I’m not a math whiz but there is one formula that I know really well:
Yardwork + Verily Sherrilee = A Filthy Mess
When I had the new driveway put in, I also asked them to put in a sidewalk from the house to the garage. For many years, I’ve just had paving stones, which look really good for about an hour after the grass is cut and that’s their only saving grace. Well, that and they were cheap. Otherwise, they’ve been a pain for years. Even so, I couldn’t bring myself to just throw them away when the new sidewalk was installed.
YA and I have wanted a little patio under our backyard table for years, so this past Saturday, I decided to re-purpose the paving stones into said patio. And it was pretty clear early on that I would be invoking the Yardwork/Filthy Mess paradigm. You wouldn’t think that a 4’ x 4’ square, 2 inches deep would create so much extraneous dirt; I certainly didn’t and I was quite wrong. It was easier to excavate the space by hand to start with and pretty soon, I had dirt all over myself, including knees, ankles and feet. I had abandoned my gardening shoes early on – too hot. Of course sweat and dirt together meant that I was dirty everywhere else as well.
I was very careful with the paving stones as they weigh quite a bit. As I picked up each one I said to myself “go slow, be careful”. Every single stone (9 of them). I even said this to myself as I wiggled the last one into place. Right before I lost my hold on it and it crashed down on my big toe. I got a pretty good gash and the blood looked really dark as it bled onto all the dirt on my foot.
I was so close to the end of the project – I didn’t want to lose my momentum but I also didn’t want to bleed all over and get who knows what kinds of germs into the wound. Looking down at myself I realized that I was too dirty to go in the house and certainly too dirty to go upstairs to the bathroom where there bandaids are kept.
I had YA go inside and get a couple of paper towels while I hosed off my foot and toe. She came out with a paper towel and DUCT TAPE! That’s my girl. I wrapped the paper towel around the toe first and then liberally applied the tape. Voila – good enough to let me finish up the project! It’s made me realize that while YA can do yardwork without attracting every dirt particle within a square mile, she HAS inherited my feeling that the wrong tool at hand is always better than the right tool that is not at hand.
What’s your favorite cleaning supply? When have you had a filthy mess? When have you gotten spectacularly dirty?
Mid June. It’s dry, we need some rain. Corn is curling up from the heat. My crops look terrible this year. Corn was planted a little light in the first place, then it didn’t emerge well, and now it’s dry and the deer are eating it… GDU’s: 946 to date, +291 above normal.
Oat’s is just about to head out, in fact it will be by the time you read this, – seems later than some varieties, and this is a new variety for me so… I guess it’s OK; better not to be headed out when it was so hot, the heat just boils the milk out of the heads anyway.
I told Kelly the crops are all in that adolescent stage and they all look terrible. Corn is knee high already, well, some of it.
Soybeans are getting there, look OK when you look down the row, then I look across the field and see all the skips and misses and it looks terrible again.
Back in blogworld, I finished planting soybeans on May 10th. That’s ahead of most years. Some years I’m still working on corn at that point.
When planting any crops, the trick is to have just enough seed to finish, without having too much left over to clean out of the planter. Soybeans are easy because the rows don’t really matter for harvesting, so I can just drive any which way in the field to run out the seed. Remember I had plugged up every two rows? I pulled the tape off and planted at 7” rows just to use up the seed. Once around the outside of one field did it. Oats is the same. I mean I try to figure it so there’s not a lot left in the first place, then just run it empty.
Corn is a little harder as the rows have to line up. I save the left over seed to use next year and the unopened bags can be returned to the dealer.
After planting soybeans, some guys run over them with a large roller, to smooth the field. Soybeans make a pod clear down at the ground, so at harvest, you want to cut as low as possible without picking up rocks or running too much dirt into the combine. Rolling the field pushes down rock and levels out any lumps to make combining easier.
I don’t have a roller. But I have a drag and decided to try that. Haven’t used it in 20 years. And I half expected when I pulled it out of the weeds it would just disintegrate. But no, it held together, and I ran it over all my bean acres. It did help smooth things out.
Time to clean up machinery.
