We’re havin’ a heat wave…

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The weather folks are predicting a hot few days, through the weekend.  Of course, they get a little too sensational; temps are going to be in the mid 90s with high humidity, making for a ‘heat index’ of 100+.  The way the weather stations speak, you’d think it isn’t supposed to be hot and humid in southern Indiana in July!   It does make you look for work indoors, or in an air conditioned tractor.

I hope to be out for a few afternoons in the JD 7130 tractor and bush hog.  That will make for a good day’s work.  And I can keep relatively cool doing it!

Later this morning, I’ll be spending a couple hours with a crop insurance adjuster, visiting fields that have been damaged by flooding.  It’s finally time to make those official contacts.  Those adjusters have been extra busy this year.

John has applied fungicide to the soybean crop.  He has a few hundred acres of beans yet to apply a last herbicide, but it will have to wait until next week, for the timing to be correct.  It must go on at the exact proper ‘stage’ of weed and soybean growth.  And, to be sure, John will do his best to be exact.

Also last week, the replanting of soybeans was completed.  Brandon took the JD 9360R with the little JD 1560 drill to do that.  He worked in over a hundred more acres of replant beans on July 9 and 10.  I think he was probably happy to unhook from that drill when he got done!  He also thoroughly cleaned the JD 9520R tractor and the air drill.  It really does look great again.   We will be taking stock of the drill’s condition, and planning for the refurbishment of the opener blades, boots, and gauge wheels in the off-season.  When we do refurbish the drill, we are considering the update of the row units to JD’s new “Pro Series” openers. 

JD 9520R tractor, 1910 air cart, and 1890 NT drill. All shiny again!

I hope all goes well for all of you out there.   Keep cool.  Next week is supposed to be a bit cooler, with highs in the 80s.  And it will be fair week  here.  The Knox County Fair is Indiana’s oldest county fair.

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A little trip out west.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Pat and I took a few days to go out to Oregon to visit some of the places where Philip lived, and to visit some of the people his life touched out there.  We saw some beautiful places, and enjoyed the company of some of his friends.  It was great to hear the stories– some new, some we re-lived.   It was bittersweet.  Emotions ran high at times.  And we returned home Tuesday night utterly spent.  But it was a needed and special time out there.

Some Oregon pictures

At Autzen Stadium, University of Oregon, Eugene.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach

St. John Bridge, NW Portland

Dining with some of Philip’s friends at McMenamins Blue Moon, Portland

Famous Multnomah Falls

Peninsula Park Rose Garden, NE Portland



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Happy Independence Day!

July 4th, 2019

Yesterday saw the end of planting, with the completion of putting in the double-crop soybeans (DCB).  It took parts of 3 days, with some delays between, in order to get the DCB in the ground.  When we were cutting wheat, some fields were wetter than others, and those muddy ones had to wait a few days longer than the drier ones to get planted.  We cannot expect a perfect stand of DCB, for there were still spots of standing water in a few fields.  But, with the added urgency of the July dates on the calendar, it was a trade-off to get the planting done.  Most went in okay.  As I pulled out of the final DCB field at Huey yesterday afternoon, it was not long until a rain came; I had to use the wipers on the way home!

Yes, planting is finished, but replanting is another matter altogether.  Now, we wait for more field drying to take place.   We have a few hundred acres of corn in the White River bottom lands that were destroyed by recent flooding.  We will monitor how quickly those fields dry out, and determine if that occurs in a timely enough manner to replant those fields to soybeans.  I’d really like to make Monday the ‘stop’ day, when we will no longer do any replanting.   There are no fields that are dry enough today to replant.  If there was a field that would be appropriate for planting, I’d be out there today placing some of those beans into the soil!  But it’s just not quite ready yet.   Are we done with replanting?  Maybe, maybe not.  Even so, there will likely be some of those acres that simple lie fallow for the remainder of 2019.

This year of 2019 has presented us with many challenges.  We are hoping this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience we can only recall in our future storytelling.

John is making progress with his over-the-top-of-the-crop spraying.  In fact, he completed the corn applications on Tuesday.  So, we can officially say that all our 2019 corn is ‘laid by’.   He will soon be applying the initial herbicide treatment to the DCB.

I hope to be out in the JD 7130 soon to mow the roadsides along our fields to improve the appearance.  Mere mowing will not make the crops look any better, because every field has places in them that show the effects of too much rain.  But it will make the perimeters look ‘cared for’, and that’s important.

As we think about the birthday of the USA, it brings feelings of appreciation.  Those old ‘founding fathers’, even with all their faults, exhibited intrepid valor.  Just imagine what it felt like to purposely stand in opposition to the King of England and his vast army, to declare he is no longer your ruler.  Imagine what it felt like to sign that Declaration document, in which you pledged your life, your fortune, and your ‘sacred honor’.   Such courage.   The only dependency you claimed was upon Divine Providence.  I am always amazed.

Happy Independence Day, everyone.


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Hot day

Monday, July 1, 2019

Goodbye, June.  It seemed to go by fast.  It is over 90ºF today, and you can feel the humidity.  Summer has arrived with gusto!

John is out today in the JD 4730 sprayer, stopping the weeds in some soybean fields.  He scouted the fields this morning with our consultant from Nutrien, Greg Anthis.  Together, they formulated a plan for the timing of some herbicide applications for the coming week.   Now, it’s up to John to work the plan.

