Filed under: cold, Ice, Minnesota, seasons, snow, spring, weather, Wildlife | Tags: geese, melting snow, Minnesota, nature, pond, snow, spring, waterlilies, weather, weight restrictions
Our part of Minnesota does not have as much snow as the folks further north, but the weather is still cold. Most days are still topping out below freezing and we are approaching the time of year they should be in the 50′s. Despite the cold, spring is coming.Melting snow.Geese looking for open water.New leaves on the waterlilies.Weight restrictions on roads. Yes, spring is coming and the posting of weight restrictions on roads is a sure sign that it is coming.
Filed under: Biofuels, cars, ethanol, Farm, food, Minnesota, Politicians, Politics, travel, wood heat | Tags: car, cars, ethanol, farm, Food, machines, Minnesota, politics, transportation, travel
I’ve made no bones about it, I’m in favor of ethanol. The fact that I’m part owner of a small ethanol plant here in Minnesota does color my perception. That ethanol is cleaner burning than gas or diesel is a given. Bio-fuels are a renewable resource, being produced new again every year.
I’ve alway been one who hates to pay any more money to Big Oil than I have to. The main heat source for my home and shop are dead trees harvested from my farm. I have air to air solar collectors on my house and shop. I try to keep the house tight and all equipment operating at peak efficiency. I limit my trips as much as possible and will use public transportation when practical.
Big Oil does not like my little ethanol plant. They also do not like conservation practices that use less fuel, they want you to keep paying them for ever. In fact they don’t seem to like anyone who gets between them and their fat profits, and they are very, very fat profits.
Big Oil is worried. They have to be to keep saying the bad things about ethanol that they have been for so long. They try to tell us that ethanol is bad for our cars when the same cars we use are on the road in Brazil and in some cases are using 100% ethanol and have been for many years. They try to tell us that using more ethanol is causing our food prices to go up when more of your food dollar goes to oil related costs than to the farmer. They push a message of the carbon foot print of farming when they blow much, much more carbon into the air than any other industry. Big Oil has convinced our politicians that agriculture does not need any financial help so that they can protect the much larger tax breaks and hand outs that they take in.
This is nothing more than a coordinated effort by oil companies and refiners who will stop at nothing to hold their near monopoly on the liquid fuels market in the long quest to blame others for their absurd profits and never-ending increasing gasoline prices at the pump. I find it very interesting that the states with the largest ethanol industries have some of the lowest gas prices in the nation.
All we hear about is a domestic energy boom; more drilling and new oil and gas reserves. But nothing changes; gas prices still increase and every time it’s the other guys fault, not the oil companies. Let’s be honest here. The oil industry is experiencing record profits on the backs of the American consumers. And their industry sees renewable fuels such as ethanol that can be produced far less expensive than gasoline as a threat and they will go to great lengths to discredit any competition through misinformation and smear tactics. Enough is enough – it is time to call this what it is – an orchestrated sham by the oil companies to manipulate markets, cause panic and attempt to use false data to blame an industry that has grown to be a threat to their record profits and bottom lines.
Ethanol is a win-win for America, creating jobs and revitalizing rural economies, it is better for our environment and it is reducing our dependence on foreign oil, all while providing consumers a choice and savings at the pump. It is time for Americans to hear from someone other than oil companies, which are holding American consumers hostage to excessive prices and a dangerous dependence on a finite resource.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Biofuels, ethanol, Farm, farm animals, Farm Bureau, food, food safety, genetic modification, Minnesota, Politicians, Politics, travel | Tags: Agriculture education, biofuels, ethanol, farm, Farm Bureau, farm bureau members, Food, food safety, government, Minnesota, minnesota farm bureau federation, politics, travel
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: Corn, Farm, GMO, Minnesota, planting, rain, seasons, snow, Soybeans, spring, tillage, time, Trees, weather, winter | Tags: climate, Corn, farm, Minnesota, Planting, rain, snow, Soybeans, spring, summer, weather
Brad Rippey, USDA meteorologist, reports that 55.82% of the country still in drought. “But we’ve knocked out the eastern Corn Belt.” While the country at large had some pretty good rains from November through January, we haven’t had much relief until this week in the Midwest, he says. Weather is personal, you may feel fine that your area is now out of the drought, or very concerned if you are still in a severe to extreme drought area like I am here in Southwestern Minnesota. The next few months are going to be critical for our area crops.
