Friday, June 29, 2007

JM and me

Since the mid 1980's, I've been a fan of John Mellencamp. I think Scarecrow was one of the first albums I purchased, and Uh-Huh was not far behind. I don't have much of his recent work, mostly mid 80's to mid 90's.

Recently, I started playing his CDs in my truck as I went to do business, starting with Scarecrow and up to Big Daddy. Doing so brought back a flood of memories.

I cannot hold back a tear when I hear Scarecrow. Something inside of me connects to that time in the 80's when we were on the verge of losing our farm and that song. The sound of creeking gates, the drums pounding...97 crosses planted on the courthouse yard...that was in nearby Lucas County. Minutes to Memories also holds a wealth of advice that I cannot ignore to this day. It helped set my life in perspective.

Lonesome Jubilee was the soundtrack to my mid high school years. I can still remember its songs playing through the soundsystem in my 1966 Ford Mustang, on the way to basketball practice or golf. It was different than Scarecrow, with more biting commentary of the Reagan era. Same with Big Daddy. Country Gentleman pretty summed up the way I felt about Ronaldus Magnus back then. David Stockman was on my hit list at age 12...can you believe that?

His songs helped shape the person I am today. What he wrote in 1985 is now hitting me today at the same age he was then. The burden and excitement of parenthood, the transition from youth to adult, the national politics that somehow needle their way to your plain existence in nowhere Middle America. Back then I was too young to understand everything he said. Now I have an idea about what he was writing at the time.

I might not agree today with John Mellencamp today on every issue, but I will respect him for his music and his views. He's come a long ways, and he's brought us along for the ride. He does give us a unique perspective into Middle America that is oftentimes dimmed out by the likes of Brittany and Eminem. His songs, at least for me, helped provide definition and direction.

Your Farm Bureau dues to a good use

State29 is a great blogger; he cuts through the BS and gets to the heart of the matter.

His latest blog concerns the Orange County Choppers E-85 chopper the Iowa Farm Bureau has commissioned and is raffling off. It's being hauled around the state to promote the use of E-85.

This makes as much sense as painting racing stripes on a turtle and using to promote the Indy 500.

Read the blog and you'll see how stupid the idea of raffling off a $100K chopper is. I'd be afraid to win the darn thing - not only would you have a white elephant sitting in your garage, you'd have $38,000 in taxes due, too. Hope Craig Lang is happy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tractor ride through town

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the 2007 WHO Great Iowa Tractor Ride that passed through town on Monday. My son and I went out in the morning to see the tractors passing through. We only saw the first group (I heard there were ten), but of course, once you've seen 40 different antique tractors, you've seen pretty much all of them, right?
Here are a few shots I took:

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Rantings of a progressive conservative

Hello, I'm Bob, and I'm a progressive conservative. Yes, I am a living breathing oxymoron (and for those of you in East Peru, that doesn't mean I'm an oxygen breathing moron...well, maybe it does).

Progressive conservative...isn't that like two polar opposites? Liberals oftentimes like to call themselves "progressives" to shed off the "liberal" shellac that has been applied to them by the neighbors across the hall. Doesn't "Progressive" + "Conservative" = "Moderate"? Not in my case.

Here's my thinking - through conservative principles we can progress ahead. By using the guidelines that our forefathers put forth, we can forge a better country for all without having to resort to socialism/communism, fascism, monarchy, or anarchy.

First of all, I believe in the sanctity of life. I don't believe anyone has the right to take that away from you. That's why not only do I believe abortion is morally wrong but so are state sponsored death penalties. We should avoid at all costs killing others. Of course, in times of war, when we must protect our own (and our families') lives, killing to defend is unfortunately one of the few means of defense, and must be done so if needed. But I do not believe in the profiteering of killings unborn children nor putting to death criminals, no matter how despicable they are. Life should be protected and defended.

