Minnesota Farmer

July 8, 2014, 3:22 pm
Filed under: cats, Farm, farm animals | Tags: , , , ,

It seems to be hardwired into a cats DNA.  Mouse smell means food.100_2740

In cleaning out the last bin of corn today I disturbed a mouse nest.  Mom mouse got away, but three toddling babies did not.  I captured those small mice and took them to see if our kittens knew what mouse smell meant.  The growls from our little killers said they do.

Their mom insisted on inspecting each mouse to be sure it would not get away, then she let her kittens have them.  Now our kittens are well fed, but there is something about mouse that brings out the killer in a cat.  But well fed kittens do wish to play, and since mom lets them play with their food, they had a load of fun before they either ate or lost those mice.  These little predators are growing into their job, soon they will be out catching bugs on their own, and when they get fast enough they will be catching their own rodents.

There was one problem however today.  I had three small mice and four small cats.  There was a lot of growling going on.  Special toys need lots of protection from jealous siblings.

July 5, 2014, 10:39 am
Filed under: cats, Farm, farm animals | Tags: , , ,

When I can find them, I put our new kittens into our cat nursery.  The day always comes when they escape that and are let loose on the world.  For this batch of kittens the day has come.  Look out world!100_2735100_2736100_2731100_2734100_2733

The blame game
July 1, 2014, 8:00 am
Filed under: Politicians, Politics, Vote | Tags: , , , , , ,

Politicians are out to stay in office.  In order to do that they need to drum up some support.  Usually they do that not by bringing people together, but by singling out a few amongst us as the enemy.  Usually it is those who are not well understood.  Those different from the voting base they are talking to.

Today another effort to separate came across my email feed.  The message talked about the decline of the U.S. and how that as a democracy our days may be numbered.  No other democracy has lasted over 200 years, and they were predicting a bad end for our blessed country.  They tried to blame the end of our nation on the immigrants coming into our land of opportunity.  That is where they are wrong.

Currently many of those newest workers in the U.S. are coming into the heartland of our nation.  Did you know that one-third of all immigrants to the U.S. are moving north up the I-35 corridor today?  These are people looking for work, for opportunity.  They are not the shiftless, seekers after an easy dollar that many would have you believe.   Many of these people are well-educated.  27% of our doctors in the U.S. are foreign-born, 24% of our health care workers are foreign-born, 18% of our countries small businesses are owned by recent immigrants. These are not people who are a burden on our society, but drivers of our economy.

We look at these others and see people we do not understand.  We tend to forget that we too are of immigrant stock.  My own family is only here since the mid 1800’s.  We have only been here for half of this country’s history.  Our ancestors came here for work just as these newest workers do.

Many of the newest workers in our society are willing to take jobs that our own children do not want.  They process our meat and pick our fruit.  They clean our hotels and take care of our children and grandparents.  They do the dirty, hard jobs so we can live well without thinking about all of that yucky stuff like blood and shit.

It is not these newest ones who are bringing our country down, it is our own children, and yes, the government we voted for that allows us a life of ease.  Americans have voted for the easy life and that would be our demise if it were not for the infusion of new hard working residents in our midst, most of them here legally, but a few of them illegally.  They are here not to take from those already here, but to feed themselves and their families.  Some flee a much harder life of poverty and war, of gangs and bad government.  If we give them jobs, they will stay and thrive as our ancestors did.  If we shut them out, then we are indeed headed for the downfall of democracy.

A new front door

Our front door was in need of work.  It had weathered many a storm here in southwestern Minnesota and was beginning to show its age.  The door itself had already been replaced once since the remodel in 1981.  Now it was time for replacing the frame and everything.

100_2709The old door is out.100_2722The rot on the bottom of the side lights is why this thing had to go.100_2711We were lucky the rot had not yet gone very far into the framing on the bottom.  Just a little repair and we were ready for the new door.100_2714Installing a new door in an old house takes a lot of careful measuring and some heavy lifting.  This is not a one man job.  This BayerBuilt door looks like it is up to the job.100_2718Weather out here on the prairie requires a storm door.  We added a Larson storm door that is colored to match.100_2729The exterior construction is done.  Now it needs some paint and I have to get at the interior trim work.  This should keep out the Minnesota cold and still look good.

We found the price on the frame of the old door.  It cost 10 times as much for this door as for our old one in 1981.


