Category Archives: animals

Baling and Traffic and Duck

Today’s Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Mornings are cool enough I wear a jacket going to the college but don’t need it when walking back to the car after work. Starting to get some color on the trees.

Soybeans are mostly pretty yellow and the leaves are starting to fall off them. Beans are drying and they will be ready in a couple weeks. But if there’s too many weeds in the field, they won’t be able to combine until the weeds freeze or die. Combines are not made to handle green material; that just plugs them up. The entire threshing process is based on dry material shelling out easily.

Remember that field of soybeans my neighbors planted on July 8th? It’s looking pretty good; they sure got lucky with the rains. They’re taller than mine and setting pods. They’re not done yet and they still need some time before a freeze, but they’re looking good so far.

The dairy guys are chopping corn silage. That’s one of the things I miss from milking; I enjoyed chopping corn. It smells good, it blows up the silos easy and doesn’t plug up the pipe, and cutting up that entire cornstalk just looks cool.

I baled some small square hay bales for our neighbors. A field next to our property but on the other side of a swamp and creek and power line and you can’t get there from here. But still cool to be on the ‘other side’ of the world from our place. Driving over there with the tractor, baler, and a wagon involved about 4 miles on a busy highway. Some people are terrible about dealing with farm machinery. They pass on corners, they tail gate for a 1 /4 mile then abruptly pass. It’s just ridiculous, not to mention dangerous to all of us.  I can’t print the words I say about them. I always hope I’m bigger than them so that will protect me, but please, harvest season is coming, give farmers and the machinery some space and don’t pass when you shouldn’t. You can bet I’m wearing my seatbelt and I have all the tractor lights on, flashers on, SMV signs… it’s not that they don’t see me, but they figure they can pass me quick enough so it doesn’t matter if it’s a corner. Makes me mad writing about it.

PTO – Power Take Off shafts. It’s the thing that takes power from the tractor and puts it in whatever implement is being powered. For a lot of machinery, that shaft spins at 540 RPM, some things spin at 1000 RPM. In the old days it was just an exposed shaft and safety wasn’t even on the radar. These days, there’s always a cover or shield, but they can still break or wear out and they’re usually in the way at some point. It’s the end that hooks to the tractor that’s the tricky part. In trying to make them safer, manufacturers have tried different styles and ways to protect people from the spinning bits. Some styles are easier than others; buttons to push while sliding them together or collars to pull back while still pushing the implement shaft onto the tractor shaft. There’s one attachment that’s completely covered, but then you can’t see inside to grease it either. Many of those end up cut away enough to get a grease gun in there.

It’s a necessary safety item – a lot of people have been killed or injured from contact with unprotected spinning shafts, but it’s inconvenient. I was thinking about all this while hooking up the baler to the tractor last week and connecting the PTO shaft.  

I know you’re all waiting for the weekly duck report. I took their fence down the other day. I started to roll it up, but I thought I shouldn’t change too much too quick, so I left part of it for reference for them. And one night, 4 brown ducks simply could not figure out how to get back into the pen they’ve been in for the last 2 months. Round and round the barn they went until finally they spent the night in with the chickens. And the next night they figured it out. It’s a mystery. I hate to call them dumb, but gee whiz.

The Mallard ducklings are starting to run and flap their wings. I assume they don’t know they can fly if no one is there to show them they can, and they’ll have to figure it out on their own. I assume instinct will tell them they need to head south. And other years there would be random ducks that would sort of stop in to visit. So, I think they’ll get it figured out I’m just very curious as to how and when.

At our townboard meeting last night the sheriff deputy gave us his report on township activities. Aside from the usual traffic stops, animal calls, or serving papers, a driver was arrested and charged with a DWI. He lived in the area where he was arrested, but prior to his arrest, it looked like it might become a pursuit. Then he turned down a dead-end road, cut into some back yards, and figured he could come back out on the road and get away. Except he came back on the road face to face with four other deputies. Oops.

Bypassed any safety items lately? Why?

What’s overregulated in your life?  

September Farm

The farm report comes to us from Ben.

