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Friday, December 28, 2012

Walk Around The Cockshutt 40



How many people even recognize the name "Cockshutt" anymore? Its a real piece of Canadian history, one of the oldest and biggest manufacturers of farm equipment until they were swallowed up by a bigger (White) company in 1962. The tractors have been part of my life for the past fifty years or so. I can remember riding home from town with my dad on this 40 back about 1967. Over the years it has done a lot of work, and had a lot of work done to it. Not a lot of it is original anymore. Engine, sheet metal, fuel tank, rear wheels and axles, one fender, seat, probably a few other items I have forgotten. But as long as it stays on this farm it will always be known as "the old 40".

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012 has come and gone. Enjoyable as always and I am now using a nice new cordless mouse which replaced the old one that had a slipping clutch. The cold temperatures have cut back on outdoor activities.
 -20F (or -30C) this morning.
Another old photo has surfaced in the piles of old paper I occasionally sift through. This one , slightly water stained and mouse chewed is an old family wedding photo from 1944 showing Leslie and Betty Nevard's wedding. I could have posted it over at Nevardblog but this blog needed a little more up to date activity so here it is.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Sun At Last

Sometimes I complain about too much sun in the summer time. In a Sask.. winter the sun is a life saver though. Those dull cloudy, foggy days are pretty uninspiring. Today the sun broke through in all it's glory. There is nothing like sunshine on white snow and deep blue sky to make a nice photo backdrop. Not that I am particularly photogenic but I find a photo is usually more interesting if there is a subject in it, be they human or animal.
I shot a bunch of video too and got a good bit of exercise walking through the deep snow. I'd say a quarter mile walk in that is about equal to a mile of walking on a good road. Much more peaceful though.
The temperature was around -10F (about -23C for those that prefer metric) but that is not bad at all as long as the wind does not blow creating that dreaded "wind chill factor" that the weather men keep warning us about.
You can see how cloudy and dull it was yesterday in this cattle feeding video from yesterday. What a difference!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Walk In The Frosty Woods


Great scenery today so I had to shoot some video and photos around the yard. Tried out a new idea for the camera. It certainly gives a different point of view.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Out In The Woods

Hoar frost always makes a good picture better. Even an ordinary background of evergreen trees look so impressive with all that frost on them. The old saying is that we will get snow or some kind of precipitation 90 days following the hoar frost and fog. Its a sure thing we will get more snow before then.
This picture is from today while out doing a little branch trimming with the "environmentally friendly saw". It uses no non-renewable resources, won't damage your hearing and not likely to kick back causing injury or death like a chain saw. Plus its more trouble to start up a cold, stubborn chain saw that probably has an empty fuel tank.
Not a whole lot happening on the farm at this time. Just keeping the cattle feeders filled with hay bales.
So many days of cloud and fog but for some reason last night's sky was incredibly clear. Stars so sharp and bright they actually had those five points like the ones in cartoons do. Not a breath of wind or a sound at something after midnight when I was out to feed the cats.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Still Shoveling Snow

Well not much today but my point is that I do still occasionally shovel a little snow here using that same shovel that is in the above picture . And that picture was taken a good many years ago. The shovel has survived loading  countless bushels of grain over the years. It even rode part ways to town on top of a load of grain one time until it fell off. I was lucky to find it undamaged on the return trip.
Its a little rusty now as most of the grain is moved by grain vac.
That old barn in the background still stands although it only houses 4 lonely chickens now. The big old truck beside it was partially dismantled and given a new life as a bale wagon. Where the truck stands in the photo there is now a truck shed/work shop built in 1972.
The kid in the picture is a little older and hopefully wiser.
Although it is  not officially winter yet according to the calendar we have already had more snow than all last winter. These extremes in temperature change are not normal. Wind chill factors in the -25C range today but predictions of thawing and more rain tomorrow. More evidence of climate change maybe?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Out In The Woods On A Snowy Evening.


Ok, I sort of was inspired by the Robert Frost poem, Stopping by woods on a snowy evening" the other day when I shot some of this video. It looks nice but means lots of shoveling, staggering through deep snow and spinning wheels on tractors trying to carry hay bales out to the cattle feeders. I may yet have to install the snow blower this winter.
I can't believe my luck getting 3 semis loads of grain hauled out on Tuesday, just 24 hours before this new snow fell. There wasn't a lot of snow around that day but being mild it was very slippery and the big truck needed a pull at one point to get going. That farm is pretty much cleaned up now so I should not have to push any more snow there. But never say never.
Highways are reported to be a combination of frozen rain, packed snow and dangerous driving. My old 2 wheel drive pickup has summer tread tires and likely won't get past the doors of the garage before getting stuck. My 4 WD has developed a gas tank leak and I don't want to push my luck too far driving it but may have to at some point. At least I am not dealing with mud and flooding like Budde Shepherd so I will be thankful for that.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November On The Farm.


Some nice scenery here even though its winter. Hoar frost always does it. Milder than normal now and we are losing some of that snow. I pushed snow today to clear a path for the grain semi to haul out 3 loads of grain. So far it is looking like I was smart (lucky) to sell my canola at October price. Today's price is a dollar less per bushel. It makes no sense to me but the market is always right.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Beautiful Winter Day

After our first taste of winter on the weekend we are getting a break the past day or so with sunshine and mild temperatures. Nearly up to the thawing point so the snow is settling. I didn't bother to start a tractor to move any, just drove through and made ruts with the 4x4. Another day or so and it might just melt. Maybe I really am the "lazy farmer".
Deer hunting season started up this week. I did a little deer hunting with the camera this afternooon on our wildlife land and saw several including a couple of well antlered Bucks that should make a good trophy for some hunter. Took this picture from over a quarter mile away across the valley on full zoom so it is a little grainy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

No News And Unknown Soldiers

No big news here, just snowed in from the heavy snowfall of the weekend. I've shoveled lots of snow and still lots to go. Eventually I will install the snowblower on the tractor and do some serious snow moving. I think I might be able to get out with the four wheel drive and snow tires but today I  have nowhere to go and all day to get there.
Been meaning to post this picture of  unknown soldiers that I have in my possesion.  Writing on the back says "Ant. Kuryk , Hatherleigh, Sask.". I'd never heard of Hatherleigh but according to google it still exists at least in name. Probably a rural post office in the old days.
Anybody care to guess the location of the photo? Canals of Venice? Is that a volcano in the background?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cattle In The Snow



The cattle don't like it any better than I do but this is the first significant snowfall of the winter on November 9. Wind chill is entering the weather forecast now. Hope I can find the snow shovel tomorrow. I'll need it to keep warm according to the forecasters.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Now Is It Winter?

You wouldn't think it to look at the bare ground but temperatures are more winter like than usual for November 1. It rarely gets above freezing by day time and I am thinking I may not do any more field work, even rock picking or gravel hauling.
Cattle and cats are acting really hungry. The cattle can still eat some of the grass they turned up their noses at back in the summer but the cats seem to have exhausted the supply of mice on the farm and are relying on cat chow and baked potatoes twice a day.
I'm still trying to emulate the " Lazy Farmer" and sit and sleep by the fire. But I have no fire and feel a little too lazy if I sit around for long.
So today I worked at clearing up dead wood in the maple hedge. Also tightening the wheel spline on the old Cockshutt 40 tractor. The transmission and final drives of these tractors are legendary in tractor puller fame but they do occasionally need a little maintenance. The photo shows it takes a fair bit of leverage .

