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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Make Hay While The Sun Shines

Its an old expression my Dad often used and today I took it literally. We have had a few days without rain and I swathed some hay on Saturday. Drying well on the surface but underneath the hay was still green and damp so today I used the wheel rake to turn all the swaths over.
Working on my grandfathers farm I often think of the differences in how I make hay and how he used to do it. While I might complain about the mosquitos I realize it used to be a lot worse. A team of horses on an old ground drive mower cutting maybe 6 feet. A steel seat that must have been extremely uncomfortable and left a long lasting impression on your backside.
They would also use a horse powered rake to gather the hay into rows, then out with the pitchforks to "coil" the hay into small , weatherproof stacks to dry further.
Some days later they'd head back to the field with wagons (hayracks) and horses to load the hay on and haul it to the yard to stack for winter's use. They were some tough individuals to endure the long hot days in the hayfields each summer.
Tomorrow I will sit in the air conditioned cab listening to CBC talk radio while I roll up hay into round bales that can then be loaded by front end loader onto a trailer for the long (5 miles) drive home. We have come a long way in the way we handle hay.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Black Skies, Green and Yellow Fields

No surprise here, it rained again today. The black sky in the photo was indicative of the thunderstorm approaching. Listening to the radio reports of a state of emergency in NorthBattleford after this afternoon's torrential rain and hail storm had me a little concerned that we were in for some of the same.
It turned out to be only a brief rain shower. Still enough to send me home from the field. This summerfallow was too wet for good working even before it rained. I figured with a little tillage I could maybe help dry up the surface at
least. With chem fallow there is no weed growth to take up the excess moisture so the fields do not dry much and could still be un-seedable by next spring.
In hindsight I should probably have seeded some kind of crop on all the chem fallow and take whatever grows. With all the violent storms around this summer I'm starting to think my best investment might be additional hail insurance

Monday, July 19, 2010

Country Road Taking me Home

The photo shows the view down the long hood of the old 730 Case as I head home for the evening after a short day in the field.
Time is flying by and I see its been a while since I updated here. Did I mention I bought a new (to me) combine? I'm sure I've gone on at length in the past about the tribulations of trying to harvest flax with my IH combine so I won't dwell on it. The popular belief is that John Deere conventionals handle flax much better so I found a really nice 22 year old pull type green machine to combine flax this year and save my sanity. Now if the weather co-operates and the crop survives without hail or frost we will see how that goes.
We have managed to dodge the bullets of hail storms and tornados so far but other areas of the province have not been so lucky, losing not only crops but homes and machinery.
Haying is slow going as I held off cutting every time rain was forecast, and that was pretty frequent. I did manage to get maybe ten percent of my winter's supply cut and baled so far but theres a nice crop of it on the other farm that should have been cut a week ago. I spent half a day yesterday getting the swather out of its storage shed in hopes of cutting today. Now rain is forecast for tomorrow so I guess I'm on hold again.
I'm sure I"ve spent more hours on the lawn tractor cutting the yard than I have actually
cutting hay for winter's cattle feed.
The heavy rains have produced a great crop of hay but zero saskatoons for some reason.
Flowering canola fields are yellow and theres literally hundreds (thousands?) of acres all around me.
My flax is acres of blue, except for the acres of yellow that were drowned out by excess moisture. Flax acres are way down this year so consequently the price is way up. Nearly 50%
higher than what I sold mine for this spring. Interesting...