We had some friends and their kids visit and we had a good time giving tractor rides and gator rides and collecting eggs and seeing cows. It’s always fun giving farm tours.

I finally got around to working on the brush mower. I had to order bigger sockets to get the nut off the broken spindle on the big spinny thing. (It’s 45mm by the way) And then trying to get the gear box off the mower deck, I didn’t have the right size sockets for that either. It’s 30mm. I am getting more and more metric tools, but I didn’t have anything that big. I have a 3/8” drive socket set that I use for a lot of things. And a 1/2” drive set for some of the bigger stuff. And then I started buying 3/4” drive stuff for the really big stuff. (I mean the size of the square on the head of the ratchet is 3/8” or 1/2” or 3/4”). Then I put a 3’ long pipe over the handle to get enough leverage to get the nuts loose. Took the gear box up to John Deere for them to fix.

How’s that go: Every job is an opportunity for a new tool. Worked here.

On the way home from John Deere I stopped at a farm stand and bought 4 dozen ears of sweet corn. A couple kids run this stand and it is really good corn. Got that frozen and it will be really good this winter.

My mom has a possible Covid exposure from one of her physical therapy people. I had seen her on Sunday, and she found that out on Monday. But she hasn’t tested positive herself yet and they all wear masks and mom is vaccinated and I’d think the PT person was too. So hopefully she stays good. She needs to isolate in her room, which she isn’t very happy about. And her food comes in a Styrofoam container with plastic cutlery and that’s her biggest complaint. We had a care conference Tuesday and there seems to be exceptions for everything so she’s gotten real plates now. Hope that keeps up.

Monday was Labor Day and I wondered if I should really take the day off or do some work. If I didn’t do anything I’d feel guilty. I took a nap first off. But then decided to clean up the swather and get that put away. I washed it off and oiled the chains, loosened some belts, and filled the gas tank and added some ‘Stabil’ to the fuel, and tucked it into the shed for winter.

Then decided it was a good day to burn a small brush pile behind the shed. Got that burning and cut some grass while keeping an eye on it.

We’re having a little experiment with the ducks. When they go into the pen at night, they can either walk up a ramp or they can hop up onto a block and then into the open door. Most of them seem to hop in. One day I had not put the ramp in the door, it was sitting down on the block. Everyone had gone in except one black duck and two brown ducks. They were very distressed to be outside on their own and I finally went down and put the ramp up and one brown duck went up the ramp and the other two hopped in from the block. Hmm, were the other two moral support for the ramp duck?

This is very curious, so the next night I also left the ramp down and everyone had gotten in except a black duck and a brown duck. I put the ramp back up and both ducks hopped in without using the ramp.
The third night I put the ramp in the door right away. About dusk everyone heads over to the door and the white ducks always go first and hop on the block and up into the door. Might take them two tries, but they make it. Eventually the ones waiting got tired of waiting in line and they all went and got a drink and then came back and some more hopped in, and again, the remaining few got tired of the queue, went and got another drink and then came back and no one used the ramp and everyone hopped in. Evidently the ramp is more emotional support or a guide? It’s very interesting.

FOURTH NIGHT! I had the ramp up and I watched closer; they seem to use the ramp as a guide rail. A few actually use it, some bump against the side while hopping in, and some jump up onto the ramp about 1/2 way up. Very curious. And when they come out in the morning, it’s last in, first out.

When I got home one day, all the ducks were out of their pen. We’d been talking about letting them out; they’re old enough and big enough, but being ‘adolescent’, they don’t always make the best choices and we lose a few to coyotes. That day they found a hole – or maybe ‘made’ a hole and they were all close, just on the wrong side of the fence. It wasn’t too hard to round them up, patch the hole, and get them all back inside. And then I noticed one of the white ones has a wound under one wing. Neither Kelly or I were working from home that day which makes me wonder; maybe a coyote came in the yard and caused a commotion which is what scared them out. Kelly says every day around noon there is some kind of commotion, and the dogs bark and guineas get upset so there’s something going on.

