Monthly Archives: November 2011

Well its that time of year again, time to sign up for the Farm Futures Management Summit.  This is the second year that I have been asked to speak and am looking forward to not only speaking but just attending the meeting itself.  I just love this meeting and think it is the best meeting of the year and not because I am speaking.  It is just one of those meetings where the line up of speakers is relevant, current and forward looking and not reflective and re hashing the same old wore out research or topics.  

Its fresh.  Its alive…………..that is the best way I know how to describe it.  I always leave St Louis with a positive outlook even in those years when their wasn’t a positive outlook to see on the horizon.

I think the reason why is that all the other meetings I attend during the year are based on reacting to what is happening in the agriculture world after it happens.  The speakers at the Summit focus on being proactive and managing what is happening in the agriculture world before it happens.  The information gained at this meeting has help me be a more profitable farmer each year.  No its not one big thing that David Kohl or Mike Boehlje say or that Moe Russell or Daryl Dunteman point to but its the trends they talk about and all the little things that add up to something big that make the difference.

So I have taken to labeling meeting invites I get anymore into two categories:  Reactionary and Proactive.  Then I try hard to make all the Proactive meetings I can attend and fill in with the Reactionary if I need to.

The problem is, in my opinion, that most of agriculture is focused on being reactionary…………  A result is that a lot of meetings beat the same old dead horse to death.  Reactionary meeting invites fill my inbox and mail box.  Proactive meetings seem to be few and far between these days.  They exist and you must seek them out and you will have to travel to get there but that is a small sacrifice to pay for the empowerment they give you.

So I hope to see you in St Louis for what I anticipate will be the great PROACTIVE meeting of the year………….  I wouldn’t expect anything else at the Summit.

 

Over the Thanksgiving break, Matthew and I got to shoot a handgun that is about 90 – 100 years old or so.  It is a 1908 Pieper Bayard Pocket Pistol in .25 cal.  I guess more accurately, it is in 6.35 mm, as stamped on the slide or what we know as the.25 ACP.  This pistol is one of the more interesting guns I have handled from the standpoint of design and working of the action.

From what I could find out, this gun was manufactured in Belgium by the Pieper Company founded by  Henri Pieper.  Pieper was considered a pioneer of mass production of “sporting arms” in the late 1800′s.  It is, or was, one of the smallest pistols ever built for the caliber size ( assuming this meant .380 and .32) and suffered from heavy recoil (noted several times in readings).  The .25 was manufactured starting in 1912 with the .380 and .32 manufactured before that.

Here is some good summary reading on this firearm (mostly the .32) by Ed Buffaloe.  There is other good reading on the Bayard if you have the time, just Google Pieper Bayard and all kinds of things come up!!

I can tell you from Matthew’s and my point of view, it wasn’t all that pleasant to shoot in .25 either.  It has a very small grip and is hard for both Matthew and I to get our hands around (notice how small it is in Matthews hand below and in the top picture! (yea that’s my baby boys hand!)!) without either getting a finger in front of the barrel or getting pinched in the slide.

That isn’t to detract from the gun, or an indication I didn’t like shooting the gun, I just prefer something to hold onto when I present the gun at the target!  As a short range or belly gun, the Bayard would fulfill its role quite well during the time it was built.  I just prefer to shoot my targets at greater than arms length!!!

The pistol is small and heavy (as already noted) with the frame milled from one chunk of steal and the slide from another.  The barrel is actualy part of the frame right above the trigger and not in the slide as most modern American handguns are.  It is a simple blow back design.

To dissemble the piece, remove the magazine and insure that the gun is unloaded by visual inspection of the chamber.  Then  you push, then pull back and up on the front sight.  This allows the recoil spring and follower to be removed.

Once the spring and follower are out you pull the slide all the way to the rear and then simply lift up off the frame.  At this point you have field stripped the gun.

This particular one had been repaired as noted by the brazing done to the recoil spring housing.  ( I have no idea if that is the correct term or not……..I am just a farm boy who likes to shoot, not an armorer!)

