Wednesday, December 31, 2008

As Your New Ag Secretary...

It is about time that I actually take a few moments to throw out some ideas of what I would do if I was the incoming Agricultural Secretary. It is safe to say that many of these things have been mentioned in prior comments, but I think that says a lot about the similarities I have with a lot of this blogs readers when it comes to agriculture. Oh, and as your incoming Ag Secretary I would like this photo to be my official picture for all press releases :)
  1. One of the first things I would try to do would be to make a major over-haul of the current farm bill. By major I mean that I would cut out the "social programs" from the farm bill and allow it to focus completely on the nuts and bolts of farming, not the distribution of food (and other peoples money) to others. If this were done I would hope that people could look more objectively at some of the things in the farm bill that actually apply to farming instead of focusing on the social components.
  2. After that was taken care of I would take a major look at the current subsidy system and the incentive programs. Not only do I believe that we need to phase out our current love of paying people to own crop land, but I also think we need to look at the ramifications of paying people not to farm. There are lots of good programs that have a lot that can be beneficial (see the Conservation Securities Program), but there are too many loopholes in the programs that we have. For example, our land had been in CRP for 14 years. At the beginning it was seeded down with native grasses, which was great, but in the subsequent 14 years nothing has been done and because of that it has even begun to suffer a little.
  3. Here is the big pipe dream, but I would not allow larger seed companies and packers to influence policy. They are going to only be looking out for themselves (as they probably should), but we need a government that hears and sees all sides of the story. Like I said, this is a bit unlikely, but it is what I would do.
  4. I would build a program for agricultural education to be taught in schools. I know that our schools have enough to worry about already, but at some point our students need to learn where food comes from and how it is produced. If we can again have educated food consumers (I believe we did at one time) than agricultural policy and support will probably change for the better.
  5. I would require staff to have a intimate knowledge of life on the farm, not just fiscal principles. I wouldn't go so far as saying that they had to be farmers (I don't want to be closed minded), but I do think it wouldn't be too much to ask that they at least spend some time with farmers and get to know their needs, wants, and desires.
  6. Oh, and one more thing... I would give all of you guys positions in my office so that I would know that I at least had some people willing to think, and think outside of the box!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Busy and Broken Down Update...

Life on the farm has been crazy for the past few weeks (it's been crazy for my blogging also). Between the super cold temperatures, the unseasonably warm temperatures, the time spent driving back and forth from the hospital to visit my friend/pastor, the Christmas season, and everything else going on it seems like we have had little time to come up for air (or consistently make a blog post). So, I just thought I would share "A Busy and Broken Down Update".
  • First of all, thanks for all of you who have been praying for my friend/pastor/boss and his family. He is doing amazingly well and is so far beyond where the doctors thought he would be that it is almost unbelievable ... almost ...
  • Because, of all the time that I spent at the hospital, at work, and in between my wood pile has slowly dwindled over the past three weeks. I have been going out and cutting a couple of hours at a time just to keep enough wood around to get by, but my stack hasn't exactly been growing. But, thanks to a great church friend and his buddy we now have two nice pickup loads of wood! That is a big relief.
  • As I mentioned we have had some extremely cold snaps and even a couple of really warm days over the past few weeks. That is kept us on our toes making sure all the livestock are comfortable and we didn't make it through completely unscathed, but they all have plenty of shelter/water/food. It does seem like there is never enough time though.
  • Because of everything that came crashing down all at once my shed plans kind of came to a grinding halt, but it is still in my mind and I am encouraged to see steel prices making their way down. In fact in a recent Menard's flyer you could get steel for $69 a square. Hopefully we can make a decision in the near future one way or another.
  • Now for the broken down part ... besides my body lately ... As I took the tractor out across the pasture on Friday to cut enough wood to get us through a night I slowly watched my loader bucket drop to the ground and hydraulic fluid stream out of the fitting on the cylinder. It was not what I wanted to see (especially sense this is the second set of cylinders I've had), but I put the tractor in reverse and started backing to the house. Until I ran out of gas! So, I quick hooked up a hay rack to the SUV, cut up couple logs along the fence row, threw a bucket over the tractors muffler and left (we had to get away for Christmas parties). The tractor is still sitting there and I haven't had a chance to look at it yet... Anyone know of a cheap cylinder repair guy in my area :)
  • Oh, and one more thing. On Christmas day my dad brought up one of my round bale feeders to put in with the Dexters. This was a great thing because it makes feeding out the round bales so much easier (and less wasteful). Of course there is only one problem now ... I need a tractor to put in another bale! Hopefully I can get something figured out tomorrow.
Such is life on this beginning farm ... at least for the moment.

