Today it is raining again.
We have 20 acres of corn left to plant.
This is for the neighbor who has a dairy.
The field is a bit of a problem. It had been in grass for years. He does not have a huge amount of water for irrigation. The field needs to be smooth to go back into grass. He does not want to spend a lot of money.
We are trying to decide just what to do with it.
I think it would no-till, and we could probably do it today, but if it failed because of not getting the water on it soon enough, or at the right time, the dairy guy would be somewhat upset with us for planting it no-till.
We could strip-till it and plant it. That would be fast and would be fairly successful. We have glyphosate resistant corn so weed control would not be a problem.
I'd like to get the edges of the field smooth for a road to get the trucks in and out.
I've been thinking about just doing conventional tillage.
Disking it two directions with the cover-crop disk and plowing.
This would mean another three or four trips across the field but with this sort of cloudy weather I don't think we would loose the moisture.
I am thinking about no-till as Ed Winkle has been sending me an email discussion of his love of no-till and also because I applied for a job selling no-till attachments which required me to profess my love and devotion to no-till.
I think I will not get a call-back on the job. Mostly because my cover letter was, "look, I've been a farmer for 30 years, I can do anything you want with five minutes of study, I probably won't do it that well but I'll get it done..."
I don't think that will get you a job in a place where everything is clean and people wear short-pants to work.
But, I digress.
We no-tilled Saturday.
As I related in my last post, we have heavy clay river bottom soil. When it dries it cracks and it looses moisture really fast. There is low organic matter because any loose straw floats down river.
When I saw the weather forecast for a dry month of May I started working any bare ground as soon as it dried out. All it takes is a couple passes of light tillage to break up the surface of the bare dirt.
The dry weather was hard on the strips of annual ryegrass which had sprouted late in the fall. I the plants are not taller than the water they don't do well under water. Plus, this is a duck and goose hunting area and while the geese do provide slug control, they also mow off the annual like a lawn.
We applied glyphosate to the ryegrass and it is dead. It is about 4 to 8 inches in height and brown.
Most of the corn ground was worked this year. We disked it early and harrowed it to conserve the moisture. To plant it we spread on preplant fertilizer and worked it in. There was very little compaction and so we just planted it. Usually, we strip-till but this also make the field really rough.
When we got to the wetter ground and the dead annual ground I went after the strip-tiller.
But, we do have a Dickey-John compaction meter and we have been using it.
So, I tired the compaction meter.
I have never leaned on the compaction meter and had it bottom out before. Either I've gained weight or we have no compaction. I dug down a little ways to see if I was measuring the compaction of mud. It was a little damp but you could not make a ball of dirt with your fist. It still crumbled so I parked the strip-tiller and my brother no-tilled the rest of the field.
We shall see.
I went off and planted Teff.
Two rows of Teff and one row of fescue. Now that could be a spectacular failure...
Farming on a small scale without vast reserve funding is a triage operation. You focus on what has the most value and most chance of survival.
We have been planting corn.
It has been a dry spring. We have had no really useful rain for a month. The plan was to strip-till, (working ground only in the row and planting into the strip) and avoid major tillage practices not deemed "conservation farming," by those employed by the gubment.
Some years ago we embraced conservation farming in a big way. We used to have a subscription to "The New Farm," a magazine put out by the Rodale Institute which were pioneers in what we new call "sustainable" agriculture.
The New Farm featured stories of regular farmers who switched to organic farming and had all sorts of really interesting ideas on crop rotations and tillage practices.
My dad was always a tinkerer and so it was not terribly difficult to get him to try new farming techniques.
So we bought a strip tiller.
It made the ground really rough. It was too much for the White plant-aire 5400.
And then we bought the White 5100 corn planter. We had been looking for a no-till planter since we had used a Case no-till in the late 1970's and early 1980's.
There were some spectacular misadventures. Like the time we no-tilled corn into a fescue field thinking the fescue roots would have eliminated compaction but not realize that those little tiny slugs also live in the summer time and that one bite will kill a baby corn plant. OR just how rough a seven year old fescue field is when you are driving over it with a silage chopper.
However, it does not matter what we do, we can't top 25 ton corn.
We've applied lime, we've strip-tilled twice, we've disked, applied extra fertilizer, did tissue samples, hired consultants, bought special micro-nutrient fertilizer, it doesn't make any difference. Oh, there have been almost total failures but never anything above 30 ton.
The last time we had 35 ton corn we were farming with small tractors, using a Vermeer irrigator, and using a chisel plow, and glyphosate was expensive.
In fact, I would say, the last year we had 35 ton corn was the first year we used Round-up Ready (TM) corn.
This year was a strange year. It rained until it stopped, I mean that literally.
