Category Archives: Weather

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?

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?

Fill of Berries

I made my annual pilgrimage out to the farm for raspberries last week.  Beautiful day for picking – sunny and not too warm.  A little muggy from the big rain the two days before but after our dry summer, I am NOT complaining about rain.

Since I was the first one out in the field, they stationed me at the far southeast corner of the biggest patch of canes.  Pretty shortly after, they started to put someone opposite me (on the other side of the line of cane I was working on) and she protested that she didn’t want “to be near anybody else”.  I told her I didn’t take it personally and that I had a mask in pocket if needed.  She moved on to another line.

An older couple were then placed opposite of me.  They didn’t even look toward me and so I knew there wasn’t going to be any chatting.  (This turned out to be OK because pretty soon a VERY chatty woman started picking two lines away and even thought she was speaking to the folks near her, I could hear her clearly!) 

I expected that the couple across from me would move ahead of me fairly quickly.  Two people picking together are always faster than just one.  Except this time!   The gentleman stayed pretty even with me and the woman lagged behind.  This was so different from what I usually experience that I started to pay a little more attention to them.  The woman was digging thoroughly through the canes, clearly searching for every single viable berry she could find.  The gentleman was not as thorough.  I soon realized that another reason they were slow was the amount of time spent moving their hands from the canes to their mouths.  The farm does encourage folks to taste while they pick, but this couple was taking it to new heights.  They quit picking before I did with less than a flat of picked berries and I’m sure it’s because they were full! 

So far I’ve made my freezer jam, added raspberries to pancake batter and, of course, enjoyed fresh raspberry shortcake!

How do you like your raspberries?

Always Three Eggs in a Nest

Mid-July Farm Report from Ben

Dare I say it’s a quiet time around the farm. The Co-op is done spraying, I don’t have hay to put up, oats is coming but not quite there yet, and I’ve got weeds and brush mowed.

We almost had another hot air balloon landing in the fields. I was out doing my chicken chores and heard it and could see it through the trees and it looked pretty low. Kelly and I headed up there and met the chase vehicle coming down. The balloon was pretty high again at that point and still moving East. The driver said he had considered landing here and I guess they were coming to ask permission. I don’t know if they just didn’t get here in time or what, but the balloon moved on. It was a different balloon company so it wouldn’t have counted in my 3 landings = free ride anyway.

One of our favorite nieces, her husband, and 9 month old baby came to visit from South Carolina. Her mom and dad are still here, and the baby got to see Great Grandma Hain and we had a real nice visit with them.

Four generations here. As luck would have it, our son and his wife were able to come down too, so the cousins had a good visit. The Niece always talks about the wild black raspberries that grow out here and she remembers picking them when she was a kid visiting Grandma and Grandpa’s farm. There was a lot of berries this year and they lasted a long time. Just not quite long enough for their visit. I did get a few fresh berries for her. They sure are good.

I did get the waterways and pastures mowed with the rear mounted brush hog. I was down in one of the pastures cutting brush and clearing that darn buckthorn when one of the big spinny things underneath fell off. Oh. That’s a problem. I just unhooked it and walked away for the moment. The main shaft out of the gear box sheared off. I looked up parts online; $600 for the shaft. Plus, whatever bearings, seals or other bits might be needed… I was rather discouraged. I’ll fix it. Later.

I did get the new and improved loader bucket back from my nephew the welder. I don’t have the loader on the tractor right now; I took it off for mowing, and will leave it off for baling straw, then I’ll put it back on. I should give it a new coat of John Deere Green.

There were a few comments on the driveway in the last blog. From the main highway to our house is 1.3 miles. The first .4 miles though is technically a township road, and the snowplow will come in our road about a 100 yards to turn around in a cell phone tower driveway. It’s easier for them than trying to turn around where our driveway starts. The road forks right there and our lovely neighbors are on the right fork, we’re on the left fork. There’s a hill their driveway that’s given a lot of people trouble over the years. You think our driveway is bad, you should see theirs! Our road is longer, theirs is steeper. Both are beautiful drives, just scary in the winter. We both joke, you can always get home, and if you can get out, you can probably get wherever you’re goingI do have a 7’ blower that mounts on the back of the tractor, so I have to go backwards when blowing. The last few years I’ve been using a rear blade if it’s just a few inches of snow. Quicker, faster, and my neck doesn’t hurt when done. But that also makes a pile of snow on the edge of the road that will drift in sooner. So eventually I have to put the blower on and cut those down again.