Friday, December 26, 2008

What Would You Do?

That is the question that Yeoman posed in the comments of my "A New Secretary" blog post. I think it is a great question ... such a great question in fact that I wanted to move it to the front page so that everyone would be sure to see it. I would love to hear all things, from just a little thought to something that may have been kicking around in your head for awhile. It is one thing to know that there is a problem, but if we can come up with some workable (or even pipe dream) solutions we are better off.

So, here is Yeoman's question:
If you (dear reader, and Ethan) were appointed Ag Sec, what would you do.

We'll presume (a big presumption) actual support from the President, and Congress.

So, if you had the reins of power, in ag, what would you do?
There you have it. The question has been posed and now I'm sure we would all love to hear some thoughts. I'll kick in with mine pretty soon.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Christmas Pony

I can't really come up with anything better than this for Christmas day. I love the story and I love the way Lee Kline tells it. So, here is last years Christmas day post...

In my neck of the woods there is a "50,000 watt blow torch" of a radio station called 1040 WHO. Well, at least that is what their commercials say! You can here this station beyond the boundaries of Iowa and it carries local programming that I can only call, "pure Iowan" (and I say that with pride). One of the shows on that station that I grew up listening to is "The Big Show" which is the 90 minute farm show on from 11:30 AM until 1:00 PM and is hosted by Mark Pearson, Ken Root, and sometimes others ... but, on Friday is the real treat. On Fridays farm broadcaster emeritus, Lee Kline, makes an appearance at the end of the show to tell a story. Mr. Kline has one of those voices that just seems to sooth the soul and his stories often remind us of the days on the farm from years ago.

This past Friday he read a story by Clarence Hill who was a farmer from Minburn, IA. The story, titled "The Christmas Pony", was submitted to Farm Journal Magazine and was printed in December, 1954. It is a great Christmas story that really tugs on the heart. You must click on the title above to hear the story ... or CLICK HERE.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Whew ... We Made It!

Just a quick little update from the farm today, and then I'm off to get things prepared for our Christmas Eve Service. But, I'm glad to report that we have made it ... well I guess if I wanted to be technical I should say that we have almost made it, but the end is in sight. It has been a crazy couple of weekends (and a bit more), but by the grace of God all of us have come through unscathed. And what is this "it" that I'm talking about you ask? Well, I'm talking about...


Here in Iowa, as well as plenty of other places I'm sure, deer season is a pretty popular occasion (especially shotgun season). And, if you drive around the state of Iowa for any amount of time you will realize that it is pretty much needed because we have quite a few deer that like to live the good life and get fat on all of the corn in our fields. But, when they open up the shotgun seasons hunters come out of the woodwork.

Some hunt solo, some hunt in with a buddy, and quite a few like to join up in big ol' groups and tromp through the woods blasting any little deer that moves. Actually I guess I should say that they plant a few guys at one end of the piece of ground their are hunting then everyone else goes to the other end and starts walking though (and making as much noise as possible) to scare the deer towards the waiting shotguns at the other end.

