Category Archives: work

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??

Armadillos!!!!

I am a calendar person. I love them.  I have multiple calendars at work: one online, my Daytimer, a year-long calendar on the wall so I can look ahead and a month-at-a-time –print out on which I cross off each day as it goes by.  I started doing this last year, to count down to a program that was driving me crazy and after the program was over, I just kept doing it (I assume one of these days I will decide I really don’t need to do this anymore.)

At home I have a pretty calendar on the fridge, a handmade calendar in my bedroom that attaches to a wooden pedestal and a birthday list in my studio that “says” it’s a calendar, but it’s just a listing by month of birthdays so I think that might be stretching it. I also keep a few things on my phone calendar.

In addition to having birthdays listed on the “calendar” in my studio, I also keep birthdays in my Daytimer. This means that once a year I go through the old Daytimer pages and copy the birthdays over to new Daytimer pages.  It’s a relaxing project; this year I used magenta ink.

As I was copying over the birthdays yesterday, I came across a notation on June 27 of this year that said “Armadillos”. It was written in big letters in the after-hours section of the day.  And it had several  exclamation marks and was highlighted!   I have no idea what this was about.  Was it a southwestern-themed bar that I was supposed to go to after work with colleagues.  Was it a concert that someone on the Trail mentioned?  Was it some National Geographic special I wanted to watch?  No clue.

Any idea why I wrote “Armadillos” in my Daytimer?

Again?

Well, the heat is finally back on. I’m not going to bore you all with the details but suffice it to say that six days without heat really brought out my need for comfort food.

On Thursday, YA made macaroni and cheese. Nothing fancy – just out of a box, but I had a few bites right out of the pan and it really hit the spot.  So on Friday, as I was waiting for what turned out to be the first of a series of boiler/chimney bad news, I decided to make a big batch of mac and cheese for the weekend.  I used my Instant Pot and instead of water, I used a box of vegetable broth that I had in the cabinet.  Then instead of cheddar, I used some pepper jack, a little mozzarella and a handful of shredded parmesan.  I wasn’t following a recipe – just punting.  It was really really good.  So I had mac and cheese for dinner.  Then for lunch on Saturday.  And Sunday.

So you’d think that by Monday I might be sick of mac and cheese? I would have thought so too.  But when the caterers showed up at my warehouse event to set up the mac & cheese bar, I wanted to just dive right into the big chaffing dish.  The mac & cheese bar had been my idea, but I hadn’t known how much I would personally want it myself.  There were lots of toppings on the bar (bacon, scallions, toasted breadcrumbs, etc.) but when the participants headed back to their hotel, I had a bowl without anything but the pasta and cheese.  If I’m counting correctly, that’s mac and cheese five days in a row!  And I still have some of the pepper jack dish in the fridge, so it might be six days in a row.  If YA doesn’t have any tomorrow, maybe I can make it seven days!

Do you like to adulterate your mac & cheese??

 

Getting Deposed

I am being deposed. No, I don’t mean thrown out of office or my job. I mean that I will be soon sitting in a room at a court house with four lawyers, their assistants, and a court reporter. I have been subpoenaed as an expert witness in a case  related  to my work.  Three of the lawyers will ask me questions. One will try to discredit me and my testimony, while the other two will like what I have to say.  The fourth lawyer is sent from the Attorney General’s office, since I am a State employee,  to help me out if needed.

My lawyer from the AG’s office is a very nice man who sent me a list of helpful hints for giving testimony and  who will  provide all the documents that I was ordered to bring to the hearing. I have testified in court many times before and have given at least one deposition, but it was nice to talk it over with him.  I am not a difficult witness, and I know how to behave on the stand. This made me think, though, what a thankless task it will be for the poor lawyer or lawyers who will prepare 45 for giving testimony and answering questions on the stand.  I can’t imagine it will be pretty.

Have you ever had to testify in court? Imagine you are a lawyer.  Think of some historical or literary characters and tell us how you would prepare them to testify in court. 

Work Friends

Last week was pretty dull for me at work, as two of my favorite floor mates were gone, one to Montana, and one to California.  They are Developmental Disability Case managers, and I have worked with them for 20 years. We tease, laugh, and help each other out. We only see each other at work.  Work is mere drudgery without them. We are all set to retire about the same time, and imagine ourselves waltzing out the door on our last day like Dorothy, the Scare Crow, and the Tin Man.

Tell about your best work buddies. What made them special?

