Monday, June 29, 2009

AdFarm Pinto Beans Growing

Above: Fred stops to take a closer look at AdFarm's pinto bean crop
while on an evening drive checking crops.

Above: The plants are slowly getting bigger and the rows fuller. The cool summer has delayed growth.

Above: Fred's boot next to a plant gives perspective on the size of the pinto bean plants. Pinto beans are a warm season crop and will do best with temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm weather is coming.

Checking the Flowering Wheat

Above: "A farmer is a man out standing in his field."

Above: Fred is in the field, checking to see if the wheat is flowering. Head scab, a potentially devastating fungal disease, infects the kernals when they flower. If conditions are favorable for head scab, fungicide must be applied before infection occurs. Optimal application time is early flowering.
For more information on head scab, visit the NDAWN Disease Forecast website.

Above: A close-up view of a wheat head shows the flowering stage. It is very hard to see if the wheat is flowering, as the buds are small. Notice the tiny yellow flecks along the shaft, visible when the photo is enlarged.

Above: Fred and Butler are ready to move on to the next field.

Above: A deer flees through a wheat field when it sees the pickup. It is located in the right-center of the photo (click on the photo to blow it up.) A bounding, white tail is a common site to drivers on the prairie.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The 49th Annual Turkey Barbeque

The third Saturday in June is our summer festival, The Turkey Barbecue. The town bustles with activity. There are class reunions, music, family reunions, a craft show and more.  Everyone who has ever moved away from the area feels a tug to come back for a visit during this weekend. For those of us who live here, it is a labor of love.

Above: Once the turkeys have been seasoned and put onto the skewers at the fire hall, they are loaded onto a flatbed trailer to be taken to the park. Over 350 turkeys are used.

Above: The turkeys arrive in the park by 8:45 a.m. The cement blocks were set up earlier in the week and everything is ready for the birds.

Above: The park is a square block next to the highway that runs through town. Cheryl plants a ribbon of flowers along the berm of the highway edging the park. Our cold spring has frustrated her plans for a lush flower display this year, but the neat rows of blooms are beautiful!

Above: Grandpa and Robbie are two of the men in charge of cooking the turkeys. They keep their meat thermometers in their pockets and check the temperature of the turkeys often. Cooking conditions such as ground moisture, air temperature, and wind vary from year to year. They are careful to cook the turkeys to temperature and not rely on time or appearance.

Above: The charcoal is lit and left to burn down for a few minutes before the turkeys go on the spit.

Above: Local people diligently apply for funds to improve the park and were able to install this new equipment last fall. Robbie tried it out while waiting for the turkeys to arrive. Hundreds of kids gave it their approval throughout the day.

Above: The beans are also started in the morning. The pickup in the background is holding buckets of prepared baked beans that are heated in electric roasters.

Above: The coffee maker was engineered and constructed a by a local farmer. It is made from a hot water heater and brand new toilet parts.

Above: The electric motors to turn the turkeys on the spit are also unique to our operation. They are able to turn the heavy rods of turkey slowly for hours. We love our resourceful and talented farmers!

Above: We set up lots of fancy benches to accommodate our crowd. People face one another in groups as they eat or turn to watch performances in our park's gazebo.

Above: We set up all of our picnic tables and many people bring their own tables and chairs.

Above: Joe and I helped carry the turkeys from the trailer to the spit as they are put on the fire.

Above: Rob tends half the turkeys from start to finish. His long legs are an advantage while raking the coals from above. He uses a regular garden rake to move the hot coals. Notice the turkeys are golden. It's 3:00 p.m. These turkeys are about an hour away from being done. We have a large crowd assembled for the fun.

Above: At three o'clock the parade begins. There are nice prizes for the kids who participate and free dinner tickets for some of the adult winners. I love the old tractors. They have distinctive sounds and happy drivers.

Above: Happy and hungry in the afternoon!

Above: We have art in our park! The metal turkey in the movie above was the winter project of a farmer a few years ago. It gobbles when you walk by! Our local practical joke has startled many folks passing through who stop at the park to admire the bird.

Above: 3:20 p.m.: The first turkeys are taken off the spit.

Above: Joe worked a shift taking turkeys off the fire and running them to carving stations. Anytime he hears a carver shout "turkey" he brings a fresh bird.

Above: Grandpa works the first shift as a carver. He has been doing this since the barbeque began 49 years ago. We prefer electric knives for ease and safety and workers wear new cotton gloves to keep their hands from burning.

Above: Jim takes over for Grandpa as one in the second shift of carvers. Notice the hand of a hungry guest using tongs to fill his plate!

Above: A poster hanging on the ice cream truck shows some turkey barbecue stats. The numbers are low as modesty is a trait of people here. This year we served over 2,400 people.

Above: The celebration ends the next morning with an All-Faith Church Service in the park. This is the family reunion day in the area with many family potlucks. Monday night we gather one last time to take it all down and put it away for 2010.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lawn Care the Farmer's Way

If they can break away from field work, farmers generally have large lawns to maintain.

Above: Rob is in the foreground, pulling a sprayer with a riding lawn mower. He is working to get rid of the dandelions. Joe is in the background. He is on our Case IH riding lawnmower, mowing our shelter belt "park" across the gravel road. As Rob's shirt points out, they are the yard staff.

