Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rocks are like boogers...

"Why are rocks like boogers? Because no matter how many you pick, there will always be more."
--Joe, rock picker extraordinaire

When Rob, Joe and I attended school in Northwood (located in the Red River Valley, where there are no rocks) kids would poke fun at us if we mentioned picking rocks. I can remember one boy in particular saying, "Rock picking? Who does that?" We do!

Our farm is located west of the Red River Valley, on the drift prairies, where the ground holds rocks dropped by the glacier that once covered the area. We pick rocks every year, as much as time allows, but especially before planting row crops. Harvesting soybeans and pinto beans requires the equipment to work in or very near the ground. Thorough rock picking reduces breakdowns during harvest.

Above: Joe is pulling the rock picker behind the Case 1175 tractor. As far as I can tell, this is his favorite job on the farm. Who wouldn't love scouring every inch of the field, picking up all rocks you find, making sure to time your hydraulics perfectly to lift the rocks without getting a lot of dirt? On this particular day, Joe learned that if you take off your sweatshirt and polish your sunglasses without looking up, you could end up stuck "in the marsh". Just another in the long line of rock picking stories.

Above: Jim is operating the IH 1486 loader tractor, which has the rock nabber attached to the three-point hitch on the back.
The nabber lifts and removes large buried rocks. He uses the loader to level the ground after the rock is extracted.
The rock nabber is a newer addition to our farm implements. Grandpa has admitted that it is more effective than the dynamite he used on big rocks in the 1940's and 50's, but not nearly as much fun.

Above: Rock nabber and picker at work.

Above: The rock picker can't handle a buried rock this size. You'll see how, with a skilled operator, the rock nabber does its job.

Above: Photos just don't compare to seeing the rock nabber in action. Check out the short video clip. Watch to see how much faster it is than the old shovel, crowbar and chain routine.

Above: With the rock secure in the nabber, Jim will haul it to a nearby rock pile.

Above: After the rock is removed, Jim fills the hole using the blade on the loader.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

From our Window: Birds in May

Above: Four finches in the lilacs.

Above: A close up view. This male golden finch is basking in the Dakota sunshine.

Above: Bare tree branches expose two perched birds.

Above: A female finch rests on the deck rail.

Above: A humming bird has discovered our feeder. (If the bird is hard to see, click on the image to make it larger.)

AdFarm Pinto Bean Update:
The field is drying out. We hope to plant it in the upcoming week. Below is a photo taken on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, May 23.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Barley Seeding

Exciting news -- barley seeding is underway!

Above: Seed from the hopper bins is augered into one of our trucks.
Can you spot Farmer Fred?

Above: The barley fills the truck box as the bin empties. From here it travels to the field to be put in the drill. It takes several truckloads of seed to plant the crop.
Above: A panoramic view of preparation in the field. Fred is in the center of the image, watching as the fertilizer is being fed into the Concord Drill's auger. Grandpa Sonny is climbing down from the Case IH 9170 which is pulling our Salford RTS colter machine and seed bed finisher. The Concord Drill is pulled by the Case IH 9280. The 9280 is a 380 horsepower tractor. It has triple tires, meaning there are 12 tires total on the machine. The 9170 is a 335 horsepower tractor with wide dual tires.

Above: Don is watching the fertilizer as it enters the drill's tank. Fred controls the amount of fertilizer that flows from the truck.

Above: We are using a fertilizer blend of phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. It is applied with the seed using the Concord Drill.

Above: Grandpa Sonny uses the old Dodge pickup's field service tank to refill his tractor's diesel fuel. His job is to prepare the field for the drill. Jim has been picking rocks off the field with our handy-dandy rock picker.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Changing Over the Drill

Above: Bill and Joe have been readying the Wil-Rich drill for barley, after finishing canola. Each time we finish planting a crop, the machines are cleaned, maintained, and repaired if needed.

Above: Both men are hard at work. Bill is below, working on a tire. Joe is bent over the seed bin, cleaning the canola out. In case you are curious about the warm clothes they are wearing, yes this photo was taken in mid-May. A 30 degree morning requires layers!

Above: It takes a broom and diligence to clean the small canola seeds from the drill's hopper

Above: With the cover of the seed tank open, Joe sweeps the canola out the opened bottom.

Above: Bill is tightening the lug nuts on the drill's tires.
Note the fold-down ladder on the drill. Easy to access when needed.

Canola Seeding

Above: In these photos, taken May 11, Fred is using the Case IH 8950 tractor to pull the Wil-Rich air drill. He is seeding canola, a cool season broad leaf. We like canola as a rotational crop. It provides excellent weed control because it is Liberty Link, tolerant to the broad spectrum herbicide Liberty. We seeded our last field of canola May 18.

Above: The Wil-Rich Q 160 Air Drill is our second drill. Our primary drill is our Concord 4010. We are using the Wil-Rich to seed canola while the Concord is seeding barley. The spring is late, and canola is usually planted by early May. Two drills have kept the seeding rolling, now that the ground is dry enough to work.

N-rich Strips

Above: Robbie, seated in our Case IH 8930 tractor is applying Liquid Nitrogen in N-rich strips on winter wheat with our Redball sprayer. Liquid nitrogen enriches the soil to increase yield. Only the best parts of a field, unharmed by winter-kill, recieve the application. It is a reading of how well the field could perform if it was completely fertilized with this product. Why is it called an N-rich strip? N-rich is a term referring to the nitrogen rich area created by the spray.

Above: A close up view of the action. The width of the sprayer is 80 feet. We mark the edges of the strip with flags at the start of the application.

Above: The flag in the foreground lines up with the tip of the sprayer in the background.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Welcome to Griggs Dakota.

Welcome to Griggs Dakota, a blog created to inform the AdFarm crew and others on the happenings of the Lukens Farm. We hope to teach everyone a little bit more about farming, as well as keep all investors up to date on how AdFarm's Pinto Beans are doing.

Hello! I am the narrator of this project, Farmhand Kirsti. I will be posting twice a week, so visit us often. I am armed with my camera, to be sure our work is well documented.
We have an area for comments. Let us know what you think and what you would like to see included on the blog. We look forward to your responses.

The two photos above were taken this morning, May 15. They feature the land where AdFarm's pinto bean field will be. Conditions remain too wet to work, and the rain continues to fall. The darkest areas on the ground are low points where the land is especially saturated.
All content Copyright Fred A. Lukens