Category Archives: Farming Update

Another Week, Another Snowstorm

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

We got a good 6 to 8 inches Wednesday night into Thursday. They were predicting that, so I unhooked the rear blade and hooked the snowblower on the tractor on Tuesday. I hadn’t used the blower this year, so I had to put the hydraulic cylinder on it to rotate the spout, check the oil, grease the power takeoff shaft, and I was fairly impressed with myself that I could get in amongst the linkage and frame and get the power takeoff shift connected to the tractor. I would not have been able to do that last summer. BULLY FOR ME!  

It was kind of fun to blow snow again, I do things a little different with the blower than I do with the blade and it’s just been the last few years that I started using a blade for snow, so the skills for this came back pretty quick. I remembered it would be slower, but I forgot how much it makes my neck hurt because I’m looking over my right shoulder to do it. The seat swivels a bit, and I sit as sideways as I can, but it’s still looking over my shoulder. My next tractor will have heated mirrors so they stay clean. Or maybe my next tractor will have a blower on the front!

Kelly took some video of me, and I put my first video on YouTube.

One day I had to stop at Fleet Farm as I was looking for insulated winter boots. I found them over in the ice fishing section. You all know I’m not much of a sportsman so I don’t think I’ve ever walked through that area before. It was a little bit fascinating!

I found some boots; they’re keeping my feet much warmer than the plain rubber boots I had been wearing.

Then I went to Menards and walked around there for a while. After that, I had a meeting on the far end of the college campus, and by the time I got home I was pooped out. Nothing hurt! Just pooped out.

Kelly counted 17 pheasants in the yard one morning. The most we’ve ever had, and I love seeing them. I have one neighbor that always asks if he can pheasant hunt and I always tell him no.

My chickens from last spring are just coming into their peak. It’s not unusual to get 16 or 20 eggs a day lately. If anybody was up for a road trip again for eggs, this would be a good time. Although we should wait for the driveway to get better than glare ice.

After that rain we got on Monday, our yard and driveway became pretty slick. It’s been packed snow all winter, not thick, just a half-inch maybe, but that’s what rain does to it. I went to a meeting Monday night. I was impressed that I was even able to get out. Years of practice I told Kelly. After I got home, I used the loader and tried to scrape the ice on the hills and corners on the driveway. It didn’t do much, but it did rough it up a bit and that helps.

I went out to do chores while it was raining on Monday, I tried Kelly‘s yak traks, but they didn’t fit my boots, and I lost them on about the third step. Again, I’ve been doing this for years, I know how to aim for the gravel or bare ground or walk through the snow. Once I got to the feed room, I threw out a bunch of corn, and that gives some traction. Then I carried a bucket with me and scattered corn in front of me to make a path to walk on. A win for the crows and chickens and ducks, and a win for me.

I remember an old movie called Angel In My Pocket, Andy Griffith and a host of character actors that you would recognize. It came out in 1969, and a gentleman playing the church caretaker, Parker Fennelly, reminds me of my grandfather Hain. That was the only movie I was able to watch this week. I couldn’t find it online anywhere so I ordered the movie off eBay and it came from Australia. Spent a week in customs in Chicago. It a long way for some entertainment, but I really enjoy this movie and it makes me think of Grandpa.

I was filling the birdfeeders one day, and I love the fact that the chickadees don’t even wait for me to finish, and they don’t appear to be very scared. I was standing right there filling things and they just come and sit on the birdfeeder.

And here’s Humphrey breaking the corn cob into bits.  PHOTOS

Do you, or did your family do home movies?

January Bleary

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Middle of January now, gray days, average temperatures, and we must persevere. A couple more weeks, we’ll start to see some change in the daylight, and hope will return.

I’ve been able to do more chores again. Feeding the chickens and ducks and collecting eggs. One day there was 7 male pheasants came from the East, while the 5 females come from the North to eat the corn we throw out. 

I watched a flock of 12 ducks fly figure 8’s over the yard one day. Four finally landed in the pond. Not sure where the rest went.

Bailey played King Of the Hill all by herself.

I’m back to work half days now for a couple of weeks. Then I’ll go full time. The knee is still doing fantastic. Now it’s just getting all those muscles stretched out again and used to walking and retraining those left leg muscles to walk straight instead of bowlegged.

Movies this week were Judgement at Neurenberg, Glass Onion, and Passing Strange (A little known Rock Musical that I really like.

