Thursday, September 13, 2007


*franticly placing ads*

Turns out that a bank needs something available to steal in order to loan money. Usually a house. The would-be renters have one. One they plan on selling to buy milking equipment and cows. Such capital is much harder to do paperwork on than simply pulling out a mortgage. Risk too great, loan denied.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hope Is The Float In Your Toilet.

Three different families have approached us regarding the renting of our farm. One bowed out for financial reasons. They were most interested in keeping the operation going as is, but couldn't come up with the capital to buy our equipment, buy our cattle, and live. One bowed out for fear of biting off more then they could chew. The third family is waiting for the bank to send back a Yes or a No as to their loan. As are we. This third family is planning or turning the farm back into a dairy. A grassfed, organic dairy. This is wonderful for two reasons, and moderately painful for another two.

On the plus sides, a dairy is more profitable than a beef farm. The likelihood of a family succeeding financially with a herd of milk cows is far greater than with beeves. And for a more personal relief, they don't plan on getting started until the spring. I won't have to worry my pretty little head on how to keep my herds fat and sassy with my substantial hay deficit. I can sell them all. I can even sell them before I need to feed this fall at all. Added bonus: the hay and corn I do have is money in the bank. With this bad year, we can empty our barns in a flash.

The problems are (1) that there are people who like and buy our beef. It's very good and very cheap and it's about to no longer exist. We don't even know who exists around Knox county that has a similar product that we could recommend to our customers. And like that *poof* we were gone.
And this family has meticulously gone through budget after budget and decided to keep the initial capital outflow as low as they can. Which means they don't have much of an interest in the 45+ pieces of machinery that is worth about $75,000. They're mine to attempt to get as much out of as I can. That will not be any fun. Some are worth 10K and more and I need to get at least that much. Some are worth more as scrap steel than as the functioning piece of equipment that they are. And I haggle Oh-so-poorly.

That's the status. If this family gets approved. And completes the decision to sell their house, to leave their extended family, to start a farm, to sign our lease. If that, then I'm much closer to being free again. And if not any one of those things, we will be frantically placing ads in every farming magazine that makes sense. And waiting again.

Monday, August 20, 2007


It's been complicated.
But I think I'm back.

In Other News:
I'm putting Glenn Greenwald back into my links under intarwebs. For a while he lost my interest when all he could decry were the FISA civil right implications. But recently he's been on a critical reasoning brush-burning rampage, taking to task those who have made it their life to defend the indefensible.
If you like Fox News, please avoid. I'm afraid they've proven to be consistently, inartfully, always wrong. And if you've put up with that for this long, I'm sure you can shoulder up and keep on trucking in your ignorance.

Excerpt from today:
It may very well serve our "national interests" to start a war because we want to control someone else's resources, or because we think it would be good if they had a different government, or because we want the world to fear us, or because we want to change the type of political system they have, or because they aren't complying with our dictates, or because we want to use their land as military bases, or because they are going to acquire weapons we tell them they are not allowed to have. But those who believe that war is justifiable and desirable under those circumstances are, by definition, espousing an imperial ideology.
That is why war opponents on the "left" -- including bloggers -- were and still are deemed Unserious even though they proved to be correct. Their opposition was not based (at least principally) on the belief that we were using the wrong "force deployment packages," that the timing was wrong, that we should have waited a little longer (that type of "opposition" was the only permitted type). Rather, it was largely based on the notion that the war itself was illegitimate because Iraq had not attacked us and could not threaten our national security, and that going around bombing, invading and occupying other countries which haven't attacked us is both immoral and/or self-destructive.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Oh the Unmitigated Gall.


1. impudence; effrontery.
2. bile, esp. that of an animal.
3. something bitter or severe.
4. bitterness of spirit; rancor.

—Synonyms 1. nerve, audacity, brass, cheek.

Where's the respect for the deceased?
Whenever you are selling something having to do with death, it takes a bit of effort and skill to come off inoffensive. Our local funeral home didn't try real hard. And they were properly dressed down.

But. If you drive to my house to offer me a "cemetery memorial" to commemorate my dad, I'm going to have to say FUCK YOU. I will not want a sales pitch built around a recently deceased man, ever. Rebecca Longstreth Renock, what the hell were you thinking?!? Have some common decency. Yours is a predatory approach. You know this. Grow the fuck up.

But for your efforts today I will try and get your name out there.
If you live in Central Ohio:
Do not do business with Longstreth Memorials. They have coin-counters where their hearts ought to be.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Of Damsels and Dragons.

