How Great The Yield From A Fertile Field

Random musings from an old farmer about life, agriculture, and faith

Friday, April 06, 2018

Twice to C-U

So this is Spring?
We had about two inches of snow accumulation on Easter, and an overnight low of 15 degrees!  Forty miles south of us in Lincoln, they had a record low of -1 degree!  The puddles have been frozen most mornings this week and we are supposed to see 18 tonight.  Still winter if you ask me.

Tuesday afternoon a group of us headed down to C-U and Smith Hall for nephew Ned's last recital.  The first half was a lecture based on his doctoral thesis on the history and evolution of Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major, Opus 61 from commission in 1806 to final published work.  Then he performed it for us with piano accompaniment.  It is amazing to watch him play a 45 minute piece from memory and do it so well!
We went to Black Dog Smoke & Ale House for some great BBQ afterwords.

Last night we headed back down to C-U for the Jupiter String Quartet concert at Krannert Center.  One member of the quartet has been Ned's grad school instructor, who we have met at his recitals. They all are "artists in residence" at the U of I.  Ned is really, really good, but this group is amazingly talented!  I would say flawless!  The most unique piece that they performed was Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte by Arnold Schoenberg.  This difficult piece involves the quartet, piano accompaniment, and a narrator reading Lord Byron's poem, Ode to Napoleon.  Byron's sarcastic, critical poem made a political statement celebrating the fall of Napoleon. Schoenberg set it to music in 1942 to make a political statement against Hitler as the tide of war started turning against him.  The other music performed were by Shostakovich and Beethoven.  It was a beautiful evening that turned into another late night.

That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David;
Amos 6:5

Monday, March 26, 2018

Not Quite Over

We headed out to Mepo Friday evening.  It was a good thing!  Saturday's weather event turned out to be one of the worst snow storms of the winter.  Around 8 inches fell in our area.  Across the river in Iowa, it was not as bad.  It was a nasty day none the less, with a cold, driving rain in the morning while we were taking pictures in the old Burlington Library building.  In the afternoon it turned to snow, but very little buildup.  Mostly slush covered roads.  It was a grueling, hazardous drive for all of our family that made the trip on Saturday afternoon.  We were thankful that everyone arrived safely.  Winter is not quite over. 

We had a very comfortable stay at Lloyd and (cousin) Mary's home.  Saturday evening we had a wonderful rehearsal meal at C & B Wagenbach's very accommodating home.  The filet mignon was excellent (along with the rest of the food) and the fellowship great.

With the Saturday storm, we weren't sure if many from central Illinois would make the trip on Sunday morning, but were pleasantly surprised by the number who made the effort.  Thankfully, the roads were clear and the sun was shining.

Jake was our goofiest kid growing up, and most prone to get in trouble ("I just wanted to see what would happen!").  He was our creative illustrator in residence, the trombone player in the family brass quartet, our Russian literature reader, and the family athlete/runner.  As he matured and after his conversion, he became a deep thinker, very spiritual, studious, engineer, and backpacker.  After a four year stint at Cat, his career took him to Iowa where the Lord revealed who his helpmate should be.

We met Rachel when she moved to C-U for college and job, and have known her parents for most of our lives.  She is a Godly young women; pretty, petite, personable, and fun.  We look forward to having her become part of our family.

Sunday afternoon they were united in Holy Matrimony.  It was a beautiful day inside and outside of the church.  The ceremony, worship, and fellowship were inspiring.  We wish them God's blessings and guidance in their marriage.

They left the reception in his 1989 Jeep Grand Wagoneer.

 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thingand obtaineth favour of the Lord.
Proverbs 18:22

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Almost Over

It has snowed twice in March now, so hopefully winter can be done now.  The first week when it snowed, some stuck overnight, the second week we just had brief flurries.  The last week of February the oldest farmer celebrated his 93rd birthday, while his little brother celebrated his 91st.

The three siblings.

We have been doing a lot of babysitting of our two grandboys lately.  We are looking forward to warmer weather so we can let them play outside more.  D#2 has had medical problems, so we have been watching the fifth Judge (of Israel) almost daily.  He's a fun little guy who eats almost constantly.  He eats more than any of his cousins, and knows where we stash all of our goodies!  He has also discovered the toilet paper roll and the fun things you can do with TP!

