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.
- 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?