Farm Report – Early July

The corn made knee high by the fourth of July.

It’s as high as a small elephant’s eye. There have been a few years the corn was only knee high on the fourth and those were extremely wet years and it was planted very late.

Beans are coming along and looking good. Oats is just starting to turn color. The green is fading and it’s turning yellow as it matures and dries out. Now I worry about storms and high winds knocking it down; we want rain, not storms.

We keep scouting the crops, watching stages of development and looking for diseases or insects. Beans can get aphids that affect yield. But we don’t spray for them unless it hits an ‘economic threshold’; the point where the cost of the damage from the pests would be greater than the cost of the spraying. That’s about 250 aphids / plant. It’s been a few years since I sprayed for aphids, it doesn’t happen very often. 

The corn I like to watch as the brace roots emerge – extra roots that come out to help stabilize it as it gets taller.

I found a few places where corn plants are still emerging after all these weeks. They’re too far behind the rest to amount to much; the ear most likely won’t fully develop or be dry enough by fall, but it’s pretty amazing the seed still grew this long after planting and being in the ground all that time!

We are delighting in the warm summer nights and enjoying the fireflies over the crops. They’re always such a treat to watch. Some of us like the “warm” part better than others of us. Growing Degree Units are up – 355 over normal.

I mentioned the helicopter spraying at the neighbors. I’ve always been fascinated with helicopters, so it was fun to watch that operation. I’ve been in a helicopter a couple times; Many years ago I took a helicopter tour over Gettysburg Battle grounds and just a few years ago a helicopter tour over Charleston SC. That was fun. 

One night, Kelly was taking a walk and she texted me that a hot air balloon was pretty low. We’ve had a few balloons land in our fields, but usually it’s winter and there’s no crops to worry about. It was a very still night and this guy had lost all his wind and was really just hanging there. I drove up and met his chase crew. I told him if he could at least get to the edge of a field and not land in the middle I’d be happy with that. He said he would do his best. And he did. He managed to get to a water way (just a grassy area) to land and the crew dragged him over to the road. Always fun to see them. If they land 3 times on the farm I get a free ride. It hasn’t happened so far. 

Still fixing things, had a flat tire on the lawnmower, which isn’t surprising given the areas I’m mowing. I couldn’t find a hole, so I took the tire apart and couldn’t find anything inside either, so bought a bottle of ‘Slime’ and put that inside and it worked! Plugged up the hole! (‘Slime’ is a green, thick, goop, you squirt inside a tire and it’s supposed to plug up holes and prevent new holes. I’d heard of it before, but never tried it.) I just bought a second bottle. If this works, I might be sold on it!

Working on the grain drill too. It needed some bushings on the arms that support the press wheels and a couple new bearings in the press wheels (they press the seed into the dirt for good ‘seed-to-soil’ contact.) Plus, one of the actual seed cups had been broken since I bought it. Wasn’t really hard to fix, but it was 44 little ¼” bolts and it takes two people. I have a college kid, Khalid, that is helping me with that. Waiting on parts to finish that project.

I also took the bucket off the loader and have it over at my nephew, Matt’s. He’s a welder and got his own shop going as a side business. The loader bottom was bent because I work it too hard. And it’s also 20 years old and it has pushed a lot of trees over. He tried to straighten the bottom, but it couldn’t be repaired so he got a new piece of steel for that and I ordered a new cutting edge from the dealer. Half the price of a new bucket and this will be better than new. [photo]

I bought another funnel at Menards. ¬¬Funnels are a mystery. I have a dozen different funnels and still didn’t have one that will hit the transmission oil filler on the lawnmower. Although this one today might! I even bought a funnel with a right angle on it and that wouldn’t reach either. Some funnels have too big of a funnel end. Some are too long that they’re awkward. Some are too narrow and the thick oil won’t flow through. Some are metal, some are plastic, some are tapered to one side, some are flexible but never the way I need them to be.

It doesn’t seem like it should be this hard, but I guess it is. You think “I’ll just get a funnel for this”, and then it doesn’t work. I got two flexible folding funnel things. Silicone and moldable, made to fit in wherever you can squeeze it. Sometimes that’s the right tool. I tell the kids a lot, “Every new job is an opportunity for a new tool”.

Helicopter ride? Hot air balloon ride? What’s the craziest/most fun thing you’ve ridden in? 

