A Frosty Morning

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Guess the heating degree days are over… This is kinda late for the first real frost or freeze. I had to break some ice out of the chickens water buckets this morning. These first few temporary cold mornings I don’t get too concerned about. I unhooked some hoses and pulled the pressure washer into the garage and wrapped a towel around the pump. But I haven’t turned on the house heat yet. How come it’s frequently a full moon when we get the coldest temperatures? I think there’s an Indian summer coming yet. Or did we already have that?

First things first: Duck update. It makes me smile when I walk outside in the morning and call “Come on Ducks. Chickens! Chickens! Ducks!” and they all quack and waddle over to the barn for their morning corn.  The dogs are running around and having fun and that interrupts the duck’s processional and they backtrack once or twice before the dogs get in the feed room to catch sparrows and the ducks can finally get up to the corn. I spread out two buckets of corn: one in the grass and one on the gravel. Ducks need water while they eat you know. They eat a bunch, go get a drink, then back to eat more. Chickens don’t gobble so much up at once…they just peck at it. Ducks gobble. I am down two of the poofy headed ones… used to be 8 new ones and the older, balding poofy headed duck. Now there’s only 7 including the older poof. Coyotes I suspect. The white ones are easier to spot in the dark I guess.

Soybeans are out! Yay! Started last Saturday afternoon about 3:00 on my rented ground. I stopped in about 5:00 and they were done over there and had moved to our home farm. Moving fields is a pretty big deal. There’s the combine, the head on the cart, the semi, and the tractor and grain cart. Plus, whatever pick-up is left at whichever field as they move stuff.

Grain carts have become invaluable these days. As with most things, it was in the interest of production and time that these came in. The cart can run in the field and the combine can unload while it’s still harvesting. Then the cart can run back to the truck and unload. That keeps the truck on the road – or at least out of a muddy field where it would get stuck. The carts keep getting bigger, just like everything. It all keeps getting bigger.

My soybeans did OK for quality. They were dry enough and test weight (the weight of a bushel) was good. Yield wasn’t the best, only averaging about 37 bushels / acre. I was hoping 40’s. Last year I got 51 bu / acre. But this rented field really doesn’t grow good soybeans and it really pulls my average down. I’m having that field ‘Grid Sampled’ for soil testing, meaning the Co-op will pull a handful of samples every 2 acres rather than just 1 or 2 samples on the 10-acre field. I’m guessing it will need lime applied to get the soil pH in line. And since they apply lime with an air spreader, they can adjust the rate as needed which, theoretically, will pay for the cost of grid sampling. Remember I planted these beans in 20” rows just for fun? Hard to say if that made a difference or not. If I take out the lousy production of the rented field my average goes up into the 40’s. And with the dry hot weather this year, I’m grateful we got any crop.

Price for the soybeans was good; $11.71 / bushel was my price. Course two days later it was $11.83 at the local elevator. Hauling it to the river gets a better price, but also costs more for hauling. And this late in the soybean season, the river doesn’t always have room for them. And since this was a Sunday, I’m not sure the river elevator even would have taken it. And since I’m not driving the truck, it’s kinda the neighbors call whether they have time to run them to the river.

So 37 bushels (one acre) x $11.71 = $433 / acre gross. Seed cost $55/acre, fertilizer $45/acre, spraying pre-emergence grass and post emerge broadleaves is $75/acre,  combining is $39/acre, grain cart $5/acre, hauling is 0.13/bushel, plus some rent on the one field (I won’t mention the rent cost; that can be pretty competitive in some markets. It might be $200 – $350/acre) I’m lucky I only pay rent on the one field. Diesel fuel, tractor use, my time added in (somewhat variable)… we’re somewhere north of $250/acre for expenses not counting rent. Net, then, is $183/ acre. Losing money on the rented ground.  So you can see why we want the best production we can get and I get so grumpy about how much crops the deer and turkeys are eating. Remember, this is just my farm. Your mileage may vary.

I’m guesstimating corn yields and production as I estimate paying off year end bills. Corn is a little more expensive to grow but yields more / acre too. And this year, with the poor stand, it’s anyone’s guess what production will be. Costs for next years crops is way up over this year. Fertilizer and chemicals have practically doubled.

There’s a lot of corn standing yet in the neighborhood. I can hear a neighbor’s corn dryer fans running when I stand outside at night. Sounds of the season. In a few more weeks it will be surprisingly quiet some night. Just another reminder of the cycle of the seasons.

