Hey, Hey Straw

To wrap up the oat harvest, let me explain test weight and pricing.

There isn’t a big market for oats, so they won’t take the oats if the quality is a little low. By ‘Quality’ I mean if it isn’t at least 32 lbs test weight (That’s the ‘standard’ weight of a bushel of the product. 56lbs for corn, 60 lbs for soybeans, 32lbs for oats). The weight can vary depending on a lot of things; moisture content of the crop, the weather as it grew, the variety, ect. The market price is based on that weight though, so if it’s low, we don’t get paid the full amount because while we deal with the crops in volume (the trucks and wagons it takes to get it hauled in), we’re paid by the bushel. If your corn sample only tests 50 lbs, then it takes more corn to get to 52 lbs and we get docked for the low TW.

My oats samples tested 38 and 39 lbs. The truck is heavier, which means it takes less grain to make 32 lbs so I get more bushels on the truck. But no bonus for being Over TW.

Price this year was $3.58 / bushel at the Elgin elevator (which is closest so most of the oats went there) but they were full so the last of the oats went to another elevator and it was $3.71 there. Heck; if I’d known that I’d have taken it all to that second place!

Remember; hay is something animals will eat; it contains nutrients. Straw is just an empty stalk; there’s not much nutritional value in straw.

Baling straw; it went pretty well this year. No problems.

It might take a while to get the baler working right; get the rust off it, so to speak. I like to bale straw; it’s light and the bales are easy to throw around.

I broke a shear bolt just after starting; a ‘shear bolt’ is protection against something bad happening. It might simply be overloaded or it might be a safety feature against something catastrophic. But sometimes they just wear out. That was the case here.

This shear bolt hooks the baler flywheel to the hydraulic pump for the baler kicker and sometimes it just fails. Then the kicker looses it’s oomph.

In the old days, Clyde and my dad had to have someone on the wagon to catch the bales coming off the baler and stack them on the wagon. I was about 10 years old when Dad bought a kicker baler which ‘kicks’ the bales into the wagon. Less manpower needed. Course, getting them back out is a little more trouble.

In 1993, we hosted 2 men from Russia for a few days. They were here as part of an exchange program with the Farm Bureau. They didn’t speak English, but they had a Russian / English dictionary and we had a good time doing hand gestures. I was baling hay and they rode in the wagon and insisted on stacking the bales as they flew in there from the baler. I tried to stop them; warning them this was dangerous and not to get hit by one. They assured me it was fine and kept stacking. And it’s a wonderful thing; so much easier to unload when they’re stacked, plus I get more bales on the wagon. I’ve been stacking a few ever since. Just the bottom row or two, and a ‘wall’ at the front to help keep the bales in the wagon.

The kicker part of the baler rotates left and right. That allows me to throw a bale in the wagon even when making a corner. And there’s a power adjustment to kick the bale just a little bit or kick it real hard! The average is 3 or 4. It goes to 8, I haven’t had to use it that high unless I’m kicking it all the way over the wagon just for fun. Because the power is based on weight, kicking to the back of the 16’ wagon only needs about 4. If the bales are so heavy it needs 6 or more, then they’re too wet to bale and I can’t even pick them up.

Up or down hills changes that a bit… and making a corner when it kicks can still kick it over the side. All in all, it’s kinda fun.

Here’s what it looks like from the tractor cab.

I’m watching my left mirror as that shows the back of the baler and I can tell the bale is good (not missing a string) and I can see most of the wagon. The right mirror shows the row going into the pick up.

Here’s three loads in the shed.

A few weeks ago we talked about backing up wagons. Here’s what it looks like to back up a wagon into the shed:

You need to trust yourself about what’s behind you.

I had about 200 straw bales left in the barn. I baled 612 (there’s a mechanical counter on the baler; each time it ties a knot, it trips the counter). 166 bales (one stacked load) went to the neighbors for their strawberry patch. He’ll use it for cover this fall. The other 446 went in the pole barn. I unloaded one load by myself; back the wagon into the barn, toss a bunch out, get out and stack them, toss a bunch more out. It’s not too hard when the stack is low. It’s too much work once up about two rows.

My brother came out; he helped me get the elevator set up and then he and I unloaded the last two loads. The cows came to watch me.

Here my brother is trying to figure out how to start the load

Here comes a bale destined for VS’s garden next spring.

A clean field and the last bale are welcome sights.

I didn’t need anymore small square bales this year so I hired a neighbor to make round bales from the rest of the straw.

