Another meeting

Tuesday, July 28, 2017

We met this morning with Greg Anthis of CPS Wheatland to discuss our plan to  plant wheat this coming fall.  We discussed all facets of the plan… seed, starter fertilizer, planting method, topdress nitrogen, and yield potential.   We are weighing the options of which variety of seed to choose.    We will be making that decision as soon as we collect the data and pricing from our 3 alternatives.  Planting of wheat will be after soybean harvest in the selected fields, sometime on and after September 25.

Bicknell, Indiana is buzzing with activity with the Knox County Fair.

Posted in News, Planting | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Nice rain

Friday, July 14, 2017

We received 1.0 to 3.0 inches (25 to 76mm) of rain yesterday.  It came in two hitches, one about 11 am and the other about 8pm.  We were a bit disappointed at noon yesterday, for the home farm received a trace of rain, while the fields near Wheatland (4 miles away) received 2.75″.  However, just before dusk, a good rain came through and gave us just about what we’d been requesting…  happy, grateful farmers we are.

The weather station read-out in the office shows current conditions and recent rainfall. We are happy to have received a nice rain!

Today’s list includes some roadside spot spraying from the Gator.  Brandon is preparing the ‘suntan machine’, our 1961 Allis-Chalmers D-15 tractor and tow-behind sprayer for a herbicide application on the woody species (willows and maples, etc.) along many of our ditch banks.  We like to keep the ‘sprouts’ down, and allow only grass to grow on our ditch banks.

Brandon is preparing the D-15 for use to spray some ditch banks.

This is an old Hahn pull-type sprayer, the boom has long since been removed so that this is dedicated to hand spot-spraying. I drove this tractor with a Hahn sprayer like this when I was a kid. It was a real step up from the Farmall H, with a live PTO! Dad modified the original sprayer boom by using baling wire and small wood 1x2s to extend the end of the boom a little on each side so that I could spray 12 rows! The drawback was that when the boom was folded forward to go down the road, I had to lean forward on the seat to avoid getting tapped on the back of the head.
Oh, the good old days!


So, we are pleased today with the rain that came yesterday here in central and southeast Knox County, Indiana.

Next week is the Knox County Fair, Indiana’s oldest county fair.

Posted in News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Hot jobs

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Whew!  Yeah, it’s hot out there!  Well, it’s 92F (33c).  It does “feel”  hot out there, but it also could be much worse.  We haven’t hit 100+ in nearly 3 years.  What kept us busy today was that I was John’s sprayer-support-guy.  I went to CPS to load some water into the trailer, then took it to Burke to fill his sprayer.  Just one tankful is all he needed from me today.  So, it really wasn’t too bad… and the A/C was working in the red-stripe Mack that pulls the water trailer.  I took along my YETI tumbler, and had cool water to drink.  While John was loading his sprayer, I took the opportunity to pull a few clumps of johnsongrass and some waterhemp in the nearby field.

Refilling the water truck at the nearby CPS plant.

In the afternoon, John and I teamed up on the Gator to spray some waterhemp along the grass road on the Huey farm.  It’s about a mile long, with some weeds growing in the first few rows alongside the road.  He sprayed while I drove… we used some Xtendimax to spot spray those weeds.  This technique had been successful at the Shake farm last week, so we tried it again.

The Gator is back from the shop, and is back to work today.

Here’s the sprayer gizmo we use for hand-spraying from the Gator. We are usually using Roundup and spot-spraying directly on the johnsongrass.


In our biggest grain storage bin, 10A, we are having installed a new aeration floor.  This replaces the old x-shaped trough aeration that was original to the bin.  This new system will allow greater and more uniform air flow through the stored grain.  We try to make small-to-medium improvements to our farm each summer.

The contractor (Montgomery Welding) opened up an access panel to perform the work inside.

They poured concrete in there today to fill up the x-shaped cavity of the former aeration system. The new galvanized steel floor will be built on this newly-level concrete surface.


We got our old block building repainted last week.  It sure looks better now.  It is the last remaining structure (besides Ross’ house) that was original to the place when we moved here in February of 1958.

This building is over 60 years old, and still looks pretty good. At one time, it held all our farm equipment, but nowadays it mostly stores seed in season.


