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kansasfarmer's blog

June 2008 - Posts

  • Remembering to count my blessings.

    Sometimes being a farmer and being an optimist at the same time is a very steep hill to climb.  Certainly in Kansas our weather can be problematic at times,but usually it doesn't go on forever. However, whether you chalk it up to climate change or just the luck of the draw, the months since November 2007 have been challenging for me weather wise. 

    We managed to go since Monday morning without rain.  I pushed it and got into the field drilling some well drained soil Tuesday late evening.  We had a good run for the most part, and as I posted earlier started cutting our truly inferior wheat yesterday.  Today we ran into some ground that needed a couple more days to dry before it could be drilled.  There was only a very slight chance of rain for this evening, I was trying to remember that about 6pm when the weather alarm sounded over the radio on the combine.  There was a line of storms about 50 miles to our north, you could see the thunderheads clearly, and they were moving east, when a piece split off and came straight south.  I pushed my old red combine as I watched vivid lightening light up the sky and from time to time pressed my face against the side window to look up above me to make sure I wasn't about to get poured on.  It got darker and darker, my grain loss monitor steadily climbed, but I knew our already poor test weight wheat was about to get alot poorer.  Finally, as the lightening got near enough for the thunder to be heard in the cab, I gave up, dumped and raced the truck to the shed, had Mrs KF haul me back to the combine and beat the rain in.  Just checked the gauge, .6 of an inch.  Perfect if the work were all done. 

     It is easy to complain about our situation.  Crops choked with weeds, drowned out spots, still some unplanted fields, hay far past its prime or put up brown or near black.  But then, it is good to think it could be worse.  A fellow about 5 miles north east lost 200 acres of corn a week ago to hail.  Farmers out in western and northern Kansas have lost whole crops of wheat to hail.  Iowans and others all along the Mississippi are flooded out.  I have a neighbor to the south who lost 180 acres of wheat last year, and now it looks like the same 180 acres may not get planted to soybeans this year.  Our church is having a fundraiser Saturday morning for an aunt of one of the parish members who lost her entire home in the Chapman tornado. 

     My wheat is lousy, some of my soybeans are still in the sack.  160 4x6 bales of alfalfa got wet in the windrow.  But, the grass is growing, the calves are getting big.  The wheat might be scabby and poor and getting a big dock, but it is a record price.  20 bushel beans this year may pay out like 50 bushel did 3 years ago.  My new niece was born this morning, had all her fingers and toes, and my mother didn't wreck getting to Nebraska to see her.  So, things could be much worse.  Still, it would sure be nice if the weather could cooperate the rest of the summer.

  • The grumpy farmer.

    We have in this country a candy called "Jolly Rancher".  I was offered one one day by a landlord, I said I would rather have a grumpy farmer as that is what I generally am.  He was tickled by that and from then on referred to me as "the grumpy farmer". 

     The reality of our situation, or at least mine, has made me a very grumpy farmer, but given I have alot of time on my hands this week at night because my wife has gone to a workshop on autism(to help her with her job, not understand me) I am trying to look on the bright side.  The dark side is, we are racing to June 25th the cutoff on planting soybeans for crop insurance, and in reality the cutoff within a few days depending on the rest of the summer for them to have any chance of being a good crop.  I have mentioned I think I have planted them after wheat as late as the 12th of July, but that is just a huge crap shoot.  Soybeans are my main cash crop, and I had hoped this might be the "crop of a lifetime" with the price as high as it is.  Seems like there is no chance of that, there is even a chance as I look at the rain marching toward us on radar yet again that perhaps they will not get planted, at some point it will become ridiculous to waste the seed. 

     The bright side is that the corn is beginning to look pretty good, especially that on the thinner soil that loses the moisture the quickest, just the opposite of what is usually the case.  And, the price of corn continues to astound us all over here.  The situation in Iowa would suggest that we have a chance of it getting higher, especially if the cornbelt goes into a dry snap.  This is hard on the livestock end, but remarkably the fat cattle futures continue to climb on the CME, and this is keeping feeder cattle at year ago prices even with the prospect of $8 corn.  Cull cattle are high priced as well, I am going to try to gather 13 culls tomorrow to sell.  I guess one has to be glad that there are some bright spots, but when I look at my unplanted fields I get pretty gloomy.

     However, it could be worse.  My neighbor, who is a very good farmer and does things right, dumped Roundup in his sprayer instead of crop oil and killed about 30-40 acres of non RR corn.  To make matters worse, it was the best looking corn in the area, and according to my Brit cousin who came down from Canada the best looking corn in the USA he had seen in the 3000 miles he had put on his rental.  So, while I am not done planting, at least I haven't murdered any of the crop I do have in the ground.

  • One eye on the sky, and the other on the calender.

    Returned my niece to her rightful owners yesterday, met my brother in Topeka.  Ate a disappointing meal at Red Lobster, but my niece got to pet a lobster, that I guess was worth the trip.  Kind of disturbing really, all this about animal rights and cruelty with the four legged animals, yet the lobsters are on display right up until they are cooked....I think I will stick to steak.

    Wichita Kansas reports over 13 inches of rain for the month of May, given their annual rainfall would be about 25 inches or so, it shows how wet they have been, normal for the month I think would be a tad over 3.  I don't know what we have had, 5+ last weekend.  Thunder and lightning this morning and yesterday morning but just a sprinkle of rain.  Flood watch cancelled, but now replaced.  Warnings of very bad weather Wednesday and Thursday.  60% chance of rain tonight and tomorrow, possibly heavy.

    I have planted alot of soybeans in June in my lifetime, but rarely has the first of June shown up on the calender without one soybean being in the ground on my farm, one other time I believe.  After the son came out today I went into several fields to judge if I could go this afternoon, I need one or maybe two more drying days.  The alfalfa needs cutting, I guess I am too much of a coward to cut with rain forecast every other day.  I am questioning my farming ability at the moment, my judgement really, wondering about the 3 or 4 dry days I spent working cattle when I possibly could have planted some beans.  The haymower is hooked to one tractor, the planter to the other.  All I can do is grumble. 

    I think we are virtually assured of a rain tonight, that will probably keep me out until Thursday or Friday with no more rain.  June 20th is the magic number to me.  It seems like you have a fighting chance of growing some decent soybeans up to June 20th, after that your prospects drop like a rock each day.  I will be a nervous wreck if by this time next week I haven't planted a day or two.  Anyone who recalls my posts from last year will remember similar sad stories, then me begging for rain when we returned from the UK in August.  We still managed a respectable crop, I hope 2008 works out that way. 

    The good news is, they are starting building me another machine shed tomorrow.  Just another way to spend money, but I have to keep the equipment out of the rain.  I suppose once it is finished, it won't rain for 3 months. 

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