Had a great time last week at Red Brush Range east of Evansville IN, shooting with the Project Appleseed folks at a KD. KD stands for Known Distance, where we shoot at 100, 200, 300 and 400 yards using the old army qualification test of standing, standing to sitting, standing to prone, and prone. You fire 10 rounds at each target and have 2 minutes, 55 seconds, 65 seconds and 5 minutes respectively to get your rounds on the target.
Here I am in prone taking my sighters at 200 yards. This photo was taken off a video camera that had a program to age it so that is why it looks the way it does.
Those Army silhouette D targets look small at 200 yards and even smaller at 400!
We also got to take sighters at 500 yards but with the wind that picked up just before that course of fire I am not sure I learned much other than my come ups from 400 to 500 yards. I was shooting 69 gr Sierra BTHP bullets in a 1 in 9 twist barrel. My final score for the shoot was a respectable 28/40. Not at all bad for my very first KD. 32/40 is a Rifleman’s score.
Here is my scoring target from 400 yards. The guys in the pit take down your target and then mark or score your shooting on a green coat target like this one. Here I got a score of 5/10. I had one flyer and had four shots low in the 3, that doesn’t count at a KD.
I am really looking forward to the next KD. If you love shooting and would love to learn how shoot better and learn some history of the American Rifleman, then Project Appleseed is for you! For you southern Illinois folks, we have a shoot coming up in April at Marion You can look here to see about signing up!
Last week I mapped and soil sampled a farm that had been in CRP for many, many years. I think it has been in two sign ups, so about 20 years. There was also a 20 acre bean field across the road that was sampled as part of that farm. I pulled out three samples and took pictures of them to show the difference in an eroded clay knob in the CRP, slopping hill side in the CRP and semi flat area of the soybean field.
Below are the three pictures. The quiz is this……. Can you see the difference in drainage in the three pictures? Can you see the difference in OM in the three pictures? Can you see why this farm was in CRP and the other one was still farmed?
First the eroded clay knob in the CRP.
Next the slopping hill side in the CRP.
Last the Soybean field across the road.
Note: Graphic images included in this post………you have been warned!
(links in blog below are in bold text, please click on links and check them out)
I was able to live a dream last week south of Houston Texas, going hunting for feral hogs. But this was no ordinary hog hunt where you sit in a blind and wait for a single hog to come along, nor was it a trophy hunt. While there were hogs out there that would have been a trophy for some hunters, they were just wild pigs to us. No, our hunt was with Vertex Aviation Group as part of an aerial depreciation program to eliminate or remove wild or feral hogs in Texas.
Feral hogs in Texas, as well as other parts of the US, are tearing up farm land and residential neighborhoods with regularity. The damage they do in a short period of time is unbelievable Seeing that damage from the air is even more incredible. For those of us who remember having domesticated hogs in pastures, just multiply the wallows and damage by 100X and you get the picture.
My problem has been two-fold: I wanted to go on a hog hunt and shoot pigs, but I didn’t want to pay out the nose for a “sit and wait” hunt to kill a single pig. There are a log of hunting clubs and lodges that offer boar hunts for trophy pigs and those didn’t interest me. I kept reading about how bad the pig problem is becoming in areas of the country and how they were attempting to eradicate them but could not figure out why a hunt would cost so much money and more importantly why you were charged extra if you didn’t kill a trophy. I am not a trophy hunter.
I had been in contact with an acquaintance and farmer from Indiana who also is a gun writer and blogger, Frank W James, about hog hunts, and he gave me some options. One of which was Vertex! After reading about Frank’s hunt with Vertex and seeing their website and comments on their Facebook Page it became pretty obvious that Vertex fit the bill for the hunt I wanted to take.
Why Vertex? Really it was simple for this farm boy. The least important but playing a factor was that it was a hunt from a helicopter. I have never shot out of a helicopter so this shot up the excitement factor by 10x and would also allow me to learn a skill that I might not ever use again, but would allow me to mark it off my bucket list. Second on importance was that we got to shoot pigs, the plural of pig, meaning many, without a trophy requirement or penalty. Vertex supplies the firearms, Battle Rifle Company AR15/M4 platform 223 cal semi auto, and all the ammo as part of the hunt package. Again I liked this very much!
Plus Frank’s experience and story did a lot to sell me on Vertex.
But the thing that sold me on Vertex was 40% all the above things and 60% the safety class requirement.
