Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Back at the Farm!

Back at The Farm, one of my “happy places” with Farmer Bob, Dylan, Chris, Holly and DeAnne. For those of you who have been reading the blog for a few years, it may seem like Groundhogs Day as many of the tasks are ones I have done in previous years. The biggest difference this year is that I am alone. Barb stayed home with both the girls, so it is just me and the camper. Harvest has been under way for over a month. All the wheat, peas and canola fields are already harvested. The only crop left to bring in is the soybeans and they are not quite ready yet, needing another week or so before they are ready to harvest.

There is always something new when I return. New equipment, new fields to work, but this year when I drove into the farmyard the biggest difference was not what was new, but what was missing. The old farmhouse where Farmer Bob grew up, where his dad grew up and where his grandparents lived is gone. Nothing left but bare dirt where the house once stood. One cannot help but get a little melancholy thinking about all the history in that house, but it was time. Something new will take its place at some point and new history will begin. If you want to read about the history of The Farm you can read about it here

The new thing I noticed was a new Quadtrac! A new toy for me to play with! This one is a 550, which I will be using for carting and other field work.  

While we wait for the soybeans, there is plenty of other work to do. My first day here I spent the entire day in the semi, hauling wheat to the elevator. To do this you have to get the grain out of the bin via a conveyer (oh, that is new too) and into the semi. 

These bins are huge with an approximate capacity of 3,000,000 pounds of wheat! I don't mind most everything I do up here but there is one sucky job. Once the bin gets low you have to go into it, turn on the rotating auger and shovel/sweep out the remaining grain. The grain dust in the air is horrible! Even this job is not that sucky if you wear a mask, but I was in a hurry and just jumped in without one. I paid for that the next couple of days! Needless to say, I got a mask the next time I went in. 

At the elevator they are constructing several more concrete silos. The thing I noted about these was the stairs going up the outside as I watched the workers start from the bottom and climb their way up to the top. Those guys must have calves of steel! If you look closely, you can see a couple of guys near the bottom working their way up. 

Once at the elevator you scan in so they know what farm you are from, then they take a test sample of the grain and analyze it before you move on. Then you proceed to the scale (straight ahead of me in the picture above) and get your loaded weight. Then you move ahead and dump your load through a drive-over grate.

Each of my loads contained about 50,000 pounds of wheat so you can imagine it takes a lot of trucking to get it all to market. I took a total of 6 loads in total in over an eight-hour period. 

All was going well until I was at the elevator and noticed this....

Well, that just threw a wrench into my plans (see what I did right there?) I limped the truck back to the farm, Chris took the tire off and a sent it to town for repair. Once it came back, I put it back on and it was as good as new!

It must have been tire day as Chris and I switched out the tires on the sprayer. Man, these things are huge!

The next day was wet and cool so we spent the day indoors working on getting the combines ready for the soybeans. There is a lot of wear and tear on these things in the fall so I spent an afternoon replacing sections on the sickle. I don't know how many sections are on one of these but there is a lot!

Some of the crops are more forgiving and can be harvested with a broken section blade. Soybeans is not one of them. If you ever go down the road and see one row left in a harvested field rest assured that they had a broken section. I replaced close to two dozen sections so now the combines are ready to go!

I had a little extra time so I decided to tackle an issue with the camper that has been plaguing us since this summer. Barb had noticed a slow water leak from under the camper so I slide it partially off the truck to see if I could find out where it was coming from. I traced it back to the area under the toilet. The problem was that there was no way to get to it as everything was riveted tight. I could see the water dripping out and could even hear a hiss of a leak but I could not get to it. Finally I drilled out the rivets holding the outdoor shower valves and discovered the problem. 


The picture on the right shows the issue. The top hose was kinked on the left side and had a pin sized hole. It is a bad design really. I cut out the section of the hose with the hole, put in a 90° and clamped it back together. No more leak! 

My next task was clearing tree rows. Most of the tree rows you see in farm fields were planted years ago to prevent erosion of the soil from the wind. They are a blessing and a burden as they are always in the way and once they mature the branches grow into the fields interfering with the planting and harvesting. So, I set about limbing them up. 

The field I was working on has 4 tree rows totaling about 2 miles long. I thought, no problem I will get one (~1/2 mile) done each day. 6 hours later I was not even ¼ of the way through the first tree row. It is hard, back breaking work as you are operating a chainsaw or pole saw over your head for hours each day. Then you have to drag each limb out in the field and pile it up so you can pick it up with the loader tractor later. As of right now I have about 15 hours into this one d@#m row, and I still have several hundred yards left! 

Then I went and got the loader tractor with grapple arms and moved all the piles to the field edge where they will serve as shelter for the bunnies and pheasants. 

That night I returned to my camper tired and exhausted. I climbed into the camper to find this in my bed....

Two of the cats were all snuggled into my blankets and looked at me like I was interrupting the most peaceful sleep they have ever had! The orange cat made a quick exit but the other one I had to go up grab and drag out as her claws tried as hard as they could to stay right where she was.  

