Thursday, November 12, 2009

Field Corn Harvest

On Wednesday we got the corn picker going and picked our field corn.

This was our first year using the corn picker.

A corn picker picks the corn, husks it and drops it in a gravity box. The corn isn't shelled (removed from the ear).

The corn matured late this year because of the cool summer. We lost some due to deer and bird damage.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Slowing Down

There's only a couple more crops to harvest and the season will be over. I'll continue posting when I have pictures but posts probably won't be on a weekly basis until spring. Thanks for reading and be sure to check back.

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 12th to 18th

We received funding from the county to help with the cost of installing a frost proof hydrant and an all season pig drinker that won't freeze.

The water and electrical lines were buried approximately 6-7 feet deep.

Thursday was bulk pork order day. Cool weather and an insulated trailer make it a lot less stressful.

We have 50 and 100 pound options. Each customer receives an assortment of cuts.

We just purchased an Oliver 1855. Before then our largest tractor (the Kubota) was a utility tractor that wasn't designed for heavy field work like tillage. The Kubota is great for baling hay and loader work but didn't have enough horsepower for some of the jobs.

We had planned on getting a tractor next year but this deal came up. A few of the selling points were a rebuilt engine with 1,000 hours on it, operating hours is similar to the number of miles on a car. It has new hoses, a engine block heater (essential for cold weather starts), new belts, new hydraulic hoses, and it was available locally. There are good used tractors around but they aren't always close by. Even a 4-5 hour drive can add a few hundred dollars to the cost to haul it back.

Friday, October 9, 2009

October 5th to 11th

Our grain drill needed new seed tubes and funnels. The seed tubes are reasonably priced but the funnels (pictured at right) are $30 each! That would amount to around $700 total. So using some tin and rivets I made replacements for a couple cents each.

The frost hasn't affected the greenhouse and the peppers are ripening.

We've had a few eggplants this year.


The first frost of the season put an end the summer squash.

We had an unusually warm fall and frost came late this year.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The End of September

We dug the rest of our potatoes today. A potato digger is an interesting machine. It digs the spuds and separates the soil.

Our potato digger is really old, it was originally set up to be pulled by a team of horses! We modified it to use on our tractor. We're missing a set of chains for the digger so it just drops the potatoes of the ground. We have some chains, but they are to big and will have to be modified to fit.

Yields were alright considering the lack of moisture this year. Contrary to popular belief potatoes did not originate in Ireland. Potatoes are native to the Andes region of South America. There is a secondary center of origin in Central America.

There's usually a few monster tomatoes in the greenhouse each year.

A little while back we purchased a grain drill (planter). Its a John Deere Van Brunt Model B Drill that was built in the 1950's or early 60's. The nice thing about John Deere equipment is that you can find parts manuals on their website.

Three of the planting boots are broken. Basically the function of the planting boot is to push the soil aside while the seed is dropped through the center of the boot. For some reason two of the boots had been welded and riveted to the support bar. With an acetylene torch I chopped off the bigger chunks of steel.

To avoid destroying the support bar I used and angle grinder to finish removing the welds. Then with a chisel the piece came off! To be continued...

Friday, September 18, 2009

September 14-20th

We're working on adding lime to our fields to bring the pH up. We rented a lime spreader and borrowed a neighbors tractor since we needed dual hydraulics to run the spreader.

A word of advice. Always test the spreader before you load it up to make certain that all the moving parts function. I learned this the hard way, I loaded the spreader up with lime and tried to start spreading with no luck.

In the bottom of the spreader is a sort of conveyor that moves the lime back and drops it onto the spinners. The conveyor had seized up, to make a long story short we had to shovel all the lime out of the spreader by hand to get it working again.

On Monday and Tuesday I helped combine some barley planted at the former experiment station near Ashland Wisconsin.

There is interest forming a local grain cooperative that would mix and sell feed for livestock.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Second Week of September

We've been doing about half as much business at farmers markets this year.

Last weekended we didn't sell any beets, today we sold out.

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are starting to ripen.

On Monday we let the big pigs into more pasture. You can see two of them almost hidden by the corn. The pigs will eat the entire corn plant starting with the ears. They figured out how to pick and husk the ears of corn!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Early September

Today we cleaned up some of the rye and put it in a storage bin.

The rye first comes out of the gravity box (far left) then is augered up into our fanning mill (center) which cleans the seed. Cleaning removes chaff, weed seeds, grasshoppers etc.

Here's a close up of the rye coming out of the gravity box. The auger is inside the metal pipe.

Rye after one pass through our seed cleaner. This rye will be pig food so running it through the mill once is good enough.

After the seed is cleaned another auger transfers it into the black plastic tub. This auger is a little bit big for the job. We have another smaller shorter one I'll fix and modify this winter.

A third PTO ( power take off) powered auger transfers the rye to the storage bin.

View of the whole operation from atop the storage bin.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The End of August

After combining we run the seed through our seed cleaner mainly to remove weed seeds. Weed seeds aren't as dry as the grain and can contribute to moisture build up during storage. It was raining out so we had it set up in the barn. If the weather is nice we set up outside and auger the grain directly into the storage bin.

The seed cleaner is basically a bunch of screens and a fan that separates out the chaff.

We started combining rye yesterday, we are slowly getting into growing more grain. Grain production takes a lot of machinery compared to vegetables. To keep overhead costs down most of the machinery we have is used. Our combine is a model 72 Allis Chlamers pull behind, its older than I am but does a really nice job.

Unloading some rye into a gravity box. The harvest isn't bad considering the poor growing season, and the fact we are still learning how to grow small grains.

A no-till grain drill was purchased by the land conservation office and in cooperation with UW-Extension it is being rented out to land owners in Ashland, Iron, and Bayfield counties. We rented the drill to do some hay field improvement. Here I'm seeding some red clover (Trifolium pratense) and bromegrass (Bromus inermus).

The field after a pass with the drill.