• Holly Spangler

    Bring It On

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 31, 2011

    There is nothing in the world like the smell of freshly-turned…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Goodbye to a Kansas Original

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on March 29, 2011

    These days it seems like there's an announcement a day of U.S. companies being sold to buyers overseas. Granted, most of these are "international" companies with manufacturing, sales and distribution all over the world. But I was especially saddened to learn that an almost century-old Kansas company, Krause Corp. of Hutchinson, has a new, French owner. Granted, it probably won't make much difference in the day-to-day operations of the plant. The jobs will stay, the equipment will be…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Easiest Indiana Counties to Get Lost In—GPS or not!

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on March 28, 2011

    Even in this day of cell phones and GPS, I can get lost. And with the cell phone, I usually get un-lost, but sometimes I'm so lost that I make whoever I'm calling jump through hoops just to figure out where I am. Another day of wrong turns, sketchy directions and dumb moves precipitated this column. If you get sent on an errand to the next county to get parts, or if you're doing it yourself, make sure they give you accurate directions and road marks. Of course, it doesn't help when the county…

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  • Tim White

    Hay Market is a Sign of Spring

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on March 28, 2011

    Tom Dilgard sends me the results of the Ashland County Auction every Monday morning. I visited the auction a few years a go and wrote a story about it. It is held every Friday with Tom as the auctioneer. I’ve come to enjoy spending a few minutes each week with his “Market Report” that arrives by email. I know there are bigger auctions up in Amish country but I like seeing what folks are buying and selling and Tom’s sale. Although the market is called, “A hay…

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  • Holly Spangler

    4-H Changes Lives? Communities?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 28, 2011

    I've been working on a speech for a group of 4-H volunteers, and in the course of my research I came across a fascinating little study. Did you know research has actually confirmed that young people in 4-H are three times more likely to contribute to their communities than youth not participating in 4-H? Now this won't come as rocket science to many of us in agriculture - we've long known the benefits of 4-H – but it is kinda nice to see it confirmed by a scientific study. The…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    What's Hot When It's Cold

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on March 28, 2011

    I visited three farmers last week to see how they are getting ready for the planting season. Both John Horter, of Andover, S.D., and Paul Koch, of Sherman, S.D., had upgraded their standard box-fill planters this year to 24-row center-fill planters with auto row shutoff and variable rate seeding capabilities. Both were excited about the time they expected to save filling a bulk tank rather than individual boxes. Both also expected to save significantly on seed on headlands and…

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  • Willie Vogt

    That's Logistics!

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on March 25, 2011

    This week I got to sit down with folks at Agco's logistics operation to talk parts, supply and a range of other topics (you'll see more in my May Farmer Iron column) - fascinating really. Nothing like looking at acres of parts stacked high and ready for shipping - and boy where they moving stuff. But sometimes you can't move stuff either. The earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster in Japan is opening a lot of people's eyes to what "logistics" really means. Toyota announced this week it'll be…

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  • Curt Arens

    Nebraskans Are Wired

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on March 25, 2011

    Five percent of households in the state rely on dial-up Internet, but more Nebraskans have broadband than the national average.   We are wired, at least when we compare ourselves with the rest of the country. That’s the word from a survey conducted in 2010 by the University of Nebraska Center for Applied Rural Innovation. Results of the survey, shared at a series of broadband forums making their way across the state, were a little surprising, but in a good way. I came into this…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    The Beet Goes On -- Or Will It For Roundup Ready Sugarbeets?

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on March 25, 2011

    When I walked into the International Sugarbeet Show in Fargo the other day, I said to the first farmer I met, “so how’s the beet business?   “Great,” he replied, “and it’d be better if we plant get Roundup Ready beets.”   Sugar prices are high for a change and sugarbeet yields last year were high, too. Some fields produced 35-40 tons per acre. Now, the goal is to get every field to produce that much.   The lawsuits over Roundup…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Our First Female Master

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 24, 2011

    This week, Linnea Kooistra became the first woman to be named a Master Farmer in the award's 86-year history. Wow. (We have a children's book at our house called "Lily's Purple Plastic Purse." One of my most favorite lines from it: "Wow. And that was just about all he could say about that. Wow." I think it totally applies here.) I handled the awards portion of our banquet and I warned Linnea ahead of time that I wasn't sure I would be able to introduce her without getting choked up…

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  • Josh Flint

    Dear Engineer, What Were You Thinking?

