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Friday, June 28, 2013

Trike Driving and Tree Cutting

A small job gets bigger sometimes. I'd found this huge poplar tree that had leaned over almost horizontal in the field the other day while I was spraying the crop for weeds. A victim of last week's terrible winds. I decided to get it cleaned up while it was fresh in my mind or else I would forget about it till harvest time and have to drive around it with the swather. Headed out through the wet field with trike and chain saw and got a good start but came to a standstill. Got the saw jammed in the cut and there was no way I could pull it out. No tools so I headed home for a hammer and wood chisel. Of the various wood chisels I own, I could not find one. Settled for a dull old steel chisel and nail hammer which was a poor choice. I ended up making another trip home for a hand saw which turned out to be a better option. I got plenty of exercise using a hand saw on green wood on a hot summer day to release the chain saw bar. With the heat and the clouds of fuzz flying off that tree I felt like I was being tarred and feathered by the time I was done.

Between the crop I flattened out with the trike tires and then my size 13 work boots I probably lost more crop than if I had just left the tree in the field and drove around it at harvest time.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Wonder Why

So many viewers have clicked on my youtube video of swathing barley in 1988 ? I suppose swathing is not so common anymore. Pull type swathing even less common so it may be a strange practice that people just have to learn more about. 75,606 views!  The old harvest video of my uncle and his John Deere 95 has attracted a lot of interest as well. When they made that recording of the " Red River Valley" back in the mid fifties they would never have dreamed it would be the sound track for Uncle Don's harvest video to be viewed thousands of times all over the world. Maybe I should have monetized my youtube videos so I get paid every time someone clicks on one. I have resisted it for a long time since I dislike ads so much myself and don't want to subject others to them just so I can make a few cents. Then I could sit back and just let the money roll in and be a lazy farmer. Unlike the real lazy farmer who I think actually works harder than I do.
Over six inches of rain here in less than a week. Thank goodness I have not cut any hay yet. It would be nice if I had finished spraying crops too but I didn't quite make it.
My uncle's 95 John Deeres as they are today.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Crop Circles

Actually it was a large crop rectangle that I discovered in my latest oat field this morning. I had not looked at the field since I seeded it in early June. Now out on the trike inspecting to see if it was time to spray for weeds I was shocked to find a large rectangle of almost bare ground. The air seeder had gone over the field and for some reason this patch of ground had no seed applied. Operator half asleep maybe and forgot to hit the switch for the seed auger? Can't blame it on aliens I guess.
If it was just one pass I would have ignored it but this looked to be about ten percent of the whole field and located on the high ground that was not flooded so bad by last week's four inch downpour. I couldn't leave it bare all summer. Lucky I had not emptied the oats out of the truck box yet or disconnected the air tank from the seeder and parked it in the shed. In short order I had the Magnum hitched up to the air seeder, augered a few bushels of oats into the tank and headed out to seed. This field has really suffered from too much rain. Every depression contains either water or mud and dying plants. Anyway, the crop in the rest of the field was big enough (as were the weeds) to spray. With another inch of rain possible for tomorrow I needed that job done today. And so it was done by sundown. Leaving more ruts with the sprayer and flattening more crop into the muddy ground, I wondered if I might have been better off just leaving the weeds to grow.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

One Big Rain

I don't recall when I have seen 4 inches of rain in the gauge from one event but it has been a while. I knew it was pouring hard late last night. Major thunder and lightning blocked out satellite tv signal, not that I needed the extra entertainment as it was interesting enough watching the radar of the storm moving over me. Luckily wireless internet still maintained contact. The east wind drove so hard that rain leaked through the window frame , dripped into the basement onto the electrical breaker box. All I could do was watch and have a flashlight handy in case the it was "lights out".  Looks like I have some patching to do as I don't want to see this happen again.
I can consider myself lucky I sprayed the most urgent crops because I think it will be a while now before I get back in the fields. Plus the low spots will be under water.
Meanwhile , a few days ago when the sun shone brightly and I wasn't out in the sprayer tractor, I took one of the old IH trucks out for a spin. 1953 was a year notable for several things including the R series of IH trucks being introduced. Looking over the hood of this old yellow truck , it could be 1953 all over again. (Not that I would have been old enough for a drivers license in 53). :-)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

On The Road With The 730

Yes, another boring old tractor video. This old 730 Case and I have a history dating back to the mid 1960s when my uncle bought it "almost new" for his main field tractor. It was a big diesel tractor in those days and quite a step up from the Farmall M.
 I got to know it better in the summer of 1970 when I was hired to work my uncles's summerfallow fields. Health problems had kept him from doing any work on these fields that spring. Good summerfallow needs to be started on by mid June at least. By July it becomes a challenge with the big weeds that are taking over. By the time I got to it in August it was almost like breaking new prairie sod, except with much more weed growth that constantly plugged the John Deere cultivator I was using to work it. That 16 footer was a good load under normal conditions but in these extreme conditions it was a hard workout for the old 730 and there were more than a few times I saw the front wheels lifting off the ground as it struggled for traction as the cultivator spikes were tearing up the thick twitch grass sod. I don't recall how many fields or acres I did but no doubt by the time I finished the last one it was time to start all over again.
As a novice tractor operator I learned a lot that summer. We both survived although the tractor has a few dents in the lower fenders from the many times I jack-knifed the hitch backing up trying to unplug the weeds from the cultivator shanks.
 My uncles are gone now and the 730 is "semi-retired". A reminder of times past every time I drive it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Spraying Crops In The Hundred Acre Woods

