Bound to Happen

I heard the song “Papa Loves Momma” the other day and the verse “it was bound to happen, and when night it did…” kept going over in my mind after this mornings episode. I was just nicely getting going. Had set up yet another trial of a slow release product added to our fertilizer and was just documenting it in my book so I knew what side of the flag was what 4-5 months from now when the tractor started laboring and spinning. I looked up wasn’t a big deal just going through a little ditch that was probably wet a bit but the tractor would be on hard dry ground in no time. Looked back and the air cart wheel sunk away to the axle. I didn’t dare stop now just prayed it would “pop” back up. We’ll believe me it didn’t pop up but came up and then I though about my liquid caddy. It was quite full and had to come through there. The tractor now on hard dry ground is still snorting and spinning and getting worse. I figured the caddy was sunk so I clutched and stopped. 


It was sunk but the air drill front castor was gone in the gumbo muck and the Packers full as well. It had fallen into the air cart holes and was not coming up. What do I do when I panic? I radio Lane, no answer. Call his cell, no answer. Luckily Marie was ‎home today and she answered my call of distress. Soon Lane was on the radio and headed home instead of spraying. They brought blocks, shovels and chains. Lane and I shoveled muck that would not fall off your spade while Marie dug with her hands around the Packers. We decided to bring the liquid trailer across the field and pumped out the caddy and still unhook it from the air drill. We put blocks under wheels and then slowly drove ahead. It came out rather easy which was a relief. Then pull out caddy separately and rehook it up. Then pump liquid back on. The whole ordeal took about 2 hrs which means it’s gonna be a late night for yours truly. That’s what you get for not taking it off Autosteer and steer around the ditch rather than running with a wheel right down the middle. Lesson learned and nothing got broke so that was good. But I’m more cautious now. 

Why those ‎lyrics are associated with getting stuck is because I have seeded nearly 12,000 acres (3yrs) with this drill and tractor and have yet to be stuck, until today, so “it was bound to happen and today it did…”

My morning sunrise 


My sunset 


Short Pants

What an incredible week we have had. Sunday started out rotten with my liquid fertilizer actually gelling because it was so cold. You couldn’t wear enough clothes to stay warm with the bone chillin’ wind. The week progressed and so did seeding. We finished up the wheat and went back to canola with the change of crops came a change of clothes. Lane traded in his toque for short pants (that’s what an old neighbor used to call shorts).  Yes I think this is the first spring ever I have seen him working in shorts. Actually to be fair this is the first year in a long time where the temperature warrants shorts, and even 3 days in a row. I’m sorry no picture as he has been running around too fast for me to catch a shot. Spraying, harrowing, delivering seed and fertilizer and then leveling ruts when he has time. So no time for him to stop for a pose. 

Seeding conditions really couldn’t be better. Top is dry, moisture down below and lots of heat to get things growing fast. Our preseeding spray will work well and give the crop a chance to get ahead of the weeds that always eventually come. Fingers (and toes) are crossed we don’t make a bunch of in crop sprayer ruts. Please please no more ruts! 

As Lane reported we got rid of a rock pile today,it not without their challenges of getting stuck twice with the rock truck. They came with a big heavy disc and cut up their ruts but left it all lumpy, so right after school Josh came out in “the oven” as Lane called the 1370 as the air conditioning never stays charged up because of the infrequent use of the tractor. He used our disc and cut up the clumps and I’m seeding over it and you would never know the mess was there just a few hours ago. It is very nice not having another obstacle in the field. I sent this picture to Marie and ‎said to show the boys that Parker Schnabel was here from the History Channel’s hit (in our house anyways) “Gold Rush ”

We are nearing in on the end. 3 more qtrs of canola after tonight and 50 acres of barley.   Wrap up will be a little slower as we don’t want extra fertilizer or seed so seeding until running out and then go for more if needed. Will keep you posted on how it’s coming.‎
‎This is what my day started out with.

This is the end of my day.

Get your popcorn, cotton candy, rocks

imageConstruction company asked if they could have a rock pile. Every farm kid in the land knows that if someone comes asking for rocks, you give them every last one! They may have overloaded the first load, or as Harvey the contractor said as his track hoe prodded him out of his sunken state “yeah he maybe had a little bit too big of a jag on for the first load”.  Luckily I was filling liquid fertilizer onto the drill so no rubber necking required. It was 150′ away.

FCC comes for a visit


Last Thursday, David and Janelle from Farm Credit Canada came out to the farm to get some film and pictures of our operation ‎during seeding. They want to make an educational video to be used internally to show all their staff the hands on tasks of planting a crop. David and Janelle got the first taste of seeding with an early morning departure from Regina. They arrived at 7:30 so that means they left before 5:30 because they also had with them some Tim Horton treats for us. 

