Friday, November 5, 2010

Steel yourselves

Sabbath eve, November 5, 2010

We got our first and second frost this week and anticipate another freeze tonight. That will probably put an end to what’s left of summer grass. It also will mean the end of any unprotected warm season crops such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, etc in local gardens.

I’d never before grown sweet potatoes, but after harvesting 100 pounds off of a 50 foot row, I hope to try again on a larger scale in the future. They seem well suited to our area, although I am told some sort of weevil can be problematic.

Pecan harvest continues, but with disappointing yields, somewhere on the order of 20% of maximum yields when compared to previous years. The price of pecans is historically high, but not enough to make up for the deficiency in yield.

It’s as though the law of diminishing returns exerts its power everywhere I look.

Central banks, on behalf of our government continue to create and throw new money at the economy, but regardless of the amount, no new real wealth results. While commodity prices rise, higher prices don’t translate into larger crops or profits to producers, nor do higher oil prices increase local or worldwide daily oil production numbers.

We hear of high corn prices, but much of the Texas crop was afflicted with aphlatoxin this year. Some of the crop had to be destroyed and much of the rest has or will be sold at discounts for feedlot cattle only. I continue to sit on my corn. Maybe the price goes up some more, or maybe it goes down, but I can virtually guarantee that in either case, the corn will be more expensive when compared to buying power of the average consumer.

I’ve spent horrible amounts of money, running, maintaining and fixing trucks and machinery on the farm this year. I know it’s the same in the oil patch. It’s as though we have a moving goal post; no matter what the price of a commodity, it always lags behind the cost of production.

Wages of those lucky enough to still have a job always seem a bit less than necessary to keep the vultures away; poorer citizens face a gauntlet of bill collectors and predatory entities from traffic cops to utility companies, to hospitals and banks with their myriad service fees and penalties, all delivered with a friendly smile that feels a whole lot more like fuck you than howdy do.

I’ve watched many an animal spiral toward death and the signs our empire exhibits are similar. Ailments arise, treatments bring temporary relief, but wave after wave of further complications reassert themselves and eventually have their way. Death brings relief, but oftentimes the journey between life and death can be ugly and painful.

I wish I could offer a better prognosis, but to do so would be to lie.

Steel yourselves. Rough times are here and it ain’t gonna get any easier.

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