Between showers scramble

Life has been a bit of a scramble here on the farm in southwestern Minnesota.  In the days since May 30 we had over 10 inches of rain.  That stalled out farm work.  Luckily I got the weeds killed in the corn before all of this started.

I usually put on most of the nitrogen that the corn needs about now.  With that much rain I was going to have some problems getting it on.  The corn is growing fast.  Conditions got almost dry enough, so three days ago I gave nitrogen application a try.100_2720Mostly the work went well.  Small areas were still wet, but I could get through most of it.  With the tallest corn having to bend over to allow the nitrogen applicator to pass, I was at  the last days of being able to get through it.  This corn looks real good, but that is not the case with all of it.100_2723Yellow corn leaves show areas where the ground was water logged, but not covered in water, and corn was having trouble getting the nitrogen it needs.100_2724These yellow areas can be near low spots, but may appear at random spots on hill sides.100_2725Low areas have lost most of their corn.  There is still some corn left, and since it is so late in the year and the areas are small we’ll just have to live with what is there.100_2728There are some drowned out areas in the soybeans also.  Again they are too small, and it is too late to do anything about it.100_2727The nitrogen applicator is doing a nice job of tilling the area between the rows.  Getting in and loosening the water compacted ground may do as much good as getting extra nitrogen to the corn.  The areas that were too wet, will get more compacted, but those are small areas.  I just have to accept the small amount of bad along with the greater good.

Last night we got another 1.3 inches of rain.  Now we wait.  We will get dryer weather, if it will be soon enough to finish putting the nitrogen on is something we do not know.  Meanwhile weather radar shows more rain on the way and the forecast is for several more days of rain.

The old saying is “Rain makes grain,” and this should lead to a good harvest.  Rain and warm weather are good for our crops, it just makes weed control and fertilizer application difficult at times.  No one said I was living an easy life.


Last minute N

It has been wet his month.  If you count the last day of May we have had almost 10 inches of rain in 20 days.  The last 4 days have seen almost rain free and puddles have retreated.  A stray tractor or two attempted the fields yesterday and more were out today.

I was lucky to get the weeds sprayed in the corn just before the rain started, but back then the corn was only about 6 inches tall.  Now most of it is passed 20 inches and stretching for the sky.  I needed to get into the field and get that last shot of N down.  This afternoon I gave it a try.100_2719

Nitrogen (N) is a vital nutrient for all grasses and corn really needs the N if it is to produce.  The problem is that the amount of N corn needs is not available naturally in the soil, and too much N in the wrong form will move with water out of the soil.   You really have to study the Nitrogen Cycle to understand what is going on.  To make it easy for you, the types of N that are easy to put on the soil to feed corn, whether they are organic or inorganic, do not go directly to the corn roots.  They must be broken down into a form that will move with water by bacteria.  There are some types of N producing products that break down slower than others, but none will stay in the soil forever.  Thus it is necessary to either overload the field so N will be left for the whole season or add N late in the season.  That’s what I was doing today, putting on that last shot of N.100_2720The corn is almost too tall in some places, so it is time to get going.  It is also the perfect time since corn really needs a shot of N now, and a little stirring of that rain packed soil will not hurt any either.  The problem is that there are still some wet spots out there, but if it rains again, it will be too late to get the job done.

I’m putting on anhydrous ammonia (NH3).  This is one of the most hazardous things I do.  NH3 is delivered as a pressurized liquid.  As long as it stays under pressure it stays liquid, but release the pressure and it turns in to a gas, and the extreme cold produced will burn you.  The gas is also an inhalation hazard, breath in too much and you burn your insides also.  Despite all the hazards, NH3 is inexpensive and easy to apply, you just need to be careful.

So here’s hoping I can get the last of the N on the fields.  I’m also hoping I do not get all of that machinery stuck in one of those wet spots.



June 23, 2014, 5:48 am
Filed under: cats, family, Farm | Tags: , , ,

It was a busy weekend.  Events conspired to have all of our children and grand children here for the weekend.  With a new grand-daughter we also made it a time to invite relatives to come visit.  Actually the 2 little girls did the most to fill the house up. photo-5They rode the playground ponies,photo-6they learned how to hold kittens, and that they have sharp claws,photo-7they pushed and were pushed on the swings, they just did all kinds of things that little girls do, including wear out everyone around them with their energy.  When they were gone it was so quiet.

We still have baby Gwen here for a few days,photo-8but she is not going anywhere yet.

It was a fun weekend, but it sure was quiet when they left.


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