Other movies during various recoveries this year have included Men Who Stare At Goats Animal House, Kill Bill 1 & 2, Django Unchained. (Boy…those Tarantino movies. Kelly won’t watch them. If you don’t know, there’s a lot of blood, and a lot of language).

Obviously having a job is cutting into my movie viewing time so still on my ‘To View’ list is Citizen Kane (for the 8th time) Bridge on River Kiwi, Blazing Saddles (For the umpth time) The Terminal, and the Original The Producers (For the 3rd time).

I’ve got everything locked in now for spring of 23. Oat seed has been reserved and paid for, soybean Seed ordered and paid for, and corn seed ordered and charged. Oats is $11.70 per bushel and I plant three bushels per acre. Soybeans are planted at 55 pounds per acre and a 50lb bag is either $50 for non-treated or $60 for treated. (Treated for insects and rot if the ground is wet when planted.) Corn prices vary depending on the variety and things, but my average cost is $269 per bag. A bag will do a little over 2 1/2 acres and a bag is 80,000 kernals.  I  order a little extra in case I don’t have rates’ quite right or I over plant on the corners or heck, might even spill half a bag on the ground. And we can always return to the dealer what we don’t use. There’s nothing worse than being almost done and it’s 6 o’clock at night and there’s rain on the horizon and I need one more bag of seed. Been there done that.

I had a cement contractor to the farm the other day, looking at pouring some cement either inside the shed and ideally, I would build a wall and insulate and get my warm shop. But of course, a slab outside would be nice to so that I have a place to work on things without lying on the gravel. We will see what the prices are. Like everything, last year the price of concrete increased at a rate no one had seen before. Until this year when it increased again an unheard-of amount. Ballpark around here is $190 per yard just for the concrete not counting site prep work and labor.

I’ve mentioned a few times in the past about remodeling at a local theater and now some HVAC work. The HVAC work was begun in August, new ductwork was installed, and some old things removed, hopefully the rooftop unit will arrive in March. This past week, they installed a ships ladder, and cut a hole in the roof so we have roof access from inside rather than an extension ladder outside the building. It’s really fun; I’ve been on the roof several times this week. Also, couple of supports and steel beams were placed on the roof to support the rooftop unit whenever it gets here. I had a good time talking with both the sheet-metal workers and the ironworkers. The first day, I wanted to get up on the roof to see what was going on, but I didn’t think I should be climbing the outside extension ladder quite yet. It took me a few, tries to find the person that owned and operated the boom lift, and I played the “new knee card“and he took me on the roof.

It’s surprising the things you can do if you just ask. I got above the ceiling of the chapel at the local nuns home, Assisi Heights, because I happen to be there one day, putting up some stage lights for a show and their maintenance crew said they were going to replace some house lights so I asked if I could come along. That was an adventure.  In high school I always heard about the large ventilation pipes under the building and so we asked Milo the head maintenance guy. On the last day of school, he took my best friend Pete and I down to the basement and opened the door and said here you go, I’ll meet you over in the gym.  it was just a big metal tunnel, but it was still kind of cool. You just gotta ask.

Driving one day and the song ‘Open the Door Richard’ by Count Basie was on XM Radio. Remember the Bugs Bunny cartoon with Yosemite Sam chasing Bugs and Sam pounds on the door and yells “OPEN THIS DOOR!” then turns to the camera and says, “Notice I didn’t say Richard?”

Makes me laugh every time.

I returned a box to Acme Tools last week. The clerk asked me if there was an anvil in there.

What have you learned from cartoons?

What have you gained by just asking?

January

The first Farm Report of 2023 comes to us from Ben.

I’m happy to report my 1940’s radio station is back on XM radio, thank goodness.

We seem to have picked up some extra ducks; there’s 14 now. And there’s more either female or younger pheasants coming in for chicken corn. I sure wish Steve was here to clarify those things for me. One day I watched our dog Bailey walk right past a pheasant and neither one paid any attention to the other. I understand Bailey ignoring the pheasant, I’m surprised the pheasant ignored Bailey. 

I am finally driving again. I park my car over in the old machine shed and there’s a lot of sparrows in there. A night or two isn’t bad. But I parked for two weeks, I had bought a tarp and some cheap bungee cords back in January when I knew I was having shoulder surgery, but the car actually sat out that whole time. This time, when we got it out, it was evident I should’ve had a bigger tarp. The hood, front windshield, and most of the roof was OK, the back window and sides were pretty disgusting. And they were really cheap bungee cords, there’s no stretch left in them. The tarp will still be good… once it’s cleaned off.

