Filed under: family, Family History, Farm, friends, garden, harvest, history, Minnesota, pond, rain, safety, seasons, snow, South Africa, tillage, time, travel, weather | Tags: children, farm, friends, harvest, Minnesota, politics, rain, safety, snow, South Africa, weather, winter
When I started blogging two and a half years ago I really did not know what I was getting into. As time has gone by my blogs have fallen into a pleasant cycle of comments. I write about farming, politics and family. What is happening in my life shapes everything I write about. So it is again. Here’s some of the highlights from 2011.
January was cold and snowy, and the blog http://minnesotafarm.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/minnesnowta/ told the weather story. On a more personal note I buried a friend after a farm accident. That lead to a farm safety blog.
In February I traveled with others from Southwestern Minnesota to South Africa as we visited with folks from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Africa. Learning to understand their joys and struggles as we helped them with some gardening projects.
March blogs were about politics and snow.
Snow again was a subject for Aprils blogs, along with how slow the snow was to melt, and the advent of rain which kept us from getting into the fields to plant our crops.
In May we got our planting done just a little bit behind schedule. I also posted stories of the new decorative pond I was installing as part of a long planned for landscaping addition. The plans had to be hurried because we had a wedding coming up in June.
Our daughter, Elizabeth married Michael Feltes on June 10, our anniversary. Postings of crop conditions, wedding planning and pond creatures are the main topics for the month. My favorite is the copy of the wedding toast I gave http://minnesotafarm.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/father-of-the-bride/. I hope you enjoyed it.
July’s weather brought rapid crop development and hot humid weather. Our garden was starting to give its produce and most of the field work was drawing to a close.
August brought us http://minnesotafarm.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/flash-drought/ and more postings of the happenings in our pond.
September found our crops rapidly reaching maturity, wood cutting and a farm safety program for area fourth grade children. I got to tell the stories of farm accidents I and others have survived, plus the death of my friend Doug back in January in http://minnesotafarm.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/scared-safe/. The birth of twin granddaughters at the end of the month also highlighted my month.
October was harvest. I do not recall a fall where harvest went so fast, nor so easy. The lack of moisture after such a wet spring was a big part of that speed. Oh yes, I did post about those cute little girls that joined our family.
November was a bit slower month, but I was surprised by the popularity of a “how to” post I made called http://minnesotafarm.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/santas-peeking-in/. It caused a big jump in readership of my blog.
December has been a winding down month. The lack of snow and warm weather has been most of what I have written about. I did have to put in a post or two about the new girls in my life with http://minnesotafarm.wordpress.com/2011/12/25/christmas-with-granddaughters/.
It has been an interesting year for me. There have been joys and hardships and a lot of learning. So here’s the best to you as you look forward to the new year. There is one thing for sure, It will hold a lot of new opportunities for me to write about life. I hope you join me in 2012.
Filed under: cold, Fishing, Ice, Minnesota, rain, seasons, snow, weather, winter | Tags: cold, ice, Minnesota, rain, snow, weather, winter
It snowed last night, but look quick, it will not last. Already the snow is dripping off of tree branches and the sun is barely up.
It’s December 30th and we’ve had very little snow here in southwestern Minnesota. This is not normal. We have temperatures in the 40′s and rain forecast for the upcoming New Years weekend. Ice on Minnesota lakes is unpredictable and area anglers are losing vehicles and fish houses to thinning ice. How did we get such un Minnesota weather this year?
The weather prognosticators are talking about North Atlantic and Mid-Pacific temperature changes, and how they affect the jet stream, it’s all just greek to me. I do know that we have had some weather changes around here, and this winter weather is a whole new animal to me.
Looking back at this year’s weather, we started with some really nasty snow storms. We had gone into 2011 with lots of water on the ground and snow continuing to fall. Winter was long cold and snowy. Spring brought more rain and trouble getting the crops in. Then the rain stopped, and we have only had a few drops since then. We are in the grips of a drought, and the lack of moisture is keeping the snow and the cold at bay.
Without moisture, we have no snow on the ground to reflect the sun’s rays. This means that the earth is actually absorbing the sun’s heat and giving us weather more like the dryer high plains areas east of the Rocky Mountains. There it will snow and then melt in a day or two. Cold does not last when there is no snow to reflect the sun.
