A new USA study indicates 1½ million worms per acre which move 20 tons of earth each year.

- studies have shown that with good food sources and favorable conditions, a field might have over 100 nightcrawlers per square yard. National Soil Tilth Lab

- One earthworm can digest 36 tons of soil in one year. US Soil Conservation Office

- the tunneling activity of worms helps breakup hardpan and other compacted soils.

- studies have shown that 30% of a fields respiration during cold wet winter-spring months are due to earthworms.

- A study in European orchards found that earthworms could increase the pore space in soil by 75-100% and that earthworm burrows accounted for _ of a soils air-filled pores. Earthworm Ecology and Biogeography in North America, 1995.

What do you do to increase earthworm populations on your land?

Ed Winkle

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Growing Up On A Farm

Growing up on a farm in this modern day was the best thing that ever happened to me.  My family was never rich, they were tenant farmers, but they persevered.  They stayed on the farm, no matter the cost.

I couldn't figure out a way to make a living on the farm so I did the next best thing for me, I lived on a "farmette", living like a farmer but working off the farm.  I managed the school's farm for 16 years and rented ground wherever I could find it.  The last ten years I have actually had the chance to live on a farm and live like my neighboring farmers do.  I give thanks for that today.

I think growing up on a farm you learn to love it or hate it and make your decision thereafter as to what to do with your life.  Deciding to farm or live on a farm takes a lot of sacrifice.  You really had to have joy to go out and pick corn on Thanksgiving day because it was a good day to do it.  We took most days like that off and planned our schedule around Sundays and holidays but we had to work.  Our whole existence depended on it and our work was our passion.

Don't get me wrong, we did give thanks daily and regularly but our work was our passion.  I just loved farming from the get go and that's all I wanted to do but I was raised that I should "make something better of myself."  I was blessed with the ability to learn and learn quickly and I learned how to teach that to others so that was my career, teaching; but I always wanted to farm.

I farmed in my brain all my life and knew farming inside out, but there is nothing like doing it for a living if you really want to.  My wise words to you today is if you have that passion, find a way to do it.  There is always opportunity if you are willing to learn enough to accept that risk.  For every success story in farming, I bet there are at least 100 failures.  It's a hard, hard business.

Happy thanksgiving to all my readers and may God Bless the farmers.

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Should I Strip Till or No-Till?

I found this treasure on Crop Talk today from my friend NoTill Tom, Cleghorn, Iowa in response to a farmer in Minnesota considering moving away from conventional tillage:


From my name, you know I am a proponent of highly reduced tillage systems. That's my thing.

From your post, it is clear you are trying to make a good decision. I hope my questions will help you find your path because it really doesn't matter what other people say or do on their farms... including me. You have to figure out why you wish to change and how strong you think you are in pursuing that path.

Yes, there are lots of people who "try" no-till/strip-till systems and return to some conventional way of farming. I really don't believe "trying" it will set you on a path to success. The move away from full-width tillage as you move north is not easy. The wetter the soils and shorter the season makes things a bit tougher... not impossible, but will be tougher. So, "trying" a change often becomes "trying it until I prove it doesn't work and return to my comfort zone".

Here's what I recommend for questions you need to answer to see if you are going into this thing aware.

1- You must have a reason to change. If you don't understand why you want to change, you won't stay the course. In the first 3-5 years, something will happen that will send you a gut-check. If you don't know where you want to be, you are highly likely to give up about then.

2- You must make a list of all the things you don't like about your current (conventional) tillage system. This may have elements specific to your farm or are universal issues with a conventional program. When the "gut-check" happens, you WILL remember all the things you liked about what you used to do. Those memories will seduce you and try to make you give up and return. If you forget what you didn't like about past practices, you are at risk of quitting.

3- You need to try understanding if you have the capacity or resources for the change. If fall strip-till is your planned approach, do you have the time, horsepower, and equipment to get the work done. Strip till is "planting" your "planting zone". You can't hire a kid for a few bucks to run the strip machine while you may have been hiring one to run a heavy tillage machine. Especially with COC, those strips should be done right. It takes a lot of power to do fall strip till on tough soils following corn as the days get short and winter is approaching. If you don't get the strips in, do you have a vision of plan "B"? Strip-till isn't always a cheaper way to farm. It can be, but not always.

4- Do you know how you handle the stress of things you might not understand or are not used to? How do you define "not-success" is different than for other guys. I have seen guys stress about 2-5 bu/ac perceived yield reduction with "no-till" type systems and are always searching for that reduced yield. It is almost like they are looking for reasons to give up. So, to not have to worry about reduced yield, they are willing to spend many more hours in the field doing tillage. Tillage isn't free.

5- Do you have reasonable land tenure and trusted, successful neighbors doing the practice? If you are going alone, it is tougher. For some, they really don't want to be the lone guy doing it and they quit. If you are in fear of losing land or being ridiculed, it is tougher.

In summary, you will note I don't talk about color of equipment paint, strip machines or planter attachments. I didn't mention brands or types of seed corn, fertilizer, fungicides, insecticides or herbicides. I really didn't talk about a specific soil type or yield level, tile drainage, or land slope. Those things are the localized issues that you will need to figure out along the path. I have no idea of your particular circumstance and how you currently have to manage around the issues local or specific to your farm... you are managing or tolerating various issues you likely don't even realize you are dealing with but are now used to.

What I do believe is the biggest thing for success is how well you identify your objectives, figure out how to achieve them, and if you understand your ability to tolerate the gut-check events as they occur. The reason "conventional" farming is conventional is that there is a lot of experience that carries people through the surprises. There are negative events in any approach to tillage and cropping. As custom and convention evolve, dealing with them becomes less a problem. As a newbie to strip-till, there is more history you have to learn on your own.

If you are willing to do what it takes, learn from the bumps along the road, and adapt as needed, you will likely be successful. It won't be easy, but when the system starts to "work", you will find it rewarding.

