Friday, May 26, 2023

That's a Wrap!

It's 5am here at the farm, time to shock my system awake with a donut and Mountain Dew. Maple Bacon should do the trick. Kinda like the AED of breakfasts. I have never liked coffee; Mountain Dew is my preferred choice for caffeine. Farmer Bob has been keeping me supplied in donuts the past few days, good thing there is not more than on 'Jim' on the farm as I certainly would not be known as Skinny Jim!

The weather has been perfect for planting, warm, no rain, sun (through the smoke) and wind to dry the wet spots up. Day by day we kept plugging away 14-17 hours a day.  We saw 80 degrees again this week. One day while I was loading a truck with fertilizer, I finished, jumped into the cab through the open door to find this......

Nova had jumped up there when I was not looking to enjoy some of the AC that was blasting in the running truck. I took her for a little ride, she seemed cool and content when we were done. 

I did manage to get in the seeder and ride with Chris for a few minutes. Looking at all those displays, you would need a master's degree to run this thing. My, how things have changed over the years. It was just over a hundred years ago they were still using horses and oxen!

The Canadian smoke is still lingering making for eerie sunrise and sunsets. The good news is that it does not allow the sun to come through and dry up the soil. The bad news is that it does not allow the sun to come through and dry up the soil. See? That is what it like being a farmer, you are never happy with the weather!

Getting ready to load Canola seed

Then the day we have been waiting for finally came. The last field! Chris parked the seeder in the yard at 1:30am on Wednesday morning and we were done! I spent several hours the next day greasing up the seeder for next spring. That night, Farmer Bob took Dylan and I out to supper in Ryder. Chris opted to stay home and spend time with his kids, who he only had glimpses of over the past month. 

As many of you know, small town America is shrinking, as are the number of American farmers, so it is really hard to find help. Many farmers do all the work by themselves, or with their spouse or another family member. We had 5 people working their butts off and were still busy every minute of the day. I could not imagine being an operation of one trying to do all that!

Many of the local farm businesses such as seed dealers, fertilizer plants and even some of the larger farm import their help. I don't mean like from South Dakota, I am talking South Africa. South Africans come to this area by the hundreds to work for a couple of months before heading back home. Other than talking a little funny, you would not even know they were not from around here. I asked one guy who manages them, what they think of it here. He said they are amazed that no one in America really wants to work. People in South Africa are desperate to find work as there are no jobs. Here in America, there are thousands of jobs, but no one wants to work. A sad, sad, state of affairs. 

I went and flew my drone a little bit getting this shot of the farm with its new treating building and bins (far right). It got me thinking about all the changes the farm has seen over the years. It's been a few years since I posted the blog post titled The Farm and gave a rundown of its history starting in 1916. For those of you interested about it, you can read it here

But I thought I would include a few pictures starting with this year and going backwards in time to show how things have changed. 






I took this next picture from this angle for a specific reason. This time next year there should be another house on the left side of the that tree row in the field as Dylan has carved out a section of that open field for his house! More changes are coming to The Farm!
Of course, it would not be a farm post without someone getting stuck or breaking something. Well, I think it is safe to write that I did not get stuck or break anything this year! Dylan was the honoree of getting something stuck this week when he attempted to scrape some clay for his new driveway in a pit that was not quite dry yet. Thank you, Dylan, for taking one for the team!
Back in South Dakota, Forrest and family left South Dakota earlier in the week heading south to Oklahoma to visit Somer's parents. On the day they left, they spent the night at a Harvest Host in Nebraska. A lavender farm. They said it was very interesting, but the lavender was not in bloom so not as beautiful as it would have been otherwise. 

Barb spent the last couple days packing and cleaning for her departure. But not before she had a visit from one of her old work friends. Her co-worker Jean who recently retired was in the area with her husband Nick. They came over to the house for a visit then went out to lunch to catch up. Barb said it was great seeing her again. 

Thursday was a big day as it was Barbie's arrival day! You would think that I was excited and could not wait for her arrival and I was but it was also a day of frantic cleaning. You ever wondered what a camper looks like after a dude has been staying in it for almost a month? Well, it not only looks like it, it also smells like it!

A couple hours later, floors, dishes, new sheets, bed made, floors scrubbed, I was ready for her arrival. Knowing her, she will spend a couple hours cleaning it to her standards anyways. 

About 4:30pm Barb finally arrived! 25 days is a long time to be apart, so good to see her! Dakota was excited to see me, Zoey was actually a little scared for some reason. She was pretty excited to see the chickens though!
That night we went out with Bob and DeAnne to Max where we had a burger and a few drinks.

On our last day there we just kind of relaxed and got ready for our next adventure. Barb hung out with Chase working on their garden. I think this is the 3rd or 4th year they have worked on their same garden, it is kinda their thing....
Dylan and I went out and planted some corn in a food plot for the deer, pheasants and other critters that eat it. This crop is not harvested, it just sits all fall and winter for the animals to munch on.
I also got to play with a new toy. Their new to them, payloader. A spent an hour or so hauling and dumping rock for Dylan's new driveway.
Friday night we went out with Chris and Holly only this time we went to the Iron Oar in Riverdale. The food was incredible. To top it off it rained over an 1/2" that evening giving the crops a good boost, hopefully that trend continues through the summer! 

Tomorrow morning, we hit the road bright and early heading east to a SSUVFL. Hope they have enough beer! 

