Saturday, September 7, 2013

Some Random Saturday Stuff

I should probably be more motivated to do things since harvest is around the corner, but it's too damn hot outside. We needed the heat to finish out the crops, but this 92 degree, high humidity junk is a little out of control. I am currently watching football with all of the blinds pulled and the air conditioner running full blast.

This morning I took the duals off of the 8320 since the silage choppers will be here sometime in the next 1-19 days. I had heard that they ran a steel post through the chopper, but that they were chopping yesterday, so who the heck really knows when they will get here. Probably Tuesday when I want to go to Husker Harvest Days.

I also put some pipe back together (pulled some apart since Dad's pivot was watering them, but it no longer swings that way as his corn is done getting watered.) and contemplated irrigating the beans again, but the soil is still saturated and there is a small chance of rain Tuesday night. I hate wasting water and paying to pump it, so I might try to stretch it out to see if it rains. This is doubtful. I also sprayed some more pipe as the weeds are outrageous this year. I think we are growing the wrong things. We need to learn how to feed the world and make ethanol with sunflowers, giant ragweed, pigweed and velvet leaf. This would require little to no work on my part, no expenses, and I would grow a bumper crop every year.

I stopped to talk to a neighbor this morning and the conversation turned to a grain bin on one of his farms. He said something about selling it, and I offered to buy it. I am also getting a quote to move a bin to my place and add some rings and a new floor to it. This would all be fantastic, as it would take the grain storage on my farm from 0 to about 28,000 bushels at a fraction of the cost. A new bin will cost about $2/bushel by the time you get the concrete poured, pay for the structure, get it put up and run electricity to it. I have a quote from another company for a used 10,000 bushel bin to be put up and made operational on my place for $5,700. A new bin that size would be close to $20,000. So. I am hopeful that all of these things work themselves out. Storage is nice at harvest as you don't have to wait in line to dump. It also expands marketing options, and in my case, would allow me to grow more high amylose corn (if I can get more acres) or attempt growing white corn, which I am interested in, or popcorn, if I ever get interested.

Here's a random picture from the center point of a pivot:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Here's Some Kern

I was wandering around in the corn field with a soil probe, sweating something fierce, and took some pictures. I am seeing all kinds of weird shit out there that I've never seen before - stink bugs, Southern Rust, Goss's Wilt and variable ear size due to weird pollination. Also seeing some aphids, which we had last year, and make a gooey mess when you walk through the field.

LG 2636VT3P (114 day):

Stine 9534VT3P(107 day):

Stine 9631VT3P (109 day):

I am currently rethinking my whole farming philosophy. Sure, these triple stacks raise some good corn, but I don't remember any of this stuff when it was plain corn when I was a kid (I refuse to get into the GMO/non-GMO argument at this point, as I figure it's a free country and anyone can plant any damn corn they want. Until we are legislated away from it.). I am concerned that I'm not giving my soils the respect they deserve, since it's so easy to keep throwing corn out there. My soybean yields are not where I'd like them to be, but I'm thinking more and more that it's my fault. So, long story short, I'm considering going back to a conventional corn/RR soybean rotation. Or Liberty Link beans if I can get someone to spray them.

My main considerations: money, and using insecticides that I'm not familiar with.

I can make more money raising COC (corn-on-corn), as my corn will yield 180-200 bushels/acre, but beans struggle to consistently make 60. Do the soybeans lag because our soils won't sustain them, or because I've pillaged the soil with corn for so long? I will be farming some of this long term (I hope), so I'm ready to not make as much money for a few years to get my soils right.

I also have never used insecticides with the planter before. Triple stacks will protect against rootworm. Conventional corn requires a treatment in furrow with the planter. I have never handled dry insecticide and have been told I don't want to. Capture LFR is a liquid insecticide that I can mix with my starter fertilizer in-furrow when I plant. We don't have much rootworm pressure here, so I've been told I'd be ok doing that.

Sorry for the ramble. I'm struggling with these decisions. There's a lot more that goes into it, but those are the basic thoughts.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It's Raining

I don't think it's going to last long, but while it does, I am enjoying drinking coffee in this dark house and listening to the new Reckless Kelly album, Long Night Moon. Do yourself a favor and at least download the title track. I'd give you a YouTube link, but there aren't any, so you'll just have to go to iTunes or Amazon and download it.

Not much to blog about the last few weeks, really. We have finished up irrigating corn (I think). I'll be spending some time in the fields the next couple of days checking ears and using the soil probe to check soil moisture, but we had about 5.5" of rain in August, plus watering last week, so we should be good. Some of the corn is black layering, which means it no longer takes water and is mature. Everything else is close. We'll be watering beans for awhile yet, but with the hot weather, they might start turning sooner than I expect.

