Friday, September 30, 2011

Why I Farm

A couple of my blogging friends make lists once in awhile, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I've been thinking a lot lately about why I do what I do, and I don't really know that I can explain it in words, but I'll try.

1. I've never had a morning where the alarm went off and I thought "I really don't want to go to work today." - I have no idea what that feels like. There are things that I don't particularly enjoy doing, but they don't ruin an entire day for me.

2. Something new happens every day - I'll notice something that I've never noticed before, I'll break something like it's never been broken before, or see a different sunrise while I'm irrigating.

3. I get to work with my family - This can be a double edged sword, because we don't always see eye to eye. We do a pretty decent job of working things out when they go south, though. I enjoy working with my Dad and Grandpa... Most of the time, anyway. I think they would both tell you I get a little growly sometimes. I also know I would never do what I'm doing without them. Grandpa helped me rent my first land by going half and half on it with me, and Dad helped me buy my first tractor and planter by going half and half. Grandpa and I buy cattle together, but he likes to feed and take care of them, so he basically takes care of my cattle for me. I probably don't always show it, but I greatly appreciate what they have done for me.

4. I get to drive awesome machinery - Seriously, you've seen the pictures. You're telling me you wouldn't want to run some of that stuff?

5. I don't have a schedule - I was giving Pastor crap the other night at a meeting about his schedule and how full it is. He wanted to know what my schedule looked like. I said "Get up, drink coffee, go to work, come home, eat supper, go to bed." There are things that need to be done in a timely manner, but I get to decide when to do them. Those that know me would tell you that's a good thing, because I don't always do well with people telling me what to do.

6. To make money - Isn't that why you work?

7. To provide for my brothers and sisters in Christ - This is an attitude that I'm just beginning to take. As I understand it, I am here with this knowledge and ability to provide for those that can't. This is also a huge struggle for me, as I read more and more about how farmers are to blame for high obesity in children because of high fructose corn syrup, how cattle should only be grass fed, how chickens should be raised free-range, etc. It is hard to want to give my all for those that don't appreciate what I do or how I do it, but I know there are those out there that do, and besides, everyone needs to eat, whether they believe in what I'm doing or not. Christ calls on me to provide for His flock, so I'm trying my best to do that. And it makes farming a heck of a lot easier and less worrisome when you let God take control.

8. I am surrounded by God's beauty every day - On days when I'm not caught up in myself or the farm or the markets or something like that, this is the main thing I think about. There is a field I irrigate that has pipe on both sides, so you stand in the driveway and are surrounded by corn. One morning it was foggy, so you could not see to the end of the corn field. It felt like it went on forever. I stood there for quite awhile and just enjoyed. I get to watch these amazing crops we plant sprout and grow and develop. I see sunrises and sunsets. I drive around with the window of my pickup open and feel the breeze, smell freshly cut alfalfa, and hear corn leaves rustle against each other. I get to make the first tracks in fresh snow when I walk out to scoop feed bunks.

9. I love it - Even when nothing seems to go right, I would rather be farming than doing anything else. To me, that's the ultimate explanation of love for your career. How else can you explain it? When I'm laying out irrigation pipe and I'm hot and sweaty and pissed off, I'd rather be doing that than anything else. That is my least favorite job on the farm, but it's more enjoyable to me than the thought of working in an office. I love what I do. I might not be the best at it, but I have a passion for it, and God has equipped me with the knowledge and support system to do it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oh Yeah, Brought Cattle Home, Too

I forgot to mention that we also brought cattle home from the pasture. They'll go on a diet of silage, hay and ground corn now. Shay was along to help, and was also in charge of the camera. There was a sweet video of me talking about one of the heifers and her mullet, but it got deleted accidentally. I had no idea at the time that Shay was taking a video. So, sorry you don't get to see that.

I'm Back

I haven't been in the mood lately to blog. Not much interesting has been going on. We finished picking up pipe, Dad's been working on the combine, I fixed my pivot (again). I had to replace a gearbox on it. Luckily it was covered under warranty.

I was all set to blog about the bad mood I've been in, but then I came home from a meeting at church, and Shay was trying to hide the fact from me that she'd been playing the Sims since I left for the meeting instead of doing homework, and it made me laugh that she was trying to act sly about it, and then I turned on a baseball game and it went absolutely bananas and so did I and I've been goofing off with Shay and then I typed this ridiculous sentence.

So eat it, bad mood. Whatever happens at the auction next week happens. I'm still going to come home to Shay and a bowl of ice cream.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Further Proof That PETA Is Bats*** Crazy

That's right, PETA is launching a pornography site to entice people to live a vegan lifestyle. 'Cuz that's what I want to watch - a little porn, followed by a cow getting speared by a forklift. Seriously, what is wrong with our country? I am almost afraid to reproduce and raise children in this society. You have PETA and HSUS doing all they can to stop animal agriculture, and you have Obama throwing farmers under the bus. Last year, he couldn't get enough pictures taken at an ethanol plant. Now, he wouldn't be caught within 100 miles of one. It's time to start building a bomb shelter. Maybe Jesus will be back soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall Is Coming

It's 43 degrees right now. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

The leaves on the beans are starting to turn brown and drop. The corn is also drying, but it's going pretty slowly. We could  use some warm days to dry stuff down, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen.

