Filed under: Corn, Farm, GMO, Minnesota, rain, science, Soybeans, tillage, weather | Tags: alfalfa, Corn, drought, farm, GMO, Minnesota, nature, plants, rain, science, Soybeans, weather, Weed control, weeds
The grass in our yard is dry and brown except in the small areas where we are trying to save it. There are large cracks in lawns and fields. The earth is hard and resists efforts to dig in it. Yep, we’re in a drought again.
This years dry period started almost a month before last years did. In 2011 we saw our last significant rain in mid July. In 2012 we are already dry. An area from Kansas to Ohio is so short of moisture that farmers there may not even get a crop, over 60% of our countries crop growing area is in a drought and the area seems to be expanding daily. Here in Southwestern Minnesota we are doing OK, but how long can we hold on. I took some pictures to show you what our crops currently look like.
Our corn fields look pretty good. Yes, there are some areas on sandy soil that are already gone, but most of our fields are still finding water. When the temperatures are near 100 and the hot wind blows the corn will get grey as it shuts down a little to protect itself, but usually in the morning it looks good.
I was surprised to see two ears on many of our corn stalks. The early moisture seems to have encouraged the growth of that extra ear. We had decent temperatures during pollination so there is hope for lots of kernels on each ear, but how big those kernels will be is yet to be determined.
The GMO varieties that we now plant are able to produce much more corn with less water. They have stronger roots and are resistant to insect predation. These all mean that we have a much better chance of getting a crop than I would have expected only a few years ago.
A small amount of rain or some fog, and a corn plant will collect that moisture on its leaves and funnel it down to the ground. This wet spot is after only 0.04 of an inch of rain. Corn also will send its roots down deep. We still have some moisture deep. if you dig down 4 or 5 feet, you will get water in your hole. I find it interesting that corn that grew in what were once wet areas is showing moisture stress, this is most likely because the roots did not develop deep enough, soon enough.
This picture is of some soybeans on some of our sandier ground. These 15 inch rows are not quite touching here, but where the beans got a bit more water they are covering the dirt. A green canopy of leaves will help soybeans hold moisture in the ground. When it rains, or there is dew or fog, the plants will take advantage of every drop they can gather.
Soybeans will abort pods in dry weather. They will only produce what they can support. If it stays dry, I do not expect a lot of pods on the plants, nor will I expect to see any large seeds.
I’ve been cultivating the soybeans that are in 30 inch rows. When the soybeans do not cover the area between rows, it gives more weeds a chance to grow. These beans are for the production for next years seed and the productions reps want to be able to walk the fields easily. Since they pay us very well, I don’t complain about the wider rows.
I’ve also noticed that some of our weeds are developing resistance to the herbicides we use. There is no weed yet that had developed a resistance to the steel in a row crop cultivator.
The third cutting of alfalfa looks like it will be short. This first year alfalfa gave us two good crops already, but needs lots of rain to produce more. We should see blossoms soon which will mean it’s time to cut, the current cutting looks like it will be about one-third of the first two cuttings. This alfalfa was planted just before the last rains of 2011 and only got about 6 inches tall last year. When the rains came, it really developed well.
So there you have it. Our area of Minnesota looks good, but will need rain. I expect we will get a crop of some kind, but how much will we get. Will it be enough to cover expenses? Time will tell, until then we pray for rain.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, Minnesota, Trees, weather | Tags: Corn, dew, farm, fog, leaves, Minnesota, nature, trees, weather
With the whole center of the country in a drought, it was delightful to come out this morning and see water hanging from all of our plants here in southwestern Minnesota due to the morning fog. I hope you enjoy these foggy picture as much as I did.
It was indeed an enchanted fog.
Filed under: birds, Farm, fish, house, pond, water garden, Wildlife | Tags: animals, barn swallow, farm, garden, goldfish, Koi, plants, pond, raccoon, raspberries, robins, wildlife
We’ve had a few animal visitors lately, some we want and some we’d rather had stayed away.
I was delighted to see this frog sitting on a lilly pad two days ago. I had lots of frogs in the pond early this spring, but very few since.
My mom had been harvesting about two quarts of raspberries until the robins found them. Now every time she approaches the garden a dozen or more fly off. They don’t even let the berries get ripe, but eat them just before they are ready.
I heard a splash in my koi pond two nights ago when I went to look at it before going to bed. In the morning a few pots had been dug in, but not much to worry about. This morning my goldfish pond looked like this.
Water lilly’s had been torn up and hyacinth and water lettuce were upside down. Worst of all, four 10 year old goldfish are missing. I suspect a raccoon, but have no evidence to prove it. With my sweet corn about ready for harvest, I hope I am wrong.
