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Sunday, December 29, 2013

By The Dawn's Early Light

Its not often you will see me out and about before the sun in December but the trail cam caught me this time. Flax hauling day and I needed to get over to the Hundred Acre Woods early with the tractor and grain vac plus get the snow all cleared for the semis to get around. It worked well. The mildest day in quite a while made it good working and had all the flax out by noon. Flax price had dropped about $3 a bushel since I priced this lot in November so I got lucky this time. Not so with the other grains.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Deer Shortage?

Heard on the news a while back that the White tail deer population in Sask. was down and hunters were having a hard time getting their deer. Complaints were made that the DNR should not have issued so many deer tags. Maybe, but I see no evidence of a shortage locally. Tracks through my yard all the time and trail cam images catch up to 6 deer per frame sometimes. I don't see as many bucks, mostly does and young. This image from my yard one October night shows one laying down to relax while two others graze on grass and grain cleaned off the harvest machinery. I guess I should be a deer hunter.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

1942 Letter

My dad was stationed somewhere in England in the Canadian army when he wrote this letter to Dick Nevard




March 15, 1942

Dear Dick: Just a few lines hoping this finds you all in the best of health. I was very glad to hear from you. Hows everyone getting along? You must have had a mild winter. Well we are having some pretty good weather over here at times but it sure gets chilly at nights. Them open fire places ain't much for heat. Do you ever hear much from Bud? I haven't seen anything of him or Phil Fisher? Of course you never know when you are gonna run into someone from home. Most of the boys in the 18th are from Sask., Regina, Indian Head, Cupar, Grenfell. A good bunch of guys.

Well we travel around quite a bit on schemes. Sometimes we move to different billets. We are living in houses right now. We are on the outskirts of a small village. Two picture shows a week, a dance hall, two pubs and canteen. Some place eh? Well I don't bother much about dances. They also have a snooker table so we have a pretty good time but we were out on a scheme yesterday about ten o'clock and a thunder storm came up so it wasn't so good pushing a gun through mud and water to our positions. But we have quite a bit of fun out of them even if it takes a couple of days to get the gun cleaned and equipment. Me and a few of the boys were on the coast for a week. It was quite a change. I thought Canada was cold but that place was plenty breezy. We were on duty for twenty four hours and then off twenty four.

Have you seen much of Sandy?. I hear from him quite often. Some guy eh?. What do you think of this war? I could hear the bombing the time them battle ships left Brest and every now and then we hear firing in that direction. Welll guess I"ll have to sign off. Hoping to hear from you soon and wishing all the best of luck and health. I guess it'll be pretty well summer by the time this reaches you. Remember me to all.

As ever, a friend,

L.J. Goff

Friday, December 13, 2013

Airgraph

Nothing too exciting here. I happened to be watching an episode of Wartime Farm recently. An excellent depiction of life on a farm during WWII in England. The term  airgraph came up and it seemed familiar to me. Sure enough, after searching through some of the "museum" I found a couple that were sent from Wimborne, Dorset, England to Saskatchewan to my dad's cousins in 1944. Airgraphs were a means of compacting mail during the war when transportation was difficult at times. The letters were photographed on microfilm which was much smaller and easier to transport and mail. Then re-printed into a letter at some point. Here are a couple of scans of mine.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

More Cattle Adventures

Calving in November. Not something I look forward to but sometimes it happens and I have to deal with it. I knew this little black cow was close to ready the night before so I got out early in the morning to check. Sure enough, she was out in the bush by the far hay feeder with a new calf. It was not too cold or windy but still, 15 degrees F will chill an animal when it is wet and this cow had not done a really good job of drying off the calf. It was standing and shaky but at least not laying in the snow.

Last winter I carried a calf from about that same point all the way back to the shelter and it is not something I'd care to repeat . So I walked back to the yard and fired up the old GMC, threw a bit of flax straw in the back. Luckily there is not too much snow to get around with a 2 wheel drive pickup with all season tires on.

The cow didn't look too threatening but you can never be sure. I gave her a handful of hay to divert her attention, quickly picked up the calf and carried it out to the truck box where it stood, shakily for the short ride back to the shelter.

I had put up corral panels to partition off a corner of the shelter hoping to shut them in there the same as last winter. The rest of the herd followed along looking for their morning chop ration. I figured I could attract the mother into the corral in the shelter with a pail of chop but no, she was more interested in heading back to the bush where her calf had been born. A little confused. Meanwhile the calf lays in the shelter, which is really just a protection from the wind, getting colder by the minute. So I picked the calf up again and carried it right into the barn which is a much more comfortable place to work. Got the old oil fired space heater set up and directed on the calf, at a safe distance so as not to burn it. After a while it laid down, still shaking and not looking too lively.

Eventually I shut down the heater and figured give it a bit of time, maybe look at getting some milk replacer for it. Just as I was leaving the barn I saw the herd returning , including the mother cow, and she was coming right in for a drink from the trough which is right by the door of the barn. So, pick up that calf again and carry it outside the door where she can see it and hopefully follow it into the barn. I got lucky, it worked. Nobody else got in the way and she was enticed into the barn where I was able to close the doors against the elements and let them spend some time together. It is probably the best place for the calf just now. I frequently see coyotes around the shelter area and while I have never had an incident of a coyote attacking a calf, no need to take the chance.

Twenty four hours later they are looking good.
 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Feeding Cows With The Cockshutt 40


Just a few scenes from cattle feeding today. It was windy and miserable out in the open but in the shelter of the trees, not bad at all.  Not a lot of snow yet and the cows could probably forage around and still find something to eat out there. I started putting out a hay bale for them about a week ago. Old hay from last year but it is still good once you get past the weathered exterior. I think these animals are mostly pets. Low input and low return but it can be entertaining.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Good Time To Be A Lazy Farmer

Farm activity has slowed down some since harvest was completed here on Oct. 29. Just in time too as it was not long after that we had snow and even colder weather. With wind chill factors down in the -20 to -30 range for the last few days it is no kind of weather to work much outside. There is just enough snow to shovel a little. Helps to keep warm. Not enough to be a problem getting around yet. Grain movement is extremely slow and my September canola contract finally got hauled earlier this week. This was the year I planned to move as much grain as possible before winter set in. Guess that won't be happening at this rate.
I will post another "Lazy Farmer" cartoon from the 1960s. I am not trying to compete with the real Lazy Farmer who some days seems surprisingly busy

Monday, November 4, 2013

Harvest Done

It took a while but harvest 2013 is finally complete as of Oct. 29. Frost in the mornings and ice on the sloughs. Hard starting cold engines but the last swath went up the feeder house and now I just have to pile and burn the straw. At least it was comfortable working with the heater keeping the cab warm . No grain dust to endure. A far cry from the 1942 harvest here on Winstanley Grove when they had to deal with snow, engine breakdowns and other problems.
I had good intentions of getting the crop sold before winter set in but as usual, the best laid plans of mice and men, etc. Flax price is good but the best I can get is December delivery. Seeing as I am still waiting to deliver my September contracted canola I guess I will not be surprised to be moving the grain in January. All the fun of clearing snowed in yards and grain bins in freezing cold temperatures comes to mind.
In other news tractor number 2 has a breakdown. Water pump appears to have sprung a fairly major leak on the tractor. Not unheard of on a sixty year old tractor but a little unexpected as  I am pretty sure I just replaced the pump a couple of years ago.