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Missing Home

As I write this, I have been gone from home for 20 days. 20 long days and I miss it. I miss Barb, I miss Dakota and yes, I even miss Zoey. I miss waking up and looking down our valley at the turkeys and deer wandering around. I miss the sound of Zoey snoring. I miss my morning hugs from Barb, I miss our shower, I miss Wednesday nights with Dan, Bonnie, Kevin and Cheryl, my sore body misses our hot tub. I miss our happy hours with our neighbor. I miss having the fun that Barb is having with Forrest, Somer and Lily and I miss even working on the house.

It seems, the older I get the more I miss these things. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy coming up here, seeing everyone and helping out. The days go quick and before I know it, the fields will be all planted and Barb will join me for the next leg of our summer adventure. Part of me wants to just go back to South Dakota and enjoy the summer there. But I would regret that and wish we would have followed through with our original plans. So, when we are done here, we will carry on.

I also enjoy driving the country roads and seeing and photographing the local wildlife. And I got some good ones this week! My goal is to photograph each of the waterfowl species here. This week I got a couple of new ones. The Gadwall, Widgeon and Ruddy duck. All pretty in their own right. In this first shot you will see an out of focus pintail hen, but she was not the subject of this photo. The real subjects were the pair of American Widgeon in center. The drake has a distinctive light blue bill.

The Ruddy duck has been a favorite of mine since I was a small child as I spent hours watching them on the local pond in our neighborhood. 

Then there is the Gadwall. Not the most colorful duck in the world, but still pretty in its own right. One of my favorite stories about the Gadwall is when I took a guy out hunting who wanted to get a prime example of a species to bring to his taxidermist and have mounted. Every duck he shot that day he asked if it was good enough to mount. None were really prime examples of the species, so I kept saying no. He finally got a beautiful drake Gadwall, a duck he had never seen or shot before. After retrieving his bird, I excitingly said "You got your mount'in duck!" He seemed pretty excited too and when we got back to camp, he started telling everyone he got a Mountain Duck. The experienced duck hunters looked at him weird knowing there is no such species. I had to explain to him that it was not a Mountain Duck but a duck to take the taxidermist to get mounted. He got a rash of sh#t from his buddies the rest of the trip as they asked him what kind of ducks he shot the next day. 

A pair of Gadwalls
Drake Gadwall

Then there is the challenge of getting some aerial photos of each. My goal this week was to try to get some good shots of a flying Pintail. A real challenge, trying to get them in the frame and in focus. I am pretty impressed with some of my shots. I could not decide which ones I liked the best, so I included all of the ones I liked. 

Two pintail drakes taking off

Mallard and Pintail drakes  

Then I got this sequence of a Redhead taking off. These are diver ducks, so they run on the water when taking off. 

These last two here of Blue-wing teal and Gadwall

Besides the waterfowl, I got pictures of this yellow-headed blackbird and a couple of mammals as well. This moose has been hanging around on one of their pieces of property all winter and I caught this fox running across an open field. 


The weather this week has been a roller coaster. Tuesday, we saw a high over 80, Thursday the high was 45 with strong winds. Wednesday, we got a gift from Canada in the form of smoke. When we woke up in the morning it was bright and clear. By 9am, you could not even see a 1/4 mile. 

The rain is holding off allowing us to spend most of the day in the field getting seed in the ground.  Let's see, this week we got 240, 360, 280, 185 and 250 acres done each day. Farmer Bob got his seeder out a couple days so with two of them going they were able to get some knock off some acreage. My guess is that there is roughly 1,700 acres left. It will be close as to whether or not it will get all done while I am still here. 

I have been busy loading trucks and carts to get out in the field or for seed customers, The seed business is busy this time of year with other farmers arriving daily to pick up their seed.  They have a scale on the cart so you can tell exactly how much is going out and charge the customers accordingly.
A cart full of wheat

 Oh, Bob S and I even got to pick rock a couple of times this week. And no, not with a rock picker, with our hands walking through the field and loading them into the truck or tractor bucket. Good times. Reminded me of when I was a teenager and helped out some farmer friends back in the day. The only difference is that I am a lot sorer when I wake up in the morning. 

Bob S left on Friday morning, it was great spending the last 18 days with him. I have not seen him that much since we were back in high school 40 something years ago. His departure means I get to get back in the tractor and roll the pea and bean fields! Because they cut so close to the ground when they harvest peas and beans, they roll the fields after planting so any remaining rocks are pushed back into the soil and do not damage the combine when harvesting. 

You would think staying right here on the farm I would see DeAnne a little more often, but I only get glimpses or have brief conversations while passing from one task to another. I captured this shot while driving by in a pickup when she was mowing the lawn. 

Chase, Chris and Holly's middle child graduated from kindergarten this week. Holly is pretty camera shy, but I was able to steal this one off of Facebook. 

Here are he and Gavin holding up a couple of chickens.

I have received several complaints about not including enough dog pictures, so I asked Barb to send me a few. She sent this one of Zoey and Chloe playing in the living room. 
Then there are the furbabies here on the farm. There are actually 3 dogs and 2 cats. As far as I know, this cat does not have a name. We just call it The Cat. And then there is poor Remy, he is wearing the cone of shame due to an abscess on his paw.
This is Forrest's last week at our house and they made the most of it with more hiking, fishing and a cave tour.

Lily and Barb each with a bass and Forrest with a nice crappie that went home for supper!
Barb had this bird visit our feeder, we have not seen this species before, anyone know what it is?
That's it for this week. I will leave you with this picture of me (double chin and all) drinking one of Dylan's beers at the end of the day. I texted it to Dylan, who was still out working. He must have hurt his hand because the picture I got back was of him holding up one of his fingers. I hope he didn't hurt it too bad!