Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pinto Bean Harvest Begins

Above:  Our first field of pinto beans are ready to harvest. The pods are filled and the green color has faded.
Above:  Don is running the Pickett-One-Step which cuts the bean plants at ground level and places them in a swath.

Above:  It takes two passes of the Pickett to complete the swath. Notice how the beans are fed out the rear of the Pickett on the side as Don drives back and forth over the field. 

Above:  The structure mounted on the front of the tractor separates the rows by traveling along the ground and gently moving the plants out of the way of the tractor tires. 
Above:  Behind the tractor the plants are cut and picked up, then neatly transported over to the side.
Above:  The beans are laid back down leaving a nearly black ground surface between the swaths in the field. The swaths are fluffy which allows the beans to dry quickly. Running the Pickett is complicated and in order to achieve this result, the machine requires careful adjustment. 
Above:  Two passes of the Pickett placed close together creates the swath that the combine will pick up to separate the beans from the pods and vines. Morning sunrise provided the golden color on the swath.
Above:  Once the beans are in swaths they are at risk and to adverse weather. The sooner that they are combined the better. It is sunny and windy with a forecast of rain, so we will try to finish the field today.
Above:  Robbie has too many beans on his combine pickup, so he stops to clean off the beans before he plugs up the combine.
Above:  Soon he is moving again. The swaths are heavy and the progress is slow.
Above:  The field has just a little light residue on top that blows in the wind after the combine has done its job. You can see the beginning of what is forecast to be a big storm front in the sky. We are hoping that the rainfall will be minimal and we will be able to continue bean harvest soon.

A Harrowing Day

Above:  Robbie is pulling our harrow across the field at an angle to disturb the straight rows of wheat stubble and evenly spread the residue left by the combines.
Above:  He will harrow the stubble left by the barley and wheat this fall, to improve the ground for next year's planting. 
Above:  Robbie raises dust as he harrows at 10 miles per hour, very speedy for field work.
Above:  The harrow is a humble looking implement that uses the last bit of tread on road weary tires. These came from our old Durango that Joseph drives to college.
Above:  It has three rows of spikes fastened to iron bars and is seventy-two feet wide. The heavy wire spikes or harrow teeth scratch the surface of the ground help break down and redistribute the straw.
Above:  Each harrow tooth is a balanced structure of steel. Each end provides a spike to drag across the ground. The harrow will kill some of the volunteer barley that you see on this photo. 
Above:  Farmer Fred will take over the harrow and checks it before he starts. 
Above:  The 7130 tractor will angle back and forth for many hours this fall as we harrow the stubble fields. 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mowing Ditches

Above:  It's time to mow the ditches in GriggsDakota. The roads have grass and weeds that grow up beside them through the summer and that grass must be mowed down by October first. The grass is tall this time of year and this law helps improve visibility for drivers as they venture onto the road. It reduces the amount of snow that will catch on the road in the winter as our growing season is nearly over and the grass will not grow back this fall. It also helps ensure that the ditch will be ready to carry water during the spring thaw.
Above:  The highway department maintains the highways, but the maintenance on county and township roads is limited to surface work. The ditch mowing is done by landowners and farmers. It is a job Grandpa has done for many years on our farm in GriggsDakota. 
Above:  Here he is making the second pass with our six foot mower. It is important to get the grass cut well below the level of the roadbed.
Above:  Pulled by our 8930 tractor, this Woods rotary mower works like a great big lawnmower with blades that rotate under its top.
Above:  Specifically designed to mow ditches, the mower follows the tractor off to the side allowing the tractor to stay up on the edge of the road. The mower is hinged to follow the angle of the ditch and cut the grass down deep into the ditch.
Above:  This is a common sight in the fall and drivers learn to watch for the slow moving vehicle sign on the back of tractors. Every ditch on every fully maintained road will be mowed before the snow flies in GriggsDakota.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Seeding Winter Wheat

Above:  It is time to start seeding winter wheat. The drill is ready and waiting in the field. 
Above:  The trucks containing winter wheat seed and fertilizer are backed into place to fill the drill.
Above:  Everyone arrives and the process gets underway. 
Above:  Jim will seed into canola stubble. The wheat will germinate and grow this fall before freeze up. The canola stubble will help to catch snow throughout the cold season ahead. The snow provides a blanket which holds the warmth in the ground and around the established plant roots. The blanket is critical in allowing the winter wheat to survive through the cold.

Above:  Jim has seeded the portion in the foreground and you can see the work the drill has done. Notice that a little dust is raised in the dry top soil as the shovels dig to prepare the seed bed. Seed bed is critical for the the wheat to get a healthy start this fall.
Above:  The tanks on the front of the drill hold the seed and fertilizer. The drill allows the seed to be planted and places fertilizer nearby to provide early nourishment as it establishes. Some of this fertilizer will be available to the plant next spring when it begins its second period of growth.
Above:  It is often windy here and the snow tends to pile up in drifts. The straw can stop and hold the snow as it falls or blows by to provide the best protection for the wheat during our coldest sub-zero temperatures.
Above:  On the summery day in September it is difficult to imagine that the temperature could be 120 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is today, but such are the seasons in GriggsDakota.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

AdFarm Pinto Beans: The Finish Line?

Above:  The golden color in the leaves has deepened and there are signs of maturity in the pinto bean field.
Above:  I once again have pulled a plant to tell the story.
Above:  The top of the plant has stopped producing new blossoms as it puts all available energy into filling its pods.
Above:  The leaves are removed to get a good look at the plant production. There appears to be from five to seven beans per pod. A good sign!
Above:  Opening the pods reveals beans in various stages of striping. 
The center bean on this photo is the only one that appears fully mature in the pods I open.
Above:  The beans want to jump out of the pods once they are open. They remind me of the teenagers that once lived in GriggsDakota.  Those kids were always out the door before I was ready to let them leave. I scramble to get the beans gathered back into their pods. That is another story for a different blog.
Above:  The verdict is that this could be a good crop. There are lots of pods and they are filling well. However, it needs more time to mature.
Above:  The beans are not fully mature and a few of the pods are still green. We reluctantly agree with the crop scout that they need more time.
Above:  The weather forecast indicates that we will get the weather that this crop needs to fully mature.
Above:  Summertime temperatures in the seventies with sunshine and breezes are just what these beans need.
Above:   The green that is still in this field will gather the nutrients to ripen the beans as the leaves fade to the color of a ripened crop. We hope it will be ready by next week.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fall Sunrise: At the End of the Road

It is fascinating to watch the sun rise on any day it shines at GriggsDakota.
But never more so than the first day of Fall when it rises at the end of the road.
It seems to be warning us that the season of growth is coming to an end.
The beauty brings an urgency and the cold morning a reminder.
Do not waste this day, I will warm the earth a few more times, there is more to do!
Butler wishes my camera was a gun and waits to see if there will be action in the distance.
No varmint to chase. What is the point of this? He turns in hopes of a pat and kind words.
Trucks haul on the highway that intersects our favorite gravel road.
The air is still and I can hear the truck engines shift down as they slow for the nearby town and then again as they shift up with increasing speed for their over the road haul.
To market, to market, a reminder it's fall.

A gentle haze settles in above the heavy dew on this cool morning.
Blackbirds have gathered into large flocks and black clouds fill the sky as they fly from field to field finding food.
Many birds will fly away from this area in the next month. Others will stay to scavenge food all winter.