Monday, September 1, 2014

Good Friends

Good friends are invaluable.  I am lucky to count more than a handful.  Actually, I am very blessed because "luck" is a blessing in disguise.  Maybe we need more training to identify our blessings?

I've talked about my involvement in Ohio State LEAD Class IV many times.  30 of us were selected for a two year, 60 day intensive look at leadership in agriculture.  That took us all over our state of Ohio, California and Western Europe.  It was a very rare and valuable experience for me, one that really has changed my life.

One of my classmates is a close friend and just left our place with a load of wheat on his semi tractor and trailer.  Even though he lives at the other end of the state, we have shared many valuable days together in the last 22 years.  We bounce a lot of ideas off each other.  We share our passions of no-till farming and family and a lot of other good things.

We were able to see a lot of our friends this Labor Day weekend.  Lots of us have the same concerns and are going through similar circumstances because of our age group and profession.

"In his discourse on friendship in the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle says: "For without friends, no one would choose to live though he had all other goods. Even rich men, and those in possession of office and of dominating power are thought to need friends most of all; for what is the use of such prosperity without the opportunity of beneficence, which is exercised chiefly and in its most laudable form towards friends? Or how can prosperity be guarded and preserved without friends?" He goes on to say that: "But it is not only necessary but also noble; for we praise those who love their friends, and it is thought to be a fine thing to have many friends; and again we think it is the same people that are good men and are friends."
Have a great Labor Day with your friends, I hope you find them among your family!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Grandma, Grandpa Tired

Yesterday our sweep auger broke so grandma and grandpa had to shovel on a semi load of wheat.  I really didn't think we could do it but we did.

We didn't do it by ourselves, we had a smallish 17 year old helping us.  He shoveled like a trooper and was very happy with his "hazard pay."  I don't let just anyone go inside a grain bin but we are down to the last 1000 bushels in a 30 foot bin and you can't get trapped.  You can get sick from grain dust or step into the auger hole but neither of those were much of a threat either.

I don't know how many people still shovel out bins but no one want I've met wants to do it.  We caught the hot weather cooler with a nice breeze which really helped.  I think God was in charge of this whole deal from the day I first walked in my neighbor's field of Lion wheat to certify it, to the day we planted it, to the days we harvested it.

One good thing it did is help grandma see what good seed it is.  She said that was some of the prettiest seed she'd ever seen in her life and she started shoveling as a child like it did.  Not every farm wife would enthusiastically volunteer that job like she did.  It rekindled my deep respect for her farm background and everything we've through together for 15 years now.  Heck of a way to build your relationship, isn't it?

Today we are both stiff and sore and will probably moan a little but I have a great sense of thanks due to our accomplishment.

Once again God took something bad and made something good out of it.

I wish I had a picture to show you but we were kind of caught up in the moment yesterday and taking pictures was not on our agenda.

We didn't think shoveling wheat was either 24 hours ago.

Ed Winkle

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bury Your Underwear???

Some people are going to extremes to prove a point!

"Men’s cotton briefs can serve the needs of science when buried in a field for a few weeks. It’s a takeoff on an agronomy soil test that uses cotton swatches to measure carbon consumption by microbes. Microbes living in soil with plenty of carbon, rich in organic matter to turn into energy, don’t have to eat the cotton. Bacteria in carbon-poor soil will eat what they can scavenge.

The “soiled underwear test” helped Clemson and North Carolina State University Extension specialists teaching a pasture ecology workshop make their points about the importance of healthy soil and how to build it from the grassroots down.

A cattle producer who understands how the interconnected web of life works can have healthier pastures that will be more resilient to drought and more productive over time.

“This is what happens when soil lacks carbon,” said Matt Poore, N.C. State animal scientist turned pasture ecologist.

Poore held up a pair of tidy-whiteys in tatters. Mostly it was the elastic waist and leg bands that remained. The demonstration showed the results of bacteria turning cotton into food. At the other end of the display, underwear that had been in carbon-rich soil were dirty but no worse for wear.

More than 15 cattle producers in the three-day course were impressed, though no one came forward for a closer look.

LOL, I thought it was tighty whities!  "No one came closer for a closer look!"

Question for the day, would your soil "eat" your underwear?

Ed Winkle

Friday, August 29, 2014

Harvest Moon

I wrote this a some time ago and found it today.  I've been wondering what the harvest moon will look like this year and how cold it will be.  It's been a very cool year until late when we finally got our normal summer heat.

"Last night was a beautiful, full harvest moon. The problem is, nothing is ready to harvest except the garden.

The garden has been a good one. My friend Steve saved it when he offered to come help till it up with that old fashioned big wheeled push culitvator. It took off ahead of the weeds and never looked back after that, around the first of July.

We have taken over 1000 pounds of produce out of the 30 by 40 piece of land. Took out two big buckets full of tomatoes last night and the freezer is filling with them and corn and beans.

The first planted crops need another 30 days and the late planted crops need 60. They won't get 60 so they will be whatever they are the day Jack Frost takes them.

