Monday, December 24, 2012

The Coolest Thing Dad Has Ever Bought

An excavator. I think every man that enjoys heavy machinery wants one of these. We have a landlord that had a big tree job to do, and I've got a bunch of work to do around my place, so Dad took the plunge. We have a lot of farms that need some work, so it will come in handy. We have also talked about potentially turning it into a business, as it's really hard to find farmland to rent and it's almost impossible to buy any at current land prices.

That's a cedar tree in its jaws. You just clamp down on the suckers and they pop right out.

I've only operated it for a few minutes just to figure out how it works, but it's pretty awesome. I can't wait to get it over to my place next summer and start taking out trees and buildings.

Dad also bought a truck to haul it, which will also give us another truck to haul with during harvest. I'll be buying a grain trailer sometime before next fall. Anyway, it's an '87 Kenworth T800 with a 3406 Cat and a 9 speed. It has a re-manufactured engine on it with approximately 150,000 miles, so it should last a long time. It needs paint, but my brother went to school for paint and body, so I think he'll be painting it next summer.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Few Pictures

These are just some pictures I took during harvest. Nothing too exciting here.

Shay learned how to run the auger wagon. She may have spilled some corn. It happens to the best of us.

This was not a fluke. There were a few acres on my place where the yield monitor never went below 90bu/acre going through the field. Typically, I have 50-55bu/acre soybeans. It's still pretty unbelievable. God knows how to raise beans. I just plant and water them and let Him do the rest.

These are a few pictures of the last field of corn that I picked. It was about 35 acres and averaged 194bu/acre. I think it would've done 200+, but the pivot was late in getting completed and this is sandy ground. When the corn was really small, the wind blew 30+ mph for a few days and sandblasted a few spots pretty badly. Those spots produced very little. If the pivot would've been operational, I would've been able to water the soil and keep it wet enough to stop it from blowing. I was still really happy with how it yielded. God was good to us on this farm, too.

This is what happens when the wind blows 40-60mph before you get done picking corn. Grandpa had a bunch of acres go down. It was pretty ugly. The rows in the picture have not been harvested yet. 

Just a picture.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

There's a Song I Really Like

Bicycling In a Border Town by Brian Burns, and it has a line in it that goes through my head a lot anymore: "I love mankind, man, it's people I hate."

I just read a letter to the editor in the Grand Island paper from someone that obviously doesn't have much of a clue. It was about privatizing crop insurance and eliminating direct payments as it would level the playing field for the "next generation." To quote Ed from the Barenaked Ladies: "Lady! You're an idiot!"

I am assuming that I am part of this "next generation." Guess what? I got paid on a crop insurance claim this year, and it was just about enough to cover my tractor payment. That allowed me to actually put some cash in savings. But you think if crop insurance is privatized, which would likely mean more expensive, it will help me "get [my] foot in the door."

I have no problem getting rid of direct payments, but crop insurance? I don't think consumers realize it isn't meant to make farmers rich - it's there to make sure the people that supply your food stay in business. Do you think we want to collect on crop insurance? Do you pay your car insurance premium hoping to total the son of a bitch?

If you want to propose a cap to crop insurance, whether it's based on a bushels per acre cap (instead of using proven yields, have a set number for everyone, maybe 100bu/acre) or guaranteed income per acre based on that year's production costs, I'll listen, as that actually might help the "next generation" out some, but don't tell me that you have a better answer when I seriously doubt that you have any skin in the game.

I can think of a better place to put my foot, but your head is in the way.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Favorite Songs of 2012

I know, I know. The year isn't over yet, but Shay is gone and I'm staying up late listening to and playing music, just like the old college days.

I've come across a lot of good music this year, and I thought I'd share some of my favorites. I think in order to keep it interesting, I'll pare it down to a top 5:

5 - Turnpike Troubadours - Gin, Smoke, Lies

I don't know how you couldn't like this song. Really.

4 - Sons of Bill - Santa Ana Winds

I don't really know what this song is about, and I don't really care. It makes me feel good and that's what matters.

3 - Lucero - When I Was Young

I... uh... well, I feel like this a lot of the time. Am I old enough to remember when I was young? I dunno. When he sings of love, I don't really think about it in the romantic sense. I think a lot about my friends and I wish I would've spent more time with them then. That's how the line "Oh, the days I let slip away, I was fierce and wild in love when I was young," means to me. I know. That's probably not what he means. But it's what I mean.  


