Monday, October 3, 2011
Harvest 2011 in the bin
The final day was a bit of a stress test with a minor breakdown on the combine that involved no expense other than running miles back and forth down rough and dusty gravel roads with the grain truck to weld a hitch extension. Threatening unsettled weather put me a bit on edge too. I really wanted to get finished and get the machinery home under cover before rain hit. Hopes of that happening sunk quickly as the tractor sunk into the mud in mid afternoon. They say a short cut is not always a short cut and its true.
I had cut through this "dry" creek with the swather a few days earlier while cutting the flax. Figured the combine and tractor would make it through with an empty hopper. Not true. The combine started to sink pulling the tractor sideways. Without the rear dual wheels on the tractor, forward motion suddenly changed to downward movement and I quit before things got really mired. Thank goodness for cell phones and my nephew being home to bring a tractor to help. Even with the big new 50 foot nylon tow rope it was all the smaller tractor could handle to get the big guy out of the mud.
That pushed my finish time well into the late night hours. The weather gave me a break as the wind stayed up keeping the flax dry enough to go through the combine without plugging. That John Deere pull type has an insatiable appetite for grain swaths and I sure appreciated it. No regrets there.
The double swath feature on the swather is a mixed blessing. Two swaths laid together to make 40 feet per pass is a real time saver when it works. It takes perfect driving of the combine though to get it into the combine pickup. A few inches too far either way and swath starts pushing ahead of the outside edge of the pickup creating a "snowball effect" in which flax is pushed and rolled up into an ever increasing pile . When that finally enters the header it is a real shock to the feeder system. I heard a few complaints from the slip clutches but it powered the slug through every time.
I did get out a few times to push swath into the header by hand in the tractor lights. All the time thinking about all the horror stories of farmers caught in combine augers and being permanently injured or worse.
The crop results were mixed. Wheat pretty good but downgraded due to ergot. Canola was great on one field, disaster on another due to combined effects of a missed herbicide application and then hail on the swath.
Oats pretty good, way better than last year.
Flax looked great all season but did not yield well.
Now to tackle the endless list of things needing to be done before winter. I know I won't finish it but will try to figure out the top priority items and get them done.