Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving to You!

If you could travel back in time who would you want to meet?  I have a list of individuals that includes Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Amelia Earhart, Paul Tibbets, and Margaret Thatcher to name a few.  But, at the top of my list would be George Washington.  I should back up.  I am in total awe of the common citizens who took on the King of England, declared their independence, and then fought to create this county.  The colonial times through the Revolutionary War is a time period I love to read about.  I always wonder what inspired these people to act.  It's one thing to talk and complain but it's another to act upon one's grievances.  What did they have in them to take on an impossible task and succeed?  George Washington was a soldier, engineer, politician, and a farmer.  He was intelligent, quiet, humble, and a leader most respected.  But why George Washington?  What set him apart from all the others to lead during this amazing yet frightening time in our nation's history?  Historians go back and forth arguing about Washington's religious beliefs.  However, I am confident that it was God's divine intervention that inspired individuals like Washington to build this country.  For this I am thankful. 

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation
“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.’
“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, Who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.”

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mom Video

We are in the midst of the county fair season and there are many 4H and FFA families on the verge of . . . well, let's just say there are a lot of very busy 4H'ers and FFA kids across the country right now.  I found this video this morning and it made me giggle.  I hope all you 4H moms and "retired" 4H/FFA moms get a giggle as well.
Ok Boys, back to work.  Only 15 days to the Clayton County Fair!  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Better Late Than Never

First, my apology.  I am not tech savvy.  In fact, I hate computers - I would much rather be outside in my hosta garden or in the kitchen cooking.  However, they are a fact of life and I do appreciate all the conveniences that come along with computer technology.  But, when a computer does not do what it is suppose to do I'm completely lost and FRUSTRATED.  So, here is a post that was to be done a week ago.  There will be a few other late posts coming up.  Please be patient with me - I'm one desperate computer operator.  Now with that little editorial complete, on with the blog.

Every 4th of July I take a picture of Grandpa and the boys in front of a corn field.  There is the old saying, "Knee high by the 4th of July".  That is an old corn farmer's gauge as to how well the crop is doing. 

With the mixed up, crazy spring we basically have three different corn plantings - mid May, late May and mid June.  None of these are considered timely.    If you would like more information about timeliness of corn planting go on back to my blog post titled "The 8th Day of Planting", the end of May.

The field I take a picture of each week on the Growing Season Picture page was one of the first farms planted.  If you hope over to that page you can see how far along this field is.  But on the 4th Dad/Grandpa was side dressing our corn on later planted farms.  So Dad being Dad we took two 4th of July pictures - one on an earlier planted farm and one on a late planted farm. 

Mid season planting of corn
on the 4th of July.

                                                   A late planted field of corn - well, at
                                                   least it made knee high on the boys.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Farm Boy Creativity

I love farm boy creativity.  Take 1 very hot and humid day, add in a couple of boys and Mom never knows what to expect.

I wasn't sure what was transpiring when Son #3 wanted to know where to find the dish soap (Apparently he has never had a need to use it before now.) and his pop-up tent.  Then I looked out the window to see every hose on the farm connected together and going all the way from the seed warehouse across the farm yard, to the top of the hill by the machine shed.  Next, I saw Son #1 wandering from building to building.  When I asked what he was looking for I got the usual "not much" comment.

When they ran out of the house in their swimming trunks I figured they were going to have a water fight.  Well, they did a little better than that . . .  All I can say is that necessity is the mother of invention.

Silage tarps tacked down with tent spikes make
a great slip and slide.

Squirt a little dish soap on the plastic to
add some speed.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Facts! Just the Facts Ma'm!

I posted this video by Cornell University on my FaceBook page: 2 Farmers & Their 3 Sprouts but I believe this is an important video well worth your time to watch.  Or, at least please listen to it while doing something else.

The scientists in this video go over the facts about GMOs, NOT the fiction that is continuously shadowing the science behind producing food for the world.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hair Cut

It was recently Morton's 1st birthday.  Morton would be our dog.  How else do you celebrate a birthday other than by getting a haircut!



Like any little boy Mort enjoys running, playing outside and getting very dirty.  And, like any little boy after his bath and buzz cut he headed right to the shop, rolled around in the dust and rubbed up against the grease guns.  He's just like all the other males on this farm.

Friday, June 14, 2013


These three look like they may be on a leisurely stroll through a corn field enjoying one of the few days we have had of sunshine.  But, they are doing more than that.  Due to the excessive amounts of rain we have received this spring there is a real concern that the corn crop may be short on nitrogen.  Nitrogen is one of four most important nutrients needed to produce corn.   While we have applied some nitrogen already to the field we still have time to side dress the amount yet needed by the crop.  To determine what the amount still needed is we need to have soil tested in a lab.  That means we need to take soil samples.  Lots of soil samples.