I feel like I’m making dumb mistakes again. Got the pressure washer out and had a tip plugged up. I’m supposed to remember to check them before I start. But I didn’t. So now it’s all pressurized and I can’t get anything apart. I should have let it sit for a few minutes and the pressure would bleed off and I could get it apart. But I got in a hurry. Using pliers and a hammer I got the ‘quick connector’ apart and the tip shot into the air and it never came down. I put on a different tip (I have three different tips that are different spray widths), I didn’t get this one snapped in right and when I pulled the trigger, it shot it off somewhere over by the feed room and I haven’t found it yet. Sigh.
The third tip was plugged up and I WAS smart enough to let the pressure drain before I took it off and got it to the shop and cleaned out. I’m trying foam wash this year. Also tried ‘Simply Green’ cleaner. Not sure how much they help but it all smells better.
Cleaned out fertilizer wagon, washed the grain drill, and the corn planter. There are lots of nooks and crannies to get into. Made notes of things worn out that will need to be replaced before planting next year. I had a minor leak on a hydraulic hose that was spraying a little oil on the back of the tractor. By the time I finished planting, the back of the tractor was covered with oily dirt.
The next day I had some township stuff in the morning. Paul, one of the other township supervisors, and I picked up garbage someone had dumped in a ditch, and we looked at some culverts. Paul works for crop insurance and we talked about how some guys were using a rotary hoe on their corn. A ‘rotary Hoe’ is one of those tools you only need to use about once every 10 years. This would have been the year to have one. I have a really old one; it doesn’t actually help much. And I was afraid the corn was already too tall.
Saw Orioles one day; Put the oriole feeder and hummingbird feeder out. Haven’t seen the Orioles again. But we have two Hummingbirds that are often at the feeder. Maybe there’s more than two, but I have seen two at the same time.
At the front door we have a pair of barn swallows. We really enjoy them and their chirps and their flight patterns. They have a nest to the left of the front door. Now they have a nest to the right of the door, too. And both nests are occupied. I wonder if it’s parents and kids??
They do make a poopy mess, but we put cardboard down and they’re pretty tolerant of us coming and going.
Finally got .22 inches of rain on the 19th. And from then until May 29th we had 2.5”. And since then, hot and dry. No wonder the corn looks so rough. It sure looked bad after that frost. And the uneven emergence didn’t help anything.
Finally cleaned out the tractor cab too. By this time, there’s quite a collection of ‘Nutty Bar’ wrappers, and dirty paper towels. And some tools, and golf balls, and whatever else I’ve picked up in the fields.
I carry a little whisk broom (a trick I learned from a youtube farmer) Millennial Farmer, Zach Johnson,
Man, hot enough for you? I keep talking about ‘GDU’s… Growing Degree Units. But they only count for temperatures between 50 and 86 degrees.
The corn, and even the oats, got a little burned by the frost a week ago. Another week it will look better as it grows out of this, but right now, it all looks kinda rough.
Back in blogworld, it’s the first week of May and I’m getting ready to plant soybeans. After farming pretty heavy for a couple weeks I had to get back into the college for a few days. The last two springs, Covid did give me an opportunity to stay home and farm like I did before the college job. And it was pretty nice. I’m lucky that I have this job where I can sort of set my own hours. So, I’d do college work from home in the mornings, then take the afternoons off to farm.
I had the Township Road inspection one morning. Once per year, all five of us township supervisors gather in one vehicle and drive all our township roads making note of any road issues. Our township, Haverhill Township in Olmsted County, has about 32 miles of gravel roads. We put new gravel on 1/3 of the gravel roads each year and patch any area that might need rock. We check culverts, washed out road sides, ditches that have too steep of a shoulder, and generally make a game plan of things we need to have fixed this year. That takes the full morning and I got home about 1:00. Last year we didn’t ride together. It’s a good group of guys and we have a good time driving around and talking.
The music department had a small concert schedule for Wednesday evening. There is no band program, but there was the choir and the ‘World Drum Ensemble’ so they wanted to have a concert. The choir director is a new guy; I haven’t even met him. There were some last-minute emails, I roughed in some lights, put the choir shells up, pulled the piano out, and added some more lights. Sixteen years ago, when I started at the college, it was really frustrating to have concerts with no rehearsal. Now I’m kinda used to it. Obviously, rehearsals are better and make a better show, but I manage. It went well.