101 thoughts on “Farm Report – Early July”

  1. I’m really enjoying your farm reports, Ben. Glad to hear that your crops are doing well thus far this year.

    Right off, I’m thinking that my hot air balloon rides over the St. Croix Valley were the most exhilarating. My Omni Theater helicopter rides at the Science Museum in St. Paul over various exciting places come in a close second.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Can’t think of much in the way of crazy rides. There was one that Jane DIDN’T think was fun. We flew to Guernsey from Southampton, a very short trip. We were told there was a problem with the plane, which was being worked on. After a while, the plane was obviously not going to be fixed in a hurry, so they said, there’s a bigger plane coming down, to take all of you, plus the next flight as well, in one go. And after a while, we got on this jet and arrived in Guernsey with no more problems.
    Coming back, the regular plane had been fixed, and was running on time. Jane looked out the window, and there it was. A propeller plane. I think it had Lindberg’s sandwich tin by the seat. (Sorry, that’s one’s getting a bit old now. ) Jane went to pieces, “I’m not going on that!” She reminded me that Buddy Holly was killed in one of them. Way she told it, no prop plane had ever arrived at its destination, and no one had lived to tell the tale. I kind of wondered how we were going to get home, I mean, I can’t swim. But in the end she got on it, and sat terrified and shaking, gripping my hand, nearly crying, the whole flight, which was only half an hour luckily. Kind of ironic, she was nearly born flying, was in something called the Junior Jet Club, and probably went nearly to Mars and back on Concord. Occasionally riding a spell in the flight deck. I’d never flown in my life until the previous year, and was sat in that prop plane without a care in the world.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. My first helicopter ride was a short one at the conclusion of a 6 day Grand Canyon rafting trip. We were helicoptered from the river to a nearby ranch where we could clean up before taking a bus back to Vegas. The others were Medivac trips with Life Link 3 to pick up sick babies at outlying hospitals and take to the U of MN NICU.

    My only hot air balloon experience was a sunrise trip over the Masai Mara in Kenya. We took off just as it was getting light, watched the sun come up, and saw elephants, giraffes, gazelles, and several smaller creatures along with spectacular scenery. The chase crew set up and served us a champagne breakfast at the landing site. It was quite a thrill!

    For their high school graduations, I took my nephew and each of my three nieces on a 5 day Green River rafting trip in southern Utah. Part of the trip getting from Vegas (and later Moab) to the “put in” spot involved flying in a 6 passenger prop plane and landing on a gravel strip atop a mesa. I enjoyed each one of those flights.

    Liked by 9 people

  4. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    My wildest ride was in a Jamaican taxi from Ochos Rios to St. Ann’s Bay to the markets there. The taxi itself was crowded and hot as we flew over potholes in the road. After awhile, I decided not to look.

    I head out today in my very calm and predictable Honda Pilot for a visit to my mother and a 4H reception. Back on Monday.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. My wife and I were flown into a Canadian wilderness fishing camp once by an outfit that was flagrantly unprofessional, with broken safety gear and sloppy protocols. That very same flight, seven days after we flew, took place in terrible weather. The cocky pilot couldn’t handle the waves, so the pontoon aircraft crashed and two or three passengers drowned. I’ve always wondered if we had faced the same decision to fly in rough weather whether we’d have had the courage to refuse.

    Liked by 7 people

  6. This spring I took a ride in a T-6 Texan. It’s a single engine, propeller driven aircraft that was used by the United States Air Force mostly for flight training during World War 2 . Other countries have used it for combat missions. The T-6 remains popular at air shows and is used frequently in movies to imitate other aircraft such as the Japanese Zero. I took the rear seat and got the opportunity to pilot both a right and left turn. Before going on the ride, I received a little schooling from my Dad who serviced that type of plane during his time in the Air Force. The controls are very sensitive. Of course, the REAL pilot controlled the pitch so there wasn’t any nose up or down on my part just my hand on the stick gently pushing the direction he asked of me. A delightful experience.
    Decades ago, I was given the assignment to carpet the interior of a DC-3 operated by the North Dakota Air National Guard. That model was being used to transport personnel so it was basically a bare-bones passenger plane. The seats were all removed so the installation of a dark gray, ribbed carpet was uncomplicated even though it ran up the curved walls. After I had completed the task, I was allowed to remain on board for a flight from Hector Airport in Fargo up to Grand Forks and back. As I understand it, having a civilian on board without explicit permission was against regulations. But the nickname, Happy Hooligans, fits that group very well.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. I just thought of a ride that was interesting, but not wild. 40 years ago I rode in my brother-in-law’s small plane when they lived on the border of S. Dakota and Montana. He flew us out to Devil’s Tower across the Wyoming border and we saw the top of it when we flew around it several times. It was covered in….that’s right, beer cans and remains of illegal campfires.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. I should clarify that she feels 100% better than she did yesterday. She still has pain in her wrist and musn’t do anything with her right hand.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Good that she’s a little better. This whole thing must have messed your vacation up for all of you, that’s a shame.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Well, it also gave us some down time in her apartment so we could help her straighten things up so it was a livable space for someone who can only use her left arm. It is amazing what wonderful food you can order for delivery.