If that is the way people want to hunt, that is perfectly fine ... when I go deer hunting I like to hunker down under a tree near a spot I know they will come, but then again I always miss them when I shoot (I have other excuses ... like the fact I use a flintlock smoothbore). The thing that makes deer season interesting on our farm is that we own a little 40 acre chunk in the middle of a ton of land owned by one guy. This means there is a large group hunting every which way all around us.

I stayed close to home during both the first and second shotgun seasons, except for once when I needed to cut a little wood because I knew some cold was coming. And, like I said we made it safe and sound ... although there were times when it sounded like a battle outside! So, now that everyone is done with their shotguns, I'm going to go and take my somewhat-trusty flintlock fowler out there and sit under a tree (hopefully on a day when it snows).

I don't really care if I get a deer, I just want to experience the relaxation of hanging out in our very own little piece of woods.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A New Secretary

With a new president comes all sorts of new things ... including a new Secretary of Agriculture. And, just this past week we found out that Mr. Obama's choice would be ex-governor Tom Vilsack of my own state (the great state of Iowa). I didn't catch much of the farm news this week, but from what I did hear it seems that they were fairly pleased with the choice if for no other reason than the fact that he is from Iowa and so he would be intimately concerned with the "needs" of today's Iowa farmer. On the other hand, there are plenty of people out there that are less that pleased with the pick.

Michael Pollan said, "a good day for corn. Less good for eaters." And, Allan Nation (editor of The Stockman Grassfarmer) wrote, "This ends the speculation that a 'sustainable ag' candidate might get the nod and the appointment is a major coup for Big Corn and the ethanol industry." In fact you can read more of what Mr. Nation had to say by checking out his blog.

What I know about Mr. Vilsack is that he was a two-term governor in our state who only ran for two terms ... after that he had a short lived run for the presidency. I also know that he actually isn't a native Iowan (he was born in Pittsburgh) and that he spent his time most recently as a lawyer among other things. I do know though that he is probably acutely aware of the workings of big agriculture and the ethanol industry in Iowa and beyond and seems to be a helper in the cause of bio-fuels.

It seems that some of the organic organizations aren't very pleased either because of the way he has reached out to the GMO crowd and the ethanol industry. In fact after a little wiki search I found out that the Organic Consumers Organization (never heard of it) thought that Mr. Vilsack was a poor choice, "particularly as energy and environmental reforms were a key point of the Obama campaign."

If we have any sense of history we know that the Secretary of Agriculture does have a lot of power to shape our country (see Earl Butz) if they are allowed to do so. I'm not quite sure what Mr. Vilsack has in mind, but it should be interesting ... at least he is an Iowan ... well, sort of.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Made in the USA

Wednesday I posed the question to you that Michael Pollan asked in his book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma". I think that is a very interesting question and like I said, one that could go many ways, but the way that I like to think about it is this ... what would our country (or any country for that matter) look like without farms?

If we ever got to the point where we imported all of our food (not going to happen, but let us just be hypothetical for the moment) just take a second to think about what the countryside would look like. I bet we would probably see sprawling cities, McMansion's for the wealthy, slum areas for the not wealthy, and lots and lots of pavement. Of course we would still have our "wild areas" that we go and visit to get away from it all, but most Americans probably wouldn't have much connection at all with the land ... and none with the food they eat.

But, go beyond what things would "look" like and think about how an import only food system would effect our society at large. Actually, I don't think we have to do much imagination on this one, just check out how Americans have gone up and down with the price of gas and oil the past few years. If our food was mostly imported just as our fuel is than think of the drastic price swings that could hit everyone.

And one more thing... Think of the basis of this country. Like it or not our country was founded as an agrarian society with strong ties to the land and all that it could produce for the people here and those to come. I really believe that those ties to the farm (or plantation or whatever) that our founding fathers had is one of the many things that drove this country to success. If we just began importing it all ... well, then I think we would be forgetting what got us this far.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Back In the Saddle?

