Minnesota Farmer


Snows on the prairie
December 17, 2016, 1:07 pm
Filed under: cold, Farm, farm life, weather, wind, winter | Tags: , ,

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Snows on the prairie

 

Over the ground lays a mantel of white, for the winds of the prairie are still,

But folk here all know that the long winds will blow, and that snow will move to where winds will.

That lovely, still snow tomorrow will lie, in drifts that are hard near and far,

So look well my friends at this still, shimmering snow, that tomorrow will bury your car.

 

When cold winds do moan and tree branches groan the new fallen snow will take flight,

Snow again takes to the air, to move here and there, to places revealed by morning light.

Then snow sculptures will form, in strange shapes smooth and worn, in places away from winds might.

New wonders will be revealed, and my soul will be healed, by the wonders shown forth at the death of the night.

 

Soon I’ll venture forth, away from fires warmth, to see what’s revealed with morning’s birth,

Small creatures will join me, from tunnel and tall tree, their tracks, they shall add to my mirth,

But I’ll not tarry too long, for the wind it is strong, and I do know what my life is worth,

I’ll come back to my chair, my book it is there, and the fire, it will warm me in the hearth.

 

A poem inspired by a walk in last nights fresh snow.



Still a chill

It’s April 23, the day the University of Minnesota says those of us who farm in Southwestern Minnesota should start planting corn, but there is still a chill in the earth and I will wait.

The last few mornings have found ice in the cats water dish.  Frost on roofs and grass has been obvious.  Stick a thermometer into the earth and it will show temperatures still in the 30’s.  This is not where I want my seed to be.

I have not as yet seen one dandelion bloom.  Crocus, tulip and other early bloomers are not yet budding.  Only my pear tree shows blooms, the apples do not, and few trees even show the smallest of leaves.  The trees tell me it is cold out there.

4/23/2015 pear tree in bloom

4/23/2015 pear tree in bloom

There were a few days over a week ago when we had some warm weather, then the insects were out, but most days are bug free.  Because there are no bugs there are no barn swallows.  Barn swallows swooping around eating insects are a sure sign that the ground is finally warm enough to plant.  Yep, all signs say it is still cold in that dirt.

So when will I start planting?  I’m not sure yet, but come Monday I’ll check and see how things are going.  Frost is finally out of the forecast, but temperatures are not all that warm yet.  Also rain is in the forecast for the next few days, that will also slow us down.  If we get into May and have not yet started planting then the calendar starts to come into play.  We need to get that corn planted by May 10.



Finally on the grid

It was a bit over a month ago that I wrote about my Solar Voltaic project, well it’s now official, I’m on the grid.100_3100

Here’s a picture of the screen on one of my inverters.  The numbers tell how much electricity is being produced at different intervals.  The picture was taken at 5 p.m. so the sun was low and power production was declining.  The graph shows the production at different hours of the day.  Today’s production was much better with abundant sun than yesterday’s cloudy which still produced some power.

With only 10 hours of winter sun I do not have much opportunity to produce electricity, but the collectors work better when the days are cold.  We’ll see how electric production changes with longer, warmer days.  Stay tuned.



Ground Blizzard

This morning when they called off school the weather didn’t look that bad.  We had a bit of snow blowing around, but most of the snow was still staying put.  When our mail was delivered about 9 a.m. we were surprised, usually mail doesn’t come until after noon.  Now it is a different story.

Winds are holding at over 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.  We have ourselves a ground blizzard.

If you are out of the wind, temperatures are not too bad.  Step out into the wind and you have a different story.  I have trouble seeing across my yard with all of the snow in the air, and yet, when you look up there is the sun in a mostly clear sky.

I can hear a truck out on the highway but he doesn’t seem to be moving that fast.  I would not want to be in a car in these conditions.  This is the time I am glad for a warm house and plenty of food.  I’m hunkered down with a project or two and a book.  It’s great to live in Minnesota on a day like this and have nothing that has to be done.



