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Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
I think I’ve been a bit on edge lately. Seem to perhaps have become a bit negative.
The latest round of negativity may have started with the NewAgTalk discussion of why we farm.
It was wonderful.
Everyone farms because they love it. No one posted that they farm because, they don’t know what else to do, they were born on the farm and partied so hard in college they couldn’t do anything else, or one summer they came back home to help out and somehow just never left even though it has been 20 years (me).
My favorites are those who make statements about the lifestyle choice.
I tell myself I farm because I love the lifestyle, the beauty of God’s creation, the wonderful people I meet, and the freedom to be my own boss.
Translation: I work my arse off in the heat and dust all summer so I can work on antique broken farm equipment in the winter and freeze my arse off.
The plus side of this is that I have ended up with a small arse. This would be better were I female.
Then there are the folks who make the statement along the lines of, “I came to enjoy farming more when I treated it like a business instead of a lifestyle.”
Translation: I got tired of being screwed by all the other farmers and I decided to screw them harder then they screwed me…
I farm because that is what I do. Sometimes I really enjoy it. Sometimes I am just angry. I guess I’d do something else if I could figure out what else to do.. Somehow I think that I’m going to end up in a Marx farm set from 1968. Have a tidy old barn, a few cows, chickens, one small tractor-a Moline 335 or perhaps a 670 super, my wife will tend a little garden, we will have a fruit room full of canned vegetables and peaches, several wooden crates of potatoes, and the house will smell faintly of honey comb.
Sometime I am going to realize that ain’t going to happen. I have not the self discipline nor the motivation for subsistence farming. I can never afford my own farm. At best I could end up a hired man for a giant farmer. However, I could be what ever I want on NewAgTalk forums-so perhaps there is hope.
I had another round of annoyances with the local farmers.
Fescue straw is worth nothing this year. Last year it was worth 85 dollars a ton in the field. This year I am lucky to get $35. I decided to bale because I am broke. It is just trading dollars for slightly more dollars and really is not worth the trouble but I need $3500 and I can get paid right away for selling my 100 tons of straw.
I have been getting straw from my good friend and cousin. He has some rented ground which he farms in partnership with a local who is kind of a big time operator. They have been friends since childhood I guess. They have a good relationship. The BTO appears to be clueless, “oh I can’t figure out how to run my sprayer, can you show me how? Oh did I screw you in the arse, Oh I didn’t mean for you to think that, I wanted you to think I’m a nice guy. Let me tell you how God has blessed me.”
So BTO screws my cousin and my cousin rationalizes it away. Good basis for friendship.
I call my cousin about the straw. It is a bit of a problem as while I am supposed to be friends with BTO and I have asked for this field a number of times he insists on giving his share to someone else. Last year I paid them $40 a ton stumpage for the straw I got. Cousin says I can have his share. I tell him I don’t need exactly half, I want a clearly defined field. Doesn’t have to be perfect just needs to be mine. Cousin says ok. (had some problems with this last year.)
That afternoon another neighbor calls me. Very apologetic. BTO offered him the BTO’s share. Neighbor wants to make sure everything is ok with me. Offers to buy any extra straw I may have from that field.
Now that is how it should be done. I almost just gave him the whole field cause I don’t want to bale in the projected 104 degree temps.
BTO is a jerk.
But, of course I will go plant his stupid little triangle fields and listen to him say what a nice guy I am and why he never understands why his neighbors don’t like him. Perhaps we can talk about God together.Later me can go to #$%^ Promise Keepers and hold hands.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
I don't have Gopher Valley finished.
I need to bale some grass straw. It is worth nothing. I think I'm getting $30 a ton, stacked in the field.
Not sure what to do with Gopher Valley.
I plowed it but there is a lot of sod. I think the sod needs to sit for a month and dry out. But, I've got the disk and culipacker there.
I need to disk up some more rough hay fields, but will that actually work. Will it still be just as rough next year? Do I need to plow it all?
Can I afford to plow it?
Should I round up it and no-till oats?
How do I get it sprayed and can I afford to run my drill 10 miles in the hills to do 20 acres when I most likely will have paying customers.
I know I make more money working for other people than I do working for myself.
What about Muddy Valley.
My landlord there, wants me to work up more pasture for hay ground.
I can't afford it.
I've got 120 gallon's of diesel invested in this project already, and it is not even finished.
Then there is the fact that everything has gone to heck and nothing is actually worth doing.
I feel a touch depressed this morning...
Friday, July 17, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
We are having a continual high moisture level. Big drops at times, small drops at other times. Glad I have all the hay baled. Not so happy we have three or four blocks setting outside the barn. One was a very nice block that came apart when moved. Kind of miscounted the layers and pretty much nailed the rafters when putting it in.
Here are photos of what is left of my farm. I don't think I can be accused of being a BTO any longer... IF ever. When you see signs advising of logging trucks on the road you know you are in the hills.
Mrs. Hahn-10 acres, Mr. Chase, 10 acres, Rock of Ages hay field-10 acres, Muddy Valley-65 acres, Mrs. Bland 23 acres, what is left of my farm-10 acres.That is only like 128 acres, probably not even 500 ton of hay. I guess it is not bad for two people. I've stacked probably 120 acres for other people along the way.
