Minnesota Farmer

Back to South Africa

10514736_10203421737456157_6026339247793523776_nPacking has begun and last-minute jobs are being checked off, soon I leave for South Africa.

I was last in South Africa with members of the Shetek Conference of the ELCA in February 2011.  You can check out the old posts from that trip.  We have been told that much has happened in the Ondini Circuit since we were there last and we are going to check up on the progress of projects that have been ongoing since the first group traveled there in 2008.  I feel that I can be of more help since I will be one of the old hands this time.

It will be winter in the foot hills of the Drakensburg Mountains.  Not a winter such as we have here in Minnesota, but colder than it was when I last was there.  Packing will be different.

What lies in store for our group this time?  Stay tuned.


July 23, 2014, 8:58 am
Filed under: church, projects | Tags: , , , ,

A bit over a year ago we had some work done on the outside of our church.  In the process the sign by our parking lot door was taken down.  Originally each letter had two or three screws that secured it to the limestone wall.  We decide to change those letters and mount them on a bar to cut down on the holes into the wall.  Thanks to a pair of talented members of our congregation the letters were mounted on aluminum bars and powdered coated.  Yesterday  the letters were placed back on the wall.10560438_10152397916545677_2963932186419901231_o

I’ve often joked with others about how few people notice the things that change.  I’ll be waiting to see if this is even noticed.  The real proof for that was confirmed as we were installing the sign.  Two ladies were exiting the church as we were working.  One of them, says ‘Oh, You’re taking the sign down.”

So what happens around you that is unnoticed?


There is just something about hitting that perfect chord that sends chills through my body.  I got them again today as I sang with the Chordhultlers Chorus.

I have sung with the Chordhuslters Chorus for almost 40 years now.  We sing four-part a cappella harmony usually in the Barbershop style.  Our chorus is part of the Barbershop Harmony Society.

Today we finished our third Sunday of touring churches.  In those three Sundays we have sung in 21 churches in the area.  We sing three songs in a church then march out to go to another church.  Now not every church is the same to sing in.  Some are easier and some are harder to sing in.  Those whose acoustics make it easiest to sing in are the ones that are most likely to bring on the chills.

This year we are singing something new that has given me chills almost every time we sing it.  It is not Barbershop style, but it is cool none the less.  The song is called ” Alleluia” and it is written SATB by Andrew Miller.  To sing it four parts for male voices we have the tenors sing the alto line an octave up, the baritones sing the tenor line and the leads sing the soprano line.  This changes the chord a bit, but really makes it pop.  Each of the four parts may be singing the same word, but rarely at the same time and the mixture of words and notes when we all join in on the central verse is truly awesome.

Until you have felt that chill of the perfect chord in the perfect place you cannot understand why we practice for hours and enjoy our hobby so much.  It’s the chills that keep bringing me back for more.

Up with the birds
July 18, 2014, 4:36 am
Filed under: birds, Farm, Wildlife | Tags: , , , ,

It starts at the first hint of day light, at this time of year that’s about 5:00, and continues until the sun is truly up, the wake up call of our area birds.

Dawn song


Corn, soybean price prospects

I was at a marketing meeting this morning and I can tell you the picture painted of the future of corn and soybean prices was bleak.  We have too much corn and soybeans in the world, and the news just keeps getting worse.

Although soybean prices are currently about $12.20, futures prices for January 2015 are at $10.50.  With the world glut of soybeans prices are expected to drop even more.Soybeans MonthlyNow soybeans are not that low historically.  They are still trading over $10 per bushel when I remember them trading at more like $5.00 for most of my life.   Still they are down from the rarefied air of $15.00 plus.

Current corn prices are not so friendly with both current and January prices near $3.50.  Corn news is also bad.  China is supposed to have most of the corn stocks on hand since they purchased so much in the last few years and are holding on tight.  That means that we cannot count on China to buy anymore corn soon, and they might even start selling some of their stocks.corn monthlyCorn has really dropped being less than half of its historical high of only two years ago.  Some are wondering if it will even stop when it gets below $3.00.  This would get them back to my lifetime memories of selling corn around $2.00 or less.  That would be a real drop.

There is an old adage that the cure for high prices is high prices, and that is indeed true.  Currently corn and soybeans are being grown in places it has no business being grown.  High prices pushed out other crops and even some grass and forest land.  Now, with no drought in sight, and a good supply of corn and soybeans on hand, some people are going to go out of business.  There will be pain, but when it is all over, things will be much better for all.  The gung-ho, fencerow to fencerow, plant every acre available times are over.  These lower prices are going to push corn and soybeans back from the fringes and return it to those who can grow it best.  I just hope I’m still here when it all shakes out.



July 10th, 2014 crop report

From May 30th to the end of June we had over 11 inches of rain.  Before the rain I would have put our entire crop as in excellent condition.  As the rains continued, crop conditions deteriorated.  Corn, soybeans and alfalfa that is standing in water, or saturated ground cannot get the proper root growth for nutrient uptake.  The plants will either start to deteriorate or die.

Now that we have had 10 days of almost rain free weather crop conditions are improving.100_2745Still, corn can go from yellow and stunted to tall and green in just a few feet.  It is going to be an interesting harvest with the stunted corn lagging behind the rest of the field in maturity.100_2741Large areas of our corn here in southwestern Minnesota are uneven.  Weeds are moving into the areas of short corn to further hurt yields.  Soils that were wet for long periods of time will take a while to recover.100_2743The overall area that was downed out and replanted to soybeans is not great, but expected yields from soybeans planted in early July are not great.  Still an attempt must be made to keep the ground covered with some crop.

I would now put our crop conditions in the area to no more than 50% good to excellent.  That could change as warm dry summer weather continues, but now a long-term cooling trend is forecast.  We need hot and dry now to help our crops recover.  No one ever said that farming was going to be easy on the nerves.


Ditches abloom
July 10, 2014, 5:47 pm
Filed under: family, Farm | Tags: , , , , , ,

Right now our road ditches are abloom with alfalfas and clovers. 100_2748I really do not know where they come from, we are not planting them, and they are not there every year.  This year seems to be a perfect year, because they are all over.

One of my favorites of these clovers is the red clover.  I remember as a child picking these flowers to get a taste of what nectar eating creatures eat.  100_2746If you pick the flower and take it apart you get the little flowerettes that hold the nectar.100_2747Suck on or bite into that little white base of the flower and you get a minnie burst of sweet.  Oh, the things childhood memories are made of.


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