The next farm job is fertilizer for the soybeans. I use a broadcast spreader for that. Just like the one I used for oats. It’s almost the same fertilizer blend as I used for corn, and I have some corn fertilizer left in the wagon. I generally order extra because I know I can use it up on the soybeans. I pulled the corn fertilizer wagon out and get the fertilizer spreader lined up and I auger the corn fertilizer into the spreader. Fertilizer doesn’t slide very well, and it sticks together so eventually I will have to climb into the box with a shovel and move the fertilizer down to the auger. There’s no danger to myself, or of getting into the auger, as the door is only open about 3”.
Well, there is the danger that I can’t get back out of the wagon box or the ladder outside falls over. A few year ago, with a different wagon, I had to call the house and ask my son to come out and lower the wagon so I could get back out… he doesn’t let me forget that. But that doesn’t happen with this wagon because it doesn’t tip up like that one did.
Once it’s all transferred, it looks like rain so I don’t want to go too far from home. I think I’ll start around here and see what happens. I get started but it’s sprinkling a little bit and I go home and put the tractor and spreader in the shed. The rain doesn’t amount to anything and two minutes later I’m back out. I fill the tractor with fuel and decide to go to my rented land a couple miles away. It sprinkles a little bit, but not enough to be a problem.
Driving on the highway with farm machinery can be nerve-racking. People will pass at the most inopportune times. I have signals on the tractor, but you can’t really see them with the fertilizer wagon. If I’m going to make a turn, I kinda move to the middle of the road to prevent people from passing me, but that one person still does…what an idiot. I’m lucky I don’t have to drive on the highway very far or very often. If you’re following farm machinery on the road, please, give us some room, don’t pass in no passing zones, and for goodness sakes, don’t try to squeeze through between us on the shoulder and the oncoming traffic! It’s nuts what some drivers will do.
I saw a pair of geese and a pair of ducks over on the land I rent. Normally I only see golf balls in this field.
I’ve picked up a lot of golf balls over there. I enjoy the stuff rolling around the cab. Bailey doesn’t like it when she rides with me. Finished that and got back home and finish spreading fertilizer on the fields around here. It’s raining pretty good now and, starting to stick to the tires, but other than making a mess on the road, it doesn’t really hurt anything.
FYI, my ‘go-to’ snacks in the tractor are the Little Debbie Nutty Bars and Clif bars. Plus water. The cab is littered with nutty bar wrappers.
The next day I did some fieldwork, Brother Ernie came out and did some more and I got going on soybeans and had 21 acres planted at 9 PM. Twenty-one acres is nothing for most farmers. It’s a good day for me.
Soybeans can be planted in rows 7” apart, or 15” apart, or 30” apart. The total population is the same for all of them, it’s just more or less plants in the row. Generally, around 150,000 plants / acre. Soybean seed size changes year to year and the bag will tell you how many seeds / lb. I prefer 15” rows because the rows will canopy sooner and stop weeds coming up between the rows. However, there are some soybean diseases that thrive in damp, conditions, so 7” rows will stay damp longer than 30” rows. Six of one, half dozen of another.
I can use the corn planter (If I put special bean meters on the seed boxes) and that does the best job of seed depth and seed spacing (just like corn) except it’s only 30” rows unless I go over it twice, off set 15” to make 15” rows. That works, it just takes twice as long. (There are 15” row planters. It’s just $$,$$$) Or I can adjust the settings on the drill, plug up every other row, and do 15” rows with that. Seed spacing is “clumpier”, for lack of a better word, just due to how the drill feeds out the seed. But it works. And this year, just for something different, I plugged two rows, left one open, plugged two, open, ect, and I’m trying 21” rows. Yields are pretty much the same for 15” or 30”. So, what the heck, I just figured I’d try. I have some treated soybean seed and some non-treated. Just like I talked about with the corn, soybean seed is treated for insects and pathogens in the soil in case it sits there a long time before emergence. Typically, because soybeans are planted after corn, the weather is warmer, the soil is warmer, and the beans don’t stay underground too long. But you just never know. And since the seed was ordered in December, it’s another way to hedge my bets. You can see it here: non treated seed on the left, treated seed on the right.
A pretty good day, nothing broke, everything worked well.
Any concert or musical event you are looking forward to this year?What was the last concert you saw?
