Friday, February 25, 2011

A Look at the Wheat.

On the 13th, Mark and Dad and I ran Over East to look at the wheat, and at Phil's new well.

The outskirts of the circle looked pretty harsh.

But looked just fine once you got into it a little bit.

And here is another look at the difference in the corn stubble quality from last year. You can see the benefits of a hardier corn stalk on the left, where there is still snow cover. Again I will point out that the BT corn was on the right, non-BT on the left, if only to again mention my pet peeve of all the talk in Ag over the "tougher stalks from BT corn" which is pure nonsense. We have tougher stalks, yes, but this is a result of conventional breeding selecting for better stalk strength which correlates to better late season plant health and yield. The beauty of GM crops lies in the ability to introduce very specific traits WITHOUT affecting the other traits present in the crop. Referring to tougher stalks being a byproduct of the BT trait is like saying "this new highway sure gets a lot less potholes since they started using that new paint for the center stripes." Drives me crazy.

We then took a gander at the dryland Over East. It got burned back pretty bad by the super cold temperatures last month, but you can still see plenty of green too. The wheat palnt at this stage has its growing point underground, so the plant is still perfectly able to grow at this point. The killing off of the top growth at this point is #1 largely cosmetic, and #2 almost preferable to me in these uber-dry conditions. A plant that is green is a plant that is losing moisture or has the potential to lose moisture as far as I'm concerned.

It sure doesn't make for a pretty picture, though.

And here is the moisture that has accumulated in the rain gauge over the last couple of months. Which was actually quite surprising.

On Monday morning I picked up the tractor from the shop and drove it home.

I parked it next to the Puma so I could look at them side by side.

Because I like to look at tractors.

Dad and I went back over east later on Wednesday, as I was wondering if we shouldn't fire up the sprinkler with the 80 degree weather.

The moisture probe said no.

Then we went over to the Gray Havens, where the wheat had gotten some pretty good growth before the cold hit.

But it also looked like it would be just fine.
I tried the moisture probe in a few places, though I figured it was a lost cause. The trouble is what little moisture we have in the top soil is pretty shallow, which means you can't get the probe in the ground more than a few inches. Finally I spotted an ant hill and thought maybe, just maybe...
Yep. My little friends had burrowed below the dry layer far enough that I could get the probe past it. After that it went right in (remember the crazy wet fall of '09, all that moisture is still in the soil, waiting.) That is what has been so frustrating with this dryland wheat crop from the beginning. All we needed was a nice half inch, maybe three quarter inch rain soon enough in the fall to bring the soil moisture together, allowing the roots to reach that subsoil moisture, and we would have been looking at the potential for an outstanding wheat crop. We still have plenty of potential for a decent crop, but not for a great crop. And still we need a decent sized moisture event to go from potential to reality.

We stopped to look at some seed wheat Tom planted for us on the way back home. It looked really good.

Finally, on Monday the 21st, I took a gander out at the wheat at home.

Not much on the surface, but it doesn't take too much effort to find some baby plants.

Even if some of the baby plants are questionable.

You could even find some emerging going on in spots. See:

You kind of have to look pretty closely.

I finally remembered to bring a spade with me to do a little digging, which I keep forgetting to do when I head east.

I was pretty pleasantly surprised:

And it looks like we have a little bit of a moisture buffer here for a little bit.

But still the dry layer. It is deeper here, since we had less rain over the summer and didn't get a (halfway) decent rain on it until December. I could get the probe in a little deeper, but not much.

Luckily my friend Mr. Rabbit managed to dig below the dry zone for me.
So close. So close.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In Which Katie Enjoys the Second Week of the Rest of Her Life.

So here we have Seven day old Anna on top and 8 day old Katie below.

Katie and Betsy slept in on Valentine's Day.

Katie had some good tummy time.

We had a very nice Valentine's meal thanks to Kathleen.

Katie made it clear that she and her thumb are old friends that evening.

And then Katie very much enjoyed her first K-State-KU game.

It's exhausting being a good fan.

The next day Anna had a great time playing outside in a t-shirt--what a difference a week makes...-16 to 80.

Katie still prefers to be snuggled up. Especially when she is thinking.

Anna is having a great time as "big sister."

Katie likes to party late.

There was no school on Friday, so Anna and I went camping-- in Paris, no less.

Later, Betsy took pictures of the girls in their matching jammies.

That night we went to a customer appreciation dinner. Anna and I checked out the new Tier-4 CVT Magnum.
Anna wasn't too sure of her safety on the Patriot.

But felt right at home on the 8120.

The girls were pretty tuckered out when we got home.

Katie likes to change clothes a lot. She had a grand day out on Saturday.

Here are Anna and Katie at the spelling bee after Katie urped up her breakfast on Betsy.

Then she had a fun time at the Alsop's.

Before urping up her lunch on Susan.

After that everyone stayed prepared.

On Sunday I played drums with RPM at the Honor flight benefit.

And then we celebrated a belated Jairus birthday.

Silas is a great addition to any party.

Katie and I stayed up late having our own party.

Until she grew impatient with the caterer.