2 - Sean McConnell - Old Brown Shoes

I love this guy and could listen to him all day, every day. One of his albums (200 Orange St.) pulled me out of a bad funk a few years back and I've been a huge supporter ever since. If the chorus of this song doesn't do something to you, you have no soul. 

1 - Kasey Anderson - Exit Ghost

The album version is more rocked out, but I like this version best. In an interview, he says the title comes from a Shakespeare stage direction. It's about all of the people in your life you used to be close to. I can relate. Been thinking about that a lot, lately. The last minute and a half is my favorite. 

The next 5 (if you choose to check them out):

Chris Knight - Little Victories
Uncle Lucius - Pocket Full of Misery
Lucero - I Can't Stand To Leave You
Lucero - It May Be Too Late
Turnpike Troubadours - Good Lord Lorrie

And as a bonus, my favorite cover song of the year. Saw them play this in concert a month or two ago. I had no idea what it was until the chorus hit. That's when I realized it may have been the greatest cover I've ever heard. The video does it no justice. 

Reckless Kelly - She Drives Me Crazy (Fine Young Cannibals)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Soil Maps

I've recently discovered the NRCS soil survey website ( and have spent a lot of time on it. See, I can tell you what type of soil is where in my fields, but I couldn't tell you names, drainage characteristics, what land class it was, etc. I've been studying, and I wonder more and more if maybe I'm the limiting factor on some of my fields.

See, I get a notion in my head that such-and-such field might have some problems, so I'll cut a little on fertilizer or water too much. Maybe I'll put a corn variety there that is better for a silty loam soil, when I actually need something for a sandy loam. I'm also guilty of managing a 35 acre patch based on the 4 or 5 acre alkali patch in the middle of it.

Interestingly enough, one of the fields that I think of as one of the best we farm is actually not considered prime farmland. I always thought it was, though, so I treated it like it was top shelf soil, and really, it produces right near the top.

Do you see why I'm thinking I'm the limiting factor? Yes, that alkali spot is a pain in the ass, but the rest of the ground around it is capable of 200+ bushel corn, so what the heck am I doing managing 35 acres based on 10-15% of the field?

I took a lot of soils classes in college, but none of it really started making sense until now. I wish I could find those books and go back through them, but apparently they are gone forever.

Going through the soil maps also reassures me quite a bit. When Mom and Dad bought the farm I live on, there were some skeptics. A guy that I like pretty well told me (in the bar after many beers) that he was scared I would go broke. I bought into that hype some, as it's sandy in spots and wet in others. Looking at the soil map, the half of the farm we bought is considered prime farmland. After seeing the beans it raised this fall, I believe it. I had a test plot on some of it, and the winner of the plot went 89bu/acre, with 7 of the 12 varieties going 80+ bushels/acre.

The key to good yields here? Drainage. As long as we can keep excessive water off of our fields, we have a good shot at high yields. This is critical during planting and emergence. Half of the battle, in my mind, is getting it out of the ground in a timely fashion.

So, soils. Check 'em out.

Friday, December 14, 2012


It's been in me a long time to write this post. I've started it about eleventy times only to quit. Something keeps drawing me back to the blank page that is Blogger. My writing peeps can probably understand.

I don't want this blog to die. I don't know what I want out of it. Mostly, I don't know what you want out of it. I was reading a lot of my posts from the first year, and it amazes me how much I wandered and didn't write only about farming.

This year, when I did post, it was mostly about farming, and rather boring, I thought. Then, I quit. I will be honest with you - this year sucked. Flat out. I was pissed off most of the time, and that doesn't always make for good writing. It was a hot, dry, long summer, and the last thing I wanted to do was blog about it. I was convinced that the heat, weeds, drought and earworms could not be defeated.

How little faith...

We were blessed beyond any measure I could think of this year. Yes, I had a field that did pretty poorly, but there God provided what we needed through crop insurance. Everywhere else, I was more than surprised by how well crops did. I had my first 200bu/acre corn and my first 70bu/acre beans. I saw 110bu/acre on the yield monitor in more than one spot on some of my beans field. We had virtually no break downs all harvest and got the crop in earlier than I've ever imagined. Prices were good, and we've made money. God knows a thing or two about growing crops, I've finally decided.

We also closed on the farm this week. Shay and I (and the bank) own 68 acres now, 55 of which are crop ground. I've been doing a lot of planning and dreaming lately about what this place might look like some day. It's alternately scary and exciting, but I feel that God has blessed us with this opportunity, so I'm going to run with it.

