Minnesota Farmer

Summer’s end
September 22, 2014, 11:58 am
Filed under: Corn, Fall, Farm, frost, harvest, seasons, Soybeans, weather | Tags: , , , , ,

Today is the first day of autumn, and area fields and trees are starting to look like it.  A bit over a week ago we had some frost, hard in some places and light in others.  Since then every plant seems to be preparing for winter.100_3040Most area corn fields are showing their preparation.  Those corn fields that got little or no frost have green stalks with the husks of the ear turning brown.  We’ll be watching for the ears to tip down soon as they dry further.  Harvest is still some time off for corn unless you are cutting it for silage.  Silage choppers have already started looking for corn that is ready, and some are in full harvest mode.

100_3041Those soybean fields that avoided the frost are rapidly maturing.  This field is at least two weeks from harvest, but I have seen some in the area that I expect to see harvested later this week.  It looks as if harvest will be a bit later this year than the last few, but not that late.  Only about 10 weeks until freeze up, so there is a lot to do and little time to get it done.

Frosted and then some
September 14, 2014, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Ag education, cold, Corn, Fall, Farm, frost, Minnesota, Soybeans, weather | Tags: , , , , , , ,

So Saturday morning I awoke to frost on the grass and roof, not a big deal, the thermometer said 33.5 degrees.  All of our crops should be alright.100_3031But as I drove in the early morning light I could smell that all was not right.  It seems that some fields got temperatures down well below freezing in our area for several hours.  It was not a pretty sight this afternoon in some area fields.100_3032

Low areas of fields were at least nipped if not frozen.  It takes more than a bit of frost to do the damage you see in this bean field.  The leaves are all gone.  I’m not sure how much of a crop will be gotten out of this.


Even some area corn fields are showing frozen leaves.  Thankfully this is only in low spots, but it is significant damage none the less.  Neither of these crops were ready for a frost.  We can expect a yield reduction.  Only time will tell how much and who will bear the brunt of this early frost.

September chill
September 12, 2014, 8:08 am
Filed under: cold, Corn, Farm, frost, Minnesota, rain, Soybeans, weather | Tags: , , , , , ,

So, yesterday I saw something that shows the weather change we are going through.  Within a mile of each other I saw one person mowing lawn in a tank top and shorts (female, push mower) and another wearing a hooded coat and gloves (male, riding mower).

The weather has turned brisk here in south-western Minnesota.  Morning temps have been in the 40’s and daytime highs in the 50’s.  Tomorrow morning’s low is forecast as 34 degrees.  That is quite a change both from summers temperatures, and normal mid September weather.  Yesterday brought snow to Montana, Colorado and the western Dakota’s.  This is early for this cold.  We need more warm!

Our corn is just about ready for a frost, and most of our soybeans need another week or two of frost-free weather.  Still, a nip of frost is not out of the question.  We are at a historical time to get our first frost, but this year it would not be the best thing for our farm crops.

Weather has remained wet, but we missed the last thunder storms that went through the area.  We can do without any more rain for now.  Our current alfalfa hay cutting may be a loss.  There is no drying weather in the forecast, and it is rotting there waiting for sunshine.  No sunshine today.  Oh well, we’ll just have to live with what we get.

Monarchs gather
September 4, 2014, 9:59 am
Filed under: Farm, Wildlife | Tags: , , , ,

It’s a rare event to see a gathering of Monarch Butterflies.  Even more rare out here on the prairie where life is so precarious for them.


The weather conditions must be just right, and you need to be in the right place to see them.  It’s so rare that I have only seen it once before in my 60 plus years.  In other areas you may see millions of butterflies, I’m content to see just a few dozen.  These butterflies were hiding out on the north side of the grove with a stiff south wind knocking them down.  There must have been other insects there because the barn swallows were also swarming the area picking up a meal.


Getting them to sit still for a photo is also difficult.  Still, there they were, flitting around the north side of the grove, gathering for their trip south.  I wish them good luck on their long trip south.

Rain makes grass

Here it is the first week in September and my lawn looks like spring.  Our weather for most of August has been cool and wet and the grass has been growing fast.  I’ve mown my lawn three times in the past week!  This is not what is expected of an August lawn in southwestern Minnesota, it should be brown and dry!


Our crops are also looking wonderful!  With the cool weather, the maturity of the corn has been delayed so there is no sign that fall is on the way.  The soybeans have also been taking advantage of the extra moisture and the bean size is growing.  Only a scattered few soybean fields are showing a few yellow leaves.  It is going to be a bit before harvest here.

The wet weather has made harvesting hay a real challenge.  There have been very few alfalfa cuttings that have been harvested in prime condition.  Most of it has been rained on or put up a bit wet to avoid getting rained on.  Grass hay has also been harvested at less than optimal times.  The cows are going to be eating a lot of moldy hay this winter.

Grasshoppers are also in abundance.  Usually a wet, cool year is not the best time for large grasshopper numbers, but this year has them all over the place.  Birds that depend on insects for the growth of their young are having an easy time this year.  We have a wild turkey hen who is keeping her brood in the area.  They all look fat as they work the field edges that are preferred by the hoppers.


