Sunday, December 4, 2016


Last Sunday morning's red sky proved to be true to it's prediction of a "red sky in the morning, sailors take warning" as it rained all afternoon.
Since we had a fair amount of December corn sold the trucks have been busy this week and will be busy all month.
 Alex worked on NH3 yesterday and I think we are pretty well wrapped up except for a few odds and ends.
Often my field work time is interrupted with appointments, meetings, and just keeping everything going however yesterday I jumped in the tractor and chisel first thing in the morning and was able to stick with finishing up chiseling until late last evening. 
 Karl and Malaki worked on odd jobs all day yesterday getting ready for winter.
 Earlier we had a hitch pin bounce out and our Excellorator ended up in the ditch. After chainsawing a tree that fell over Kurt was able to back it out.
Earlier in the week we got to watch grandsons play some junior high basketball.
 Interesting. I found out Friday evening at a PCH basketball game that cell phones have a new use. During introduction of the starting lineup the student section turns on their phones and wave them. 
 Opening day of shotgun season for deer in Iowa is just about a national holiday. Hunters were everywhere yesterday.
 Our guys join up with our neighbors to hunt. However the mid day lunch is looked forward to about as much as shooting deer. I think Carol may still have something to do with all that good food.
 Cassia is on the bake sale committee at OCGS. The committee baked and frosted 3600 Christmas cookies. 
 Most of us have heard about the accident and tragedy that happened at Pella Walmart. I was hauling corn mid morning Thursday when flashing lights passed me and were hurrying to Pella. It's going to be a tough holiday season for the families that lost loved ones when the pickup crashed into the store.
 Our community lost a friend and fellow seed dealer this week. Mike was a Pioneer seed salesman and died unexpectedly. Mike and my path's crossed often as he sold Pioneer and I sold Dekalb to many of the same folks. Mike often delivered seed to our shed for customers we were doing customwork for. We both enjoyed the connection. I will miss him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Cheryl and his three children. Also to his business associates, Brian and Tyler.
 As I finish up this morning I see it's snowing. It continues to be a cloudy week in many ways.
If you are having a dreary, cloudy week don't forget the ones God has put in your life that you love.
On many occasions at our house little eyes are watching. As the praise team sang in our church last Sunday hopefully they will "Find us faithful". I thank God I can lean on Him on cloudy days. So can you. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016


With the workload of the fall farm season starting to wind down I have been trying to find ways to relax more. I have been reading some. Not magazines. Nothing thought provoking. With my brain totally in neutral I have been reading Westerns that Jan bought me at a flea market. They were written in the 1920s about taming the western part of our country in the mid 1800s. Even though they are fiction they portray a lot of accurate history. The railroad that goes through our place reminds me of the transcontinental railroad built across our country finished in 1870. Our railroad bridge in this picture was built just 30 years after the completion of that first railroad. 
Speaking of our country I think there are still a majority of our people that love who we are and what we stand for despite what the media is trying to tell us. It's heartwarming to see the thumbs up and horn honks we get as we put NH3 on around our neck of the woods with a big USA flag attached to our tool bar.
With the custom work about wrapped up the tool bars made it home and we are busy putting our own smoke (nitrogen) on getting ready for next years crop. We are covering the acres going to corn next year that don't have hog slurry on.
I have a question for you that I have been asking for 50 years. Whenever ground is being tilled on the farm thousands of these big white birds show up together and eat insects being uncovered. Where do they live and where do they come from? I never see them in trees or fence rows or idle ground. They came when I was 10 years old and driving a WD45 Allis Chalmers for my Dad. They come today out of nowhere.
I enjoyed going to a Thanksgiving supper put together by my friend and landlord Jerry at Gateway church in Monroe. The speaker for the evening was Norm and he talked about creation, the flood, and visiting the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter in Tennessee.
Last Tuesday some farm ground sold near Barns City and Andy asked me to go to the auction with him. There were 5 tracts that sold and they brought around $80 per CSR. CSR stands for "crop suitability rating" and measures the ability of the soil to grow crops. Cropland in Iowa ranges from around 50 to 90 with the 50s being hills and clay and 90s being black and flat.
The night before the election I had supper with Rick, Eric, and four other fellows in Des Moines where the old Hotel Fort Des Moines used to be. When I got home and mentioned to Jan where we met she said I think your cousin owns that restaurant. Paul's grandmother and my grandfather were sister and brother. Paul's grandfather was a Jew and was put to death during the war for helping fellow Jews. Paul's father was a Reformed Church pastor. Paul also owns the Centro, Malo, and Bubba restaurants, and the Zombie burger shops.
Since my sister Beth and Dan were here from Colorado and since my parents were looking forward to seeing Paul again my siblings, my parents, and Jan and I got together and went back last Tuesday evening. Paul was there to seat us and visit. We had a good meal and a great time.
Jan and I took time together to go to Albia and do some bank business. While we were down south we went on to the Country Kitchen near Moravia to schedule a time with an Amish family for our crew to have a post harvest meal together.
We got together for a Thanksgiving service on Thursday morning. It truly is the season for thanks and giving.
Many of our immediate and extended family got together at our home for an unbelievable Thanksgiving meal.
After dinner the guys went out and shot clay pigeons. I enjoyed visiting and watching the younger grandkids climb up and down a garage ladder we have going up to a hideout as they call it over our garage.
Later that afternoon Jan and I went together to visit Rosie. She lives in an assisted living home and has no family left. Her and her late husband Daryl were our landlords for 27 years and used to live north of Rose Hill.
Last night after praise team practice Jan and I had a date and went to Des Moines to look for a couple of new Lazy Boy recliners. After that we went to Texas Roadhouse.
This morning we are having a second service at First CRC in Oskaloosa at 11:30 am with a potluck to follow. The service is simple and is designed for asking guests and trying to make our church a more outgoing church where we can worship together with friends we don't normally get the opportunity to worship with.
The point of today's visit. Remember to be thankful and remember to do things with family and friends, including going to church.
The next generation is watching us. Our habits become their habits. What we like becomes what they like. They say what they hear from us. We're not sure what their future holds however we all have a responsibility in together getting them ready for whatever God has planned for them. Have a good week.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Burdens, Blunders, and Blessings