Well, after no post for a few days in a row ... I think God decided it was time that I take a break ... I hope to be back in the saddle again and posting regularly. Despite all of the time I have spent running back and forth to the hospital things have carried on at the farm and I've had to carve out time each day to make sure the chores are done and the livestock are taken care of. All of this takes a bit more time during the joys of an Iowa winter, but thanks to the help of my family we are getting along just fine.

One thing that I have been think a lot about lately is a question that Michael Pollan asks in his book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma". He questions, "...why should a nation produce its own food when others can produce it more cheaply?" I thought that was an especially interesting question and one that has answers I believe that effect every part of American culture from defense to social concerns.

Like I said, I'm just beginning to get back in the saddle, so I don't have a lot of time. But, what would your answer to that question be? I'll take some time to expound a little more tomorrow...

**Pastor Jim Update** For those of you thinking of and praying for Pastor Jim and his family I just wanted to let you know that things seem to be going very well. We still have a long road ahead, but the signs are promising and his mind is as sharp as ever it seems. We are praying that he can move into a regular room today and that his blood pressure stabilizes. Thanks for all of your prayers and thoughts!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Only Corn

I just have time for a little mid-afternoon post today, but I heard something that caused me to think on the radio on the way to the hospital today (check the P.S. for an update). What I heard was Ken Root from WHO's "The Big Show" comment that a couple of years ago people were telling him that they didn't want to plant beans ever again. I'm sure this thought process had a lot to do with growing ethanol market (at the time) and the rising corn prices. But, it also has something to do with everything that is involved with the yields and the growing of corn.

Now for the but ... If you plant corn on corn on corn on corn (you get the idea) you are going to have some serious soil nutrient problems. In order to fix the nutrient problem you are going to have to apply a lot of chemicals and what not (again you get the idea). This brings you into a vicious circle that can only be solved by rising grain prices because you can only assume that input costs are going to continue to rise, especially if you use them more and more.

Despite all of the potential problems there are still probably going to be farmers that plant corn on corn this year because there is a possibility for good prices in the future because of dry conditions, debt, and the somewhat stronger position of the dollar compared to a few countries. Ahh, the global market at work! It is an interesting position that we are in right now and even somewhat scary ... what do you think?

Now for the P.S. Today is a good day for Jim (and Laura and the rest of us!). He had the vent removed and has been able to talk a few words and even kiss his wife!!! We have a long ways to go, but today is just a very happy day in the waiting room. In fact we are even talking about the possibility of moving to a different waiting room ... something to look forward to!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

If You Want...

If it is your thing I know we (my pastor's wife and family) would appreciate your prayers. Our pastor (you can check out his picture at the link) suffered a few strokes and they were on both sides of his brain causing bleeding in both sides. He went through a 4 plus hour surgery yesterday and the doctor basically said that, "it went as well as they could have planned". But, there is a long road ahead with concerns of brain swelling and so much more.

I've been around the hospital quite a bit, and have only gone home long enough to catch a few hours of sleep and do the chores. But, I do have some more thoughts after reading a bit more of "The Omnivore's Dilemma". Hopefully I can get this until later today.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No Time Today...

Sorry, but today is going to be the first day in a long time that I won't be able to throw up a post of any kind. Yesterday our pastor (I'm the associate pastor if you didn't know) went to the emergency room and ended up in Des Moines with some complications. He seems to be improving slowly, but there still isn't a lot that the doctors know yet about the how's and the why's.

I was up there until early this morning and then I came home for some sleep and to do chores. Now, I'm headed back up before the rush of Wednesday night activities takes over. If it is your thing I'm sure we would all appreciate some prayers for Jim.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What Do You Want Them to Know?

I think that there are a lot of misconceptions about various jobs. In fact I can't count the number of middle school or high school students that have asked me what exactly I do all week as a "youth pastor". Farming seems to be one of those occupations where misconceptions exist, or even better, people just have a plain lack of knowledge about it. On one hand I could argue that this really isn't that big of a deal because people probably have a lack of knowledge about what a lawyer, doctor, or teacher does. But, on the other hand our entire country used to have a pretty intimate connection to the agricultural world so a lack of connection is a departure for our country.

