Early May

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Mid June. It’s dry, we need some rain. Corn is curling up from the heat. My crops look terrible this year. Corn was planted a little light in the first place, then it didn’t emerge well, and now it’s dry and the deer are eating it… GDU’s: 946 to date, +291 above normal.

Oat’s is just about to head out, in fact it will be by the time you read this, – seems later than some varieties, and this is a new variety for me so… I guess it’s OK; better not to be headed out when it was so hot, the heat just boils the milk out of the heads anyway.

I told Kelly the crops are all in that adolescent stage and they all look terrible. Corn is knee high already, well, some of it.

Soybeans are getting there, look OK when you look down the row, then I look across the field and see all the skips and misses and it looks terrible again.

Back in blogworld, I finished planting soybeans on May 10th. That’s ahead of most years. Some years I’m still working on corn at that point.

When planting any crops, the trick is to have just enough seed to finish, without having too much left over to clean out of the planter. Soybeans are easy because the rows don’t really matter for harvesting, so I can just drive any which way in the field to run out the seed. Remember I had plugged up every two rows? I pulled the tape off and planted at 7” rows just to use up the seed. Once around the outside of one field did it. Oats is the same. I mean I try to figure it so there’s not a lot left in the first place, then just run it empty.

Corn is a little harder as the rows have to line up. I save the left over seed to use next year and the unopened bags can be returned to the dealer.

After planting soybeans, some guys run over them with a large roller, to smooth the field. Soybeans make a pod clear down at the ground, so at harvest, you want to cut as low as possible without picking up rocks or running too much dirt into the combine. Rolling the field pushes down rock and levels out any lumps to make combining easier.

I don’t have a roller. But I have a drag and decided to try that. Haven’t used it in 20 years. And I half expected when I pulled it out of the weeds it would just disintegrate. But no, it held together, and I ran it over all my bean acres. It did help smooth things out.  

Time to clean up machinery.

I feel like I’m making dumb mistakes again. Got the pressure washer out and had a tip plugged up. I’m supposed to remember to check them before I start. But I didn’t. So now it’s all pressurized and I can’t get anything apart. I should have let it sit for a few minutes and the pressure would bleed off and I could get it apart. But I got in a hurry. Using pliers and a hammer I got the ‘quick connector’ apart and the tip shot into the air and it never came down. I put on a different tip (I have three different tips that are different spray widths), I didn’t get this one snapped in right and when I pulled the trigger, it shot it off somewhere over by the feed room and I haven’t found it yet. Sigh.

The third tip was plugged up and I WAS smart enough to let the pressure drain before I took it off and got it to the shop and cleaned out. I’m trying foam wash this year. Also tried ‘Simply Green’ cleaner. Not sure how much they help but it all smells better.

Cleaned out fertilizer wagon, washed the grain drill, and the corn planter. There are lots of nooks and crannies to get into. Made notes of things worn out that will need to be replaced before planting next year. I had a minor leak on a hydraulic hose that was spraying a little oil on the back of the tractor. By the time I finished planting, the back of the tractor was covered with oily dirt.

The next day I had some township stuff in the morning. Paul, one of the other township supervisors, and I picked up garbage someone had dumped in a ditch, and we looked at some culverts. Paul works for crop insurance and we talked about how some guys were using a rotary hoe on their corn. A ‘rotary Hoe’ is one of those tools you only need to use about once every 10 years. This would have been the year to have one. I have a really old one; it doesn’t actually help much. And I was afraid the corn was already too tall.  

Saw Orioles one day; Put the oriole feeder and hummingbird feeder out. Haven’t seen the Orioles again. But we have two Hummingbirds that are often at the feeder. Maybe there’s more than two, but I have seen two at the same time.

At the front door we have a pair of barn swallows. We really enjoy them and their chirps and their flight patterns. They have a nest to the left of the front door. Now they have a nest to the right of the door, too. And both nests are occupied. I wonder if it’s parents and kids??

They do make a poopy mess, but we put cardboard down and they’re pretty tolerant of us coming and going.

Finally got .22 inches of rain on the 19th. And from then until May 29th we had 2.5”. And since then, hot and dry. No wonder the corn looks so rough. It sure looked bad after that frost. And the uneven emergence didn’t help anything.

Finally cleaned out the tractor cab too. By this time, there’s quite a collection of ‘Nutty Bar’ wrappers, and dirty paper towels. And some tools, and golf balls, and whatever else I’ve picked up in the fields.

I carry a little whisk broom (a trick I learned from a youtube farmer) Millennial Farmer, Zach Johnson,


Next week I’ll do an up to date crop report.

Do you have any cleaning tricks? How bad do you let things go before you clean?

44 thoughts on “Early May”

  1. I don’t have any cleaning tricks but I’ll share one my father used. His Air Force officer ordered him to clean out a cicada infestation from the hangers. He fired up a P-51 and blew them out. No stockade but a royal butt chewing.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    It is such a downer to learn that people clean their farm equipment. In my farm days this just did not happen. Grandpa was not enthusiastic about maintenance or repair of anything. For example, his cars. He never changed the oil—he would put oil in his cars and tractors, but there was never any draining, then replacing with fresh oil. As a result his cars and other machinery never ran smoothly. This was the topic of many family discussions and judgements about his “stubborn German-ness.” Grandma kept the car cleaned out at least.