This has also been a bumper year for weeds!  Weed escapes are showing up in a lot of fields.  The wet weather made weed control difficult.  Since I am allergic to ragweed pollen, I am not happy about healthy weeds.


On Lac La Croix

Here I am, barely back from one trip and I’m off on another, this time fishing in Canada.

My son, Paul, has had several fishing trips at work related outings and he decided he needed to take his dad and grandfather along this time.  Saturday we drove to Crane Lake in northern Minnesota.  We got on a boat and started east and then north to Zup’s resort on Lac La Croix.  After a stop at the Canadian border station we continued on to Loon Falls where a marine railroad lifted the boat into Loon Lake.100_3002 Once deposited on Loon Lake100_3005 We continued along the border to the Beatty Marine Railroad portage into Lac La Croix.  The trip included full bore traverses of rice beads and narrow rocky passages.

When we got to Zup’s100_3007 we were put up in the Rock Cabin,Rock cabin fed a large rib eye steak dinner and got ready for a morning of fishing.

Sunday morning’s walleye fishing was good.  We kept the largest walleye for the cooler and ate the small ones for shore lunch.  After lunch we headed over to where Lac La Croix empties into the Namakan River.  We anchored in the current on the east side of the channel and went after the bass hard.  Each of us boated several bass over 2.5 pounds (about 18.5 inches).100_3013

We also boated several large Northern Pike, one taping in at 28.5 inches (6.6 pounds).100_3015

That night were fed a quarter chicken with all sorts of good sides and went to bed early again, but not before watching a great sunset.

Sunset Zup's

Monday morning started out sunny, but turned cloudy and windy.  Although we caught plenty of fish it was not up to the high bar set on Sunday.  Still we managed to fill out with our last keeper walleye and have plenty smaller ones for shore lunch.

We gave crappie fishing a try, but only boated two nice ones.  We decided to go back to the river for a few more bass before we left.  We brought in several nice bass, and a few smaller keepers, but fishing was slow here also.

In the last hour of the afternoon, I hooked the biggest walleye of the trip.  She taped out at 25.5 inches (6.1 pounds) and was indeed a beautiful fish.


After a rack of pork ribs for dinner we spent some time catching the folks back home up on what we had been doing and went to bed.  The evening had turned cold so we needed the heat on in our cabin.

Tuesday we packed up, took a hike around the island and collected our fish for the trip home.  This was a great trip and a good time of generational bonding.  We’ll have to give it a try again some other day.

HluHluwe iMfolozi

On this trip to South Africa we again made a trip to the Hluhluwe iMfolozi game park near the eastern coast.  Our plan was to again spend two nights at the Hilltop Camp.  What was different this time was the presence of five members of the Ondini side of the Shetek Conference-Ondini Circuit partnership.

Hluhluwe iMfolozi game park was the private hunting grounds of Zulu kings and has been protected since before the white man came into the area.  Its rugged hills make it a tough place to farm so it remains a place for wildlife.

Hluhluwe map

We entered the park at the Nyalazi gate on the eastern side and made our way north to Hilltop camp.

We knew it was going to be a good trip for animal sightings when we were greeted at the gate by a lone elephant.  Spider monkeys, zebra, warthog, nyala, kudu and a rhino were all sighted shortly after we entered the gate.  The highlight of the drive up to Hilltop Camp was a lion sighting.


Yes, there is a lion in this picture.  Just follow the drag marks in the ash and he is in there eating a buffalo.  Finding a lion in a game park is very hard. Their coloration is the same tawny brown of winter grass, they are made not to be seen.  We were lucky that three young males had killed that buffalo in the morning, and they were days disposing of the carcass just twenty feet off of the road.  Really, this was the highlight of the whole trip.  It was obvious that everyone wanted to see the lions, and that made them all the more determined not to be seen.  But dinner was there just behind a bush next to the road, so they stayed nearby.

Our friends from the Ondini circuit had never made a trip over to the park and were also excited.  This is an area that is out of reach of many who do not have the resources to travel as we do.

100_2933 The rhinos above and the wart hogs below were taking advantage of new growth and open sight lines.100_2937

They had been burning the old grass, so many of the hills were black with only the tallest trees untouched.  This new green drew animals into the open and made them easier to see.  Some of the fires had been recent as many logs were still burning.



We even got to see a congregation of vultures, pied crows and an eagle, all looking hopefully around in the ash on this hillside.

While at Hilltop Camp several animals were found taking advantage of the protection of humans.100_2916Dik-dik and nyala grazed within a few feet of people.


Spider monkeys posed on the ground or in trees while they waited for an unwatched, open, door or window.  They would dash in to seize food items left in the open, then race out to enjoy their booty while fighting off their fellow raiders.


We got to spend quite a bit of time watching this herd of elephants meander across the meadow when we made a side trip to the Memorial Gate on the north side of the park.  My favorite picture of this trip is that of a giraffe.


I was able to wait for this tall fellow to amble into position by this tree.  This is Hluhluwe in winter to me.  Tall brown grass, leafless trees and wild creatures posing on the hilltop for you to take a picture of.


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