I’m not waiting on a girl, I’m just waiting on a truck. Last night at sunset I was finishing up filling the wagons. I filled the combine too.  After loading out the two semi loads of corn Monday I hooked up the no till drill and ran off a quick six bags of winter rye seed. I planted about six acres. My first fall seeded crop ever. After thirty one years I guess we’ll try teaching this old dog a new trick. Last year I tried flying on a rye grass cover crop but it didn’t really work. My six acres will be for seed next fall. I think I’ll try cover crops on more of my acres to see if I can both stop erosion and build more organic matter in the soil. It’s the next step after twenty seven years of no till.

Yesterday I started the day off rolling up the rest of the old barbed wire along the old ridge road up north of I-80. I have about another quarter mile to do along York road and then the fence builders can have at it. When the dew had dried off and the sun had shown a while I switched from fencing to combining. The corn is yielding well and it didn’t take long to refill the seven wagons and the combine hopper. More than enough to fill two trucks with corn, even with Iowa’s eight thousand pound bump in allowable truck weights for the harvest season.

Hold on a second while I load a semi …….

……. and combine the wagons back full. And get done with the farm at home. Now that It’s 4:20 in the afternoon I can grab a snack, finish this post and get some hot wire fencing done to turn the cows out on the freshly combined cornstalks. Watching them glean will be a nice way to observe the sundown. Picture postcard perfect to be exact. This is Iowa. A lot of places try to be but there’s no place like it. Wish I had more time.

there, then



The Cutting Edge

I guess I’m not as cutting edge as I think I am. But I drank the beer when chemical reps were trying to sooth hurt feelings because their company’s new chemicals carried over to screw up the next year’s crops. I even volunteered to take the half empty keg back to Hy Vee for them. Just as soon as we’d finished drinking it. Of course I’d not used the Scepter brand soybean herbicide that was killing the next year’s corn. I was only there for the free food. The free beer was a nice bonus. For a couple days. Then I had as bad of a hangover as the chemical. Almost. Unlike the corn Rotation I grew out of it eventually. But then my rotation window is a lot shorter. At least it was back then. Anymore it’s taking longer and longer for me to feel like drinking a beer after I have indulged in a few too many. Thanks Willy. But I can write.

Today when I clicked on “New Post” in my usual place on the page here on Cocreator’s New Blog the version of editor that popped up wasn’t the same. There are at least two places to get here that I’ve found so far, with one offering the same editor mode I’ve always used here on WordPress and the other offering a newer glitzier version. When I noticed an option to click over to classic mode I took the bait. I guess I’m not as cutting edge as I think I am. Glitzy isn’t me. One time I painted a tractor back to original and ended up rolling that tractor within a year. Smashing up the cab I had just traded for the fenders. That was one reason I’d painted it, to make the paint on the cab match the paint on the tractor.  I’m not meant to have nice things.

Even though I no till farmers were no till planting for decades before I adopted it. Even though I planted cover crops last year it was my first year. Unless you consider oats planted to get alfalfa up and growing a cover crop. I don’t. I’ve both cut it for oats hay and combined it for the oats. Some years both. I have grazed down an oat crop that I had used to get forty acres of brome grass to establish. But I had never planted a cover crop to keep green land that was in a two year corn/soybean rotation. Weeds usually did a good enough job of that. If you count weeds I’ve been using cover crops from the get go. Shepard’s Purse. Pennycress. Dandelion. Foxtail. I’ve used them all. But actually spreading radishes and rye grass, no. Now I read farmers have been doing it for decades. I’m maybe not as cutting edge as I think I am.

Even the rotational grazing I try to do to increase stocking rates has been around for decades. I’ve been doing it for maybe one. The Australians and the New Zealanders were the ones that supposedly developed the rotational grazing system. Long before American farm magazines were promoting it. I was doing it before I knew it was a system simply because I’d got in the habit of only selling bulls and I was getting too many head to simply let graze without starving them. My first rotation grazing was taking them out of the pasture and dry lotting them on hay. I’d notice the pasture would come back thick and lush if I would simply let it rest. After reading about paddocks I divided up the pasture into four sections and the rest is history. Which is where I usually come in. I love history. So I guess I’m not as cutting edge as I think I am.

But then I’m not The Creator, I’m Cocreator.