Well actually not in the woods but around them. As the photo indicates, a 60 foot sprayer will just barely fit in some of the openings between the trees. I need to be at least half awake to make it through these spots without breaking the end off the spray boom.
A sensible person, and probably most of my neighbours, would say just get a cat in and clear all that bush out and farm every acre. True enough, I'd like to widen a few spots for easier access but am reluctant to turn a cat driver loose in there. They tend to get carried away and soon my fields would be as wide open and wind swept as some of my more efficient neighbours farms. We like a little shelter though, and the trees do make a good background for photos. A great place for wildlife and trail cams.
Thanks to some good weather and some long days in the tractor I am reasonably caught up with crop spraying. Just a couple of fields of flax and one of oats left that are not quite ready. I might have to hit the canola with a second spray of Roundup if conditions are favourable. But given a few days of rain and wind even roundup ready canola eventually gets too big to spray.
Yesterday, June 12 was a perfect spray day. No wind, not too hot or cold or wet, a rare combination lately. I switched the booms on at 8:00 in the morning (its a long drive to the field) and switched them off for the last time at 9:30 in the evening. Probably my best day yet, considering I had a couple of hours (28 miles) of road driving between farms. Tank fill time, flush and clean every nozzle and screen when changing herbicides, it sure makes the day go by quickly.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Anniversary of D Day (and a good day to spray)

Yesterday,, June 6th was the anniversary of D Day when the allied forces hit the beaches of Normandy in 1944. My dad missed out on that by about a month. Long time readers of this blog (are there any?) might recall reading an excerpt from dad's Memories of WWII that I published here back in 08.
As the title to this post indicates, today, June 7 was a great for crop spraying. About the best I have seen in long time. Not too hot, windy or wet. When conditions are that good I really need to take advantage. In spite of a late start I did get a couple of hundred acres sprayed. Finished up the chem fallow and about 130 acres of canola sprayed. Not bad considering I had a good 20 miles of road transport (at 13 mph) plus the usual time spent pumping water and mixing chemical. Say what you will about Monsanto's GM canola but it sure makes weed control a breeze. Cheap effective herbicide (roundup) and a very wide window of application takes a lot of the stress out of spraying crops.
More by luck than good management I managed to finish up with just enough chemical on the chem fallow. The sprayer tank ran empty within a minute of finishing the field.
How I wish I had spent a day this spring harrowing, piling and burning the residual flax straw on the canola field. It is unbelieveble how hard those lumps of straw can be. The roughly 15,000 pound tractor bounces over those straw lumps like a cork on the ocean and the driver (me) does likewise. It makes for a tiring day and a resolution to not let this happen again next year.
The canola is emerging as good as any year I can ever remember in spite of the rather dry conditions.

This photo from a couple of days ago was taken as I had just finished a 40 acre chem fallow field. It is pure luck that this picture survived. It was on the card inside the camera that got lost in a stubble field today. I was going to take a picture at "The Poplars" of the lilacs that were blooming and discovered the pocket I always carry the little Canon Elph in was empty. Guess I forgot to snap the pocket closed and the camera fell out. That could have ruined a perfect day. My best guess was that it had fallen out when I crawled under the sprayer to drain the tank after finishing chem fallow. After a bit of walking around sure enough, the little black rectangle was laying there on the straw. The transport wheels of the sprayer had just missed running over it.
Storm clouds gathered in the west and the wind increased as I finished up the last 40 acres of canola. Might get a break from spraying tomorrow.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Finished Seeding June 1

Not bad considering. It could have been a lot sooner if things had worked out different. I ended up re-seeding one field. Those herbicide resistant wild oats staged a real come-back when the rain hit them right after seeding. Plus new ones came up. I went ahead and applied avadex to the small half of the field, quickly incorporated it with the field cultivator and then re-seeded to flax. I didn't have enough flax seed cleaned to do the big half over again so I opted for canola. Probably a  better choice anyway since that will give me at least two chances to spray out the wild oats with glyphosate (roundup). 6 operations on that field. Good grief! So much for low disturbance farming. Well seven if you count the rock picking but that was done pretty fast and furious so hardly counts.
Now I am hearing from the modern efficient farmers at Agriville that flea beatles and cutworms are running rampant in emerging canola fields. I have not checked and am almost afraid to look at mine. We escaped the frost warning a couple of nights ago.
In other news GMO roundup resistant wheat has been discovered in the U.S. state of Oregon. Although varieties were tested in the nineties , no GM wheat was ever approved for commercial production so it is a mystery where this came from. Its not good for the wheat market. More fuel for the anti GMO fanatics. Been there and done that a few years ago when the Triffid flax problem cropped up in 2010. It hurt our markets, price, and forced all flax growers to pay for an expensive gene test before they could sell their flax. It took a while but prices are back up now. I still would like to know just what is so harmful about genetically modified crops . I guess the bottom line is that the customer is always right, even when he his wrong.
Today being Sunday and somewhat of a day of rest I took it easy and listened to CBC Sunday Morning while picking rocks in relative ease and comfort.