Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

We are now into Day 5 of the planting season.  It has been a good week so far.  The seed warehouse and office have been my domain this entire time so I have not had the opportunity to highlight any great recipes for this week.  Any one who knows Joe and Suzanne knows that in the spring just about everything other than planting is put on hold. 

If you have a recipe you think is worthy of the Farm Favorite title please send it to me in the comment section of this blog entry and I will put it up on this site tonight.

Thanks for your understanding!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Aaaand They're Off . .

. . . like a herd of turtles.  Yesterday we started planting corn and soybeans.  Joe and the guys had been testing and checking all of the monitors and computers in all of tractors the past few weeks so when the soil dried,
Joe setting up one of the planter's monitors
the rain stopped and soil condition were good we could get planting.  Well, Monday was the day to start.  The guys got the planter loaded with seed and were getting ready to pull away from the shed when the GPS system on the planter tractor started wavering. 

Loading planter with seed corn.
So, the Joe, Dad and Derk sat in the tractor for the next two hours working over the phones with equipment suppliers trying to figure what was wrong.  Making a very long story short, eventually the GPS equipment started working and Dad was off to plant corn.

Yes, three grown men can fit in a tractor cab.
The GPS/auto steer was not working in the soil finisher tractor either.  That does not make Rollie happy but at least Rollie could still run the soil finisher. 

We use GPS equipment to run the shut offs on our planter.  You have to remember because of our rolling land we farm on the contour - meaning we farm around a hill not up and over.  This helps with soil preservation.  Anyway, our planter is 16 rows (40 feet) wide and when we plant on the contour Dad needs to be able to shut off rows quickly to avoid double and triple planting parts of a field and save money on very expensive seed.  With GPS, the computers on the equipment shut off and turn on the rows as need be.  We also do some variable rate planting.  This means we vary the seeding rate of the seed corn across a field based on yield potential and soil fertility.  This is also controlled by computers and the GPS equipment is necessary.

Trying to figure out why the GPS equipment won't work!

At one precision ag forum I was reading this morning there were farmers commenting on our same problem from Texas to northwest Minnesota and Kansas to Illinois.  At least we were in good company.  Our problem was geomagnetic activity.  Yep, it went right over my head as well.  What it amounts to is that the sun is messing with our planting season!  I am now signed up for Geomagnetic A-Index of 100 or greater, Geomagnetic K-index of 6, 7, 8, and 9 Alerts and Warnings through NOAA and the Space Weather Prediction Center.  Really.  I am not making this up. 

I have heard the phrase "A slave to technology" mentioned before.  I think we might be at that point. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

Today, Son #1's track meet season starts.  Because of cold and wet weather there have been some meet postponements so the meet season is condensed down to three very busy weeks.  This recipe comes from #1's dietitian.  The power balls go to school with him for a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack so he is ready for track practice after school.  Son #1 has a very difficult time gaining weight and maintaining a good energy level, so we take every opportunity we can to get healthy calories into him.  It has become a favorite after school snack for all three boys. 

Energy Balls

1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered milk

Mix together and form into balls.  May be chilled or frozen.
Yield:  18 balls
Nutrition Info:  15 grams carbs each, 115 calories, 4 grams protein

I usually add in a 1/2 cup of chopped, dark chocolate chips to this mix.  This will change the nutritional makeup.

Go Central Warriors!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Farmers Fight - Stand Up

Please take time to watch this video.  Talk about showing passion!

This video comes from the blog TAMU Farmers Fight -

There are several good essays on the blog written by TAMU students.  Each essay is from an individual's unique view and experience in agricultre. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

I'm going to follow up Linda's recipe from April 6th, with another rhubarb recipe.  With the cool weather the past week or so the rhubarb has slowed down but there is still enough growth to keep Joe happy.  This recipe comes from the St.Olaf Country Cooking, Norway Lutheran Church, 1990 cook book.  I tried this recipe on a whim a couple of years ago and Joe proclaimed it the best rhubarb dessert he had ever tasted.  I'll let you be the judge on that proclamation.  I do know it is easy peasy. 

Rhubarb Dessert

4 cups rhubarb (sliced up)
1 (3 oz) package raspberry gelatin
3/4 cup sugar
1 pkg yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1 cup cold water

Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Arrange rhubarb at bottom.  Sprinkle dry gelatin over top.  Sprinkle with sugar and then cake mix.  Drizzle butter over top, followed by cold water.  Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.  Serve with whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He Has Risen!

Mark 16:1-8
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' "

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday's Favorite Farm Recipe

Spring is here - although I would say about three weeks early - flowers are blooming and the rhubarb is red ripe and ready for picking.  This weeks recipe contributor has a very timely recipe for all that rhubarb.

Linda, our contributor, is a native of Clayton County and a life long 4H'er.  Both Linda and her husband John were 4H'ers, their kids were all 4H'ers (I competed against the five oldest in the beef show ring during my 4H years), and now their grand kids are fourth generation 4H'ers (Yep, my kids compete against them!).  Linda says one of the highlights of working with her grandchildren with 4H fair exhibits is that as first year members they have all made a quilt using her grandmother's quilt blocks.  What a great family tradition and heirloom to carry on!  If I remember correctly, all of Linda's sons also had a sewing projects at The Fair as well.

Linda teaching another generation how to quilt.

Linda and John live on the farm that John's great-grandfather homesteaded in 1855.  They have three sons that farm and their grandchildren are carrying on that passion for agriculture as well.

