Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Seeds Delivered Today

I got an unexpected call this morning that the delivery semi-trailer was five minutes away, so went out and started up the loader tractor.

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First off the truck were six pallets, holding a total about 15,000 lbs of organic wheat seeds. Shown in the picture below, they will get drilled - and underseeded with Berseem clover - on roughly 90 acres. As soon as it dries out, probably in 3 to 4 days, Dad/Gramps and I will get that done.

The seeding rate for wheat is much higher than for corn.  The corn seeds pictured on the pallet below, roughly 2200 lbs, will cover about 100 acres. They won't get planted until the soil is much warmer, probably at the end of May.

Below is the invoice for all the seeds I bought, which includes grass/hay and oat seeds in addition to what is pictured above. The grass/hay/oat seeds will be used to rejuvenate a small area of pasture. My neighbor, Rodrigo, of Cala Farms, has plans to rotationally graze sheep on that ground. Before that can happen I want to improve the ground, first by adding lime and turkey litter that the soils tests require, then reseeding it.

I wrote a little bit about how I chose all the different seed varieties, here.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Time to Sell the Boom Lift

 It's a 2006 Genie Z45/25 with 4400 hours. I had the local Genie shop repair several things on it last spring - injectors, muffler, cam sensor, etc. I haven't used it much, though it was invaluable when I did, so I think it's time to sell it to free up money and space for other equipment. Before doing that that I'll probably have the timing cover gasket replaced. 

The money I've spent on repairs, as well as the potential loss from selling it, is probably about what I would have spent to rent one.  On the positive side, I've learned a bit about a different kind of equipment and gone a long way toward overcoming my fear of heights.


The above work order took about $1800 to clear up. Aside from the gasket, things seem to be running as they should.

One of the few jobs involving the boom lift that I filmed was taking down the old farmhouse chimney.  You can see that, here.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Somebody Left the Tractor Door Open Before Pulling into the Shed

 Easy... easy... eeeeeasy....... BOOM! "What the hell was that!?!".

Still need to level out the ground in front of the new double doors.

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The only real damage done was to my ego - a new glass door for the tractor is on its way.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Seeds Ordered

4/5/21: Updated the seed order, shown at bottom of post.


Below is the seed invoice for the corn and wheat that we're growing this year. Once I figure out what cover crop mix that we'll plant in mid August into the wheat stubble after harvest - probably a mix of the left over sorghum sudan seed I have, plus turnip, radish and winter peas - I'll add that to the order and Albert Lea Seed will ship everything here by mid April, which I think is the earliest we could plant the wheat.

Hard to believe sitting here in the midst of a three week deep freeze (daily temp range is -20º to 0º F), but spring isn't that far off. 

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There's approximately 18,000 pounds of seeds (which, if all goes as planned, should yield something like 950,000 lbs of grain) on that invoice.  Occasionally I'm asked why the equipment is so big/expensive. One of the things that's hard to convey is the relative scale of things; even on this "small" farm the numbers get big, fast. To give you an idea of how much we'll produce, there's about 50,000 lbs of grain in a full semi-trailer. So we'll be shipping/trucking almost 20 full semi-loads this year.

In multiyear trials of various wheat varieties, Bolles has shown the highest potential to be sold as "food grade", as opposed to "feed grade". To find out if we've "made the grade", we'll have to harvest it, get it in a bin and then take samples to find out the test weight, protein, falling number, and vomotoxin levels. The price paid for food grade (~$11/bushel) is several dollars above that of feed grade. If we don't make the numbers needed, we'll sell the roughly 3600 bushels into the feed grade market. 

To help us make food grade we'll be adding an OMRI/USDA Organic approved treatment, called SabrEx, to the wheat seeds:

SabrEx® for Wheat and Cereals is a formulation of two (2) specific and carefully selected, patented proprietary strains of Trichoderma. The Trichoderma colonizes with the plants’ root system and develops a symbiotic relationship with the plant, feeding off the starches and sugars produced by the plant. In turn, the plant benefits from the Trichoderma as they exude enzymes and proteins for the plants use.

Because the Trichoderma, fungi, found in SabrEx® for Wheat and Cereals work symbiotically with the plant to efficiently utilize moisture and nutrients, the treated crop is able to maintain healthy growth during periods of drought.

Larger Root Systems

The first thing farmers point out when harvesting wheat treated with SabrEx® for Wheat and Cereals is the difference in root mass and fine hairs in comparison to untreated wheat of the same variety. The Trichoderma colonizes in the root system, maximizing the utilization of nutrients. The enzymes and proteins exuded by the Trichoderma result in a larger root system.

Increase Tillering

One of the most important benefits of SabrEx® for Wheat and Cereals is the increased tillering which ultimately leads to increased yields.

Improved Yields

The number one benefit of harvesting winter wheat treated with SabrEx® for Wheat and Cereals is the increased yields. Over the past 4 years, SabrEx® for Wheat and Cereals has averaged 5.3 bu/a over untreated crops.

In addition to the 179 acres that will be planted with the seeds listed on the above invoice, we have about 100 acres that is in it's 2nd year of red clover as part of the transition to organic production. This summer the only thing to do on that ground is mow off the growth a couple times (which increases the amount of nitrogen fixed by the clover as well as cutting down weeds before they go to seed) before terminating it with tillage in the fall. In 2022, in keeping with our crop rotations outlined here, the clover ground will be planted with organic corn.

UPDATE: 3/9/21

After talking to an experienced producer who suggested I'd get better weed suppression and final yield with a higher rate, I've decided to plant the wheat at 165 lbs/Acre as opposed to the 120 lbs/A that I originally thought. That means another 79 bags of wheat seed. I'm also underseeding the wheat with "Frosty" Berseem Clover. It will continue to grow after the wheat is harvested in August, building organic matter in the soil and fixing nitrogen for 2022's crop of organic soybeans. I also will be planting another 21 acres of organic corn on the new rented ground. I'll be reseeding the hilly hay parts of that rented ground with about 35 lbs/A of grass seed, 200 lbs total.

The changes throw off some of the numbers I gave for total acres on the farm, etc. The latest count is 89 acres of organic wheat, 104 acres of organic corn, 102 acres of transitional clover.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

New (to me) Tractor: Deere 7220 with 741 Loader

This tractor will be replacing two other tractors that weren't quite up to the jobs that I need to get done. It will also act as a back up tractor for planting and tillage. I bought it through TractorHouse from a farmer in Fulda, MN.

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I'm having it trucked up here today. Getting it unloaded tomorrow morning - in these conditions (snow, 25 mph wind, icy road, 5º temps) - along with the unattached duals, bucket, and pallet forks, is going to be a challenge.  Especially since the trucker won't be able to drive the 1/4 mile down our dead end road, as the snow/ice make it impossible for him to turn around. So I'll need to walk down to the end of the road, unload the "extras" onto the road, then use the loader to take them one at a time back to the shed. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021


During the past two weeks, we've had long periods of freezing fog, also called hoarfrost, that has left the landscape beautifully coated with ice crystals. Everything looks like it's been dusted with powdered sugar.

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