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Monday, April 30, 2012

A Little Progress

Finally, a little progress in the saga of spring planting preparations. The first nice sunny (quiet) day in a while and as luck would have it, the day I was scheduled to haul wheat to the cleaning plant. Perfect timing as the roads had just dried up from the weekend rain. Still a bit wet to work in the field but one neighbour was heading out with the air drill in the afternoon.
This was supposed to be video but turned out to be a series of many still photos. Apparently I had the camera dial set wrong. It was supposed to look something like this but minus the snow of course.
Six trips and the cleaned seed is in the bin ready to go. Screenings hauled home and the truck in the shop for a well earned engine oil change. After 41 years and 115,000 miles the old IH still gets the job done.
Next, maybe hitch onto the anhydrous cultivator. Prices of anhydrous and all fertilizer has taken a huge jump in the past month so I was lucky to have mine pre-bought.
The forecast is for more unsettled and wet weather for the rest of the week. It could be another challenging spring in Sask.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day

I hear today is Earth Day . Apparently the 42nd one although somehow I don't recall hearing of it before. I guess it is a good thing that at least some mention is made of it to bring awareness to people that we need to take care of this planet we live on.

This photo I took today shows some of my corner of the earth. The unspoiled wilderness of a peaceful beaver pond on a spring day.
Unfortunately a quarter of a mile away the busy highway passes and every foot of ditch shows me that most people have little care for the earth and their fellow humans. Drivng or walking along the ditch it is impossible to go a few feet without encountering someone's garbage that they have thoughtlessly tossed out the window while driving.
40, 50 years ago kids were being preached to "don't be a litterbug" and I certainly got the message. Apparently a lot of people have forgotten that simple message. Or maybe it only applies in the city. They assume that out here in the great outdoors that mother nature will just swallow up and dispose of any garbage they care to throw out their vehicle windows.
Or, "its just farmland, a little garbage won't bother anybody". Well I have news for you, It bothers me!. A lot of that garbage gets blown by the wind onto the fields I work. I could spend hours /days picking up all this garbage but have neither the time or the energy to spare.
Will we ever learn? I really doubt it. I expect I will be harvesting paper cups and plastic bags off the fields for as long as I continue to farm.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Great Grandmother

No, this post does not have any reference to farming. Today, actually most of this week's weather has not been conducive or encouraging for those of us who work the soil and grow crops. Occasional wet snow and rain combined with cold temperatures are not drying the fields. What started out as an early spring is , day by day, turning into an average or maybe a late spring.
I suppose I might have put the photo over on the Nevard blog but I'd already done an entry there today so here is the photo for today.
My great grandmother, Sarah (Wagstaff) Nevard posing in front of her home at 36 Straight Road, Lexden , Essex, U.K. At age 95 she was still capable of baking bread as evidenced by the two loaves she is holding. Pretty impressive.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Cattle On The Run.

Spring is still in a holding pattern. Cool, damp and dull. In fact the ground is wetter now than it was two weeks ago so no field work. Its still early for seeding but I would like to be out there applying anhydrous in preparation.
The sun started coming out this afternoon and I headed for the shed to start moving machinery out. Before I got there the clouds had rolled overhead again so I found another job. Now it is drizzling rain again.
I shot this bit of video of the cattle and calves running home for their evening chop ration. They are getting tired of hay bales and are out looking for new green grass every day without much success so far. Its just not warm enough.
 Its still too early to get depressed or panic about late seeding but days do go by awfully fast at this time of year.

