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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Come Down to Kew in Lilac Time

That old poem by Alfred Noyes for some reason came to mind today while at work beside the blooming lilac bushes. I don't know if we studied it in high school or if one of my British ancestors used to quote it but the lines about lilac time stick in my mind like so many other bits of useless information.
These in the photo were planted by some of my Nevard ancestors near the old yard and they are usually out in full force when I am doing spring planting in the field they reside by.
Today was not really planting, actually pre-working the ground in hopes of drying it up and killing a heavy growth of weeds. The 4 inches of rain last week has made a lot of the field impassable and I have spent a lot of time and fuel literally spinning my wheels today but did manage to get a lot of the field worked. How did I ever farm without a front wheel assist tractor? 2 wheel drive would be useless in these muddy conditions. 4 wheel drive or tracks would be better. Working by the highway is always interesting with all sorts of traffic passing. Some must have wondered what this crazy farmer was doing out in the mud with a tractor and cultivator.
Many sloughs were running over into the next one. The water must be coming up out of the ground. The sun and wind co-operated and soil conditions did improve as the day progressed but still a long way to go. Hoping to plant flax here but it has to be soon. We are hitting the first of June tomorrow and any crop planted in June I consider at high risk here.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lawn Cutting.

A rare (lately) sunny day in Sask. although it was cold enough that I was dressed up for winter. Fields still too wet to get back to seeding but I took the opportunity to cut the long grass and dandelions that were taking over my yard. It is relaxing work and sure looks nice when it is done. Not that a lot of people get to see it but the few comments I get are always positive so it inspires me to keep on cutting. Makes it easier to spot the predators too when the grass is kept down low.
This old John Deere has a lot of cutting hours on it and has to be over 20 years old. The occasional new bearing and cutting blade along with a little "skillful welding" keeps this little tractor on the job every summer for the foreseeable future.
I suppose I should be contributing to the economy by buying and driving one of the new "zero turn" hydrostatic drive mowers but as long as this one does the job without too much downtime or repairing I will probably be satisfied with it. Although if this cold spring/summer continues I might consider adding a cab and heater to it. :-)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Seeding Delay

I'd say its hard to believe that there is snow falling in Sask. tonight but of course I know that Sask. weather is capable of anything. Temp is freezing and will probably freeze off the few potatoes that are up in the garden (except the ones I covered hopefully. Also hope no canola has emerged or it will be frozen pretty badly.  3 inches of rain is the total for this week so far and they say it is not over yet. Water in the fields so it will be a few days (or more) before seeding resumes. By then the weeds will be pretty big and harder to kill. Pre-working might be a good option to kill the weeds and also dry the wet ground. I really don't want to seed flax late but we are only a week away from June. Hoping for a long growing season.
Heres a shot of an interesting old piece of iron I literally dug up today. Doing some clearing up around the walls of an old log building I hope (maybe dreaming) to repair this year, and this nose piece from a Cockshutt tractor turned up. These things sell for big money so it is nice to have a spare. Needs a little straightening but not bad considering.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tractors At Rest

Its been a busy couple of weeks for the tractors (and drivers) but today is a day of rest due to 2 inches of rain. Not doing too badly here with only a couple of hundred acres left to go. Traditionally we liked to be all done by May 24th but it doesn't always work out that way and some years the later crops are the best.
This break in the weather gives me a chance to catch up on a few things such as maintenance, house cleaning (and sleep). Long days, late suppers, lots of money going into the ground. My lawn/yard has taken on a "John Deere colour scheme" Long green grass and blooming yellow dandelions. No time while seeding and too wet to cut now but not to worry.
I am still trying to be more like the lazy farmer but so far today I have not got around to sleeping in the rocking chair as he likes to do. I see by the forecast that there is still a chance to do that tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Rain Makes Grain?