Monday, October 28, 2013

When Will I Learn?

When will I learn, not to believe the weather forecasters ?. I don't usually consider myself a big gambler but this weekend I did. The weather man said nice weather for the next three days so I decided to wait and let the last patch of flax stand and dry out a little more before combining it. The flax I did harvest Saturday afternoon tested a bit high moisture so a little natural drying would be a good thing. As long as the sun shines and the wind blows. Monday morning woke up to clouds, cold and light snow fall. Wrong again! No harvesting today.

Well the sun did come out in the afternoon and it is looking hopeful for tomorrow except for the below normal temperature. It is getting down near 10F degrees tonight and those diesels will not be easy starters sitting out in the field with no access to plugging in block heaters. Guess I will go armed with booster cables and ether and hope for the best.
I got in a partial day of flax straw burning yesterday on the field that is finished. The heat of the burning straw piles felt good out in the cold wind. Still lots to burn when time permits.

We got the head off the little Super 90 Massey today to find that indeed the head gasket had burned through between #3 and #4 cylinders. Working on this tractor is like a jigsaw puzzle in reverse. Part A is connected to parts C and D which have to be unbolted so you can get part B removed. I will be lucky if I can remember how to put it all back together. Until then, no front end loader to handle bales.
 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Make My Day

October 18th, I still had hope left when I took this photo yesterday evening. The flax straw had been tough going through the combine all afternoon and I had to reduce my ground speed to prevent plug ups. A bit of sunshine and strong winds helped but by late afternoon clouds took over and I could tell things were going downhill. I finished off this little patch of flax and quit before things got too ugly. After tearing up a $318 pickup belt last night when straw wrapped underneath it I was not wanting to do a repeat tonight. The odd spot of rain hit the windshield as I headed for home.
This morning began cloudy as usual, plus fog in the air. Looking out now I see snow falling.
The crop was dry and yielding well. Maybe 35 acres left to do but I guess the deer and moose will have it for the winter now.
There might still be hope for it though. October 29 of 1952 was a beautiful sunny day, or so I am told.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Continuing Harvest

Yes, harvest continues. It seems a long time ago since I started, almost a month. Statistics likely say that harvest is 99 percent complete in this province. As usual I am slightly out of step with the norm. Numerous breakdowns and unco-operative weather are what I blame it on. The few that are still harvesting have called in help and work with fleets of equipment that make my one man/one combine operation look small and inefficient. Well not just one man. I am at risk of offending my ever reliable truck driver who puts up with driving my 42 year old International truck to haul the grain.
I am actually on the last field and it is flax. Standing flax that could be direct cut if my International combine could actually put it through. That is impossible though and has been discussed at length in previous blog postings here. The John Deere pull type handles it well but having only a pickup header, I have to swath the flax before picking it up. Single 21 foot swaths of course. I have found out to my great displeasure that trying to put double swaths through the combine is more trouble than it is worth. After spending too many hours inside the combine with various saws and hooks laying on straw walkers as comfortable as a bed of nails, I came to that conclusion. My nephew finally brought his "sawzall" which eventually cut through the tightly wrapped straw in the beater.
The deer and possibly the moose have been making their trails through the flax. And the bush rabbits that run ahead of the swather are showing disturbing signs of turning white, a sign of winter approaching. As does the chill in the air when I step out of the cab. The flax seed flows almost like water as it pours out of the unloading auger of the combine into the truck box. Good and dry today. Tomorrow, who knows?
In the meantime, read a few interesting comments by the lazy farmer about why we blog.
A day or two ago in another flax field when the sun was shining, unlike today.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Woods In Autumn 2013


October 14, Thanksgiving day in Canada, Columbus Day for our neighbours to the south. Also my birthday. My thanksgiving day/birthday dinner was a spam sandwich which I was quite thankful for. Even more thankful that I finished combining wheat late this evening. Still not dry but in light of the forecast for damp weather in two days I decided to get it done before it gets any worse.
Yes, lots to be thankful for. I could make quite a list of complaints such as spending hours laying inside a combine body with various saws cutting flax straw out of a plugged beater. But its late and I won't get into that now.
I shot this video a few days ago while checking some fence line out in my woods. Beautiful scenery, perfect weather for fencing. Except for the fact that I lost my glasses in the long grass it was a good day.

Friday, October 4, 2013

One Thing About Autumn

It has some fantastic scenery. The leaves are really colorful. It won't last for long so enjoy while it does. Wild winds will soon tear them down leaving only skeleton-like branches.
We have had cold, cloudy days lately with poor drying conditions. So harvest is at a standstill at present as I have finished canola. It was the only crop that had dried to the point I could safely bin it.. Oats at 15.9 percent moisture and wheat at 18.1 will not safely store in the bin for long without spoiling so we wait for sunshine and wind to dry the crop down. Short days now in October even if the weather does improve. No problems keeping busy as I had potatoes to dig, bales to haul. A hopper of tough oats on the combine to put through the hammer mill. And hopefully they will not heat in the feed bin. I guess I will have to keep a close check on them for a few days. This job gave the old Cockshutt 50 a good two and half hour workout on the belt drive hammer mill. With the late start I finished up in almost darkness. Wishing I had got around to connecting up the headlights on the tractor.
When the sun did come out earlier in the day it made for some nice scenery.

This old GMC has not hauled any grain in probably 20 years. It sits rusting away on the farm.
Take a look at the constantly changing skies over my yard in these time lapse photos from October 1.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Into Each Life A Little Rain

.....must fall. Its an old saying that came to mind this morning. Only light mist and clouds out there but its enough to stop harvest. Although it only barely resumed yesterday afternoon before a late evening rain shower shut me down. Anyway, another maybe 500 bushels off the field and into the bin. I don't want to harvest tough or damp canola. Even the dry stuff can get "interesting" when it starts warming up in the bin as one of mine did last week. It gave me something to keep busy with by moving 7 loads from one farm to another to circulate and cool it down. Not that I really needed any extra jobs to keep busy, considering . Bin space is in short supply this year due to the high yielding crops , plugged grain terminals and shortage of grain cars to move grain out.
Potatoes still in the ground to dig, plus a load on the trailer to unload. Numerous loads of hay bales to haul. I tried the gravel truck for that job yesterday and found it was quite unsuited for the job. Only held 3 bales and one fell off on the way out of the field so I guess it is back to the trailer. Some of those first oat bales I rolled up were so damp that they are heating inside. Thought it best to get them off the field seeing as they are surrounded by combustible material (the rest of my oat crop).
Yesterday's evening rain shower provided some good scenery but a rainbow over a combine is something I am never too happy to see. About an hour after this shot we were heading for home in the rain.
 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Working The Deer Pasture


As the picture indicates, this summerfallow field got a little out of control and the deer were finding it to be good pasture. It made for a nice photo as the sun came out from under the clouds about an hour before sunset. By the time I finished the field the moonlight was reflecting off the beaver ponds. It was one of the jobs I was able to get at while waiting for the weather to dry up enough to resume harvest. We have fallen victim to bad harvest weather. Rain. And then days of intermittent cloud, not enough wind to dry, just kind of at a standstill. Then when the crop is almost dry enough to bin safely, rain strikes us down again. Not a good place to be when over half the crop is still in the field.
And we are not alone. Similar conditions happening in the lazy farmer's part of the world . As we approach October with shorter, cooler days, less drying, the harvest window closes a little more each passing day.
The deer may have plenty to eat this winter.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Full Moon And A Frost

It happened here last night. First frost of the season on a clear full moon night. Crops are far enough advanced that it won't hurt them. In fact it will help kill any weeds or green growth in the crops. Nature's own dessicator is what I like to call it.