Second, I believe that man is fallible, and the bigger the organization/project/task he takes on, the more likely it will really screw up and hurt others. Those who believe that through better thinking, modern technology, and advanced scientific analysis (along with billions of taxpayer dollars) we can cure all diseases, wipe out poverty, make everyone geniuses, and eliminate acne are deluding themselves. Life will NEVER be perfect here on Earth; we can only attempt to alleviate some of the pain and misery.

Now, I'm all for scientific discovery, and modern technology is pretty cool, too. If we can cure diseases, lower poverty levels, and attempt to stop malnutrition, that's fine. However, we must realize that we are not smart enough to conquer every problem; there will always be fine nuances that buck the system and fall through the cracks. It's the old Pareto principle- it takes 20% of the time/money/resources to solve 80% of the problems and 80% of the resources to solve the remaining 20%. It will take the greatest amount of resources to solve the final 1%.

In relation to government, I believe that some government is necessary, but the level we have today is far over-reaching. Government should not be a nursemaid to wipe our little noses, but be there to provide a framework in which to work; Provide basic infrastructure (roads, police, fire protection), justice, and defense of the nation. Handle these things so individuals don't have to worry about how to get from point A to point B without being mugged, shot, or fall into a pothole.

I think our society can progress based upon keeping government simple but responsive. Individuals do their best when given a certain amount of freedom; teamwork is not to be excluded, of course, and organizations do present a certain amount of leverage that an individual may not, but having minimal artificial influence from government is important.

Ah, but here's the catch.

In order for our society to be progressive, just, righteous, and mighty, it must be responsible. Because man is fallible, and therefore will cause issues to others, we must strive to be responsible citizens that do not tread on others. Take care of your stuff, I'll take care of mine. Of course, we all make mistakes, and I will trespass on someone else. That is where government comes in; allow justice to be determined and assist in making things right.

Some would like to believe that our current government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. I don't think that is true anymore. We are not treated as citizens but as servants and serfs. Why is this? Because we either have given up responsibility to maintain ourselves, or the rights that create these responsibilities have been taken away. In either case, we are kept under the thumb of the government instead of the citizens controlling it.

So, you can say I don't trust our current government. The principles by which it was created have been bastardized and corrupted. Our founding fathers wouldn't recognize it anymore. Go to any government office that deals with the public and find evidence of this statement.

In being a progressive conservative, I believe that rediscovering the original principles of this country will give us an opportunity to restore our rights and maintain our responsibilities. It does not mean going backwards, but rather forwards, where the liberties and opportunities envisioned by Thomas Jefferson and others can be realized. The socialistic tendencies of liberalism is the wrong path, and its cheerleaders, Clinton and Edwards, use it to take away rights from the people. Both will do and say anything to get elected. Of course, they are not the only politicians that are like that.

Giving amnesty to border jumpers will not get us there. Continuing to kill millions of unborn babies will not, either. Nor will continuing to run a trade deficit with a country that also carries most of our national debt. It means truly drawing a line in the sand and saying, "No more, we will no longer stand for this. We want our country back."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hay making time

While I don't have any hay this year, a lot of local producers have been cutting, raking, and baling hay for their cows. Until the rain yesterday this has been about the best time yet to put up hay. Quality is not too bad, considering the late frost that damaged a lot of alfalfa, and the tonnage is there as well.

I've been selling a fair amount of net wrap at the office, too. A lot of it has been going to customers with newer John Deere and Vermeer round balers.

I am fascinated, however, by the technology our bretheren across the pond use to make hay. A lot of custom work is done there by "contractors", so there it is mostly large, sophisticated, and expensive. No dinking around with 9' wide mower conditioners behind a 70 hp tractor. Check out these videos:

You got to admire the Europeans' use of techno music in ag machinery commercials, eh?

Signs the apocalypse is upon us...

