Monthly Archives: September 2011

The local Corps or Engineers/Conservancy district had their cash rent bid process for their farm land around Rend Lake here recently.  The winner got it all at well over $200 an acre.  That doesn’t sound like much compared to other places in the world but for around here and with the constraints of the contract, that’s a bunch.  One 120 acre tract rented to the same fellows for $250.  I have to say this because i just cant hold it in, but that is STUPID.  Now the rumor is that their other cash rent landlords are asking around about higher rents or a new farmer.

I don’t think they won much when it is all said and done.

Corn is drying down slowly but is making its way to “the new dry” or 17%.  Some shelling is taking place just to get crops off in places.  Wheat planting is right behind the corn for most but acres will be down in this area.

The list of repairs is getting shorter around here, just days away from having the power back on at the shed, the wheat drill is a day away from being ready and the cat is up on blocks with one track off awaiting seals before we get the new tracks on it.

Some days things just move very slowly it seems………

Well, it rained anywhere from 3 to 4 inches over the weekend here in the area.  This afternoon it was hard to tell it even rained.  Yes, it is a bit tacky in places, but even the field roads have dried off.  That goes to show just how dry we were.

Harvest in this area is in a pause.  Not because of the rain but because the corn just won’t dry down.  Almost every person I talk to says corn has hit a wall of about 21-23% and is sitting there.  Some is being taken off just to get some wheat planted, but its going into a drier.  But for the most part combines are sitting idle waiting for dryer corn.  Replanted corn hasn’t even been discussed yet.

Over all yields are not bad on the April planted corn, 130 to 150 ish give or take but I am hearing reports of May planted corn from 60-100 bu.  A couple of guys told me that they are almost scared of heir June planted corn.  All think they have shelled their best corn.

But we all sit waiting for drier corn to shell.  Until then all we can do is guess what the fields hold for us and yield this year.

Some photo credits to Mudcat

Spent two days, OK one solid day and one off-and-on day in the rain at Carmi Gun Club for an Project Appleseed shoot put on by the RWVA.  (I have have numerous posts about Appleseed and they can be viewed here.)   Carmi Gun Club is a great host to say the least, and they proved it again this year by going to town in the pouring rain to pick up lunch orders for the participants.  They have a very nice range that is very clean and very user friendly.  (Two thumbs up again Carmi for hosting a great event!!!)

Again, it was just a great two days, even if it rained. A day shooting is a good day no matter what the weather!  We were able to shoot from under one of the small shelters. We were out of the pouring rain for the most part but still got wet (this was Saturday before the rain hit).


Once again Mudcat and XDman put on great instruction. And again, the kids were treated so well and instructed with an emphasis on not only improving their shooting, but in teaching the history of April 19, 1775.  To me the attention that the kids get and the historical perspective are what make this event so enjoyable for me.

Saturday was mostly instruction in the shooting positions and a lot of history of 1775.  The comment from Mudcat was that we were being fed with a fire hose and that seemed to be true, at least from the ones that rode over from Benton with me.  But everyone commented on the ride home how good the instruction was and how much they learned.

Sunday in the pouring rain there were 3 Riflemen made before lunch.  I shot Rilfleman on the second AQT (Army Qualification Target) of the day and shortly there after we had two more guys shoot Rifleman as well.  Here I am on my way back with my target I scored Rifleman with, hoping it didn’t fall apart in the rain before it was scored.

Then as the day ended we had one of the two women on the line shot Rifleman as well.  Here she is being presented her Rifleman patch in the pouring rain.


The biggest thing is that all the scores improved throughout the day with even the smallest of shooters getting better with each round.  Great instruction, great history, a great host in Carmi Gun Club and 4 Rifleman patches were awarded. I would say that is a pretty good day on the range!

I read with much loathing how the American Society of Agronomy/ICCA Board is going to make the Certified Professional Agronomist (CPAg) certification part of the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) program.  Very disappointing, but expected, knowing how much control the fertilizer dealers have in the ASA/ICCA anymore.

The ICCA board continues to, in my opinion, to work at destroying all other agronomist certifications while promoting and selling fertilizer sales people as professional agronomists at the expense of all others.  They have now succeeded with killing off the CPAg by taking a higher standard and making it part of a lower standard  I suspect they will work on the other soils certifications in the future as well.

The CPAg was really the only certification for professional agronomists and not those who were trying to make a buck pushing a product.  There is no certification for those who are not tied to sales other than some of the independent consulting organizations who offer a “jacked up” certification program that is pretty much a joke as well.

The whole “A CCA can be TSP’s for NRCS” line is also bogus, as many of the plans done by fertilizer dealer CCA’s in this area were rejected because they can’t follow directions or make sound agronomic recommendations.  Plus, there is very little TSP work do be done with most all agencies out of money.

Most of the CCA continuing education credits are done in-house by the big chain dealers so their getting sales training and calling it education.  Illinois CCA is an even bigger joke as they don’t even publish or give notice of meetings where CCA credits are available, other than their own convention.  Just look at their website. They haven’t updated meetings since 2008/2009 and haven’t updated it at all since the last state CCA convention.  So the state board does little to help CCAs or CPAg’s that are not affiliated with a dealer get any continuing education credits.

