Saturday, May 31, 2014

3 Million Cars

Some 3.27 million new cars are now sitting on lots across the U.S., more than there have been in almost five years, according to Automotive News. That’s a lot of cars—just enough to equip every man, woman, and child in the state of Iowa with a new vehicle, and just slightly less than the number of iPhones added to Verizon’s network last quarter. A year ago at this time, by contrast, there were 2.7 million vehicles lying in wait across the country; summer 2011 saw an inventory of about 1 million fewer cars.

Roughly 100 million cars in the U.S. are between seven and 12 years old, the “sweet spot” for high-maintenance repairs, according to Bloomberg analyst Kevin Tynan. At the pace Americans were buying cars last month, dealers can sell the current backlog in 61 days, which Tynan calls a “manageable” number. In January, supply was at 75 days.

This is dated and nearly a year old but you get the picture.  Our infatuation for the automobile, which includes a huge amount of pickup trucks, can get out of hand.  "The United States is home to the largest passenger vehicle market of any country in the world.[1] Overall, there were an estimated 254.4 million registered passenger vehicles in the United States according to a 2007 DOT study.[2] This number, along with the average age of vehicles, has increased steadily since 1960, indicating a growing number of vehicles per capita. The Chinese car market, however, is poised to soon exceed the United States; by the end of 2012, there were over 240 million cars on the road in China.[3]

The United States is also home to three large vehicle manufacturers: General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Chrysler, which have historically been referred to as the "Big Three." Chrysler however is no longer among the top three; but is number five, behind Toyota and Honda. The motor car has clearly become an integral part of American life, with vehicles outnumbering licensed drivers."

There are days I wished life was simpler but this isn't one of them.  Getting my own car keys at age 16 changed my life forever, though it almost killed me, too.

I can't imagine life without my wheels but 3 million of them available is a lot to choose from!

Ed Winkle

Friday, May 30, 2014

Leadership Class

By Jennifer Stewart

Some people dream about making a difference in the world. Some dream about traveling to distant lands. I dream of both, which is partly why, for the last two and a half years, I’ve dreamed of being selected to participate in AgrIInstitute’s Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program (ALP).

Danica Kirkpatrick is a friend and colleague within the College of Agriculture. Her ALP nomination, application and acceptance were my first exposure to the program, but watching her journey made me long to walk the same path.

The dream became more vivid as I learned about the program’s professional development and service orientation. I also found out that many of my role models from all facets of the agricultural industry were ALP graduates. The program seemed so pivotal to helping me become the professional I hope to be in an industry for which I have a deep-seated passion.

As the daughter of farmers, agriculture is so much more than my professional focus — it’s a way of life. I saw many springs from the cab of a tractor, summers from the barn lot washing 4-H steers and fall harvests from the passenger seat of the combine.

Growing up to earn a living as an agricultural editor and writer is a path better and more meaningful than I ever imagined. That’s why the desire to participate in the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program gripped me so tightly. Being the best professional I can be for the agricultural industry is personal.

I had been through the rigorous application process, including an essay, supervisor and spouse support documents, recommendation letters, and a 90-minute interview. I left the interview hopeful and feeling like it had gone well, but the 10-day wait to find out whether I’d been accepted was grueling. When I finally opened my mailbox and saw the letter with AgrIInstitite emblazoned in green across the top left corner, my heart skipped a beat.

I took a deep breath, then I ripped open that envelope faster than I’ve ever opened a piece of mail in my life. There it was, in bold, black letters: “CONGRATULATIONS! You have been selected to participate in the Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program (ALP) Class 16.”

I had the same feeling in 1991.  I was selected for Ohio State University LEAD Class IV.  It was a 60 day intensive leadership study that took us all over Ohio, California and Western Europe.  It changed my life forever.  Some of the class members are still my closest and dearest friends.

If you ever get such an opportunity, take it.

Ed Winkle



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Still Time For Soybean Yields?

The planters were parked when rain recently swept through large portions of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, slowing planting progress that had surpassed the five-year averages for corn and soybeans.
Less than one-third of the soybeans were planted leading into the delay, but there’s still time in the optimum planting window.

“It’s really not late at all as far as soybean planting is concerned,” said Lance Tarochione, DeKalb and Asgrow territory agronomist.

“We have talked a lot in recent years about some of the research that shows that early planting of soybeans does tend to increase your yield potential. I’m a believer in that, but for many, many years, the target planting window for soybeans was basically the month of May and we really didn’t think we started losing yield potential until June 10.”

He added more recent research indicates the soybeans’ yield potential is reduced more rapidly when planted later, “but you can still raise very, very good beans in Illinois planted in May.”   “I’m not terribly concerned about the fact that there are a lot of soybeans to be planted,” Tarochione said.
It’s also much too early to consider increasing planting population as the calendar gets nearer to double-crop timing.

“I don’t really worry about that until I get into the second half of June. I’m still recommending standard seeding rate,” Tarochione said.

I've seen Keith Schlapkohl break 100 bushels per acre planted June 19.  I would be lucky to break 60 and more like 50 bushels.  I would rather plant beans in April and have them out of the ground in May.  We are seeing bean leaf beetle on the early plantings as they have nothing else preferable to eat.

The old Ohio State Agronomy Guide says those beans should be in the second trifoliate by now.  The earliest fields are.

I hope the guy isn't selling soybean seed because I think too many are going to be planted this year due to price and weather.  Planting delays lowers yield expectation but I agree good yields can still be obtained.

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Is No-Till Enough?


May 12, 2014 -- For the past 20 years, researchers have published soil organic carbon sequestration rates. Many of these findings have suggested that soil organic carbon (SOC) can be sequestered in soil, or stored long-term, simply by switching from conventional tillage to no-till systems.
But a growing body of research indicates that no-till systems in corn and soybean rotations without cover crops, small grains, and forages may not be increasing SOC stocks at published rates.

"Some studies have shown that both conventional and no-till systems are actually losing soil organic carbon stocks over time," says University of Illinois soil scientist Ken Olson. Factors other than tillage that can cause losses include aeration, drainage, more intensive crop rotations, use of synthetic fertilizers, and lack of cover crops.

Olson and a team of senior researchers from universities in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio recently reviewed the soil science and tillage literature related to SOC sequestration, storage, retention, and loss. After examining hundreds of original research and summary papers, the scientists selected 120 papers for review and analysis.

