Category Archives: Weather

Finally – Farming!

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

Well, as I write this, we’ve had one nice sunny day. Finally got some ground worked up. It does dry faster once you open it up, but it’s pretty sticky yet. It is always interesting to me how different soil conditions can be in the same field. I took the ‘First Day of Spring Work’ selfie, packed my tractor snacks, and had my tractor buddy.

I did plant one field of oats; it wasn’t perfect but at least it’s in the ground. Hopefully the weather stays sunny and nice as predicted, and I will finish oats. The co-op called me and we’re coordinating corn fertilizer. Things are moving! Doing some tweaks on the new camera system inside the drill, but I think it’s going to be pretty neat. The photos show the empty tank, and then with seed getting low.

I have one neighbor whose fields are adjacent to mine. Met them along the fence line so we talked for a few minutes. Not any drier on his side of the fence.

 Baby chicks are looking good. They’re about Robin sized. We moved them to a bigger pen and I got them a bigger feeder. All they do is eat and drink.

I found a nest behind a building. It’s a mix of duck eggs and chicken eggs. I’m not quite sure what I’m gonna do about that yet. If I want them to have the best chance at hatching and surviving, I need to collect them all and put them in an incubator. I’ve already got a pen of baby chicks, so I’d have to find another pen for this batch. I can try to let the mama hatch them, and then moving them somewhere safe, but that means keeping an eye on her and the nest and trying to catch them some morning when they’re all on the loose (before the dogs catch them). 

Happy Birthday on the 6th to my wife. Happy Mothers day, too!

Any snacks you need for the road?

Chomping at the Bit

Chomping at the bit.  I think this is a horse reference, right?  I’m not a horse person but I’ve heard this phrase my whole life; I can see a horse chomping at a bit in my mind’s eye and I can certainly understand the feeling.  Something between your teeth that is driving you nuts and you can’t do anything about it.  I’m right there.

Although we’ve had a couple of superb days, the wait for days warm enough for gardening has been tough.  It’s been too cold (and/or rainy) to get out and do anything.  A few mornings last week as I was fertilizing and watering my bales, I felt like an idiot out there.  One of the mornings, it wasn’t even above freezing and it seemed like a fool’s errand to be preparing bales when I was sure it would be at LEAST 2 weeks until I could plant (I almost always plant on Mother’s Day). 

YA and I did hit Bachman’s on Sunday, but all the flowers and veggies are in their little pots, sitting on the front porch in those cardboard boxes that Bachman’s uses.  They’ll have to be watered a couple of times before we get to planting.

I’ve been busy enough at work that I couldn’t take any days off this week and both of my upcoming weekend days have an engagement right in the middle of the day!  So I either go out and get dirty, get cleaned up, then go out later and get dirty again or I only get work done in the yard in the morning or the afternoon.  Maddening.

What spring routines are you chomping at the bit to get to?

Grading on a Curve

Today’s post comes from Ben

After last week’s blog title, “April, Not Farming Yet”, I got to thinking, I really am “farming” every day. I could say I’m not “planting” yet or not “doing field work” yet, but it’s a bit of a misnomer to say I’m not “farming”.
And this week, I’m still not out in the field and I still haven’t planted anything. The co-op spread oat fertilizer Thursday afternoon and while the fields weren’t very dry, I was going to try Friday morning to get them worked up and then plant Friday afternoon. Then we got an inch of rain Thursday night. Again. I don’t wanna complain about it raining, but I would like to get something planted. 

I have been getting things greased up and ready to go: checked tires, pulled the drill from the shed to the barn and back again to be sure all the chains were moving and it appears to be working.

I pulled a muscle in my lower back while clambering under the soil finisher checking tires. Every year that job gets harder. Kneeling on the gravel is no fun either. And trying not to use the one shoulder too much. And the one knee hurts anyway. It was kinda funny all the noises I made under there.

Got the camera’s working in the drill box, just need to finish securing cables. It sure is something to think it takes a week for a letter to go across town, but I can order rubber grommets from Amazon and get them from Louisiana the next day. Or the extension cable from Ohio the next day.

I took the new rear blade out to grade our driveway. There is a real skill and art involved in maintaining gravel roads and my hats off to the grader operators who can do it well. I can’t. I know how you’re supposed to do it and I understand the principle of the thing…but I sure can make a mess of it.

OK, the first grading of the spring is never good anyway. Some of that is my fault, some is just the way it is. This first grading, even on our township roads, one of the things is to cut down the edge, so rain water will run off the sides and not down the road. Plus, that pulls back in some of the gravel that got moved off the road by the snow plow. However this also brings a lot of dirt and grass onto the road. Typically, the good grader guys will leave this mess off to one side, and in a couple weeks it will have broken down and it can all be graded back into the road.

I got this new rear blade that can offset, angle, and tilt up and down. All by hydraulics. Three functions! I only have two hydraulics. (I’m hoping to add a third hydraulic to this tractor.) Plus it’s much heavier and cuts much better than my old blade. It sure did cut the edges down! And drag it into the middle of the road. And raising the right edge angled this way, is backwards when angled the other way and watching the left edge. I had my hands full. And it’s all behind me. And I sure made a mess of the road.

