Minnesota Farmer

New appreciation
October 23, 2016, 5:51 pm
Filed under: Corn, Farm, snow | Tags: , ,

So the other day when I said harvest was complete, it wasn’t quite accurate.  I still had some corn to hand pick.  Now that is done.


You see, I left a little corn out at the hog barn site to use as a snow fence.  It’s not a lot of corn, an area of about 15 feet by 200 feet.  Still it had corn in it and rather than let it hang out there until spring I decided to hand pick it.


For all of that, it is a bit of work.  I used muscles that I do not usually use.  It gives me new appreciation for those old timers who used to pick all of their corn my hand.  Mom was quick to point out that they usually were at it all winter.  Now I know that their corn was nothing like ours.  It did not have all of the genetics to stand tall and strong so I’m sure some of it was on the ground and some stalks were broken over.  My few rows will still be standing there after a winter of blowing snow.

So there it is, finally complete.  Let winter come, the snow fence of standing corn, minus the ears, will be there to keep most of the snow away from the barn.  Now I have to go take some aspirin.

Harvest complete
October 21, 2016, 6:11 pm
Filed under: children, Corn, Fall, family, Farm, farm life, grandchildren, machines, Soybeans | Tags:

img_0013There it sits all quiet.  The machinery that was busy for the last few weeks is silent.

img_0009The dryer that was so busy and noisy is now silent.  The bins are full and the clean up has begun.  Harvest is over.

It was a good harvest.  Corn yields were at least 10% over last years record crop, soybeans yielded 25% over last years record crop.  It was a very good year.

img_0014As usual we had granddaughters and friends over to help with the harvest.  Everyone loves being in the big machines at harvest.


We also had their help when we harvest the pumpkins from the garden, What a haul!

Hope your harvest season went well!  Now for cleanup and tillage, then we start getting ready for next year.

Holding my nose is not enough
September 22, 2016, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Politicians, Politics, Vote | Tags:

In all of my 63 years I do not remember a presidential election like this.  I have in the past held my nose and voted for the least objectionable candidate, but I cannot this year.

Our presidential elections have moved steadily to mud slinging and over the top statements.  I think we are at the point where you cannot trust either major political party.  Yes, there are good points to both candidates, and to both political parties, but I shudder to think of either in office.  Both presidential candidates were elected by majorities of their party, but neither party is our country.  In poll after poll neither party can claim a majority of voters supporting them, and this may be the year in which it will be hard to find a majority of either Democrats or Republicans who really want to see their own candidate in office.  Me, I’m voting none of the above.

Oh yes, I will vote in the presidential election this year, but I will not vote for either of the major parties.  There are many who claim I am wasting my vote, but that is a fallacy put forth by the major parties to contain potential third party ascendence.  With the  current party problems, it’s time we have some new leadership from someone other than the main line parties.  It’s happened before, why not again?

Neither of our current political parties can claim they were there at the founding of our country.  Thomas Jefferson in 1804 was a Democratic-Republican.  The Whig party that provided several early presidents is no longer in existence.  It wasn’t until 1829 that Andrew Jackson was elected as a Democrat and in 1860 that Lincoln was elected as a Republican that we developed our current two party system.  (The Republican party had not even existed until a few years before Lincoln’s election.)  Even then parties with names like “Know-Nothing” and “Bull Moose” continued to capture the countries imagination.  Have these two feuding parties been around too long?

Many other countries have working elections with multi-party slates.  Usually one or two will dominate, but as time goes on they can and do shift who is in power.  It is not any more or less messy than what we have today in the U.S.  It may just take a wholesale abandonment of the major parties to wake up our politicians.  It seems that most politicians are more out for their own advancement than to help out the country.

So, yes, this year I am voting for a “third’ party candidate, at least it is not someone I have to hold my nose to vote for.

Flashing lights
September 11, 2016, 12:18 pm
Filed under: bus, machines, school, School bus | Tags: , , , ,


School has started and drivers need to be aware of the flashing lights on school buses that tell you a bus is coming to a halt.  That means noticing the flashing yellow ones that come before the flashing red ones.  Flashing yellow means start slowing down so you can stop when the red starts!

I’m constantly amazed at how many people do not see that big yellow bus with its flashing lights and go flying through a student loading zone.  A bus driver can turn in someone who runs their stop arm, but unless we get the full license plate it does not even pay to do the paper work.  Our bus company has come through with help.

There are now video cameras inside and outside of our school buses to record what is happening in and around a school bus.  If someone runs our stop arm, we now have video evidence of the infraction.  The police will be calling you if you run our bus stop arms now and they will have video evidence to prove your actions.

Oh yes, there are cameras inside also.  If we have student behavior problems we have those recoded also.  Actually, I hope to never use that video, but it does do a good job of enforcing behavior.  I just ask the student what their parents will see when we show it to them.  In most cases that’s all I need to do.

So watch out for those flashing lights when you approach a school bus.  In my district you will be on camera and we will get you if you run that stop arm.