It worked out great because we were just moving to “Moores” and starting some barley so I was setting the drill and calibrating it which they were able to capture on video. As I was going through my setting routine and unexpected visit from Matt Beal occurred. He was “in the area” so thought he would stop by and see the operation in action. It was great to see him and make a round in the tractor that he found for us. We met Matt through his wife who works at FCC with Lane. He is a great resource for us to ask questions. You see he is a mechanic and what farm can’t use a mechanic on their speed dial. He worked at Markusson in Regina until last summer when he decided to take a promotion and became a territory service manager for Claas, still yellow just a different shade. He has for the past 4 or so years been coming out to the farm and helping us get our combines in tip top shape each year before harvest. We always look forward to spending a day in the shop with Matt, and hope he does too!  

Back to the video, David and Janelle were very accommodating and did not get in my way at all. I tried to explain things as I went and so not sure what they caught on tape . We all snuggled into the cab and did some footage “in action” so see how that turns out. Janelle got the worst seat having to sit on the tool box so was a little stiff I suspect when it came time to get out. Shortly after dinner they had enough and we’re ready to depart but there was no way I was letting able bodied help leave without giving me a hand filling the air tank. David graciously agreed and even pulled out a brand spanking new pair of gloves. For a farmer the site of new gloves is like putting a bowl of ice cream in front of them and tell them they can’t touch it. I suspect maybe someone tipped him off that if you are going to see Lance be prepared to be put to work. You see last time that FCC was out with a film crew it came to my attention that one of the assistants had his 1A licence so by the end of the day I had him taking one of the semi’s home for me. So maybe David was warned and therefore took the advice and came prepared.

They left and I grabbed the Tim Bit box and went back to my day of putting in 300 acres of 2 row barley hopefully to make Malt quality so we can all enjoy a cold beer on a hot summer day!

1/2 way Mark

Filling up better

Well yesterday the 17th of May marked our 1/2 way mark, we have started the down slope. The previous night they were calling for snow so I was determined to go as long as I could stay awake but by 11 plans had changed. I had some plugged liquid fertilizer screens and I wasn’t about to start cleaning them on the dark, a 90kph north freezing wind and temp of about -5 so called it a night. Came out in the morning and cleaned the filters and that seemed to fix the liquid flow problem. Two rounds later my air tank quit seeding so went and looked and a bearing was gone in the drive shaft. Took the unit to the yard for tear down. Turned out to be a very standard bearing which we had on hand do were able to get it back together and running within a couple hours. 

Wind was still crazy and really cold but we missed all the snow and rain that the south got so we’re thankful of that. Finished up the field at 6:30 pm and Marie ‎was making a turkey for supper as Carie and the kids (Lane’s family) were out for the weekend. We decided to stop for a wonderful supper and be thankful we are this far along at this time in May. The bonus of a turkey supper is turkey sandwiches for lunches this week. 

Trials and Demo’s

Well I think we are officially done with trying new toys on the farm. After our spending spree of 2013/14 we have put a spending freeze on capital purchases, so not sure why we have so many new pieces on the farm. I suspect the sales are a bit slow at the dealers so they are trying to get things out to the farms in hopes someone falls in love and adds it to their fleet. 

I’m seeding the field across the road from home (dubbed George’s because it was Uncle George’s originally) and it was a field we ran a high speed disc machine over in the fall to try it. The field is in great shape with no wet spots on it. I was thinking that was the key but when I get to the line and look at Randy’s  (the neighbor) ‎I see his looks dry as well and it wasn’t touched except with a harrow in the fall. So much for that theory. Interesting to see how it germinated compared to an unworked field right beside it (dubbed norman’s, you guessed it).We are, we’ll I am at least, all about trying different things to see if they pay. Maybe the accountant in me or my thirst for knowledge, but I need to prove to myself something is worth while before adopting it. For instance we are now treating all our canola with a product called Jumpstart, a phosphate enhancer. We tried it in trials for 4 years before getting conclusive results that indicated there was a net $ return by doing it.Hence why all the demo’s.  

We are getting into our groove it seems. I’m spending endless hours in the cab seeding and Lane running crazy between sprayer, harrows and trucks. Josh is helping out a lot as well treating seed and filling trucks and all the odd jobs around the yard that keep us rolling. We are pushed over the 1/3 mark and knocking on the 1/2 way mark. Our peas are likely just about out of the ground (which is not great with snow and freezing in the forcast). We have soft white wheat in and 4 quarters(160ac each) of barley. Josh came out this afternoon and in true Nascar pit stop fashion we switched over to canola and so far have 80 ac in as I write this. Lane had all the fertilizer blended and ready for me to load so that is how we got up and running so fast. Seeding conditions really couldn’t be better on this field for the canola. We have a dry surface with moisture just underneath making it an excellent seed bed to lay the seed into.  The forecast is for snow overnight and with this 90mph wind (that only southern Alberta is supposed to get) sure could blow something in. It is out of the Northeast so has cooled it off outside. In true Lance style I only put in 5 bags of seed in the protection of the yard and with the use of the the front end loader so now have to get my lovely wife to brave the wind and cold and come pick me up so I can hand bomb another 8 bags in to keep me running for the night. Someday I will learn or just get an air tank with those fancy new “bag lifts”, but still won’t protect me from the wind. Might go a little late tonight if they are forecasting snow so I can sleep in tomorrow, but my luck i’ll just have to get up and keep going, which would be okay too!  