    My relationship with cleaning is problematic—I loathe it. So someone else cleans the house and I gladly pay her. This reduces conflict between Lou and I about “what is clean?” as well. His attitude about cleaning is worse than mine. No cleaning tips here.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. PS, Steve’s friend Stewart F. From Spain had some interesting posts on our petsitting topic yesterday. I you did not catch them, go back and read.

      For some reason Clyde has been on my mind, but he must not feel able to participate now. Clyde, I am thinking of you if you are reading this.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Clyde is one of the baboons that started out with the blog years ago when it started. He and his wife have encountered some health problems that intermittently make participation difficult for him, but he says he still reads. He lives in Central Minnesota, USA.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. We are cleaning up in the garden by laying down newspapers between the rows and covering them with topsoil. That eliminates lots of weeding all summer.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d forgotten that previous piece of wit I wrote. Steve assures me it’s impossible to delete anything. Anything you don’t like, please consider it deleted.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. We arrived at our son’s condo a day before he did last week, and, since their fridge was much emptier due to their being on vacation, we wiped out the shelves of their fridge and their kitchen counters behind all the canisters. Son and DIL are busy and have a toddler. They like it when we come and get Dutch and fussy.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. The header photo shows what a pass with the drag looks like. All the straight lines are the drill and tractor tracks, then the one diagonal path is one pass with the drag.
    I am always amused about how much of farming is following tracks in the dirt.

    I’m a little embarrassed about the corn photo and all the weeds in there. This was right after the frost and you can see how the leaves turned mushy. It’s hard to get a good photo of the crops. The camera doesn’t catch as much as I wish it would.
    The weeds have been sprayed and it doesn’t look quite so bad in the corn now. Except now the leaves are all curled up from the heat and being dry.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ben, oh man, I love drags! I grew up pulling them, and wouldn’t want to farm with today’s machinery. In our grass growing area, you needed to bury the grass well, or the drags would keep choking up and you’d have to stop. Except I’d leave the tractor in first, then I just had to walk behind, pick up each section in turn and let it leave the mess behind. To bo picked up on the second pass, and cleared again. I’d drive along inventing things to clear the drags on the move. Haven’t got any of them in production yet.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. But you need a little, gutsy tractor, in England I liked Fergie 35’s,like your TO35 but with different tinwork. The late fifties ones onwards had a fantastic three cylinder Perkins. Little, pretty, always felt like they were madly clawing their way to the horizon. And soon got there. Great fun to drive with drags. And great to watch.
      I loved the romance of it all.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve got a couple little tractors too. I’ll post some photo’s in a future blog. Yeah, those were usually the ones we use to drag. But I’m spoiled and I like my Cab and radio and AC…

        “XDF” is ‘Ex Dairy Farmer’ Ben

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ben, Ben, that is death! Get your-ha, I think your JD720’s, out, and be wild and young and free again! Be devil-may-care and hurtle down steep banks in front of of terrified onlookers!

          Come on man, just do it.

          Liked by 2 people

  7. OT: I don’t want to say much about my health issues, but you all might enjoy hearing that the battle with the virus is going well. A few days ago I was getting better, but still in a fight. Then last week the fog lifted. I can solve mental puzzles again, and inside my head I’m back to being me.

    For better or worse!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Steve, I want to give you a like. But every time I touch the button, one of those pages comes up with contracts on it for me to agree to. I daren’t get involved with any of that.


  8. Cleaning is not my favorite thing either. I am always amazed at how many times I can walk by something that has fallen onto the floor (like some scrap of paper), without stopping to pick it up. Right now we are in Guinevere’s shedding period. She sheds twice a year but this one in early summer is the worst. YA vacuums really regularly but at this time of year the black hair can collect up quickly in corners especially along the steps.

    I do actually have a cleaning tip. I’m not sure where I learned this but if you have a really badly stained coffee or tea mug, take a cup ofcstrawberries and squish them all up into a slurry and let it sit in the mug — it will clean off the stain in about an hour!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am ducking almost all social interactions. Just simpler. I could talk about my health and state but just boring. Sandy is afraid I am telling other people about her. Life is very narrow. I find when I think about maybe commenting (I do skim about 1/2 the posts) I have already said that before.
    Grand daughter graduated and is at a summer camp counseling and guitar playing. Mr. Tuxedo is 16 and should now be called Mr. Toque, is that what you call a chef’s hat? Already a skilled and adventurous cook. Son has taken us on a harrowing 8 month cancer journey, and lots of related issues. Had kidney removed. Both my kids have only one kidney now. Then at 6 month screening found a mass in his lungs. Took 5 days to resolve it as not cancer and not in the lungs but on the outside. Benign.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. Love Ben’s post. But my childhood farming life was closer to 1910’s, 20’s, and 30’s. Red clay soil of north shore took picking the new crop of rocks, plowing, disking, springtoothing. picking more rocks, dragging (my job), picking more rocks, dragging.

    Liked by 6 people

  11. Will read all the above some day.

    OT: Brief update: Husband is scheduled for what’s called a carotid endarterectomy Friday morning at 7:00 a.m.

    Please send thoughts, prayers, healing energy – whatever works for you, even if you don’t see this till after the fact. I will update hopefully Friday night, or Saturday.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. A cleaning trick I stumbled upon one cold winter day….if you have a saucepan that you have accidentally left on the stove too long, and burned something in it, it can be helpful to run some water in it and freeze it. Then thaw it for about twenty minutes or so, and as soon as the ice moves freely in the pan, dump the ice into the compost bin. Most of the burned stuff will be embedded in the ice, and you can then scrub out the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

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