 I’ll sell them to the neighbor with the cows.

I’ve left off the tractor that inexplicable died. (turned out to be the coil wire). And the dead battery in the other tractor. And the post that has somehow twisted a bit so now the gate doesn’t swing in AND out anymore, so I have to take it off to get the elevator put up.

I did get the hitch welded back on the elevator so that’s one thing.

And I got the second show open.

And time to cut grass again.

Hey! “Straw is cheaper, Grass is free. Buy a farm and you get all three.”

So? “Sew Buttons on a balloon, you’ll get a bang out of it.”

What’s your favorite sarcastic reply phrase?

82 thoughts on “Hey, Hey Straw”

  1. I’m feeling extra sarcastic this August 14, one day after the Reinstatement of XXXpresident Donny.
    August 29 BCE. Octavia holds his second triumph in Rome to celebrate his victory over the Dalmatians.
    August 14, 2021. Trump holds the second triumph in Mar-a-lago to celebrate his victory over the Democrats.
    What?! He didn’t?!
    So much for history repeating itself

    Final sarcastic remark: Keyboard commando.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. After perusing a list of sarcastic putdowns on Google, I am forced to conclude I hate sarcasm. I would never talk that way to a friend, and frankly I wouldn’t say such things to an enemy.

    But here is a little witty dialogue a friend recently sent me. George Orwell sent two tickets to the opening of one of his plays to Winston Churchill. His note suggested Churchill could bring a friend . . . “if you have one.”

    Churchill wrote back: “Cannot possibly attend first night. Will attend second . . . if there is one.”

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Sounds more like an exchange that might have taken place between George Bernhard Shaw and Churchill. Am not aware that Orwell wrote any plays. Did he?


  3. OT: nobody told me old age would be so damned confusing. My health has recently been a lot like the 2021 Twins baseball team, wretched with no guarantee of ever getting better. To my astonishment, I’ve recently returned to the state of health I knew half a year ago, which represents progress I never expected.

    Liked by 7 people

  4. Rise and Shine baboons,

    This reminds me of childhood taunts and retorts: Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never harm me.

    No sarcastic response, though, is better than the non-verbal raspberry, or just sticking out your tongue (for which I did time with my nose in the corner as a child).

    So. There.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. It is a treat to see the inside of your shed and the piles of straw. It reminds me of my relatives hay mows, where me cousins and I would jump around and play. One year my uncle strung up a roap and we swung like Tarzan into the pile of bales. Does anyone else call them hay mows? It is an interesting term.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hay mows usually means high structures on top of or on the ground next to rest of barn for storing hay, originally loose hay. About only ones in MN using them anymore would be some Amish. Barns and mows do not fit modern forms of haying and milking and growing beef. Why barns are rotting away.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I have read the word but have never heard anyone say it. How is the mow part pronounced? I first came across it in a children’s book written by my old friend Maryann Weidt, Daddy Played Music for the Cows.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Oh, what the hell. Steve knows I read the blog every day. Most days there’s something I really want to answer.
      In Devon, farmyards used to have an extra yard called a mowhay, pronounced “mooey.” It wouldn’t be paved, they went back before all that. It was a rickyard, that’s all. (Not sure if you use the word “rick” over there, meaning a stack of hay or straw. At one time, a person’s untidy haircut might get compared to a hayrick). I can just remember a time when outdoor ricks were still common, but would be in the same field they were harvested in. Don’t remember if I ever saw a moohay full of ricks. One had pole barns put in it. Another one or two were dumps for obsolete and exciting machines that I wanted to see back in use. Still do.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I really wanted to follow Ben round that oat field the other day, with my version of things.
        So:when I was bragging, the other week, about pitching bales in the field, I was forgetting that you’ve had that job mechanised for years. I never, ever saw a wagon on the back of a baler, except in a series of sketches I did once, of time saving machines I invented when I was eight or nine. Mostly they were normal machines with a long drawbar running right over the top of them, so you could hitch another machine behind, and maybe another one behind that, and do two or three operations at once. So obviously I had a baler with a wagon on the back. England never caught up with me, but an industrial spy obviously took my idea over to you guys. Well, you’re welcome, I eventually realised how much fun it was to swing bales over your head in the heat of the day, with an itchy shower of little bits and pieces landing on you every time. When you were sweating profusely, it was even more fun. Really. I’m sure of it.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Good catch on the red tractor! That’s a ‘C’, and it came from Kelly’s farm and it’s the tractor she first learned to drive. The only red tractor I have.
          I’m glad you came on to share your memories.