I found these three entries on the Drudge Report this morning:

'You're fired," man hears after saving a woman's life
The leasing agent for an apartment complex heard screams early in the morning, grabbed his 12 gauge shotgun, and helped save a woman's life. The next day, he was fired from his job because he carried the gun with him to the scene and did not report the incident immediatly to his supervisor.

SHOCK: Goat slaugthered in restaurant kitchen
A restaurant in China Grove, NC has been shut down because it was discovered that a goat had been slaughtered in the kitchen. The restaurant had also been cited for spreading E Coli, which sickened 20 and killed one. The goat was supposedly not served to patrons.

NYC poor to get cash for good behavior
$300 for doing well on a test, $200 for going to the doctor, $150 for holding a job.

On a side note, Jim Nussle is heading back to Washington to be Bush's budget director. Wonder if his "Nussle Hustle" can finess the spending on Iraq into the budget or not.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Register's ethanol bashing redux

I should never read the Des Moines Register. It gets me too worked up.

However, I decided to go over to their website this morning and found their "watchdog" entry about biofuels. I also checked out some of the comments made by their "Biofuels Brain Bank" team and replies from readers.

It is easier to be the armchair president/CEO and make make/impose decisions on others than to actually be in the "trenches," put your own money on the line, and make it happen. Less energy is expended by jawboning about what other people need to do than to make the changes yourself.

The commenters all think they know what is right and wrong and of course, the way things are now are ALL wrong. If only they would be given the opportunity to make things better, along with an unlimited amount of cash. Why, they'd save us all from ourselves.

There is a disconnect between what "is" and what "might be" in this discussion. Platitudes and promises from politicians only serve to muddy the waters, and rhetoric from environmental non-profits do nothing to solve the issues at hand.

Just so you don't think I am beating up on all environmentalists, one of the brain-bankers, Rich Dana, is a friend of mine - he was our lobbyist at Iowa Farmers Union for a while. He is a sharp guy, and has done things on a personal level like make his own biofuel and work on solar collectors. He practices what he preaches, as much as he can.

However, the fact that the DM Register puts this profile in the "Watchdog" area of their paper tells me they are more interested in crusading than in telling the truth as it really is. How many times have you seen a "watchdog" bark incessantly when there is nothing to bark at? Such is the case with the Register - barking at shadows in an attempt to drum up more business to stave off their faltering readership.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A day of contrasts

Today I went to Osceola around noon time to get some plastic tarps at the Farm & Home and possibly a new ink cartridge for my printer at the computer store. Got to the computer store too late, but did pick up the tarps. I decided instead of going to McDonalds for my lunch, I'd pay the Chinese restaurant on the square a return visit.

As I entered, I noticed a large group of youths had just come in before me. It occurred to me that they were a group of Mennonites, as the girls were wearing long dresses and bonnets or head scarves, and the boys were wearing polo shirts and jeans. If they were Old Order Amish, the girls would have appeared about the same, but the boys would have been dressed in black.

Anyway, they sat together at a group of tables put next to each other, then after receiving their drinks, went up in small groups to the buffet line. They came back to the table, waiting for all to return, then bowed their heads and prayed silently.

During the meal, I picked up little bits of their conversations. The boys talked about cars or tractors, and girls smiled and giggled quietly. None of them were overly boisterous, but kept their tone to a respectable level. There was even a period when all were eating and no one was speaking - a table of teenagers being quiet!?!?

The girls were attractive in their plainness - they had no need for makeup, jewelry, and revealing clothes to impart that they were females. The boys were slim, muscular (probably from working on the farm and not playing XBox), and didn't need baggy jeans and wife-beater shirts to show they were male, either. These kids were respectful and kind to each other. There were no cell phones interrupting their quiet conversations, no rude interjections, just simple talk and enjoyment between seemingly mature and considerate people.

To say the least, I was impressed. I now regret not going to them and commending them for their behavior. They didn't need to show off who they were, but yet, they were not ashamed of their backgrounds. They were polite, considerate, and not overtly sexual in nature (unlike some youth their age). I don't know what the occasion was for the outing, and where they came from; There is a group of Mennonites near Leon, but my guess is that the occasion was a planned event between two or more communities to introduce themselves to each other.

