Filed under: Corn, Farm, harvest, Ice, rain, spring, Trees, wind, wood heat | Tags: broken trees, cold, farm, harvest, nature, rain, shelter belts, spring, trees, weather, wind, winter, wood, wood heat, wood pile
Those of you who follow this blog will remember my pictures of the broken trees in our yard, but they are only a few of our broken trees. Our farmstead shelter belts took a heavy toll in the ice storm also. So far we have focused on getting trees near the buildings cleaned up. Because conditions have been so wet we have had little choice. Now we need to tackle the field wind breaks.
Our farm has several fence lines planted to trees to help slow the wind that could blow our soil around. These trees on the edge of fields drop their branches into plantable ground in heavy winds or if there is too much ice. Sometimes the branches are quite large. Since our fields are just about dry enough to start planting, we are going to tackle some of those fence lines now.
The wood pile looks ready for winter now, and I still have a lot of cutting yet to do. Cold weather will return again.
Filed under: Ice, Trees, winter, wood heat | Tags: Bobcat, Bobcat 3400, chain saws, chainsaw, farm, ice, Stihl, Stihl chainsaw, trees, winter, wood, wood heat, wood pile
My wood pile had gotten kind of small with all of the cold weather we had this year so a strong wood cutting season is in order. To do this you need tools. Chain saws, wood splitting equipment and some way to get the wood from point A to point B.
I have three chain saws. This Stihl professional duty is my biggest, I also have a smaller one for cutting smaller limbs and a pole saw to reach up and get some of those branches that broke off but have not yet let go of the tree. Then I have the Bobcat 3400 to either carry or drag branches to where they need to go.
I really have only gotten a start on the job of clearing broken branches, the weather has not been very good for outdoor work. So I work on the ones that are in the way now and go back to the others later.
When the log is too big, I need a variety of splitting malls, hammers and wedges to break those logs down. Yes, I do have a motor powered hydraulic wood splitter, but that means I have to have a large pile of big logs to split. If there are only a few, I start swinging. It’s good exercise.
Since my main source of heat is fallen branches and dead trees, I always have a bit of work to do each year. The wood needs to dry in the pile at least six months before I use it, so what I am cutting now is for later in the winter. It sure is better than just piling them and burning them for no purpose.
Filed under: cold, Farm, Minnesota, planting, rain, snow, spring, Trees, weather | Tags: cold, Corn, farm, ice, melting snow, Minnesota, nature, Planting, pond, rain, signs of spring, snow, spring, trees, weather, winter
My wood pile has really taken a hit this winter as springtime temperatures seem to be on hold. When you wake every day to frozen ground it is hard to understand that we are nearing the end of April here in Southwestern Minnesota and could be planting corn, wheat or oats. There is none of that planted because it seems to be snowing every week.
A month ago I posted this picture of geese on a pond and it seemed as if we would be seeing open water and no snow in just days as temperatures were allowing the snow to melt away every day. The water lilies were putting forth some hopeful leaves and the marsh marigolds were turning green, sure signs of spring!
But what’s this? A forecast with 70′s in it? Could it be we only have one more night of freezing weather and then summer like temperatures will arrive? Hurray!
Yes, winter does end here in Minnesota, eventually. With warmer temperatures, a farmers heart will turn toward planting and tillage. We only have to wait a bit for the fields to dry and then we can begin. The calendar is not quite to the dates where we are concerned about planting being too late, so we will hold out hope for only a few more days of delay. Warmer weather is in sight!
Filed under: cold, Farm, farm animals, food, Ice, Minnesota, rain, school, snow, spring, Trees, weather | Tags: cold, farm, fluffy snow, Food, Minnesota, nature, rain, snow, spring, travel, trees, weather
Wow, talk about some weather. We’ve been almost two years without a major storm in our area of Minnesota and now we get it all at once.
Monday we got a bit of rain, it was looking like our usual tenth of and inch and done storm.
