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Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Sun shining on 1/2" of Water in the field

I got my field planted...
If I were not such a lazy farmer I would get out of my armchair and get my camera. I could yell at me wife to do it and if I said "please" there is a really good chance she would, because she is a happy and helpful person. But, i hate to push that. Perhaps I'll try for another cup of coffee from her, and see if I can talk her into fixing me something really good for breakfast.
I'll try psychology.
"Those were really good sausages we had yesterday," said I.
"Those were really fatty," she says.
No such luck.
I'm eating the heel of a loaf of bannana bread.
"Are you saving this foil for something else," she says.
"Yes," I reply.
So much for psychology...
S. has two basket ball games and we have a wedding to attend. I should not try amature psychology on my longsuffering wife under such circumstances.
She grew up in the city. Her father was home evenings and weekends.
I am often gone even though we live on the farm now.
I always work on Saturdays.
When I don't work I am tired and often grumpy and I never get stuff repaired around the house.
In my imagination farms are like the Marx farmsets from the 1960's.
Barn full of cows, chicken house with chickens, a little Minneapolis-Moline 335 for a tractor, four kids. That sort of thing.
Have you ever been in a barn stuffed to the rafters with hay? Especially if you worked your bottom off stuffing that hay in to the rafters. And you picked up the hay in the field with a 1949 Studebaker and a 1942 Chevy truck....
It is the middle of winter and cold outside. But the cows keep the barn warm. There is a warm yellow light from the old incandescent lightbulbs screwed into the dusty white porcelain fixtures. You can smell a comforting mixture of grass hay and molassas and just enough of a faint hint of cow crap that you know you are not just waking up to a breakfast of hot oatmeal, (unless you actually live in a barn).
When you open the old barn door you hear the squeek of the pulley on the counterweight. Someone had a good idea 40 years ago. When the cows hear the squeek they all start talking at one. They know it is feeding time. You climb the stack and kick down a couple bales of grass hay. The hay is so green inside and the smell of summer comes out of the bale. You fork the hay into the manger, you get a five gallon bucket of oats and screenings, and then top it all with a dribble of molassas. The cows are all happy and chewing away. You can hear the sound of 20 cows all chewing at once. There are some snorts and sniffles and cows playfully butting each other. If you stick your head over the manger a curious cow will stick her head up and give you a watery sniff and sometimes stick out her tongue. Of course as soon as she lifts her head, her neighbor dives into her spot as she is sure that there is something better next to her.
The chickens are all asleep as it is dark out. When you open the door you hear a faint murmer of clucking. They know it is breakfast time as well. The eggs are still warm when you pick them up. You have to watch old mamma hen who wants to set. She will peck you if she gets the chance. Sometimes the water is frozen and you have to pour hot water on the waterer to thaw it out. You fork some clean straw in and the more adventurous chickens start scratching for seeds.
By now it is light out and you have to make a run for the house, get your school clothes on and make it to the school bus on time.
We don't have cows. We don't put hay in the barn by hand. The barn is full of stuff we can't throw away. We burn the bad hay. The kids watch cartoons in the morning.
I don't feel like getting up early.
Progress I suppose.
 So I wrote all that and realized what I wrote didn't match the post title.
My lovely wife brought me poached eggs and toast. But, no coffee. I don't have the nerve to ask.
I finished the field I was so worried about. Sadie and I went out yesterday morning and we just fired up the White 2-155 and put the drill down and went.
We had to use the 4wd pickup to get to the field. There was a 1/2" of water on parts of the field and the sun was shining. I have some photos but I left the camera in the pickup. Every opener was plugged with bits of straw from the combine run oats. I pretended I didn't see it. The no-till coulters were working the ground enough that the harrow covered up the loose seed that spilled freely out of the seed cups. There was only four acres left plus another four acres of headlands. The field was two foot tall wheat stubble, probably 130 bushel yield, cut with a 20 foot header. There were windrows. I realized why I bought the Great Plains drill. It all flowed through, didn't plug, the air-design scrapers worked perfectly. I didn't look at seed depth. I didn't see any seed on top of the ground.
We got it done. It was a little slimy on the headlands.
There there was the delemia of getting the tractor out of the field. I needed to move the drill home but S. is only 7 years-old and shouldn't be driving on the highway. I put the truck in 4wd. S. drove the truck and followed me. It was pretty slick getting the tractor and drill out but S. did really well in the truck. Once on the highway I went back and shifted the truck into 2wd and put the flashers on. Sadie followed me down the highway several hundred yards to the farm grain tanks. She did very well. She is a careful driver.
Then we went to the cafe for lunch. We are farmers!
The drill is absolutely covered in mud. A good two hour wash job.


  1. "I'd give up all this fatback for living on the lean' when Jesus was our saviour and cotton was our king"
    We see the remains of those farms all over the place it is sad to see the forlorn round roof barns abandoned with half the last hay harvest rotting and showing thru the missing siding and the rusty remains of old machinery in the weeds of the barn lot.

  2. No one has ever quoted Billy Joe Shaver to me before...
    Next someone is going to say, "If you don't love Jesus you can just go to hell."
    (I think he said that to Terry Gross on NPR once.)
    Many times you see those farms surrounded by huge acres farmed by the big farmers that have swallowed them up. I've no-tilled on a lot of places like that...


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