It’s interesting when I collect eggs, the chickens seem to like the number 3. Often the nest boxes will have 3 eggs in them. There might be more or less, but more often than not, multiple boxes will have three eggs in them. It’s curious.

After 18 months of very little theater, I’m back in full force. I have two shows to open in three weeks. Afternoons this week is working at the Rochester Civic Theatre for a Rochester Repertory Theatre production of ‘Turn of the Screw’.

Then next week is tech for ‘The Addams Family’ down in Chatfield for Wit’s End Theater. Somewhere in here I’ll be cutting oats and baling straw too.

I talked about the helicopter spraying a couple weeks ago? A helicopter crashed about 20 miles East of here while spraying crops. They think he flew under an electric line and snagged one of the wires. The pilot was killed. A newspaper article says “accidents are not uncommon”. Don’t know if it was the same company or anything. It’s terribly sad.

Hot weather or Cold Weather? How many eggs did you eat today?

July on the Farm

As I write this, the oats is looking good, quickly turning color, and I’m getting my hauler, Craig, (a neighbor with a semi) and Parm, the neighbor with the combine, lined up. We’re thinking it will be ready in 10 days or so. There are some pretty severe thunderstorms predicted this week, with high winds and heavy rain. And another round in the evening is possible with more high winds, large hail, tornadoes, and heavy rain again.

Sigh. I really don’t want the winds… or hail. Fingers crossed we just get some rain out of this.

I have crop insurance on the corn and soybeans, including hail coverage, but crop insurance isn’t available on oats.

Beans are setting flowers which equals pods. They’re only knee high, but they’re filling in and getting bushy, just not too tall yet.

The neighbor’s field of peas was harvested. Kelly collected a shirt full of left-over peas during her evening walk. And the next day, neighbor was planting soybeans in that field. He’s pushing it planting a crop this late. I talked to him about it and he said, “I’ll tell you this fall whether this was a good idea or not.”

July 1 is usually about the latest you should plant beans and expect a reduced crop. To plant on July 13… well, it just depends how the fall weather goes. An early frost and they won’t get anything. A normal year will give them a reduced yield. Planting this late automatically means a reduced yield, but if they get enough to cover their input costs then they win.

The coop comes out a few times during the year to scout crops. They have more knowledge and a better eye than me. Usually it’s the interns. I can’t imagine how far they walk in a day, just on my farm, the first time they’re here they start on one end and, not knowing the field roads or shortcuts, they may end up on the other end of the farm and the truck is a few miles over that way. Kelly gave one a ride back to the truck one day. Since then they’ve driven to this end of the farm.

Kelly is on jury duty for two weeks. She hasn’t had to report in yet.

Daughter started day camp. Her first group activity since March of 2020. She was nervous of course, but she knew some of the staff and some of the other clients and she gets to go swimming every day, which she loves. We’ve had to try and shift her schedule a bit to make this work. She knows everything so that hasn’t worked the way we’d like. Have I mentioned she’s a teenager? Stays up too late, sleeps too late, knows everything, thinks mom and dad are ruining her life. We hear about it every day when she goes to her room and talks out loud. Kelly and I challenge each other to see who gets talked about more. She did tell Kelly she’s enjoying camp and she’s glad she’s there. I’ve noticed I have to do more household chores myself since she’s at camp.

Last week I woke up to 3 dead chickens. Bailey had one at the front door, found another in the garage, and another outside. I’m not sure what happened. I don’t think Bailey killed them; she does get excited sometimes and will run through a group of chickens. And one day she kinda harassed one hen, but I’m not convinced she killed them.

