Filed under: repairs, snow, School bus, cold, weather, cars, house, wind, projects | Tags: weather, repairs, wind, Food, snow, cold, school bus, car, farm, machines
Oh yeah, It’s been another one of those days. It’s cold! We are in the midst of one of those brutal cold snaps that do not happen very often, and all you can do is try to stay warm. I’m glad I do not have livestock to care for anymore. It’s not even officially winter yet!
The cold has caused trouble for lots of folks here and repairmen are busy.
- Our car was just hauled in for the second time this week. Something went wrong, we thought we had it fixed, but we did not. With the cold, tow truck operators are working overtime. Semi’s stalled on the side of the road are more important than a car sitting in the garage that will not start.
- The plumbers finally came to fix a venting problem that has had sewer gas leaking into the house for several weeks. They were here earlier and thought they had the problem fixed, but no. Now we have walls and ceilings opened up that will need to be repaired when they leave.
- We’ve had over 6 inches of snow in the last week. It seemed to have settled down, but now the wind is blowing out of a new direction so the snow is moving again.
- There are several school buses that have been having fuel and battery related problems. Lucky for us that all of them got back to the barn.
I am thankful for electricity and modern snow removal equipment. Repairmen are available to fix the problems I cannot fix myself. We can pay our bills. Our problems are all fixable. Others have it much worse.
- We have a friend who has family in the Central African Republic where there is no rule of law. He is not sure day to day if they are even alive.
- People in the Philippines have only rubble to live in and are not sure where their next meal or drink of water will come from.
- People in Illinois are still cleaning up from a night of tornadoes a few weeks back and it is cold there also.
- Many around the world struggle with disease and injury.
Yes, our problems are small.
Filed under: Farm, Minnesota, projects, snow, Trees, weather, wind, winter | Tags: farm, Minnesota, nature, snow, snow fence, trees, weather, wind
Here on the northern prairie we know snow fences. We have to. When the cold winter winds start blowing around winters moisture the beauty of snow turns ugly. That being said, there are good snow fences and poor snow fences. There is an art to making a good snow fence. Now I’m not saying snow fences are artistic, but that there is an art in the placement and building of a snow fence.Trees are natures snow fence. Where they grow there will be snow deposited nearby. A farmstead wind break, or a fence line of trees can stop a lot of blowing snow. But trees or snow fences in the wrong place can be a disaster.
We had a non-prairie native move in near us a few years back. They tried to put up a snow fence the way you would put up fences to keep livestock contained. They had a line of snow fence on each side of their driveway about 5 feet out. It happened to be a very snowy and blowy winter, and they had 4 feet of snow on their driveway anytime we got a whisper of wind. Snow fences need to be placed back from the road 50 to 75 feet. That gives the snow a place to pile up in the lee of the fence or tree line.
The best place for a snow fence is up wind of what you are trying to protect, but wind can be variable, so a long fence may be needed. Our winter winds here in southwestern Minnesota are mostly from the north or northwest, but west and even south or easterly winds can blow in and deposit snow. For us, snow protection is needed both north and west of the buildings.
We have a gap in the trees just west of our house that funnels snow onto our driveway. Snow fences across that gap, or just up or down wind of that gap, can leave a good sized deposit of snow. The snow is then stopped on the lawn, and not on the driveway.
Buildings can also funnel snow between them. Anyplace the wind is compressed into a narrow space there will be less snow, but just down wind there will be large drifts. A snow fence just up wind from that gap, not in the gap, will stop a lot of problems down wind.
We had a neighbor whose house was set just wrong for wind one winter. The snow came around the grove of trees and deposited on the east side of the house. Snow was piled to the second floor windows. In this case a snow fence was needed where they could not put one since a major highway runs just west of the house.
A snow fence does not have to be solid. Wood slats or plastic with holes in it will work better than a solid wall. You are slowing down the wind so that it will drop it’s snow. It does not need great height either since the ground drifting snow is what you are trying to stop.
Your posts need to be at least a foot taller than the finished height of the fence and can be placed from 5 to 8 feet apart depending on wind conditions and soil type. I prefer to place my posts for the snow fence in late fall while the ground is still unfrozen. If I did not do this, the winds will push my fence and the posts over before the snow comes.
Once the ground freezes I can hang the fence. I leave a bit of room under the fence for the wind to clear out the snow. This actually allows the snow to pile higher downwind of the fence.
Whenever possible, I like to anchor the ends of my fence on trees. A tree has a much better grip on the earth than a little steel post. If you cannot anchor on a tree, guy wires should be placed at each end of the snow fencing run. These guy wires should be run parallel to the fence and be secured to posts driven into the ground. The guy wires should run from the top of the post by the fence to the base of the anchor post. It is best to have holes in the posts to run the guy wire through. Do not skimp on the guy wire. The end anchor posts and attached guy wires are critical to the longevity of your snow fence.
I like to wrap my snow fence ends around the end anchor post or tree. I then use a rebar to “stitch” the end of the fence to itself. This also works for stitching two pieces of plastic snow fence together.
The snow fence must be placed on the up wind side of the posts. This means the wind will help hold the fence against the posts. It also allows you to use a lighter duty strap to hold on the fence.