Their review uncovered many conflicting results. For example, no-till systems on sloping and eroding sites retain more SOC in the top 0 to 15 centimeters of soil when compared to conventional systems, because the soil is disturbed less and thus erodes less. But deeper soil layers can tell a different story.
"The subsurface layers also need to be sampled and tested to the depth of rooting, or 1 or 2 meters," Olson says. "That no-till subsurface layer is often losing more soil organic carbon stock over time than is gained in the surface layer."

Another reason for inconsistent results among studies, the review found, is that different scientists use different definitions of SOC sequestration. Olson’s team proposes its definition as: the process of transferring carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the soil of a land unit through plants, plant residues, and other organic solids, which are stored or retained in the unit as part of the soil organic matter (humus).

To claim SOC is truly being sequestered, the researchers also state that management practices must cause an increase in net SOC from a previous pre-treatment baseline, as well result in a net reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. In other words, carbon that doesn’t come directly from the atmosphere but from elsewhere outside the land unit cannot be counted as sequestered SOC. These external inputs may include organic fertilizers, manure, topsoil, or natural inputs such as sediments in floodplain and depressional soils.

The team also identified a number of other study factors that could lead to errors in reported SOC sequestration rates such as not including eroding and sloping sites in summary studies; lack of soil bulk density measurements; use of different SOC lab methods over a long-term study; natural variability not captured by the sampling scheme; only sampling plot areas once when trying to determine rates of change; and several others.

A final key finding of the team’s study relates to the method used to measure SOC rates. “In this review, both the 'paired comparison' and the 'pre-treatment' SOC methods were tested using the same plots and experiment," Olson says.

The results of this work  showed that the paired method (i.e., no-till versus conventional) overestimated SOC sequestration as compared with the pre-treatment method, where both no-till and conventional are compared to the same pre-treatment baseline. And "another flaw in the paired comparison method is that the results cannot be validated where no pre-treatment baseline is available," Olson adds.

The team therefore recommends: (1) that researchers who are trying to measure SOC sequestration rates no longer use the paired comparison method, and adopt the pre-treatment method instead, and (2) that existing long-term studies of SOC sequestration rates be stopped temporarily and sampled following the SOC sequestration protocol outlined by Olson's team.

Is no-till enough?  Not in a corn soybean rotation.  That is why many of us add wheat and barley and cover crops between cash crops.  Then we might be able to talk about increasing soil organic matter.

So much has been lost to erosion since the land was first broken.

Can we ever catch back up?

Ed Winkle

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day

Memorial Day was spent in Ohio like many others did across the Midwest.  We finally have a dry planting window longer than we have had all spring.  My Spatial Rainfall Consulting totals showed .62 inch here last week, 1.18 one mile away and 2.9 inches 10 miles away.  Some guys got 5 inches around Bowersville Wednesday night in that big storm we drove through.  There was a tiny bit of hail in that one so it was on the border of being dangerous.

The workers at the ag suppliers are working overtime again this weekend like in 2011 and last year.  In 2012, everything was planted.

I like to go to a small Memorial Day service to remember our fallen, especially soldiers who give everything for our freedom.  I also like to pray over my family gravesites and just talk awhile.

I actually got some bush hogging done this weekend.  I could mow parts of my CRP because I have thistle and poison hemlock outbreaks.  You can mow CRP before July 20 in Ohio if you have noxious weeds.  This mile stretch of SR 28 is mowed thanks to me and Josh Parker and it is the only mowed roadside around.

LuAnn's brother Tom arrived safely with his son Zach from Arizona.  They were stopped for hours on 70 west of Indy yesterday because of a fatal pile up but they got here safe.  Tom is a miraculous survivor of brain cancer this winter.  Many of you and Café readers prayed for him this winter.  Thank you.

Oliver Durand is stopping by this morning from Vermont.  We are all going to our little Oliver store, McHenry Equipment in Pleasant Plain, Ohio.  I don't think much work is going to get done this week!

Ed Winkle

Monday, May 26, 2014

Free Trip To Maui

"Free Travel
As far I knew everyone was doing this, but after having a conversation with my mom and several of my farming friends  I realized that this may not be common knowledge.  If you farm, you can travel for free!  No cost.  Zip.  Nada.  To good to be true right?  It isn’t. I’ve traveled to Maui, London, Paris, Rome, Costa Rica and spring training in Arizona because of it. With the many credit card rewards programs for both business and personal accounts it is completely feasible to have an amazing vacation at the end of your crop year at little to no cost to you, and you don’t have to run a huge operation for it to be feasible.
 
As farmers we have some ridiculous input costs that would make other business owners blush.  Land rent, fertilizer, seed, fuel, chemicals, water, power and repairs commonly make up some of the largest expenditures.  In most cases these can be paid with your debit or credit card earning you points.  These points can be redeemed for cash or travel.

What is a Point?
Reward points are earned based upon the money you spend.  The best programs earn you a point for every dollar spent.  These points can then be redeemed through the website or calling the phone number on the back of your card.  Points are typically valued at $0.01 per point.  So 50,000 points would be valued at $500.00.

Getting Started
If you’ve thought about it before but have reservations it’s simpler and safer than you think.  Here is how I did it:

 I have both my personal and business accounts with Chase bank.  They aren’t my lender but all of my operating loan advances are wired through to my Chase accounts.  With my business account I signed up for the Ink Business Bold card.  This is not a credit card but rather a charge card that has a balance due at the end of every month.  Being so there is no interest accrued but there are rather stiff penalties if your balance is not paid on time; so it is essential to be very disciplined or better yet automate your balance to be paid so you don’t forget.  With this card I get one point with every dollar I spend I also received a 50,000 bonus points ($500) after spending $4000 in three months."
 
I knew this was possible, but I never disciplined myself to do it!  I found this in the Café and thought I would share it with you!
 
I have been paying too much for my trips!
 
Ed Winkle

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Pickaway Ross

I got a call late last night to go inspect rye for the Ohio weed free straw program.  The farmer planted it no-till last fall in corn stalks and sprayed it last week.  It was not too green this morning.

They will cut it today, blanch it white in the sun and bale it up for weed free straw mulch.  There is good demand for this product with fracking, pipelines and all the highway work going on.

I got to stop and say hi to Tom Ramsey at Hiser Seed Company.  He was loading out 3.5 LL soybean seed to a customer.  LL beans is the easiest way to control Marestail in southern Ohio.