Other than that, not much exciting going on here. I've been reading a lot and planning for next crop year. There may be a new sideline business for Dad and I in the near future, but I'll wait to share until I can get some pictures of things. Nothing like a little suspense to bring you back, eh?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Harvest Started. Suddenly.

Dad always plants about 40 acres of short season, 97 day (Channel 197-67VT3P) corn. This year, I noticed that it went from green to brown in a span of about 2 days. Dad checked the moisture on it Wednesday and it tested 14%, which is pretty dry. See, if it's 16% moisture content (% of the weight of the corn that is water, basically) or less, you don't get docked at the elevator for moisture. If it's above that, they will charge you a drying fee, which I'm assuming is the same as last year - $.03 a half point. So, if you are taking 20% moisture corn in, they will have to dry it down to 16%. Because of that, they will charge you $.24/bu.

Anyway. The corn was dry, so it was time to pick it.

We finally got the combine out of the shop Friday morning around 11:30. We got the field opened up and picked a couple of loads when a shaft snapped on the corn head. It had been broken for awhile apparently and finally gave out, so it's nice that it happened right away so we could fix it. Shay stopped at Green Line after work and got a new one and Dad had the head back together that night. Dad and I went out this afternoon and filled the trucks and the auger wagons. The corn was yielding 190-200bu/acre until we got to the hot spots in the field. This particular field has a few spots that are really sandy, and with no rain this summer, there's really no way to get them the moisture they need. The field will still yield well considering that. I'm guessing 175-180bu/acre. By my mistake, Dad picked 8 rows of 116 day corn (Channel 216-61R) and it was making around 220 at 18% moisture, so there is some hope out there for good corn. Time will tell.

We also tested some of our other corn that is 107-109 day maturity, and it was anywhere from 19-23% moisture. Supposed to be hot and windy the next two days, and stay close to 80 after that, so we will probably be picking corn full blast by the weekend, and if not, by next Monday. The beans are also turning fast, so it could be an interesting fall.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Last Go 'Round

I'm hopeful that this will be the last time that I have to water the soybeans. If it's not, well, I guess it won't be that bad. There's a field I irrigate for Dad that had to be replanted June 1 as it got hailed out, so that'll need watered a couple more times probably, but all of the other beans are turning pretty quickly. I started my pivot last night to finish things out. Took a quick picture when I drove by to check it this morning:

Dad hand checked the moisture of his 97 day corn and it test 14.5% moisture, so it might be closer to 16%, but that means we'll be picking corn tomorrow. Hopefully. St. Paul Equipment was putting a new AC compressor on and then the combine should be ready to go. I think there are only about 50 acres of that short season corn, so we won't be going full tilt. After we're done with that, we'll probably be 10-14 days out on harvest starting all out. Might be sooner than that the way the wind has been blowing and as hot as it's been.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Starting to Feel Like Fall

Even though it was 100 degrees today (yeah, really) I can feel the seasons changing.

I had a craving for Pizza Hut, so Wife and I went up to St. Paul tonight for a classy evening on the town. On the way home, I took some gravel roads to look at crops. The sun is setting earlier, it cools off at night and it smells like fall. If you've ever driven by corn fields when the corn is maturing, you know what I mean.

It's pretty refreshing to me to see corn turning brown and beans turning yellow and dropping their leaves after the summer we've had. A week from today will mark three months ago that we started irrigating, and it's been non-stop since then. That is highly unusual for us. To see the crops maturing gives me a small feeling of euphoria, knowing that we got through the worst summer this area has seen in decades. It goes to show that leaning on God will get you through anything. I freaked out enough as it was. I have no idea where I'd be without his wisdom, love and grace.

Seems like we were at this stage so long ago:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Quick Food Thought/ Matthew Chapter 6

My Sunday school class will tell you my favorite passage in the Bible is Matthew 6:25-34. I can't help but continue to go back to it time and again as I read and hear of people arguing over the way food is produced. I know fellow Christians that regularly argue about it, and the only thing I can really think to do is point them to the words that Christ said:

Matt. 6:25 - "Look at the birds of the air: they neither reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"

And the real kicker, for me anyway:

Matt. 6:31-33 - "Therefore, do not be anxious, saying 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

I think about these words a lot - "The Gentiles seek after all these things."