Yet, if it was a coyote, and we’ve been hearing a lot of them lately, they wouldn’t just kill it; they’d grab it and run. And racoons kill it and eat the head off. So, it’s not that either. The chickens go into a building at night and I don’t always lock them up. It’s an unfortunate mystery. My chickens are all free range. But that comes with risks. I keep a puddle down by the barn so they always have water (besides the fresh water in buckets) The puddle gets kinda gross in the hot summer months so I make a fountain with the hose. The ducks swim in there too.

I fixed not one, but TWO lawnmowers! I finally figured out where the transmission oil was coming from on the big mower. Had to pull off the seating platform, and gas tank, and there was a seal leaking under the drive pulley. As long as I was in that far, I changed the drive belt too.

And then the lawnmower that came from Kelly’s farm, and has been sitting in the shop for 4 years because it quit moving, well, I discovered I had done something kinda stupid (that I’m not going to even tell you about) and it was an easy fix. I put the mower back on that and it runs too now. Whew!

It did require another trip to Plainview for parts. Kelly (and the dogs) and I had a parts date complete with Dairy Queen again.

The storms predicted didn’t amount to anything serious for us. There sure was a dark red cell that went over, and there was a little wind that blew a large cardboard box away from the shed and a tree broke off, but no oats down. Got .82” which is real nice.

I’m spending a few days mowing weeds along the edge of fields, waterways, and pastures. In the oat fields, it’s nice to have the waterways mowed because that makes it easier to cut the oats, and also I don’t have a pile of grass or weeds when baling the straw. ‘Waterways’ are a path through the field where water is intended to run. The low spots, or valleys in a field. Since we have hilly, rolling ground, I may have 4 waterways in one field. They’re kind of a pain; I feel like I spend more time lifting and lowering implements than I do actually in the ground. And 95% of the time they don’t seem to be doing anything. Then we get a hard, ‘gully washing’ kind of rain and without the waterway, the dirt runs. And that’s why they’re there.

What’s your favorite DQ or ice cream treat?

Ever dipped a toe in an Ocean?

In Memoriam – Our Little Jail Bird

It was this week two years ago that we lost of Little Jail Bird, Edith.  In her memory, I’m running her most iconic posting on the Trail.

Until last fall, I had never been to Banning State Park. I had driven by it dozens of time, because when I head up to my sister’s house, I always turn off 35W and take Highway 23 into town. I didn’t know much about Banning, but when I was looking for a day trip, it seemed to fit my needs perfectly.

First, I wanted a park where I could drive there and back in one day without getting too tired. Second, I wanted a park that didn’t involve driving several back roads, because I knew that I would be driving in the dark due to the shorter fall days and my night vision and sense of direction is bad enough that I would get lost unless I kind of knew where I was going. And third, I wanted a state park because I had a state park sticker and wanted to use it as much as possible to get my money’s worth out of it. Banning fit all of those qualifications. Plus it has a waterfall, which is a big plus in my book.

So, off I went, one sunny morning in October. When I arrived, I stopped at the visitor center to get maps and ask where the best spots were. I was so excited. It seems that often when I go north, I am early for the fall colors and often find myself driving home just a few days before “peak”  and this time I was not too early! I said something about that to the woman at the desk (while trying to not jump and down in excitement) and she shook her head woefully and told me in a discouraging tone, “You’re going to see LOTS of brown out there.” Gee thanks, way to burst my bubble.

Of course, since I drove all the way up there, I figured I better go on the hike anyway even if I would see mostly brown. I drove to the parking area and when I stepped out of the car and looked up, I knew it was going to be a good day (see header photo).

I hiked all the way to the falls and back and shot lots of photos. It was an incredibly beautiful day: that clear, deep blue sky that you only seem to see on autumn days and – surprise! – lots of colorful leaves on the trees. It can be a challenge shooting in bright sunlight, but I was so overcome by the beauty of it all that I just took that in my stride. There was that wonderful northwoods smell in the air – pine trees and dead leaves. Nothing like it! and nothing else invigorates me like that does.

