That Fall Smell

The farm report comes to us from Ben

Had a good rainshower Monday afternoon. One of those downpours where traffic slows, and windshield wipers are on high. I could see it coming, I was several miles from home and the sky was dark and I was hitting Every. Red. Light. At one point there was some pea size hail, just a few stones, and I was considering my odds… can I make it home? Where should I park otherwise? But I thought I could make it. (Risk taker, remember?)

And then I could see the rain coming. Boy, just a few times in my life I’ve been in rain that heavy. Thankfully only lasted a mile or so. We ended up with .87”. Thankfully no hard winds with it in our area. I did hear reports of funnel clouds in other areas.

Rain like that in the fall is tough; the crops don’t really need it anymore, and the weather is cool enough it doesn’t dry as fast as it would mid-summer. The corn is tall enough the sun can’t hit the soil and it stays wet for a week. And it just makes harvest harder because now there’s mud to deal with. So, we’ll see how that goes.

I was out checking crops last evening and I noticed that fall smell in the air. The beans are coming along. I saw several farmers out harvesting soybeans in the area today. Soybean pods are fussy; they dry out in the late morning or afternoon, but they’ll pick up moisture after dark or with the dew. Plants along the edge of the field might still be soft and mushy, but the rest of the field is dry, and the pods crack open easy, which is what you need to harvest. The corn is still looking good, it’s roughly 30% moisture which means the ears haven’t tipped down yet. Too much rain and it gets down inside the husk and can cause mold issues on the kernels. Once the corn dries more and the ears tip down, rain won’t cause mold issues.

After the discussion last week on PTO shafts, I was thinking about how some other things have changed.

Hooking up wagons or implements is different these days. One of the greatest inventions is the extendable wagon hitch. LIFECHANGING! Back when tractors were smaller and didn’t have cabs, it was easy to just look over your shoulder and you were almost looking right down at the hitch (called a drawbar) so backing up to a wagon was easy and we got real good at getting lined up so the hitch pin would drop right in. And the tractor or wagon was small enough we could nudge it a little bit to make the connection.

With a cab, sightlines changed and sometimes it’s harder to see the hole in the drawbar, so it was harder to get lined up right. Some people have added mirrors to the rear window so when the window is open, it allows one to see the hitch. (I need to do that on one of my tractors).

But now, with extendable hitches, as long as we get close, we can extend the wagon hitch to connect it, then we back up and it locks back into place. It’s wonderful! Especially when hooking a wagon to another implement, so I’m guessing where that hitch is way back there; the extendable tongues are life savers!

I remember the first wagon Dad bought with an extendable hitch. It was a remarkable thing.

Hitch pins too – at first, they were just pieces of straight rod with a washer welded on the top. Or even a large bolt if you were desperate. But again, machinery got bigger.

I made a couple hitch pins in high school welding class; that’s where I learned about hardening and how to temper them so they didn’t wear out so fast.

I had no idea I had so many hitch pins until I got them all together for this photo.

Then seed dealers started giving away hitch pins with an ACTUAL HANDLE on the top! That was another wonderful revelation! Course, on a hill it was easy for that hitch back there to drag on the ground and push the hitch pin right out. I ran one wagon through a fence and down into the calf pen when the pin came out… didn’t break anything or lose any bales, just the wagon. (And had to fix the fence). Lost the pin on the grain drill one day and didn’t notice until I got home and didn’t have a drill behind me anymore. One time the anhydrous tank came unhooked from the applicator. Knew that right away and thank goodness I was on flat ground and thanks goodness for the safety disconnect valve that separated. But getting it all hooked back up again was a struggle.

If you wanted to be safe, you put a clip in the hole at the bottom of the pin. If there WAS a hole for a clip. IF it stayed when going through cornstalks.  Again, tractors and implements have gotten bigger Now I use locking pins that might be 5/8” or even 7/8” diameter. And the big tractor has something called a ‘Hammerstrap’ hitch that’s about 1 1/2” diameter. And it will actually drop itself in! (if I back up straight and hit the hitch of the implement just right. It works pretty well and it makes me laugh when It does).

