Minnesota Farmer


Little leak
October 22, 2014, 12:06 pm
Filed under: Farm, harvest, machines, repairs | Tags: , , , ,

Little did I know when I stopped the combine last night that there was a little oil leak underneath on the hydraulic drive.

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That little leak left a big oil puddle where the machine had been parked.100_3054

That meant spending a large part of the morning getting parts and fixing the leak.

At least the combine was parked in the yard.  Fixing in the field is always harder.



The dust of a million combines
October 18, 2014, 8:28 pm
Filed under: agriculture, combines, Corn, dust, harvest, trucks | Tags: , , , , ,

The dust of a million combines fills the air during harvest season.  More dust rises behind trucks scurrying from field to bin site where the grain will be stored.  With little wind today it hung in the air for quite a while before settling back to earth.

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Corn driers howl as they remove moisture so the grain can be safely stored.

Augers rattle as grain is moved from trucks to bins.

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Every step adds more dust to the air.  Dust is a fact of harvest.



Beaver Work
October 10, 2014, 8:08 am
Filed under: Farm, pond, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , ,

We rent a farm that has a creek running through it.  Usually at this time of year it is dry or just a trickle of water in it.  With all of the rain in August this year it is still running strong.  This has attracted some unwanted attention from a beaver.

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Normally I would not pay much attention to his work.  The water is not backing up onto crop land, but his placement of the dam was unfortunate.  He put it just right to cause trouble for drainage tile.  Now when I get time I go out and drag out part of the dam so the water can empty from that tile line.  For now that is all I will do.  Come trapping season, he’ll have other worries.

If we can catch him, then I will get more serious about dam removal.  The obstruction he has placed will divert the water and create erosion on a bank we want to keep stable.  His digging has removed grass and roots that keep the bank from eroding away.  That damage will have to be repaired.  Not all of his work will be bad.  The widened channel will provide a new opportunity for other plants and animals to access water.  It will be interesting to see what becomes of his old pond.



Hedge row

This morning it was hedge planting time.100_3048

The hedge on the west side of the building site needs to be replaced says wife.  I never did mind the mix of hedge plants, a few red twig dogwood and lilac with a few others thrown in randomly, but wife did not like it.  Lately the dogwood had been looking a bit scruffy and the lilac had been showing dying branches so the old hedge went out.  I did get to keep the bush on the corner, I’m not sure what it is, and a few lilac on the south side but that was it.  So now what to replace it with.

A call to the nursery and the suggestion came back with something unexpected.  They suggested 4 flowering crabs and a grouping of spruce on each end.  We talked it over, looked at the space we had and decided on a group of three crab on the south corner with a Back Hills spruce at the south end of a row of Chinese lilac with 3 more spruce on the north end.

It was chilly outside, 30 degrees, when we ventured out to plant.  The north wind chilled us for a bit, but as we worked the coat came off and the plants went in the ground.  By noon the job was done.

We ended up a few lilacs short of a complete hedge, but the next time the nurseryman comes by he will drop them off.  The lilac may even be tall enough to catch some snow this winter, but I’ll put up a snow fence to help them.  In a few years they will not need help.  Can’t wait to see how they turn out when warmer weather comes back.100_3049



Waiting for soybean harvest
October 2, 2014, 11:47 am
Filed under: Farm, harvest, rain, Soybeans | Tags: , , , , ,

Today it is raining, but that’s alright, I have nothing ready for harvest anyway.

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Here’s one of my soybean fields.  Although it is mostly brown, it is not yet ready for harvest.

I’ve been watching the neighbors.  Some have soybeans that have matured and they have those fields out.  Some have soybeans that are over a week away from ready.  Most in our area are like me, we’ll be harvesting in just few days.

Right now a little rain is not a bad thing.  It helps keep the soybeans that are ready in the pod.  The rain will give those soybeans that are not yet ready a chance to catch up and mature so they can be harvested at the same time.

Soybean seeds form in a thin pod that will open if conditions are too dry and hot.  Too much rain will damage the pods also, so we run a fine line between too much and too little.  There are so many ways to lose a crop it’s amazing that we succeed so often.  In the mean time, I’m just waiting for my crops to mature so I can start harvest.



Good-Bye Old Friend
September 30, 2014, 8:45 am
Filed under: machines, School bus | Tags: , , ,

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Today I will say good-bye to an old friend.  Bus 11, now bus 1, will be leaving the fleet today.

The bus is a 1996 AMTRAN Genesis 66 passenger, short of wheel base and quick to turn, a bit under powered and COLD in the winter, but still a good old bus.

We’ve been through a lot together.  There have been repairs both major and minor.  Lots of children have ridden lots of miles on that bus, over 300,000 miles of country roads.

I had been assigned a newer bus for the start of the season, but the computer went out on that bus during route friday morning.  The replacement bus I was to drive had a wheel alignment problem and was unsafe to drive since the front end bounced so much.  So they dug into the “ready to head down the road” list, and I got my old 11 back.

My foot still knows just where to go to hold the speed at 50 mph.  The seat belt still wants to hold me a little too tight so I cannot reach some of the controls.  The interior lights still turn off by themselves after about 5 minutes. I knew just how much to press the foot feed to keep from sliding around snow-covered corners, since I had over done it so many times.  I know everything that she can do.  I have joked many a time about fixing this bus with a stick of dynamite, but I never meant it.  So despite her problems, I’ll miss the old girl.

Bus 11, like several other buses in the fleet, was not inspected this past week and thus cannot legally haul school children after the end of the month.  The safety inspection makes sure that at least once a year school buses are fit to drive.

I’ve had several other buses through out my years of driving, ‘The Duce,”  bus 20, and a host of replacement and out-of-town trip buses, but old 11 was special.  I got to know her better than any other bus I ever drove.

So good-bye old friend.  I have no idea where you will go from here, but you left me lots of memories.  Now it’s off to make new memories with another of your kin.

Michael



Farm safety

For several years now I have been teaching farm safety at the Southwest Outreach Center of the University of Minnesota in Lamberton’s fourth grade field day.  This activity is part of the work I do as a volunteer for the Farm Bureau.

682 fourth graders from 15 area elementary schools attended the Elementary Field Day that these safety messages were presented at on Wednesday, September 17 and Thursday, September 18, 2014. Students also participated in activities on healthy soils, composting, electrical safety, plants, and climate change.  

10676386_635581586557654_8744859319046042390_nIn this demonstration I got to talk to the kids about the importance of shields to keep you from getting drug into spinning shafts, pulley, gears, chains and belts.  I tell the story of how I had my fingers go between a belt and pulley.

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We also talked about safety around augers.  I tell the story of a man who lost his arm in an auger accident.

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 The most dramatic demo has to be the power take-off (PTO) demonstration.  In this demo we get a tyvek suit filled with paper wrapped in the PTO shaft between a tractor and a baler.  I tell the story of a friend I lost to a PTO accident, and if I do it right the crowd is quiet before and after the demo.

Late on Thursday I had a young lady ask me why I told such horrible stories.  To me the answer is obvious.  I want to keep these kids safe.  If I can keep just one of this group alive, all of my time was well spent.

Area schools participating included: Windom, Red Rock Central, Westbrook-Walnut Grove, St. Mary’s (Tracy), Reed Gray (Redwood Falls), Mt. Lake, St. Paul’s (New Ulm), Washington Elementary (New Ulm), Lakeview, Samuel Lutheran (Marshall), Wabasso, St. Anne’s (Wabasso), Tracy, Southwest Star Concept, and Springfield.

If you would like to see more pictures of the field day check out the facebook page for the Southwest Research & Outreach Center.




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