          Liked by 3 people

        2. Renee, wow, thank you!
          By the way, I spent one day last week looking after the twelve mad dogs, and I’m still living. The owners went off to finalise the sale of their last house, which I didn’t know they still had. So we’re hoping to hear soon that they’re going to spend some of the money on some time away for a long awaited holiday. Lucrative for us, but I’d prefer it before Jane starts work again teaching, in September. It’s hard for her to manage everything at home, though she denies it.
          Even more OT:Yesterday, by “desserts,” I definitely hoped you meant “favourite just desserts.” You know, like, trap his nuts in a vice, and set the house on fire. For instance. But nobody took the bait.

          Liked by 2 people

  6. from my childhood:
    So what?
    See buttons in your underwear.
    Never quite understood that myself.
    Another I never got but we said these things:
    So’s your old man.
    Ben, we put up loose hay. Summer after my senior year my father had to go to the UP to get work on a pipeline. My mother was driving to Duluth to work in a hospital. I had a job in summer schools cleaning crew. I managed to put up two fields of loose hay with my mother or my high school friends. But for last two fields a friend of my father’s came up from the valley to bale them. Only baled hay we ever did. My father had planted oats before he left so I managed to bind and shock the oats alone, with many repairs along the way. U of Chi did not start until end of September. Another man down in the valley heard I needed help to thresh oats do he and two of his buddies plus two of my friends finished oats. We did not sell oats but instead ground them to feed cattle and horse over the winter.
    As for the straw we piled it loose and tarped it next to the barn to use for bedding. Two times the friend with the baler needed bedding so he brought it over. It ran off its own gas engine so we hand fed the loose straw into it, one of the more unpleasant tasks from all the dust.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. So maybe to say sew buttons on your underwear is to call someone a baby. That does make sense. And I do remember images of children wearing such underwear


    1. Up on the peak on the East end of our barn is a bracket; Dad says that’s where the rope went when they used a hayfork and did loose hay. There’s two windows there. Then on the West end of the barn is the big door. So the wagon parked on the west end, the rope with the fork went out that door. The rope continued through the barn, out the pulley on the East end and the horses pulled it that way.

      When I met Kelly, they had bales in their haymow, but they didn’t have an elevator; they used a grapple sort of thing to lift several bales at once and a tractor, rather than horses to pull the rope.

      There’s a word for the traveling set of pulleys…a pulley moved up and down with the fork and would latch into the rolling set in the barn. That would move down a track until you pulled the trip rope.

      We used to put the elevator in that big door. There wasn’t much room because of the grainary and fences, so it was always an ordeal. Dad had a door cut into the side of the roof (by a son-in-law) and that made it a lot easier. Our haymow now is mostly home to raccoons and sparrows. Someday I need to clean it out. That will be a lot of work.

      Years and years ago Dad put a new basement wall under the grainery; we cleaned that out and down in the back corners were bales still tied with wire. Before twine, bales were tied with wire. By hand. (before automatic wire ties). I think two guys would ride on the side of the baler and tie the wire. That’s why it had a loop on one end. With baling wire and pliers, we could fix anything…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bales had wire in my childhood.
        Rope went to back of barn and then out to front. It was my job to unhitch the tractor from the loaded hay rack and then pull the load up. It was much better in the front where you could see what was going on. First we used rope slings to pull up hay but the loads were too large so we switched to grappling hooks.
        The word I know for the traveling pulleys is a block or traveling block. If you are not careful with the hook it could catch on the rack and start lifting it, which could be too heavy a load for the barn.
        I told the story in a novel of how in frantic rush to get last load of the season in the barn before a big rainstorm hit my father ended up driving the tractor and I ended up on trip rope that opened the grappling hook. But he drove too fast and I had to be sure the load was dropped right inside the door, only place for it, or the load would jam against other hay and could damage the barn. Release jammed and I hung onto the rope until it released. Rope burns pulled much of the skin off my palms. Then we rushed to pull the big door closed, a tricky maneuver which required me to handle the big hay rope with my raw hands. I was about 12 or 13. We beat the rain just barely. Then my father saw my hands and then I felt the pain. I could not use my hands for a couple weeks, well, I should not have but I did less work and more slowly.
        If you put wet hay in the mow it can ferment and resulting heat can burn down the barn. Too many memories. Farming is so much safer and smarter now.

        Liked by 3 people

  7. “I know you are, but what am I?” was another retort – along with a few previously mentioned – from my childhood. Mixed results when you used that one.