I’m back in the tractor! There was a minor mishap trying to move snow one day. It was wet and heavy, and we were trying to go the other direction and, well, one thing led to another, and pretty soon we were in the fence. I told Kelly, I’ve run into a lot of things, broken some fences, dented some steel siding, and broke some stuff; that’s just how you learn. Didn’t damage anything on the tractor, and the fence can be fixed. A few days later trying to cut down the snowbanks, I snagged the fence a couple more times with the blade. Just loosened the fence a little bit. There’s a bit of a learning curve to this that I’m still getting back. I move a lot of sod before the ground freezes. (For the record, Kelly hardly picked up any sod. Somehow, I’m still picking up sod.) And I may have re-arranged our fire pit a little bit. Oops.  

We have some pretty good banks on the sides of the road.

That’s the issue with using a blade and not a blower. If I’m up to it, one of these days I’ll hook the blower up and use that to cut the banks down. Unless they melt first. On the township level we have the county Highway Department clear our snow. After the first couple snows and the county trucks clearing the roads, we get some complaints about road rock being thrown into people’s yards. Well, that’s pretty hard to avoid on these first snowfalls. The next complaint is about the snow – or the plow- hitting mailboxes. To avoid those mishaps, a few years ago the county replaced all the mailboxes on county roads with swiveling pipe stands. When the plow or heavy snow hits the mailbox, it swivels out of the way. Seems like a good plan. Except when there’s mail in the box. Then it’s like ‘Crack-the-whip’ and the door pops open and the mail sails off into the ditch. I stood on the edge of the road looking at the open mailboxes (both ours and our neighbors) and looked at the mail down there by the pine tree and thought, “maybe, I can get down there.” Nope, one step into the deep snow and I knew my knew knee wasn’t up to it. Kelly had to go rescue it. And it turned out it was all our neighbors mail.

It was 2 1/2 weeks before I put real pants on again, and three weeks to the day before I wore real shoes again. I’m doing stairs, and I can just barely get the left foot up on my right knee to put my socks on! Making progress!

Movies this week have been Monty Python and the Holy Grail, (because it showed up on Netflix so how could I not?) So many quotable lines! The one I use on daughter often is when trying to wake her up in the mornings. I tell her I’ll come back and “…taunt you a second a-time-a!”

And Ferris Buellers Day Off. And The Big Lebowski. I saw part of The English Patient on TV one night. Thumbs up or down for that one? I remember liking the book. 

I got the book ‘Wild Pork and Watercress’ by Barry Crump for Christmas; read that in 2 days. Saw the movie adaptation last summer, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and liked that. Then the book. As usual, the book was better. 

Kelly’s car had more miles last year. Probably from driving me around all summer. My car and truck had less miles of course, and all the tractors had less hours. I didn’t do my own fertilizer last year so that accounted for some less. And I only had half as much straw to bale as usual, so that was less hours. The big tractor, doing the heavy tillage, had 37 hours. My other one, the one I use for planting, baling, blowing snow, and mowing, that one had 113 hours. The gator, being our first full year with it, had 468 hours and 455 miles. Since that was my main mode of transportation for a couple months, it did add up. 

Speaking of airplanes and deserts, (The English Patient), Anyone seen ‘The Little Prince’ at the Guthrie? How is it?

Did you play Dodge Ball in School? What was the most terrifying playground equipments?

Revolutions

Today’s post comes from Ben.

The end of another year, pretty fitting that it happens on the last day of the week. It just fits the calendar so nicely and it feels so right that the last day of the year, the last day of the month, also ends on the last day of the week. And then we begin another month, another week, another year on the first day of the week. No open squares, it just all seems better that way.

The end of the year, all the old hackneyed, banal phrases of closing out another chapter, turning the page, another chance to try it again. But they still apply.

On the farm I will collect mileage from all the vehicles and the hours on the tractors and the lawnmower, the four-wheeler, the gator, and even the total gallons on the diesel barrel pump. I put all the data in my spreadsheet to compare with the other years. (At one point I believe we had to report the mileage to our accountant and there must’ve been a deduction for farm mileage or something. Now it’s just all under the standard deduction but I have always enjoyed keeping track of things like that). I also have our farm balance sheet that I will spend the next month working on.  It’s fun for me; I like compiling the data and seeing the changes, adding pretty colors, and formatting it. 

