2015-10-02

...And so it is....

And so it is that 2015 wanders into Fall - harvest season.  Wanders is not exactly right... . Yes, the evenings were cooler in September, but the days were generally warm.  And then September 30th landed.  With night temps in the lower 40's and day temps in the lower 60's.  Rather sudden this year.

The corn and beans were green a couple of weeks ago and now they are ready to harvest.  Corn is coming out of the field at anywhere from 19% to 21% moisture, something one does not see often in the early days of October.  The bean plants are naked except for the pods hanging on them.

I got lucky:  The price of beans jumped over $0.30 in one day a week ago when the delegation from China was here yammering on about cyber-attacks and aggressive carbon goals.  They mentioned some intent for buying a few million bushels of Soybeans and the market responded, but only for a day or so, and mostly on futures between November of '15 and March of '16.  That presents a problem for me this year.  I have oats stored in my Harvestore where the beans usually go.  I contracted a load of beans for November delivery which means I have to hang on to them until November.  So where to put them?

We usually harvest beans before corn, which would have created a problem for my November delivery.  As it works out, the corn is coming out first which means that I can use the bin that holds 'wet' corn waiting to be run through the dryer for bean storage.  It holds about 3600 bushel, so there should be plenty of room.  But WOW!  Talk about lucky!  I did not even think about the storage issue when I chased after that extra $0.30!  What an idiot!

That being said, we seem to be doing well with the corn yield.  I believe this will be the last year that our ground sees GMO crops.  I have decided, with support from the rest of the family, that we will be doing the Conservation Reserve Program for the next 10 years.  There are a lot of reasons for this.....

First and foremost, the farm must make money.  The price decline over the last two years has hurt the operation.  If I were to continue on with conventional farming and ended up facing another year of low commodity prices, it would position the Farm in a way I am not comfortable with.

Second:  There are two ways to get ahead of the game; a) make more per acre either in volume or in revenue(or both) or reduce expenses.  The cost of seed and fertilizer is not following the price of commodities in the downward spiral.  Yes, fuel is less expensive which helps, but fuel is really a tiny part of the expense on a farm like ours.  Maybe $6k/year... When measured against $30k for inputs, plus insurance, plus maintenance, the $2k we save on fuel does not add up to much.  There is not telling what will happen with revenue in a volatile market, and we are already yielding about as well as we can without destroying our soil completely.  So the answer is: Cut expenses.  Just don't grow crops for a while.  The price offered by CRP per acre is better than I can get if I lease the land out.... No brainer...

Three:  I am sick and tired of being a tiny nobody in a machine run by monopolies.  I can't express how irritating that is to me.  There is no room for innovation, that is done by the big guys.  The little guys try to hang on to the shrinking margins and work two jobs to keep farming.  Enough of that.  This is my land, and I don't want glyphosate on it anymore.  I don't want plants that produce seed that won't grow if I hold some back for planting.  I don't want to dump pesticides and herbicides and fungicides on my land anymore.  I want to dig into the ground and find it teaming with earth worms and night crawlers like my Grand dad and I did 30 years ago before going fishing.  I want to know that my soil is not just a medium for plants that are so modified that they literally can not grow on healthy soil!

CRP is a chance for the Farm to become something new, something other than a 'wanna be' big farm which it never was and never will be.   I need to find a new way to be a part of the agricultural community.  I don't know exactly what that is yet, but CRP gives me 10 years to figure it out, to study the problem, to find out how this 234 acres can best serve my community.   I can't say what the Farm will become, but I can say what it will no longer be... It will no longer be used as a cog in someone else's machine...

This land is far too precious for that...