Category Archives: Business

Billboards, Posters, Dogs

The first thing I do each time I check into a hotel is to check out the view from the window. This is particularly interesting when I am in a city or airport hotel – as the variety is so great.  In Peru, the first of our hotels was literally just across four lanes of traffic from the Lima Airport so I was happy that my room actually faced the parking lot on the city side and not the actual airport.  (Although I have to admit that it didn’t really matter as I spent very little time in this room!)

One of the things that I’ve noticed about many cityscapes worldwide is that many countries have not yet abandoned the billboard the way that we have here in the states, although I don’t think I’ve EVER seen anything like the giant six-pack of Coke that was in my view. The other thing that is very common is posters plastered around business entrances.  In Peru, the zoning laws are spotty so you can have business and residences crowded together, making it likely that you’ll be looking at posters for all kinds of goods and services as you approach your home.

The other noticeable difference is the large numbers of stray dogs that roam around many of the cities in Peru (although not as much in Lima). Most of the dogs I saw seemed not only well-fed but well-behaved.  And very nonchalant about their lifestyle.  You could find dogs sleeping in all kinds of places where  you would think they would be skittish.  This dog decided to plop itself down to snooze among a group of Japanese tourists in the train station – as if he were just part of the luggage:

Tell me about the view from your window!

Preparedness?

It’s Tuesday afternoon and folks all around me are panicking. In the last hour I’ve overheard at least 5 different conversations about how much snow we’re likely to get in the next 24 hours.  Our boss has declared tomorrow a “work-at-home” day so the office will be officially closed.  YA has texted me to please stop on the way home to pick up a couple of boxes of macaroni and cheese.  Even Nonny has called from St. Louis to tell me she’s glad she’s coming to visit in December this year and not this week. And I see from the Weather Channel that the coming storm now has a name – Dorothy.

I just can’t get worked up about this. There have been many times that extreme weather has been forecast and then never arrives.  Or arrives in a dribble.   I’ll take my laptop home just in case and will probably stop and get YA’s mac and cheese, but I don’t think I’ll be investing any emotional energy in a winter storm.  I live in Minnesota – we get winter storms.  Snow shovels, snow blower, salt – all at the ready for whenever they are needed at this time of year.

How will you be entertaining yourself if the big snow comes?

2019 Crop Wrap Up

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

I hear lots of farmers saying “2019,” and they sigh, “It is what it is. And it needs to be over.”  Yep.

For me, it was December 15th, 2018 when the guy ran into me and totaled my car, and from there it was the leg infection and the rain and now the kidney stone and this year just needs to be over and I’m going to start fresh on December 16th 2019! With Jury duty!  A whole new experience!

I was big on having ‘Experience Adventures’ when I was younger. I quit using that term at some point, but I’m still up for an adventure or experience and they keep coming. Attitude is everything. 

Got the soybeans out. Yield was terrible. Mostly just the weather caused that. No one had great yields, but some were OK. I had that one field that was short. The one I said made me sick to my stomach every time I looked at it. That entire field yielded 89 bushels. Well heck. That was a 10 acre field. Should have done 45 bushels each ACRE! Should have had half a semi load from there! Should have had 450 Bushels! I had some fields here at home that ran 40 – 50 bushels / acre. Don’t know what was up with that one field. Planted same day, same variety of bean. Too wet, too many deer eating the tops off, too cool… it is what it is.

Overall, my beans averaged 28 bushels / acre which is about half of what they should have done. Crop insurance will kick in and cover some of the yield loss. At least they got combined before they got snowed on. Price was on the lower side. But test weight was good and soybeans are almost always dry enough that they don’t need to be dried so all that was good.

Corn was done last week. I knew the yield looked good. Which is pretty amazing considering again, it was planted late, it was cool, it rained, it had windstorms, and then it froze early. It averaged 167 bushels / acre. Above average for me. It doesn’t make any sense considering everything done wrong, but it is what it is. With the raccoons pulling stalks down and wasting the corn, deer knocking them down and eating the corn, and turkeys pulling up young plants, it’s a wonder any survives. Every night you’d see deer out there eating. And as I rode in the combine and he finished the last field, we chased 6 raccoons out of the last rows.

And it was wet, but we knew that. The combine was saying 25% moisture. Delivered corn to the elevator (where it really matters) and the loads were between 24% and 28% moisture. It has to be dried to 15% to store it and that cost me $0.50 / bushel to dry it down. Cost a few thousand dollars for drying. Price wasn’t great to start with. It is what it is. A good year, better soils, less deer, it’s not unusual to average 200+ bushels / acre on some farms in some places. The “Pie-in-the-sky” goal is 300. Takes lots of management to make that happen.

My dad, before hybrid seeds, got 50 bu/Acre so he’d be impressed with the 167.

Crop insurance may kick some in as a price insurance coverage. (because I can buy “revenue” insurance too. NOTE: In fact, the agent was here. No payment on corn because even though price was low, the yield was good. They always get ya).

It froze before I could get any fall fieldwork done. I thought maybe with the warmer weather the last few days maybe it would go; I hooked the chiselplow up and ran out and tried and no. Three inches of frost yet and I should have known but I would be mad at myself if I didn’t try.  2019 – It is what it is.

I’m wondering if the warmer weather the last few days might have helped take the frost out? But it rained too and it’s too muddy to try. Oh well. It is what it is. Next year will be better.

I got some cool pictures of the combine at night.

