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Friday, April 30, 2010

Busy Times

Obviously I have been a little busy lately and hardly keeping up with the blogs I follow let alone writing. Today it is raining so I am not in the field. I started in with the anhydrous applicator (see the JD 1610 in previous postings) on Tuesday evening and have made pretty good time when I am actually in the field. Various holdups and complications have kept my total acres down to about 300 so far with maybe another 300 to go.
Rain shut me down Thursday morning but the ground was dry enough to work by noon. Just before heading out I checked on a complaining cow in the pasture and found her 2 day old calf looking pretty hollow and obviously not had anything to drink. Luckily for me she is the oldest and quietest cow on the farm and patiently followed me as I herded the calf to the barn. A combination of a slow learning, long legged calf and a cow with teats that hang nearly to the ground made a combination that were not going to work without a little help. Thanks to my long suffering sister in law who I call on in emergencies like this we were able to take care of that situation, temporarily anyway.
It made for a late start on the anhydrous cultivator and after ten minutes I found a flat tire. The resulting dissambly, running to two towns to find a new tire, various other adjustments meant I did not get rolling again til 7:30 in the evening. I was able to almost empty the tank by working til just after midnight. The first raindrops were beginning to fall when I got out to check on a leaking anhydrous hose. I figured I'd call it a day even though there was only a half hours work left in that field. It was a long time since dinner, or lunch as some call it. 5 miles home to a late supper (or early breakfast) at 1:00 am. The cow and calf appeared to be fine and this cat seemed to be pretty friendly too. Rain is falling, grass is growing, a day of rest on the farm.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

One More Step Forward

All the pieces are finally coming together. This picture (taken April 24) shows the first day in the field for the JD 1610 anhydrous cultivator we have been working on. Except for a few leaks that needed sealing up it seems to be working out pretty well. Those narrow Bourgault NH3 knives with the carbide tips are easy pulling and don't disturb the soil much. Someone commented that those carbide tipped knives will still be working long after we are retired or have shuffled off this mortal coil. I hope they do last as they were quite expensive.
Unfortunately the weather has put a stop to field operations today with some light snow and temps down near the freezing mark. Kind of nice to have a day off for a change and of course a little rain will do us a lot of good. Grass and trees are starting to show some green but the cows still come home to eat hay out of the feeder after a day of foraging the field and pasture. Not enough grass growth to keep them satisfied just yet.
We are pretty much on schedule for this time of year. With a little luck and a few breaks (not breakdowns) I have hopes of getting the crop seeded by the usual time.
I've already put in a row of early potatoes in the garden. They probably won't show any leaves for weeks but at least its a start.

Friday, April 23, 2010

More spring preparations

Spring marches on. With almost record breaking warm temperatures it feels more like May than April this past week. No seeding going on in the immediate area that I have noticed but then it is still a little early. We know that Sask weather can lull us into a sense of security with beautiful weather and then turn around and hit us with a late spring snowstorm or frost and we might regret planting crops too early.
It has been great condtions for working on the big green machine, a John Deere 1610 chisel plow that we are installing an anhydrous fertilizer kit on. Its a lot of work and expense but at current rental rates this machine should pay for itself in about 3 years. And by that I mean the rental rates we won't have to pay. After over ten years of renting anhydrous applicators and paying as high as $3 an acre for the use of them, it will be nice to have a machine of our own that is always always available and kept in a good state of repair. Some of the rental stuff tends to see some hard use and a lack of maintenance.
Hopefully next week will see us putting anhydrous into the ground in preparation for planting. With a little luck ,,, seeding the first week of May.
As usual, plans subject to change due to weather changes. The cattle guys (including me) would like to see a little rain to get the grass growing, but not enough to seriously delay seeding crops

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Long And Winding Road

The long and winding road. Well, by Sask. standards it was winding in this picture although probably considered pretty straight compared to some. This drop down the Lumsden Hill into the Qu'appelle valley provides some relief from the sometimes monotonous flat terrain leading up to it. Plenty of traffic on this 4 lane blacktop which makes it really interesting when towing a wide farm implement behind a 3/4 ton diesel pickup. Something like 5 hours at 24 miles per hour so we got to see all sorts of drivers out there ranging from cautious and courteous to impatient and selfish but thankfully we made the trip with no mishaps. The cracked implement tires held up for the entire trip much to my surprise.
Weather was beautiful. I guess sometimes you get the breaks. Now with a little luck we will have it field ready within a week

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Out On The Praire

Spent a few hours harrowing the cattle pasture on this beautiful sunny spring day. Saw the first crocus of spring, not visible in this picture though. This old prairie wool is unbroken land that has never seen the plough, or any other tillage for that matter. Its undisturbed since the days when the bison roamed here. Only my cattle and a few gophers to disturb the surface. That old threshing machine in the background is from my grandfather's time. Its just an ornament now. A handy back scratcher for the cattle too. Fields are still muddy but it won't be long before spring planting begins. Today was just a warm-up.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Moose And Etc.

A couple of ungulates. Ok, they are better known as moose but I've always wanted a chance to use that term to describe hoofed mammals. I was inspecting some of my fields on a sunny April afternoon and spotted 2 figures that were too big to be deer and there were no cattle in the area. There have always been reports of sightings of moose in the area but never by me, until today. This appeared to be a cow with a calf from last year judging by their sizes. There is plenty of wild land for them to roam on over there and hopefully they won't trample down too much of the crop this summer.
It was a good weekend for people in the roofing repair business. Wild and crazy winds wreaked havoc on shingles and metal roofing and siding Friday and Saturday. Streets are littered with bits of broken shingles and tree branches. No precpitation to go with it although there was snow in the north. What little benefit that might have been was mostly cancelled out by the fact that the wind blew most of it off the fields into fence lines and hedges. Some fields in the west are so dry at this point that farmers are not planning to seed them as there would be insufficient moisture to germinate. It could all change in the next day or so. Thats the nature of farming. We are at the mercy of nature.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Down By 11 Up By 1

This picture shows the remains of the herd, only 7 head.
Today I finally got a neighbour in with cattle trailer to sell some of the herd. I was up to 18 head which is the most cattle I have had on this farm in years. I knew the pasture was going to be hard pressed to keep them fed this summer even if it rains . And its been a dry spring so far, still feeding hay bales.
I hate loading cattle. I think its as stressful on me as it is on the cattle. Even the annoying complaining ones that I don't like, I feel a little guilty luring them into the shelter/penning area with oat chop and hay.
I'd planned to send 10 head but one extra old cow got in to the pen area so I decided to let her go if there was room on the trailer. I've kept back 7 head including a lame decrepit Bull that may or may not be able to perform his duties this summer. But he's been such a good quiet old bull all his life that I figure I will let him live out whatever days he has left on this farm. Same with that ten year old cow who is so quiet and never given me a moments trouble in all her life. Not to mention the many good calves she has produced.
Just before we started loading I noticed a 2 year old heifer looking like calving. She wandered off out into the pasture and I found her later with a new calf. So I am down by 11 and up by 1 today. Should be an easier summer