Monday, January 26, 2015

Is A Dollar A Head Enough Profit

Wayne in NW Arkansas made a good post and reminded me of my childhood where we always raised hogs until the blizzard of 78 when dad finally gave up on hogs.

"I went to the bottoms this evening to check on my wheat and for some reason got to thinking about things in the past and are the turmoil right now in cattle. Years ago when I was growing up my uncle always kept at least of thousand head of hogs on feed all the time and he thought he had to be full no matter what the markets were doing.

I don't remember the year but things were awefully thin on hogs at the time and I remember grandpa telling my uncle it just wasn't worth all the risk. There were lots of guys heading sitting empty and I remember a friend of my uncles was buying every feeder pig he could come across. He had hogs every where I mean his lots were full and he would put hogs out with anybody and everybody that would custom feed them for him. My uncle And him were talking one day and my uncle was saying just how bad things were and how little they were making and the guy told him if I make a $1 a head I will be happy.

My uncle said DO WHAT? He said yep for every hundred thousand head of hogs I run I just made another $100,000 and he said that's just fine with me. I haven't thought of that story in years but it just came to me tonight while I was riding around but I can't seem to remember his name. I started buying calves when I was around 11 years old and I always tried to make a $100 a head. I remember one year I was probably around 16 or so I had bought quite a few that year and only made $50 a head after everything and I was just pretty bummed about it.

I'll never forget talking to my uncle about it and he said you didn't lose and you made a little and your gonna be able to go again so you did pretty dang good as he said a profit is a profit no matter how small it may be. I guess my point is even though the margins might get tight there are thousands of guys across this country that would just love to be in the game and we are on the starting team. I do one thing for certain that there is nothing ever certain in feeding livestock.

My uncle eventually quit feeding hogs and just concentrated on cattle but he did buy in one last time. I don't remember the year but hogs got to nothing. My uncle bought some nice feeders pigs for IIRC $4 a head and he said there was no way he could lose. He said when he left the guys place he felt guilty for buying them so cheap but that's what the market was at. I remember he fed those hogs out and when he got done he lost $40 a head and still hadn't paid himself back for the corn he pulled out of the bin."

When you choose your pork or other meat at the supermarket, remember this story.  I would sure like the manure and I loved raising hogs but that has all changed in the last 20 years.

The pig project is still one of the best ways to teach a rural youth responsibility and the risk is less than the rewards.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Think Happy Thoughts

Becky and the kids prepared a neat chemo bag for me while I was in the hospital.  In it is a Mason jar full of happy thoughts I want to share with you.

Remember when I got stuck in the apple tree?  Liam(he could have fallen 30 ft real easily)

Rides on the Mule and squirting Sable with squirt guns

Our little secret of monkeys jumping on the bed...

Sneaking into your bed when you stay at our house

"When it rains it pours but you can cook your smores indoors" when our campfire got rained out
from Grandma Lu, also known as Farm Grandma

How much fun we had watching Alexander's Horrible, Terrible, Really Bad Day

We laughed so hard we didn't make it to the bathroom in time!

Hop in the car and go to Bob Evans down on the farm!  Little farmer breakfast!

Finn learning to pick corn and eating all the yummy vegetables!

Gee, Rocky, you crashed into a tree!  Our Rocky and BullWinkle cartoon imitations

Oh for the love of Winkle's, Finn's new saying

Winkle Winkle little star, how in the world did you crash your car?

These are the thing that keep Grandpa Winkle positive.  The bag of goodies has done him a lot of good since December 15!

If I was a rich man I would take all 12 grand children on a Disney cruise right now!  I said that in the Cafe this morning and a farmer answered, Ed if you have 12 grand children you are already a rich man!

Have a great day and keep thinking happy thoughts,

Ed Winkle

Saturday, January 24, 2015

What States Produce That People Eat

I found this neat map of what people really eat if you strip away the livestock feed and ethanol, state by state.

Driving through the farmlands of Iowa looking for fresh food to eat is a lot like sailing through the ocean looking for fresh water to drink. In the ocean, you're surrounded by water that you can't drink; in Iowa, you're surrounded by food you can't eat.

Even though Iowa generates the second-highest amount of revenue of any state off its crops -- $17 billion in 2012 -- the overwhelming majority of that comes from field corn, which is destined mostly for animal feed and ethanol, not dinner plates.

I came upon this startling fact while trying to answer a seemingly simple question: What crop generates the most money in each state? The Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistical Service produces reams of data on such matters, so I figured the question would be easy to answer.

