Grow barley, get rich
Wednesday, 5:19 pm
In the annals of unintended consequences, this one is bound to be a blockbuster. Beer drinkers beware:
The rapid expansion of biofuel production may be welcome news for environmentalists but for the world’s beer drinkers it could be a different story.
Strong demand for biofuel feedstocks such as corn, soyabeans and rapeseed is encouraging farmers to plant these crops instead of grains like barley, driving up prices.
Jean-François van Boxmeer, chief executive of Heineken the Dutch brewer, warned last week that the expansion of the biofuel sector was beginning to cause a “structural shift” in European and US agricultural markets.
One consequence, he said, could be a long-term shift upwards in the price of beer. Barley and hops account for about 7-8 per cent of brewing costs.
Barley, which is used for making beer, whiskey and animal feed, has seen prices prices soar over the last 12 months.
Futures prices for European malting barley, which is used for brewing and distilling, have risen 85 per cent to more than €230 ($320) a tonne since last May.
Barley feed futures have risen by a third to C$180 ($155) a tonne on the Winnipeg Commodity Exchange over the same period.
Meanwhile, barley production in America fell to 180.05m bushels in 2006, the lowest level since 1936. The value of the crop was the lowest since 1970 – at $498m.
Fun times ahead, eh?
(via The Oil Drum)
Spring break coming
Wednesday, 2:53 pm
The details have yet to be worked out completely, but I may be headed back to Easton in 11 days to scoop up the lad and a friend for their spring break. Or I might end up taking them back a week later after they spend a couple of days at the Dad’s house. Not sure yet. But, there is definitely excitement in the air. Apparently there is a concert in Boston that week that will also draw a couple more lads to our doorstep. It sounds like a crowded house for a few days. I like. Don’t know where I’ll stack them all, but I guess young lads don’t mind roughing it by sleeping on the floor for a couple of days as long as the eats are plentiful. It always makes me smile when I hear the words, “I so can’t wait to come home.”
Back on the ranch...today is warm and sunny, about 44°. The snow that I chopped up with the ax a couple of days ago is now a soft pile of mush. Nature toys with me. But it is lovely out there and the sunbeams streaming into the house are warm and cheerful. I think we’ve passed the winter peak now. Instead of anemic rays, they are gaining in strength. Spring can’t be far away.
Added: How could I forget! The Republican Party was organized in Ripon, WI. on this day in 1854. They seemed rather a lot more progressive being all anti-slavery and in favor of free land for westward settlers and all. According to GOP.com, “the name “Republican” was chosen because it alluded to equality and reminded individuals of Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party.” I guess they started out with good ideas, anyway.
Tuesday, 6:46 pm
Well, it was certainly an interesting news day. The Veep was allegedly the target of an assassination attempt in Afghanistan, Wall Street took a gigantic hit, and so did European markets, supposedly because China’s markets dropped nearly 9%. Our former Fed Chairman (Greenspan) helped matters greatly by uttering the word “Recession” yesterday which spooked the Asian markets. And the January durable goods report stunk. We Americans aren’t buying much these days. The dollar also dropped and so did gold. Oh yeah, the housing market is still tanking and may take everything else with it, too. Wheeee!
Maybe I should stock up on rice and beans and firewood. It could get ugly out there.
Monday, 2:42 pm
I was ever so pleased to see that Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth won at the Oscars ceremony last night for Best Documentary. I had forgotten that the Oscars were on last night until about 10:30-ish. I ran in to turn on the TV, just as the Best Documentary was being announced. Talk about good timing. His acceptance speech was very short, simple, and kind of elegant. I like that man.
Monday, 1:54 pm
Those bad strep throat germs have been beaten down and I’m healthy again. Yay!
I was trying to think where I might have scooped up the germs and the only places I can trace were the grocery store, the bank, or Dunkin Donuts. Despite being a prodigious hand washer, I touched something crawling with bugs. Makes me think a little more carefully about taking something handed out the drive-up window at Dunkie Donuts. But it could have been produce or just about anything at the grocery store or the bank cash, too. Yuck.
In any case. Regular activities are back on track and today I’m celebrating the lack of snow in the air. While several portions of New England have had measurable inches, we haven’t had a flurry. Which is a good thing for me—I’m still trying to excavate my wood pile from the last storm. I battened it down so well, that the snow formed a solid crust all around the tarp and then it froze in place. At least two feet of frozen drifted snow and it’s as hard as nails. I had hoped the temps would rise enough to soften the snow, but nothing so far.
I’ve been running the furnace at reduced temps (62°) because I cringe every time it goes on. I wore 4 layers of clothing yesterday with a hat on top. I was warm enough, but felt like the little kid in A Christmas Story with his snow suit on. This evening I’d like to experience toasty warmth with fewer layers and better mobility.
So, with ax in hand, I’ll soon be out there chopping my way into the wood pile. And probably muttering a steady stream of unseemly phrases while I do.
Gotta come up with a better wood storage system next year.
Wednesday, 4:44 pm
According to news reports, the flu has not only arrived, but it has dug in and has taken up widespread residence in the mere mortals of this state. It’s not necessarily something I pay that much attention to until my fingers, toes, and hair roots start to ache. Then the thought occurs...am I catching the flu?
Man, I hope not. But I ache. All over. And I have been chilled all day, despite a rip roaring fire in the stove. Those are not good signs and I’m not a happy host, if indeed it is the flu bug that has decided to move in. My eyes haven’t started to ache yet. That’s a hopeful sign.
By tomorrow, I sincerely hope that I can say...whatever it was, it was fleeting and gone.
I’ve only had the flu about 5 times in my entire life and I’d like to maintain that record. Please keep fingers, toes, and whatever else crossed. Mine ache too much.