That 2 and a quarter inch rain over the past couple of days was a bit much but after the first half inch I guess it does not make much difference as the grain is soaked. So a few days off to spend catching up on jobs that got neglected when I was on the combine all day. And put another $500 worth of parts into the combine. That puts me up to about $4500 for this season and its not over by a long ways yet. It is expensive building a combine out of new parts

Crop yields are better than average so bin space is getting to be a problem for everyone. Terminals are short on space and not getting grain cars when they need them. Nothing new there. The big plastic grain bags are also almost impossible to buy for those that use them.

Of course good yields usually equal poor prices but we won't complain too much. I'll try not to get too worked up about that or any further combine breakdowns. Just keep thinking about the The Lazy Farmer . You know, this laid back easy going guy from the pages of the Free Press Weekly....

 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Harvest Progress 2013


Where I have been lately. Comments to follow later in another post.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Harvest 2013 begins

Well I had great intentions of editing another video for youtube tonight. Shot some scenes of moving machinery on the weekend , getting the swather out of the back of the shed, driving 2 cylinder vintage John Deere, etc. Then I remembered that I left the Gopro camera out in one of the vehicles. And since it is pitch dark out there now, I still haven't fixed that yardlight, I guess I won't be going out. Chances of meeting up with a skunk, racoon, or some other form of wildlife in the dark I can do without.

Stay tuned, the video will happen.

In farming news, harvest has begun. I spent the last two days swathing canola. One of the cleanest, tallest, heaviest crops I can recall. It was hard to swath but hopefully will reward me in a high yield. Crop prices have dropped but I don't usually expect to win the lottery of high yields and prices together.

Fields have really dried up and its hard to believe I had 16 inches of rain in a month back in July. Dark clouds built up this afternoon while I was swathing and finally turned into quite a thunderstorm this evening. Now, to swath cereals or not? If forecasts are right we will have a warm September and the cereal crops should ripen naturally not requiring swathing.
 
The canola as it stood last week when I was trying to decide if it was ready to swath.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Coyote Stole My Cat Dish

Thought that catchy title would get your attention. I didn't see it but don't know what other animal is big enough or smart enough to carry away a heavy old cast aluminum frying pan (cat dish).
Temps have finally warmed up to normal and beyond for this week. I heard 34C on the radio today. Not sure what that is in farenheit but it is beyond the comfort zone for me. Luckily my work was being conducted from inside the air conditioned tractor cab other wise I might not have done much today. The nice weather was ideal for our crop tour/trail ride to the hundred acre woods and beyond last Sunday. Many crops were looked at and much scenery seen.
The day before I took in the local museum day and antique car show. Parking my 49 year old Chevy along side the "real antiques" was fun. Although some of the other owners had spent a fortune in rebuilding and restoring theirs while I have done nothing much more than wash and wax the old Chevy II.
Crops are still late and slow developing but this heat wave should bring them closer to normal stage if it keeps up. They are heavy looking and should yield well. Hopefully well enough to compensate for the recent drop in grain prices.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Barn Painting 2013


Barn painting day, first of August , 2013. Finally getting around to a job I have had in mind for quite a while. Had to be a fairly quiet day to use the sprayer so the wind didn't carry the paint away . I hadn't painted this old barn in years and it was overdue for another coat of red. After numerous complications and holdups I finally got painting in mid afternoon and finished the two worst sides by quitting time. It looked so good that next day I went to work on the new (1954) barn. It took a lot of hose to reach that barn from the air compressor and I probably wasted as much time rigging up an air line as I would have required to actually do the job with a brush.

Once set up it worked well and probably saved paint compared to a brush. Except for the full can of paint I accidentally spilled all over the ground in front of the shed when the sprayer cannister fell off.

Nice cool weather around 70 degrees for the job although this continuing below normal temperature is causing concern for some as the crops are slow to ripen and early frost is becoming a concern.

I finally got finished the second operation of chem fallow last week. Well overdue and the weeds were getting really big. Over 15 inches of rain in 30 days kept the fields so wet that it was really interesting dragging a sprayer around the field with four wheel drive, the only way to get the job done.

Forecasts of an excellent crop are driving grain prices down so I am glad to have almost emptied all the bins selling out before the price got any worse.

Here is a shot of the same old barn back in the fall of 44 when it was undergoing a renovation by my two grandfathers and a great uncle.
 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Old Trucks And Rain

The 1971 International as seen through the windshield of the 1956 one day this past week when I was "moving machinery". Views like this make me think of Kodachrome, makes you think all the worlds a sunny day
But mostly it has been violent thunderstorms. Rain and more rain. I think I am up to just over 15 inches for the past month not counting this morning's rain. Between rains I have been able to get a few jobs done while waiting for things to dry up so I can either spray chem fallow or cut some more hay. Hopefully the hay I have already cut and baled will survive the soaking rains without molding.
Chem fallow on a few fields might not have been a good idea but who knew we were going to get all this rain? I might be able to pull the sprayer through the water patches with the big tractor but I will leave ruts that render it hopeless to do another pass in August. Hopefully by then it might have dried up enough to try some tillage. I guess on the positive side, the weeds growing there now will help use some of the excess moisture from all this rain.
Crops that haven't been hailed or flattened by heavy rain and wind are looking excellent. Those potatos I planted in the snow April 25 are producing pretty good already. And I blame Dan Quayle for the fact that I usually mis-spell "potato". :-)
And here is yet another of my antique tractor and old IH truck videos  for those that just can't get enough of that kind of stuff.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It Rains And It Pours

Made me think of the old saying, "It never rains, but it pours". Lately it rains and it pours. Yesterday was the latest and the heaviest. Rain came down so hard and with the wind blowing it horizontal I don't think my guage caught all of it. Showed almost 4 inches (or 98 mm for you metrics folks). And that was in a little over half an hour.
I was stranded in the big metal shed and the noise was almost deafening. The odd small hailstone hit but nothing major. What damage I saw after the storm was more from wind than hail. The wind literally broke stems on many plants including canola and potatoes. A rough total for the past three weeks is 13 inches on this farm .. Now I am, as my English acquaintances might say, "an old git" but I can't remember having that much rain in that short time ever. We seem to have higher humidity and more rain than years ago.
Stay tuned for the video on youtube. I shot some while looking out the doors of the shed. Some more on the trike while touring the fields after it cleared. Literally water everywhere with ditches and culverts running like spring thaw.
I planned to go for a drive today and check the other fields but one job led to another and I still have not got out of the yard all day. Maybe I am stalling, afraid of what I might find?
At the height of the storm the rain looked like blowing snow. Yes, my cistern ran over a little into the basement so the floor got an unplanned wash. No doubt it needed it.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Back in 1944

Been a while since I posted an excerpt from Les Goff's WWII memoirs so..
11.As the days went by I wondered how much longer we could survive. I often think the jerrys must have known our position because they sure spent a lot of ammo around us. I also found out the Essex Scottish infantry were also in our area. This indicates how little we knew.