In the end we didn’t make as much money as we do some years. But I’ve been saying we’ll be OK. And we will; We won’t go broke.

The difference between me and the really big farmers is a matter of a few more zero’s on our checks AND bills.

I asked Craig, who was combining my corn, how much they had left to do. He grunted. “A lot” he said. Later on I asked again. About 900 acres he figured. Yikes.

And of course, the propane shortage we had wasn’t helping but I think that’s passed. Even the coop elevator was shut down because their natural gas was turned off. No one had ever heard of that before. Forty years, no one has heard of that. Craig said they use 1500 gallons of LP / day to dry. One day they got 500 gallons. So they just have to wait.

One guy I watch on YouTube (Mn Millennial Farmer) has a huge, multi-thousand gallon tank and contracts his LP for the year. Yep, he has a contract, he just can’t get it delivered either. He wanted a semi-full, got ½ a load.

I’ve heard it was Illinois’ fault. They usually are a month ahead of us combining corn and they don’t usually need to dry it. And it’s not usually this cold this time of year. It is what it is.

Next year will be better!   Right??

The Beginning of (Computer) Time

Today’s post comes to us from Barbara in Rivertown!

This morning, we had a young man named Paul come to help us with our computer – just a few little things that we might have been able to learn for ourselves with some internet searches, help links, etc. but WHO HAS THE PATIENCE FOR THAT? He was probably here a half hour, and I handed him a twenty… he thought it was a bit much, but it’s the best $20 I’ve spent in a while.

I was remembering back to the beginning of my computer use, in (I guess) the mid-nineties. The internet still didn’t really have ads (!), at least nothing I can remember. About all I did was to use an online encyclopedia, look at the library catalog, and email. There were a couple of amazing things about emailing with aol.com – which ‘most everyone had at the time. If memory serves: 

1) If you caught it in maybe half an hour, you could “delete” – remove – an email you’d just sent to another aol.com subscriber. I didn’t use this a lot, but came in handy when I’d caught a major error.

2) I hadn’t yet needed to keep any emails, and certainly not sort them into folders. Whatever emails were there in your inbox, AOL would delete after two weeks – kept you on your toes! [Who knows when I started doing folders? Now there are folders with hundreds of old emails that I should go through and delete.]

So, a couple of questions:   Am I dreaming – was aol.com really like that?

What do you remember about your very early computer days?

Sunken Treasure

In the news this week, underwater treasure hunters brought up close to 1,000 bottles of a rare cognac and other liqueurs. In 1917, the Kyros was sunk by a German U-boat on its voyage from France to St. Petersburg.  The crew all survived the sinking but the liquid gold went to the bottom. The wreck was discovered in 1999 but wasn’t accessible until now.

The treasure hunters, Ocean X Team and iXplorer spent over a week with submersibles and robots to salvage the bottles, 600 De Haartman cognac and 300 Benedictine liqueur, which have been sitting for the last 102 years beneath 250 feet of cold Baltic Sea water. The Benedictine liqueur brand now belongs to Bacardi and the explorers are working with them and researching the possible worth of their find.  They say most of the bottles appear to be intact.

Would you be Long John Silver or Jim Hawkins?

Brrrrr…..

There have certainly been better weeks than this. Boiler went out on Wednesday.  After two days of nagging the gas company (and running the little space heaters pretty much 24/7), the service guy finally showed up and fixed the boiler.  Then he said that he couldn’t leave the boiler or the water heater turned on since the “chimney liner isn’t venting properly.”  I didn’t even know what a chimney liner was.  Of course, the repair company protocol is not to recommend anybody.  At all.  This meant a few hours trying to figure out WHO to call and then trying to find someone who actually has availability.  Finally got somebody who will come out first thing this morning.  Hopefully this means we’ll have heat and hot water tomorrow.

Tell me a funny story – I need the laughs!

Retro Bribery

The news today is that McDonald’s has decided to re-introduce some of their retro Happy Meal toys. To celebrate the 40th birthday of Happy Meals, they are bringing back some of the toys that were most popular in the past.  This means some little Beanie Babies, a Mulan figurine and even a Tamagotchi.  I remember my sister waiting in line repeatedly for the little Beanie Baby toys from McDonalds for her kids; I expect we will see more of the same with this promotion.

When YA was young, our go-to restaurant was Noodles, who didn’t do kids’ meals or toys. McDonalds still isn’t the most vegetarian-friendly place and it certainly wasn’t 24 years ago.  Same with Burger King, Wendy’s and the rest.  I do remember that Taco Bell (our other favorite) had a kid’s meal w/ a toy, but Child didn’t like the inclusions, so she never got the kids’ meal.  And if there was an occasional cheap plastic toy, it usually went in the trash when we got home.  Two big dogs and little cheap plastic toys are not a good combination.  (Side story.  When Child was little I had told all my nearest and dearest that I didn’t want Barbies in the house.  Not because I have anything intrinsically against a Barbie doll, but because they always come with lots of little bits; Child was still too little to be held responsible for picking up lots of little toy accessories and I didn’t want the dogs ingesting them.  That Solstice, middle sister sent an Arial doll.  Little coconut bra, little comb, little Sebastian and little Flounder.  When I questioned my sister, she said “but it isn’t a Barbie”.  We donated it.)

Long story short, it makes me wonder that our society thinks we can’t ask our kids to sit through a short meal without being bribed by a toy and now retro toys.   Personally I save bribery for much bigger issues!!

Have you ever had to coerce someone with toys/treats/gifts?