The lead cow has already headed off the beaten path. The herd won’t be far behind. It’s a little like turning a battleship, the rudder moves long before the bow. But once it’s done Neptune knows even if  Jupiter has yet to discern the course’s correction. Like a turning battleship the herd is best respected in it’s inevitable direction. Or you’ll likely be pulled down into it’s path and eventually discarded a broken corps into it’s wake. The herd wants to know what’s growing in it’s pasture. It’s useless to not tell them. They’ve already had a whiff, and you should see the size of those nostrils. Not to mention ears and eyes. Eyes big enough to see the smallest print. Or the absence of enough print. The customer is always right. If you don’t want them all up in your face you better put the information right up in their face. Let them turn it over and find out right there on the label. If you want it on their table better come clean on the label.

Without a label you’re liable to eat something you don’t want to. So I think businesses and individuals who sell things to be eaten or consumed by the body in any way would be pertinent if they listed any and all ingredients and where they’re from on the label. I don’t care if it’s the law or not. It shouldn’t have to be the law, it should be part and parcel to good business management to freely give out any and all information about what goes into the product being sold. There’s a big push on to create laws to force  companies to admit if their products contain ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms. The very fact that so many purveyors of these products are willing to expend large amounts of money fighting these grass roots led labeling initiatives is like a loud siren with bright flashing lights. What on earth are they trying to hide? What do they expect the consumer’s reaction to this opposition to be?

I would argue that by obviously fighting hard to nip this GMO labeling effort in the bud they are De-facto admitting that there’s something negative about GMOs. Mabe something that slipped by during it’s adoption. I have been openly growing Roundup Ready soybeans since the third or fourth year they were made available to plant. Prior to Roundup Ready beans we were spending too much money on pre and post applied weed control chemicals to effectively compete with conventionally grown beans.  Tillage was still much cheaper than a total chemical way to kill weeds. Planting in clean tilled soil allowed your beans to compete evenly with weeds and harrowing, rotary hoeing and multiple cultivator passes could knock down and keep down any weeds the soil incorporated chemicals let slip by. The dry soil mulch that needed to be maintained caused tons and tons of soil to be unduly eroded away to streams.

No till saves soil. Round Ready made no till cheap and easy. Maybe that was the goal. Make this so cheap and easy that the farmer can’t refuse to use it. Give him the window to see what this no till system can do for their soils and consequential yields. Now that we know how could we ever go back to tillage? Even though many of the same problem weeds have developed a tolerance to Roundup herbicide. Even though the costs to control these Roundup Ready weeds is climbing back up to where we were before Roundup Ready. We can see the erosion still even with no till, we will never willingly go backwards like tillage represents again. Some of us are thinking of converting to cover crops to smother out the problem weeds and add other benefits to the soil. Some are going back to soil applied pre-emergent chemicals during April’s rainy season so the rain can incorporate them into the soil instead of tillage. Some quit growing beans.

Whether it be by label through popular demand or whether it be through evolving agronomic realities The Roundup Ready era is over. That said the GMO era is alive and well. Coming soon is something new for the no tiller. In the pipeline for soybean seed are two new GMO created traits. One is Dicamba Ready stacked on top of Roundup Ready. Dicamba is a herbicide nearly as old if not older than Roundup. So there are probably already a slew of weeds that have developed resistance to it’s chemistry. Good luck with the shelf life of that. The other newly GMO created trait for beans is a new formulation of 2-4-D  called 2-4-D Choline Ready. I’m not sure if it’s stacked on top of Roundup Ready or not. But given the fact that Choline is a very important substance to our health I’m not sure it will be safe whether seed companies “science” says it is or not. If they’ve slipped Roundup Ready problems past us this long I don’t think we can trust this 2-4-D Choline out of the gate.


‘Tween Rain

What a rain. We had to get a few inches. Most of it soaked in. It came fast and furious at first. At first there was no rain. A dust front came through about fifty miles an hour. Then the sky turned kinda green. Lower near the ground it was still dust colored but up above it was that light emerald green that usually spits out a tornado. Then sheets of rain. Rushing across the ground in waves. Faster than water can soak into a sponge. The old familiar gullies ran anew with water. Splish splash the lightning flash. What a show.

I hopped in the van and drove the neighborhood watching the various fields and studying how they handled the heavy rain. Cover crops win. Coming in a close second is no till. Followed up by terraces and grassed waterways. I don’t know where you would put oats and wheat crops. They were not tall and heavy headed enough to go down flat and they soaked up the rain faster than a hairy sponge. Upon reconsideration they may have to be put on top of the list. Definitely worth their place in the crop rotation.

