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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 of human habitation in sight. But when a curtain of fire is rushing across this land of the free and home of the brave, the effect is quite as terrifying as watching a big slice of the Great Plains suddenly disappear before the onslaught of a dust storm. Nothing in my experience prepared me for the field of corn on fire that I came upon in my travels. It was just awesome. I pulled off the road and deliberated on whether there was anything I could do. I had fought plenty of grass and wheat stubble fires and knew the best weapon of defense was a wet gunny sack, or rather a whole bunch of people  thrashing out the flames with wet gunny sacks, but this fire was at least 15 feet high and way too hot to get close enough for hand fighting. Fire trucks were arriving from all over however, and farmers with big tractors and disks were rumbling in ahead of the blaze to rip up wide swaths of soil in the standing corn to stop its advance. Fortunately, this was Ohio, where the fields were relatively small and where the wind was not blowing hard enough to whip up a forest-sized blaze. The fire was contained in an hour or so. In this year of drought, together with fields of hundreds, even thousands, of almost unbroken acres of tinder dry cornstalks, the situation is especially dangerous. The National Weather Service has issued its Red Flag Warning meaning “extreme fire danger” for various parts of the cornbelt, particularly west of the Mississippi. Some eleven major corn fires were recorded in Iowa in 2011, and the Weather Service is worrying that the situation is much graver this year. Read on over at Gene’s blog The Contrary Farmer.

sanctuaryoftrees Gene Logsdon is the author of, most recently, A Sanctuary of Trees: Beech Nuts, Birdsongs, Baseball Bats, and Benedictions

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..

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..

Feeding The Buzzards

Walking over the brow of a hill in my pasture, I came upon the most ghastly, heart-stopping sight I’ve ever seen on the farm, or anywhere else for that matter. Perched on six fence posts in a row were six turkey vultures, alias Cathartis aura, or what we call buzzards. What made the scene so […] Read More..