The Farm Update comes to us from Ben.

It sure has been windy the last few days. No matter what the temperature is, a wind like this makes it colder. I’m lucky we haven’t had trees down over our road or any of the township roads… knocking on wood.

Ducks and chicken numbers are status quo. But I’ve noticed the black and white ducks are getting a green tint on their heads.

A little research shows they’re “Black Swedish” breed. Back this summer I ordered ‘Mixed Ducklings’ so really didn’t have any idea what I was getting. The cream colored ones are “Saxony” and the ones with the pouf are “White Crested” of course. And the ones that look like mallards but are a little heavier and don’t fly are “Rouen”. It seems odd to me they don’t lay nearly as many eggs as the chickens. Just seems like they should be laying more than they do… usually come spring I might get one or two ducks that lay eggs for a while. Usually out in the middle of the yard. Then it depends if me or Bailey finds them first.

And now that the weather is cooling the turkeys have started grouping up. It won’t be unusual to see a group of 30 or 40. Saw this bunch in the fields yesterday

Dumb turkeys… Once there is snow cover, they’ll be down in the yard eating under the bird feeders in the backyard and trying to get the corn I put out for the ducks and chickens. The dogs love chasing them away, but those stupid turkeys are smart too. They know Humphrey is in the house and Bailey is sleeping out front, so they sneak in the back. And when we do chase them away, they’re back in a few minutes… rotten turkeys. I haven’t even mentioned the herds of deer.

I think most of the redwing black birds have moved on now. Caught a cool picture of them on a trailcam the other day.

I get pretty excited when the birds return in the spring. The Red Wing Blackbirds, the Killdeer, and, of course, our favorite, the barn swallows. Even the turkey vultures returning is another sign of spring.

The Co-op called; they finished the grid sampling and said I could go ahead and chisel plow now. My plan is to spend much of Saturday out doing that. Due to crop rotation, every other year will be more soybean acres than corn acres and soybean ground doesn’t need to be plowed up in the fall. This was a soybean heavy year, which means I don’t have all that many acres to work up. In the old days (the “old days”) it was done with the moldboard plow and it made the ground all black because it turned over ALL the residue and buried it. That black surface is great come spring because it allows the soil to warm up sooner and that’s still important. Then we started doing ‘Conservation tillage’ and leaving more residue on the surface, which is important to prevent wind and water erosion plus it conserves moisture underneath. But too much trash on the surface keeps the soil cooler and wetter come spring. Conservation tillage doesn’t use the moldboard plow, it uses a 4” wide twisted ‘Shovel’ to throw up some dirt, but not necessarily bury it completely. The Chisel plow I use is like that. The last few years the hot new term is ‘Vertical Tillage’. I’m still not sure exactly what it is. But there’s a whole new line of shiny equipment to help me do it!

Photo credit: TractorHouse

It’s more about cutting up the residue and burying it a little bit to help decomposition over winter, but again, not turning the surface black. And again, we do want at least a strip of black soil to warm up and dry out for earlier planting in the spring. So there are ‘strip till’ machines that can make a strip a few inches wide while doing the tillage. And then in the spring the idea is to plant into that same strip. You’ll really want GPS and auto guidance to make that work reliably.

I read an article the other day that The Honeyford grain elevator, North Dakota’s oldest cooperative elevator, is the first elevator south of the U.S.-Canadian border to load an 8,500-foot, 1.6 miles-long train. I only cross one set of railroad tracks between the college and my house. About 9:45 PM there’s a train that occasionally keeps me waiting. Some seem long, but not 1.6 miles I guess. It was interesting to read about the elevator and the train. Imagine the parking lot needed to handle that sheer number of cars let alone getting them filled! It just reminds me there are so many things that I don’t know I don’t know.  It does say Honeyford Elevator is in the middle of the prairie and the nearest town is 3.5 miles away. Here’s the article:

What’s the longest straight road you’ve been on or know of? I know one that’s 13.6 miles.