On the other hand, I had an interesting experience this afternoon. The wife decided we were going to get Casey's pizza, since we had 10 box receipts that entitled us to a free pizza. She placed the order, and after doing some work at the office, I went to Casey's to pick it up. Then I realized I had forgotten something - the big motorcycle ride.

Every year for the last six there has been a motorcycle ride, called the John Dale Clark Memorial Ride, that starts in Chariton and ends up at the Humeston Lake. It has apparently gained in favor, as there were many more bikes parked at Casey's and zooming past on their way to the lake. They even had t-shirts this year. I had to stand in line for about 10 minutes while the cashier processed six packs of beer, beef jerky, and bottles of soda.

Now, I don't have a problem with bikers - you do your thing, I'll do mine. You go there, I'll stay here, and we won't have any issues. And they were riding in memory of a friend that died of cancer.

But here's the contrast - A group of Mennonite teenagers, at the prime of being potentially rebellious and sexual youth, but acting constrained, polite, and considerate
Middle aged parents wearing bandanas, skimpy clothes, drinking beer, and riding loud motorcycles that cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Hmm. That is a contrast. All here in The South of Iowa on a single day.

Not to mention the Chariton Classic bicycle ride that passed through town earlier in the day. Jackie rode in it for her preparation for RAGBRAI. But that's a different story, one that I'll have her guest-blog about sometime.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Price of crackers

If you go to your favorite restaurant in the near future and see a sign at the salad bar saying "Crackers - 10 cents each", you can blame me for that.
I sold 1000 bushels of soft red winter wheat today for delivery in July to Trenton, MO MFA elevator for $5.18/bu. That is like...a lot. Last year I sold for $3.87/bu, and that was a lot more than earlier (around $3.20/bu or so).
Since SRWW is used to make crackers and such,the higher costs of wheat will surely cause the price of condiments at the salad bar go up as well....
...At least if one follows the logic presented by food processors. The minimum wage increase, fuel costs, inflation, interest rates...these do not make the price of food go up, according to them.
It's those darn greedy farmers who dare take the price given to them by the market! We need subsidies to keep food prices low...oh wait, we already have that. Well, we need price controls!...uh, had that, didn't work.
I guess we'll have to deal with it together, folks.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Finished with planting

We finished up planting today. Hoorah! I realized I've been planting steady each day for the last week. Now we can pack things up, clean out the boxes, and watch things grow (hopefully).

Tonight around dinner time I got a call from the Clinton 2008 campaign. The caller wanted to talk to me, as I am on the board of the Iowa Farmers Union. He wanted to see if I had any questions about Hillary's ag policies.

He also asked how I thought the caucuses were going so far. I told him the caucuses hadn't started yet, they were yet to take place in January 2008. I know, I was being snotty, but ask a dumb question, get a dumb answer.

I further told him that while the IFU is typically a left-leaning organization, I was the odd ball conservative in the group, and that there was no way in h___ that I would ever vote for his candidate. Furthermore, I told him if she is elected president, I'd consider moving out of the country or work on a secession plan for southern Iowa to remove itself from the Union/Estrogen-based Dictatorship.

There are fewer things I despise more than political phone calls around supper time. In 2003-2004 time period, a Democratic pollster called my parents' place. I was there and answered it for them. I told them my mother was supporting Edwards, but Dad was leaning towards Al Sharpton. He actually wasn't, but I figured that my response skewed their numbers a bit.

"Wow, an upswell of Sharpton support in Decatur County! Sharpton commands 20% of the votes in this poor southern Iowa county!"

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Work on Sunday...

...Fix on Monday.

