Filed under: Ag education, Farm, food, house | Tags: Agriculture education, dirt, environment, farm, farmland, Food, housing, housing development, nature, science
Today we have 922,095,840 acres of farmland in the United States. In 1978, that number was 1,014,777,234 – a decrease of 92,681,394 acres. Nine percent of our nations farmland is gone. Where did it go? Most of it went to housing.
When I travel to any city it is obvious to me that people do love to live outside the city. Suburban housing developments around cities are converting some very good farmland to street after street of houses. Nice flat fertile easy to farm land. As of now that land has a greater value as housing than as farmland. Despite losing 9% of some of our countries best farmland farmers have produced more food than ever before.
Farmers and agri-businesses are constantly improving crop yields so that more food and feed crops can be grown with the same, or even less inputs. We now use less water, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, fuel and labor to produce ever more and more food for the world than we did when I started farming 40 years ago. Our farming methods have changed in ways that reduce erosion. Although our machinery may be bigger we now use methods that do less damage to the soil. Indeed farmers are conservation minded.
Farmers are doing their best to protect the land. Dirt is our most precious resource and we treat it well.
Filed under: blizzard, cold, house, Ice, Minnesota, rain, snow, travel, weather, wind, winter | Tags: cold, Minnesota, rain, rivers and lakes, school bus, snow, south windows, southwestern minnesota, travel, weather, wind, winter
The weatherman was predicting blizzard-like conditions for Southwestern Minnesota this morning, but again the predicted moisture did not come. Our “snow” came mostly as rain, and fell not in the middle of the night, but just as the sun was starting to rise. Overnight winds waited until after the rain to change from south to north and we have ice all over again, including quite a bit of ice on our south windows. Morning temperatures were near freezing, but dropped quickly when the winds switched.
Last week we had an unusual occurrence for us, it rained over an inch in one day! It has indeed been a long time since that much rain fell in a 24 hour period. Since the rains fell on frozen ground, we will not get much good out of it. The rain melted a lot of the snow we had left and quickly ran down into the low spots. This meant a quick rise to our rivers and lakes. Most bodies of water now have open water on the edges, or in the case of rivers, could be ice free. Now we are going to have a few days of cold and wind.
This mornings driving was also tricky with ice on most roads. I had to follow a snow plow/sander as I left town on my bus route which made me late for a few of my stops, but I was able to make it up on the gravel roads. Paved roads were ice covered despite the attempts of county and state to remove the ice.
Now as the wind howls, the sun has come out. If you can find a place out of the wind it isn’t too bad out. I however have a few inside chores to do and will stay in the warm until I have to go.
Filed under: cold, Fishing, house, Ice, Minnesota, snow, travel, weather | Tags: cold, cold minnesota winter, ice, icicle, icicles, icy roads, Minnesota, nature, rain, snow, transportation, travel, trees, weather, winter
I used to like ice. Going fishing on the ice with my grandfather, running and seeing how far you could slide on the ice, anything that was fun in winter was made more fun by ice. Now I’m older and ice doesn’t hold as much fun in it. I think of falling and getting hurt on the ice, of cars sliding on the ice, or braking through the ice, not fun activities in the cold Minnesota winter.
Some roads have gotten really bad this winter. We had some snow and rain, and now some really cold weather that turned un cleared roads and parking lots to polished ice. I’ve had several times where the rear of my vehicle tried to pass the front on ice in the last week. Especially bad are gravel roads, which are not a high priority for townships and counties to clear, but some city streets are bad also. Just think of coming down hill to a stop sign and putting on the brakes, only to have the vehicle start to slide almost onto the crossing road. Once you stop you now have to get moving, usually up hill, on that ice. Here’s my least favorite road of the week.
I do like icicles. I find it amazing how they can form even in very cold temperatures when a bit of sun comes out.