In this photo the PTO shaft is the round thing above the hitch.  Bigger tractors might have a pin as big as your wrist. If you imagine the pull on these machines when they’re in the ground, you can imagine why they might need a pin this big.

Duck Report. The three older ones and the younger ones are just starting to hang out together. And nobody goes in the pen anymore; they just hang out down here by the pond.

I saw a duck get a little air the other day… just a few feet, but I’ll bet it’s coming soon.

What do you remember changing your life? What’s coming soon for you?

51 thoughts on “That Fall Smell”

  1. I love that. It can apply to our refugees in the present day, but also experiences all along the family tree. Those experiences of not knowing how to swim must have informed all that they did and the decisions they made.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Another fine farm report, Ben. I just find these so satisfying, and they take me back to childhood radio farm reports—prices, droughts and floods, and farm “futures’— the estimated prices of crops and meats that farmers/investors would buy like stocks.

    Nothing in life ever changed me like having breast cancer 31 years ago. It changed my physical being, and every day past that diagnosis that I live, I have side effects—weakened bones, hot flashes, chemo brain. It makes it difficult to ever forget any of it. Because my highest risk factor was pesticide exposure on the farm of a maternal uncle, the family dynamics involved emphasized my mother’s refusal to either acknowledge the problems or protect me. The good news is I lived to raise my little boy, now a man. And I lived more willing to take calculated risks understanding that there is no guarantee of a tomorrow.

    Many other things changed me, but nothing more than this experience. Coming soon (1 year): another step towards retirement.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. I was having a conversation with someone the other day about hip and knee replacements. And we both agreed, needing the replacement is just the result of having LIVED, And then I think about my leg injury and I’m not sure how much that really changed my life or not. I’d be better at math because I wouldn’t have missed those first three weeks of algebra. And I would have had more phy-ed classes (rather than hanging out in the library) But would I have done anything different if my foot worked better? I don’t know. I think it has made me more careful because I know what happens when you’re careless.
          So, I’m not sure I’d go back and NOT injure it… just because I really wouldn’t want to change the rest of the way my life has gone.

          Liked by 3 people

    1. One reason I’ve enjoyed getting to know you, Jacque, is that we share the experience of living through a major life-altering event. For you, cancer. For me, divorce at 60. To our friends, we mostly seem like the same person before and after the big event. But we know better. The person who emerges from events like these is forever altered.

      Liked by 5 people

  3. Change in my life: bet you can guess.
    What is coming for me? Oh, how I wish I had done idea. I have 5 significant things to do right now. Two online. Everyone of them is hung up at the moment. Every. Blooming. Last. Thing. Hanging. Over. Me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I cannot type some. Comes out done. Can I donate my fingers?
      Ben, drawbar in my youth. Yep. Turned over shoulder and looked right down on it. We really only ever used one hitch pin which my father made with a big handle on the top. Drawbar had three clevises on it out on edge. Otherwise my father lost them and you never knew when you would have to pull something. Always had a strong chain hung over seat base. Small platform below seat for stepping up to seat. Boots, who had to be with us always, would ride there if he got tired.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Clyde, first of all I wish you well on the five issues. But I think we disagree about wanting to “some idea” of how things will go. The more I study such things, the more I’m convinced that not knowing what lies ahead is crucial for living day by day. As one example, I’m sure glad that I had no idea in April what May and June would be like.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My maternal great grandparents were city people in Hamburg, Germany. They immigrated to New York City in 1914, then to Foley, a little town in central Minnesota, to be farmers in 1916. My grandmother still laughed when she told the story of her father not knowing quite how to hook up whatever corn picker apparatus they had then, and pulling it through the field backwards. They grew cabbages that were harvested by Indians who set up teepees around the cabbage fields.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I can hardly imagine that. Those Natives must have been the descendants of the Dakota who were hanged in Mankato by Lincoln after the war with the settlers at Spirit Lake and S. MN. I have heard a few stories of Native tribes who still lived in tepees about 2 miles from where I live now. That encampment did not disappear until about 1960.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I have got a metal box in the garage with some pins from England. I’m going to look in it before I say any more. I love pins. (Collective groan from Baboons)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Fenton, i’ve seen a few videos, it seems like many of the hitches now on the tractors, at least in Britain, raise and lower? And it’s sort of a hook that picks up a round hitch on the Implement. What do you know about that?