I thought I'd try to get the rest of the Cambria farm done today. It involved moving the tractors and planters from the west side to the east piece. Simply drive it down the road, right? Naw, that would be too easy. A narrow bridge in between the two pieces prevents simply going a 1/2 mile to the other side. Instead, it requires driving north 2 miles, east one mile, south 2 miles, then back west 1/2 mile. I knew this was necessary, but another pain in the butt.

So, I started out, got to the other side about 15 minutes later, unfolded the planter, and started going. I was watching for Dad to come along as well with his tractor and planter. Unfortunately, he showed up with his pickup.

He had two tires go out on the Kinze planter as he was passing through town. He got a ride from a neighbor and got his pickup. I would have gone ahead and planted the field with my 12 row 30 planter, but I didn't have enough seed - the Kinze had the rest. Hmmm.

So, I continue planting what I could until my number 1 row alarm goes off. I check it, and lo and behold, the bracket that holds the drive sprocket for that row has broken, and the chain will jump off, causing no seed to be planted for that row. It requires a replacement.

Guess what? John Deere and the tire stores aren't open on Sunday.

So, Monday I will get three tires fixed at the tire shop (the two from the Kinze and my tractor's front tire from two days ago), Dad will get a new sprocket at John Deere, and we'll attempt to finish the field in between the rains.

So, the old adage holds true once again.

On a side note, I am enjoying using the XM radio in the tractor. You'd probably have me pegged as having it set to every talk show channel, or at least that and country music. In fact, I've got a couple of techno/pop/dance channels set. I heard a great song yesterday, wrote it down, and found the video for it on YouTube. The singer, a Swede going by the name of September, probably never thought her music would reach the hinterlands of the South of Iowa, much less in a tractor, but the wonders of technology never cease.

Here's the video.

I think she's better than Shania Twain. What do you think?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Rocks, hills, planes, and flat tires

My father and I are trying to finish up planting soybeans. As of today we have 100 acres left at two farms, so about 2 days worth of work left. The farm we've been working on has been a challenge, however. It's about 160 acres tillable acres out of 240 acres total, if that gives you an idea of how many ditches, trees, etc there is on this place.
Here's an aerial photo of the farm - not quite the nice quarter sections of north central Iowa, eh?
Don't get me wrong - I'm thankful to be able to rent any land, but this farm would not be considered "choice" by any means. It has a plentitude of rocks on it. We find more and more every year. Dad picked up some for my mother's outdoor garden railroad display.
I found I had a flat tire on the front of my JD 4450 last night. Knowing that the tire shop was closed at that time, and I might have a hard time convincing the owner to open up on Saturday morning (although he probably would have, I don't want to ask too many favors), Dad's solution was to take a tire off a M+W wagon and put it on the tractor. It did the job, although it is smaller than the original. Planted 75 acres that way without any problems due to the tire.
It's been an ordeal.
On a more interesting note, when we moved equipment yesterday from one farm to this, we noticed a crop spraying plane flying over my home farm. I was following Dad in the truck, so I went over there while he drove on with his tractor and planter.
A crop duster had started spraying on my neighbor's to the north, as I found out as I got closer. He's been having trouble with cutworms, and he's not the only one in the neighborhood with them, unfortunately.
I was totally fascinated by the spray plane and the pilot - this guy was probably going 200 mph about 12 feet off the ground (or at least it appeared). At one point, I stopped the truck on the road at the end of one of his swaths and watched him buzz over me. That probably wasn't smart, as I would have been the first thing he would have hit had he lost control, but it was great seeing (and hearing) the plane.
I left and headed back over a few miles to catch up with Dad. As luck would have it, the crop duster had another field to spray, and it happened to be near where I was going. Again, he made a pass and flew right over me as I was driving down the road! I even had a few drops of spray hit the truck (although nothing major).
So there you have it - rocks, hills, planes, and flat tires. Such is my life these days.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Farmer's share of the retail food dollar

One of the anonymous posters from my previous entry mentioned something about the cost of food going up because of ethanol. If prices do go up on food this year, it won't be significantly due to ethanol.

