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: 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: 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: Corn, Farm, Minnesota, rain, Soybeans, tillage, weather, wind | Tags: climate, Corn, farm, Minnesota, nature, prairie, prairie soils, rain, Soybeans, trees, weather, wind
You never know what will come your way when you read reader comments. Since some of my faithful readers are a long ways away, some questions come up that I assume that everyone knows. Shame on me for not explaining earlier. So here is the question from todays comments.
“Hi Michael, I gather you practice dry farming techniques on your acreage. What is the primary irrigation source for drawing water? Is Southwestern Minnesota normally considered a separate climate zone from the lakes area to the north and east?”
When the Europeans came to this area they left behind the forests and moved into the prairie. Although the areas to the north and east of us were forested, in our area we are firmly in the prairie, only the riverbanks were forested here. Because of that we have the deep prairie soils that were built by deep-rooted grasses. We also are in a bit of a transition area for rainfall.
Average rainfall in this area is 21 to 23 inches, usually enough to grow a good crop of corn, soybeans or most any other crop. Unless the soils are sandy we usually keep that moisture in place with very little runoff. Thus there is no need for irrigation on the land we farm. The few irrigated acres we have in our area draw from a combination of wells and surface water, usually rivers.
Our weather is dictated by wind, the long prairie winds in our area make wind farms one of the new crops harvested in our area. There are areas near us where you can count over 100 of these large wind energy generators. The generators don’t have a large footprint so farmers are growing their crops around them.
The winds of this area of Minnesota helped move along the prairie fires that kept trees down and helped grasses compete. Thus trees only grew where protected by water. Although we do have some lakes in our area, the lakes region is generally considered to be north of us.
Since we are on the edge of a drier area we do all we can to keep our water when it falls. Our farmers are considered to be progressive in this area because if we do things wrong mother nature tells us fast. Many, but not all, farmers in this area use practices that hold plant material from the last years crops on the surface to provide a blanket that protects the soil from large rains and keep the moisture from evaporating.
Any other questions? Don’t be afraid to ask.
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, Fall, Farm, harvest, Soybeans, weather, wind | Tags: Corn, farm, harvest, Soybeans, weather, wind
The conditions of our crops and the weather have me wondering, what should I do?
The last two days have been windy and hot. Todays high temperature was 93 degrees, 20 degrees hotter than normal. The high temps and the strong winds are really drying down our corn and soybeans. Tomorrow the temperatures will be more normal and there is a chance of rain. Both our corn and soybeans are in that in between stage.
Corn is easier to handle. We are used to drying down wet corn in this area, but it is September, and this is very early to be harvesting corn. If I wait a few days I do not have to use the dryer, I can just put it into the bin. The problem is that as the corn gets dryer it is more likely to fall off of the stalk, thus there will be less to harvest.
Some of our corn is dry, under 20% moisture, and could be harvested. The problem is that many of our corn stalks are still green with a grain moisture of over 20%. You can even find spots where the corn is very green with grain moisture of over 30%. With a grain moisture of under 20 % I can put it in the bin, turn on the fan and it will keep for the winter. At 20% moisture it might not keep for the winter, it is the corn that is over 20% moisture that must be dried down. What to do?
I decided to try harvesting some corn. I took about 28 acres out of a field that was contracted for fall delivery to the cooperative in town. As I got further into the field the corn got wetter, so I stopped. I’ll have to give another field a try.
So far the corn is yielding about 75% of last year. It sure would have been nice to get another rain or two in the last few months, it would really have boosted the yield. I’m just thankful to be harvesting a crop, some are not so lucky this year.
Soybeans may be a bit easier to decide on. Usually we harvest our soybeans first, since they are usually ready for harvest in late September or early October. Corn is rarely ready for harvest before soybeans. This year is different.
We have areas in our soybean fields where the ground was sandy and had little water where the beans are ready for harvest now. Just a few feet away from those dry spots are green soybeans that will not be ready for harvest for 3 or 4 weeks. The dry spots are too small to go into and take out the beans so we will have to wait for the rest of the field to get ready.
The high winds have been blowing anything loose around. Corn leaves from our fields are heading down wind. Branches and leaves are blowing off of trees. It has been a crazy day.
Filed under: family, Farm, Farm Bureau, Fishing, food, friends, summer, Trees, weather, wind | Tags: children, farm, Farm Bureau, Food, hot, machines, record heat, summer, trees, weather, wind
It has been a hot week and I will be glad to see it go. I seem to be having troubles for the last week or so, one after another.
Last Thursday I called the doctor that was to do my knee surgery to get details. They said, “Oh, No, you are not scheduled for a week.” I said “I have an appointment card that says surgery tomorrow.”, and “Next Friday will not work.” Some how we got the surgery done. The knee is feeling much better now, Thank you.
We go to the cabin so I can recuperate without having any extra duties, spend time with my leg up, take it easy. No water in the cabin! I have to crawl into the basement and prime the pump so we can have water to clean up and cool off.
It’s hot, record-breaking hot,but I cannot go into the water too cool off due to my surgery. Lucky for me the crappies are biting just off the dock. I can at least sit in the sun and fish, and sweat!
A storm comes through and takes down some trees and takes out the electricity. Spend some time helping with the clean up. No fans, no air moving, it’s hard to sleep. The only running water we have is when someone goes down to the lake to carry it back in buckets. With no fridge and food spoiling, we come home early. Oh yeah, the fridge died when the power went out.
We stop at my aunt and uncles on the trip home for a bit. The electricity goes out at their house!
A message comes up on my phone as we near home. One of the items we need to serve for Breakfast on the Farm is not available, could you call back, like, two days ago. With some scrambling, and help from others putting on the event, we are a go.
