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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Long Shadows in Tall Stubble

Could this be the beginning of winter? Looking out the window today I
can believe it. Quarter mile visibility in blowing and falling snow
with temperatures a few degrees below freezing are a major contrast to
a few days ago when this picture was taken. I was baling some wheat straw
and the blue sky with the long shadows over the tall yellow wheat stubble was
pretty impressive.
The old Massey baler made good solid bales as the wheat straw was a little on
the tough side.
Its not unheard of for winter to start in late October in Sask. but I'd
sure appreciate another month of the nice weather we have been getting
for the past while. I was extremely lucky to finish harvest just a couple
of days before this weather change. Yes, the last of the wheat is in the
bin, good yield, not so great quality at #3 but maybe the price will
make up for that.
In fact there are still a few acres of canola swath unharvested but due
to the fact that they are surrounded by water I doubt they will be harvested
this fall, or maybe at all.
Now to keep crossing jobs off the list of things to be done before winter.
Haul gravel for the cattle area, finish cleaning out the shelter, repair
the wind damage on the shelter roof, repair the wind damaged fence, finish
hauling the last of the hay bales home, etc,,,. Theres more but you get the

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Days Grow Short

Old song reference, days grow short when you reach September. (Even shorter in October)
Another busy day trying to get this year's long harvest wrapped up. I spent the morning "scouting the swamps" on the trike. This last field of canola has a 25 acre piece that is almost an island.
Inaccessible except by my fat-tired trike I don't see much chance of getting a combine through all that water. Ironic as once I'm in there the canola swaths are on mostly dry ground.

Its a good year for muskrats and geese. Not sure but the old timers had a saying about muskrat houses and how high they were being an indicator of what type of winter is coming. I've never seen their houses this high before.
These geese are having a fine time gathered around this large body of water on another of my fields as they feast on the last green growth of weeds on the summerfallow. Hunters were having a time this morning too as I heard many shotgun blasts from further north.

My last bit of wheat (50 acres) still stands waiting. Its cut off by a small creek which has been up to now, too wet to consider crossing with a combine or to haul grain across. Today its looking a little more hopeful. As there is no bin space left on that farm and no grain movement at present, I spent the afternoon transferring a bin full of wheat to my home yard. 4 loads done and one to go.
The wind was against me today and the poor old IH Loadstar had to work hard with the heavy loads against the strong west wind. Yesterday I was wishing for wind to take the combine dust away as I combined flax but the wind just disappeared and dust hung in the air. Today I would have appreciated a quiet day but no such luck. Until the last load when the wind dropped to a dead calm. Traffic on the gravel road increased to the point that I could hardly see for dust in the approaching darkness.
Just can't seem to get the timing right.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another Day in the flax

Today's day in the field was on the swather for a change. Cutting flax with the self propelled IH 4000 swather went reasonably well although cold riding out in the open at temps hovering around 60 degrees. I tried warming up my frozen spam sandwiches by the exhaust manifold of the swather engine but it was not too satisfactory, mainly drying out the bread while still partially frozen in the centre.
Only about an hours work left to do but as the sun was down it was getting hard to see the cutting depth. Also hard to see the water patches before I drove into them. I narrowly escaped getting stuck several times that way.
The crop is a little disappointing with many acres that were drowned out and replaced by wild oats and foxtail which seemed to thrive on excess moisture. Bouncing through the ruts I made back in June with the sprayer was really annoying and luckily did not break anything.
Predictions are that flax will hit some really high prices this winter since there is not a big production anticipated from this years harvest. I hope so. Its been a hard crop to work with and we need a little reward.
Heres a picture from the last day of combining flax. Out amongst the swaths of flax and the water that reflects that typical dark blue of autumn skies.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Test Run

Today I finally took a test run with the new (to me) JD 7721 pull type combine that I bought to combine flax with. After fighting for ten years with the Case IH axial flow combine I finally admitted defeat when it came to combining flax . Pull type combines sell cheap now and I figured its rare to find one in this good condition.
I hadn't planned to try it today but after an inauspicious start with the Massey swather involving plugged cutterbars and much wasted time and energy I decided to give the combine a try just to see how it worked on the flax swaths. Smooth and steady are the words that come to mind. The big fluffy swaths just rolled in the feeder and right through the machine without a complaint or hesitation. At one point the big wheels did sink a bit in a muddy spot but the 7130 Magnum up front just kept on pulling steady at 2.8 mph with no hesitation. Just as I suspected, the green weeds in the sample were causing the moisture to test just a point higher than I liked. So I went back to the old IH self propelled swather and swathed a bit more flax before the sun dropped below the horizon and shut me down for the day. Flax is hard to cut at the best of times and when it gets a little dampness from the evening air, its time to quit before expensive parts start breaking.
I'm actually more concerned about wind than rain now. Those big fluffy swaths could start to move if the wind gets wild. 30% chance of showers for Monday. Maybe I should thresh some tomorrow and put it into aeration bins just in case the weather changes?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Flax Now

Swathing flax in this photo today. The old Massey 35 pull type has its work
cut out in this wiry crop. I can travel 3 mph in the heat of the day but
as soon as the sun gets near the horizon the straw seems to get tougher
to cut and the knife will plug frequently until I give up for the day.
I worked for a while with the old IH self propelled which handles it
better but not quite so comfortable for the operator sitting out in the
mosquitos and heat and dust.
Not that I'm complaining about the heat because we sure need it to finish
this harvest. Its not unheard of but this past week and a half of summer-like
heat has been amazing. I've needed to use the air conditioning on the combine
most days. Aeration fans actually dry grain in the bins, rare for October.
Its more likely to be cold and windy this time of the year and I'd be more
accustomed to dressing up in insulated coveralls and winter hat to ride the
open swather instead of a sun hat.
Combining went well and I've gone about as far as I can go til I swath the
flax and its dry enough to harvest. About 50 acres of wheat is unaccessible
due to wet ground, as is another 25 acres of canola. The water on this field
is unbelievable. As bad as it was when I swathed the canola, its far worse
now. There are swaths under the water in this photo. I'm not about to try
driving through this in the combine as I'd likely end up walking back
out of it without my boots.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Finally Harvesting

At last we have had a week of sunny warm weather and I imagine all of Sask. is under a cloud of grain dust as combines thresh grain all day and into the night. No dust from the ground though as there is more mud and water than I have ever worked in before. Many reports of stuck combines and grain carts, broken chains and tow ropes. Even backhoes brought in to dig out combines.
My photo shows what can happen when combining at night and the driver (me) can't tell what he is driving into. I don't normally drive through water with a combine but was amazed to see in the revealing light of day that I had spun through mud and water in the dark. I'm constantly amazed just how much this combine will go through but expect I will find it's limits before harvest is through.
One major breakdown lost me a whole day yesterday when I discovered a cracked wheel rim on the combine. A 5 hour round trip to a combine wrecker and $1800 later I had a "good as new" wheel and tire to replace the cracked rim.
Grain quality looks not too terrible considering the rain its had on it but I hear there is nothing better than a #3 wheat out in the fields now.
I'm probably at about 30% finished . Could be another 3 weeks of work out there if the weather holds out and nothing else breaks.