Monday, November 24, 2014

Picture post: airedale terrier puppies

Litter of 10 pups, 5 male and 5 female.   They'll wean december 20th.  perfect timing for holiday gifts.  Each pup gets a sifferent color collar so that we can tell them apart.  They're purebred and at this age are pretty identical.  Personalities are starting to come out now.   Lots of puppy wrestling and growling this week.  

Farmland price bubble

Graph was a comment in a dicussion you'll find here.  
This is a graph showing iowa land prices vs cattle prices, and it came up in a discussion of how people who didn't inherit land might get into farming - check the caption for link to the discussion, but there's a different take on this, too.

Take a look at the value of land.  It's been going up like gangbusters for 8 years; the average value of land I'd guess from this graph, over time, adjusted for inflation, is somewhere around 1200.  That same amount of land right now is selling for 4200, an increase of over 300% in 8 years.

Billonaires are getting into farming.  I've written about belcampo meats before, and now they're trying to produce in the face of a historic drought.  Welcome to farming, billionaires!  All the money in the world won't make it rain.

Some of the land prices  might be explained by the high corn prices in the last 4 or 5 years, but not all of it, and corn prices are down this year -- record harvests will do that.  What I'm seeing is money sloshing around looking for something a little less scary than the mile-high stock market, and something with a little better return than a CD or bond or bank deposit.

This is land prices contrasted with what you might do with the land -  graze cattle, or raise forage.

I think it looks bubbly to me.   And it's particularly interesting because I've been complaining about high cattle prices...  this graph ends about the time that cattle prices started to go through t he roof too.

I'm a bit of a contrarian.  I was telling people to buy real estate in 2009, and that's what I did.   If I were in a position to want to sell in the next year or two, I'd want to seriously think about putting anything farmland on the market this spring.  I don't think that these prices will last.

Spinning my gears

When chopping the corn noticed that the chopper had an odd vibration, which took me a while to figure out because, well, when you're on the tractor and chopping nothing is holding still.  Turns out that one of the gears that transmits power to the corn head was worn enough that the teeth would slip about 5% of the time, and as the slippage happened, it was wearing the gear out and was happening more frequently.  

 I'm not a farm implement mechanic by choice, but I'm getting better at it.   After years of tinkering i've got a fair grasp of bearings and bolts and roll pins and cotter pins and so on.
 After getting the gear out it doesn't look all that worn, but when I looked at the other gear it was running against, it was clear it needed to be replaced.  I always wince when I see replacement part costs; the big gear in this exercise was $280.  The smaller one $85.   Probably 2 hours to take it out, and then I couldn't get the bearing off of the shaft that it was mounted on, so I called uncle and took it to the local tractor dealer, who grinned and took it apart for me for $140.

I'm not going to kick too much about it.  This pair of gears was used for hundreds of acres of corn every year for 15 years, so I figure that this repair, properly done, will probably outlive my active farming lifespan.
The corn itself is now ensiled -- chopped fine and packed tight and covered with a tarp.  It'll stay that way for 90 days while it ferments in the pile, and the resulting half-fermented corn and corn stalks will form the bulk of the cattle feed late in the winter and early spring.