I showed Kelly how to fire the rifle and the next day, when the noon commotion began, she fired a shot. We never see anything, but we’re trying to scare it– whatever “it” is– away. Kelly really wants to shoot a coyote but she’s having trouble making the scope work for her. She is just hoping for plain, dumb luck. And she’s going to work on firing from the hip.

Chickens; they get into the ducks pen, but they can’t ever figure out how to get back out…

BONUS! Two Sandhill Cranes standing in the field when I left for work the other day.

There has been a pair here all summer, we don’t see them, we only hear them. I’m guessing this is another pair passing through.

Can you fire from the hip? And accomplish what you are trying to accomplish?

One Trick Pony

Both YA and I love to spend time at the Pet Pavilion and Dog Meet/Greet booths at the Fair.  The other place we always hit is the Stunt Dog Show that features dog dock diving as well as some trick dog demonstrations.  It’s amazing to me what they have taught these dogs to do.

I’ve had dogs my entire life but for most of that time, I didn’t think much about tricks.  All my dogs went to basic obedience but the basics for me have always been sit, down, come and off.  Growing up my folks never even did basic obedience.  YA’s dog, Guinevere (who has issues) has been to a LOT of obedience, mostly just to have her around other dogs and people.  Because of this we’ve managed to teach her some tricks (roll over, double dance, shake, high five, bark) along with the basics.

Growing up my folks never even did basic obedience with any of our dogs so “tricks” is outside of my experience, although one of my dogs as a kid was really smart.  Princess (named by me when I was 5) was a shepherd collie mix who came to us as a small puppy.  My mom and sisters and I started to call her Princess the Wonder Dog after she was gone because my father’s stories about her just got wilder and more inventive.  He used to tell folks that she was so intelligent that when he told her to go get his slippers, she would run upstairs and come down with them.  Of course the only problem with that story was that my dad never wore slippers in his life!

Princess did actually know one trick.  If you had her sit and stay, you could put a treat on her nose; she would sit patiently until you said “OK” and then she would deftly toss the treat up a bit and then catch it.  We didn’t ask her to do this much, but she could do it – no exaggeration from my dad needed.  So when the elementary school that my middle sister and I were attending had a family fair with a pet contest, Sally (said sister) really wanted to enter Princess and have her do her one trick.

Sally, who was in the 3rd grade, practiced with Princess for several days before the fair.  She packed up bologna, a really high value treat; she was convinced that Princess would win hands down.  When the time came for Princess to strut her stuff, there were a lot of people, a lot of other dogs and she was nervous.  Sally dutifully had her sit, stay and then put the bologna on her nose.  Sally stepped back and it didn’t take long for Princess to jump back, drop the bologna on the ground and then promptly scoop it up and chow it down.  Sally was absolutely mortified.  I can still hear her say in her trembling angry voice “bad dog, bad dog”.  Princess hung her head in shame.  Sally never volunteered her to do that trick every again.

Have you ever had a pet with a good trick?

Fall is in the Air

This weekend’s farm report comes to us from Ben.

Fall is in the air this week. It’s good weather for sleeping; I love it. The soybeans are starting to turn yellow, and they’ll be losing their leaves soon. And with the recent rains the pastures have greened up again. Another inch of nice, slow, steady rain here recently.

Remember a few months ago I left the top lid open on the feed bin and had to spend an afternoon clearing out the rotten corn and gunk. And it was almost empty, thankfully, and there was still a bit of rotten corn stuck to the sides at the bottom. Since I needed to order more feed, now was the time to clean it all out. I wanted to knock loose a little more good corn so I’d have enough to feed the chickens and ducks for a couple days.

First thing I did was drop my long stick into the auger and jam it up. Belt squealing and I’m 15’ feet up the bin so I carefully, hurriedly, scramble down and turn off the breaker. Then I turn the auger backwards, back up the bin to remove the stick, back down to turn on the breaker again, and back up to finish knocking some corn down.

