Thursday, September 29, 2016

♫You picked a Fine Time to leave me, Loose Wheel....♫

This is not what you want to happen to hauling two loads of beans to town. (But Grassy and I were both relieved it happened to Bruce, not one of us.)

Somehow 5 of the 6 bolts that fasten this tire to the hub, were gone, one brave little soldier tried to hold it all together. He made it all the way to town but when he drove off the gravel onto the pavement, the last one gave way and the tire fell off. Bruce didn't realize it until he drove onto the scale and Kyle said, "Hey, you're missing a tire!" About that time, Duvall drove up with the errant tire in the back of his pickup and told Bruce he could buy it for $50.

I was having a lazy morning when the phone rang, "I need some help, a wheel fell off the wagon, bring the pickup." At home we loaded everything he thought he might need, a jack, blocks, wrenches, socket set, hand cleaner, towels and water, then back to Cleghorn to take the hub off. We took it to Marcus to see if Yogi could help fix it.

 Yogi to the rescue, he found 6 bolts that fit the hub and returned to Cleghorn to repair the damage, of course there was a lot of interest from other farmers since we were sitting right smack in the middle of all the traffic, even a few offers of help and a lot of sympathy.

After about an hour, Bruce had the wheel back on and was on his way to dump the loads.

We are always reminded that it could have been worse, it could have happened out on the gravel, perhaps dumping the wagon. We've had that happen and it's not fun, vaccing grain out of the ditch.

So all in all, the harvest Gods are smiling on us, we hope it continues.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Let the harvest begin!

After weeks of rain, combining beans has begun, it's rather hit and miss here, trying to find the dry beans and it's not easy. It looks like a drunken sailor on shore leave with a stolen combine.

"Let's (hick) drive up this hill.)

"I think I will go around this clump (hick) and move on around the field."

"How about a swath (hick) through this part of the field?"

This is a shot from the top of the wagon, showing the patchwork field, we had heavy rain shortly after planting which washed out a lot of newly planted beans. The fields had to dry out before Bruce could replant so those beans are later and still green.

This is Bruce's third day of combining and it's going well, despite another 1/2" rain Sat night.

Bruce worked on a bent hitch on the small Demco wagon, leaving a film of soot from the torch, the raccoons had a party one night and were playing on the hitch.

I hauled a couple loads to town but had a board meeting tonight so Grassy came to the rescue and took the last load in.

The neighbor's are also combining, see their neat and tidy field? 


Friday, September 23, 2016


My hummingbirds found they had to compete with bees for the sugar water in the feeders, they were clustered around the feeding sites. I decided that meant the bees were hungry so I set up a bee feeder on a step ladder close to the hummingbird feeders, hoping to draw them off. They went crazy over it, draining a pint jar in one morning so I swapped it out at noon with a quart jar and they polished it off in a day. I need to buy stock in sugar companies!


I decided if the bees were that hungry I better start feeding my hives and took quart jars of sugar water over on Monday. The two original hives are doing great, the capture hive, not so much. They never thrived and took off, didn't build any comb so I finally divided up the top bars and put in each of the established hive and plugged the holes.

I found this bee doing some housekeeping, hauling out the carcass of a fallen comrade,

This is looking down at a top bar filled with bees and honey.

This is a side shot of the same bar, not the best but you can see the solid bees.

They were actively flying in and out of the hive....

....a close up.

This is a shot through the viewing window, the bees are so thick you can't even see the comb.

An over crowded hive is a threat to swarm but they still have room to build on one end so I'm not too worried. A full hive is best for going into winter to keep the bees warm. They have a lot of honey stored away so I want to keep them fed now to save it till winter when I will still install sugar bricks on top as insurance.

