How Great The Yield From A Fertile Field

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

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


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