If he’s old enough to answer I’m old enough to ask the tough questions
Whether you believe it or not, relatively speaking, spring is just around the corner.
One of the things I like to do, and even thrive on is ask farmers in passing, whether in restaurants, grocery stores, or when putting in gas in their vehicles, is to ask them point blank questions. Here is what one of the most renowned livestock vet and consultant around the world, Dr. John Carr now residing in Australia told me in 2012 when I asked him what many then considering a tough question had to say.
After hesitating a moment or two, John says, “Harry, I think I’m old enough to answer that question.” That response and the answer that followed, endeared us to each other, and today we consider ourselves real good friends.
The reason I mention that is the fact, while Dr. Carr says he’s old enough to answer that question, I consider myself old enough to ask the good questions. A publisher in bygone days once told the editor who I reported to, Harry gets answers from questions other reporters often won’t even ask. I considered that not only a compliment, but also a teaching point of encouragement when I’m tempted sometimes not to ask that difficult question, to do so anyway.
In my last conversation with Carr at his parent’s house near London, England via Skype, we talked about how he and his laddies (fellow vets) in Ukraine snuffed out that PED virus that I first reported on right here. If you recall, 10,000 piglets died within 18 hours of them spotting the symptoms of this dreaded PED virus on three large hog farms in Ukraine.
Good biosecurity in place and great vigilance by the local vets, good luck, and hard, hard work, kept that disease from hitting the rest of Europe. He thinks our breaking that story here and worldwide via Twitter, sharpened the biosecurity right around continental Europe and the U.K.
Getting back to what I like to do, I asked Menno Dyck, who farms near Gretna, MB whether he is ready for the spring planting season.
“Harry …” he says. “In due course, in due course. However, it is still far too early for this snow to melt. We need more snow, otherwise the soil on the fields could start moving, and move real quick.”
As all good farmers know and say, when the time comes they will be ready, but what really caught my attention is the lack of snow through this winter. We city folk sometimes brag about how little we used that new snow blower, Dyck and his stalwarts, those who provide that great quality, healthy, nutritious and reasonably priced food need some moisture before this old-man winter stops. Snow now and moisture in the form of rain later. Oh, I agree with that grizzled old timer, we never make or break a crop in March, April, and or May, despite what the market analysts tell you what and where to do with that crop based on weather, projected or real.
However, Dyck reminds us that good snow cover in winter, and well into spring is great for those who think lack of moisture could well determine the crop for that year. Not so, but drought, soil erosion, from lack of moisture certainly harms that $5,000 an acre topsoil, and that’s a fact.
Speaking of land prices, for sale or rent, are you hearing whether the record prices farmers paid in the last five years are holding, and are farmers holding onto those high-priced contracts for the privilege of renting that piece of land for making a profit in 2015? It is pretty quiet right now. Let me know if you hear anything via the grapevine. Anything like are you still renting that piece or that back 40 for what did you say, $200 an acre. That certainly should make for a good topic of conversation.  •