This particular gun belongs to a relative and  suffered from stove piping.  I got to shoot it and bring it home to clean it up and see if I could fix it.  A good deep cleaning and inspection revealed that the ramp was scared a had some burrs on it as well as the extractor having carbon buildup.  After a bit of polishing with the Dremel tool on the ramp, oiling and reassembly, the gun worked almost flawlessly.  I say almost as we did have one more stove pipe but were able to run multiple magazines of 50 gr Aguila .25 auto through it without stoppage.

So we got to fire a piece of history as well as learn some history over Thanksgiving break.  Plus we got to get that history back up and running for its owner…….pretty cool.

 

I know what they say about blogging and making sure your content is up to date and that you do so on a regular schedule to keep everyone coming back etc.

But you know me, the contrary one……..

Taking a break for a while, dont know how long, maybe a week at most.

But “I shall return“.

Think for a minute where your water comes from.  While you think about that also think about where your power comes from.  Not sure?  Don’t know?  I am not looking for “the faucet” or from “the plug”.  

Water comes from a large source like a lake, reservoir or major stream or river.   Water is pumped, by electrical means from the source through underground pipes to a treatment plant.  Then it is pumped out in main trunk lines, that are under ground, to be distributed to houses and places of business through an even more complex and longer series of pipes.  At some point in the maize of pipes is a device to hold or keep pressure on the liens so that water flows when the tap is turned on and doesn’t sit in the pipes.  This is often a water tower or water tank in which water is pumped into at a great volume and height to keep a constant pressure on the outgoing water supply.

So your water gets to your house by underground pipe that has pressure applied to it by means of a water tower (at some point) and an electrical pump at many levels or locations from the source.

Turn off the power, drain the water tower or break a pipe and your out of water.  Now multiply that by the houses in your town, county and then in the region around you……………..

Think about your electricity the same way except it is all in overhead lines on wooded poles (for the most part) assuming that the major supply lines (those big steel transmission lines) don’t fall down as well.  Think about the last time you were without power.  How long did it take to fix that one pole that broke? Fix that one substation the went down?  Replace that one transformer that took a lightening hit.  Now multiply that time by the number of homes, poles, towns and such in your region.

And we haven’t talked about natural gas, fuel, propane, sewers, storm water, telephones and internet.  All things that travel under ground in pipes or in lines attached to poles up in the air.

It is estimated that it will take MONTHS to restore just basic service of water and power.  In some of the more rural areas it might be a YEAR or more.  Most pipelines that supply the NE US (Chicago alone gets most of its gas supplied though pipelines that run through this area) will have numerous breaks and take months if not years to fix.  Roads and bridges will be impassable for YEARS.

This isn’t a winter storm where the power will be out for a while and then come back on.  It is not a winter storm where you have time to go get milk and bread at the store before it gets here.  This will be a NO NOTICE EVENT.

The economic loss will be beyond comparison.  A 7.0 New Madrid earthquake would eclipse Hurricane Katrina in human and economic loss and not only hit the Mississippi/Ohio Valley hard but would hurt the entire eastern one third of the US.  Basically any service (natural gas, power, highway, rail or water) that runs through the shaded areas blow could be disrupted in a New Madrid event.  Look at the map, that basically blocks the east half of the country from the west half………

The human loss will be unbelievable as well:  Injured, killed and displaced.  During Katrina was the first time I have ever heard the news stations in the US and FEMA refer to people trying to get out of NOLA as “refugees”.  We will have a lot of “refugees” in the red and pink areas of the map above.  I don’t think we can comprehend the toll this event could take on human life.  The folks in NOLA had a chance to get out……….this is a NO NOTICE EVENT.

So, do you have a plan?  ”Waiting on the government helicopter to drop supplies” is not a plan………..  there wont be enough assets to cover this, you had better be ready to go alone for a while”. 

Another couple of thoughts from SLE 2011.

The next time you get in your car to go somewhere take the time to notice just how many bridges you have to cross, no matter how small or big they may be.  Notice how many roads go through low areas, especially those roads that are built up.  Notice how many power lines parallel the roads your on, not the little one or two line power lines but the larger 4-8 line power lines, on wooden poles.

Why notice this?

