Thursday, April 28, 2011

That's Nice. That's Real Nice.

I'm ready to plant now. Yes, I am proud of my tractor and planter - John Deere 8120, Monosem NG+3.




And this is how my day ended:






Yes, I cooked. I love pork chops and potatoes made on the grill. I just love food.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I've Been A Real Crab Ass Lately

And I'm sorry. The weather, not planting, blah blah blah, are no excuse. So, sorry.

We're continuing to work in the shop. Put some new fertilizer gauges on my planter today. There went some more money. Found out the hydraulic drive on my planter is shit. More money. I've lost about $1,200 in repairs and parts the last couple of days. That's part of being a farmer and owning your own business. On the bright side, I did sell some corn for October/November delivery for $6.19/bushel. That'll help a fella out.

I'm hoping to be in the field Friday, planting by Saturday. Or Sunday. Or it might rain Friday night. Who the hell knows?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Restless

I can only work in the shop for so long. I'm bored. Even though I'm still not completely ready machinery-wise to plant, I'm ready farmer-wise. 

I don't mind tinkering in the shop, and I enjoy it most of the time, but we've been doing it for the last week and a half. It's time to get my butt in a seat. Dad could work in the shop all day, every day, but not me. He likes the shop, I like the tractor. I think that's why we make a pretty good team. 

I like the solitude of the tractor. I like plugging the iPod into an FM transmitter and playing jukebox hero. I like listening to the Scott Van Pelt show on ESPN radio, Dave Ramsey, and the occasional Royals game. I like moving dirt, killing weeds, and planting seeds. I like waving at the people that drive by. Mostly, I like dreaming - about the land I want to farm, the land I hope to own, a place of my own, an insulated shop, my next tractor, raising 200 bushel corn, what I'm going to have for supper, and a certain '81 GMC.

I'm hoping to be planting by the end of the week, but we'll see. We had more rain today. Hopefully the sun will come out and the wind will blow so the dirt will dry out. I have a feeling it's going to be another long spring, but besides complaining, there's not much I can do. It'll get done.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Nice Little Saturday

The last few days we've been puttering around in the shop. We put the tanks on Dad's tractor, put the tanks and duals on mine, messed around with the seat in my tractor some more (you've got to love it when you get a new part to "fix" something and find out it's broken when you install it), and some other things I've forgotten. Changed the oil in my tractor today, gave it a drink of antifreeze, and topped off the hydraulic oil.

I will say that Dad's new shop is a great improvement over the last one. There's s lot more room, the concrete floor is level, and the overhead door is wider. And Dad bought this sweet drill press off of an industrial sale a long time ago, but for some reason we never used it in the old shop. I used it the last couple of days, and holy monkey, it's the coolest thing in the shop. We went from some crappy drill press that was made to fit on a bench to one that has its own stand and was used in a factory. Yeah. Cool beans.

I'll try to take some pictures of some things the next few days. Hopefully, if it doesn't rain any more, we'll be planting this week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Was A Farmer Again Today

It was pretty dang nice out today, and we made the most of it. I finished putting the new closing wheels on the Monosem, Dad and I delivered seed corn to Grandpa, Dad finished fixing his air compressor so we put it where it belongs (to find out it has a leak - always something, as Grandpa would say), put the tanks on Dad's tractor, and worked some more on the confounded seat in the 8120. I do believe we have once and for all found the air leak, but I've said that before. I may say it again.

I was walking out the door of Dad's shop to head home and I felt something I feel once in awhile - I belong. Sometimes I feel like I'm just acting out this way of life, that I have no business being here and should pack it up and find a mundane job in town. Then there are moments where you're getting ready to go home for the day, your jeans are dirty, the sun is causing the grass to look a little greener than it has the past few days, you hang an arm out the window of your pickup on the way home. You pull up in front of the garage, grab a beer, baseball bat, and a tennis ball, release the dogs from jail, proceed to hit them some grounders and pop-ups, and realize this is it. I am where God knew I needed to be. There were a few detours on the way back, but that's alright. Radney Foster once wrote in a song "Half of the good things in my life came from half my mistakes." I get that. I live that. It's going to keep happening. If this was a mistake, it's one of the best I've made.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sometimes

I wonder what it would be like to have a job that wasn't dependent on weather. A job where you got home at 5 every day and didn't think about it until the next morning. Because of this splendid weather, we'll be running balls to the wall once again this spring. They did lower the chances of rain the next few days, but there are still some 50% chances in there, and they're already saying 30% the first few days of next week. In my experience, when you don't want rain, those chances will go up. When you want rain, they disappear.

Really, though, who am I kidding? Yes, days like today drive me nuts. It was too wet to even mow the yard, and too cold to work in the shop. I hit tennis balls to the dogs until I thought I might kill them. I read about 38 magazines and started a book. Hell, I finished the laundry and put a roast in the crock pot for supper. I can't stand being cooped up in my own house. I can't imagine being cooped up at a job I didn't like. I'll quit bitching now. I just need to remind myself out loud once in awhile.

