Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just like usual fashion.............

We didn't exactly get the great snowstorm that the weatherman was predicting.......yet. But at the house and around the rest of Eastern North Dakota we experienced 40-60 mph winds that left me to sleep on the couch among other things.

If you've heard me talk about ND, you've probably heard me mention something about flooding. While we have to worry about the Red River, which is a flowing body of water that emptys into Lake Ontario - others in ND have to worry about the Devil's Lake Basin. The problem with finding a long term flood solution is that while we have our own issues to deal with - Devil's Lake keeps rising and the only place it can empty into would flow almost directly into the Red River. Enough about point is - this video is scary.

This traveller submitted the footage to our local news outlet to show the 40+ mph winds impact on Devil's Lake. This particular area is called "the narrows" but is a stretch of Highway 57 that connects Ft. Totten to Devils Lake above the lake. Since the dike will hold to roughly 1454 ft. and the current elevation of the lake is somewhere between 1447-1451 ft. its a wonder this road still even exists. Highway 57 was closed yesterday afternoon not to long after this footage was captured.

We could handle the snow - but waves - we don't have anyone to teach surfing lessons.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It doesn't look good.

Just so you know, the white means snow.

Also, just so you know -

1. We aren't sure if the snow blower works.
2. We haven't put the plastic on the windows yet.
3. Its October 26th and the high tomorrow is 27 degrees.
4. My husband is leaving tomorrow morning and he still hasn't taught me how to run the tractor.

Wish us luck and send some chicken-n-noodle soup. UPS style.

So......its a vice.

I have never went out a bought a copy of someone's new CD on the day it was released, but Walmart had copies of Taylor Swift's new one for $9.98 yesterday.................and I was secretly really excited about what could be on this disk.

I had heard she might be unloading about all the failed relationships through the songs on this disk - but that's not why I wanted it - there's just something about the songs she sings that strikes a chord ..................its quite possibly because of the hopeless romantic in me.

My mom will laugh at this because a few years ago I gave my younger sister Kait and Gretchen a hard time about dancing around screaming "You belong with Me" like a couple of giddy girls. But over the course of this past year - I've changed my tune, I admit it.

So, I spent the ride home last night with the volume blasting trying to sing-a-long with the songs on the album. Its okay, you can laugh - I deserve it. But some of you probably are a little jealous that I had the courage to buy it and admit it being that I'm a little past the tween stage. The other half of you are probably not surprised since I own the Twilight series books and're probably just thinking the girl needs to grow up. Go ahead, I probably deserve that too.............but I'll be too busy singing......."You are the best thing that's ever been mine............wha oh oha........" to hear you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More from the field....

More information from my ride-along with the neighbors.............................................

I didn't ride in the beet truck last night after work....instead I went to the field that was being topped. I had ridden in plenty of grain-trucks in my time. I had never seen the topper work - and this was the last batch of the neighbors beets to be topped.

See the hidden top amongst the forage, thats the beet. Its been hiding and growing for the past several months accumulating sugar and hopefully making the farmer some money. After you've seen all the special equipment it takes to be a beet farmer - you understand the importance of sugar content and timing. The beet cannot be topped until just prior to being lifted. The farmer I rode with actually was warned by his field scout that they may have to abandon the field they were lifting on and go to a "fresher" field because removing the tops will cause the beet temperature to increase faster.

Basically, the topper is a street sweeper. The underside of the topper is pictured below. It moves along on top of the beet slicking the top right off.

If you have a good set of eyes, you can tell the difference in about 4 1/2 inches on the topped beets versus the untopped beats. Since they were concerned about the beet temperature, they were actually "temping" the beets throughout the day on the other field and were finally released to top this field last night about 4:30 p.m.

The topped beet rows look like this. These beets will probably stand uncovered like this hopefully no more than 24-30 hours before being lifted. The green forage will die down and you can see beets popping out of the ground.

The last photo is to show you the average size of the beets. Sitting beside the beet was the only item I had in my pocket - my chapstick. Its a 2'' tube of chapstick that roughly the same size as a dime in diameter.

