How Great The Yield From A Fertile Field

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

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Shawnee Bay

Before we left on vacation, I had to fix another water line in the barnyard.  This has been happening too regularly the past few years!

We spent a week at Shawnee Bay Resort on Kentucky Lake for the 30th Annual Family Vacation.  The Oldest Farmer and my mom are still able to make the trip, so there were four generations present.  It was a hot and humid week, so I spent a lot of time indoors.  With four grandchildren present, I did my share of babysitting, I read three books and started a fourth, and went swimming a couple of times.  I didn't fish because the experts said the fishing was bad.  Most of the family made it for at least part of the week.

I did go out shopping a couple of times.  One stop was at the Aurora General Store.  They had a huge selection of vintage and obscure soda pop.  If it existed in the past, there is a good chance that they have it available.  If you've never heard of it, they have it.  Several of us bought some exotic flavors to try at home.

Since the old farmer and his wife were traveling alone this year, we decided to stop in Vandalia at the Old State Capitol on our way South.  I had driven by it several times before, but had never stopped.  The building was built in 1836 replacing a previous one, and used until 1839, when the Capitol was moved to Springfield.  Abraham Lincoln served here when he was a state representative.  We enjoyed the self guided tour and appreciated how much simpler state government was in those days.

The room where Lincoln served.

The Supreme Court room.

We also stopped at Paducah Shooter's Supply and had a gunsmith do some warranty work on my .30-06.  We had ice cream and shopped at Rural King while we waited the half hour for the repair to be completed.

Back home I've been catching up on work and walking soybeans with a hoe and a backpack sprayer  in several fields, I have been wading through neck high soybeans!  I've seen a lot of chest high bean plants over the years, but I think these are the tallest we have ever grown.  That's not necessarily good, because rain and wind will cause them to lodge.

One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.
Psalm 145:4

Friday, July 29, 2016

3 Shirt Days

Heat and humidity have returned to central Illinois. We try do the work that has to be done in the morning so that we can go easy in the afternoon.  Then work again in the evening.  I get so soaking wet from sweat during the day that when I come in the house for lunch or a break, I can't sit on a wooden chair or it would ruin the finish.  We keep towels on my kitchen chair and my computer chair to protect them.  This past week I was soaking through the towels, so I brought a metal folding chair to the kitchen table to use instead.
There are soybeans fields that need walking, but because of plentiful rain, the shaded ground has stayed muddy.  The waist high soybeans stay wet til noon because of heavy dew and the humidity.  The afternoons are too hot, so the weeds are not getting removed very fast.

Its been another good year in the sweet corn patch.  With all the raccoon problems we have been having, I was worried that the patch would get attacked this year.  So far there is no evidence that they have been in it.  We picked a couple bushels of peaches off of the peach tree this year, and we have pears that will soon be ready.

I finally got to spend some quality time with my newest granddaughter last week.  New babies always put me in awe of God's design and creation.  Especially when they are such little cuties!

On our way to Lester a few weeks back, we spent the night in Blue Earth, MN.  Before we left we had to go visit the "Jolly Green Giant" that I have known from my youth.  He stands 55 feet tall, his smile is 48 inches across, and he wears size 78 shoes!  The museum wasn't open at the time we were in town or the old farmer might have dragged his wife to see it.

I recently saw this quote of Facebook.  I don't know who said it, but it provokes thought.

"Modern Christianity doesn't want to know the Prince of Peace, they just want to sin in peace."

I know this isn't true of all modern Christians (whatever the definition of that is), but as we look around us we see an awful lot of professing Christians who don't seem to want to live in submission to the Word, but have no qualms about following the world.

Not judging, just observing.

Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
Matthew 20:12


Saturday, July 16, 2016


Two weeks ago, we headed out to Lester, Iowa for the Metzger Cousins Reunion (Grandchildren of Fred and Carrie).  I worked until about 1:30 in the afternoon on Friday, and got the double-crop soybeans planted.  We were on the road by 2:30 and drove partway Friday night, stayed in a motel, and arrived in Lester about 10:00 A.M. Saturday.  It was a beautiful morning, so we went to the cemetery first and strolled around the graves of friends and relatives in the beautiful country cemetery.  A peaceful place to contemplate the purpose of life, and the certainty of death.

We started with 84 first cousins, four have passed away, but a large percentage of the rest of us were in attendance.  It was a blessing to get together again and reminisce, update, and eat good food.  We stayed with Bill and Charlotte in their comfortable, beautiful home.  They took us on a driving tour of farms and businesses around Lester, Larchwood, Rock Rapids, and Lyon County.  It was great to see the old, the new, and to remember all the places I used to hang out when visiting the area growing up.

