Thursday, June 30, 2011

I'm Tired

We've got most of Dad's pipe laid out. There's about a load left. We started laying Grandpa's pipe out today. As much as I hate laying out pipe, I don't mind doing it for Grandpa. I had this weird thought today when I was helping Grandpa. I was wondering what I was doing 10 years ago, and most likely, it was the same thing. And then I got to watching Grandpa, and how he still walks the same, how he still wears the same type of hat, how his Rustlers have the same worn spot in the left back pocket that holds his wallet. But then I got to thinking about how he's 73 now, and I'm 25 now, and where in the hell has all the time gone? And what will we be doing 10 years from now? And as much as I hate to think about it or admit it, I realize that my time with Grandpa is probably shorter now than it is long. I hope the next 10 years slows down some.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Favorite Time Of The Year

Not. We started laying out pipe yesterday. It's not my favorite thing to do, but it's necessary. Remember the hilling pictures? The pictures I share today will bring it all in.

This is irrigation pipe. They are 30' pieces of either aluminum or plastic. The most common sizes (determined by diameter) are 6", 8", and 10". They have a male and a female end, and slide together. Laying out pipe works best with 3 people - a driver, and a person on each end of the pipe. The size of pipe you use is determined by how much water your wells pump. We have some wells that pump 300-400 gallons a minute, so they get 6" pipe. The bigger pipe on top in this picture is 10", while the pipe on the bottom of the trailer is 8". The well that this pipe goes to probably puts out about 1,000 gallons of water a minute.

The above picture shows a well. I now realize that this was a bad well to take a picture of, because we had the motor off to get repaired. There is a pump attached to a motor with pulleys and belts. When the motor spins the pulleys, it pumps water. 

This is what one piece of pipe attached to the well looks like. Sorry for the blurriness. 

This is an up close look of the female end, known as the "bell". You can see a rubber gasket on the inside of the bell, which allows the pipes to seal so they don't leak water all over hell. You're probably wondering how we get the water down the row. Enter "gates" into the discussion.

There are gates every 20" on a piece of pipe. I'm too lazy to do the math, but if I remember right, that means there are 18 gates on every pipe. They slide open and closed. We run every other row when we irrigate, and we only run a certain number at a time, referred to as a "set". This also depends on how much water your well pumps. On the 300-400 gallon a minute well, you're looking at 10-15 gates a set. With this large pipe and good well, I'm guessing Dad runs 30-40 gates a set. We change sets every 12 hours or so - once around 6:30AM, and once around the same time in the PM. The third picture shows the pipe sitting on top of the ridges that I hilled last week. Our fields our leveled to run a certain direction, so once we open the gates, the water will run to the other end of the field, hence the term "gravity" irrigation. Here is a picture of a finished field:

And my favorite picture - an empty trailer:

The handsome fella in the pictures is my old man, Mike.

Questions? Fire away.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hilling Kern

We are currently taking our last pass through the corn fields. We hill, or ridge, as some people call it, so we can irrigate. After we're done hilling we'll lay out pipe. Which sucks. We have to hill to make a trench for the water to run down. Our fields are leveled to run a certain way, so you lay the pipe at the top end, and the water runs to the bottom end, hence the term "gravity irrigation." I'll take pictures when we lay out pipe, which will make it easier to understand. Not many people use pipe anymore, but we have to around here because we have a lot of small fields where a pivot wouldn't work or make financial sense. And because there are some landlords that won't put up pivots even if they would work. I took a few pictures so you could see how it works. There isn't much going on with the hiller - there's a small shovel on the front of the unit, then there's a hiller bottom. That's it. 

Here are some other pictures. Yes, I got to go 7 MPH today, which means I was covering a little over 20 acres an hour. I did about 150 acres Thursday, but only got about 80 yesterday. Yesterday was a bad day. I was putting fertilizer on one of our fields while hilling, and apparently we got the bottom of the barrel fertilizer, because every couple of rounds I had to stop and clean out my screens because they were filling up with gunk. I was not pleased.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We're OK

No hail or tornadoes here. We ended up with about 1.75" total rainfall, which was a good thing. It was starting to get dry. The corn is really going to take off now, so when we can get into the field to hill, we're going to be pretty busy. What's hilling, you ask? It's part of our irrigating process. I'll take pictures and explain when I get back to the field.