It was getting pretty cool and the sun was going down quickly by the time I was heading back on the trail but the golden evening light only made things more beautiful and the colors more intense. I went home pleasantly tired and very happy and glad that the woman’s prediction of “lots of brown” wasn’t true.

Any comments / reflections welcome!

A Delight to the Eyes

Our hot weather retreated last week, and by Friday it had cooled off substantially. Gentle rains came, and I stood at the front door on Saturday watching the rain fall straight down, with no wind, which is rare here. It was a delight to watch.

Our roses are blooming, and the garden veggies are looking strong and healthy. We weeded all over our flower and veggie beds, laying down newspapers and covering them with dirt to keep the weeds minimized for the season. The absence of weeds is so lovely, and the plants stand out and look really nice. I had forgotten how pretty eggplant plants are. There are visual delights all around. I just have to remind myself to look for them.

What has delighted your senses lately?

Crop Report

Today’s post comes from Ben.

As I write this we’ve had an inch of rain and the temps are cooling. Sometimes we call them “Million Dollar Rains”, this one was a $100,000 rain.

The first few weeks after planting, I spend a lot of time driving around checking on fields. Crop Scouting is really important the first month, and then throughout the summer, but the first few weeks is when we learn the most.

Just like your gardens, we’re watching to see how things are growing and what weeds are coming.

I’m generalizing here; every farm is different and different parts of the country plant different. I mentioned before, the corn was planted at a population of 33-34,000 plants / acre. So, there should be a plant about every 6”. Two together is a ‘double’, and a blank space is a ‘skip’ and that tells me how the planter is working and what I may need to fix for next year. And where there are skips, I might dig it up and see, is there a seed down there that didn’t germinate? Maybe it germinated but didn’t emerge; it’s all very telling. And then the first few inches it grows, it’s so interesting to see how the root develops.

Corn just fascinates me; the seed actually stays in the ground and the root goes down, the stalk comes up and the ‘growing point’ stays underground for a long time. That’s why a freeze or hail won’t necessarily kill a corn plant. Whereas soybeans; it’s the seed that comes up out of the ground. So, if it freezes, it’s done.

This website has taught me a lot about corn development:

http://www.soilcropandmore.info/crops/Corn/How-Corn-Grows/

This year, with the hard rain, soil crusting, and then cool weather and wet weather, I lost a lot of corn that didn’t emerge. And yet when I compare fields planted after the rain to those planted before, it all looks just as rough. It was kind of a mystery to me and I kept thinking it’s was  rather unfortunate this was the year I got so much planted on the first day (because of the hard rain). And then NATE,  one of my seed salesman came and looked at the corn. IT’S NOT MY FAULT! YAY! Turns out this particular variety had trouble this year. There are dozens of varieties of seed and most are tested pretty well to judge how it will do with drough tolerance or pest resistance, ect. Guess this one hadn’t been tested for this year’s weather. When I measure out 17’6” (1/1000ths of an acre) and count the plants, that gives us an estimate of the final stand population. I’m counting between 23 and 26 plants. 23,000 plants is a lot less than 34,000. Do the math: missing 11,000 ears, 200 ears = one bushel = 55 bushels less / acre. In a good year I get 160 bushels / acre. I’m thinking the ears will be bigger this year since they’ll have less competition and more sunlight…. ?? J

If I had decided to replant the corn, they would have given me seed to replant free of charge. But I decided there was enough plants there that it didn’t make sense to replant. So, they will refund the cost of my seed. I still paid for fertilizer and spraying so those expenses are already in the ground. And it’s not like there won’t be any crop (Knock on wood; we’re not there yet) but it just won’t be the bushels it should have been.

I’ve been taking lots of photos, but the camera doesn’t capture it very well.

Just notice the leaves curled up from the heat and lack of rain. Notice the uneven stands, the varieties of green color. The deer eating the tops. This corn is thigh high. Now with the rain it will be doubling in height quickly.