During 2022, I kept track of how many dozens of eggs I moved out of the house. It was easier keeping track of the dozens going out then it was the eggs coming in. The last few weeks I haven’t actually moved very many, so counting the eight dozen I have on the counter now, I moved 320 dozen eggs. That’s kind of impressive. That’s 3480 eggs. Which averages 10 eggs per day for an entire year. Back in October I only moved about 10 dozen, while between March and August it was upwards of 30 per month. If you count all the chickens around here, which is somewhere between 40 and 50, 10 eggs per day doesn’t seem like enough. I never said I was looking for efficiency, I’ve always said it was a chicken retirement farm.

I’ve also been getting crop inputs finalized for next year. Prepaid some fertilizer, locked in prices on some other products, and finalizing my seed orders. It’s discouraging that fertilizer and chemicals are as expensive this year as last. Hope for another good year of crop production and prices. I expect prices will have to crash and we’ll all take a loss one year before things will come down again.

A lot of the stuff we do before the end of the calendar year so that I can take the financial expense this year. There’s also typically a discount on pricing when you order sooner. My seed company discount goes until mid-January, and I expect to be driving again by then so I will get that done at that point. We paid off all of this year‘s crop loans, paid off another small loan on my truck, and paid a good chunk of an operating loan. Also, at the end of the year the equity checks come in from the various co-ops that we belong to. March 2023 will be 19 years since I sold the milk cows. The dairy co-op that we sold to, AMPI,  has a 20 year payback on their equity and so for the last 18 years I’ve been getting a check for a few hundred dollars from the dairy co-op even though there has not been a milk cow on the farm. The check this year was for $200. There’s $2.48 remaining in my equity.  Seems to me it would’ve made more sense to just add it on too this year‘s check. But whatever, one more check from the milk cows. 

We are all glad the weather has finally warmed up. The ducks finally got out of the pond and actually came back up in the yard. Chickens, squirrels, pheasants, and lots of birds are out and about and enjoying it. The show has melted off the deck so I can go out there and walk around a bit.

I am getting along very well on my knew knee. (Gnu G-knee!) And the 37 staples were removed from the incision on Thursday. The doctor gave me a good report. A few days prior to that Kelly took me out for a ride in the gator, it was just nice to get out of the house. She even took me over to the shop and I got up in the tractors. Just to say I could. Again, after all the trouble I had the spring and summer, I didn’t really think this would stop me, but it still felt good to get in there. I sort of expect to be driving again this weekend and I may have to take over snow clearing duties soon.

Prior to the surgery I had to remove the two earrings that I wear. I asked daughter to put them in. She doesn’t have pierced ears, and she’s never done earrings before and I thought this would be good practice for her. As a guy, I can’t get them in myself, I generally ask Kelly. Daughter got one in and Kelly got the second one.

Years ago when I was giving a farm tour to some elementary school kids, a little girl asked me about the ear tags that I put in the calves ears. I was kneeling down and face-to-face with her and I told her it was like getting your ears pierced. I have a very vivid memory of her looking to my ears at the same moment I Iooked to hers. I had earrings, she didn’t and I thought to myself, this is a fascinating little discussion and I wondered if she’s going to go home and ask to get her ears pierced.

One of the movies I watched this week was ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’.  One of those movies I’ve heard about and seen bits of, but never seen the whole thing. I enjoyed it. I also watched ‘All That Jazz’ for the 349th time. I was home alone so I had it loud to make it the best it could be. And I picked some new bits out of it. I never get tired of that movie. 

MAKE A NEW YEAR RESOLUTION FOR SOMEBODY ELSE.

TALK ABOUT GETTING YOUR EARS (OR BODY) PIERCED.

Winter with a knew knee!

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Boy, If I was gonna pick a week to stay inside, last week was the week to choose. Although 5 months ago when we set this up, I wasn’t expecting this weather yet. I think there’s some record of the second week of February being historically the coldest. I do remember February 1996. Daughter was born in 1995 and that February she was in the NICU with a bad cold. Kelly spent nights there with her. I was still milking cows and doing chores and it was -42° one morning. That’s the coldest I remember. An owl spent the night in the garage it was so cold. And some yahoo went 4-wheeling with his truck in one of our fields and got stuck and came into the barn looking for help. I wasn’t very nice to him, but I did pull him out. Eventually.

This cold weather is also a helpful remind that I didn’t turn all the heat on in the house this fall when it first got cold. Because we have electric heat, all the rooms have thermostats and individual breakers. I turn them all off in the summer. When it started getting chilly, I turned on some of them. They’re not all labeled, so I only turned on what I thought were the important ones.