If you wish to talk specifics (ways to manage issues), that comes along as you begin to learn what you don't know.
Thomas E. Oswald
Oswald Family Farm
Cleghorn Iowa

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

This Land Has Been Plastered

Like Ben Franklin did in Philadelphia over 200 years ago, our farm at Martinsville has been plastered.  I have been advocating gypsum for over 20 years now and it is finally available from a local fertilizer dealer.  He was looking for a way to justify the cost of a new spreader he bought and the details were worked out and now he is applying gypsum all over the county.  I know he spread over 1000 acres in the past two weeks.

He spread gypsum for a local farmer this spring who said one application took all of the variation out of his yield monitor at harvest.  Yield maps are usually colored like children's artwork so just making that map pretty much one color proves why we are doing it.

Gypsum varies in properties and is much misunderstood.  It is not a miracle potion for soil and crops but by reading my enthusiasm for it the past 20 years, you might think so.  Gypsum is around 21% calcium and 16% sulfur.  If it's made from fly ash, it probably contains more electrolytes.  It should not poison your ground like so many naysayers first reported and still do today.  Find the truth for your farm.

I first reported my findings at the National NoTillage Conference 14 years ago.  I told the audience the best way for me to explain the value of gypsum to me as a no-till farmer is I had no standing water on my fields after one application.  That means I had more oxygen in my soil and that did result in better crops.  I was asked questions so long after the presentation I couldn't talk anymore.

I am getting those same questions today, I just answered 3 of them.  Word travels slow if it is hard to do or understand and gypsum is just that.  It's a great soil amendment and can help you reach your goal of better soybeans and crops in general.  This has been true on my farm and many of the Midwest soils I work with.

Ed Winkle

Monday, November 25, 2013

Seed Traits

I haven't been inspired to write much lately so I thought I might take a stab at it again.  I just haven't had any burning thoughts or ideas to post.  Travel the past two weeks has pretty much worn me out.  Just keeping the stoves burning has kept me busy.

My friend Brian in Indiana asked how he could cheapen up his corn seed bill and not suffer from the lack of very expensive seed traits.  "I realize this is a question for my seed salesman, but I don't feel comfortable asking him since I'm trying to cut him out....

I have bought VT3 RIB pro corn for my CoC acres for root worm control. For my corn following bean acres I am buying vt2 pro RIB. As well as some RR only. I've done a terrible job of scouting for bugs... I'm probably a salesman dream when it comes to selling traits. But I'm sick of the high priced seed cost. I have been offered nonGMO quite a bit cheaper then my current guy is even selling non GMO. "

 I thought trapper jon gave a very good answer and one that matches my experience and situation.

"This is one of the best discussions ever. Great topic grain trader. I too am seeing good yields on ngmo. Only comment I have is to watch herbicide and insecticide interactions as the wrong combo will make your yield go down. Maybe that book from Ohio State would help. One thought is to take some of your saved money and put it towards a crop scouting service and maybe they can help you figure it out."

High priced seed is making a lot of farmers sick when they went up in price and corn is worth half of what it was a year ago.  I am glad traited seed never worked for me and I am not hooked on the price.  My work with Leon Bird 20 years ago has really paid off as he taught me what good seed really is.  When seed lot quality makes a hybrid vary 30 bushels from another seed producer, that's big stuff.  Most average 5-10 bushels different now for the same pedigree bought from different suppliers but that is still a lot of money.

RoundUp Ready made farming too easy.  Most farmers don't even know what each herbicide is and how it works.  That's sad, but it's not all their fault.  A lot of slick advertising and selling left the residual herbicide in the dust.  Now that we realize we need those programs, most farmers are lost as to what to do.

I am not one of them.  Are you?

Ed Winkle

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Inspired Word Of God

A farmer was working in his fields and saw these letters in the sky, GPC!  He dropped everything he was doing and went to town and started preaching the gospel, go preach Christ!  He got worse and worse and worse until no one would listen.  Finally a little old lady came up to him and suggested he misinterpreted those letters in the sky.  Don't you think they meant Go Plant Corn?

That made me chuckle right there.  For us believers it's no easy task living and sharing what we believe.  The best I can do is keep myself straight and lead by example.  I need to be ready for teachable moments when a person has a serious question and I don't have an answer.  Often I think of the answer in a few hours or the next day and the person is long gone by then.

"Is the Bible the Inspired Word of  God?

During a question and answer session at a recent speaking    engagement, a university student asked me, "Why do you believe that the Bible    is the inspired word of God?" Now this is a very interesting question; and probably one of the most important questions any Christian could ask themselves. What is so special, so unique about the Bible that Christians believe it is literally the inspired word of God?

In answering this    student's question, I encouraged him to consider the following facts about the    Bible:
First, the Bible is not just one single book. This is a more common misconception than many people realize, especially with people who do not come    from a Judeo-Christian background. Rather than being a single book, the Bible    is actually a collection of 66 books, which is called the canon of scriptures.    These 66 books contain a variety of genres: history, poetry, prophecy, wisdom,    literature, letters, and apocalyptic just to name a few.

Second, these    66 books were written by 40 different authors. These authors came from a    variety of backgrounds: shepherds, fishermen, doctors, kings, prophets, and    others. And most of these authors never knew one another    personally.

Third, these 66 books were written over a period of 1500    years. Yet again, this is another reminder that many of these authors never    knew or collaborated with one another in writing these books.

Fourth,    the 66 books of the Bible were written in 3 different languages. In the Bible    we have books that were written in the ancient languages of Hebrew, Greek, and    Aramaic; a reflection of the historical and cultural circumstances in which    each of these books were written.

And finally, these 66 books were    written on 3 different continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe . Once again, this    is a testament to the varied historical and cultural circumstances of God's    people.

Think about the above realities: 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1500 years, in 3 different languages, on 3 different continents. What's more, this collection of books shares a common storyline- the creation, fall, and redemption of God's people; a common theme- God's universal love for all of humanity; and a common message-salvation is available to all who repent of their sins and commit to following God with all    of their heart, soul, mind and strength. In addition to sharing these commonalities, these 66 books contain no historical errors or contradictions.    God's word truly is an amazing collection of writings!

