June Farming

Man, hot enough for you? I keep talking about ‘GDU’s… Growing Degree Units. But they only count for temperatures between 50 and 86 degrees.

The corn, and even the oats, got a little burned by the frost a week ago. Another week it will look better as it grows out of this, but right now, it all looks kinda rough.

Back in blogworld, it’s the first week of May and I’m getting ready to plant soybeans. After farming pretty heavy for a couple weeks I had to get back into the college for a few days. The last two springs, Covid did give me an opportunity to stay home and farm like I did before the college job. And it was pretty nice. I’m lucky that I have this job where I can sort of set my own hours. So, I’d do college work from home in the mornings, then take the afternoons off to farm.

I had the Township Road inspection one morning. Once per year, all five of us township supervisors gather in one vehicle and drive all our township roads making note of any road issues. Our township, Haverhill Township in Olmsted County, has about 32 miles of gravel roads. We put new gravel on 1/3 of the gravel roads each year and patch any area that might need rock. We check culverts, washed out road sides, ditches that have too steep of a shoulder, and generally make a game plan of things we need to have fixed this year. That takes the full morning and I got home about 1:00. Last year we didn’t ride together. It’s a good group of guys and we have a good time driving around and talking. 

The music department had a small concert schedule for Wednesday evening. There is no band program, but there was the choir and the ‘World Drum Ensemble’ so they wanted to have a concert. The choir director is a new guy; I haven’t even met him. There were some last-minute emails, I roughed in some lights, put the choir shells up, pulled the piano out, and added some more lights. Sixteen years ago, when I started at the college, it was really frustrating to have concerts with no rehearsal. Now I’m kinda used to it. Obviously, rehearsals are better and make a better show, but I manage. It went well.

The next farm job is fertilizer for the soybeans. I use a broadcast spreader for that. Just like the one I used for oats. It’s almost the same fertilizer blend as I used for corn, and I have some corn fertilizer left in the wagon. I generally order extra because I know I can use it up on the soybeans. I pulled the corn fertilizer wagon out and get the fertilizer spreader lined up and I auger the corn fertilizer into the spreader. Fertilizer doesn’t slide very well, and it sticks together so eventually I will have to climb into the box with a shovel and move the fertilizer down to the auger. There’s no danger to myself, or of getting into the auger, as the door is only open about 3”.

Well, there is the danger that I can’t get back out of the wagon box or the ladder outside falls over. A few year ago, with a different wagon, I had to call the house and ask my son to come out and lower the wagon so I could get back out… he doesn’t let me forget that. But that doesn’t happen with this wagon because it doesn’t tip up like that one did.

Once it’s all transferred, it looks like rain so I don’t want to go too far from home. I think I’ll start around here and see what happens. I get started but it’s sprinkling a little bit and I go home and put the tractor and spreader in the shed. The rain doesn’t amount to anything and two minutes later I’m back out. I fill the tractor with fuel and decide to go to my rented land a couple miles away. It sprinkles a little bit, but not enough to be a problem.

Driving on the highway with farm machinery can be nerve-racking. People will pass at the most inopportune times. I have signals on the tractor, but you can’t really see them with the fertilizer wagon. If I’m going to make a turn, I kinda move to the middle of the road to prevent people from passing me, but that one person still does…what an idiot. I’m lucky I don’t have to drive on the highway very far or very often. If you’re following farm machinery on the road, please, give us some room, don’t pass in no passing zones, and for goodness sakes, don’t try to squeeze through between us on the shoulder and the oncoming traffic! It’s nuts what some drivers will do.

I saw a pair of geese and a pair of ducks over on the land I rent. Normally I only see golf balls in this field.

I’ve picked up a lot of golf balls over there. I enjoy the stuff rolling around the cab. Bailey doesn’t like it when she rides with me. Finished that and got back home and finish spreading fertilizer on the fields around here. It’s raining pretty good now and, starting to stick to the tires, but other than making a mess on the road, it doesn’t really hurt anything.

FYI, my ‘go-to’ snacks in the tractor are the Little Debbie Nutty Bars and Clif bars. Plus water. The cab is littered with nutty bar wrappers.

The next day I did some fieldwork, Brother Ernie came out and did some more and I got going on soybeans and had 21 acres planted at 9 PM. Twenty-one acres is nothing for most farmers. It’s a good day for me.

Soybeans can be planted in rows 7” apart, or 15” apart, or 30” apart. The total population is the same for all of them, it’s just more or less plants in the row. Generally, around 150,000 plants / acre. Soybean seed size changes year to year and the bag will tell you how many seeds / lb. I prefer 15” rows because the rows will canopy sooner and stop weeds coming up between the rows. However, there are some soybean diseases that thrive in damp, conditions, so 7” rows will stay damp longer than 30” rows. Six of one, half dozen of another.

