We all eat, right?

Friday, May 23, 2014

I'm back ...

When I was first asked to do a monthly column for the new "Missouri Farms," I jumped at the chance. After all, this new magazine is a great way to promote the importance of agriculture in mid-Missouri.

This is one of the premier farming areas in Missouri and in the Midwest, and with our many agriculture-related businesses, we are also the go-to counties for regional farmers.

When it comes to farming, the farmers I know are the smartest people I have ever met. In fact, most farmers who are successful today can calculate complicated cost-to-profit scenarios in their head without the aid of a pencil, calculator or even 10 toes. It's a fact I've marveled at for 30 years. I've come to realize that common-sense intelligence is the reason Saline and Lafayette counties has so many Century Farms and long-time farm families. Not only has the area been blessed with abundant, high-quality soil, but we are also blessed with highly intelligent people who had the good sense to settle here many, many years ago. And from those early settlers have descended not only many farm families, but also many long-standing business owners.

As I was thinking about all this, I also realized the "Farming for Novices" idea was more just a guide to do what I've always tried to do in my columns: explain farming and agriculture in a humorous light to the majority of people who are now far removed from the day-to-day aspects of agriculture.

Or at least they think they are.

But the truth is, every day 4-out-of-4 people eat ... and most of us eat early and often. So although you may not know or see what farmers are doing out here every day, I can assure anyone who asks that we are affecting your life.

So since it's a monthly column, I'll try to focus on what my family and neighbors are busy doing each month.

Unless you've been living under a rock, or you're a hermit and never leave home, you have noticed farm equipment driving up and down the road. That's because in April and May (and sometimes even June and July) farmers are busy planting.

Last year, rain delayed planting significantly, and we didn't start planting corn until May 11. This year, however, most of the corn was planted before the end of April. It's always a weight off our chests when the seeds are in the ground.

It's an even better feeling when those seeds push through the ground and rows and rows of green start to dot our landscape.

And as I write this, an early warm spell has meant the corn has gotten a good start. However, if you are into old wives' tales (I am), we had thunder in January, which is supposed to mean flood in June.

We also had thunder in February, which means frost in May. Come to think of it, just had a little frost in May ... I guess those old wives are right on target so far. Let's hope they are wrong about the flood.

Soybean planting has been on time as well. So-called experts say the optimal planting time is May 20 -- June 10, but this year many farmers have been able to get soybeans planted in the last few weeks. So now we just have to wait and see if they grow. And we pray for rain, especially in July and August.

On a side note, please be patient as farmers are moving tractors, planters and other equipment down area roads.

Those California-Howdy-one-finger waves are starting to get me down. Yes, those tractors are big and, yes, it is frustrating when you are in a hurry. But two things to note: first, if today's equipment wasn't so big, then there would be two or three times the number of tractors to pass. And those smaller tractors move a lot slower down the road, blocking traffic longer.

Believe me, I hate moving equipment as much as you hate seeing me in front of you when you are late for work. But don't forget, it's my work too.

As for passing us, please be safe, but remember it usually just takes a few seconds to get around a slow-moving tractor. And for the majority of you who politely wave, thank you, thank you, thank you for understanding.

Until next month, keep on eating ― especially my favorites, steak and bacon ― and we will keep on producing corn and soybeans needed to feed livestock and produce fuel.