Monday, September 21, 2020

Moving the First Piece of Equipment into the New Machine Shed

 We started moving equipment into the new 50'x80' machine shed today. Took 18 months to have a usable space, due to design/contractors, etc.

First in was the swather.The computer generated diagram in pic #1 has some pieces 3" apart. We'll find out soon if it's all going to fit as it says. Getting enough room for the tractor to maneuver the equipment into position is a challenge.  We won't be done with the combine and bean head until mid to late October. Until then we can only put in a few more pieces.

It's going to fill up fast. The tractors, as well as the boom lift, trailer, grain cart, and trucks, will fill up the old shed (40'x120').

The swather, pictured below, is noted with tiny print in the lower left hand corner of the above diagram.

 I'm already thinking that I'll have to add a lean-to shed - outside of the one long wall that doesn't have a door on it - so that I can easily fit everything.

Crop Rotations

 In order to plan our crop rotations, I've created three groups, with each having approximately 100 acres, from the 300 acres that we farm. Each of those "groups" are made up of 4-5 parcels that are, in turn, within 1/4 mile of each other. The first of the 100 acre groups surrounds the main farm, the second is about 5 miles away, and the third is 12 miles from the main farm.

I have arranged the three groups to rotate between the three main crops we grown: corn, beans, and either oats or wheat with clover (rotated in the order listed, primarily to avoid disease issues caused by growing small grain the year before corn.) This means that once we're fully transitioned to USDA Organic production in 2022 we will have approximately 100 acres each of corn, beans, and small grain/clover every year. This spreads the field work load out, making things more manageable, as different crops are planted, cultivated, and harvested at different times of the growing season. 

Added to the above is the necessity of transitioning the conventional/chemical ground we farm to organic. This process takes 36 months from the time of the last prohibited substance, in this case Round Up, to the harvest of the organic crop. We do that by putting the ground in clover for the first two years. Year three can be harvested as certified organic because the "prohibited substance" was actually applied the summer before the first year of the transitional clover.

Here's a chart of what we have planted this year as well as the rotation for the next five.

By 2022 all the ground will be in certified organic production. We started this process in 2016.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Putting Up Lights in the New Machine Shed

 Before we start filling it with equipment, I'm putting up eight 10,000 LED lights in the 50'x80' machine shed. I've decided to run the wires in emt metal pipe to keep the squirrels and mice from chewing up the wires.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Planning for New Grain Bins and Dryer

 Given what we produce and when buyers want it delivered, we need to put up grain bins, as there aren't any here. Previously Dad/Gramps had them when he farmed with a partner, however those bins are being used by the former partner.

Dad/Gramps, using a helpful book written by John Gnadke, a grain bin consultant, came up with a basic design that I'll soon talk to John about getting built.

We want, at least at this early stage, two bins: One, used primarily for beans and oats/wheat, will be 10,000 bushels. The second will hold 20,000 bushels and be used for corn. The bins are made the same, but every year we expect to produce, by volume, about twice as much corn as beans plus oats/wheat. We'd also add a continuous flow dryer to be used on very wet corn and augers/legs to move the grain in and out of, as well as between, the bins. 

 The concept is to move large volumes of slightly warmed air over the wet grain to ensure the best quality with the lowest energy usage. Click on and read the text in the third image below for more explanation of this.

If you click on any image it will come into better focus.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Transporting the Deere 520 Flail Mower/Stalk Chopper

 We use it to mow off clover on a monthly basis on our transitional (to organic) ground, forcing regrowth, over two years. The extra growth will give great benefit to the soil; one of them is a 140 lb/acre nitrogen credit for any following crop.

Several of our fields are 5 to 12 miles away from the main farm. The mower is 20 feet wide, making it impossible to pull down the road without switching to transport mode, whereby it's pulled from one end. 

Even with what is call an Easy End Transport kit ($800 from Deere) it still takes me 45 to 60 minutes to make the switch.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Boosting My Brother: Managing Zumwalt Prairie

 My brother Jeff has been working in eastern Oregon for The Nature Conservancy for much of his adult life . This story is about his work in restoring a large native grassland, managing it with local landowners and ranchers. (All pictures are screenshots from the original story.)

"Is the way cattle are grazed the key to saving America's prairies?"

Jeff Fields stands on a ridge overlooking the prairie on a bright June day. The carpet of spring-green grasses and wildflowers looks timeless and wild. But Fields, a biologist who manages the Zumwalt Prairie Preserve, is quick to correct that perception. “It’s been a grazed landscape for a very, very long time,” he rHe points to clumps of bunchgrass interspersed with geraniums, cinquefoils, lichen, and patches of bare soil. These plant communities, he explains, are dependent on “ecological disturbance” to stimulate regrowth year after year.

Throughout history, herbivores – from early antelope to the Nez Perce horse and cattle herds – have browsed the prairie’s bunchgrass, providing that crucial disturbance. “The prairie evolved with herbivory,” Fields says.

Managed grazing is an attempt to replicate that historical relationship using commercial livestock. It has become a central piece of regenerative agriculture, an umbrella term for a range of farming and ranching practices that capture sunlight and carbon dioxide to stimulate plant growth, boost organic matter in soil, and foster greater biodiversity both above ground and below.

 Read more 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Photos of Repair/Construction Projects


A new roll up door in the side of the old machine shed

The electrical supplies I'll use to pipe/wire in the new LED lights in the new machine shed. Squirrels/mice chew through anything not covered in metal.

Machine Shed lights, 10,000 lumens each. ~ $25 per light. I'll swap out the flexible wire leads for greenfield metal cable.

My DIY design/build transport bracket for the PTO shaft on the 520 flail mower. This saves me from having to take the whole 90 lb shaft off every time I covert it to the road transport mode.