Let me give you an example of that detachment. My mom teachers 2nd grade in an Iowa "city" of about 60,000 people. This "city" (it is a city by my standards) is the home of "Cattle Congress" and multiple John Deere manufacturing plants. But, when she teaches the "farm" unit to her students and brings in all of my toys it is like she is showing them a foreign world. Not that they should be intimately acquainted with all things agricultural, but these kids in a "city" surrounded by agricultural don't have any connection with the farm.

So, since I'm in the midst of reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and am in the middle of the section where Mr. Pollan spends a week at Polyface Farm I have had one question that keeps running through my mind. If there were just a couple of things that I could let the average food consumer know about farming and where their food comes from what would it be?

Would I want them to know about the care and work that goes into producing high quality food ... would I want to share with them about the difference in production practices that various farms are using across the country ... would I want them understand some of the food/farm policy that drives much of food prices ... what exactly would I want to share with them?

So, I pose the question to you. What are a couple of your main things about our agricultural world that you would like everyone to know?

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Couple of Pictures...

Since our Dexter's were the first piece of the puzzle that we began putting together a few years ago I just wanted to take a second today and let you admire them! This whole thing, which is now Stoneyfield Farm, began because I had high cholesterol and we heard that grassfed beef was a good option. From there I began researching and came across Dexters (good forage converters) and we decided to take the plunge.

At that time taking the plunge included buying one bred heifer and a steer calf. It is also important to point out that at that exact moment we were living in town (a town that doesn't allow chickens) with no real prospect to move to the country, but we knew that it was the direction that we felt like we were being led so we jumped out on the limb. Now, as you can see from the picture above we have gone a little deeper into the Dexter world ... and that is only about 1/3rd of our herd!

Below is a picture of RAD's Victoria. She is the little heifer that started it all for us and I must admit that she is still one of my favorite cows (there is a dun heifer that is my favorite, you can check out a picture of her at my Epi-Log. Victoria also happens to be one of our most photogenic cows, thus the picture of her. I hope to get up some better pictures of Hershey this week, but you have to sneak up on him or he will be right beside you mooing!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Update on an Outbuiding...

I thought I would just take a few moments to give an outbuilding update. If you have been following this blog any over the last couple of weeks you may have seen that we are considering building shed/outbuilding yet this year. We have looked at everything from carports, to carport like barns, to hoop buildings (I just checked on those a couple days ago), and of course a post building. Each one of the options had their upsides and their downsides, but I think we have come to the conclusion that if we are going to build that it is going to be a post frame.

So, I called the same guy that built our house to get a quote. He had one of the best prices when we were searching around for the house and I certainly loved his work. This is what we had him give a quote for:
  • Option #1: 32x24x12 post frame building with trusses and steel on the roof and three sides. The building will have two 16 foot wide bays on the front.
  • Option #2: 32x24x12 post frame building, but with steel only on the roof. It would be framed as if it was going to have steel on the three sides like the first option, but we would put the steel on at a later time.
He came up with the numbers and it appears there is a little more than a $1,500 difference for a building without wall steel. If we are able to swing it that is what we are going to go with, and here are my reasons:
  • First of all, putting the steel on the sides is something I feel comfortable doing and even though it will only be saving a few hundred dollars it will still be money saved.
  • By not having him put steel on the sides, and the back especially, it will be very convenient to add a lean-to off the back next year. Since we went with a 12 foot side wall we can add a nice sized lean-to and still have a 7 or 8 foot sidewall in the lean-to. This would be nice for implements, wagons, or livestock.
  • Even though the building would be wide open to the wind it does give us something under roof for the rest of the winter and we could throw up some wood in one corner or something to keep the snow out.
  • And finally, by going through the same builder that did our house we have the option and choice to match the colors of our building if we want to. I'm not sure if we will, but the option is there.
Now, all we have to do is make sure we have the money to do it! I'll report back to you on that...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Playing Farm...