53 thoughts on “Brrrr…..Wind”

  1. I’ve driven on North Dakota 46 several times. A girl friend of mine lived in Enderlin, ND. The road is 120 miles of two lane highway. 31 miles is dead straight but I never got to that selection. What I did drive would have been boring were it not for the anticipation.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I think I had ‘no till’ in a first draft of the blog… just like the name says, from what I see around here, it’s mostly soybeans “no-tilled” into corn stubble. So the corn ground isn’t plowed up in the fall, it might be sprayed to control weeds first, then the planter needs some special attachments to clear away the corn leaves and get that clear dirt path, then heavier springs to get the seed into the ground at the proper depth, plus heavier closing wheels to cover the seed back up again.
      Imagine planting in your garden without working up the soil first; it’s just different.
      On our farm, the ground we plow up makes a better yield than the ground we don’t plow up. Just this year, I had a blog that talked about a cornfield; 1/2 was corn last year so was chisel plowed, and 1/2 was on beans that wasn’t. The bean corn never looked as good as the chisel plowed corn. But if you factor in two less trips over the field and fuel and time… which one came out ahead in the end?

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Boy, that’s a questions I don’t know the answer to – my fantasy is that it would be some interstate – I-80 comes to mind. At least when I was driving from midwest to California and vice versa. But that is probably an illusion, and those freeways are not as straight as you think.

    NOTHING’s straight around here, with the bluffs and the river.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. One of my first jobs was working for the ASCS office as a field reporter and I had 6 townships in the county and I drove around and measured fields and grain in bins or barns. I learned a lot of roads and how to follow maps and platbooks, and I learned a lot about just driving and not being afraid to try a new road. Four of my townships were flat and laid out in perfect grids N/S E/W. But two of them had hills and rivers and there was no straight roads and even trying to get ‘just over there’ was 6 miles around to cross the river. But I learned to love those winding roads. Except when I was in a hurry… still one of my favorite jobs.


  3. Anyone who has spent time in the Red River Valley and other parts of North Dakota knows straight roads. Except for 1987 when I lived in Southern Indiana, and 1991 when I lived in Knoxville, IA, I lived in or in the vicinity of the flats, including Winnipeg, from 1976 until now.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. We had awful wind this week, with gusts up to 55 MPH. They have a tumbleweed problem in Bismarck, with some homes with piles of tumbleweeds 15 feet high, blown against the homes by the wind. The city sent out crews to haul the tumbleweeds away.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. One of the strangest things I ever saw was a tumbleweed blizzard. In November 8, 1989, I drove from northern Montana through North Dakota and on to Saint Paul. During virtually the whole first half of the trip I was caught in a windstorm that sent tumbleweeds madly spinning eastward across the prairie. When I went south from Wolf Point, the tumbleweeds were rushing across my path, looking like a buffalo stampede, whacking my vehicle over and over. When I could finally turn directly east again, the wind became a tail wind that literally blew my SUV at freeway speeds.

      Several towns in the Dakotas were packed so tightly with tumbleweeds people could not open the doors of their homes. In Mobridge, the town hardest hit, city trucks fitted with snowplows drove up and down the streets clearing a path and releasing folks trapped in their homes.

      Liked by 6 people

  5. Old Highway 14 between Owatonna and Dodge Center has a straight section that I think is about 10 miles long. But it’s sort of a moot point because the DOT FINALLY completed the new 4-lane section that had been in the planning stages for some 30 years. Woohoo! Driving to and from Rochester will finally be as safe as driving elsewhere on 14 in southern MN.

    According to some cursory research, the longest straight road in the US is in Oklahoma on Highway 412 between Boise City and Guymon–65.5 miles. That source ( also claims another perfectly straight section of the road is 47.7 miles long.