Joe and Junior Super Intern (along with #3's help) sometimes tag team pulling soil samples to send to the testing lab.  Joe pulls the first core down to the 1 foot level.  Then he drops the soil core into the bucket.

Then, Junior Super Intern(JSI) takes a core out of the same core hole
as Joe but this core is from 1 foot to 2 feet deep. This is where muscle comes in. 

It takes a lot of umph to get that soil probe down that deep.  I used to take these samples by myself 20 years ago but then I wised up - take the pictures and have a strapping young man do the hard work.  Joe and JSI take several cores in an area of the field.  This will be one sample that is bagged up.  There will be several samples taken acrossed a farm because soils vary acrossed a farm and each soil holds nitrogen differently. 

Because the soil is so wet it often sticks in the soil probe.  A long time ago we discover that Pam cooking spray applied to the probe will help the soil slide out easily and not effect the analysis.  This is where #3 comes in.  He is the Pam man!

Once all the samples are pulled the bags are labeled and set in the frig so the soil bacteria are slowed down from fixing more nitrogen in the sample and we get an accurate measurement from the lab. 

When you live on a farm you never know for sure what
may end up in your frig.

JSI packs up the samples and ships them off to the testing lab.  In a couple of days the results are emailed to us.  From the labs measurements we can decide if we need to add more nitrogen to the field for the corn crop. 

For those of you in the know - yes, I realize I simplified this process but I didn't want to give a lecture today.  If you would like more information about this follow these links:

How to do a Deep Nitrate Test Soil Sample -

 Nitrogen Fertilizer Recommendations for Iowa -

This whole process takes a lot of the guess work out of managing a corn crop.  The farmer finds out if more nitrogen is needed by the crop.  If it is needed a corn grower can side dress the crop with anhydrous ammonia, urea, or liquid 28%.  If more nitrogen is not needed the grower can move on to the next chore on this list.  This is good for the crop, the environment, and the farmer's pocket book. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Passing of the Chickens

It's that time of year once again when the boys need to make room for their 4H broiler chicken fair projects. That means the old layers get booted out of their coop so the new layers can move in and the baby broilers have their own coop when they arrive. What it comes down to is that we do not have enough suitable buildings for all of our fine feathered friends. So, sons #1 and #2 need to find new homes for their lovely, feathered ladies to the dismay of their egg customers. It is ashame as the hens are just over a year old and in their prime egg laying stage.

But, never fear! Number 1 did some wheeling and dealing with a friend of his to take a few as well as neighbors of ours decided it's time for their kids to take on a little more responsibility. So, Sunday afternoon the last 21 chickens took a short trip down the road.

I believe these three are wondering what
their parents got them into this time.

#1 giving a lecture on the color of chickens ears.  Did you
know that you can determine the color of the egg a chicken
will lay by looking at it's ears?  A chicken with brown ears lays
brown eggs and a chicken with white ears lays white eggs.

As you can see these chickens are on the tame side. 

                                    The ladies checking out their new digs.

This picture has nothing to do with the chickens
but I thought the lush green pasture and the red barn
looked nice.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Finished up planting at 5:00pm!

Sigh of relief. . .

The 10th Day of Planting

Rain drops on a planter tire.

Well, the forecast for two days of good weather was wrong.  We have been planting this morning but we keeping getting small showers of rain.  It's not enough rain to make soil stick to the tires of the tractors or planters so Dad and Joe are still going.  If this was May 4th instead of June 4th, we would stop and wait for better weather and soil conditions but circumstances dictate otherwise. 

Soil is not sticking to the
press wheels of the
planters - yet.

The heavy rain is hanging just west of us so we will keep on pushing forward.  You will need to stay tuned and find out if we are able to finish up planting today or if we need to wait for the next break in this rainy weather or go Preventive Planting.

Dad trying to figure out why a seed drop
sensor is not communicating with the
 computer in the tractor. 
I have no idea what time Joe headed out to start planting but I had a very early morning phone call from him.  I thought maybe he was calling to wish me a great day in the weed warehouse or whisper sweet endearments in my ear.  But, I was mistaken - Dad was broken down and needed pieces and parts - NOW!.

Oh well, life of a farm wife.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The 9th Day of Planting

I never thought I would be writing that the ninth day of planting our crop would be on June 3rd.  But it is what it is.  According to the weather forecasts we have a narrow two day window to do field work - today and tomorrow.  So, everyone is making the best of these days. 

I delivered soybeans this afternoon and in a 24 miles round trip I saw farmers planting corn, soybeans, and sorghum, chopping rye and alfalfa, and sidedressing corn with nitrogen fertilizer. 

Everyone stay safe!

Number One helping me in the seed warehouse with
deliveries.  He stays about as clean as his father does.