They’re calling for another round this afternoon.  I prefer the slow steady rain we had for the four or five hours after the storm front moved through the other evening. The kind of rain that soaks in and does some good, not damage. I’m not complaining about the rain. I am trying to figure out the best ways to capitalize on all the neighbor’s soil laden water as it flows my way. That way I can have my cake and eat theirs too. I think Dad used to build little holding ponds along the waterways to the creek. Water would slow down in the holding ponds and drop their silt. I think it’s time to reinstall them. I don’t know if dad took them out or if they all filled up. This farm was all grass when Dad quit back in the seventies.

I could talk all day and would if I wasn’t getting hungry. My fingers want to leave the keyboard and get into the cupboard. Put a little vittles in my middle. A sip and a slurp. I guess I’ll talk to you tomorrow or so. Like the little matchbooks used to say, Enjoy!



Not So Simple Division

I went to a farm sale yesterday. It’s not something I’m prone to do since there’s usually a large crowd of people. I’m not fond of crowds unless it’s an anonymous crowd of unknown folks. Where I feel invisible. Being a local farmer for over thirty years and growing up in this area being anonymous is pretty much out of the question. Which may explain why I’m usually off buying machinery at auctions that are usually sixty miles away or more. That and the fact what I want is usually at least that far away. This particular local sale had an old IH wagon end gate seeder. Someone had converted it from a wagon end gate seeder that was driven from the wagon’s rear left wheel to a three point seeder that drove off of the tractor’s PTO (power take off) via a V belt and pulleys. It had a larger five plus bushel oats hopper added above the original one bushel hopper and an old cream can strapped to the back of the additional hopper above the original grass seed hopper with a tube feeding out of the bottom of the cream can into the top of the grass seed hopper.

The reason I wanted this old relic was for one it was old and ugly and scrappy enough that I felt it would be sold for five or ten bucks. For another it was beat up and bent up and looked like it no longer worked so I’d be bidding against an iron salvage type individual. I wasn’t going to use it for it’s current purpose I was going to re purpose it to meter cover crop oats through the larger hoppers and maybe tillage radishes through the grass seeder. Depending on how large radish seeds are, as I’ve never seen any. Even though I had some flown on with a crop duster plane over the standing corn last summer along with rye grass. I want to sow the cover crops with the bean straw as it comes out the back of the combine this fall. Save the plane money. Yep I’m not only a no tiller now I’m officially a cover cropper. Even though the sale bill simply listed it as a three point seeder like it was still functioning I thought it was ugly enough to steer most folks away at first sight.

The sale bill also mentioned that a change in the farming operation was the reason for the sale. The sale was pretty well attended for a rainy day even though the change in operation turned out to be a divorce. I guess everyone’s drawn to a wreck. When I had a chance to ask the farmer having the sale where the parts combine was that they’d listed on the sale bill he said,” Ask my lawyer or my son, they hauled it to the scrap yard without even asking me.” When I looked puzzled he said, “We’re settling up a divorce and the sale is to establish the prices we will use to achieve a fair settlement. It’s one hell of a way to do it as far as I’m concerned.” I consoled him for his loss with a pat on the back and an encouraging word of agreement and went to the seeder I wanted to buy and waited for the crowd to approach with the auctioneers.

There’s something about an auction. If I’m there to simply hang out it’s no biggie. If I am there to buy something (which is usually the only time I go) it’s a different story. As soon as the crowd moves in and the auctioneers start to cry out the bids on my particular coveting my heart starts racing and my palms get sweaty. I’m so high by the time I start to bid that my ears are usually ringing and the crowd has disappeared except for the crier and the other buyer in a certain unexplainable tunnel like vision that settles in. Fortunately I set a top price I won’t go over before the bidding and this “possession” settles in and I’m not totally swept away by the moment. If the reader has never participated in an auction I highly recommend it. If one sets their cut off price low enough it’s the cheapest intoxication ever achieved.

Much like yesterday turned out for me. As the auctioneers approached with the ensuing crowd I jumped out of the truck we had driven damn near up to the seeder to wait in out of the rain and stood by my prey. The auctioneer started crying at fifty bucks, my cut off price. He wasn’t able to get a bid so he quickly dropped the bid to ten dollars. Now we’re talking. But before I got my arm in the air three guys had already run it back up to the starting point at fifty bucks. I wasn’t able to get that bid either since it quickly went to seventy five, then one hundred. By the time the sold cry came out the price for this pile of scrap iron had reached one hundred fifty US dollars. Unbelievable. Was it the cream can?  Where’s Farm Journal’s Machinery Pete? This has to be a record price. Fortunately the roach coach was selling maid rights for three dollars so I had two and we went home empty handed but full stomached. And still nearly full pocketed.

If it’s an auction I just may …….

See you there, see you then.