Friday, September 24, 2021

Harvest Season

Yesterday was the first full day of autumn, so we have a couple of months before winter sets in. Autumn around here is the busy season; farmers still have plenty of time to plant crops, but they race the snow to get them harvested. Most of the growers in my area stick with corn and soy beans because we have large processing plants nearby, so the elevator that I work out of is gearing up for two months of frantic activity. Corporate has already handed down our working hours: 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM Monday-Saturday and 11:00AM to 5:00 PM on Sunday. That is, unless a customer asks us to stay later, which we will do. 

I don't deal with the grain side of operations as much as I did in years past, I'm mostly maintenance and "agronomy" (fertilizer and pesticides) now, but I do help the grain guys if they need help. As soon as a field is emptied, our customers want fertilizer applied so it has all winter to leach into the soil and get it prepared for planting. Maintenance is always a concern with 60-year-old equipment and a lack of proper maintenance in years past, and so I'm spending a lot of my time just trying to keep the moving things moving and the static things stationary.  Statutory inspections and testing of some of the hazardous materials equipment takes a lot of time to do right, and I don't skimp on safety. 

All of that is an explanation of why you may notice smaller posts from me for a couple of months, and maybe even a few missed weeks. I'm not quite as old as David, but I'm getting to the point where 80+ hour weeks without a day off leaves me exhausted and unable to do the level of research that I like to put into my writing. Rather than give you poor articles, I'll wait until I can write something that someone can benefit from. I don't want to waste your time or mine by writing drivel, even though I have plenty of practice writing drivel for corporate consumption.

Lean Times Ahead
In case you haven't been paying attention to the "other" news sites, our global supply chain is being stressed by various factors. The Covid-19 mess and some of the government (over-)reactions to it are slowing or stopping the flow of key components to our daily life. 

  • Check the inventory at any new car dealership, and you'll see that the lack of certain electronics has curtailed the production of new cars and truck for a year now.  Used pickups are selling for more than they were worth last year because of the lack of new ones coming to market.
  • Repair shops are having difficulty getting parts. I deal with a couple of parts stores that have always been able to find bearings and such for the old crap I have to fix at work, and their suppliers are having a hard time getting things. 
  • I've noticed a shrinkage in the variety of brands on several store shelves, grocery stores especially. The food aisles are being replaced with sundries and seasonal crap. Even Wal-Mart is showing signs of slow or low supply, with empty shelves becoming more common,
  • Every trucking firm within 100 miles is hiring and not getting enough drivers. I hate to say it, but >90% of everything you eat is delivered by truck. No drivers = no food on the store shelves. Time to check the pantry and add a few more day's worth of supplies.
  • Fuel prices have gone way up this year. Between the politicians and the storms down south, our fuel infrastructure is not meeting demand and that means limited supplies will carry higher prices. Check your winter fuel supply and top it off ASAP.
On the brighter side of things, I did convince my wife that having a whole-house generator installed would be a good idea. I'm shopping for something that will keep the heat and some of the lights on for at least a couple of weeks of Midwest winter weather; I'll have more to tell as I get closer to spending the money I'm making on overtime right now. Diesel-powered, 10-20 kW, with 300+ gallons of fuel storage is the short list of requirements, but availability is the main concern. 

Winter is always a challenge, so it's time to get your warm clothes out of storage (that's a light jacket for Florida) and make sure you have things as ready as you can for the weather. 


  1. I don't have a whole house generator, but a 4kw backup generator, with the ability to cut it into my breaker box, isolating from the feedline. I do have to get a larger supply of gasoline, and do my monthly startup and check of the generator.
    My wife had a knee replacement 10 days ago and so I have been a bit bogged down, and need to get an inventory of things. I know that some of my supplies have been lower than normal, and need to be replenished. And I read somewhere that toilet paper might get in demand once again, so I will add a bit extra from my normal very serious supply.
    And of course, it never hurts to add a few bars of soap, a bottle or two of vinegar, rubbing alcohol, etc, from the dollar store. They have so many uses, and are so cheap, plus, I need to get there to pick up some of the normal dollar store items that I get anyway.
    Stay safe, everyone, and happy autumn.

  2. I got out today and did some adding to my backup supplies. I still have a lot of room in my chest freezer, so I am waiting for a sale, to do some bulk buying. Here in Michigan, they come up every couple of weeks, at one store or another.


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