I get in a rut this time of year, and it's been made worse by the hot weather we've had the last week. Lots of mid 90s and it looks like it's going to get that hot again here for the next few days. This is good for the crops, but bad for Ben. I have a lot of projects I want to do around the place, but pulling tin off of a building when it's 93 degrees doesn't sound like a lot of fun. Guess I will push those back until after harvest.

I have recently started reading a lot and playing guitar again. Those things usually take a back seat during the summer. I feel much less stressed when both of those activities take up a portion of my day. I've read a crappy thriller, a marketing book and Band of Brothers. I am currently reading a book about Wyatt Earp and what really happened at Tombstone, and so far, it's a lot different than the movie accounts. Wyatt Earp was kind of a dirt bag, but so was everyone else at the time, apparently.

Anyway, rambling, I know. Keep on rocking in the free world.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Had Some Hail

These pictures aren't very good, but that's ok. We have some crops that went from looking really nice to crap in about 15 minutes. Softball sized hail will do that.

It will be interesting to see what the adjusters say. The beans are looking really rough. The ears on the corn are dented in places where the hail hit them. Not many leaves left either.

In other news, that same storm dumped 2" of rain on our crops, so that was a big help. I had been irrigating for almost a month non-stop, so the break (and saving some cash moneys) is nice. I have noticed some ears that pollinated weirdly, what with the cloudy and cool weather we had during pollination, but a lot of stuff I've looked at looks very good. Could be an interesting harvest with the way they are knocking down the price of corn and soybeans, but it is what it is.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Picture Day

 Took this at sunrise while irrigating:

Randy Rogers Band at Adams County Fair:

Stine 9732VT3P:

An "oh shit" moment I had last week:

An ear of Stine 9737VT3P:

Another ear of 9737 (which of course will not be available next year. Heh.):

Driving back from Dannebrog after getting pizza at the Danish Baker:


More beans after a little bit of rain:

I was shredding weeds last night and took a few pictures:


Just ignore the bug on the glass:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ryan Wanted Me to Write

"Some shit about some shit." Apparently, he is furious that I haven't blogged since February.

Here it is.

A quick rundown of what has happened since February - it rained, it rained some more, it snowed, started planting May 5th, finished planting June 3rd (had to replant some beans), it quit raining, it got hot, we started irrigating, we're still irrigating.

I have a lot of pictures on my phone, so maybe I'll share some tomorrow. I probably should blog again. It's good stress relief.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What's Been Going On

Been busy, that's what.

Hauled high amylose corn. Just in time, as we have new windows in the house to pay for.

The calvies were curious:

Tore a couple of Row Stalkers apart:

To build a big-ass one (of which I have no finished pictures. Whoops.):

Helped Dad get set up to haul corn:

Went to visit the in-laws last Thursday, got back Monday. A good time was had by all. Our dog, Hannah, had puppies last night. We're getting new siding on the house and garage starting tomorrow. Supposedly. Going to look at a planter tomorrow. I have a couple of auctions to go to in the next few days, where I will most likely not even bid on anything because guys with a net worth many zeros more than me will inevitably want the exact stabilizer disk I need for the new 40' wide male row planter they're building. Or that 6" tee that I need for the discharge on my well at home. But, hey, I like Polish dogs, and there's an endless supply at every auction I go to, so I got that going for me, which is nice.

Friday, February 1, 2013

After Much Contemplation

I've decide to switch 40 acres here at home from soybean to corn production this year. I've done all kinds of math, and I can make quite a bit more raising corn this next year. You know, provided we don't get hailed out or have greensnap or we don't raise 160bu/acre corn on 99 million acres this year. But, at worst, I'll make the same amount as beans would've, and corn is just a lot more fun to harvest.

I convinced myself today while sitting on my arse waiting for the window guys to leave. I believe they are finishing up the last window now, so I got that going for me, which is nice. No more banging on the house when I'm trying to look at tractors I can't afford or while I try to take that afternoon nap I desperately need after my caffeine high from the morning goes away.

Every year I'm ready for winter, and every year at this time I go stir crazy. I'm not ready to start the year, but I'm ready to start the year, you know what I'm saying?