Yes, I am a CPAg, an unhappy CPAg after reading this announcement.  I have also been a CCA for almost 20 years, I think.  I will have to very seriously rethink renewing my certifications and membership in the ASA this year.  There is little reason to be certified anymore.


Things are moving slow.  Corn is not drying down very fast, if at all it seems.  Working on odds and ends between trying to haul some corn out and it doesn’t seem like I am getting much accomplished.  

So between odd jobs I have been trying to collect up all the necessary kit for going to shoot the Appleseed at Carmi this weekend which has been slow as well because I cant find where I put some of the stuff so I wouldn’t loose it!

I need to get the grain drill took apart and washed and put back together so I can grease it before I drill wheat and I need to take the wheels off my ATV trailer and get the bearing repacked before I pull it down the road anymore.

I realize that very soon it will be busy around here but right now its just slow.


Remember bag phones?  I do.  When I got one it was the best thing in the world.  Or it was but it wasn’t.  You could make calls from your vehicle and if you really wanted to you could hook a battery up and sling it over your shoulder and carry it with you.  The battery didn’t last long, it was heavy and wasn’t worth the trouble.  There was no caller ID, no missed call alert, no nothing, just a phone.  It worked great as a phone allowing you to make those calls you needed to make.  It was a tool of convenience.


Today, as predicted then, your cell phone is now your do all computer, phone, text, email, internet, phone book, Twitter, Facebook, weather radar, grain market ticker and a list of apps and downloads for whatever else your into.  It is your way to stay connected to the world.  You can literally do everything you need to do in your office on your phone while sitting in your vehicle or café or where ever.  You’re connected.


Connected.  Well pardon me while I disconnect myself.  If all of this “being connected” is the eight lane information super highway, when I am taking the next exit for the information super cow path.  You all know what a cow path is don’t you?  That little worn down dirt tail in the cow pasture, a trail with grass on both sides, an occasional cow patty in the middle of the path and beautiful scenery on both sides.  Have you forgot what a cow path is?

The last few weeks, ok really off and on for the last few months I have experimented with my new bag phone.  No I don’t have a real bag phone, but I have turned my Droid into a bag phone.  It says in my truck.  I don’t carry it when I am out of the truck or working around the farm.  It says in the truck.  It stays in the tractor or combine when I am working in them because it is a safety device.  I have been stunned at the amount of work I can get done without my phone on me.  I can work without the constant calls, emails, Twitter updates, market updates and so forth.


In short my “new” bag phone has allowed me to get blue collar work done that my white collar phone wouldn’t let me.


Now let me be clear:  I have made a lot of money with my Twitter account the last two years give or take a month.  Not in selling a service or product on Twitter but just in having the largest research community in the world reporting information to me that allows me to make farm decisions quicker.  I don’t care about Brittney Spears or some junk like that on Twitter, I care about the dollar, grains, crude, potash and the like.  Yep there is money to be made with Twitter.  You have lots of people willing to share freely what they know and you have to get dialed in but there is money to be made off that info for any farming operation.


Same thing with those market and product updates sent via text message.  But I don’t need play by play information taking up my day and phone call after phone call in between those Tweets or texts to keep my hands busy on the phone vs. on the work at hand. So by conscious effort, I have taken the first exit I could find off the paved eight lane super information highway and found the fist cow path I could take.  I have even begun to change how I do email and have found more peace of mind in it all.


Oh I like to go to the over pass and watch the fast cars go by, but there is something, maybe more to be gained by taking the cow path.


So if you need me, send me a text, email or Tweet.  Call me and leave me a message.  Just as soon as I get back in the truck I will check my bag phone and get right back to you.  Don’t worry I haven’t left the world of technology, still on Twitter, Facebook and blogging, just taking a break and listening to the cows moo, the birds chirp, the wind blow and the bugs talk while I work.

Took out one of the nitrogen plots today. Its a calibration study of N testing to rate response.

Results were (are) most likely not significant and had more to do with field position and water movement in the field than anything.  The result could be broken down into two different field positions, one averaging ~147 and the other averaging ~161.  That being said when your 150# rate and your 225# rate yield the same in the same field location, then its not N that’s contributing to that yield, or at least this year.

Randomized plot design helps tell treatment affect from field position.  This is why I am so, lets say….skeptical with all the fertilizer dealer “research” that is done in this area.  They don’t randomize and replicate.  The side by side it, among a lot of other things, and call it research.

This year it seems that yield response studies are not going to be very reliable between the massive amount of rain we had from April to July and the intense heat and lack of rain from July to August.  Not to mention that some studies had replants and replant of replants in them in this area.

Big thanks to Christopher Johnson, my Pioneer sales rep for taking the time out of his day to bring the weigh wagon over and collect the data while I ran the combine.  Now all I have to do is forward the data on the the researchers and my work is done on Plot #1.

The good news is that my yield monitor calibration is pretty darn close on these plots, which means that I can do the next one with just the monitor and not bother anyone trying to work around schedules!!