"It looks like I'm playing farm again, just like when I was a kid ... except this time everything is way more expensive!"
That (or something like that) was my quote to my dad today as we gazed out across seven of our Dexter cows and our herd bull ... on our farm for the first time. What started out as, "We are just going to get a bred heifer and a steer and do a one year experiment", has in a short time (about a year and a half) become a herd that will take three trips to bring here and another trip to bring the equipment. Sometimes I sit back and think it is cool, other times I'm a bit amazed, and sometimes I think about admitting myself to the crazy house... But, all in all I'm very excited that we are beginning the big move and bringing our herd home.

Thanks to a lot of help from my dad we were able to put up the fence we needed (in used cattle panels and old posts that we got from Becca's uncle) earlier this week and then finish up a little today. On Tuesday we pounded posts into wet and mushy snow. Today we pounded a few more posts into dry and blowing snow, but thankfully the snow has acted as insulation and the ground was still very soft underneath.

It was nice watching them all come out of the trailer and check out their new digs ... even though they are a little small. It will be a good area to feed them over the winter and a nice sacrificial area that we can allow to get torn up a bit in all of the freezing and thawing of a Southern Iowa winter.

Now my son and I will have a few more chores to do in the morning, but I think he is just as excited as I am!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Looking to Upgrade My Saw

It is time again for me to appeal to all those great minds that read this little ol' blog. In the past whenever I have been thinking about getting something or doing something the input and feedback I have received has been tremendous, so I thought I would just throw it out there again. This time I'm looking to upgrade my chainsaw. Since we heat our house almost completely with wood this is a very important farm tool and I would like something that will get the job done, last, and of course it has to be something that I can afford.

Currently I have a Stihl 009L, like the one pictured above, that I picked up at an auction. The price was right and I knew I needed one so I jumped on it. This particular saw has a 40.8 cc engine with a 14 inch bar and seems to get pretty good reviews by the tree trimming guys. In fact it has worked alright for me cutting up firewood so far, but I know this is a saw that is meant for limbing and not felling trees or cutting lots of firewood.

Here are what I believe are some of my needs:
  • Mostly I am cutting dead wood that is still standing with the ocassional downed tree depending on its state of rot. I would say the biggest tree I have cut so far was about a 10 inch diameter, but I know there are bigger ones to be had.
  • I'm going to keep my 009L around, but I wouldn't be opposed to trading it in if I could find a place to do that. With that in mind I would like a saw that I can use in lots of different applications
  • I want a saw that is easy enough to handle with good balance.
  • I want a quality saw that can take some serious use in the fall and winter.
Those are just a few of the things that I thought would matter in my search. As far as brands go, I have researched Stihl (that is what my dad has had for 20 years ... one saw), Husqvarna, and Echo. The only dealer that we have in our town is Stihl, but I do know of a Husqvarna dealer close by and an Echo dealer that isn't too far when it comes to service issues.

I have to admit that I'm very impressed with my little 009L. It starts up in two or three pulls and now that I have a new bar it cuts nicely. As I mentioned my dad has been using the same Stihl for over twenty years now and it is still going strong. His saw has been dropped, left in the rain, and run over by a truck. But, it has only been in the repair shop a couple of times and has cut a lot of firewood for the house.

What do you guys think? Are the Stihls of today as long lasting and tough as my dad's old 02-something and my 009L? Are there any other particular brands or models to check out? Any other great chainsaw shopping advice?

Thanks a ton for any help.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Firewood and a Follow-up

Some times I write my posts the night before so that I can get them up early. Sometimes I write the in the morning because I don't have time the night before. But, today is one of those situations where I didn't have time last night (because we were putting up fence) and I don't have a ton of time today (because I need to go cut firewood). But, I will say that it is a perfect day to cut firewood ... it is a bit windy, but the snow is falling and that is my favorite time to be in the woods.

