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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nothing But Blue Sky


March going out like a lamb? Although the wind was a little lion-like it was definitely a beautiful spring day as this picture shows. Only a little snow left on the north side of hills and bushes. Melt water fills some of the low spots in the field but much less than normal for this time of year. Concerns of a drought already are being heard with predictions of poor crops and grasshopper infestations eating much of what does grow in the fields. We are still close to a month away from normal planting time and theres plenty of time for spring rains yet to change the outlook. The old farmers used to say, "I've never lost a crop in March yet". And its true.
I took this photo out of my window at mid day. Not a kodachrome but it might make you think "all the worlds a sunny day" as Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel used to say.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Looking like Spring


First calf of 2010, well spring is definitely advancing here in the frozen north. That little calf born last week had a few cold days but should be fine now that it is warming up. Saw 50 degrees on the thermometer today so the snow is going fast, not that we had as much as a usual winter anyway. Concern is already being raised as to the shortage of snowmelt water. Could be a dry spring. Not necessarily a disaster as we can still get rains after spring seeding to produce a crop.
I'm in the midst of hauling wheat to the cleaning plant for cleaning. With a little luck it will be going into the ground in about a month.
In spite of all the uncertainty concerning the GMO/Triffid flax situation I have spoken for some certified Sorel flax seed in hopes of growing a field of flax this year. Its a newer variety from the Bethune I have been growing but according to what I hear it is still not a sure thing that it will be free of gmo traces.
Flax prices continue their downward spiral. Glad I sold at $8.50 when I had the chance as theres no telling when or if the price will improve. Canola still pretty flat with just minor ups and downs in the price. Not enough to open up the canola bins on this farm just yet.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Coyotes and gophers


Canis latrans, or as we know it, the wiley coyote. They have been in the news more lately. In response to complaints by livestock producers our provincial government put a bounty on them of $20 a head for this winter. Of course it is controversial. The city dwellers who see the cute little wild dogs out in the country think its a bad idea to put a bounty on them. Livestock producers who have had ongoing problems with coyote predations on their calves and lambs are more in favour obviously.
If I was losing my animals and my income to coyotes I would be hoping for a solution too.
I took the picture of this little pup a few summers back while I was out hunting gophers. It would have been easy to shoot but I'm hoping the coyote will eventually help me out a little by catching some of the gophers that are causing me problems. I could probably live with their excavations and relentless appetite for the grass in my cattle pasture but these gophers do not repsect a barbed wire fence. "My gophers" have been travelling into the neighbours crops and chewing the growing plants down to ground level which is not acceptable. So poison and 22 shells are used to keep the gopher population down to tolerable levels.
Hopefully the surviving coyotes will help with the gopher control too, and not come into my yard to pick up an easy chicken dinner.

Monday, March 1, 2010

On Growing Grain


I took this picture a couple of weeks ago when I had the trucks come in to haul out my wheat contract. Those two big semis moved over 4000 bushels down the road in 4 loads in a short day. Everything worked just the way its supposed to and even the weather co-operated. I was glad to see that tough grain moved as it is always risky storing grain at high moisture. Some of this tested as high as 17% which is 2.5% above dry. Thanks to our extreme cold winter weather we can get away with holding that grain through the winter without spoilage, usually.
Interesting to review the settlement tickets though. Our Canadian wheat board advertises a price of $4.67 per bushel for that #1 low protein. Sounds pretty good at first but looking a little closer we see that the terminal wants 38 cents a bushel for elevation. Another 15 cents a bushel for cleaning ( I suppose they give the screenings away?). Then the CWB charges 78 cents a bushel to move that grain to its final destination. Not done yet there is another 22 cents deduction for "FAF", not sure what that is. And being that it is tough (damp) grain the terminal charges 11 cents a bushel for drying. Just to confuse you further, the terminal pays me 15 cents a bushel to help offset the trucking charges so that puts my net at $3.18 per bushel.
Based on what the wheat board finally sells the grain for, we will receive a final payment next December/January but its anybody's guess at this point how much or how little it will be.
Just as a point of interest, that $3.03 will not buy a gallon of car gas today but it might just about cover a gallon of farm diesel fuel. I haven't bought any lately.
In my early days of farming (1971) wheat was being bartered off for $1 a bushel as there was a glut of wheat on the market. That bushel of wheat would buy 4 gallons of farm fuel at that time.
Just something to think about as I am trying to decide what to plant this spring.