Friday, July 27, 2012

Yeah, I know...  

I haven't been posting much at all, but I finally decided something had to give. Nonetheless, I miss it, and when I'm retired (date now postponed), I will be back to considerably more activity. Here's where we are in my corner of the Dozen Drought™.
  • Last rain 5 weeks ago. Maybe 6 days over 100℉ so far. We are on full water conservation right now as in "Does anybody else need to go?" Rural water district is still 3 years away, but the process to get funding is inching forward. Why do I think this program is likely to be axed during budget talks?
  • My March 28 corn (short season) experiment is dented, and the milk line halfway. The shucks are dry and some ears dropping. Leaves fired up to the ear. It counts out to a decent yield, but does the ear drop signal poor test weight? Estimate harvest about 18 August.
  • Meanwhile, the full season high amylose corn is strange looking. Variable height, even though it is single cross. Good ears, but just beginning to dent. It was planted late April. Generally yields about 70% of regular corn, but in droughts does comparatively better. No idea how the ears will hold up.
  • Beans are waist high, have pods and look OK, except when leaves are flipped in the afternoon. Cripes, how can you tell? A friend who sprayed a fungicide/insecticide mix seems to be on to something. I will look into it next year.
  • Spoke to IA Farm Bureau this week. I emceed the whole meeting and the talk there was how fast the road to riches turned south. Driving from home to Ames to Lanesboro, MN showed me plenty of decent corn, although every patch of lighter, higher soil is starting to brown. Also it seems much father behind than home. SE MN looked great. People were actually mowing lawns.
  • Speaking with every expert I can find, I am amazed at the range of indemnity payout exposure for the government: $12-50B. While insurance companies and reinsurers are on the hook for much of it, I think the Treasury takes over after certain limits are hit. If this does result in a big hole in the budget, it seems to me a switch to an all insurance-type farm bill gets tougher, especially if it gets booted to next year. The new scheme already has big exposure from low prices. 
  • I've got a friend who thinks he will be over $200/A better off than if he had raised 200 BPA corn at $5 due to CI.  Is this a feature or a bug? I am uncomfortable with that being how we make a living in ag. Of course, it is a one-time boondoggle maybe, but still. Reminds me of the Dakota Shuffle.
  • I guess premiums could go through the roof next year as a result. I say all this stuff because as part of the 15% (about 40% in my area) who have never had insurance, I am not fully initiated into the deeper mysteries. The curious thing is I can't lose anything if the insurance program gets cut - a perverse comfort.
  • I will reconsider crop insurance next year unless we get a mess of rain before March. I suspect it will be a tough call for us, due to a puny APH, uninsurable crops, and expected high premiums. However, I don't want my philosophical positions to pollute Aaron's analysis.
  • We have prepared our Apocalypse Budget, and have ways to draw down the equity we put all those premiums we didn't pay into. Looks like we just may skate by, if beans can make 30. Family member and long-time landowners are helping, which is why we have been voluntarily raising rents for years. I think we can make them whole over the next 2-3 years.
  • Signed on for another year with Farm Journal. I was drifting toward giving up the commute and responsibility, but I would miss the guys and I am hideously overpaid. Humor articles, however, are little tricky right now.
Like everyone experiencing a painful Black Swan event, I am sure my brain isn't working at optimal efficiency. This is another reason I haven't been posting. The savage political atmosphere doesn't help and I don't want to rant. Frankly, I'm having trouble concentrating.

So I'm just woodworking in the Greenhouse Support Structure. I forked out for a split-unit air conditioner. It works great and is remarkably efficient (SEER = 19). Coupled with time-of-day electricity pricing, I can keep a/c costs quite low. Plus I can't see the fields from inside.



Anonymous said...

How much for the ac? We miss your rants! Will chop this week-never before in July! Maybe u need a crop tour to WCIL?

John Phipps said...


Actually, driving to see worse crops doesn't help as much as you might think (heh).

My unit was a Daikin. Installed $4500 and works great for a 64x30 shop (well insulated). We're toying with putting 2? in our big shop in the future.

It has a cool function (snicker) that senses movement and after 20 minutes resets the temp to save energy. Very quiet both inside and out. I only had to supply 20A/240V to the unit too.

How are the withdrawal symptoms since the cows left?