It’s all about the wind
January 7, 2015, 2:45 pm
Filed under: cold, Farm, food, frost, history, house, Minnesota, snow, weather, wind, winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

They say it is time to ‘hunker down,” it’s going to get windy.

To look at the weather today you wouldn’t know the concern I have for the next days.  Today the sun is shining and the wind is light.  It may be below freezing out, we may have several inches of fresh snow on the ground, but it is not that bad being outside.  Folks out here on the prairie of southwestern Minnesota and points north and west understand, this is not bad weather.  Ah, but throw in some wind and things change.  Tomorrow the wind is predicted to start up and then we will be challenged.

A commentator on the radio at noon reminded me of a three day blow from my childhood.  I think back to that old house I lived in then with the inadequate insulation in the walls and wonder how we survived it all.  I remember warming my body by the oil stove before bed to have a head start on the cold.  It was not unusual to have frost on the inside of windows every day back then.

To keep warm doing chores then needed fuel!  Salads need not apply, we had meat, bread  and potatoes, and if we were lucky, some kind of canned or dried fruit with lots of sugar on it.  It takes energy to stay warm for hours working or playing on the farm when the temperatures are low and the wind blows.  That was real hunker down fuel.  Starches and fats kept the body fueled, and hard work kept us lean.

So today, as I think back on those days of cold, I remember with fondness the high in fat, sugar and starch meals of yesteryear.  They kept us fueled for labor.  Today we sit in warm houses and cars and we can afford to eat salad.  Go outside and you will freeze in an instant because the wind drives away all of your warm.  Give me a hearty old fashioned meal any day before I head outside.  I know the wind will not blow me away.

 



Trust the Bus Driver

It happened to me again today.  I had someone tell me that if they really wanted to know what the local road conditions were they would ask a school bus driver.FarmBuildings00016-300x200

Wow, what trust to put in those of us on the road early in the morning or late at night.  Yeah, we are out in the early hours on roads all over the country.  In fact, I’m usually the first one on many of the county and township roads of my route, all to often I’m there before the snow plow.  I have to know those roads because I’m asked to drive them in fog, rain and snow.  I’ve had many a trip where I have known where the stop signs and corners are by counting the hills.  Those are not the days I prefer to drive.

Winter here in Southwestern Minnesota can be a challenge at times.  Knowing where the road is in hazardous conditions is sometimes a challenge.  The fact is though that I will never take a child out on a road in my bus if I do not feel confident that I can get back to town.  That’s not to say that I have always stayed on the road, but usually if I get into trouble it is not because of a blizzard, it’s ice or fog.

So, thank you for your trust.  We want your kids home safe as much as you do.  Besides, do you really want to spend a cold night in a bus with your child and all of their friends?  Neither do we!



Winter, or not?
December 3, 2014, 9:36 am
Filed under: cold, family, Farm, Minnesota, snow, weather, winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The calendar says that winter starts on December 21.  Meteorologists claim winter starts on December 1.  For me winter’s start is more flexible, it depends on snow and cold.

This year, winter started in November when a major snow storm-swept through central Minnesota depositing large amounts of snow north of us and a dusting of snow here in southwestern Minnesota.  That kicked off the cold as arctic air pushed south and held on with temperatures well below normal.  We had a storm deposit 6 inches of snow, and then warm weather melted most of it.  Then came 3 inches of snow and cold, cold weather for Thanksgiving day.  Out came the sleds and skis as the kids and grandkids enjoyed our blanket of white.IMG_4353

Today, after a few really warm days it is hard to find any snow.  It looks as if the warm is going to continue.  Our forecast is filled with days near or above freezing, and there is not even a lot of wind to cool us off.  I love this weather.

Oh yeah, I know you cold-blooded folks are thinking I am raving mad, but when you compare this to what we have had, this is great!  Without cold winds and snow I expect to see lots of kids forgetting their hats and gloves on the bus, maybe even a coat or two.  It’s all in the perspective you put on it, and this is better than we have had, and I am loving it.