Got started shelling corn today.  Shot this video with my phone.  Not the best video in the world but hey it worked!  Anyway shelling east of Benton along Rt 14.  Corn is doing well, as you can see in the video, some of the end rows along the woods were not so hot, but that is to be expected with the hot and dry July and August.  But across the field is good corn for the year and growing conditions it had to endure.

Anyway here is about 1:15 of corn shelling from yesterday.

Well it rained all day yesterday.  We ended up with 1.41 inches in the gauge and it was greatly appreciated.  It will help the double crop soybeans and it helped settle the dust.  Cool weather followed the rain in and you need a sweatshirt this morning outside.

Some general observations this morning as we hit the middle of September.  Corn harvest has started for about 80% of the farmers in the area but it is not a sprint this year but more of a walk-a-thon.  Very casual.  I think this has to do with lower yields and areas of higher moisture due to replants.  I have yet to see the roads loaded up with trucks but I know it is coming.

Fertilizer prices keep going up and as more corn is shelled the amount of P and K that is going to get spread keeps going down.  After a big hurry to get tonnage for prepay lots of folks are just not going to spread that much fertilizer this fall it seems.

Wheat acres are down it would appear. I say that now but know that a quick bump in the price will bring out more seed and more planting pretty fast.  Corn prices have everyone looking to Dec 12 and not July 12.  That being said there is also a lot of PP acres of DC Beans that will not get wheat planted back on it.

And last but not least……….the economy and the lack of direction and leadership out of Washington DC is weighting heavy on a lot of folks.  Enough bad news beats down on everyone.  Even in the Ag community where things are bright from a $ standpoint.  This country needs a warm fuzzy reason to have hope and I fear we are not going to get more than a cold slimy from Washington for a while to come.

A sign that progress, be it slow progress, is being made here on the farm towards starting corn harvest. I fulfilled my prediction and did get the combine out, head on, washed and shelled a hopper full of corn today!!!

Moisture was 18.7 on the corn planted on 13 May.  I planted two different numbers on that day, and one was running 20 to 20.5.  I took out some of the end rows so I could get a good sample from the field to see just what I was looking at moisture and yield wise.  The yield was about 145 bu/ac dry corn.  Not bad, not great, but for a year like this, I will take it all at that yield and not complain a bit.

So after all the excitement today, we sit idle for a few days.  First off, still working on getting the grain bins rewired and then we need to sit the fans back on the bins.  This has been a long overdue task.  Making things safer is a priority.  Making things safer and also more efficient is also a priority.  So even if I started shelling tomorrow, I can’t put it anywhere until that job is done.

Second, the grain truck is in the shop. Carb kit going on.  Just before I went to get it inspected, I found fuel puking out and around various bolts and screws.  Yep, the gaskets dried out.  Note to self…next grain truck will be a diesel.  Note to self…there won’t be a next truck……see paragraph below.  So even if the bins were ready, I have no way to get it from point A to point B.

In dealing with the grain truck and attempting to find and trade for a bushhog (or rotary chopper for some of you folks) I am reminded of the words of a wiser farmer than I:  Grain trucks and mowers are not profit centers, they are money pits.  (or something close to that)  After thinking that a bigger truck, diesel truck, with air conditioning, roll tarp and cargo doors would be the berries, I decided that it would be much easier to just build a big grain bin and pay Ty Jones, the local trucker I prefer to use, to just come and load and haul it all out of that big bin.  Between inspections, tires, insurance, gas or fuel, repairs and the possibility of overweight tickets (not to mention all the other assorted stuff that ISP and ISOS get all excited about checking a grain truck for when they pull it over) it just isn’t a money making piece of equipment.

And I didn’t even mention the amount of time sitting behind the wheel,  not to mention the amount of time sitting in LINE waiting for the grain to be weighed and graded, let alone dumped.  Yes, you need a truck. But I don’t want to have one or be in one,  on the road  anymore.

So by the end of the week, gain bins should be done, fans on, grain truck ready, combine ready. and corn harvest can commence.

Well after posting my comments on the TV gun shows I like and watch I felt almost obligated this morning to post which one is the lamest.  That presents a problem:  I don’t want to give them any more recognition than they already get and I cant pick one but two.  So I have a tie.

After a bout of insomnia last night I turned on the TV to see Sons of Guns.  Wow.  Painful.  Horrible.  Between the show production, stupidity of the “characters” and attitude of the whole cast, I think that would be the last place I would want working on my guns let alone try to buy one there.  I cant see why people think this is good TV let a lone a good reflection on gun owners/manufactures/gun smiths.  I dont get it.

I guess if anything my viewing experience last night did do one thing postive for my other least favorate gun show:  It gave it some company on my list of things not to watch.  That show?  Top Shots.

If Sons of Guns is a root canal, Top Shots is getting teeth pulled without the local pain killer.  Yea Top Shots, you now have company in the “you suck the most” camp if not just maybe passed at the bottom of the barrel.  Something I didn’t think could happen.


Me and Mo…..

hat tip to Melinda Fowler for taking the picture.

Smoked Country Style Ribs

Campground Full!

Breakfast made over the fire.

Current Farm Weather


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