Believe it or not it's Thanksgiving week already. As I think back there have been days when everything went right and it seemed we were sailing down a 4-lane getting things accomplished. Then there were the slower days when it seemed we were riding in a manure spreader. On both occasions we have had so much to be thankful for this year. 
We have had a warm dry fall which is good for field work. Our tillage is just about wrapped up.  Over the years Thanksgiving week has often been the last week to get things done before the ground freezes.
This is the time of the year when machinery gets cleaned up and gets a list made of what needs replaced or repaired before next season.
We are still hauling our own and helping others with hog slurry. Karl had a tire go bad so we replaced it. It can be a challenge to get a tubeless tire this big to spread out to both sides of the rim and hold air. There is a very effective and unconventional way to seat the tire beads to the rim. You spray a can of either inside the tire, attach the air hose to the valve stem, and then throw a lit match in the tire. An exciting experience. 
Sometimes days don't go as planned. We had a manure hose come loose one night. Thanks to an experienced crew who was helping us things were shut down quickly and the slurry was kept from getting into any water source. The proper channels were called, stopped a couple of times, checked things out, and were pleased with our cleanup. 
If those of you that go to church with me see me walking like I have a sore back today, it's because on Friday we helped Karl vaccinate 5300 head of pigs. I think the bending over part Friday and the cold raw wind yesterday did me in.
We are still applying NH3 for ourselves and others. When I went to pick up Alex Friday night on this particular field he was replacing another knife bolt. He broke 18 knife bolts on this custom work field due to rocks.
Since the older kids are in school Jan is down to 3 little boys on Mondays. They are cousins who love to do everything together. So when one has to go potty, they all have to go. With a diaper on all Malaki can do is raise his shirt.
Whenever we do custom work for others there is always the possibility of a mistake even though we try our hardest and keep them to a minimum. Sometimes those mistakes can just be apologized for. Other times there is compensation involved. Obviously the tough part is coming up with a sum. I had one of those to resolve this week. Fortunately it was a Christian brother and I value people way more than things. 
I so enjoy getting together and working with these folks. The Family Leader board and staff got together for a meal and board meeting. God is so in charge, even in politics. This organization's goal is to help transform the culture in our country. Part of the challenge is to get churches to engage.
What a full house last Friday evening at our local Christian grade school's fall music program. The teachers and kids once again did a great job.
Those of you that visit us have met our greeting committee. Kinze was friends with everyone. She thought she was a babysitter when the grandkids were outside and was especially fond of Jan. And yes, she gave new meaning to the term "dry mouth Saint Bernard" because she wasn't one. 
Well, one morning she didn't seem to be around. Jan found her dead close to the cabin. We have no idea how she died.
It's sad to loose a pet. However the blessing is that I have not lost a spouse, child, or grandchild this year and I thank God for that every day.
Some of you have lost loved ones recently. Others of you are reminded of the loved ones you have lost earlier as you go through the holidays without them. The blessing there is as Christians, even though we miss them, we will see them again, in heaven, forever. Have you ever tried to get your mind around "forever"?
Forever is a really long time. It makes our time on earth look like a really short time. That's why we need to make every day count. As you count your burdens, blunders, and blessings this week remember, folks won't remember what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


Life is a series of transitions. My western novelist Louis L'Amour used to say that the only thing that never changes is that every thing changes and he often wrote about the transition from the early wild west to civilization. Age, jobs, friends, seasons, technology, and lifestyle all have an effect on us.
In our part of the world you can feel a change coming in our seasons. Heat feels good on an early cool morning and I often use those early mornings to sit in front of a knipco heater and talk to God.
Our family has transitioned from harvesting our last crop to preparing for the next one. We have had a beautiful fall to apply crop nutrients and prepare the ground for next spring. 
Cover crop has become a popular way to prevent erosion and improve soil health. It's when you plant rye or oats on a harvested field in the fall, leave it over winter, spray it in the spring, and no-til in your crop. 
Hog manure is an excellent nutrient source for crops. We have been busy hauling and injecting "honey", as we call it, on next years corn acres.
Our country is definitely in a transition. My hope and prayer is that Mr. Trump will surround himself with good, capable, folks that love our country and believe in the values that have made and sustained us. He has done that in his vice-president and has already put him to work leading the transition team. He has also assembled 60 folks as his agriculture advisory team. I'm encouraged.
As I was tankering hog honey yesterday I thought how things have transitioned and changed over the last 50 years. I remember when this bridge was used over the Des Moines River. What we drive, how we farm, how we communicate, and the pace we live have all changed. Yet relationships still determine outcome and we are still people working with people.
There are transitions in church as well. And attitude and caring is a big part of success. I think most if not all of us agree God is in charge of all aspects of change in our lives. As we were instructed, if we love God first, and each other, next, we can look forward to whatever is coming next. Have a good week.