Monday, November 9, 2020

Putting Equipment Away - End of Year

After the rush to get everything harvested before the weather changed, there was one final push to get equipment cleaned and put away ahead of the cold and snow.

Dad and I got everything in. I still have to rearrange a few pieces, as well as a day or two of work to get the shed doors working correctly.  Then I'll be busy working outside on the buildings until the poor weather forces me indoors.

This was my fifth year of farming. Looking back, it's had a lot of new equipment, new techniques, and new buildings/infrastructure.  Several challenges - leading to frustration - but no real "failures", just enough setbacks to help me learn how to do things better. "Nothing succeeds like failure." I'm looking forward to next year.

It was windy when I shot the following video, so unfortunately the sound quality is occasionally bad.


The following is an exchange I had in the comments section of the above video. I thought it was worth sharing here.

Those chisel points are worn! I seldom run that deep with the chisel. 8" is about the maximum for me. If you can still walk through the barn, there is plenty of space ;)
We got our money's worth out of them. On the clover that we partially terminated this fall we went about 8" deep. On the ground where I have compaction/foxtail we tried to go deeper. We were thinking about renting a ripper - but couldn't find one. So we set the chisel deep. In the 5 yrs that I've owned that ground it hasn't been chisel plowed - there never seems to be enough time to do it. I doubt the previous guy did it either. The pieces that got dug up by the plow were still hard as rocks. Glad we got it done.

 ......................

I'm not sure if I've said this here before but I really appreciate Dad/Gramp's (btw, that's him driving the tractor at the top of the blog/website) help and advice. He has been invaluable in getting this venture up and running by doing all kinds of work, from chisel plowing (see above video!) to moving equipment around, to offering his professional advice on business/accounting issues. He told me the other day that he's put something like 19,000 miles on his truck this year, almost all of that is from driving back and forth from Bloomington to Turtle Lake (180 mile round trip). Thanks Dad! I love you xxx, ooo.

 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Cleaning Out the Combine - End of Year

 There's a lot of soybean residue and dust that gets everywhere inside the combine. Mice like to eat that, and will overwinter in the combine, eventually chewing up electrical wires. Also, the dust holds a little moisture, and as it sticks in almost every little corner, will eventually rust the machine out if it isn't removed. I don't want to use the pressure washer because of the potential increase in rust. 

I've heard of other farmers who rent a tow behind air compressor (the kind that powers a jackhammer, shown below) and use that large volume of air to blow the dust away. Maybe I'll do that next year.



I blew it out with a leaf blower, then used a shop vac and screwdriver/scraper to get most of it out. A tedious job.



Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Tillage, Traction, and Compaction

 Interesting, and helpful, video as we get ready to do a small amount of fall tillage on the soybean ground. As I've said before, all the end rows are compacted due to years (decades?) of heavy equipment turning around on it, and, in the 5 years I've owned it, we've only had a disc on the whole field, never a chisel plow.

About half of the bean ground that we just harvested has heavy foxtail pressure. Foxtail likes wet, compacted, anaerobic soils, so we'll go over that with the chisel plow as well.



Friday, October 23, 2020

Construction Update # ? The Latest on the Farmhouse

 The only work I've done on the farmhouse this year has been to switch the romex electrical wire over to metal pipe (to protect against mice/squirrel damage). That is almost done, I'm so close, just have to run the final 8 pairs of 12 gauge wires from the final distribution box back to the panel. Once done that will give me enough safe power (I've been running everything for the past year off of three 12 gauge extension cords) to use electric space heaters to warm the small part of the first floor you see that I've sectioned off. There is no practical way for me to finish construction enough to seal off the rest of the first floor so that I can use the wood burner this winter. 

I haven't had time to do anything else - the farm, with it's own buildings and equipment, never mind the actual field work, has taken all my time. So I continue to camp out.


 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

End of Year From the Garden

 



I still have about 30 feet of potatoes to dig up. They're under about 6" (and rising) of snow right now. I'm guessing I'll have one more chance to dig them up before everything freezes solid for the winter.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Harvest is Done

 This was my first year where I did every step involved in organic production on a group of fields, from primary tillage, planting and cultivation, all the way through harvest. In addition I did this with a lot of new (to me) equipment. I'm happy with the outcome and calling it a success.

The last field was the one I had the most reservations about, primarily because, despite all the work I did cultivating, it had a lot of weeds *in* the rows. Because of that I wasn't sure how the harvest would turn out.  After it was over all I can say is - The combine is an amazing machine. Literally finding needles (soybeans) in a haystack (weeds, soybean stems and stubble).

Before - lots of 6' tall foxtail (video here):


After - lots of chopped up residue:


Here's the video that the above screenshot is from:



After combining the last field I put the bean header on the cart and drove the 18 foot wide combine home in snow flurries, about 12 miles on the 2 lane state highway.  I parked the combine in the new machine shed until I can give it a thorough cleaning with the leaf blower and vacuum. Mice love soybean dust and residue, which as you can imagine, gets everywhere. They also chew up control wires inside the combine which are expensive and time consuming to repair.


Check out this fascinating bit of history - How they farmed grain in the pre-modern world



Saturday, October 17, 2020

Weedy Beans

 It snowed a bit right after I took the video, though none stuck around. I need some sun and wind to dry all that material out before I can run it through the combine. Hopefully in a couple of days. Once these 35 acres are combined, I'm done harvesting for the year. 

I feel like I've worked hard on these weeds over the last 5 years by growing different crops and trying different agronomic practices. Here's what I've done/will do to try and reduce the foxtail, which is prevalent in about 1/2 of the field - Grew clover/oats, sorghum sudan, tillage radish; chisel plow end rows, put in a grass waterway to help with drainage, spread lime to raise the pH. I did what I thought was a perfect job of tine weeding this year. Almost all the weeds are in the row, so evidently I didn't. 

I'm guessing that there is at least a 10 bushel/acre hit to my yield, due in large part to weeds. I'll move on. Next year this ground will be in (spring) wheat, underseeded with red clover.

I welcome the advice and support of other organic farmers. Geiger Farm, who I only know through YouTube, is one of them. He left the following comment on the video I put on our YouTube page titled "Weedy Beans".

Run hard! I have had worse to combine. Through time, foxtail will disappear, as you learn to not encourage it. For me, it LOVES compaction, low pH, working ground wet, soil crusting, and planting too early in cool weather! The combine will eat it like candy and next year is a new start🙂!