Tuesday, October 25, 2016


The red clover that was planted along with the Marquis wheat grew very well, although it ended up maturing during a very wet Fall.  I was ultimately very pleased with the late date I chose to cut it, October 17.  The next 7 days were dry and there were several sunny days.

Cutting was an experiment.  I tried using my $50 sickle mower (not pictured) and it kept clogging up.  Brian had a rig close by and he came over and cut it for me with a mower conditioner.  This made short work of things.  Interestingly, I don't think the conditioned clover dried faster than the sickle cut clover, possibly even the opposite.

I turned the hay over at least twice, and it dried off nicely.  The first evening I raked was memorably beautiful.

Baling was a story in itself.  Ron came over on Monday at 1:30, completely on schedule, and the first 70 bales came off like clockwork.  Then the baler broke down and we quit for the day.  The next day, October 25, was colder and the remaining hay was not nearly as dry anymore.  Ron contacted me by noon to say the baler could not be fixed in time, so Brian's friend Roberto (whose hay I had spent the morning raking) brought his baler over to finish.  His baler had a lot of trouble with the clover and made very heavy bales, but we got the job done.  The field produced about 120 total bales, 60 per acre.

Friday, October 21, 2016

96th Street Field

Last weekend I added a second field of Turkey Red, about 2.4 acres.  This is a field that my friend Brian grew some soybeans in this year.  Although I did not nearly make the planting date I had hoped for, by this point I was actually pretty curious about how a late planting would perform.  To compensate, I increased the seeding rate to about 140 lbs/acre.  It was a bit far to drive my tractor so I put the drill onto a trailer and used Brian's Ford 800 tractor, the same tractor that did most of the combining with my IH-76 combine.

I was very careful to check my row spacing, so as not to make the same mistake I made on the 3 Mile field.  I am pretty confident there are no bare spots this time.  The drill was still having trouble getting all the seed covered.  I think one or two of the shoes might have weak down pressure.

Anyhow, to ensure that all the seed was covered up Brian came over with a 30' drag and went over the field a time or two.  This piece of equipment did a very good job--I could not find a single grain on the field after 10 minutes, which is about all it took to cover the 2.4 acres.  I am going to be very interested to see how this field turns out.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Roasted Potatoes and Squash

It's squash season so I thought I'd share my recipe for roasted squash.  I'm using a Greek Sweet Red Squash here, but I also do the same thing with butternut squash.  I make the squash pieces bigger than the potato pieces, since the squash will cook quicker.  If you want to mess with it, you could even put the squash in later.  I also put in an onion, chopped up in big pieces.

Marinate everything in olive oil and your favorite spices, and put into a baking dish.  For this session I baked it in a 400 degree oven, covered, for 45 minutes, and then pulled the cover off for another ten minutes.  Without a cover I would go down to 375 or 350 I think.  It tasted great, and the leftovers were easy to heat up in a covered saucepan.

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.