Are we Gentiles, or are we the saved brothers and sisters of Christ? I keep thinking more and more that this food fight (har har) is another way that satan is attacking us without us even realizing it. God provides all kinds of food for us Americans, but there are so many that say "No thanks, that's not good enough for me!"

You know, I've heard stories of what the old timers ate for breakfast - bacon, steak, sausage, eggs, pancakes, toast, coffee, and most of it covered in grease or cooked in lard. You know why they lived until they were 90? They worked. Hard. I don't know so much that it's the food we put into our body, it's what we do with it.

That's what I'm thinking, anyway. What do I know, though?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Yield Check/Silage Pics

We chopped silage yesterday. I was able to take a few pictures, but they aren't the greatest. We only chopped about 10 acres, but it was really good silage. The piece of ground the corn was on is pretty rough, but it was the best corn I've ever seen out there. Apparently, it likes hot, dry weather. I would've liked to run the combine through it, because I planted it at 38,000 plants/acre. There were some really good ears out there. I'm guessing it would've made 160-170bu/acre, which would've been awesome for that ground. Grandpa and I were pretty satisfied. When you chop silage, you take the whole plant, and it is chopped up and spit out and taken to a pile, where it is packed down. When you pick with a combine, you only take the ear.

I've also started pulling pipe apart as we are just about done irrigating corn. I've been doing a few yield checks while pulling pipe apart. How you do it on 36" rows is mark off a section of the field that is 14'6" long and count all of the harvest-able ears in that section, as it constitutes 1/1000th of an acre. Then, you pick every 5th ear and count the kernels on them and do some voodoo math. I did three fields, and two were better than expected. One was not so good, but it's on sand, so I kind of expected it. Here are the ears from the best field I checked:

You can count kernels by counting the row length, and then how many around the ears are. As an example, if an ear is 18 kernels around and 38 long - 18*38 = 684.

Here's how the math works -

Average kernels (of the ears pictured above) - 595
Harvest population (number of ears counted in the 14'6" area (28) * 1,000) - 28,000

595*28,000 = 16,660,000 (This would be the amount of kernels per acre)

16,660,000/90,000 (amount of kernels it takes to make a bushel) =  185bu/acre

Usually a bushel consists of 80,000 kernels, but I like to fudge a little to be surprised in the combine. So, if I divide by 85,000, I get 196bu/acre. If I divide by 80,000, I'd have 208bu/acre. How awesome would that be? Keep in mind, this is only one spot in the middle of the field. I only do this to get an idea of how well a certain hybrid works in a certain field. Obviously, this hybrid was placed in the right field. This will help in making my planting decisions next year, as different hybrids respond differently to each field and environment.

Friday, August 24, 2012

8/24... I Think

I don't remember the date and I'm too lazy to look it up, which should tell you how lazy I am, considering I could move my cursor and find out in about two seconds.


Not a whole lot going on lately. I finally took my CDL drive test the other day and passed. If I would've remembered how to back up I would've gotten a perfect score, but as it stands, I lost three points on my test. I think you can lose eight and still pass. I had a lady walk in front of me while I was coming into town on the highway, so that could've been interesting. 25,000 pound semi, 150ish pound woman... Who would've won? I cursed the woman aloud, and the lady that was giving my test started laughing. I assumed that was a good sign. But anyway, I'm glad that's over with. I haven't been that nervous since I gave presentations in college.

Which was 3 years ago. Seems like it wasn't that long ago that we were playing beer pong and civil war in the house on 1st Street, Seward, Nebraska. A good friend from college was here last week, Mr. Kevin Richter, who is studying to be a pastor now. Good kid, that one. It's pretty wild to see where we are now compared to where we were then. I remember doing Greek flash cards with him and laughing at Helen Keller jokes in the basement of the library (I know, juvenile.) when we should've been studying for a test. One weekend we grilled every meal from supper Friday to supper Sunday. A professor lived behind our house, and I remember Kevin and I going out to light the grill on Saturday morning around 10 with a beer in hand. We kept it classy.

I'm irrigating corn for the last time. We'll be picking up pipe soon, possibly tomorrow depending on how motivated I get. And if Dad doesn't have other projects in store. We could be picking corn in a couple of weeks. Dad's got a 97 day variety that is turning pretty rapidly. I'll be interested to see what moisture it's testing by the end of next week.

The beans will probably take water for 2-3 more weeks. Usually, we cut beans before picking corn, but I think this year will be the opposite. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Should I?