          Liked by 3 people

  8. OT. I have overcome bureaucracy. 3 1/4 hours sitting outside of AAA. 26 minutes inside the AAA. Drivers license and real ID accomplished!

    Liked by 6 people

        1. I believe it. We have an intimidating process, to do with getting our residency, where we have to queue outside the building. To make it more scary, the people we need to see are holed up in the police station. They come out at opening time and issue tickets for appointments, starting at the head of the queue. Only here people don’t stand in line. Having arrived, they stand or sit wherever they want, maybe in the cafe across the street even. Every new arrival gets involved in a lengthy discussion about who was first, who was next, etc.
          Sandra considers that we(expats in general) spend money here and support business etc. Therefore can do things our way if we want. I tend not to agree with this, but on this particular day I admit I briefly got sucked in to her viewpoint. We all showed up, possibly at 5 am, in winter. And we do have coldish weather in winter. There were people across the road in the cafe, operating under the time honoured principle of, we’re first. However, all Sandra saw was a door with no queue outside. She instructed us to stay at the door and not move. We were at the door, and we were first. I’m ashamed to admit, I thought she was right. People approached her and she stood her ground. People were scandalised, they’d never come across this behaviour before. We all waited hours in a bad atmosphere, in the cold. Eventually the door opened, and we soon realised that the cafe owner had phoned in and warned the officials that we were jumping the queue. Sandra immediately started haranguing the guy, who obviously knew her of old, but he asked her, please to be quiet. We got the very last ticket and felt bitter at being beaten. It took me a day or two to wake up to how unreasonable we were being.

          Liked by 3 people

        2. There were about 60 or 70 people in line by the time the door opened at 9 AM. I would say probably 50% of those folks had stadium chairs, including me. I will note however that the first half of the line had a higher percentage of stadium chairs than the second half.

          Liked by 2 people

      1. 9 am to 1 pm. Since I was number four in the door, I was done and out by about 25 after nine. There were still a few people in line outside but the person at the end was holding a sign that he had been given by AAA that said “last customer of the day”

        Liked by 3 people

  9. Ben, your crop report sounds encouraging. I’ve heard that the goal is to get strong crops in a year when other farmers are struggling. That would seem to bode well for you unless your prices are already locked in.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Well, we know the corn won’t yield as it has other years, so we have to just wait and see on that. Beans look promising, but they too, have a long way to go.
      I was walking in the oats yesterday; with the hot weather often the milk is sort of ‘boiled’ out of the heads and it ends up with poor grain quality and quantity. Mine seemed to head out late, (and I’m not sure why, other than it’s a new variety to me), after the hottest weather, so maybe it will be OK? I was looking at it yesterday and there seems to be a lot of kernels on the heads. They are on the smaller size. (Which means more to make a bushel). It’s all based on the weight of them to make a bushel (called the test weight – a future blog) so again, until it’s harvested, we don’t know. I’ve had real good looking crops half ruined by hailstorms.

      I haven’t contracted any prices. I don’t raise enough bushels to really make a difference. And the markets this year seem to be anyone’s guess.

      Local prices from Friday:
      Oats $3.49 / bushel
      Soybeans $12.64 / bushel October 31st
      Corn $4.28 / Bushel October 31.

      Price for corn right now is $6.09 / bushel, but I don’t have any corn to sell right now.