I use a U shaped steel post that is at least 7 feet tall and plastic zip ties to hold the fence to the post. If you place a piece of 1×2 or rebar on the up wind side of the fence the zip tie will press the fence into a U shaped posts and strengthen the bond between post and fence. You may have to inspect your fence periodically during the winter to make sure the zip ties are still holding.
As I said, putting up a snow fence of any type is an art. I have seen some really nice snow fences made out of split rails also. The type of snow fence you need is dependent on so many factors. You can make them permanent with trees, semi-permanent with heavy materials or temporary with lighter weight materials. Some aspects are the same, and others different. Either way, if the winds are blowing snow into the wrong place, a properly placed snow fences can keep at least some of the snow out of your way.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Fall, Farm, Farm Bureau, food, friends, harvest, history | Tags: 30 day challenge, 30 days, Agriculture education, blog, blogging, blogs, farm, Farm Bureau, Food, friends, harvest, history, minnesota farm bureau
Wow! I’ve reached day 30 of the 30 day challenge, and I still have things to say! Today it’s blogging.
Back in 2009 I was at a Minnesota Farm Bureau meeting where we were challenged to get involved in a new thing called Social Media. Activist groups were taking over this new mode of influence. Some very nasty things were being said about agriculture and we were challenged to get involved and tell our story. The thing is, that if you are not involved in setting the table, the next thing you know, you may be on the plate. The goal is to stop fighting over divisive issues that some are pushing to the forefront. We are trying to stop the food fight.
I am not your usual blogger. Most bloggers are younger and female, so a mid-50′s (now 60) male on the blogosphere was a bit unusual. Yet I did have something to say, and I hoped that with my years of living someone would listen to me.
To get a large enough audience you have to say things people want to hear, share your personal stories and get known. Then, when they are comfortable with you, you can write opinions that may, or may not be well received. You also need to be reading, and responding to, other people’s blogs. A well thought out response may just make someone curious enough to check out what you are saying.
I also think it is important to write carefully. I am distressed when I read well thought out comments or blogs that are full of spelling and grammar errors. To be believed, I think you must write like you actually have a few brain cells tied together. Now I do not write with perfect grammar, but I do hope that I write well enough that my old english teachers would be surprised at my progress. Back when they knew me, I was a farm kid who had no intention of being a writer.
Today, I am still amazed when people stop me and comment on something I wrote. To have local people reading my blog is unexpected. I have had many nice things said about me when I do chance to meet one of my fellow bloggers at a Farm Bureau meeting away from home. All I can do is say “Aw, Blush, Thank you” when they do. I have even been asked to comment on agriculture issues and had them reposted or quoted from by bloggers I respect, some of them from very far away. This is getting to be more than I had ever expected.
This month I have joined other agriculture bloggers in an 30 day challenge to write something every day for 30 days. I have been pleased to join these folks in this challenge.
30 Days Bloggers
- Confessions of a Farm Wife: 30 Days, By the Numbers
- Janice Person: 30 Days of Giving Thanks
- Beyer Beware: 30 Days of #farmsmatter
- Pinke Post: 30 Days of Women in Agriculture
- Homestead Hill Farm: 30 Days of Views from the Hill
- Thoughts on Life: 30 Days of Ranch Life Memories
- farmgirldays: 30 Days of Farm Related DIY Projects
- Snapshots of a Kansas Farm: 30 Snapshots of a Kansas Farm
- Life on a Real California Dairy Farm: 30 Days of Thankful
- Morning Joy Farm: 30 Days of Family Agriculture
- From My Front Porch: 30 Days
- Rural Route 2: 30 Days of Farm Girl Memories
- Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom: 30 Days of Blogging
- The Field Position: 30 Days of Family, Food & Fun
- Sounds Like Home to Me: 30 Days of Randomness with a Pig Nutrition Grad Student
- Carolyn Cares: 30 Days of Thanksgiving
- Kelly McCormick Photography: 30 Days of Simply Being
- Wag’n Tales: 30 Days of Thinking
It has been an interesting 30 days for me, and I hope for you also. I invite you to contact myself or one of these other farm bloggers if you have questions about what is being said about our food. I can tell you that they will take your concerns about the food you eat seriously. If we do not know the answer, we can steer you in the correct direction. So thank you for joining us on this 30 day challenge of blogging.
Filed under: Fall, Farm, harvest, Minnesota, snow, Tractors, weather, wind | Tags: cold, farm, harvest, machines, Minnesota, nature, snow, snow blower, snow fence, weather, winter
Here in southwestern Minnesota snow in the winter is a given. We have had years with little snow, but most years have enough snow so you have to be ready for it. So it’s day 29 of the 30 day challenge, let’s talk snow.We’ve already had three warning shots of snow. The snow was beautiful and it melted. Now the average daily temperature is below freezing and any more snow we will get is less likely to melt. Lakes are freezing over and the ground has a bit of frozen earth also. Our next snowfall is likely to last.
