Stuff happening during a quarantine

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

I had a bad head cold over the weekend.  I just figured it was one of my typical winter-time Man-Colds.  It started on Thursday and my head got progressively stopped up…and the runny nose would not stop.  I went off to see my NP on Monday, thinking I needed some medications or a shot of steroids to open up my head and stop the drainage.  Instead, they tested me for COVID, and came back in a few minutes with a positive test result.  This sent my spirits pretty low for a while, because I  realized the quarantine requirements would block our plans for family Christmas celebration over the coming weekend.  On Monday the 20th I’ll be released from the quarantine.  Another complicating factor is Pat.  She started with chills and body aches and extensive fatigue Sunday evening.  She has not had the congestion that I have, but even with her mild symptoms, she went to get tested today.   This she believes will give her some certainty about how a quarantine will play out for her.  So, it seems, we are sharing this malady almost simultaneously.  We have absolutely no idea where we contracted the virus, and the answer to that question is probably irrelevant.  I’m feeling better today, as my air passages seem to be opening back up again.  I never lost my sense of taste or smell.  Looks like my case has been comparatively mild.  It is just so strange that this virus manifests itself in so many different ways.

We will adjust our Christmas family plans to fit the restrictions of temporary quarantine.  COVID may make us adjust our plans, but we will not abandon them!  We will find another day that works for our sons’ families.

Work continues apace on John’s project to build out the chemical mixing and delivering system on the new Demco sprayer tender trailer.  More plumbing fittings arrived from Owensboro, Kentucky today.  It has been a big undertaking, with all sorts of electrical, plumbing and valving, lighting, and even structural framing for the placement of up to 5 chemical bulk totes (or metal-caged plastic containers of about 275 gallons each)!  Those totes will be MUCH easier to re-fill or swap out than on the old trailer.  If a tote change is needed, the wiring’s alligator clips will be pulled off the nearby + and – posts, the hose/meter curled up on the top of the tote, the ratchet hold-down straps will be removed, and a forklift will carry the tote up and away.   The new one is installed by reversing the steps.

Those totes will contain stuff like Roundup, Warrant, Strut (dicamba for burndown), Intensity (a herbicide for in-season grass control in soybeans), and/or Liberty (broadleaf control in soybeans).    Each tote will have a 12V pump with a flow meter.   John will have a control panel for the pumps’ electrical switches at elbow height, and within the same reach will have the liquid supply lines from the 5 totes to the cone-bottom mix tank.  There will be on-deck storage for bags/boxes/bottles in addition to the totes.  Under the deck are frame-mounted boxes to receive empty packaging.   John mixes each sprayer load precisely just ahead of the application, depending on the recipe for that field’s requirements.    The new system may not be very much faster than the old one, but it will have greater capacity, be much more convenient and much more secure– on a trailer that yields more confidence that it is structurally sound.  It’s quite a sight to see him put this together.  Maybe John should patent his design!

Today, we took full, official possession of a 37-acre tract of land nearby that we purchased this fall.  This land had a small vineyard on part of it, and the previous owner had until today to remove any of their vines and supports that they needed.  We don’t think they  removed anything.  There are many trellis posts to pull out along with the vines.  There will also be a row of bigger trees to remove on the northwest edge, so we will have to get a contractor in there to do that.   Brandon has been itching to get going on this project, and now he has unrestricted access to work on the transformation.   Our late son Philip often suggested we plant a vineyard and produce wine grapes using the expertise he gained in his years in Oregon.  I will always think of him when we farm at this place.  But we are grain farmers, and I think this place will be beautiful next summer with a crop of soybeans thriving on it.  The previous owner will still be making wine, just sourcing their grapes from other vineyards.  It seems that they like the wine-making part of the business, not the farming part of it.

One bit of trivia about vineyards.   When you think of vineyards and wine in the USA, your first thoughts always go to California Napa Valley or the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  But did you know that the first vineyards planted in North America were right here in Indiana?  Yes, that’s true.  The French pioneer settlers in the late 1600s and early 1700s brought their vines with them and planted grapes here.   The climate difference from their homeland did not allow those vines to flourish, and the vineyards moved on to more climate-friendly parts of the country.  But university research at Purdue and other midwest land-grant schools have led in developing varieties of grapes that are adapted for our climate, and the wine business is growing significantly again here in Indiana where it started.   It’s just that we are not gonna be part of that growth.  Our interests and expertise lies in more traditional corn-soybean-winter wheat production.

Bill and Brandon are delivering corn to market.  We just about have our December deliveries caught up.  It is easier to get unload times this month than in January!  We will be delivering corn and soybeans then, too.  Work continues on apace.

We have our plans made for seed, fertility, and crop protection chemicals for 2022 crops, and we have made those as secure as possible by paying for them.  Purchasing  inputs in November for the following year has become de rigueur for our farm for several years now.  The added urgency this year comes from the ubiquitous supply chain controversies along with the significantly higher costs!   With our dedicated local supplier, we have great confidence that we will end up using the chemistries according to our plan.

So, while I’m quarantined at home, maybe this afternoon, I’ll help bake some Christmas cookies… my problem is that when I help, I sample a bit too many of them!  Pat uses my mom’s recipe for Carrot Cookies, and it’s fantastic!  A Christmas tradition I hope never goes away!  My sister just sent us a perfect batch of Divinity — pure and simple with no nuts in it — just like mom made it.  Tasting that brings back sweet memories ‘way back to the 1950s.  Thanks, Sheila!  All part of a Merry Christmas…

May you find your blessings this Christmas.    Among and above all the things of Christmas, celebrate Jesus.


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