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: http://pdc.unl.edu/agriculturecrops/corn/gosswilt

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.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nothing Too Exciting

I've been irrigating, and that's about it. I'm glad we can do that, though, as most farmers can't. I'm too lazy to confirm it, but I read somewhere this spring that only 14% of America's crops are irrigated. So, I won't complain too much. It will be two months Thursday since we've had a rain, which is unheard of for this area. But, pastor's sermon kind of addressed the lack of rain last Sunday. He was talking about how we only focus on what we aren't getting instead of what we are, which made me think about how our wells have not missed a beat. We've been watering nonstop for almost 6 weeks, and our irrigation wells have not dropped off at all. Usually, they would've. It occurred to me that maybe instead of wishing it would rain, I should be thankful that we are still pumping water full steam ahead. If it wasn't for that, this year would be a disaster.

I'll try to take some pictures of the crops over the next few days. I want to walk some fields and looks at ears and soybean plants, so I'll try to show how the stuff is looking. Pretty good for what it's been through this spring with wind and heat early, then heat and drought during pollination and pod set.

That's about it for this guy. I'm going to head to bed and fall asleep while watching SportsCenter.

Monday, July 23, 2012


After a long hiatus, I think I'll start blogging again, if that's alright with you all.

I had to take time off for a few reasons:

1) It hasn't rained since May 26th, so I haven't had much free time on my hands, and when I do, I mostly sit in my chair and try not to fall asleep.

2) I was burned out. I took a million pictures this spring, but I could never convince myself to actually share them with you. I don't know if I was being lazy, or didn't care, or what the deal was. Just couldn't do it anymore.

D) I was angry. I'm working on it, but those that know me well can attest to the speed with which my disposition can turn from chilled out to foaming at the mouth. This was kind of a self-imposed ban, also, because I can only take so much bitching and moaning about farming from people that don't know how to do it before my head explodes. I've always been a big believer in cutting out the things in my life that are causing me grief or stress, so I went away from the "GMO" and "food vs. fuel" argument. I didn't feel like beating my head against a brick wall anymore.

Time away has helped. Another thing that is motivating me to blog is the misinformation about farming that I hear or read every day, either on the news, in the paper, on Facebook, or in comments on other blogs, articles, etc. It never occurred to me that people actually think that Monsanto tells me what to do on my farm. I have also read comments from some people that think this drought is just a ploy from Monsanto and farmers to drive the cost of food up. Really? This has been confirmed as the worst drought since 1936, but it's all just a get rich quick scheme? Anyway...

Readers (if I have any left), I encourage you to ask me any and all questions you might have about agriculture. You have a right as consumers to know the facts, not what you hear or read or regurgitate from any number of different sources. I probably won't know a lot of the answers right away, but I'm really good at research, and I can take a lot of pictures. I know a lot of people that know a lot more about farming and ranching than I do, so I'll ask them to help me help you. There are some great resources out there, known as land grant universities that can tell you all you need to know and more. Lastly, don't be afraid to ask a farmer questions. Be respectful, and he or she will tell you most anything you want to know. Heck, come out here. I'll show you what we do and why we do it.