Another milestone

Friday, March 28, 2014

Do you hear that hollow sound?  That’s because our grain bins are now empty (MT).  We loaded the Peterbilt yesterday afternoon with the last bit of 2013 corn, and it’s going to market today.  There are mixed feelings about this milestone, because it’s a little sad to finally run out of corn to sell, but it’s a great feeling to have another task completed!  All in all, we are very grateful for the abundant 2013 corn crop, our best yield ever.

More work continues at Burke.  The Shepard brothers are now working on clearing the small sticks, chunks, and roots.  They brought in another Komatsu dozer, equipped on the front with what they call a ‘root rake’.  This device has strong teeth that comb through the top 16-18″ of soil and pull out the wood debris.  This debris is then shoved into the trenches opened by the excavators last week to receive the stumps.   Once this debris is settled in the trenches, they will be closed and the surface smoothed.

Here you can see the 'root rake'-- the attachment on the front of Gene Shepard's dozer.  Gene uses this device to 'comb' the upper layer of soil, thus removing the woody debris that would hinder or damage our farm implements.

Here you can see the ‘root rake’– the attachment on the front of Gene Shepard’s dozer.  Gene uses this device to ‘comb’ the upper layer of soil, thus removing the woody debris that would hinder or damage our farm implements.

After the root rake combs the debris out of the upper soil level, Mark and Aaron Shepard team up to push the debris toward the waiting trench, where the debris will be buried under 3-4 feet of soil.  This teamwork is an efficient way to clear the field of debris.

After the root rake combs the debris out of the upper soil layer, Mark and Aaron Shepard team up to push the debris toward the waiting trench, where the debris will be buried under 3-4 feet of soil. This teamwork is an efficient way to clear the field of debris.  Check our YouTube site for a short video of this teamwork

The last two operations for Shepards are to:

1.  Install an extension on a drainage tile that emptied into the former woods. This must go through the old woods’ valley and drain to Kessinger Ditch.

2.  Where this woods-ditch emptied into Kessinger Ditch, a large culvert must be installed and the opening in the big ditch bank closed up.  In that way, water from Kessinger Ditch cannot back into the field when the waters rise in the ditch.  The culvert will have a “trap” on the ditch side that allows surface water to flow from the field to the ditch, but not the other way around!

After Shepards complete their work at Burke, we will operate a tandem disk lightly over this new ground, which will smooth the soil surface and expose some smaller tree root bits or sticks or chunks.  We will remove these few remaining obstacles by walking the area, picking them up by hand, and carrying them out of the field on a little trailer or in our backhoe bucket.

Some neighboring farmers have begun their applications of anhydrous ammonia.  Watching them get going for the past 2-3 days has been interesting.  We have determined that we will wait for a little bit warmer temperatures.  If the forecast is anything close to being accurate, then next week we will seem some field action.

We are having our first experience with ‘cover crops’.  The Lett and Watjen farm locations were planted to cereal rye and radishes last fall after the soybean harvest.  The winter stopped the radishes, but the cereal rye is growing well.  We will be learning more about how/when to spray that rye to stop its growth.   We are told there can be some difficulties that arise for our planned corn planting if we allow the rye to get too big.  However, the longer we allow it to grow, the more roots it is placing in that fragile soil to stabilize and protect it.  Of course, it is a trade-off that must we weighed and placed into our management matrix.

We have identified 9 farm locations that need some attention with a small bulldozer to improve field entrances, repair small erosion damage, or install some improved small tile drainage in WASCoBs.  We will engage another contractor to get going on those next week.  These things must be accomplished ahead of the planters, but can occur in the mix of spraying and NH3 operations in early April.

Even though Purdue is not among the NCAA March Madness field, it has been interesting to watch.  We will be pulling for the other remaining Big Ten teams, and others from the Midwest.   We have a local connection to UCLA, too.  Tough that they lost last night.  Steve Alford, the UCLA coach, is the son of Sam Alford who coached at our South Knox HS 1967-71.  We saw Steve as a little boy on the bleachers with his dad.  Sam still returns to the community to support SK basketball.  He is well-respected and revered here.

The Indiana HS tournament finals will be tomorrow, where they will crown new state champions in each of the 4 classes.  One team from our HS conference (Blue Chip Conference), Barr-Reeve from Montgomery, will be playing for the 1A title– and they are expected to win.  Just 2 years ago, another conference team, Loogootee, was the 1A state champion.  And just last year, a team from our sectional, Linton, was state runner-up in 2A.   Basketball in SW Indiana has traditionally tough competition.

Have a good weekend.

 

 

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