Photos:

  1. Notice the broken kernels. That’s considered ‘Foreign material’ and we get docked for that. Soybeans are kinda delicate. They don’t like rough handling or they crack.
  • The neighbors like their equipment red. Long as it gets the job done. Here’s the combine, Humphrey, and the bean head on the cart. (The head is 35’ wide; they take it off to travel on the highway).  
  • The grain cart in this picture is holding 805 bushels.  At 57 lbs / bushel that’s 45,885 lbs.  That’s why they don’t often drive into the field with a loaded truck.  

Does this all make sense? Any questions? What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever driven? Or ridden in? Anyone been in a blimp?

103 thoughts on “A Frosty Morning”

  1. thanks ben
    what a great lesson in what a season farming is all about
    i hope you keep it up with winter activities like repairs and feed cap coffeeklatches i love all the info and insights
    or maybe move on to lighting set up tear down etc for the oct -april of bens saturday corner
    are beans and corn the choices because of soil or ease of getting combines in at the right time or economies or familiarity or what
    why not wheat or flax or hops or peas or watermelons or squash or peppers or herbs
    ever thought about growing hosta or lillies or apples or sheep?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Local news lately was 30 sheep out on the highway and no one quite knew where they came from. Eventually, tracing through the number on an ear tag, found the owner. But it led to a discussion at our monthly Townboard meetings about why people would raise sheep or goats and the differences between them and how goats are much smarter than sheep. Wool is not worth anything right now, and the only point in raising goats is to sell them for the meat. Unless they’re pets. With anything, there has to be a market.
      I am not in a place to provide the manpower that some crops would need. And not having my own equipment makes it a marketing and hauling problem for wheat or flax.
      I really like having oats in my crop rotation. That breaks up weed and insect pressures. For the most part that’s why farmers in the Midwest do corn and soybeans in rotation. Plus it’s what our weather does best. I see just a little bit of sorghum and a little bit of wheat. There is one guy not too far from here that grows gladiolas. And every week he takes dozens of flowers into the hospitals.

      https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/humankind/2015/08/10/humankind-flowers-for-hospital/31404627/

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Things for the duck update if I give you flack last week I should at least mention thanks this week when you got it covered
    What kind of heat choices are there for you are you a propane or an oil heat guy have you looked at solar or windpower or geothermal

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We are all electric heat. When mom and dad built this house, electricity was cheap. So there is no ductwork at all in the house.
      We have invested in some solar panels through the electric co-op, I looked into installing some here but it seemed more economical to let the co-op have all the headaches. We own eight now.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Driving to Newell, SD and back today to pick up some lambs from the butcher shop there. 179 miles one way. The last two times we have driven in SD this fall we ran into actual cattle drives, the second time near Summit, SD when we had to stop for about 15 minutes when several hundred Angus and black-whiteface cows were being escorted over the Interstate bridge. The ranchers used ATV’s to herd the cows. The cows just ambled all around past our vehicle.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Never driven sheep or cattle any place like that, but I loved to drive them on roads and feel the power of making the traffic wait. Using our wits to keep them going in gates, wrong roads etc.
      I’m something of an exhibitionist, I admit. Goes with the shyness, no doubt.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. In England, any cow or beef animal you’d see that was black with a white face, would be a Hereford crossed with a Friesan or Holstein. The Hereford bull always leaves that white face, and most beef animals come from using beef bulls on dairy cows. Glad the Hereford is still holding its own.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. I’ve said before I’ve seen placid Hereford bulls, in fact I’ve heard about “ornery” ones, but every one I’ve come across, you could have brought in the house with your kids. See if they could wake him up.

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        1. When we had beef cows, we alternated between angus and Hereford bulls. And sometimes they got the young Holsteins too.

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  4. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    At the beginning of my career, when I developed a Work Activity Center for disabled adults, I had to learn to drive a school bus (I think this was a Class C license) which was the largest vehicle I ever drove. I also learned to drive a tractor as a youngster, but I did not get enough regular practice so I was an unsafe menace. My cousins set me up to spread manure in a field because they thought it was funny to have the town girl spreading manure. I am lucky I lived through that one because I did not know what I was doing.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. We don’t expect frost in a while, but Jane did get wet and chilly two nights ago (23rd), so I lit the fire. Two years ago was the 20th, last year similar. But, failing more wet days, may stii hold out a few more days without burning.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I was lucky to survive a friend of mine giving her 16 year old sister driving lessons in an empty sugarbeet truck on winding backroads near Hallock, MN when I was in college. Friend is now a pastor in Northern Sweden.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. So you didn’t get the opportunity to drive during the harvest. It paid quite well but one season was enough for me. 12 hour shifts spent mostly just waiting in line to load and unload.

