Monthly Archives: February 2012

Had an appointment to get cancelled so I hooked up to the chisel plow and went to the field.  The ground was working great and I got about 65 -70 acres done before a flat tire on the plow shut me down at dark.

Rain in the forecast tonight……….we will see.

Shed progress really picked up again today but by the time I got back to the house it was to dark for a picture……will update tomorrow if is not to rainy.

Progress was made today on many fronts on the farm it seems.

First off after two unsuccessful tries the roof is now complete on the new shed.  I am happy about that!  It looks like about one more good day and then the whole thing will be closed in, minus the doors.  I am told next is concrete.  So we are getting ever closer to being done.

Second I got the NH3 bar all but ready for side-dressing.  It has been a hit and miss job so to speak.  Minus a few little details its about ready.  But it will have to wait a while because one of the needed repairs to it will require a torch.  Why wait on a torch?

I ran out of acetylene and went to get another cylinder at the “air and acetylene company” (omitting full name to protect them) and they were out.  Out of acetylene.  How could you be out of acetylene?  Well its in short supply and they wont have any until Thursday.  Short supply?  What? Has there been a run on acetylene?  Well no, we just haven’t had much on hand lately (ah back to my no inventory pet peeve).  Well isn’t your company name “air and ACETYLENE company”?

So I wait until Thursday to finish the tool bar.

I then spent the rest of the day working on my truck getting ready for soil testing season to start.  Which looks like it could start this week.  Next is to work on the ATV and then I will be ready to go, sort of.

The new enclosed trailer is here now and I have to find time to get it outfitted for soil testing and other activities.  But I will use my old trailer until I get time to fix it up right.

That pretty much sums up today……..

I have been hit recently by those in academia who believe that anything that comes from the university system that is called “research”, “peer reviewed” and published is gospel.

Who’s gospel is my question.

Having been through a MS program and having done research, thesis defense and abstract of other research papers as part of my MS program, I read all research with much skepticism.

First thing I want to know about any research is who funded it.  Follow the money.  One does not fund a research project with hopes that their desired result is not discovered.  So who funded the research.  If the money is tied to a company or individual who could benefit from such research, then the results are suspect to me.  If the government funded any research it is suspect to me.   If  those who funded the research also are sponsoring the researcher, then they and their research are junk.

Call me paranoid.

Second I want to know who the researcher(s) are and what they have to gain from the research.  Now don’t get me wrong, a researcher who is looking for a cure to a disease is looking for RESULTS or POSITIVES in their research.  That to me is not suspect.  One who is getting sponsorships from the one who funds research and gets a positive result, then that is suspect.  We have a bunch of those folks in the world of agriculture right now.  There are several well known agriculture professors who are out on the rubber chicken and roast beef circuit who are pumping up the results of their research, who are also being sponsored by those who funded the research.  The ever-present sales pitch is part of their “research”.  So I take their results with a grain of salt.

Call me skeptical.

Lastly there are those who use old research to justify their current research.  In other words it’s easier to get researcher A’s paper and then go and duplicate the result on a small scale and get the desired result without doing real research.  Again there seems to be a herd of those type university folks out there right now.  I suspect its a lack of funding from the traditional sources but more likely its just to prove their bias or please their sponsor.

Call me hacked off.

What is research?  I think I know real research when I see it.  1)  It must be randomized and replicated in a way that removes the element of bias of a given result. (Side by sides are not research and multiple side by sides are not research)  2) It must be done in enough locations to show a true cause and effect relationship (for fertilizer, chemicals and additives)  3) The researcher should be free of bias.  While they can get funding from the persons for whom the research is for, they should not be sponsored by them.  4) The research should last over several trials or several years to show it is not luck, happenstance or coincidence.

The sad fact is that a lot of peer reviewed scientific research that was showed at winter ag meetings this winter had little true research in them.  Mostly it was either rehash of old research or it was so biased that it was meaningless.  Worse yet the professors from the Land Grants should know better……..and are the worst offenders.

