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Monday, September 20, 2010

Giants In The Earth


Funny how that quote (its in the bible somewhere) came to mind the
other day when I was digging potatoes and this huge one came out of
the ground. At least I will have a good crop of them.
Its the only harvesting I have done so far this fall as the weather
continues to put us on hold with cold, damp , cloudy weather. There
are a few farmers harvesting but no dry grain. They either own a grain
dryer or have found a buyer for the tough grain. For those that don't know,
tough, or damp grain (high moisture content) is very risky to store on
the farm as it can heat and spoil unless the temperature is quite low.
We did harvest a lot of tough grain last year but it was late in the season
(November) and cool enough to store safely for a while.
"Killing" frost last week put an end to the growing season although the
round leaf mallow (weeds) still look pretty healthy in the garden I noticed.
Temps in the low 20s most of the night, if that doesn't freeze them I don't
know what will.
That frost should also be a good thing to kill the weeds on my weed infested
summerfallow that has been too wet to cultivate.
Meanwhile, keep waiting and keeping busy with maintenance around the farm.
Theres still hope for this crop but each day takes a little of that away.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Worst Field Conditions in 40 Years


Or maybe more than 40 years.
It just keeps getting wetter. Another 2 inches the past week and only a little drying over the weekend. Now this week begins with clouds and threat of more rain.
This photo from 07 shows how bad it was then. None of that water was there in 89 when I started farming the land. This photo shows only a small portion of a slough that stretches over a half a mile long.
It might seem strange to complain about too much water in dryland Sask. but this year that is what we are doing. There are parts of that canola field that are now inaccessible. The quarter originally had 125 cultivated acres on it. This spring I was barely able to seed 90 acres. It has been gradually losing acres due to the ever-expanding sloughs that have nowhere to go except into the next slough.
Water is now running in off the neighbour's field. Nobody's fault, just gravity and natural drainage. Unfortunately this farm has no outlet for the water so it will continue to build up unless our weather patterns change back to dry.
Sask harvest statistics state we are about 13% complete. Normally at this date we would be more like 35% finished.
On the positive side, no worries of field fires, too wet for grasshoppers, can't think of much else at this point.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sick Of The Rain


I am so sick of rain, and mud. I have literally stood in the field (or
sat in my cab) and cursed the rain and the mud that results from it.
In nearly 40 years of farming I don't recall a year so wet. Water levels
in the fields have been rising since the end of April. To the point that
some of the acres we struggled to seed in the mud will now be impossible
to harvest.
I know the old song goes, "the farmer needs the rain" but this is
ridiculous. The excess rain has caused us no end of problems and frustration.
Crop development has been slow but some are finally ready to harvest.
Unfortunately it rains every few days and just about the time the crop
is dry enough to try a sample, another system moves in with rain.
With all the moisture in the system the ground and grass stay wet til late
morning so the combines will not be able to get an early start. Days
are getting shorter and the sun sets early which usually means the grass
(and crop) takes on moisture so we can't combine late either.
Statistically we are about 8% harvested but in a normal year we should
be at the 28% level already. Peas normally harvested the first week of
August are still standing(or laying) in the fields. Every day and every
drop of rain degrades their quality further.
On the positive side, cattle have more grass than they can eat and I have
not had to water the lawn or garden all summer.
In hindsight I guess summerfallowing some of my land was a mistake as
most of it is too wet to work properly, but who knew this was coming
back in April?
Took this photo a week ago on a rare sunny day trying to disk summerfallow.
Yes, the tractor is stuck in the mud.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Who Can Stop The Rain


Sept 1 and we should be well into harvest but no such luck. I have
swathed all my canola but the wheat is still a bit on the green side,
and of course wet now as we keep getting rains to re-soak everything.
Field operations are getting more difficult all the time. Sloughs grow
a little bigger and spread farther into the field with every rain. The
ruts I made when stuck in the spring are still full of water.
As the photo shows, I got stuck once swathing canola last week with the
swather which has very little ground clearance. With a little patience
and care I was able to pull the swather out of the mud with the old 730
Case. Reports of stuck combines are coming in. Tractors on standby at
the edges of the field are the rule. I've seen some wheat fields lodged
so bad that they are almost flat to the ground. A good environment for
plant diseases, wonder if the kernels will even fill? It will take patience
and skill to cut those fields.
Late blight has hit most of the tomato gardens around the area although
mine look good (so far). Potatos have pretty well died off, not sure if
its just normal aging or the irish potato famine making a resurgence.
If we ever get rolling its going to be an interesting harvest. Hope I
get a chance to try out the new (to me) John Deere pull type combine.