I drove past Russell's house and saw my old friend Randy Metzger working on the farm.  He and I were in LEAD Class IV and spent a lot of time together in 92-93 and the years after working on fertilizer and herbicide programs on their farm.  Nephew Scott is active on Twitter and we poke each other a lot on there.

I stopped at the house at Russell happened to be there.  He is one of my long time readers of HyMark High Spots and has become a good friend.  We talked about farming and his farm improvements.  He always has a good question or two for me.

When I got home, Tyler and Arianna were playing and we played all day.  They love to ride the Mule so we took many rides.  We built a campfire and made smores.  I got the worst Graham crackers I ever bought at Kroger's so they are going back next trip.

Corn and beans are going in and the wheat is "laid by."  We got .6 inches here Wednesday, 1.2 a mile away and 3 inches 10 miles away.  Some got 5 inches near there and a lot of soil damage.

It sure is pretty weather, cool at night and warm and sunny during the day.  We picked up 30 Growing Degrees today and we need them.  It looks to be a nice Memorial Day.  I hope I can get to the cemeteries.

Ed Winkle


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Crop Insurance Fraud

Chris Keck at Farm and Dairy wrote this piece about a crop insurance fraud investigation.

COLUMBUS — Five Meigs County men, in southeastern Ohio, have been indicted in federal court for crop insurance fraud totaling nearly $1.6 million.

They are being charged in the U.S. District Court for the Southeastern District of Ohio, with conspiracy, theft of public money and money laundering for allegedly defrauding the federal Non-Insured Crop Assistance Program.

The conspiracy charge is punishable by up to five years in prison, and the more serious crimes are punishable by up to 10 years.

Named in the indictment are: Christopher T. Wolfe, 43, Terry J. McNickle, 51, Mark D. Wolfe, 41,and Joey L. Jerrell, 43, — all of Racine, Ohio. Also charged is Michael L. Johnson, 62, Portland, Ohio.

What happened

According to court records, Wolfe recruited co-conspirators to enroll in NAP for crops that were not planted. His partners would then apply for payments and turn them over to Wolfe after keeping a portion for themselves.

The investigation dates back about two-and-a-half years and involved federal authorities, including the Secret Service, according to Fred Alverson, law enforcement coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Columbus.

“Something appeared irregular in a number of applications,” Alverson said, noting the Secret Service was involved because of the money laundering charge.

Alverson said investigators believe Wolfe enlisted codefendants to file claims for crops they did not grow, on Wolfe’s behalf. He said investigators are looking at all possible connections and whether there should be any further charges.

NAP provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory or prevented planting occur due to a natural disaster. Payments are limited to $100,000 per crop year per individual or entity.

Their defense

Attorney Stephen Palmer, legal counsel for McNickle, said his client intends to plead not guilty. Palmer, of the Yavitch & Palmer Co. law firm, said he had not yet seen a hard copy of the indictment, but said he’s “eager to get involved in the case,” and research his client’s options.
Farm and Dairy left two messages with Samuel Weiner, counsel for Christopher Wolfe, but no response was received before press time.

Being accountable

Alverson said crop insurance fraud is not a common case for his office, but that it’s important to hold anyone accountable who receive government payments.

“Government assistance programs … are set up to help people who truly need it and when individuals try to cheat the system, that takes a lot of time and resources away from helping those farmers or other individuals who need the assistance,” he said.

Alverson said he understands that “government programs can be quite complex and have a lot of rules and regulations,” but warned against actions to “intentionally cheat” the system.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of $1,563,337.30, which allegedly represents the proceeds traceable to the commission of the crimes."

I know many have talked about abusing crop insurance but I've never heard of out right fraud like this case, have you?

I am just hoping I don't need to file a claim this year because whenever I do, I made a mistake and missed out on a better crop from the day I planted it or how I managed it.

I assume my risk against weather but sometimes I do make a mistake.

Ed Winkle

Friday, May 23, 2014

Stars?

I have always enjoyed looking at the stars in the sky.  A fellow posted this interesting article we may not know or may have forgotten about stars.

Every star you see in the night sky is bigger and brighter than our sun. Of the 5,000 or so stars brighter than magnitude 6, only a handful of very faint stars are approximately the same size and brightness of our sun and the rest are all bigger and brighter. Of the 500 or so that are brighter than 4th magnitude (which includes essentially every star visible to the unaided eye from a urban location), all are intrinsically bigger and brighter than our sun, many by a large percentage. Of the brightest 50 stars visible to the human eye from Earth, the least intrinsically bright is Alpha Centauri, which is still more than 1.5 times more luminous than our sun, and cannot be easily seen from most of the Northern Hemisphere.

You can’t see millions of stars on a dark night. Despite what you may hear in TV commercials, poems and songs, you cannot see a million stars … anywhere. There simply are not enough close enough and bright enough. On a really exceptional night, with no Moon and far from any source of lights, a person with very good eyesight may be able to see 2000-2500 stars at any one time. (Counting even this small number still would be difficult.). So the next time you hear someone claim to have seen a million stars in the sky, just appreciate it as artistic license or exuberant exaggeration – because it isn’t true!

Red hot and cool ice blue – NOT! We are accustomed to referring to things that are red as hot and those that are blue as cool. This is not entirely unreasonable, since a red, glowing fireplace poker is hot and ice, especially in glaciers and polar regions, can have a bluish cast. But we say that only because our everyday experience is limited. In fact, heated objects change color as their temperature changes, and red represents the lowest temperature at which a heated object can glow in visible light. As it gets hotter, the color changes to white and ultimately to blue. So the red stars you see in the sky are the “coolest” (least hot), and the blue stars are the hottest!

Stars are black bodies. A black body is an object that absorbs 100 percent of all electromagnetic radiation (that is, light, radio waves and so on) that falls on it. A common image here is that of a brick oven with the interior painted black and the only opening a small window. All light that shines through the window is absorbed by the interior of the oven and none is reflected outside the oven. It is a perfect absorber. As it turns out, this definition of being perfect absorbers suits stars very well! However, this just says that a blackbody absorbs all the radiant energy that hits it, but does not forbid it from re-emitting the energy. In the case of a star, it absorbs all radiation that falls on it, but it also radiates back into space much more than it absorbs. Thus a star is a black body that glows with great brilliance! (An even more perfect black body is a black hole, but of course, it appears truly black, and radiates no light.)