After I had    shared the above facts with this student, I offered him the following    challenge: I said to him, "If you do not believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, if you do not believe that the Bible is of a supernatural origin, then I challenge you to a test." I said to the student, "I challenge you to go to any library in the world, you can choose any library    you like, and find 66 books which match the characteristics of the 66 books in    the Bible. You must choose 66 books, written by 40 different authors, over    1500 years, in 3 different languages, written on 3 different continents.    However, they must share a common story line, a common theme, and a common    message, with no historical errors or contradictions." I went on to say, "If  you can produce such a collection of books, I will admit that the Bible is not    the inspired word of God." The student's reply was almost instantaneous, he    emphatically stated, "But that's impossible!"

Ed Winkle

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Post Harvest Syndrome

You have to know Lucas to truly appreciate this but it's still good:

"We finished up double crop beans on Friday, started cleaning up equipment on sat. Doing odds and ends spreading lime and some fertilizer, scratching some ground hog holes shut. Tonight my hip starts to hurt then I get home a get a little nausea and the shivers right during supper at 6 O clock.  I know I know its a miracle supper sitting down at the TABLE not in the combine. I get the worst case of the shivers and think ohhh crap its coming sometime comes quicker sometimes longer.

MY body has sensed the finish of HARVEST and says its time for a rest. I shook for over two hours till it passed with big Blanket dirty jeans and sweat shirt to stay warm to no avail it finally broke and the heat started to come now my whole body aches . This always happens . Oh and did I say my wife is 7 months pregnant with our 3rd boy and she woke up dizzier the my 2 year old on a SIT and SPIN this morning..

Thank You GOD for MIMI's wed. night church she took the kids for some quiet time. She isn't in the best shape either fighting off LUPUS and what ever else they can blame her radical health conditions. You just don't have anything to complain about when you have your health. Sorry for the misspelled words its time to get to bet and get some shut eye.."

That's a pretty good description of Lucas's "post harvest syndrome."  Does planting or harvesting hit you like that?  It seems I experienced something like that all my life!  Abe described it pretty well:

"It happens to me after planting and after harvest. My mind never stops during those times and my body is drained and then all of the sudden it's done and I crash big time. I've learned to take off the day after planting the last field and the day after harvest is over, just to get my mind back on track. I've also learned that as I get older I can't abuse myself like I used to without a lengthy recovery. I take a day off, usually not leaving the house, and then I can do whatever I have to do after that with a clear head. It still takes my body at least a week to get to feeling good again though."

Farming has changed since I was a kid but it's always been challenging yet stressful.  I've watched agriculture move from long hours of hard physical labor to shorter hours of more stressful paperwork, planning and mechanical labor.

Would drones, copters or robots make it any easier?  No doubt it would just make it more stressful and perhaps less satisfying!


Friday, November 22, 2013

CCSI's 12 Farmers

I heard this term last night at Jim and Jamie Scotts farm west of Columbia City, Indiana and had to ask what the acronym CCSI stood for.

Since I knew so many of these farmers or have been on their farms, I was very interested.

"CCSI was launched in 2009 with funding from the USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Indiana State Soil Conservation Board. Two project coordinators, Hans Kok and Dan Towery, were hired and an Oversight Committee was established. The Indiana Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD) administers the Initiative. In mid-2012, IASWCD received grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant program that will fund it for the next three years. Find more information on the program funded by this grant, called “Conservation Cropping Systems for Soil Health and Productivity.”
Accomplishments to Date
  • Over 250 field days/workshops/events reaching over 15,000 people
  • Over 250 producers have been assisted with one-on-one support
  • 16 mentors evaluated and trained; worked with 30 producers in first year
  • 5 workshops for agency staff reaching over 190 employees
  • 8 private providers attending high level trainings; 52 industry staff from one event
  • Promoting top farmers via website, videos, etc.
  • Assisting with Indiana On-Farm Network program
  • In 2012, Indiana led the nation on acres of cover crops planted. The Natural Resources Conservation Service estimates that close to 1 million acres of Indiana’s 12 million acres of cropland had one or more cover crops on them."
I participated in a CTIC Cover Crop conference this week and got to meet this farmers again and some new ones.

I am impressed with the total acres and quality of cover crops I saw on many of these farms.  These folks are doing a great job of building soil quality through cover crops.

Soil quality comes from three things in my mind, soil physics, soil biology and soil chemistry.

Physics Tile

Biology cover crops and so many things

Chemistry, soil test,tissue test,lime,gypsum,soft rock phosphate so many things

What do you think?

Ed Winkle

Thursday, November 21, 2013

How Do You Let Go?

My friend Paul Butler posed a  good question on Machinery Talk.  It's been a few years since we had the mini field day on his farm and I brought my friend Chris from New Zealand to observe:

"Been farming 9 years-90% of the time by myself-started from scratch. My retired father and a couple other friends help drive trucks in fall-but that is about it. I am VERY picky about my equipment-neat freak-try to keep everything in top shape/clean/etc. Just don't have time for in-field breakdowns......and yes I am a bit of a control freak.

Farm has grown to the point now where my time/labor has become the limiting factor in future growth. I have a full time 40 hour a week job besides farming, two teenage girls, and coach track and cross country-and I don't want to miss out these last few years. I actually passed on a good opportunity this past year because it would have been too much-and I realize those don't come along every year. My goal is to get enough to farm full time and tell day job to take a hike-but I am a several years away from even considering that.

So-after talking with wife I have decided to try hiring some help on a part time basis (her suggestion). Found a guy willing to work as much as I can give him, seems competent mechanically based on conversations. If that works out would hope he could get familiar with equipment and try planting and such when I am at the office, etc.

Now that it is time to pull the trigger I am having a real hard time letting go-and giving him tasks. I feel some things-like "mow the yard and lot" and "vaccum out the trucks" and "mop the shop floor" almost seem too menial or demeaning-and I am just being lazy. And other things I need to do-change feederhouse chain and sprockets,etc.-I just can't trust anyone but myself. Visualizing ahead to spring short of working ground I just cant see myself turning the planter or sprayer or combine over to someone else.