I'm going to tear out the flower beds and trim the hedge tomorrow. I might mow the grass. It's supposed to be 50 again (hallelujah) so I'm going to be outside.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm Getting Antsy For Planting. And a Call For Help

We had quite a bit of rain a few days ago. I heard anything from an 1.5" to 1.8". 90% chance of rain tonight, 80% tonight, and a chance every day and night through next Monday. I hope it doesn't rain on Easter - the old wives tale says that if it rains on Easter, it will rain the next 7 Sundays. As wet as it's been the last few years, I'm not beyond believing that. I'd like to be planting about... tomorrow. That's not going to happen. Hopefully soon.

I've been looking into restoring our '91 GMC pickup. I say it's ours, but Dad's name is on the title, so really, it's only mine because I'm the only one that drives it. Anyway, it's been in the family for a long time, and eventually Shay and I will need an extended cab pickup, so instead of buying a different pickup, I'd spend (hopefully) less money by making this one shiny and new. It's got a good engine, tranny, and transfer case, so it would be a cosmetic restoration. The only problem is basically every panel needs replaced. The doors are good, and I think the tailgate can be reused. Everything else is rusted out. 

Why do it? Because I'm a softy for family stuff. I bought a '98 GMC from my Grandpa Peters that he bought new. I sold it about 6 months after I bought it, and regretted doing that about 2 weeks later. Dumbest thing I've ever done (and it's a long list). I've seen that pickup around, and some dumbass kid bought it and beat the piss out of it. I keep hoping to see it in a parking lot so I can put my name and number on a slip of paper under the windshield, but usually I see it when the kid's foot is buried. Never should've sold it. Grandpa has a couple of John Deere 3020s that he's had for over forty years, and I'd like to restore them someday. I actually spent part of today looking up parts for them, for no particular reason. I like to dream, I guess.

The other reason I want to fix it up is because the drive train is solid, and I know where the pickup has been. Whenever I've bought a used pickup (which is every one) I'm pretty nervous the first couple of months. Some people don't care about their vehicles as long as they go from A to B. On the other hand, we take good care of our stuff. That GMC's odometer quit at 258,524 in the spring of '04. Shortly after, Dad put a new engine in. Dad and I drove a '94 Chevy that had 224,000 miles on it when Dad got rid of it. Dad says I drive like a grandma, but hey, when stuff lasts forever, I'm not going to change my style. I know where the '91 has been, and I've been driving it since 2000, so I'm confident it's not going to let me down.

I can't decide, though. Some days I'm all for it, and others I'm not so sure it's a good idea. Help me, followers. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

100th Post!

If I had been doing this challenge thing the way I'm supposed to, I would have approximately 194 posts by now, but, well, I'm lazy and I don't always have much to write about, so sorry about that. I heard from a few people last night that they've been missing my blog, so I'll work on writing more often. I promise.

It rained and snowed here yesterday. Awesome. Sounds like more rain Monday, Monday night, Tuesday, and small chances the rest of the week. Some of the ditches are half full of water already. It appears we'll be fighting groundwater again this spring. I don't know, maybe it'll get it out of its system and clear up after this next week. I hope so. I'd like to have a good year for once.

Didn't do much yesterday. Didn't do much today, either. I did put most of the new closing wheels on the twin row planter this afternoon. Of course, I came up one bolt short somehow, and couldn't get it finished. Just my luck. I need a new spring on one of the brackets, too, so maybe Monday or Tuesday we can finally get that damn thing finished. I'll try to get some pictures of it. I'm pretty proud of it, and like it a lot, but I have a feeling it's going to go bye-bye next year. Oh, well.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Here Comes The Rain

Well, looks like we're headed for another wet spring. 80% chance of rain tomorrow, 90% tomorrow night with a possibility of snow, 90% Friday, and they've put some chances in for the first few days of next week. And to think some guys are out planting corn... Good for them. My seed's still in the bag, and I'm pretty confident that's the best place for it right now. 

Finished up row stalking yesterday. I took some pictures and made a short little film for you to demonstrate what it does.

This is the Row Stalker:



Whoever invented this machine is pretty much awesome. It runs on top of the old ridge and pulls the old roots out of the ground. The disks have knobs on the outsides of them, which allow the disks to pinch the old root system and pop them out of the ground. 


The planter has an attachment at the front of each row called a row cleaner, or sometimes referred to as an opener, that will basically sweep these old roots off of the ridge, leaving a clean, flat seed bed. Where we gravity irrigate, we use the same ridges year after year. This machine makes it possible to do it in a very fast and efficient manner. I normally go 11.5 MPH while row stalking. That might not sound like a lot, but in a bumpy cornfield, it's plenty. 