Before I head out though, I wanted to take a few seconds and follow-up on yesterdays post regarding Allan Nation's wheat cost/price blog post. If you haven't had a chance yet I encourage you to check out the comments because there was a lot of good discussion in there. Including some evidence that the numbers might be off a bit from the real world ... or at least some peoples real world.

The most interesting thing I gleaned from the comments though was a great realization of how much the system has changed. It was mentioned a few times in the comments about different crop/livestock rotations that farmers use or have used in the past, but I know in Iowa those have mostly left. What I'm not sure of is the system of corn and bean buying only lead to them leaving or if it was the other way around.

For example, many farmers here in Iowa (even in the best black dirt central Iowa land) used to have a good rotation of alfalfa, beans, corn, and maybe even some wheat or oats. Many of those same farms had cattle also and they would graze their corn fields after harvest or rotate to a pasture now and then. Things have changed now. Most farms rotate every other year between corn and soybeans (and nothing else). They have moved the cattle off the farm so they no longer winter graze their corn fields (plus, they have taken down a lot of the fences so they could plant a few more rows).

We have gotten to the place that if a farmer wanted to raise and alternative crop (anything besides corn and beans) they might have to drive a ways to sell their crop. This makes crop diversification very difficult, and I'm not sure how this sort of system would even be fixed...

Anyways, just a few thoughts from yesterdays post. Thanks so much for the great discussion! Now, I'm off to the woods...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Are the Wheels Falling Off

This morning as I was searching around some of the websites that I like to read for good blogging fodder I found a November, 21 blog post by Allan Nation (on his blog). The post was titled, "A Wylie Coyote Moment In the Wheat Belt" and you can read it by taking the link above and scrolling down a little bit. The thrust of the article is about the falling wheat prices, but Mr. Nation can't resist a little prophecy about the corn market. Here are a few especially interesting quotes from the post.
"Currently, the input costs to grow this winter’s wheat crop are estimated to be around $6.00 a bushel, but elevators are only offering $3.17 for it. This apparent sure loss has not slowed America’s wheat farmers as they start to plant this year’s crop."

"According to one Oklahoma banker, growing this year’s crop will probably make them poor. He estimates that half of the net worth of his current farmer customers will be lost in 2009."

"Watch for a Farm Bailout bill in 2010."
Since in am ignorant in the growing of wheat I was wondering if someone could enlighten me on the "hows and whys" of wheat costing $6.00 a bushel of input costs. I'm not disagreeing with the number, I just don't know what goes into a wheat crop like I do corn or soybeans. But, one thing is for sure, I do understand why the wheat farmers are continuing to plant wheat even when the prices are so low ... because that is what they have been told to do and that is the only agricultural system they know.

I assume that many of the wheat farms are large scale mono-crop type operations and they probably are tooled up enough to just switch operations on the fly. Because of that they just plant wheat and some may even plant more ... because that is what our government wants.

As for corn having the same fate and the 2010 Farm Bailout Bill ... Well, I'm not sure what will happen with corn, but I do know that corn closed at $3.32 yesterday which is darn close to the break even point. As for a farm bailout ... what more could they do that they don't already do in the 2008 Food Stamp ...err... Farm Bill?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Just Had to Share This Picture

This is what our farm looks like now. Not exactly what I had planned because it does slow things down a bit, but what are you going to do. The most surprising thing actually is that I had no idea that we would receive so much snow! When we lived in town, and had high speed internet, I was constantly checking the whether reports and radars. On top of that I usually at least caught some television weather. But, now that we live out in the boonies with slow internet and no TV I was kind of surprised when I woke up Sunday morning.

Being surprised by the weather isn't a completely bad thing though. It would have been nice to have a little more preparation done, but on the other hand I think it is good to flow with what the weather decides to give us from time to time. I know one thing for sure, it will slow my outside work down a little bit for some time, but that will just give me more time to work inside.

I do hope it melts and dries out though...
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