Monday, November 30, 2009

It's about to begin

The final chapter of the book I could write about the planning and construction of a manure pit is about to begin. The pit pumpers called this morning to say they'd be here at one o'clock this afternoon. We're hoping the maiden pumping of our pit goes without any glitches, but hope can't always overcome poor planning. Our pit is situated in a far from perfect location and the way the lot and fencing were finished after the pit work was complete will make it very difficult – if not impossible – for the pit pumpers to back a prop into the south end of the pit. And since the manure enters the pit on the south end, that's where we need agitation the most. We're keeping our fingers crossed that the short prop will make it around the corner. If not, fence posts will start flying – and expletives along with them.

I'll explain the nightmare of completing our pit after we see whether the prop makes it or not. If we can agitate without tearing down fences and berms, the end might justify the means.

(At least we got the corn done!)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gold rush

If corn is akin to gold – which it is this year because everyone needs the extra cash – then this week will go down as a gold rush. Everywhere you drive, there's a combine in the field. Every grain hauler in the county is booked through next week. Farmers are racing to clear their fields so they can finish field work before the earth freezes.

Our sprint for the finish was slowed today with the announcements that Central Grain in Sauk Centre would not be taking non-contract corn until Monday and Prairie Lakes Co-op in Glenwood would only take grain until noon today. We sent one load out this morning, but we've still got three-quarters of all the gravity boxes in the neighborhood sitting in our yard full of corn and 15 acres standing in the field.

We're going through a major case of could've - would've - should'ves right now. We could have waited until December to combine the dry corn, but the combine was here, the corn was ready and we really need the corn straw this year. If we would have contracted some corn earlier this week we'd be able to deliver right now, rather than sitting on all this corn praying for it not to rain. Maybe we should have talked a little more seriously this summer about putting up a bin, instead of waiting for our cash flow situation to improve.

Scratch that – our situation just changed in the five minutes it took for me to step away from the computer and take lunch out of the oven. Our trucker just called to say Glenwood could take another load of our corn, and possibly a third. Now it looks like we'll get done combining today and finish chopping stalks. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November storm

It feels like we're being tossed about by a classic November storm – except this storm isn't wind and rain, it's the flurry of activity that has occupied our month thus far. For the first time in a long time, we took a real trip – and actually took five days off from chores. And, as all dairy farmers know, each day you plan to be gone requires two days of preparation in advance, so we spent the first ten days of the month getting everything ready for our absence. Into that mix we added a visit with the young man who shadowed us as part of Minnesota Milk's Dairy Connections Program.

All dressed up in Dallas.

Our time away from the farm was like Dorothy's trip to Oz, but our return to the farm brought us right back into the storm. We didn't even have our bags unpacked before the arrangements were being made to combine the high moisture corn (that we really thought would have been done before our trip), chop and bale the corn stalks, and empty the manure pit. We took a short break to celebrate Glen's birthday and then jumped into fall harvest. The combine took seven boxes out last night and we started the bag of high moisture corn this morning. Glen checked the dry corn just to see where it was at; the corn was at 18%, so now the combine will be going straight from the wet corn fields to the dry corn fields. All I can say is it will sure be nice to have all the corn done. Then maybe things will settle down for a couple days before our Thanksgiving storm blows in.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Losing daylight, losing sleep

The end of daylight saving time each fall means an extra hour of sleep one night. We enjoyed our extra hour on Saturday night. But the gain was quickly erased. You see, toddlers don't live by alarm clocks. They live by internal clocks. And Dan's has yet to be reset. He was up this morning at 4:30, ready to start the day. We weren't planning to rise for another hour. There was no convincing Dan that he should lay down for another hour.

Cows and calves don't pay any attention to clocks either. The cows didn't seem to mind the extra hour of milk, but the calves sure let me know that I missed their scheduled feeding by an hour.

We go through this period of adjustment every time we change the clocks. The calves catch on pretty quick, but it takes the kids two weeks to return to a normal sleep schedule. And since it's impossible to sleep unless the kids are sleeping, that means it takes two weeks for the adults in this household, too.

As far as I'm concerned, we could eliminate daylight saving time altogether and forego the headaches that inevitably come with the time changes. The concept is outdated and costs us more than it saves – at least around here.