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.



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.



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.



Unpredictable as weather
June 11, 2015, 6:04 pm
Filed under: forecast, rain, weather | Tags: , ,

Well, yesterday’s blog shows just how hard it is to predict the weather.  We were forecast to get inches and got just a few tenths of rain.  All of the heavy stuff moved east and south.  Now it’s not as if we really needed more rain, we’re doing very well on that front, thank you.  It’s just that those folks east and south of us are already under flood conditions.  Oh well.

There has been a steady drip here.  It’s just wet enough that being outside means you get wet.  Try to wear a jacket to keep off the rain and your sweat makes you just as wet as if you had not worn a jacket.  Really soggy out there.

So the moral of the story, If the weatherman says it is going to do something, it will usually do something else.  What a job.



Wet weather coming
June 10, 2015, 8:21 pm
Filed under: Farm, rain, weather | Tags: , ,

It is rare that the National Weather Service is this adamant that we are going to get wet, not only wet, but lots of water.  For several days now they have us as 100% chance of getting rain starting tonight and rain for 24 hours after that.  Then they tell us it could be as much as an inch and a half an hour.  Yep, we are going to get wet.

That forecast means a bit more of hurry in our step.  Things have to be done “now.”  Since we have moved into a wet pattern “now” can be hard to do at times.  Wet fields do not lend themselves to getting things done “now,” they tend to get our equipment stuck.  Still the spraying did get done today, and most of the hay we had cut did get baled, so let the rain come.

There are still things to do, but they will wait.  This weeks “now” is past.  We’ll get going on next weeks items as soon as it dries up a bit.



Worries
May 9, 2015, 10:04 am
Filed under: Corn, Farm, new beginnings, rain, Soybeans, weather | Tags: , , , ,

Raising a crop or livestock is a bit like raising children, only it happens more often.

Spring is here and most of the planting is done, now comes the worry.  Will the crop come up?  Did I plant it too deep or too shallow?  Was there enough water, or too much?  When will it come up?  Is the weather too cold or too hot?

We’re not quite done with planting, only about 40 acres of soybeans left to plant, but the worry over the corn has been going since it went into the ground.  Today I saw the first few spikes of corn peaking through.  I’ll not say that ended the worry, but it was a relief to see.  Some of the worry is gone.

Over the last few days we had just over an inch of rain with more forecast for Sunday and the days to follow.  I still consider it early for soybeans, so there is not much worry there, yet.  But having rain on that dry ground does help me sleep at night.  Now a new set of worries comes into play.  Oh well, nothing to do but wait until they happen, then I can do my best to fix them.

For now, I wait, and try not to worry.



Plant in dust

After two consecutive years of planting in muddy conditions this year was so different, and so easy.  I do not ever remember planting going start to finish so fast.  Soil conditions were perfect, the weather was warm and the wind was even bearable.

The old adage is “Plant in dust, your bins will bust.  Plant in mud, your crops a dud.”  This year was definitely a year for planting in dust.  We had little to no moisture in the top inch or two of soil and precious little under that. Every time you work soil you dry it out so I did as little soil moving as possible.  Still I worry that some of my seed may be in dry ground.

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Now we wait.  When will we be able to see rows of corn popping through?

This springs temperatures stayed cold for a bit too long, but when they broke we went right to hot and windy, but little rain.  I am resisting going right to soybean planting for now, but if it is dry again next week, I’ll plant soybeans also.  In the mean time I watch for rain clouds and read weather reports.  We need some rain.



Yesterday’s Snowman

Yesterday’s snowman is melting away100_3109

and soon puddles will outnumber snowdrifts.

100_3108The weather has turned warm quite quickly here in southwestern Minnesota.  Just a few days ago low temperatures were in the single digits and the high didn’t make 20.  Today the high is near 40 and the low will barely get below freezing.  Warmer weather is forecast for next week.  Hurray!

 



Dirty snow

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We’ve had a series of days with thawing temperatures and our snow is not white anymore, it’s very dirty.

Every snowflake has a bit of dirt in it, gathered as it forms, our snow here in Southwestern Minnesota has more than it’s share.  The winds of winter have been moving dirt along with the snow.  Now that it is melting, the dirt is left on the top.

We went into winter with dry topsoil.  Then the normal process of freezing soil squeezed more moisture out.  When our prairie winter winds come the soil starts to move.  Most of that soil doesn’t move far.  It falls behind some bit of plant material in the field or a low spot between dirt clumps.  Other bits may blow as far as the road ditch or a grove of trees.  Some little bits will stay airborne and help to start new snowflakes and rain drops.  It’s all part of the process of wind rain and snow.

Farmers in our area have come a long way since the dirty thirties.  Back then when you plowed ground you left it “smooth as a babies bottom.”  Smooth soil moves easier.  Today, farmers take pride in keeping winter soils rough with plenty of plant material sticking up.  Many will not till fields so they can help hold their soil.  We are well aware that soil is hard to replace, we need to keep it in place so our children can earn an income here also.

We’ll have white snow again before winter is over, it’s only January and there is lots of winter left.  Still I enjoy seeing some of that snow melt before spring, I just don’t like dirty snow.