Filed under: cold, Corn, Farm, garden, Minnesota, planting, rain, snow, weather | Tags: cold, Corn, farm, garden, Minnesota, nature, plant corn, Planting, rain, snow, snow in april, weather
Two days ago I dug up the garden and planted some potatoes, radishes, peas and carrots, as of noon today here is my garden. It’s under about 4 inches of snow. Yes, we need the water, but does it have to be snow?
Does this boot track help you to understand our snow?
We have had some really nice weather since the last snow, but not enough to get fields dry enough to plant corn. Last year was unusually warm and dry in the spring and I finished planting corn on April 30. This year has been unusually cool and snowy and I have not yet started planting.
It’s not panic time yet. We can plant the same varieties of corn for another 20 to 25 days, but every day we delay planting from the tenth of April on will result in less corn to be harvested. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to keep cleaning up the downed tree branches from the ice storm. Dry weather will come.
Filed under: Minnesota, pond, snow, Trees, winter | Tags: fluffy snow, leaden skies, Minnesota, nature, pond, snow, trees, weather, winter
Our area of Minnesota is not exactly know for light and fluffy snow. Usually when we get snow it comes with wind. The snow we had on the ground was looking a bit old and dirty, and was mostly ice. Then, overnight, we had 4 inches fall in near perfect calm. Before it could blow away I took these pictures. Enjoy! Leaden skies and snow so white it looks blue were what I saw on my morning walk around the yard. Pine and cedar are both holding loads of snow. This birch trunk even caught some snow. A confluence of hackberry branches is covered in this picture Any horizontal surface holds snow until the wind blows it away. A few leaves on this lilac bush still hang on and hold snow. The pond has only a small hole open in the ice, the rest is covered with snow. Even the smallest of branches can catch snow.
Filed under: Corn, family, Farm, farm animals, food, garden, harvest, hunger, Minnesota, Soybeans | Tags: Agriculture education, Corn, eat local, family, farm, Food, garden, harvest, history, machines, Minnesota, Soybeans
We live in an area that is not exactly food diverse, because of market availability we do not raise many crops here. Our area is mainly corn and soybeans and a bit of wheat and alfalfa for field crops. For livestock we mainly raise swine and beef with a few stray sheep, goat, milk and poultry producers in the area. Fruits and veggies are relegated to gardens with only a few making their way to a farmers market. Our problem here is not lack of produce for the local eaters, nor lack of soil or climate that can produce food for our locals, but a lack of customers. We produce more food here than can be eaten in the local area. The average farmer in the U.S. now produces enough food to feed 155 people. Because of our distance from markets where our produce can be consumed, we have a history of producing products that move on the hoof to market, beef and pork. Those who live closer to a population center can and do produce the perishables that are consumed fresh.
We are lucky to have harvest facilities for both pork and beef in our area. A little to the east there are processing plants for sweet corn and peas. Most of this production is shipped to the east coast. There are a few scattered vineyards for the production of locally consumed wine and craft breweries for beer. Some local gardeners set up stands to sell their excess produce in season. Beyond that, we also ship in most of the food eaten in our area. We have no local producers of bread, pasta or rice, and tropical fruits, chocolate and seafood are still craved here just as they are in the city.
As I said, our markets drive our production. The livestock of our area are our chief consumers of field crops. Until WWII the only way to get produce to market was to walk it there. There was no interstate transportation except the railroads and most production was consumed on the farm for the horses that worked the farm. Except for wheat, milk and eggs there was not a lot of produce that was sold to others. As more and more people moved to the cities the need for food to move from the farm to the city increased, thus was born modern agriculture. Now with only a few percent of the population left on the farm we have developed machinery and crops that feed those who do not work the land. Ninety-eight percent of the food produced in our country is produced by families who care for the land and animals that feed our world.
Although some in our world would like to eat local, it is just not practical when you live in the city for all to eat that way. There is not enough food produced within a few miles of our large cities to feed the city, you need the farmers and ranchers of middle America to produce enough to feed not only the cities of the U.S., but the world. So eat local if you want to. In the mean time I and others like me will be putting food on the table for the many who do not have access to, or the money to pay for, locally produced products.
Filed under: fish, pond, water garden, winter | Tags: cold, ice, Koi, Minnesota, pond, snow, water plants, weather, winter
It’s December in Minnesota, my pond has had several days where it has iced over, but I have pushed my luck far enough, It’s time to winterize the pond. My floating plants died out with the first freezing day and they have long ago made their way to the compost pile. Now it’s time to turn off the water circulation pump and take it out.
