Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Yesterday, I spent most of the afternoon at the Burke farm. Shepards were there, working still on the 11.5-acre woods-clearing project. They were digging big trenches for the burial of the many stumps they have dug out. Occasionally, I would drive near them to watch the two big excavators and two big bulldozers in action. Hopefully, there won’t be many more days’ work needed to make it ready to become an enlargement of the adjoining field. Corn is planned for this field for 2014.
I had taken our Case 580K backhoe down there to drive around and pick up some sticks that had floated out onto the fields during the winter flood… remember the really big rain on December 23rd? These sticks were from 1-12 feet in length, deposited as the flood waters recede. (Yes, they float in, but they never seem to float out) They present a problem for the planting and other equipment that will soon (hopefully) be traveling over the field. They must be picked up and removed. Driving over the field for this task, I found the soil surface was surprisingly firm and dry. I tossed the sticks into the front bucket of the backhoe and unloaded them in the giant hole that Shepards were creating to bury the debris from the woods.
Another problem created by flooding is that of the previous crops’ residue. It floats into windrows, often several inches thick. Those windrows of corn stalks, bean stalks, or wheat straw act as a very effective mulch, and the soil seems like it will never dry underneath. Burning those windrows has become the way to reduce the problems created by such residue piles. So, as I was picking up sticks, I also set fire to the thick residue windrows. I carefully monitored these small fires, so that they only burned the windrows.
Meanwhile, back at the farm, John and Brandon were servicing the JD 9330 tractor and the CIH TM-200 field cultivator. They found a flat tire on the tractor, and hopefully it just needed airing up. They adjusted all the tire pressures on the tractor and field cultivator. They lubricated the tractor and its implement, and made certain both were completely ready for spring work. The field cultivator is used sparingly, only in places we can not otherwise smooth out… usually where some small erosion has occurred. This will smooth the hilly fields for the first operation, which could be the sprayer, or a nitrogen applicator, or even the soybean planter!
It was a very busy day, with much accomplished to prepare for planting time.