Well, there is rain dripping off the roof now. I got up early thinking I might just get over to the field and finish that last ten acres but guess not now. I could have put in an extra hour last night and finished but by 10:00 I was ready to call it a day. And a rather frustrating one it was.
Banged my head on the hydraulic splitter valve while greasing the air seeder and used up most of my extensive vocabulary of curse words. Didn't realize at the time that it had actually shifted the valve to the "wrong" position and caused the feed auger to plug after a couple of minutes of rolling. No big deal but just one more little thing to stop me and waste time.
Later on a drive chain falls apart on the seed drive and for some reason the monitor failed to go off. So I had to backtrack and double seed a good half hour's worth of ground taking my best guess at which parts were not planted. Guess time will tell if I covered it all. Might be some black strips in that field this summer.
Twitch grass patches on these fields are really getting to be a problem and much as I don't like it, I need to resort to chemical "burn off" to control it I guess.
This field is also annoying for the fact that I have to make a lot of extra miles getting there due to the persistent beavers and there dams on the little creek. Normally dry all summer, now it is an un-crossable body of water that requires a two mile drive to get to a field that is only a stones throw across the water. Now two miles is no big deal in your car on a highway but with heavy equipment on a rough gravel road with occasional traffic, it is one more annoyance and lost time to add.
And as for the title "Rain makes grain"? True, but not if the grain is sitting in the bin because it rained so long that I missed seeding time.

Took this picture yesterday evening when the setting sun was casting long shadows across the valley.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

First Day of Seeding

Sitting here having my supper at 10:00 after a good day in the field seeding canola. I used up nearly a week of good seeding weather applying anhydrous but it had to be done. Got 107 acres of canola seed in the ground. The surface has really dried up from what it was a week ago. Ideal conditions. I had another couple of hours left to finish the field but called it a day just after 9:00. Lots of weeds growing like crazy in this heat. Numerous rocks pulled out by the air seeder need to be picked.
Still a few days ahead of last year but that could change this weekend as rain is predicted. I don't mind a day's rest but can't afford much more than that.
Just having a drink of coffee as I heard this news story about the benefits of drinking coffee

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Feeding the Gulls.

Tomorrow marks one week in the field and still not an acre seeded. I've been applying anhydrous ammonia fertilizer which is taking longer than it should for various reasons. Finished it last night and spent part of today harrowing one of the rougher fields . Actually a wheel fell off the harrow drawbar, it was that rough. Spent the evening calibrating the air seeder and loading granular fertilizer and by 8:00 figured it was too late to head down the road to seed. So I planted another row of potatos and cut some of the grass that is rapidly growing out of control in the yard. The potatos I planted over a month ago are just breaking through the soil surface. Pretty slow.
This video I shot a few days ago from the tractor seat watching the gulls hunting for whatever insects turned up behind the cultivator.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spring Field Work Begins

Not one of my favourite views, raindrops on a tractor window, but thats what it was by 10:00 this morning. The ducks and seagulls seemed happy though.  First official day of applying anhydrous. 3 days ahead of last year which is good but conditions are not great. The frequent rains have made many parts of the field so wet that the tractor is having real traction problems. Never stuck but way too much slippage for my liking. I did a little pre-working of the worst spots yesterday hoping to dry the ground a little. It helps and the ruts provide a good indicator for me when I go in the next day with the anhydrous cultivator.

Anhydrous was expensive enough when I booked mine in March but is quite a bit higher now. For some reason the current low price of natural gas (the main ingredient of anhydrous) has caused the price of fertilizer to increase?? What am I missing here? No, the logic is that they increase the price because they can. Take it or leave it, and they know we have to take it.

Today's good start didn't last long. After a couple of hours the rain kept on to the point that I finally gave up on it. Filthy windows to look through and mud on everything. Guess I can spend tomorrow morning cleaning up while I wait for the ground to dry.

I read an interesting comment somewhere, "A dry year will hurt you but a wet year can kill you".
I need to adopt the attitude of this old lazy-farmer

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Rare Sunny Day

We are traditionally known as "sunny Saskatchewan" but lately you would not think so. This video shows that we can indeed get at least one sunny day in a week as this one was on April 30. I was very fortunate to get that day to clean wheat seed for spring planting (if the ground ever dries up and it stops raining). Roads and yards had soft spots that day but by now they will be worse after the latest rain. Even with the empty truck it felt like I hit the brakes whenever pushing in the clutch. Full truck loads are not possible now. But the job got done with 40 year old machinery and the seed is ready to go when the weather smartens up.
Cold weather too is not promoting spring progress. Tree buds got off to an early start in April but were hit hard by snow and frost and only now starting to show a tinge of green again. A few weeds are all that grow in the garden as the potatos I planted almost a month ago refuse to emerge. I may have been a little optimistic planting that early but it wasn't a big gamble. Not nearly as big a risk as putting canola seed at $370 a bag into the ground.