    The sarcastic use of “princess” or “principessa” (as in, “yes, my princess”) when Daughter asks me to do something that is her chore or she is capable of doing gets used around here… a gentle reminder that I am not her servant and she should perhaps recenter her thinking a bit beyond her own desires. I usually get grumbled at, but it does the trick. Even if I do say I will do whatever it is, she gets the reminder that the world does not, in fact, revolve around her. Most of the time.

    Liked by 5 people

        1. “Master of all he surveys, I will willingly go down two flights of stairs and back up again with the trifling object you desire, since Your Majesty is evidently indisposed.”

          Liked by 3 people

      1. i enjoy calvin trillen

        no sh*t sherlock
        for someone who makes a comment on the obvious

        cant say that again tomorrow

        when someone says they never saw did or heard of that before

        Liked by 4 people

  8. Hey Ben milk is a huge deal right now might be worth looking into seeing if you can find somebody who can crush that stuff up instead of turning it into cattle feed

    It’s really delicious and has I believe taking the place of soy milk as the alternative to cows milk in terms of popularity
    I sure like it a lot better

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There have been many tragic motor vehicle accidents here during the last oil boom involving oil field workers, mainly from Southern states, who refuse to wear seat belts and who die because they are thrown from their vehicles and crushed. The sarcastic comment is “That is just evidence of Darwinian natural selection and the survival of the fittest”. It is still sad, though.


  10. In reference to Ben’s red tractor: My best friend and I were both marching band drummers in high school. I was a bass clarinet player, but you can’t march with a bass clarinet, so I played the bass drum when we marched. Our bass drum had the high school name and mascot, a cardinal, on the drum head, that needed to be refurbished. We chose Massey Ferguson Red enamel paint to touch up the drum head.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I looked for some spray paint recently at a recycling dropoff, where you can pick up somebody else’s unused paint for free. One of the choices there was a spray paint can of green paint labeled “farm Implement”. I suppose it is John Deere green. I imagine it is pretty tough paint.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Linda, I’m guessing if it was genuine John Deere paint, it would say so. I don’t want it to start fading on you in twenty years or so.


    1. Thank you too, Barbara.
      I couldn’t come up with any sarcasm, except for realising after the event that my “swather wheels” remark could count. Do wonder though, if it was that John Deere Green that was stopping Ben from getting that bearing off?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. 45: This election is about great voter fraud, fraud that has never been seen like this before. It’s about poll watchers who were not allowed to watch. So illegal. It’s about ballots that poured in, and nobody but a few knew where they came from. They were counted, and they weren’t for me. It’s about big leads on election night, tremendous leads, leads where I was being congratulated for a decisive easy victory. All of a sudden, by morning or a couple of days later, those leads rapidly evaporated. It’s about numbers of ballots that were sent that nobody knows where they came from. It’s about machinery that was defective, machinery that was stopped during certain parts of the evening, miraculously to open with more votes. It was about many other things, but above all, it was about fraud. This election was rigged. Everybody knows it. I don’t mind if I lose an election, but I want to lose an election fair and square. What I don’t want to do is have it stolen from the American people. That’s what we’re fighting for. We have no choice to be doing that. We already have the proof. We already have the evidence, and it’s very clear. Many people in the media and even judges so far have refused to accept it. They know it’s true. They know it’s there.

      Me: Oh, anytime this century, Disraeli.