Oats has just headed out; looks like a lot of grain out there. Again, noticethe shades of green… it should all be dark green and I’m not quite sure why it’s so uneven this year. It’s a new variety for me, and maybe that’s what this one looks like. See the strips of dark green that’s taller than the rest? That’s where the PTO shaft on the fertilizer spreader broke and it was making a ‘streak’ of fertilizer.

Things to watch now: as the oats starts to turn color and get ripe, the stalks get brittle. Storms can knock it down, break it in half or even lay it flat. When trying to cut it, broken or flat makes it hard to pick up to cut. There is a fungus called ‘rust’ that can hit oats hard. Makes it brown and dusty and more brittle than usual. I have the corn sprayed to prevent that. Just as the kernels emerge, that’s called the ‘boot stage’.

Soybeans are looking OK. See this one field that looks like a lawn? Just all green? That’s a field I plant for a neighbor; he just uses it as a food plot. I didn’t have that one sprayed with ‘pre-emerge’ grass control like I did on my fields. It was my control field. See the rows on the others? With out the pre-emerge spray, they’d all be solid grass. Definitely a benefit to that. Then later I have it sprayed for ‘broadleaves’ and volunteer corn. I used the drill to plant the beans and I said they were sort of ‘clumpy’; you can see that in these photos. Again, it’s doing OK, seed spacing isn’t as critical for beans.

I mowed the roadsides last week. Got 50 bales of grass hay off that. Some neighbors will take that.

Mowed down in the woods for another neighbor. He’s been clearing buckthorn and it looks really nice down there now.

Also mowed an area I call ‘The Swamp’ since it was so dry. Turns out it wasn’t as dry as I thought…

Do you play the lottery? What’s the biggest prize you’ve won?

Early May

Today’s post comes from Ben.

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,

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp0rRUsMDlJ1meYAQ6_37Dw

Next week I’ll do an up to date crop report.

Do you have any cleaning tricks? How bad do you let things go before you clean?

Making Friends with…

I believe that, as I write this on Friday June 11, we are in our 7th consecutive day in the 90s. I am not a happy camper. I wilt any time the thermometer rises above 80, especially if humidity accompanies the heat. Husband usually loves heat, to a point, and tolerates it much better than I, so we have what I call the A/C wars, just like my folks had. [Mom would just hole up in the air conditioned rooms, and Dad would hang out in his room (nice large one with its own sitting area and TV) with the window open – he had a nice magnolia tree right outside the window.] I can do climate control with shades in windows in the a.m., but by mid-afternoon I need A/C.I just looked ahead via Weather.com:  between now and June 24 in SE Minnesota, there is one (1) day when the high is predicted to be below 85˚ F.  And we are in a bit of a drought – greatest chance of rain predicted in that time frame here is 56% chance today, and there’s not yet a cloud in the sky.

So an interesting thing happened after I got up this morning – I’d had a really nice and complicated dream in the wee hours, and wakened with a pretty strong shift in attitude:  I am going to Make Friends with the heat. It could be that our entire summer will be like this, and I do not wish to be miserable all summer. Instead of hating and grousing about it, I will embrace it, and do what I can to enjoy it. This will mean shifting my schedule, my way of doing things, where I do things, and perhaps what things I do. And I may have to buy awnings or screens to create more shade for the patio out back (and my out-the-back-door summer kitchen – worth perhaps another blog post).

There is shade on our back patio till about 10:30, and there was a little breeze this morning. I invited a nearby friend over for ice water, if she could come by 8:30. (She’s an early riser.) After that I placed a lawn chair in the driveway under the beloved Hackberry Tree, and till about noon I perused my recipe books for chilled soup recipes. I have fans on right now, and am about to go to the NICE COOL BASEMENT to clean it up and find some sewing projects, perhaps clear a place that we could play Mexican Train. Once the A/C has cooled things off upstairs, I can watch movie clips for a zoom class I’m taking on Musical Theater…

In other words, I’m trying.

How are you coping with this heat wave so far?

Is there anyone or anything you might “make friends” with that could make your life easier?