      1. Now that is weird. In fact, I’ve been sitting here trying to process it. It’s true it took a long time catching on outside of the world of Fergusons, but in fact, pickup hitches, as they’re called, have been available, and commonly used, on Fergusons right from the start in 1946 or whenever production of the TE20 ,and in the US, the TO20,started. Or very nearly the start. In fact, some farmers would have both pickup hitch and drawbar, and would have to change the whole assembly for different jobs, not a difficult or lengthy process.

        But it really took a long time to really catch on. I left the farm in 1992,and mostly they were being used for pulling silage trailers, where you’d drop an empty trailer in the field, and pick up a loaded one. Much quicker with the pickup hitch, especially if you didn’t stop to connect up the hydraulic line. You’d be getting off the tractor anyway, when you backed up to the heap.Undo the tailgate connect up the hose, tip the trailer, then dismount again, shut the tailgate, take off the hose and hang it on the front of the trailer somewhere, then stay on board till you get back with another load.

        A few tractors were getting to have a drawbar you could reverse, with a hook on the other end. You could raise or lower the whole assembly, whether drawbar or hook. The hook was closer to the tractor, and locked up against a plate when it was raised, so no more pin problems. I’m remembering now. Trailers got so they’d have a clevis hitch, with a ring for a ppickup hitch welded onto the lower half of the clevis, on the front of it, so you could hitch up with either type of tractor.

        I never realised you didn’t have pickup hitches over there. I can’t understand it.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. It seems like it would be a pretty slick deal. Maybe not for the real large implements, but for a lot of things.

          Our ‘Three Point hitches’ are round holes unless you add the ‘Quick Tach’ to give you a hook. Where as when I bought a german ‘Deutz’ tractor 30 years ago, it just simply had hooks on the three point. Makes more sense to me.


        2. Ben, three point hitches with the round holes are all I ever experienced. Quick hitches never took off in my time, though available. Though I did notice hooks on at least one big, modern four wheel drive in later times. I bet you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say that lining up those round holes could be easy. And it could be awful, on side sloping or uneven ground for instance. I used to hate the bother of switching implements,
          especially on a farm with only one tractor. I used to think, a tractor for every implement is what’s needed. Maybe on a farm with machinery littered everywhere, a bus service between machines would be the thing.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. I’ve got various pins, only some of which are hitchpins. Pleased with my collection, which I intend to use in future projects. The classic pin I grew up with is not present, I’ve never owned one. Just one piece of round bar with the end bent round to form a circle about two inches across. Easy to grab. They would bend all ways, but not break. Other, less exciting patterns appeared around the late sixties. I have one as Ben describes, with a square grab handle, which I got from a house move here in Spain.
      I’ve had pins come out several times, locking pin or no. If it wants to come out, it’ll come out, I always said. Though we always needed stronger pins, with stronger locking pins.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kelly’s tractor, her Farmall ‘C’ that she learned to drive on her farm, has a pin with the eye on the top; I forgot to grab that when taking the photo.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I always loved Wisconsin and Minnesota as a child having vacationed here often. And I knew I wanted to go to Carlton right away, it was a school on my list and the campus was beautiful. But the big change for me came halfway through my first semester when a group of friends and I took the bus to the Twin Cities. All we did was kick around downtown all day long and have an early dinner (Spaghetti Factory- spaghetti carbonara) before heading back to Northfield but I knew that day that Minneapolis was where I wanted to be. So after two years of putting wasband through grad school, this is where we came. I haven’t ever regretted it.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That Spaghetti Factory was a student favorite, no matter what the school. Large servings and low prices, combined with the glamour and excitement of downtown, I guess was the draw. I have heard more stories about that restaurant over the years. I went there, too, while a grad student at the U and felt like it was a BIG night out.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. I had a life-altering event I’ve not mentioned. Throughout my junior high and high school days I was an indifferent student. On rare occasions when I connected with a good teacher, I might get an A, but mostly I was happy to get Cs.

