Sunday, October 22, 2017

Déjà vu

Well, she did it again….. she packed up her bags and drove off leaving me and the dogs needing to fend for ourselves. Sounds like the perfect beginning for a country song…. no, she would have taken the dogs and the truck. Wait, she did take the truck....... Those of you that really know us know that I cannot function without her. So here I am walking around the farm dazed and confused, one shoe on, my shirt on inside out and backwards looking for any scrap of food the Finken’s may have thrown in their garbage.
Truth be told, she must have been worried herself as she premade meals, labeled them put them in the freezer. The Finken’s must be worried as well as I have had more than one invite to meals in the past week. Funny thing is that our Facebook memory this week was a blog post titled “Bach’ing it in North Dakota”. I had a sense of déjà vu, it seems we have come full circle.

It is going to be a long two weeks that is for sure. Where did she go you ask? She traveled to Minnesota for a few days then flew to Pennsylvania to visit our daughter Jessica and her family. So here I am alone in North Dakota watching the landscape transition from autumn into what will all too soon become winter. Other than the few trees and the crops changing colors there is not a lot of fall color in the area. But the contrasts of what color there is against the browns of most the fields and greens others are absolutely beautiful. 
A shot of the farm with the drone. Chris and Holly are building a new house!

Harvest wrapped up this past week with the last of the beans off the field and for the first time ever they let me run the combine! Granted they put me on the flattest field so I could not screw anything up but they let me do it nonetheless.

I can now see why they don't let just anyone do this. Even when everything is all set up for you, not only do you have to keep an eye on several screens to make sure everything is going properly you also have to watch the wheel, sections and terrain in front of you for gopher mounds, rocks or anything else and can obstruct the conveyers.

One of several screens you have to monitor

And then there are the buttons and switches.....
The attention now turns to preparing the farm and fields for winter and next spring’s plantings. Work on the farm is never done. This week has been busy with mowing ditches, picking rocks, hauling grain to the elevator, cleaning grain bins and harrowing some fields.

Last post saw me hauling soy beans from the field to the grain bin at the farm, this week I hauled the same beans from the bin to the elevator. It seemed like a lot of work to just turn around and take the beans to the elevator a week later. Why not take them right away and avoid the additional labor and expense of putting them in the bins?

Putting it in......

Taking it out....
Price is the reason, in the last week the price of soy beans went up .36/bushel in one day so they contracted 8,000 bushel and a haul’in I went. This resulted in several thousand dollars in additional revenue. I say revenue instead of profits as there are so many expenses related to farming. Since then the price has come down somewhat so timing is crucial!
There becomes a point when the internal auger cannot pull any more beans off the bottom of the bin so you have to put in the drag auger.

Drag auger working its way around the bin
Once the bin was empty I had to clean it, a dirty but necessary job. Unless they are putting the same item in there, all remanents of the previos grain have to be cleaned out. To say it is a dusty and dirty job is an understatement. A facemask is definitely required. How do I know this? I only lasted 10 minutes without one. Eye protection would be helpful as well, my eyes were burning by the time I was done.
It's a dirty job but someone has to do it!
My funnest task of the week was rock picking. Each fall after harvest Farmer Bob will go out and flag all the larger rocks in the field. I then take the Bobcat and rockpicker out and dig them up. Only a small portion of the rock is epxpoaed so you never know how big the rock is going to be until you start digging.
How big will this one be?
It is kinda like a treasure hunt. Most of the rocks are no bigger than a medicine ball and weigh a couple hundred pounds. But once in a while you run into a monster weighing several thousand pounds. It can take 30-45 minutes to get one of these bigger ones out of the ground.

This big!
Once you get the bigger ones out you have to go get some dirt to fill in the hole it left.
By the end of some days you are too tired to really do anything else. Which is why I have not posted in over a week, it takes some thought and mental energy to write a post and being in a state of depression since Barb left I just have not had it in me. After the day is done, you just want to eat and go to bed, but it is a good tired, we love it up here!

I have only been out deer hunting twice, the first time I saw a decent 8 pointer and the second time….well, we shall see as I am writing this post from the deer blind. (Update: No deer, but I did finally get the post written!)
We are getting South Dakota updates from the Jordan’s several times a week. They closed on their property this past Tuesday so now they are officially our neighbors and have changed their residency to South Dakota! They say the excavtors are done at our building site and everything is ready for our return.

They have started doing some work on their property by fixing the fence on the front of their property.
A load of posts ready to go in
First post in!

