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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.