Last night we drove down to C-U to attend nephew Ned's recital in Smith Memorial Hall.  He is getting close to the end of his time at U of I, and didn't know if we would make it down again.  His skills, hard work, and God given talent continue to impress us!  Thanks to Scott, one of his pieces can be viewed here. It was a last minute decision to go, but it was a nice respite for us, and it was good to see two of his brothers (and wives) and some of our C-U friends again also.

The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.
Habakkuk 3:19

Friday, March 02, 2018

Sunny South

We headed South on a Sunday afternoon in a snow event.  The roads were clear South of C-U, so the traveling was good.  We spent the first night in Manchester, Tennessee, then made it to Atlanta right at noon.  We were able to cruise through Atlanta and got to St. Augustine late afternoon Monday.  We checked into the BlueGreen Vacation headquarters first, then checked into our hotel.  Yes, our first three nights were free if we sat through a two hour timeshare meeting!  I had signed up at Bass Pro Shops in East Peoria and also received some gift cards.  We spent most of the first morning in the timeshare meeting.  We were fortunate to get a nice lady who was new to the job and wasn't very high pressure, and her boss (the "closer") seemed busy and distracted.  They accepted our No (after two additional special offers!) and we were able to enjoy the rest of our stay in St. Augustine, touring the oldest continuously occupied city in America.

The old city gates.

We toured the impressive old fort, Castillo De San Marcos.

St. Augustine Lighthouse.

The lobby of the beautiful, ornate, old Ponce De Leon Hotel.

Our seafood meal in St. Augustine was at O.C. White's.  I had Crabby Mahi along with coconut carrot soup.  Both were good!  The three days on the Atlantic coast were cool and drizzly, so we didn't spend much time on the beach other than to just check it out. Thursday morning we headed South along the coast to Ormand Beach, just North of Daytona Beach.  We met one of our Landlords there, and took her out to lunch.  She is the third generation of her family that we have been farming for, but had never met her!  Our business has been taken care of on the phone and through the mail.  We had a really nice time with her and her husband.  I ordered a fish Reuben (very good) which was a first, and I had never even heard of them before.
Unfortunately it was the weekend of the Daytona 500 coming up, so traffic was heavy as we headed West across the state and through the Orlando area.  We stopped at Blue Springs State Park where a lot of Manatees winter, but none were swimming in the springs while we were there. 

We arrived at our little condo on the beach at Nokomis Beach in the early evening.  We tried a new seafood restaurant that night called the Left Coast Seafood Company.  I ordered the seafood gumbo, which included grouper cheeks, crawfish, shrimp, scallops, crab meat, and sausage!
We settled into our Florida routine quickly and enjoyed some of the best weather we have ever had down there.  Sunny and in the 80's every day!  Twice daily strolls on the beach, shelling and shark-tooth hunting, dolphin watching, reading, napping, and heading for the next seafood restaurant after watching the sunset!
We tried a couple of new restaurants this year in the Venice/Sarasota area.  At the Saltwater Cafe I ate grilled Triple Tail. I had shrimp, fish and chips at The Old Salty Dog.
And then there were our old favorite spots; grilled Hogfish at Captain Eddie's, Black Codfish topped with lobster sauce and shrimp at Casey Key Fish House, and Alligator at Phillipi Creek Oyster Bar.  I even brought home a pamphlet of recipes for alligator.  Now I just need to find some alligator meat at home.

A view of the beach from the jetty.

A couple of friends we met.

Sunset on the Gulf from our courtyard.

All good things must come to an end, so we left Nokomis Beach on Thursday morning.  We managed to hit Atlanta at 5:00, rush hour!  We stayed in the HOV lane and made it through in about an hour.  The rest of the trip home was uneventful.

The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.
Psalm 50:1


Monday, February 05, 2018

Glass Castle

I had to renew my Certified Livestock Manager certification this winter and I will not be able to attend the local training class.  So, I decided to take the course and test online.  I passed, so I am once again legal to raise hogs in the State of Illinois.

