I donít know about you, but it makes me a little sad to see Christmas advertisements before Thanksgiving. Call me old-fashioned, but it seems like they start earlier every year.

Black Friday used to be the official start of Christmas shopping, but I believe stores were gearing up for the holidays in October. We really need to think about what is the real reason for the season.

Back here on the farm, wheat is planted and it looks really good. I got a good stand with some very timely rains, and I am experimenting in some seed treatments at planting. Itís not cheap, but when you think about it we need to give the seed every chance at producing a good crop, so why not start it off at the very beginning?

I will let you know how much of a difference it makes at harvest. I left a check strip in a couple of fields to prove to myself if it made a difference.

Fall harvest finally finished in November. We really had a hard time drying down milo, for whatever reason. We had some very cool and damp mornings this fall that really stretched out the harvest. Yields were not what I expected. I guess I just felt it looked better before I started cutting.

Planting dates were critical this year. If you planted very early, yields were very good, but if you were a little late, they seemed to fall off a bit. Double-crop milo did OK if you caught a few rains.

And a few miles seemed to be the difference. We have some friends who farm less than 10 miles away, and I think they caught a couple of inches we didnít get and their yields were quite a bit better than where I farm.

We seemed to have some standability issues here, also. The variety planted, when you planted and when you got rains seemed to be the reasons. I also think I might have some compaction problems in a couple of fields, so I am going to rip those fields when the time is right.

Overall, I was satisfied, although I am looking forward to next year.

There are a couple of neighbors who have some standing milo as I write this, and it might be late December before they can cut. I hope we donít have any ice storms or very wet snows until they get done or they could lose a whole yearís work. Not good.

We got the cattle off grass in late September and have moved them to a dry lot. I was really impressed with the gains off pasture. The cattle did very well over the summer with a little creep feed that we used. It seems to have paid off very well in gains.

Iíll put that in my list of things to do again next year. Of course, the cattle prices make the decision a little easier. Who would have believed cattle prices would be this high? But itís simply supply and demand. We have reduced numbers from the last several years of the drought, and numbers havenít caught up yet. A lot of farmersí years of good genetics went to the sale barn because cattlemen didnít have feed to supplement pastures or didnít have water even if they had feed.

After retiring from milking cows less than two years ago, I decided to rest the pasture here at home simply because it was overgrazed from 30 years of dairying. I could turn the cows out with full stomachs after milking and they would still graze the pasture hard.

Fall and winter are time to go to meetings, it seems. Between Farm Bureau, seed and crop meetings Ė along with educational meetings on the new Farm Bill and throw in Ag-Biz Council meetings and township business Ė I hardly have a free night. But I feel you have to be engaged to understand whatís happening in todayís world. It also gives me a chance to exchange ideas with fellow farmers, and it gives me time to think back on what I did this year and what I would like to change for next year.

For instance, why did my milo seem to fall down and is there anything that I can do differently?

In August, my wife, Nancy, surprised me on my birthday with a trip to Las Vegas. Iíve never been there. It was a fun trip. We went with some friends and spent a couple of days looking at the sights and sounds of Vegas.

I couldnít believe all the people there. I saw ďElvisĒ several times, and I believe it when people say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas: I just could not believe all the idiots I saw there. However, it was fun and I am looking forward to going back someday, just to make sure that the things I saw I didnít imagine.

In closing, I would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year! I hope your coming year is filled with peace and much joy.

Mick Rausch and his wife, Nancy, farm near Garden Plain in western Sedgwick County. Their operation includes raising corn, milo, soybeans, alfalfa and wheat, and Rausch has several native grass pastures he bales for hay.