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on March 23, 2011

    Have you ever thought, “I’d love to meet the engineer who designed this”? Sometimes that thought will crop up in a moment of joy. Other times, it’s a moment of frustration. Last week, it’s a good thing the engineer didn’t appear when that thought crossed my mind. It would have been bad for him/her. A couple months ago, we traded cars for a 2001 Nissan Xterra. It’s 10 years old, but here’s the best part. It only had 35,000 miles. I figured…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Character and Destiny

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 22, 2011

    Borrowed from the blog of my friend, Anne. And it's on my mind today as we prepare to celebrate our Master Farmers today. Because when I think of people who watch these kinds of things, I always think of Master Farmers.  Watch your thoughts because they become your words. Watch your words for they become your actions. Watch your actions because they become your habits. Watch your habits because they become your character. Watch your character for it becomes your…

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  • John Vogel

    Corbett's Cuts In Ag And Education Totally Unnecessary

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on March 21, 2011

    Corbett's Cuts Totally Unnecessary Natural gas severance tax would largely absolve Pennsylvania's budget pains  This week, most of you will receive April’s American Agriculturist issue. My “Food for Thought” column raises the question: Who ill-advised Pennsylvania's guv? The question centered around Governor Tom Corbett's proposed 2011-12 budget cuts and his opposition to raising revenues via a natural gas severance tax on energy companies tapping the state's natural…

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  • Tom Bechman

    The 'S' in Spring is for Safety

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on March 21, 2011

    My son Daniel was home from college this week and helped clean up around the farmstead. On Friday morning we had a ceremonial burning of the brush pile. It's a rite of spring. Fortunately, he's big enough to do it, has learned how to do it safely, and I don't have to mess with it anymore. If it's legal to burn where you are and you're going to burn your own brush pile this spring, please be safe. As I watched the pile burn last Friday, I harkened back to an incident about 15 years ago, when a…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    An Awesome Evening with Awesome People

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on March 18, 2011

    I had the opportunity this evening to spend some time with the best farmers in Kansas; this year's Master Farmer/Master Farm Homemaker class, their families and friends and some of the past Master Farmer couples at the annual Master Farmer banquet in Junction City. I love Master Farmer time of the year because I always get to meet at least some families that I didn't know before and they are always amazing people. This year's class is no exception. Tonight, I had the honor of entertaining…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Don and Dorothy's Excellent Adventure

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 18, 2011

    This is Dorothy. She went to town last week. But she came home! (sorry, salebarn joke) Dorothy belongs to Jenna. This is Don. Don belongs to Nathan. He went to town, too. But he came home! Don and Dorothy, though new to the farm, made their debut at our kids' elementary school last week. Nathan's kindergarten teacher got the ball rolling, asking if we could bring them to school for all the kids to see. Mrs. Sims, you see, loves stuff like this. In a few more weeks, she'll…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Beyond the Basic Brand

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on March 18, 2011

    You never know when you'll run across a familiar equipment name in your travels. Sometimes it pops up in a new setting. That happened to me this week when meeting Max Armstrong to head to a farm for a story he and I are working on with the Profiles in Innovation series we've been running in our Midwest books. For an upcoming installment, Max flew down to Indiana with Phil the pilot and trusty videographer Ryan Ruh and wanted an airport near the farm we'd be visiting. I looked up a place and…

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  • Curt Arens

    Alternative Evergreens

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on March 17, 2011

    Eastern red cedar trees abound in windbreaks, but other evergreens work well too.   Nebraska’s windbreaks are real life savers. They provide comfort around the rural home and farm, and save livestock and wildlife during our extreme winters. They catch snow and protect us from the wind. Eastern red cedar trees have been one of the plants of choice for windbreak design since the first shelterbelts were planted. They thrive in our soils and in our climate. Actually, they thrive too…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Good Place In A Crisis

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on March 17, 2011

    As I watch the Arab revolts and the Japanese nuclear plant fires on TV, I can’t help thinking about what Jay Fisher, director of the North Central Research Station in Minot, N.D., once told me: North Dakota won’t be a bad place to be if there were a real serious energy crisis – if we can’t import foreign oil and fuel prices rise so much that it become impossible to ship food long distances. “North Dakota can produce its own energy," he said. "We have…

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  • Tim White

    What is Four Times as Lubricious as Petroleum?

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on March 16, 2011

    Soybean oil is slippery stuff. Far more lubricious than petroleum oil or so says Cathy Horton, the official Ag Day entrepreneur for Director Jim Zehringer’s first official Ag Day, which was held Mar. 7 -- just a few days before the state legislature passed H.B. 89 making the following week Mar. 13-19 the state’s official Agriculture Week. Coincidentally perhaps, Gov. Kasich was giving his state of the state address May 8. Somewhere in that speech he mentioned agriculture leading the…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on March 14, 2011

    It's a well-known fact that winter isn't over until after the St. Patrick's Day parade and the state basketball championship tournament. But this is getting ridiculous. After back to back 70-degree days and kiddos thinking we can just open up the back door and run out to play, we get ... snow? Yep, snow. Wichita got only a slight frosting, but other parts of Kansas got up to 4 inches or more. My friend, Amy Hadachek, sent me this photo from their farm near Belleville in north central…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Peek Under Purdue's Tent Shows Awesome Future

