Friday, October 24, 2014

About those Fence Posts

 When I arrived, Cattleman Jim had the post hole digger at the ready. He is replacing posts in the pasture fence.
Have you ever dug a fence post hole by hand? Let me assure you, a post hole digger is a great tool.
 The tractor hydraulics runs the motor that spins the the shaft while, the loader holds the implement as it spins itself down into the ground.
As it spins, it is dislodging dirt. 
In a flash, the post hole digger has dug a hole for the post. 
The loader lifts the digger out and it brings a load of dirt along. Presto! As if by magic there is a hole in the ground. 
 We are using old high line poles for fence posts. Each pole has had two eight foot lengths cut from it. 
 This is the third piece, longer than eight feet, it will be the sentinel on the line.
Cattleman Jim uses the loader to press it into place. 
 He tamps the soil firmly around the bottom of the post.
And we have a fencepost in place.  
The rose hips from a Wild Prairie Rose is in the grass. They look like rubies as they shimmer and bob in the breeze. 
As we enjoy one more beautiful afternoon in GriggsDakota.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Taking a Corn Sample

The world has turned brown and dusty in GriggsDakota. The fields are mostly empty now, except for the cornfields.  Farmer Fred is driving the combine down the road to a cornfield to see if we can continue combining. The head, or front cutting portion of the combine, has been changed to a corn head. Some of the combine settings are adjusted to remove the corn kernels from the cobs. 
 It's a busy time of year and the field access roads carry a bit of truck and machinery traffic. Although you don't really expect to meet someone on an old dirt trail, our neighbors are combining so Farmer Fred pulls over to let the truck pass.  Note that there is a fold down ladder on the back of the combine.
  He then pulls onto the cornfield. We are going to get a sample to take to the elevator. Yesterday's post explained about the moisture level of the corn. We will have to dry this crop, it is just a question of how much and what method of drying we need to do. Corn is grown in rows and each row goes into a slot on the header to be cut and harvested.
It is windy and the corn trash is blowing around so much that it reminds me of a snowstorm. We have been lucky in that department so far in October. No snow has fallen. 
When enough corn has been combined for a reasonable sampling of the field, Farmer Fred climbs up the aforementioned ladder with an empty oatmeal carton tucked inside his jacket. He then climbs into the hopper. Don't worry, the combine has been completely shut down.  
He disappears momentarily while he fills the container and tucks it back in his jacket. Then he climbs out and down. 
We are going to take the sample to be moisture tested at the elevator. On the way, we check out the sample and are optimistic. 
Optimism proves true. The moisture is 20.5%. We will dry the corn partially in the grain dryer, then transfer it to a bin. In the bin the corn will cool and finish drying by blowing air through the corn in the bin with fans. That will bring the moisture content down to 14.5% which is a safe storage level and the corn will be ready for a trip to the elevator.
Corn Harvest begins in GriggsDakota.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Checking the Cornfield

 Corn harvest is scheduled to begin as soon as we get the combine heads changed and the combines clean. We also have to plan the process for drying the corn before storing it. We will not combine dry corn this Fall. We will be using air bins and the grain dryer.
 Many of the corn cobs have tipped downward. Some varieties of corn are more likely to let the cobs drop than others. It is a preferred genetic trait as the cobs are protected from moisture by the husks as they dry down.
The cob size is moderate. We will not set any yield records this year. But the cobs are filled with kernels dented. 
We have had some windy days and that can be a concern for ripening corn. Happily, it appears the corn is standing up well. 
 As I mentioned before, we will combine this corn wet, that is above the safe storage level of 14.5% moisture. 
The kernels on the cob that I checked were firm and mealy, but did not crack when I bit down on them. That indicates wet corn, but I cannot judge the moisture accurately. 
We are hoping that the moisture is around 20%. We would then dry it in the grain dryer to 15% before putting the crop in an air bin to cool and dry down to 14.5%.
A combine will arrive soon to take a sample. The sample will be moisture tested which will let us know if we can continue the harvest or wait for additional drying in the cornfields of GriggsDakota.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Soybean Harvest Complete

Today is the last day of soybean harvest. As I do most days during harvest, I came to the field at noon to deliver lunches. 
Today's menus is bacon double cheeseburger, pizza salad, chips, grapes, and cake. 
Plus your choice of pop and water from the cooler I carry along. 
You can see Farmer Fred has his lunch bag by the window. I pack things in foam containers to keep things hot or cold. During the long days of Summer, everything in the bag can be eaten with one hand. Today I included a fork and hope everyone can find a moment to stop and eat their salad and cake.
 For a moment I think that I am one combine short, then notice dust wafting from over the ridge.
 The dust was hanging in the air like a hot August night. There was no wind all day. We have been enjoying perfect harvesting weather.
As we finish the 2014 soybeans we have only one more crop to combine. Tomorrow we start to prepare the machines for corn harvest in GriggsDakota.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A view from the oilfield

Every Monday we welcome our daughter Kirsti to blog from her home in Western North Dakota's oil patch. Take it away Kirsti.

My husband snapped this photo on his phone almost three years ago. It was one of the first photos he shared with me from his new job in the oil field. We had moved here just weeks earlier. We were living in a new (to us) home, a new town, a new timezone. It was a new way of life that felt far removed from my farm-girl upbringing in GriggsDakota. I was a bundle of nerves.
He shared this photo and I knew. I knew we would make a home here. I knew we would have a great life. I knew we'd make it.
I still look at this photo from time to time. It's a reminder of that exciting time in our lives, as well as a reminder of God's faithfulness in directing our paths.
Some see the beautiful sky. Some see the well site. I see hope.

Have a great week! -Kirsti

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Friday, October 17, 2014

The Goose Chase

We have seeded Winter Wheat and the geese can always find it. 
Who can blame them? The tender green shoots are a treat. 
So, once in a while, I drive the pickup around to move them around a bit. 
 They seem to know that I do not have a shotgun along.
And yet, they surely have had experience with a shotgun by now. 
This looks like evidence of a coyote's goose dinner. They hide in the nearby brush to capture a meal. 
So the geese and I are getting rather good at playing the chase away game. They pretend that they will leave. 
 Then circle back to rest on the lake where they know they are safe.
I just hope they are enjoying it as much as I am in GriggsDakota.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Curious Cattle Watch the Harvest

 Cattle are curious when we have the combines nearby.
It doesn't happen that often, but they don't get excited by the noise or bustle of the harvest crew. The herd feels secure in their fence.
But the cattle hang around where they can see what's happening in the field, and we enjoy the view of the pastures. 
We are still combining soybeans. 
 The weather has been "practically perfect in every way," to quote Mary Poppins.
 I think that the sky is bluer in October than it is the rest of the year.
There is so much going on when we unload soybeans on the go. There are soybeans coming into the combine hopper and being augered out at the same time. With tractor, grain cart, combine and the moving crop to manage all at the same time, the drivers need to be alert. 
Combining is dusty work, and we are glad to have cabs to work from. The plants are brittle and dry. The soybeans are at safe storage moisture and so can go directly into a grain bin on the farm. 
As the dust settles on this field and we move on to the next one in GriggsDakota.