A pleasant fall allowed farmers to work their fields before the soil froze. Now the dark Illinois soil and the radiant energy of the sun keep our days warm since there is no snow in central Illinois. Of course farmers do not influence weather — weather controls us. Often the local weather forecaster comments that the nights would be much colder if snow were on the ground.
A week ago a retiring farmer had an auction a day after the biggest snowfall of the winter — 1 in. The snow was half melted by the end of the auction and was completely gone 36 hrs. after it fell. The auction was near the railroad siding I bought in Bushnell, Ill. Only a couple of trains a week traverse these tracks, so getting a picture of a train going through the snow this winter would be nearly impossible.
My daughter Marie and I received a new pair of insulated boots to evaluate this winter for a magazine article. But I haven’t had the opportunity to wear these boots in snow with the temperature below 10 degrees. There have been a few snowless days of below 10 degrees but the days with snow have always been above 25 degrees. The boots look nice and make a neat popping sound when I put them on, but I really cannot say they function as intended — yet.
The warm winter is a common topic of conversation among farmers. Many "if" and "then" stories are being told by older residents or come from folklore regarding the weather. An example: "If the winter is mild, then there will not be a flood until after July 4th.” Most of these stories seem like nonsense to me. However, all the stories have a common outcome regarding growing crops the following summer, which is not good for farmers. The negative "then" part of the stories range from grasshopper plagues to tornados. The truth is weather is weather, but we always seem to grow a crop in this part of Illinois.
Last week Carol and I went to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) convention in Nashville, Tenn. Daughters Marie and Renee stayed home and took care of the cattle. This was our first opportunity to get away by ourselves since Marie was born 18 years ago. This was also the first time either of us had been to Nashville or attended such a convention.
Attending grain market outlook meetings is common for me. The meetings I attend are sponsored by agribusiness companies that get speakers to spin their message toward "grain prices may go lower — but will eventually go higher." For the first time ever, I sat in a crowd of a few thousand people who wanted grain prices to go down.
Guess what? The speaker used much of the same data and charts to give a subtle message of "corn prices will go down a $1/bu. by October." Exiting the meeting room, I realized I have never seen a suicide prevention group handing out leaflets after any market outlook meeting that I have attended. We always leave happy.
Marie and Renee do well at livestock judging contests. Carol and I thought we would try to win a prize in the adult livestock judging contest until we got to the Brangus heifer class. Neither of us had ever seen a group of four Brangus (Brahma-Angus cross best suited for hot climates) heifers before. Being clueless about the Brangus heifer class kept the prizes away from us. Sitting on a king’s throne drinking a beer while getting a shoeshine dissipated any ill feelings I was having about Brangus heifers.