Sunday, April 25, 2021

Farm Life Spring 2021 Edition V1 a.k.a. Zoey Meets Dakota!

Dakota and I left for North Dakota in the early morning hours of April 11th. It was a week earlier than previous years but with the lack of snow, drought condition and other projects, Chris said there was plenty to do until the ground was ready for planting.

If you want to skip the farm stuff and get right to the Zoey stuff you can skip the first half of this post.

I set up in the shop as the morning were still in the teens and the shop is set at a comfortable 60 degrees.

They had very little snow this winter so they were desperately waiting any type of moisture. The National Drought Monitor shows pretty much the entire state of North Dakota at a 3L level is means Extreme Long Term drought.

So when they got some snow this week they were thrilled. It only amounted to about 0.5 of an inch of precipitation but at this point they will take what they can get.

They got a couple pieces of new equipment since I was here last. One was a new cart of  hauling grain in the field or yard. This beast is huge and holds over a semis worth of grain!

Look at the size of those tires!

The second item is a new red combine. They had bought one last year and their salesman called and said they got another one in and gave them a price they could not refuse!

 Farm life begins sometime between 7:00-8:00 in the morning and ends between 8:00 and 9:00 at night. to say you are exhausted at the end of the day would be an understatement. The first few days were spent on a 135 acre field they call The Pivot. The reason for that name is obvious enough as the field contains a giant sprinkler known in farm lingo as a pivot. They had upgraded the tires, controls and nozzles this year. Our task for the next few days was to replace the nozzles. 146 of them if my memory serves me correctly. There are specific length hose assemblies for specific locations on the pivot as well as specific nozzles for each location. My task was to assemble each of the nozzle hoses and bring them to Chris and Dylan who were taking off the old ones and putting in the new ones while Farmer Bob installed the appropriate nozzle on each hose. Slow and tedious but over a 2 ½ day period we got them all done!

Day 1 had snow on the ground as Chris and Dylan were in the lift

Day 2 had a little less snow. You can see the old sprinklers on the
trailer and the new one hanging off the pivot

Farmer Bob working on putting the hoses together

Dakota came with on two occasions. The first day she just hung out and watched us. The second day she explored and found one of the many ponds in the area. She was a mess!

Dakota hanging out when I was in the lift

She required a bath after playing in the mud!

Once that was done the snow had melted and the ground was dry enough for what Chris calls “Go Time” which is when everything else stops and we get the seed in the ground as soon as possible. When the conditions are right you need to take advantage of it. What little moisture this last snowfall did bring needs to be taken advantage of!

Our first field was 220 acres of peas. The seed drill needs to be set up for the specific crop you are planting which means seed spacing as well as laying in urea (for wheat and canola) and fertilizer. These planters are so sophisticated now a days they know the dry areas, moist areas and lay seed accordingly to make the most out of the ground you have. It uses historical data from previous harvest as well as overlay maps from satellite imagery. Beats the heck out of what they use to do back in the day when they just planted everything the same and hoped for the best!

While Chris was seeding, Dylan and I took out a 1/2 mile fence row of 3 strand barbed wire between  two of their fields. 

That's a lot of fence posts!

Removing it would allow them to farm right across the entire field instead of having to go around it. My job was to pull clips and staples off the posts on a 3 strand fence line and finally the posts themselves over a ½ a mile stretch.  It was a mix of sand and North Dakota mud so I think I have a pound of mud on each boot. I walked back and forth along that section 5-6 times so I would guess I got my 10,000 steps in for the day! Not once, not twice but three times I was walking and next thing I knew I was on the ground with one leg down a badger hole hidden under the snow. Talk about a good time!

If  you look closely you can see my butt impression on the right side

The intriguing thing for me as I pulled the fence was wondering who put it up and when was it put up? Some of it was obviously quite modern as it had plastic electric fence clips on it while other sections had old twisted nails. 

This fence post has probably been there for over 50 years

Barb was scheduled to come up on day 7 of my stay, so day 6 consisted of cleaning the camper and doing some laundry. It is amazing how quickly a camper can get dirty with just one dude and a dog living in it. The fact that the melting snow made it super muddy did not help. Well, that and the fact that Ms. Dakota loves the stinky, muddy potholes!

She is impossible to keep clean in these conditions and more than once I have caught her on the bed when coming in from working. She left so much sand and dirt on the bed at times I thought I was sleeping on a beach!

A snow storm in South Dakota prevented Barb from coming when expected but she did arrive a few days later with her little puppy prize! Barb said Zoey was quite the traveler on the 8 hour drive sleeping most of the time....

I would love to say that Dakota was thrilled to have another sister and welcomed her with open paws but sadly that was not the case. The first thing Zoey did was jump up and grab Dakota by her lip to which Dakota responded with a snarling growl. Dakota does not nip at her but she does growl when Zoey invades her personal space. Luckily Dakota's spot under the table is a "safe zone" as Zoey cannot get up there.

Zoey trying to get at Dakota

Dakota is slowly warming up to her. Although they do not play, Dakota tolerates her pulling on her lips and ears now and will even let Zoey jump on her back when she is laying down. It won't be long before Zoey will be laying on her Daisy did.

Daisy and Dakota

Zoey is full if energy and antics. She loves to watch TV and play with her friend in the mirror.

She also loves to chew on my book as I am reading!

She will run around the bed like a wild animal and then she will just plop down on Barb's pillow and fall asleep in about 30 seconds.
She loves to wrap herself around Barb's head like she is a puppy mate. One time Barb woke up and did not know what the heck was going on as she opened her eyes and could not see, only to find Zoey was fast asleep on Barb's face! How Barb did not wake up when she had a puppy on her face is beyond me!