Then later we started saying ‘It sure is cold in the living room’ forgetting that I hadn’t turned everything on. Until last week. I managed to get my knew knee (I know that’s wrong, I just enjoy the alliteration) down to the basement for several things, including going in to check that breaker panel and oh. Yea. Only about half are on. We don’t use the basement for much, so I set those all to about 50° and turned on all the heaters. Boy, there’s nothing like the smell of dust burning off a heater.

Got my grade for Meteorology class. ‘A’. I don’t take classes spring semester; too much other stuff going on.

The ducks are spending all their time in the pond with this cold weather. Maybe to stay warm, maybe to keep it from freezing. It has shrunk up a little bit as the stream of water coming into it is pretty light. We seem to have picked up a couple stray ducks. One flies away when Kelly approaches, but there’s still an extra in the pond too. Alumni? Possible. And the chickens don’t have much interest in coming out of the coop either. Kelly opens the doors and throws out corn for them. But no Thanks. We’re fine. They do have water, corn, and egg layer ration in the pens. No reason to come out if they don’t want too. The guineas come out a bit further, but even they don’t go far.

I’m getting around pretty well on the knee. Better than I would have expected at this point. It’s still uncomfortable due to some swelling, and it’s still all sorts of colors. I get a little stiff in the shin and calf. Takes a few steps to get the muscles and tendons loose and moving. Using a cane 50% of the time and walker 25% and nothing 25%.

I’ve hit the BDDT phase of recovery. ‘bored, discouraged, depressed, and tired’. Hard to sleep at night just cause I have a hard time getting comfortable. And eventually, lack of sleep just makes me grumpy. But I’m surviving!

Did you know there is drone racing on TV?? On NBC! With fancy lighting. And drones, which I don’t care so much for, but the lighting is cool. Found a lot of old B&W movies on these new TV channels (new to us. Something called ‘Pluto TV’ which I haven’t quite got all figured out). Jack Lemmon in ‘Operation Mad Ball’. Spencer Tracey in ‘The Last Hurrah’ (with Basil Rathbone and John Carradine. Man, what a long face he has! And he sure could scowl!) ’12 Angry Men’ and things like ‘The Professional’, and several versions of Pink Panther movies. Plus, ‘St. Vincent’ on Netflix. Highly recommended.

Kelly continues to be my rock star. Not only doing all her work, but my work too. She really has never liked cold weather, so extra accolades on her for getting up early and going out to collect eggs and feed everybody. The day she spilled water into her boot I thought she’d quit. But she’s almost starting to enjoy driving the tractor and plowing snow. Almost.

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH A WEEK STUCK INSIDE?

Figuring It Out

Today’s farm update comes from Ben

I mentioned last week daughter is a teenager. Well, she’s 27. Going on 14. She’s got Down Syndrome and about a year ago she hit adolescence. Hard. Like flipping a switch, hard. Our county social worker said most of his clients hit adolescence about this age. It was a relief just hearing this behavior was normal and not just our kid. We try not to think how her stages seem to last twice as long, so what are we in for… I’m afraid boys will be next.

Trying to get her to bed one night and it’s not going well. As we talk, she says “I’m trying to be an adult; I’m trying to figure it out.”  I laughed and hugged her.  “Oh honey. That’s what being an adult is; trying to figure it out.” 
 
WHEN DID YOU FIGURE IT OUT? OR HAVE YOU? 
WHAT MAKES YOU AN ADULT?

Snowed

Today’s Farm Update comes from Ben.

Snowed overnight. About 5” wet, sticky snow. Gave daughter a snow day. I started waking her up, kept looking out the window at the snow falling, talked with Kelly, and we decided, life is too short. Covered daughter back up and turned off her light. She wasn’t awake anyway. Can you say ‘teenager’??

I made a quick path up the driveway and back. Will do more around the yard later with Kelly so she can refresh how to drive the tractor and work the blade. Header photo is halfway down our driveway.

I finished meteorology class. Got 57/60 on the final (which the teacher opened early for me), and I submitted the final lab assignment (on water usage in our homes) and got 10 points of extra credit for doing another test. Don’t know my final grade yet as the teacher hasn’t graded three assignments, but I’m expecting an A. Three credits closer to getting a degree someday.

