Farming Day 1 Part 2

Todays post comes from Ben.

Things from the farm; Continuing that first day of fieldwork.

I Put the tires back on the drill and the four-wheeler. I put the pallet forks on the tractor loader to unload the pallet of oat seed (54 bags at 1.5 bushels / bag = 81 bushels x 32lbs / bushel = 2592lbs. This is way easier than unloading by hand. Working smarter, not harder!). I checked the tires and greased a few things on the tractor and soil finisher, and then out in the field. First thing I had to do was level out a couple cornfields that were chisel plowed last fall. Oats is the first crop that I plant in the spring and some will be on fields that were soybeans last year and some will be on corn ground. The bean ground doesn’t get worked up in the fall so that only needs to get dug up once before planting. First field, first pass, stop at the end to check things and found my first “field treasure”.

Not sure what this is. Still thinking about it. I also smoothed a field that came out of the conservation reserve program last fall; it had been planted to wildflowers for 10 years, but this particular field just never took off. Never had as many flowers and was getting some shrubs and saplings growing in one part. Trying to plow up a field of grass is tough; too much root structure. Have you heard the story about John Deere and his steel plow and that’s what made him famous? The root structure and grass would never survive a wooden plow. I have an old John Deere 4 bottom moldboard plow just for this purpose and I only use it every few years. 150 years after Mr. Deere himself. It worked out pretty good. It’s nice black soil over there.

Across the fence, in the neighbors pasture, next to the creek, I saw the two sandhill cranes that we’ve been hearing.

I called to order oat fertilizer and they said there was a waiting list on the spreaders so I really didn’t expect it for a few days. I was surprised when they deliver that about 5 o’clock. And that means I better get it spread right away so the next person can get it. Think of a really big version of your plain old lawn spreader.

The pattern with broadcasting fertilizer is about the same width as the headlights. I’ve been putting better lights on the tractors the last few years.

As long as I can keep the tire tracks from the previous pass at the edge of the field of light, I am doing pretty good. I got two fields done and stopped just to walk around for a minute. While standing outside I looked at the power take off shaft that drives the fertilizer spreader and I thought, “that angle doesn’t look right”. And it wasn’t. The shaft is severed and the only thing holding it together is a tiny little bit of the plastic shield. Shoot. Guess I’m done for the night. I still can’t understand though, if it was still running when I finished the field and I turned everything off and drove over to here, when did it break and how did it keep working? I don’t know if I did something wrong: did I turn too sharp, is the hitch the wrong height, did the three point hitch bracket on the back of the tractor get in the way? Or maybe it just broke. I’ll call the co-op in the morning and somebody will come and replace the shaft. Even if I have done something stupid, they won’t give me too much grief about it. Parked it all in the shed and close the doors. If it’s raining in the morning there’s no hurry on calling to get it fixed.

9:00 PM. Supper time.

What do you find digging in your gardens? Ever found a buried treasure?

76 thoughts on “Farming Day 1 Part 2”

  1. I have no garden. I do have a serious question for Ben.
    I’ve been reading about peak phosphate and when depletion of that mineral will reach a critical level
    30-40 years?

    Like

      1. I’ve never heard of that before.
        I use a lot of ‘N,P,K’, different blends for different crops, based on soil testing. Some guys use liquid nitrogen but still need to broadcast P and K. I use dry fertilizer so it’s all three with some sulfur or other micro-nutrients included.
        But to be honest, I never looked further up the stream to see where it all comes from.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. N P K = Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium (Potash).
          For corn I use 9/23/30 put in a narrow band in a trench, applied about 250 lbs / acre, just to the side of the corn seed, so the roots reach it.
          You can definitely tell if the fertilizer runs out or breaks because the corn there will be 2′ shorter than the rest. Usually that’s right in a place I look at it every time I come home, so it’s a reminder all summer long.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. for homeowners fertilizer analysis nowadays they don’t allow fert with phosphorus to save water contamination challenges from non thinking homeowners

          i find farmers may be wise abusers of fert than homeowners in a if one pound is good 3 pounds is better mentality

          i’m guessing you are the exception but what analysis did u order for oats.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. I doubt I will live to see it but I believe recycling human waste more directly than municipal sewage plants will happen. I am told by my Dad that Korean veterans were repulsed by farmers using human sheeet as fertilizer. Let’s get over it.