Where is our winter?

Today the outside air temperature was almost 70 degrees.  Yes, 70 on the 23rd of February.  This just isn’t right.

Yet it is so wet that it is impossible to get the first shot of N on the wheat….

Or pull a soil sample…..

Or do any field work.

We are going to pay for this I am afraid.

Barn construction is moving forward pretty slowly, but moving forward.  The new metal for the roof arrived late last night only to be 3 ft to short.  They keyed in the wrong info on the order.  Great.

Sorry, no new pictures. Was too busy moving rock this afternoon to remember to take a picture.

Going to try and finish the week strong so we can make a strong run next week.

March is about here!

Today was a rat race from the word go.  Quick stop at the church office for some committee work then off to the bank.  The bank was a mistake.  I forgot that Monday was a holiday and it was crazy in there.  Took longer than I wanted or had time for, you know you have to visit, but it was a good visit and I got my business done.

Then a quick run to get planter parts so I can start on the planter rebuild just as soon as I get everything else done…..haha!

The rest of the day was occupied with either shed “issues” or with phone calls.  The shed issues are really nothing that doesnt go along with any building project.  But they are all things that have to be done.

So this evening just before closing I went back to C N C gun shop here in Benton to discuss the issues I had with the Ruger LCP.  Danny was pretty insistent that I was the only one with an issue and as we discussed it became apparent that he was right.

First problem was that we were not shooting with the laser on because it was so bright in the sun.  We were using the iron sights.  Apparently they are just for show….and tonight with the laser on I was hitting soda cans at 25 ft (~7 yards) pretty easy.  Matter of fact I was grouping them about the size of a tennis ball.  Much better than just barely hitting paper at the same distance on Sunday with the iron sights.

Second problem was that we were shooing at about 12 yards with the open sights.  Danny pointed out that the gun was designed for 7-12 yards with the laser as the sighting device.  Again with the laser on and at 7 yards it was no problem to hit a soda can.

Last problem was the tightness of the gun.  Tightness as in slide action and trigger pull.  The double action trigger pull is horrid compared to other double actions I have shot.  Again most all DA pistols I have shot have been pretty well “worn in” or “shot in”.  As Danny said the gun just needs rounds run through it to loosen it up.  That I can take care of!

So we will run a few boxes through it and see how she does…….with the laser of course.

But its still not even close to Glock………. or a good DA S & W revolver.

The barn crew worked on our shed again today and we are now 3/4 roofed and 1/2 sided.  The mud is a problem for the lifts, but I hope that with a few more days of work that they will get it buttoned up.  Then the mud wont be an issue.  The biggest issue today was the wind……it picked up 10 sheets of roofing and knocked it off the lift and bent it.  New roofing wont be here until Wednesday now.


Over the weekend we got to shoot a Ruger LCP, the little .380 with a laser sight on it.  Man was I disappointed.  You can skip the laser because it is pretty much a belly gun at best.  I mean at best that’s all it is.  We had a terrible time hitting paper at 7 yards.  The double action trigger pull was horrid as well.  I guess I am spoiled with my Glock.

Got the new hitch put in the truck and got a new trailer on the way for the soil sampling rig.  Will have to make some mods when it gets here……but that being said it will be a very nice addition to the fleet for this summer.

I didn’t get to the farm show at Louisville this year but it seems like everyone else did…….. wasn’t able to get much accomplished last week work wise.  From what I hear, there was all kinds of expensive stuff there this year… its a good thing I didn’t go!

Now that the meeting schedule is pretty much down to one here and there I want to get cracking on soil testing work and getting equipment ready for farming the next few weeks.  My hope is my “to do” list gets a lot smaller the next seven to ten days!

Yesterday I was listening to NPR or more correctly our local public radio station, WSIU, and heard a story about who in Illinois had contributed the most money to Illinois Politicians.  The top contributor was a Chicago Law firm followed by a couple of businesses in Illinois.  The amount they contributed was staggering.  The amount they contributed would have employed several hundred people at wages well above minimum wage.