12.There was a small village,,Etterville, close by and quite a big area of trees and orchard leading from the village to where we were. Nearly every night a jerry sniper would get amongst the trees and give short bursts with what I assumed was a sub machine pistol. The infantry machine gunned the trees one night after dark. A few minutes later we would hear him again. A day or so later some infantry men flushed him out . The first jerry I saw. He looked like about 15 or 16 years old, dressed in camouflage clothing.

13.We were on the outskirts of Etterville. Our crew never suffered any casualties at this location, however to me it seemed hard to believe as it was one position we endured some of the heaviest fire for days. Ten days in all at this location and we never had a chance to fire a shot. I don’t think there was a man there who could say he wasn’t mighty scared at times. I wondered how much longer we could possibly survive . On the sixteenth of July the air force made an early morning raid on Caen. It was reported to be a thousand bomber raid. We could see them quite clearly at 6 :00 am. B-17 bombers as far as I could see. I counted sixteen bombs dropped by each plane. The ground was vibrating steady. I can not remember how long it lasted. This was the prelude to an attack on Caen and across the Orne river which ran through Caen.

14.Prior to the air raid there was a very heavy artillery barrage laid down by our artillery and the British. Estimated to be between three and five thousand guns. I am not sure where this fire was directed but since then I assumed it must have been across the Orne where was a very heavy concentration of enemy armor and a number of small hamlets including If, . May sur Orne, etc.. After this, things quietened down some. We took advantage of the calm to look around at our immediate surroundings. There was a long barn close by. I remember looking inside and it was full of cattle and horses all dead and still tied up in their stalls. I presume they were killed by the shelling which took place before we arrived. The smell was pretty high. I should add at this time the weather remained quite dry and hot. I would guess around 80 degrees.

15.This pretty well covers our first ten days at the front. We still wore the same clothing that we wore when we took up this position. Results were we were a pretty dirty looking lot . Unshaven with dirt ground into our uniforms and skin but we were happy to be alive after what seemed certain annihilation. The order came to pack up our equipment and move to a rear area for clean up and refit anything that was lost or damaged. As we moved back in daylight we could see a lot of the results of the battle that must have taken place before we moved in. There were dead men who had laid there for something like two weeks. Their faces were black. Its something that makes you wonder will this be our fate . However, we finally arrived at the safety of rear area.

16.First off, a shower. It was a hurriedly set up system which was quite adequate. Tented in with steel pipes and valves. Hot and cold water. It was a sort of communal shower. Twenty or thirty men at a time and we were informed , “Make it fast, you get five minutes before the water is turned off so get the lead out”.

17.Then a shave. Every thing is referred to as field shower, field kitchen, nothing fancy. Our mess tins also were badly in need of a wash after a weeks accumulation of grime. They also had field latrines, a long trench had been dug, no comfortable seat, no flushing, just squat. Afterward it was filled in. I don’t know who had that job. I presume it was guys who couldn’t take it up front. Maybe some P.O.W.s. There was all kinds of work to be done after the battle moved on. Building roads, burying the dead, unloading equipment that was pouring in at the beachhead. Recovering knocked out equipment such as tanks, trucks, etc. And there were lots of them.

18.Getting back to our rest area, however, I remember much about that first meal. Supper I think. Everything seemed just fine until it started to rain. A real soaker. I don’t remember sleeping as there was no where to find a dry place to lay. The next afternoon we got ready to move up again as the tanks and infantry had battled through Caen and made it across the Orne on a Pontoon Bridge erected by the engineers battalion. It was not very wide at this place. It seemed to be still within the city of Caen and by the time we got there Jerry must have found out about it and their mortars were getting pretty close. I was glad when we got across and I imagine the rest of the crew were too. Our gun towers were thin skinned vehicles. Made you feel like a sitting duck. After getting across we waited around while our Sergeant and officer tried to go ahead and look for a suitable defensive position to deploy our four guns. While they were gone we hurriedly dug slit trenches which we soon learned were very essential if you were to survive. I might add at this time our Sergeant’s name was Jack Faibish and our troop officer was Jim Armstrong. Both very good men. Also our driver was Red Harrison. I do not remember the names of the rest of the crew. We kept getting new ones for one reason or another. I remained as the number 3 gunner all through. My job was to do the firing.

19.Just before dark we were informed , “get ready to move”. I believe it was on this reconnaissance that our officer and colonel were both wounded by machine gun fire trying to get the first gun in position, which was a wheat field. It was quite wide open spaces, no trees. That gun was soon taken out by Jerry. One 88 through the shield . John Mucha was killed by machine gun. Walt Owens wounded. So it was decided to take our gun after dark pulled in by a Bren carrier and set it beside the knocked out gun in the wheat field. The carrier would give protection against small arms fire . There was only one hitch. There was not enough room for us all and ammo to get inside. So as we traveled slow in the dark, Faibish and myself decided to walk or run behind very close. The last couple of hundred yards was down hill on a sunken road and somewhere ahead there was a Jerry with a machine gun. I guess he could hear us. I’m sure he couldn’t see. It was pretty dark, however I remember seeing some tracers coming by. I stuck pretty close to the carrier as did Jack. I was hoping Jack knew where we were headed. We left the road and drove into the wheat field and unhitched the gun and set in firing position along side the knocked out 17 pounder gun and hoped for the best. We then exited about a hundred yards back across the road to some kind of a depression that looked like a pit of some kind. About six feet deep with fairly straight walls on three sides.