      There isn’t much of a market for oats, and the elevators are fussy about what they’ll take. It has to be really good quality and test weight. Anything over about $2/bushels is good.
      Corn is barely profitable over $3 / bushel
      Beans over $8. (your farm may vary and yield and price both matter)

      Liked by 4 people

        1. I grow oats because it’s a good rotation in the crop cycle of corn / beans, it’s income in August, and it gives me small square bales of straw that I sell the rest of the year.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the street cats we feed was getting cheeky and trying to come in. She’s better off outside, with the world to roam and hunt in, dry places to sleep, and, actually, cat lovers all over the village, leaving food out. So now we put food on the doorstep and she’s content with that. We saw she was carrying kittens, and was correspondingly even easier to catch and stroke. Then a couple of months ago, she had them, and became more suspicious, while wanting to be sociable, though at a distance. Jane started saying, we haven’t seen these kittens. She should be bringing them out by now. We decided she’d fallen prone to the pitfalls of first time mothers, and they’d died on her. But a neighbour, who also feeds her, told Jane she’d spotted them. So yesterday, I very ingeniously looked in the window of the abandoned house our girl lives in. Maybe I could have thought of that before. There are two tabbies and one black kitten in there, they’re huge but still dead cute. Just in time for your Kitten Day yesterday.
      For the record, we can’t get in there. Which is good, the local kids can’t, either.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. OT. Blevins at Occasional Caroline’s tomorrow. If you didn’t get an email from me with her new address let me know.

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  11. I’ve had an amazing number of flying experiences including hot air balloon and open air by plane in Africa as well as helicoptering over volcanoes in Hawaii. But I’m gonna go with first and scariest.

    First was when I was in the eighth grade, actually the first time I had been in a plane and my family did a sightseeing flight over the Grand Canyon in a eight-seater piper cub. I was not frightened although when we went over the edge of the canyon and went from being just a little bit above the trees to having nothing below, my stomach did kind of jump around a bit.

    Scariest was a flight from Denver to Minneapolis in 1989. The landing gear went down but apparently the light that says the landing gear is locked was malfunctioning. We flew around for a bit to use up all the extra gas and the flight attendants gave us all the directions for being in a crash. Women were told if they had pantyhose on, they should take them off. That was very frightening thinking about why. When we touched down we were all in the crash position. Luckily the landing gear was locked so we didn’t have any issues but it was very chilling to look out the window and see all of the emergency vehicles lined up on the runway.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. There was another frightening component. This was quite some time ago before there was all the security and identification that there is today. I was actually flying using someone else’s frequent flyer ticket; if the plane had gone down there would have been no record of my having been on it.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. Luckily I did not think about this until the next day. If I had been thinking about this on the plane I might have just keeled over from the anxiety.

          Liked by 3 people

  12. Farming/Miscellaneous : Ben, you’re right about tools. We all need more tools. Every day, if possible.
    Funnels: I manage without when possible. It’s more relaxed and casual to hold the can a couple of feet above the hole, and practice aiming. I’m still practicing, and a lot of oil and fuel goes on the ground. But my efforts encourage others to do things more carefully, therefore I consider I’m kind of carbon offsetting.
    Slime: I believe I tried that once and it didn’t work. I think it was made illegal in the UK, for road going vehicles. Possibly because it makes you more “relaxed and casual” about finding the nail and taking it out. But it seems like cheating to me, much as I hate working on tyres, however we spell them.
    Germination : I started telling a story, but it was getting longer and more boring and irrelevant by the minute, so I knocked it on the head.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I do envy your spelling of tyres….there is a warning label on the Slime product that it’s not for passenger tires at highway speeds and another product is recommended.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. We were watching this thread during bookclub and laughing. When you all went into two syllable words it was more than we could desyre.

          Liked by 3 people

  13. Will read later…

    OT: For those going to BBC on Sunday, as you’re considering where to have the next one, maybe consider Winona. : ) I can think of some places here to have it… Would love to see you before the snow flies.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. My dad didn’t like heights and he didn’t like boats and he’d get motion sickness fairly easy. But he wanted a hot air balloon ride. He got one for his 70th Birthday and he loved every minute of it.
    Cattle or horses don’t like hot air balloons. If one comes over too low, the cows would panic and run away. This last balloon pilot told me the burner gives off a high pitch that the animals can hear and we can’t and that’s what gets them so excited.

    When I was a kid, one of the neighbors had a private plane and grass airstrip on his farm. He’d give the 4H kids rides and those were fun. And then when I was 18, I signed up for one of those ‘Introductory Flights’ out at the local airport and a pilot, who was clearly bored and had done 30 of these already today, got you in the air, let you make a couple turns, and put us on the ground again.
    A few rough commercial flights is about all I can report for excitement besides the helicopters.