From the National Farmers Union June 2007 issue:

Item Retail Price Farmer's Share
Multi-purpose flour (5 lbs) $1.95 $0.51
Bread (Wonder, 1 lb loaf) $2.49 $0.10
Wheaties (18 oz box) $5.05 $0.08
Milk (1 gal, fat free) $3.69 $1.31
Potatoes (Russet, 10 lbs) $3.29 $0.84
Potato Chips (Lays, 13.5 oz) $3.49 $0.12
Cheddar Cheese (1 lb) $4.49 $1.60
Boneless Ham (1 lb) $4.29 $0.46
Bacon (1 lb) $3.29 $0.46
Top Sirloin Steak (1 lb) $5.99 $0.95
Eggs (1 doz A-XL) $2.19 $0.72
Carrots (fresh, 2 lbs) $1.89 $0.57
Lettuce (head, 2 lbs) $1.79 $0.37

I don't know the farmer's share of the price of corn flakes is, but I'm sure it's about the same as Wheaties.

The point is, a lot of the cost you pay for food is for processing, marketing, and transportation. Not that those things aren't important, and that those who do the work shouldn't be compensated, but to say that the cost of Corn Flakes is extremely tied to the price of corn is absurd. Corn could go to $10/bu and the cost of cereal would only need to go up a few cents to cover the move. Instead, manufacturers take advantage of input changes to take everyone to the cleaners.

The American Meat Institute recently promoted a research piece that said because of ethanol, food prices for the average American will rise $50/year over the next year. The AMI is upset because now that corn prices are where they should be, they can no longer get cheap corn to feed livestock. Maybe they'll have to start paying a little more, eh?

$50/year is hardly worth mentioning - that's about $4/month. If you use 50 gallons of gas a month, and the price moves up 8-9 cents, you've just spent $4/month more than last. How many times have we seen gas prices move up 8-9 cents in a month? How about in a week?

The point is - Retail food prices are not strongly correlated to the cost of the grains, vegetables, oilseeds, and meats produced on the farm. A greater expense than the original input is the labor to haul, process, market, and haul again. Don't blame the farmer for wanting to make some money and reduce our dependence on foreign oil - look in the mirror instead.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

DM Register's attack on biofuels

As I went to the checkout counter of the local Casey's with my primary vice, a 32 oz of Mt Dew, I noticed a peculiar smell eminating near where I sat down my drink. Scanning across the counter top, I spotted the source of said odor, a vile combination of half truths and liberal spin. There in front of me was a stack of Des Moines Sunday Registers. On the front page I spied a graphic of a fuel nozzle covered in mud. My interest piqued, I held my nose, reached into my wallet, and purchase the copy along with my source of caffeine.

Upon returning home, I found a special insert called "How Biofuels Pollute". Ah yes, what a perfect title for a hatchet job.

It appears that the Register's lead ag writer, Perry Beeman, has written a series of articles attacking Iowa's burgeoning industry, including various journalism techniques, such as using alternative calculations to make data appear worse than it really is, buzz words to fan the flames of passion, and of course, forgetting about the other side of the debate, as if it didn't exist.

I'll start my critique with a graphic and text called "Environmental Impact of Biofuels".

1) "Distillers' Grains - A byproduct of the process, dried distillers's grains makes great feed for cattle, but is high in phosphorus, meaning more pollution from cow manure."

I regularly test the DDGS I sell, and it's phosphorus content is not any higher than soybean meal, which is commonly used as a protein source in hogs and cattle. While one can use more DDGS in a ration than soybean meal, the total addition of phosphorus to the environment is not THAT great. Overfeeding DDGS can be a problem, but not just to the environment, but to the cow as well. And don't we have manure management plans in place for most feedlots anyway?

2) "Less Habitat - Plowing trees and native grasses to plant more corn could reverse decades of work to protect rivers and lakes from crop-related pollution. This could increase soil erosion and chemical runoff, and reduce wildlife habitat."

