Yesterday was getting back into the field for us. I left early in the morning to pick up a land roller to roll the peas (pushing all the small rocks in to the ground and leveling the field, our combine headers appreciate this task). The night before I asked Landon if he would roll for me while I picked the larger rocks on the field. He was up at 5am and in our room wondering if it was time to go. I remember doing exactly the same thing when I was his age when my dad told me that the next day I would cultivate behind him spraying avadex on our fields, oh how history repeats itself. The only difference is I was in a 100hp tractor (with A/C) and steering a 20ft cultivator down the field, while Landon was in a 200hp Front wheel assist with auto-steer pulling a 45ft roller. He was on a 1 mile long field and he said it got a little boring on those long runs but he was so proud of himself when he finished the whole 160 acres. I have to admit, I was pretty proud too, he handled it like a pro. Struggled a little at first getting lined up after turning but by the end had it figured out.
I picked rocks on both quarters while he rolled(taking extra care because I had extra time with Landon running the roller now instead of me doing both fields) and then stayed on the field and watched him finish up. He was sure to radio me when he saw a rock I missed so that I could head over and pick it up. He had a long face when I told him he couldn’t roll the 2nd field, but it is littered with power poles and SaskTel pedestals, so just too many hazards.
We used our CIH 7140 on the roller, which is our general do it all tractor, but was the first to have auto-steer in it back when we used it for spraying. We still have the same auto-steer system (Ag Leader Easy Steer) and it works great after nearly a decade. I still remember the first time we let go of the steering wheel and couldn’t believe it was going to keep our tractor going straight down the field. Now it is just a given that you hit resume and away it goes. Landon, Logan, Gabby and Liam won’t know any different and I wonder what technology they will have when they are running the units in the future. I got a text from my Uncle Doug yesterday and it was of his auto-steer that he just installed on his seeding tractor. He experienced that same feeling yesterday and I am sure he was equally as amazed as we were the first time we used it. I am very glad he decided to go with it as I am sure he will enjoy it and make his seeding that much less stressful.
Happy Mother’s Day to all those mothers reading today, hope you get to spend sometime with your kids today, or at least talk with them. Nothing more special than our bond with our incredible mother. Love you Mom!
Over the past week, well actually 9 months we’ve been testing and demoing a variety of high speed vertical tillage tools to determine first if we need one of these $100,000 + tools and secondly if the answer is yes, which one. I’m currently testing the King Kong as Lance has dubbed it (Kongskilde 9100). JayDee AgTech brought this unit out last Tuesday tethered to a 9560R 4wd powerhouse. These units require higher horsepower to pull them properly to do their job. So this massive 9560R ( that’s 560 horsepower with the R standing for rubber tires vs T which would be tracks) with 800 metric rubber, full auto shift with cruise control, full pivoting swivelling seat and console and ….. Oh wait, back to the real demo.
These units are about trash management, getting through the straw, levelling the ground, helping it dry and preparing the seed bed. The Kongskilde demo was accompanied by 2 manufacturer employees and 2 JDAT employees to get it set right to meet our needs. That was hugely beneficial to fine tune it. I’m thrashing through heavy oats straw currently (barley straw last week in moist conditions) and it’s doing a great job of turning the soil, and managing straw piles and bunches. At 7-9 mph it trails nicely avoiding strips. It’s a heavy unit, as they all are. When you hit wet soggy low spots where the tractor starts to spin, it’s debatable if you are better to leave the unit in the ground or lift it onto the 8 oversized tires that want to sink as well under the weight of the unit. With the ability to adjust the offset of the gangs of discs it seems quite versatile. Overall very impressed with it. Do we need one? The verdict is still out.
I’ll move over this afternoon to a very simple Kelly Harrow. Seeing it winged up makes it appear much more complex than it really is. Cleaning up what was a disastrous pea crop and cattail sloughs was its most impressive feat. As was leaving it all level and smooth.
Last fall we demo’d the Kelly after a Lemken which honestly is my least favourite ( the Lemken that is) The most complex with the most parts of the lot, it arrived brand new with no instruction. After the experience of the fine tuning on the Kongskilde I’m sure the same holds for the Lemken. The Lemken floated more behind the tractor causing strips and was prone to plugging up gangs on wet or heavier straw requiring lifting up and over and circling back to try and level them off.
So again we ask ourselves, do we need one. And if we did, the toss up would be the Kelly or the King Kong. It’s a pricey tool to sit and be used from time to time.