Shay thinks I should apply for this... thing. Apparently, if I won, I'd be a spokesman for production agriculture. I'd have to write an essay type thing and make a video to apply. I don't know what to think. It'd be cool, but I don't think I'd want to be away for 30 days out of the year, but I feel like I'd be really good at this (until I got fed up and became extremely blunt).

Shay says I bitch a lot about the misconceptions that consumers have concerning agriculture and this is a good way to put the rubber to the road. What do you all think?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lucero. Just... Awesome

I love this band. I discovered them about 4 years ago when I was living in a house with a bunch of dudes. I'd hang out in my bedroom in the basement and watch every video of them on YouTube I could find. I don't know why they mean so much to me, but they do. Their last couple of albums have added some stuff - a horn section and a different sound, but I still love them. I think That Much Further West is my favorite album of theirs, but I like them all. Shay is really the only person in my life that shares my affinity for them, but that's ok.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Weather/Pickup/Bean Pictures

The weather this year has been so... weird. It was hot all spring, hot all summer. Now, it's beautiful. After all of those 95+ degree days, 82 with a breeze feels so darn good. We haven't ran our air conditioning three of the last four days. Thank you, Lord, for this break. We all needed it, and He knew it.

I shredded a bunch of weeds today. That's the majority of what I do this time of year. I did finally get my pickup into town to get worked on. I haven't had brakes for two months and my exhaust is held up by baling wire. I tried washing all of the mud off of it before I took it into town, but that didn't work out so well. It's amazing the abuse pickups can take and not die. I would've given up a long time ago.

I debated whether or not to add these pictures, because they are kind of unbelievable. Last night, Andy and Kristin came over for supper, and Andy and I went on a crop tour. I grabbed a random bean plant, but really, it must've been a tree. The stalk was as big around as my thumb. We looked at it and left. This morning, I got curious, so I went back and looked at it. It had 244 pods on it. A normal bean plant will have 30-60. I have never seen a mutant like this. The only way I can explain it is that God has grown these beans, because there is no way I am smart enough or talented enough to do it. Every time I walk that field, I find something else that boggles my mind. It's always a reminder that God will provide for and bless His children. It will be interesting to see how they do this fall. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Can't We Just Get Along?

 (This is semi-tongue-in-cheek)

I've noticed a trend on Facebook, in article comments, Twitter, etc. the last year or so that really bothers me. Maybe it's been going on for a long time and I was oblivious to it; maybe it's because the end of the world is at hand...

Whether it be Republicans and Democrats, Christians and atheists, homosexuals and homophobes, there seems to be an overriding need to be right. This happens constantly on Facebook - someone blasts out a status about how they feel about something, and anyone that disagrees is automatically an idiot, and you get some long winded explanation about why the original poster is right, and then an equally long winded explanation stating the reasons that the original poster is wrong, and you get counterpoints and counter-counterpoints (Kudos to you if you get that. You are my kind of people. If you don't get it, you're an idiot. I don't care what you say. No, you're still an idiot. Just Google it and you'll see how right I am.).

I find that this happens mostly in my age group (I'm 26), and I always feel the same way - embarrassed. You know what my parents were doing when they were 26? Working their asses off and raising two kids, with three more on the way by 30. I don't think they had much time to speak to each other, much less waste time on Facebook or Twitter (Or Blogger. Well played, sir.). The last time I checked, I am much dumber than I was when I was 22, when I was much dumber than I was at 18. I think by the time I'm 30, I might be dragging my knuckles while breathing through my mouth. Do you get my point?

I'm not saying that people are stupid, far from it. I know tons of smart people my age. I guess I don't know many humble people my age. Man, this spring, I thought I was going to have a great year. I had my fields looking great, no weeds, irrigated early, and then you know what happened? No rain for two months. Sunflowers popped up out of nowhere. I had rows wash out so that irrigation water didn't run where it was supposed to and ran everywhere it wasn't. Earworm, bad pollination, Goss's Wilt, spidermites. You know how it feels to get knocked down a peg? Because after all of that, I do.

See, it's ok to be wrong. Sometimes you learn more by being wrong than by being right. If you don't understand that, give it time. You will. I cannot imagine how dumb my 30 year old self will think my 26 year old self is. Once you can admit you're wrong, it feels kind of good. There's not as much pressure to be right. And maybe I'm wrong here, but I think people respect someone who can step back and admit that they were being an idiot. You know the kind of person that I don't like? One that argues that they are right even when they know they are wrong, who will never admit to not knowing that answer, or who has never gambled and lost. Pretty much the guy that I am 98% of the time. It doesn't feel good to be humbled, but when I am, I always try to figure out what I'm supposed to learn. What does God see in me that He doesn't want to? The more I look, the less I know, and the more I lean on Him.