It will be better when I grade it again in a couple weeks. Fingers crossed. Kudos to Parm, our township grader operator.

New chicks are doing well. Growing and eating a lot. Duck numbers are holding. Had a concert at the college and prepping for commencement in two weeks.

This photo is the ‘patch’ for the lighting we’ll be using for commencement.

This right here is about the most important information I will use all week. It tells me everything about the lights and how to hook them up and make them work.

Made a mess of anything lately? What’s the most important thing in your life this week?

Spitting Snow

Spitting Snow

It was what we call “spitting” snow today, and while getting back in my car after errands, I noticed a flake that had landed on my black pant leg as I got behind the wheel. I looked closely, and actually heard myself shout “WOW!”, because this snowflake looked so different. This was not a flake of the lacy or feathery kind, that we try to imitate with scissors and white paper folded multiple times. It looked more like a tiny plastic “confetti” piece – like a flower I would have drawn as a child – with 6 identical and evenly spaced “petals” around some imaginary center.

It seemed thicker than the usual flakes, but smaller in diameter – 1/16 of an inch at most; these flakes took longer to melt than the usual ones. I caught a couple more to make sure they really were snow – yep, just like the first one.

The snow let up, and the next time I noticed it coming down, I put on a black sweater and went outside to check. But the flakes were of the standard variety – the “magic” ones were gone. I wonder if anyone else noticed them.

When have you seen something really unique in nature?  What does it take to get you to slow down and look closely at something in your path?

Cabin Fever

Yesterday was my first day back at work in two weeks, and I was curious how my coworkers spent their time during the blizzard. Half were ecstatic about the time off, loving the isolation and the enforced stay at home. The other half hated every minute of it, feeling trapped and anxious. I think that is called cabin fever.

There was a very funny article in the New Yorker April 11 by Ian Frazier about cabin fever and what it is like to go stir crazy. He used to live in a cabin in western Montana, and noted how socially awkward he became the longer he spent in isolation in the woods. He also noted that in 2018, a Russian scientist at a research station in Antarctica stabbed another Russian scientist because he kept giving away the ending of books. I am happy to report that none of my coworkers stabbed anyone, but of course they were only snowbound for three days.

Because of the way the snow blew in, there is a huge pile of snow on our roof on the front of the house, and the melting has caused enormous icicles to form right by our front door. You could stab someone with one of those, I suppose. It is a good thing that Husband and I both like being at home, and neither of us gives away the ending of books.

Have you ever had cabin fever? Who would you like to be snowbound with? Ever read much by Ian Frazier?

Being Thankful

I am feeling pretty thankful. My friend is doing well after her surgery, I made it home from Minnesota safely, Grandson loved the candy and toy trucks we gave him for Easter, the bell choir played well on Sunday morning, and Husband didn’t have a heart attack shoveling the voluminous amount of snow that was in our driveway. Our kind neighbor across the street was excited to use his new snow blower, and cleared our driveway.

Last summer I prepared peach pie filling and froze it for pies in the winter. I also had pie crusts I had made in the freezer. I made a peach pie. Husband made Czech Easter bread (neighbors are Czech), and we took them to the neighbor and his wife Sunday afternoon to thank them for clearing the driveway. They were happy and we were thankful. It was a good Easter.

What acts of kindness and generosity have you noted lately? How do you like to show your thanks? What are your feelings about thank you cards? How do you like Scrabble?

Still Winter?

Today’s post comes from Ben

There’s a lot of people reading this blog we don’t know where they’re at. I hope everyone is surviving whatever weather is going on in your area. Snowstorms, tornadoes, cold rain, or maybe you’re somewhere where it’s hot and rainy. Any event, I hope you’re surviving. My chives are coming.

The storms that came through Tuesday night in our area didn’t hurt anything. And then Thursday it was so windy again! Man! I noticed a tree hanging over the road and the trunk is split. I said to Kelly would could wait for it to fall over, or I could call the local tree company. She agreed that might be a pretty good idea. The doors on our machine shed are 20 feet wide and 16 feet tall. Two sliding doors that meet in the middle, one set on the south end, which is pretty well sheltered, and the doors I use the most on the west side. They are out in the open and in a good wind, when closed, they will swing in and out so bad they would rip themselves apart if not anchored at the bottom center. The sides lock, it’s just the middle that moves. When the shed was built there was a metal bracket on the ground that the doors slid into, and that would secure the bottom. This metal bracket was attached to a 6” x 6” post sunk in the ground below frost level. Over the years this metal bracket has been broken and fixed and broken and fixed so many times the top of the 6 x 6 has deteriorated to the point nothing can be attached to it anymore. I really should do something about it someday. It’s on my list. But for the last 20 years, I have been putting a 5 gallon bucket full of log chains in front of the doors to stop them swaying in so much. The bucket probably weighs 80 pounds. The doors will still blow out a bit, but they don’t go in. Except when we have these really strong winds and then it will push the 80 pound bucket back in the shop about 16 inches. which then allows the door to swing in and out much more than it should. I saw another farmer strapped the doors to his tractor, so I do that when it’s this windy.