How have others made that transition? Any tips short of just close your eyes and walk away? "

I have tried to learn to manage help as our farm transitioned over the past nine years.  I could never do every operation myself so I sought help.  That was a plus for me.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Agriculture's Minority In Congress

"There are 400 urban districts in the House and 35 rural districts.

That means that agricultural congressional power is not needed to pass a bill anymore. The only thing helping agriculture is that the representatives are senior members. If agriculture throws these legislatures out the door, then seniority is gone.

This means that agriculture needs the urban legislatures more than city people need agriculture. Yea Yea people need food. Yes there are stores just full of food. I wonder how many city people know that food comes from a farm. Probably very few.

I saw this article because I had been wondering how many farm districts were in the House.

I do disagree that this will be the last farm bill. USDA will stay around because of food stamps and farm programs but farmers will no longer have power over the USDA. Farmers on this site seem to think that USDA is not needed any more. Over the last few months I was thinking that USDA would disappear. My brother and I took a drive to see our uncle a few months back. We got to auguring about the end of USDA. I said that USDA would disappear and he said that the government had to keep USDA around to control farmers. I disagreed with him until I heard about the revision to the water rule by EPA. I got to thinking who would enforce these rules on ditches, etc for EPA. What department have lots of people in every county in the US? Then there are the particulates rules and many more rules that we do not even think about.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few years."

Will the need for food, fuel and fiber be enough to keep agriculture as a focus of U.S. policy?

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I Don't Want To Quit

Folks, I am having difficulty with my hands.  My finger joints are worn out.  No, it is not from typing this blog or the millions of words I have typed since 1964.  That hasn't helped any but that is not the culprit.  It's not the thousands of bags of seed I've opened or the hundreds of cords of firewood I've cut, either.

The Winkle family tends to grow very old but with arthritis so bad their joints curl up and in.  I started to go through that five years ago and now it's really bad in my hands.

I gave up seed bags a few years ago and now I can barely carry and open up a bag of wood pellets for the Countryside stove.  They ache all the time, especially when I bend them.  I have tried what I thought was every cure and sidekick known to man but it really hasn't stopped the degradation.

At my annual physical, my good doctor said Ed you have good vitals for a man your age but you have worn out nearly every joint in your body.  I think he has said that the last five physicals.  He understands I am a farmer and have burned the candle at both ends for nearly 64 years.  That wouldn't be so bad if I didn't inherit such extreme arthritis.

I don't like Celebrex or those kind of drugs because they make my heart do flip flops and I am not comfortable with that.  I would rather have the pain, so I have the pain.  Naproxen Sodium works pretty well so maybe you will see me in an Aleve commercial soon.  I doubt that.

I don't want to quit farming or blogging or anything I am doing right now.  My hands hurt so much I have to wonder how much I can take.  I think they are going to hurt anyhow so I keep plugging along.  I have an appointment to see a hand surgeon on the 22nd so maybe I will get some more ideas.

If my sports doctor could inject some cortisone in my bad joints, maybe I can keep going like I have been.  I haven't been there to see him yet.  My right arm has went to sleep during sleep and sometimes the pain is so bad when I wake up I want to cry.

Do you have osteo arthritis?  I don't test positive for rheumatoid but my symptoms are similar.

I haven't met many people who suffer from this worse than I do unless they are 80 years old so I don't think I am a whiner.

I just don't want to quit.

Ed Winkle

Monday, November 18, 2013

How My Plate Should Look

”buildHealth tips and medical advice from One Medical Group
"Remember the food pyramid? A couple of months ago, the USDA announced it’s official demise and replaced it with a more intuitive model — the healthy plate. The nutritionists at One Medical Group have been using the model of a healthy plate for years, so we thought we’d share our version.

In addition to ample amounts of vegetables, the foundation for a healthy meal consists of lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates, or PFC. If you build your plate like this one, you’ll feel full and satiated after every meal. Try it and let us know how you feel! And if you like it, share it on your web site or blog."

It's been easier to eat like this since the two week diet we talked about recently.  I am amazed at the number of family members and readers who went on some kind of fast or change in diet just because we talked about it here!

So far I've been able to keep the weight off and I feel better.  I don't feel hungry and I get full easier even though I am watching more what I eat.  I needed to eat less and work a little more and I am doing that.  It's been a much healthier way for me to go from fall into winter.

We tend to eat less now during the week and enjoy some favorite foods together on the weekend.  LuAnn had been doing that pretty well but I was eating too much during the week and staying too heavy.  I was consuming too much bread and starches and have really cut down on them since the 14 day medical diet.

I know someone isn't going to do this on their own unless their spouse or doctor or some medical condition makes them do it.  You have to get sick and tired of feeling sick and tired!

It does cost more to eat healthy.  All of the "bargains" are on processed foods.  We eat hardly any of them anymore but fresh fruit during the winter flown in from all over the world costs money!  If I was a rich man, I would just fly to where that food is and stay all winter!  Then I would have the best of both worlds, fresh veggies here in the summer and fresh fruit and veggies in New Zealand all winter!

I know, we could just go to Florida and do the same thing, but...

Does your plate look different today?

Ed Winkle

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Update On Fracking In Ohio

I was in Northeast Ohio recently and was interested what impact oil fracking was having on the region.  I found this piece on Twitter interesting:

"U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson said Markwest has built pipelines and infrastructure, and developed jobs in Noble County not seen in Ohio in years.
“It’s unmatched in history,” said Johnson.
He expects the build-up to continue in the Utica shale region.
Johnson said the shale boom has resulted in 38,380 jobs in Ohio related to unconventional gas drilling and the number is expected to be 145,000 in 2029 and even more by 2035.
He pledged to continue the fight to keep the economic growth continuing, and to keep Washington at bay so Ohio can keep drilling.


Greg Sullivan, of Markwest Energy Partners, discussed some of the development in Ohio. He said the company is constructing a second Cadiz facility that will include the Seneca project line.
Other key midstream processors also gave updates:


Dominion Gas officials said the core of the northeastern Pennsylvania dry gas still offers attractive returns. Timothy C. McNutt, director of planning and asset utilization, Dominion East Ohio, reported that early Utica shale dry gas results in Ohio are similar to the results found in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Dominion also reported the Utica shale region has changed from an area where gas was coming, to an area where business leaders are trying to find ways to dispose of it.


