Sunday, December 22, 2013

blow off

Visibility is reduced to about a half mile on this 22nd day of December.  The winds have picked up and made short order of blowing the snow from the neighbors' moldboard plowed cornstalks.  Other than our own place, we live in a black world again.  Our 32 acres of plowing has not blown off.  I think this may be for two reasons;  first that it is discing and then chisel plowing shallow with sweeps rather than the moldboard plow.  It is a hayfield we want to bring back for row crops; this is the only place in our rotation where we do fall tillage, about ten percent of our acres.  So that then is the other reason, the size of the field is small enough to prevent the wind from getting a very good go at it.  Maybe there is a third reason, the fact that the exposed soil is laced with grass and alfalfa and clover roots, all of which are perennial, unlike corn, and none of which were dead when the tillage was done. 

We need to rotate corn in and out of our rotation for the hog business.  There seems no other way than tillage to kill the established hay in an organic system.  I don't like tillage.  I don't think it does the soil any good.  Further, undisturbed perennial sod sequesters carbon, which we desperately need to do, thanks to everybody's irresponsible over use of petroleum.  You might notice that this service, provided free to the rest of us by any responsible grazing agriculture never gets talked about when agriculture's environmental sins are being listed.   

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Several large skeins of geese over head this very cold week, including one very complicated one flying high that featured about four or five smaller V formations organized into one ragged gigantic one.  All the geese are headed southeast, a pretty good indication they are migrating, even at this late date.  They remind me of my farming life.  I very rarely get done with "getting ready for winter" much before New Year's.  As my neighbor used to say, back when crop farming was done by spending hours at it rather than by overwhelming it with high priced machinery:  "If you are done much before Thanksgiving, you don't have enough to do."

Monday, December 9, 2013


The sows are more comfortable in this first cold blast of winter than they were last year.  It looks to have been a good idea to move the drinkers outside of the hoops, thus subtracting that much of the reason for wet bedding.  We also stacked corn stalk bales just north and west of the hoops, so that they rarely get the full force of the wind.  We are working to improve our windbreak to the west, but growing trees takes time. 

Of course having the water outside of the bedded area means we must figure out a way for the animals to come and go, always the problem with this kind of a set up in the north.  But we must have outside access for them anyhow, because we plan to feed large wet (silage) bales free choice and this must be done outside rather than in the bedding, which is how we fed the small bales. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013


We have a too small idea of God and a too large idea of money.