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Best farmers in the whole world

I have to brag just a little. I have the opportunity to talk with the best farmers in the whole world.

The reason I say this is, they take time to talk about their operations -- the good and the bad, the happy and the difficult.

More and more, farmers are not sugar coating their lives or their jobs. They are telling it like it is, and I get the chance to listen.

I am continually amazed at the willingness of farmers to share their stories, and their photos, and what they do. They give wholeheartedly.

Thank you farmers for sharing your stories, for making your farms and your lives open to others. I know they also share their stories with other farm media too, and their families, their neighbors, their friends, their congresspeople and the general public.

June 03, 2015 11:19 am(0)
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Forecasting precip with an onion

We received a phone call from a reader looking for an old article. The article described techniques for using an onion to forecast monthly precipitation throughout the year.

I figured this had to be something from The Onion, a news satire publication. I was wrong though. If I understand it correctly, an actual full onion can predict moisture for each month. The accuracy of the onion probably depends on how a person interprets the onion's prognostication.

You take a 12 cup muffin tin, and label each cup with masking tape along the outer edge -- January, February, etc.

Then on New Year's Eve, you cut an onion vertically so you can make "little onion bowls."

You place the largest "bowls" in the January and July cups, the next largest in February and August, the next in March and September, and so on, until all 12 muffin cups hold an onion bowl.

January 08, 2015 11:27 am(0)
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Remembering those I barely met

I love, love, love, love, love, love gardening -- although I'm not very good at it yet.

I haven't yet learned when to leave the garden alone and when to help. I am convinced that you can touch a plant too much, and that it won't grow as well.

My daughter -- 28 years younger -- is a natural gardener, and things just grow for her. She is so smart, and she works so hard at it. Actually, her success has partially led to my love of gardening.

Several times each day, I go out to my garden to see what is going on. I have eight neighbor kids that are also following along with the garden's development. They run to me when I am at the garden, and ask questions and talk. The other day, a kid came over to pull out his tooth while I was working in the garden.

I think so often of all of those born before 1960. Gardens were so essential, and raising food was so essential. If it wasn't raised and put up correctly, people got hungry before they could again collect food from the Earth.

August 19, 2014 10:30 am(0)
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Haying is always an exciting farm activity

When I was a kid, I loved to stand near the swing set and watch my brothers and father move alfalfa bales up into the hay loft.

A hook was inserted into four bales. Then the team maneuvered the little yellow R tractor to pull the bales up and then back into the loft. It didn't always go well. There were shouts when the bales would bust on the ground or in the loft before reaching the stacks in the back of the barn.

It made good sense to me when they started using an elevator to move the bales up to the loft.

By the time I was in high school, my family no longer needed alfalfa in the hay loft. They didn't grow wheat or alfalfa as they specialized in hogs, corn and soybeans.

All of these years later, though, I still love seeing crews stacking bales on a hay rack. I'm always pleased to see big round balers put up big round bales! It is a very pleasant shape.

August 13, 2014 6:29 pm(0)
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Today is the day to get ahead

It is Thursday, July 17. There is no wind, and the temperature is 70 degrees F.

Today is not a day to sit inside and play video games. Today is a day to earn a living, to get ahead, to pick green beans and store them away for winter. It is a day for making hay and planning next year's varieties. It is a day for pouring concrete and digging up old stumps.

Today is a day for working the cattle, the sheep and the hogs, and making certain the chickens and turkeys are growing well. It is a day for giving dogs haircuts, and finishing up 4-H projects.

Here in Minnesota, there are not many days as beautiful for work as this day. It is a perfect day for shingling the roof, and putting in new windows and painting.

it is a day for ripping out old boards and old carpet and scraping away old debris. It is a day for laying new floors and putting up new vegetables for the winter.

July 17, 2014 10:01 am(0)
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Grubs, not cut worms

Not sure what to think about this, but suggested you-tube videos for me this morning included one on white grubs.

I've been writing about the mound of cut worms I found in my straw bale garden, but I see they are actually white grubs.

Here is the you-tube:

It looks as though grubs like very rich and wet conditions -- like my straw bales after 12-15 inches of rain in two months.

July 02, 2014 6:26 am(0)
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Day two of cutworms

Yesterday, I found about 30 cutworms in my strawbale garden. After disposing of them, I noticed a helpful robin picking at the straw.

Today, I found only three cutworms. Hopefully now the plants can begin to grow, grow, grow.

There are issues with this year's strawbale garden, but at least I know why.

For farmers, I can see how it is helpful when they know what's going on compared with seeing problems but not knowing what to do.

July 01, 2014 9:28 am(0)

Cut worms!

Cut worms!

This is my third year of raising a straw bale garden. I've been a little disappointed by what I thought was a lack of germination.

Today I decided to investigate what is going on. In the base of two of the bales, I found dozens of cutworms.

I hope I did the right thing -- I transferred them to the compost pile which is in dire need of turning into compost.

My garden -- I am not certain what I will get from it, but I'm pretty sure it's not going to be a prize winning garden at the county fair this year!

I am hoping many birds make their way to my opened straw bales to gobble the cutworms I couldn't find.

June 30, 2014 2:17 pm Photos


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That's the place where I was born

It is interesting to see how some people can survive and even thrive in places where others can't imagine seeing themselves.

I think that is true of rural areas. If someone has never lived on a farm or scratched their existence from the care of animals and crops and gardens -- how can they know what that is like?

I think of the story of Brer Rabbit, who told Brer Fox -- "Please oh please don't throw me into the briar patch." Brer Rabbit, you may recall, was covered in tar from the tar baby. He was using reverse psychology on Brer Fox to get away and it worked -- Brer Fox threw him into the briar patch.

It may have taken a little bit of time and pain but the thorns pulled away the tar and Brer Rabbit was freed. I think that's a little like living in rural America. If you can work with the thorns, you can survive and even thrive.

June 18, 2014 7:34 am(0)

A funny thing happened on the way to the Co-op

I had an interview scheduled for 10 a.m. yesterday in the small town of Hanska, and I arrived a few minutes early to get prepared.

Walking to the Co-op, I saw Farmer Richard Wurtzberger who we followed in producer progress reports a couple years ago. He was hauling in grain with his semi, and he wondered what I was doing.

When I told him who I was supposed to meet, he quickly figured out that I was supposed to be Lafayette -- about a half hour to the north. I just assumed this source was in Hanska, because that was the address of the farmer I was going to ultimately interview.

Richard suggested an easy way to get to the farmers' site. I called up the source in Lafayette, and he made the drive down to Hanska. The interview went off without a hitch.

Problems were averted because farmers are smart people that find quick solutions. The ability to think things through is very helpful.

June 11, 2014 10:52 am(0)
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