There are no green stars. Although there are scattered claims for stars that appear green, including Beta Librae (Zuben Eschamali), most observers do not see green in any stars except as an optical effect from their telescopes, or else an idiosyncratic quirk of personal vision and contrast. Stars emit a spectrum (“rainbow”) of colors, including green, but the human eye-brain connection mixes the colors together in a manner that rarely if ever comes out green. One color can dominate the radiation, but within the range of wavelengths and intensities found in stars, greens get mixed with other colors, and the star appears white. For stars, the general colors are, from lower to higher temperatures, red, orange, yellow, white and blue. So as far as the human eye can tell, there are no green stars.

Our sun is a green star. That being said, the sun is a “green” star, or more specifically, a green-blue star, whose peak wavelength lies clearly in the transition area on the spectrum between blue and green.  This is not just an idle fact, but is important because the temperature of a star is related to the color of its most predominate wavelength of emission. (Whew!) In the sun’s case, the surface temperature is about 5,800 K, or 500 nanometers, a green-blue. However, as indicated above, when the human eye factors in the other colors around it, the sun’s apparent color comes out a white or even a yellowish white.

Our sun is a dwarf star. We are accustomed to think of the sun as a “normal” star, and in many respects, it is. But did you know that it is a “dwarf” star? You may have heard of a “white dwarf,” but that is not a regular star at all, but the corpse of a dead star. Technically, as far as “normal” stars go (that is, astronomical objects that produce their own energy through sustained and stable hydrogen fusion), there are only “dwarfs,” “giants” and “supergiants.” The giants and supergiants represent the terminal (old age) stages of stars, but the vast majority of stars, those in the long, mature stage of evolution (Main Sequence) are all called “dwarfs.” There is quite a bit of range in size here, but they are all much smaller than the giants and supergiants. So technically, the sun is a dwarf star, sometimes called “Yellow Dwarf” in contradiction to the entry above!

The Universe can make me feel pretty insignificant but I've learned that God loves the speck!

Twinkle twinkle, little star, did you know that stars don't twinkle?

Ed

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Not Enough Sun

"I’ve heard several comments that we are having a late spring.  I suppose that depends on your definition or basis for the comment.  I believe some people are still trying to use 2012 as a comparison.  In 2012, we certainly did have an abnormally early spring, so comparing any other year to it, even an average year, will seem later than “normal.”  I think our “normal” is out of whack.
 
Probably the most common way of assessing where we are in plant growth compared to other years is comparing Growing Degree Days (GDD).  Growing Degree Days are calculated by taking the average between the daily maximum temperature and daily minimum temperature and subtracting the base comparable temperature for each day.  Days are then added together to compare periods.  There is a fair amount of research tied to GDD’s and so it is quite often used to predict planting dates, maturity dates and everything in between on row crops.  In 2012, April was really not that much different than the average, but March was a different story; it even surpassed April in GDD’s.

Plant growth is highly influenced by the ambient temperatures but also very dependent on adequate moisture and photosynthesis.  Heat units without adequate moisture or sunshine are just not the same.  Moisture is easy enough to understand, but getting enough sunlight for photosynthesis is important for energy.  Photosynthesis probably has less impact on yield as compared to its impact on energy for the plant and for what consumes it.  Those soluble carbohydrates in the forages are highest after good sunny days.  This variability can even be tracked in a normal day with values peaking in the afternoon and lowest being in the early morning.  Numerous days with little or no sunshine can therefore impact forage quality, mainly energy.  On the other hand, it is a nice reminder that when you are cutting forages for hay or balage, those forages will have the highest energy when cut on a sunny afternoon.

Where am I going with all of this?  I guess to say we are just a little behind the average this year in forage growth.  Comparative clippings I’ve taken over the past few years puts us realistically only about 300-400 pounds of dry matter per acre behind the norm for the southern part of Indiana.  Bring on the sun!"

When the sun comes out, do you have enough nutrient?  You have too much water in the east and not enough in the west but do you have enough nutrient?  Pasture and grasslands are some of the poorest soil and tissue sampling results I take.

Could your grass use more sun, less water and some food?

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ukraine's Biggest Farmer

Here is a story about "the Ukraine's biggest farmer" betting on the EU and China.

"Inside the command and control center of Ukrlandfarming, some 20 information technology specialists track every operational detail of the nation’s largest farm on 24 computer monitors. Using global positioning systems that feed real time data on sophisticated maps gleaned from satellite images, they monitor 654,000 hectares of farmland in 19 oblasts, including what machinery is on hand and how much fuel each one has.

Pointing to the screens, chief financial officer Natalia Smolyanets explains how each of the company’s 12 farming clusters is strategically structured so that its fleet of John Deere machinery can take fuel-saving routes in the fields.

It’s this kind of sophistication, combined with high-precision farming, that has made billionaire Oleg Bakhmatyuk’s Ukrlandfarming a darling and the envy of Ukraine’s dynamic agricultural community. The company claims to have 70 percent higher corn yields than the national average, for example.

Impressive as it looks, including last year’s 39 percent net income jump to above $750 million, the agriculture company’s eurobond and stock holders are probably wondering more about operations in Russia-annexed Crimea and the turbulent eastern regions, where it has land resources and chicken processing plants."

I was hoping to visit in this lifetime but I doubt that is going to happen now.  A group wanted to bring me over to talk about how we do things in the U.S. but that fell through about the time the unrest started.

They claim to have some the richest soil in the world but not the climate or infrastructure to go with it.  I think Darren and Brian Hefty have been there, they could tell you more but I am sure many things have changed.

I know wheat farmers have been talking about the Ukraine affecting current wheat price and that's about it.

Ed

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

No-Till Dan

I remember meeting Dan DeSutter in the 90's.  Son Matthew and I picked him up to go see a no-till planter demonstration in Illinois that Paul Reed and cousin David Moeller had developed from Howard Martin and Eugene Keeton's parts.  Many of us have adapted that planter system and still use it today.

"The Attica, Ind., grain farmer views any disturbance of the soil as an inherently destructive process. After 20 years of no-tilling corn and soybeans, he and other farmers are well on their way to what they call "never-till" -- a zero-tillage system that revs up their soil biology for optimum soil nutrient recycling to increase grain crop yields.

DeSutter started no-tilling to lower production costs and to protect his soil. He didn't realize he was also changing the soil biology and building soil organic matter by two percentage points. He is now firmly focused on learning how his farming system affects the unseen life below the soil surface.

POWER UP MICROBES

"The second you stop tilling, the sooner your soil [microbiology] starts trying to build organic matter," explains Barry Fisher, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state soil health specialist for Indiana. Biological activity resides in the topsoil. It serves as the engine for the carbon and nitrogen recycling that provides food for soil microbes and makes nutrients available for growing crops.

