Category Archives: Nature

Day of Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving.

  • I’m grateful that thanks to Mother Nature, I don’t have to worry about any more raking for awhile. Or pruning.
  • I’m thankful that although I don’t have a working chimney right now (until repairs in spring – maybe), I do have a working chimney liner, thus heat.
  • I’m grateful that Nonny is still spry and vibrant, and coming to visit in a couple of weeks.
  • I’m thankful that YA’s foot is healing nicely and she can now get around on her own, drive and go back to work.
  • I’m grateful that most of my friends and loved ones afflicted with the big “c” have beat it back with a stick and am thankful that this community was able to surround the friend and loved one who didn’t with caring and support.
  • I’m thankful that I haven’t thrown my new cell phone out the window (yet).
  • I’m grateful that usually once a day a stranger shows me kindness (even if it’s just stopping on Lyndale so I can either pull into or out of my driveway).

Enough about me. Anything good on your grateful list this year?

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?

Last Witness

Nick Clifford, the last remaining member of the team of 400 who carved Mount Rushmore, has passed away. He was 98.  Clifford got the job as a teenager because he already knew how to use a jack hammer.

Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor behind the monument chose four presidents to symbolize key events in US history. Washington represents its birth, Jefferson epitomizes its growth, Lincoln illustrates its preservation and Roosevelt embodies its development.

Leaving aside the issue of defacing a lovely mountain, what four heads do YOU think should be jack hammered on Mount Rushmore?

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 Hot Jupiters

I was catching up on some of my favorite science vlogs and found one on SciShow Space talking about “Hot Jupiters”. These are gaseous giant planets that orbit so closely to their sun that their year would be just a few days on Earth.  Apparently Hot Jupiters are fairly easy to detect but still not fully understood. All this aside, my first thought was “that would be a good band name”.  The Hot Jupiters.

Come across any good band names of your own recently?

Among Us?

Photo credit: Miriam Espacio

Ten years after the UFO incident in Roswell, New Mexico, it was on this day in 1957 that the most impressive UFO sighting happened in Levelland, Texas; the impressiveness was due to the large number of witnesses over the short period of time. Ufologists continue to argue that the Air Force investigation was too short and that the phenomenon was NOT ball lightning.

A few days later, Jim Lee, who was the head of the Interplanetary Space Patrol (perhaps named after a popular TV show of the day “Space Patrol”) stated that the Levelland sighting was indeed a visit from outer space and predicted that UFOs would soon begin to come in large numbers, large enough that there would be no more non-believers. Lee’s group pushed the agenda that humans could work and collaborate with our visitors via radio waves.

“The days of the skeptics are numbered, and they had better find a good place to hide away for even the entire populations of our large cities will see these ships as they come in from outer space. They will soon come in large numbers for all to see and the skeptic will not have a leg left to stand on. There is no need for alarm over the situation at this time.”

While I try to keep an open mind about things I can’t prove or dis-prove, I’m pretty sure that if we are visited by extra-terrestrials, it probably won’t go well. Considering how many problems we have to solve just to get to Mars, any travelers that could get themselves here would be so far ahead of us technologically (or magically if that’s your bent) that they could squash us like bugs.  That’s just my opinion, of course.

But the bottom line is that Jim Lee was wrong… we’re still not seeing UFOs in great numbers, in all our large cities.

Have you ever had a prediction of yours come true?

Reading Mystery

A few years ago, back when a librarian needed to check out your books for you, the older red-haired librarian at the desk (Anna would know her name) said “My, you have a wide set of topics here.” I don’t remember what I was checking out, but I do read across a fairly wide swath.  Science fiction, fiction, mystery, a variety of science, biography, history, philosophy, fantasy, kid lit, thrillers.  About the only thing I don’t read is romance if I can help it.

It was about that time that I started keeping track of how I got the idea to read a particular book. I have several categories for this – my book clubs, BookPage from the library, Writer’s Almanac, my various “lists” (English Monarchs, Presidents, Newbury & Caldecott winners, etc.) and the Trail. By far the biggest category is O&A (Out & About), a catch-all for everything else.

I’m pretty good at remembering where I find a title that I want to read, but every now and then I am surprised when I go to my hold shelf in the library. I knew from looking at my online account that there was an InterLibrary Loan titled Meetings with Remarkable Trees waiting for me.  It had the sound of poetry and many of the poetry books I look for end up coming from other libraries: I assumed it was poetry.  So imagine my surprise it’s a lovely photo book with essays about specific trees.  It’s fascinating but I’m not sure where the idea came from?  It’s not exactly the kind of thing that you find in the mainstream.

So I’ve decided it must be something that was recommended to me on the Trail. It’s about nature, so it might be Clyde (he is usually my go-to for travel books, but it seems like something he might like).  But it has absolutely lovely nature photos, so it might be the kind of thing recommended by Steve or Cynthia or BiR.  It’s a little off the beaten path, which has Bill written all over it.  The author is originally from Ireland, which means that it might have been recommended by PJ, who has a broader range of non-American authors.  I’ve haven’t gone back to the Trail and done a search: for now it’s a nice little mystery.

Do you do well at taking advice? Or do you prefer to GIVE advice?