The bulls have their own separate pasture from birthing in the early spring until mid-summer. The rest of the year it usually sits fallow. With the lack of food to eat, I moved seven of the younger calves into it to take some pressure off the main pastures. To get it ready for the calves, I removed all the corrals, clipped the weeds, and fixed the speedily deteriorating hi-tensile fence. The other afternoon I walked back and was entertained for about an hour by a trio of dragonflies. There is a artificial pond across the road and it drains through the bull pasture. Before it gets to Job Run it has dried up, but back in the pen it is still a trickle more than stagnant.
I like me some dragonflies. Flight control that puts the best trained human dancer to shame. They eat mosquitoes. Wings made of living stained glass. And they won't accidentally run into you.
male Common Whitetails
The three I watched were male common whitetails. They aren't gigantic, but are average large in size. Whitetails seem to be doing the best with the drought. Usually there are five or six crazy colored species along the creek. Wikipedia claims that they stake out an area and defend it against others, but these three were just playing, chasing each other in swoopy circles. Whenever another type of insect blundered into their space, one would buzz and jump on it's back to drive it away. For a while, one wandered away to hover a foot above a female who was laying eggs in the water, quite clearly defending her while she was helpless.
There were several insects that the Dragonflies left alone. Water skimmers were one, another was this damselfly. Damselflies look cool, but are weak imitators of the kings of the creekbed skies.


It Did Rain, However.

Nine times out of the last ten, the storms have either veered suddenly north and just grazed us, or simply dissolved at our doorstep. From today's local paper:
The weather earlier this week was a bitter tease to local farmers. A large area of rain developed in Indiana Monday night, and moved into the Buckeye state during the day Tuesday, filling radar screens with a wash of rain that looked like it couldn't miss. Most of Ohio received at least a decent soaking, except for a small area centered on Knox County, where the weather system dissipated and dropped less than a tenth of an inch of rain. The dissipated line regenerated into thunderstorms just past the county line, and brought heavy rain to eastern Ohio.

Belying my disbelief, last night was the tenth time, the one time it did actually rain. Local Girl was convinced that this would break the spell and that the rains would return. But today, with its 70% chance of rain, I sit and watch the storms on the radar. Blow north and dissolve. Curl up and blow away.
It will never be enough.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Magic Kingdom, For Sale--

None of my father's three children are yet farmers. We all harbored day-dream desires to perhaps come home to the farm in the far future. But that future is suddenly here. And our day-dreams don't match the reality.

The farm will be for rent. After we figure out what we want to charge, we'll look for candidates to rent.
So, who wants a functioning, populated, sustainable (excepting the diesel fuel and seed inputs), grass-fed angus beef operation? I'll even lend a hand to get you started, if needed. We'd like to rent the entire farm as is. What we don't want is to auction off all the livestock and equipment and have someone come in and plant corn and beans over it. That's a small step from covering it with McMansions.

I went the the local extension agency to ask for help. My dad never put much stock with them. And now I know why.
Google would have served me better. They just couldn't find it in themselves to give a fuck. Government salaries have a way of reducing any job's inherent usefulness and response.
The agent I talked with told me I was being unreasonable to expect to find grassfed farmers to take over. And maybe my glasses are rose-colored. If you have any suggestions as to how to get the word out, please, suggest away.

aside* During the memorial service, a local agent for the extension office recalled a time when my dad went in with a small manifesto he'd written and tried to enlist help from the extension office. The manifesto was dealing with not looking to the local, state, or federal government for help, but rather to build up and focus on doing things that needed done in and amongst ourselves in the community. Helping those who need it, relying less on gov't subsidies, and the like.
The agent proudly recounted this little story, leaving out only the part where my dad was effectively laughed out of the building. They get paid no matter what happens, what care have they?


Wet, Wet, Wet.

It's dry here. Making references to historically rememberable droughts dry. Earth as a bone, grass as razor paper. As the blind melon lamented, there's been no rain.

In town, this means the occasional sprinkler ban.
Out here, this means that rather than making hay while the sun shines, we're all franticly feeding first cutting hay to staving livestock. Which is bad. After summer comes fall and winter. I will probably not be able to make winter hay this year.

My dad bought another 20 head of cattle a few years ago. Business to him was raising as many beasties a year as the farm could sustain. From my view, this was a mistake. We have never sold all our calves at our price, to people. The excess calves must be sold in their third fall, at cut-rate prices, to god-knows-who. He would have been better served to raise the price and found a way to sell to the yuppies in Columbus.
Grassfed Organic Angus. $1.75/lb hanging weight is a fucking bargain. Too much of a bargain. It appears cheap, when it was only my dad being too nice with prices. Someone needed to hit up upside the head with an economy text.

Too many cows. Too many calves. One creek is totally dry. The next is hardly anymore than a trickle now.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Piss and Moan.

I was going to ignore the reason why I'm back, let the information fall where it may. There were many reasons for thinking that way, one being that I'm not sure how my immediate family would react. But, they can do as they will.

My dad died unexpectedly two weeks ago. Victim of a faulty PTO control. Months after winning release from prison. Days after settling all the suits against him. It's been a bad couple of years here. And most of the bad ends up with me being your unlikely farmer. I'm unhappy. But I'm back.

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for David Clark McCoy (1949-2007) as written and delivered by his son Kent at his memorial service.