This is kind of like saying "Eating uranium-laced brownies could kill you." Yes, but no one in their right mind would do this. Farmers are not "plowing trees and native grasses" to plant more corn - that would be too much work for small acreage gains, and besides, it would probably violate their conservation plans they have with the NRCS, resulting in big $$$ fines.

Notice how Beeman includes "native grasses", instead of saying something like "multi-flora rose" or "introduced species"; "native grasses" sounds more environmental and therefore needs to be protected against evil plows.

3) "Auto Emissions - Trucking crop material to ethanol plants and waste material away from the plants adds to vehicle emissions. Truck traffic can stir up roads, sending lung-harming dust into the air."

So, where is all this crop material going now? Just sitting on the farm, waiting to rot? It has to go somewhere. Wouldn't it be better to be taken to the local ethanol plant 20 miles down the road than to haul it 100 miles to the grain terminal on the river? As for "lung-harming" dust, I should be dead by now from all of the road dust I've enhaled. Big trucks or small cars, they both send up dust. At least I know I'm getting enough calcium in my system.

Later, Beeman includes an article titled "Drive to increase corn acres could damage soil". He throws in a quote from Duane Sand of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation that for every gallon of ethanol produced, 20 pounds of soil is lost. Let's do the math - 2.8 gallons of ethanol produced per bushel of corn, assume 150 bushels per acre of yield. That's 4.2 tons per acre of soil loss. While it's not good to loose any soil, 4.2 tons is less than the 5 tons/acre that is created every year through growth and recycling of crop materials. So, one could say that topsoil is being created while producing crops for ethanol!

What's even better, continous corn on corn will produce more residue for trapping sediment and regenerating the soil. That's got to be a good thing, right? But no, the P-man conveniently leaves out this little factoid. That's a little example of spin, folks.

In the next few days, Perry Beeman will gain accolades from his fellow staff writers at the Register for attempting to slay the sacred cow that is Iowa's renewable fuel industry. And while his insert did include some issues that need to be addressed (water usage by ethanol plants, CO2 emissions, etc), he didn't attempt to compare the environmental issues of biofuels to the known problems of the petroleum industry that biofuels are attempting to surplant. He'd rather focus on various issues in this developing industry and thus paint the entire process as harmful and wrong.

The blatant spin and use of buzzwords in this special edition further illustrates the bias the Des Moines Register has. It no longer cares about objective reporting, but rather in creating a straw man stuffed with "environmental offenses", and then taking on the role of protector of the people. Sadly, if this is how the Register much operate to gain readership, then it is no better than the National Enquirer.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mike Huckabee, my new favorite presidential candidate

Only getting three TV channels, and rarely watching any programs except "Clifford & Friends" or "Curious George" with the kids, I don't get to see many political commercials. However, having spent time in the cab of the tractor or truck, I do hear commentary on talk radio about the candidates.

And although it is still early in the presidential race, my interest has now turned to the former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. I've heard his soundbites from the various debates, especially in regards to John Edwards' haircut. But more importantly, I've researched him through his webpage and other sites.

Here's what I like about Huckabee:
1) He was a Baptist minister before getting into politics. He is a Christian, not backing down on his faith, but also not flaunting it, like Pat Robertson did years ago.

2) He is pro-life through and through.

3) He understands what the 2nd Amendment really is; not to protect hunters, but to provide self-defense and protection from tyranny.

4) He wants to secure our borders and is against the current immigration bill (but then again, who isn't?)

5) He will work for energy independence.

One thing that I am unsure on, however, is his favor of the Fair Tax. Maybe I don't understand the workings of this plan quite yet, but the way I see it, it moves the burden of collecting taxes from the IRS to the retailers. Yes, a lot of retailers are currently collecting state and local sales taxes, and maybe there would be no net gain/loss in paperwork, given the employer would no longer have to pay income taxes for their employees (but still FICA and unemployment). As an ag retailer, I currently don't collect sales taxes as nothing I sell is taxable here in Iowa. Since the majority of what I sell are "inputs" (feed, seed, etc), would these be taxed or not?