This weather will not last, after all we live in Minnesota the land reputed to have 6 months of winter and 6 months of tough sledding. It will snow again, and we shall have winter. Just when it will come, no one knows.
Filed under: charity, Christmas, church, family, friends, Holidays, travel | Tags: children, complaints, discontent, Food, friends, simple life, simple man, stuff, travel
I recently heard reports of the tweets of discontent this holiday season. People were tweeting each other about what they didn’t get for Christmas, or of the things they did get that were not right. I have also heard reports of how much parents are spending on children for Christmas presents, I am shocked. Why do we spend so much? Why are we so discontented? I don’t understand.
Now to be fair, I’ve never wanted for material things in my life. True, I didn’t always have what I wanted, but I always had what I needed. My parents, while not really rich had enough to live and travel well, we worked hard and always had what we really needed, and I was raised to appreciate what I had. Because of that, my tastes are simple. I’ve got a job, make that several jobs, that supply me with what money I need, a much better wife than I deserve, and three children who are now supporting themselves. I consider that a success. I have books to read, friends to visit with and a church and community that I enjoy, all things that I consider worth while.
When I hear people complain about not having the right smart phone, the right color whatever, the best food, I do not understand. Perhaps because of my reading and travels, I know that we have it really nice with our good enough cars, phones and house. I’ve seen and worked with so many that have so much less than I do, and are content. I’ve visited with many who have so much more, and are less happy than I am. I’ve learned that money does not bring happiness, but more worries. I’ve learned that having things doesn’t bring contentment, but a desire to have more and better things. I’ve learned that having just enough, is so nice.
Yep, I’m a simple man. Yes, I enjoy good things, but get no more happiness out of eating a $50 meal than I do a $5 one. My phone is just smart enough to allow me to answer calls where ever I happen to be, and survive the abuse I give it. My home is rather medium in size for our area, nicely decorated and comfortably furnished. I’ve got a bunch of books to read, and re read, a few movies and more than enough TV sets. My wheels are not that old, but not that new either. I live just well enough for me, thank you.
There is a song I am remembering about a simple man, it pretty well sums up my feelings about life. You’ll have to update a few things for today, but it fits: ”I got a hump back mule, a plow and a tater patch, eggs that are gonna hatch someday, I got the Lord above and a good gal that loves me, I’m the richest man in the world.”
Filed under: Christmas, family | Tags: children, family, Hawaii, Hawaii 5-0, humor, Red Green, shirt, tees
What did I say? I would get shirts for Christmas. Yep, got 4 of them. Actually they are decent, I might even have picked them out. There’s a plain Woolrich shirt, a maroon stripped shirt, and TWO tees. They do know me.
I do like tees, especially when they something about a place I like to visit, or something I enjoy doing. These tees are me.
Don’t get this one? Kukui should help, it’s Hawaiian. Actually it’s the name of the high school that Steve McGarret of “Hawaii 5-0″ went to, thus the 50. Yes, this one came from my daughter in Hawaii.
Do I need to say anymore? It’s true! Yep, these I’ll wear.
Yes, I got food, and DVD’s, top pick, a Red Green Six Pack. Six DVD’s of the Red Green show. 20 hours of old guy humor. Old Guys Rule!
Filed under: Christmas, family, Holidays | Tags: children, Christmas, girls, grandchildren, grandparents, pictures, twins
This Christmas has been a new experience for us. This was first year as grandparents. Not only are we grandparents, we have twin girls for granddaughters. No fighting, both grandma and grandpa got one to hold.
Allison and Katelynn arrived three months ago, as most multiples they were a little on the small order. At about four pounds they were small. That meant a bit more time in the hospital, but soon they were home. Oh yes, they are identical, but so far there are a few difference that can help a parent tell them apart.
Now they have doubled in weight and are growing well. They are indeed beautiful babies. But for such little ones they sure do disrupt a schedule. They still need to be fed and changed at least every four hours. It sure is a good thing that their parents are young, because I could not get by on such a disrupted schedule.
They have been the center of all the pictures taken this holiday season. I know I have not taken so many pictures in a long time. There are pictures with aunties and pictures with uncles, we take pictures with mom and dad and pictures with grand parents and great grand parents. They even have had a few taken with just the two of them.
They are the cutest things in their Christmas finery, and are they not so well decked out in those bibs?
