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It's showtime

Agriculture.com Staff 01/24/2008 @ 9:27am

The long winter nights at Sunrise Acres have been a welcome change from the long hot days of this past summer. The sweat of summer has been replaced with the chill of a good old-fashioned Idaho January.

Hello again from our part of the Treasure Valley. I couldn't help but chuckle when I read some tips on how to deal with the abnormally cold weather we've been having. My kids will tell me I'm sounding like an "old timer" but when did cold weather in January in Idaho become unusual? The winters of recent memory have been unusually mild if anything.

I can remember one year in particular when the Snake River just down the road from our farm was almost completely frozen across. On a few of the coldest days, the temperature would have to raise 50 degrees just to get to freezing. At any rate, the best advice I can give is to wear more clothes in January than you would in July. And you can quote me on that.

Here at Sunrise Acres January has always given us a chance to spend more time inside and get reacquainted with books, games, and catching up on record keeping. Carol has been getting the record books ready for the accountant to tell us how much participation we get to have in funding the government for another year. Personally I think we could invest the money better in a new four-wheeler or other necessity but it's hard to argue with the logic of staying out of Federal Prison!

When we were full-time farmers, Carol would literally spend days hand typing W-2s for our crew workers. The computer was a great help in speeding this chore but still it was a stressful time. Now, with no employees tax time is not such a big deal.

After becoming part of the population that gets a regular paycheck, I noticed some big differences in attitudes towards taxes. As farmers we wrote one check a year to the State and one to the Big Guys. If we had a good year it was a big check. If we had a poor year it was smaller. Now our taxes are withheld from my paycheck each month so the bite doesn't seem as bad. I think we would all be a little more aware of our tax load if we had to come up with all of it at one time.

Our crop plans for 2008 will probably not change much from last year. Our corn ground will go back to corn for one more year. With hay prices holding steady, there is no reason to tear out our young stand of alfalfa.

There are definitely pressures from various commodities for production acreage. I have even had a few phone calls inquiring if we are still farming and would be interested in contracting acres for their crops. What a change a year makes! Who could have dreamed that there would be growers looking for extra acres to expand? Even with increased costs for fertilizer and fuel, this could be a banner year for farm income.

January gives Idaho's farmers a chance to take a break and visit a farm show or two. Whether it be the upcoming show at Caldwell or the big one in Tulare, California, growers like to see what's new in equipment and technology. When I farmed full time, Ag shows were a chance to get out of the shop and see some familiar faces again. I always liked to kid the equipment salesmen that the reason I was so interested in the new models was so I could get an idea of what model I would be driving in 20 years when I could afford the used one! (Now that I sell equipment, that's not so funny).

Last month, I mentioned I would be delivering pivots to Midvale and would need a bit of luck to get it done. Well, let's just say it was interesting. The pivots were on schedule to be delivered during a pretty decent stretch of January weather.

Then I received a phone call from the driver saying he had mechanical problems while still in Nebraska and would be a day or two late. The perfect weather conditions began to deteriorate. The weather at Midvale took an unseasonably warmer turn. The hard packed ground thawed, not the best situation for a heavily loaded truck and trailer.

The call came in that our driver was back on the road so we scrambled to come with some alternate unloading sites. After a fitful night's sleep, I hit the road early to meet the truck at our rendezvous site in Midvale. The flakes got bigger and heavier the further north I traveled. By the time I got through Parma, I was having a hard time even finding the edge of the road.

In Payette, the snow let up a little bit and I pressed on. Just past Weiser, it just plain snowed. I was early enough that there were no snow plows out yet and few tracks to follow. I really like snow, it just wasn't a good day for it. I made it to Midvale in time to do a quick drive to the ranch to check conditions. The ground was soft and the snow was deep. A field delivery was out of the question.

After the pivot truck showed up an hour and a half late, our caravan headed out. With his heavy load the unpacked snow on the roads was not a problem. With heavy winds predicted and the potential for blowing snow, we offloaded the pivots onto two of the ranch trailers and sent the truck back to Nebraska. The county snow plow operator was gracious enough to pull one of our other trucks up a hill and me out of a ditch. For that he received our heartfelt thanks and a new Agri-Lines cap. (Hopefully he won't tell anybody about the pickup in the snow bank thing).

All in all the day turned out okay. By the end of the week, the two new pivots were up and look great.

This week the Wilder community mourned the passing and celebrated the life of one of Wilder's greatest assets, Rolly Lincoln. Rolly and Margaret raised four kids on their dairy farm northwest of Wilder. I could write volumes of memories and stories of this man but I will for now keep it simple. Along with other members of the Wilder Fire Department, I helped with the parking detail at the Wilder High School where Rolly's memorial services were held. For over an hour before the services were scheduled to start, a steady stream of cars lined the roads in and around the school.

On this January morning with temperatures well below freezing, hundreds of people whose lives had been touched by this dairy farmer from Wilder came to pay their respects and admiration. Rolly always had a smile for everyone and never knew a stranger. I will always remember Rolly as a hard working man who loved his family and had time to take a minute to ask how you were doing. Most of all I am eternally grateful to Rolly for taking his time to be a 4-H leader. I had the honor of being a part of his club, showing a steer at the Caldwell Fair. I don’t remember what color of ribbon I received but there was this girl that joined our club that caught my eye. I don't know if Rolly fixed the election, but I was President and Carol was my Secretary.

As I looked over the sea of faces at the service I thought to myself, look at how many lives were affected by one man's love of others. Thank you Margaret, David, Larry, Dennis, and Linda for sharing your husband and father with us. Thank you Rolly for caring.

We hope all of you have a great winter, enjoy the cold because soon you will be complaining about the heat!

Come by and say hello at the Ag Show!

From Sunrise Acres-

Fred, Carol, and Katie Butler

The long winter nights at Sunrise Acres have been a welcome change from the long hot days of this past summer. The sweat of summer has been replaced with the chill of a good old-fashioned Idaho January.

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