Thursday, October 13, 2016

3 Mile field

Another saga!  Although not as crazy as some other ones.  Here is the story.  I was able to lease a soybean field less than a mile from my house, which I was very excited about.  This meant that I could watch the field closely and harvest would be so easy--just drive the wagons a mile down the street.  No worries about breaking down when I'm a 30 minute drive from my workshop, etc.  What a dream.

As the season got later, the beans were still sitting there on the field.  Nothing new here, it always seems like my field is taking forever to get the beans off.  They finally came off on October 8, and the deal was that the field would be worked up so my drill could go right in.  Unfortunately, the communication got screwed up and the field was chisel plowed.  This created a pretty serious mess for me.  Now there were chunks of hard soil the size of my front tractor tires all over this field, and no way my 35 hp International could break them up.  Aaaaargh!  It would have been better had the field not been chisel plowed at all.

Farmaggeddon.  It was actually awe inspiring and a little terrifying when this rig showed up to chisel the field.  I spent Monday picking rocks with the 330, and did not notice when this tractor appeared on the field.  I turned around, and it was just there, in the corner furthest from where I had my head down picking rocks.  It looked alarmingly large.  I later looked it up and learned it was a 470 hp tractor--wow!
Anyhow, I hit the phones on Monday evening and tried to find someone I could hire/beg to come disc the field.  There was one day to do it--Tuesday.  Rain is coming on Wednesday.  Of course, my friend Joe offered to come over with his excellent JD 3020 and a 12' disc.  What a relief!  It was still hard work--this rig could prepare about 1 acre per hour, and in a perfect world we would have taken longer and done a third pass.  But it was good enough and I really wanted to get going.  

Soooooo...I took a deep breath, filled the seed hopper on my 75 year old Van Brunt seed drill that I have never used before, and started sowing wheat at the West headland.  I was pretty dumbfounded when I looked back and saw seed dribbling into all of the tubes, and even more dumbfounded when I hopped off the tractor and could see that the seeds were getting covered.

It was not a perfect job.  In the low spots where it was still too wet, the tractor tire would compress the soil so hard that the shoe could not press into the ground anymore.  The seed was just sitting on the ground.  But overall the rig was working, and I decided the best option was just to keep working.

Joe had to leave at 1:30, after working up three acres.  I finished sowing the 3 acres by 2:30, then I hopped on the disc and worked up another 2 acres.  This took the predicted two hours, but this ground was a little higher and I think it worked up better.  I was slowed up by hopping off constantly to pick rocks, but it was a pleasure to use Joe's rig.  This tractor has a synchromesh transmission, which was like butter to shift.  I did most of the work in 4th gear, and some of the finish work in 5th.

The last two acres was harder on the 330 for some reason--the soft soil made the drill pull harder, and steam would come off the engine if I stayed in 4th gear.  So I had to lug around in 3rd, which cramped my style.

I put my 10' single action disc (which Joe actually gave me several years ago) on the 330 and pulled it around for a couple of hours as I picked rocks.  It was mostly window dressing.  In the hard clods it did not do much, and the 330' did not have enough power either.  But it helped a little.
Seed not getting covered in wet ground behind the tractor tires.  I walked the field and I'm pretty confident that there will be a good stand.  However, I'll feel a lot better once I see some wheat up and growing.

The drill did not have those little chains to help close the furrow, so I dragged this piece of fence around all day.  It worked great where the soil was well prepared, and did nothing where it was still wet and cloddy.

Last pass, about 30 minutes before sunset.  So 5 acres planted, which was great.  It turned out to be exactly 12 bags--2 bushels per acre.  This is heavier than my target, but exactly what I wanted due to the late planting date and poor seedbed preparation.  I will come back to plant more after the rain on Wednesday, if I can.  The last 30 minutes were interesting--once the sun gets low, it's a lot harder to follow the ruts left by the drill.  I hope there are no giant gaps in the stand.

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