Justin Stegall, state government affairs for Enbridge Energy, another midstream processor, told the group that 50 percent of the company’s labor force is local and 50 percent is from out of the area.
He also said it’s a challenge to keep up with regulations that they have to meet, especially from different jurisdictions, whether it be local, state or federal.

We saw a piece on Our Ohio that showed the huge change in the county where I used to take kids for FFA Camp, Carrollton, Ohio.  You can watch the show on YouTube but I don't see the one on fracking changing the economy of eastern Ohio.  I added the word fracking to the search and you get a huge list of anti-fracking pieces.

Like it or lump it, fracking for oil and gas is changing Ohio and other states.  Like corn based ethanol, people saw an opportunity for profit and things will never be the same again.

They never are, are they?

Ed Winkle

Saturday, November 16, 2013

What Others Think Of America

I think Aussiebagger's post on the café was very interesting:

"When we visited several things stood out to us. The coffee culture. Starbucks etc everywhere. I don't drink coffee and I felt left out!
 Pickup trucks with big engines everywhere with one person in it and hardly ever anything in the back.
Big cars, we thought most must have only one seat. Most people here drive themselves as well, just in smaller cars.
Small Semi Trailers, mostly bogie trailers, they are mostly tri axle trailers here. No B-doubles or truck and trailers, no Quad dog trailers and never a road train. But trucks everywhere.
The first time I flushed a toilet I went back to see if it was stuck open because it took so long to flush and used so much water, I thought the room was gonna flood! It seemed like a waste of water.
Dining out was completely different, the greetings from the waiters was big, the water on the table much appreciated but the cheque thing and tipping were very different for us.
The size of meals. Often us farmers don't get enough to eat here at a restaurant, never a problem on our tour.
The gun culture, that many need a gun to feel safe. I have guns in a gun safe in my workshop, I have never brought one into my house.
I enjoyed the strong and frequent references to God in daily life. It was more common to be a Christian, the best thing you have going for you I think.
I see more and more American things occurring in Australia all the time, like the franchises, credit, larger meals, overweight people, the gym culture, rap (I cant call it music) and sales people telling you what you want to hear, weather it is true or not.
I would like to see some of the better things picked up like pride in country, Christianity, country rock music and watching out for pedestrians.
sorry to ramble on!!"

I agree we are the land of waste but I don't think we are all "raping the land.!"  That really stuck with me, didn't it!  We do waste water and that is going to have to slow down or stop.  It is not good to waste a precious resource like soil or water.  Air pollution, I think we have done a good job at a very high cost.

It's interesting how we view each others country and cultures when we visit.  The U.S. is still my favorite country to visit followed by New Zealand, Australia and Europe.  With all their differences, they are most similar to us.

What do you think of Aussie's perceptions of us?


Ed Winkle

Friday, November 15, 2013

Controlling Pathogens

In our quest for healthy soil, how do we control damaging pathogens that reduce crop quality and yield?

"Tink" posted this interesting study on Crop Talk which supports many of the practices we have discussed here on HyMark High Spots:

"In this study, field trials were conducted from 2010 to 2012 on four farms at four locations in Illinois to evaluate the effectiveness of four cover crops (cereal rye, brown mustard, winter canola, and winter rape) on maintaining soybean stands, decreasing the incidence and severity of soybean diseases, changing soil pathogen populations, changing soil microbial community structures, and increasing soybean yield.

Data of cover crop biomass, soybean stand, foliar and root disease levels, and yield were taken over two seasons to evaluate the effectiveness of different cover crops. Soil samples were collected after cover crops to compare pathogen population levels and the soil microbial communities among various cover crop treatments. The cover crops were successfully established at all the four experiment trial locations every year.

Cereal rye and rape had better performance than the other two cover crops, including that cereal
rye generated significantly more biomass than the other cover crops (P < 0.05), and cereal rye
and winter rape significantly improved soybean stands in plots infested with Rhizoctonia solani.
In some cases, cereal rye increased soil supressiveness to R. solani and F. virguliforme, as
measured in greenhouse bioassays with sampled field soils. Cereal rye and rape also significantly
decreased the amount of soybean cyst nematode in the soil. Cereal rye significantly improved
yield in soils where Rhizoctonia root rot was a problem.   LINK"

I have seen the benefit from radish and rye in controlling soil pathogens.  I have seen the soil's ability to feed the crop while the crop out grows any pest if the soil has balanced fertility.  That leaves weed control as my number one target as many weeds do better in healthy soil, too.

What are you doing to promote healthy soil and reduce the effect of pathogens?  What questions do you have we might discuss?


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fertility, The Dominant Factor

Doug sent this good piece which helps explain how we can keep from "raping the land."

" Rainfall or other moisture sources can be controlled efficiently, to promote more rapid growth and decay. Great improvement will be made in many of these soils in a year or two. New plants and grasses that will continue and complete a cycle of high fertility can be introduced.

  Plants draw their sustenance mostly from the products of decay, from and with moisture contained as a water film in the "pore" space of the soil. Generally, maximum pore space promotes maximum growth by the greater availability of pore space moisture. The pore space is multiplied by increasing the supply of vegetation for decay and for the production of humus.

  These vitally important factors are increased also by the correct mechanical mixing of vegetation into the surface soil. Correct aeration of the deeper soil and subsoil will progressively convert these to deeper fertile soil.

  Some soil scientists estimate that there are 70 tons of living organisms and other life in an acre of fertile soil. These organism generally work towards man's health and well-being.

  The importance of fourteen five-ton truck loads of microbes in an acre is overshadowed completely by a sheep or two to the acre. The sheep or cattle obviously need constant care, but surely this other "livestock" warrants some conscious thought when it is so vital. All the elements of growth are made available to us by the various processes of the life cycles of this "life in the soil". Soil management can reduce this dynamic force to a low ebb, or tremendously stimulate its activities.