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Cold Week In October

Actually more than a week of cloudy, windy miserable weather with a few snow flurries thrown in. Seems like our sunshine total for the week could be measured in minutes. A far cry from 60 years ago today, October 29 1952 when this picture was taken.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

An Afternoon With The Cockshutt 40


As winter is approaching, one of the things I like to (need to) do before the snow flies is cut the grass and willows that grow along my half mile driveway. It helps to keep the snow blowing across rather than settling in drifts on the driveway.
The old Cockshutt 40 was the most likely tractor for the job as it is the smallest and allows the mower to cut right up against the fence pickets.
Old tractors need regular exercise to prevent the problems that arise from storage too long.
It performed well although I stalled it once hitting a piece of steel culvert that some careless person (could that be me?) left in the long grass.
As I turned back into the yard some new clunks and rattles caught my attention. Looking back at the mower for the source I was even more surprised when I felt the front end of the tractor drop and watched the wheel fall over on it's side. Figured it was a wheel bearing but turned out that the same careless person that left that culvert in the grass must have forgotten to tighten the wheel studs when he put that nicely painted front wheel back on the tractor last spring. All the studs had fallen  out and I could not find even one. Lucky I had a few spares in the shed, borrowed a couple more off a parts tractor in the bush and was rolling again in no time.
As breakdowns go it was not too serious. Wish they were all that easy.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Stove Is Gone

Strange disappearance recently. I had gone to the other farm to check out the old homesteader cabin, found raccoons or something had pried a window open. While closing up the window and nailing it shut I glanced in through the window to see if all was well. It was getting a little dark in there but I could tell something was missing. I could not see the big old wood burning kitchen stove. Surely my eyes were not that bad! Then I started to question my memory. Had we moved the stove? Sold it to someone? Was it ever really there?
I even considered the possibility that someone had broken in and stolen it. As my eyes adjusted to the low light I realized there was a dark cavern in the middle of the kitchen floor where the stove used to be.
Yes, the joists under the floor had apparently rotted away over time and allowed the stove to collapse into the cellar.
It could be a difficult task hauling the stove up out of the cellar. Anybody looking for a cheap wood stove?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Smoke and dust

Thats what I have been raising the past couple of days. Excellent weather, warm and sunny and no wind made it ideal to pile and burn the flax straw. The harrows worked better than I have ever seen (is it the dry ground?) at piling the straw and I got most of it burned as well. One less job to do next spring.
Half a load of hay bales still to haul home. A load of canola to move out of an old bin with a bad floor. (Don't want to feed those raccoons too well) Rocks to pick now that I have welded the broken hitch on the picker. Final clean up on the combines and get them parked in their winter quarters. That is a partial list and all I can think of this late at night.
Been listening to this sad story from B.C. on the radio while working and wondering if there really is much hope for the human race.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lazy Farmer In The Fall

Seems like its time for another verse from "The Lazy Farmer". Since we are into mid October here is an appropriate one.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Getting It Together


This picture from almost two weeks ago shows my pull type combine "headerless" as it was in the process of being put back together. The neighbour had the field finished by the time this combine was back in working condition so it will sit in the shed all winter with untested new parts. I haven't got the parts bill yet but the number $1300 sticks in my mind from talking to the partsman. Guess it could have been worse and burned the whole combine to the ground.
It was just by chance that I was checking some of the shafts when I shut down for that night and this top feeder shaft felt uncomfortably warm. With zero wind the fine flax dust had settled all over the machine so there was plenty of combustibles just waiting to ignite if hot bearing parts had landed in them. As it turned out, the bearing was gone and the shaft was just rubbing metal to metal. Hence the need for a new shaft. Then we found another shaft down under the feeder house that was also turning in the bearing and worn beyond hope. About that time I decided to call for help and get the field custom harvested before the weather turned bad.
I have to give credit to the New agtalk forums where I first read about this tendency to hot bearings on that series of JD combine feeder houses.
Now I have to decide,, sell the flax for $14.25 per bushel today or wait for the price to rise (or fall) through the winter and spring. Getting the grain sold before the farm yards fill in with snow and necessitates hours of snow plowing to get the semi in (and out of) the yard is a good reason to sell now.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Trailcam animals.


Nothing too exciting to report. Some of the night life in my yard that occurs while I am asleep or watching tv. Mostly deer and raccoons, the occasional coyote. They like this location as there is grain on the ground from when I cleaned off the combine numerous times this harvest.
Back when I had free range chickens they would spend a lot of time cleaning up the grain in this spot. Unfortunately coyotes and my own cats were gradually killing the chickens so they have been confined to barracks for almost a year now.
Cold cold nights and early mornings lately with 20 degrees (F) and white frost on everything. Not the greatest conditions for hauling hay bales home 5 miles on the open tractor but I can't take a chance on the weather getting any better because it might not. 2 more trips should just about do it. Got to feed those cattle. They might be the only safe beef I can find to eat if this news story on beef recalls is any indication.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Very Productive Day

Much accomplished on the farm today including repairing my broken down combine and getting the last of my crop harvested by a neighbour. I am very lucky to have a brother who is about the best mechanic I know. A sister in law and nephews who can handle pretty much any situation that arises in this adventure we call farming. And a good neighbour who offered to combine last field of flax. While he and I worked on the flax harvest, my brother , SIL and nephews drove for parts and re-assembled the giant jig saw puzzle that my pull type combine had become in the past 24 hours.
Then I lost my wallet with all my inportant cards and documents when I left it on the roof of the grain truck. Miraculously I was able to spot it laying by the trail where it had fallen off the truck as I drove back to the field.
Then in the dark I nearly lost the old IH Loadstar as it rolled away while I was up on the combine talking to the driver. Racing down the combine ladder and hitting the ground on the run I could tell the truck was increasing velocity as the slope of the terrain grew steeper. Although I was gaining ground on it I was pretty well maxed out and running out of space by the time I made a leap for the running board, got in and hit the brakes only a short distance from the trees. Lucky it was bright moonlight. It would have been harder to catch in the dark
Warm as summer, lots of colour, perfect fall day in Sask.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Baling straw, fixing combines, etc.

I might just be the last guy combining in this area. Tried my flax swaths this afternoon and although they went through the combine just fine, the grain tests a bit on the high side for safe storage.
The John Deere combine narrowly escaped a major breakdown. While getting it ready to try the flax I found that the sieves had shaken shut from excess vibration. Red light signal right there. Sure enough a rubber bushing on the shaker arm had worn flat and would have shaken all the sieves to pieces in a short time. 25 year old rubber so I guess it owes me nothing. Several trips for a bit of welding and some parts and eventually it was ready to go.
These combine sieves are huge compared to the little old combines we used to run. While waiting for my help to come and assist re-installing the sieve, I took the opportunity to bale some oat straw with the square baler. Dry, broken up straw that resembled chaff was not a problem for the old Massey and it produced some good solid square and heavy bales.
Had an extra chore to take care of involving wildlife. The racoon trap contained a skunk yesterday morning. I didn't want to get sprayed by the skunk and didn't really want to kill it either as they are a beneficial animal around the farm. With a little patience and care I was able to get the trap open without overly scaring the skunk and it made it's escape. Hopefully having learned a lesson (Stay out of racoon traps!)
The unusually warm and dry weather continues. Will it last long enough for me to finish the flax? Should I trust the weather forecast and  wait for the grain to dry a little more or just take a chance and combine it a little high moisture?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Defeat