I won some items in an online auction this week. This auction is open for about 8 days. And if someone bids on an item in the last 5 minutes, the timer resets for another 5 minutes. I was bidding on some heavy-duty pallet shelving. Did some research on new stuff, and it’s about $600 for one end and 2 bars. Typically, you figure half the price for used. So, these three auction lots were three uprights, six bars, and a bunch of cross pieces. There was three lots and I bid on two. Got one lot for $725. Couldn’t afford the second, but still a bargain.

Also got a set of 6’ fork extensions to put on the pallet forks I use on the loader. I remember first using forklift extensions as a stagehand and sometimes there was larger, awkward cases that needed a longer reach than normal forklift forks.

These will be good for picking up branches, or scrap iron. I thought about taking my trailer to pick up this stuff. But my trailer has sides on it, about 1′ tall. It’s great for hauling straw. It’s not so great when trying to load something from the sides, like pallet shelving, because a forklift can’t set it down with those sides in the way. I may have to buy a flat trailer too, because… you know. Toys.

I hauled in the scrap iron I dumped on the trailer a few weeks ago, plus a couple other things I had tossed on there. It weighed 1000 lbs and scrap was a low price of $50/ton. I never check the price; I just haul it in. Sometimes scrap is $400 / ton. Obviously, more people are hauling their scrap in when the price is high. I learned from the salvage yard guy that when they scrap cars, they drain the fuel out of them, and they save the good fuel and use it in their own cars. He did admit it’s a little like Russian roulette. But the machine they use to drain and filter the fuel has a site gauge and you can see bad fuel and divert it. It also costs them $4/gallon to get rid of old fuel.

This week at the college I’ve been working on lighting our holiday concert. My friend Paul creates the decor. I light it up. One night only, so I can tolerate that. We have ice mountains and a giant Nutcracker.

And this is my view from the booth.

After Paul finishes building the set, he leaves some bit of decor in the office. This year it was Version 1 of the Nutcracker’s mustache.

I was outside the other day and suddenly the chickens all made a racket and they headed for shelter and the dogs started barking and ran around trying to figure out what was happening. And there was a red-tailed hawk right next to the house trying to get a chicken. It flew away. No blood, some feathers. It might have been after one of the roosters; Number 3 was missing some neck feathers. Seems pretty ambitious for a hawk. Or desperation.

And some of the ducks are bathing in the water tank down by the barn. Nothing wrong with that except they spill a lot of water and it’s making an icy spot. Won’t be my problem in a few days.

Here’s some chicken and duck photos. The last one is Rosie and Guildy.

Hasn’t been any particular music this week. Just trying to keep the Holiday earworms away.

Next week is knee surgery. Yippee!

WHICH AMBITIOUS GOAL DID YOU WORK ON THIS YEAR?

Random Thoughts

Today’s Farm report comes from Ben.

It’s December. Not too much farm stuff this week, and I have some random thoughts.

I saw SEVEN ducks fly over to their breakfast! Everybody but the poufy and the two big black ones. Rosie and Guildy, the regular mallards, and the two that I always assumed were too fat to fly. (Is it OK to call a duck fat?) But they all flew from the pond to the corn. Yay ducks!

It was down in the single digits the other night and I had to turn on the wellhouse heater again. I sure don’t remember having to do that in November or early December before.

I got the rear blade mounted on the tractor and got to use it after the 3” of snow we got on Tuesday. As usual with the first snow and the not solidly frozen ground, I ripped up some sod. Oops. Well, the chickens like the dirt. Gonna be rough mowing next summer, but that’s next summers problem.

We did get the driveway markers in and snow fence up last Saturday. That Saturday after Thanksgiving has traditionally been a nice weather day and we’ve done snow fence for several years on that day. It was a little windy, but it wasn’t too cold, and as long as we worked with the wind, the fence stayed up by itself and it went OK. It helps that the posts are still there one year to the next. Last year my shoulder had just started to hurt, leading to the surgery in February, so I wasn’t much help with the snowfence last year. We put up 400’ in about 1.5 hours this year. Next year I’m hoping to install some permanent wood posts for the ends of the sections. It’s on my list of next summer’s jobs.

Every night I give the dogs some ‘Milkbone’ dog treats. Allie has to get one first. Humphrey will not take a treat first; he’ll only take one after Allie gets hers. I don’t think it’s altruism, I’m not sure if he’s that suspicious? He won’t take pills or eat anything without sniffing it first. And Bailey. She’ll leave the treats sit all night. And when I open the garage door the next morning, she grabs a treat and heads off to bury it in the snow. She’s so weird. They’re all so weird.  