Filed under: cold, Farm, house, Minnesota, weather, winter, wood heat | Tags: below zero, cold, cold north wind, daytime temperatures, Minnesota, minnesota cold, weather, wind chill, winter, wood burner, wood heat
I’ve made a couple of trips out into the Minnesota cold this morning to feed the critters and the wood stove, and believe me I’m looking for an excuse to stay inside all day. This is the kind of cold I remember from my younger days. With daytime temperatures forecast to stay below zero for the first time since January of 2009, we just do not remember this kind of cold so well. Then there is that cold north wind blowing down from the arctic to bite through our clothing, it feels like about 30 below. Yep, I think I’ll do some book work. There must be a few other jobs I’ve been putting off for a cold day, time to do them.
OK, so this is a picture of my wood burner from a warmer day, but the woodpile is still looking good. We’re keeping the house warm on the dead trees and broken branches of years past. Still, I must go outside to warm up the inside of our house, and that is a chilly trip today.
Filed under: family, Farm, projects, repairs | Tags: diy, family, farm, repairs
It happened again. My youngest has the boys borrowing her tools, in this case a hammer.
Farm girls learn a little bit of everything it seems. Our children have grown up with us planting and harvesting, but also building, remodeling and refinishing. So who do the city boys turn to when they need some fix-up tools? A country girl, she can even show them how to fix it if they ask.
My favorite story from my daughters is from the first year our youngest was teaching. She was living in a house with two others. When food started disappearing from the fridge they decided it was time to change the locks on the door. The guy who was the “manager” of the house bought the lock sets and the tools he thought he needed to get the job done, despite our daughter telling him she had all the tools needed to do the job. Our youngest came home to find him with pieces all over, struggling to understand the directions. She showed him how to do the job and then went of to do some other things. That night when she came back, the back door lock was in pieces on the table. He was stuck again, so she just replaced the back door locks for him.
So watch out guys! That country girl just may be able to show you a thing or two about things you would least expect.
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: 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: food, history, house, time, travel | Tags: bureau of labor statistics, Food, history, medical care, recreation, transportation, travel
Filed under: house, repairs, travel, wood heat | Tags: electric water heater, hot water, hot water heater, machines, repairs, water, water heater, wood fired boiler
So, here you are, planning a trip out of town and you have a problem with the water heater. If the house was to be empty, no problem, turn it off and deal with it later. Nope, I’m going alone,wife would prefer to have hot water while I’m gone.
Now nothing in our house is simple. It comes from not liking to pay fuel bills. When I hooked up our wood burning boiler to heat the house, I also used that hot water to heat our household water. There are extra things hooked to our heater and I would like to be here to explain when the new water heater is installed. I may not have the chance. I’m already in a time crunch and I have to plan on a water heater being replaced while I’m gone, wonderful.
So here’s the old heater. Notice the dark stain of wet cement on the floor? That’s what gave me the first hint of trouble. The heater is 20 years old so it has had its life. We are on load management with the electric company so they and I can save some electricity in times of high need, we both save money. Because of that I get a big water heater while paying less for a top of the line electric water heater. The electric company can shut the heater off periodically to save during times of peak demand, never long enough to notice if you have a larger, well insulated, tank.
Notice also the white lines on the heater? Those are signs of previous leakage. Not good things to find.
See that yellow tag, it’s wet. It hangs from the electric junction box on the water heater. When I removed the cover from that box I discovered that water was coming out of the heater from around the electric cables. This means I have to replace the heater. I make the plans to replace everything, and hope it all holds together so the plan will never go into effect. If things go wrong, one phone call and my wife gets her hot water back.
Luckily everything held together while I was gone, now I can get things done my way.
While I was gone the new a water heater was delivered. Today I wrestled it into the house and got it out of the box. The next step is going to be interesting. The tank is 30.25 inches wide and the top of my basement stair well 30.25 inches. Yep, tight squeeze. But hey, I’m home and the job will get done. It’s much easier for me and a load off of my wife.
It happens so often, you are headed off on, or just back from a trip, and something goes wrong. So far no problem, so far.