Due to all the rain we have experiencing recently, our farm has been in slow gear. Usually we are done planting corn and finishing up planting soybeans at this time of the year but this year we have yet to turn a fleck of soil due to the cold and rain.
Rain is a good thing, and I won’t complain about getting a good shower now and again after experiencing the effects of #drought11 and #drought12, but this week was a little much.
Locally, roads have been closed and or washed out, our local hospital has had to be evacuated due to flood waters and many houses in town have had flooding issues, not to mention our farm fields are flooded as well. Not so locally, Chris Neimann, a farmer friend of mine in Nebraska, has been fighting continued snowfall and cold temps as he cares for his cattle. Indiana has been no different. Farmer, Brian Scott’s (The Farmers Life)) local water levels have been rising as well, giving his newly installed field tile a workout.
This week has been largely marked by flooding, here’s a few pics of our farm fields:
Under this whirlpool is a surface drain for our field tile. It’s clearly working overtime today.
Sadly this weeks post cannot go by without sending prayers out to those affected by the Texas fertilizer plant explosion. The factual details are still pouring in but many people lost their lives and countless others were injured. Watch the video of the explosion here, but I must warn you, it is shocking and breathtaking to say the least.
In the weeks to come, we hope to get going in the fields and begin to get our #farmerstan on but maybe not quite like this guy:
Have a great weekend everyone!
We’ve all been there. Your on a warm weathered road trip, a vacation or just out to see a distant relative. Along the way you see a grain farmer (like myself) out in his fields, working the ground, tending to his crops, or harvesting. Basically doing what farmers do. While you are watching that farmer for that small moment of time, the thought runs through your head, What do they do in the winter?
“What do you do in the winter?” is the number one question I, as a farmer, have ever been asked over the years. It’s usually followed by the joking assumption that we sit in the house and watch Oprah, Springer and Maury all day. However, Nothing can be further from the truth.
Yes, we work hard in the warmer months of the year, but what about the winter? What exactly does a farmer who cant be in his fields and cant tend to crops due to the freezing cold conditions do all winter?
Alright, so you may have saw that general response coming. So let me be more specific. In the winter, a grain farmer usually:
1.Hauls away the previous years crop from his grain bins to be sold at the elevator..
2. Works tirelessly on paperwork, closing out the year before and beginning the new year.
3. Attends meetings offered by Agricultural based companies in efforts to learn to be better at his/her job.
4. Completes all of the maintenance needed on his/her equipment to make sure its ready for the following year.
The list can go on and on.
For the moment, lets talk about #4 Maintenance. Why? Because its something we can all relate to.
If you own a vehicle, there is no doubt that at one time or another you may have had a breakdown or a flat tire. Things happen, but a general maintenance plan can help with that. Every 3000 miles or so, your car will need an Oil Change and maybe a new air filter. Every 50,000 or so miles it may need new tires, brakes or something else. If this maintenance isn’t completed in a timely manner chances are the vehicle wont last too long without having mechanical issues when you need it the most. Farm equipment is no different They need the same type of maintenance that your vehicle does, just on a larger scale. While a late model car may need its 4 quarts of oil changed every 3000 miles (for around $25-$45 at your local dealer). A tractor can run over 100-500 hours (depending on the model) before its 5-15 gallons of oil need to be changed (for $200 or more in the farmers shop). A cars tires may last 50,000 miles and cost $150 each while a tractors tires may last 4000 hours and cost upwards of $1500 each to replace (often having 6-8 tires). As you can imagine, this takes time. Especially if you have to do this type of maintenance when you need the vehicle or tractor the most.
So what do farmers do in the winter? A large part of it is maintenance, especially preventative maintenance. Every winter, at one time or another, virtually every piece of farm equipment we have is brought into our farm shop to be checked over. First we start just outside the shop door, blowing all of the dust and crop debris off of the machine with an air hose. Next, as in the case of this tractor, its brought into the shop for an oil change.
Throughout my tractor maintenance ritual, I treat the tractor much like a mechanic would your car. Like, checking air pressure in the tires, checking the antifreeze and other fluid levels and so on. After the oil is changed, fluids checked, air pressures checked, and more, its time to for a wash, some touch up paint and a wax before it leaves the shop. (Look for a future post explaining more about what we do)
All of this is done to maintain our farm equipment so it can be the best it can be. We hope the machines we use have long and breakdown free lives, just as you do your vehicle. This type of preventative maintenance along with many other responsibilities are what keeps many farmers like me busy throughout the year, especially in the winter months. So if you ever wonder what farmers do in the winter, simply stop by and knock on the farm shop door. Chances are, you’ll find a farmer inside.