We’ve had very little snow in our area this winter, and what we have had has been a dry type of snow. Snow falling on frozen ground does little to recharge the subsoil moisture, and that is where we need water. Without gentle long term rains, we will have our crops come up and then die.
Last fall we did some digging in the fields. This digging left me concerned for the 2013 crop. There is so little water in the top 4 feet of the soil profile that I wonder how roots will get down to the little bit that is below 4 feet. Compound that with the needed tillage to get our crops started, tillage that will dry out those top few inches, and we could be in real trouble.
Our area of Minnesota usually needs drainage tile to dry it out so that we can actually get tillage done. Depending if your soil is more clay, sand or rock, you will have more or less water in it. Organic matter, sometimes called loam, from old roots and buried plant stalks also plays a part in the water holding ability of soil. Our soil varies from heavy and wet clay loam to almost pure sand. Sandy ground takes near continuous rain since water runs right through it, while clay soils tend to hold water tighter. In our area even the clay soils are dry.
Even deep rooted perennial crops like alfalfa and our younger trees are showing the stress. Our late season alfalfa last year was a disaster, and I have several evergreen trees that are dropping their needles. These are not good signs for an available water source.
The only bright spot in the planting season is the advent of more drought resistant varieties. Choice of drought tolerant varieties of field crops along with genetic modifications that help to control root pruning insects and encourage root growth may just give our corn and soybeans a chance to get down to that deep water. This is going to be a real test. I know that we now plant corn and soybean varieties that are so much better than when I started farming, but I still worry.
So now we wait and see. A third year of dry weather would be very unusual, but the whole climate seems to be changing. We have been moving away from long gentle rains to rapid downpours. Rapid rains do not stay on the land, long gentle ones do. If these dry conditions persist we may have to rethink the crops we grow in this area. Time will tell.
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: blizzard, cold, Farm, Minnesota, snow, travel, weather, weather wisdom, wind, winter | Tags: clothing, cold, farm, Minnesota, nature, safety, travel, weather, wind, wind chills, winter, winter clothing
The winds are a howling in our grove and the little bit of snow they can find is making life difficult. With wind speeds of 30 to 40 mph and temperatures near zero, we now have wind chill ratings of 20 below with sunrise wind chills near 30 below. This is not a night to be stranded out in the open.
We live on U.S. highway 71, so usually we can count on some relatively easy driving conditions. The plows gets out and opens these main roads early. Tonight the highway patrol has closed 71 from Windom to Willmar. Local police have even stopped in at high school basketball games to tell folks about the danger of being out tonight. This is serious.
Unfortunately I am prone to thinking I am an exception. After all I’m a Minnesota farm boy, we’ve had to be out doing chores in stuff like this most of my life. Now I’ve seen people who will brave winter in shorts and a tee shirt, I’m here to tell you that I am not one of those people. I know how to dress for the weather. If the wind blows you need protection.As I age the weather seems to affect me more and more. Oh yeah, a quick trip out to the mail box or the wood pile may see me with just shoes and a hooded coat but long pants are always part of the winter gear, when the winter wind blows you need layers! Insulated boots and heavy socks for the feet are mandatory, maybe even two pairs of socks. I have several pair of felt lined jeans that can go under insulated bib coveralls for the lower body. A cotton tee with a heavy flannel shirt goes under a heavy hooded coat to cover the upper body. I usually make do with a baseball cap, but when the wind really blows I have a head band I put over my ears to keep the cap on. If it’s really cold the cap is replaced by a stocking cap to keep the head warm, that’s all under that hood. Don’t forget the heavy gloves or mittens with a pair of cotton gloves underneath for the colder weather. If you want to survive a Minnesota blizzard even this may not be enough, but at least you will stay warm if you can find a place to get out of the wind once in a while.
