Minnesota Farmer


Rainy start to fair
August 19, 2015, 5:59 am
Filed under: 4-H, fair, Farm Bureau, FFA, rain, weather | Tags: , , ,

It’s fair time here in Cottonwood County and we are off to a rainy start.  Rainfall totals are nearing 5 inches for the week and everything is a bit messy.  4-H and FFA entries are in and Open class entries are this morning.  Due to the rain I expect crop and garden entries to be light.  Who wants to go out into a muddy garden or field to pick entries.

I put up the Farm Bureau booth yesterday and finishing touches will be put on this morning.  I’ve got the first shift of the fair starting a 5 p.m.  Come by and visit for a bit.

Fair food stands open at 10:00 this morning, if the rain slows a bit all of them should see some business.  The 4-H is the only enclosed food stand so they will be doing a good business despite the rain.

At least the temperatures will be nice for livestock entries today.  That is supposed to change as the rains end and temperatures rise.  We could have some real fair time weather by Saturday with hot, muggy days, at least the nights will give some relief.

So come enjoy the fair.  Lots of people will be there to talk to and the entries will be amazing again.  The carnaval is set up on asphalt so there will be no mud there.  Our grandstand is enclosed and the entertainment will again be great.  Hope to see you at the fair.



It’s August
August 7, 2015, 7:55 am
Filed under: agriculture, August, Farm, summer | Tags: , ,

It’s August, and the living is a little easier.

I’m now a corn and soybean farmer, as such August is the time of year when not much is left to be done for field work and prep work for harvest is not really urgent.  I remember the days when hogs were our main source of income, and the chores never really stopped.  I have a beef producer friend who is gearing up for silage harvest.  For me, August is a slower time.

So what to do with myself.  Wife has some ideas, and those are getting done.  Farmfest is over, I spent a day there.  We have a family reunion coming up, I’ll be attending that.  The county fair is coming, as is the Threashing Bee and the State Fair.  Early September will see Labor Day activities and the Delft Furrow Makers plowing day with antique tractors.  All things to help occupy my time in what is the slow part of the year.

School is just around the corner, and I’ll be back driving school bus in just over 2 weeks.  That marks the beginning of the end for summer, but late summer can still be a bit slower.

So enjoy your slow part of the year, whenever that may come.  For me, it’s August, and the living is a little easier.



J
August 1, 2015, 6:27 am
Filed under: name origins, spelling, Wojahn | Tags: , ,

My last name is Wojahn, which most people pronounce as Whoa-john, but my great grand parents pronounced it Voh-yan.  The name has Germanic roots and was at one time spelled Woian.  I prefer to have it pronounced Whoa-yan, but that causes problems when you tell someone your name and they try to spell it.  Most people from Europe have no problem pronouncing my name as Whoa-yan, but those crazy Americans just cannot understand why I want it that way.  The problem is in how our alphabet changed.

“The letter J is relatively recent, about 1500, and originated as a variant of the letter I. Why that happens is a little complicated.

In the original languages (Latin, Greek, Hebrew) which provide us with the names Jesus, Joseph, Justinian, etc., the sound which we write as J was pronounced as the English letter Y. (Just to make things confusing for English speakers, the phonetic symbol for this sound is [j].) In Latin, the letter for this was I/i, in Greek it was Ι/ι (iota), and in Hebrew it was י (yod). Thus, the Greek spelling for “Jesus” was Ιησους, pronounced something like “Yeh-SOOS”, and the Latin likewise was Iesus.

Subsequently, in the Latin alphabet the letter J was developed as a variant of I, and this distinction was later used to distinguish the consonantal “y” sound [j] from the vocalic “i” sound [i]. However, at about the same time there was a sound change in many of the languages of Western Europe, such that the “y” sound changed into a “j” sound ([dʒ], or sometimes [ʒ]). So we have it that in English, the letter J now represents a consonant [dʒ] which is not obviously similar to the vowel [i], despite the fact that they descend from the same letter and the same sound. (English also has many [dʒ] sounds spelled with J which come from native Germanic roots.)”

You can see this history worked out differently in the spelling systems of German and many of the Slavic languages of Eastern Europe, where the letter J spells the “y” sound [j], and the letter Y, if used at all, is primarily used as a vowel.”

So there you have it, a history lesson on your alphabet.  Does your name contain a J?  Have you ever wondered why people from other countries pronounce the J differently?  Now you know.



We were lucky
June 23, 2015, 12:27 pm
Filed under: storm damage, weather, wind | Tags: , ,

Sunday morning winds approaching a Category 1 hurricane blasted through our area.  We only had 60 mph winds and minimal damage.  Others were not so lucky.  Here’s a few pictures of our damage.

