January 2015: This month was fairly uneventful with the weather being fairly mild for this time of year. January always brings a lot of bookwork and desk time. Preparing 1099s for landlords, cashflow projections for bankers and working on taxes for the government seem to take up the majority of my days. I am making it a point to get to the gym every night in order to try and stay in shape.
Kids activities are a little bit slower this year since Natalie decided to not play club basketball and only play indoor soccer. This doesn't start til February and Trey is playing indoor soccer with his high school buddies, but can get rides from his friends. Our evenings are filled with going to watch high school basketball games at the local high school.
We did sell our most recent pen of Holstein steers right after the beginning of the year and received an excellent price for them. I would never imagined that we would receive close to $2,300 per head on the steers when I put them in the lot. My thanks to Linkenmeyer Family Feeders for taking such excellent care of them. The pen had less than a 1% death loss and gained close to 3 lbs. per day which was excellent for Holsteins. The only problem that we had was that we only had one pen to sell and we hedged the majority of the group for a lower (yet still profitable) price. We have refilled this pen with another set of 600 lb Holstein steers. I don't anticipate making as much as I did on the last group, but this is an excellent hedge against lower grain prices.
The upcoming year appears to be an adventure. We will be down some acres due to a lease that ran out on a farm that was sold and another larger piece that we were not able to come together on price. We look to have close to 1,500 acres with a mix of 50/50 corn and beans. We also plan to finish out close to 400 head of Holstein steers and custom feed close to 10,000 head of pigs. Pricing could be a bit of a challenge, but thankfully we have the majority of our corn and soybeans protected through put options and have a solid crop insurance program to back it up.
I am working on updating this website and will hopefully be able to get the missing holes from last year completed. I really do enjoy updating this site and keeping you informed of all that is going on.
February 13th: To say this past week was an interesting one is an understatement. Last Friday, we were rolling along getting ready to plant right around 1,400 acres when I received a phone call from a former landlord that had a tenant back out of their lease on a large number of acres. Saturday, Roger and I went to look over the acres that were available and decided to pass on the acres. Tuesday morning, the landlord called me back and really wanted me to lease some of his ground. That afternoon, I went up to talk with him and came back home with an additional 600 acres. This will put us right back to the same number of acres that we had last year, but just a few different acres. We will probably plant these acres to corn and have a very similar crop mix as last year.
We continue to load out of the Chickasaw site and are scheduled to receive pigs during the first week of March.
Crop insurance is currently establishing their spring price during the month of February. It appears that corn prices will be close to $4.15 and soybeans should be around $9.60. The prices indicate that corn should be the more profitable or less of a loss than soybeans. I still have a couple of good private products that will increase my spring guarantee price, but the premium for these products are making me rethink how many acres of soybeans I will plant.
We will be selling our Enogen corn during the weekend of the 21st. This corn will be going to the Fairbank Ethanol plant to run a test to see if they want to take it to full production
The next group of cattle are off to a good start and are actually enjoying the warm weather.
With the added acres and since we purchased a grain drill, we elected to lease a "new to us" 2012 John Deere 8335R tractor. We are able to utilize the tractor for everything that we need (tillage, planting, sidedressing, grain cart) and if needed, keep hours off our owned tractors. The cost of the lease was quite attractive since the dealership had quite a few tractors that they are wanting to get off of their books.
March 1st: The past couple of weeks have been nothing but the sound of chainsaws. We have been working hard to get all of the new ground that we acquired a couple of weeks ago cut back so that we can utilize all of the crop ground.
March 13th: 16 years ago, our lives forever changed when we welcomed Trey into the world. I could not imagine my life without him. He has changed my life forever and I can only wish for him the very best!
This last week we heard of a large operator that farmed in excess of 20,000 that was closed down due to his financial condition. We are currently meeting with a couple of his landlords in hopes of acquiring an additional 500-600 acres.
Rog and Deb left me alone for the past week and took off to New York to visit the grandkids. We are in the process of bringing in 2,000 head of little pigs to our Chickasaw site. They are off to a good start and should be on their way by the time they get back. When they left, there was still snow on the ground, but since they took off, the weather has been extremely mild and much of the snow is melting. It is a bit early to say that spring is here, but it is nice to see the snow go away.
March 28th: After a couple of weeks of working with prospective landlord, we have acquired quite a few additional acres. This is as a result of a large operator that was not able to secure his financing. I am actually very excited about this as the ground is high quality and has plenty of tile. The majority of the ground is currently in corn stalks and will be no tilled to beans. This will put us up over 2,600 acres. I sometimes wonder how we will get it all done, but we do have the correct amount of equipment to cover these acres.