OK, I give up, I can't make round bales behind an IH axial flow combine. I'd been told this before but never believed it til now. The straw is broken up so short by the combine that the baler will not feed properly. I tried it early this morning with frost on the straw thinking that would make a difference. I did make one bale after a struggle but spent much more time unplugging straw from the baler pickup.
So I will make a few square bales for bedding as the square baler seems to handle it better. Still have a field of "john deere straw" that I can make some round bales from later. Today I have to get back to swathing flax. Started on it yesterday afternoon and it is slow going. Variable height of the crop means constant adjusting the reel . Too high and the knife will build up with material. Too low and straw will wrap around the reel creating a snowball effect and swath lumps. Bad news for the combine.
I am double swathing it, laying two 21 foot swaths side by side which will save a lot of time combining. It takes a little extra time and work when swathing but will hopefully be worth it and not a big mistake. I'm hoping the double swaths might be more resistant to wind damage too.
As of the 17th I finished combining all the other crops so this flax is the last field, plus a little 3 acre patch of oats where I ran out of flax seed.
The swath deflectors I fabricated for the swather seem to help a little although need a little reinforcing as they bent a little on yesterday's first trial run. Got to get that flax harvested before the large ungulates eat and trample it into the ground. Saw these four nearby a few days ago.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Combining Oats with the IH 1660.


Harvest continues
I am too tired and it is too late to do a "real" blog post so here is a bit of video from today giving you the view from my "office window". Great weather, fair crop, beautiful scenery, really can't complain about much today.

Change as good as a rest

As the old saying goes. I ran the pull type combine yesterday for a change. Gave the IH self propelled a rest as I harvested the last field of wheat. Like most days, the hardest work is in getting ready. Move a round baler and tractor to get the pull type combine and tractor out of the shed. The usual greasing of the combine and fueling up the tractor all take time. Then I decided to unload that wagon load of tough wheat from last week into the truck box. Figured I'd put a hopper of today's super dry wheat on top and it would mix as it augered into the bin. Happened to have the wrong tractor on the wagon for this job. The old Cockshutt 40 has such a small hydraulic system that it does not have enough oil to raise the dump wagon high enough to unload completely. So I ended up shoveling a good part of the load off the wagon. Sunny warm weather was not the best conditions for this job but I survived. Numerous other little jobs like bolting the fins on the straw chopper and adjusting the knives. Cleaning the oats out of the hopper sump on the pull type. And probably a good many others that I have forgotten by now. After all that I enjoyed a good nine hours of rest in the air ride seat of the tractor combining the last field of wheat.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

More Miles, More Acres

Another ten miles on the road today with the combine as I moved to the last canola field. Moving all the equipment between farms eats up a lot of good working hours but thats how it is when your land is spread around 3 different ranges. Was lucky to meet no other vehicles but my SIL was not so fortunate having met several combines with wide headers and a house. Yes, a house moving along the grid road taking all the road and maybe some of the ditch. She was able to pull into a field with the 50 foot grain auger and avoid the moving house.
I didn't set any records for acres or bushels today but should finish the last canola field tomorrow (today as it already 12:30 am).
The wind damage was not nearly as bad as I had been led to believe from other reports. Yield still not great but better than I expected.
The venerable IH Loadstar had a minor breakdown last night which caused some concern until we found we could still start the engine even when the ignition key was twisted off inside the ignition. I guess 41 years and 115,000 miles of metal fatigue have taken their toll. It also threw a minor fit when one side of the Holley carburetor quit and it ran pretty rough for a bit til it "fixed itself". Thats the kind of problems I don't mind having.

Blowing In The Wind

I don't know if it is the answer or the question but I hate wind!. Sask gets it's share but the past few days have been extreme even for us. Canola swaths have blown far and wide in some areas rendering them impossible to pick up in the combine. Nothing left in them anyway after tumbling across the fields.
I was lucky so far as most of my swaths stayed in place with only a few damaged spots on hilltops. The crop was  not great but is yielding near normal.
Lots of miles driving back and forth between farms with the combine changing headers and then long hours in the field. Its been dry which is ideal for harvest. Cold nights but no hard frost.
Hope my flax has not threshed out in those winds. It is still standing not quite ready to swath. It will have to stand a few more days before I can get to it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Many Acres, Not so Many Bushels

Beautiful day behind the glass of the combine cab but wild windy and a bit cool outside. That wind damaged some of the canola swaths today. Sure did keep the combine clean as dust could not settle anywhere. Unloading the hopper had to be done in the shelter of the trees or the grain would blow away.
I'm doing a lot of acres per day but not as many bushels as there should be. Seems to be typical from reports of other crops I am hearing. Crops look good but just not yielding as they should. Ironic as grain prices are great and we were looking forward to a very profitable year.
Finished the standing wheat this evening. Now about 130 acres of canola swath to pick up as well as 50 of oats and 60 of wheat on another field. By then maybe the 140 acres of flax will be ready to swath.
Dry , dry conditions are allowing harvest to progress daily. Could do with a little less wind though. This was extreme, even for Sask.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Harvest 2012 First Day

September 2, Sunday, first day on the combine. As an old friend used to say, "the better the day, the better the deed". There was a time nobody harvested on Sunday but those days are gone.
It was a slow start having to move numerous other vehicles and machinery (one that would'nt start) to get the pull type combine out of the shed. I finally got out to the field by about 2:00. After going a couple of hundred feet with the cleanout doors open and dumping all the oats on the ground, I finally realized why nothing was appearing in the grain hopper. The mice and birds will feed well.
Strong winds blew the 40 foot swath around as it came out the back of the Titan II. Not sure what I was thinking laying a double swath of such a heavy crop but thank goodness I had only swathed maybe ten acres and then switched back to single. That heavy double swath had me right down to first gear and standing still at times. One place where the swather canvas had stopped and dumped a pile of straw was more than the combine could handle. The Magnum dropped from 2100 to 0 rpm in about a second, stalled dead by a heavy wad of green straw that hit the cylinder a little too fast. At least the strong west wind carried the dust away as I worked away underneath the combine pulling out a few straws at a time. That green straw was strong as rope and I finally went to the yard for my hook to help pull out the last of it.
The moisture test was an unbelievable 11% which is well into the dry range. I figured having only laid in the swath four days the oats would not be dry. Guess the heat and wind speeded things up.
Worked til 8:30 in the dark and called it a day. Not a bad afternoon's work.

Harvest Progresses a little in spite of the weather

Up until this afternoon I was making some progress being near the ten percent complete mark after only 3 days combining.
Today it all went downhill. Threatening clouds interspersed with just enough sunny breaks to give me hope. After driving to the field to fuel up the combine this morning I discovered that a hole was worn through the cone on the combine. After 3300 hours I guess it has done well. Spent an hour trying to patch it up with a bolt which may or may not be successful. Then decided the canola green count was too high and figured I'd try the wheat instead. This required a trip home (5 miles at 4 mpg) to change to the straight cut header on the combine. Back to the wheat field, all the time watching the ever increasing clouds in the west. The wheat threshed ok but sure isn't yielding like it should. Another trip home for a moisture test revealed that the wheat was not quite dry. I might have kept going except that rain started falling inducing great haste to empty the grain tank of the combine into the truck to prevent it getting soaked. More frantic trips up and down the road with truck , tractor and grain auger as we had to set up at a different bin in a different yard. Luckily the rain quit during the unloading process. The most annoying part was that by the time I got within a couple of miles of home the roads had dried up and dust was billowing out behind the grain truck even though rain water still dripped off the body. No rain here at all.
So the combine sits out in the field at the mercy of the rain and fuel thieves
Maybe like little orphan annie I will sing, "the sun will come out tomorrow", or not.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Harvest 2012 First Day



Well I had a wordy and descriptive post typed up about this video but blogger decided to log me out and lost the whole thing. After the day's other frustrations I will leave you with this Readers Digest "condensed version".