I can use the corn planter (If I put special bean meters on the seed boxes) and that does the best job of seed depth and seed spacing (just like corn) except it’s only 30” rows unless I go over it twice, off set 15” to make 15” rows. That works, it just takes twice as long. (There are 15” row planters. It’s just $$,$$$)  Or I can adjust the settings on the drill, plug up every other row, and do 15” rows with that. Seed spacing is “clumpier”, for lack of a better word, just due to how the drill feeds out the seed. But it works. And this year, just for something different, I plugged two rows, left one open, plugged two, open, ect, and I’m trying 21” rows. Yields are pretty much the same for 15” or 30”. So, what the heck, I just figured I’d try. I have some treated soybean seed and some non-treated. Just like I talked about with the corn, soybean seed is treated for insects and pathogens in the soil in case it sits there a long time before emergence. Typically, because soybeans are planted after corn, the weather is warmer, the soil is warmer, and the beans don’t stay underground too long. But you just never know. And since the seed was ordered in December, it’s another way to hedge my bets. You can see it here: non treated seed on the left, treated seed on the right.

A pretty good day, nothing broke, everything worked well.

Any concert or musical event you are looking forward to this year?What was the last concert you saw?

29 thoughts on “June Farming”

    1. Rise and Shine Baboons,

      I want to encounter small beans community concerts in parks again. The Midwest has always had such rich traditions of community bands and chorales that were so absent (and missed) during the pandemic. Both of those groups, as well as church choirs, a source of contagion due to the nature of the virus and the nature of wind instruments and singing. It feels like our very culture was just gutted. Lou was just lost without his jazz band in Eden Prairie and his concert band in Fountain HIlls. The Eden Prairie Jazz Festival is scheduled for a Sunday afternoon and evening in August.

      I also want to try one of the Oak Street Concerts or whatever those were calls. I need to catch up with that venue—it was somewhere in St. Paul in somebody’s back yard. I think I will need more specific information than that.

      Liked by 4 people

  1. OT: I am thrilled to report that tomorrow the two massive oxygen machines in my bedroom will go away so they can fill someone else’s bedroom with heat and white noise. I’ve just lived through a long week of 88 degrees, give or take a degree, so I will celebrate when the ferschlugginer things go. (Cultural note: that is a made up swear word from Mad Magazine, in case you don’t know.)

    Liked by 7 people

  2. The farming lessons are welcome. There was an early Sunday morning TV show produced by brothers from South Dakota that was very interesting to me. I tried finding their names but got distracted by broadcast planting of soybeans. The farmer who experimented successfully with that method said that tradition limits what farmers are willing to try. Nice to see Farmer Trailbaboon experiments.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Love the photo of the stage lighting mixed in with the farming ones, Ben. You have an interesting life.

    This reminded me to order tickets for a Chanticleer performance at our Beethoven Festival, which will take place in a smaller way than usual, but at least it’s taking place.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Last concert I saw was probably a mini-version of our municipal Band Concert that took place last summer. As Jacque says, it’s a rich tradition, and fun to head out on our bikes to the band shell by Lake Winona. They managed it last year by having just small groups perform each number – a horn quartet, or a trio of clarinets. Wasn’t as long a concert as usual, and there was an option to stay in your cars, as one parking lot is pretty close to the stage. Seating was limited and spaced, but people brought their own blankets, etc.

      We usually only make it to a couple, but are always pleasantly surprised by the variety of music. This year the first concert will be next Wednesday, and we’ll see if they are back to full band, or small groups again.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Cantus was the last. And Cantus will most likely be the next up. My BFF always gets tickets for me for my birthday and solstice.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. In normal times, we have regular outdoor concerts in el Palomar. I hear more of them than I see, Jane loves Spanish popular music, I hate it. I sometimes sit and watch when one of our own two brass bands puts on a concert, but even then, they play much more rousing stuff when the march behind a parade.
    I really want Tuba Skinny to come and play, and for a rock’n’roll dance partner to miraculously appear, although they’re a jazz band. I don’t really like the Lindy Hop etc. Jane is a terrific dancer and picked up r’n’r easily. But she gets sick and dizzy when she spins. Come on out here if you can help.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Are 7, 15 and 30 the only options? Could one be a rebel and decide to plant soybeans in rows 19 inches apart, if you felt your lucky number was 19?

    I don’t remember the last concert I went to. Events with people gathering together? Was that ever a thing? I can’t recall….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good question. It depends how the machinery planting them can be configured. Then factor in wheel / tire spacing because some will get run over in spraying after it emerges.

      30”’is the standard for corn. A few guys have tried 20”. It’s pretty fascinating how the plant grows and what we’ve learned about what they need. Way back when, 100 years ago, corn was planted in hills, with a few seeds in each hill and they were 40 inches apart each way, that way the horse could walk between them both directions and cultivate both directions. Then it became 40 inch rows one way using a wire with a knot on it and every time the planter hit the knot, it would drop a seed. Of course every time you got to the end of the field, you had to move the wire over for the next row.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That system with the hills, is that what they call chequer planting? I’ve heard of that but didn’t know what it was.


  7. Last concert attended was three guitar players in a St. Paul guys living room
    I also had my guitar players get together for the first time in a year and a half last Wednesday
    No upcoming concerts planned

    Liked by 3 people

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