Because in the exercise most of those bridges, roads and power lines would be down and it would be impassable.  And we haven’t even talked about those large trees that might fall over along the same roads.

Well, I live in town…….ok how would you walk to anywhere with power lines down or even sewers collapsed etc.?

All those obstacles are just that, obstacles, to getting relief supplies and assistance to you in a major earthquake.  How long will it take to get to you from the least effected area?  DAYS.

So figure this:  The farther away you are from a major highway the longer it will take “the government” to get to your area to bring relief.

So that 65,000 gal of water that was requested yesterday is going to set on a truck now for the second day as they try to clear a road to get to your town or city.  It may be several  more days before it gets there.  That generator, same thing.  Those medical supplies, those doctors, that Hazmat team…….same thing.

And no Margret, there are not enough helichopters available in the first 72 hours to get the job done either.  Remember its not just your town its ALL OF THEM…….there are not enough helicopters for the job.

Roads, Bridges and Power Lines……………..

“there wont be enough assets to cover this, you had better be ready to go alone for a while”. 

 

Just a quick note this morning as I head into day 2 of SLE 2011, a state wide disaster drill here in Illinois that has a New Madrid earthquake as its plot.  I have been working with Region 11 as their RACES radio operator.

If an actual event were to happen as the plot has been……..well folks you are on your own so to speak for a good while.  How long?  Three days to 2 weeks?  Maybe even longer.  As one of the participants said as the request for assistance started to flow over the radio “there wont be enough assets to cover this, you had better be ready to go alone for a while”.

Which brings me to water.  It seemed like every time I turned around there was a request for water going out over the radio.  Not a case or two but thousands of gallons just for a days supply of drinking water for towns as they discovered their water supply was disrupted by the quake.

Water.

3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water………….

That got me to thinking just how prepared are folks for a disaster?  Do they have water?  Do they know where the hidden water is in their house?  How many ( I bet most) are counting on the government to supply water……..over broken bridges, broken roads and all other disrupted infrastructure…….

What else do they not know or don’t have if there were a disaster?  

“there wont be enough assets to cover this, you had better be ready to go alone for a while”.  

So what comes after water………..today we will find out.

 

Persistence:  To continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, course of action or the like, especially in spite of opposition remonstrance, etc..

I am trying to persist.

Its not easy it seems anymore.

Took the weekend off and went to Evansville to the Appleseed shoot at Red Brush range and had a very enjoyable time despite the 40 mph winds that played havoc with our targets both days.  20+ Americans persisted over the weekend on the line to improve our shooting skills and learn our heritage.  It wasn’t easy or fun a time or two when the wind kept messing us up, but we persisted and shooters improved and learned and never quit.  And we had fun despite the wind.  

On the way over in the New Haven bottoms we saw lots of combines, auger wagons and trucks trying to get the harvest out in that area.  They were persisting.  It didn’t look like it was fun in places with the soil conditions but they were making a dent in it before it rained.  Having said that, the crops looked good from the road.  That however doesn’t mean much this year as a lot of fields that looked good from the road haven’t been good at all.

I got started with fall tillage yesterday but got rained out.  I will persist at getting it done when the ground dries out again.

I have been trying to get back in the swing some how to keep this blog more updated and relevant but I cant seem to get it done.  That being said I will persist at getting back on track………..

Headed down to see what I can do to help with the radio problems at the Region HQ for the Earthquake Exercise today.  A lot of people have persisted in getting this program set up for RACES/ARES to help and we continue to persist at making sure it will work if and when we need it to work.

The “to do list” gets longer every day but we persist at working on what we can when we can and getting it done.

So in honor of persistence, this blog will be labeled as “to be continued“……..

 

I was going to start the week off and get back to daily blogging but when I saw the forecast for next week I went back to work.  Rain most of next week the way things look right now, so I worked some ground and spread P and K and had Browns spray some fields that I knew I most likely would not get to before it rained.

I had planned on doing some blogs on some shooting videos but that will wait until next week.

Oh, next week……is the SLE 2011 or State Level Exercise for IEMA and I have to play radio man.  I am not ready, and dont look to have a lot of time to get ready this weekend either…..