Spraying, harrowing, sweet talking sales folks and staying ahead of the drill

Days are blending together. I was finally going straight back and forth in the harrows last night so was able to update AgExpert FM Pro with my spray records of the past few days. Broke the 1100 acres sprayed, oh, plus the 190 with the sweet New Holland 275 Front amount Boom sprayer from FarmWorld in Humboldt. Great unit but we’re very happy with our Deere sprayer. He will give us a quote to think about. With exchange, the settled landed price in   Canada for a 2015 sprayer like this new 2014 is about $100k difference. Absolutely nuts which explains in part the slow down in new equipment sales.

Back to loading. imageimageimage

Home Quarter Seeding and unexpected Weather

Today was a perfect example of how the weather can change very quickly. I was up at 4:30 this morning with not a cloud in the sky and the sun shining beautifully. I was excited to be working on our home quarter, land that was broke by our ancestors well over a century ago. I find it the most enjoyable for a number of reasons, like usually finding an old bridal ring from years gone by hooked to a seeding shank, but mainly because the boys can be there to help and come for quick visits and it’s easy for Marie getting meals and extra coffees to us. Here is Logan delivering my coffee and some breakfast but did not go home until he road beside to make sure everything was working properly and checked the seeding depth. He’s crazy about seeding, so will likely be looking to take over my job soon enough.
We are seeding canary seed today. Got loaded up and set by 7:30 and then Lane headed to get sprayer ready so he could spray the field we will be moving to tomorrow, Moores Home (a farm we bought 4 years ago and the name sticks). He radioed me and said he was hoping to get his tank sprayed before it rained. I was behind the bush by our yard and not really looking to the sky rather making sure everything was working as it should. When I came out from behind the bush I could see what he was talking about. Within 1/2 hour it was spitting on the window and for a while came down pretty good. ‎Fortunately it was not enough to stop me but made a mess of my windows and the fertilizer I was trying to‎ auger. Lane got 1 tank on in not so ideal conditions so fingers crossed it will work.

Working this home land seemed somewhat more special this year. Our Uncle Kenny (dad’s brother) has recently retired and has been helping us out and it is so great having him around. He has so much life experience with fixing things and ideas that he is very valuable to have around. Makes me think a lot about what it would be like if Dad was still alive. The part that makes it special this year is Uncle Kenny asked if he could get a bucket of black dirt loaded on his truck the other day. I said sure and of course asked why, thinking it was for his garden. He said that Dad’s and his Mom’s Graves have sunk a lot and he wants to fill them up and plant some grass. It warms my heart (and brings a tear to my eye) when I think that the dirt I’m working is now, in a small part, with Dad and his Mom in their final resting spots. Thanks very much to Uncle Kenny for doing that and being more than just someone helping us out.   

Miss you Dad, this fields for you, (sorry it’s the itchy canaryseed!)‎

Back to Seeding and Start Spraying

Got started seeding again today. It has been just over a week since we finished the peas. Today is Soft white wheat used for ethanol primarily. Seeding up by Englefeld on one of Harold’s fields. Me and a young Moose just minding our own business. As you can see i did have neighbors this morning, nice to have someone to watch even if they are little different shade of red. They were done their qtr in no time and pulled out leaving me with the moose. IMG_20150512_082106

Noticed this huge whirlwind as well this morning, something I remember as a child but don’t see them any more with all the direct seeding and no dust to blow. It didn’t last long but it was big for awhile. IMG_20150512_101816

Lane has started spraying so things really kick into high gear for him, not that’s he’s been bored but now juggles harrowing, spraying, rock picking and keeping the seed and fertilizer to me. What we thought was going to be an early spring is turning out to be the new normal, which is mid may. We are slightly ahead of last year but not by much. Time to kick it into high gear!!!

Peas germinating and -2 overnight


A quick coffee with the landlords as we inspected the peas this morning. We hit -2 and north of here was -5!  The peas are Colin along nicely with close to an inch tail on some of them. Will watch them closely over the next couple days to spray them right before they pop out of the ground.

Always neat to watch the first seeds of the year grow.