Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mississississ...Somebody Stop Me!

So last week was my last fertilizer mission of 2013.  I left cold and snowy Michigan...
...for much warmer Mississippi.  It was in the upper 60's last Wednesday and Thursday.  But it was winter there too.  No crops or green leaves.  But I'll take warmth.  We drove by cypress trees in the lakes.
And the kudzu which has overtaken much of the country has dropped its leaves for the winter.  Hard to believe this was an introduced plant from Asia in the late 19th century as an ornamental and for erosion control.  It is the plant that ate the South, and is still spreading beyond control.
I was with SAM Jourdan and Dale from AgroLiquid HQ, and we were to visit with a soil fertility researcher from Mississippi State U at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville.  It is in Western Mississippi, and right next to Leland, MS.  Now I did not know this at the time, but guess who was born in Leland?   Kermit the Frog.  Well actually it was Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets.  Jourdan and Dale have fun in the sun with Kermit outside the small museum there.
 Here is a picture of the original Kermit on the right next to a modern Kermit.  The original was made in 1957 out of his mothers old coat.  And the eyes were from a ping pong ball cut in half.  Kermit is actually the name of Jim's childhood friend and they used to catch frogs in the river that runs right behind the museum.
 Here is a picture of the master and all his creations.
Dale and Jourdan play tourist inside. 
There are displays of all the old stuff.  And a store to support the place. 
Kermit and I are now buds.
The river has an interesting Christmas display.  There are rafts decorated by area churches and groups in a parade.  They have lights, so it is probably cool at night. 
Here are the three wise men of course, with camel in tow. 
 And here is Kermit wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.
I will say ditto to that.  OK, time to start my Christmas shopping.  I am best under pressure.

Lyle Hynes, One Of A Kind

So yesterday I went to the funeral of Lyle Hynes.  It was at the tiny country Methodist Church next to Farm 3.  I have known Lyle for nearly 20 years, since we started the NCRS.  He was the owner of Farm 5 before it became part of the NCRS.  In fact, I can still remember him farming that 80 acres with his old John Deere 60 and B.  You could hear the 2-cylinders popping several fields away as he was working ground back then.  In fact, the very first year of the NCRS in 1994, we did not yet have a combine and he harvested our winter wheat crop with his old Case combine.  And no cab of course.  I've got pictures around somewhere that I will have to find.  This was pre-digital of course.  I also remember him out walking fields with his hired summer help picking rocks out of the fields and throwing them on a flat rack, and them dumping them in piles on the edge of the woods.  Those huge piles are still there.  He was in his 70's and I remember the high school kids that were helping say that he was hard to keep up with.

We started farming his farm in 1997 as part of the NCRS, and it was purchased some time after that with the understanding that he and his wife Marbeth could still live there.  I remember seeing the two of them sitting out on the porch as we drove back and forth with tractors, planters and combines.  They were asked if all of the equipment traffic bothered them and Marbeth said no, they like the excitement of someone working the farm that they had worked so long themselves.  Sadly she died a few years ago after nearly 70 years of marriage.  And now he has as well.  At the funeral it was said that he was a numbers man.  He could remember crops and yields from his farm by years.  And also the crop price and the production costs.  I remember that we bought a disk from him, and he told Doug and me how many pumps of a grease gun for each zerk.  Like "that one takes 5 and a half pumps."  And of course later we tested it, and he was right.  In the early days of the farm tours, we used to stop at his place and he would address the group and give his views on things.  Later he was known far and wide for his raspberries that he grew out front.  Once when he was ill, we offered to water them, and he told us how many minutes to hold the hose on each spot.  We even put in a drip system, but he preferred to hold the water hose.  Why change what works?

But one thing I did not know about was his military service.  It turns out he was a gunner on a B-26 bomber in World War II.  He flew 25 bombing missions over France and Germany.  Below is his service picture.  Looks just like him.  He was 92, and another veteran is gone. 

But a good and long life it was.  After all, he was a farmer.

Jean Has Left the Building...

So AgroLiquid said farewell to Jean Eldridge last week after nearly 28 years of dedicated service.  She has worked in the Accounts Payable section the past 7 years, but long-time Liquidites will remember her from her days as Distribution Manager.  It used to be run out of the St. Johns office.  Of course we were much smaller then, but during the busy season her office would be covered with state maps and sticky notes with delivery notations.  And there was a dry erase boards with the truck driver assignments for the week.  But it all worked, and she did a great job.  She was just getting started in that when I started and our offices were next to each other in the several buildings over the years.  Well she was given quite a send-off each day last week.  Such as the balloon fest.
The Post-It notes, with cheerful fond farewell messages from employees.
 And of course the foiling.  Thanks to Jill W. for these pictures.
 My favorite part was the good-bye lunch last Friday.  You had to be a seasoned Liquid veteran to attend.  Below we see Dave, Tracy, me, Jean, Lynette, Nikole, Colina, Dale and Doug.
Don't get the idea that Jean has reached the mandatory retirement age.  She is leaving young enough to enjoy life, as she and husband Jeff have trips planned and everything.  However, I have now moved up a notch and only trail Lynette and Dale in employee years served.  But good luck Jean!