  Fertile topsoil and even very poor soil can be treated as a yeast. Fed and cared for, it increases. Starved and asphyxiated, it dies.

  Processes of decay are the multiplication of soil life. These processes initiate or commence in the presence of moisture, air and heat. All three are necessary. This suggests that a starting point in soil development should be a critical examination of farming practices as to their effect on these factors.

  Past cultivation habits have destroyed soil fertility to the stage where vast quantities of once valuable soil have been lost by destructive erosion.

  Pounding and pulverizing, turning and slicing implements have all interfered with and reduced pore space in fertile soil. Soil suffered too much cultivation each time it was worked.

  Extremely fine "seed-beds" are still produced on some farms, almost as if the crop in its growth was expected to devour every fine soil particle.

  Too fine a cultivation destroys the soil's structure, smothers and reduces soil life, thus degenerating the art of soil management into a bandit-life process of fertility extraction.

  Soil fertility need not be "extracted" or destroyed to produce good crops. Crop production is properly a part of an important method in the development of better soil.

  Cultivation can be either the mammoth destroyer of soil fertility or the greatest single means of improving and even the creating of more fertile soil.

  An understanding of the structure and condition of naturally fertile soil and an appreciation of just what is happening, or has already happened, on some major soil areas will indicate logical means of improvement.

  Fertile soil is loose, absorbent and pleasant smelling. It is dark in colour caused by decay in the production of humus. It receives rain quickly and allows it to penetrate deeply. It holds moisture in pore spaces which are found in and around every particle of decaying material and in humus as well as around the mineral particles of the soil. Moisture dries out of fertile soil slowly from the effect of the highly insulating structure of its surface. Deep soil and subsoil moisture is protected from the drying effects of sun and winds.

  There are no definite horizons to the top soil, deep soil and subsoil; one merges gradually into the other and all are subject to a gentle stirring action from the larger forms of soil life and from the action of deep roots which bring nutrients to the surface. There is no sharply defined plant root zone in natural fertile soil. Shallow, medium and deep root growths mingle. Root decay acts to aerate the soil to an appreciable depth via the cavities left by the roots after decay.

  The fluids, acids and gases of the fertile soil act continuously on the deeper mineral particles of the subsoil and rock below, converting these to forms which are later available to plants, and so improve and deepen the soil.

  Soil life flourishes according to the varying condition of food supply--moisture, air, minerals and decaying. plant life. The whole body of the fertile soil is teeming with dynamic energy--growth and decay is continuous and simultaneous.

  Cultivation that is highly successful mechanically in controlling soil for crops also has had the effect of separating the body of the soil into sections and horizons. Only the topsoil has been used to yield crops by these extraction fertility methods.

  Replenishment of the very small amount of minerals required from the subsoil has been rendered ineffective. Eventually this manifests itself in top soil and crop deficiencies no matter how fertile the soil originally. These soil deficiencies reach man and affect his health through impoverished foods.

  Plow soles or hard pans have been formed at the cultivation depth by implements that exert a positive pressure on the soil at this depth to enable them to operate effectively. Plow soles resist the penetration of moisture and air. Surface soil above these plow soles becomes waterlogged in wet seasons. Deeper soil and subsoil dies from asphyxiation.

  When this happens plant roots have nothing to gain by penetrating this dead soil. These are all vital factors in maintaining and building soil fertility.

  Vegetation is controlled by such soil turning implements by simply burying the vegetation in a sandwich. This layer of turned-under vegetation acts to separate the soil further. It may remain dry, resisting decay and. insulating the top soil from the deeper soil moisture, thus making crops more and more dependant on well-distributed rainfall. Partial crop failure becomes more common. Full decay and growth are both interrupted. A too fine surface working of such primary cultivation further reduces the effect of rainfall by self-sealing tendencies. This will retard the infiltration rate of rainfall to such an extent that water will often be eroding some of this soil before all of it is wet to a depth of three inches. Finely cultivated heavy clay soil will very quickly form a sealed surface .during heavy rains.

  If moldboard plows are used for deeper cultivation total crop failures often result. By deeply burying the surface soil, the soil life is destroyed. Soil of poor structure and fertility is turned up to the surface. Considerable time is required to make it again productive."

We moldboard plowed once every five years mainly for a clean seedbed.  When we started no-tilling in 1976, we learned how to let crop residue help control the weeds.

This is a long reading today but answers many of the questions raised in "raping the land."  There is an exhaustive library for your winter reading pleasure here.  Chapter One of today's excerpt starts here.

Happy Reading!

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Raping The Land?

I have my own opinions on this subject and that's one reason I've written 1804 stories, a blog nearly every day the past five years.

"CORYDON, Iowa – The hills of southern Iowa bear the scars of America’s push for green energy: The brown gashes where rain washed away the soil. The polluted streams that dump fertilizer into the water supply.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

With the Iowa political caucuses on the horizon in 2007, presidential candidate Barack Obama made homegrown corn a centerpiece of his plan to slow global warming. When President George W. Bush signed a law that year requiring oil companies to add billions of gallons of ethanol to their gasoline each year, Bush predicted it would make the country “stronger, cleaner and more secure.”
But the ethanol era has proved far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today.

As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and contaminated water supplies, an Associated Press investigation found.
Five million acres of land set aside for conservation — more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined — have been converted.

Landowners filled in wetlands. They plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked in the soil. Sprayers pumped out billions of pounds of fertilizer, some of which seeped into drinking water, contaminated rivers and worsened the huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico where marine life can’t survive.

In South Dakota, for instance, farmers planted 1.3 million more acres of corn last year than they did the year before the ethanol mandate was passed. More than 400,000 acres of conservation land were lost."

We have the tools now to keep this from happening without banning corn based ethanol.  Corydon, Iowa is a great place to no-till and cover cropping is catching on.  Dakota Lakes Research Farm has been a leader in crop rotation and no-till practices for over 20 years.

The market place always has final say on planted acres and intentions.  If it looks like a farmer can make a profit on a crop, they plant it.  Most farmers are going to plant something on their land, the prices and programs swing acres one way or the other.