Today, Friday, I go to open my shop door and nothing happens, motor is out. Looks like I need to do some repair there, and there are no parts available until Monday.
There have been a number of little things that have gone wrong this week, and the record heat and humidity are not helping us get things done. I just want to crawl into bed and stay there. Then, however, I would not get to see my granddaughters,
I would not have the feeling of a job done well, I would not have people looking at me and saying, “Wow, how did you get all of that done.”
So, I guess I’ll just keep on going. We have a big event planned for tomorrow, and thanks to all of those who are helping me, we are going to have a good time. Come on over and help fill the tent. We’ll be waiting for you!
Here’s to keeping going when everything seems to be going wrong!
Filed under: Corn, Farm, fertilizer, Minnesota, planting, rain, Soybeans, weather, Wildlife, wind | Tags: Corn, coyote, farm, ground squirrels, mice, Minnesota, nature, rain, red fox, Soybeans, weather, wind
Between the rain and the wind it has been hard to get any field work done. This is prime season for taking care of weeds and last minute fertilizing in corn and soon will be in soybeans here in Minnesota. After 12 inches of rain in May, we were left with soggy fields and not many days left to get field work done. A few more rain showers here in June and then some very windy days have further delayed weed control.
Most weed control chemicals used in our area need to be sprayed on in a water mix. I usually put on about 12 gallons of water per acre to spread the herbicide. In windy conditions, winds over 15 mph, it is hard to put the herbicide mixture where you want it. So, windy days mean no weed control. We have been able to spread some fertilizer and haul last years corn crop into town, that along with planting the last of the soybeans have kept us very busy.
In the process of making those trips across the field you get to assess the soil conditions and weed pressure, you also get to check out what wildlife is out in the field. Usually I will be seeing mice and ground squirrels along with the birds that are looking for a free meal of a disturbed insect or worm, sometimes a hawk will swoop in for a meal. Holes dug into the field that are bigger than that needed for a mouse are sometimes found on hilltops that are not too rocky. I always wonder what is digging and living in those holes. Last week I got to see one of the residents as she peeked out to watch me.
The red fox is a bit rare in our area. There are always a few around, but the coyotes will track them down and kill them. Fewer fox, mean more coyotes, more fox, mean fewer coyotes. The problem is that they both are depending on those mice and ground squirrels as their main menu item. Yes, they will take a rabbit or a pheasant if given the chance, and a coyote will take a deer if there is an injured one around, and a sure sign you have coyotes in the area is if your cats are all missing. Fox and coyotes are in direct competition.
I’ve seen fox on my farm every few years. I know they must be around, but usually they are secretive creatures who are seldom seen. Usually if you are to see them it is when they have pups to feed and are spending extra hours out hunting. I consider them a welcome guest on my farm. Anything that eats mice and ground squirrels is my friend.
Filed under: Farm, Minnesota, planting, rain, tillage, weather, wind | Tags: Corn, corn plants, drowned out corn, farm, land roller, machines, Minnesota, Planting, rain, rotary hoe, Soybeans, weather, wind, wind erosion
I spent part of the day scouting fields for weeds and wet spots. We lost some corn when the rains of two weeks ago drowned it out. The areas are not big, but they will need to be replanted, but not today. Today’s winds of over 40 miles per hour are just not making life easy for us, and since I do not have any large fields left to plant, I’ll tend to other things.
You can see that this low area has no corn growing in it. Corn plants that spend too much time under water die. These plants didn’t have a chance since they had not yet emerged and died before they broke the surface. I’ll be out adding seed to areas like this soon. We did not lose much to the water, but we do like to see something growing in all areas of our fields.
The winds today have brought to light another problem, blowing soil. They are creating some real problems in some areas. The heavy rain of two weeks ago packed some fields so that grains of dust can start to move. Areas in the field that are still uneven don’t allow the wind to move soil. Soil without protective cover and that are smooth can blow.
These poor corn plants don’t have a chance. With temperatures of over 80 degrees and 40 mile per hour winds kicking up soil, they are really having a hard time.
This farmer has used a rotary hoe to break up the soil surface in strips in his field. The whole field does not have to be hoed, just enough to keep the soil in place.
The rotary hoe can break up surface crusting that will allow soil to blow. It has the advantage that it is quick and low horsepower. It makes the soil just rough enough to keep the wind from getting a grip.
This is the way I want to see a field after planting soybeans. Dirt clumps, root balls and some of last years corn stalks are there to keep the soil from blowing or washing away. I have seen fields like this take large amounts of rain and not move any soil. Unfortunately some of my neighbors like to see a field like this.
This is a field after it has been rolled. Some farmers are using large land rollers to smooth the soil surface after planting. It is a practice that I do not agree with.
Why do they use them? The rational is that they make harvest easier by packing down clumps of dirt and root balls, and bury rocks to make harvest easier. To me it is a waste of time. University tests have shown no benefit to the grower in harvested yield to pay for the purchase or rent of these pieces of equipment. If you have rocks in the field, they should be picked up. A smooth soil surface opens the field up to wind and water erosion. The soil erosion that occurs has a definite downside that I do not want to chance for a possible ease of harvest. The argument of ease of harvest is mostly a subjective one. Since I do not consider that I have any harvest problems that can be solved with a roller, I see no need to use one.
Land rollers do have a purpose in some crops. Using them with some small seeded, shallowly planted, crops like alfalfa or sugar beets, helps promote emergence. Manufacturers of these machines found a new purpose that they could promote to sell some new iron. I’m just not one of those who will throw away my money on some new fad that I do not need.
We’re due for a few more windy days here in Southwestern Minnesota and even a chance of rain. A bit of rain would be welcome. Meanwhile, there is still work to be done.