For those of us that follow Christ, we need to remember that one day, this won't matter. All that matters is the faith that we were saved by grace, through faith, when Christ died on the cross. It won't matter who won the 2012 election, it won't matter that corn is $8/bu and it sure as heck won't matter if you were as dumb as me. Our reward is not of this earth! If trying to prove your genius to the minions on Facebook or Twitter is your reward, I'd say you have a pretty meaningless life. My reward is in Heaven. Where is yours?

Unexpected Friday Night

Well, Shay and I were irrigating and semi-arguing when we heard a dog yelp and felt a bump. Instead of going to Andy and Kristin's for supper, we headed to the vet. Luckily, the vet doesn't think anything is broken and Charlie should be fine in a few days. The ground was wet where he got ran over, so I think it cushioned him some. After the vet we ate a quick supper in town and came home to irrigate. It was kind of a weird evening.

The weather seems to have turned, but I'm not going to be fooled. I'm sure it will give us another blast of heat. It was beautiful out today. It feels like fall is just around the corner, and maybe it is. It could be an early one since the weather has been about a month ahead of schedule this year.

I wandered around in our corn test plot today and really liked the looks of a few of the hybrids there. The ones that I really want to make sure and plant next year are Stine 9728EVT3P and Channel 209-69VT3P. They look like really healthy plants, have good Goss's Wilt tolerance, are good in corn-on-corn situations, and respond well to irrigation. Sounds like they are right up my alley!

Here is a picture of the Stine 9728:

And a picture of the Channel 209-69:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Earworm In Corn

I had to walk into a pivot today to check the water flow meter. This pivot has some of my best looking corn, so as I walked, I pulled ears. What I found changed my mood in a hurry: Earworm, and lots of it. Here are a couple of university pages that detail earworm:

For those that don't feel like using the links, here is a short and sweet explanation from UNL's website: "Eggs individually laid on silks and newly hatched larvae tunnel into ears where they feed on developing kernels. Feeding usually starts at the ear tip and works downward. Usually only one mature larva develops per ear"

I pulled some ears in other parts of the field and found the same thing. Of the 30 or so ears I pulled, I only found 3 or 4 that didn't have earworm. I am not sure how my crop scout didn't see this, but I should've been watching closer. This corn was planted May 8th. According to a lot of stuff I've read, this makes corn more susceptible to earworm. At this point, it is too late to do anything, so all I can really do is wait and see how bad it is this fall. Hopefully it's not as bad as I think One of the disgusting buggers is on the second ear from the bottom.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I'm Beat

I've had a cold for over a week now (I'm going to the doctor tomorrow - yeah, it's bad). That coupled with the heat is really getting to me. I slept until 7:15 this morning, which rarely happens. I had to convince myself to get up and shower a little bit ago, or else you might've smelled this blog coming. I helped Dad clean out a grain bin this morning, walked fields with my Stine DSM (actually, regional manager now), and then helped Dad with a pivot that had a bunch of sand in the overhang. Except, I'm not sure how much help I was today. I'm sore and tired all over.

I'm also mentally tired. Walking fields made me want to barf a few times. I have two Channel numbers that look like holy hell - 216-61R and 207-02R. The 216 pollinated in the worst part of the heat, apparently. You would think it's dryland corn by the looks of the ears. The 207 is on some sandier ground and has Goss's Wilt pretty bad. I hope we get 150bu/acre on it, but I doubt it. I also have some Stine that has Goss's wilt (9731), but I only planted 2 bags, so I suppose that's good news. I'm giving up on my fight against sunflowers and weeds in general. Hopefully, the field I have lined up to get sprayed will get done sometime in the next couple of days. It looks gross. Oh yeah, all of my dryland corn is dead and most of the dryland beans will be dead by the beginning of next week.

I don't think harvest will be much fun. The only ray of hope I really have is that the irrigated beans look pretty good. I'm hoping they yield well and make up for the loss on the corn, because I really don't see the irrigated corn yield being there with the combination of heat, bad pollination in places, and Goss's Wilt.

I've been surprised before, though.

