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Friday, March 19, 2010

Things often go wrong...

I like grumpy farmers. See Frank James at frankwjames.blogspot.

Yesterday did not go well. The flowmeter was off on my fertilizer rate controller and now I'm 100 gallons off. The fertilizer costs like $2.25 gallon I think. $450/ton and 11lbs/gallon? Then I had a leak in the tank and lost more. Plus, somehow the acres and seed consumption are not coming out right even though I weighed the seed with my drill calibrator tool and I looked up last years rates and I should be right on. Then the hydraulic flow controller that changes the speed of the fertilizer pump to match ground speed and desired flow rate started squirting out high pressure hydraulic fluid.
I'm doing  a 60 acre field that has been planted the short way, it is like 300 yards wide. So I have to go back and forth, a bazillion times. I just want to go to the beach...
The following is what happened Wednesday. This is where it all started going wrong...

Yesterday (Tuesday) was rather unproductive. I needed to plant but the ground was wet. I spent way too much time on the phone in the morning. Then I attempted to make up some chicken feed. An hour's job turned into an all day job. Nothing worked right.
First of all the wheat screenings were very poor quality. There was way to much straw in them. I had trouble getting the oats out of the old warehouse. The screenings were in a wood tote and I had to auger them into a bag to deal with them. The auger motor kept quitting, the Chinese diesel powered generator wouldn't start, and the belt kept coming off the hammer mill. I had to run the oats through the mill as there were dog fennel seed heads that were way to obvious. I dumped all my spoiled grain and my glumpy mess of molasses mixed grain that didn't work into the mill as well. Everything looks better after going through the mill. I even through in some ear corn that the kids picked last fall.
The feed mix turned out to be 1000lbs wheat, 500lbs oats, 500lbs clover, 100lbs common vetch, several tubs of crappy stuff, and five buckets of ear corn. Strangely enough, the chickens like the seed with molasses on it, and they like moldy grain. I never knew chickens had a sweet tooth. I didn't think they even had teeth.  I really need another 500lbs of wheat but I don't want to pay $4.50 a bushel ($270 ton) for  chicken feed I'm selling for $200 a ton. I'm trying to buy everything for under $100 a ton. The oats have been in the barn for four years and they are full of weeds so this is a good way to get rid of them.
The an exporter fellow came to look at our hay. He was not so much impressed. He is going to take a sample to Japan. I don't think it is going to sell. The horsey folks seem to love the hay. We sell a pickup load every couple days. Of course we have several semi-loads to sell...
Today I am going to plant wheat. I think the ground has dried out enough. I wanted to plant barley at home but the ground is too wet. The fellow who bought my grain drill told me Steptoe barley is much better than Belford (we grew Belford last year and it was pathetic). Belford is a beardless barley which I thought would work better for feed and replanting.
I have always waited till the ground was 50 degrees before planting barley as when i planted it early it always turned yellow and never grew. This fellow said he planted as early as possible, the same as planting spring wheat. He applies 100lbs of 16-20 with the drill and then applies enough 32 solution to make a total of 60lbs of N.
Last year I applied 8 gal of 10-34 with the drill and then 150lbs of 38-0-0-7. So that would have been close to the same rates if I can figure that correctly. 52lbs N + 8.8lbs N =  60.8lbs N? Oh I can never figure this stuff out.
The idea is to band the phosphate with the in no-till situations as the phosphate does not absorb into no-tilled soils when you spin it on. I know when you over apply it the yields are amazing. I blew out a hose last year when opening the field and the barley was incredible in a three foot swath!
But, I'm rambling on. I will never gain readership if I natter on about no-till and fertilizer and farming stuff.


  1. Good read. reminds me of my grandpa's farming. Life was one struggle after another. You keep on going in hopes that all will be like that three foot swath. It rarely is. Then the kids come home,laugh, play, and you realize that life really is good and everything turned out fine.

    Good luck with your arithmetic.


  2. Well Budde, things could be worse but I sure hope they get better!

  3. Bobby, Thanks for the comment. I guess you learn to figure stuff out if you live on a farm. It is not a bad life when a few things work!
    Ed, things are not so bad-just annoying. I'm going to have to know off a bunch on the planting and I really need the money! Everyone around here is broke-or at least the ones that I do work for!


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