      Liked by 5 people

  12. OT: Kelly’s tractor. Ben, I love old times. I probably never mentioned that.
    I learnt to drive on an old type Fordson Major and a new one. The farm was sold and the new owners bought the old tractor, took the back wheels off it for the new tyres, then scrapped it. My hatred for them for that has followed two generations of them into their graves. The sellers kept the Power Major and took it to their retirement home and kept it for years, I believe. I used to say I’d give my right arm for that tractor, and always meant to go round and try and buy it. They kept the Hart transport box, and the Horndraulic loader. I never did go round, and still have my right arm. One day……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hatred. Not really. The Reeds, who bought the farm, were a father and son who’d rapidly expanded their farming enterprise by dealing in sheep and cattle. The farming side was rough and ready, they liked to have tractors tearing about, breaking machines, gates, buildings etc. They had the big farm next door, and bought the one Dad worked on in 1965. Dad went to work for them, and they were going to take me on when I left school. We soon realised our mistake, and I got a weekend job somewhere else. And worked there full time when I left school, the same day, almost, as Dad extricated himself from the Reeds. They were awful, terrible to work for.
      Years later, the old man, Clar, (Clarence) hunted Dad down on the job he was working on. “We’re digging up that drain again, in such and such a field. Do you remember (some question about direction or something)? Dad told him, Tough luck. Not telling.
      John, the son, finally found a woman crazy enough to settle down with him. She was either pregnant, or more likely, actually had a baby son. I wasn’t there, and only heard about, and it was years ago. John was reportedly delighted. I can’t picture that, but OK. Dad gave us the news that a tragedy had occurred and the young wife and baby, born or unborn, had died, and John was inconsolable. Dad said, good, serves him right. Even coming from Dad, that shocked me, and still does. I don’t hate someone enough to want their wife and innocent son to die.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Just thought of this. Fenton has me thinking about words. In my early childhood it was called “baler twine” balers being a machine which gathered grain in stalks into bunches called “sheaves” which were gathered into groups of 6 or 8 and stood up to dry and keep grain off ground. Once dry the grain was brought to the threshing machine, more commonly called a separator by farmers. Then with combines coming along and driving out binders, thankfully, it became “baler twine”.
    The mechanism that tied the knot in the binder was such an ingenious thing, quite simple really, but, oh, how wrong it could go.
    OT been sitting out on patio since 5:45. Saw the day rise, but sunrise is behind the building. Got up at 5:30 and went out into kitchen for water, only to see her bedtime meds still spread out on counter, as always out there by me. So this means another instance of watching her, on guard as it were more of our time. Been thinking about this.and how I need to quit nattering on here on this site.
    Do so love your farm posts Ben.
    BTW Fenton I think of natter/nattering as a very British word. Used to be an English comic with a moustache who put on a scarf yo do an older woman who talked about other women who would say “natter, natter, natter.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Clyde, yes, baler twine. The farmers friend, of which I still have about a spool and a half left, sisal, not plastic, got to eke it out now for thirty years.
      I gathered you meant “binder” at the start, the binder used thinner twine. As you’ll know well. When balers came in, a heavier grade was needed, “baler twine.” On many farms in Devon I’d see a reel or two of obsolete binder twine lying in a corner, where it had been for years. We called it cord though. A dead giveaway for me, for jokesters, was when they’d laugh and say us farm boys had mended something with binder twine. The times I’ve explained, no, round here we don’t use binder twine. It’s baler cord. I mean, how obvious can anyone make it, that they know nothing about the country? And no doubt I’ve ranted on before about the term, “comboin arrrvester, ooh arr” , etc. It’s a combine. Sorry, I think I said that just the other day in answer to Ben. Steve must have heard it ktwenty times by now. Maybe I should get a new interest, get out more, as they say.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Twine: well, I use ‘7200’ sisal twine. It’s a little heavier that ‘9600’ twine. Specifically for the kicker balers.
        There is a plastic twine and I used to use that for straw and maybe it held up a little better… but mice would still eat through one string. And of course it never degraded so it would
        Wrap up around machinery and NEVER GO AWAY. At least the sisal does decompose.
        And the big balers now use ‘16,000’ twine.
        Most people prefer net wrap on the round bales.
        Plus a lot of people completely wrap their bales in plastic. I hate to think of all that plastic.


        1. Last word?
          So glad you use sisal. I’m surprised you can still get it.
          But my son tells me that plastic will go away. It takes a million years, he says. I found that, when forced to use plastic cord for repairs, closing gates etc.,I had to be sure the knot was pulled up dead tight, or it would slip.


  14. If I don’t say now, how much I love baling, I’ll have to wait till next year. I didn’t get to do it nearly enough. A lot of farms I worked on would get a contractor to bale for them. If they had a baler, someone else would have grabbed the job, I wasn’t a regular on many places. And a baler’s best in the hands of one person. Most of all, I had the reputation of that fool who liked pitching bales while someone else drove the tractor.
    But I’d get to have a go sometimes, and we had smaller tractors, without mirrors. You’d only look forwards enough to steer, the rest of the time you’d be watching the stuff go in up that pickup reel. Waiting for trouble, as Ben knows. And it never stopped fascinating me, watching that thing just eat it up. I couldn’t get enough of it. On a smaller tractor, you’d feel every stroke of the ram, one a second usually, though I used an Allis 707 that was slightly faster. It was very dramatic and exciting, even when I was in a bad mood about the inefficient way we did things on this farm, or things like that (What the hell are they doing over there, standing there talking? Etc.)

    Liked by 2 people

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