ON THE FARM: Here comes the frost

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By Glenn Ells

During the early-morning hours of Nov. 7, the first serious killing frost of the season arrived on our farm.

It was -3C and all was white and sparkling when I got up. Leta saw it coming and served lettuce from the remains of the garden at suppertime the day before. She also rescued some plants by putting them in pots and bringing them inside for the winter.

I started the wood stove before breakfast and hoped the real warmth from that old friend will reduce our use of that liquid gold from the tank in the cellar. It has been discouraging to see all our efforts to insulate cancelled out by the increase in the price of furnace oil.

The president of our neighbouring nation to the south has been reelected, which I consider a good thing for Canada – compared t what that other guy might have done to us. Politics in the U.S. still puzzles me and I can’t figure out the crazy system they use. If one can believe half of what is written about the state of things in the States, it makes me shudder.

I’ve seldom seen such a deep covering of leaves on our lawns. The grass was clipped short before the leaves fell, but the west wind has not done much of a removal job yet. The leaf-rake tickles my hands and hurts my back and I’ve not used it for 40 or so years. The leaves will freeze-dry and blow away some day this month and then we may even get snow to cover the ground like we used to see.

Corn harvest has been proceeding when moisture conditions are favourable. This warm growing season was good to corn plants and some reports say that around five dons per acre of grains are coming off. Even with moisture around 30 per cent, that is a lot of corn. I’ve had corn on a small, four acre field this year and marveled at how well it recovered from the dry summer. Two combines moved in yesterday, and about an hour later, they were headed elsewhere. It looks like there will be enough corn to sell to cover all the custom work cost, which doesn’t always happen.

When I was starting to farm, there was a booklet published by the Department of Agriculture, called “Size Makes a Difference.” Over the years, it has been interesting to note that “difference” depends on where or at what stage the owner and the farm are. The simple thought that a small profit per acre or per animal sold would increase when more units were producing is not that straightforward. Over the years, I’ve dealt with overhead, risks and high interest notes on operating capital. If I was young again, I’d strive for 300 acres or more of corn. Now I’m happy with four acres, no debt and the Old Age Pension.

Organizations: Department of Agriculture

Geographic location: Canada, U.S.

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