The bin has an 18” opening at the bottom and then a transition angle attached to that which turns it vertical, and then the auger attaches to that. I removed a clamp and the auger attachment, and the auger slid down and out of place. That’s going to be a problem when I get to putting it all back together. The auger is 4” diameter and about 10’ long and goes up through the wall of the feed room with the electric motor attached to the end of the auger in there. I removed the clamp and transition attachment, and then I put a tarp under the opening and climb back up the bin with my stick and start knocking corn off the walls. I’d knock some loose, pull the tarp out and dump it in the loader bucket, then put the tarp back down and knock more corn off. Took 4 cycles.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. But getting it all put back together took two people, a strap, some C-clamps, a stick, some muscle, and some time.  It might be the first time I’ve cleaned the bin out in 20 or 30 years. Good for another 30 years.

Kelly helped me get the seed cup put back on the grain drill and the 44 bolts reinstalled, so that part is ready to go. I still have some other work to do on the drill, but I can manage that on my own. The 44 bolts took two people with one inside holding the wrench on the head, and me outside tightening the nut. Replacing the seed cup means I don’t have an excuse for leaving gaps in the field anymore. Next year if there’s a gap between the rows it’s my fault for not driving straight.

The next thing to repair is the ‘big spinny thing’ under the brush mower. I got the blades and broken shaft off the spinny part. Now I need Kelly’s help again to get the 8 bolts off the gearbox and take that off the mower itself. Maybe this weekend.

The former oat fields are getting a lot of weeds growing in them now. Bailey and I got them dug up. It needs to be done before they get too big (and before they go to seed) or they will plug up the digger. I try not to go the same way across the field every time I work it up. My fields are not square, and while I’m still trying to follow the contours, it helps to start on the opposite end of the field sometimes and just break up those ridges underneath the soil.

I had the co-op come and take soil samples off the oat fields. Normally you need to do that either in the spring or the fall after the crop is off. Can’t test during the growing season of course but since the oats is done, it was a good time to do those fields. I haven’t seen the results yet.

The remodeling work at one of the local theaters continues and there’s been a good crew in helping with that. If we ever get the flooring done (Thanks to Wes for advice), the bathroom stalls will be the next major job. They came in two dozen pieces and multiple bags of bolts.

In class this week the lab was on topographical maps and reading the contours and an online test on seafloor spreading and continental plates. I learned about Earthquakes, Volcanos, and the Earth’s magnetic field being generated in the core of the earth and that the magnetic field has changed polarity multiple times over the years. The last change was about 1 million years ago.

The only thing we are managing to produce out of our garden is cucumbers.  I make a lot of refrigerator pickles. Neither Kelly or I learned how to can things or preserve things and it’s probably not hard, but it is hard to find the time. At least I can grow cucumbers. Something has gotten in the garden and ate all the potatoes and kohlrabi. All summer something has been in there and I can’t find a hole in the fence, but they leave the cucumbers alone.

And the ducks. They’re getting real nice ‘poofs’ on their heads and some are off to the side like a jaunty little chapeau. I spend a lot of time just watching the ducks play in the water. They are good jumpers being able to hop into one of the water containers. I spend a lot of time watching the ducks.

Got any stories about magnets? Our son stuck one on the TV and messed up the picture and we had to buy a new TV.

Have you been in an Earthquake or seen an active Volcano?

Fair Joy

I know we talked about joy the other day, but… I want to talk about it again.

At the State Fair yesterday, a woman with two kids sat down next to me on the curb, waiting for the parade to begin.  The son was about 8 or so, the daughter was maybe 3.  She was adorable with bright blonde hair that curled around her face and the back of her neck.  She also had quite a dirty face – a combination of what looked like chocolate and something berry-ish. The berry stain had found a home on the front of her shirt as well.

The most interesting thing about this little girl was the fact that she was completely suffused with joy.  Everything about the parade was fascinating to her.  She couldn’t sit down, swaying and dancing as each band went by.  She ooh’ed and aaah’ed over the stilt walkers, the art cars, the waving princesses and especially the big bovines.  As each attraction reached us, she would turn to her mother, her face alight with pleasure, pointing out this newest discovery.

No matter how you measure it, nobody enjoyed the fair more yesterday than this toddler. 