If you see a crowd around, it is for sure that there are babies in the middle of that crowd.
So what ever you got for Christmas, we had the best gifts…
we had granddaughters sleeping under our tree.
Filed under: Christmas, family, Holidays | Tags: children, Christmas, family, gifts, giving, holiday season
I admit it, I’m hard to shop for. If I really want it, I buy it. No waisted time, just get it. That can lead to all kinds of frustration.
My wife and daughters want wish lists made up months ahead of time, and they want them today. I cannot operate that way. I may not know I want something until I see it, then, you guessed it, I buy it. I’ve been married for over 30 years, and I don’t expect things to change.
I do find that my family thinks I do need some new clothing once in a while. Again, if I need it, I buy it. Usually it is some new jeans, or boots, maybe a work coat, you get the idea. I’ve got plenty of old tees in the closet. They want me all dressed up and looking nice. A cloths horse I am not. A few years back my wife gave me a card that said, “For the man whose cloths always say the same thing, I’m dressed.” Yep, that’s me.
So, I most likely will find some new shirts under the tree this year. The sensible ones that I can wear to work will not be in evidence. They will be the kind that stay in my closet until they are too small to wear. Closet shrink gets more of my “nice” clothing than any other thing. Good thing my closet for “nice” clothing is small. I know there are things in there that have not seen the light of day in years.
But Merry Christmas anyway! Don’t let my, Bah, Humbug, attitude deter you. I’m just happy to have the whole family home for a few days this holiday season. That’s all the gifts I need.
Filed under: Biofuels, Corn, ethanol, Farm | Tags: biofuels, Corn, corn market, corn prices, farm, marketing, weather
The market lately has been quite good for corn, perhaps better than many would guess, but it is not good enough for farmers, and so far they seem to have the upper hand.
I stopped in at our local ethanol plant today and had a talk with their corn buyer. He is having trouble getting farmers to cut loose and sell corn. The ethanol plant is not running out of corn, but he is not buying as much as he expected. At this time of year he would like to have most of the corn he needs for next October under contract, for quite a few years he has been able to do just that, but not this year. As of now he only has 10% of his October needs under contract.
Near by months are also contracted below where he would like to see. At the moment they are emptying bins that they had hoped would not be needed until spring. Why the trouble buying corn? They have the best price in the area, there should be no trouble getting all the corn they need. Farm storage is full and just waiting for sales to be made.
Today a little of that corn was purchased. The corn market passed a phycological level. His bid was over $6 at market close. The phone started ringing with people wanting to sell corn.
The phycology of the market is huge as far as farm folks are concerned. Yes, they realize that demand is down. Yes, they know that corn is selling at higher levels than it used to in the years before 2010. Farm folks have read all of those articles by farm price prognosticators saying that corn prices must go down. They understand that selling corn at a price so close to that of wheat cannot continue. The fact is, that corn is not selling at prices that were received last year at this time. Farm folks want those higher corn prices, and are willing to hold corn for now to get them.
It is a high stakes game of chicken. Many farm folks have penciled in $7 corn on their budget for the coming year and promised a premium price to rent or buy farm land, a price that must have $7 corn to be profitable. Now that $7 corn looks like it will not come back, they are holding on to the corn they now own in hopes of a better price. What if that day does not come.
Currently, end users of corn are bidding up in hopes of shaking some of that corn loose. As long as the corn market continues in its present sideways trend they will continue to do so. What is going to happen when we break out of that trend?
I have to admit it, there is a slim possibility that prices will go up again. Corn demand could return to the levels it was a year ago and we could see $7 or higher corn prices return. The drought in the central parts of the U.S. could reassert itself, or floods could return with the spring, and lower crop yields again in 2012. As long as the market sees some possibility of crop failures in other parts of the world, the market will continue to trend sideways, or even go up. But you have to feed the bull everyday, without daily bad news, the market will go down.
There is more potential for the corn market to go down. When corn and wheat prices stay too close together, livestock feeders turn to wheat as a cheaper substitute, thus raising wheat prices and lowering corn prices. Local corn is coming out of the bin at higher than average test weight and it will not take as many bushels to provide consumer needs. Some of the factors that have propped up the ethanol market for so long are soon to expire, and higher cost ethanol producers could go out of business, thus reducing corn demand. With higher meat prices, many families are reducing their meat consumption, this lowers the demand even further for corn. Year to year trends suggest that corn prices should be going down soon as speculators shift their focus to planting intentions and away from crop conditions in other parts of the world.