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Canola Swathing 2012



Canola Swathing 2012




Yes, thats me swathing canola just so you know I do actually work a little sometimes. As usual it looked a little on the green side once I got into the crop but hopefully it will turn out ok. According to the calendar I am right but of course weather is always a wild card.
Not expecting a great crop as there is a lot of disease like sclerotinia and alternaria, not to mention aster yellows which is a new one to me this year.
It is a big improvement to be working "indoors" compared to the old open station swather. At the mercy of sun, wind, rain, dust, insects and whatever else the weather threw at me I now appreciate the protection the cab offers. That little diesel engine runs on about half the fuel that my old swather used. As reliable as the old AMC gas engine was, it liked its gas.
Now what? Swath more of the cereals or leave them to mature and direct cut with the combine? Flax? Well it will definitely be swathed but not quite ready yet.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

More Trail Rides

For the second weekend in a row I have been out with family and friends on the quads, bikes, trike, touring the area looking at crops and other items of interest. We don't go very fast but we go pretty far, to quote an old song. Great weather and scenery and good company and before we know it we have made 60 km or more.

Crops are variable with some great looking wheat that might be disappointment if it has as much disease as some are saying. Canola is so uneven on some fields with flowering patches amongst far more advanced plants. It will be a challenge to know when to swath . There was one field in the process of being swathed.
I got my swather out of the back of the shed on the weekend in preparation for the soon to be swathing season. Great to have indoor storage but having to move 3 trucks, a tractor and a pull type combine to get at the swather takes a bit of time and effort. Sharing one battery between the trucks and tractor, one truck with no spark, then a flooding carburetor, all help keep the mechanical skills honed.

Watched late at night for the Perseid meteor showers, saw nothing. Shot some interesting video of some little Merlin hawks near the house. Don't often get to see them being fed by the adults.
Merlins

Monday, August 6, 2012

This blogger has an interesting blog about our disappearing Sask. wooden grain   elevators

Friday, August 3, 2012

Baling With The 847.



Summer marches on and hay is being made. Between rains I managed to get most of what I will need for this winter. Theres more I could cut but not much point if I don't use it and have to carry it over another year.
The old auction sale baler works pretty well and sure beats the way I used handle little square bales. Nice working inside out of the dust and heat too. Although all those years and multiple thousands of small bales handled in summer heat gave me a real appreciation for the way I do it now.
CBC radio in the background keeps me entertained and informed with no distracting and annoying commercials.
Crops getting just enough rain and not too hot so they are looking pretty good. Although some canola fields are pretty uneven in maturity and will be a real challenge to guess when its time to swath. If the "sky is falling" crowd at agriville  are right, disease and insects will not leave much for us to harvest but mine looks good from the road and thats as close as I am going to look for now. That can be an interesting site to visit but sometimes a little depressing.
Another half inch of rain last night. So far we have missed the hail and tornados but August is traditional for hail and violent thunderstorms in Sask. so....

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Oh Deer

Well the weather has double crossed me again. Yesterday the forecast was for a good stretch of nice sunny and dry weather. Perfect for haying so I headed out to the hundred acre woods with the haybine and spent the afternoon and part of the evening cutting various patches of hay. The grass was getting damp even as the sun dropped near the horizon. Later in the evening it started to thunder and lightning and sometime in the night I heard the sound of falling rain. Not a lot but not a good thing for the quality of the hay I cut. It looks a little unsettled for the next day or so. Hope I can get some drying weather so I can bale the hay now without losing too much quality.
On the good side, the new sickles and guards improved the cutting ability of the old haybine. Although I didn't finish, I think there should be plenty of hay to get the cattle through the winter,.
Crops looking great with the oats headed out now too. The bloom is off my canola and I see I have as much if not more of the asters yellow disease as anyone else has. If the "sky is falling" crowd is right there is going to be a big yield loss in canola due to this. I can't see it myself but I guess time will tell.
The flax is looking good but I have not seen much bloom yet for some reason. Seems like it should be by now.
This little buck was caught on the trail cam in my yard this week in several poses.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Days of Summer


Keeping busy on the farm is never hard to do. The above photo shows just one of the little jobs. Moving a grain bin from one side of the farm to another in hopes of replacing the wooden floor.
Most of the grain is now sold thanks to good prices and a grain vac to take the work out of loading grain in a steel bin on a stifling hot day. Last year's flax still sits waiting on me to make up my mind. I'll need the space (assuming this crop makes it) by harvest time but til then I am watching prices as I think there is potential for it to increase. Although 13.20 per bushel is still a mighty good price. Maybe I am just greedy but I don't see much flax planted this year and there should not be an over supply to push the price lower.
Heavy rains, threat of hail and tornados every few days keep it interesting. The extreme heat has let up which is a relief. A new disease (to me), has hit canola fields in Sask. Aster yellows and if it is as bad as some say, we will not have a big canola crop this year. I see signs of it in mine but the crop still looks good. Nothing we can do about it.
Flax, not quite flowering yet but looking good and clean. That group 2 herbicide I used on wheat for herbicide resistant wild oats seems to have done a great job. Cleanest field I have seen in a while . Oats just headed out and looking better than last year.
New potatos from the garden taste great and I guess the old ones in the bin from last year will be left for the cats.
Theres still acres of hay I could cut and probably will cut some of it just to make sure I have more than enough to get through winter. I've put some money into new parts on the haybine  which should inprove cutting performance. Its a learning experience.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cockshutt 40 and Haybine.



Got a little break from the heat the past couple of days. Those 80+ degree temps were a bit much at times. Than an inch of rain brought us back down to the high 60s today which is easier on the crop and me.
Wouldn't you know I would be loading grain on the hottest days of the year. One of the hottest places to work is inside a steel bin on a hot summer day. I'd likely never have survived shovelling those few thousand bushels but the grain vac sure saves some labour.
Of course canola price dropped the day I sold mine but has since increased. No big surprise there. Oats at $3 a bushel looked pretty good a couple of weeks ago when I locked the price in but this drought in the U.S. corn belt is really starting to push grain prices up.
Haying going well and the 35 year old haybine is doing a good job. Should be even better when I add the few hundred dollars of new iron parts to the cutterbar.
The old Cockshutt 40 works well on the haybine but for any serious amount of cutting I will go with the comfort of the air conditioned cab of the 2090 Case and stay out of the grass pollen that causes a lot of optical and nasal distress.
The inch of rain this week will do some good. I was lucky to get my hay baled without a drop of rain on it though.
Our living skies were filled with the sounds of spray planes recently as insecticide and fungicide rained down on the fields. Others sprayed with high clearance sprayers in hopes of maximizing their profits by eliminating every insect and fungus that might be present in the field. I'll take my chances and sacrifice a little yield in exchange for one less carcinogenic chemical to handle.
Heres another local farm blog some might find of interest.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How I Waste Some Time


