Chelsea Green Publishing

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Maybe Old Tractors Do Die

After the conversations we had here recently about old tractors, I began to hear about a problem that really does affect their longevity.  Ethanol in gasoline is not the wonder fuel it has been made out to be. It is causing problems when used in off-road vehicles— lawn motors, chain saws, boat motors, four wheelers, not to mention old tractors. Although I have had no cause to complain yet myself, I first heard rumors of these problems when 10 percent ethanol was added to gasoline (E-10 fuel. Now that the EPA has approved 15 percent ethanol in gasoline (E-15 fuel) the complaints are increasing. Ethanol corrodes plastic and rubber and even some metal not made to handle it. It also absorbs water into the fuel. You don’t want to leave a can of gas set around very long unused if it has ethanol in it.  And recently out of California came reports that E-15 gas pollutes the air more than pure gasoline (can you call gasoline “pure”?) — contrary to all the propaganda the champions of ethanol have been putting out for several years. I called a local small engine repair shop whose proprietors I know and trust and asked them if the problem is serious. The mechanic’s first reply was a long drawn out groan. “Oh yes, unfortunately,” he finally replied. “Our carburetor repair work has at least doubled lately.” Have you killed a tractor with ethanol lately? Mosey on over to Gene’s blog where you can let him know what happened and read the rest of his latest missive from the fields of Ohio!

A Small Thing But Maybe Not

All summer I raved and ranted at the squirrels that were eating the corn in my crib. I was particularly concerned because the drought seemed to be making sure this year’s crop was going to be a bust. I did not look forward to buying corn at drought-inflated prices just to keep squirrels fat eating […] Read More..

Fires In the Fields

If you want to see the landscape of hell painted prettily on a farmland horizon, watch a field of corn on fire. It is hellish enough, in my view, to see corn fields stretching away in every direction from sea to shining sea with no houses, barns, trees, fences, grazing animals or any other sign […] Read More..

Weeds That Like A Sip of Roundup Now and Then

First the glorious days of advanced farming brought us corn stalks that eat tractor tires. Now there’s a weed that likes to drink weed killers, especially Roundup. Recently Palmer amaranth “completely overran” most of the soybean test plots at Bayer CropScience’s test plots in Illinois, in the words of DTN/Progressive Farmer editor, Pam Smith, despite […] Read More..

The Weather May Not Be the Problem

There are so many stark contrasts in the world today. These are times out of which great epics of literature ought to be written but aren’t. Society is too engrossed in drivel like whether badminton players in the Olympics were cheating or not. This summer, the driest in 50 years in parts of the Midwest, […] Read More..

Tire-Eating Cornstalks

I fantasize about genetically-engineering deer that would love the taste of raccoons or that would eat car tires so society would do something about surging wildlife populations. But now a true occurrence is taking place in Foolish Farming Today that not even a genius like Mark Twain could reduce to a more absurd conclusion. Agribusiness […] Read More..