So when the wind blows like today, I’d advise you not to be out in Minnesota. Some of us have to work here, and we’ll dress for the weather, but even we will not be far from shelter for long.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm Bureau, Minnesota, Politicians, Politics | Tags: Agriculture education, Farm Bureau, farm bureau federation, farm bureau members, Minnesota, minnesota department of natural resources, minnesota farm bureau, minnesota farm bureau federation, minnesota pollution control, politicians, politics
It’s been a long week. But one of the most interesting days I had this week was spent in St.Paul at the Farm Bureau Council of County Presidents meeting.
Each year the Minnesota farm Bureau’s county presidents get together to find out what is going on in our state and national politics. We have people from many different state, and if we can get them, federal organizations come in and brief us on the things happening in their area. It is a chance to get to know each other and to find out about issues we will be dealing with. Below is a picture of myself with some area Farm Bureau members as we greet our State Senator Bill Weber.The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) recently held the Minnesota Farm Bureau Council of County Presidents meeting on February 5 at the University Club in St. Paul with 120 Farm Bureau leaders, elected and appointed officials in attendance. County Farm Bureau presidents heard from state legislators, as well as Minnesota Agriculture Water Resources Center Executive Director Warren Formo, Minnesota Board of Animal Health Executive Director Dr. Bill Hartman, Minnesota Department of Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Douglas Knowlton, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Stine, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Deputy Commissioner Dave Schad, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Policy and Government Relations Director Bob Meier and Minnesota Department of Agriculture Deputy Commissioner Jim Boerboom. Pictured left to right are Dave Van Loh-Minnesota Farm Bureau District III director, Kevin Bock-Redwood County Farm Bureau vice president, Mike Wojahn-Cottonwood County Farm Bureau president, Senator Bill Weber (R-Luverne), Susan Hansberger-Nobles County Farm Bureau, Tim Hansberger-Nobles County Farm Bureau president and Rachel Daberkow-Jackson County Farm Bureau president.
Filed under: cold, Ice, Minnesota, rain, School bus, snow, travel, weather, Wildlife, winter | Tags: cold, deer, Minnesota, nature, rain, school bus, snow, travel, weather, wildlife deer, winter
My early morning bus route yielded another close encounter of the deer kind, both deer and bus are OK.
My bus route follows the Des Moines river out of town and crosses the river twice, and several of it’s creek and marsh areas also. As I wend my way from house to house in the early morning darkness I’m always on the lookout for wildlife. Deer can be found anywhere along the route, but are most common in just a few areas. The warming weather has moved deer out of the protecting trees to forage in the fields. During the coldest weather I would see few if any deer, now it is not unusual to see 50 to 75 in a morning. Mostly they are back in the fields and grasslands, but sometimes they choose to cross the road right in front of the bus.
The rain of two weeks ago had left the roads covered in ice. The county and state maintained roads had been cleared after just a few hours, but the gravel township roads have been ice covered for too long. Coming to a stop at a stop sign has been hazardous, and sometimes starting again after stopping is difficult. Any kind of an incline can keep you from moving forward. Yesterdays warm temperatures and south wind finally removed most of the ice from the gravel and I’m hoping the forecast warm temperatures will finish the job this week.
We have more snow forecast for the weekend. It’s not that I want snow, but we are so short of moisture in the fields that I will take anything. The local weather people say we have had 12 inches of snow so far this winter, but that translates into very little water. Several of our snows this year have looked very promising, but when melted down they have yielded little or no water.
Despite several very cold days we’ve had a good Minnesota winter. Travel has mostly been easy and schools have only had a few late starts and no cancellations. Here’s hoping for a bit more moisture before planting, and could it please be in rain, not ice or snow.
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.