I guess some would consider it a waste of time but I put a lot of effort into parking as much of my machinery as I can indoors. Not that any of it is particularly modern or expensive but I like to keep it looking good and away from the devastating effects of sun and rain on paint and rubber.
Having limited space means everything needs to be parked pretty close together. Seldom used vehicles need to borrow a battery from a "runner" . In fact I think I used that same battery to start 3 vehicles that day.
Plus, it is an excuse to take the "toys" out for a bit of exercise. Neat to hear the sound of the old John Deere 2 cylinder . It was my Uncle's tractor and this marks just about to the day, ten years since he died.
In other news, haying has begun for me. I cut a few patches of grass and baled it with the square baler. Needed a few small squares to replenish the supply in the hayloft. The rest I will do with the round baler as it is a lot less labour intensive.
More grass to cut but lucky I waited til last night's big rain was over. An inch and a quarter on top of hay swaths is not a good thing. Hopefully we get a week of mostly dry weather now.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Week of Progress and a lucky accident

Its been a pretty progressive week. The CIH magnum tractor is back in service thanks to my sister in law driving for parts and my brother's help assembling them. I sprayed the oats which is a nice looking crop and not bad for weeds. Also got my flax sprayed yesterday in near perfect conditions. Not too hot or windy and everything worked, even the A.C. The canola is showing first blossoms, guess it won't get the second application of glyphosate now. Really it is not bad for weeds so should be fine.
Got the rest of the summerfallow worked and looking good (for now).
Just for a test I hitched the old Cockshutt 40 onto the new (to me) haybine and cut some of the grass around the yard and driveway. It is old and faded but cuts grass like crazy and will be a big improvement over the old sickle mower (or wearing out my swather trying to cut hay with it).


I shot this video Tuesday evening during a severe thunderstorm. Lucky we missed the tornados that were spotted in a few areas that day.
We had a day of hurricane  force winds on Wednesday, Shingles were lifting and sheet metal on a shed roof was threatening to lift. Probably not smart but I got up on the aluminum ladder and put few screws in to hold the sheets down, although I was in danger of becoming a human kite at times.
The lucky accident? No, not falling off a roof but nearly crashing my air seeder into a grain auger and hopper bin. I had just moved the air seeder into the centre of the yard so I could cut the grass where it had been parked. Slight downhill slope but seemed fine when I unhitched it. About five minutes later I came out of the quonset to find the air seeder parked up against the side of the hopper bin and nearly on top of a grain auger. Within inches of crashing into the legs of the hopper bin or running over (and crushing) the grain auger tube. That could have been a multiple disaster that would have ruined my good day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sask. Summer Storm


Thunder and lightning and rain on the tin roof. Went out to check my rain gauge but the wind has blown it away. Not quite as wild as what they had in the northwest last night here  but it was pretty intense. High temps and humidity all day will usually lead up to this kind of weather. That 40 C heat index is not my kind of weather. Fine as long as the ac is working and I am in the tractor cab though. Great weed killing weather. Too hot to spray crops but all I have left to do is the flax. It is pretty weak at this stage so I don't want to hit it with herbicide and set it back. Best to wait for a cooler day. Maybe I should hitch onto the haybine and start cutting. That usually brings on more rain though.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

3 Steps Forward and Two Steps Back

Was just thinking today that I am starting to get caught up a little with the most urgent crop spraying done and a couple of hundred acres left to go. I was working a little summerfallow while waiting for the crops to advance a little before spraying them. Bad weed situation on the one summerfallow field but I managed to grind my way through a day of gut wrenching bouncing over the rough ground and piles of dirt and weeds and finish. Heading home to start another field at 5:30 when the alternator light came on the dash. Actually its a small miracle that I spotted it. My first guess (fan belt) was right as I saw the temperature gauge start a rapid climb. Lucky enough to be near an approach where I could pull over out of the way of what little traffic was moving (not much). A phone call had help on the way pretty quick and we had my only spare old used fan belt installed . It promptly flew to pieces when I started the engine. Perfect timing for my brother the mechanic to appear and see what I had missed, a failed damper pulley on the engine that put the fan belt so out of line it would never stay on. Good thing I hadn't installed a new belt and wrecked that too.
So a tow job was in order and the old reliable 2090 pulled the big tractor and cultivator the 3 miles home. Without the engine running the big Magnum was a virtual furnace in the cab. Combined with incredibly heavy steering I probably sweated a few litres in that trip.
I've put an inquiry on the  New ag talk forum to see what good advice and comments on this repair job are  available there.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Early Potatoes


Hope I spelled that right , potatoe or potato, whatever. Back when I planted them in the first week of April I wondered if it was a waste of time or energy as it is a good month ahead of usual garden planting time here. As of yesterday they are looking good and blooming already. They will be the earliest I can ever remember. I was lucky to escape the frosts that hit around the area a  while back.
In other news, same old complaint, the weather is holding me back from what I want and need to do. Another 190 acres of wheat need spraying for weeds and the ground is probably just about dry enough to do it. Unfortunately the wind is blowing and clouds are rolling in with rain in the near forecast so I guess not today. No point loading up the sprayer with expensive herbicide that degrades pretty quickly if left sitting in the tank. Its a nine mile drive to the field and at 14 mph the weather can change before I even get into the field. Leaving me the option to spray in the wind or imminent rainfall. Neither are a good option.
I was lucky to get the canola crop sprayed a week ago and then a wheat field on the weekend.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thoughts For A Rainy Day

Yes, I like this old lazy farmer's attitude towards work and life in general. Once it rains the pressure is off. I know I won't be going into the field to do anything, the waiting game is over, for a little while anyway.
I went and filled up the sprayer tank with water this morning and rain was falling before I got back to the yard. Not a lot but just enough to keep it wet. Cool and windy conditions, not what we need right now.
On the positive side it is really making the grass grow. Cattle can't eat it fast enough.

Plus, we missed out on the tornados, hail and heavy rain that other parts of Sask. got today.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Weed Spraying Drives Me Crazy

                 Oats coming up nice and even.
Its not really news but spraying crops for weeds is a stressful time due to the weather affecting every move I make. If it is too windy, too hot, too wet, too dry, too many threatening clouds in the sky, threat of frost, etc., the list
goes on. It is a rare thing to get a windless day in Sask.It is equally
rare to get a dry quiet day but this past week we had two such days.

On one of them I was ready to go. 800 gallons of water and three jugs
of cheap herbicide (thank you Monsanto) and I am off to the fields.

By mid day the wind was pushing the limits of my comfort zone but I had
good buffer zones between neighbour's fields so went ahead.

12 hours and 38 miles of road driving later I had sprayed 200 acres of
canola. At 14 mph I spent about 3 hours on the road between farms and
that is enough time to spray another 80 acres.

The temperature was pushing the 80 degree mark and wouldn't you know, that was when the a.c. compressor failed to cut in so it got pretty warm
in the tractor cab. Good thing I brought lots of water to drink. Later
that evening the ac worked fine.

Now a couple of days of wheat field spraying await me.The wheat is about the right stage , unfortunately today is unsettled and threatening rain with
gusty winds so its a no-go I think. If conditions are not right by 6:00 pm,
forget it. It takes a good half hour to get to the field and then 3 hours
to spray out the tank which would put me into darkness. GPS is a big help but it won't show me where the sloughs and bushes are. Sprayer booms are no match for a good solid poplar tree and I don't need any more repair time spent on the sprayer.

Looking at the long range forecast I see one good day out of the next seven
so it looks like the weeds will get to grow bigger while I sit and wait.