          Liked by 2 people

        4. Here in Rochester, the sewer plant does inject the waste on farm fields. Our township requires a permit to do it and the cost of the permit makes it prohibitive. The reason for that is the possibility of heavy metals in the waste that the township didn’t want to accept. The township can’t NOT allow it, so they just made it impractical to do it.

          Liked by 1 person

        5. I read the comment about “three pounds is better” as being a criticism of people who operate on a blanket “more is better” psychology regardless of what the science says.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    We have found hoards of plastic space and army action figures in our garden. There was a 9 year old boy who lived in our house before we were here (He would be in his mid-30s now) who must have loved these toys. I still find them occasionally.

    Under our garden spot now, which is mostly raised beds and imported soil, there was once a sand pit for the neighborhood kids. That also has been a source of plastic figures mostly from McDonald’s Happy Meals, I think. There was a large plastic “bejeweled” ring that was lovely.

    Mom had a collection of stuff she pulled out of gardens — her own and her parents’ gardens on farmland. There is a large skeleton key, a horse’s jingle bell, nuts and bolts from farm equipment, and unidentifiable metal pieces like the one in the header picture.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I just remembered this—In the 1970’s my grandma’s diamond ring disappeared. It was large and expensive, especially given her penny-pinching habits. No one knew what happened to it and there was great speculation about its fate: my bad news, druggie cousins stole it and pawned it, someone broke in the house and took it, she lost it. 15 years later it turned up in her garden. When Grandma died, my aunt purchased it from the estate.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Saturday I dug out a bunch of daisies (and left plenty more elsewhere) that had invaded my perennial bed. Also, would anyone like some coreopsis, though it’s kind of a long trek…

    I usually find broken glass and pottery, and I think I’ve found odd bits of metal like Ben’s. In Robbinsdale I would find old marbles, and coins – once a liberty dime…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have moved frequently thru out my life and so have started many gardens! I have not been as lucky as the rest of you all I find are roots and rocks. I do not have a green thumb but in spite of that I keep trying. Weeding to me is a very restful activity.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. This prosecution summary seems far too long. I don’t like his snarkiness. His crack about the jurors getting a medical education and good food was unnecessary.
      The officer should be found guilty of 2nd degree murder.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree, he seems as if his heart isn’t in it. That said, defending Chauvin isn’t exactly my idea of a dream job. I’ve watched the whole trial in drips and drabs, just can’t stand watching for any length of time.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Analysts of the trial up to this point agree the defense has been lame. It is hard to avoid the notion that America is on trial, this region is on trial. Of course, I don’t want to see riots if Chauvin is not found accountable. What I really want is justice, and I still think that could happen.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I fear that riots will happen regardless of the outcome of this trial. As to justice happening, I’m deeply concerned that no matter what the outcome is, it won’t be justice.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. I also cringed a little at that “medical education and good food” comment by the prosecution attorney, but found his arguments generally valid, if overlong. The defense attorney went on even longer than the prosecution. I think the jurors probably know how they want to vote at this point, and are probably mostly looking for talking points that bolster their opinions.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Gosh, Ben, I love your description of farming details, and looking at that header photo, I can see why you’ve never moved away from your farm.

    I have a few comments and a question. The question is in relation to this sentence: ” The root structure and grass would never survive a wooden plow.” I may be misreading that somehow (entirely possible), but as I read it you’re saying that a wooden plow would be better for that kind of work? Can that be right? I think you mean a wooden plow would never survive that kind of root structure, am I right?