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Leaves everywhere.  The winds came from almost around the compass at some time that morning.  Most leaves and branches seemed to blown east, but most field damage was from the north.

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The corn in the garden and fields was all tilted south.  The potatoes that had spread completely across the rows were now plastered into a compact pile.

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These branches had been blown north.  Not a single tree was without damage, mostly minor.

Around the area there were trees on cars, campers and houses.  Campers and trailers were blown over and building roofs were pealed off,  Yep, we were lucky.



Mostly knee high
June 20, 2015, 8:41 am
Filed under: Corn, Farm, Minnesota, Soybeans, weather | Tags: , , , , ,

Knee high by the 4th of July used to be a target for corn growth.  If you made that mark you were on your way to a good harvest.  Back when that saying was minted they planted corn much later than we do now.  Twice in my life I’ve seen corn over my head and tassels forming.

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Corn in our area of southwestern Minnesota is now mostly knee high.  I say mostly because there are places where it is not.  It could be the tillage system, weed pressure, poor soil or cool temperatures that have kept if from growing as fast as the rest, but some areas just are not doing as well.

We plant our corn in two different systems.  Corn planted on soybean stubble is strip tilled, a process that leaves plenty of soybeans stubble on the ground to protect from wind and rain erosion.  Some of the fertilizer is placed in the tilled strips in the fall, the rest is applied after the corn comes up.  Corn planted after corn is more of the conventional style where more tillage is done in the fall.  This tillage allows us to mix in hog manure for fertilizer.  About half of our corn ground gets covered with that wonderful, inexpensive, organic fertilizer.

Our spring started out warm and dry, but just as we got done planting the weather changed.  It got cool and wet.  We’ve now worked our way out of the drought conditions we had.  Although we do not have water standing in the fields, and all our soybeans got planted, we have still been a bit wetter than we would like at this time of year.

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The soybeans are off to a good start.  Weed control is our main challenge right now in soybeans.  Because they do not shade the ground as fast as corn we have a longer window of concern for weed control.  Early weeds have been taken care of, but soon we’ll have to knock them back again to be sure they stay only a minor annoyance.

So, here we are, June is half over and things are looking good here on our farm.  We had more rain last night to keep those plants happy, now we need some heat.



Grain of truth, the gluten lie
June 17, 2015, 6:32 am
Filed under: food, gluten | Tags: , , , , ,

I often read book reviews but do not often find time to read the books they talk about.  Because of all the fad talk about gluten in diets and my mom’s celiac this one caught more than the usual interest.

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Author Alan Levinovitz is a religious studies professor who has been dismayed by the proliferation of gluten free everything.  The book is not really all about gluten, but more about our demonizing of foods.  There have been times when MSG, fat, salt, sugar and eggs have all been held forth as bad for us, today it is gluten and GMO’s.  Basically this book is a exposure of the shame based diet fads we see everyday.  His contention is that we feel better on these diets, not because we are actually eating or not eating something, but because we think we should feel better.  Fad diets become a religion.

The basic contention, and I think it is a valid one, is that the power of belief, not the diet, creates the benefit.  The intersection of faith and food is powerful stuff.  If you are sold the belief with the religious zeal of a true believer, no matter what the truth is, you will get better.  For those of us in science, this is irrational.

I’ve watched the changes in food fads for most of my life.  I’ve lived long enough to see many of them go full circle, from bad for you, to good for you and back to bad for you.  The truth of the matter is that for most people the mantra of “all things in moderation” is the best path.  Getting caught up in the latest fad diet is worse for you than choosing to eat sensibly.

I’ve never been much of one for fads.  Once I got past my teens they have not meant much to me.  I find more than a grain of truth in The Gluten Lie.  I think you will too.



No time for birthdays
June 12, 2015, 5:51 am
Filed under: birthdays, Farm, farm life, weather | Tags: , , ,

A farmers life is dependent on outside forces.  Weather being chief among them.  My long suffering wife, who grew up in the city, knows this.  She has come to accept that you do not schedule things of importance without checking on weather reports.

A key time in a couples life are anniversaries.  Our 36th one was typical.  The weather was great, I had weeds that needed to be killed.  We spent our anniversary apart.  That’s the way things go on the farm.

The weather does allow for some serendipity.  Those rainy days may mean an unexpected day doing things we both enjoy when no one could have predicted them.  You have to be flexible and ready to do the unexpected.  A wet period this spring allowed me to get some projects done for our daughter and family during what should have been planting season.  I got to build, she got to paint, we were both happy.  Planting was going to wait anyway.

So yes, today is my birthday, what is on the agenda for today?  The weather only knows.  That’s life on the farm.




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