I’ve started baking Amish Friendship bread again. Just did my second batch of 6. I should be able to get one more batch in before the knee, then I’ll stall it for a bit. I’ve got a list of things that needed to be done before my knee replacement. (8 days and counting! I’m excited and scared and cautiously optimistic!) There were some big things like getting fieldwork done, and machinery put away, getting the snow fence up, and putting the rear blade

on the tractor were the last two items. But then I started adding minor things, just so I could enjoy crossing them off. I’ve added things like ‘Put up Christmas tree’ and ‘Show Kelly the well house heater’ and ‘move the piano’. We’re making progress on the list!

Music this week: I’ve been listening to the Modern Big Band channel. And on the car radio I heard Nina Simmone singing ‘Sinnerman’.

CAN THE FOODS ON YOUR PLATE TOUCH EACH OTHER? DO YOU EAT ONE THING AT A TIME OR EAT A BITE OF EVERTHING?

That’s a Wrap!

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Wrapped up another growing season on the farm.

Got my corn harvested last weekend. Best yields I’ve ever had plus a decent price so that’s all nice. Inputs costs were exceptionally high, which cuts into the profits, but all in all, it ended up being a good year. Was it the weather? (It was a later spring than we like) Was it the lime applied last fall? Was it the co-op applying custom rates of fertilizer? Was it the fungicide applied to the soybeans? Was it some of everything??

They finished the corn harvest on Saturday, I finished chisel plowing on Sunday, and Tuesday, the co-op spread lime on the fields we didn’t do last year.  I plow at about 6.5 MPH. I was doing about an acre every 15 minutes. Something I think about while I’m out there, it works up pretty rough. And that’s intentional because we want it to hold snow and prevent wind erosion. So driving across the field is really rough in the tractors. 50 years ago, when doing traditional plowing, it turned over all the residue, and if the conditions were good, left the field fairly smooth. And with the smaller tractors and smaller tires, that wasn’t a problem. It was probably in the mid 1980’s that we started doing conservation tillage, meaning we quit using the old traditional ‘moldboard’ plow and started using a chisel plow. One of the rules of the chisel plow is that you need to keep your speed up when plowing because the shovel is only 3” wide, and you want it to physically throw the dirt as it moves through the soil. The shovel is twisted to one side or the other, so my machine has 11 shovels; 5 throw dirt left, and 6 throw the dirt right. The whole thing is about 15 feet wide. Not burying all the residue also meant the machine has to be built to allow more trash to pass through it without plugging up in the shanks of the shovels.

The first chisel plow we got only had 7 shovels. And the tractor was not front wheel assist, meaning it had small tires on the front, and boy, it was really rough going across the worked ground. My tractor now, with MFWD (Mechanical Front Wheel Drive) and the larger front tires, makes it slightly less rough.

Course I had my tractor buddy Bailey with me the whole time.

If it got too bumpy she’d sit up and lean against my leg and I’d rub her head, then she’d lay back down again. It was tough going with some frost in the ground. Some places were frozen more than others; maybe different soil types caused that? There was a few minutes I was working in a snow squall. Weird.

My brother made the comment, “Thank goodness for heated cabs.” I agreed, and said I had thought about that too. I have spent time planting or doing fieldwork wearing a coat and gloves on open tractors. I also said I would have had to quit sooner because the lights weren’t so good back then.

With my bad foot, I generally get a new pair of shoes every fall because I’ve worn one of them sideways. After getting the soybean check is generally when I go shoe shopping. I only want steel or composite toe shoes. I move a lot of heavy stuff and I got enough problems without smashing a toe as well. And safety toe shoes are expensive to begin with.  With the brace I wear on my right foot, I take out the insert and need a size 11 for that foot. I have a custom insert for the left foot, which is 9.5, but since I have size 11, I add my custom one on top of the original and I get along OK. Yet It seems silly to pay so much money for shoes and then I’m taking out some of the main thing. And they have to be built right to fit the brace in the first place. This year I’m trying a pair of Keen boots. $170 at Fleet Farm. Gosh. I’ve been wearing a pair of Sketchers that have been good. These are the shoes I wear every day. I’ve also got a pair of Red Wing work boots I wear when farming. I think I can get another year out of them.

There are a few places that deal in mismatched shoe sizes for amputee’s or other issues with the feet. One place says, “Find your ‘sole mate’.” I’ve never tried them, but I think it’s a wonderful idea.