The safety class requirement was what really sold me on this hunt. No other service requires safety training to hunt with them. This was important to me for several reasons. First, it showed that they had my best interest at heart making sure that I didn’t hurt myself, them, their equipment or those on the ground. Second it also showed me that they were serious about their jobs and about the service they provided to their landowners. Lastly, it also provided training on how the hunt would go, how to shoot and how to insure that we got the best bang for our paid hunt. With most of the staff of Vertex being former military, the safety culture is ingrained and is very evident in every deliberate action they take. I like that very much. I felt safe, had the up most confidence in Mike and his staff, and felt very comfortable and at ease the whole time I was in the chopper and around the firearms.
There is an art to safely handling an AR/M4 platform from a helo and Vertex covers this very well in their safety class. The hardest thing for me was the mag changes. I am very use to getting the rifle up in front of my face or “in my work space” to do mag changes and clear malfunctions. This is a big no no in a helo. Keep the muzzle pointed out the door and below the horizon. So all mag changes and malfunction drills take place on your lap. So there are a some extra hand movements while the rifle is grounded on your lap. Being very deliberate in every action insures you do it right and in a safe manner.
I enjoyed the safety class almost as much as I did the hunt.
But I enjoyed the hunt much more!
We hunted for three hours in a dual gunner configuration taking turns sitting front and back seat. Mike would fly over the wooded areas and scrub brush around the farm fields and pastures. The down wash and noise from the chopper would scare the pigs out of hiding and into the open where he would fly along side of them and then put us into position to shot them. And shoot we did!
In our three hour hunt we scared up three groups of pigs that made it out into the open. The first group had over 20 hogs in it, the second group had upwards of 40 and and the last group had 11. Shooting from a helicopter that is moving at a moving target is hard but as the time went on it became easier to get a handle on. You are shooting behind the hogs as they run with is counter to how I grew up hunting quail and rabbits where you lead them. We were not the best shooters from the air by any stretch of the imagination, but we improved as the hunt went on. Mike, our pilot, coached us along during the hunt as well. LISTEN TO MIKE! You get better with every pass on the hogs and it more natural to shoot from the “lag” as it does to lead a bird or rabbit. After we got the hang of the “lag” we became more effective at putting rounds on target. As Scott and I recounted on the drive home, we killed in excess of 30 hogs that morning.
As part of our hunt package we also got a “Hero Video” which is a video shot during our hunt. It should arrive in a few weeks after they edit and sync the different camera angles. We can’t wait for it to arrive to show it to friends and fellow hunters who have expressed an interest in going down to Houston to hunt with Vertex. Who knows, I may have to go back real soon and act as a guide for all these Southern Illinois folks who want to go on a helicopter pig hunt!
I give Vertex and our hog hunt three thumbs up out of two, 6 out of 5 stars and an eleven on a scale of 1 to ten for an outstanding lifetime memory!
A long and busy schedule of meetings in January is now over, thank goodness. I am worn out. I think I was on the road for meetings over half the month of January and into the first of February.
There were several good things I picked up that need attention in the near future. There is a lot of info that everyone might be interested in and I don’t want to forget something, but I will.
Bryan Young and Larry Steckel have put on some great presentations on Palmer Amaranth ( short article intro to Palmer ) if you are not up to speed on this weed you had better get ready…….. the chemical management of this weed species is very important. If you get a chance to see one of these speakers, go to the meeting and learn about Palmer before you get it. There is also a good mode of action chart for management of resistant weeds that Bryan has been handing out: click here to access it.
Soybean size is going to be very large this year. You need to be aware of what seed size your getting and get the appropriate plate size to insure proper planting populations. This is industry wide and some are reporting shortages of plates in some areas……..you may have to do some calling to find them.
I have been in contact with some of you who have expressed interest in refining your management zones for either soil sampling or variable rate applications. I have been talking to, and have an initial agreement with, another consulting company to have access to a Veris tool (http://www.veristech.com/index.aspx) . Veris tools are used for making more accurate soil maps, mapping OM or pH for VRT or soil sampling. I am encouraging anyone interested in VR seeding to do some Veris EC maps to help guide this process. Our soil maps in So IL are not the greatest, and in some cases have not been updated in 40+ years. We can also do elevation mapping at the same time. If you are interested in this, please contact me so that I can put together as many acres as possible to get the best utilization of the tool.
Well here it is the first of February and the weather in January has been all over the board. We have now had three snow events but between the snows the temperatures have been almost to the upper 60′s in one case. So you leave the house with you winter and spring clothes depending upon how long you will be gone.
I took this picture on Sunday after a 40% chance of snow on Saturday night turned into a 2-3 inch snow event. It was down right cold with temps in the upper teens this after a Tuesday of short sleeve weather, high winds, down pours of rain and tornado watches and warnings.