I watched the ground dry out and decided it was time to stop no-tilling. We worked every spot of bare ground we could get on, as soon as it dried out. All it takes is a couple passes with a heavy harrow and roller or the heavy disk and a harrow and roller and the surface structure of the soil is broken and sealed.
It actually worked.
The first field of corn had 2.5 ton of lime applied and worked in. I was going to get the strip-tiller which we had loaned to the neighbor. I decided to try the soil compaction meter.
No-compaction. So we went after the corn planter instead.
This is the first year we have ever planted corn with a cab tractor. It is not ours.
And now I must go to work. Besides, no one reads if I write too much... Perhaps more about planting corn tomorrow.
I suspect that the days of building roads and farms along the river bank are nearing an end. I've tried to interest her in fishing, but since I never catch any fish, she has not taken up that interest.
Later, a kid who looked like Carrot Top showed up asking if I had seen his dad. I thought at first he was being ironic as I had already discovered his Bob Marley decorated "altoid" tin.
He was down to the seeds and stems. I mean that literately.
I asked him, who's your daddy? "Who is your father?"
And before he answered, I realized that his daddy was the weird stoner guy whose family used to own the farm next door.
So here it is... I'm playing trucks and building roads along the river, this kid is "doin' a bowl" with his dad.
What an interesting world we now live in...
I see that internet pressure has resulted charges being dropped against the "science experiment" girl. (Click Here)
That is all very nice and fine but it is stupid to criminalize what used to be normal kid behavior.
Because she was a girl...
They termed it science experiment.
It might very well have been a "science experiment," but if it would have been a boy it would have been a bomb.
The authorities refuse to acknowledge the difference between a plastic water bottle and a car bomb. It is the stupid type of argument always used by those who want authority.
"If your friend jumped off a cliff would you do it to?"
"No... I'm not stupid and if he was dumb enough to do it why does it matter that I dared him to do it?"
You should then be set to be with no pie and not charged with assault.
I am sitting in the kitchen eating my sandwich and watching it not really rain.
One of those days...
This morning I delivered chicken feed bright and early. I don't really do deliveries and I don't know why I deliver to this person, other than her son used to work for me.
She lives on a steep hillside.
I generally park uphill, open the tailgate, and let the barrels roll downhill till they hit her chicken house. I knew it would one day happen and it did.
A lid popped off... 250lbs of chicken feed is a big pile.
I came home and discussed corn fertilizer, bourbon, the new alcohol limit in Oregon (the wine state) which will get you a DUI for being within ten foot of a bottle of booze, and credit card points that will get you a free trip to Hawaii with the duck hunter landlord.
I had to take my daughter her baseball shoes.
I got in the pickup and wondered how we could go to Crescent Lake and back on half a tank of gas but now it was empty in the driveway.
I backed into the trash can.
Not all the trash was in bags.
I got a scoop shovel and my pickup.
I left with the shoes.
My helper had to call me to discuss what fertilizer to get and how to get it and how many pounds and if the liquid tank would fit on the truck with two dry boxes.
I was driving and my calculator is in my phone.
He accused me of being grumpy.
I went to my cousins house to get a regulator valve for the corn planter that I do not have time to install. Then he said he had a part for my disk and we spent an hour taking it apart. Then I found the quick hitch that I forgot at his house this winter.
I should have taken him up on his offer of a spicy dog with no bun and watched Hawaii Five-O which is on a noon. But the offer of a spicy dog with no bun was sort of disturbing after thinking about the Doctor in a Dress Kilt and I declined.
I arrived home to see the liquid tank had been removed from the truck so I assume a decision had been made without me.
I attempted to make coffee for lunch and dumped the coffee filter all over the floor.
The truck arrived home. It has two big boxes with no room for the liquid tank.
It is raining and we can't spread fertilizer anyway.
Perhaps I will go back to work...
I think my helper is setting at the coffee table waiting for me.
Yesterday MuddyValley came over and helped me wire a plug to convert a round Radar plug to a micro-trak connector. This saved me $90 although Sensor 1 really needs the money I'm sure.
This morning I stopped at TJ's market to get a burrito and saw that Travel Oregon will be filming in Willamina. This is funny. It is not a bad town, in fact it has a kind of cool old downtown. But why would you go there? There is Coyote Joe's, and Galloping Gertie (an old trolly) and the Dr. (who thinks he is Scottish and wears a dress kilt. I can't go there anymore after thinking of the joke with the punchline, "I don't know where ye been me lad, but I see ye one first prize," during a visit and having to claim I was instantly healed so I would not start laughing.)
But, I digress. I'm sure it will be a great show. Perhaps they can talk about all the really good paying tourism jobs that have replaced those nasty timber jobs of days gone by, which is also why Willamina is a town of days gone by...
In other news someone has found me and linked on Facebook. This got me a whopping nine (9) hits yesterday. So I'm well on the way to celebrity status!