I took a look at the remaining DCB fields to be planted.  The soil is simply too wet today.  I was able to plant DCB at 3 locations last Saturday, and after scouting yesterday, I determined that I could begin again today to plant DCB.  The rain storm last evening made a change to that plan.  The DCB fields received .4 to .6″, and I was counting on the 90º+ temperatures to dry them down appropriately today.  After touring those locations this afternoon, the report for planting is “not yet”.  I am hopeful that tomorrow I can return to DCB.  The neighbor who was baling the wheat straw has completed that work.  He was very diligent.

During John and Greg’s scouting trip this morning, they also discovered some of our corn fields with ‘green snap’.  During last evening’s storm, we had winds over 40 mph.  That velocity puts strong pressure on the rapidly-growing corn stalks.  This rapid growth stage often makes the stalks a bit brittle, and more susceptible to damage from strong winds.

You can see some corn stalks that were broken off in last night’s storm. This is evidence of ‘green snap’.

It is the time of year when I would prefer to be out during the day with the little JD 7130 and the bush hog, cleaning up the appearance of the roadsides along our fields.  That will just have to wait…planting season is not quite over yet.  In addition to the DCB, there are more than 100 acres of soybeans to replant at Huey.   The recent floods took out large areas of a pretty nice stand of beans, but the field is too muddy today.    Plus, the flood-damaged corn fields  in our White River bottom-land fields may dry down in time to replant some soybeans where the corn was killed in the flooding.    It will be a day-to-day decision, as we monitor the soil dry-down and consider the date on the calendar.   I am affected by the experience of doing some replanting of soybeans on July 13 last year.  It was not a happy result.  A very late frost and dry November would make July-planted beans more productive and easier to harvest.

What to do?


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Wheat in the rear-view mirror

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Late last night, we completed our harvest of our 2019 wheat crop.  As we were working after dark at our Crook farm, you could see flashes of lightning all around.  I wondered if we would get rained out before we could finish.  There seemed to be reports of rain and storms all around Knox County, but it remained dry.  Whew!

Wheat harvest 2019 was a challenge for sure, with the fields a little soft…and the fields at the Huey place were downright sloppy.  But we powered through, and ran most of the wheat through the grain dryer.  The test weight (a measure of the density of the grain) was lower for this wheat crop, we think it was related to the incessant rain it had to endure after the heads matured.  It was not our best ever wheat yield, but it was not bad–considering the wet and cold months of April, May and most of June.

We did not spread the straw back on to the field, but dropped it out the back of the combines into windrows.  A neighbor is baling the straw.  The new combines performed very well.

I’ll be planting double-crop soybeans (DCB) into the wheat stubble as soon as the soil is dry in each field to do so.  It may work tomorrow at VanVleet or Holscher or Crook, but definitely we will need more dry days before we can plant at Huey.  We also have some replanting to do of soybeans that succumbed to flooding.  And for those corn fields that were taken out by White River, we are permitted to replant soybeans there… if the fields dry down enough in time to plant.

I was thinking I’d stop the soybean planter at July 5th, Ross thinks plant/replant until July 10th and some farmers think planting soybeans until July 15 will be okay.  We will just make those calls as we monitor the soil condition in each field as the water goes away.  White River is falling now, down a good 2 feet from the crest.  Some soil is beginning to emerge from the flood waters.

I’ll share some pictures of wheat harvest.

Brandon loads the Peterbilt. It had to stay on the blacktop!

The trailer fills pretty fast

Looking east from the VanVleet farm, you can see the White River’s flood waters.

Header removed, ready to move to the next location. It was a beautiful, sunny and hot day. This was on Tuesday.


View from the seat.

As darkness approached yesterday evening, ominous-looking clouds circled the field where we were harvesting. Bolts of lightning lit up the sky. But the rain we anticipated?    Never came!


With the fields firming up, John was able to get back in the sprayer today.  He used the “drops” to apply post herbicide to some corn today.  “Drops” are an addition to the spray boom that places the nozzles at a point a couple feet below the boom. Using drops, you can apply the chemical below the top of the corn crop ‘canopy’, closer to the weeds.

Now, at the end of the day, John is cleaning out his sprayer’s tank and boom, preparing to spray some soybeans tomorrow.  He is quite diligent to precisely apply the herbicides.  He is feeling some pressure to get across a number of acres that are now at the proper stage of crop and weed growth for this application.  Once he gets across the corn acres, I think we will declare those fields ‘laid by’, meaning they will require no more ‘tending’ until harvest.

It has been nice to see the sunshine now for a few days.


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A beauty of a picture

June 20, 2019

Pat was browsing Facebook, and she came across this picture that was taken a couple days ago.  We got permission from the photographer, Alaina Catherine, to share it with you.  This shows our farm, from the junction of Junkin Road with US 50.   I thought it was pretty neat.

A beautiful sight to behold.

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Happy Birthday, Mom!

June 20, 2019

Today would have been our mom’s 104th birthday.  She rarely got to celebrate it, because it typically fell during wheat harvest.  I think she would have the opportunity to celebrate this year.  It has rained for 5 days straight now, and looks like rain again.  Whether we are in the field or not, we remember mom, especially on her birthday.  How special she was!

Ruth Carnahan 1915-2003
This was one of the last portraits we have of her.

We learned many important things from this wonderful lady.  She demonstrated the value of hard work, faithfulness, loyalty, and kindness.  She showed us every day the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23.  Thank you, mom.

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