20. So the first thing to do was dig trenches. It was the toughest digging I had ever done. It required a pick as there seemed to be more rock than anything. Luckily at this time we didn’t come under any fire, so we worked away furiously as we knew if the mortars started coming our way our only hope was to be below ground level. So we sweated away until we felt we were safely dug in and only a direct hit would be fatal. There was an infantry man working away and having a terrible time to dig. He was almost in tears at the difficulty of trying to make his trench. Sometime before daylight our gun tower arrived. I can not remember the details as to whether Faibish went back
Les Goff in Sussex, England before going into action across the channel

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hay In A Day

Its an old saying seen on some New Holland balers from the sixties, "A hay in a day machine". Today it was not a baler but a haybine that I was working with. Cutting some hay in and around the hundred acre woods as I like to call it. One thing about all this rain, it sure made the grass grow. And this old (seventies vintage) haybine cuts grass like no machine I have ever owned. Even the wiry prairie wool that made other knives hammer and stall in protest, this one just keeps cutting through. Although I was a little surprised to hear how much it rattles in the video. That Gopro camera gives me a whole new view of how the machinery works.
Sitting in the cool, clean cab I thought about those who cut hay here many years before. Behind a team of horses , sitting on the hard iron seat of a ground drive mower. At the mercy of the heat , dust , mosquitos and whatever other pests stirred up out of the long grass, it was a different world but the only one they knew.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Trike Driving and Tree Cutting


A small job gets bigger sometimes. I'd found this huge poplar tree that had leaned over almost horizontal in the field the other day while I was spraying the crop for weeds. A victim of last week's terrible winds. I decided to get it cleaned up while it was fresh in my mind or else I would forget about it till harvest time and have to drive around it with the swather. Headed out through the wet field with trike and chain saw and got a good start but came to a standstill. Got the saw jammed in the cut and there was no way I could pull it out. No tools so I headed home for a hammer and wood chisel. Of the various wood chisels I own, I could not find one. Settled for a dull old steel chisel and nail hammer which was a poor choice. I ended up making another trip home for a hand saw which turned out to be a better option. I got plenty of exercise using a hand saw on green wood on a hot summer day to release the chain saw bar. With the heat and the clouds of fuzz flying off that tree I felt like I was being tarred and feathered by the time I was done.

Between the crop I flattened out with the trike tires and then my size 13 work boots I probably lost more crop than if I had just left the tree in the field and drove around it at harvest time.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Wonder Why

So many viewers have clicked on my youtube video of swathing barley in 1988 ? I suppose swathing is not so common anymore. Pull type swathing even less common so it may be a strange practice that people just have to learn more about. 75,606 views!  The old harvest video of my uncle and his John Deere 95 has attracted a lot of interest as well. When they made that recording of the " Red River Valley" back in the mid fifties they would never have dreamed it would be the sound track for Uncle Don's harvest video to be viewed thousands of times all over the world. Maybe I should have monetized my youtube videos so I get paid every time someone clicks on one. I have resisted it for a long time since I dislike ads so much myself and don't want to subject others to them just so I can make a few cents. Then I could sit back and just let the money roll in and be a lazy farmer. Unlike the real lazy farmer who I think actually works harder than I do.
Over six inches of rain here in less than a week. Thank goodness I have not cut any hay yet. It would be nice if I had finished spraying crops too but I didn't quite make it.
My uncle's 95 John Deeres as they are today.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Crop Circles

Actually it was a large crop rectangle that I discovered in my latest oat field this morning. I had not looked at the field since I seeded it in early June. Now out on the trike inspecting to see if it was time to spray for weeds I was shocked to find a large rectangle of almost bare ground. The air seeder had gone over the field and for some reason this patch of ground had no seed applied. Operator half asleep maybe and forgot to hit the switch for the seed auger? Can't blame it on aliens I guess.
If it was just one pass I would have ignored it but this looked to be about ten percent of the whole field and located on the high ground that was not flooded so bad by last week's four inch downpour. I couldn't leave it bare all summer. Lucky I had not emptied the oats out of the truck box yet or disconnected the air tank from the seeder and parked it in the shed. In short order I had the Magnum hitched up to the air seeder, augered a few bushels of oats into the tank and headed out to seed. This field has really suffered from too much rain. Every depression contains either water or mud and dying plants. Anyway, the crop in the rest of the field was big enough (as were the weeds) to spray. With another inch of rain possible for tomorrow I needed that job done today. And so it was done by sundown. Leaving more ruts with the sprayer and flattening more crop into the muddy ground, I wondered if I might have been better off just leaving the weeds to grow.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

One Big Rain

I don't recall when I have seen 4 inches of rain in the gauge from one event but it has been a while. I knew it was pouring hard late last night. Major thunder and lightning blocked out satellite tv signal, not that I needed the extra entertainment as it was interesting enough watching the radar of the storm moving over me. Luckily wireless internet still maintained contact. The east wind drove so hard that rain leaked through the window frame , dripped into the basement onto the electrical breaker box. All I could do was watch and have a flashlight handy in case the it was "lights out".  Looks like I have some patching to do as I don't want to see this happen again.
I can consider myself lucky I sprayed the most urgent crops because I think it will be a while now before I get back in the fields. Plus the low spots will be under water.
Meanwhile , a few days ago when the sun shone brightly and I wasn't out in the sprayer tractor, I took one of the old IH trucks out for a spin. 1953 was a year notable for several things including the R series of IH trucks being introduced. Looking over the hood of this old yellow truck , it could be 1953 all over again. (Not that I would have been old enough for a drivers license in 53). :-)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

On The Road With The 730

Yes, another boring old tractor video. This old 730 Case and I have a history dating back to the mid 1960s when my uncle bought it "almost new" for his main field tractor. It was a big diesel tractor in those days and quite a step up from the Farmall M.
 I got to know it better in the summer of 1970 when I was hired to work my uncles's summerfallow fields. Health problems had kept him from doing any work on these fields that spring. Good summerfallow needs to be started on by mid June at least. By July it becomes a challenge with the big weeds that are taking over. By the time I got to it in August it was almost like breaking new prairie sod, except with much more weed growth that constantly plugged the John Deere cultivator I was using to work it. That 16 footer was a good load under normal conditions but in these extreme conditions it was a hard workout for the old 730 and there were more than a few times I saw the front wheels lifting off the ground as it struggled for traction as the cultivator spikes were tearing up the thick twitch grass sod. I don't recall how many fields or acres I did but no doubt by the time I finished the last one it was time to start all over again.
As a novice tractor operator I learned a lot that summer. We both survived although the tractor has a few dents in the lower fenders from the many times I jack-knifed the hitch backing up trying to unplug the weeds from the cultivator shanks.
 My uncles are gone now and the 730 is "semi-retired". A reminder of times past every time I drive it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Spraying Crops In The Hundred Acre Woods

Well actually not in the woods but around them. As the photo indicates, a 60 foot sprayer will just barely fit in some of the openings between the trees. I need to be at least half awake to make it through these spots without breaking the end off the spray boom.
A sensible person, and probably most of my neighbours, would say just get a cat in and clear all that bush out and farm every acre. True enough, I'd like to widen a few spots for easier access but am reluctant to turn a cat driver loose in there. They tend to get carried away and soon my fields would be as wide open and wind swept as some of my more efficient neighbours farms. We like a little shelter though, and the trees do make a good background for photos. A great place for wildlife and trail cams.
Thanks to some good weather and some long days in the tractor I am reasonably caught up with crop spraying. Just a couple of fields of flax and one of oats left that are not quite ready. I might have to hit the canola with a second spray of Roundup if conditions are favourable. But given a few days of rain and wind even roundup ready canola eventually gets too big to spray.
Yesterday, June 12 was a perfect spray day. No wind, not too hot or cold or wet, a rare combination lately. I switched the booms on at 8:00 in the morning (its a long drive to the field) and switched them off for the last time at 9:30 in the evening. Probably my best day yet, considering I had a couple of hours (28 miles) of road driving between farms. Tank fill time, flush and clean every nozzle and screen when changing herbicides, it sure makes the day go by quickly.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Anniversary of D Day (and a good day to spray)


