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kansasfarmer's blog

October 2008 - Posts

  • Hard Freeze, harvest drags on.

    Luckily, we have just now experienced our first frosts and freezes, starting Sunday morning with a light frost, and progressing until this morning where we are standing at 25F.  Our late crops have matured, so the only effects we will see are allergy sufferers now get some relief, the grass will go from being not very good to totally worthless, and our sappy soybean stalks will now be much easier to feed through the combine. 

    After being out most of last week because of rain, a few combines started rolling yesterday, I expect today most farmers will resume harvest.  With crossed fingers we now hope for Indian summer, or at least a change to a dryer forecast, the 10 day looks good right now with no rain past election day.  We need all the good weather we can get, perhaps finally after nearly a year of wet weather we will turn off dry.

  • Years with 8s.

    Years with 8s in them have proven pretty memorable for me. About all I know about 1968 was I was born that year, although I understand that there were some pretty big riots that year in the USA as well, I don't think the two were connected.  1978 is memorable because my dad built his machine shed that year, and New Years Eve of '78 is when the snow began that ushered in the most severe winter of my lifetime,  the plowed snow along the roads was 8 feet high, we missed so much school we had to go on some Saturdays when spring finally came to make it up.  Since I was only 10 and my brother 6, we thought the entire winter was pretty neat, no school for days on end and snow deep enough in our front yard to make an impressive complex of tunnels and fortresses, dad and granddad didn't enjoy that winter nearly as much as we did.  1980 was the most severe drouth we have had in my lifetime, 55 days in a row over 100F, and about 4 inches of rain from April to October.  1988 I bought my first land, and voted in my first Presidential election where the first Bush defeated Michael Dukakis.  1998 I suffered through 8 cent a pound butcher hogs, and the biggest rain of my life on Halloween night, 14 inches.  2008 will be memorable as well, first for the entire year being wet, the wettest I remember, with no real breaks.  This started about a year ago, right after Thanksgiving and has gone on and on, we fought mud all winter feeding stock, we fought mud planting our spring crops, we fought mud cutting wheat, we fought rain haying, and now on average we have 2 days every 8 that we can combine or do any field work at all, rain this afternoon put us out and the TV screen is scrolling the severe weather warnings that have been with us all spring and summer, 200 miles away in western Kansas a solid line of severe storms marches our way, hopefully much of the punch will gone when they get here, probably about 3 or 4 am.  We have barely dented harvest, and with just 60 acres of wheat planted the odds of us getting anymore in look slim.  Halloween is my goal to be done harvesting, no way will this be possible this year, I will be very happy if we can combine 3 or 4 days between now and Halloween, that doesn't even look probable, from the forecast we are out until Sunday, of course the approaching storms could harvest much of what is left, that would be a very fitting end to this growing season. 

    Aside from the farming, but impacting it, will be this election, historic no matter how you cut it.  More than likely we are about to have our very first non-white President, and perhaps our most liberal President ever.  We have seemingly been in this cycle forever, what you can't see across the pond is not only do we listen to an endless stream of propaganda about McCain and Obama, we are also electing all Representatives both state and national, and in the case of my area one US Senator, one state Senator, a myriad of judges, county commissioners, county prosecutor, township officers, and our county Sheriff.  The hottest race in our county aside from the President, is that of county Sheriff.  The current Sheriff was installed in 2005 immediately after the election, due to the fact the old Sheriff was shot and killed at a meth lab.  Several deputies applied for the job, as the old Sheriff was a Republican the county GOP committee appointed the new Sheriff who is ex highway patrol.  Even though his parents live here, the feeling at the time was he was an outsider, and this has dogged him ever since.  There have been some particularly nasty allegations during this election for Sheriff, and the division is as pronounced as that between the Obamaites and McCainians, just more up close, personal and nasty.  I support the current Sheriff, although I feel not enough is being done to stamp out meth in the area, I think most of us felt after the murder of our former Sheriff law enforcement would declare all out war on drugs in the county, this simply has not happened, and coming up on 4 years after the event, things are no better and maybe worse, the only thing resolved is that the murderer now sits on death row. 

     My name is on the ballot for township treasurer, as in the previous 3 or 4 elections, I am unopposed.  I was somewhat shocked in 2004 to receive a phone call election night from a friend asking if I had won....."no one ran against me, I am sure I did" I replied, I had not even thought to call and find out.  I went on to tell the friend if indeed I had lost in a race where no one ran against me, I more than likely was not fit to serve anyway. 

    The 2008 election goes beyond normal though, there is a feeling I believe throughout this nation that we are seeing a fundamental shift in our fortunes as a people, if in fact we can still be referred to as "a people".  Our nation is fractured, split, at odds with itself.  The disgust with our government is real, and deep.   There is depression, some fear, anger and in some cases downright hatred coming to the surface.  

    I caught the hour BBC America world news just now.  Stories of course about our election, the Brazilian economy, and a windfarm near Skegness, Lincolnshire were the headlines.  Matt Frei, who has a very irritating manner about him, gives an interesting spin on things in the USA from the perspective of a foreigner. 