Yes, I do believe I know what you are saying. <--------------------------- For the South Park fans.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Once in awhile, I get down about farming. Not so much about the work itself, but the idea of staying in business. It's been difficult to find land to rent. If it weren't for my Grandpa and Dad, I would  probably be a clerk at the nearest gas station. I rented my first ground 50/50 with Grandpa and Dad and I currently rent a farm 50/50. There was another place that Dad and I rented. For a year. That was a learning experience. It was so sandy Sam (my brother) and I had to put socks on every gate that we opened. A sock is, well, a sock. It's a piece of canvas probably 3' long that clips onto the irrigation pipe. The water flows into it, so you don't create a gargantuan hole in the ground right in front of your pipe.

Anyway, I ramble. 

So I was doing my quarterly freak out about how I'm going to get left in the dust by all the megafarmers around here, when all I really want to do is farm enough that I'm busier than crap, but I don't have a hired man. And I don't see how this is possible. I want to own 800-1,000 acres by the time I'm 60, and I want a lot of it to be within 5-6 miles of home. And I don't see how this is possible, either. 

At the same time, I'm freaking out because Grandpa and I are taking cattle into town today, and I am nervous about how much they weigh, because I need to buy a grain trailer and I need to pay for the windows that were installed in the house and we just ordered siding for the house and garage and I need to put a grain bin up by harvest. And I need these cattle to do well and I don't know where I'm going to find a trailer and why is everything such a pain in my ass sometimes?

Then I see an ad on Craigslist for a 32' DMF grain trailer, which is a little shorter than I want, but is priced right. So I call the guy and he tells me how clean it is and it has almost new brakes and a good tarp and that it's always been shedded and has no rust. To which I reply:

"How much do you have to have out of it?"
"You just need to come look at it. It's a real nice trailer."


So, I go look at it. And you wouldn't know it's a 17 year old trailer. It really has good brakes, a good tarp, and no rust. And I pay $1,500 less than he was asking for it. 

Also, the new door for the corn stove showed up today, which was ideal, because it's 6 degrees right now. So I installed said new door (I broke the glass out of the old one and the handle was jacked up), started it up, and headed to Grandpa's to load cattle.

We got our second load in around 6 tonight, maybe a little later. We unloaded and Grandpa headed to the scale house while I waited in the pickup. And waited. And waited some more. And waited so long I had to water the parking lot. Right when I was getting to the good part of my solitaire game, Grandpa opened the door, scared the piss out of me, and handed me the ticket.

Our heifers weighed 1,395 pounds. They are the heaviest cattle I have ever sold. 

See what I'm getting at? Life is good. Things happen, plans come together or fall apart, and I'm still above ground. 

Matthew 6:34 - Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Had a Little Watermergency

I had a vine that I needed to cut off of the corner of the barn, so Friday was the day. When I got there, I noticed water coming out of the milk house door...

"Huh," I says to myself.

Upon further inspection, I found this:

Whoops. A pipe had frozen and burst. We only have one well on the place, so I had to shut the pump off, meaning we had no water in the house. Luckily, Hansen's were out about an hour after I called. They would've had to break the concrete in the milk room up to fix where the pipe was broken. Since I don't need water in the barn anymore, I had them find the line and put in a hydrant. They found the line the first place they dug, so it wasn't too big of a deal to get it fixed.

There's an old cistern right by the water line, as you can see in the pictures. I should probably fill that in this spring before it caves and someone falls into it. Someone being me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Anti GMO Dude Changes Mind

I read about this fella, Mark Lynas, in the High Plains Journal last night, and have since read a few more articles about him. Apparently, he has decided that scientific research, and not opinion or belief in an ideology, is pretty important when it comes to our worldwide food supply.

This is the High Plains Journal editorial, written by Holly Martin:

These are a few more articles, including Lynas addressing his change in opinion at the Oxford Farming Conference:

The most interesting thing to me is reading the comments posted after these articles. It seems that a lot of consumers have more of a problem with Monsanto and their business practices instead of the actual things that they produce. That's interesting to me, because I always assumed people thought that GMO crops were horrible and would cause us all to die cruel and unusual deaths.

Look, not all farmers like Monsanto's business practices, either. I, for one, am doing all I can to distance myself from that company. The reason we continue to buy from them? It's easy. I have never, ever, ever heard one person say that they really like Wal-Mart and love shopping there, but it's easy. It's kind of the same thing for us. We can go to one place and get all of the crop technology we need, and it's cheaper and easier to produce food. Isn't that the point, anyway? Protect our bottom line and produce as much food as we can?