But it turned out to be trickier than I thought, because when I pulled the data, I realized that in most states, the biggest crop was one that was used mostly for animal feed. For well over half the states, field corn, soybeans or hay was the crop that generated the most cash in 2012, the latest year for which data are available. Though a small share of some of these crops does eventually get eaten by humans, in the form of things like soy lecithin and high-fructose corn syrup, most of it is fed to animals raised for meat or dairy.

To get more meaningful results, I decided to strip away those crops that are used largely for animal feed, and focus on crops that people actually eat. I plotted the results on a map, which revealed some surprising trends:

You quickly learn that most states we are familiar with has wheat as their number one human consumed crop.  That is true where I live and soft red winter wheat is turned into bakery products.  We really don't consume that much corn and soy unless we eat meat and dairy products.

Take a look at the lower map and see how much we grow for feed and fuel!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Your No-Till Maybe Better Than Scientific Plots

In the December 2014 issue of No-Till Farmer, they looked at a worldwide analysis of over 5,000 side-by-side, tillage-system observations found in 610 peer-revived studies. In this evaluation of studies conducted around the world, researchers at the University of California-Davis determined that no-till did not yield as well as corn grown under more intensive tillage practices.

That got me to wondering why successful no-till growers seem to obtain better results than the yields reported from numerous small-scale research studies conducted by university folks and some seed and fertilizer suppliers. To provide some answers, the No-Till Farmer editors asked a few university educators, consultants and no-till growers for their thoughts.

 If you’re like me, you’ll be amazed at how candid the responses were from these educators and growers.

1. Researchers are all over the board when it comes to defining reduced-tillage practices, which make comparisons extremely difficult. Terms such as no-till, reduced-till, mulch-till or conservation tillage are used very loosely, and many times the scientists don’t bother to explain how much or what kind of soil disturbance occurred.

2. Some small-scale plots measure only 10- by 30-feet to remove statistical and spatial inconsistencies. Yet, tractor and planter tire traffic can cover up to 40% of the area, and reduced traffic is among the items that makes no-till shine. Even when compaction occurs, the scientists don’t want to mess with a research study’s protocol.

 3. Small-scale plots don’t allow for the use of real-world-sized equipment. As an example, research done in an Illinois farm situation found plots with 1,000-foot row lengths had a corn yield difference of only 4 bushels per acre compared with a 29-bushel difference within 50-foot rows.

As Keith told me on the phone yesterday, don't forget we are dealing with at least 7 different major algorithms in farming and science is trying to isolate one and may not even do that well.

Don't give up what your doing.  I got my APH yields recently and wow we have been blessed and doing a good job.

I am never content with that though I give thanks.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Blog On Chemo

If you find helpful stories about fighting cancer, send them to me like this one sent to me.

"Very soon after you find out you have cancer, you will be faced with chemotherapy. As bad as “chemo” is, the good news is that it seems to work better now than ever before at eliminating or reducing cancer in your body due to improvements in the amount of poison you can be given without your body shutting down.

The amount of “chemo” you should have is a guessing game of sorts because everyone’s body is different. The doctor figures out how much should kill you and then backs off of that strength a bit. While an exaggeration, there is most likely some truth to it. For me it is easier to comprehend what is happening to you in such simplistic terms.

In retrospect, the biggest problem I had with chemotherapy and radiation was not knowing what to expect. Because I did not know what to expect, I did things wrong and I was not as prepared as I could have been. While the process will never be easy for anyone, there are some things you can do that may make it easier or at least not make it worse.

You might wonder how it is possible for there to be things that you can do better than even the doctors who are trained to deal with “chemo”. Doctors and their oncology staff do care and try to help all they can. However, they are more reactive to your problems than proactive. This is because they have not had chemotherapy or radiation themselves. Also, each person is different and reacts differently. Only you know your own body. They see certain types of things happen to people, but they don’t know if those things will happen to you. They don’t always remember to tell you what can happen, or perhaps since they have not experienced them, they do not describe them in a way that causes you to be concerned and to react or plan properly.

My doctor and nurse were primarily concerned with the type of chemotherapy I would be receiving, delivering it and monitoring my health in the process. They were not as concerned with helping me AVOID certain types of problems or MANAGING them better. I am not suggesting that they did not care. They cared very much. But they were very busy handling lots of other patients. Their job was to get you set up, deliver the chemo, and send you on your way. They simply did not have time for much hand holding or discussions about what was to come. Much of my early helpful advice came from other patients who did understand and gave practical guidance on how to live through the process.

My cancer was a soft tissue sarcoma (liposarcoma) near my right arm pit. The tumor presented itself as a lump in my armpit. It was surgically removed with a wide margin.

