How Great The Yield From A Fertile Field

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

Saturday, November 26, 2016


General James Mattis, whose name is being kicked around for a position in the Trump administration, sent an email to colleagues back in 2003 that is going viral again.  In it he explains the importance of reading to those who are "too busy to read".  He applies it to his job, the military, but it would apply to just about any job, title, or position.  I would include the title Christian.  Of course, as Christians, we have the greatest compilation of reading material for life application that there is, in the Bible. The Bible should clearly be our primary focus, but we can learn a lot about life and the human condition from other good books.  I recommend reading his email which can be found here.

For our nephew's home-school play this year, they obtained a dehaired hog's head from a packing plant for one of their props.  After the play, it was brought out to the farm to be disposed of.  Of course Gus found it and claimed it for his own.  He got downright testy if you tried to take it away from him! Now we have the hog's head as a prop in our yard.

Last Friday was opening day for shotgun deer season.  It was a little windy, but still a beautiful day to be in the woods.  While scouting earlier, we found a large dead (but healthy looking) buck not far from the stand I was going to use Friday.  There were no visible wounds, so we wonder if it was hit by a car and received internal injuries that eventually killed it.  I worried that it might keep other deer away from that area.  In the evening a young 6 pointer walked right up to the dead buck and sniffed and inspected it for a while.  After he stepped past it, he stepped into my sights.  He will be tasty!

Sunrise from the stand in the deer woods.

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
I Timothy 4:13

Sunday, November 13, 2016


I have a new grandson!  Gideon Ray was born to daughter#2 and husband about a month ago.  He's a cute little guy, and gives us 5 grandchildren now.  My baby had a baby!

We drove down to visit Phil a couple of weeks ago Sunday.  It was a beautiful day, but when we got to the prison, there was a very slow moving line of people outside the entrance waiting to enter.  After waiting in the line about 30 minutes, a gentleman in uniform parked out front and as he walked to the entrance apologized to the line and said he would see if he could speed things up.  It took another hour (a total of 45 minutes is not unusual), but we eventually got processed and as we were sitting in the visiting room with Phil, the same man walked in and started visiting and mingling with the visitors and inmates.  Phil pointed to him and said, "That's the Warden".  I was surprised and impressed!  Including the fact that he was there on a Sunday.  I had a totally different impression of what wardens are like.  Probably too many movies and TV shows warped my opinion.
We had a nice visit with Phil and a nice trip down and back, but it was a longer day than we expected.

Saturday morning as we were sorting hogs from the hoop buildings, two Hispanic gentlemen in an old green pickup drove back to where we were working .  They wanted to buy a 250 pound hog and kill it on the spot.  They offered a good price and paid cash, so we picked one out for them.  My brother held the pig with a snout snare while one of the men tried to roll the pig and hold him down and stick him.  The pig was uncooperative (imagine that!) and the man had trouble finding the artery he was looking for with his knife, so it was not a good situation for a while.  Eventually he succeeded, and the pig was finished, so we loaded him in the back of the open truck bed and off they went to butcher him in their garage in Peoria!  We hope not too many people saw them driving through the city with a dead pig in the back!

I know many groups stick without stunning or shooting first, but I didn't like it.
We will sell them or anyone else pigs in the future, but we will dispatch it first with a .22, or it will leave our farm alive.

    He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.
Isaiah 66:3

Tuesday, November 01, 2016


My how time flies when you are having fun . . .

Harvest is finished and we are grateful.  It was challenging at times as the ground was saturated most of the fall.  We kept going as much as we could, but we cut ruts in most fields and got stuck way too often.  I think we broke 5 chains, including one of the neighbors.  Twice we borrowed PP's tractor and cart.  With it being wet and humid most of the fall, it was hard to get soybeans to dry down.  We cut more beans in the 13 - 15% range than we ever have.  It was a much earlier harvest than 2009, but there were a lot of similarities. I think it is time we invest in a good heavy duty tow rope!

But we are finished and we had a safe harvest, the highest average yields ever, and minimal breakdowns.

We gave combine rides to several of Son#2's former Caterpillar coworkers who have extra time on their hands, and we gave rides to our Elder and his grandson, among others.

We got the wheat sown in early October and then received 3.5 inches of rain on it.  I had to replant several patches.

A couple of weeks ago, we pulled a trailer to the old Morton church to pick up some assembly room benches we requested.  I got one of the front benches even though I requested a back bench, because the back is where I spent most of my time when we attended there while growing up.

Today we had a little unwanted excitement with a field fire.  Nephew #3 was shredding stalks, and the mower started on fire.  It was probably an overheated slip clutch that threw some sparks on the fluffy buildup on the deck.  The fire was contained using the chisel plow on the downwind side, but the Fire Department was called to the scene to assist with their "brush fire" truck as well as a tanker.