I tried to take a short video so you could see it at work. Not really sure how well it turned out:

video

We also got Dad's planter out of the shop yesterday. If you look, you can see the row cleaners I was talking about. They're on the front of the planter - the black spike wheels:


This is what happens when you don't wire down your irrigation pipe after you pick it up, kids:


I thought I had wired everything up after we picked it up. Whoops. It's really fun getting a 30' piece of aluminum out of a tree by yourself. Guess I learned that lesson. Hey, Ben, does the wind blow around here in the winter?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another Reason I Love Shay

Random text messages when I'm about to fall asleep in the tractor:

"Do you ever feel like walking around the house and snapping your fingers?"
"Uh... No."
"Me either."
"I don't believe you."
"Sorry you're married to the weirdest weirdo ever."
"I'm not, but you are."
"Yeah right."
"Yeah. Right."
"You don't walk around the house snapping your fingers and making fake guns with your hands?"

And later, I asked what she was doing because I hadn't heard from her in awhile:

"I was trying to get the dogs to chase rabbits."

She's silly. It makes me laugh. A lot. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Wave

Today, as I was driving back and forth and forth and back in the tractor, I was thinking about the different ways I wave to people. If I don't know the person I'm waving to, or at, I usually just lift the index finger off of the steering wheel. Sometimes, if I'm being ornery, I'll give them the gun. You know what I mean. In the greater Worms, NE area, though, I usually know who I'm waving at. Would you like to learn how to wave to other neighborhood farmers Ben Peters style?

Raise your left hand. Shape it so that looking at it, it resembles the letter "L". Next, by rotating the wrist, point it towards the person you are waving at. It now resembles a gun. Bring it back to the "L" position. Go back to the gun. Do this a few times, and remember, do it in a rapid motion. Slo-mo wouldn't work so well.

Don't forget to ice the wrist after practicing. It takes time to build up the endurance and strength it takes to wave like this on a consistent basis. I've been doing this all my life. I'm a professional.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

(Title)

I didn't do a whole lot today. Drove back and forth, forth and back. I think I'm done chopping stalks for now. I'll have to do some more before we plant soybeans, but I'll worry about that in a few weeks. 3 days... That's a record for stalk chopping. The 12 row was a good investment.

I did some row stalking today, too. Dad started a field and I worked at that for about an hour after he had to quit. I didn't have the camera. I'll try to take some pictures tomorrow if it's not raining. The row stalker is pretty cool - it pulls the old corn stalks out by the roots. You'll see what I mean when I get pictures. 

My wife is going to be on the radio tomorrow morning!! She went into the studio and did some voice tracking with her co-host after school today. She's really excited about it, and it sounds like there could be a lot of opportunities ahead. It's funny how God opens a bunch of doors at the same time. I'm really proud of Shay and I can't wait to hear her over the air tomorrow. 

My cousin Noah and his wife Shannon had their second child today. Her name is Kyndall Lorraine Seim. She was born about 7 weeks early and only weighs around 3 pounds. She is in the NICU, but is breathing on her own. From what I've heard, so far she is doing well, but I know prayers would be greatly appreciated. I'm interested to see Noah with a little girl. He's kind of a big fella - 6'3" and probably 275 or so. Mostly muscle. Can't wait to see him when she's old enough to have a boyfriend. Anyhow, I hope all is well with the Seim family and can't wait to meet my new cousin!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ben's Headache Cure

Keystone Light.

Yeah, I know, beer dehydrates you, blah blah blah. I just want it to put me to sleep. Excedrin has caffeine. Each can of beer has a sleeping pill in it, according to research I made up for this blog post.
I'm thinking about my day - chopped more stalks, had a meeting at Heartland Lutheran High School - and I'm thinking that life is pretty good. I have an awesome wife, a couple of dogs that are pretty cool, family and friends that I love, and a God that provides all I need and provides a lot of blessings. 

Speaking of blessings, Shay quit her job at KSYZ because she didn't like sales. She had always wanted to go to cosmetology school, so she took the leap. Today was her first day, and she really liked it. Yesterday, though, she was hired at 97.3 (a classic rock station) to do some on air work, and possibly work into doing some ag reports. She says she feels like she has the best of both worlds. I'm really excited for her, and I can't wait to hear her on the radio.

Some more seed is coming tomorrow. I need to make a couple of deliveries. Rain on Thursday. Spring is here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Field Day

Today was the day. Field work has resumed. I'll be spending the majority of my time in a tractor cab for the next 2 or 3 months, and I'm pretty ok with that. The view:

 I was using my new stalk chopper today. I must say, I'm pretty happy with it. Here are some pictures:


This is a picture of what the chopper does:
Before is on the right, after is on the left. It chops the stalks (obviously, Ben) and tears the roots out of the ground. The benefit of ridge till is that with one tillage pass, we're ready to plant. I tried taking a video, but I figured with 36' of machine attached to an expensive tractor that I don't own, I should probably pay attention to what I'm doing.

I'm really happy to be back in the field. Hard to believe that in 3 weeks or so we'll be planting.