Yesterday,, June 6th was the anniversary of D Day when the allied forces hit the beaches of Normandy in 1944. My dad missed out on that by about a month. Long time readers of this blog (are there any?) might recall reading an excerpt from dad's Memories of WWII that I published here back in 08.
As the title to this post indicates, today, June 7 was a great for crop spraying. About the best I have seen in long time. Not too hot, windy or wet. When conditions are that good I really need to take advantage. In spite of a late start I did get a couple of hundred acres sprayed. Finished up the chem fallow and about 130 acres of canola sprayed. Not bad considering I had a good 20 miles of road transport (at 13 mph) plus the usual time spent pumping water and mixing chemical. Say what you will about Monsanto's GM canola but it sure makes weed control a breeze. Cheap effective herbicide (roundup) and a very wide window of application takes a lot of the stress out of spraying crops.
More by luck than good management I managed to finish up with just enough chemical on the chem fallow. The sprayer tank ran empty within a minute of finishing the field.
How I wish I had spent a day this spring harrowing, piling and burning the residual flax straw on the canola field. It is unbelieveble how hard those lumps of straw can be. The roughly 15,000 pound tractor bounces over those straw lumps like a cork on the ocean and the driver (me) does likewise. It makes for a tiring day and a resolution to not let this happen again next year.
The canola is emerging as good as any year I can ever remember in spite of the rather dry conditions.

This photo from a couple of days ago was taken as I had just finished a 40 acre chem fallow field. It is pure luck that this picture survived. It was on the card inside the camera that got lost in a stubble field today. I was going to take a picture at "The Poplars" of the lilacs that were blooming and discovered the pocket I always carry the little Canon Elph in was empty. Guess I forgot to snap the pocket closed and the camera fell out. That could have ruined a perfect day. My best guess was that it had fallen out when I crawled under the sprayer to drain the tank after finishing chem fallow. After a bit of walking around sure enough, the little black rectangle was laying there on the straw. The transport wheels of the sprayer had just missed running over it.
Storm clouds gathered in the west and the wind increased as I finished up the last 40 acres of canola. Might get a break from spraying tomorrow.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Finished Seeding June 1

Not bad considering. It could have been a lot sooner if things had worked out different. I ended up re-seeding one field. Those herbicide resistant wild oats staged a real come-back when the rain hit them right after seeding. Plus new ones came up. I went ahead and applied avadex to the small half of the field, quickly incorporated it with the field cultivator and then re-seeded to flax. I didn't have enough flax seed cleaned to do the big half over again so I opted for canola. Probably a  better choice anyway since that will give me at least two chances to spray out the wild oats with glyphosate (roundup). 6 operations on that field. Good grief! So much for low disturbance farming. Well seven if you count the rock picking but that was done pretty fast and furious so hardly counts.
Now I am hearing from the modern efficient farmers at Agriville that flea beatles and cutworms are running rampant in emerging canola fields. I have not checked and am almost afraid to look at mine. We escaped the frost warning a couple of nights ago.
In other news GMO roundup resistant wheat has been discovered in the U.S. state of Oregon. Although varieties were tested in the nineties , no GM wheat was ever approved for commercial production so it is a mystery where this came from. Its not good for the wheat market. More fuel for the anti GMO fanatics. Been there and done that a few years ago when the Triffid flax problem cropped up in 2010. It hurt our markets, price, and forced all flax growers to pay for an expensive gene test before they could sell their flax. It took a while but prices are back up now. I still would like to know just what is so harmful about genetically modified crops . I guess the bottom line is that the customer is always right, even when he his wrong.
Today being Sunday and somewhat of a day of rest I took it easy and listened to CBC Sunday Morning while picking rocks in relative ease and comfort.
video

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Harrowing Time

The weather continues it's best efforts to drive me insane. Damp and misty this morning but barely wet enough to be a problem . By the time I drove to the end of the driveway there was moisture on the windshield so I stopped, waited, finally headed back to the yard to do something while the weather made up its mind. I don't mind being shut down by real rain but this indecisive weather that keeps me on the edge of doing something is far more annoying. I finally did harrow pack for a couple of hours til the sun came out. Then came home and went to finish seeding flax and then harrow the field to try and pull out some of the wild oats I missed. Can't help feeling that whatever I do on this field I am just re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Flax is a poor competitor with weeds and this field is contaminated with wild oats that are resistant to the common herbicides. The only option I have is a soil incorporated spray that needs to be applied now before the crop comes up.
Unfortunately it is raining now and forecast to be wet for the next few days so between that and the incessant wind I may not get the chance to spray. Consequently the field will be a weed patch in places. I could re-plant later but it is getting late for wheat. I have plenty of oats seed but obviously that is not an option. There is no herbicide known to man or giant chemical company that will eliminate wild oats from a crop of tame oats.
And in other interesting news I have been mentioned on the latest page of
the lazy farmer blog which should bring me great recognition and prestige.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Long Week


I can hardly believe it is only a week since I started seeding. I'm down to the last 80 acres or so. I would have been closer but got shut down by the first rain of spring this afternoon. Not enough to do much good but enough to mess up the tractor windows and poor weed killing conditions. It takes a little co-operation from the weather to kill weeds with tillage. Although there has not been one day since Saturday that it was quiet enough to spray and kill the weeds with glyphosate (in my opinion). The field I am currently working on has the heaviest growth of wild oats I can ever remember seeing. Tillage is not going to get them all so I might just do a "burn off" with the sprayer if conditions permit. Maybe it is a disaster waiting to happen. These wild oats I am trying to kill are resistant to the common group of herbicides and there is only one kind I can use on this crop (flax). Plus I have only a short window of opportunity to get the herbicide on before the crop comes up (if I haven't buried the seed so deep that it never emerges). Always at the mercy of the weather in this business.
I shot quite a bit of boring , repititious video with the Gopro camera while working but after considerable editing I have the readers digest condensed version available at youtube for those who just can't get enough "tractoring".

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dust In The Wind and other meanderings

Thats the song that came to mind looking at this picture from today. The rocks are so thick in some parts of this field that I need the rock picker following the air seeder as in this photo . Well ok, not quite, it just happened we were close together at that point in the field and I took a quick photo.