I could go out and cut grass but no, its too wet, raining now. Maybe clean
the last of the seed oats from the bin onto the truck, but no, sure as anything
a rain shower would come up in the middle of that job.
Finish changing those cultivator shovels while kneeling on the wet ground. Yes that sounds like a plan.
Tractor and sprayer parked, waiting.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Century Old Tree Planting Program


It is finished. In it's relentless quest to trim down spending our federal government has decided to eliminate this tree planting program
Most of the trees and hedges planted on this farm came from the Indian Head based shelterbelt program that supplied these seedling trees for free to landowners. My Dad and I planted hundreds of these trees around this yard over the years. There are even rows of ancient maple trees that my grandfather planted.  On a cold and windy morning like this those hedges provide much appreciated shelter.
When my grandfather came here in 03 there were no big trees. They actually had to have logs hauled in from further north to construct buildings. Frequent prairie fires prevented the poplar trees from getting too big. No fireguards or big fields of summerfallow to stop them. Have we come full circle back to those times? Summerfallow fields are rare now, only found on land owned by inefficient and obsolete farmers like myself.
Field hedges that were planted to break the relentless prairie winds are now a nuisance for gps and auto steer equipment . Plus the never ending application of glyphosate (roundup) to the fields on windy days like today will surely kill those hedges anyway.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

From Seeding To Stubble Work


Since I am here it must be raining. Been a dry week which meant I had to keep busy in the fields with no time to waste on the net.
I even finished seeding a few days ago. Got caught up with harrowing and rock picking, despite losing the rock picker in a muddy crossing in the field. Even there I got lucky having a decrepit old logging chain in the tool box which was just strong enough to pull the rock picker out backwards . The hitch was broken but still usable enough that I could finish the job.
Working stubble (summerfallow) took priority (I think) over spraying the recently emerged canola. The stubble fields, especially the last one, were overdue for attention and if I'd left them another day or so I'd likely need to cut and bale the weeds before trying to cultivate.
Yes, I still use the outdated and obsolete practice of summerfallow on some fields. Fact is I just could not get them seeded in the short window of opportunity available so they will be cultivated for summerfallow this year. If I had a nice hundred thousand dollar high clearance self propelled sprayer I could have had the weeds under control early enough to seed the field. I'll put one on my list of things to do for next year.
Working summerfallow is not a bad job in a comfortable tractor with the company of the always entertaining CBC radio. Some of the news stories are a little disturbing though. Don't these protesters have anything better to do than harrass and annoy working people?
Now canola fields need to be sprayed right quick and the wheat won't be far behind that. Grain needs hauling but some of the bins are still inaccesible due to wet ground. Only a couple of weeks til I should be cutting hay although I know it will be longer than that.
Its no wonder that spring and summer go by so fast.
Check out the video. I hope that little Whitetail fawn made it past the cultivator . I didn't even see it until watching the video later. As someone commented, deer are a pest that cause crop and vehicle damage but its hard to see an innocent little creature like that knocked down and killed at that stage of it's life.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Come Down to Kew in Lilac Time


That old poem by Alfred Noyes for some reason came to mind today while at work beside the blooming lilac bushes. I don't know if we studied it in high school or if one of my British ancestors used to quote it but the lines about lilac time stick in my mind like so many other bits of useless information.
These in the photo were planted by some of my Nevard ancestors near the old yard and they are usually out in full force when I am doing spring planting in the field they reside by.
Today was not really planting, actually pre-working the ground in hopes of drying it up and killing a heavy growth of weeds. The 4 inches of rain last week has made a lot of the field impassable and I have spent a lot of time and fuel literally spinning my wheels today but did manage to get a lot of the field worked. How did I ever farm without a front wheel assist tractor? 2 wheel drive would be useless in these muddy conditions. 4 wheel drive or tracks would be better. Working by the highway is always interesting with all sorts of traffic passing. Some must have wondered what this crazy farmer was doing out in the mud with a tractor and cultivator.
Many sloughs were running over into the next one. The water must be coming up out of the ground. The sun and wind co-operated and soil conditions did improve as the day progressed but still a long way to go. Hoping to plant flax here but it has to be soon. We are hitting the first of June tomorrow and any crop planted in June I consider at high risk here.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lawn Cutting.


A rare (lately) sunny day in Sask. although it was cold enough that I was dressed up for winter. Fields still too wet to get back to seeding but I took the opportunity to cut the long grass and dandelions that were taking over my yard. It is relaxing work and sure looks nice when it is done. Not that a lot of people get to see it but the few comments I get are always positive so it inspires me to keep on cutting. Makes it easier to spot the predators too when the grass is kept down low.
This old John Deere has a lot of cutting hours on it and has to be over 20 years old. The occasional new bearing and cutting blade along with a little "skillful welding" keeps this little tractor on the job every summer for the foreseeable future.
I suppose I should be contributing to the economy by buying and driving one of the new "zero turn" hydrostatic drive mowers but as long as this one does the job without too much downtime or repairing I will probably be satisfied with it. Although if this cold spring/summer continues I might consider adding a cab and heater to it. :-)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Seeding Delay

I'd say its hard to believe that there is snow falling in Sask. tonight but of course I know that Sask. weather is capable of anything. Temp is freezing and will probably freeze off the few potatoes that are up in the garden (except the ones I covered hopefully. Also hope no canola has emerged or it will be frozen pretty badly.  3 inches of rain is the total for this week so far and they say it is not over yet. Water in the fields so it will be a few days (or more) before seeding resumes. By then the weeds will be pretty big and harder to kill. Pre-working might be a good option to kill the weeds and also dry the wet ground. I really don't want to seed flax late but we are only a week away from June. Hoping for a long growing season.
Heres a shot of an interesting old piece of iron I literally dug up today. Doing some clearing up around the walls of an old log building I hope (maybe dreaming) to repair this year, and this nose piece from a Cockshutt tractor turned up. These things sell for big money so it is nice to have a spare. Needs a little straightening but not bad considering.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tractors At Rest

Its been a busy couple of weeks for the tractors (and drivers) but today is a day of rest due to 2 inches of rain. Not doing too badly here with only a couple of hundred acres left to go. Traditionally we liked to be all done by May 24th but it doesn't always work out that way and some years the later crops are the best.
This break in the weather gives me a chance to catch up on a few things such as maintenance, house cleaning (and sleep). Long days, late suppers, lots of money going into the ground. My lawn/yard has taken on a "John Deere colour scheme" Long green grass and blooming yellow dandelions. No time while seeding and too wet to cut now but not to worry.
I am still trying to be more like the lazy farmer but so far today I have not got around to sleeping in the rocking chair as he likes to do. I see by the forecast that there is still a chance to do that tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Rain Makes Grain?

Well, there is rain dripping off the roof now. I got up early thinking I might just get over to the field and finish that last ten acres but guess not now. I could have put in an extra hour last night and finished but by 10:00 I was ready to call it a day. And a rather frustrating one it was.
Banged my head on the hydraulic splitter valve while greasing the air seeder and used up most of my extensive vocabulary of curse words. Didn't realize at the time that it had actually shifted the valve to the "wrong" position and caused the feed auger to plug after a couple of minutes of rolling. No big deal but just one more little thing to stop me and waste time.
Later on a drive chain falls apart on the seed drive and for some reason the monitor failed to go off. So I had to backtrack and double seed a good half hour's worth of ground taking my best guess at which parts were not planted. Guess time will tell if I covered it all. Might be some black strips in that field this summer.
Twitch grass patches on these fields are really getting to be a problem and much as I don't like it, I need to resort to chemical "burn off" to control it I guess.
This field is also annoying for the fact that I have to make a lot of extra miles getting there due to the persistent beavers and there dams on the little creek. Normally dry all summer, now it is an un-crossable body of water that requires a two mile drive to get to a field that is only a stones throw across the water. Now two miles is no big deal in your car on a highway but with heavy equipment on a rough gravel road with occasional traffic, it is one more annoyance and lost time to add.
And as for the title "Rain makes grain"? True, but not if the grain is sitting in the bin because it rained so long that I missed seeding time.