The weather has been a roller coaster. Last Sunday, our fields north of New Hampton received over 6 inches of snow. The weather this week has been below average and not all of the snow has melted completely. We continue to cut back trees and are making quite a bit of progress thanks to the help of some teenagers.
The grain market is continuing to move in a sideways manner until the Planting Intentions Report that is scheduled to come out on Tuesday. Many believe that this report will show a larger amount of soybeans to be planted for the 2015 crop year. The corn crop in the south has been off to a slow start with many of the southern states not having any corn planted.
Natalie recently completed the Middle School Variety show. The talent that some of the kids have is just amazing. Trey has started soccer after school and just got his first real job (besides helping at the farm and detasseling) at the local college's cafeteria.
April 5th: Tonight I received an email from a neighbor that was complaining about our burning of fields that were prevent planted by a former tenant last year. The only problem with this, is that another producer was burning off the windrowed soybean chaff on a neighboring field and we were accused of the smoke going their way. I did recieve a phone call from the Lawler Fire Chief wanting to make sure that we were not the ones burning on Saturday evening. The operators that were burning last night, failed to notify the Sheriff's department and ended up having six departments called out to the fire.
We did burn some ground this past Wednesday, but we hired the Lawler Fire Department to spray down power line poles, tilled fire break lines at the end of where we wanted the fire to stop and most importantly we called the Sheriff's department to let them know what was going on. Even thou there was a red flag warning up for Wednesday afternoon, after talking with the Chief, we decided to burn it on Wednesday morning and we are thankful for the fireman that assisted us.
I would like that neighbor to know that if our burning on Wednesday caused problems, we are truly sorry and will try to be more aware of the wind direction if we need to do any more burning.
The rest of the week was spent vaccinating the new pigs at Roger's and selling a couple of loads out of Bassett. Things are continuing to dry up in the fields and if the rain that is in the forecast would hold off, we could start doing some spring fieldwork. On Thursday, we were able to give my great nephew a ride in the tractor, even though it was just across the yard, he had a blast.
August 21st: Today we brought back the 4440 from L &L Ag Repair in Readlyn. We took it down there a couple of weeks ago to get have it repainted. I believe that these tractors are the new 4020 of our generation and I was at a point we needed to have it repainted. I believe that we added to the value of the tractor every dollar that it cost to paint it.
The previous couple of weeks were very dry and the crops were beginning to suffer. We did receive a good all day rain on Wednesday which has helped stabilize the crop. We are working at selling pigs out of the Chickasaw Farms site. We should be empty by the end of August and will be filled with little pigs 5 days later.
August 28th: The past week has seen more loads of market hogs go to town from Roger's site. Today is a rainy day that should provide close to 2" of rain by the time the rain is over. We have had our grain cart up for sale and sold it to a couple of brothers out of Castalia. We will probably be purchasing a 1000 or 1300 bushel cart for this year. The main reason for the move up to a larger cart was due to the large number of 3/4 mile long rows that we have in corn this year. Based on 200 bushel corn, one round with an 8 row head will combine 800 bushels. With a 600 bushel cart, this would make for many unnecessary trips across the field with partially filled carts and a combine operator waiting on the cart.
This week also saw the start of the school year. It only seems like yesterday that Trey was starting school. Now he is starting his Junior year of high school and Natalie is in 8th grade. What is the saying, "Don't Blink"!
September 20th: The crop has been maturing nicely, but we do seem to be starting harvest later than usual. If all goes well, we should start some corn this week followed by the beans the first week of October. The rains have been rather steady with a good inch coming the last few weeks. This has allowed the crop to finish nicely, but the dry 3 weeks back in early August prevented us from having an absolutely massive crop.
We ended up cleaning out the hog site at Roger's place and have refilled with 2000 baby pigs. Our Bassett site will start selling in about three weeks.
We sold our 600 bushel cart and purchased a 1,300 bushel cart. The cart is brand new, but has been sitting at the factory for two years and is a 1394 versus the newer 1396 model. Needless to say, the company was wanting to get it off it's lot before it celebrated another birthday. This should be the last cart I will need to buy for my farming career.
Natalie's fall soccer league has started and they have moved up a level from competitive to premier. This is a good thing for them as they are being pushed and are learning to play against some very good teams. They will be ready to play high school soccer in the spring of 2017, but I personally believe that this group of 8th graders would be ready to play many high school teams today. We just returned from a tournament in Des Moines and the team just missed beating a team from Kansas City, beat a team from Des Moines and played an Omaha team tough. They are a great bunch of girls that come from a small 10,000 person town.
Trey is doing a great job running cross country for the first time this year. He is half way thru the season and continues to run PRs in each race. This team is a great fit the encourages each other and really cares about how everyone improves.
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