We've been picking pipe up, shredding weeds, getting a few things ready for harvest. I'm hoping we can cut some beans next weekend or so, but I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't.

Remember that pivot that I've fixed? Twice? Yep, it broke down again. I think a gearbox ate it. I opened the top plug on the gearbox and couldn't see any oil. Opened the bottom plug and all that came out was water. That's a bad sign. Zimmatic pivots have an 8 year/8,000 hour warranty. I think this pivot has been up more than 8 years. My rent contract states I pay the first $500 of pivot/pump repair. A new gearbox is $410. Of course.

We watched Food Inc. the other night, and I'd like to write a reaction to it, but I'm pretty sure my head would explode. That thing was packed with fallacies. I will say one thing - to all of the people that think that the origin of their food is "hidden", it's not. Come ask me anytime. Come spend a few days here. No one said you couldn't ask the farmer or rancher where your food came from.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chopping Silage for Cattle Feed

Is what we did today. When you harvest corn, you only keep the kernels. When you chop silage, you take the entire plant. The chopper does what it sounds like. We ran three wagons, and there was a guy running a dozer packing the pile. You have to pack the pile to make sure that the silage doesn't spoil. We'll feed this to our cattle until March or so, when they will go to market.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Raking Hay

This is what I did today:

A lot of times after we cut hay we have to turn it over to dry it so we can bale it. Actually, so Dad can bale it. Hay is kind of his area of expertise. I just chip in when he needs me to. Our rake is also nice because it takes two windrows and combines them into one, which means half as many passes through the field when Dad comes back to bale. The windrows looks like this when I get to the field:

When I combine the two windrows, it looks like this:

Here are a couple more pictures:

The rake is a pretty simple design. It has metal wheels that have tines on them that pick the hay up off the ground. Basically, you just drive around. I enjoy doing it. It's the mindless kind of work that will drive you nuts if you have to do it too long, but is a good change-up from the normal day to day. I made a crappy video for your entertainment and education:

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Favorite Album

I was all set to blog about farming, but then we got home from a movie, and I sat my ass in this chair to surf the web (do people still say that?) and I wanted to listen to some music. That's when I came across Sean McConnell's "200 Orange St." album. I stopped. I clicked play. And I've been taken back about 3 years.

I'm sitting here thinking "has it really been three years since I discovered this album?" The answer is yes. A lot of different thoughts and memories are coming back. I cried through this entire album once - true story. One of my best friends had just died, the girl I thought I wanted to love forever didn't want anything to do with me, and I was on the way to a guitar shop to play guitars I couldn't afford. I used to listen to this album and smoke compulsively. It was 40 pounds and two pickups ago. I didn't even know who Shay was. I thought I was going to be a pastor. I was never going to own a dog that wasn't a red Doberman. I was an English major that hated grammar and wasn't that fond of Greek literature. When I couldn't sleep at night, I'd listen to this album while lying in bed and think that it was written just for me.

Isn't that the point of a great album? To listen to every song and think: "This guy was in my head. This guy was me in a past life." A great album is the friend that knows everything about you without having to ask. I didn't take much solace in anything at that time, but I could listen to this album and have a reprieve for 45 minutes or so.

Now, it's a different kind of listen. It's one of those friends that I don't hear from often, but when I do, it's like we were never apart. Instead of the bad, I remember the good. I smile a lot. I hurt a little. Mostly, I'm thankful that I found this album.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Re-Fixing A Pivot

Remember when I had a problem with the couplers on one of the drive-shafts on my pivot? Same thing happened again today. This one was a real pain in the ass for some reason, but after much sweating and cussing, I got it fixed. Last I knew, the pivot was watering my soybeans, so all is right with the world. After that, I heard some God-awful racket coming from under the hood of my pickup. Seems the new alternator I put on my pickup a month or two ago has already crapped out. Looks like I'll be taking that off and taking it back to Advance Auto Parts tomorrow. Must've been the made in China model.

We started picking up Grandpa's pipe yesterday. Sounds like we're picking up more tomorrow, and I'll either help Dad or Grandpa Saturday morning. Then it's off to Wahoo to trade mowers, and home in time for the Husker game.

I really want to pick corn. Or cut beans. At this point, I don't care. I just want to harvest something. We'll chop silage in the next couple of weeks I suppose, so that counts as harvest, I guess.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Getting Closer to the Fun Part

Remember how we had to lay out pipe to water our corn? Well, it doesn't pick itself up. We're done watering corn for the year as we had some rain last week. We really didn't have to water much this year, which was pretty awesome. Anyhow, before we can go pick up the pipe, we have to pull it all apart. I pulled some of Dad's pipe apart today. We'll pick it up one of these days I suppose. It just means we're getting closer to picking corn.