Monthly Archives: December 2011

Instead of the “Year in Review” recap that is typical this time of year, how about something different…….

My Top 5 Blogs of 2011

#1  ICCA Board works to kill off CPAg Certification

#2  Combines, Grain Bins, Grain Trucks and Bush Hogs

#3  Harvested Nitrogen Plot Today

#4  Corn Harvest Begins for Some

#5  My New Bag Phone

My Top 5 Categories Viewed in 2011

#1  Cutting Board Portable 

#2  Soil Testing

#3  Field Scouting

#4  Ham Radio

#5  Guns

2011 was a record year for

Almost 27,000 unique visitors who made 77,000 visits this year with 835,000 page hits while they visited.  December, November, September and May were the biggest months for visitors and page content viewed.

Thanks for visiting!  Thanks for commenting!  Thanks for telling your friends about us!

We are going to try and ramp it up a notch for 2012…….stay tuned!


I guess it all started when I went to the airport to pick up my mom and sister.  I was shocked, more than usual, at the way a lot of people, 99% women, were attired for travel.  Then it became apparent that it wasn’t just the airport but also some of the stores I have been in since then.  I wasn’t going to write about this but after today’s fashion distress I think there is a need for a Fashion Gestapo.

Here are a few tips from someone who has no fashion sense at all but knows better than to do some of these stupid things.

  • Pajama bottoms are not for wear in public.
  • Pants are not for wear when they are several sizes too big and you have to use one hand to hold them up as you walk through the airport.
  • Pajama bottoms and sweat pants should not be worn with boots, esp. tucked into the boots.
  • One belt is sufficient if its used to hold your pants up.
  • We should not be able to see your underwear or lack there of when wearing any pants in public.
  • Underwear is not optional.
  • Your T shirt should fit appropriately.
  • No one whats to see your fat roll.
  • No one wants to see your fat roll and your belly button piercing.  GET A SHIRT THAT FITS.
  • There are just some things that old women should not wear.  Spandex and Leather, together, are two.
  • If your having trouble walking in your shoes your stupid for wearing them and look equally stupid trying to walk in them.
  • If its cold enough outside that you feel its necessary to wear a coat, then its also cold enough to take off the shorts and flip-flops and put on pants and shoes.  YOU LOOK STUPID ESPECIALLY WHITH A SOCK CAP ON.
  • A scarf that drags the ground IS TOO LONG.
  • If the plastic plants wilt as you walk by you have on to much perfume or cologne.
  • Just because it looked good in the window does not mean it necessarily will look good on you.
  • If your face looks like you feel into Bill Dances tackle box don’t be surprised if people stare at you.
  • Your hair should be one color, pick ONE.  NEON is not one of those colors.
  • Its a purse.  If it is big enough and heavy enough that it drags the ground you have to much junk in it.
  • Turn off the speaker phone.  No one around you cares or wants to hear.
If your dressing to draw attention to yourself then don’t be surprised when you get it.  And don’t be surprised when someone laughs at you either.

That’s the short list.  I could add more but you get the idea.


I was at local business today when a guy asked me how much new iron I traded for this winter.  I had to laugh and say “none, I am not into that game”.

He laughed and said that “I must not be that good a farmer if I wasn’t spending all my profits on trading equipment to avoid paying taxes”.

I laughed back and said that an “old tractor worked just as good as a new one for the same job as last year”.

He shook his head in agreement and we talked about all the new iron that is showing up in driveways the last few weeks.  I have noticed several million dollars of combines and tractors moving up and down the roads around here as of late.  Guys have had a couple of good years and with the government and their squirrelly tax laws, especially the lack of a continuation in the large deprecation write off, they are spending the money to avoid the tax and also to insure they have some depreciation to write off in the future.

He then commented that he would like to invest some money into farm land and asked what it was going for right now.  After talking about some land sales around here where ground went for anywhere from four thousand to ten thousand he then laughed and said that he would leave his money in the bank.  He thought that the land market was over valued and headed for a bust.

I don’t know about the land market, it could bust or plateau.  I just don’t know.  I don’t seem to know much anymore when it comes to the farm economy.

The one thing I do know is that new iron will eventually rust.  And if there is a land bust, then that new iron will be hard to pay for in the future, rust or not.

We have been doing a fair amount of shooting when the weather allows, with our .22 cal rifles.  Targets at 25 meters for the most part.  The result of four shooters shooting ten rounds at a time has proven a need for lots of ammo.  Its not uncommon to shoot 500 – 1000 rounds in a day or afternoon.

