The Farm

2023 marks our 86th year as a southwest Indiana farm!

The Mission of Carnahan & Sons, Inc is:

To maintain an adequate standard of living for each partner’s family, to be good stewards of our resources, and to prepare for future opportunities.

Guiding that mission are the following principles that are important to our families.  These ideas are the template for our decisions and shape our style of management.

  1. Acknowledge your dependence on the blessings of God
  2. Enjoy what you do
  3. Know your per unit cost of production
  4. Be optimistic
  5. Surround yourself with pleasant and talented people
  6. Know your limitations
  7. Develop a “long view” of goals.
  8. Use technology wisely

Our biggest asset

It goes without saying that the most important assets of the farm are the families involved.  After that, the main asset of Carnahan & Sons is our land.  Our longest-held farm was purchased by dad and mom  (W. Lowell & Ruth Carnahan) in 1940, it was 100 acres for $70/acre.  A significant farm location, the Burke farm, was purchased in November 2012, and let’s just say it was more than the 1940 purchase!  (For more detailed information on this particular purchase at auction, see the post for November 7, 2012)  Our latest addition was 37 acres purchased from a neighbor in the fall/winter of 2021.

Our farmland gives us the opportunity and flexibility to manage our business.  We have 32 different locations, with one to six fields per location.  The fields range from 1.2 (.48 ha) to 309.99  acres (132.5 ha) in size.  Each field has from one to nine soil types, and we use GPS technology to apply fertilizers and seeds with rates that are specific to each soil type.

Currently, we own nearly all the acres that we operate, since in 2011 we moved about 5% of our owned acres to a partnership of the non-farming heirs.  They now act as our only landlord, and we have a long-term agreement to manage those acres.  This facilitates some of our estate planning, allows them to keep a connection to the farm, and gives the farm future access to the utility of that productive land.

We are open to some growth by renting on a cash- or crop share-basis.  Also we are seeking some land to purchase, even though that is getting more challenging.

Physical facilities

At our main farm location in Palmyra Township, Knox County, Indiana, are almost all the buildings for storing our equipment, as well as our grain drying and storing facilities.  There remains one building, 60×60, made of concrete blocks that was original to the farm when we moved here in 1958.  That building is utilized mostly for storing seed inventories ahead of planting season.

Original shop from 1958, now seed storage

Nearby is our shop with attached office.  The shop is single-bay, 36×60, and it has evolved over time from a plain storage building, to our shop.  It was remodeled again in the late 90s to add the 16×24  overhead door.  In the same project, 5 feet was added to the walls to gain more clearance inside.  The comfortable and convenient office was added in 2007.

Farm shop with attached office

Next to the office is our fuel storage facility.  Inside the environmentally-safe diked wall is storage for our highway and farm diesel and gasoline.  The dual-compartment diesel tank has enough room for a tanker load of both highway and off-road diesel.  It can also be locked for security.

Fuel storage building, diked and environmentally safe

Our newest building is a 60×120 storage barn for the combines, headers and a few trucks.  It was built in 2009 to replace a 1961 cattle and hay barn that we had re-worked over the years to store machinery.  When it was damaged in a 2008 storm, we chose to replace it rather than repair.

Our grain drying and storage facility began in 1973 with the addition of our first grain leg, and it has been modified and enlarged since then.  A big change came in 1998, when a new continuous-flow grain dryer was installed with much larger wet-grain storage capacity (12,500 bushels).  The dryer has a dedicated elevator to keep it filled as it operates.  An improvement to drying capacity and efficiency was made in spring of 2012, when the 1998 dryer was replaced with a similar model, but with larger and more-efficient operation.  Ross and John can now monitor and adjust the operating settings on this new GSI 2630 X-Stream dryer from their smart phones.  Once a bottleneck to harvesting with 2 12-row

Our grain conditioning and storage facilities

combines, the dryer now has sufficient capacity to keep up with the field harvesting capacity… and what’s more, it does that with an increase in energy efficiency of 30%!  There is more than 8000 bushels of overhead load-out capacity in two hopper-bottom bins.   An 80,000 bushel bin was erected in the summer of 2022.  This gives us about 300,000 bushels of storage capacity in total.  This is not quite large enough to contain an entire harvest, but by using forward contracting, it gives us quite a bit of marketing flexibility.

How well are we equipped to go to the field?

Our fleet of machinery includes 2 4wd tractors; a JD 8R 340 a John Deere 9R 540 and a JD 9520R. The other tractor is a John Deere 6145R.  We use two combines, a Case-IH 8250 and a John Deere S780.  Each uses a 12-row folding corn head or a 40-foot draper header.  Some think it’s strange that we run two different color combines, but it works for us.  Ross gets to drive the red one he prefers, and Dennis drives the green one of his preference.   Our planting equipment includes a JD 1755NT 24-row corn planter, and a John Deere N550 air drill, 50 feet wide with 10 inch rows, with an attached 1910 air cart, 435 bushel capacity (tow-between).    We also run a John Deere R4044 sprayer, with a boom width of 120 feet, and radar-operated boom height controls, in addition to the swath control and Autotrac features.  It employs the new JD ExactApply technology.  The sprayer also is equipped with a special device that senses the wind speed and direction, the wet- and dry-bulb temperature, and humidity.  As John is spraying, these weather conditions become part of the digital records along with the pertinent information about what was sprayed in each field.

We try to keep these main machines as current as possible, to take advantage of newer technology, and to improve reliability.  Combines are  purchased new on a 4-year cycle, planters typically every 3 years.  We replace our tractors at 3 to 8 years, depending on trade-in incentives, advances in technology, and/or the number of hours on the current tractor.

Future Plans

We continue to look for modest or reasonable ways to expand our operation. If you have some land in Knox or Daviess Counties in Indiana, and you think that our family seems like we might be a good fit for you as your farmer, please contact us.  Also, we continue to look for land purchasing opportunities, and if you are nearing retirement, or have any situation that may lead you to sell some land in our area, please let us have an opportunity to discuss that option with you.

We remain optimistic about the future of agriculture in general, and about our farm business in particular.

1 Response to The Farm

  1. B.J. Fulkerson says:

    I came to know this family in 1992. There is no more genuine, caring and loving people than this family. My buddy Frankie and I, spent a luncheon with Lowell during some of his last days. Ross taught me a bunch about Quarter Horses also. Yes. I really have a real badge now. I still mess with Quarter Horses. I am looking forward to bringing my children and wife to the Carnahan Farm(s) and introducing them to you all.

    B.J. Fulkerson
    Bedford, IN

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