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on March 14, 2011

    It was Beth Bechdol who coined the phrase in responding to Dean Jay Akridge's question about what she thought of Purdue's first annual roundtable discussion last week. Bechdol, a farmer's daughter form DeKalb County who has held important roles in government and private sector organizations, now has the task of redirecting the Ag Resources Council, made up of the feed dealers and grain buyers associations. "I felt like we just got a peek under the tent today at what you have going up here in…

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  • Curt Arens

    Counting Our Blessings

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on March 14, 2011

    In light of the disaster in Japan, nothing we endure on the farm is really that bad.   We have struggles and difficulties to overcome on our farms and in our rural communities. We deal with volatile prices, great risks, weather challenges and even some weather disasters, but nothing we could endure around my part of the world could match the devastation and magnitude of human tragedy that has unfolded this past week in Japan. The 24/7 news cycle bellows out disasters every day. There…

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  • Holly Spangler

    There's Colostrum in the Fridge

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 13, 2011

    I went away this weekend, to the Hearts at Home conference in Bloomington and a quick overnight with a dear friend I've known since kindergarten. Which is to say, we stayed up far too late talking for two women in their mid-30s who needed to get up and function with society the next morning. But that's OK. Somehow, we still have topics to discuss that we haven't already thoroughly covered in the past 30 years. And can I just tell you how nice it was to sleep in a bed I didn't have to…

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  • Josh Flint

    Consolidating Specialty Acres Could Present Opportunities for Growth

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on March 10, 2011

    If you ever get the chance to hear Texas A&M’s Danny Klinefelter speak, you should definitely take advantage of it. I had just such an opportunity last week at his brother Skip’s farm in Nokomis. Too often, some of us are guilty of narrowing our focus to exactly what is going on in our state, region, county or township. Danny does a great job of analyzing global and national factors and showing you how that may affect your farm. Last week, Danny made a great point…

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  • John Vogel

    Where's The Beef, And Why

    Nor' east Thinkin'

     by John Vogel
     on March 10, 2011

    In his soon-to-arrive April "Stock Notes" column, Harold Harpster nailed the reason why the U.S. beef herd isn't growing. You'd think with sky-high beef prices that spring-born calves would be popping out in record numbers. But they aren't. "Many aging cow-calf owners just aren't interested in expansion at this point in their lives," says Harpster. Why bring on the added work of more cows, then larger supplies and the inevitable price decline?" Harold just might identify with that group. He's…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Rumble in the ...Corn field?

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on March 10, 2011

    Hello food producers. Can you feel the tension building across the apparently barren land? The added chatter in local coffee shops, the parts trucks moving out from dealerships around the country...it's almost palpable. You're about to embark on the best winner-take-all game in the world - food production. As March winds up toward spring you get a sense of that excitement building - it's not a dread of long hours and challenges, it's the underlying excitement of being part of something bigger…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Do You Like Your Job?

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 9, 2011

    "It seems like you like your job? Like you're really passionate about it?" These were two questions asked of me by one very sweet young woman last week at the second annual Women Changing the Face of Agriculture conference. And there's really only one answer: absolutely, unequivocally, yes. I have been blessed with an amazing career, and have been so fortunate to find a field and a job where I can combine the skills God gave me with a true passion for agriculture. The whole thing…

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  • Curt Arens

    Smelling Like a Rose...NOT

    Husker Home Place

     by Curt Arens
     on March 7, 2011

    What is the deal with all of the skunks lurking around my place?   Life on the farm is wonderful, most of the time. But farms are not known to smell like a rose. They are known for an earthy, pungent fragrance. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is often quite comforting and pleasant. Lately, though, our place has an unusually strong odor. My children noticed it. My wife, who has a sensitive nose that I’m sure could help in national security on some level, also noticed…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Eagles, 24/7

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 7, 2011

    After I posted last week about the eagle in our front yard, Randy and Sharon Parks shared a link to a 24/7 live streaming eagle cam. Check it out here. (Note: there's a 30 second commercial before you get to the eagles.)   My daughter has accused her grandma of being borderline obsessed with these eagles ("Grandma's watchin' the eagles again.") but the whole thing really is fascinating. It's the brainchild of the Raptor Resource Project, which has directed a camera at an eagle nest…

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  • Tom Bechman

    Lessons Learned From an Animal

    Hoosier Perspectives

     by Tom Bechman
     on March 7, 2011

    I have been the silent and minor partner with a friend for three years now in raising 4-H pigs, after giving up my own small farrowing operation because of space and too many neighbors. I figured it was time to quit before they complained, not after. Besides, when I found myself sweating one hot afternoon scooping manure with no kids in sight, I questioned why I was doing what I'm doing. Now it's become therapeutic for me, although I question sometimes if I don't need a different kind of…