What I dream about most of the time -
empty pallets.  :-)

Yours truly loading soybeans to deliver.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Blue Skies?

After two weeks of some amount of rain every day it's great to see the sun.  But, those clouds are starting to gather and heavy rains and storms are predicted for tonight once again. 

We're not sure whether we are coming or going with seed.  We still have corn and soybeans to plant but with the wet weather and the late date we are trying to decide if we still plant corn, if we switch fields yet to be planted over to soybeans, or if we throw in the towel and go preventive planting?  It's a stressful time across the wet areas of the Midwest.  We have stayed busy returning late season corn to the seed plants and bringing in shorter season corn hybrids and soybeans to meet our seed customers needs. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thank You

Our Gift to the Fallen
A Short Poem by Charlie Gragg
Penryn, California

For each soldier that has fallen so that many may stand
We honor their spirit as they pass to God's hand
For without their sacrifice we would live forever in fear
We pray for their loved ones and provide a salute and a tear
God help us heal the wounds of hate and the misery of war
That is our gift to our fallen heroes that are amongst us no more.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Video

It doesn't seem to matter where they are in the world or what language they speak - farmers talk about the same things the world over!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The 8th Day of Planting

I'm not sure if this is the proper title for today's entry since we won't be planting very long as there is rain coming in from the west.  It has been raining off and on enough since Sunday night to keep us out of the field all week.  Late yesterday afternoon the sun finally showed it's face and we had a slight breeze.  Today, again we had the sun and a breeze but it remains cold and that does not help dry out a field when you want it to. 

After a lot of discussion, dirt kicking and etc, Joe and Dad made the decision to go plant soybeans about 3:30 this afternoon.  It has been a tough day for farmers in the area.  Do we or don't we plant?  Is the ground fit?  Sort of but not really - it's definitely not ideal conditions.  But, the calendar reads May 24th.  The weather forecast is for rain the next seven days.  It is a tough decision to make and it can be emotional.

We have corn and soybeans left to plant just like every other farmer in the Midwest.  Why not just set and wait for a better day?  Well, take a look at this table by Iowa State University.

Corn Yield Response to Planting Date

        Date                                  Relative yield Potential
April 20 - May 5                             100%
May 13 - May 19                             99%
May 26 - June 1                              90%
June 10 - June 16                           68%
June 24 - June 28                           52%

Basically the clock is ticking.  Even if every variable is ideal from here on out until we harvest the corn, we are looking at only about 90% of our average yield because of late planting.  That makes for narrow margins when trying to make a profit and raise a family.  I sound pretty negative today and I am.  But, this is reality on the farm. 

One thing I was taught along the way is that we don't farm for just one year.  We farm for the average.  What I mean is that we have good years and we have bad years.  We have really good years and really tough years.  So we don't go wild spending and partying during the good years because we know there is going to be a tough year in some not too distant future.  This is farming.  This is what we signed up for.  We will control what variables we can, stay calm, and carry on. 

When I took this picture I thought is was kind
of neat.  Now, it just reminds me of how wet
everything is.

 We brought in more soybean seed in Proboxes, bags and bulk preparing for the possibility that area farmers may have to switch corn acres to soybeans IF we can't get in the field again for another week.  Preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Monday, May 20, 2013

No Planting Today

Last night we had heavy rains so we were not able to plant today.  However, there was plenty to do to get ready for the next opportunity to get back into the field.

Chuck loading and unloading seed for customers.  With the
delay in planting some customers are switching corn hybrids
to shorter season hybrids.

We were fortunate last night.  Areas to the north and west, Howard and Floyd counties specifically,received 6 to 8 inches of rain, while in central Iowa there were tornadoes and damaging straight line winds.

It looks as though the Midwest is in for another
tough night of storms so be vigilant and
stay safe.

Amos, the intern, washed up equipment after
7 days of hard running.

Travis and Dad hauled corn to the river barge terminal.
It was a good day to visit with the neighbors and see
how every one is doing.  Congratulations Ben!
Glad to see that the diploma was signed ;-).

Tonight we did something that we haven't been able to do in over a week.  It seems longer than that maybe because it's so important to our family.  We actually sat done at the dinner table and had supper together.  To celebrate I made the family favorite Puffy Pancakes.

I added this recipe to the Family Favorites tab at the top.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The 7th Day of Planting

It rained very early this morning so Joe and Dad did not get back into the corn planters until about 2:00 pm today.  But, that was ok.  There was time for church and laundry.  They already quit tonight do to the storms that will be rolling in shortly but there was still plenty of time today for Joe to get his "working look" on.

Really, he does clean up pretty well.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The 6th Day of Planting

#3 was bound and determined that he was going to stage this order all by himself.


If there is a will there is a way!