This quest for ammo has taken me to search out “good cheap .22 ammo“.  That animal doesn’t exist anymore.  I have purchased several big box store bulk packs lately and while some are better than others, most of it is junk.  You can tell this by two ways.

First is the inconsistent “crack” when the round goes off.  Some are a loud crack while others are so weak that you wonder if they will make it to the target just 25 meters away.  A couple of brands are worse than the others, but I have found that the Winchester bulk pack has the most consistent cracks it seems.

Second is the stove pipe jams or failure to feed.  With the Ruger 10/22 rifles we are shooting, some of the bulk pack stuff, including the Winchester, produces lots of failure to eject or feed, resulting in a jammed gun.  This is very annoying if not also an impediment to honing ones skills on a timed shoot.

Even after changing some springs, extractors and doing an action job on the rifles, they still will not shoot some of the bulk pack stuff.  What is really sad is that I have some bulk pack Remington from back in early 1990’s that was rat holed away that shoots EVERY TIME with consistent cracks and no failures to feed or eject whatsoever.

20 year old ammo is better than the new stuff.

The new bulk pack stuff also groups poorly in comparison to the old stuff.  Another sign that is not manufactured to any great tolerance or specifications.

I have tried some of the higher priced “premium” .22 like CCI and it is much better but the cost per round is scientifically more.  The cracks are consistent, the feeding problems go away and the groups are pretty tight so you are getting what you pay for.

Even better than the high priced hi velocity ammo is the sub sonic made by Winchester I picked up at the local gun shop just to try out.  Just a bit higher in price than the bulk packs, lower noise signature and it shoots, feeds and ejects and groups as good as, if not better than the premium .22.

That being said, its not .223 or .308, so its not like I have to take out a loan to buy 500 rounds.  It’s still a very cheap day of shooting for all four of us.  And if nothing else, all those failure-to-feed and eject problems are making for good training on how to quickly clear the gun and get back into action.

For .22 ammo as with everything else, you get what you pay for.

The last few days my comment box has been full. Like overflowing with junk from the usual spammers but also from what I suspect is an internet phishing attack from China, North Korea or Russia. I keep getting the same comments in the same very bad English from different commenter’s but also multiple comments from the same “person” on multiple posts.

One might ask how I know or would suspect a phishing attack for one of these counties and I would say that I don’t have anything concrete but I offer up two things that make me say so.

First is comments are left on pictures I post.  I don’t allow posting of comments to any pictures I post on the blog so when a comment shows up in the in box attached to a picture I know that is not the usual “male enhancement pill” spam or the latest of what the Kardashians (spelling?  who cares?)  are up to or where I can see hot pictures of someone famous etc.  So when “John Smithy” posts a comment to a picture and says “I find post good and helped me back often”  I know its not the usual junk.

Second, I have a friend who does IT security for a big business.  He and I have compared notes in the past: When I get lots of picture comments from “John Smithy” and “Jenny Smithy” and the lot he has said that they get a lot of “hits” on their security systems from “foreign” countries, specifically Asian counties, during those same times.  While he wouldn’t tell me who, he didn’t say I was wrong when I mentioned that I think they come from China, N Korea and Russia.

I also suspect some come from the Middle East……..

The hits, like the comments, often have links to site that most likely will down load phishing apps to your computer.  Phishing apps are looking for passwords, bank numbers and all kinds of your information besides infecting you computer and maybe passing it one to someone else or making your computer into a host for their activities.

It is also not a coincidence that this latest attack over the weekend seemed to peak as news of the death of the North Korean dictator came out………..again it seems that a lot of spam attacks happen very closely to news events in those countries I listed.

But then again what do I know………just a farm boy.

I really hate the end of the year for so many reasons.

Holiday Parties.  Everyone seems to have one, often they conflict with another party and its either a full blown affair or its finger foods and such.  Heartburn, heartburn, heartburn.

Gift Exchange.  Or really its gift card exchange anymore……..lots of thought in that.

Tax Planning.  Hurry up and get to your tax man followed by hurry up and either trade equipment or  buy fertilizer.  I just refuse to participate anymore.

Equipment and Fertilizer Dealers.  Wait until the very last day or two of the year to finally price anything because they know they have you hostage.  Again I just refuse to participate.

Cyber Sales.  I love shopping on line anymore because no one keeps any inventory.  That being said I can do without the 50 plus emails a day from companies I have got stuff from announcing their daily 50-75% off sale of the day.

The Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays debate.  The 500 emails a day from friend forwarding an email that got telling me that they say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays.