About two weeks ago, Husband and I were in the front yard veggie garden planting tomatoes and peppers. This was unusual for us, as we never, as a rule, put tender plants outside until after Memorial Day. The weather here is too unpredictable, and there is often a late frost. This year I convinced myself that it would be different, as the weather service stated the chance of frost in our region was very low for the rest of the month.
One of our neighbors stopped by to ask what we were doing. We explained, and he said it was good information, as he always watched us to see when it was time to plant. I was rather taken aback by this, and felt pretty guilty as last week, we had to cover our tomatoes and peppers because the weather service was wrong, and temperatures were predicted to reach 31 last Friday night. Moreover, there was light snow predicted, and a high wind warning. I don’t know if the neighbor took our cue and planted his garden. I sure hope not.
We dutifully covered our plants with large tarps. Nothing froze, but it made me again vow I would never plant before Memorial Day. I don’t know if I like being a role model. I make mistakes. I don’t want people to emulate my mistakes. I never had any siblings I had to be a role model for, and I can imagine it must be really annoying to be in that position.
Were you ever considered a role model for others? Who were your role models? Ever felt like a fraud?
First part of June. Everything is growing, been a wet week, a little over 1.5” for us and a nice gentle rain. Just had a real cool spell; we had 31 degrees down in our valley… will have to wait a few days to see if there was enough frost to kill the soybeans that are 2” tall or was the dirt warm enough and releasing enough heat to keep it OK.
Back in blogworld, still planting corn.
My brother, Ernie came out again. I appreciate Ernie‘s help; he’s not a natural, but it gets done and it sure saves me time. It’s interesting what he remembers and how things have changed. The fields roads he remembers that I haven’t used in 30 years. Kinda fun to hear his memories.
It’s very dry;
The weather channel keeps predicting rain, but the arrival time gets pushed back and chances diminish until now there’s only a 30% chance and yet I’m watching a big red storm cell out the window as I try to finish planting this one field. Finally, when this dark cloud is almost on me, I lock everything up and make a run for home. The fertilizer wagon does not have a cover and it’s sitting outside so it needs to get in the shed before it gets rained on. I get everything under the roof with seconds to spare as it starts to rain. And then rain hard. And then it starts to hail. Five minutes of pea size hail. I put the pick-up truck in the shed because I’m right there and I know the key is in it. I put the gator in the shed because that’s close and the key is in it. My car key is in the house. Priorities you know: truck then gator and then the car.
7/10 of an inch of rain in about 10 minutes. The worst time of year for heavy rains like this, all this freshly worked soil. Could be worse. I can see water standing in the fields already, I can see where it’s run through the fields. Some small, shallow gully’s, but it hasn’t really hurt much. It will soak in quick. Ended up with 1.1 inches of rain total. Looking at weather maps, there was a narrow band of us that got over an inch. Most people only had half an inch.
The next morning I did Computer stuff in the morning, made maps for the co-op for spraying, made a Menards and Fleet Farm run, refilled LP tanks for the BBQ grill, took the maps to the Co-op in Plainview, made a few phone calls, picked up three more bags of corn seed just in case I run out, and check township roads for new rock.
Unloaded the truck, set up straw bales for garden, and spend some time watching the chicks.
We moved them into the bigger pen yesterday.
I spent Friday morning at my moms, delivered Straw Friday afternoon and saw baby goats there. All the neighbors are out in the field and I still think my fields are too wet.
Saturday morning had someone pick up straw, then delivered Straw to Winona and had our first meal out in over a year at a little bar in Wikota MN. Our first meal out should have been better than this…
Finished planting corn, did some fieldwork, and had friends out for pizza on the deck. First time for pizza with friends in over a year.
Talking rain Sunday.
I go to mom’s in the morning again, rain isn’t predicted until 4 o’clock Sunday. I rent 10 acres down the road; I got that dug up and a couple fields at home dug up, so the spring flush of weeds has been dug up at least once in every field.
I’m racing a rainstorm again even though no rain is predicted until 11 o’clock PM. It’s 2:00 PM. Darn weathermen…
Daughter is home alone when I see some big lightning strikes. I head for home. Power is out; fuse on pole blown meaning lightning hit a line fairly close. Rain amounts to 15 drops. Didn’t I just tell daughter that storms don’t usually cause power outages? How rare that really is? Thanks Lightning.