Shay asked me to waste some time so she could fall asleep on the couch before we went to bed. Apparently, we're 84 years old. She hasn't moved for about 20 minutes. She's going to get pissed at me when I wake her up to go to bed. Do not wake my wife up unless absolutely necessary. She will not take responsibility for her actions, which usually include cussing and fighting.

Finished a book tonight - Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson. It's part of a mystery series. Yeah, yeah, I know, mystery books are terrible. These are different. They're written by a guy that lives in a town of approximately 14 people in Wyoming. They center around a sheriff named Walt Longmire who tends to quote Shakespeare. I like 'em a lot, so if you like to read, you should probably check them out. The Cold Dish is the first in the series, in case you were wondering. 

Am I the only one that gets tired of status updates on Facebook proclaiming the praises of oneself? I also get tired of people my age acting like they are the first on earth to buy a house, get married, have a baby, get a job, buy a car, read a book, watch monkeys on the National Geographic channel, pick their nose, or chew on their toenails. Ok, I don't know if anyone chews on their toenails, but I think you get my point. Shut up, people. You ain't the first, you won't be the last. 

Welp, it's time to poke the bear that is sleeping on my couch with a stick. Wish me luck.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Not much to report. This weekend we went to North Platte to see some friends, then down to McCook to see Shay's dad Tom for Father's Day, then back up here for a Father's Day party at my parent's place. Woke up at 3AM to really strong winds and rain. I had a little over an inch. 70% chance of storms again tonight. I really hope it doesn't hail. Out in the southwest part of the state there was a lot of hail and some tornadoes last night. Crazy stuff.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hello Kids

There's a hat hanging from one of Bucky's antlers. Shay apparently hasn't noticed yet. She's pretty proud of Bucky. First wall hanger she ever bagged. She combed his hair after she mounted him on the wall. Did you all know I have a hell of a wife? She was listening to the song we danced to for our first dance this morning - "Crazy Like You" by Josh Grider. It's pretty accurate as far as our situation goes. I like her. A lot.

Not much new in the farming world. I'm hoping to get done cultivating today. Dad should also get done putting anhydrous on today. Should. I've learned that in this profession you never say you "will" get something done today.

Had another marathon meeting at Heartland Lutheran last night. All I'll say about that is that some people take paragraphs to say what needs sentences. Things are moving forward, and I ask that if you're so inclined, pray for the school and its mission and workers.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Change of Pace

Today was a weird day. Dad started putting fertilizer on, and you can't disturb the soil for a day or so afterward, so I did a little of this, a little of that. 

I picked up some bales. I kind of like doing it. Probably only because we don't have a ton of hay ground. It's a nice, mindless job that allows me to space off for a few hours.

This was my ride - Grandpa's 4450. I like this tractor. A lot. It needs a straight pipe and 42 inch rear tires, but hey, it's pretty neat the way it is. You can't really tell in the picture, but Dad's bale carrier picks up two bales at a time.

Here's the objective. I probably picked up 75 or so bales today. Back and forth, forth and back. 

Done now.

Here's an action shot of Dad putting anhydrous on:

After picking up bales, I put fertilizer on for awhile, then I went and sprayed some weeds with a backpack sprayer. A backpack sprayer is exactly what it sounds like. Pretty nice for wandering around and killing some weeds here and there.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Picture Time

I've taken a bunch of pictures that I haven't shared yet. Mostly because I'm lazy. This morning, I got out of the shower, put on some Ryan Adams, and got motivated. If you want a sweet Ryan Adams mix, let me know. I can get you the hook up. 