One noticeable change in Lyon County is the amount of livestock operations that have expanded and the number of new ones.  There isn't a square mile that doesn't have a livestock facility on it.  Just the number of building permits for new hog barns in Lyon County for this year outnumbers the total number of barns in our county here at home.  Illinois farmers don't seem to want to work that hard!

Calves at Multi-Rose Jerseys

Last Sunday morning at 4 AM, Gus woke me up with his barking.  I was too lazy to go out and check, so I went back to sleep until 6 when the alarm went off.  As I left the house to go out to do chores, I noticed him sitting patiently under a big tree in the back yard, staring up into the treetop.  I looked and looked but could see nothing unusual, so since I was in a hurry I went about doing chores.  Coming back up to the house an hour later, Gus was still sitting under the tree looking up.  So I inspected again and noticed what looked like a large nest clear up in a top branch.  I retrieved my rifle from the house and fired into the "nest".  It moved.  The second shot brought the raccoon falling dead to the ground.  And Gus claimed his prize!

I hustled into the house to clean up for our trip down to C-U for Phil and Leah's wedding.  We picked up Herb, Lori, Kandace, and Cliff, and got there in plenty of time, because we were the first car to park in the church lot (the home folks were parking on the street).  We were honored to be invited and enjoyed the service and had a blessed day of worship and fellowship.  After the reception at Lake of the Woods, we headed back home for the evening chores.  We have been gone three Sundays in a row now.

Son #2 got back from his Alaskan backpacking trip to the Gates of the Arctic National Park.  There are no roads up there, so the only way in is by bush plane.  Since it is summer, the sun never completely set at night while they were there.  They backpacked into the Arrigetch Peaks area.  The mountain men spent some time in Fairbanks with Jim and Kitty, and also had some time to take a couple of charter fishing trips out of Seward.  They brought back their salmon packed and frozen on the plane, but had the halibut shipped home separately.  We are looking forward to seafood dinners!

And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:
II Corinthians 8:19

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Some recent Uncle Bill Jokes.

What do you call a cow with no legs?

 Ground beef.

A cow with two legs?

  Lean beef.

A cow with a nervous twitch?

  Beef jerky.

What do you call two pigs after a tug-of-war?

  Pulled pork.

A couple of weeks ago Jon and I drove down to Centralia to visit Phil.  I received the most thorough "pat down" that I have ever had.

Saturday morning was the outside work day at church.  As Head Trustee this year, I had to be there and oversee.  We had a decent turnout and got just about everything done that we planned on.  I hustled home afterwords because our neighbor wanted me to harvest his wheat in the afternoon.  It was a little wet yet, but he wanted it out so I finished late afternoon.  He was in a hurry to get it harvested because his pits were full.  He was actually following the combine with the liquid manure spreader.

After his wheat was out, I moved the equipment to our field and took off the front end rows to make ready for Monday harvest.

We spent Sunday in Forrest as part of a Potluck group invite-a-guest day.  We had a blessed day in church and enjoyed the worship and fellowship.  At the potluck table, we were the youngest in the group by at least ten years.  We had a very enjoyable evening with the group!

Monday morning our early corn started tasseling.  We worked on wheat all afternoon, but didn't get finished.  The wheat has a beautiful stand this year and is weed free.

This morning we sorted and moved Hoop building pigs in preparation to ship them tomorrow.  We finished harvesting wheat this afternoon.  It was good quality and yielded excellent.  A huge difference from last year!  Cousin Lee showed up with his baler and made our large round bales.  In the evening we started hauling them home.

What do you have when a tornado hits a chicken house and the birds are swirling around in the air?

  Poultry in motion!

He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat.
Psalm 147:14

Monday, June 13, 2016


Growing up in the '60's and '70's, boxing was a much bigger sport than it is today.  It was a popular Olympic sport and popular worldwide.  The sport has lost its luster in recent decades, for good reasons.

Muhammad Ali died last week.  He was considered one of the greatest boxers of all time and was one of the most celebrated and significant sports figures of the 20th century.  And he would tell you that himself!  Born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky, Olympic Champion at 18 and Heavyweight Champion of the World at 22, he had Parkinson's Syndrome that resulted from boxing related brain injuries.  Growing up, I didn't understand or appreciate the social/political side of Ali.  I just saw him as a great athlete, great boxer, entertaining personality, and a braggadocio.  He won the Heavywieght Championship three times, and ended his career with a record of 56 wins and 5 losses.

