Monday, November 30, 2009

The Prettiest Ornaments of the Season

Thanksgiving is behind us and every turkey in GriggsDakota is rejoicing!
We feasted with thankful hearts and joyful spirits.
The next day it was time to Deck the Halls.
Farmer Fred quickly located the prettiest ornaments we have in the collection.
And... Here is a stowaway elf from who jumped off Santa's Sleigh in GriggsDakota years ago. He loved it here from the start and has never returned to the North Pole. Lucky for us, he has returned to GriggsDakota and has been a big help on the farm this season. Santa did a great job of training this elf to work hard with a smile on his face.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


A better lens and a steadier hand would have produced amazing pictures of a bald eagle pair. The couple was dining on venison and enjoying a beautiful late fall afternoon. Eagles are a fairly common sight in GriggsDakota in Spring and Fall when they are migrating. Occasionally there is one or more around all winter. It varies each year.  The white headed male eagle soared away quickly as I drove by while his mate thought herself to be invisible in the tree. 

Blog Content copyright Jane HusoLukens 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving from the folks at GriggsDakota

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow

Praise Him, All Creatures Here Below

Praise Him Above, Ye Heavenly Host

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bringing Home the Herd

Above:  Can you see the dust on the horizon? There is no car coming down this road today!

Above:  Cattleman Jim is herding some of the cattle home. 
Above:  They have been enjoying the beautiful November with a chance to dine on stubble fields. Cattleman Jim puts up a temporary electric fence around the fields to be grazed.
Above:  The lead cows know the way home and the rest follow along. We know that winter will settle in soon. It never fails.
Above:  We use a four-wheeler, pickup trucks, and no horses. 
Above:  The bulls are peacefully grazing while we hear the cows fretting in the distance. The calves are being weaned and it causes a ruckus. Things will settle down in a day or two.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Finished with Harvest

Above:  As we pass mid-November we are finishing the harvest on GriggsDakota. We planted minimum acres into corn this year, so we are among the first in the area to complete harvest. We are very fortunate to be enjoying fall weather. The season can change quickly in November and winter rarely gives up once it takes hold. This month has been clear, relatively calm and pleasant.
Above:  All of our corn had to be dried, which is an expensive proposition. That is why some farmers hesitate to start on corn that has not dried down in the field. This year there is a mold present in the ears of some corn that has caused farmers to rush to get the corn harvested and dried.  If left to develop this mold will make the corn completely worthless as food for man or beast. So, despite the cost of drying, farmers proceed on the theory that drying will be worth it. Some cornfields are too wet to drive into until the ground is frozen. The farmers must wait and hope the snow stays away long enough to get their harvest done. Open winters, one where the snow fall is minimal, are rare. However, these farmers need a couple weeks where the temperatures stay below freezing and the snow stays away. That is much more common for late fall in GriggsDakota.
Above:  Jim has run an electric fence around the edge of this field, his cattle can dine on the leftovers from the corn harvest. Grain, leaf, husk, cob, and stalk are all digestible food for the cattle. Of course, properly set combines leave little grain in the field. That is what these cows will eat first. The husks, leaves, etc. are delicious to cattle, but provide minimal nutrition. David Davis, superintendent of the University of Missouri Forage Resource Center believes cattlemen can expect their herds to get 40 to 50 percent of their total digestible nutrition while grazing corn stubble. Soybean fields offer 35 to 41 percent of total digestible nutrition to grazing livestock according to Davis, while stubble from small grains such as wheat and barley provide much less nutritional value. It is important that cattle get supplemental feed for protein and energy. The full article can be reviewed HERE.   There is also an interesting article relating to fall grazing written by Greg Lardy, North Dakota State Extension Beef Specialist. Click HERE to learn more.
Above:  We don't want anyone hunting our beef, but with the crop in the bin and the last days of deer hunting upon us, we're after our winter supply of venison.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Musings on The Turkey

Two flocks of brave turkeys are wandering around GriggsDakota. They have been seen nearly every day this fall. I wondered how it was that a brilliant man like Benjamin Franklin could have wanted the silly Turkey as the official symbol of America rather than the majestic Bald Eagle.  
How could it be that a man who left us with so many brilliant ideas and improvements, from bifocals to Daylight Saving Time, judge the turkey most worthy of this honor? 
After a bit of research it appears that he proposed this only once in a letter to his daughter dated January 26, 1784. The letter, written from France suggests he was primarily disgusted with the drawing of the eagle as the official symbol of America and commented that it looked more like a turkey. It seems the founding fathers accepted the eagle design of Charles Thomson on the day he submitted it. They clearly had bigger issues on their minds and decided that a bird in the hand was a fine symbol indeed. It was a year and a half later when writing to his daughter that Mr. Franklin lapsed into analyzing the moral character of the eagle which he judged to be poor. The eagle he claimed to be lousy and a thief. From there he suggested the turkey to be a much more worthy symbol. It seems these thoughts occurred to him after long consideration of the eagle sketch on the symbol for our nation.
"For the truth the turkey is in  comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America," Mr. Franklin wrote to his daughter.
So I now understand that the suggestion by Benjamin Franklin was in a humorous rambling written at a time when he wanted his beloved girl to know she was in his thoughts, without telling her too much of what he was actually up to. 
Blog Content Copyright Jane Huso Lukens 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Harvesting the Corn Plot