The air pump has two long hoses to get air down into the pond, a pair of metal nuts are needed to keep the hose down in the water. I have a cover for the pump made from an old plastic juice bottle so that snow and rain is kept off of it.
Now I can be sure that fresh oxygen is getting to the fish when the pond is iced over. The koi hang out around the heater appreciating the extra warmth.Here’s where I hang the pump. I have a screw to hold it all on the board beside the electrical outlet. The pond is now ready for winter.I’ll set some of the flower pots in deeper water so the ice will not damage them and the pond is ready for winter. There are no flowers in bloom, but the koi keep a bit of color as the ponds settles in for winter.
Filed under: cats, Farm, food, garden, make a difference, Trees | Tags: environment, farm, Food, garden, nature, recycle, South Africa, trees
I don’t get it! Why is everything so throw away today. This week I found a perfectly good cooler in the trash. There are constantly cans and bottles being thrown into the ditch. Doesn’t anyone care for Mother Earth?
I was raised to recycle. My parents both grew up just after the Dust Bowl and were children during WWII. They lived with rationing here in the U.S. that was nowhere near as bad a in Europe, but significant. You just made do. They went to the hog lot to pick up the corn cobs after the pigs ate the corn off of them to use for fuel to cook their meals. Living with little is how they were raised.
Still today we keep metals aside to sell for scrap. Cloths get patched not ditched. Yesterdays going to town jeans are todays work cloths. Buildings that are no longer usable are torn down to be used in new construction. I rarely saw my dad buy new nails, we just straightened the old ones. If it could be used for something else later, it was.
I’m still a reusing person. I walked the yard today to pick up the tree branches that came down in the recent wind so they could be used to heat my house and shop. I have more than enough wood from fallen trees to heat my buildings. My cats eat the household meat scraps and other food scraps go to the compost for garden fertilizer.
I know it’s harder to live like this in the city, but at least more people could recycle rather than throw away. We have so much here and we are just using it and land filling it, or buying it and then forgetting where we put it.
A few years ago on a trip to South Africa I saw people who lived off of the money they could earn recycling plastics. It takes over a cubic yard of plastic to earn a few pennies, pennies that we would not even pick up if we saw them on the ground.
I don’t get it. We have a lot to learn from people who have less than we do. One of those things is making use of the things we no longer need.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, garden, harvest, Minnesota, rain, seasons, Soybeans, summer, weather | Tags: Corn, farm, garden, harvest, Minnesota, peppers, plants, pumpkins, rain, Soybeans, summer, tomatoes, weather
It’s August 24 and harvest is approaching faster than we would like. I’ve been at several farmer seed dealer meetings lately and all are saying we’ll be harvesting our corn before soybeans this year. So, let’s take a look at what’s happening in the field here in Southwestern Minnesota.
Many corn fields began the turn from green to tan this week. There are still green leaves on most of the corn which is good for the health of the plant, but the husks on the ear are drying and loosening up. This is needed for drying of the kernels of corn and is good to see.
If you take a corn stalk and cut it vertically you can see that the stalk is starting to shut down. There are definite signs that the stalk is taking stored energy from the stalk and putting it in the ear in a last attempt to get the maximum amount of weight in each kernel.
Corn is a plant that needs a certain amount of heat, once it has had that heat, it shuts down. In warm years like we have this year you then get an early harvest. Two years ago we had a cold year, and corn harvest was late.
If you break an ear of corn you will see that the kernels are deep an healthy. Most ears have 18 rows of kernels but there are a few 16 and 20 row cobs out there. Most corn has not yet reached “black layer,” a point where the kernel shuts off the connection to the cob, but is still in the “dough” stage, where the inside of a kernel is moist but not watery. These deep kernels suggest a good test weight which puts more corn in the bin or silo and means more feed value in each kernel.
We will see a bit of a yield reduction here, but how much is hard to tell. Timing of rain showers and hot dry winds, how much water the corn was able to access out of the soil and farming practices of many types will all have an effect on the final outcome.
Some soybean fields have just started to get a bit of yellow in them. Soybeans are photo sensitive plants and will grow until the day length tells them that fall is coming. We rarely see harvest here before the first week in October. When leaves start to turn on a soybean plant you usually have about 4 weeks before harvest, depending on how wet or dry the weather is. You can see that the beans on the right will be ready before the beans on the left. (p.s. this is not my field!)
