Friday, June 22, 2012


Last week the earth moving contractor started us on the trail towards our new hog farrowing house. The trackhoe knocked down and buried a thirty five foot silo built in about 1960 as well as a Quonset style shed built in 1952 and used to house the cattle the silo fed. The entire enterprise, my father's effort was abandoned before we came to the farm in 1977. The silo has sat empty and unused since about 1972 and the shed was used for bedding and machine storage until it became unsafe last year. The buildings needed to go, and we need the new hog facility. But it is still a bit difficult to see it happen. The shed has been a part of my mental furniture my entire life and I have clear memories of unloading silage from the silo in the company of my father and brother. As the trackhoe brought down first the south side, I could see once again into the structure and look at the doors as they looked fifty years ago when the three of us stood up there on the pile in the cold of winter, swinging those silage forks over and over, dispatching the feed through the door and down to the waiting cattle. Warm feet, cold noses, and plenty of exercise. But now its on to the next thing. Make way for the new! For now, the barn stands alone on its hill . We will keep you posted on progress. Jim

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The powers that be in the persons of Collin Peterson, Minnesota's seventh district representative and Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, Minnesota Senators are beginning to line up behind the idea of beefing up the federal subsidy for crop insurance, currently at 60% of premium. They want to cover more of a farmer's projected yield and price risk, to the point where it will be possible for a farmer to guarantee a profit, courtesy the taxpayers. This drives up the price of land, keeping new farmers from their chance to start. The higher the land prices the more poorly it is farmed. Remember what southern Minnesota looked like when the rains started this spring, how the land both gullied from water runoff and blew off in the wind. We as taxpayers are supporting that. It is hard on communities. I know a family which has a farm site plus a few acres with which they have done amazing things. They farrow sows, lamb ewes, train riding horses, produce grape juice for wine and preserves for sale, milk cows, make cheese and I don't know what all else. Their little farm is a beehive of activity. But they want to grow hops, a perennial crop in demand from local brewers, and they cannot rent on a long term lease ten acres adjacent from a neighboring crops farmer. The crops guarantee is just too good. We cannot countenance this! How can our communities survive when we conspire to drive ambitious thrifty young families out? Klobuchar even wants the government to insure profitability for the large hog production companies. While Peterson, Klobuchar and Franken are much concerned about guaranteeing the wealth of the six or eight largest crops farmers in each county in Minnesota, my seventh district home in western Minnesota has a high level of reduced and free lunches in the schools, a number of families with no good access to health care, a large number of people working self employed simply because many of the jobs on offer are not worth having. This cannot stand! The business of Congress is to look out for the well being of all the people of the country. If they cannot do so, they need to declare themselves incompetent and get out of the way. Call your Congress creature and burn his/her eardrums. This is just simply more of the crap Wall Street pulled, where their profits are theirs, but their losses are ours. Jim