The last two times two on Facebook.

Watching grown people act like idiots in stores.  Please people please.  Get off you materialistic high horse, drop the attitude and relax a bit would you.

Holiday Business Schedules.  Everyone has a different schedule for when they open and close and so forth based on just about everything I have mentioned.  Getting anything done is a challenge.

Knowing that I just got use to writing this years date on everything and I will go through the next six months writing the wrong year on everything.  

Year end meetings.  Lets cram as many meetings as we can in before the 31st so that we can say we got it all done in the previous year.  Just poor planning on the part of so many organizations.

That’s just a few, there is not enough time for the exhaustive list…….


When I went to bed last night I remember thinking about all the work I would get done today with one more day of dry weather before the monsoons set in again.  Well at 5 am or so when I rolled over I heard water running and hoped it was the toilet, but it was rain.  We now had a 100% chance of rain and not 20% when I went to bed.

It’s been hard trying to switch to plan B today.

When I grow up I want to be a weather man………


I saw on TV this morning that we have lost another drone aircraft to mechanical malfunction somewhere in the middle east.  Not the one that Iran has, but another one.  Great.  Lets see just how fast we can give away our secrets to the rest of the world.  In my limited reading on the topic they say that the planes are to look for a safe place to land in the event they lose contact with their handlers.  This enables the plane to be recovered.


What genius with a top secret clearance figured that one out?  Your flying a secret plane with secret technology over a hostile battle field or enemy territory and you want to be able to recover the plane.  How about the thing blowing up so the Chinese or Taliban or whomever our enemy of the week is, doesn’t back-engineer it and use it against us?

The funniest thing was that President Obama confirmed that Iran had the first one yesterday, just three days after Iran showed it on TV.   He is a bit slow being from Chicago and such…….yet he and our Government say that they didn’t get anything.  

Well, to me it looks like they got a lot and I am willing to bet that our defense guys are on full damage control right now.  


Here’s a free tip to you Mr President and your staff from a farm boy:  Its call the information age.  News, pictures, video and rumors travel at the speed of light around the world.  If they are showing pictures of it on TV then I think we are all pretty sure they “got one” and we didn’t need you to “confirm” it.

If you all are that slow on a captured plane then that explains your lethargic approach and attitude towards the economy.

I have recently been amused by all the talk going on by those who identify themselves as baseball fans, particularly Cardinal fans, about one of their players signing a huge contract with another team and leaving St Louis.

“Where is his loyalty?”

“Its all about the money isn’t it?”

“I am going to burn all my Albert Cardinals merchandise!”

And so on………  You get the picture don’t you?

Anyway not being a fan of “games”, and I view baseball along with football and basketball as games, not sports. I have found this whole things very amusing to say the least.  Watching grown people, mostly in size only, wine and cry like a bunch of preschoolers who either messed their pants or who have had their toy taken away over a man making a business decision is humorous.

No one knows the team colors anymore.  No one loves the team.  Its all about the player and not the team.

When the manager of the Cardinals retired after the World Series win, where was all the bellyaching then?

Where is his loyalty?

Its all about the money isn’t it?

Nope, you didnt hear that did you?  You heard things like “Smart move Tony” and “He did a good job” and “He was a great manager” and so forth.

But Tony left just as Albert did.  Only for different reasons.

One of the reasons I loathe the NBA is what Michael Jordan did.  When the Bulls won it was all about MJ and his great score in the game.  When the Bulls lost it was all about the rest of the team.  It was never about MJ when they lost or the Bulls when they won.  The media and the fans forgot that it takes a team to win or loose, not one player.  When they won it was MJ and when they lost it was the team.

Was MJ a great player?  Yes, I guess he was.  But was he any better than anyone else?  Nope, I don’t think so because he had a team behind him.  A team that was ignored by the media and the fans.  Other great players who had such a supporting team behind them could have done some of the same great things.

Its all about the team.

So Red Bird fans your either a Cardianl fan or your not.  If you know the team colors then you understand that its not all about Albert or Tony but about everyone who sits in the dugout as well as on the field.  You will understand that Albert did what he did because he is a businessman and it wasn’t personal.  You will give him the same thank you and courtesy that you give Tony who is also a business man.

And you will put on your generic Cardinal shirt or hat and sit in your seat and support the team.  THE WHOLE TEAM.  You will know the team colors.  And when the Cards trade the next great player away from whomever you wont gloat but understand it was a business decision and support your team.

Otherwise your no different than what your trying to make Albert out to be……..