If you are interested more in beet production, visit Sugarbeet Production & Research at NDSU/MSU . If you would like to know about how the majority of sugar is produced in the U.S., visit this link.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sugarbeet harvest in Cass County, from my perspective....

Back when my family visited, I promised to take video of the Red River Valley's sugarbeet harvest. When I told my co-worker John about their interest in the beets, he actually encouraged me to call one of our neighbors to see if they cared to have a 'tag-along'...............which they were happy to oblige.

(To view the videos, simply click on the words that appear discolored and underlined. It will take you to a secured link and you can click on each of the videos as they appear on the right).

In the first video (1) the footage shows the basics of the equipment used in the field which consists of 1 tractor with what they call the "topper" attached that goes through before the other implements and takes the forage top off the beet (this implement is not seen, because the tops were removed yesterday). Other other implements are mid-sized tractors, one pulling the lifter and the other with the cart. Each of the attachments, among other things, is equiped with a large conveyor that moves the beets from the lifter to the cart and then to the semi-truck.

The second set of videos shows how the lifter actually works. From what Josh, the driver, explained to me - the blades at the bottom of the lifter basically cut the ground on either side of the beet and then the beet is scooped up, thrown into the middle compartment where its shaken of the dirt and then conveyed up the belt. There is a small box in the cab of the tractor that controls the width and depth of the diggers - but some have to be adjusted manually. We figured that if there is a truck ready to be filled and we don't have to wait, it would only take about 5 minutes per pass in this field to lift.

This is what a sugarbeet looks like just prior to harvest.

Although it was only 41 degrees this morning when I left the house, all of the sugarbeet farmers had been shut down the last 4 days because the air temperature exceeded 65 degrees throughout the day. Once the air temp. goes over 65 degrees, the beet temperature increases and the beet - if harvested and piled - could start to "cook" for a lack of a better word. In the next video, you'll see how the beets are piled (and will remain piled all winter) - which gives you an indication of how detrimental hot-harvested beets could be if allowed to heat and ferment. They were hoping that the cold front that was moving across the country would keep the temperature down for the next 24 hours so they could make some progress before the weekend's projected storms rolled through.

There is a sugarbeet processing facility in Moorhead, MN which is only about 30 miles from this site - however, each acre of this sugarbeet ground (which I understand is typical) will produce about 22-23 tons (which is about 46,000 lbs). So.........a dual axle loaded truck is considered full a little less frequently than every acre. The farmer I rode with had been running 7 trucks prior to today and they couldn't keep up running loads to the piler that was 15 miles from the field. For that reason, there are localized "piler" sites.

The video you just watched was of the closest piler site for sugarbeet farmers in this area. Its the further most west site in Cass County because the soil topography changes and we move out of the "valley dirt" and into the Lake Agassiz shoreline that isn't as conducive to beets. There is alot of dry-land corn and beans produced in the area of the shoreline. I think I did mention that Cass County (where we live and work) produces the 2nd most acres of soybeans of any county in the entire country - there are alot of soybeans here.

BACK TO THE BEETS.......................................

I should also mention that the growers are bound to harvest limitations set forth by the sugar company they hold contracts with. Depending on the sugar content of the beet (which you could call yield) and the plant's capacity, the company will tell the growers they have to leave anywhere from 0-15% of their beets in the field and turn-them-under. If the sugar content drops or another location can process their beets, the company may "release" some more of the beets to be harvested - but the farmer cannot legally harvest and sell any beets on contract to another company without their consent (which rarely happens).

Many of the drivers are local men/women who actually take their vacation to drive beet truck or tractor. The piling stations typically have been opening up in the evening (about 8 p.m. last night) and open all night. When I got to the field this morning the boys had just switched shifts and the "day drivers" had taken over.

This afternoon I'm going back to the field to ride with the trucker for awhile, hopefully tomorrow I'll get a better video of the piler - I snuck up on my way to town - but its a hub-bub of activity and I didn't want to get to close in my personal vehicle.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


We took the chance to get away this past weekend. It was the one weekend from August to November that wasn't full of either a judging contest, workout or an extension activity for either Ben or myself. It probably could have been more productively spent at home - doing our "honey-do" list.......but we went to Winnipeg instead.