Linda and John with their Valley FFA grandkids.

Linda is our county treasurer.  She is planning on retiring at the end of this term.  Her plans for retirement include lots of quilting, doing more 4H judging, catching up on house cleaning and perhaps doing some traveling.

Creamy Rhubarb Dessert

Crust:                                                                                 Rhubarb Layer:
1/2 cup cold butter                                                             4 cups sliced rhubarb
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour                                               1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans                                                     2 tbsp all purpose flour

Cheesecake Layer:                                                              Topping:
2 pkgs (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened                          1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup sugar                                                                        3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp. vanilla                                                                         1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs                                                                                   additional chopped pecans

In a bowl, cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; stir in pecans.  Press into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan.  Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.  Combine rhubarb, sugar and flour; spoon over the crust.  Bake for 15 minutes.  In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Pour over hot rhubarb layer.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla; spread over hot cheesecake.  Cook on a wire rack for 1 hour.  Refrigerate overnight.  Sprinkle with additional pecans if desired. 

Sounds good to me!  Thank you Linda for sharing your recipe. 

But, before I sign off I do have to share one more picture.  I finally figured out how the scanner works on my printer so now I'm a scanning maniac.  If you can't read the fine print it's a picture of yours truly with Linda and John's daughter Angie from just a few years ago.   Sorry, Ang, I could not resist.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Back At It

After a few days of wet weather we are back at applying anhydrous ammonia (To be known as NH3 from here on).  There are several forms of nitrogen that corn growers can use but in our farm operation this is the best source of nitrogen for us to use. 

Derk applying NH3

There he goes behind another hill!

We live in a livestock intense area
of Iowa so another form of nitrogen often used in this area is animal manure. 

Manure is a great source of plant nutrients because it contains not only nitrogen but also phosphorus, potassium, and several other essential nutrients required for plants to grow and produce.  Manure also adds organic matter
back into the soil - if you're a gardener you know how important organic matter is to the soil makeup. 

Just like animals are different so is their manure.  A sow's (a mom pig) manure has a different makeup than a pig being fed out for market due to the different rations they are fed.  So, the farmers actually send a sample of manure into a lab and have the manure analyzed. 

Here is an example of a manure analysis from Iowa State University:

Example Manure Analyses

Nutrients lbs/
1,000 gal
Est. 1st year availability lbs/1,000 gal
Ammonium Nitrogen (NH4-N)
Organic Nitrogen (N)
Total Nitrogen (N)
Phosphorus (P2O5)
Potassium (K2O)
Sulfur (S)
Calcium (Ca)
Magnesium (Mg)
Sodium (Na)
Copper (Cu)
136 ppm
Iron (Fe)
104 ppm
Manganese (Mn)
532 ppm
Zinc (Zn)
145 ppm
Total Solids
Soluble Salts (EC)
4 mmho/cm

Injecting liquid swine manure Based on a manure analysis like this, a farmer can determine how many gallons of manure to apply per acre of field to take care of a crop's needs. 

Manure can be considered liquid gold because of it's value to crops so a farmer wants to make sure that this manure is applied to fields that need the plant food.  This is much easier to do today versus a decade or two ago because of the technology available. 

As Joe says my agronomy geekness is coming through so I will end here.  However, if you would like more info about manure application check out Iowa State University's website:

Have a great day and be safe out on the roads.  There is a lot of farm equipment traveling up and down the roads and the farm traffic will only increase as we head into the planting season.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Squirrels Ears

When Joe and I worked for Cenex/Land O'Lakes I had the opportunity to work with a coop in LeCenter, Minnesota, called Hwy Ag Services.  Since then, it has gone through mergers and such and it is now called Genesis.  This background info doesn't have a lot to do with the story but I thought that I would give a big shout out to my friends and former co-workers in LeCenter.

One of the tools an agronomist uses in the spring is a soil thermometer.  In early April I start to keep track of the soil temps at the 2 and 4 inch depths.  Corn germinates at 50F.  While it isn't necessary to wait for the soil temp to reach 50F to plant corn you do want the soil temp to be trending upward with good soil conditions. 
Soil thermometer
When I worked with Hwy Ag I had a farmer customer named Rich who would laugh at me standing in a field taking a soil temp measurement.  He would ask me if the field was sick.  Or, Rich would say, "I always knew you're a great agronomist because you are out standing in the field!"  Then he would laugh and laugh.
Rich would always tell me that it did not matter what the soil temp was because the old wives tale went that you shouldn't plant corn until the oak trees leaves are as big as squirrels ears. 

Today's soil temp is hovering around 44 to 46F.
Every spring Rich would come in to the agronomy office the day the oak leaves were the size of squirrels ears and would tell me that it was ok to start planting corn.  It was always beside the fact that he and his son had already been planting corn for a week or so!  When you farm in Minnesota, you don't want to waste any of the spring warmth because you never know when the first snow may fall.

It is interesting that about the time the oak leaves are bursting out the soil temperatures are getting to be close 50F. 

Son #2's oak tree

It's been 13 years since Joe and I moved back to Iowa from Minnesota.  Rich passed away several years ago.  But, every year I think about those conversations and go and check our oak trees progress into spring.  Today the buds are just starting to burst open. 

The oak tree's buds are starting to burst open.

 Rich, we should have oak leaves the size of squirrels ears by this weekend!