"Once you break up the old plant root channels and earthworm burrows with tillage, you have to start over," he adds. "I've watched many farmers trying to make no-till work with tillage, and this [understanding] is what they're missing."

Fisher said if you're tilling the top 2 inches of your soil, you're injecting oxygen and burning off the organic matter from soil microbe activity. "Organic matter is the very thing you need to make your soil transition to better soil health."

It's going through the transition stage that prevents many from attaining true no-till farming, much less never-till. He adds that just stopping tillage doesn't guarantee improvements in soil health. Easing the transition depends on incorporating cultural practices, such as improving drainage, adding diversity into a typical corn/soybean rotation by including cover crops and managing a fertilizer program that complements soil microbe activity.

Experienced no-tillers recommend identifying and eliminating field problems before changing to a no-till cropping system. Roger Wenning, Greensburg, Ind., was faced with ground that was cold and hard because of the clay composition of the soil. He'd been no-tilling soybeans but quit the practice in corn because of drainage issues. Tile turned the situation around.

IMPROVE SOIL STRUCTURE

With drainage problems solved, it was time to conquer compaction. Wenning tried rippers but found long-term results less than satisfying. "That's where the cover crops come in," he said. "Wheat helped, but it wasn't the answer, so I got hold of some [annual] ryegrass and started experimenting with that."

Visible soil structure improvements have led him to keep a cover crop on every acre during the last nine years. While annual ryegrass and crimson clover are his favorites, Wenning has tried oilseed radishes. Still, it's root-heavy ryegrass that he counts on to build soil organic matter quickly.

Some of Wenning's fields had 1% to 1.5% soil organic matter nine years ago. A continuous no-till and cover crop treatment has raised soil organic matter to 2.3%.

His cover crop investment is $34 per acre for seed and aerial application."

I haven't seen Roger or Dan in awhile but it is good to see them doing well.

Ed

Monday, May 19, 2014

Big Corn Versus Big Oil

"(Reuters) - Six months ago the U.S. oil industry scored a surprise win against farm groups when the Obama administration proposed slashing the amount of ethanol refiners must blend into gasoline, a move that could save them billions of dollars.

Stunned by the reversal, producers of the corn-based biofuel and their supporters are now fighting back ahead of a June deadline for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make a final decision on the cut.

The clash has been portrayed as a battle between "Big Oil" and "Big Corn," two powerful and deep-pocketed lobbies. But a Reuters review of public records and interviews with lawmakers, lobbyists and executives reveals a more complex picture.

A private equity firm and an airline helped convince the Obama administration to backtrack, at least temporarily, on a policy it has supported for years: requiring steadily-rising volumes of ethanol to be blended into gasoline each year, a key to shifting U.S. energy consumption toward renewable sources.

The ethanol industry, blindsided by the proposed cut, has said it was orchestrated by "Big Oil." However, some of the most effective players in the fight weren't traditional oil majors but rather The Carlyle Group and Delta Air Lines, owners of two Philadelphia-area refiners.

Together with their allies, the refiners helped convince policymakers that the rising mandates would cripple their businesses and threaten thousands of jobs."

This discussion hit the ag media and the main stream media again this weekend.  Once again, follow the money.  "Big corn" doesn't have the deeper pockets of "big oil," though both have been very powerful.

Corn prices are just above half their peak in 2012.  Still, we grind over 400,000 bushels of corn per day in southwest Ohio, plus feed and exports.

Margins are close on whether we will make a profit on corn or not this year, but that's the gamble.  Lower your costs or get out of business.

Ed

Sunday, May 18, 2014

States Dependent On The Federal Government

This is an interesting story I came across.  Which state is better off, Delaware or New Mexico?

"The extent to which the average American’s tax burden would vary based on his state of residence represents a significant point of differentiation between state economies.  But it’s only once piece of the puzzle.

What if, for example, a particular state can afford not to tax its residents at high rates because it’s receiving disproportionately more funding from the federal government than states with apparently oppressive tax codes?  That would change the narrative significantly, revealing federal dependence where bold, efficient stewardship was once thought to preside.

The idea of the American freeloader burst into the public consciousness when #47percent started trending on Twitter.  And while the notion is senselessly insulting to millions of hardworking Americans, it is true that some states receive a far higher return on their federal income tax investment than others.

Just how pronounced is this disparity, and to what extent does it alter our perception of state and local tax rates around the country?  WalletHub sought to answer those questions by comparing the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of three key metrics:  1) Return on Taxes Paid to the Federal Government; 2) Federal Funding as a Percentage of State Revenue;  and 3) Number of Federal Employees Per Capita.

More information about the significance of these data points as well as a comprehensive state-by-state rankings breakdown can be found below."

I remember when Bob Evans became very disenchanted with Ohio and moved his corporation to Delaware.  Some things haven't changed since then!

Ed

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Kinze

Here is a good one!

look at all the posts on that thread sir, that simply isn't always true. the multi-guys that were having issue with 3600's not buildt square and have to turn the planter first then lay it on the hook, that's crap, and when they miss the hook and destroy 10-12 rows, you think after complaining for two years about the planter not being square and they destroy a bunch of row that at that time is when kinze will step in and make things right.....ok  TJ Farmer

TJ Farmer
The issue cited by WFL Farms on his 3600 planter is easily fixable and we have reached out to offer our assistance. We were unaware of his problem and disappointed that his dealer for whatever reason was not able to help him last year. We agree, it is frustrating to have an issue like this go on for two years.

As farmers ourselves, we understand how critical it is to get the crop in the ground in the spring when the weather often gives us a very narrow window of time to do so. We always want our dealers to be first line of support because they are located closer to the farmer and able to more quickly assist. We value all of our customers and remain ready to assist once a problem comes to our attention that hasn't been resolved.

 If you're ever traveling through Iowa on I-80, please be sure and stop by and see our new Innovation Center open M-F 9-4. We can also give you a factory tour if you call in advance.
Happy planting!
Susie Veatch
VP & CMO
Kinze

Susie, thanks for the reply!  How is your dad doing?  Tell him Winkle said Hi and will never forget sitting with him at the banquet table in January 2000 for the No-Till Innovator Awards Banquet.

Ed Winkle

Friday, May 16, 2014

Close Call

I was scouting north of our place Wednesday.  The radar was clean when I left but within 2 hours, it started raining the entire 60 miles!  It's a good thing I had my gum boots with me because I sure needed them.

