Filed under: cold, Corn, Farm, Ice, Minnesota, planting, rain, snow, Soybeans, spring, Trees, weather | Tags: broken trees, cold, Corn, corn crop, corn price, cutting wood, farm, Minnesota, Planting, rain, snow, Soybeans, spring, trees, weather
First it was the winter that would not leave. Snow into early May is just not good for spring planting. Ice storms have meant that I have spent more time cutting wood and cleaning up broken trees this spring than I have planting. I think we had a total of 5 days so far that were fit to plant corn. Happily we used those days well and most farmers in our area got their corn in the ground. Local estimates are that over 80% of the corn got planted in the few good planting days we had here in southwestern Minnesota.
Now when you look down the rows of our corn fields we are starting to see little spears of green. We have the start of a good corn crop.
For the last several days it has been rainy and cold. I’ve been out cleaning up ice damaged trees that fell into the fields I want to plant soybeans in. Still the wet ground means that I cannot get going on soybean planting, and I awake to more rain this morning.
We have taken advantage of some of this down time to haul some of last years corn crop in to the ethanol plant. The prices were set months ago in some cases, or just last week in the case of one contract. Happily the corn price is still way above the average, although it is lower than a few months ago. I still marvel at the thought that I was able to sell so much of last years crop at over $7 per bushel. It is a price that will not last.
The weather forecast says we will get one sunny day tomorrow, and a rain free but cloudy day friday. There is hope for a little bit of soybean planting before the rains come back. I’d best get everything ready for another push.
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: cold, Corn, Farm, garden, Minnesota, planting, rain, snow, weather | Tags: cold, Corn, farm, garden, Minnesota, nature, plant corn, Planting, rain, snow, snow in april, weather
Two days ago I dug up the garden and planted some potatoes, radishes, peas and carrots, as of noon today here is my garden. It’s under about 4 inches of snow. Yes, we need the water, but does it have to be snow?
Does this boot track help you to understand our snow?
We have had some really nice weather since the last snow, but not enough to get fields dry enough to plant corn. Last year was unusually warm and dry in the spring and I finished planting corn on April 30. This year has been unusually cool and snowy and I have not yet started planting.
It’s not panic time yet. We can plant the same varieties of corn for another 20 to 25 days, but every day we delay planting from the tenth of April on will result in less corn to be harvested. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to keep cleaning up the downed tree branches from the ice storm. Dry weather will come.
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: cold, Farm, Ice, Minnesota, planting, rain, seasons, weather | Tags: cold, farm, frost, frozen ground, ice, long term weather, Minnesota, Planting, rain, southwestern minnesota, spring, weather
The past months have been a challenge here in southwestern Minnesota. It seems that every bit of rain just skids by leaving us with little or no moisture. We have watched major storms move both north and south of us for almost a year now. The weatherman will say we have a 90% chance of rain, and we stay dry. I really am beginning to wonder if we will have enough water in the soil to do more than get our crops started. The next few days are giving me hope. It has been raining all morning and more is forecast for the next few days, a real spring soaker.
The yuck factor sets in as the temperatures drop and our soaking rain turns to ice again. I do not remember a year with so much ice in all of my 60 years here. We’ve had enough warm weather here to thaw the upper part of our soil, but I’m not sure if the frost is gone yet or not. A cold rain will not help to thaw our frozen ground. At least the forecast is for several days of moisture, then some warm weather, planting time is fast approaching and we need some warm.
Leo, our local weather prognosticator, has put out his long term weather for our area and it is cold and dry. Leo uses the first full days of spring to forecast the years weather. I have been amazed at how often he is right. His forecasts are a bit vague, but anytime you are forecasting for a full year in advance it is hard to be specific. I can only hope he is wrong about the dry part of the forecast.
No matter what the weather, we will do our best here to get a crop in the ground, after all, we have a world to feed.
Filed under: Ag education, Animal care, family, Farm, farm animals, food, food safety, organic | Tags: agriculture, Agriculture education, common misconceptions, corporate farms, environment, farm, Food, food safety, small farms
Agriculture is very important for human life here on earth, but because less than 2% of the U.S. population actually works on a farm, it is often a misunderstood career. Because farm life was and can still be hard, dirty and smelly work, many left the farm for the easier life in town. As our population gets removed several generations from the farm there are even more misconceptions, some of them, sadly, are perpetuated by farm folks themselves as jokes on non-farm folks (Chocolate milk comes from brown cows is one of my favorites). Still it is right for you to be concerned about where your food comes from and how it is produced. We on the farm are also concerned. We want you to understand us so that you will be as proud as we are of American Agriculture.
That leads to this Top 10 misconceptions about Agriculture I saw today. The author is Matthew J. Lohr, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, but the answers are good in any agricultural state.
MY TOP 10 LIST OF MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT AGRICULTURE
By Matthew J. Lohr, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
As we approach Virginia Agriculture Week March 17 – 23, I decided this is the perfect time to address some of the common misconceptions about agriculture. Many of you will have a similarly-titled list, but our Top 10 may differ. If you want to share your list with us at VDACS, please e-mail it to our Communications Director email@example.com.
Like David Letterman, we will go from #10 to #1.