Took this picture yesterday evening when the setting sun was casting long shadows across the valley.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

First Day of Seeding

Sitting here having my supper at 10:00 after a good day in the field seeding canola. I used up nearly a week of good seeding weather applying anhydrous but it had to be done. Got 107 acres of canola seed in the ground. The surface has really dried up from what it was a week ago. Ideal conditions. I had another couple of hours left to finish the field but called it a day just after 9:00. Lots of weeds growing like crazy in this heat. Numerous rocks pulled out by the air seeder need to be picked.
Still a few days ahead of last year but that could change this weekend as rain is predicted. I don't mind a day's rest but can't afford much more than that.
Just having a drink of coffee as I heard this news story about the benefits of drinking coffee

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Feeding the Gulls.


Tomorrow marks one week in the field and still not an acre seeded. I've been applying anhydrous ammonia fertilizer which is taking longer than it should for various reasons. Finished it last night and spent part of today harrowing one of the rougher fields . Actually a wheel fell off the harrow drawbar, it was that rough. Spent the evening calibrating the air seeder and loading granular fertilizer and by 8:00 figured it was too late to head down the road to seed. So I planted another row of potatos and cut some of the grass that is rapidly growing out of control in the yard. The potatos I planted over a month ago are just breaking through the soil surface. Pretty slow.
This video I shot a few days ago from the tractor seat watching the gulls hunting for whatever insects turned up behind the cultivator.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spring Field Work Begins

Not one of my favourite views, raindrops on a tractor window, but thats what it was by 10:00 this morning. The ducks and seagulls seemed happy though.  First official day of applying anhydrous. 3 days ahead of last year which is good but conditions are not great. The frequent rains have made many parts of the field so wet that the tractor is having real traction problems. Never stuck but way too much slippage for my liking. I did a little pre-working of the worst spots yesterday hoping to dry the ground a little. It helps and the ruts provide a good indicator for me when I go in the next day with the anhydrous cultivator.

Anhydrous was expensive enough when I booked mine in March but is quite a bit higher now. For some reason the current low price of natural gas (the main ingredient of anhydrous) has caused the price of fertilizer to increase?? What am I missing here? No, the logic is that they increase the price because they can. Take it or leave it, and they know we have to take it.

Today's good start didn't last long. After a couple of hours the rain kept on to the point that I finally gave up on it. Filthy windows to look through and mud on everything. Guess I can spend tomorrow morning cleaning up while I wait for the ground to dry.

I read an interesting comment somewhere, "A dry year will hurt you but a wet year can kill you".
I need to adopt the attitude of this old lazy-farmer

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Rare Sunny Day



We are traditionally known as "sunny Saskatchewan" but lately you would not think so. This video shows that we can indeed get at least one sunny day in a week as this one was on April 30. I was very fortunate to get that day to clean wheat seed for spring planting (if the ground ever dries up and it stops raining). Roads and yards had soft spots that day but by now they will be worse after the latest rain. Even with the empty truck it felt like I hit the brakes whenever pushing in the clutch. Full truck loads are not possible now. But the job got done with 40 year old machinery and the seed is ready to go when the weather smartens up.
Cold weather too is not promoting spring progress. Tree buds got off to an early start in April but were hit hard by snow and frost and only now starting to show a tinge of green again. A few weeds are all that grow in the garden as the potatos I planted almost a month ago refuse to emerge. I may have been a little optimistic planting that early but it wasn't a big gamble. Not nearly as big a risk as putting canola seed at $370 a bag into the ground.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Little Progress

Finally, a little progress in the saga of spring planting preparations. The first nice sunny (quiet) day in a while and as luck would have it, the day I was scheduled to haul wheat to the cleaning plant. Perfect timing as the roads had just dried up from the weekend rain. Still a bit wet to work in the field but one neighbour was heading out with the air drill in the afternoon.
This was supposed to be video but turned out to be a series of many still photos. Apparently I had the camera dial set wrong. It was supposed to look something like this but minus the snow of course.
Six trips and the cleaned seed is in the bin ready to go. Screenings hauled home and the truck in the shop for a well earned engine oil change. After 41 years and 115,000 miles the old IH still gets the job done.
Next, maybe hitch onto the anhydrous cultivator. Prices of anhydrous and all fertilizer has taken a huge jump in the past month so I was lucky to have mine pre-bought.
The forecast is for more unsettled and wet weather for the rest of the week. It could be another challenging spring in Sask.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day

I hear today is Earth Day . Apparently the 42nd one although somehow I don't recall hearing of it before. I guess it is a good thing that at least some mention is made of it to bring awareness to people that we need to take care of this planet we live on.

This photo I took today shows some of my corner of the earth. The unspoiled wilderness of a peaceful beaver pond on a spring day.
Unfortunately a quarter of a mile away the busy highway passes and every foot of ditch shows me that most people have little care for the earth and their fellow humans. Drivng or walking along the ditch it is impossible to go a few feet without encountering someone's garbage that they have thoughtlessly tossed out the window while driving.
40, 50 years ago kids were being preached to "don't be a litterbug" and I certainly got the message. Apparently a lot of people have forgotten that simple message. Or maybe it only applies in the city. They assume that out here in the great outdoors that mother nature will just swallow up and dispose of any garbage they care to throw out their vehicle windows.
Or, "its just farmland, a little garbage won't bother anybody". Well I have news for you, It bothers me!. A lot of that garbage gets blown by the wind onto the fields I work. I could spend hours /days picking up all this garbage but have neither the time or the energy to spare.
Will we ever learn? I really doubt it. I expect I will be harvesting paper cups and plastic bags off the fields for as long as I continue to farm.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Great Grandmother

No, this post does not have any reference to farming. Today, actually most of this week's weather has not been conducive or encouraging for those of us who work the soil and grow crops. Occasional wet snow and rain combined with cold temperatures are not drying the fields. What started out as an early spring is , day by day, turning into an average or maybe a late spring.
I suppose I might have put the photo over on the Nevard blog but I'd already done an entry there today so here is the photo for today.
My great grandmother, Sarah (Wagstaff) Nevard posing in front of her home at 36 Straight Road, Lexden , Essex, U.K. At age 95 she was still capable of baking bread as evidenced by the two loaves she is holding. Pretty impressive.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Cattle On The Run.



Spring is still in a holding pattern. Cool, damp and dull. In fact the ground is wetter now than it was two weeks ago so no field work. Its still early for seeding but I would like to be out there applying anhydrous in preparation.
The sun started coming out this afternoon and I headed for the shed to start moving machinery out. Before I got there the clouds had rolled overhead again so I found another job. Now it is drizzling rain again.
I shot this bit of video of the cattle and calves running home for their evening chop ration. They are getting tired of hay bales and are out looking for new green grass every day without much success so far. Its just not warm enough.
 Its still too early to get depressed or panic about late seeding but days do go by awfully fast at this time of year.