Above: Another view of the sprayer system we use. Rob has a switch in his right hand that turns the sprayer on and off, so he can avoid spraying areas he doesn't want hit.

Above: Joe is mowing an area in the shelter belt park. The old building in the background used to be used as a potting shed. As you can see from the yet to be mowed grass, we have plenty of dandelions!

Pinto Beans are Popping Up

Above: The AdFarm pinto beans have sprouted and are growing into productive plants. The tender plants are brave in the big, harsh world.

Above: The pinto bean plants are growing in their row. The wheat stubble on the ground will decompose by harvest, adding nutrients to the soil as it breaks down. Enlarge the photo to see the volunteer wheat. In this case, the wheat is a weed and will be controlled once the beans are more established.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sometimes the Work Stops

No, we don't do field work all the time. Some events cause us to take off our work boots and leave the farm. The latest occasion: our cousin Scott's wedding in his bride's hometown.

Above: To quote Scott, "there is more that goes into a wedding than we ever imagined." The couple had much help from family and friends throughout the process. My Mom, a talented artist and seamstress, made table runners, over 400 chair covers, and potpourri bags out of wheat from Scott's fields and dried rose petals. She is amazing.

Above: My assistance was minimal compared to Mom's. I made a movie from old photos, and the collage pictured above. It covered a bulletin board in the front foyer of the reception hall.

The following photos are snapshots of the weekend.

Above: Family and friends are scattered in the pews before the rehearsal begins. You may be able to find Farmer Fred if you look closely.

Above: Cousin Scott, a former AdFarm employee, with his new bride Elizabeth. Scott now manages a neighboring farm.

Above: Rob played background music at the reception dinner.

Above: A flash in the dark captures the happy couple in their first dance.

Above: An old quartet with an new look.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The End of Planting

We are done with our spring planting!

Above: A view of the last piece of ground we seeded. Fred is making his opening round behind the dust cloud on the far right of the image. The unseeded area is a sizable low spot in the middle of a barley field. It was too wet to seed when the field was planted on May 14.

Above: Fred pulls the Wilrich Air Drill with the Case IH 8950 to seed the spring wheat. If you enlarge the image, it is easier to see pinto beans left in the field from last fall. The low spot was too wet to harvest.

Above: A golden kernal of spring wheat rests on the ground. When Fred begins planting, the seeder's air system begins blowing before the shovels are in the ground, leaving some seeds on top instead of underground.
One tiny seed -- what farming is all about. Our business is properly managing every little kernal, millions of times over.

Above: We planted as many of the low spots as possible with spring wheat seed and fertilizer. Many farmers in our area are doing the same thing. Planting these spots is healthier for the soil and helps prevent future problems.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

No-Till Planting Improves Soil

Some fields are planted into last year's stubble. This process is called no-till planting. Leaving the stubble is beneficial for many reasons. The roots keep the soil from blowing or washing away, and the decomposing stubble becomes organic matter to feed the soil. Healthier soil leads to healthier crops, and our goal of higher yields.

Above: Bill is planting Round-Up Ready soybeans into corn stubble. The beans are planted between the rows of corn stalks (click on the image to enlarge it and see greater detail.)
Though there are green weeds growing in the field, once the beans have been planted, the field will be sprayed with Round-Up to take care of that problem.
No-till planting is especially important on this field. The soil is sandy and blows easily.

Above: The planter's marker is partially folded. There is a marker on each side of the planter. Usually, the marker is extended out from the planter and rolling through the ground, creating a cut, or mark. Because Bill is on his last round, he does not use markers.

Above: The furrow in the ground is made by the planter's marker. The line from the last round's marker is the center of the next round's planting. When planting no-till, the farmer tries to place his marker in the middle of the space between existing stubble rows ensuring the soybeans will grow in the space that was bare last season.
By harvest, most of the corn stubble will have naturally decomposed.
Straight, even rows have been a point of pride on farms since the first plow turned the sod.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Planting AdFarm's Pinto Beans

Above: The treated Pinto Beans are poured into a truck so we can add inoculant and additional seed treatments.

Above: We climb into the truck to sprinkle inoculant, a live fungus that will help the growing pinto bean plant fix nitrogen from the air.

Above: Water is mixed into another seed treatment, Quickroots. The product allows the plant to take in phosphorus from the soil, creating stronger and larger root systems.

Above: The mixed liquid seed treatment is poured into the yellow tank. The stopwatch is for timing the application rate of Quickroots. In the background you can see where the beans from the truck are unloaded into the auger.

Above: As the pinto beans are poured, they are sprayed with Quickroots. Note the custom endgate attachment designed to precisely control the flow of pinto beans into the auger.

Above: From one truck into another. Note the auger folded and attached to the back of the smaller seed tender truck.

Above: A beautiful morning for planting. The Case IH 8930 pulls our Case IH 1200 planter, a 16 row planter.

Above: More seed is needed in the planter. The old blue truck would not start after it had been filled with seed, so we towed it to the field, the easy part of the job.

Above: The seed beans are loaded into the planter manually by Bill and Joe, one bucket at a time. The auger has been removed from the back of the truck. It doesn't work if the truck doesn't run.