"To me, there are three facets of my father that, taken together define my father pretty thoroughly. First and foremost, David Clark McCoy was, of course a member of his family; a son, brother, husband and father. Second, he was the steward of this piece of land, in part as thanks to the force of family history, but primarily by his own choice. Lastly he was a member of a number of communities from the obvious ones defined by geography, politics and family ties here in Fredericktown and Knox County to the organic, sustainable and other agricultural communities, along with theater, aviation, volunteer services etc... in the terms he used in the book he was writing, he was a neighbor to many people. Unfortunately, men in general and those of us in this family in particular, have a tendency to think that we can define ourselves as distinct individuals ignoring all ties and standing alone, and although he could turn powerfully inward, still it is his relationships with people and this place that define the ragged edges of the hole his absence leaves

The son of stalwart evangelical parents, he made them proud as he went out into the world to serve as both a leader and a servant and then taught them a few lessons about that world and its people when he came home. Just a few years ago when he lost his parents, he was staggered to discover that he and not his father was now 'Mr McCoy.' There is never any question that he was indeed a McCoy, but in other ways he also carried a part of the legacy of the Clark and Knapp families. As he raised his family, I cannot say say with flowery accolades that he was the perfect parent, but he provided many things that I am grateful for. Growing up on a farm is, to put it mildly, inconvenient at times when as a kid you want to be doing anything but chasing down escaped cattle at 3AM or bringing them in to be milked in the rain for the thousandth time, but who gets trees to climb, a creek to float boats down, and rope swings over fresh hay anymore? Besides having the world of the farm to explore and conquer, he encouraged us to learn about the larger world we lived in and to pursue any part of it we chose. All in all, the most important thing he gave us was his example. He did not always succeed, but he made a sincere effort to live up to the things he believed in, and that is more than many people can say.

When he found out early in life that neither military nor business life agreed with him and he decided to come home and take over operation of the family farm, he and my mother made a decision to live simply. It wasn't an easy choice, from the very beginning the first fruit he would reap was hard, oft un-rewarded labor. Nonetheless, he revived and improved this farm on little money, a great deal of sweat and equipment that most would consider not simply inadequate, but useless. Farming methods, fortunes and especially the weather all changed continuously and he certainly did not grow rich, but to the disbelief of many he was able to not only stay afloat, but to purchase the land from his father and even to twice indulge his love of flying and purchase a small plane. The second time he was able to buy a plane he also fulfilled a longtime dream as it flew in and out of this strip. However, no matter what else he did, or the fact that his work with Hospice caused him to comment that he given life to do over he might have chosen to be a doctor, he was tied to the cycle of the weather, seasons and vagaries of this soggy little Ohio valley, its crops and its critters, in such a way that the man and the farm were in many ways hard to distinguish from one another.

As most of you know firsthand, my father was an outgoing person. More than once we tried unsuccessfully to identify who it was that he was spending an entire evening on the phone with, sure from the variety of the topics and the familiarity that it must be a good friend, only to learn that the conversation had begun as a wrong number. Of course misplaced phone calls and talking to the cows as he fed them did not make for much of a social life. Over time he found a number of ways to both find respite from the farm momentarily and to nurture other interests, particularly singing, flying and serving people. He made many friends on stage with first the local barbershop chorus and then with community theater groups as well as in the air and talking shop on the ground with other private pilots. Much as he enjoyed both singing and flying, he considered service to others to be the part of his life that gave it meaning. He did manage to put both of these hobbies to use in ways that brought light to other people's lives, but he also served more directly, first through Habitat for Humanity, and then as he realized that building houses was too similar to his day to day work to be enjoyable, he followed my mother's example and volunteered with Hospice. Serving with Hospice was a revelation for Dad as he discovered a way that his willingness to talk to anyone about anything could make a tremendous impact on those who were trying to find a way to approach the end of their lives with their eyes wide open.

What I fail to capture, in trying to make everything fit neatly in three categories is the reason he made such an impact in each part of his life; that which drove him to take on positions of leadership as a young man and later to tackle the projects he took on with varying degrees of success, from selling water by the honor system, drying watercress from the creek to try to market nationwide, designing and building several unique pieces of machinery comprising a new tillage system, smaller creations to solve practical problems or for our entertainment, and even one finished and one un-finished book, all in the end with the ever-so-humble goal of changing the world.

A number of people have told me that he is 'still here.' I know they mean well, but I don't believe that in a literal sense. However, my father made a deep impression on this family, this farm and the various communities that he was a part of and what we will continue to encounter for the rest of our lives are the are the things and people that he affected. The abundant response this evening and over the past week and a half are the beginning of that and I thank all of you who have provided food, run errands, helped in many other ways, or even had your gracious offers turned down because there have been more willing hands than there has been work to be done. If he could make one last request of you, it would be the one he was writing into every chapter if not every paragraph of his book, that if you have learned anything about how to love the people around you by his flawed example, whether it be how to be neighbor or, since, as he admits he didn't always live up to his own ideals, what mistakes to avoid, that you take that and run with it."