Although it didn’t rain here in Knox County yesterday, there was a big rain in and around Indianapolis.  Those flash floods will certainly be headed our way down the West Fork of White River.  The prediction service shows a crest locally of 19.6feet on the weekend.  We can survive pretty well a 19-foot river, so we will have water in the sloughs pretty soon.  And to think those late replanted soybeans in those sloughs were looking pretty good….

Here’s this morning’s White River forecast for Edwardsport. Our farm locations are about 1 full day’s worth of river flow below Edwardsport.

We’ve been thinking about this verse a lot lately… Romans 8:28.



Posted in News | Leave a comment

Old school

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Weed control is becoming more difficult and more expensive in our soybeans.  For many reasons, including weed developing some herbicide resistance, and that no-till systems select for different species of weeds, in the past couple years it is becoming harder and harder to have ‘clean’ soybean fields.  When Roundup Ready soybeans were introduced, it became a no-brainer to use that technology, for it was much less expensive, and much more effective.  We finally had weed-free soybean fields!   Such a stark contrast to the soybean fields I remember as a young farmer.  Horseweeds (giant ragweed), foxtail, cockleburs, and johnsongrass were almost impossible to stop.  At harvest, your combine crawled through the soybean fields as it tried to digest the huge mat of weeds along with some puny soybeans underneath!   I sure don’t want to go back to those days!

One of the yucky things about summer back then was that we spent many mornings walking down the soybean rows pulling or cutting the weeds.  The fun wears off that job almost instantly!  Well, John and Brandon have been doing just that for some mornings this summer… with our new weed-enemies… marestail and waterhemp.

Brandon and John use the weed hook on some waterhemp– old school style

John is out again spraying johnsongrass in the soybeans.  There is a late flush on some fields.  He is getting the ‘end-of-season’ spraying blues.   This will be the 4th herbicide trip this year over some of the fields, and he is eager to be ‘done’!  Plus, we are eager to stop the spending, too!

I’m off to evaluate 4 farm locations for John to decide if he needs to spray….


Posted in Farm Days | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer Jobs

Friday, July 7, 2017

Weekly mowing is among the many summer tasks that must take place.  We have about 10 acres of lawn, plus around the barns and bins and other farmstead lots that need weekly attention.  That mowing is one of the tasks that keeps us occupied during July.  We also use the bush hog on the roadsides at most farm locations, and we have to spot-spray johnsongrass and woody sprouts in ditches and roadsides/fencerows.   The Gator started acting up — running poorly yesterday — so Brandon is out on a little 4-wheeler with the spray tank tied on behind his seat.  The Gator will go to the dealer’s shop on Monday.

Mowing this hillside patch at the Lett farm with the 7130 and the bush hog.

Here at the Watjen farm, this little strip is too narrow for our planters, so we mow it each summer.

This is the rig Brandon was using today to spot spray at the fields near Wheatland.

The big rear tires on the JD 7130 tractor were giving trouble, with one of them having a very slow leak, and both of them were very worn down, with little tread.  So, we made the decision to replace those old tires… and that happened today.

This is the ‘before’ picture

And ‘after’, the 7130 tractor has much improved, brand-new tires on the back.

I mowed the yard at home today, and tried to get done before it got too hot.  Ben is home and he helped me today by doing the sanding on the front door of the house.  It needs a now coat of sealer to protect it from the weather.  That’s on my Saturday “to do” list now.

The weed battle vs. waterhemp and marestail has been extra fierce this summer.  John and Brandon have been out there on many mornings with a ‘weed hook’ to cut down some of the bigger weeds in the worst patches.  There’s just too many to think we would cut them all.   Since the introduction of Roundup Ready soybeans many years ago, we have become accustomed to very weed-free soybean fields.  With the no-till system, this has selected for different species of weeds, and some species have adapted with resistance.  So, weed-free is more difficult to achieve these days.  Still, there is some new technology available this year, and we are learning how to manage that technology– dicamba resistant soybeans added to the RR traits.  There is no “magic silver bullet”, and our management efforts must ramp up again to achieve the results we desire.

Ross and I worked together today to analyze the stronger wheat market and what that means for us for 2018.  I re-worked the preliminary crop budget for 2018, and discovered that the wheat prices have indeed risen above our cost/bushel.  Therefore, Ross sold some new-crop 2018 wheat for next June/July delivery.  Looks like we’re going to be back in the soft red winter wheat business again!   That’s good news for us, because it balances out our work load across more months, and better still, gives us a small amount of income in mid-summer!   Of course, we will plant double-crop soybeans (DCB) immediately behind the combines next June.  I’m looking forward to having some wheat/DCB again.