Chemotherapy was set for six cycles lasting one week each (with about two weeks break in between cycles).Each cycle was one full week, 24 hours per day. I was dropped off and picked up at the oncologist’s office each day where I was given chemo and anti-nausea drugs by IV and after half a day sent home with a bag of chemo and a pump. I also was given thirty-some radiation treatments while I was on chemo. These began about a month into my chemo regime.

So, here is what I have learned. These are things that would have helped me personally with MY REGIME which might be different from yours, both in duration or types of chemicals used. Still, I truly believe that many of these things would help anyone and so I am listing them here for your review. Good luck."


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The One Percent

"Billionaires and politicians gathering in Switzerland this week will come under pressure to tackle rising inequality after a study found that – on current trends – by next year, 1% of the world’s population will own more wealth than the other 99%.

Ahead of this week’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in the ski resort of Davos, the anti-poverty charity Oxfam said it would use its high-profile role at the gathering to demand urgent action to narrow the gap between rich and poor.

The charity’s research, published today, shows that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the best-off 1% has increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014, while the least well-off 80% currently own just 5.5%.

Oxfam added that on current trends the richest 1% would own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.

Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International and one of the six co-chairs at this year’s WEF, said the increased concentration of wealth seen since the deep recession of 2008-09 was dangerous and needed to be reversed."

I wonder if much has changed over the years.  A handful of people controlled the world for most of mankind's history and they still do, at least financially.  We all know that can be gone in a heartbeat and you can't take it with you.

It's what you do with it that really matters and Oxfam is following that.  Some rich people have really made a difference in people's lives and I assume many do not.

I think all you and I can hope to do is to make a difference with what we have.  The people I know and deal with are that way.  They definitely make a difference with what they have and I keep trying!

If you suddenly had an extra million dollars today, what would you do with it?  Five years ago I would have said more farming and today I am not so sure.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Khan And Mulvaney Shake up NNTC

URBANA, Ill. – In the chemical age of agriculture that began in the 1960s, potassium chloride (KCl), the common salt often referred to as potash, is widely used as a major fertilizer in the Corn Belt without regard to the huge soil reserves that were once recognized for their fundamental importance to soil fertility. Three University of Illinois soil scientists have serious concerns with the current approach to potassium management that has been in place for the past five decades because their research has revealed that soil K testing is of no value for predicting soil K availability and that KCl fertilization seldom pays.

U of I researchers Saeed Khan, Richard Mulvaney, and Timothy Ellsworth are the authors of "The potassium paradox: Implications for soil fertility, crop production and human health," which was posted on October 10th by Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.

A major finding came from a field study that involved four years of biweekly sampling for K testing with or without air-drying. Test values fluctuated drastically, did not differentiate soil K buildup from depletion, and increased even in the complete absence of K fertilization. Explaining this increase, Khan pointed out that for a 200-bushel corn crop, "about 46 pounds of potassium is removed in the grain, whereas the residues return 180 pounds of potassium to the soil—three times more than the next corn crop needs and all readily available."

Khan emphasized the overwhelming abundance of soil K, noting that soil test levels have increased over time where corn has been grown continuously since the Morrow Plots were established in 1876 at the University of Illinois. As he explained, "In 1955 the K test was 216 pounds per acre for the check plot where no potassium has ever been added. In 2005, it was 360." Mulvaney noted that a similar trend has been seen throughout the world in numerous studies with soils under grain production.

Recognizing the inherent K-supplying power of Corn Belt soils and the critical role of crop residues in recycling K, the researchers wondered why producers have been led to believe that intensive use of KCl is a prerequisite for maximizing grain yield and quality. To better understand the economic value of this fertilizer, they undertook an extensive survey of more than 2,100 yield response trials, 774 of which were under grain production in North America. The results confirmed their suspicions because KCl was 93 percent ineffective for increasing grain yield. Instead of yield gain, the researchers found more instances of significant yield reduction.

The irony, according to Mulvaney, is that before 1960 there was very little usage of KCl fertilizer. He explained, "A hundred years ago, U of I researcher Cyril Hopkins saw little need for Illinois farmers to fertilize their fields with potassium," Mulvaney said. "Hopkins promoted the Illinois System of Permanent Fertility, which relied on legume rotations, rock phosphate, and limestone. There was no potash in that system. He realized that Midwest soils are well supplied with K. And it's still true of the more productive soils around the globe. Potassium is one of the most abundant elements in the earth's crust and is more readily available than nitrogen, phosphorus, or sulfur. Farmers have been taught to think that fertilizers are the source of soil fertility—that the soil is basically an inert rooting medium that supports the plant."

I have to point out that my soil and tissue tests were low in many nutrients, including potassium and spreading these nutrients have increased our yield and profit.

I do know fellows who raise a good crop who have not spread potash for 10-20 years.

Who is correct?