Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppie grow
In Flanders fields.

We Shall Keep the Faith
Moina Belle Michael, 1918

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flowers that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Rain.  Rain.  Go away.
Come again another day.
(Preferably the second or third week of June)
This little farmer needs to ...
Replant 100 acres of corn
due to the 2 1/2 inches of rain and hail 
one of our farms received
 in 45 minutes Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


WOO HOO!  We are done planting corn.  We finished up 3:22 pm, yesterday afternoon.  That is a good feeling.  But from planting we went right on to the next tasks at hand.  Joe is spraying our pre-emergence herbicides right now.  If the weather man is correct we are in for five to seven days of rainy weather so today is the day to get caught up on spraying.  Dad is hauling corn "to the river".  This means he is delivering corn from our bin site (storage) to a grain barge terminal located along the Mississippi River about 10 miles from our storage.  Because of the flooding on the Mississippi this spring a lot of farmers are trying to get corn that was contracted to be delivered to the river in April delivered now. 

I'm still working in the seed warehouse.  On Tuesday, soybean seed was flowing out like water.  Today, we are over the hump for soybean planting.  We will still be treating soybeans and delivering seed the rest of the week but I would say at least 75+% of the soybeans are in the ground in our corner of the world.  We are about 98% completed on corn planting.  We have livestock farmers who are chopping rye this week and will be planting corn or beans into the stubble next week.  So there is still some corn to go in. 

A shout out to the farmers in North Dakota, Minnesota, Ohio, and Indiana.  We are thinking of you and hope you can get your crops planted soon.  Take care and be safe.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Our buckeye tree is in full bloom and buzzing with bees and humming birds.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Scratch and Sniff Computer

This morning I snuck out of the seed warehouse and delivered lunches to Dad and Rollie.   I now remember why I like spring.  The anhydrous toolbar that we use to apply nitrogen doesn't really disturb the soil very much.  The knivers cut through the soil and the cover disks close that slot back shut.  The soil finisher or field cultivator on the other hand does mix and loosen the soil to make an ideal seed bed for the planter.  Spring, fresh soil is one of my top three smells in the whole wide world. 

I wish there was such a thing as scratch and sniff computer screens so I could share this with you.  If you have a garden you may be able to understand some of the experience but to be surrounded by acres and acres of this scent is amazing 

I don't know what it is about the smell of the freshly mixed soil but it just triggers something in me that says, "Spring is Here - Let's Get Going!"  One and a half more days and we should be done planting.  The lawn is beyond needing a mowing and I can hear my hosta garden calling.  I may have to ignore my hostas until sometime next week after I get caught up on paperwork and book keeping.   The boys can mow all weekend to their hearts content.

Rollie in the soil finisher

Dad planting corn.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pit Crews

It is little a too sticky to plant this morning so the pit crews are busy.  Dad, Derk and Eric are switching the eight row planter soybeans.   We go from eight rows of corn to 15 rows of soybeans. 

Our seed treater has been giving us fits since last Friday.  This morning we have people from Omaha, Minneapolis, and South Africa (Believe it or not) working on it.  We are back up and running now but yesterday was a little nerve racking. 

The inside of the control panel for the seed treater  - one of the
scariest things I have ever seen.

The black box holds 2500 pound of soybeans seed. There is a slide opening on the bottom of the box.  The seed then goes up a belt and into the treater drum where fungicide and insecticide is sprayed on the beans.  The tannish/brown thing is a drum and turns and gets the protection products evenly dispersed onto the seed.  The seed then comes out of the drum and goes up another belt and into a seed tender that we use to deliver the seed to our customers or our own planter.

Tanks that hold the crop protection products.

Seed tender being loaded with treated soybean seed.

The techs think that a lightening strike in early April is the culprit to all our problems.  But all should be better now with a new control panel.

The pit crew was also getting the field cultivator checked over and ready to go. 

Greasing the crumbler on the field cultivator
Checking to make sure all the shovels are tight.

And finally I went out to the field behind the warehouse to see how wet the field was and I saw two orioles in one of our cherry trees.  I did attempt to snap a pick before scaring them away.

I'm a slow typer so by now all the equipment is back out in the fields, soybeans are being treated and I need to hop back on the forklift!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rain Break

Derk, Dad and Joe taking a breather and watching it rain.
We were rock-n-rolln this morning with planting until about 11:30.  We could see dark clouds to the northwest all morning and then the yard lights came on and the clouds opened up and the wind started to blow.  We ended up between .6" to 1.0" of rain in about 45 minutes. There won't be any planting here the rest of the day but there is still plenty to do.  In trying to find the silverlining to this cloud - this is an opportunity to check equipment, make minor repairs, pick up more supplies like seed and crop protection products, get a few loads of wash done and go get some groceries.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day!

Happy Mothers Day!  Joe is out spraying, Dad is planting, Stan is soil finishing and Amos and I are in the seed warehouse. Yesterday, a friend jokingly asked where Joe was going to take me for brunch this morning.   My Mothers Day brunch consisted of a granola bar, a chocolate Easter egg and some iced tea in the Pioneer office.  As long as we can plant it's a great day.  We can do brunch next winter. 

Cesear on patrol.
It's relatively quiet this morning so I want to introduce you to three unassuming individuals that are important to our farming operation.  This is Ceasar.  He is 12 pounds of claws, teeth, and fluff.  Before we had Ceasar we would have a mouse nest in a pallet or two of seed each year.  We can't sell bags of seed that have been chewed on by rodents. A bag of seed corn can cost up to $310.  We have had Ceasear for eight years and since Cesear has come along we have not had a rodent problem in our seed warehouse.  He is definately worth his weight in gold.

