Letter to Dave

Dear Dave,


I’ve heard the term “Novembruary” used to describe our current month. This works for me. This month has adopted the earmarks of February; it is bitterly cold and late afternoon brings about that icky, hopeless feeling as filtered, poorly-angled sun heads for the other side of the world.          

I see you are on Facebook, Dave. I made fun of Facebook users for years and now I am a faithful user. It’s nice to have you there to share pictures of hopelessly stuck tractors and animal pictures. I use Facebook mostly to view pictures of cats however it was a useful tool during our recent “Norwegian Spring” as we were able to keep our good politicians in Pennington County and show the rest the convenient exits located at each end of the room. I suspect it will be some time before folks crow about the “new Labree Avenue Mafia” after the voters showed them they are not made of Teflon.

On to farming, Dave; it’s our favorite subject. The Natural Resources Conservation Service was out here this summer and did a battery of tests on our pasture. The tests determine how much organic matter is in the soil and how fast it absorbs water, along with tests for minerals and fertilizer. We will perform these tests for five consecutive years.  Late this fall, NRCS installed units to log soil temperature throughout the winter. I want to do the best with what I have Dave and if I can’t be the biggest cattle farmer around, I want to be the most efficient and this study should help me.

I have been watching land sales, or their lack, Dave.  When commodity prices went crazy, farmers began putting marginal land under the plow. This was land that needed top commodity prices to be worthwhile. Unfortunately, farmers always believe next year will be better and plan accordingly. Some did not plan for current prices. The same stubbornness that makes a farmer so tough also makes him a little slow to make changes. Farmers will now hold on to their unproductive land and continue to invest seed, time and fertilizer into poor crop returns for even poorer prices.  They might even plan to re-sell this land when prices return to their historical highs. Problem is, at lot of fall is going to occur to land prices before they bounce back and most landowners will see these higher  prices from the rocking chair. I checked on some poorer land for pasture but prices are still high. Of course, each owner always reminds me that there are “mineral rights” that go with the land. Most of the “mineral rights” around my area are small spits of sand with a tiny group of orphaned rocks holding hands and hoping someone will mistake the whole mess for gravel. I think most of these landowners would be served well by a phrase I have often lived by: “your first loss is your best loss.”

Our house has never been warmer, Dave. Lisa and I saw something called “Airkrete” advertised as a sort of foam that could be sprayed in between the studs of standing homes. I hate being first to try something so I researched “Airkrete” the best I could then took the plunge. The stuff sprays in through a small hole on the outside wall and cures into something that resembles hardened cotton candy. Anyway, our house has always been chilly even after remodeling it and this year it has been lovely. I am currently wearing shorts and sweating and it’s nine degrees outside and windy.

Ryan was out here last week and picked up his snow blower. I met his brother in-law and we had a good quick talk. I hope the blower works out well for him and if nothing else, it will make swell scrap metal. Tell everyone hello.

You’re little bro’

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