    Then I got my score on the National Merit Scholarship test, a test in which I ranked in the top percentile nationwide. I was stunned. My high school counselor said, “I’ve been trying to tell you this for years!” I had given no thought to attending college, feeling I wouldn’t compete well. But this test shook me up. Maybe I was better than I knew I was.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Going out to California between Jr. and Sr. college years changed me – made me more of a risk taker when I saw that I could pull that off.

    Then living with Wasband for a couple of years got me to, finally, listen to my self better, and start to put my own needs at least on a par with my significant other.

    Then, in Wes’ style’, the things that produced the most change/growth:
    birth of child
    working for small consulting group in 90s
    death of adult child
    move from Twin Cities to Winona
    Husband’s stroke

    What’s coming is the great unknown.

    Liked by 6 people

  9. What is coming soon for me?
    Baking cinnamon rolls.
    Today was a mild day in Ohio. It’s been hot for a month. Too hot to warm my kitchen in a first try at zucchini bread.
    I did a lot of research and am very pleased with today’s results. Crispy top and bottom. Moist and delicious innards. Used extra unsalted butter and unsalted apple sauce. Extra cinnamon. No nuts but….COCONUT FLAKES!
    Baking something after nearly 7 decades is life changing.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. With some help, I could blog a “smells like cinnamon rolls” that could tag on to this “smells like fall”.
        I don’t remember the submittal process.

        Liked by 4 people

  10. One remaining documentation fell into place. So two hour interview tomorrow. Two hour interview end of week.
    Fall is not going to be bold here. Leaves falling in my forest before they turn color.
    I could do some baking again but I am keeping my eating in diet mode to keep me from binging. Scones. Would love to. They made Sandy sick so have not made them in awhile. Pumpkin pie also a sinful thought that makes her sick. Saw ground turkey in store. Realized I like it, and she did not. So turkey patty for supper. Any lo-cal suggestions for use of turkey?
    My son’s nutritionist-driven diet includes lots of quinoa. Made one very basic meal. Suggestions?
    Highs in mid eighties for four days. Not fall weather but maybe will dry Ben’s soil.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I use ground turkey in a standard chili recipe I have –
      – saute [optional] onion and/or celery, then add ground turkey to skillet and break up well as you sauté
      – add a large can of tomatoes (or a small one and some more liquid/broth
      – and can or two of kidney beans (drained),
      – some chili powder (up to 1 Tbsp.) and
      – about 1 tsp. cumin and maybe 1/2 tsp. salt
      That’s it unless you want to add some other veggies to the sauté
      Cook for maybe half an hour, good with sour cream. : )

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Something is about to happen for me, actually. Maybe. My inlaws suddenly sold the piece of land that was going on the market any day now, in any case. They sold it to keep the guy sweet, that is buying the adjoining house. Not necessary, after he’d been adamant he didn’t want it, but still.

    They feel so guilty, they say they are going to buy me a piece of ground. Also not necessary, as I’ve explained. I’ve made it to 70 without managing to get my own place. Why should anyone else have to do it for me? Well, I don’t care. I’ll take it. But don’t anyone get big ideas. A “farm” here is anything that’s big enough to turn a wheelbarrow around. But it’ll be enough for me to have chickens and a garden, hopefully also grow feed for the chickens.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. The smell of fall here this weekend is Turkey chipotle chowder, simmering tomato puree from our San Marzano garden tomatoes, enchilada sauce from our New Mexico peppers, and a large batch of Brodo (Italian broth made from turkey wings and beef shanks.) I am getting really sick of the tomatoes. We haven’t had a killing freeze yet, and the darn things keep producing!

    Liked by 2 people

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