      Liked by 5 people

  6. Did not read question until now: I drove a tractor pulling a hayrack pulling a hayloader starting at age 10 for miles and miles at 2-3 mph.
    My poem reference answers question if Ben’s explanation makes sense.
    Never ridden in a blimp but had a blimp cruise over our farm for about 20 minutes at about 500 feet in the air would be my guess. It was in Duluth for an air show and they took a cruise up the shore the day before the show. For some reason our farm got a full exploration.
    Which reminds me that years later the air force used to study deicers by flying a big helicopter spraying water in the air over two trailing airplanes. They did that a few years in late fall.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Biggest thing rode in was a cruise ship.
    Biggest thing driven was a commercial box truck.
    I had that truck loaded with ceramic tile bound from Columbus, Ohio to Durham, North Carolina. Going down a hill outside Charleston, WV, a front tire blew. By the time I got stopped, the drum was melted to the axle. The valley was black with smoke.
    I am a blimp.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. I have been on several large cruise ships, 747s, 787 Dreamliners, and Airbus 350. Never been in a blimp but have been in a hot air balloon flying over the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya. All my cars have been on the smaller side but did drive a rental Lincoln Navigator once – felt like being in my living room. I have no need and no desire to drive anything bigger than that.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Daughter, husband, son are in U.P. making me jealous. Quit a bit of color. A scruffy landscape that is deep in my soul. Wish I could do some in pastel especially several series of stone steps. Many shots of Presque Isle River, Steve.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I’ve been trying to find more but no success. Maybe MPR is sending TLGMS to the memory hole. If Dale were to publish scripts, I’d buy the book.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Thanks, to tell the truth, I didn’t know about them.
        The guy who bought John and Sandra’s house and land drove over from Holland in a Dodge Ram, brand new from the look of it. I have driven larger vehicles. I think…..
        We nearly needed a helicopter to get up to the load bed for the new generator he brought.

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    1. There was a 40 mph southeast wind all the way there and back. Tumble weeds were piling up at the fence lines, and blowing across the road where there were no fences.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. The legends of the Old West contain as much pretension as truth. I’ve been reading about those days lately, especially a fascinating book called We Pointed Them North. The author, Teddy Blue Abbott, mentioned the link between singing and cowboys. Turns out to be real. Night watchmen used to slowly circulate around the cattle herds in the dark, singing to the cattle. Cattle are dangerous, short-fused critters, but they like being serenaded at night this way. A cowboy whose voice settled the spirits of cattle was pure gold on a long drive.

          Liked by 2 people

    2. Renee, my Pipestone Grandmother, who actually grew up in East Central Iowa, used to talk about a trip she took to rural Newell as a child. This would have been in the early 1900’s, around 1905. Grandma’s mother’s mother homesteaded out there in the 1880s after being widowed twice by the 1870s, and was left to raise many children. She left her younger children with her parents in Iowa and homesteaded with an older son near Newell. Great Grandma wanted to visit her mother, so boarded the train with her two daughters, one of them my Grandma. My Grandma remembered that trip vividly because she disliked the place so much. The wind was relentless and it was so bare. She and her sister had to go out on the prairie and collect dried buffalo manure to burn in the stove because it was the primary form of fuel for cooking.

      When I scanned old family documents early in the pandemic isolation, I found pictures of the farm stead, including the women crossing a rope bridge over a stream. The pictures looked quite rustic. The homesteader married two more times in S. Dakota and had more children there. The last husband she divorced! She then ran the farm with some sons and died there in the 1920 or 30s. She was quite the woman.

      Liked by 4 people

  10. Thanks, Ben, for another enlightening farm report. That’s a whole lot of information for a city slicker like me to comprehend, but I appreciate getting some new insights. Love your photos.

    I’ve never been in a blimp. I’ve never even seen one, except in photos. I consider myself lucky to have flown, twice, in a hot air balloon over the St. Croix River and valley.

    The biggest thing I have driven is a 15′ U-haul truck. I’m not into cars, and have never driven a really big one. My one limousine ride to a local casino was a joke. Don’t get the allure of that, at all.

    I’ve sailed on several large ships, though I couldn’t tell you how large. I suspect that the largest may have been one on my dad’s freighters. I have toured, but not sailed on, a British submarine, it was interesting, though it stayed above water the entire time I was on it. The biggest ship I’ve seen, but not been aboard, is the USS Nimitz. I have a friend, a career US Navy officer, now retired, who was stationed on it, and I happened to be visiting them in Sand Diego once, when it was there. That is one huge ship, an atomic powered aircraft carrier, which I understand is in the process of being dismantled and recycled.