My customers say I'm a bit grumpy.
This last week has been a bit frustrating. We finished cutting July 3rd. The last two fields are separated by hills and a long an winding road, probably a five mile drive, so it is hard to do them at the same time.
This year I knew I would be behind with the baling so we did things a little different. Usually I set the mower wide and try to bale within three days of cutting. This year I could see 90 degree weather coming and I knew that the fescue would turn brown. So, I set the mower narrow so less surface area of windrow would be exposed and so I would not drive on the windrow. This way the tractor would not push the hay into the ground were it gets wet and turns yellow.
I let the hay set in the fluffy windrow till I can get to it. Then we fluff it and blow the windrows apart which mixes the bleached hay in with the nice green unexposed hay. I try to avoid letting the tedded hay sit overnight. Two hours behind the tedder we double rake into one huge windrow. I try to be right behind the baler with the stacker so the inside of the stacks will stay nice and green.
This upset the people at the end of the road. They seem to think that they invented the haymaking process. In truth they have merely watched me do their field since 1981 so any change I make from the normal is met with skepticism. In all those years I have never lost a field of hay, I have only had rain on it once or twice and they have never had moldy hay. So why do they think their hay is of lessor quality this year?
I'm making some changes for next year. No more of this by the ton business. The bales are usually 110lbs. Without fail some ambitious sort decides to weigh the bales. Somehow they can always find the odd 90lb one but not find the occasional 120lb one.
So, it is by the bale. $3 per bale stacked in the field. Or $7 a bale to buy it in the field. No more by the ton BS. The price is the price is the price.
The whole hay experience is getting on my nerves.
At one time I had 150 acres or so rented. Now I'm down to 35 so I'm not really a farmer I guess. The one section I farmed for years up Gopher Valley I have subleased to a fellow who sometimes buys hay from me. I do admit to setting him up, but I've come to regret it. We shall call him Mr. X
After selling hay to him, and hiring him to haul hay for me for several years I picked up a distinct impression that he kind of coveted my hay farm. I know that real farmers cannot stand to see land set fallow so I set him up for a 100 acre parcel at Gopher Valley that I used to farm. I was all set to get it back and do hay one it. I had another person who was going to help me. I was going to hire Mr. X to haul for me, and was negotiating with him to buy the hay. Mr. X just would not commit to the hay and My friend who was going to help me backed out when it came right down to me needing him so I asked Mr. X if he wanted to farm the place. He was a bit shy at first but I did note how I really hated to give the place up and that he was the one fellow who I thought would make it pay. This was all BS as I really did not give a rip if he farmed it or not, I just wanted to see if I could talk him in to doing it by acting like I wanted to do it. It worked. Much to my amazement pretty soon there were two mowers and five balers heading up to Gopher Valley.
At the same time I was having problems with my farm. It had gone to bent grass and the yield was pretty bad. Plus, I had been in the government program for no-tilling and had managed to get the ground really rough attempting to no-till timothy in the winter. Then, I finally decided to replant correctly and I sprayed everything dead. When I replanted I plugged up the drill and didn't listen to the low seed alarm and the whole replant job was a failure. Something I would like to keep very quiet about. I am very glad it was not a paying customer because it was a royal screw-up.
I could see I was going to have to spend money I didn't have to put in a hay field that would not pay for several years and I just didn't have the heart to do it all again.
So, I just kept dropping comments to Mr. X about how I was trying to get my field to work and I was about out of money. How it was such a shame I couldn't make it work. How I hated to give it up, just when hay prices were hitting an all-time high.
And he offered to take it off my hands. In fact he was quite apologetic about it all.
The truth is I did hate to give it up. It was my farm. It was all I had and pathetic as it was, it was my farm.
I still have it in my name but the agreement was that I would give it up after I slowly broke the news to my aged landlady who thinks no one but me can farm it.
Then there was this year.
Mr. X plowed and worked the place. He has a beautiful stand of fescue and timothy. But, somehow, my information on where not to rip the ground too deep did not get transmitted to the employees and I think they cut the tile line that drains the spring at the top of the hill. The field is really wet in sections. So they skipped two three acre sections when they cut the hay at the end of June.
Last week I looked at the field and saw all the nice Timothy. I really need that timothy as I am redoing a ten acre section of my remaining farm. I offered to buy the hay or at least mow it for Mr. X. He declined.
Three hours later when I was raking my remaining acres I see Jose and a 3020 heading up the valley. I didn't even say the field was dry enough to cut. I just said I wanted to do it. Heck, it is still technically my farm.
It is just the farmer way I guess. Sure the fellow would give you the shirt off his back-but NOT three acres of what was recently your own field...
Today, I'm setting in my easy chair watching the rain. We have but a few blocks of hay outside the barn. We have no squeeze to put them in. I like to see the rain for the corn and the Teff but hate see that hay get wet. We moved quite a bit of seed and ground feed back under cover. I think it will be ok.
Earlier we went to a family reunion.
Dad's family was pretty close. All the cousins grew up together in one area. During WWII the Army took the ground for a training facility. All the members of the local church maintained a reunion there for years. It is now just my Dad's family and there are not so many folks left anymore. We got rained out.
I think I will take a nap. Not worry about the hay business anymore today.