If any Baboons chance to drive past my house today, they might see a strange sight. They might see me and hear me singing in the garden.
Last winter we got some Arikara bean seeds from a friend of ours from the Reservation. They are a bush bean that produces brown shellout beans. Our friend got them from a tribal elder some time ago. He is a pretty marginal gardener and he gave us the beans to grow in our garden. He is very excited for us to grow them, but he said there were a few things I had to do in order to plant them successfully.
First, I have to wear an apron and a scarf while I plant them. He told me his grandmother wore that when she planted and she was a good gardener. Second, I have to sing to the beans when I plant them. He wasn’t sure of the tune, since his grandmother whistled a barely discernible tune through her teeth while she planted. Oh, and I should make up some words to go with the song. He said not to worry if our Hidatsa pole beans felt jealous. They would be just fine.
My friend’s bean planting instructions are just like the directions he gives to find places on the Reservation-without GPS or a map you would never find your way.
I asked another Native friend what she would sing to the beans, and she said it was important that I compliment them. She is from the Cheyenne River Reservation and is Lakota. (In the same conversation I asked her the address of her new house. She said she wasn’t sure, but I could find it if I went down that one alley, the one with the 15 cats, and then turned left.) I mentioned her lyric suggestion to my bean bestowing friend, and he totally disagreed (Arikara and Lakota rarely agree), saying I had to plead with the beans when I planted them, telling them how much our survival depends on them.
I chose the tune to the Glow-Worm song, and came up with these lyrics:
Grow pretty beans, please heed us, heed us.
We need you so to feed us, feed us.
You’ll make us strong, please don’t take long, so grow pretty beans, please grow
Part of me thinks that my Native friends are pulling my leg, but hey, if it helps the garden, why not?
Make up some bean growing lyrics.Choose whatever tune you wish.How are you at giving directions?
A few days ago, as YA and I were having some lunch downstairs, she looked out the front window and said “there’s some sketchy woman taking pictures of our house.” Now what you need to know is that every person that YA doesn’t know personally is “sketchy”. Secondly, during spring and summer it’s not all that unusual for strangers to take photos of our gardens. So I didn’t think too much of this until she said “She’s still out there.” I turned around to see an older woman walking up the driveway between our house and the nextdoor neighbors.
I went toward the back of the house and I could see her clearly. She was looking into our backyard and still taking photos. This was the day after the new driveway had been laid, so I thought maybe she was interested in the cement work. So I stepped out onto the back stairs and asked her if I could help her. She said “Oh, I’m just looking at the house. I used to live here 30 years ago.” I replied, “Oh, are you Claire?”
I’ve heard of this kind of thing happening but never expected it to happen to me. When I bought this house, it was in terrible shape – I had to have a clause written into the sales agreement that they get all the garbage out of the house or I would pay $5,000.00 less. I spent an afternoon in the house with Claire before the closing date; I was waiting for various contractors who were giving me quotes for painting, floors, carpet, etc. She seemed a little over the edge at the time and I was glad to get out of there at the end of the day.
Anyway, I talked to her over the fence in the backyard for a few minutes. In that short amount of time, I wasn’t convinced that she had backed away from thay edge. She told me she was living in 300 square feet in her ex-husband’s basement in California – not exactly the kind of detail you need to tell a stranger. Up until that second, I had been thinking maybe I should invite her in. I’m absolutely sure she would have taken me up on the offer if I had made it. But I had things I wanted to get done and I had a suspicion that if I invited her in, she might be inclined to overstay any welcome I might offer. So we talked a bit more about changes to the neighborhood and then I went back inside.
YA was horrified that I had considered inviting her in and while I initially had a twinge of guilt, I got over it.
Have you ever met any of the previous owners/residents of your homes?
Husband has always considered it his job to mow the lawn. Most of the yard is flower beds, vegetable gardens, and strawberry and raspberry patches. There isn’t much to mow.
I usually mowed the lawn when I lived with my parents after about Grade 6. It was easy. The lawnmower was always well maintained by my father, who loved tinkering and was very mechanically minded. I, too, am very mechanically minded and love to tinker, but while he taught me basic car maintenance, like how to change the oil on my car, Dad never taught me the finer points of small engine maintenance.
