2014-10-03

Beans and the Beginning of A Long Journey

Soybeans are out of the fields and headed for parts unknown.  Ricky called John at 6pm on Monday and said he was close by with the combine and suggested that we get started.  They worked until 4am Tuesday to harvest the 50 acres.  Had to use Ricky's gravity wagons and send Arvin up to Fennimore to get a semi at 11pm.  But it all got done in less than 24 hours.

John called on Tuesday to say it was done and the first load sent to the river.  I got on the phone to check prices and found a better price in Boscobel, 16 cents better per bushel.  Not a windfall, but enough to pay for trucking.  So China hauled the loads North instead of South.  It turns out that the price difference is due to barge traffic being a lot more expensive than rail.  Boscobel is land-locked and hauls out vi rail, Dubuque is mostly tied to river traffic.

Now the equipment has been returned, the bean fields are empty....and those fields won't see the winter wheat that usually goes on immediately following a bean crop.  Instead they will sit empty until spring when a neighbor will plant them with oats for seed.  A very different game, growing seed as compared to forage grain; very picky.

The change is motivated by economics.  I need to cut expense.  With grain commodity at half what they were last year, I won't afford the fertilizer to grow my own.  2014 and 2015 are survival years for the Farm.  Cut expense, take the hit on the revenue.  So what can we do that is positive in times like this?  The answer is soil I think.

I can still build my soil quality.  I can manage the seed bed to reduce weeds.  I can ensure that the soil is not damaged by ignoring the urge to make more money next year, and instead build my soils for better years.  Now, how the hell does one do that?

The long journey begins.... .  That is not entirely true.  The long journey begins with ignorance, which I am and certainly was when I became involved with the Farm.  I feel good about having survived for 7 years in spite of it all.  But it is time to re-establish the level of ignorance.  Set the bar up a notch.  Stupidity is to ignore ignorance, and that I will not do.  A lot has been learned in the last years.  The basics are in place, now to build on them.

I have been reading/skimming over a number of sources.  Everything from scientific data garnered from field studies done my universities to anecdotal tomes by folks like Wendel Barry and Aldo Leopold.  I really don't know yet why, though I think it is because there is this hazy vision in my head of what this piece of land can be long after I am gone.  I want it to be Wieland ground, my pride demands that.  I want it to be viable, to support the living of people, my family first, then the rest of the community.  Conversely, I want it to be something that those who are supported by it hold as valuable enough to put effort into.

My job now I think is to recognize that value into the future and ensure that it is understood by me and those that benefit.  This will be a process, not a goal that can be reached.  I won't achieve something, but hopefully I can sustain it.

Let the new part of the journey begin.....