Sorry if this is a downer. I'm just tired of this year. I think most guys around here feel the same way, and maybe most farmers in the country. It's really hard for me to see all the work and money I've put into a crop, knowing that if it would've only been 90 degrees when the corn pollinated instead of 102 and we would've caught a couple of timely rains, I might be looking at a lot of 180-200bu/acre corn. But, if this is the life I'm going to live, I better learn to deal with it. Weather is fickle, and so are people, but if I remember that God is going to provide and bless, life seems a lot better.

As Ray Wylie Hubbard says - "The days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, I have really good days."

Monday, August 6, 2012


I have toyed with the idea of getting a Jeep for a few years. I could never really convince myself to get one, though. The other night, Shay and I were in a semi-serious discussion about getting one for next summer. The next day, my sister texted me and asked if I was interested in buying a Jeep, as her boss had one for sale. Divine intervention? I don't know that God wanted me to have a Jeep, but it was pretty easy how it all worked out, so maybe He did. Who knows how God works? Not me. Anyway, Dad, Sam and I went to look at it Saturday, and other than running out of gas on the way home with it, it's been pretty awesome. I've asked Shay 700 times why I hadn't bought one before. We already call dibs on driving it for irrigating. It's a lot of fun.

Not much else exciting is going on. I have a bunch of sunflowers in a couple of fields and they are driving me nuts, so I've been chopping some about every morning. I don't know how they got there, because I didn't see them when I was hilling. Looks bad, so I'm taking the corn knife to them. I'll never get done, but it makes me feel better about it. For all you farmers that read this, can you tell me why that kind of stuff always happens next to the highway? Sheesh.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Man, I'm tired. Been fighting a cold most of the week. I went into town tonight to see Smokey and the Bandit at the Grand, so that was cool. It's a cool old theater in Grand Island that shows movies for $3.50 a ticket. Shay's parents are here, so she was in town with them and I was going to stay home and sleep off this cold, but decided I wouldn't get another chance to see my favorite movie on the big screen.

I bought a Jeep today. Shay and I were talking the other night about getting one for irrigating and running around in, and the next day my sister texted me asking if I wanted to buy a Jeep from her boss. It was meant to be, apparently. I'll get some pictures of it tomorrow. I've wanted a Jeep for a long time, but could never convince myself to buy one. This one was a good price, and I'm going to sell a pickup, so it'll be a wash, hopefully. I should've bought one sooner. I took it irrigating tonight, and it's perfect for that.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

But it's not (this time). It's a blog thing - I've had a lot of friends do it on their blogs and I think it's cool. From now on, I'm going to do this on Wednesdays.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Last Day of July?

What the heck? When did this happen?

Anyway, I did some stuff and some things today. I had to use a different power unit on the pump west of the house this year, and I was having trouble with it running too fast, causing the well to surge a little bit. Basically, it was pumping some air, so the water wasn't coming out steadily. It's not the preferred method. Dad had a stack of pulleys in the barn, so I grabbed one that was an inch bigger than the one that was on the pump. You have to take 4 bolts out and the pulley will come off. Sounds easy, but they fit tight, and this pulley had been on for a long time. Dad has a lot of experience doing pump work, so he helped me pop it off. I found out that that well was drilled in '56.

This is the new pulley we put on. The round thing with the belt on it:

It turns real fast (about 1250 RPM) and brings water up:

It's powered by a Ford 200 engine that runs on propane. Had a load of propane brought out today. There goes another $400:

I think you've all seen pipe and how that works. This pulley, even though it is only an inch larger, has fixed the problem. I didn't have to adjust the speed of the power unit at all. I am a much happier camper.

I took some more crop pictures. The first picture is of a disease that we are getting in our corn this year called Goss's Wilt. It's a bacterial disease that can be caused by hail damage or wind damage, which we had this year. If either of those things strip the leaves, it allows the bacteria to enter the plant. It can rob yield. Not every field has it, as some varieties of corn are more susceptible than others. At this time, there's really not much you can do about it, except rotate crops and try to get rid of the residue, as the disease will live in the residue and carry over to the next crop year. A better explanation can be found here:

I picked a few ears of corn that were at the bottom end of a field. If the whole field looks like this, I will be grinning from ear to ear:

I pulled a bean plant that was at the bottom end of some sandier ground at home tonight. It was chest high and had 81 pods, which is quite a few. The seven pods that I set aside each had 4 beans in them, which is kind of a big deal. Soybean plants usually only have 3 beans per pod, but there is a push with new genetics to have more 4 bean pods. I don't remember ever really seeing any on any of my beans before. God is good:

Trying to show how big the beans are. They are chest high on me, and I'm about 6'.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Not much exciting happened today. I started a bunch of wells, shredded some weeds, irrigated, went grocery shopping with wife, and now we're watching the Olympics.