When was the last time you got dirty (and enjoyed the process)?

Farming In August

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Actually, hasn’t been much farming the last few weeks…

I’m back at “work” work now, and I lit another show, and we moved my mom to long term care.

Here’s a theater space I was working in and the genie lift that’s my best friend because it means no ladders!

And the view from up there.

With the lights.

And the lighting console in the loft.

And some of the finished product. The colored lights? That’s what I did.   

It’s a show called ‘Head Over Heels’, music of the GoGo’s (which apparently I only know two songs.

Mom is 95 and has just kinda lost her self confidence in the last few months. There’s been a few falls (nothing serious) and I think she kinda likes it when the firemen come to help pick her up. And I’m lucky I have siblings here and everyone is chipping in to pack and deal with things.
Moving to a long-term care apartment was her idea so that makes it a bit easier; we were over there more and more and balancing the cost of more Visiting Angels or Assisted Living or LTC, she decided this was the thing to do. I can’t say enough good things about VA; they’ve been great.

She was already in a Senior place so we’re lucky that she’s just moving into another section and not across town or anything.

There is a large metal bin down by the barn that holds corn which I use for the chickens and ducks. I opened the top lid one day to climb up and check how much was left inside, and then forgot about it and left the top open for two weeks and that’s when we got 3” of rain. Oh fer….

I spent an hour one morning taking an access cover off the bottom and digging out about 30 gallons of wet, stinky, moldy, rotten corn. I’ll try not to forget to close that again. Thank Goodness it’s almost empty. I’ll be ordering 100 bushels of cracked corn to refill in the next few weeks.

They say August is bean month. Beans have pods, but how big they’re going to get depends on the weather in August.

I was just reading about how corn develops and how the yields are determined by the weather. It takes roughly 90,000 average kernels to make a bushel (56 pounds for corn, remember?). The guys who are winning the yield contests can get that down to 65,000 kernels (bigger, heavier kernels). Final yield started with how many plants emerged back in April. The girth of the ear was determined at the 5-leaf stage; If the plant was happy and it had all the right nutrients and moisture, it can have 20 kernels around. 12-14 is average so any more than that means everything was going right at that point. Now the kernels are there and it depends on the weather as to how much they fill and what the test weight will ultimately be. If it gets stressed now, it won’t develop fully to the tip as the plant sacrifices them to fill the bottom. A lot had to happen already, but the weather this month can still make or break a crop. It’s pretty fascinating.

The ducks have moved outside and now it’s all muddy out there (I swear; everything is wet when you have ducks).

Here’s some ducks!

Any Questions?

Boil or microwave your sweetcorn? Who’s done mud wrestling?

Anticipation

Last week, someone at work referred to me as a “glass half-empty” kind of person.  I was a little surprised, as I don’t think of myself as a gloomy Gus.  I do work hard to keep my expectations low sometimes – especially for events or big occasions.  That way, if something tanks, I’m not terribly disappointed.  But if it goes well, then I am very happy – probably happier than if I had high expectations.  So maybe I am “glass half-empty”.

Next week is the opening of the State Fair.  I don’t need to bore you all (again) with my love of the State Fair but I am telling you, it is HARD to keep my expectations in line.  YA and I did the mini (pretend) fair experience over Memorial Day and it was a good idea to not go into it with a lot of excitement. But even with that very blah experience under our belts, we’ve spent a lot of time in the last week figuring out which days, how many tickets, what new foods, when will the golden retrievers be there, where parking is this year.  We bought our tickets and have even combed through the coupon booklets already.  I have taken opening day off of work as well as a few other days.  YA has also requested a couple of days off.

Considering the current state of affairs, it seems dangerous to get my hopes up.  The Fair could just be a disaster this year.

But with all this activity and still a few days before opening, how do I keep my expectations low?  Are you a half-full or half-empty type?

My Favorite Insects

Having a lot of flowers and vegetable plants to care for has been a relief in some ways lately, since it has kept me outside the house and off my phone looking at news feeds and becoming more and more despondent. Between drought, excessive heat, the pandemic and all the associated idiocy, Afghanistan, and US politics, it has been a heart-heavy summer.