    Because of my dad being a sailor, and having lived close to major ports during my youth and childhood, I’ve always been interested in ships. Dad had a small motor boat when we lived in Stubbekøbing, and whenever he was home, he and I would spend hours and hours on it, fishing. I only wish I had discovered earlier in my life how thrilling and fun it is to crew on a sail boat. I’ve only done that once, and by then I was already in my sixties, but that has to be on of the most fun things I’ve ever done.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. That sounds really fascinating.
      We have toured the William A Irvin in Duluth, and at Patriots Point in Charleston, toured the USS Yorktown and a destroyer. It was all really interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We, too, have toured the William A Irvin. So interesting. I love Duluth.

        When I was taking Ken out on our Wednesday excursions, we visited the Ford Dam several times. It was someplace where he could be relatively free to roam and not get into trouble, and where there was something interesting for us both to look at. It was especially interesting if there was a boat or two going through the lock.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. There was an article in the Washington Post recently that said one city was profiting from migration based on concerns about climate change. Any guess about which city is picking up climate migrants? Duluth.

          Liked by 2 people

    2. i got a catamaran last year and had it in the minneapolis lakes this summer but only got out once with my insane schedule
      next summer i’ll take you out if you’d like
      i’ll have a buoy on one of the lakes

      Like

  11. One of our legislators tried to pass a bill last session allowing road trains on our interstate highways. They are enormous trucks with extremely long, multiple trailers, longer than anything currently on the road here. It would have made driving much more dangerous here. The bill didn’t pass.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. MPR News for Headlines, Weather, and Stories Dale Connelly Reporting Home

    Dale Connelly Reporting
    Dale Connelly Reporting
    Return to Dale Connelly Reporting show index
    There’s more from Dale Connelly at The Morning Show

    SHERPA HYBRID
    by Dale Connelly, 4/28/00

    Dc: This section of our show is brought to you by the Sherpa from Intimida. It’s a mighty big car.
    (theme)
    The latest trend in car design is the hybrid engine, making it’s debut on small cars.

    Tk: (tiny voice) My new Dust Mite has a 3 cylinder gasoline engine, and an electric engine. They share the duties and I get 70 miles per gallon!

    Dc: The electric/gasoline hybrid may work for upholstered roller skates, but a vehicle like the Sherpa SUV needs proven technology … time tested systems that have been shown reliable in moving large, heavy objects.
    And now such a system is here with the Intimida Gas/Steam Hybrid!

    Tk: (big beefy voice) At cruising speed, a standard gas engine does the trick, but for steep inclines and accelerating from a dead stop, the steam plant kicks in.

    (sfx: fire and steam blast)

    Dc: The same kind of power source that moved the big locomotives of the westward expansion now helps the Sherpa Sport Utility Vehicle cut it’s gas consumption in half.

    Tk: (big beefy voice) There’s plenty of room in the cargo area for coal, and the kids fight over who gets to be fireman! It’s great exercise.
    You should see their arms!

    (sfx: steam locomotive whistle)

    Dc: Hybrid engines! The old and new meet to forge the future.
    See the Gas/Steam Sherpa at your local Intimida Dealer.

    (sfx: screech to a halt)

    It’s a mighty big car!

    Dale Connelly Reporting Home

    Liked by 4 people

  13. OT. Late but sincere condolences to Wes, for your father. I always say, you can love or hate your dad, but you can’t ignore him. Looks as if you loved yours.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Thanks for this report Ben. Actually the math made it a lot easier to get my head around budgeting if you are on a farm. Like others the biggest thing I’ve been on is a cruise ship and like K2 I have also been in a hot air balloon over the Massi Mara. Fabulous. The largest thing I’ve ever driven is a moving truck. I probably shouldn’t have been driving. It was one of those days when we needed to move one vehicle in order to move another vehicle in order to move another vehicle. I turned on the truck, took my foot off the brake, the truck coasted forward about 20 feet, I put my foot back on the brake and turned off the truck. Is that considered driving?