This coming week we start off today with snow or rain shower, warm up to rain and possible severe weather on Thursday again followed by thunderstorms on Saturday and Sunday again with temps approaching 60 by the weekend.
Is it no wonder everyone is sick………….
Work is coming along nicely on the new office. It will be even better when we get lights in the shop!
In the recent past, I read a lot of books. I mean, back a couple years ago I was reading two or three books at a time. I would pick one up and read until my head got full then I would pick up another title unrelated to the one I just sit down and read on it until my head was full of that particular book. Then I would pick up the first book and finish it and then on to a third book before I finished the second and so it went from there. The last two years I have not read that much book wise. While there are a lot of titles I want to get to, I just don’t have the time or more importantly the interest to read books the last couple of years.
I picked up a book between holidays on soil fertility called The Art of Balancing Soil Nutrients by William McKibben. Both the title and the author caught my eye. I had meet Bill with my early affiliation with the laboratory that performs most of my analysis some 20+ years ago. So, knowing the author and also knowing how using the phrase “soil balancing” gets an agronomist all shook up, so I thought I would give the book a look.
The basic description of the book on the Barnes and Noble website I found it on said “A practical guide to interpreting soil test results for farmers and other stewards of the earth wanting to understand what nutrients are available to plants and learn how to more effectively grow crops, turfgrass and other plants.” Ok, pretty generic but it still didn’t run me off yet.
Reading the Preface also yielded “I view the information contained in this book to be a starting point….” which I found refreshing because other books by other authors on “soil balancing” are either written from the absolute standpoint or are so far out in left field you can’t read them.
So, based on the Preface alone, I threw down my $25 to give it a try. Heck, I might learn something, right?
So here is my book review.
The book is a basic introduction to soil testing and nutrient recommendations using Cation Exchange Capacity for the basis of both interpreting the soil test values as well as making the nutrient recommendation. McKibben talks about using both the basic cation saturation ratios (BCSR) and strategic level of available nutrients (SLAN) approach to balance the nutrients in the soil. He applies these methods to both low and high exchange capacity soils and explains how it differs based on CEC.
While only 8 chapters long, the book could be broken down into three sections: 1. Taking the soil sample and reviewing soil nutrients, 2. Balancing soils with low and high exchange capacities and 3. What I will call “other stuff”, paste test, irrigation water and figuring out really high exchange soils. I must admit that the last three chapters didn’t do much to hold my interest as we don’t have any irrigation around here to speak of, and any very high exchange soils and my experiments with the paste test were pretty much useless several years ago. That doesn’t mean I didn’t pick something up out of those chapters, I just didn’t spend a lot of time reviewing them.
Bill does an excellent job discussing and explaining soil nutrient balance in a way that even a beginner could understand. His examples are clear and concise which I liked very much. Bill shows examples of using a compromise between SLAN and BCSR to make a recommendation for nutrient amendments for the soil. I like this approach very much even though I lean more to SLAN than BCSR. He uses some “absolute” numbers for nutrient levels, esp. micro nutrients, which is fine but I find that one guys “desired values” are not necessary mine and don’t believe that one should take these numbers to heart. Only you know your soils and soils reaction to amendments, don’t take numbers out of a book as an absolute.
On a scale of 1-10 I give the book a solid 9 and highly recommend it to any agronomist as a basic introduction or refresher. It is by far the best book I have read for SLAN and BCSR soil testing and recommendations. It sticks to the title and premise of the book without going off in left field by having us use “magic dust”, “alternative ag techniques” or hugging trees. It educates and does exactly what the Preface says: “…a starting point….”, a very good foundation to begin refining your recommendations for your farm and soils.
Worth the time to read and the $25 to purchase.
At the end of 2012 I began testing an Apple Ipad with GIS Roam for pulling soil samples. Initial testing indicated that this platform and software is every-bit as good for GPS directed soil sampling and mapping as Farm Works or SMS.
There are several things I really like about the Ipad for this application. Fist it is very small and light so it doesn’t bounce around on the ATV while sampling rough fields. Second it has a very readable screen in bright light conditions. But most important I can display the areal images as backgrounds while I am sampling. This isn’t new, but with the cellular turned on, I can zoom in and out on the areal photos as well as see road maps etc.
GIS Roam is a great little program for the soil sampling. It allows you to do most of the same field mapping features as the other ag specific programs do and you can import and export shape files. The ability to import and export files comes with the addition of a purchased module or add on program. However GIS Roam itself is FREE and the module is only $10.
I will try to post more info on testing this program as I get back in the fields here in the next month and follow up on some of the mapping will do with it and show some screen shots.
Well here is hoping that 2013 doesn’t suck like 2012 did.
