Wednesday, December 29, 2010

All Things End...

...and as they do, hope for 2011 is high. The U.S. economy runs into the new year hopeful after a successful holiday retail season, the crop agriculture sector is sitting on near record profit margins at the moment, and the world is pretty much just happy to see 2010 over with.

Wishing you a calm and comfortable 2011, and don't forget about the Farm Winter Workshop at Gibson Southern High School,, 7:00 P.M. on Jan. 3rd.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Work Productivity

I love working through the holidays. The laidback pace, the chance to get some menial work done such as inbox clutter cleanup done without the guilt of having "more important things to do," and the chance to feel some form of normalcy in between hectic holidays all factor into workplace satisfaction. Except, of course, when I think about how few of my peers are doing the same as I this intraholiday week. In a fit of peerless reflection, I stumble across a news article that ensures my productivity this week is not recklessly low. In fact, unbeknownst to me at the time, I was least productive on the week in which October 26 lay, with October 26 being the least productive work day of the year, on average. The cause is believed to be shorter days in the northern hemisphere producing the onset of depressive thoughts. My personal belief lies more towards the realization that the season of candy onslaught is set to begin, and sugar deprivation has the world slacking off before the receipt of a bountiful harvest on Halloween.

If one thinks about it, Halloween gives way to Thanksgiving to Christmas to Easter within the span of 4-5 months. Sweets are commonplace for even the least confectionary-friendly of us during this time period. After Easter, however, sweets give way to...well, swimming, fireworks, and deep-fried state fair food. Our simple sugar levels slowly drop until Halloween comes along and redeems us of chocolate bars, suckers, and virtually anything bite-sized. Now, all of this is just a theory, but it is a theory during the explanation of which my brain rests long enough to tackle the rest of the work day.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Grateful Heat

Well, even though we are not projected to seeing above-freezing temperatures again today, at least we are staying well away from the record lows for Princeton, both set on the 9th of February, nearly 112 years ago. The high temperature was -5 degrees Fahrenheit, with a low of -20. This is just a good time of year to stay indoors and start paperwork for 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why airlines and Best Buy have it right...

For queue theory, from our friends over in Champaign-Urbana, click here. It's an interesting discussion on what kind of line moves the quickest over the holiday season, and why exactly the quickest line is never the one you or I are standing in. It all makes so much sense now...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Winter Solstice

A lunar eclipse on the (Northern hemisphere) winter solstice, according to NASA and the US Naval Observatory, has occurred one time since the A.D. calendar began. That year was 1638. On June 25th of that same year, the first lunar eclipse ever to be recorded in the U.S. occurred. Now, they had occurred before, but if European settlers had not written it down, it never really occurred, of course. The next winter solstice lunar eclipse will occur in 2094, well beyond the scope of average life expectancy at this point. However, fun supernatural circumstance (and some statistics) would predict a decent, if small, chance of a baby somewhere in the world being born today, living to the ripe old age of 84, and passing away on the date of the next solstice lunar eclipse. Fun stuff to think about while procrastinating those last-minute holiday gifts.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Indiana Pesticides and Manure

It has been a real whirlwind of activity in the office the past week, with 81 pesticide applicators converging on the Gibson County fairgrounds Friday for a PARP/CCH talk about pesticide technology and record keeping. The elephant in the room, of course, is the new fertilizer certification rule. While the decision whether to need certification is fairly straight-forward for most, there is definitely a good amount of gray area for niche or smaller applicators.

To get any uncertainty erased, call the local extension office or Office of the Indiana State Chemist at 1-765-494-1492. Oooooorrrrr, you could attend the first Farm Winter Workshop at Gibson Southern High School on January 3rd, if you happen to feel like making the drive.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bark Beetles

Garfield passed up a chance for an infamous Monday the 13th strip to talk about bark beetles: One must love native Hoosier Jim Davis's rural roots.

Retail v. Packing v. Agriculture

I HATE partisanship and vested interests. Yes, that is a paradox, or at least self-contradictory. However, there exists no room in the world around us for closed-minded speculation or unvalidated opinion.

Therefore, I have to spread an article I read today with some reluctance. I love the graphs. I love the way most of the facts presented are legitimate. I hate the wordplay: "Examing Walmart's 'Rural Stranglehold.'" Check it out, and pay close attention to the 1990-2009 pie chart of the amount farmer's receive on the dollar for beef and pork. I knew that farmers were not receiving the percentage they once were, but the change over 20 years seems to justify quite a bit of the decline in farmer profitability among the two industries.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Indiana Farmers Grow Communities

Money is up for grabs. To be exact, $2500 is up for grabs to local community organizations. And Gibson County farmers get to decide who it goes to in Gibson County. It's a Monsanto project called America's Farmers Grow Communities, and any Gibson County farmer over 21 that farms at least 250 acres of traditional crops, 40 acres of vegetables, or 10 acres of tomatoes/peppers/cucumbers is eligible to pick their favorite organization. To get more information or to vote, go to, or farmers may call in to 1-877-267-3332 to cast their vote. Voting ends on December 31st, so vote now!

Psst...I hear Gibson County 4-H is a great community organization, just a real stand-up crowd (

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Big Tree Register

The IDNR Division of Forestry keeps track of the largest trees in each species (nominated by local individuals) and publishes their findings once a year. Gibson County has the honor of possessing one of biggest trees in Indiana this year: the largest Overcup Oak. For those unsure what an Overcup Oak is, you were not alone. Here is a link for more information:

At a height of 102', it should not be too difficult to find Betty Smith's tree in Princeton.

For more of the biggest trees in this or other states, check out Indiana Big Tree 2010 here:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Master Gardeners

Well, after finishing up last week discussing the future of the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow network (CoCoRaHS) in West Lafayette, I start out this week with a media blitz, beginning with the announcement of Master Gardener training classes to begin on January 25, 2011. We'll run every week for 13 weeks on Tuesday evenings, from 6-9 P.M., at the Gibson County Courthouse South Annex. Cost of participation is $125, with $25 refunded upon completion of class time and 35 volunteer hours. Costs cover speakers, handouts, and refreshments.

Call the Gibson County Purdue Extension office or email me at for more information and an application.