There was still standing water in some counties from earlier rains.  It was so nice here Monday and Tuesday, I thought I would catch some fields before they got too wet.  Wrong!

It got hot and muggy about 2 pm and I finished up my scouting report.  I headed home and went about my business until I looked at the Café at dinner time and there was a report about a tornado in Cedarville!  I knew Weimer Road was close to my brother's place and one of his neighbors lived there.

Sure enough it was his neighbor Roger whom I have talked with about no-till farming before.  The tornado flattened his place, probably $200,000 damage.  My brother said 40,000 bushel of corn was spewed out of the big bin and there were other bins damaged or destroyed.

"Seven people had to be helped out of a house in Cedarville after a tornado destroyed it, a second house and several other buildings Wednesday afternoon.  The National Weather Service will be in Cedarville this morning to survey the storm damage to determine the category of the tornado.

Xenia City Manager Brent Merriman said fire and medic crews from Xenia were dispatched to reports of storm damage at Weimer and Barber roads. Skywarn weather spotters confirmed that a tornado touched down in that area at about 6:12 p.m.

According to Cedarville police, the seven were in the basement when the storm hit. All had to be extricated and all are OK, police said.

One of the houses destroyed belonged to Roger Dobbins, 71. The other was his daughter's. They all were trapped inside for nearly 30 minutes after the tornado. Dobbins said he was watching coverage of the storm on WHIO-TV Channel 7 until his satellite went out at his home in the 4200 block of Barber Road.

"I saw it coming directly toward us," he said. "I could hear a lot of racket. My ears popped."
Dobbins said he and six other people were in the basement: his wife, daughter, a friend of his daughter's, and her three children.

More than a dozen fire trucks and emergency vehicles were sent to the Dobbins farm.
Corey Atley, a resident who observed damage near his home outside Cedarville, said a nearby silo also was severely damaged and a hog barn was flattened. Atley estimated the tornado left a swath of debris four miles long, 200 to 300 yards wide.

Cedarville police Chief Chris Gillaugh said, "For me, actually seeing the thing was unbelievable. You watch it on television and you see them on television all the time. But to see it and actually know that it's destroying places and things, you have a whole other respect for it."

I have met most of the people in this story.  As far as I know, everyone is OK but that was close call.  My brother took this picture in his front yard. 

We pray for Roger's clean up and all the neighbors there.  We give thanks no one was seriously hurt.  It has been rated an F3 with 145 MPH winds.

Ed

Thursday, May 15, 2014

BugGuide

Our friend Doug sent us an insect guide to use, it is called BugGuide.  We were discussing our personal agronomy libraries and links and resources.  Right about all I am finding is some Hessian Flies, white grub worms and a few black cutworms.

"Ever since the first European explorers arrived in the American continent, plants and animals have been arriving along with them. It is estimated that more than two thousand (2,273) species of insects and arachnids have set residence in this continent, according to the North American Non-Indigenous Arthropod Database of the USDA or NANIAD.

 Some were brought intentionally, others arrived on their own. With the increase in traveling and international commerce, the numbers of introduced species probably keeps growing even faster than in earlier times. Some of them become invasive, wreaking havoc in local ecosystems, not just the ones that were introduced accidentally, but also some that were brought intentionally for a variety of reasons and later on managed to escape and spread beyond control. More insects have been introduced intentionally than otherwise, especially to serve as biological controls. It is estimated that over 1700 species have entered this way; most of them are parasitoids or predators of pests.

 Among the earliest pests that arrived in colonial times probably were the bed bug Cimex lectularius, cockroaches and the mosquito Aedes aegypti. Probably the earliest insects that were brought intentionally were the domestic bee Apis mellifera and the silk worm Bombyx mori. The silk wormI remember the lab in China) is of no concern to us because, after thousands of years of domestication, it has lost its ability to survive on its own, and it is not found in nature. The honey bee on the other hand is a very resourceful and adaptable creature that has escaped domestication repeatedly and set up housekeeping in tree holes, other natural cavities and even hollow walls, much to the delight of bears and other honey-eating animals. Nowadays it is probably established in most states and there is no way to tell the impact that populations of domestic bees have had on native bees and on native flowers.

 In addition to the comprehensive list issued by NANIAD there are a few other resources on the internet that may be of interest here:
A report issued by USDA Forest Service in 1994 lists 368 immigrant plant-eating insects. See:Immigrant Phytophagous Insects: an Annotated List.

 Invasive.org, (a joint project of: The Bugwood Network, USDA Forest Service and USDA APHIS PPQ, the University of Georgia – Warnell School of Forest Resources and College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences – Dept. of Entomology) lists 152 species of invasive insects. See Invasive insects.

 A report of the University of Florida Invasive Insects (Adventive Pests Insects) in Florida lists 150 species of insects and 35 species of arachnids considered invasive in that state. Note that some of them were introduced to Florida from some other states, not from abroad.

 The same thing applies to Invasive Species Resource List provided by the University of Pennsylvania.

 Cornell University has a list of some insects used as biocontrols. See Biocontrols. Many of them, but not all have been introduced from other countries.

 Perhaps the most complete list of species intentionally introduced as biocontrols is ROBO – Releases of Beneficial Organisms in the United States and Territories. It also includes a list of “target” species, the hosts of prey of the beneficial ones; most of them are undesirable non-natives.

 Here, at BugGuide we have approximately 80 species of introduced insects and spiders (as of September 2005) and the numbers keep growing. I think that a list of non-native insects and arachnids with links to the corresponding pages would be of great value. I hope that everybody helps adding species that I missed or new ones as they are added to the guide. I hope to get your help with taxonomic issues, such as the proper sorting of families within larger taxa.

This list includes only non-native species featured in BugGuide in which there is a high degree of certainty of having been introduced. Others have been omitted, but will be added if somebody confirms that they are not native. For each species there is a link to the pertinent page with additional information if available."

Entomology is the only course work I was not able to work into my course of study for my Bachelor's and Master's degrees.  Biology, agronomy, economics, engineering and teaching classes took up all my time.  I have to ask for help on insects but with sound soil chemistry, biology and physics, I have never had a major insect problem.