    My second comment relates to the spreader, and your observation that you had better get to that work ASAP so that the next person can have it. Wish that we all had that attitude about our place in the chain. All too often people have the attitude that I have it now, and the next person will just have to chill. That more considerate sentiment comes across again in your comment about the problem with the power take off shaft that drives the fertilizer spreader: “Even if I have done something stupid, they won’t give me too much grief about it.” Sounds to me like the co-op people share your “shit happens, and you deal with it” attitude. It brings to mind a Danish proverb: Hvor der handles, der spildes.” Literally translated it means “Where there is action, there is loss (or waste).”
    Nowadays it seems that when something goes wrong, we look for someone to blame, preferably someone with deep pockets or good insurance, so we can sue them.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. PJ, I rewrote that paragraph several times; no wonder I could never get it right. YOU’RE right; it’s the plow that wouldn’t survive.
      Most of farming is dealing with whatever situation is happening at the moment. Love the Danish proverb! It’s true! I had several this weekend. Let me just say “Assumptions were made”. (They’ll show up in a future farming blog)
      You just fix it and move on. Doesn’t get better standing there complaining about it. I mean I do, to a point, but then I still gotta fix it.
      My common question to my kids or the college kids here is often “OK, what are you going to do about it?”
      Sometimes there’s not an easy answer… like everything going on in the world right now… It’s easier to change a PTO shaft.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. “Assumptions were made”…a lot of things can be explained away with that phrase. It reminds me of the phrase “mistakes were made”, a Watergate-era all-purpose excuse that someone referred to as the “past passive exonerative”.

        Liked by 4 people

  6. In the side garden of my current house, I once dug up an ring, a thin, plain gold band. Since I knew that Margaret Emmeott, the old woman who lived in the house the sixty years prior to my purchase of it, was dead, I made no attempt to find the owner of it. The ring looked like it had been in the ground for a long time. It didn’t fit any of my fingers, so I couldn’t wear it. I probably still have it around here somewhere.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I worked one season for a Gardner,ND farmer. Round and round and round. Great farmer’s tan! Thankfully the drag was yuuuge and it revealed my inability to hold a straight line. I can do that in a floor but not on a field.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. GPS tracks you, ‘Auto-steer’ is what guides the tractor. It’s expensive. I don’t use it. But if you have enough acres and it can help prevent overlaps by a great enough percentage, it can save you money. Also, some farmers apply fertilizer early in zones, then when planting, can go in the exactly same pass to get the seed where it is most beneficial. It’s pretty cool. Again, I’m not a big enough farmer to use it.

          I just started using an app called “Boating”, which at least tracks my path around the field. That way I can see if I forgot that back corner in the dark…
          My biggest problem is I forget to turn it on until part way through the field.

          Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s my ‘go-to’ answer!
        Straight rows are certainly a mark of a good farmer. That was drilled in at an early age; aim for the tree on the other side of the field on the first pass. All the rest of the passes rely on that one.
        I had uncles that were national plowing champions back in the ’50’s. Part of the test was straight rows. (Depth and the last round, the ‘dead furrow’ was also important. Looks like it’s still going on in Ireland.

        Nowdays, if the tractor has auto steer, it’s easy; point A to point B. I don’t. And we don’t cultivate so much any more, which was a major reason for straight rows when planting, so it’s easier to follow when cultivating.
        We also joke, if something goes wrong, like I said above, it’s going to be right there by the edge of the field so all the neighbors can see it.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. A friend of ours, who grew up on a sugar beet farm in the Red River Valley tells how her dad was teaching how to plow. “Just pick a spot on the horizon and steer directly for it. That’s how you plow a straight furrow”.
    The spot on the horizon she picked was another tractor.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I used to read commodity prices on radio many years ago. I think I remember reading “Number One Hard Winter Wheat” every day. I’m sure I talked a lot about pork belly futures too.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. I occasionally dig up broken crockery. People used to bury trash in the yard, I guess, and most of it decomposed, but some things remained. Sometimes I find a piece of sewer pipe. I have a large section of Red Wing sewer pipe that was in the yard when I bought my house. I use it as a bird bath, with a shallow dish on top.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. There was a song from TLGMS about milking cows… had the sound of milk squirting in a bucket. That one and ‘Field behind the plow’ were favorites.

          Liked by 2 people

  10. Back in the late sixties, beet farmers tried junior high students as row crop weeders/thinners. Payment was by the quarter mile row. My sisters tried it for one day and made $0.50. I worked construction with several of the skilled beet workers from Texas. They showed me their well-worn hoes. There was no way in the Red River Valley that they ever struck a stone but those implements were worn down to little spades. Those folks earned every nickel.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I watched a video a day or two ago of a Mexican farm worker readying Brussels sprouts in a large field for harvesting. Amazing! Sure wouldn’t have wanted to get in his way as he was walking down the row, whacking off the leaves, to expose the center stalks holding the sprouts, with a large, curved knife in each hand.

      Liked by 3 people

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