My husband is a very scholarly fellow who can write and reason with the best of them, but who was never taught how to fix things. His father was very unhandy. So was his uncle, who somehow was an engineer in a nuclear power plant in Ohio. (He had trouble replacing blades in his own razor.)
We have not had good luck with our mowers. I imagine sitting in the garage all winter without any preparation or winterizing, and then being expected to burst into action in the spring with just a little oil added isn’t the best way to deal with these engines. Last weekend, Husband tried to mow, but the thick smoke pouring from the mower was so noxious for us and the neighbors that he stopped in disgust. We had even had it looked at last fall by a small engine repair guy, but it was not helpful.
We made a trip to Menards and Husband bought an old fashion reel mower, what I would call a push mower. Today he assembled it all by himself while I was at work, and mowed our lawn. No more smoke. No more anxiety every spring if the lawnmower will work. We just have to figure out how to sharpen the blades.
How are you at fixing things? How do you maintain your lawnmower? What are your experiences with reel mowers?
Mid May and the corn is struggling to emerge through the crust that was created on the soil from the quick heavy rain we got back in late April. Beans haven’t emerged yet. Oats is looking good. Haven’t gotten our garden going either yet.
Back in blogworld…
I have 11 acres of CRP, Conservation Reserve Program, ground planted to wildflowers. I have it burned about every 5 or 6 years. I hire a local prairie restoration company to do that. I was in town when they started. Kelly said it was pretty interesting to watch them get going; A lot of prep work and back burning first. There was one guy with small tractor and water tank, then 5 or 6 other guys with shovels and backpack sprayers. I could see the smoke from a few miles away.
Last fall I mowed around the edges so that makes a good buffer for this and it went well. I had 3 fiberglass markers in the middle of one piece to designate a line. I wasn’t sure if I had to move them or not. I knew the fire really wouldn’t get that hot. The boss, Jon, came to tell me I lost one flag because he wasn’t willing to throw his body on it. He said it’s not the flames, but the residual heat that gets it. I expected to find an orange puddle of plastic, but nope, just 6” of the fiberglass pole melted, which, in fiberglass, just leaves “strings” and the rest of the pole laying there. I cut that part off and put it back in the ground. Good as new, just 3’ shorter. (The part underground and the melted part.)
I picked up soybean seed from my dealer, Meyers Seed. They were busy unloading a semi of seed. A pallet had tipped over inside and was leaning against the wall. Plus, it had punched a hole in the bottom of a bag. So, they had to strap the leaning tower of beans to the forklift, and carefully drag it out. The hole making a trail of soybeans… they said it’s not the first time that’s happen and it’s always a pain to deal with.
I get 60 bags of seed on two pallets. It’s 30 bags of ‘treated’ seed and 30 untreated. (more on treated seed in a later blog) The guys are a little concerned with how tall my stack is, I should have used a trailer; which comes with its own issues because my trailer has short railings on the sides, so they have to push them in from the back. And with the pickup, even a full bed, two pallets won’t fit end to end so they’re stacked. I didn’t really think of all this at the time. I got home with no issues and used the forks on my tractor loader to take the pallets off and stack on my seed wagon.
Meyers have not started planting yet, ground is too cold. I have seen a few people planting. Really, it’s early yet.
I have found 3 deer antlers this year. ‘Sheds’ they’re called when the male deer shed their antlers. These are three separate deer, not any matched. They can poke a hole in a tractor tire, so you don’t want to run over one. Many years I don’t find any so kind of unusual to find three this year.
Next up; we start planting corn.
What have you seen leaning?What mess have you cleaned up lately?
A few weeks ago, Husband decided to water the strawberry bed with a rotating sprinkler that watered the strawberries as well as a section of the lilac bushes. It was terribly dry then. The backyard birds got very excited and flitted in and out of the bushes through the water. One bird, a Hairy Woodpecker, just sat very still in the lilacs letting the water fall on it, luxuriating in the shower.
One other occasion many years ago in yet another drought we had a flock of Cedar Waxwings sit for a long time in the lilacs as an oscillating sprinkler went back and forth over them. I guess we have a bird spa in our backyard!
I have never been to a spa. I have never had a massage. I know lots of people do such things. I think I fear the intimacy of such experiences. I would rather watch the birds.
What are your spa experiences? How about massage? Any good bird stories?