Saturday, November 03, 2007

Striking Wind

There really isn't much money in farming unless you go to a large scale operation. This summer, The Poor Farm had a crop that blew anything that had been grown in past years clear out of the water, plus it got a price that was better than anything since the seventies. The price of wheat went up considerably after I sold, but I'm not complaining. Since my father passed away in '98 and I took over the "landlord" position, there have been three crops worth cutting. Only one wasn't drought or hail stricken.

Yeah, I get CCC payments. Big whoop. Sure, it helps out - a lot. However, the total yearly payments do not cover the yearly property tax bill. It comes close, but no cigar. Should farmers get these payments? That is a question for another time - I don't feel like talking politics. Just know that even in the large corporate farm households this conversation never happens: "I say, Muffy, tell Jeeves to stock the Airstream for our gambling trip to Monoco. The CCC payments came today, so we'll celebrate. Plus, remind him the caviar was totally unacceptable on the last trip."

Back in the Seventies, someone leased our mineral rights and actually drilled a test hole. The driller told Dad there was oil there, but it wasn't cost effective to get it to flow. Since then, the payments quit, and no one has offered to lease.

When I was a kid, we had a lot more neighbors. They were older, and finally died off. There were a couple who figured large in our lives - Uncle Ted and Aunt Velma. He was an old school rancher and farmer, and she was an old time farm wife - canning and cooking were her forte. They had both raised families, and married later in life. They lived for their grandchildren, and my sister and I were a sort of shirttail grandkids to them.

They didn't have much. However, Velma had inherited some ground about seventy miles from here. Her family pretty well screwed her over - she got some pasture ground that made pretty poor pasture. However, a wildcatter struck oil on her ground. Her family was highly upset, and tried to muscle in - but they failed. Now, Uncle Ted and Aunt Velma had some extra money - and they spent some of it. They became snowbirds - going to Texas for the winter. We were so happy for them - they got to spend their retirement years in comfort, and they had money to cover the health problems that cropped up.

I'll never forget what Ted told his custom harvester one year (the harvester is the brother of the harvester I was employed by for ten years). "I don't care how neat a job you do - I'm not worried about skips or how much wheat you throw over. I just want to ask a big favor. When you road those big combines by my house, just don't hit the mailbox, because that's where I get the oil checks."

I got a call the other day I about didn't take. I don't answer calls that say blocked or unknown caller, plus if I don't recognize it, I rarely answer those. I used to enjoy baiting telemarketers. Now, not so much. This guy asked if it was me - by name, and said "I've been having a hard time gettin' ahold of ya." He represented a company putting in a wind farm, and wanted to sign me up.

Are you freaking kidding me? How fast do you want that signature? I was ready before I got the details. The lease is around a thousand per year. Apparently, it isn't likely I'll have any windmills on the Poor Farm, but it hasn't been finalized. If there are none installed, they will drop the lease after a few years. They mostly want to bribe me so I won't pull a Kennedy and try to fight the project.

However, if just one windmill is installed, the payments would likely range from five to eight thousand dollars per year. Just one windmill would pay far better than one third of any crops grown plus pasture rent - averaged over the past five years. Two windmills at five grand would just about beat this years crop.

You can imagine how much I'd like to see them plant a few windmills on The Poor Farm.


IHeartQuilting said...

We just got a notice from our electric company asking us if we wanted to switch to wind-farm generated power. It costs a little more each month, but Wow, it would be worth it.

Sezme said...

Good for you!

My favorite part of going out to California (back in the day) was seeing the windmills.

I wish more areas were open to trying wind power. The Democrats don't seem to like it much. Ironic.

threecollie said...

They can send those wind farm boys our way too...

Bob's Blog said...

How many acres do you have?

Jeffro said...

Just a half section, Bob. Roughly half pasture and half dry land farm ground. This year it will be in summer fallow and won't grow a crop at all.

Bob's Blog said...

Good Lord! That is 320 acres, isn't it? My wife would go absolutely ape over 320 acres! I just told her, and right away she has another question for you: what do you have on your pasture land?

Jeffro said...

My neighbor, who also farms the ground, has cattle on the pasture. For years, he had bulls, but now he has some calves grazing.

They did some cattle shuffling last week - oh man, you should have heard the laments of the mama cows. All night long.