Tuesday things started to ramp up with nearly an inch of rain, still not very interesting since it was only rain with a bit of thunder.
Wednesday things turned serious. Icy rain had fallen throughout the night. Area schools were called off because the road crews were having trouble keeping the ice and snow off of the road. Traffic was nearly at a standstill. Almost an inch of ice on trees was bringing down branches and power lines. Some areas have lost power but we were still in business. The days rainfall total was again nearly an inch.
Thursday dawned with nine inches of soft, fluffy snow on the ground. Most area schools were off for the day. It continued to snow for most of the day, but the temperatures stayed just above freezing so we also had quite a bit of melting going on. Tree branches that had held out for the ice were now breaking with the added weight of snow. Our area lost power about 11 a.m. Standby generators for the hog barns went into action.
We went into town to see if someone would feed us. All stores were dark and many were closed. Subway was feeding people until they ran out of bread. Runnings had employees with flash lights helping you find the things you needed. Hy-Vee was in full operation since they had enough backup power to run the registers and some lights. Food in need of being kept cold was being moved to refrigerated trucks. Power came back on for us about 3:30 p.m. but many are still in the dark.Today is friday and this April Fools joke still continues. School is finally in session, but area roads are not in good condition. We still have snow falling. Because the ground had started to thaw we have mud under our snow, if you break through the crust there is no traction, so it is easy to get your vehicle stuck. Much of the ice is now off of the trees, but the damage will take a long time to clean up. When the snow and rain have all been added up we are nearly a 3 inches of precipitation. If we can get it to stay this will start to get us on the way to a good crop.
Tomorrow the sun is supposed to come out and I would like to get started on branch pickup. By Sunday we are expecting more rain and temperatures are supposed to get more normal. That just might melt this latest snow fall. Spring may be here, but first we need to get rid of some snow.
It’s been wild, but we continue on.
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: cold, Farm, Minnesota, rain, seasons, time, Trees, weather | Tags: cold, colorado blue spruce, drought, drought stress, farm, Minnesota, nature, plants, rain, snow, trees, weather, winter
The drought toll talk in farm country has mostly centered on food and feed crops, but another effect of the drought is starting to show up, it’s the trees.
The spruce tree above is showing the stress of last summers drought. Needles are falling and the branches are getting bare. This is not how you expect a blue spruce to look in the winter.
This is more like what spruce branches should look like. This tree went into the winter with a bit more moisture underneath and should survive the winter. The needles are the healthy blue-green you would expect from a Colorado Blue spruce. The snows of a winter in southern Minnesota have slowed it down but not stopped it, and that is the problem, these trees are still trying to take up moisture from the frozen ground. When we get a warm winter day they try to grow a bit more. If they went into the winter under moisture stress they will not survive. These trees were planted together 30 years ago as 6 inch long seedlings. It will be a shame to lose any of them but it is obvious that not all of them went into winter with the same amount of water under them. Other evergreen trees are also showing stress, this is a red cedar that is in decline due to drought stress. Evergreens are the most likely to die when they go into the winter dry. Deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the fall do not suffer so much in the winter, but they also can go into winter looking a bit poor and not survive. Winter is hard on trees, and doubly hard when it is dry.
If you have evergreens you really cherish, I hope you watered them well last fall or you may lose them. You may still be able to save them by getting water into their roots early next spring. It is possible the damage may already have been done, only time will tell.
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: Minnesota, Trees, weather, wind | Tags: Minnesota, nature, southwestern minnesota, tree trunk, trees, wind
The winds have been kicking up here in Southwestern Minnesota again. Anything loose is moving, and branches are breaking. I was surprised to see this entire tree had fallen It is not that old and should have been able to weather the storm in its protected area, and then I saw this.
I will be replacing this tree next spring. Since it is the anchor of some landscaping it will have to be replaced. With the dry conditions I don’t want to try getting a new one started now.
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.