    Yes, 2008 is going to be most memorable.  Wild weather, wild swings in prices, political anxiety on every level, and what perhaps will be looked back upon as the beginning of a real Depression.  We are pretty tough folks here in the states, we will survive this.  We may have some pain along the way, especially these next few years, but all those around the world hoping we are about to implode are going to have a rude awakening.  We may fight amongst ourselves, but at the heart of it all we are Americans, we love our country, and we will persevere.

  • Christmas gets cancelled.

    Trust me, this will end up being funny and not depressing.

    My mother has lost half of her retirement in this stock market meltdown.  This isn't good, but she and dad are not destitute, it sounds bad but she asked for part of it.  My dad, my brother and myself have begged her for 10 years to take at least half the money and put it in the bank, she fancies herself some sort of a financial wizard and would always begin preaching to us about how the interest the bank paid would not "grow her investment as quickly as inflation" it was always pointed out to her by us that she could lose it overnight in the market, which she has. 

    Saturday night when I came in from combining, my wife confronted me with a shocking revelation, that my mother had suggested we not exchange gifts at Christmas....my mother loves Christmas, she loves blowing money on gifts.  She isn't that broke, yet anyway, which makes it all the more ridiculous.  I ate supper, then couldn't stand it anymore, I had to call my brother with the news.  Both my brother and his wife refused to believe me until I got Mrs. KF to confirm that my mother actually did suggest no gifts this Christmas. 

    Mrs. KF related to me as well that my mother seems not the least bit concerned with the financial welfare of Mrs KF and myself, she seems chiefly worried about my brother and herself and my father, according to Mrs. KF my mother believe we are set.  This is very surprising to me since my brother makes more than Mrs. KF and I put together, and on top of that his wife works, and my father has deferred his wheat check until 2009 because of a fear of too much income tax, as well as the fact my mother's management position in healthcare makes more than Mrs. KF and I put together....yet, we are supposedly the wealthy members of this family. 

    Last night, we called my brother to talk to my 3 year old niece on Skype, using the webcam.  Thinking she would not understand what I was talking about, I mentioned to my brother about Grandma cancelling Christmas, too which my niece immediately began crying, through the sobs I heard clearly, "I want Christmas!!!".  Feeling sheepish, I assured her that no matter how poor the economy or her parents and grandparents might be, her rich uncle Brian and aunt Amy would make sure that she had Christmas.  I also instructed her that the next time she talked to her grandmother to say, "Grandma, you have enough money for Christmas".  She was busy repeating this when bang, our electricity went out, just like Owd Freds did. 

    I had thought I heard a car coming down our road when this happened, since we have alot of drug crime around us I was convinced they had cut our power with the intent of robbing us.  I bolted from the computer in the dark to try to get to our bedroom to retrieve my 9mm pistol from my underwear drawer, running smack into the door frame, nearly knocking myself unconscious.  Rubbing my throbbing skull, I realized my cell phone would give off enough light for Mrs.KF to put batteries in our flashlights, we lit candles, then I called my brother back(we learned the power went out over a very wide area, so my theory we were about to be the victims of a robbery or worse was unfounded).  My brother in the meantime had called my parents, and Olivia as instructed had told her grandmother "you have enough money for Christmas grandma".  Grandma predictably now wants a piece of my hide for making her granddaughter think she is the Grinch who stole Christmas.   Is is any wonder my brother is my mothers favorite son???

  • October harvest moon.

    Thought quite a bit of the day about blogging about harvest, then read about Richard Cobbald's fire and his remarks about the fire service and decided to blog about that, but after going outside to put my pickup in the shed and seeing the nearly full moon, I was back to harvest.

    Our planting dragged on forever this spring, so will our fall harvest.  We only got 80 acres of soybeans planted in the ideal window and I have combined 55 acres of that this weekend, they are just barely ripe, but given the forecast once again of heavy rains from tomorrow noon on through Tuesday night, I pushed them through.  The mostly cloudy day did not lend itself to good combining, and the tall sappy beans were like running barbed wire through the combine.  The yield is excellent, nice to say that for a change on this forum, perhaps in excess of 50 bpa, which is outstanding in our part of the world.  Sadly, once I get through these first 80 acres the yield will drop considerably, but it still looks like we should have above average yields over all, now if we can just do something about the price.  About half my corn is shelled, again the yields are good, even the wet ground where water drowned out a good portion of the stand yielded about 90 bpa, or about 2.25 of your UK tons, about an average yield for dryland corn here. 

    4 months ago the world was wringing its hands over the "global food crisis" now here we are with grains dropping like a rock.  Lower corn should be good news for our corn dependant US cattle trade, but the effects of the bank meltdown are spanking the beef markets harder than grains, and cattle prices are tumbling.  A quick glimpse at the video auction on TV Friday at noon showed many of the lots no-saling.  Word from the Drovers Journal update was that bankers are now requiring more equity in cattle, driving down the prices for feeders and for lighter stockers going onto what should be some excellent wheat pasture given all the rain.  Since cattle are my bread and butter, the situation has me concerned.  I will not sell the calves I am about to wean until March or early April, I can only pray this thing recovers but my gut tells me that it probably will just get worse.

