Its a little past ” Springtime o’clock” here on the farm. I can finally say the crops are in. This is no small feat when you see just how “Antiquated ” I really farm. My equipment is old, and for being hunks of metal they all seem to have minds of their own. One moment they work very well and the next minute you repair 30 minutes for a 15 minute proper run.
I chisel plowed the fields, then I run across them with a 14 foot OLD OLIVER disk, then I disk the field again on a “Kitter” so that when I do plant my planter markers can leave an imprint in the dirt that I can easily follow with each round I make in hopes that the rows turn out straight.
MY John Deere planter is old. I love the girl. Bought it from an amish men down in Topeka Indiana. He assured me it worked fine. Well it does, for the most part but its those “little” parts that get wore our and don’t operate correctly that makes for a long …exhausting…yet a fulfilling day for me.
I get the planter out, and I fill the two large bins with dry fertilizer. Each bin holds 8 ..fifty pound bags. Then I dump my seed corn into the four seed hoppers in the back and after I have checked the planter discs and hoses…etc. I am ready to go. I head to the field. I drop the planter and make 3-4 rounds as we plant off the ends first. Then I plant as I am driving down the length of the field to get to the opposite side so I can plant off that end. Then you plant back and forth always picking up the planter when you get to the end of your already planted rows…make your turn and as you drop the planter down each time to begin again the left or right marker is suppose to drop down also marking the spot for your next row.
That’s how it suppose to go. My seed was going down uniformly….but I noticed the fertilizer wasn’t. The sprockets are turning but nothing is dropping down. I rationalize this out and think it will just take a few rounds to loosen up the mechanical parts. Wrong. Half a field later as I am driving in the hot sun, at a slow pace, I recall being about 12 years old and riding with my Dad while he was planting and he had the same issue. I also remember that he and I used coffee cans to empty the fertilizer bins back into bags because he had put the augers in backwards and instead of auguring out the fertilizer it was mixing it within the bin. Shoot ! Now I go back to the barn, find a container and all the empty bags from the fertilizer and start to empty the dry fertilizer bag into the bags. This was exhausting.
Sure enough, the augers were put in backwards and were turning the dry fertilizers beads into a fine pink powder. I switched the augers…and refilled the bins with the bags of fertilizer again. Back to the field to finish planting. A few more rounds and still the fertilizer isn’t going down like it should. Drats! I know from my cell phone that there is a rain coming by 6 or 7 p.m. and it sure would be great if I could get this field planted before the rain. Its perfect if it rains after you plant. I get off the tractor….mess with the fertilizer bins again and I see the bolts have sheared off from turning the wrong way so much, and pieces of the auger are broke off. Perfect. I make the “executive decision” to plant with the dry fertilizer and I will break out the old “Galvanized Gobble Spreader” that mounts to the back of the tractor and will broadcast the fertilizer later.
Its about this time I should also tell you that every single time I get to the west end of the field I have to throw my tractor in neutral, jumped off the tractor and walk around to the back of the planter and click a little pin that is suppose to let my RIGHT marker drop but the mechanism is wore out and I have to do it manually each time. ARE YOU LAUGHING YET. Its a full blown procedure to farm this crazy way. I had that field planted by 8 p.m.
Then I dig the old Galvanized Spreader out from the back of the barn which hasn’t been used seriously in 20 years… and we spend two more hours getting it mounted to the back of the tractor and the PTO loosed up. Saturday morning, again…I off load all the dry fertilizer out of the fertilizer bins with a container….into their bags. I load those bags onto the back of the pickup and drive it to the end of the field. Now every couple rounds I stop, dump two bags into the spreader and broadcast the fertilizer the really old fashioned way.
I know that my way of farming is so antiquated its almost humorous. Yet, it fills my heart with so much joy and contentment and peace. Its time consuming, I eat a lot of dirt and dust, my take in a lot of diesel fuel odor and I LOVE IT. I feel that sustainable farming is even more important that ever. I Want to grow my own corn and hay to feed our cows, pigs, goats, sheep… so I know what went into them. That’s important to me.
And I farm in honor of “Burt”