Still, our yield levels are pretty flat the past five or more years.  We have the technology to farm "marginal acres" well.

Are we doing that?  Will we do it?

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

10 Corporations

Ten corporations are involved in about every product we buy.  This chart shows why.

That's pretty mind boggling, isn't it?  "A chart we found on today shows that most products we buy are controlled by just a few companies. It's called "The Illusion of Choice."
Ever wonder why you can't get a Coke at Taco Bell? It's because Yum! Brands was created as a spin-off of Pepsi--and has a lifetime contract with the soda-maker.
Unilever produces everything from Dove soap to Klondike bars. Nestle has a big stake in L'Oreal, which features everything from cosmetics to Diesel designer jeans.
Despite a wide array of brands to choose from, it all comes back to the big guys.
Read more:"

How many families control the business world?  I don't think it is very many at all.  Farming is in the hands of the fewest amount of people in the U.S. than ever in history.  This will have great impact on "The Next Farm Crisis," or will it at all?

What do you think?


Monday, November 11, 2013

Uncle Roy

I always enjoy talking to my dad's only brother, Uncle Roy.  We talk about everything under the sun and he always tells me something new I haven't heard before.  I apologize for the old picture again but it's all I have handy.  I think I better go take some more!

Today before we closed, he said say Hi to LuAnn.  He always says that but he added "tell her I really miss talking to her."  That made me feel right there we haven't been up to see him personally as much as we should.  It's hard to keep up with all your family, isn't it?

He also said something that really peaked my interest.  He said I dream about you.  He added he dreamed about my dad.  I thought that was pretty good.   He talked about the sleds they pulled between rows to chop weeds out of the corn.  I barely remember that as that was going out in favor of cultivation and herbicides when I was little.  Now, almost all weed control is done with herbicides.

Can you imagine sledding between corn rows with a team of horses, using corn knives to chop down weeds?  I can barely remember it but that statement gives me much inspiration and thankfulness how far we have come.  I wish I had a good picture of my family chopping weeds out of corn but I don't.  I have really chopped or pulled weeds all my life but mostly with crop rotation and herbicides.  I've always had a passion to kill weeds and hold my commercial pesticide license.  On LuAnn's wish list for Christmas for me is a weed burner as I want the pleasure of actually frying some of my tall noxious weeds!

I think we need to stay close in touch with his generation because their ranks are diminishing day by day, even a little faster than my generation.  I do thank Roy and every veteran today for sacrificing everything so that we can enjoy what we have today.

I've been scouting weeds all day in a 12 foot tall crop so I remembered Roy's weed stories.


Sunday, November 10, 2013


Major Crops Grown in the United States

In round numbers, U.S. farmers produce about $ 143 billion worth of crops and about $153 billion worth of livestock each year. Production data from the year 2011 for major agricultural crops grown in this country are highlighted in the following table:
Major agricultural crops produced in the United States in 2011 (excluding root crops, citrus, vegetable, etc).
CropHarvested Area 
(million acres)
Cash Receipts from Sales 
($ billion)
Corn (grain)
Sorghum (grain)
Source:U.S. USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service. Crop Production. March 8, 2013.
I post this in response from a great email from a long time reader pointing out that no-till may not be the answer for every application, let alone every operation.
"Slowly but surely no-till keeps creeping into more and more U.S. acres every year. It quietly grows at about 1.5% a year.
Last month, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) released new stats on that growth, in part to address no-till’s potential contribution to climate-change efforts.
The adoption of less-intensive tillage practices, they claim, could sequester substantial amounts of carbon, which could lead to fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Fortunately, the numbers look promising.
The data show that approximately 35.5% of the U.S. cropland planted to eight major crops, or 88 million acres, had no-tillage operations in 2009. ERS researchers analyzed 2000-2007 data from USDA’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS). The crops – barley, corn, cotton, oats, rice, sorghum, soybeans and wheat – comprised 94% of the total planted U.S. acreage in 2009.
  • Not a big surprise, but soybean farmers had the highest percentage of planted acres with no-till (45.3% in 2006; projected at almost 50% in 2009).
  • No-till was practiced on 23.5% of corn acres in 2005 (projected at 29.5% in 2009).
  •  Cotton was no-tilled on 20.7% of planted acres in 2007 (projected at 23.7% in 2009).
Some no-tillers almost verge on being evangelists when it comes to explaining the how and why of their operations. Frankly, I love talking to those farmers who are so passionate about their no-till and conservation efforts."  I am guilty of all charges of being enthusiastic about no-till!
We even have no-till tobacco and specialty crops now.  Still, no-till is not the save-all end-all of farming, is it?  I figure if a guy can smuggle in planter parts in his luggage in a country where no-till isn't practiced, there must be something to it?


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Good Advertisement for No-Till

"A few days ago I combined the corn on a farm we just purchased. Actually we purchased the 70 acres adjoining the 10 acres we already owned and have no tilled for 10 years. No tilled it straight through this year and observed something interesting. 

As I worked back and forth across the old property line the yield monitor consistently showed a ten to twenty bushel increase when harvesting the area I have no tilled for a long period of time. The new ground has always been field cultivated and planted but has not really been abused. I did soil test these areas separately and the new ground actually showed a little better fertility levels. Has anyone else ever noticed this? What do you folks think?"

I think that is a pretty good advertisement for no-till.  Many farmers report similar result but you always have those guys who say they experience just the opposite.  Who do you believe?

No-Till increases soil air and water movement over time as the roots keep penetrating the old tillage layer.  The roots die, new organic matter is slowly created and the roots go deeper year by year.  That has been my experience and it's always good for me to read that someone else found the same thing.

Any tillage that does more than just make a nice little furrow or slit for the seed to emerge is overkill in my experience.  Continuous no-till and planting something every time I plant is a key to higher crop performance.

"In the first paragraph of the landmark 1943 book Plowman's Folly, Edward H. Faulkner said, "The truth is that no one has ever advanced a scientific reason for plowing." Nonetheless, 40 years after that publication cracked the foundations of agricultural science, most farmers still plow. Why?