Maturing or dying
September 8, 2016, 9:18 am
Filed under: Ag education, agriculture, Corn, Fall, Farm, harvest, Minnesota, rain, weather | Tags: , , ,

It’s been a wet year in our part of Minnesota.  We have never been short of moisture at any time this year, in fact most of the year we have been wet.  The rains come and do not turn off.  Getting field work done has been hard.  Now as the fall harvest is nearing, corn farmers are wondering is my corn maturing,img_0705

or dying?img_0706

Every year as harvest nears a host of rots and diseases move into our corn stalks to start the breakdown of dying corn plants.  Sometime they move in too soon and the corn dies before it matures.  Then you have a mess like in the second picture above.  Modern corn varieties are less susceptible to many of those diseases and rots, but when too much water kills off the corn before it matures, the rot takes over.

In about a month we will be into harvest.  If too much of our corn is down and rotting, we will have reduced yields and difficult harvest conditions.  Then we will know the answer to our question, is that corn crop maturing or dying?

Here for the singing
September 7, 2016, 10:44 am
Filed under: history, Music | Tags:

I’m just back from Calgary in Canada where I was attending the North American Festival of Wales.  That’s Wales without an H.  Wales is an area of Britain.  It’s on the west side of the island.  Welsh folk were there before the Romans, Saxons or the Normans.  Their language is more ancient than most in Europe and has given few words to the modern English language.  It very nearly was a dead language since the rest of England tried to outlaw the language, but it and it’s people still survive.

Many Welsh people emigrated to the Americas where they became miners, teachers, farmers and businessmen.  If you see someone named Jones, Roberts, Williams and a host of other names, you can probably trace their roots back to Wales.

I go to Welsh/American events for the singing. It’s the only reason I go, well maybe not since I married into a Welsh/American family that has been, and continues to be very active in Gymanfa Ganu’s (or more properly Cymanfa Canu) and many other things Welsh. It is only half a joke when I tell folks that I had to audition to join the family.

I’m of German/Prussian/Norwegian decent. When I was growing up I remember my dad’s family singing German and American songs at family gatherings. There were violinists, pianists, accordion players and guitar players, and that was just the men. One uncle had a polka band. On my mothers side we had a great aunt who had run off to Hollywood to join the music scene then came home to work in a music store and give piano lessons. Holiday gatherings there were filled with Norwegian and American songs. Music was part of my growing up years.

School years also contained music. I took piano lessons, studied the clarinet and bass violin, those things never took with me, but singing did. I joined a barbershop chorus and the church choir and continued singing harmony when I settled into my own place, I still do. That tells you why I love to sing with the Welsh, it’s for the harmony.

The Welsh have a joy of harmony that is hard to contain. You will be just as likely to find them bellowing out a hymn at a rugby game or a pub as you would in church. Music seems to fill them. They will let anyone with a similar joy of harmony join in. The most difficult part of singing with the Welsh is learning to sing Welsh.

For those of you unfamiliar with the language, it contains 28 letters, and leaves out about 6 or 7 letters usually found in English. DD and LL are actual letters of the alphabet for them. The rules for the differences between F and FF give you a hint as to why English is at times so hard to pronounce and spell.  Their list of vowels also includes W, and has some interesting sounds for the rest of the more common English vowels.

After 40 years of attending Minnesota based Gymanfa’s and a few national festivals I can almost pronounce the words, there is no way I can understand more than a few of them.  The Welsh joke that it is a language in which you cannot buy a vowel.  Their words seem to be all consonants.  Much of the time I will just sing on a oh or keep singing the same English verse over and over.  I’m not the only one.  There are many a Welsh descendant that is doing the same.

It is perhaps the habit of singing in harmony that most draws me to Welsh music.  Yes, you can find songs that have only the melody line, but most are 4-part harmony.  Many Welsh enclaves in the America’s have a habit of holding Gymanfa’s at least once a year locally and a “National” or North American event annually also.  In Wales there have been Gymanfa’s going on for over 1000 years.

So if you have a hankering for singing in harmony and hear about a Gymanfa Ganu, Cymanfa Canu or Welsh Festival of Song, check it out.  Join in as they sing out those hymns and folk songs.  I know you’ll have a great time.

Odd man in
August 28, 2016, 5:02 pm
Filed under: Ag education, agriculture | Tags: ,

It’s often a wonder to me how I ended up being a blogger/writer.  I’m not really all that good at writing.  This is the kid who got his only “F” in school in English Composition.  What do I know about writing?

I’m also the odd person here in blogger land.  I’m a 63 year old man in an area mostly populated by 20 and 30 something women.  I don’t exactly fit in.  Yet, I keep writing.

I’m here to tell my story.  It’s going to be tempered by years of boots on the ground here in agriculture.  My story will have a few grey hairs and maybe some mold on it, but it is a perspective that needs to be told.  Most guys my age in farming are afraid of putting themselves down on a screen.  Yet here I go, boldly daring.

I’ve also had some encouragement along the way.  There have been those who have spoken well of what I have to say.  I am amazed at those who actually read what I write.  So here’s a big Thank You to those who have encouraged me and asked me questions.  I’ll keep leaving my thoughts here for you to read as long as I can get these fingers to put the words down.