Barb spends most of her day reading on the floor of the camper with Zoey on her lap, but is now starting to leave Zoey alone in the camper (with Dakota). We were fearful that since Barb has been with her 24/7 Zoey would develop separation anxiety so we are purposely leaving her alone for a couple hours a day. I am impressed by two things; one that Barb is doing this and two, that Zoey is does not mind at all. We put her in her crate and close the door and she is quite content to just lay there, sleep and look around. 
Zoey is adjusting well to farm life but we watch her closely as there are a lot of things that should not go in her mouth!

Mishaps of the week included my forgetting to open the tarp before filling the truck with fertilizer. Somethings just become routine and your mind misses a step in the process. 

Luckily it did not rip the tarp and it was cleaned up with minimal spillage. 

The second one was when someone got stuck seeding (not mentioning any names). We tried several times to pull it out but almost got the other tractor stuck in the process. You can see the spinout marks from the other tractor in this picture as well. 

We finally got pulled out and he avoided that area for the rest of the seeding. 

The third mishap was the most intense. Bob and I were working in a field and saw a semi coming down a section road towards the railroad tracks. This section of track has a severe grade at the track and we do not take trucks over it for fear of getting stuck. Bob and I were about 1/4 mile away as we watched the truck approach the tracks, start to go over and stops......with the truck right in the middle of the tracks! 
This truck has a conveyor under it and if you look closely you can see it wedged on the tracks. 
I blocked out their logo to protect the innocent

Pretty soon one of the guys comes over to us and asked if we can help pull them off the tracks. We get there and I said to the guy "I sure hope a train does not come". He replies "I just called them and they said there are no trains in the area". About that time we hear a train horn a mile down the track at the next crossing. I ran (okay, I walked fast) about a 1/4 mile down the track and was able to flag the train down before he came barreling around the corner.

The train waited as it took over an hour as we stacked blocks under the back wheels of the semi tractor and Farmer Bob drove his tractor about 4 miles around the section so he could pull the semi from the back. After the 3rd or 4th attempt we were able to get it off with minimal damage to the truck. We broke off one of the trailer jacks as it got stuck on the track but we at least got it off!

You would think with all this time working we would not have time for happy hours but we managed to fit it in a few when we did not work too late! 
DeAnne holding Zoey during one of the HH's

Farmer Bob enjoying a cooling refreshment

Dylan in the camper for a late night brew!

With a little over 1300 acres seeded we are about 1/4 of the way done with seeding. These last two weeks have flown by. We are hoping for rain mixed with warm calm weather, not sure if we will get either or both, only time will tell!


  1. Sounds like you are in your happy place playing with all the big boy toys Jim. That was quit the ordeal with the truck on the tracks. Glad everything worked out for Barb getting Zoey and up to the farm safely. Now you just have to train her to hunt birds too! 🤣

    1. That training will have to come later. She won't be a swimmer like Daisy as apparently FBD's cannot swim!

  2. The joys of Farming. Surprised that someone hasn't regraded that cross road.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. The only travel on that road is by farmers and then only when planting or harvesting so I figure they think it is not worth it.

  3. That was an adventurous two weeks! Zoey is adorable. :) That could have been ugly had you not stopped that train! Good job.

    1. I was prepared to video it just in case the train was not able to stop!

  4. Replies
    1. Why would she say that, there weren't any pictures of me?!?!?

  5. Oooooh combines!! Yeah, I'm an equipment junkie. Getting stuck is part of the fun. Gives you something to talk about later!! Zoey is cute as a button. What a good girl. Every time I put my pups in a kennel they scream their heads off. Smart to leave her alone here and there. As to the truck ... I hope you read him/her the riot act. No doubt the train engineer was happy!!!!

    1. Luckily we did not have to talk to the engineer, I am sure that he was more than a little peeved at the delay!

  6. Oh the joy's of the smell of "wet muddy dog" in a small camper ... those were the days. Ha Ha. We remember it well. Sounds like Zoey is settling in well.

    1. Dakota just did not understand why I made her stay outside for a couple of hours after we got home that day. She thought she should have been able to jump right into her spot under the table!

  7. I'm guessing the same person gets stuck every year, any chance I'm correct LOL!!! Looks like good times.

    1. Well, the answer to that would be yes as everyone gets stuck at least one during the spring season. It is just part of the ebb and flow of farm life!

  8. They will bond, and in a few weeks/months, that spot that Dakota likes so much won't be out of Zoey's reach. Praying that Farmer Bob gets the rain he needs WHEN he needs it.

    1. We were just talking about that. In fact Zoey managed to get up there the other day and annoy the heck out of Dakota. Dakota had a look on her that said "Someone, please just put me out of my misery..."

  9. Back with your Big Boy toys and having a great time! Sure hope the farm gets enough moisture for a great crop. I can only imagine what Dakota was thinking when Zoey first arrived!!! Haha!! I'm sure Zoey will be sitting on her real soon.

    1. Dakota is slowly warming up to Zoey. She actually came to depend her when a cat got too close yesterday!

  10. Once again very jealous of the monster farm equipment. What farmboy doesn't want to try that stuff! No doubt Zoey and Dakota will be best buddies in no time. Have a safe and trouble free planting season, yeah too late for that already lol. Quite sure that trucker won't try that approach again, lucky you were there to help before the train got there.

    1. I would like to think the train would have stopped in time had I not been there. I don't know how long it takes a train to stop but if he saw the truck right away he would have had about 1/4 mile to stop before hitting the crossing.