The Strangest Thing I Ever Did See

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms.

I’ve lived long enough to see some remarkable things. Because I’ve spent so much time outdoors, most of my memorable experiences happened there. That can be frustrating. It is difficult—possibly impossible—to describe experiences to people whose life experiences don’t include much time outdoors. If you’ve never stood deep in a cattail marsh that is backlit by a low November sun . . . well, if you’ve never been there, I probably can’t make you understand what it is like.

Yet I can describe two of the most astonishing things I’ve ever seen. I’ve researched both of these experiences on the internet. Because they were  “rare” events, there isn’t a lot of documentation for them. By definition, rare events don’t happen often! I’ve confirmed that both of these events happen now and then. That gives me the comfort of knowing that my memories could be correct.

The first experience was an incredibly vivid aurora borealis display. We witnessed this show in June of 1973. My erstwife and I were living in the basement of a fly fishing tackle shop near Brule, Wisconsin. Brule is far removed from the bright lights that prevent most people from enjoying the night sky. While Brule isn’t as far north as some towns in Minnesota, it lies close enough to the Arctic Circle to offer frequent aurora displays.

This particular aurora was stunning. Every other Northern Lights display I’ve seen was isolated in a particular section of the sky, usually near the northern horizon. This display, by contrast, seemed centered directly overhead. It filled the sky, encircling us with excited light. Although this description belies the majesty of that aurora display, I’ve always compared that amazing display as a “Jello mold” that surrounded us with shafts of neon light. Imagine entering a snow globe and being totally enveloped in its beauty. It was like that.

Apparently, auroras like that one have the un-poetic name of “overhead displays.” Such displays do happen, but almost always in Arctic regions. That aurora was both intense and persistent. We wandered around for nearly an hour, heads tipped toward the heavens and our mouths open with astonishment, while the whole night sky rippled in every direction around us.

The other amazing sight happened just a year later, in June of 1974, in downtown Duluth. We were driving in a southwest direction on what used to be the main thoroughfare in the city (before the freeway was built through town). Humidity levels had been extremely high that day. A thunderstorm erupted, as heavy as any rainstorm I’ve experienced. Rain hammered down in sheets that reduced visibility to a few yards. Rivers of rain flowed down the street because the culverts could not accommodate that much water at once.

I glanced left as we descended a steep hill. Just as we passed, a manhole cover exploded and went spinning high in the air. Manhole covers weigh from 200 to 250 pounds. They don’t, as a general thing, go flying. But a sudden surge of rainwater in city sewers can build up enough pressure to blow them. About a block or two later, a second manhole lid blew and went flying as we drove past it. Both eruptions catapulted manhole covers skyward like cast iron tiddlywinks.

I recently checked the internet for confirmation of this. It is apparently common for water pressure to build up under a manhole cover, but the usual result is that the cover will flop up and down or “dance.” The internet offers several examples caught on video film. When a cover blows, it rarely goes high. That leads me to wonder if those two covers in Duluth sailed as high as I remember. Maybe the fact we were on a steep hill caused a torrent of water to suddenly explode under those two covers. I guess I’ll never know.

Have you seen something so astonishing you’ll never forget it?

Blessed Relief

My typical work day consists of seeing clients in therapy, doing formal psychological testing, consulting with other staff, going to meetings, doing paperwork, writing reports, answering and sending work-related emails, and taking care of whatever else my work place might throw at me.

In the midst of all this, I keep tabs on what is happening on my phone and my private laptop that I also have at work.  (I also check the  Blog for activity). My children and Husband are frequent texters. The main job for my private laptop is to provide Bluetooth connections to my sound bar so that I can listen to Classical MPR whenever I have a free moment while I do paperwork.

Throughout the day I also keep track of all the emails I get from the Regulatory Board of which I am the chair.  I can’t deal with the emails that arise when I am working, since that would be frowned upon, even though what I do on the Board is officially State business, and I am a State employee.  I understand the reasoning for this.

I typically get 10-20 emails from the Regulatory Board office each day.  I take care of them in the evening when I get home from work. There was a flurry of activity this morning, and then, blessed quiet this afternoon. I figured out that our Board secretary is taking a four day weekend to go camping.  What a relief!

I wish I were not so tied to my technology. As I read what I just wrote, I can’t believe I do all the things I just described. This just can’t be healthy!

How tied are you to technology? How do you set limits on it and on yourself?