A few years ago I read the book The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  It is the story of her upbringing in a poverty stricken family by nomadic, dysfunctional parents.  It is a very good read and a well written book.  And it's almost unbelievable that she survived her childhood.  She managed to escape her unconventional childhood and move to New York, graduate from college, and become a successful journalist and author.  The story has been made into a movie, but I would recommend the book.
I recently ran across a lecture she gave for the IPFW Omnibus Lecture Series.  You can find it here.  I was impressed by the way she was able to overcome here past and not use it as an excuse or act victimized.

I went to another beekeeping class last week, I purchased two hives, and I have bees ordered.  Ready or not I will soon be a beekeeper.

Snow has moved back into our area, with predictions for snow off and on all week.

And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
Luke 14:18

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Hard Water

I finally found a slow day with mild temperatures so that I could get out on the ice and try some ice fishing again.  So far this winter the ice has been solid for most of the winter, but the temperature has been too cold to entice me onto the ice.  I do not own an ice hut or tent.  Son #2 came with me and we headed for Fritz's lake.  We drilled our holes, baited hooks, and set the poles, and waited.  Nothing happened for the first half hour or more.  Then, all of a sudden one hole started producing.  As soon as we took a fish off the hook and dropped the baited hook back in the hole, we had another one.  Fifteen minutes later the other holes (we had four poles out) started producing.  It kept us real busy for the next half hour going from hole to hole pulling up panfish.  Finally we decided we had enough fish and we needed to get back home, so we stopped baiting hooks and started packing up.  It was a productive day on the ice, and we have a mess of fish for a fish fry.

Phil took his old farrowing house and turned it into a warming hut.  It is a pretty impressive conversion!  They also built a hockey rink near it.  I brought my skates in case the fish weren't biting, but never had time to put them on.

Last weekend we headed west across the state line and spent the weekend in Burlington.  There was a couple of wedding showers that involve Son #2.  We stayed in a motel this trip so that the grand-kids ( who came along with their parents) could swim in the pool and have a little vacation.  We had a nice evening meal at the Wagenbach's and a blessed day in church.  It was an enjoyable weekend.

The weather has still been mostly frigid, with an occasional day or two of mild reprieve.  I think that this winter has had more days with subzero temperatures than any year in decades.

  And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
Genesis 9:2

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Happy Frigid New Year

The first seed catalog arrived in the mailbox two days before Christmas.  The Stark Bros. catalog came two days before New Years Day.  I think they are pushing the season a little!
We had a beautiful Christmas eve snow that blanketed the ground and didn't blow.  This came after a relatively mild week.  But, a few days later, the temperature dropped to single digits and subzero, and we received another snow.  It has been real winter since.

The last Saturday in December, I had to call for two service calls.  A feed line quit working in the finishing building and I knew it was a wiring problem.  With a holiday weekend coming, I didn't want to take any chances by wasting time and trying to figure it out myself.  So, I called our electrician and he was on the farm within the hour.  He found a broken wire and another shorted wire in a control panel and we were up and feeding in less than an hour.  Then the feed mill wouldn't start.  I did all the diagnostics that I could, then called the repairman.  He came out in the afternoon, and determined a computer board needed replacing.  Fortunately he brought a spare one with him.  Our feed room is not heated, so it was frigid trying to work bare handed.  I brought in a kerosene heater to help, but I still needed to preheat the tools for him.  It took about two hours, but we were able to get it running just as darkness settled in. 
Sunday morning everything was working.

On the first two mornings of the New Year, the temperature was -18 degrees when I left the house to start chores.  It is like living in the North country!  Tractors don't start unless you plug them in, hook up the battery charger, and then use starting fluid.  Hydraulic oil is rather lethargic and takes minutes to operate cylinders.  The pigs in the deep bedded hoop buildings pile on each other and the weak ones on the bottom can suffocate.  Today the cattle water was frozen.  A half hour with the heat gun and it was thawed out and working. 
The bad thing about repair work in the winter is it often means the gloves have to come off.  That's when you really understand how cold it is!  It takes a lot of lotion to keep fingertips from cracking open.  And lotion on your heals to keep them from cracking open.  Those kind of skin cracks are very painful.

The rest of the week is supposed to continue the frigid weather.  Next week is supposed to be more typical temperatures.  It will feel like spring has arrived if it reaches 30 degrees during the days!

Out of the south cometh the whirlwind: and cold out of the north.
Job 37:9