#10 – Small farms are unimportant. In many ways, small farms are the backbone of Virginia agriculture. They range in size from three or four acres to 150 acres or so, but they probably do the best job of any farms to provide local food. Many small farms sell directly to the consumer through roadside stands, on-farm sales, farmers’ markets and events. They are at the heart of the Buy Local movement and not only provide food but also provide that all important one-on-one relationship between farmer and consumer. They are also one of the fastest growing segments of Virginia agriculture.
#9 – All large farms are corporate farms. In Virginia nearly 90 percent of our farms are family-owned and operated. Many family farms are incorporated for business purposes or to ensure an orderly transition from one generation to the next, but incorporated is not the same as corporate. The vast majority of our farmers live on the land they work, and they have a very special bond with the land that may go back generations. Their roots run deep.
#8 – Farmers are destroying the environment. This is absolutely not true. In fact, farmers are the original good stewards of land and water resources. These resources are, after all, how they make their living, so it makes sense to protect them. I find it interesting that many of the complaints to our Ag Stewardship Program about perceived environmental problems are unsubstantiated. What the public perceives as an environmental problem often is not. At the same time that farms give us environmental benefits such as green spaces and wildlife habitat, they use far fewer resources than the average urban or suburban home.
#7 – There’s no future in agriculture. I’ll admit that for a few years, many of us were concerned about the future of agriculture and the next generation of farmers. But things are changing. Fox News recently ran a feature that said ag degrees are the hot ticket for job growth. They quote data from the Food and Agriculture Education Information System that says enrollment in U.S. college and university agriculture programs are up 21 percent since 2006. The data show more than 146,000 undergraduates in ag programs. This growing interest is critical for the future of food production, as world population growth is creating a greater demand for food, and the average age of farmers in many states is near 60.
#6 – Farmers are uneducated. This is a persistent myth and one we need to bust. The days are long gone when you learned everything you needed to know about farming from your grandfather. That doesn’t mean we discount grandpa’s advice, born from years and years of experience. It does mean that today’s farmers need post-high school training in a variety of areas: animal science, agronomy, environmental science, business, marketing, communications, perhaps even law and psychology. Today’s farmers also need to be life-long learners. If you’ve been on a farm recently, you’ve probably seen a farmer using his cell phone in the field to make decisions about planting or applying pesticides or fertilizer. That’s the kind of on-the-job training every farmer needs these days to stay competitive and make a profit.
#5 – The cost of food goes directly into the farmer’s pocket. A persistent myth in the eyes of the public and the media is that the only factor in food prices is what the farmer charges. Don’t we wish this were true? But in reality, only 15 to 16 cents of every food dollar goes into the farmer’s pocket. The rest goes for things like transportation, processing, packaging and marketing. Farmers can barely pass along their direct costs for feed, fertilizer, labor or insurance. Their indirect costs are even more difficult, and when drought, hail, hurricanes, flooding or other natural disaster wipe out a crop, they can lose most of their year’s income but still have to bear all of those direct costs.
#4 – Food costs too much. In some parts of the world, this definitely is true. It not only costs too much but is unavailable to many people. But in the United States, we have one of the most abundant and affordable food supplies in the world. In 2011, the share of final household consumption on food in the U.S. was 6.7 percent. The percentage in Switzerland was 10.2; in Japan, it was 14. China checks in at 21.3 percent and in Cameroon it’s 46.9. (Source: Economic Resource Service, USDA)
#3 – Our food is unsafe. Sometimes we get overwhelmed by the headlines of a problem with one commodity or one producer. The reason these stories are called news is because they are not normal. Normal in the U.S. is a safe, abundant, affordable food supply. I Googled “safety of the U.S. food supply” just to see what would pop up, and I found many articles and studies with this same fundamental message: The American food supply is the safest in the world thanks to industry and government efforts. Because our food supply is so safe, we have a luxury people in many countries don’t have; we can take it for granted.
#2 – Farmers abuse their animals. The very idea sends me into orbit. In any industry you will find a few bad players, and agriculture is not immune. But consider this, why would a farmer abuse his or her animals when those animals are the source of his livelihood? That’s just nuts. It may be a marketing ploy, but there is a lot of truth to the statement that “Our milk comes from contented cows.” Contented cows are going to produce more milk than cows that are stressed, neglected, starved or otherwise treated ill and farmers know it. The same goes for any other food animal.
#1 – All farmers are rich. Do I hear the farmers among you laughing? I can’t think of a single farmer I’ve known whose goal was to get rich. In Virginia it’s usually more like, “I hope I can make a decent living for my family.” If your goal is to get rich, frankly, there are many ways to accomplish that goal that are easier and quicker than getting rich through agriculture. We do have some wealthy farmers in Virginia, and I am proud of them. But even among those who are wealthy, I think the motivators for farmers tend to be of a more noble nature. We farm because we love it or because we love the lifestyle or we think it’s a good way to raise our children. We may farm out of a deep-seated desire to help, to make a positive difference in the world. Or we simply may realize that farming is not only the world’s oldest profession, but that it is the only one that is truly necessary. Bottom line, when we can’t feed ourselves, nothing else matters because we will be dead in four or five days.