Lost a poufy duck on Tuesday. It was there in the morning. Later in the day we heard the chickens all squawk and the guineas were making a lot of noise and everybody was taking shelter under the lilac bushes. We didn’t see anything but that night there was only one poufy duck.

Still got a pheasant running around looking for an easy meal. Next day I happen to see out the window a Cooper’s hawk sitting on an electric line. As I stepped out the door to try and get a picture of it, it swooped down and I thought for sure was going to try to take a chicken. But the chickens are bigger than it is. And It thought twice. Flew around the yard for a while. Enough Kelly could get the good camera and get a few pictures of it. 

A G.I. bug went through the house beginning Sunday. 24 to 36 hours later we’re mostly OK.

I’ve been delivering a lot of straw lately. It’s fascinating to me that if you open the rear sliding window of a truck, all the loose straw in the box will blow forward into the cab. Don’t ask me how I know this. It makes quite a mess. Fascinating air currents, but messy.

Got a favorite raptor? What do you think of the Rapture? Or ruptures?

Missing Out

I am currently in Fargo, ND at a nice hotel. My home is 300 miles to the west. Since Tuesday, the residents of my town have been having a rip roaring blizzard, and I am missing it! For the first time since we moved to our town in 1988, my office has been closed for three days in a row due to the weather.

I love snow storms. I should preface that with the disclaimer that I love being in a snow storm while in my warm home with a full refrigerator. Friends are sending videos of their yards, their stock pens, their barns full of goats and leghorn chickens, and I am so jealous. We have been in a drought, and this moisture is welcome, but it is hard on the cows and their new calves. The header photo is of a friend’s cow on Wednesday during the storm. As she says, “the price we pay for moisture”. I should add my friend and her husband provide good protection for all their cows in various ways. I don’t know why this one was out in the open and looking so pathetic. Another friend just reported that her snow day was ruined by the discovery of a mouse in her house

My next task is to drive home on not such good roads. If I were at home, I would spend time staring out at the snow blowing by, gauge the depth of snow in the driveway, perhaps bake, and maybe take a nap. As it is, I will just bless the snowplow operators and keep both hands on the wheel.

What don’t you want to miss? What do you like to do during a snow storm? Any good storm stories?

April Farming?

Today’s post comes from Ben

Man, this weather. It’s probably normal for early April to be undecided about what it wants to do… it just doesn’t feel like it after last year’s early spring. And I think I say that every year.

But the turkey vultures have returned! And the Killdeer! And I’ve put the pot of chives out on the step. And just this morning, we heard Sandhill Cranes! (Aw, Steve…sure miss you. )

The other day, the day before it started raining, I got out in the fields with the tractor and loader and started pushing trees off the edges. Most of these down trees were from the December storms and since that was a South wind, these were on the North side of the fences. Meaning It was muddy there and the frost maybe wasn’t out, and it was kind of a mess. Only once did I scare myself thinking I probably shouldn’t have really gotten down in this muddy corner hillside, but I got out and it was all fine. Had three of the tractors running, which always feels good, pulled the seed wagon out, and hooked onto the soil finisher with the big tractor. Made me feel better that I was at least getting a start on things. Doesn’t take too long to get things greased up before getting into the fields.

Also, finally found the lid from the big garbage can that we keep salt and sand mix in. It blew off during that December storm and I figured it was gone for good. Nope, found it thirty feet away in some trees.  

When I left for work one day this week there was a car parked on the township road, just off the highway. I took a photo of it and told Kelly about it. Figured maybe it was someone walking, maybe it broke down, maybe it was a couple high school kids hooking up and left one car here. Didn’t think much of it. But 6 hours later when I came home, and it was STILL there I called the deputies. Turns out it had been stolen. No other details.

Not the first stolen car we’ve found. Thirty years ago there was the car on a field road, but the tires were gone and ignition was ripped out and the dealers lockbox was in the back seat.  We found it before the dealership reported it stolen.   

On the duck and chicken front, all is holding steady. One Phoenix chicken is broody so she’s in a nest box all day. Since I collect the eggs every day, she’s moving daily to sit on someone else’s eggs. And I haven’t had to give them any water the last few weeks (because there’s water everywhere!) But otherwise all is well for the moment. I’ll need to start cleaning up the pen I use for the baby chicks. They’ll be here before I know it.   

What was your biggest accomplishment or disappointment last week?

Icy Art

At this time of year when you wake up to ice and snow, you have to work hard to find the fun in it.  I’ve been very crabby the last week (due to work) and boy, did the crummy weather not help.  All morning I was kind of fuming about it.

YA goes into the office on Wednesdays (although starting next week, we both have to go in on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday).  When she drives, she turns her car around near the garage so that she goes headfirst down the driveway.  When I went out over lunch to do a couple of errands, the tracks that her car made in the ice were kind of pretty, like the work of a modern artist working in an unusual lmedium.  It was just the lift that my spirits needed.

Have you seen anything that struck you as “artsy” recently?