Holiday Reading

So as the picture below says: "It's Here!"  The first installment of the annual NCRS Research Report is on the web site.  This is for the NCRS Field Crops.  Thanks to Stephanie and Tim for meeting their goal of completion before Christmas.  The fruit and vegetable section as well as the off-farm research are yet to be completed, but will be soon.  So take a look at what happened at the NCRS this year.
Admittedly, I was confused on finding it.  Go to agroliquid.com, then click on the word Research at the top of the page.  Not the drop down selections.  Then click on the picture there.  Additionally, the past issues of the wildly popular Research Supports Future Growth are back on the website.  New ones will start again in 2014.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Not Nice Ice

So we had an ice storm over the weekend.  It was bad....really bad.  And by bad I mean that I still don't have power.   The picture below is the omen of what was to come.  It was taken Friday morning at the NCRS by Tim D.  But the real carnage didn't start until Saturday night with the intense freezing rain and then....no power.
I got up Sunday morning and took a look around.  There were loud gunshot sounds all over as branches broke from trees and then shower down with the ice sounding like broken glass.  Look at the broken trees in this poor schmuck's yard. 
 Oh no, he's going to have a busy chainsaw session in the future.
 Yikes.  Oh the humanity.
 Hey wait...it looks like that poor schmuck is me!  Fortunately no branches landed on the Liquid Taurus...which has become a source of heat and phone charging.
 Well today I looked for similar damage at the NCRS about 20 miles to the North of me.  One broken branch.  Big deal.
I have a wealth of blogs in waiting, but wasn't able to access the blog post machine over the weekend, but will try to get caught up soon.  In the meantime, it looks like I will have plenty of firewood in the future.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Night Lights

So this is the time of year when it's dark when you get to work and also dark when you leave.  This evening a little after 5, Dale Ruff, who has the work station (not a cubicle) next to mine told me to look at the sunset out the window wall on the west side of our section of the office building.  Well he was giving some good advice, as you can see in the sunset picture below.  I have never seen anything like this before.  And loyal readers know that I have shown plenty of sunsets in the blog over the years.  I'm sure there is a name for this phenomenon, but I don't know what it is. 
 I ran (literally) up the stairs to the second floor balcony and took the picture below.  I mean something like this needs more than one picture. That was so cool.  But after sunset it was gone.  So it wasn't some sort of nuclear event.  And I promise that there was no trick photography or photo enhancement here.  This is the way that it was.
There were a number of Liquid employees snapping pics of the sunset, including Dale out the back door.
Well I already had my camera out, so here is the Liquid Christmas tree out in the lobby area.  It was donated and is a very nice tree.  I will say it was a challenge getting it put up in the stand on Monday, and supported by cables.  But it was worth the effort as you can see.  (Well I guess I didn't contribute any effort, but fortunately some people did.)  There is another tree in the back by the entrance to the IQ Hub, which will be open for business next year.  More on that later as the date approaches.
 So someone has done a great job of decoration.  Here is a view of the place from out front.  The green lit tree is actually dedicated to our founder Mr. Douglas Cook.  Can't believe it's been nearly 3 years since his passing.  He was a major influence on my career and I am still so glad that I got to work with him for so many years.
 Here is a closer view from the outside, with the big tree all lit up. So I think the first Christmas in our nice new office is looking top notch. 
So can you believe I have a fertilizer mission next week?  It is a company affair, but hopefully there will be something blog-worthy to report.  I will close by saying that this is an important football weekend for graduates and fans of Oklahoma State and Michigan State University.  Hey, I fit that description!  Well I hope that by this time tomorrow (Saturday) I am happy....and Galynn is sad.  Galynn is is supposed to be at the game in Stillwater.  Hope he has a Sooner red snowsuit as it will be arctic cold.  Hey maybe that sunset is an outer space orange omen that the Cowboys will indeed beat the Sooners!   That orange spike must be a #1!  Glad I figured that out.  Anyway, Go Cowboys... and Spartans too!

Update #1:  Saturday. 3:57 pm.  I could not be more depressed.  Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.  Stupid sun omen.
Update #2: Sunday 12:16 am.  Nothing like a Spartan victory to cheer you up.  Especially since they are Big 10 Champions and Rose Bowl bound.  Go Green!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Play That Funky Music.....

So before I am officially pronounced flipped...a prize to the first person who makes the connection between the title and this post.  Anyway, I apologize for the delay, but last Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) Brian and Tim B had one more field mission themselves.  For the past several years they have been monitoring the growth of cherry trees in a customer's orchard way up North near Traverse City.  And not just any cherry trees, but ones that have been sprayed with the tree growth enhancer Fase2.  Trees receiving applications of Fase2 during the season have had more growth in girth of branches and trunk, as well as being taller than those that were not sprayed.  Well the lateness of final harvests at the NCRS made this trip a little later, and wouldn't you know it, they were met with around 6 inches of new snow when they got there.  Tim can hardly contain his excitement for the tasks that await. 
Below we see Brian using some tree calipers to measure the width of the trunk of a cherry tree, at a set height off the ground for each one.  They did measurements on a number of the same trees that they have been keeping track of for the past three years.  There were trees of different ages, both sprayed and unsprayed.  But the results have been encouraging both in these research blocks as well as with fruit trees and bushes like blueberries around the country.   So don't be left out if you grow fruit.
These particular trees are Tart Cherry trees.  And did you know that Michigan is the number 1 state for Tart Cherry production?  Well it is.  Remember that next time you bite into a cherry pie.  And also thank Brian and Tim for helping bring Fase2 to market to enable even more cherry production without having to apply more fertilizer to the environment.  Well that was a wild cherry adventure wasn't it?
I will say that we are now into the part of the year where all of us researcher types are busily preparing our research reports so that we can share them with all of you out there in blog-land.  So there isn't much to show these days in the way of exciting fertilizer missions and other  adventures at the NCRS.   But there will be several winter missions from time to time out into the Land of Liquid to spread the word and to start preparations for next season.  So the reports will be fewer, but no less informative and entertaining when they do appear.  So check back from time to time.  But in the meantime, this would be a great opportunity to revisit some of the previous 361 posts of your favorite blog.  (And you better have said Live From the NCRS!)