So for a video on shooting how about this one…….

Or this one……

This harvest has been a long one and is still going on for a lot of folks even as the “big rains” approach.  For me it seemed it lasted three months, but it wasn’t really that long.  In the end it finished very quickly and I cut more acres of beans in one day here on my farm that I have ever cut before.  No, it wasn’t the low yield. It was that everything was right:  The beans were ready, the stems were dry, the machine was working properly.  Everything came together to finish.

All of that time in the combine cab or tractor cab gives one time to think, but not opportunity to put it down in a blog.  By the time I got done I had either forgot some of what I wanted to blog about, or the topic was no longer relevant so to speak.  So I am ready this morning to start off the my renewed blogging with a firestorm of sorts, but got my mind changed by my trail camera.

The kids and I went and downloaded the trail camera I have set between my two deer stands.  We don’t take deer hunting seriously here anymore.  First off, I don’t have, or don’t make the time to do it like we use to.  Second, I have got soft in my middle age and if its windy or wet, or windy and wet forget it.  I am not freezing my butt off for a cut of meat that isn’t that good to start with.  The kids want to go so we go and sit and watch the wildlife more or less.

Deer are refereed to as Government Goats around here.  They enjoy the elevated status of protected species in the sense that they are “owned by the people of the state of Illinois” and you have to have a permit to hunt them, even on your own land.  Yet as a land owner I have to let the goats free graze and free roam all over me so the “people” or “owners” of the goats can enjoy them.  Don’t get me wrong, I like deer, but I like deer management even better.  But deer management anymore in this part of the state means only one thing:  Outfitters.

Deer hunting outfitters are more of a nuisance than the deer anymore.  Between the lack of respect for private property by placing hunters on ground they don’t lease, destroying crops with their ATV’s, the effort to grow bigger deer to command a bigger fee and their fighting with one another I think we should have an outfitter season instead of a deer season.  Outfitter season would be open to hunt all outfitters, their trucks, stands and ATV’s with them sold and the proceeds going to charity.

In short:  Lock and Load and put them out of business!

Oh yes I know they are an “economic boom” for the community…….yea right.  They are an economic boom for their own pocket book and cost farmers and land owners millions for the destruction they do with their equipment and the deer they are trying to grow to the crops and land.

Now, with that off my chest, back to the trail camera.

We don’t get a lot of deer staying here on our farm.  Our farm is a transition for the deer between the two water sources around here and the two or three bedding areas.  Food is plentiful.  You might see several deer in one day and then not see a deer for a week or better.  So it was a great surprise to me and the kids when we downloaded the trail camera and got several pictures like this of two bucks fighting.  Not just once but twice.  I am sure its the same bucks from the looks of it, most likely two years old, but they were locking horns.  And they did it on two different occasions.

So there is hope for the kids this year that they will see a buck from the deer stand.  I have hope that we might get to see these two fight live and in person this fall.  And if we see them from the stand then it was a good day hunting.  And if we don’t see them, it was a still a good day hunting.  No matter if a shot is fired or not, it will be a good time with the kids out enjoying creation.

I highly recommend a trail camera even if you don’t hunt.  I has been enjoyable viewing the pictures seeing what is crossing the farm:  cats, dogs, coyotes, foxes, skunks, raccoons, deer and other “things” that you might not necessarily think are on your property.  I keep waiting for the shot of the ATV from some trespasser………..

 

Got done cutting beans on Wednesday night.  Just in time for rain on Thursday that didn’t amount to as much as they were predicting.  Hauled the last load of beans off today and now have to haul some corn out next week to finish filling a contract but the harvest is over for this year.

Now if the weather cooperates, maybe some fall tillage.

And back to a regular blogging schedule.

The sun hung low this evening just before it dropped out of sight, so I took this picture with my phone.

Well, if everything holds together I can be done with beans tomorrow evening sometime.  So far yields have been close to average for double crop beans for our farm, and from what I hear, my yields are not that far off of my nieghbors full season yields.

So once again its not what day you plant, its what happens after you plant that matters most.

44 acres left till harvest 2011 is in the books.

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