Winnipeg is the largest city in the province of Manitoba with approximately 600,000 residents. For those of you who don't know, that's just about the same size as the entire population of North Dakota. Manitoba is the province directly north of ND in what I naively will call "Central Canada", they were home to the Olympics some time ago and house a Canadian Hockey League team called the Manitoba Moose. This is only metropolitian area in Manitoba, the next closest city in population has 7,600 people.

We (okay me) strategically planned our agenda because certain venues had some limitations on the times available for us to visit. Ben happily obliged in my taking the lead. Our first stop, after the run-in at the border was to the Royal Canadian Mint. This mint makes all of the coin currency for Canada as well as at least 23 other countries.

If you want more details of anything we mentioned about the trip, shoot us a call or email.

Below is the photo of Ben holding a brick of gold on display in the gallery of the Mint. Its approximately 25 pounds and worth ~$485,000 based on the gold price on Friday when we visited. This area is protected by an armed guard who spends more time answering questions about the value and taking photos than actually protecting the brick from looters.

We quickly found out that many of the activities I planned were only available during the peak tourist season, which evidently ended 24-hours prior to our trip. So...........we managed to adapt and hit a few "reserve" spots including the Convention and Visitor's Bureau (noted in the photo of me as a Scandavian bar maid), the Manitoba Museum (no camera allowed), the Forks National Historic Site and a few token eatries.

In this photo below, Ben is posted on the pedestrian bridge at the juncture of the Assiniboine River and the all Mighty Red River. It was a rather brisk ~50 degrees by this time at dusk so we didn't spend much time there. That evening we endulged on pasta and breadsticks at the Ole' Spagetti Factory in the Forks District.

The next morning we headed off to the Assiniboine Park to just snoop around. Ended up enjoying ourselves and the weather so much that we went through the historic English Gardens and the Lee Mol sculpture Garden as well as the Assiniboine Zoo. Notice anything about the landscaping in the photo?

Our hands-down eating experience in Canada was on Saturday afternoon when we visited the Boston Pizza joint. We quickly devoured the Tuscan inspired variety and commented on how this was probably the best pizza we had ever eaten. Hopefully this resturaunt is in the "states" or will be soon. We did notice that you didn't see any of our popular resturuants like Applebee's, Sonic, or Red Robin.

We also got lost in the Exchange Shopping District, almost mugged by a rather questionable appearing gentleman on the street and sampled "Canada's best BBQ closest to KC" at a local joint (just for your information - the food was good, but couldn't compare to Kansas City BBQ).

Unfortunately for us, we were left with little do in the evenings because the shopping complexes we planned to visit on Saturday evening all closed at 6:30 p.m. which is exactly the opposite of the "states".....usually Saturday's are the open-late days.

We ended out early Sunday morning and made it back to Fargo to eat at TGIF's for the local 4-H fundraising event over lunch hour. All-in-all we had no trouble getting back-and-forth across the border, except being bombarded with questions and considered this a good weekend getaway.

The next trip would have to include a trip to Lower Ft. Garry, the Paddlewheel Tour of the North Red and maybe a trip to the ballet. If we decide to go back, we'll choose a warmer time of year to travel and make time to stop at the Pembina Gorge on the way home.

Our next big trip together will be to Iowa for Thanksgiving and then our big road-trip to Kansas and Indiana for the holidays - we're hoping that if we put up the Christmas decorations, the holidays will come faster!

Monday, October 4, 2010

What a nice way to put into perspective.

It's the season in extension that all agents go through a variety of "update" training - givings us tools and ideas for program planning for the upcoming winter's "meeting season."

During the livestock marketing section of my farm-management update, our economist showed the July 2010 (which is still current) unemployment rates by state.

Since I'm approaching the anniversary of the completion of my first year on the job - I can't help but think that we made a pretty good choice by moving to North Dakota - both personally and professionally. Can you see why? We've both got great jobs, just bought a great house and have a semi-great pet......AND we're surrounded by really great people. To top it off, we're coming up on the greatest holiday of the year - Thanksgiving.

Not to shabby. Enjoy the Monday.