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  • Tim White

    Food Delirium

    Buckeye Farm Beat

     by Tim White
     on March 4, 2011

    Food. I am swirling in this whirlpool of food thoughts. Maybe it’s because I am participating in a biggest loser contest and after a month and 10 pounds shed, I am getting delirious. Or may be it is because I attended a conference this week called “Bringing it to the Table: New Recipes for the Food Chain.” Or maybe it was the Wall Street Journal report I read about eating insects. Or may be it was the incredible Ruth Chris Steak House filet mignon I had for dinner on Monday…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    Are There Any Family Farms Left in Kansas?

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on March 4, 2011

    I ran into Marion County wheat grower Paul Penner at the 2011 Commodity Classic here in Tampa on Friday morning where there has been a lot of conversation about the need for farmers and ranchers to get the real story of their lives and jobs before the public. Penner said he was on his way back from Washington, D.C. and shared his farm roots with another passenger, who immediately inquired, "So are there any family farms left in Kansas or are they all gone?" Penner said he was glad to…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Soaring on Wings

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 4, 2011

    Earlier this week, John ran in the house and told me to grab my camera: there was an eagle in the field just next to the house. I did and we all huddled at the window to watch. He was 150 yards away or so. Or maybe 50? Or maybe 250? I'm not so good with estimating distance. He was a ways out there. Far enough that my 200 mm zoom lens really didn't pick him up all that well. Still, he was huge. We've seen more and more eagles around this part of western Illinois the past few years. They're…

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  • P.J. Griekspoor

    What, SNOW! Again?

    Kansas Viewpoint

     by P.J. Griekspoor
     on March 3, 2011

    One of the perks of my job is I get to go nice places during nasty weather. This week that has meant beautiful Tampa, Fla. for the annual Commodity Classic. It's 80 degrees daily under mostly sunny skies with light winds and ... well it's just plain awesome. Today, I was looking at the weather since I'm headed home Saturday. And I see that it's 68 today, so, hey, maybe I spent a week in Florida and missed the end of winter. And then I look at the forecast. Arghhh! Snow overnight on…

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  • Willie Vogt

    Hard to be Believed

    Farmer Iron

     by Willie Vogt
     on March 3, 2011

    There's a new item in the old "you can't make this up" category of government action and it involves GPS technology. Essentially, the Federal Communications Commission - working at a speed unprecedented for a government agency - has cleared the use of radio spectrum directly next to the signal GPS satellites use for a new ground-based service that could cause significant interference issues. You read it right, the GPS system which consumers, airline pilots (I'm especially concerned here…

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  • Josh Flint

    A Press Invitation I Can't Pass Up

    Prairie Gleanings

     by Josh Flint
     on March 2, 2011

    Ever get an e-mail and think, “Hmmm….that’s odd. Wonder why they would send me that?” Used to be, the … ahem … “enhancement” e-mails were the most common junk mail out there. Lately though, I’ve been getting some really odd notices. At least three times a week, someone from Barack Obama’s group will e-mail me. Sometimes it even pops up under the President’s name. I’m not sure why I get these. I voted for McCain in…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Calving Tricks, Courtesy of our Readers

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 2, 2011

    So I was feeling a little sheepish about yesterday's blog post. I didn't mean to come off as a whiner, especially when my friend, Jennifer, pointed out that her family once calved out 350 heifers one spring. Dude. 'Cause we're not even remotely operating on that scale, and whining about being up three times in a week to pull calves rings a little hollow in comparison. However, that little blog post brought in a wealth of suggestions. Like from cattleman Joe Webel, who suggested night…

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  • Lon Tonneson

    Scent of Spring

    Inside Dakota Ag

     by Lon Tonneson
     on March 1, 2011

    You know the smell of freshly plowed fields? It makes Dan Forgey sick. Forgey, manager of Cronin Farms, Gettysburg, S.D., says he has come to understand that the classic scent of spring in the Dakotas is  really the odor of dying soil microbes. “It’s the last thing I want to smell.” Forgey is a long-time no-tiller who has recently started using cover crops to keep a living plants and roots and and in on the soil as long as possible. “The soil is…

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  • Holly Spangler

    Calves. 2 a.m. Colostrum. Boo.

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on March 1, 2011

    So it’s 3:30 in the morning, and I’m sitting here in my kitchen heating water to defrost a bag of frozen colostrum, with one eye on the cow cam. John’s in the barn trying to convince the heifer that just calved that she should care whether her calf lives or dies, which she doesn’t seem so much into right now. And mostly, I have just one question: why do the heifers on this operation think they need to pop out a calf in the middle of the night? And by “pop…

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