If people want to buy organic food, more power to them. I am not producing organically, so you are not my market, and I won't waste time trying to convince you to change your mind. But what Americans need to remember, or to learn in the first place, is that American farmers aren't just feeding you - we export to the world. It's not all about you, American consumer. There are others in need, and I can only guess here, but I am betting that they don't care whether or not their food is genetically altered. They just want to eat.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Was Going to Piss and Moan, But...

I'll spare you. Hell, the three of you that read this don't want to hear that crap, anyway. Basically, I liked farming better when corn was $4 and cash rent was $135/acre, but those days are gone, at least until we plant 99 million acres of corn and have a national average of 160bu/acre next year. Maybe then land prices will come down and I can actually buy some more and keep heading towards my goal of 1,000 acres. Or maybe I'll win the lottery that I don't play. I feel like my chances are the same either way.

I digress.

I helped Dad pile trees today, which really isn't difficult, but I'm beat. The old bi-sexual (Dad's Ford 9030, otherwise known as a "bi-directional", otherwise known as the "bi-sexual") isn't a very comfortable tractor to be in all day, and there were lots of holes scattered over hell, and of course I drove into every one. Twice. Maybe even three times on some of those sons-of-bitches. I'm watching Nebraska play basketball, so I'll very likely fall asleep 7 minutes after posting this.

My view most of the day:

The bi-sexual:

It's called a bi-directional because you can turn the operators station around in the cab and drive the tractor either way, so where the loader is can be the front of the tractor, or where the weight bracket is can be the front of the tractor. It goes either way. You know, a bi-sexual. If that offends you, I don't really give a shit.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I'm Back

Well, we survived MusicFest at Steamboat Springs. Had a great time. Saw some good music, ate some good food, and probably had a couple too many adult beverages. I'm not one to be away from home for long, but I could hang out in the mountains for days on end. It seems like a different kind of cold there, almost like it's less cold than here, even though it's actually colder. Makes sense, right? Shay and I were talking about buying a condo up there someday. You know, when we become millionaires. That's scheduled to happen the 10th of Never.

I'm on the verge of making a very adult decision to pay off my student loans. When did I get so boring? If I pay them off now, it'll save us over $8,000 in interest over the next ten years, which we could apply to Shay's student loans, which will save us more interest. I hate debt and will sacrifice to get out of it. We have also started putting more money into our IRAs every month. Look at me go. Being all responsible with money and such. Who the hell am I and when did I get here?

We are adopting a dog. My sister's dog is an escape artist and doesn't like being penned up in town, so he's coming here to roam. I hope it works out ok. We have quite the animal herd going.

Been reading a lot. I read a mystery novel that Dad recommended, and of course it was the first in a series, and I really liked it (HEY! Stop judging me for reading mystery novels!) so I have six books I need to buy. I'm reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower now, and I really like it so far. It's almost inspiring me to write poetry again. I've been feeling the tug for awhile now, but haven't sat down to do it. It still boggles my mind that there are people out there that want to read my poetry. Will wonders never cease?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

This Made Me LOL, As the Kids Say

If you've ever used any of these common tools, I think you will appreciate this. This is a copy and paste from an ag forum.


A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it. 

Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, 'Oh sh --' 

A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short. 

Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters. 

An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs. 

One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle... It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes. 

Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand. 

Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub out of which you want to remove a bearing race.. 

A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity. 

Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper. 

A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge. 

A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect. 

Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads. 

A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms. 

A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part. 

A tool used to make hoses too short. 

Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent to the object we are trying to hit. 

Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use. 

Son of a b*tch TOOL: 
Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling 'Son of a b*tch' at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Not Much To Report

Haven't been up to a whole lot in this neck of the woods. We traveled quite a bit for the holidays and are home for a few days before leaving Saturday for MusicFest at Steamboat Springs, CO. It's a few days of skiing (if you are so inclined), concerts (40 bands in 5 days) and general tomfoolery.

I've mostly been reading a lot of articles about the direction of ag in the future and what the markets might do in 2013. Basically, nobody knows. I have no idea what to do. I will probably start selling some corn for October/November delivery in the next week or two. I can lock in $5.60/bu O/N '13 today, which still leaves some decent meat on the bone for me, barring any weather disasters next year. Hail and wind are the usual wild cards here, but we are also nervous about moisture in the spring, as we are still in what the NOAA terms "exceptional" drought.

I don't think I told you all, but we closed on our property a few weeks back. We now own 68 acres, 54 of which is crop land. We are also homeowners, as our house is on the property. I look forward to cleaning up some trees and old buildings in the spring and planting some new wind breaks. I am also hoping to put up a grain bin. I need to finish cleaning out the shop and the garage, but the dumpster is full. Might need to start adding to the burn pile.