Some barn swallows built a nest on a roof bracket over the kitchen window. Although I like barn swallows since they eat insects, what they do to the side of the house has my bride upset. The word is out, they need to move soon!
I really do want animal visitors, but sometimes i wish they would not be so messy.
Filed under: Ag education, Corn, Farm, food, history | Tags: Agriculture education, chicago board of trade, Corn, corn chips, corn flakes, corn prices, farm, field corn, Food, food costs
The city announcers are telling the woeful story of higher food prices to come. They are telling everyone that because corn prices are going up dramatically we will be having higher food prices soon. Here is why they are wrong.
Although field corn seems to be in about everything, it is only a small part of those items. The only foods that will be majorly affected by higher corn prices are things like corn chips and corn flakes, and most of those are priced already for some time to come. They also only have about 5 to 10 cents of corn in that $3 box or bag.
Buyers of commodities like corn use the Chicago Board of Trade to “lock in” their needs for some time to come in the future. They will buy massive amounts of corn as “contracts,” in 5000 bushel lots, when prices are low, and sell those same “contract” bushels when they actually buy corn. Thus they can even out the cost of the corn they need. They can hold off the day they really have to pay up for higher priced corn. If the price of corn goes down as it usually does at harvest, you can be sure they will be buying more corn.
Many growers of corn for items like corn flakes and corn chips grow special types of corn under specialty contracts. These contract prices have already been set for this year. They may go up for next year if there is a shortage of corn produced, but buyers resist changing the price too fast.
The price of corn does not directly reflect the price of meat. Grains like corn, wheat and barley are a major part of the rations of chickens, turkeys and pigs, and to a lesser extent cattle. Most producers of these animals either raise their own grain or buy it on the open market. They lock in their grain needs just like the producers of corn flakes do. The next generation of meat animals may require higher prices, but this one is set.
It takes time for the price of grain to cause a price change in meats, and usually the first effect of higher priced grain is for the price of meat to go down. Producers of meat animals will discontinue production of meat animals if they cannot make money as their input costs go up. This will mean that the mothers of these meat animals will be sold into the slaughter market to cut losses for producers. This will create an initial drop in the price of meat products before it goes up if demand remains constant. The exact opposite occurs as profitability goes up and more livestock are kept out of market for breeding purposes.
There are many reasons for food prices to go up, and you can be sure that your grocer will use any and all of them to tell you why you must pay more for food. The fact remains that the farmer only gets about 10 cents of your food dollar. If commodity prices were to double on the farm, you could expect only a 10% increase in food costs. Anything over that is going to someone else along the food supply chain.
Filed under: family, Farm | Tags: arthroscopic surgery, Arthroscopy, farm, health, knee surgery, medicine, physical therapy, repairs
Friday, June 29 I had Arthroscopic Surgery to take care of some ragged pieces in the cartilage in my right knee. I’m sure that the first damage goes back many years, but it got significantly worse this spring. I toughed it out until I got the bulk of the spring work done, then I started seeing doctors. Finally I saw a surgeon, and we set the date for surgery. With a bare minimum of preparation, they walked me into surgery, put me out, and went to work.
When I woke up, they walked me out to the car for my wife to take me home. What I could see of my knee looked like this.
The word was, keep it dry, start your exercises, change your bandages. Under the wrap I had two big pads to catch any leaks. A few days later we switched to band aids. I still kept it wrapped, mostly to keep the band aids in place.
Today was my second trip to the physical therapist. The swelling is down and range of motion is returning. I’m still a bit tenuous going down stairs, but the rest is returning. Today my knee looks like this.
You can see the two small scabs just below the knee cap, with one on the left side above. I’ve started sleeping without any bandaids or wraps on the knee. Showers are OK, but no swimming yet. Oh, you should see this!
Isn’t that a beauty of a bruise. That’s where they put the tourniquet. It’s going to take a while for that to go away.
I’m still working on range of motion stuff, but I am getting better. The knee is more than a bit tight. I have very little pain, even when doing my exercises. I wonder why I didn’t just go and have it this spring when things first got bad.
So there you have it, my knee is doing much better. Thanks for you concern,
Filed under: fish, garden, house, pond, projects, rain, water garden, weather | Tags: floating water plants, garden, Koi, pond, railing, screen porch, water garden, weather
It looks great, and adds a bit of safety also. It’s only 4 steps up and a drop to soft grass so we were not worried about spacing on the bars. The hand rail will help get up and down the steps.
When we were in Colorado we found some nice brackets to add to the west posts of the porch, they were installed Sunday also.