In hindsight, I can see how he was such a polarizing figure that people either loved or hated him.  His conversion to Islam (including changing his name to Muhammad Ali from Cassius Clay - his "slave name"),  his refusal to register for the draft during the Vietnam war resulting in years of legal battles, his ban from boxing for almost four years (thus forfeiting millions in income during the prime of his career), his work in the civil rights movement, and his trash talking mouth, all contributed to his reputation.  I have a greater respect for his non-boxing activities now than I did back then, and I understand why he was so inspiring and controversial.

Billy Crystal's eulogy at his memorial service is both amusing and informative.

I enjoyed watching boxing growing up partly because most guys did, and partly because my dad used to box when he was young.  He and his cousins and friends used to box together for fun much like kids nowadays get together and shoot hoops.  Some of his friends were actually pretty good boxers on the AAU circuit.  We still have my dad's two pair of boxing gloves down in our basement.  When we were kids we used to get them out when we had cousins or other company over and have boxing matches.  But when we got old enough to really hit each other hard, it wasn't so much fun anymore and we retired the gloves.

Dad's old well worn boxing gloves.

And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together.
I Samuel 17:10

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Good Reads

I just finished reading Forty Chances-Finding Hope in a Hungry World by Howard G. Buffet.  Howard is the son of Warren Buffet, one of the richest and most respected businessmen in the world.  Warren runs Berkshire Hathaway, and is known as the "Sage of Omaha".  Howard farms near Decatur, Illinois and serves on several large company boards of directors.  Early in his life, his father and mother set up a foundation in his name for philanthropy and gave him the responsibility to direct it.  He started using the money to fund wildlife conservation, but evolved into addressing food insecurity around the world.  Seeing his stewardship, his parents added almost three billion dollars over the years to his foundation.  He uses the money from the foundation to fight hunger and poverty, provide water, teach modern Ag methods in third world countries, support micro-loans, and come along side Governments and NGO's in their fight against poverty.  He travels the world seeking opportunities to help, and holding organizations accountable that receive funds.
The name of the book Forty Chances, came from a talk he heard at a farm meeting he attended where the speaker mentioned that the average farmer grows about forty crops in his career from when he takes over from his father until he turns the farm over to his son.  Howard asked himself the question; am I making the most of my forty chances?  The book consists of forty stories about his life and work in philanthropy.

Another excellent book addressing the alleviation of poverty is Banker to the Poor by Muhannad Yunus.  Dr. Yunus established Grameen Bank, a bank devoted to making micro-loans to the poorest people in Bangladesh.  An economics professor by trade, he pioneered micro-loans and micro-credit coupled with teaching financial principles.  He would set up groups of willing people (often women), for teaching, accountability, and support before making loans.  His goal was to teach self sufficiency rather than have the poor rely on handouts and welfare.  His methods, which spark personal initiative and enterprise, have been copied by over 250 organizations in over 100 countries around the world.
I was impressed that Jenna got to meet him in 2014, and was impressed with her whole trip.

Another good book for anyone interested in relief work or philanthropy is When Helping Hurts, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.  This book is from a solid Christian perspective, and addresses how so often when Christians try to help the poor, do relief work, or do short term missions, we do more long term harm than short term good.  We often try to alleviate poverty by treating symptoms rather than addressing causes.  Good intentions focused on solving poverty materially can have unintended consequences if we don't understand root causes.  The book points out when we need to change our attitudes about how we work with the less fortunate and underprivileged.  It offers concepts, principles, and strategies to equip us to help.

 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Galations 6:10

Monday, May 23, 2016


The old farmer turned older last week.  Since this birthday was a "milestone" birthday, my wife decided to be creative and do something special for me.  Everyone knows I like books and I like to read, so she had D#2 spread the word to have a book shower for me (not quite old enough for a card shower yet!).  For several days before and after the big day, the UPS truck stopped daily and dropped off books, the mail box had books in it, people drove in our yard and left books, and they would show up in our van.  It was extremely exciting and was about as much birthday fun as you can have at this advanced age!
I received books from numerous genres, and every one of them looks interesting.  I even got several Grandpa books that I can read to my Grandchildren.  As of this writing, I have received 32 books, but they are still trickling in.  I may have to retire early in order to get them all read!
I also received a bookworm cake from my sister decorated with gummy worms.
Thanks to all who participated!

and even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.
Isaiah 46:4