That relentless wind of the past few days just won't quit. Field surface is getting dry and I stir up quite a dust with the air seeder planting canola. The price of said seed is a bit astounding .. If anybody had told me years ago that I could lift over $500 worth of canola seed without extreme exertion I would have never believed it. $7000 worth of seed in the back of a thousand dollar pickup, amazing.
Oh well, making a little progress even though I seem to be a ten oclock scholar most days not getting the seeder in the ground til way late in the morning. Seems I spend as much time getting ready to work as actually seeding. Fuel to haul, seed and fertilizer to load and haul miles between farms eats up a lot of time. A couple of my weedy fields I actually try and avert my gaze as I have to pass by them as I know the weeds will get to grow a little higher before I can get to them.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Funny how life on the farm goes from laid back and relaxed to running in circles trying to do too many things at once. That is where I have been the past few days. I came close to not applying any anhydrous fertilizer at all when company "number 1" assured me that they had nothing for me and I should have booked my fertilizer needs back in the middle of winter. Luckily company "number 2" was a little more encouraging and soon found me a tank and some anhydrous to fill it with.
I made good time when rolling but was limited or rationed to one tank a day due to short supply and high demand for anhydrous and truck drivers to deliver it. Still managed to get nearly 400 acres done.
Since my plans are always subject to daily change I did not anhydrous the final field. As of yesterday I had no wheat or flax seed and wondering what I was going to plant. I'd about given up the idea of flax and was preparing to start calling suppliers for more canola seed to substitute. Then I got really lucky when the seed plant had a cancellation and an opening to clean flax right here and now. Needless to say my plans changed again and I had the truck loaded and on the road to the plant shortly.
And those roads get more interesting each day as the frost is coming out and soft spots develop. Even the empty truck leaves ruts in places. Over 200 bushels is pushing it but I risked it on the final load of cleaned flax and made it home without incident.
In this photo my 42 year old IH truck is being loaded by a nice shiny new Brandt grain conveyor. I am watching with some concern as the weight of the grain makes the left rear duals sink into the spongy ground of the yard. In the background the 3 huge windmills  are cranking out watts to help power the seed plant.
The old IH made it through the spongy ground without burnt clutch or twisted axles. The last snowbanks have finally melted and the sun shines so all is well for now.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Time Well Wasted

Time well wasted.There is an old saying goes something like "time you enjoy wasting is not really wasted. I suppose riding atvs and moving antique cars might be considered a waste of time by some but I did enjoy it today.
http://youtu.be/Uno-NWC--xU

Monday, April 29, 2013

Snowbanks and Potato Planting

I might be crazy for doing it but I planted a row of potatoes today. Its true , those are snowbanks in the background you see in the photo but I usually try to get at least a few planted the last week in April. Its not exactly a family tradition but most years it turns out ok.
This mixed up spring is keeping us all off the fields so this is the closest I can get to working in the soil. The old roto tiller fired up on the third pull, eager to work the ground. South sloping garden sheltered by the big evergreens had dried nicely . Snow and colder weather in the forecast for tomorrow so I figured its now or never (or at least much later).
Meanwhile, somewhere to the north of me it snowed last night at goldengrainfarm . At the other extreme of agricultural happenings there are good planting conditions in the land of The Lazy Farmer .
I am , as usual, somewhere in the middle.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April 25 and Finally Spring

Nothing too exciting here. I thought it might be interesting at some point in the future to look back and see how late spring was in 2013. Finally some spring-like weather arrived April 25th, about a month late. Yesterday was the first day I could drive my driveway without hitting mud even though deep snowbanks line the shoulders. The cattle are out foraging through last year's old grass for some sign of new green. They will eventually be back to the bale feeder to fill up. Rain forecast for Monday but for now we will appreciate the weekend.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Spring Auction Sales

Standing around at farm auction sales is very hard on my back lately but I did get to a couple this spring and shot a bit of video. Watching them online from a comfortable chair is a lot more attractive. If only Sasktel would come up with more band width for us peasants out here in the sticks I would likely do it more often. Especially when snow is in the forecast (again).
Sitting up on top of a 2388 combine to shoot some video was a nice change from standing and a chance to rest my back but eventually the wind got to feeling cold at only a couple of degrees above freezing.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sometimes It Feels Like Work

I always tell people that I keep these few cattle mostly as a hobby, something to keep busy with in the long winter months. If I make a few dollars selling the calves to cover my expenses I guess I won't complain. But some days , like today, I wonder.
This scruffy little cow looked a little suspicious at feeding time yesterday so I made plans to check on her later that night. Sure enough, got home in the dark with wind blowing and light snow falling.  Shone the lights of the Blazer through  into the cattle shelter and she was missing. I knew where she'd be, out at the other bale feeder. Its a nice sheltered spot, plenty of wasted hay on the ground to lie in. A smart cow and calf would do just fine but I had my doubts about these two.
I took the bale trail through the field (how did I ever farm without four wheel drive trucks?) and sure enough, illuminated by the headlights, there she stood. Another dark object beside her with it's eyes glowing, reflecting back my headlights. Good enough for tonight.
Next morning she came in with the rest of "the herd" for their oat chop. No sign of the calf. I could see magpies out by the far distant bale feeder so headed out to check. Plenty of hungry coyotes around and a new born calf without a cow to protect it would make an easy meal.
And there it stood. Wobbly little crooked legs barely supporting it but looking like it might try to walk to the barn.
If anybody had told me I was going to carry a calf that distance without stopping for a rest I'd never have believed them, but somehow I did it.
Into the penned off corner of the shelter with some dry straw, now try to get the cow in there. A pail of oat chop was a good attraction for her and with her head in the pail she gradually followed me in to the shelter where I was able to put up the gates and leave them for some "bonding time".
By five o'clock feeding time the cow was ready for some hay but the calf still did not look too lively. Ok, right after supper, because its no job to do in the dark, I mixed up some of the good old milk replacer and headed out to the shelter to try and teach another stubborn calf how to drink. At least get something into it's stomach to survive another night. Well, surprise, the calf is now standing up, still looking flat and empty but hopeful. While I gave the cow a pail of water to drink the calf started moving to the back of the cow and I soon heard the welcome sounds of a calf sucking milk. Great! Sometimes you get lucky. And the cats really appreciated the milk replacer that I didn't have to give the calf.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring (and hope) Deferred

I was reminded of one of great Uncle Arthur's old sayings "hope deferred maketh the heart sick" while considering the latest weather forecast. We are already way late on the spring thaw and the latest forecast is for more precip, rain or snow, and clouds for the next five days. Not much hope there at all. The window of opportunity for getting our crops planted in a timely manner diminishes further with each passing day.
A late melt is usually a fast melt meaning more runoff and flooding. I guess I can count my blessings to not live on a flood plain. All our water drains to the Qu'appelle river eventually, after all our sloughs have filled up and run over , so we can usually count on seeding a few acres that stick up amongst the sloughs.
I really should count up the number of times I have had to open my driveway this year.I would suspect it has been one of the busiest winters for the snowblower in nearly 40 years of snow blowing.
We broke record low temperature levels the past couple of nights but I won't comment on global warming or climate change. There is already a good discussion on that subject over at the contrary farmer
This photo is from my latest driveway dig out. Even with that much snow its hard not to be at least a little hopeful when you have this much sunshine and blue sky.
Meanwhile, far to the south of me, the real lazy farmer has been rained out of the field.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Step Back Into Winter