    Liked by 5 people

  15. Waaay OT: I’ve belatedly seen Bill’s picture of Clovelly from last week. I lived about 20 miles from there for a big part of my life. I went there with my family, on the way back from the beach (the “seaside”) around 1960. I don’t remember much about that. I returned with Jane, just after we met, in 1992. It’s a company town, I think it belongs to the Christie Estate, of Glyndbourne fame. Maybe it’s the Chichesters, another similar lot. Don’t remember. But you have to pay to get into the famous street, which we did. We walked on down and ended up sitting against the sea wall down in the little cove. Just sat together for an hour, still getting to know each other. Falling in love. Steve, you know the next bit, don’t you?
    P. S. I may have said before, the king of tractors of the world, is the mighty Fordson Major, 1951-1964. I’ve owned six, some of which actually started and ran. There was one over at the foot of the cliff, on the other side of the cove. But of course I wasn’t looking at that 1953 model, registration OUO 303, engine number EA1A 5842098847. I was busy falling in love.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Fenton, that photo of Clovelly is from 1904 and is part of a set of negatives I found here in Minneapolis. I’ve trotted them out here on the Trail numerous times. The photos are from an unknown photographer’s trip through parts of Europe. There are other images from Britain and specifically Devon in the set. If you’re interested, selections from the set can be viewed here:

      1904 Four Boys From Volendam

      Liked by 4 people

        1. Have seen those pictures now, and can report that I MAY have spent a fascinating hour people watching, in the Ship Inn in Porlock. Maybe it was another pub. There was a Larger Than Life Blonde and an Oscar Wilde, though perhaps he was a bit dejected for an Oscar Wilde.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I envy you, Fenton. It’s been my dream to revisit those places depicted in the photos. Did you see the other Clovelly ones? I especially like the picture of the oldest man in Clovelly. If you read the comments, you’ll learn that was old Stephen Headon, who survived the great gale of 1835.

          Liked by 2 people

        3. I saw them all, Bill. I don’t know where Cockington is, it must be be in South Devon. I almost always specifically say I’m from North Devon.
          Porlock has a legendary long, steep hill leading down into the village. It was used for road testing early motorcycles, and no doubt there were many failures. I drove my brother’s 1954 Ford Popular for a month in the seventies, and wouldn’t have tried going up Porlock, it wouldn’t have got far. There’s another hill, Countisbury, nearby, I don’t know which is the most formidable. I sem to remember that one or the other was one of the first to have an escape lane in the late sixties. I never have had to find out what is like to have to hit one of those gravel paths at speed.

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        4. I went to school with “Pippy” Headon, whose first name may well have been Stephen.

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  16. i did a hot air balloon ride with x fil 30 years ago over by the st croix somewhere. i guess it didn’t impress me much.
    lots of puddle jumper plane rides in turbulence
    one with a pilot who just had his personal 2 seater twin prop done with new engines so he assured me we were good but he stopped halfway to atlanta from green bay and we gassed up and arrived late for the meeting i had set. after the meeting in the way home we had to stop for an extended stretch because it turned out on of his twin engines wasn’t working at all. back woods mechanic in backwoods tennessee or somewhere got it going and the remaining leg of the flight let me know i should have been concerned about the first 3/4 of the flight
    always wanted to learn to fly a helicopter have never ridden in one

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Jane would’ve enjoyed riding with you that day. You’d still have the finger marks in your hand as a souvenir.

      Like

  17. When we studied in Canada, we had to renew our student visas every year, and I had to take my car, which I brought with me from the states, to this special tax office in Winnipeg to prove I hadn’t sold it in Canada. That was somehow very important.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Can you imagine how difficult it is to navigate a confusing bureaucracy if you have a tenuous, at best, grasp of the language? Crossing the border into Mexico at Nogales was a nightmare, in 90º heat, the first time we did it.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Ha ha, that’s why I let Sandra do it. But she is a contradiction, she can achieve miracles, but at great emotional cost to herself sometimes, and possibly to her victims behind the desk as well.

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      2. I came through Nogales on my way back to the States the summer after I graduated from high school. I had been visiting with a family for six weeks. It was evening and I was modestly dressed and clean and had my hair up. The guy in front of me had on the scraggliest jeans and the dirtiest T-shirt and a long unkempt beard. They let him right through customs but they stopped me and searched my bag. I’ve never forgotten it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sherrilee, that’s because you were the obvious person to pick as an accomplice. According to Jane, I “look shifty.” I rarely get searched.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Great story, despite the tragic outcome. I love that you refer to one “faction” of relatives, Bill. Sounds like there might have been some sort of tension or conflict among the relations?

      Liked by 2 people

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