A huge thanks to Tyler and Bentley at JayDee AgTech as well as Bill and Chris from Kongskilde for their time and attention last week.
May 4, 2015 was the start to #plant15 (for you twitter bugs) on LDS Farms this year. Our family had a bet on when we would start, I had picked May 3 and Logan my youngest son took the 4th. Well May 3 we filled up the drill and headed to the field late in the afternoon to “just get a start” and get it all set for the next day, only to drive into a rain 4 miles north of our yard where we were going seeding.
It wasn’t a big rain just too wet to do anything in the field that day. So I guess someone had it in mind that we needed to go to Fuddruckers and Ruckers in Saskatoon after seeding, see that was Logan’s prize for being the winner of the bet. Seeding the first field went very smooth with no real water problems and seeding into good moisture. The biggest trouble we had was getting the semi close enough to fill. The fields are still very soft for big trucks so had to stay close to the approach to the field. I went till 10:30 that night so that I could fill up in the morning and move to another field with Lane’s help. I finished the peas around noon.
As I was seeding those fields I was remembering past years that we seeded them. It is funny, as this year when it is still pretty wet in a lot of areas and some of our fields, these two were dry and seeded perfectly. I remember not that long ago when the first field I started on this year was the last field because when Lane got there with the sprayer he was spinning all the time. It was extremely wet and it wasn’t at the start of our seeding that year either. Strange, but I enjoyed the 1 mile long field with no turning for sloughs this year.
Cleaned out the peas and headed for home. We now had the daunting task of changing all the openers on the drill. They are the points that open the ground and gently place the seed in the furrow. The openers we had on had seeded over 23,000 acres so it was time. With the help of Josh (our after school and weekend helper) we did it in about 3 hours while thunder rolled in the distance, or maybe that was Lane in his new toy that he was playing with, but I will let him tell you about that. We now have the drill ready for wheat which will be the next crop we go to, but with a 1/3 of an inch of rain, we have a rain delay so Lane and I are headed to town to take our mother out for breakfast, you see it is her birthday and rarely do we get this opportunity. Gotta run…
Being on the cusp of seeding, we needed to keep ourselves busy which honestly, that’s not that difficult. We took the rock rake (a tool that rakes all the rocks into a convenient row for the rock picker to pick up), the rock picker and the cultivator to Picklers quarter to clean up a line fence we demolitioned last year. It’s always great to get projects like that done before we start seeding as once we’re in that mode, these odd jobs are hard to tackle. And the good news is we can now seed that area now. I was bugging Lance that he loves to pull superbee grain trailers so this was him with 2 units behind the John Deere 6140 hauling everything home.
I heavy harrowed 40 acres before the rain and hail started, which coincidently started just as Lance was reaching the field with the drill to start seeding field peas. Disappointing but we didn’t end up with much rain so we’re ready to start mid-day tomorrow hopefully. Walking to the road for Lance to pick me up after the rain, this miraculous sight in the sky sucked most of my IPhone battery. Tonight I spent the evening trenching water by hand on Picklers enjoying the peace and quiet before the storm (which is to say seeding).
After a wet weekend, we couldn’t have ordered a nicer week this week weather-wise. Temps in the mid 20’s and brisk SW winds worked to dry the ground very well this week. However a trek across the field at home to take some debris to the rock pile proved that we still need some drying to occur, but it will come.
Today off to gather some seed that was purchased from fellow farmers. But in true accountant like style I am doing it as a back haul while taking a load of oats in that we grew last year to our local elevator – gotta make every trip count. Our decision to grow 8 different crop/varieties has got me questioning it now. It is going to mean a lot of clean outs this spring and a lot more juggling of supplies to the field. Our cropping strategy though is to try and find a crop that not many others will grow and therefor might be more valuable and in higher demand. We are still growing the traditional hard red wheat, 2 row malt barley, peas and canola but this year we have added soft white wheat (used for ethanol and some milling), 6 row barley (used for a Japanese tea market), some non GMO canola (I know I said it but their is a premium to grow it so we thought we try a bit) and of course, good old itchy canary seed (it’s for the birds).
Our hope is to start doing some field prepping this week end, maybe harrow a field we are growing peas on and pick some rocks/stumps from a couple line fences we cleared over the last couple years. With any luck we will be starting to seed sometime early to next week. Our family has a bet on when we will start. My guess is May 3, but Logan’s is not far behind at May 4. Landon took the gamble and said it was going to be wet for a while and took the 15th. I sure hope he is wrong, but with the weather and mother nature, you just never know!