They will allow the hanging of some decorative items to add some color.
Our floaters in the pond are really growing in this warm weather. Here’s the pond on June 30th,
and here’s the pond today, July 9. More and more the year old koi are turning from black to orange. It’s fun to watch them all come when I feed them, it is taking more and more food to make them happy.
I finally found our newest batch of kittens today, they are about 2 weeks old. Mom is not happy to have me around so I left them alone for now. When they get older I’ll start getting to know them.
Our grass is starting to show signs of stress from the heat of last week. Many places are starting to turn brown. No rain is forecast for the next week, but temperatures will be a bit cooler than they were.
Some areas in the corn are showing a lack of water. This was more pronounced in the 100 degree heat. Now that temps are in the mid 80′s the roots are able to keep up with the demand for water. There is some water if you go deep enough, I just hope it is enough to get the crop to the next rainfall.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm, farm animals, Farm Bureau, food, weather | Tags: Agriculture education, Breakfast on the Farm, children, family, farm, Farm Bureau, Food, princess kay of the milky way, weather
What can I say, Cottonwood County’s 2012 Breakfast on the Farm was a success. When you plan for 200 to 250 people and serve over 300, you know something went right. We stressed over having to get more supplies, but were happy to get them.The weather was perfect as temperatures and humidity dropped making for a comfortable morning. Our host family, Dean, Elizabeth, April, Chelsea, Jacob and Ethan Johnson could not have been better. There was a chance to see history as the Butter Heads of the only sisters to make finals of Princess Kay of the Milky Way in the same year were on display.
One of biggest draws was the milking demonstration. Some of the younger children got right in close to see this contented cow be milked.
The FFA and 4-H had activities for the kids including a cow pie eating contest where contestants had to find candy corn in chocolate pudding using only their face. The first one to find all five was declared the winner. Sorry, I missed the pie in the face picture, but I did get a picture of the cleanup.
One guest commented that very time he had driven by the farm, he had wanted to stop in to see what happened there. Today he got to see. It was obvious that many others wanted to see the Johnson dairy.
We had lots of help with event. Although the lead organization was the Cottonwood County Farm Bureau, the event also had the Cottonwood County Dairy Association, the Cottonwood County Beef Producers, the Cottonwood County Corn and Soybean Growers and the Windom Chamber of Commerce as co-hosts. It was a team event.
To the Johnson family, a big thank you for all you did. You made this event a success. Perhaps we’ll get to do it again some year.
Filed under: family, Farm, Farm Bureau, Fishing, food, friends, summer, Trees, weather, wind | Tags: children, farm, Farm Bureau, Food, hot, machines, record heat, summer, trees, weather, wind
It has been a hot week and I will be glad to see it go. I seem to be having troubles for the last week or so, one after another.
Last Thursday I called the doctor that was to do my knee surgery to get details. They said, “Oh, No, you are not scheduled for a week.” I said “I have an appointment card that says surgery tomorrow.”, and “Next Friday will not work.” Some how we got the surgery done. The knee is feeling much better now, Thank you.
We go to the cabin so I can recuperate without having any extra duties, spend time with my leg up, take it easy. No water in the cabin! I have to crawl into the basement and prime the pump so we can have water to clean up and cool off.
It’s hot, record-breaking hot,but I cannot go into the water too cool off due to my surgery. Lucky for me the crappies are biting just off the dock. I can at least sit in the sun and fish, and sweat!
A storm comes through and takes down some trees and takes out the electricity. Spend some time helping with the clean up. No fans, no air moving, it’s hard to sleep. The only running water we have is when someone goes down to the lake to carry it back in buckets. With no fridge and food spoiling, we come home early. Oh yeah, the fridge died when the power went out.
We stop at my aunt and uncles on the trip home for a bit. The electricity goes out at their house!
A message comes up on my phone as we near home. One of the items we need to serve for Breakfast on the Farm is not available, could you call back, like, two days ago. With some scrambling, and help from others putting on the event, we are a go.
Today, Friday, I go to open my shop door and nothing happens, motor is out. Looks like I need to do some repair there, and there are no parts available until Monday.
There have been a number of little things that have gone wrong this week, and the record heat and humidity are not helping us get things done. I just want to crawl into bed and stay there. Then, however, I would not get to see my granddaughters,
I would not have the feeling of a job done well, I would not have people looking at me and saying, “Wow, how did you get all of that done.”
So, I guess I’ll just keep on going. We have a big event planned for tomorrow, and thanks to all of those who are helping me, we are going to have a good time. Come on over and help fill the tent. We’ll be waiting for you!
Here’s to keeping going when everything seems to be going wrong!