Harbingers of spring
It’s a bit early to declare that “spring has sprung,” but that’s what yesterday and today feel like. Last week’s snow is all melted. The temps are in the 80s. I saw the first robins of the season headed north. This morning I heard a male cardinal singing his spring love song and a dove cooing its mating song, too.
And, this morning at the Old Boar’s breakfast, one member said he had already planted radishes and leaf lettuce in his garden. That’s a thought that crossed my mind yesterday, too, but I wuzn’t in town to buy seed — if any is available. Perhaps garden seed is in short supply, too, like everything else.
Yesterday, Nevah and I cleaned up the garage floor. After I backed out the tractor and the riding lawn mower, I decided the weather wuz too nice not to take advantage of. So, I mowed down the dry sorghum canes in one of my food plots. Then I took the tractor and aerated all of my compost plots.
I mentioned several weeks ago that Nevah and I have reached the stage in life where downsizing makes sense. To that end, I have news. We have sold our farm in southeast Kansas — so no more worrying about fences, ponds, cedar trees, hedge trees, blackberry brambles, and serecia lespedeza. A big load off my mind.
And, now we can more actively look for a new place to eventually land some 50 miles north closer to family and friends. Now’s not a good time to be looking to build, buy or rent, but the times are what they are and at our ages — time’s a’wastin’. We’re traveling north tomorrow to scout out some housing possibilities.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, ruthlessly ordered by Russian president Vladimir Putin, has dominated the main stream media news for more than a week.
Not once during a newscast have I heard mention that a major reason that Russia wants the Ukraine back into the Russian sphere is because it is a major “food basket.” In the interest of education, here is some interesting “aggie stuff” about agriculture in the Ukraine.
The climate of Ukraine is roughly similar to that of Kansas — slightly drier and cooler during the summer and colder and wetter during the winter, but close enough for comparison. The weather is suitable for both winter and spring crops. Average annual precipitation in Ukraine is approximately 24 inches. Of Ukraine’s total land of 60 million hectares, roughly 42 million is classified as farm land.
Winter wheat, spring barley, and corn are the country’s main grain crops. Sunflowers and sugar beets the main technical, or industrial, crops.
About 95 percent of Ukraine wheat is winter wheat. On the average, approximately 15 percent of fall-planted crops fail to survive the winter. Barley has been the top feed grain in Ukraine for most of the past 10 years — used for livestock feed and for malting in brewing beers and ales.
Corn is the third important feed grain in Ukraine. Corn is used chiefly for poultry and swine feed. Sunflower seed is Ukraine’s chief oilseed crop. Sunflowers are typically planted in April and harvested from mid-September to mid-October.
The above facts show why Ukraine is a target for Russian takeover. Russia needs the Ukraine’s massive food production. History tells a sad agricultural tale about Ukraine and Russian. During the Communist takeover of Russia last century, Russian president Josef Stalin’s five-year socialist plans for agriculture led him to literally starve millions of Volga Germans in the Ukraine, confiscate their lands by force and put the land into collective farms. Those who didn’t starve, died in the gulags.
In spite of the inefficiency of communist agriculture, the Ukraine was still a major component of keeping Russians fed. That sad history has not been forgotten by either side fighting in the current Russian invasion.
Here’s an aggie story that I enjoyed. A computer programmer and a high tech rancher are sitting next to each other on a long flight from New York to Houston. The programmer is bored so he leans over to the rancher and asks if he would like to play a fun game.
The rancher just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few winks. The programmer persists that the game is “real easy and lotta fun.” He explains, “I ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer you pay me $5. Then you ask me a question, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll pay you $5.”
Again, the rancher politely declines and tries to get to sleep. The computer guru, now somewhat agitated because he feels intellectually superior to the cowboy, says, “OK, if you don’t know the answer you pay me $5, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll pay you $50.” This catches the rancher’s attention, and he seeks an end to it all, so he agrees to the game.
The guru asks the first question. “What’s the distance from the Earth to the moon?” The rancher doesn’t say a word, but reaches into his wallet, pulls out a five dollar bill and hands it to the guru.
Now it’s the rancher’s turn. He asks the programmer, “What goes up a hill with three legs and comes down on four?” The guru looks up at him with a puzzled look. He takes out his laptop searches every reference he could think of — Google, Wikipedia, DuckDuckGo, even the Library of Congress. Frustrated, he sends e-mail to his co-workers, all to no avail.
After about an hour of fruitless searching, the programmer wakes the rancher and hands him $50. The rancher politely takes the $50 and turns away to try to get back to sleep. The programmer, more than a little miffed, shakes the rancher and asks, “Well? So what’s the answer?”
Without a word, the rancher reaches into his wallet, hands the guru $5, and turns away goes back to sleep.
Words of wisdom for this week: “It’s impossible to make anything ‘foolproof,’ because fools are so ingenious.” Have a good ‘un.
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