Our soybeans have a long way to go before the crop is set. Most pods are still a bit flat and some rain may still help fill out the pods on the greenest plants. There is nothing new here, this is where we expect our soybeans to be at this time of year. Soybeans are always hard to guess on yield until you get to harvest. I’d say yield will be down, but not much.
Our tomato plants are just starting to ramp up production. We’ve had a few tomatoes in the past weeks, but the plants are loaded with green fruit. Soon we’ll be looking for volunteers to take some tomatoes off of our hands.
We’ve also dug the first potatoes and carrots and the late radishes are done. Some trees are starting to drop their leaves and plant growth is slowing. Fall is coming and cooler temperatures are here, what a wonderful time of year.
Find the frog(s)
The wildlife visiting my pond is different every day. We get way more birds than I did when I tried feeders, plus we attract a few other critters. Right now I have a vole that is making the pond edge his home. I wouldn’t mind just staying there, but he has decided that the flowers need to be harvested. They are barely done blooming and he snips some of them off. Since we are short adult cats right now he has free range. Oh well, he’s just part of the wildlife in my yard. For now I’ll have to live with him.
Filed under: garden, Minnesota, pond, water garden | Tags: broad leaf arrowhead, garden, Minnesota, plants, pond, water garden, water hyacinth, water lettuce
My pond has been overrun by floaters this year and something has to be done.
I took half a wheel borrow full of floaters to the compost pile earlier this week and the floaters filled the cleared spot up the next day. All of this green is from 10 small plants purchased in early June.
The floaters in my pond are water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and water hyacinth (Eichhoria crassipes). They are just leaves and roots. So far neither of these plants have bloomed for me.
The roots on the water lettuce are about 8 inches long on mature plants. The plants send out side shoots with smaller plants on them. As the plant gets bigger, it also sends out more babies. They continue to grow as long as they can reach water.
Water hyacinth are much like the water lettuce in that they are just green plant and roots, and they send out shoots to produce more plants. The hyacinth have bladders to help keep them afloat. In southern states they are considered invasive. Some places in Africa and Asia they will heap hyacinth together to make floating islands where people will live. Here in Minnesota both plants will freeze off as winter nears. Then I just net them up and add them to the compost pile.
If you look at the bottom of the picture you can see the newest addition to the pond, sagittaria latifolia. Sagittaria latifolia is a plant found in shallow wetlands and is sometimes known as broadleaf arrowhead, duck potato, Indian potato, or wapato. This plant produces edible tubers that were extensively used by the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.
Filed under: Corn, Farm, farm animals, food, garden, Minnesota, rain, Soybeans, weather | Tags: alfalfa, Corn, drought, farm, Food, garden, harvest, Minnesota, rain, Soybeans, tomatoes, weather
Our little corner of Minnesota got 1.1 inches of rain for the whole month when our crops are needing an inch a week. The National Weather Service has placed us in a Severe Drought, yet the crops look good. Tonight we are again getting a few drops of rain, just a teaser, how much more dry weather can we take.
We’ve been eating some very good sweet corn lately, well filled out ears, good depth. I will admit to setting the soaker hose in the patch one day, but one day only. We usually use sweet corn yield to show how the field corn is doing. The tomatoes are yielding well, and the peppers have good production on them as well. Is this really a significant drought? The answer is yet to be determined.
Despite the good looking crops in the field I expect there to be some yield loss. Our fields here will do better than some, but worse than others. After two good cuttings of alfalfa, the third cutting was hardly worth the effort to harvest it. That shows how the early rains helped early production, but have not been sufficient for the moisture needs of this last month. There will be less grain harvested than our country needs for exports, and some domestic users will have to find alternative feed stocks.
Those hurt most in the livestock sector will most likely be the cattle feeders who depend on the rains not for corn, but for forage crops like grass, alfalfa and clover. Some corn will be chopped to help extend the needs, but the best feed stocks may not be in the right place for the livestock that depends on it. Cattle will go to slaughter and beef prices, at least on the farm, will be cheaper before they go higher.
Those who need feed grains the most, poultry and pork producers, will be able to buy feed, but at a highly inflated price. Some chickens and turkeys will not be hatched until farmers can get a high enough price to pay for the higher priced feed. Grains are easier to transport, so they will still move from areas of relative abundance to areas of need if the price is right.
Yes, these little showers of rain are good, just not enough to give our usual amounts of production. Until the combines roll and we have some harvested acres we will just not know how good, or how bad.