Read more: 

Today's picture is one I've shown many times but it's one of the best no-till pictures I've taken.  I shot is years ago on Myron Verdier's no-till farm near Sidney, Ohio.  It demonstrates what many farmers have been able to accomplish with no-till.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Who Is This Guy?

"ja, corn all stored.
none hedge
market is mirroring a larger than expected crop-I would not sell into it presently..we are sideways, rest of this waits on report-
Just now the ethanol plants in US start to reopen. Things take time-market is like turn handle and water runs thru the piping-ideal market situation..other times you turn handle and whole thing overflows, ja...or maybe seal leaks or rust develops, ja.
Right now-not pretty picture...input costs and farmer "needs" to sell are being has "their" turn to eat from the trough so endusers are filling up. I wait for report and for next year to market corn...
Brazil plumbing on corn acreage slows
US currency most likely will continue weakening
Ethanol restarts
exports-who sells who buys, ja
weather issues globally
US acres
ending stocks
you get the idea...
Not enough time to type, think of market more like plumbing with pipes leading into and out of structures and the linking of structure to another sometime only take one disruption to spur the market-it is too early for me as waiting for more information to be released...also, stock market watching.
I don't know if what I write helps anyone, but still my opinion at large-
we have different marketing techniques-good to share thoughts. Success to you, ja.
Good day

I haven't followed him much but have read enough of his posts to wonder what his mission in life is.

He is not far off from my thinking in this post or ever far off normally, if I know what he is talking about.

You meet the strangest people on the Internet, right Chimel?


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Abby Picked Out Her First Hiefer

"Abby volunteered to help grandpa wean a set of calves while dad and her uncle sat in the combine. I was tickled she wanted to help.

She had her eyes on this one all day long. So I said how about we make that one yours - she was very happy. Unfortunately she picked one of the best heifers in that pasture. Abby taught me more about the camera on my phone so I snapped a quick picture of her heifer in the pasture corral. "

That's an awesome story about helping kids grow and mature but I can't put it better than Russ in Idaho did:

"Rick, I glad you have taken the lead and are posting what is going on. There is a lot of people that just lurk on here and never post. I'm betting you just might have changed a lot of families lives by just posting your trials and tribulations to raising a family. Hopefully somebody that has been wondering what to do in their family will take the lead from your example and do something to benefit a kid in their life. Some days it might just be a high five, or a saying way to go kids, or just a hug for a kid.

I tell a lot of people the best thing you can do is get kids involved in animals and their care. Kudos for giving her a heifer, I see that morphing into a herd of her own to help pay for college or what ever family decides money should be spent on. I feel my kids get the pic of the herd first, as well as saddle horses and tack. To outfit a kid in a good cow horse and good solid working tack you can spend over $6-7,000 per kid. I had a guy ask me why I spend so much for horses for my kids and its a lot of money?

 I told him well when working cows, they need good equipment and a solid mount to ride. Because they will be going alone miles away from anybody and they need to get a job done. I also told him, it's a lot cheaper to spend this money on my kids than to pay it out in rehab in the later teens years. Though the years all the kids I've seen in FFA or 4-H, they go on to lead productive lives and pretty much stay out of trouble. O' sure a few might raise a little hell, but that at least tells you they are alive. I once told some kids, hey guys I never see your name in the paper, you need to be raising a little hell or at least making your parents hair grey.

Just before shipping day my boys have always had the pick of the herd for show steers. We don't believe in buying into the club calf deal. All the steers my kids have shown pack our brand and earmarks. They will never win grand champion, but they sometimes place in the top ten.

I glad people post on here and tell their problems as well, it makes us all human. I know it has helped me try to be a better parent, believe me I need all the help I can get. My wife was pulled me aside a few times and told me to lay of the kids and not ride them so hard. I've always told my boys I expect more from them than other kids. I expect them to rise to the occasion if needed. They have never let me down, but sometimes I might have not known when to stop riding them so hard. That's where my wife has stepped in and told me to back off.

It's such a fine line to take in raising kids, do you push them, throw money at projects (FFA,4-H, skiing, football, basketball, etc.), work their butts off. Or make them earn every dime themselves? If you push too much you put the kid over the edge, or to drugs, or even worse suicide. And if you don't do anything they can get into the same problems as well.

One thing my parents did with my bother and myself was to make us sign a contract when he bought us trucks. I thinking I was a senior in high school, dad bought me a new 2-wheel drive pickup, stripped down. but nice and new. But in this contract, I had to stay involved in school sports, keep grades up, work on the farm. Even put in there if I didn't go to church I was to be working on the farm that day. Well me I picked to work that day. Was supposed to go on at least one date a month. After high school, we had 6 months to be in college or a trade tech. They would help pay for school and pay insurance on truck and a limited amount of fuel for truck. Out of this allotment of fuel, a % of it was for farm use. I had to budget my fuel use. This contract was posted in the top cabinet door in the kitchen where you saw it everyday as you opened it to get plates and glasses out for meals.

My parents held the title to the truck the whole time I was in school, they could take it away at any time. If dad needed it for his proposes, he had first dibs on it. I was never to park in parents way in drive way. Had to keep it maintained. If we quit school, well then we where on our own. He would give us the title and pay insurance up for 6 months then it was all ours to deal with. Well I realized what a great deal my parents did for me,

I finished college, also got a 2 year mechanics certificate along with my B.S. in business administration. I kept that truck for 18 years, well over 280,000 miles on it when I sold it. My wife couldn't believe I sold it, she figured I would drive it to the scrap pile. That truck was my wages for working on the farm all those years, as I didn't get a paycheck. I kept a part time job all though college turning wenches, came home and worked for dad every weekend all though college.

I had to laugh my bother tested the waters with dad, well dad took his truck for while, He made my bother see the light. Took a little school of hard knocks for him. He turned out all right, he even went on later in life and got a masters on his own.

Raising kids isn't a exact science, can't follow a text book. Everybody is different and no two situations are the same. What will work with one kid won't work on a sibling.

Thanks Rick, keep posting about Abby."

Have you helped a kid today?