Above:  Is agriculture an art or a science? My answer to that question is "it must be both or it will be neither." Art is the human effort to imitate, alter, supplement or counteract the work of nature. Science is knowledge of nature attained through study or practice. Historically farming has been treated as an art with most emphasis placed on effort. There were good farmers and bad farmers. What separated them was thought to be more related to passion and motivation than soil content and variety selection.  In modern agriculture there is still a need for art. We are, after all in the business of altering the works of nature on today's farms.  But more and more, farmers have access to scientific data. We need the knowledge gained through study. Farmers have the opportunity to participate in experiments that impact the modern development of this knowledge in the industry. Agriculture needs farmer's participation in order to find a way to feed this hungry world in a sustainable way. So it seems to me that the effort of our art is always complemented by further knowledge of our science. We'll name that the "Theory of GriggsDakota."
Above:  That is why we have a corn plot on our farm.  It is a way to learn. Corn as a grain crop is relatively new to the GriggsDakota area. Recent improvements in plant genetics has made it possible to raise it here, but results have been irregular. The goal is to develop varieties that would consistently yield 200 bushels per acre using fewer heat units. In other words, despite our cooler summers, we could expect a profit producing yield from a corn crop raised in GriggsDakota. Faster dry down in the cobs after maturity is also a genetic trait we hope will develop. Scientists are working on these characteristics, but the wish list requires field results and comparisons. We can help with that.  
Above:  Dennis McCoy, our Pioneer Seed sales representative has sent Joe to our field with his weigh wagon. After Farmer Fred combines each variety in the plot, he unloads it into the weigh wagon where the weighing and testing begin. Notice Joe has climbed up the step ladder of the weigh wagon to retrieve a sample of the variety. Robbie is confirming the variety of the corn that they are about to test.
Above: The signs that designate the varieties are cast aside. We expect the results to be dismal this year as it we did not have a hot wet summer. That is what the available varieties prefer. The science of corn genetics has room to advance.
Above: Joe uses the tail gate of his pickup truck and the weigh wagon as a laboratory under assistant Robbie's watchful eye.
Above: Results are carefully documented and charted.
Above:  The weigh wagon has an electronic scale. Each load is weighed to determine the yield of the different varieties in the plot.
Above:  Some of the equipment required is simple. Note the coffee can is attached to a long handle and used the reach the sample as it fell from the combine auger. Farmers tend to reuse things and it is common to find grain samples in coffee cans, ice cream pails or oatmeal boxes on the farm! 
Above:  After they finish gathering the information from this variety, the auger on the weigh wagon moves the corn into the waiting truck. It is later transported to our dryer site for a trip through the dryer before storage. The top yielding corn variety in our plot this year was Pioneer 39D97 at 133.8 bushels per acre. With beautiful skies, temperatures in the sixties and a slight breeze, this may be the loveliest laboratory in America today.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Corn Harvest Underway

Above:  We have started combining corn under blue skies with temperatures 20 degrees Fahrenheit above normal highs for the day. The corn is wet and will all have to go through the dryer before it will be ready for safe storage or sale.
Above:  The combine is now sporting a corn head. This one strips the corn cobs from the corn stalks about ten inches from the ground. Notice the hopper is full of corn!
Above:  Robbie pulls up alongside of the combine unload the hopper without stopping the harvest. Corn is a high yielding crop and unloading on the go greatly improves efficiency. 
Above:  From the field the corn will be transported to the bin site where it will undergo the drying process. 

Above:  We have decided to combine the corn despite the high moisture content. Some farmers will wait and let it dry in the field even if it means leaving it until Spring. Why are we harvesting now? The simple answer is because we can. We have the dryer and the weather is cooperating this week. We have finished our soybeans and our edible beans are nearly done. Other considerations are losses to the yield that are likely to occur when the corn is left in the field. Although stalk strength is bred into modern corn varieties, the stand ability is affected by the growing conditions of each season. Heavy snow and driving winds take a toll on a corn crop in the field and that change of seasons could happen at any time in GriggsDakota. We don't have the manpower to run a harvest crew when we should be planting our 2010 crop. It is pleasant and possible to get the corn done this week and so we shall.
Above:  When corn is ripe, it drops its ears. The brown silks become tails and what was the base of the ear appears to be the head of a parasite sucking the life out of the stalk. It bears little resemblance to the beautiful green of a summertime corn field.
Above: The combine is spewing some dust which means the stalks are dry enough to process well.
Above:  There is some grain left in the field which is true in all harvesting. The cobs on this photo were cut by the header and missed the opportunity to be combined. The corn left on the cob is called "header loss." They likely were hanging lower than the header was cutting when it passed and did not run through the combine.
Above:  Most of the cobs are stripped clean by the combine. This is what is left in the field behind a properly set combine.
Above:  A view through the pine trees gave a tropical feeling to this photo. Not bad for November in GriggsDakota!