First are a few pictures from bean planting. I now realize I didn't take any pictures of the planter and explain how it all works. Basically, it opens up a trench, drops the seed into it, and covers it up. These are old pictures, and they're just of the seed and me filling the planter. How interesting. The last picture is of some of the little fellas coming up. I think they look like those things that come out of the tubes in Super Mario Brothers when they're first popping out of the ground. They don't look like it from above, but if you see them in the field... Yeah. I'm cool like that.

Next are some cockpit of the tractor pictures.

This one shows the armrest controls. The orange knob is the gear shift, the orange slider thing is the throttle, the yellow switch is for the PTO and the rest have to do with the 3 point. Pretty nifty stuff. And yeah, sometimes I eat lunch Runza style.

This one shows the HVAC controls, windshield wipers, front wheel drive switch, flashers, and other things. The screen on the left shows a bunch of stuff - fuel level, water temp, oil pressure, etc. The 56 is the hydraulic temperature. I was told to monitor it by the guys at St. Paul Equipment. They're still not sure what's wrong with it. The little screen on the right gives information about your hydraulic remotes - time settings and flow. Pretty interesting, no? And of course, the iPod, so I can be jukebox hero all day.

The thing on the right is my fertilizer controller. The display on the left shows how many RPMs you're running, the gear you're in, and what speed you're going. Yeah. 5.5mph all day. Except that days I go 5.

Radio and radio. The one on the right is a 2 way business band, meaning only our family uses it. They each have a specific number of some kind that only lets them work with other radios. Or something. I'm not real sure how they work. 

This is the view out the back window when I'm cultivating:

I ran out of fertilizer:

Here's the cultivator. It's got a coulter up front to cut the trash, and a sweep out back to move dirt. 

For some reason, Blogger turned my picture and I'm too dumb to figure out how to fix it. So cock your head to the side for this one. Can you can see the small tube that comes off of the sweep? That's how we inject our fertilizer. Don't you wish you could fertilize your garden like this, Lisa?

My view: The stand is a little thin in some spots from standing water, but some corn is better than no corn.

I'm cautiously optimistic. The corn looks pretty good for all the wet, cold, crappy weather we've had this spring. There's a number on one of my fields that looks fantastic. I only planted 8 bags. Now I'm wishing I would've planted more. Oh well. On another place, we've had at least 20 acres drown out every year. It's bottom ground, and that doesn't mix well with lots of rain in the spring. Last fall, the owner had some dirt work done, leveling out the knobs and making the bottom end of the field run to the drainage ditch like it should. We hardly lost anything this year compared to the last 3 years. I'm really happy about that. So, we'll see. It'll be interesting to see how I'm feeling about the crop in August.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Done Now

I took the planter off today. Thank Todd. I was about to gouge an eye out. I like planting, but not when it drags on for a month and a half.

I got my tractor back today. For the second time. I used it for about an hour tonight and it seemed happy, so maybe it's fixed. I guess we'll find out tomorrow if it doesn't rain. I put one of the cultivators on today and it must've been my lucky day. No bearings were out. There was a fertilizer hose that needed fixed, one of the nozzles was bad, and I had to put larger fertilizer orifices in (after a trip to town to get them) but it was ready to go with minimal work. By the time I got done dinking around, it was close to 7, but I wanted to get it all set so I went to the field. I've got it working well for the most part. One of the row units is giving me a little trouble, but I'm getting it to where it needs to be. If it doesn't rain tonight/tomorrow, I'll get some pictures. 

Besides harvest, cultivating might be my favorite thing to do. It's like hoeing your garden, only it's a huge garden with hundreds of thousands or millions of corn plants, and I get to do it with a 190 horsepower tractor.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Idiots on TV

Shay is watching some show on HGTV and the nerd mog that is searching for a place to live just said "I'm not sure if I'm ready to buy things like curtains and mattresses." Ok, then. Live with your parents until you're 60. Grow up much, my generation?