Friday, April 13, 2012

April Showers

Not complaining too much but boy, it is a mess out there today with this rain on top of ground that was already wet from melting snow a few days ago. I know the April showers will be good for the grass and the pastures will do well but fighting this mud is really something.
All the truckloads of gravel I hauled into the cattle shelter and feed area seem to have disappeared and replaced with a mixture of rain water, rotting and fresh cow manure. The shelter roof leaks bad but it is still a bit better than being outside. Unfortunately the 3 day old calf does not know this and he is laying on a patch of hay beside the round bale feeder. Wet but at least not muddy. This little guy is only just learning how to drink and his mother, a first time heifer calver , is not too co-operative having a tendency to lift her foot and put it down on the calf while he is trying to drink.
I grabbed the little guy up under one arm while trying to stagger through ankle deep muck half way up my rubber boots and managed to carry him into the shelter out of the rain.
The feeder was getting low so I got the old reliable Massey out in the rain and dropped another round bale of hay in the feeder to keep them happy until the grass grows. Lucky for me there are lots of leftover hay bales to feed.
Later on I thought I could see the calf out in the rain again beside the cow. Just great!. Well, I guess if he is feeling good enough to venture out in the rain and muck to look for his breakfast he can't be too bad.

Spring Harvest Wheat

Although I wasn't around to see it, my Dad often made mention of how he and my Uncle Sandy harvested a field of wheat swaths on April 17 of 1952. Harvesting wheat in the spring, while not unheard of, was not a common occurrence. Poor weather conditions the previous fall had prevented them from getting the wheat combined. Sandy had a new Case pull type swather that year and had swathed the wheat in preparation for combining with Dad's almost new Case Model A pull type combine. Those two pieces of machinery represented a considerable investment in those days. Farm loans were difficult or non-existent. Sometimes the dealer would extend credit for the customers that he felt were a good risk.
Spring harvest was an adventure with the fields still wet from the melted snow. With Sandy's LA Case pulling the combine and Dad's John Deere D standing by to pull the whole outfit through the worst muddy spots when required, they got the job done.
Dad said the Thatcher wheat was still surprisingly good in quality except for colour bleaching. Very dry at 11% moisture. I guess it helped make the payments on the new machinery. This photo shows the machinery and the wooden bin for the wheat.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Flax Vac on a Frosty Morning

I'd been a little concerned how we were going to get a semi load of 2 year old flax moved with the driveway having some major soft spots in it from the spring thaw. Well the latest below normal temperatures have solved my problem. At 15 degrees this morning the ground was frozen so hard that the loaded semi (hopefully 900 bushels) did not make a track in the ground. So sometimes cold weather is a good thing.
The old 970 Case was putting out a formidable cloud of smoke running the vac. It sure beats shoveling and is easier on the back.
Flax prices have jumped recently, not quite to the $15 level I was hoping for but certainly a good enough price that I won't complain too much. Plus the fact that the grain had sat in the bin so long that we would have needed to circulate it to be sure all was well.
And if you like to talk old tractors you might like to check out this discussion forum that I frequent called Canadian Antique Tractors

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Planting potatos to pushing snow

Yes, less than 48 hours ago I was planting potatos in dry soil on a sunny warm day. This morning I will need to get the snow shovel out and clear a path to the barn to feed the cattle. Well, actually I am too lazy to do that and will likely just walk through the heavy wet snow that fell overnight. And is still coming down blown by a strong NW wind. Depressing, but this too shall pass. I guess it was too early to really be spring.
The cows will not be happy but then they complain at the best of times about nothing. This morning they have a reason.
The potatos I planted will be safely insulated under a layer of snow and I guess the extra moisture will help them eventually.
Anyway, today's miserable weather is an excuse to imitate the lazy farmer
 and spend more time indoors. Wait, I think I hear a cow complaining. Time to get out there.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

No April Fooling

If anyone else told me they had worked their garden on April first I'd have never believed it, until this year. We are nearly a month ahead of normal conditions with no snow left, ground drying up and buds on the trees. The garden was dry enough to work so I roto tilled part of it to help warm up the soil and might just plant some potatos in a day or so. I normally put a few early ones in the ground the last week of April but even that is pushing it as a late spring frost can destroy the plants once they are out of the ground.
I think I will risk a few although I have no doubt we will see snow again before summer is truly here.
The earliest I can recall working in the field was April 13 in 1973. As the proud driver of a "new to us" 730 Case diesel tractor I could not wait to get out and try it in the field. And that was considered pretty early to be in the field at the time.