    ND Highway 46 has a stretch that’s impressively long at 31 miles, but sorry, no trophy for our neighbors to the west. 😦

    Chris in Owatonna
    *wondering why he cares. 🙂 *

    Liked by 6 people

  6. Regarding my comment about the edge of Lake Agassiz at the Buffalo/Alice exit. A drama teacher at our local college thought that Buffalo Alice would be a wonderful character in a western, like Calamity Jane, I guess.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Possibly part Native American—hard to be sure. Alice is a recluse who lives out somewhere, but few people know where, exactly. She just turns up every so often. Buffalo Alice has a remarkable, uncanny connection with wildlife and all animals. And despite her remote and unconnected domicile, Alice knows things.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. She mostly eschews leather apparently because of her affinity with animals. Her clothing tends to be castoffs and thrift store finds except for the sweatshirt from SUNY Buffalo she always wears.

          Liked by 3 people

  7. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Friday afternoon I had my Moderna Booster shot, and yesterday morning I was down for the count until my immune system settled down. This past year has been a wild mix of vaccinations among the flu shots, the Shingrix vaccine, and the COVID shots and my body is pushing back. This morning I awoke feeling much better so I think I can manage a quick response.

    For several years in the mid 80s I drove I90 between Fairmont and Sherburne, MN almost daily. It was straight and windy on a good day, and straight, cold and icy on the tough days. The wind could blow the car out of its lane on icy days. I have mentioned before that the car involved was a 197? Volkswagen Bug in terrible condition and without heat or a defroster. And then there were the semis which blew by. I do not miss any of that.

    That stretch of interstate highway also parallels train tracks that had some mighty long trains traveling night and day. The sounds of the train whistle travelled for miles, unimpeded by hills or trees.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. Robin and I had so little reaction to either the initial vaccinations or the booster that it caused us to wonder if we had really received the vaccine.

          Liked by 3 people

  8. I just got back from a trip to the downtown Minneapolis Trader Joe’s. I thought I’d get a jump on the last-minute Thanksgiving shopping. Big mistake. Apparently there is a football game going on. Who knew?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. When I lived in Wisconsin the route home was south from Hudson on County Road F, which was a pretty straight shot most of the way. About three and a half miles. Mostly, though, the roads I travel keep running into lakes and rivers, so twists and turns are the norm.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The Rolling English Road

      Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
      The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
      A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
      And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
      A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
      The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

      I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
      And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
      But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
      To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
      Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
      The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.

      His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
      Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
      The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
      But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
      God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
      The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.

      My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
      Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
      But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
      And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
      For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
      Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.

      – G. K. Chesterton

      Liked by 5 people

  10. About fields, but in the middle of a summer’s night: “As he had learned in his childhood, the fields and pastures in the middle of a summer night under the pale blue of a one-third moon was a separate place, a separate peace from the real world: if, in the light/dark which disguised depth and form, you denied the brain’s demand for visual truth; if you imbibed the air of warmth and chill, damp and dust; If you inhaled the sounds which denied their source; if you brushed your hands across the silky grass tops, savoring the random bite of a prickly weed; if you turned circles too slowly to get dizzy but enough times to to relinquish orientation; if you leaned back to follow the spilled sugar of the milky way running from horizon to hill top; if you let the mass of stars, which were the signature of otherness, declare you a mot on a flit of dust in the corner of the eye of a gentle giant who was servant to an infinite fire-breathing dragon.”

    Liked by 4 people

  11. The longest straight road is sort of a picky question. I have driven many roads that are close to straight but for slight deviations. West across both Dakotas. Many highways acorssd the west. But driving them fighting boredom, they were close enough to straight for me. There is a highway across Nevada and into Utah they nearby brag is the loneliest drive in America. They ignore Alaska in that. I have driven that road but Anchorage to Fairbansk is much lonelier.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I drove to Rochester and back today. I don’t think any of it comes close to being straight for any record length but is not a very interesting drive. The only thing that made it a little challenging was that the wind was really blowing and my car doesn’t weigh very much so there were a couple of white knuckle moments.

    Liked by 3 people

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