Editor's note: Due to a technical glitch we didn't get Daryl's Christmas letter until late - so we've added it to the end of this blog because there's some interesting news from 2016 there we thought you'd like. But first we start with his latest installment, and perspective of what's happening in Ohio. Note also that Daryl is a self-described 4020 nut, as you can see in the photo we included with this blog.
Northwest Ohio Trends
Go big or don’t go at all seems to sum up what’s happening especially in the livestock business. I don’t know of anyone building hog finishing units smaller than 2,499 head capacity that are popping up everywhere and 2,500 head sow units seem to be the current new norm. There is extreme excitement about the new slaughtering facility being built in southern Michigan.
New egg operations often have multiple owners. I know of 600,000 to 2,000,000 hen capacity operations going up. Several small dairies have gone out of business.
I am continually stunned how some families have expanded the acres that they farm. In one case near Napoleon, Ohio three farm families have partnered and are farming together. There are at least two families farming more than 20,000 acres and many in the 6,000+ acre category. To do this they must spread across several counties. A lot of fuel gets burnt driving machines up and down the roads.
You have to give the large farmers credit for their organizational skills in farming hundreds of fields with multiple sets of machines and somehow selling themselves to land owners who don’t know them.
Generally speaking, 2016 was another tough year for grain farmers. It was too hot and dry for good yields on my farm. Some areas in Auglaize County fared very poorly with 60 bushel per acre corn, while other areas near Toledo had 200+ bushels per acre. It all depended on who got the rains.
Vomitoxin was a problem in some areas making the corn unfit for hog feed and unwanted by the ethanol plant in Lima, Ohio.
Although there are all kinds of encouragement given to farmers to plant cover crops, probably only 10 – 15% of the fields are green and that includes wheat too! Almost every field had some tillage done despite extension agents urging no till or strip till to increase soil biological health. With fence rows gone and more and more bulldozing of trees, I don’t think soil erosion problems going to be solved or even slowed significantly.
Merry Christmas 2016 in review
I (Daryl) am dictating again and Peggy is doing the typing. It has become our tradition.
We enjoyed the mild weather of the past winter (2015-2016). I even hopped on our lawn mower and mowed in mid-January. Our diesel lawn mower is kind of like my Harley – I just enjoy riding it.
Peggy started working at Hilty Memorial Nursing Home early in 2016. She only spent 3 minutes on her job search (the time it took to drive from our house to there). She enjoyed her certification classes and made a nice friendship connection with her teacher whose son only lives a mile from us. She also made friends with another student, Maria, who stayed with us for a few weeks while she was in between apartments. We enjoyed her stay a lot; for us, it was like having a daughter.
Peggy works nights, but contrary to what you might expect, it’s not all peace and quiet. It is more like hurry up and hustle all night long. In some ways that is good because she is too busy to be tired. She loves her people and has especially made nice friendships with the folks from the farming community who now live there. I am so proud of Peggy! In a couple of cases people who everyone else thought could not communicate suddenly started talking to Peggy because she took the time to speak to them. I chatted with one of my former neighbors who lives there and she said, “I like Peggy; she is gentle and she talks to me while she works with me.”
Last February we went to the National Farm Machinery Show in Kentucky again and I helped to pick out top new products. One doesn’t think of hugs and farm shows going together, but that was our favorite part – seeing good friends down there again.
Crop wise, we had a wet spring and didn’t finish planting until June. We had an extremely hot summer and very little rain until late August. We raised some nice soybeans, but our corn yields were lackluster. Our garden was very good because we watered it almost every day. We had plenty of tomatoes and sweet corn for ourselves and our freezer and gave a lot of garden stuff to Peggy’s coworkers. We took enough sweet corn to feed all the residents at Hilty Home for a full meal and tomatoes for their cheeseburgers too. Our fall was warm and we were still eating our own tomatoes until November!
For fun in the summer we took machinery to several parades. We were surprised that we won the Judges’ Choice Prize in one of them because we didn’t realize we were being judged! We played at the Genoa Quarry and at the Indiana Dunes, made the trek to Pennsylvania to visit with Peggy’s family and went to the Pennsylvania farm show. We did several hayrides – one for a church, one for our neighbors and two for the people who live at the nursing home where Peggy works. I get thanked profusely for the hayrides, but they are not burdensome and I probably enjoy them as much as the people do.
We are looking forward to hearing from all of you!
Daryl & Peggy