I have been working on a whole bunch of small stuff in the office, mainly fertility recommendations but also some “what if” crop planning.  A few years ago I wrote a simple spreadsheet to do some what if type comparisons.  Then the thing grew to a not so simple monster of a spreadsheet.  I guess the correct term would be a worksheet or work book with something like 15 or 20 different linked spreadsheets in the workbook.  You change your corn acres and all the sheets update:   seed needs, fertility, chemicals, insurance, fuel and so forth as well as what your insurance coverages are and what your marketing price targets should be.

In running the spreadsheet the last couple of days I have had to put in acres of corn, beans and wheat as well as landlord split acres.  I never realized how many sets of “acres” I have for the same acreage.

There are FSA Acres, Rented Acres, Share Acres, Spray Acres, Harvest Acres and GPS Acres to name a few.

None of them are the same.

If you farm you know……..its 40 acres you pay rent on that only has 38 acres in it by planting and spraying but is 37.2 by GPS around the boundary but shows 41 on the yield monitor and the FSA office has it down as 40.5 acres for the farm program.

So you rent 40 acres but insure 40.5 because that’s the official government measurement, you plant and spray 38 acres of inputs but combine 41 acres of crops and figure your coffee shop yields off the 37.2 acres of the GPS unit…………

All those acres add up…………

I read a story four or five years ago on a message board or magazine somewhere, I can’t remember where, about a guy who picked up every piece of spent brass (the fired brass cartridge casing) he would find.  The story was several pages long and it was funny as it could be, mainly because minus a detail or two, it sounded like me to a great extent.

He talked about picking up brass that his buddies left at the range, at the side of the road, at the bend in the road, that shooting spot in the middle of nowhere or wherever he saw it lying and no one claimed it.  The story also included a funny bit about finding a guy living in a house trailer in the middle of nowhere that had several oil drum barrels of spent .308 or .30-06 and how he tried to trade him out of it and ended up with one drum full.  He then later went back to try to trade or buy the rest of it and to his amazement the man, trailer and everything was gone from the property except the mail box.

I can’t recall a lot of the details of the story other than those, but I remember it was titled “Confessions of a Brass Hound” or “Hoarder” or “Hunter” or something like that.  It was funny.

I think everyone who shoots, picks up brass.  We can’t help it.  We either know someone who reloads and would want it or we reload and want it.  Even the calibers we don’t shoot we will pick up because we “might get a gun that would shoot it” in the future and we would already be a leg-up on components, saving us big bucks!  (Insert smiley face here)

About the time I read the article, I was working down in the southeastern part of the state in some “backroad” places and would be driving down some rock roads and find places where folks had be shooting into a creek bank or off a bridge or whatever, and I would stop and there would be brass everywhere.  I would get out and pickup .38, .45, 9mm, .357, .223, .22-550 and even the occasional .270 or .30-06.  I got to where I even made a loop over to the roads or bridges where I knew there was a good chance to find more brass since my last visit there if I was in the neighborhood.  Some days I would have a plastic grocery sack full of brass.

Needless to say it began to accumulate that summer.  I didn’t have a -06 or .270 or .45 so when I got “enough” I would sell it or trade it at the local gun shops for some components or .22 rim fire.  Everyone wanted brass.  It was worth a pretty penny and worth even more if I ran it through my tumbler before I tried to peddle it.  The other calibers I would keep because I either reloaded those or thought “I might get one” in the near future. Again it accumulated and those calibers that I “never did get” I would sell or trade off when the notion hit me.

Fast forward to this past week.

A buddy of mine got a .308 the other day and wanted to know if I had any brass.  I think he already knew the answer.  I had some “just in case”.  He wanted me to price it to him and after much consideration I did.  He said he would have to think about it.

Then he said no he would pass.

I couldn’t imagine that I had priced it too high, so on one of the days when I was out an about I stopped by a gun shop and was asking about reloading and brass and the guy behind the counter said he was interested in buying brass so I told him I had some .308.   What he said next shocked me.

“Not interested”.


I guess I must have turned white or something and he followed up quickly that “.308 shooters are not reloading these days” and that “they don’t want reloads or reloading components”.

.308 shooters in this area are not interested in shooting reloads or reloading?

I guess I just find that hard to believe but apparently it is true.  At least here “locally” the brass market for big calibers is dead.  I can’t imagine that they are not picking up their brass.  I can’t imagine that the economy is such that shooters are not considering reloading or stocking up on components.    Pistol brass is still a commodity.  .223 brass is a commodity.  But big caliber brass is dead.