    Speaking of weaning calves, fall harvest and bawling calves go together, that is another job that I should start next week, it would be nice to have dry weather for that, as we do not house our cattle as you do in Britain.  500 acres of my rented pasture runs from April 20 to October 20, I will need to get cattle off of it next Monday.  Hard to believe it will soon be time to hook up the silage wagon and start feeding again, where does time go?

    The title of this blog is "harvest moon".  The moon tonight is brilliant, a term used I think more over there than here, but it applies especially tonight.  It always amazes me to think that same harvest moon shines on my good friends in the UK, and how so many miles apart it illuminates so many of our common problems.  Economic crisis and election rhetoric aside, good prices or bad, it is still alot of fun to cut 50 bushel beans on a dry Sunday afternoon, without the 4WD kicked in....sounds like we will be looking out from the shed at the rain for the next couple of days, so I can blog about the fire service then. 

  • President Obama

    The sound of it makes me sick to my stomach, but I am trying to get use to it.  Yup, GW Bush has handed him this election.  McCain is GOP just like Bush, and everybody hates Bush, so the majority will vote for Obama. Up until this whole banking/market/bailout crisis, I thought McCain had a chance.  After watching the debate tonight, I know it is over. 

     The good news, if there is any, is that Hillary didn't get it, Thank GOD!!  Also, since I think things are just going to get worse, in 4 years everyone will hate Obama, by then we will be on the way to recovery anyway, if we actually do recover, and maybe we can get a real leader in the office.  Until then, it is President Obama, may the deity of your choice (if any) grant him wisdom...see,  I already have this PC stuff down pat.

  • Harvest, breakdowns, the election, and plunging prices.

    I got a nice start on harvest, several weeks late but the corn yields are good.  I have harvested the earliest and latest planted corn now, as well as the best land and the poorest.  Corn made 130 on the poor ground, I binned it off of the best land but I guess it at about 150.  Remarkably uniform across both soil types, varieties and planting dates.  It shows that if we could have temps that stay below 95F and rain all summer, Kansas could be Iowa. 

    It is raining tonight, as long as it doesn't rain too much it is welcome, as we could use an inch of rain.  I have managed to get 65 acres of triticale drilled for grazing(thanks mostly to my dad) and it definitely could use the rain, the forecast highs in the 70s mean it will grow nicely with a good drink.  Baled up the last cutting of alfalfa for the summer yesterday just a little too wet because of the forecast rain, it was beautiful hay cut with a nice weather forecast that never really materialized, hopefully it was dry enough to keep.

    After a summer filled with rain we put the Sudan grass up for silage, on top of the corn silage.  It was the best thing to do I think what I tried to hay I could never get dried even after laying for 13 days, the pit is now the fullest it has been since the days my grandfather filled it.  The day after I got done filling I stood atop it one morning just because it felt good to have that much feed under my feet, a cowman can never have too much feed.

    I blew a hydraulic line on the combines 4WD unit yesterday afternoon, dumping all the oil instantly and bringing me to an abrupt halt. One of my best friends broke down with his 9500 yesterday as well, we did a joint parts run today since it was raining we didn't hurry home and had a good day except for all the fretting we did over our financial crisis.  We talked quite a bit with the John Deere dealer  who told us that it was company policy that within 5 years they want all dealers to do $100 million a year in business,or be part of a group that does that many dollars in sales.  Once again, John Deere seems intent on driving out the mom and pop dealers that have served our nation so well, for no good reason I can see.

    As I am certain you know, our markets once again were a wreck Monday, with no one quoting an actual cash price on grain.  Cattle were down the $3 limit straight through as well, with only hogs gaining any ground at all.  For us this is approaching crisis level, the bulletin board at the JD dealership was plastered with farmland auction bills for the coming month(not due to financial distress, this is just the time of year much land sells), it will be very telling to see how farmland prices fair with all of this upheavel, I saw one prediction on the internet this morning of a 25% fall in farmland values in 2009.  I figure todays markets took $15000 off my income if they do not recover. I had hoped the $700 billion bailout would at least slow the slide, however from what we see now the rest of the world is joining us in the troubles, perhaps from what I read it is time to sell out and head for Australia, we are use to bad weather, fire and drouth, so should feel right at home.

    I can't speak for all of America, but in my tiny corner of it there is seething anger against our government.  I keep dwelling on this because I think it is important it is understood in the UK just how angry we are, they don't begin to understand it in DC.  This anger most certainly will propel Obama into the Whitehouse a month from now, barring divine intervention.  Obama is the last thing we need right now, but he is what we are going to get.  It is reported on some internet sites now that an army division has been deployed in the US to deal with civil unrest, I do not know how accurate this is, but if it is true, it gives an idea that the government sees just how angry the people are, and the potential for huge problems beyond the economy in the not so distant future.  I have heard the terms "civil war" and "revolution" more in the last few days than any other time in my life, I am not suggesting we are on the brink of anything so severe, I am suggesting that people are much more serious in their anger than at anytime in my life, this anger runs deep, and will certainly be felt at the election booth.  I think many of us in the middle class feel we have just seen our country sold out from underneath us.

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