Jim and Brenda rented a post auger and got to work on their fence
They moved to their property, ours in is the background

Deer and turkey sightings are still common and the prairie dogs are running rampant! 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Lessons Learned in North Dakota....

We arrived in North Dakota with high anticipation. Duck hunting, deer hunting, farming and seeing our friends. These are the things we had to look forward to upon our arrival. And to top it all off we had received several emails and texts from our ND hosts asking when we were going to get there. Little did I know it was not the anticipation of seeing us that they were looking forward to. No, they were looking for a scapegoat, someone to blame when something goes wrong, something breaks or generally anything that does not go right. Evidently it does not even matter if I am around, just the fact that we were on our way and I was being blamed for stuff…..
Bob swathing along the lakeshore.....
The first thing I got blamed for was getting the swather stuck. I was not there an hour when I was asked to run out to one of the fields and pull Bob out of a mud hole…….
My first view on Bob on our visit.
So far this week I have been blamed for a connector rod going out on one of the tractors and a U joint going out on one of the PTO. Granted, I was using both pieces of equipment when they broke down. But what about the residue spreader on the combine and the coffee spilled when I was nowhere in sight? Oh well, lesson learned and scapegoat or not, it is good to be back at “The Farm”.

Most of the week has been spent harvesting soy beans, they had a little over 900 acres left to harvest when we arrived. Since the tractor went down I switched from carting to driving the semi from the field to the farm where I unloaded the beans into a grain bin.
View from the cab of the combine
These bins can hold up to 30 truckloads of beans for a whopping 1.5 million pounds of beans!
Unloading beans from the semi into bin

As the weekend arrived we were excited to go duck hunting and get Dakota out for her first hunt. We have been waiting for almost a year and working very hard for this moment. So how did she do? I would love to say she did fantastic but she was a little confused on what exactly her role was supposed to be……she is not sure why we are getting up an hour before sunrise to go and sit in the cattails but she is slowly catching on and we are happy with where she is at for her first week.
Dakota going on her first retrieve.....

Someone is going to need a bath!
She had multiple retrieves throughout the week.....

Can you see her smiling?
Waiting for more ducks to come in!
What's Barb been up to you ask? She has been doing a season change over in the rig. Now you may think this is a simple task in a rig like ours but it is actually quite involved. She is pulling everything out of the closets and our cold weather totes in the belly. She then went and sorted through everything into three piles putting all our warm weather clothes into totes, cold weather clothes into the closet and a donate pile. It seems there are still clothes that we have not worn in over a year!
She also attended Hostfest (pronounced hooostfest). The festival is a week long event celebrating the Scandanavian culture filled with food, exhibits and entertainment which included the Doobie Brothers, Oak Ridge Boys , Little River Band and Jeff Dunham.

She has also made several trips to Minot to do errands. It was on one such trip that I learned my second valuable lesson for the week..... Since she was going to the sporting goods store anyway I asked her if she would mind picking me up a deer license so I could bow hunt while I was here. So I handed her my drivers license and told her I needed a non-resident archery license. It was about an hour later when I received the following text:

Lesson #2, never have your wife buy your deer tags!

Speaking of deer hunting, we have several trail cameras out. We captured some interesting pictures so far.....
This doe was about ready to kick some butt!

Coyote out for a evening stroll

This guy escaped from somewhere!
Meanwhile back in South Dakota the Jordan’s are keeping a watch on our property and sending us updates on the progress. Over the past week the excavator put in our cistern, the septic tanks and the drain field! 
Cistern ready to be buried

Septic Tank 
Pipe from septic tank to.....

......the drain field
Jim and Brenda have also been doing some work on our property while we are gone! Dismantling an old wooden fence and taking up some old barbed wire fence in preparation for new fencing.....
Dismantling and carrying away the old fence 

Jim with a load of barbed wire
But the most exciting news of all is that we have new neighbors! The 40 acre parcel next to us is for sale and after a few days of staying with us a few days and seeing what cool people we were they asked us if we would mind if they put an offer in on the parcel next door. Well Barb, Daisy, Dakota and I had a family meeting and put it to a vote..... The vote came out 2 for and 2 against (Daisy and I are people persons while Barb and Dakota...not so much...) so Barb said "Lets flip a coin" So we did.... then she said "Flip it again", then she said "One more time" then it was obvious that she was not going to win and resigned to the fact we were going to have new neighbors. The Jordan's put in an offer and are now are set to close on the property in less than 2 weeks!
Lesson #3, don't invite people to come stay at your property, they will love it so much they will never leave! In all seriousness, we could not be happier for them, they are great people and what more could we ask for but having like-minded neighbors.....