It isn’t looking good however. The Fiscal Cliff, Farm Bill and gun control being looked at by a Congress and President who have no clue what they are doing isn’t giving me any hope for the new year.
With that said, I will be revamping and relaunching the website with hopes that at least our little part of the world does better this year, despite living in Illinois!
So, welcome to 2013, Lock and Load, tighten you chin strap, keep your mags at the ready and your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and hang on.
Here we go!
This was just an accident, apparently. The hose broke during application from what I have gathered. It also looks like the safety flow valve failed.
And to think some people try to steal this stuff and they put it in 5 gallon buckets, coolers and propane tanks. Foolish.
If this was to happen run, run, run, run into the wind as fast as you can. It seeks out water. Its boiling point is -28 deg F (minus 28 F) or something like that, and it will KILL YOU.
The first weekend of shotgun deer season has come and gone with little fanfare it would seem. There was very little shooting going on Friday and just a little more on Saturday and none at all on Sunday. It will be interesting to hear or see what the final tally is for the first season.
Part 2 starts on Nov 28th and last until Sunday.
There are still several farmers trying to finish up soybean harvest in the area and that might have had some effect on the first season. I know talking to one hunter that harvest was taking place not far from his deer stand and he said the deer were all stirred up as a result.
Well we are moving into the middle of November, that time of year when everyone is thinking about deer season, Thanksgiving and/or nothing at all.
The last three weeks of November are really screwed up in Illinois. The weekend before Thanksgiving is the first shotgun deer season, which might as well be a state holiday, follow by Thanksgiving in the middle of the next week, followed by another shotgun deer season the following week.
This makes field work fun as every field you go into right now has a hunter around it somewhere. Fields that are not harvested are harder and harder to get to and finding anyone to visit with or schedule anything is a challenge because of so much time devoted to either deer season or Thanksgiving.
Plus this year with the drought and the lack of a real harvest no one is really thinking about next year or wants to visit on next year. It has been a psychologically demoralizing year and everyone is ready for it to be over. Yet no one wants to think about next year yet.
Next year started in July for me, but its the middle of November for 80% of the farming community and next year doesn’t start until sometime next year for them. Oh well, maybe a good deer season will get everyone picked back up.
Well harvest 2012 is all but in the bag so to speak. I have about 3 acres of beans that are still too green to cut and a frost will help them along. I will get them when I get them at this point. With only about 10 acres of subsoiling left to do and the tillage will be put to bed for 2012 as well.
It rained last night and that brought our rain total for 2012 up to 28 inches here at the farm. We are still about 20 inches behind for the year with the year running out……..
Trying to sell seed and finish pulling soil samples, but it’s hard to get guys to meet this fall as most everyone wants to get done and not talk about another year right now.
The first deer season for shotgun is this coming weekend. I think I will go hunt just to have something to do that doesn’t require thought and is pretty relaxing.
Promise to start posting more as I am getting back in the mood for the blog after a hard and stressful year.
Well corn harvest is over and if my fuzzy math is correct my whole farm average is right at 18 bushel/ac or so. The two farms that I had hope to make a yield did but not near what was estimated.
Aflatoxin was mostly a non issue minus the best 12 acres where one load tested over 30. It seems like the lower the yield the lower the aflatoxin and as the yield went up so did the aflatoxin. I am still hearing some wild numbers on aflatoxin from some guys and some even have put some high numbers in a bin, why I don’t know, but they are trying to find a place to go with it I guess. Maybe they didn’t have insurance or think that they can move it later a lot easier. I don’t what any of it around to mess with so all mine is at the elevator.
The mood in the country is somewhat gray as everyone is mentally tired and ready for this stuff to be over. Nerves are on edge in some places with low yields and the other stresses of a bad year. Heard a story of a guy determined to get a semi load of corn the other day and he shelled all day even into the night and quit at 4am when he ran out of corn on that farm and still had not filled the semi.
Even bean harvest is going to be a bear with all the butter beans and green pods that a lot of fields have. A lot of guys need a good break away from it all but it seems like it is piling on in some places. Rain totals ranged from a few tenths to over 7 inches and those that got the big rains are even more grumpy as it has made a bad situation worse.
Wheat has already been planted and I think that is a big mistake with all the residual N that is out in these corn fields. I even saw a field of volunteer corn that was waist high mid week. It had grabbed the N left in the anhydrous track and was dark green. Not good with warm temperatures and excessive amounts of N in the soil for young wheat.
We are in the discovery period for the fall harvest price option on crop insurance and everyone is hoping for a rally in prices. One thing for sure we will be above the spring price unless there is a drastic sell off this month.