Yesterday morning when I left the house at first light, Gus was standing guard under our Ash tree outside the kitchen window.  I shot the raccoon for him and he was proud of his prize.

Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.
Psalm 116:7

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bluegills and Patience

We helped take the granddaughters fishing a week or so ago.  We baited their Princess and Frozen rod and reels with a night crawler and bobber and they were actually very effective!  Still the best way to start kids fishing.  They both caught nice fish without having to wait too long.  Their attention span wasn't too long and they quickly lost interest in fishing, so I got to do a little on my own.  We ended up with several nice bluegill and bass, which Bob and Jenny took home to fillet.

We started harvesting on the 13th, but we haven't accomplished much yet.  The fields were saturated with all the rain we'd been having and we are cutting ruts and getting stuck.  We started out just taking off the front end rows of several fields, and so far yields look excellent.  We were able to get a couple of fields out this week finally, but we still buried the auger wagon yesterday afternoon.  The Precision Planting crew showed up with their equipment to take out a test plot they have in our field, and helped us out.  We had tried to pull it out with our 4WD tractor, but broke 3 chains in the process and didn't budge the stuck tractor and cart.  We ended up picking around the wagon (and ruining part of their test plot) and then off loading our cart into theirs.  They have a tracked tractor pulling their cart.

First stick of the year.

A little help from PP

Prior to the season, I made sure that our continuous flow dryer was fully functioning and serviced.  Thursday morning we filled it with dry corn to transfer from the wet holding bin to a storage bin.  The metering augers started and then quit.  I did all the troubleshooting I could, but ended up calling out the service man.  He showed up Friday morning and said our DC motor and gearbox both failed.  Our dealer ordered the parts and the old farmers helpful wife headed out on a seven hour round trip to Frankfort Indiana to retrieve the parts. She called me from the business to make sure she had what she was supposed to pick up, but the employee there assured her he gave her what our dealer ordered.  This morning the service man shows up and says the DC motor was missing. He drove to where he knew an old dryer sitting in some weeds was located and robbed the motor off of it, but when he hooked it up, it was erratic, then quit altogether.

Soooo, we still don't have a dryer, so we can't harvest any corn that comes home to the bins, and we don't know what we will learn of our fate until Monday morning.

  Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
John 21:3

Thursday, September 08, 2016


The summer (JJA) rainfall total was 50% above normal.  The rainfall total for August in Central Illinois was close to the wettest on record.  Needless to say, we had high humidity all summer and the crops looked lush all summer.  We had 2.5 inches of rain today.  We will start harvest as soon as it is dry enough to get in the fields.

Uncle Bill spent some time in the hospital with congestive heart failure.  He is back home on hospice.  He and his family are in our prayers.  He told us he got a lot of mileage out of this joke.

How is a hospital gown like insurance?

Neither one gives you full coverage!

Some of our California family were here for a long weekend.  It was great to reconnect and spend some time with them. It was fun meeting young Joshua for the first time!
When they left Monday morning, we also left on a getaway trip.

I had driven Minnesota's North Shore Drive from Duluth to Grand Marais or the Canada border five or six times in the past on Boundary Water canoe trips or Canada fishing trips.  I had never spent more than a day on it exploring it.  So we decided to make it our destination for a few days.  We drove to Duluth and spent a half day walking, shopping, and touring, then we headed Northeast on Route 61 to enjoy the beauty of the Lake Superior shore and the North woods.  The 150 mile stretch between Duluth and the border has eight State Parks, nine "waysides", two drive up overlooks, and literally dozens of waterfalls.  The Superior Hiking Trail parallels the road with numerous spurs and access points.  Also the Gitche-Gami bike trail follows the shore for 88 miles.

 In Duluth, we shopped at one of my favorite stores and toured the Glensheen Mansion.

On our way up the shore, we made the obligatory stop in Knife River at Russ Kendall's Smoke House to stock up on smoked fish to snack on.

The shore line is a beautiful mix of everything from black sand beaches to rugged cliffs.

We hiked to so many waterfalls and took so many pictures that after a while they all started to run together.  But still all so beautiful to watch that we kept looking for more.

There are also several lighthouses along the shore that we checked out or hiked to.

One day I hiked to the top of Carlton Peak to get some good views of the Lake and the Sawtooth Mountains.

We stayed in a log cabin that was right on the rocky shore of Lake Superior.

The view from the kitchen table.

On the way home, we picked up some more smoked fish, then stopped at another of my favorite stores in Duluth, before eating some excellent ribs in Superior, WI, were we spent our last night.

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters.
Psalm 29:3

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