Thursday, May 31, 2012

AdFarm 2012: Barley Tillering

There are eyes peering over the shelter belt. 
The cloudy skies provide endless opportunity for imagination. 
The AdFarm barley field does not require an imagination. The dark green color tells us that it is flourishing.
The rain and cool weather have really perked up the grassy leaves. 
Was the barley damaged by our hot May weather? The answer is: probably, at least a little. The heat, which arrived during the early stages of development after the barley had emerged, will likely reduce tillering. Reduced tillering means reduced yield. Tillering is the process by which grasses send out root shoots to produce additional plants. It is how grasses spread. Barley, which is a grass, typically sends out roots from the plant growing from seed to become up to five additional plants. The plants head out and produce grain.
There is thick growth in this field. Farmer Fred is still optimistic. It is not a perfect world, even for barley. Weather is always an issue in GriggsDakota. 
For now the barley needs cool sunshine with a breeze which will reduce the opportunity for disease and insects to move into the field. 
To the West, there is peace in the valley of GriggsDakota.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Winter Wheat Ahead of Schedule

We received about an inch of welcome rain. 
With it came a return to cooler temperatures. 
 The combination has made the Winter Wheat burst forth with vigor.
In the field, it seemed I could see it growing. 
We had an early Spring this year. 
The plants broke dormancy early, after a mild Winter. 
 The Winter Wheat is now in the flag leaf stage.
The rainy cool down is much to its liking. 
It is good to have a breeze to dry off the leaves after the rain.
 There are a few signs of disease on the leaves which we will monitor carefully.
The crop is speeding along in Griggs Dakota.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Rocks Will Roll

It has to do with farming in a glacial terminal moraine. In GriggsDakota we have lots of rocks. The freezing and thawing of the ground each year brings an unending supply of rocks to the surface of the fields. We pick them and we nab them.  
Sometimes we call Paul, who arrives with his rock roller. 
These hills are rimmed with piles of rocks that have been picked off the fields for over a hundred years. Still, there are more rocks. The rock roller is pulled behind a tractor where it rolls along and presses the rocks back into the soil. There are minerals in the rocks that make our soil richer. Because of the freezing and thawing of our seasons, we are in no danger of running out of rocks.
Back and forth over the field until the rocks are down where they are not a threat to our equipment. 
When you use the proper implement, the rocks will roll in GriggsDakota.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Once Again, Memorial Day

Who were they? I found the names of these pioneers on the abstract for the land on which my home is built.
James A. Ames, a farmer.
Mary Jane Ames, nine years older than her husband, yet arriving here seven years later to join him at Silent Hill.
 
I have no photos of them, no stories.
James Michener told us in Centennial that "Only the rocks live forever."
If that is true, the land remembers the Ames family.
The sky could tell their story.
They made their mark on the land by planting the tree claim.
The sky might tell us that they planted the patch of rhubarb in the yard.
According to the land abstract that I perused, they arrived here in 1889 to claim this land.
They might have come by covered wagon, as many pioneers did. A real Conestoga wagon, not a toy.
Perhaps their belongings were packed in a trunk like this one, but not this trunk.
This week a bird was singing in a tree above the rhubarb patch. I wondered if descendants of the Ames family would ever knock on the door here and want to remember.
The few pieces of old machinery that have escaped the scrap iron heap are not from the Ames tenure. Nothing is the same as it was when they sold out in 1927, the year of Mr. Ames death.
The grandchildren, however great, could press a leaf from an original tree in their genealogy book
Or be satisfied by pulling some rhubarb from the patch.
 I learned from my Great Aunt Iris that the Ames family had only a daughter. Victoria Ames, was a beautiful teenage girl who rode the horse drawn school bus with Iris about a hundred years ago. Victoria had no children. Nearly 107 years old now, Iris remembers. No heir, apparently. Yet the land continues.
I picked the rhubarb.
And cut off the tops while wearing a winter jacket in the cold May morning. The wind was sharp and the sky was cloudy as it often is on a May morning in GriggsDakota. It blew from the sky when the Ames family tended this yard, as well.
Did Mary Jane Ames have a pump in her kitchen? Probably not, her wash water came from bucket to basin to wash the rhubarb stalks.
The Ames family surely enjoyed jams and sauces made from rhubarb grown in this yard a hundred years ago.
Next winter, when the rhubarb plants are frozen and the patch is snow covered, my family will enjoy pies and muffins made with rhubarb that I prepared and stockpiled in our freezer. 
So it may be in a hundred years, with another family enjoying rhubarb treats.
I think that is how the rocks live forever. People come and go on this earth, but the land and sky remember. We are once again cooking scalloped potatoes and ham in big roasters for a dinner at the auditorium. Profits go to Cemetery upkeep. The Veterans will be served first.
Have a Happy Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pinto Bean Planting

There is excitement in GriggsDakota. 
We are starting to plant Pinto Beans, our final crop of the season. 
We like to wait until danger of frost is past. Edible beans freeze easily. We hope we are safe now, although there is a chance of frost in the forecast. 
Farmer Fred is preparing the Pinto Bean ground with our Phillips Harrow. It is 43 feet wide and must be pulled quickly over the field. It stirs the surface but leaves the organic matter on the top where it can serve as a mulch to help minimize crusting. Pinto Beans cannot emerge through a crust of dirt. 
The surface must be soft and moist.
To me this machine looks sharp and dangerous as it rolls along. 
It is a surface blender. It blends surface soil and residue. 
Soon the rock picker and the planter arrive. 
It is important to get the rocks picked. Pinto Beans will be close to the ground when they are ripe and rocks are hazardous to harvest equipment. 
The marker on the planter makes a clear line for Bill to follow as he seeds the Pinto Beans. 
Click Here to visit the post from June 13, 2011 which is when we finished planting last year. 
 The seeds are in the ground and it is still the merry month of May in GriggsDakota.