Sunflowers

We’re on my in-laws farm at the moment. The current crop rotation is a lot of fun. Not only are the sunflowers really nice to look at, they attract birds that need shooting…

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Real Life Farmville: 30 Pounds to have a share in running a real farm…

Sounds fun. Just like the real Farmville. It’s called “MyFarm” – partly because instead of sticking a 2.0 after your name these days you remove the space and capitalise both words. Then you are WebSavvy.

“MyFarm is a big online experiment in farming and food production, giving 10,000 members of the public a say in the running of a real working farm. The farm is on Wimpole Estate, near Royston in Cambridgeshire.

The MyFarm Farmers will join forces on this website to discuss and make decisions on every aspect of the farm: the crops we grow, the breeds of animal we stock, the new facilities we invest in and the machinery we use.

The aim of the farm is to be profitable, and to maintain the highest standards of sustainability and welfare.”

Seriously though. Pay me $25 and I’ll ring my father-in-law with whatever suggestion you have for crops for him to grow in the Darling Downs, Queensland… you’ll probably end up with no more clout than you would going through this program, plus it’ll cost you less money.

Fun on the farm

We spent the weekend helping out on the farm. For those who missed it – my in-laws are on a property outside Dalby that flooded twice in the last month. The flood destroyed a crop – and a bunch of stuff that was kept in storage around the place, some electrical bits and pieces in the sheds, but mercifully spared one crop and the house.

The crop that didn’t fare so well presented a problem – it doesn’t really have any value, and is now in the way. The good side of the flooding is that all the soil on the farm has a full water profile (which means it’s wet to about ten inches or something and great for growing stuff). Farmers these days like to plant on top of the stubble of the old harvest because that provides nutrients for the new crop. To cut a long story short – the decision was made to burn the old crop (which actually didn’t go so well – it didn’t want to burn) before it turned out that it was actually fairly easy to take the planter through the ruined canary, planting new stuff over the top of it. The canary should shed its seeds on the field – which will then grow next winter…

Our biggest job while we were there was moving the massive centre pivot irrigator from one field to another.

Floody Floody

Robyn spent the earlier days of this week on her parent’s farm starting the clean up after serious flooding in Dalby. Most farmers out there have insurance coverage that doesn’t include flood cover. The floods damaged crops, wiped out seed for the next harvest, and caused some serious erosion to the dam walls. Not to mention destroying a bunch of household goods.

Robyn shot some footage that she’s putting together into a lengthy production. Here’s an iMovie trailer I put up on Facebook.

Please keep farmers around Queensland in your prayers, and if you haven’t already, please give generously to the Premier’s Flood Appeal.

Cow power

A cattle farmer watching his cows grazing decided that all that mooching about is just wasted. Cows, like children, should be put to work. So he puts his cows in an energy generating treadmill set up…

“It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Cows already spend up to 8 hours a day milling around while grazing. Taylor just sticks the cows on a treadmill for part of the time. The farmer’s prototype treadmill can generate two kilowatts, or enough energy to power four milking machines. Cows that exercise are also thought to produce more milk.”

From here.

Love your wife? Say it with manure

If there’s one thing I have learned about farmers this week it’s that they’re always in the poo. You’ll be in the poo too if you replicate this guy’s efforts in your living room or backyard… unless you have a big backyard or a wife who doesn’t mind the smell of fresh manure.

It’s not often that a woman will say that her husband gave her a gigantic pile of crap for her birthday — and she loved it.

But Carole Kleis isn’t just any woman — she’s the wife of a farmer, and a little natural fertilizer doesn’t bother her a bit, even if this particular usage is rather unusual.

“He’s done weird things before for birthdays,” she said. “But maybe not this weird.”

It took Dick Kleis of Zwingle, Iowa, about three hours to spell out ‘HAP B DAY LUV U’ — shorthand, he says, for “Happy Birthday, Love You” in 120,000 pounds of manure.

“I was going to put a heart out there after the happy birthday, but I ran out of manure,” he said.

“It’s not hard. Any manure will work but the good, soft, gushy, warm stuff works the best. It kind of melts the snow.”

Oh, poo bubbles

No, that’s not some bizarre new inoffensive curse… or at least that’s not my intention. Check this out

Mr. Goltstein, 43 years old, had moved his wife and their three children from the Netherlands to Winchester, population 4,600, about 90 miles east of Indianapolis. They planned to build a dairy farm with 1,650 cows on 180 acres.

He had installed a black plastic liner to keep the manure from seeping into the ground during the flush days of the dairy business, when prices and demand were growing.

The plastic liner has since detached from the floor of the stinky, open-air pool, and Mr. Goltstein says he can’t afford to repair the liner properly. But he says he’s game to pop the bubbles before the manure pool overflows and causes an even bigger stink.

His neighbors aren’t happy with the plan.

“If that thing back there blows, God help us all for miles,” said Allen Hutchison, whose corn and soybean farm is next door. He and other neighbors worry that puncturing the bubbles could cause an explosion of manure and toxic gases.

Hilarious.