Friday, April 13, 2012

April Showers

Not complaining too much but boy, it is a mess out there today with this rain on top of ground that was already wet from melting snow a few days ago. I know the April showers will be good for the grass and the pastures will do well but fighting this mud is really something.
All the truckloads of gravel I hauled into the cattle shelter and feed area seem to have disappeared and replaced with a mixture of rain water, rotting and fresh cow manure. The shelter roof leaks bad but it is still a bit better than being outside. Unfortunately the 3 day old calf does not know this and he is laying on a patch of hay beside the round bale feeder. Wet but at least not muddy. This little guy is only just learning how to drink and his mother, a first time heifer calver , is not too co-operative having a tendency to lift her foot and put it down on the calf while he is trying to drink.
I grabbed the little guy up under one arm while trying to stagger through ankle deep muck half way up my rubber boots and managed to carry him into the shelter out of the rain.
The feeder was getting low so I got the old reliable Massey out in the rain and dropped another round bale of hay in the feeder to keep them happy until the grass grows. Lucky for me there are lots of leftover hay bales to feed.
Later on I thought I could see the calf out in the rain again beside the cow. Just great!. Well, I guess if he is feeling good enough to venture out in the rain and muck to look for his breakfast he can't be too bad.

Spring Harvest Wheat

Although I wasn't around to see it, my Dad often made mention of how he and my Uncle Sandy harvested a field of wheat swaths on April 17 of 1952. Harvesting wheat in the spring, while not unheard of, was not a common occurrence. Poor weather conditions the previous fall had prevented them from getting the wheat combined. Sandy had a new Case pull type swather that year and had swathed the wheat in preparation for combining with Dad's almost new Case Model A pull type combine. Those two pieces of machinery represented a considerable investment in those days. Farm loans were difficult or non-existent. Sometimes the dealer would extend credit for the customers that he felt were a good risk.
Spring harvest was an adventure with the fields still wet from the melted snow. With Sandy's LA Case pulling the combine and Dad's John Deere D standing by to pull the whole outfit through the worst muddy spots when required, they got the job done.
Dad said the Thatcher wheat was still surprisingly good in quality except for colour bleaching. Very dry at 11% moisture. I guess it helped make the payments on the new machinery. This photo shows the machinery and the wooden bin for the wheat.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Flax Vac on a Frosty Morning


I'd been a little concerned how we were going to get a semi load of 2 year old flax moved with the driveway having some major soft spots in it from the spring thaw. Well the latest below normal temperatures have solved my problem. At 15 degrees this morning the ground was frozen so hard that the loaded semi (hopefully 900 bushels) did not make a track in the ground. So sometimes cold weather is a good thing.
The old 970 Case was putting out a formidable cloud of smoke running the vac. It sure beats shoveling and is easier on the back.
Flax prices have jumped recently, not quite to the $15 level I was hoping for but certainly a good enough price that I won't complain too much. Plus the fact that the grain had sat in the bin so long that we would have needed to circulate it to be sure all was well.
And if you like to talk old tractors you might like to check out this discussion forum that I frequent called Canadian Antique Tractors

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Planting potatos to pushing snow

Yes, less than 48 hours ago I was planting potatos in dry soil on a sunny warm day. This morning I will need to get the snow shovel out and clear a path to the barn to feed the cattle. Well, actually I am too lazy to do that and will likely just walk through the heavy wet snow that fell overnight. And is still coming down blown by a strong NW wind. Depressing, but this too shall pass. I guess it was too early to really be spring.
The cows will not be happy but then they complain at the best of times about nothing. This morning they have a reason.
The potatos I planted will be safely insulated under a layer of snow and I guess the extra moisture will help them eventually.
Anyway, today's miserable weather is an excuse to imitate the lazy farmer
 and spend more time indoors. Wait, I think I hear a cow complaining. Time to get out there.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

No April Fooling

If anyone else told me they had worked their garden on April first I'd have never believed it, until this year. We are nearly a month ahead of normal conditions with no snow left, ground drying up and buds on the trees. The garden was dry enough to work so I roto tilled part of it to help warm up the soil and might just plant some potatos in a day or so. I normally put a few early ones in the ground the last week of April but even that is pushing it as a late spring frost can destroy the plants once they are out of the ground.
I think I will risk a few although I have no doubt we will see snow again before summer is truly here.
The earliest I can recall working in the field was April 13 in 1973. As the proud driver of a "new to us" 730 Case diesel tractor I could not wait to get out and try it in the field. And that was considered pretty early to be in the field at the time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Breakfast time on the farm.


My cows and calves one day last week. Two slow learners would not have survived if I had not fed them by pail for the first few days of their lives. They seem fine now. After selling six head of older cattle last week the place is less crowded and more peaceful. No more bull fighting and bellowing which is nice. More room in the shelter for when the weather turns nasty. Plus I got a pretty good price for the ones I sold. Even the lumpy leg bull brought 80 cents a pound . And he weighed 1400 pounds.  Unless we get an absolute drought I should be ok for pasture this summer. Lots of leftover hay bales but hope I don't have to use them til next winter. This early spring is nice compared to last year but now this evening wet snow is falling. March might yet go out like the lion.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Preppers?

Am I a prepper? I never considered that I was but listening to this program on CBC's The Current this morning about "preppers" it seems I qualify on some counts. If you are not sure what a prepper is you may read a little about it here . A diverse group of individual who believe in being prepared for what they consider to be the end of the world as we know it are preparing for life after whatever apocalypse should arise.
It occurs to me that I have always lived that lifestyle to some extent. When you are a half hour drive from the nearest town/convenience store, it only makes sense to keep a freezer full of beef, chicken, pork and last year's frozen vegetables. My parents and grandparents view was that we can't waste expensive 50 cent a gallon gas driving to town every day for our food so we stock up. Flour, salt, sugar and whatever else is required is kept on hand ready for use.
And it only makes sense to have either a well or a few weeks/months supply of drinking water on hand. No city pipes supplying water this far out in the woods.
Of course without a source of alternate electricity, when the grid fails I guess all that food in the freezer will rot in a short time and I will be back to eating dry cat food and whole grain out of the bin.
At least I have a good supply of "beef on the hoof".

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Most Stressful Day

Well, so far anyway. Raising cattle is mostly a walk in the park nowadays. With a haybine to cut the hay, baler to roll up big round bales handled by front end loader a lot of the old manual labour has disappeared. Pretty much stress-free. Except for one day. The day I have to round them up and load them on the cattle trailer. I hate that job. Its a lot of running around lugging heavy steel gates, pails of chop, square bales and all the other little incidentals necessary to pen up the ones chosen to be sold.

I don't have a trailer so have to depend on a good neighbour to haul the cattle to market.

We planned for today, late afternoon. Those cattle must be mind readers, they all disappeared by mid morning wandering off into the stubble field out of sight. Still too muddy in the fields even to walk I tried the trike. The big fat tires carried got me out there without getting stuck (barely), and located the cattle. Bulls more interested in fighting than coming home so I left them and hoped for the best.

They always come home for chop (oats) late in the afternoon so by 5:00, a little later than planned, I had most of them penned in the shelter. All except one two year old heifer which was still out in the field somewhere. With little difficulty I was able to separate out the ones I wanted to keep and release, leaving the calves and the fighting bulls in the pen. I kept them well supplied with chop and hay to keep them occupied and not fighting each other while waiting for the truck to show up.

They mostly loaded pretty easy but that big black two year old bull was getting a little ornery after a couple of unsuccessful attempts to get him through the loading chute. He had never been a problem before but if an animal this big decides to go somewhere and you are in the way, well things could get ugly. I managed to get in front of him with a pail of chop and lure him into the trailer slamming the door shut just in time.

Its a relief to see the trailer load leave the yard. Prices for cattle are great now and if we are facing a dry summer with poor pasture it will be good to have a few less cattle to worry about.
This little red cow and calf along with a few others will be staying.