It’s going to be beautiful day in late July. The morning is cool and dewey, but we know it’s going to heat up and get humid. So we get up early, get out a bunch of bowls, 1 quart ziplock bags, my Moms newly sharpened paring knives, a few 5 gallon buckets, a turkey fryer filled with water and a pick up truck. It’s Sweet Corn freezing day on the farm.
It’s been a tradition for as far as I can remember. Getting up early, picking a pick-up bed full of sweet corn, cleaning it, cooking it (boiling it in the turkey fryer if you were wondering), cooling it, cutting it off the cob, filling the bags, taste testing (for quality reasons of course ) and finally freezing it for future meals throughout the year. It’s a lot of work but it’s so worth it. The funny thing is, I’ve never had one bite of sweet corn taste like Gas, well Ethanol anyway.
Wait what? There is Ethanol in the Sweet Corn we eat?
No, there is no type of Corn that tastes like any fuel product either, but here’s a fact you may not know.
Ethanol is not made from Sweet Corn
This cartoon came across my FB feed yesterday.
At first sight, I chuckled, but after reading a few comments below it. I felt compelled to address it. The Mom in the cartoon is relating sweet corn consumption and hunger to Ethanol use. The fact is, Ethanol is NOT made from Sweet Corn at all. It is NOT made from the same Corn you buy in your produce isle or farmers market to have at your next meal.
Ethanol is in fact made from #2 yellow dent corn. Never heard of it? Sure you have, if you have ever seen a field of corn while driving down the interstate, more than likely it’s a field of #2 Yellow Dent Corn, more commonly known as field corn. In fact there was about 90million acres of it planted across our nations heartland this past spring. However, you won’t find any of it in your local produce section. Why? Let’s just say that although very few people actually like it, it really does’t taste very good.
While Sweet Corn is largely grown for direct human consumption, Field Corn (#2 yellow dent) is mainly grown for some food production, livestock feed, and to be turned into countless other things, including Ethanol, which gets mixed into our nations gasoline supplies. It can be argued that Ethanol helps reduce our nations dependence on foreign oil and increases the octane level of our gasoline all while making each gallon of gas about 20 cents cheaper than straight gas. But that’s not my point.
What does this all mean? It means that the kid in this cartoon can feel free to eat his ear of Sweet Corn without guilt. It means the price you pay for Sweet Corn at the store and the supply there of are not affected directly by Ethanol because it doesn’t come from Sweet Corn at all. It means that my family and I can go to the gas station, purchase E10, E15, or E85 mixed gasoline and still be able to freeze our pick-up load of Sweet Corn every year.
Why? Because Ethanol Does Not Come From Sweet Corn
Want to learn more about Ethanol? Click here for some Ethanol Facts.
Want to know if your vehicle can run on E85? ( Flex Fuel Vehicle). Click here.
As little as 10 years ago AutoSteer for tractors and combines was considered a luxury. Farmer quotes like
Why in the world do we need that?
Why would anyone spend that much money to have a tractor steer itself? I’ve done it for years!!!
…were pretty commonly said whenever the subject of GPS and AutoSteer were brought up at the coffee shop.
Today however is a different story. Today nearly every farmer has some type of GPS system in at least one of his tractors, complete with AutoSteer. Many farmers have a system in every tractor or combine they have and use for nearly every application you can think of.
So where did this all start? Where did the idea for this AutoSteer come from? Who came up with the idea?
I wish I knew….but maybe I do.
While checking out my bud, Tim Homerding’s Facebook page the other day I saw this pic of him plowing
And then this one:
And it dawned on me.
We’ve had AutoSteer all along!
When plowing, the front tire of a tractor is placed into a furrow which was left by the previous pass of the plow. The furrow is commonly just big enough to fit the tractors right side tires into it. Once the tire is in the furrow and the tractor is driving along, the tires generally stay in the furrow area with little correction from the driver.
There ya go, the first (very basic) AutoSteer was born! Ok, so not really but it kinda worked like one.
Although we no longer plow like Tim did in these pics, I have to admit I do miss those days. I miss our older tractors which didn’t have GPS, AutoSteer or a computer screen. However, I would miss my AutoSteer that I have now much much more.
I found this on my faceboook feed this morning and I couldn’t agree more. Let Thanksgiving be Thanksgiving and Christmas be Christmas. And while we are at it, keep Black Friday on Friday!
Have a great one
It’s time for “Friday Farm Flicks!” I know quite a few of you like this style of post and I apologize for not putting one up lately but here it goes. Usually I only include posts from the current week, which pertain to only the farm, but this week I have a few exceptions. Enjoy