When will this game of chicken end? Who knows? I really am expecting a drop in the market soon, maybe even starting before the new year. If prices start to drop, I’m afraid they will continue down for some time.
For my part, I am taking advantage of the recent increase in prices to sell more of my 2011 crop. I have not yet priced any of my 2012 crop, but that is usual for me. I may just sell some corn under a minimum price contract to hedge against a price drop. Then, I’m going to sit back and watch for a while. I have enough corn and soybeans sold to cover my needs for planting. Any further sales are not needed today, I can afford to speculate on the future.
Let the game of chicken begin. I get to watch.
Filed under: school, School bus | Tags: caps, children, gloves, lost and found, school bus
My bus has started to develop a mini lost and found. So far I have 2 stocking caps, a small tan glove and a ram headband. That is just from the last two weeks. I know the pile will get higher, winter has only begun. And despite my keeping the pile right by the door where they can see it both going in and out, no one will ever claim these items.
As the weather changes again to warm, or cold, we will get coats and boots added to the pile. At anytime of the year we can get book bags, lunch bags, note pads, art projects and occasionally a cell phone. All of them in good shape, none of them labeled.
When children get to school with out their outdoor gear, they will miss out door play time. No boots, no coat, no hat and gloves, you stay inside and look at the walls.
It is understandable that some of these little people will forget where they left their things. They have so much to keep track of. What bothers me is that the parents do not think to get a laundry marker and add a name inside. It really would help get the stuff back.
So what becomes of these items of lost clothing? They end up in a box at the bus barn waiting for parents to claim them. It is really rare that anyone comes looking. Eventually they will be donated to Good Will. Is your child missing something, check at school, or in their bus. Oh, and please don’t leave empty handed. There must be something in that pile your child can use.
Filed under: Christmas, Holidays, safety, school, School bus | Tags: children, Christmas, December, safety, Santa hat, school bus
For years now I have been wearing a Santa hat on my morning bus route in December. It gets me in the holiday spirit, and it’s warm. Oh, and yes, I do quit shaving for a few weeks, the white beard is a good seasonal complement to the hat. Although the kids on the bus may look at me a little funny when they first see me in it, I get few comments from them on it except a few “Hi Santa”s from them the first time they see me. The effect on the adults has been much more interesting.
The hat is a conversation starter. Usually the conversation comes around to the fact that I wear the hat for the school bus route, and then the stories start.
I also get comments from others about how they could not drive a school bus, and questions about how kids behave. Stories of out of control kids on the bus are often told to me, as are other stories that involve school and bus trips. I have a few stories, no names included to protect the guilty, but very few stories that I tell. After 17 years of driving school bus, I can tell you that most kids today are really good. I tell everyone that I have good parents for my route. That may be the most telling remark about kids.
I understand that kids will be kids. They all need to learn, some just take longer to learn. Younger children need to be told the rules more often, and older ones will usually keep out of trouble if they are allowed to. Mistakes will be made, and kids do learn from mistakes. Parents are my biggest help. Stopping and talking to parents when the kids are present really cuts down on problems. If a phone call must be made when a problem arises, so be it.
A school bus ride should be safe and fun. The Santa hat is part of the fun.
Filed under: family, friends, history, safety, time | Tags: friends, herefor, history, safety, senior moment
So you walk into a room, you stop and think, now what did I come in here for. Yep you’ve got the “herefors.”
The “herefors” can and do strike with no warning. Your day is going well, and they can hit you. You can get them at home or at work. It’s even possible to get them on vacation, except that when you are doing nothing they are less likely to find you. Don’t be concerned, they are not deadly, you will recover quickly if you just go back to what you were doing before they got you. You do remember what you were doing before the “herefors” hit you, don’t you?
“Herefors” are merely annoying if you are alone. When you are at work, they can be embarrassing, just brazen it out, and act like you came for something else.
“Herefors” are no respecter of age. They strike the old and the young alike. As you get older you can joke about having a “senior moment,” but they are not only for senior citizens.
There is no cure for the “herefors,” although a more organized mind will cut down on their incidence. Just accept it as part of life. Admit it, you came for a reason. Just stop and think, “Now what did I come in here for?”