Ed Winkle

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Making A Living From Gardening

"As we awaken to the realities in store for us in a future defined by declining net energy, concerns about food security, adequate nutrition, community resilience, and reliable income commonly arise.
Small-scale farming usually quickly surfaces as a pursuit that could help address all of these. Yet most dismiss the idea of becoming farmers themselves; mainly because of lack of prior experience, coupled with lack of capital. It simply feels too risky.

The refrain we most frequently hear is: I think I'd love doing it, but I don't know how I'd make a living.

Enter Jean-Martin Fortier and his wife, Maude-Hélène. They are a thirtysomething couple who have been farming successfully for the past decade. In fact, they've been micro-farming: their entire growing operations happen on just an acre and half of land.

And with this small plot, they feed over 200 families. And do so profitably.

The Fortiers are pioneers of the type of new models we're in such need of for the coming future. Fortunately, they realize this, and are being as transparent about their operations as they can -- in order to educate, encourage and inspire people to join the emerging new generation of small-scale farmers.

They have published a book, The Market Gardener, which is nothing short of an operating manual for their entire business. In it, they reveal exactly what they grow, how they grow it, what tools and farming practices they use, who their customers are, what they charge them, and how much profit they take home at the end of the day.
A quick summary of the numbers from their 1.5 acre operation:
  • 2013 revenue: $140,000
  • Customer sales breakdown:
    • CSA operations (140 members): 60%
    • Farmer's markets (2): 30%
    • Restaurants/grocery stores: 10%
  • Staff: 2 paid employees + the Fortiers
  • 2013 Expenses: $75,000
  • 2013 Profit: $65,000 (~45% profit margin)
Their initial start up costs were in the $40,000 range. Not peanuts; but fairly low by most new business standards.

Did I mention they're doing this in Quebec? (translation: colder, and shorter natural growing season vs most of North America)

Learning to do more with less, and doing it sustainably, will be a key operating principle for future prosperity. Here's a model that shows it's possible to do both, and have good quality of life, to boot.

We need more of these."

This is an extreme example but a thought provoker after yesterday's sad state of affairs on entrepreneurial enterprise.  I have done part of what this model suggests but never taken the big jump to make it a living.

Is this feasible?

Ed

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

2012 Census of Agriculture

Detailed data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture are now available. The survey results provide very detailed information about agriculture at the county, state and national levels. The data provides ag retailers, crop consultants and farm managers a look at their customer base at a local to national scale. Some key statistics include:
  • There were 2.1 million farms in the U.S. in 2012 covering 914.5 million acres. (A farm is any operation that sells or could have sold $1,000 worth of farm products.)
  • Seventy-five percent of the farms have gross revenue of $50,000 or less.
  • Nearly 900,000 farms had sales of less than $5,000 and average incomes of $1,500.
  • Four percent of farms had sales of $1 million or more and they accounted for 66 percent of total market value. (Keep in mind crop prices were record high in 2012.)
  • Thirty-nine percent of cropland was rented in 2012.
  • The average age of farmers is 58.3 – up from 57.1 in 2007.
  • Thirty percent of farm operators are women.
  • More than 20 percent of farmers have operated their farms for less than 10 years.
  • California is the top sales state followed by Iowa, Texas, Nebraska and Minnesota.
  • Nearly 70 percent of farms have internet access – but 10 percent of those still use dial-up.
The Census of Agriculture data can be found at the nass.usda.gov website.

The farm has gotten gigantic, then there is the rest of us!  Four percent of the 2.1 million "farms" account for 2/3 of agricultural production!

The value of Ohio's agricultural products were worth $10 billion in 2012, up 42 percent from 2007, and more farmers are tapping into that value with direct sales.

Sales of agricultural products were worth $10 billion in 2012, ranking Ohio 13th in the country, according to preliminary 2012 Census of Agriculture numbers released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That was an increase of 42 percent from the 2007 survey, a rate that was ahead of the country’s 33 percent growth.

The value of Ohio’s crop sales increased 61 percent, and livestock and poultry sales were up 17 percent.
Ohio also was among the top 10 states for number of farms (7th) and value of crop sales (10th) in 2012. The state made neither list in 2007.

In other ways, the farming picture in Ohio was mostly stable. The number of farms and farm operators decreased slightly, and farmers got a little older on average, but the amount of farm land in Ohio actually increased a bit from 2007.  Any guesses how that could happen?

Census data for individual counties will be released later.

Most things for us here in Ohio are relatively steady as farmers are looking for ways to expand their markets and diversify their operations.

Ed Winkle

Monday, May 12, 2014

Death Of The Entrepreneur

The American economy is less entrepreneurial now than at any point in the last three decades. That's the conclusion of a new study out from the Brookings Institution, which looks at the rates of new business creation and destruction since 1978.

Not only that, but during the most recent three years of the study -- 2009, 2010 and 2011 -- businesses were collapsing faster than they were being formed, a first. Overall, new businesses creation (measured as the share of all businesses less than one year old) declined by about half from 1978 to 2011.

The authors don't mince words about the stakes here: If the decline persists, "it implies a continuation of slow growth for the indefinite future." This lack of economic dynamism, particularly the steep drop since 2006, may be one reason why our current recovery has felt like much less than a recovery. As Matt O'Brien noted on Wonkblog last week, annual job growth rates have stubbornly refused to budge above 2 percent for the duration of the recovery.

The authors of the Brookings study dug beyond the national numbers to look at the change in new firms at the state and metro levels and found that they generally mirrored the national trends."

This puts numbers to what I've witnessed over my lifetime, the death of entrepreneurism in America.  I think it's deadly, what do you think?

The death of the small farm was the first sign I noticed, "bigger and better."  Bigger is NOT better.  I saw a 24 row corn planter sitting idle because the electronics wouldn't work.  Right next door was a small farmer like me planting with his "antiquated" 6 row planter with mechanical markers.

The very best sales point of an FFA Chapter in every school in America is the Supervised Agricultural Experience Program.  That teaches a youngster to plan a business, learn by doing it and keeping records on it.  A negative number at the end of the year can be the best teacher.

The man in the picture is Mark Denzler, Rushville, Indiana, and owner of First Choice Seeds.  He has grown his business every year since he started in 1996.  He is one of the few independent seedsmen left.

We lost half our farmers in the farm financial crisis in the 80's.  Ask any farmer about what has happened in agriculture alone.

Ed Winkle

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Return To Order

John Horvat has a new book named Return To Order. 