I put in the posts for my snow fence before the ground froze, soon I must put the fence up. There is an art to snow fencing. A snow fence does not keep the snow out, but stops it from blowing. The area down wind from the snow fence will develop a pile of snow and less will blow onto areas where you do not want snow. Notice I said less. Here on the prairie wind will continue to move snow long after it has fallen.
Also on the list of things to get ready for snow are loader tractors and snow blowers. I prefer a snow blower to a loader. A loader tractor leaves a pile that becomes a snow fence, a blower puts that snow into the wind and deposits it far from where it was.
It’s time to get the tractor hooked up to the blower and have it ready in the shop. I’m not wanting snow, but when it falls I want to be ready.
So here’s to being prepared for winters worst.
Filed under: Fall, family, Farm | Tags: family, farm, harvest, Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving day
George Washington was the first president to proclaim a day of thanksgiving, issuing his request on October 3, 1789. It wasn’t until President Abraham Lincoln set apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise” that the U.S. had an official permanent Thanksgiving day. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders similar to this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving. So on day 28 of our 30 day challenge we take time to give thanks.
These are some of the folks that will be coming to our house to celebrate. Family is foremost in my giving thanks. There are so many other things to give thanks for. I would like to leave you with the litany we used in church last night.
“Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us.
For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth sky and sea. We thank you, Lord.
For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the image of Christ, We thank you, Lord.
For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and our friends, We thank you, Lord.
For minds to think and hearts to love, and hands to serve, We thank you, Lord.
For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play, We thank you, Lord.
For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity, We thank you, Lord.
For all the valiant seekers after truth liberty and justice, We thank you, Lord.
For the communion of saints, in all times and places, We thank you, Lord.
Above all, we give thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in our Lord Jesus Christ; to Him be praise and glory, with You o Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever, Amen.
Almighty God our Father, your generous goodness comes to us new every day. By the work of your Spirit lead us to acknowledge your goodness, give thanks for your benefits and serve you in willing obedience, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, Amen”
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!
Filed under: Ag education, Animal care, Fall, Farm, harvest, history, seasons, Tractors | Tags: 30 day challenge, Agriculture education, Changes in technology, computers, farm, farm technology, GPS, harvest, machines
Changes in technology have changed every part of life in this world, and agriculture is not exempt. So for the 27th installment of the 30 day challenge let’s talk a bit about keeping up on the farm.
Back in the 80′s I was one of the early farm folks to computerize my record keeping. As much as possible I put all of our financials, herd records and inventories on my old 128K Mac. So much has changed since then, but I’ve had a bit of trouble keeping up. Today’s young farmers are pushing technology on the farm now like I was then and there is so much more to use. My father, at 83, is even more behind in his understanding of the technology, but happy to use it if someone else will set it up for him.
My first “computer” in the tractor was a spray monitor. It dramatically improved my ability to control how I applied weed control products to my fields. Instead of having to measure off a known distance and measuring the amount of water applied, now the computer changed application rates on the go to calibrate our chemical applications. Every step along the way we have improved on that computer assisted ability. I know that our current spray controller is old technology and it is less than ten years old. I could have even more control if I updated my equipment.
Our combine harvester is 15 years old. For us the technology is cutting edge, and yet I know I could have so much more. We have automatic control of the header height that even tilts the head if one side is too far off the ground. We have a monitor that tells us the moisture and yield of the crops as we harvest them. There are shaft monitors and grain loss monitors, it is indeed a high-tech machine, but it is not even close to what is found on modern combines.
Tractors tied to satellites and the Global Positioning System are taking over the steering and leading to greater efficiency mainly by decreasing overlap when tilling fields. The technology also means an operator is not as tired after a long day in the field.
Lest you think that technology is only found in crop machinery, let’s talk a little tech in livestock.
There are robotic milkers that do all of the things that human milkers used to do.
Our new hog barn has a computer operated hog sorter that weighs pigs and puts the market ready ones in a separate pen from those not ready for market. If something goes wrong in the barn, the computer will call and tell us what the problem is.
Most of this new technology is also wired so that it will tie into your home computer or smart phone.
Technology is driving the new advances in agriculture. We are being asked to produce more with fewer inputs and less damage to the environment. I just know that farmers are up to the task, and the new technology of agriculture will be there to help us.
Filed under: Fall, Farm, harvest, repairs, Uncategorized | Tags: farm, harvest, machines, repairs
Yes, tinkering, attempting to repair or improve things around the farm. All farmers do it. There’s a bit of time so maybe that tractor needs a better step or the gate needs a new hinge, there is so much to do. Many improvements that are found on modern machinery started in some farm shop. Sometimes whole machine lines and businesses started out with a farmer tinkering in his shop. We can’t let the engineers have all of the fun.
Harvest was long and hard, but the list of things that were not quite right on machines is fresh in your mind. Perhaps you can fix them, or improve them. Now is the time to do things that may or may not lead to improvement.
My dad loves old tractors. He has several that he has spent time restoring over the years. Me, I prefer wood, although I have been known to do a bit of welding. The shop is warm even though the cold wind is blowing across the prairie. Must be something I can build or fix.
There is so much to do after the harvest is over. We have a few days left in the 30 day challenge, today is day 26, where do I go from here? Check it out tomorrow.