Last year we were getting ready to shell dry corn, a first in history for me. 190 bu corn at 14% moisture in the middle of September. We lost a third of our potential yield due to drought and heat and still made out well.

Today you have to make out even better because everything we touch turns to gold. There has never been a place I couldn't put extra income to make the farm even better so everything is prioritized. Pushing dirt and cutting trees is first on the list this year, lost about 6 acres of production due to last year's work that never got finished."

September is a busy, outdoor month for us with lots of festivals and activities we like to attend.  This year the expenses have surpassed our income potential so its slow as she goes.

Our grandson Tyler reminds me of 3 years ago about this time when we were anticipating another harvest moon.

Ed Winkle

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Soil Health Explained

I just received this in email and thought it was a good topic.  What is soil health?  How do you explain it?

I have finally learned enough in 64 years I can tell the difference from poor soil health compared to good soil health.  I walk a lot of fields and dig more than many people and it is quite apparent to me what better soil structure is compared to less.

Basically, better soil structure is more crumbly, the plants and roots look healthy in it and it smells good.  It is often darker colored but don't let that fool you.  There are many lighter colored soils due to their formation that are really good soils compared to others.  Black does not mean better though it often is and it can stink because it is anaerobic.  Anaerobic is never good in soil.

Soil needs oxygen or atmospheric air which contains really little oxygen but enough to keep that soil from smelling anaerobic and make it more productive.  I've seen the most oxygenated soils at Keith's farm near Stockton, Iowa, but I have seen them other places, too.  Most fields do not have enough atmospheric air in them, in my opinion.

We all know that the way we farm affects our bottom line.  I don't talk to many people who don't need to address economics first.  Too often it is used to not do what is best for the soil which will make long term profit and sustainability and the answer is no-till.  Cover crops make no-till even better.

My friend Doug Galloway sent me this from Ray Ward in Nebraska.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sudden Death Syndrome In Soybeans

My friends across the US are reporting more SDS or Sudden Death Syndrome in soybeans each day.  I hear their concern, it knocked 15 pods per plant off my then record crop in 2008.  It was my first chance to break 100 bushels per acre and SDS prevented me from achieving my goal.

"Sudden death syndrome (SDS) of soybean was first discovered in 1971 in Arkansas and since then has been confirmed throughout most soybean-growing areas of the U.S. SDS is a fungal disease that also occurs in a disease complex with the soybean cyst nematode (SCN, Heterodera glycines). SDS is among the most devastating soil-borne diseases of soybean in the USA. When this disease occurs in the presence of SCN disease symptoms occur earlier and are more severe. Disease symptoms are most pronounced after flowering.

Symptoms and Signs

Sudden death syndrome (SDS) of soybean is typically not detectable on the foliage of plants until after the beginning of flowering. Under rare circumstances younger plants may show symptoms. It is always useful to compare the affected plants with healthy plants of the same field when making disease assessments.
Planting date is crucial to achieving big yields but also increases the risk of SDS.  I've never seen SDS in double crop soybeans, they are planted that late.
No-Till and cover crops are your best option.  I did both in 2008 but I planted so early and the varieties I planted were race horse varieties that could not hold up under the infection.  My inoculant/SabrEx strips yielded up to 15 bushels more that year so I have always highly recommended a good inoculant like ABM's along with their strains of trichaderma fungi in SabrEx.
Good drainage is always important but the easiest way to get enough atmospheric air into the soil I've found is gypsum.  1000 lbs or so every fall really decreases the incidence of SDS.
Every year brings its problems and this year it's Soybean Death Syndrome.
I don't think you will find any SDS in Keith's beans.  I was looking for this picture and it was dated today in 2006.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Farm Grandma

Kids say the darndest things.  Tyler called LuAnn and called her Farm Grandma.  What a term of endearment!  His little sister Arianna will be three Sunday so we hope to get together.  We have cases of Loganberry, Sahlen's hot dogs and cheese curds to share from our trip up north.

We are the quotable grand parents at the Peter's house.  "If it rains and if it pours, you can cook your smores indoors!"  That's what happened the last time Liam and Finn were here as the rain started to put out our campfire on the patio.  We used our gas oven to bake some smores as the rain was falling outside.

Corbin and Claire are showing their fine looking Hampshire pigs at the Highland County Fair next week.  Highland and Brown Counties have two of our favorite fairs which reminds me of the excellent Erie County New York Fair we saw recently.  I still need to download my pictures and share some of the best ones.

Half the grand kids are in school now and half are not.  There is still a lot of education to do either way.  You learn something every day, don't you?

We are unloading wheat this week as most of my Lion soft red winter wheat is going for seed.  Good seed lots of good soft reds are in short supply this year and we have had a lot of interest in it.  The first load looked excellent with no dust coming off it and little chaff.  We did a decent job of getting it harvested and stored correctly.

Our Clermont, Jacob and Apex soybeans are also in high demand and I hope they all get planted for seed, also.

Maybe Farm Grandma can help Farm Grandpa make some lemonade out of the market lemons this fall.

Ed Winkle