I think if I get the chance I will make a loop one of these days back down to those back roads and bridges and see what people are shooting, if anything, by what brass is laying around.  And I will keep picking up brass because someone will want it or I will need it “just in case” despite what .308 shooters are doing here locally.

Seems like everyone has a blog, newsletter or magazine article on nitrogen and corn yields for the 2011 crop.  Well I guess I will chime in with my .02 worth on the topic this Friday.

A pound of N is a pound of N.  (Yea, we all know that I hope by now.)  It is where, how and when you place that N that matters most.  In 2011 where, how and when made all the difference in the world.  Yet there are still fertilizer dealers and farmers who are flat out in denial.

I have been told that some calculations have already been done here locally by a few farmers that their sidedressed corn had a $200/ac advantage to their preplant corn.  I believe that is the case and think is higher in some instances.  A lot higher in some instances.  Based on the available N testing that I did this spring, testing for both Nitrate and Ammonia N, there were many instances of preplant N loss, (urea, solution and anhydrous) of 50% with some fields I tested losing 75% by the time the corn was V2 – V3.  Some of those fields didn’t have corn growing in them by the 20th of April either…………

Fields with preplant N, where the farmer either tested and believed the results or assumed a N loss based on crop color and looks by V5-V6, and then sidedressed supplemental N at between 50 and 75 lbs/ac, and reported to me a 50-70 bu/ac yield increase over doing nothing.

So 50 bu/ac @ $6/bu = $300/ac Gross minus 75 lbs N/ac @ .50/lb = $37.50/ac Cost equals $262.50 NET/ac (no labor or machine cost subtracted).

So on 100 ac that’s another $26,250 of profit…………..Sidedressed N, applied with a knife, in the ground, between the corn rows.

Will that hold true every year……….. probably not.  But if a pound of N is a pound of N and placement and timing are everything, then how much are you willing to give up for convenience?  $262/ac?  $200/ac??  $50/ac??

In that range of numbers above is a lot of the cash rent that is paid in this area……….Where, how and when could have easly paid your cash rent………plus  a great return on your time an machiney investment.

Where, how and when was everything this year……..


Between things that have to get done I have been trying to get some things done here in the office and in the house that I have neglected or that got pushed to the back burner because of everything else that has gone on this year.

One of those projects that I got started over the weekend and am hoping to finish up today is installing the new kitchen counter and sink that has been laying in the family room for the better part of 10 months.  So at an hour here and a hour there I am down to installing the sink and plumbing it up.

Which means a parts run this morning…………

So off to two (2) local businesses to get the stuff I need.  Why not one (1)?  Because no one in this economy will stock any inventory.  Its not just hardware stores its farm equipment stores and tire shops and everyone with inventory.  They are all happy to order, at an additional cost, but no one has any inventory.  So it takes two stops to get what a fellow needs to do an odd job.

But I am wandering off topic………

I could get started on this inventory and parts thing esp. with equipment dealers who charge a premium for ordering stuff but I won’t.  I have learned to save gas on the farm side and just go online and order it that way.  Its here in 24 hrs delivered to the door by the Brown Truck of Joy (UPS) and I don’t have to leave the place, drive anywhere and find out they don’t have it…….plus its always flat rate shipping that is cheaper than the gas to drive to the parts store anyway……….

But again I wander off topic……..a blog for another time.

I got home from my parts run and put the receipts down on my desk so that I could record them in the checkbook.  You know a receipt, that strip of while thermal paper that comes running out of the cash register or computer printer once you complete your transaction and pay for your items.  A receipt.  A receipt is an evidence of purchase.  A receipt is an acknowledgement that a transaction has taken place.

Well, I guess we are so stupid as a nation anymore that this morning when I put the receipt down on the desk, I noticed on top of the of the white thermal paper, in bold face type the following:  THIS IS YOUR RECEIPT.  

What?  I mean what have people been thinking  the paper they get was?  THIS IS YOUR RECEIPT.  KEEP THIS FOR YOUR RECORDS.

Is being able to identify what a receipt is at this particular business so difficult that they have to print THIS IS YOUR RECEIPT on the tickets?  Is this some legal junk to keep them from being liable for returns or has there been a problem legally where they have to state to the customer that they have got their receipt?   

If any of this is the case I don’t want to shop there anymore.  Why?  Because that much stupid could rub off.  Both in the business that has to tell its customers what a receipt is and in the customers that shop there.  

Its no wonder our country and economy is in so much trouble……………

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