If your so inclined, get on the net and do a search of campaign contributors in Illinois for your county.  It will surprise you who in your county contributes money and to whom.   In my little search I found that some people contribute and equal amount of money to “both sides”.  As an example I saw one fellow locally who contributed to the local Democrat House member and to a Republican House member in another district.  The shocking thing is the amount of money that goes outside of the area to other states where these folks do business as well.  Even in a bad economy some people have a ton of money to use to buy a politician.

Make no mistake about what these folks are doing with their money:  They are buying access and influence to elected people.  When you donate a million dollars you just purchased a Senator, House Member, Judge or Governor. You might even get to own a President.

OK there is nothing new here is there?

Nope, nothing new at all.

So why are you bringing this up now?

I always thought the way to change America, Illinois and Franklin Co. was for good men and women to run for office and get elected.  Folks with morals, conviction, Godly values and dedication to the working men and women of this nation.

That is a grand falsehood.

I have been living in the “Land of Make Believe” with Mr Rogers.

In reality all you need is enough money to buy one or more elected officials.

Its like going to the mall and looking in the window of the pet store.  There are all the cute puppies playing and pooping and you pick out the one with the spots you like and pay at the counter and he is yours.  If the dog acts up, you jerk his chain and get him back in line.

So with an elected official, you go to the State House, Senate, Governors Mansion and you look in the window and you pick the dirtiest, lying, cheating, immoral, valueless and brainless scumbag you can find who will sell his soul for money and you buy him. Then you jerk his chain, his wife/mistress/boyfriends chain or kids chain when they act up and he gets right back in line and does your work for you.

Simple isnt it.

All it takes is money.

So my new goal in life is to make enough money to buy my own elected official…..

And from the looks of the contributors list here locally the old saying holds true………you do get what you pay for!

Dont go cheap……….even if that money could be used to feed the homeless or employ hundreds of folks…………

Thanks NPR…… enlightened me today.


Thought I would take a picture of the Valentine Day snow we got this morning.  First snow of Winter 2012.  Had to take the picture fast………snow will be gone before noon as warm as it is……..

I had a few people want to know more about the barn fire I had pictures of on here  two weeks ago.

The barn was not ours, but the neighbors across the road.  They set it on fire, it was not an accident.  The 100 year plus old barn was in bad dis-repair and they tore it down with a track-hoe before they set it on fire.  There were a lot of old oak beams that had the peg and hole construction in them that they burned up.  That to me was the shame in the fire.

I posted the pictures of the fire on Facebook and David McCollum, who owns a local real-estate agency, provided a history on the old barn and the farm.  I have added some notes of the conversation on Facebook below to fill in a few details and also to note a few details that I have been told as well.

Most of the history of the barn and its owner are from David McCollum.  Edits or additions to the narrative in italics are by me.

The barn is/was located on what was the old Robert R. Ward farm. He was the President of the bank at that time (late 1920’s) in the Wood Building on the square in Benton. He and his family lived in the big brick house on North McLeansboro St. (later the  Eovaldi house) but also owned that farm where this fire was today. When the crash came in 1929, he went to this farm on his noon hour and jumped from the silo.  (It is also told by some in the area that he hung himself from the silo on his noon hour.)

My dad (George McCollum) told me that Robert’s Ward’s wife, Terzie, was a cousin of J.C. Penney. After she sold the big house on N. McLeanboro St. to the Eovaldis in the early 1950’s, she moved to a one story brick home in the 300 block of West Church St (north side of street) and lived there until her death in the early 1970’s. That house is where Dr Knapp lives.

Robert and Terzie had 6 children, 3 sons (1 was Russell “Bud” Ward), and 3 daughters, Martha “Sis” Ward Johnson (wife of Judge Webb Johnson), Sue Ward McCollum, and Mary Ward Doerr, who was my kindergarten teacher at Lincoln School. Sue was married to my Dad’s cousin Charles McCollum and they spent many years in Puerto Rico where he was a plant manager for Levi Strauss Co. Sue’s full name was Susan Esther Ward and that’s where the street next to the Eovaldi house got its name. (Susan Esther Street).