Snowing, again! Visibility has dropped to less than half a mile. Not that we were making any great strides in melting the snow from the past five months but we sure didn't need any new snow added. Well we were hoping for a slow melt this spring and we are certainly getting it. Might just prevent major flooding but of course that can all change overnight. More through good luck than good management I had a good supply of hay bales to feed the cattle through this long winter. For all the talk of deep snow and starving deer I have not seen any sign of them raiding my hay bale stacks yet. In fact these two that stopped in for a visit the other day looked just fine to me.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

40 Years of International

I'd been waiting for the day to do a photo shoot 40 years apart showing the old IH pickup in the same loctation as it was in 1973. Unfortuntely in 2013 the ground is still covered with snow that is only just beginning to melt. Spring  was a little further advanced in 1973.
That is actually my little brother in the original photo from 73 but since he was not available today I had to stand in for the photo.
The old truck still runs good. Brake pedal a little spongy but definitely stops when I want it too. The heater core is starting to drip anti freeze into the cab. The scene is a little reminiscent of Jed Clampett's truck with Granny's rocking chair up in the back but of course around here any empty space gets used for storage so the old IH has accumulated a lot of 'junk in the trunk" as it has sat in the shed over the years. Including the bench seat from a newer Chevy.
Stay tuned for the driving video. I've got a mountain of snow to move out of the yard as it starting to melt today and I want it out of here while the ground is still frozen.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bent Out Of Shape


No, not me, I am much the same as always. But my old reliable grain shovel as seen in this photo is badly bent backwards. Not that I use it a lot anymore but it has been on the farm longer than I have and has some sentimental value. I think I must have backed up against it with the tractor wheel while trying to maneuvre out of the doorway of the quonset. The doors are next to impossible to open due to freezing so I was trying to sneak out with just one door open. To move snow yet again.
That job never ends this "spring". I was lucky to get two semi loads of flax out yesterday while the road was still good. Flax is over $15 a bushel now which is a very good price. Hopefully I will have a little cash left over after I pay the crop share, trucking bill and this year's fertilizer bill.
Pre buying dry fertilizer is a bit of a gamble like most things in farming. The price is down right now so it is a good time to buy. It is a non-returnable product though so I have to hope that I will have enough acres that are not too flooded to plant this spring and use it all up. Its no fun carrying over a few tons of fertilizer to next season.
Delivery is going to be interesting. Trying to pull all the right strings so the road is not filled with snow/too soft from thawing when I get the semi to deliver. And hope the unloading auger does not break down during the unloading  process like last year.
Wild south east winds the past 24 hours have drifted snow everywhere. No point opening my driveway til the wind drops . More snow predicted for tonight so no rush. Maybe I'll head out to the workshop and try to straighten the poor old bent shovel. Turn up CBC radio and drown out the sound of the wind.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Sunny Day In The cattle shelter

Just playing with the camera waiting for spring. It is more like January than March. Colder than normal, not even close to spring thaw. Yet standing in the sun you can tell it is warming up. The cattle are content eating hay and soaking up the sunshine.
 Yesterday's snow must have been at least six inches deep. My driveway has not been so deep with snow in years and it was a good workout for the old tractor and snowblower today. Hopefully it will be wide enough for the grain hauler to get in and out of the yard without incident. The snowbanks are so high along the sides that I can't tell where the edge of the road is anymore and frequently slide off into deep snow with the tractor.
30 inches of snow in the sheltered areas of the yard. Yes, I had to measure it just to see. When this all turns to water we are going to have interesting times I think.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Small Victories


I think that is the name of a song or something but it seemed appropriate for today. This calf in the picture is (I think) going to be a success story for today. Last night I figured it didn't have much hope after struggling for an hour to get some milk replacer into it (with no success). It had plenty of strength to fight and no interest in drinking milk.  I couldn't leave it outdoors with the cow as heavy snow was predicted. It stood a better chance in the shelter, even with an empty stomach. The cow showed no interest in joining it in the pen so they spent the night on opposite sides of a corral panel fence.
This morning the cow was right there calling loudly for her calf and the calf was up and showing interest in her. A pail of chop and some hay enticed her into the pen although its always a bit of a struggle to keep the wrong cows from crowding in with her. That calf didn't take long to find out where his breakfast came from and soon everybody was happy. Another night indoors is in order since although the storm is over, the temp has dropped to 0F and I don't want her taking the calf away to spend the night in a snowbank.

On the mechanical side it seems there is hope of keeping my 42 year old International truck on the road. The brake shop has located some supposedly good used front brake drums, relined the worn out shoes and with a little luck I should get the new wheel cylinders on in the next few days too.
Nice to hear the price of oats has risen to near $3.90 a bushel. This would be even better news if I hadn't sold a good portion of mine for $3.75 last week but I'm not complaining. This grain marketing is always a gamble.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Driving The Winter Driveway

The video of these impressive snowbanks along my driveway should be fun to look at this summer when its hot . Middle of March and no sign of winter letting up. More snow coming tonight and no thawing predicted in the near term forecast. Looks like it will be a late spring, and a wet one if flooding predictions are right. Maybe as bad as 2011? I've spent many hours and many gallons of gas running the old tractor and snowblower up and down the driveway numerous times. At least my fellow blogger the lazy farmer is able to get in the field and plant an acre or two.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mackerel Sky

"Mackerel sky, mackerel sky, never long wet and never long dry". Thats the old saying that came to mind when I took this photo on last Saturday on what was the nicest day we have had yet this year. Warm and sunny with no wind. But the saying was true, the weather did not stay long dry for in less than 24 hours it was snowing. Then the wind got up from the north drifting the new snow into the trenches that my driveway has become. The poor old Cockshutt 40 is having to work far harder than any sixty year old tractor should pushing that snowblower this winter. Today's snow blowing was the heaviest work yet this winter. Maybe the driveway will stay open longer this time although more snow flurries are predicted in a couple of days.
Incidentally, the recent video I made on the "mackerel sky " day showing the tractor and hammer mill at work has run afoul of the safety police over on New Ag Talk forums as some seem to think my cavalier attitude towards farm safety is a bad influence on younger viewers. Responses ranged from "yes it is very dangerous to its nobody elses g.d. business how he works on his own farm. Obviously I have assessed the risks and decided they are low enough that I won't be changing my work habits any time soon.
Grain is finally starting to move, well sort of. Oats looked good at $3.75 a bushel today so I have committed a couple of semi loads to sell as soon as there is room, or roads are passable. Always fun trying to arrange trucking in the spring and work around the spring breakup.
Wheat is dropping in price. Canola price is good but I am sold out. Flax is also good in the high $14 range and I was ready to sell but found out that I can't until I have my flax tested for gmo triffid genes Its a crock but is one of the hoops we have to jump through to please the anti-gmo crowd. To my knowledge nobody had ever come up with any sound evidence that genetically modified flax seeds are any threat to our health. But as they say, the customer is always right, even when he is wrong. Anyway, the seed testing labs will be happy to take our money for the test.
I have no doubt that in a few years we will have GMO roundup ready flax just like the GMO canola we have grown successfully for years.  Theres big money to be made in those tech fees and monsanto needs it.
Mackerel Sky