The other morning I was turning the sprinkler on the dahlias when I saw a perfect dragonfly perched on the fence. I like dragonflies. We only see them here when it is sufficiently humid. It is sometimes humid here in the early morning. I love the way they tear around. I also like hummingbird moths and their imitation of hummingbirds. They are a rare sight here, too. I saw a Tiger Swallow tail last weekend, and that always cheers me up. On the rare nights it has been cool enough to have the windows open and the AC off, I even have enjoyed hearing the crickets, unless they are frogs, but I think they are crickets.

What are your favorite insects? How to you cope with bad news? How can you tell a frog call from a cricket chirp?

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?

Doesy Doates

Today’s post comes from Ben.

When last we left the farm the swather was standing on one tire and a jack.

Mechanic Nick came out from John Deere and fixed it up in no time. Now that was a good decision to call them. And $637 later I’m moving through the field again. I was estimating $500. “Labor” was $500… bearing, flanges, locking collar, service call, misc and …. Just put it on my tab. But it’s fixed and I finished cutting oats and the swather is back home in the shed.

I spend a lot of time thinking of ‘what if’s’. What if the machine breaks down? What will I do if I can’t fix it? Who can I call that would know people to come and cut oats? And then, as I near the end it becomes ‘I would just leave this part’, or ‘who has a sickle mower I could use’, or ‘I wonder if the bean head could do this’? This year I learned something. I learned I call John Deere and they can fix some of it. Course it depends what, exactly, has broken. 

And what do I think about all day just going round and round? I have music in my head. Last week I had the ‘Mairsey Dotes’ song in there for a while… that annoyed me. Had to work real hard to get something else in there. The first day it was a Pink Floyd song. Got some Led Zepplin going, there was probably a show tune in there somewhere… I can’t remember what finally settled in.

No cab or radio, and I’m wearing hearing protection, long sleeves, and a dust mask.

I observe the direction the oats was planted versus the direction I’m cutting it and I wonder if it matters because of how it sits on the stubble; is sitting sideways better than sitting in line? When going the same direction, in line, does it fall down between the stubble more? Hmmm. (It depends how heavy the windrow is). And I leave some stubble so it sits on top of that in case it does get rained on it’s not flat on the ground.  

I observe how whenever I stop with the planter, I leaves a gap of a few feet and weeds grow wherever there isn’t grain growing.

Which is kind of amazing when you think about it.

I look at the damage the deer cause and I curse them out a little more.

When the combine (we should clarify the pronunciation of this if you’re not familiar. It’s not com-BINE, like adding things, it’s COM-bine. I don’t know where that came from. Subject for another day). The combine has to pick up the oat windrow the same direction it was cut. And that means from the head end. As the swather cuts it, all the heads fall to the back and it’s usually pretty easy to tell. Trying to go the wrong way, it just doesn’t feed into the combine as well.

When cutting, it’s best to make about 4 or 5 rounds all around the field, so there’s room on the ends for the combine to turn around, (and that goes for any crop; corn or beans or anything); we call those the ‘headlands’.  And then it can just be cut going back and forth. Corners are tough so we avoid those when we can. Tough in that the machinery doesn’t make 90 degree corners very well, it doesn’t plant well in corners, hard to stay on the row in a corners.

OK, so now it’s Saturday and the combine is here and harvesting and I don’t have any trucks yet. I can’t get the truck guy on the phone. I call another guy from the farm, but he’s over in Wisconsin and he can’t get anyone on the phone either. Finally, we just go to the farm and get a semi and drive it back here ourselves. And, of course, there’s a summer shower and the harvesting is done for the day. Next day he’s back and finishes that field. And a few days later gets the last of it.

I don’t have the final numbers yet, but it looks like a real good crop.

As I write this, I’ve got some straw baled, got another show ready to open, ducklings moved to a bigger pen,

and I’m going to cut the grass!

Talk about when you had to do something yourself. Why is good help so hard to find?