Ward also owned the Franklin Mining Company located due south and east of the farm?  I believe that is true about the mine company. (Also of note is that coal mining maps show that the only part of the east side of Benton that is not undermined from the old Franklin Mining Co is the block where the Eovaldi house is located, where Robert Ward lived as noted above.)  He also owned a dairy company that was located at the farm where the barn was.

If you know any more history on the barn, farm, mine, dairy or house please leave a response in the comments section.  I have to approve comments before they show up……so don’t worry if it doesn’t show up right away.



Just returned from the Illinois Project Appleseed IBC.  IBC stands for Instructor Boot Camp.  The IBC is a training event to help mentor IIT’s (instructors in training) or Orange Hats to become qualified instructors or Red Hats.  There are five stages of IIT from IIT0 to IIT4.  I am currently an IIT2, so I have two more IIT progressions before I go for my Red Hat!

The weekend consist of reviewing and teaching the history and events of April 19, 1775 as well as polishing up on the marksmanship skills necessary to teach the shooting portion of an Appleseed weekend.  To become an IIT you first have to have attended at least two Appleseed weekend shoots and shoot Rifleman, a minimum score of 210 on the AQT (Army Qualification Test) that has a maximum score of 250.  Shooting Rifleman is not an easy task as a lot of experienced shooters think it might be.  It took me three Appleseeds and a lot of practice in between them to master the skills necessary to score above a 210.

Instruction was done by Dond, Master Shoot Boss and State Coordinator for Illinois.  Dond has a very unique way of approaching a COF (course of fire) for an Appleseed weekend that results in very high scores for the shooters by the end of the day.  Small group sessions were done by Red Hats or instructors and shoot bosses to help polish up the things that were taught by Dond.

I had the privilege to be in small groups with Red Hats Wurstmacher, Castle Mountain, Shooter 30-06 and Tornado.  These are not there real names but their “forum” names that they go by at the shoots.  All of these folks are very passionate about the history and shooting that goes into a Appleseed weekend.

Castle Mountain reviews some of the history and teaches how to deliver the important points during a breakout session


Shooter 30-06 goes over the retreat of the British Regulars from Concord or the “Third Strike” using his “battle road map” during small group time.

Woodl practices explaining the AQT and how each stage of the AQT is to be shot during a breakout session.

It was a great time, made a lot of new friends and learned a lot to help me be a better IIT and one day a Red Hat!

I guess we can let the cat out of the bag now and make the first of two major announcments that I alluded to earlier in January of some changes here on the farm.

Not only is this  a shed we are building, but it will also be a warehouse for Pioneer Seed.  Robertson Farms is now officially a Pioneer seed dealer.  We will be servicing farmers mostly in the western part of Franklin Co.  It is a natural fit for us.  We have enjoyed a long and productive relationship with Pioneer as a seed customer and seed grower, mainly because I have felt that their agronomy and sales staff have always had my success at heart when offering me products and services.  So when the opportunity presented itself last fall we began the process to become dealers for Pioneer.  We have a lot to learn but are eager and ready for the challenge!

The end of day 5 on the new shed…………….now we are ready for metal!  The nice sunny days have allowed for quick progress, but the bottom has fallen out of the ground around the site. We had to pull their forklifts and tellehandler out today.  The telehandler  was setting on the frame with the last truss suspended in the air………fun!



Meanwhile, while the last truss was going up, we spotted smoke accross the field and found that our neighbors old barn was on fire.  By the time we got over there the major part of the black smoke was gone but the flames were still going as high as the silo tops!

The old barn has been a land mark on Rt 14 east of Benton and the silos are also the site where the original farm owner killed himself back in the 40’s or 50’s…………more on that later………

This is the progress on the new shop, Day 4.  Beautiful 60+ deg weather for February 1st makes things go fast…………

Current Farm Weather


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