Cesear is pretty much all business but he does like to
cuddle up once in awhile.

Next we have Cheese Cake. (I don't name the animals - I just buy their food.).  He was born a year ago.  Here is a picture of him with his mom, Lucky Bob, and his litter mates. 

Cheese Cake and litter mates at three weeks old.

Lucky Bob was a good mouser and her off-spring have always been as well.  Lucky Bob passed away last fall after being a very prolific cat for several years.  We have always had neighbors and friends who have wanted our cats for mousing so we only have the two cats on our farm.
Lucky Bob always had her litters in the rag box in the farm shop and that is still Cheese Cake's favorite place to sleep

Cheese Cake may need to improve on his work ethic.
 Our newest addition to the farm is Ugly George.  He is a guinea.  I heard that guineas are suppose to get rid of rodents and reptiles.  Since I hate snakes I thought we would give it a shot.  I bought George from a 4Her at the end of our county fair last August.  George makes the most unique and/or annoying sound we have ever heard.  He has pretty gray and white dotted feathers and he poops a lot.  We will see what kind of job he does for us this spring as all of the Lord's creatures start coming out of hibernation.
Ugly George

Have a great day and enjoy the great weather with your Mom!

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Great Day for Planting Corn (and Soybeans)!

The rainbow ended right over the
Pioneer seed boxes!
What a great day for planting!  Last night about 8:00 we had a rain shower and then the sun came out, the wind stopped blowing and we had a double rainbow.

This morning started out with the sun
and just a breeze.  It was a "full crew" day.  Besides our two fulltime employees we have three spring and fall parttime helpers.  Rollie is our neighbor, landlord and ace soil finisher operator.  Chuck retired from the co-op a couple of years
Or maybe it ended in the corn field.
ago and now helps haul NH3 tanks early in the spring and then helps get seed delivered to customers and our planters.  Stan, works in town and helps us in the evenings and weekends.  He has been helping Mom and Dad for about 20 years.  Stan runs the NH3 applicator and the planters.  Then we have our intern.  Amos is an agronomy major at U of W, Plattville, we keep him busy in the Pioneer Hi-Bred department.  Without our great part-time help we would never accomplish what we do everyday. 
I snuck out of the seed warehouse today and made a seed delivery.  I hadn't been off the farm since Monday and wanted to see what was happening in the country.   Wow!  There is a lot of corn in the ground especially considering that no one really got started planting around here until Monday.  Tonight Joe and I were going through inventories and looking at customers needs and we came to the conclusion that our area is at least 40% planted. 
This is our soybean planter.  In a typical year (a phrase I use very lightly)
 we have one planter on corn and one on soybeans.  Because of the late
start to planting we are using both planters to get the corn planted.
That is amazing - in five days we can be so far along in planting completion.  I listen to the Big Show on WMT Radio at noon on the weekdays and it sounds like this is state wide.  I would like to know how acres there are per planter row in Iowa.  In other words - how many acres does each planter row plant in Iowa.  Equipment has come a long ways.  Rollie always laughs at how we can plant more corn in one day than he used to plant in an entire spring.  One of these days I'm going to sneak out of the warehouse again and hopefully take a few pictures of Dad planting and show you what the inside of a tractor during planting season looks like.
This is a seed tender.  We deliver bulk corn and soybean seed to
our customers with these.  By using bulk seed, customers eliminate LOTS
of paper bags.  Bulk seed is great for handling and for the environoment.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

And ...They're Off!!!!

Early yesterday morning in balmy 29F weather, Joe and Dad filled the planter and headed out to start planting corn!  And, then my mom took Joe back to the hospital.  Since Saturday night Joe has had a difficult time breathing (one of those bodily functions that most of us need).  After a couple of trips to the hospital between Sunday and Monday, the doctors think he is having an allergic reaction to his allergy meds.  Kind of ironic - isn't it?  The doctors told Joe to rest the next two days while they figure out what is going on.  Ha!  I did put one of the boys camping cots and a sleepy bag in the meeting room so when Joe does decide to listen to the doctors there will be a soft spot for him to land. 

Am I happy with Joe for not heeding the doctor's instructions - no.  However, I have come to the conclusion that it does no good for me to get upset and throw a temper tantrum because he will go back and do what needs to be done - plant corn "BECAUSE it's May 3rd and the corn needs to get in the ground."  I'm not sure if this is a guy thing or a farmer thing.  I'm leaning to towards that farmer thing because I have seen several farmers over that past few weeks that have really bad colds, sinus infections, or walking pneumonia and won't rest for a day or so because they have too much to do.  A neighbor ended up in the hospital about a week ago due to a respirtory infection.  Thank goodness his daughter was home from college and could do the milking.

Farmers believe that they must keep going because others are relying on them whether it be livestock, employees, or crops that need to be planted.  And, most of the time they are correct but farmers also need to remember that they are not invisible and that they are replaceable.  Joe had a boss several years ago that always said that everyone is replaceable.  The thing is I don't want to replace Joe or any other farmer out there!  So, if any other farmers are reading this PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES!  I know it is the 3rd of May AND there is a lot of crop to get planted AND we don't know how many good days we are going to get in the next few weeks.  But, I know nobody wants to replace you either.

Since I was running solo in the seed warehouse yesterday and we were short a body I did not get a picture of the Dad making the first pass with the planter.  Maybe in a day or so when Joe has rested up I can snap a picture.  HA!  Well, I think I'm done ranting - have a good day and be safe out there.