On day 5 of my visit the fields were dry enough to get out and do a little field work. Not harvesting but harrowing. Picture if you will a spiked drag that many of us use to level our gardens, yards or driveways. Now, increase the size of said drag to 72’ with hundreds of spikes. That is what this harrow looks like.

The purpose of harrowing is to lift the residue from the previous crop that has already been harvested. In this case I was doing wheat fields harrowing 600 or so acres over a 2-day period. Back and forth in the field at 8.5mph. It works best with a little wind so it blows much of the residue away when it is lifted making it much easier for planting next year.

Meanwhile back in South Dakota Barb has started yet another project. She got the idea that she wanted to remove the box springs from our king size bed, put 1x4 slats across the frame and put the mattress on the slats. 

I had two questions for her...."Why do you want to do that?" and "Does the mattress weigh more than 8 pounds?". I knew the answer to the second question and no, she is still not supposed to be lifting anything more than 8 pounds. Her answer to the first question did not surprise me when she said "So Zoey can jump up on the bed and so it is not as far when she jumps down". Makes total sense right, I mean who does not change their entire bedroom configuration just so the dog can jump up and down there? At any rate, she is going to try it for a few days to see if she likes it.

Today marks one week since my arrival with 3 weeks left. Am I sore at the end of the day? Yes. Am I having fun? Yes. Do I miss Barb and the girls? Definitely! I am thinking these next few weeks will go by rather quickly and before I know it, I will be headed back home with great memories, a sore body and a smile in my heart. 

26 comments:

  1. This is good that you write posts like this because I'm learning a lot about the work on a farm. Always been a city girl here but I do appreciate farmers! Lots of effort put in to get the fields harvested!! Lots of big equipment too!! I'm sure the time will go by fast with all the work I'm sure still needs to be done!

    betty

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    1. One never realized what goes into planting, raising and harvesting crops until you have seen it first hand.

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  2. I could have so much fun playing with that quadtrac! :)

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    1. You would think they could go anywhere but trust me, they too can get stuck!

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  3. Love the farm posts! Be sure to keep body parts away from those augers. Just think…next year when you come, Farmer Bob will have replaced tires on the semi with tracks, so you won’t get a flat when you run over a wrench!

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  4. I really enjoyed hearing of your farming exploits. Such hard work! I am happy to hear that Barb is doing well too!

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    1. It is very interesting to see how things are done. I am learning new things all the time.

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  5. And yet another fine example of you working and helping out someone else who is not a cripple. While cripple people struggle on their own.

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    1. Have you not heard of Darwinism? Have you never watched National Geographic? The weak and cripple are the first ones to go.

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  6. Lowering the bed for the dog made me laugh! We thought about that due to having an old kitty, but ended solving the issue by putting a small cat pedastal next to the bed so our old Tazzy Kat could get on the bed.

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    1. We had a set of stairs which Zoey used to go onto the bed but would just jump off. Barb did like her jumping off from that high so this should help.

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  7. Oooohhhhh ... heavy equipment! There's nothing more fun than making that stuff go where you want it to go and do what you want it to do. Hey .. you can't complain, I know it's all hydraulically operated and air conditioned!!! I agree ... once you jump in a silo without a mask, you will never do it again. Our silo is the only thing still standing at the bottom of the lake. AND ... chainsaw on a stick!! You'll have arms of steel when you're done. As for Zoey and the bed ... well ... Cooper has two step stools to get on the living room couch, soooooooo ..........

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    1. I guess our pets are our kids so we get to spoil and pamper them as we see fit now.

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  8. With house construction and farming you have become a man with many talents! Stay safe and enjoy all those big boy toys!
    Colibaba’s

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  9. I can't believe you kicked those sweet kitty cats out of THEIR new, comfy home. Finders keepers, pal! Jeez.

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    1. Those sweet little kitties are now scratching on my screen door in the middle of the night!

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  10. So much work but sure looks fun. It’s not so much the bed mod it’s the other mods she’s not fessing up to!

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  11. Okay, no dog photos but the cat photo was adorable. You're so mean. The grey one was snuggled in so sweetly. I'm exhausted and all I did was read about all your work. I'm definitely not for the farm life. Barb is too much. Of course the bed needs to be redone for Zoey. Who wouldn't do that...haha! Have a fun three weeks.

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    1. I asked Barb to take some pictures of the girls this week so hopefully the next post will include a few!

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  12. It’s Gay…what a great post Jim. Thank you Farmer Bob, Jim and everyone else.

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    1. Without people like them the country would be in a world of hurt!

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  13. so interesting and cool as well. nice to see this other side/life. farming is a hard life, and your comment above is right...where would we be without them!!

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  14. Love all the farm pictures! A lot of work going on there for sure! I love what Barb did with the bed, be curious to see if she likes it or not! Cats in my bed wouldn't work for me either!

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