ANYTHING MISMATCHED ABOUT YOU?

WHAT HAVE YOU GOT THAT YOU COULD EXCHANGE WITH SOMEONE?  

Could Be Worse

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

At least it’s not ‘Lake Effect’ snow.

I’m kinda grumpy about this weather. It feels like January and it’s only November.

I was feeding the ducks the other morning and while I was in the feed room getting another bucket of corn, I noticed a couple of them fly up to where I had spread the corn. Of our 10 ducks, only a couple are actual mallards that can fly, the black and white ones, (The Swedish breed) and the poufy one can’t fly. And then I saw Rosie, the new black duck fly in! I didn’t notice if Guildy can fly too, but Rosie sure did. And they do have a sleeker look than the other non-flying ducks. What interesting cross breeding is what I thought. And good for them! Can’t you just imagine their delight and surprise when they figured out they could fly too?? How cool.

Driving around town the other day I saw a car with a headlight out. And I thought to myself ‘PI-DIDLE!’ only I was alone and didn’t have anyone to kiss, so it had to wait until I got home. Are you familiar with the term ‘Pi-didle’? Meaning a car with one headlight? And then you kiss your date. Or that’s how I heard it. When I googled the term, I got a few other definitions, including some not suitable for this website. Most include touching the ceiling of your car and / or punching someone.

I thought that was only when you saw a ‘slug-bug’.

This (clean) site has some official rules for the pi-didle game:

https://www.angelfire.com/pa4/mjr300psu/pididle.html

Got any other local colloquialisms about cars?

They are just starting to harvest my corn as I write this on Friday. The corn would have been out earlier this week if the weather wasn’t so crappy. (Sweeping generalization on the weather) Because mine goes to the elevator and theirs they take home, they plan to do mine during the day when the elevator is open, then work on theirs in the evening. Couple days they’ll be done. When he and I spoke earlier this week I was optimistic I might yet be able to get some fieldwork done. With the temps the last few days, I’ve kinda given up on that. Although I just put a couple driveway markers in around the yard and the ground wasn’t frozen here. So…. Maybe?? I’ll give it a try tomorrow.

The corn kernels themselves are not sensitive to picking up moisture like soybeans or other crops are. But the snow on the leaves gets inside the combine harvester and makes everything wet and then things plug up and it just makes a mess. So we either need warmer weather to melt the snow off, or colder weather to reduce the moisture in the snow. I guess we opted for colder.

Normally I’d wait for the corn to be out, then mow the roadsides down so they’re clean and won’t catch snow, then we get the driveway markers installed. Always a fun day when daughter and I ride in the gator or 4-wheeler and she pounds the fiberglass markers in. Every time, as she readies the hammer, she quotes Homer Simpson, “Steady…. Steady…” You’ll have to google that if you’re not familiar with it. Anyway, all that is more fun when it’s 40°F than it is when it’s 20°F. I may be doing it myself at 20°.

There’s a local guy named ‘Machinery Pete’.  He’s been reporting on farm auctions since 1989 and he’s very well respected for that. His name is Greg Petersen and evidently he’s a pretty good golfer too.

https://www.machinerypete.com

On his facebook page, it seems this year every post starts with “New record high price” for that particular piece of machinery. Should we blame Covid for that too? Well, sort of. The usual material sourcing issues led to shortages on new equipment, which led to demand for good quality used equipment, which lead to higher prices. Plus crop prices are high, land values are high, so…everything is high. But I have to laugh that there’s always a new high price. “Fourth record high price on 1992 tractor!” Is fourth record high a thing?

I haven’t filled my diesel barrel yet. I order 500 gallons which will last a year for me. I read of a large dairy farm out in New York, he said they got 7000 gallons delivered on Sunday and that would last them 25 days. Yikes!

Today, I took the day off ‘work’ work to get a few things done here at home. I’m gonna go mow the roadsides. Maybe that will blow the snow off the road too. Or I’ll hook the blade up and scrape off this couple inches on the road. Time to get it in the shed I guess.

I stopped at one of the local theaters today to check on some things. Someone used an orange extension cord to plug in an artificial tree onstage. It’s an unwritten rule that you only use black or dark green cords onstage. Orange cords on the stage drive me bonkers. Why doesn’t everyone know this!!?? How many times do I have to tell you this??

I know what I’ll be doing Saturday. Fieldwork.

WHAT WILL YOU DO THIS WEEKEND?