Well, today was right on par with the last month or so. The morning went ok. Actually, most of the afternoon was ok. The part that sucked was when I had a drive chain on the planter break. No big deal, I'll call Toner's and get a couple. I drive over there (about 20 minutes one way), grab the chains, and head back. As soon as I took the chain out of the box, I knew I was about to get mad. It was too long and not wide enough for my sprockets, which I should've expected, because the guy that "helped" me looks like the only equipment he's worked on is his Lego kingdom. I drove back to Toner's and made sure to talk to someone who doesn't have their head up their ass. He made me a couple chains, gave me four connectors and two half links, and sent me on my way. It took all of thirty seconds to put the chain on. I don't understand parts guys. Half of them don't know their ass from a hole in the ground, and it always ends up screwing up my day. Maybe I should go smash their keyboards or rip half the pages out of their parts manuals. Really, is it that difficult to look up a part number and make sure it matches what I ask for? I told him the exact model of planter it was, and the exact chain. Apparently, a picture doesn't help, because I'm sure he looked at one on his computer. It only cost me about 20 acres today, but hey, no skin off his ass. Weathermen and parts guys are the only people that get paid to be wrong, I think. That being said, there are a few good ones out there - James and Kenny at St. Paul, Darren in Grand Island. They're just few and far between, I guess.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I'm Never Planting the First of June Again

Those are the words I said the day I got finished planting last year. I'm not done yet this year. So... 

The 8120 was supposedly fixed. Hooked it back up to the planter yesterday, went to the field, and all was well. I planted about 10 acres and headed for the seed tender to fill up. Right before I started filling the planter, the vacuum shut off. And the 3 point wouldn't pick up the planter. Looks like it'll be headed back to St. Paul tomorrow. Luckily Dad got done with his planter this morning, so he took it off and we put the twin row on his tractor. I got about 50 acres of my pivot done today. I've got about 20 acres left over there, then another 80 or 90 acres on my other farm. Dad has about 15 acres left. I'm really hoping we'll be done Tuesday, but the way things are going, I'm not holding out much hope. 

On the plus side, my corn looks pretty good so far. Well, most of it. Some of it sat under water too long and died, and some of it was planted on a sand hill, and wouldn't you know, the first few days it was out of the ground the wind blew 400 mph. It's a little sandblasted. Hopefully we don't get more flooding, or hail, or high winds, or a Godzilla attack, etc.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Well Hell

As they say. It was a real peach today. 

Tried to plant beans. I planted for a couple of minutes and got out to dig around and check my seed depth. While doing so, the vacuum on my planter shut off magically. The hydraulics on the 8120 have been a little goofy since we bought it (even though Green Line has "fixed" it a couple of times), so I didn't think much of it. I got back in the tractor to find that the vacuum wouldn't restart. And the hydraulic drive wouldn't run. And my 3 point wouldn't lift the planter. Adam from St. Paul Equipment came out, and told me what the problem was. I can't remember... I'm dumb. Anyhow, I was supposed to take the planter off and drive the 8120 up to St. Paul so they could fix it. I got about halfway home and something started making a whining noise under the seat. Where the hydraulic pump is located. A couple of hours later, I waved bye-bye as I watched a semi haul the tractor away. I can't wait to see that bill. 

After dinner, I was driving Dad's 8110 over to Grandpa's to put seed in and noticed that a seal on his front end was leaking. Or streaming. That might be a better word. Dad filled the front end with oil and left. Luckily the leak quit while he was planting. 

If it's not one thing, it's another. 

Hopefully we'll have the 8120 back tomorrow or Saturday. The weather is supposed to hold up for a week or so, which should give us time to get done planting, provided things dry out.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Is It July Yet?

Shay and I found out last night that we're going to be able to move over to mom and dad's old place. We're pretty excited about it, as it's what we want - a farm place off of the road. This house has treated us pretty well the last year, so I'm kind of sad to be moving out of it, but it's cool to be moving back to the house I grew up in. That being said, I am freaking out a smidgen. In the next 30 days I have to finish planting about 400 acres of soybeans, cultivate 1,000 acres of corn, hill those 1,000 acres of corn, pack our crap, pack mom and dad's crap that is still in that house, move said crap to desired locations, clean the house we're moving to, and clean the house we're living in. Now that I think about it, we'll probably be laying pipe out at the end of this month, too. I might not get much sleep this month.