Filed under: Farm, Farm Bureau, food, food safety, Minnesota, Politicians, Politics, travel | Tags: farm, Farm Bureau, Food, food safety, Minnesota, politics, travel
Part of March was spent in the halls of politics for me.The 8th of March my bride and I went to D.C. to visit our daughter who is in grad school and see what life is like for her this year. (http://minnesotafarm.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/into-another-land/)
While there the rest of the Minnesota Farm Bureau delegation arrived. We got a chance to visit with American Farm Bureau President Stallman and see D.C. from his 10th floor office.There were 20 of us from Minnesota and we usually split into two groups to visit with congressional members and all 20 of us in a senate office.
The week we were there was the time that Obama was pushing congress and the senate to do something about the budget. That meant that our pre-arrainged times could be changed if the president decided to visit. We were lucky to get to the offices of 7 of the 8 representatives from Minnesota. We presented out requests, tried to add in a few personal stories, and left hoping they would get something done.
Until the “Sequester” is figured out there is really going to be nothing that can be done in Washington. One of our concerns was in the meat packing industry. Because of lack of funds, meat inspectors were going to have their work weeks shortened. This could mean a lack of inspection and possible problems for our food supply. That issue seems to have been taken care of, but the concerns about paying for government services are still there.
I was only back a few days and I was off to St. Paul for our Ag Week visit to our Minnesota legislators.
Farm Bureau members from several areas of the state were in town to express our concerns about future legislation. These visits rarely do much more than help out representatives put a face on a name. It will be our future contacts on behalf of upcoming bills that will really have an impact. I always enjoy the visits and the chance to be brought up to speed on what is happening in politics. I hope to see you someday on one of my visits.
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: cars, church, Farm Bureau, Politicians, travel | Tags: cars, D.C., Farm Bureau, machines, politics, POTUS, presidential motorcade, travel, washington national cathedral
Whenever you visit Washington D.C. you hope for a sighting of the President. Needless to say very few do catch sight of him without a planned event invitation. Our Farm Bureau members could not get that far. I’ve heard stories of close and unplanned sightings of presidents of the past. There are those who saw a president several years ago at the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, popularly known as Washington National Cathedral. Or story of the jogger who would see a former president out for an early morning round on the National Mall, and found himself face down in the grass when he reached for a camera. Most people in D.C. will never get close enough to be sure he is even there. Our encounter was not even close, but we know he was there.
During our week in D.C. President Obama was actively out visiting with senators and representatives to get something going on a budget and get the “sequester” settled. That meant a presidential motorcade. We were walking back to our hotel after one of our meetings one afternoon when we noticed that the street was strangely bare of all but police cars. No one was even being allowed to cross the street on foot. Thencame several motorcycle cops, a whole string of black limos and some black suburbans, what looked like a armored Hummer, an ambulance and then more police, and it was over.
There were some squealing girls across the street who thought they saw Obama through the car window, but I never saw him. Security was impressive, those folks know what they are doing. It’s no wonder that it is cheaper for the president to fly in a helicopter than drive.
So, no visit with the POTUS, just a few pictures of the motorcade driving by.
Filed under: family, school, travel | Tags: children, deaf education, family, Gallaudet University, school, travel
With our daughter studying at Gallaudet University this year, we decided to take a trip to visit her. Emily has tried to explain what happens at her college, but until you experience it, you do not realize how different it is. It is like going to a different land.
In Washington D.C. it is not unusual to see many people from many lands. The embassies are considered to be part of the country that owns them. The folks at Gallaudet are mostly Americans who grew up in typical American homes, and except for one difference they could all be the kid next door, they are deaf. For many years people who were deaf were thought to be unteachable, after-all they lacked an aspect that any other learning child had, hearing, and because of that they were pushed to the edges of society. Here at Gallaudet the deaf are in control. When you enter Gallaudet you enter the land of the deaf.
From the bus driver who picked us up at Union Station to every food service, security, and sanitation employee there is silence, but every gesture and facial expression speaks volumes. All are here to help the deaf learn. Not all employees and students at Gallaudet are deaf, but every person on campus is dedicated to learning in a deaf world. The rules and language of Gallaudet are not the rules and language of the hearing world around them. As parents of a student there we were given a bit of slack, but it is expected that everyone at Gallaudet speaks American Sign Language.
Our Emily is not deaf, but since her early years in school she was fascinated with American Sign Language. In college she studied to teach in a school for the deaf. She has been both challenged and fulfilled in her early years of teaching as she helped young children, many of whom had as yet received no language training, express themselves. Now she is seeking her Masters degree so that she can better understand and better help the deaf to be full partners in the American life she leads.
As parents we are curious to learn about her life, and this was another good chance to experience the life she has chosen. We were blessed to have visited her in this new step in her life.
Filed under: Politics, travel | Tags: big oil, environment, gas prices, politics, transportation, travel
Gas prices have increased across the country again. As the consumer struggles with how to pay for everything, the one item that is most effecting our prices is going up.
There is no way to avoid it. When oil prices go up, we pay more for everything that comes to our stores. As oil prices go up we end up with less and less in our pockets after every paycheck. The only ones who seem to be getting bigger paychecks are those in the oil industry. I say it’s time for oil companies to stop getting handouts from our government.Oil companies are proud to tell us that they are finding more oil here in the U.S. so that we will no longer be dependent on foreign oil. Consumers are buying more fuel efficient cars and driving less. These two items should give us lower prices at the pump, they are not.
For some reason Big Oil is taking every opportunity they have to increase their profits, all the time holding on to every government hand out they can find. If any group should come up with an alternative to fossil fuels, you can be sure that Big Oil will be right there working on our government to get laws passed that will cripple that competitor, and they are using taxpayer dollars to do it.
Burning of fossil fuels is the biggest threat we have to the environmental and economic future that we have. As long as big oil keeps putting road blocks in front of all alternative types of energy we will be stuck with it. It’s time to say no to Big Oil. Contact the president, your senator and your congressperson and tell them to end handouts to Big Oil. We all will be better off for it.
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: travel | Tags: Carnival Cruise, cruise, cruise ship, transportation, travel
We do have it soft don’t we? Think about it. If the folks in the U.S. today had to live in the conditions that their ancestors did, or that many of our soldiers do, they just might pout because of their indignation. Case in point, “The Cruise Ship from Hell.”
Yes, I’ve been cruising. I’m not real happy about it, but my bride loves it, so I go. She’s not real happy camping out in the wilderness, which I love, so we’re even. The difference is that when you go wilderness camping you expect to be uncomfortable, when you go on a cruise you expect to be pampered. We expect the soft life. When we don’t get it we pout.
The people that feel the most aggrieved will sue of course, that’s what Carnival has lawyers and insurance for. The likely hood that anyone will win one of those suits is small since Carnival, although based in Miami, is owned by British and American interests and sails under the flag of the Bahamas. That alone will tie things up trying to figure out which countries laws to try any lawsuits under. Oh yes, did I mention they have some very well paid lawyers?
So maybe the cruise didn’t go so well. I have to admit that I would not want to have been with them on that trip. The truth is we find out a lot about human nature when we are in a tough situation, some people will buck up and take it, while others will whine and complain. Personally I prefer to be with folks that will take what comes their way and survive. I wonder how many of the uncomplaining will be interviewed on TV.
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.