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Growing up I always wanted to drive a semi. Had pictures of them on my walls, and built the plastic models of them. Dad took me to a dealership one day and I got to climb inside a few. Remember the TV show ‘Movin’ On’ about a couple truck drivers? Then the whole Burt Reynolds semi movies, and ‘Convoy’. Worse fades I guess…
    I never have driven a semi tractor trailer. I’ve driven some large trucks and when I was about 17, the neighbor, Norm, sent me to the elevator driving his grain truck. Once I got up there I didn’t know how to lift the box to dump it; the elevator guy had to show me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ouch! That season I drove beet truck was fatiguing. I drank lots of coffee over the hours waiting in line. I rather doubt drivers are now allowed to do 12 hour shifts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I used to always have a book or magazine. In England, at one time, your total shift was not allowed to be more than twelve hours, and publicity tended to be given to the idea that drivers could no longer be allowed to get tired. You also had to take proper breaks. No publicity accompanied the extension of the total day to fifteen hours instead of twelve. You can’t actually do any more work in that time. But you have extra waiting time, and that’s often so convenient for employers. No doubt, since leaving Europe, Boris has been doing his best to worsen this already bad situation.
        But forget any idea that UK drivers aren’t in a position to fall asleep at the wheel.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey, you’re right. I had a chatty email three days ago, which I answered, then no more. Normally I take no notice of that……..

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      1. Jacque, you know he did show up Friday, twice. I bet he’s thinking “Now I suppose I better say something.” Right, Steve?

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    2. I know, I don’t like long silences from Steve. Another baboon we haven’t heard from in several days is Linda. I sent her an email yesterday, no response as yet.

      Like

  16. Our “semis” are a little bit smaller than yours. Current limit is forty five feet for the trailer, 42 or 45 tons gross weight, wow I’ve forgotten offhand. You have a maximum of three axles on the trailer, three on the tractor. If you only total five axles, the limit is 38 tons. We call them artics, as I’ve said before. Articulated vehicle. I have literally driven hundreds over the thirteen years until I was sixty five. I never once had a “my” truck. I’ve driven every size except an eight wheel “rigid”, they’re popular as tippers, and the only tippers I’ve driven are farm trailers.
    I wasn’t at home in the transport business.
    It’s a tough business. I’ve ridden on the Bilbao- Portsmouth ferry a few times, with the other van I had, that’s the biggest thing. Southampton – Isle of Wight, with trucks all sizes, times without number. A one hour trip, and you can see your destination when you drive on the boat. Only once was I nervous, we were looking down into the sea one side, then looking down into the sea the other side. Nothing to a sailor, no doubt, but not my style. I like to be in charge of my own danger.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Ben, I do have two questions.
    One,why did you leave dairy farming?
    Two, what is the maximum weight of your semis over there?
    Three, you don’t say much about acreages. In Devon, everyone knew the acreages of the neighbouring farms, and often some of the fields as well.

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    1. I sold the milk cows when it just wasn’t profitable (or fun) any longer. Cows were expensive, milk prices were terribly low, the barn only held 25 cows, and either I had to go big or get out. And my knees and shoulders weren’t going to put up with much more. And I knew the kids weren’t interested in it.

      I only know a little about semi trucks. Maximum length of the trailer is 53’. (I think) and I’ve heard 80,000 lbs, but that depend on the number of axles.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Maybe my last chance this year to say, oh God, I love combines! Not interested in the latest and biggest. My lifelong favourite is the Massey Harris 780,which became the Massey Ferguson 780 Special. They looked huge when I was a kid, and just so exciting to watch in action. It’s the same as the American Model 80,the 7 denoting that it was made in England. Ben, you mentioned a 35 foot cut. The 780 was available with 8 or 10,and round our way, with small fields, narrow roads and gates, I never did see a ten foot cut 780. I still haven’t. They weren’t that great, nothing to a Claas, for instance, but they’re the ones you’d see everywhere, up until maybe the late sixties, and I’d still love to have a fleet of them.
    One way and another, I’ve never driven a combine, even though I owned a slightly later 788 at one time, with ideas of making it into a 780 maybe.
    At one time, back home, when I saw my first combine of the year, I’d always text Jane with the words, “Combines are rolling.” Which interested her not much, I’m thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’ve usually got a load of garbage in my head, and I’ve generally thought it was a kindness to not share that with my friends. But let me tell you what has fascinated me in the past two days. I don’t find men interesting or attractive. I’m just not wired that way. But I’m trying to learn to understand attractive men, if only to appreciate how my daughter responds to them.

    Last week I saw the most handsome man I’ve seen in 79 years on earth. His name is Conner, and he’s a nurse in an ICU. Probably 6′ 3″, give or take an inch. He has an athletic body much like Cary Grant did, but a better face. Like Grant, his body is lithe and responsive (Grant was a wonderful clown and dancer). I’ll never see him again (or I hope not, given what he does for a living!) but I’m not likely to forget him.

    Liked by 3 people

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