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.