Well, at least one thing is for sure; Mike Huckabee doesn't like the current tax system. I can agree with him on that.

Finally, Huckabee is not "Rudy McRomney". The three men that make up this triad of Moderatism are not going to gain my vote because of their pro-choice, flip-flopping, big money backgrounds. Huckabee is the real deal, a guy who hasn't spent his entire life in Washington or in boardrooms.

In supporting Huckabee I am in no way dissing guys like Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Sam Brownback, John Cox, Fred Thompson (who may or not may not be a Rudy McRomney wanna-be), or Ron Paul (who I believe is the most principled candidate out there). These guys are on the right side of the issues for the most part. I just believe Huckabee has a better chance to move forward than the rest.

Friday, June 01, 2007

What's going on here

I thought I should update what is going on around here in The South of Iowa; there's only so much smarmy opinion one can take, eh?

Rain - The big news is that that it has rained, and will rain again today. We don't need any rain right now; keep it off until July or August, when the crops really need it. My corn fields are starting to look pretty messy with weeds. I haven't planted a single soybean yet, either. It's not too late for soybeans, but everyday lost means less yield opportunity.

Feed - I'm hauling feed on these rainy days. I delivered calf creep feed to a customer waaaay in the south of Iowa, about 7 miles from the MO border. I took it out to his creep feeders in the pasture. The cows and calves came up from their selected patch of grass in the pasture, probably being trained to know that a diesel engine means food. Sorry girls, this is for the kids. Fortunately, I got out of the pasture before it started raining real hard.

However, upon getting over to another location and while I was unloading another batch of creep feed, my truck's hydraulic system stopped working. A setscrew had come out of the PTO shaft, and now it was turning freely. This meant I couldn't fold the auger back in. And it's not a good idea to drive down the road with a 18' auger sticking out the back. The DOT boys might frown on that.

Then it started raining really hard.

I was able to get the truck up to the farmer's shop. He was not there, but his son and a friend (who just happened to be a mechanic...!) were there, and we worked on getting the truck going. It took a few hours, but I was glad they were there, very glad. I think the repaired system is better than before. And I made some new acquaintances and possibly customers.

Grain vac'ing - My father and I have been sending our soybeans to Cargil in Des Moines. We rented a grain vac and lined up another local farmer to haul our beans. We cleaned out one bin yesterday and estimated there was about 2600 bushels in it. That's good, as the crop insurance adjuster, late last year, estimated 2100 bushels in there. It's nice to have an extra 500 bushels.

We had to go to another farm and bin to get an extra 150 bushels to fill out the third load (each of the two loads had around 900 bu of beans on them). So, we moved the tractor and grain vac to the other farm. I got my JD 4450, brought it over, and hooked on to the grain cart. The bin site is such that it is impossible for a semi to load directly from the bin; grain needs to go into a grain cart, which is taken to the road where the semi is at.

So, we put about 150-200 bushels of bean in the grain cart, brought it out to the semi, and just as I turned on the auger to start unloading, my father runs up, waving his hands, telling me to shut down. I stopped, and he told me something big had fallen out of the auger into the trailer.

I climbed up there and found a couple of stowaways; a mother raccoon and her baby. They must have been sleeping in the unloading auger when I turned it on. They were dazed and a little bloody, but soon enough, they started waking up. I managed to lasso the baby and lower overboard, where Dad let it loose. We finally scared Momma overboard as well; she was seen running back to the barn.

Another South Iowa language peculiarity - "On me". Shortened for "On my property/farm/land".

You have to go in on me to get to the Gilroy bottom.

Can I go in on you to get my cattle out to the road?

The creek empties into the river on me.

That's all for now from The South of Iowa. Now, snotty opinion free! :)