A nice inch rain would be quite welcome.

Knox County Fair (Indiana’s oldest farm fair) arrives in 10 days.

Have a very happy weekend.






Posted in Farm Days, News | Leave a comment

Cross Country

July 4, 2017

For the past few weeks, we’ve been busy helping our son Philip move back home from Portland, Oregon.  There just wasn’t time for posting on this website.  But now, we’re home, and soon we can settle back into a new routine.

While Pat and I were away, John and Brandon finished off the re-replanting of soybeans.  The flooding and crusting of the soybean fields caused us to do a record amount of replanting this year.  The new air drill is finally cleaned up and put into storage.  Also, the levee along White River that was breached during the May floods was repaired.  John has the herbicide applications caught up.

Here, John sprays some of the replanted soybeans at the Freddie farm.

Replanted soybeans at the Grubb farm, post-flood from White River.  Compare to the picture on the post for Wednesday, May 10.

#plant17 and #replant17 and #3plant17 has been a marathon!

Our trip out west was eventful.  In Portland, we met many of Philip’s terrific friends, and we blessed by their kindness.  A dozen or more of them helped us pack up his stuff in the old U-Haul.  My BIL John Hobson flew out the make the 4-day trip back to Indiana.    Departing on Monday morning (26th), we didn’t make many ‘sight-seeing’ stops, but kept the ‘pedal to the metal’ most of the time.  But what we saw in our trek across America was beautiful.

One of the few ‘stops’ we made was just a few miles out of Portland on I-84. Multnomah Falls.

Central and Eastern Oregon impressed us with the wheat fields and pastures and fields of potatoes… all with the mountains in the background.

Idaho agriculture impressed us even more than the speed limit… must be because it’s an “I-state”.

Utah was special with more agriculture in the north than we expected.

Wyoming provided us with many trains to entertain us

Entering Colorado, it was our 4th state to see on Tuesday.

The vast expanse of eastern Colorado was fascinating.

We loved western Kansas, with the pastures and wheat fields. Some people may be bored by this scenery, but not John and me!

There were a few interchanges in Kansas that connected to rural roads. We just happened to be able to pull off to see these combines in a field adjacent to I-70. The operators waved back to us.

Thursday evening, this was a special sign we had been eager to see, just after we crossed the Wabash at Vincennes.

One of the best sights was driving up the farm lane to home.

Folks from church came Friday evening to unload the U-Haul. We’re grateful.

Many times, as we were viewing something spectacular, we would comment, “Thank you, God, for making this, and thank  you for letting us see it.”  Yes, America the Beautiful is a proper description.

It was quite a trip from Oregon to home, but we made it okay.  The U-Haul’s a/c worked to keep us cool.  Yes, we missed the cooled seats, the backup camera, and the blind-spot detector from the pickup, but it got the job done.  Thanks to my BIL for making the trip with me.

Had some office work to catch up, but John did a terrific job covering for me while I was out west.   I hope to get the bush hog out there on some roadsides soon.

Have a very happy Independence Day, everyone!





Posted in Family Life, Farm Days, News | 1 Comment

#replant17 and #3plant17

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The good news is that the marathon of #replant17 and #3plant17 is now over!  John was able to complete that yesterday.  At long last, the flood waters at the Freddie farm had dried up, making it possible to do the remainder of the job.  And it wasn’t just the flooding, it was also pounding rains on some replanted fields–crust-makers that stop soybeans from emerging from the soil.  So, some acres required to be planted a third time- thus the hashtag #3plant17.  It was a record number of our soybean acres that needed replanted.

Now, the air drill is ready for clean-out and clean-up.  It’s been a long time since the new JD 1890-1910 air drill was hooked up to the JD 9330 tractor.  (Back in late March).  It’ll be great to get both machines back under roof.

Brandon has been delivering some 2016 corn to market.  A recent spike in the corn price made some sales favorable. We think it was the dry and hot weather across the vast corn belt (more than just the I-states) that pulled the corn price up.  Only a few loads of corn remain in our storage.

After having too much rain in May, we are now asking for a gentle rain to come soon!  No, we are not really that fickle, but this is just another firm reminder of just how dependent we are on the blessings of our Maker.



Posted in Farm Days, News, Planting | 1 Comment