Tomorrow will hold some of the same excitement.

This time of year can get kind of boring. We shred a lot of weeds, irrigate, and that's about it. I've got some projects around the farm I'd like to get done, but I've been waiting for it to cool off. Apparently, I'll be waiting until December.

Soon enough, we'll be picking up pipe and getting ready to harvest. The corn is starting to dent, which means it's anywhere from 30-40 days to full maturity. That's pretty early for us. The beans are also podding or at full pod, which means they are about the same length of days away from maturity. Then the fun part can begin.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Big Day

Since I got done using it almost three months ago, I decided today was a good day to put my planter away. My planter doesn't fold and is 25' wide, while my shed doors are about 16' wide. What's a fellow to do? Buy a trailer, that's what. You can chock the wheels on this type of implement trailer, and the deck will roll forward and down to the ground. Back your implement on to it, back the trailer deck up and allow the wheels to roll free and you are good to go. Sounds like it shouldn't take long, but it did. Oh well. Thanks for helping, Dad.

It was really nice out this afternoon, so I walked some fields. Harvest will be interesting. Some stuff looks decent, some looks good, and some pollinated at the wrong time. It was just too darn hot out for some of it. The ears that don't look very good must've pollinated during the hot part of the day. That's a size 11 sandal, in case you were wondering.

This monster was 22 kernels around and 40 long. I don't remember ever pulling one that big, and it was on some of my sandier ground. It was the farthest right ear in the above picture.

This is a more typical size, 16x38:

This is what a lot of people refer to as "tip back" as the ear will abort kernels from the tip of the ear back when the plant is stressed. Basically, the plant is trying to stay alive and is telling the ear that it's going to have to give something up for the cause. It's not a good thing.

The ear in the middle is just plain ugly. You can see that it didn't pollinate very well.

More tip-back. I've seen more ears like this than I really want to admit to myself.

These ears are all the same variety and all came from plants that were within a 10' radius. Pretty weird what weather can do to corn plants. If every ear looked like the one on the right, I would be tickled.

I am thankful that we can irrigate, or else I wouldn't have any ears to pull. I am still optimistic for this harvest, because you never know what God will provide and bless you with. He's taking care of us, so I'll let him worry about it. I'll just keep irrigating until it's time to quit, and then the fun can begin.

The 4th Time's a Charm

Finished Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy today. I've attempted a few other times, but never got all the way through. I always feel like I've walked 10 miles against a river current by the time I'm done with McCarthy's books. I wonder if they'll be reading his works 2,000 years from now in a World Lit class, wondering what the hell he's talking about, the way I felt when I read Ovid or Virgil.

Anyway, if you want to read some weird, bloody, borderline disgusting stuff, check out that book.

Otherwise, find a nice mystery novel, which is what I plan to do next.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Crop Pictures

As promised, I took a few pictures of the crops today. I should've taken more bean pictures, but I didn't really think about it until later. There will be time.

These are some of the better pollinated ears that I've found. It was extremely hot during pollination, so the corn did not put on very good ears. Also, as it pollinates, if it gets stressed, it will "tip back" which you can kind of see in the pictures. I'll take more as I check more fields. I saw some really ugly ears out there and threw most of them away in disgust before I could take a picture. It's better than nothing, though. The corn looks really good until you start shucking ears. Not all are bad, not all are good. I have seen some that are filled to the tip, and I've seen some that are worse than the ear on the right. The ear that I split in half was the middle ear. It set quite a few around, but kernel depth also has a lot to do with yield. Only way to really know is at harvest. God will provide, either way, so I'm not too worried about it. Just hard to see when you've put so much time, effort and money into something.

I've only looked at a few beans plants, and they have all been on my place. I can never remember Dad growing beans on this ground, so it will be interesting to see how they do. This plant was 4'6" tall and had 83 pods on it, which is pretty good, I think.

And this afternoon, something we hadn't seen in 2 months. I had 1.5" in my rain gauge, which will allow me to stop irrigating for a day or two. Praise be to God for this blessing. I stood on my porch for almost an hour watching it and texting or calling most of my friends that are involved with agriculture.