CHANDLER, AZ (April 25, 2014) – The nation is on course for self-destruction as a result of ignoring our God-given moral compass, which ultimately keeps everything in balance, according to John Horvat II, author of Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society —Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go. Horvat, who is an internationally followed author and scholar, is sparking a movement among Christians who are eagerly tuning in to hear his messages about the need to return to faith and family in an age of exploding technological advances and unhinged economies.

Horvat will bring his much lauded presentation, “Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother: The Key to Bringing America Back to Order” to Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Cincinnati, Ohio at 10:30 a.m. on June 7. The center is located 5440 Moeller Avenue.
“Our blind embrace of an economy driven by the pursuit of instant gratification, regardless of the consequences, is unsustainable and has thrown us into a state of socioeconomic chaos,” says Horvat.
In his book, Horvat draws from his rich Christian past to explain the correlation between the economy, faith and moral values. Without relying solely on statistics and economic indicators, he shows how society’s obsession for a secular, materialistic culture is causing social and psychological emptiness and economic ruin. With five Catholic institutions of higher learning and more than 400,000 practicing faithful in the region, local advocates of Return to Order requested that Horvat bring his message to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Return to Order ranked #1 on Amazon/Kindle in four countries in December, has sold 20,000 copies to date and has received dozens of endorsements from scholars, clergy, politicians and other leading American and European figures.
Return to Order provides an interesting analysis of how the United States has departed from the spiritual, cultural and economic precepts that supported the founding and the early history of our republic,” said the Honorable Edwin Meese III, Former Attorney General of the United States. “It also sets forth valuable recommendations for restoring our society to its foundation of ordered liberty and traditional values.”
In addition to Return to Order, Horvat is the author of hundreds of articles, some of which have  appeared in The Wall Street Journal, FOX News, The Christian Post, The Washington Times, ABC News and C-SPAN. Horvat’s writing has been compared to that of Richard Weaver and Russell Kirk, both major conservative intellectuals.
Horvat will lead discussions and participate in book signings at more than a dozen cities including my nearest city, Cincinnati on June 7.
I have read some not so glowing reviews of the book, but its theme is something LuAnn and I talk about often.  I don't see us "returning to order" anytime soon if at all.
Do you?  Can you "pass" the technology quiz?  I doubt any of us can, especially if you are reading this.
Ed

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fight Brews In Hawaii

WAIALUA, Hawaii (AP) — "You can trace the genetic makeup of most corn grown in the U.S., and in many other places around the world, to Hawaii.

The tiny island state 2,500 miles from the nearest continent is so critical to the nation’s modern corn-growing business that the industry’s leading companies all have farms here, growing new varieties genetically engineered for desirable traits like insect and drought resistance.

But these same farms have become a flash point in a spreading debate over genetic engineering in agriculture.

Kauai and Hawaii counties have moved in the past several months to regulate genetically modified organisms and the pesticides the farms use. In Maui County, a group is collecting signatures for a potential ballot measure that would impose a temporary ban on the crops.

“People are very concerned, and it’s my job as a council member to determine whether those concerns are valid and take steps to protect them,” said Gary Hooser, a councilman in Kauai.
Buffer Zones
Hooser and the council passed a law last year, over the mayor’s veto, to require large farms to create buffer zones around their crops and to disclose what pesticides they use. The law is set to take effect in August.

Seed companies with Kauai operations — Syngenta, Pioneer, BASF and Agrigentics — have sued the county to stop the law, saying they already are regulated by state and federal laws and there is no need for additional county rules.

“We don’t plant anything that isn’t permitted and approved through the proper regulatory agencies, be it the EPA, the FDA and UDSA,” said Mark Phillipson, the head of Hawaii corporate affairs for Syngenta, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hawaii’s origins as a critical node in corn production dates to the 1960s when James Brewbaker, a recently arrived researcher at the University of Hawaii, noticed he could plant three crops a year in Hawaii’s warm climate instead of one as in most places on the mainland.

Around the same time, Pioneer Hi-Bred was trying to squeeze more research into a year by using greenhouses and farms in Florida. Brewbaker suggested researchers come to Hawaii.

Seed farms grew as research expanded and more land became available as Hawaii’s sugar and pineapple plantations became less competitive in the global market and shut down.

As of 2012, the most recent data available, seed crops in Hawaii were worth $217 million, up from $140 million in 2007. About 95 percent of it is corn. In all, they exceed the value of the state’s next several largest crops — including sugarcane and macadamia nuts."

We saw this brewing during visit in February.  It had picked up speed since our first visit in 2012.
It is a real issue.

Follow the money, who will win?

How would you like to see your seed investment dollars spent?

Ed Winkle

Friday, May 9, 2014

Whoopsie

Whenever we have a little mistake or accident, we catch ourselves saying "whoopsie."  We learned this from grandson Liam who used to say "whoopsie" whenever he had a little accident.

Unfortunately for us, he is a child and his "whoopsie's" are small.  We are adults and ours are much bigger.

Yesterday an old friend was helping me catch up on spraying while I was on the tractor.  One pass I looked over and wondered what that long thing was laying in the waterway.

We have two power poles on the electric company right of way on one farm.  He had snagged his boom on a brace wire which snapped and the rotten power pole broke off.

These too poles have been scheduled for replacement for two years and every time they want to replace them there is a crop in the field or it was super muddy.  I ask if they will pay for the damaged crop and they say, oh, you won't even notice we were there.  Not true. I discourage them from replacing them but one got replaced yesterday.

I went to the house to get a drink and call the power company.  Yep, the lights were off.  That line serves many customers.  I begged them to get it off the farm when I moved here and it would only take another quarter mile of poles and wire to get it off that farm.  They said sure, we will do it for $11,000!  That was ten years ago.  I told them I don't think we will be doing that anytime soon.  Yesterday, for a moment, I wished I had done it.

The lead guy Danny shows up and I pick up a shingle from the yard that blew off the house in the straight line winds the other day.  I hold it up and say, "sure have had some strong winds here lately."  He smiled and winked his eye and didn't even ask what got torn up to tear down a light pole.  I said these poles have been scheduled for replacement and he said yes, it is right here on my paperwork.

In four hours the old pole was removed and the new one was up.  Everyone on our line had their electric back.

In my defense, the breakaway booms on the sprayer never broke off and you KNOW how easy they are to snap.

I rest my case in the fact those poles need replaced.

I wonder when they will come and try to replace the other one?  It looks more fragile than the one that snapped yesterday.

I thanked God no one got hurt.  My worry to get the spraying caught quickly disappeared.  My guardian angel is one vigilant angel.

Ed Winkle