I went over the next evening to see how the feed was holding out and both jars were empty so I filled half gallon jars on Wed,, hoping it will last a couple of days. They were really hungry! Today I was out picking raspberries and the bees were bugging me. I know people who live in town who would like to keep bees but I can see where this could be a problem. If you were feeding hummingbirds and bees were swarming your feeder, it might make you a little perturbed! I'm afraid people would try to kill the bees and that would not be good. My bees are 1/4 mile away and they found these feeders and I think they have driven two of the hummingbirds away. I now have one lone hummer who is very nervous when he feeds.

"EEEKKK!!! It's a bee!!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Making Bruce's life easier

Isn't that what we all want? Thank you, I agree. Bruce has always had to do a lot of hand scooping when he emptied out the dryer bin and the older we get, the harder it is. Especially at harvest when he fills and empties it 3 or 4 times.

Enter Todd Brown and company to put a sweep auger in the bin and a new loadout spout. They are hard at work dismantling the old, with the dogs supervising. We should have been there sooner because some rats ran out. 

This is the new sweep auger.

Inside the bin the floor has to come up....

...and sometimes it takes more power, fire power.

By that afternoon the auger was in place with 3 holes for the corn to flow.....

....and with the new, larger tube coming out, unloading will be much faster.

Back at the garage Bruce fixes a small hole in the gator tire with his handy dandy fix-a-flat kit, this has saved us a lot of money on tire repairs, he even fixed a tire for Jean when she was out one time.

Yesterday the dogs and I found him getting equipment ready for the big push, greasing zerks on this auger and muttering that the manufacturer could have made it a little easier.

Mollie and Murphy went rat hunting, finding two young rats in this bin, one jumped out that Mollie got and we boosted Murphy into the bin to get the other one. 

They are hopeful that more will appear, it's so much fun. You just can't beat a good farm dog.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

More Fall Feelers

The hummingbirds are feeding furiously with the cooler temps, loading up for the long trip south but they are finding competition these days from the bees. The bees actually harass the hummers so I hung another feeder with the 'bee guard', they still cluster around it. Late in the day the bees are gone back to the hives so the hummingbirds can eat in relative peace, until the bully bird shows up.

Zoe has the best seat in the house, sprawled across the back of the couch in the gazebo, watching the drama. The hummer is sitting on the hanger in the background, disgusted that he can't get at the feeder.

I'm delighted to see more Monarch butterflies, they are having a tough time, I read that only 7% of the larvae make it to maturity because of different reasons. Loss of habitat is not one of them around here, the ditches are filled with milkweed, as is my garden, that was something Bruce had to get used to. 

Otto is back, he left for a couple of months, I thought he was gone forever but one day I heard a "Hurrumph" from the direction of the pond and there he was!! Welcome home!! I think he brought a girlfriend with him because there are two frogs now.

The fish also feed furiously these days, I think they sense the cold weather is on it's way and its a long winter sitting on the bottom of the pond.

My Sweet Autumn Clematis is blooming, a heavenly cloud of fragrant white flowers that covers the trellis that Bruce built for me several years ago. I had one on each side but lost the other one, one tough winter. I replaced it with Sweet Summer Clematis but it has been disappointingly less vigorous and hardly blooms. If it dies, a Sweet Autumn goes back in.

The plaque says, "Leave a path in the garden for Angels to walk through."

The fall raspberries are ripening, just a few at a time but that's okay with me. They get washed and inspected for picnic bugs, then frozen and added to the gallon bag in the freezer. They will make a great jam later.

The blackberries are also ripening but I have a love/hate relationship with them, the vines are NASTY! They grab hold with their thorns and do not let go easily. You have to preserve to pluck the ripe berries, I really not sure they are worth the trouble. 

The last sign of fall is the World's Largest County Fair, the Clay County Fair at Spencer IA. We had already planned on going today, Thursday, because it was Ag Day, we got free tickets to get in, a $10 voucher from the Corn Growers to eat on, a free meal from the Soybean Asso. in the evening and Marv Nissel's polka band was playing. (That was for Bruce.)

All week rain was predicted but this morning it didn't look very threatening so off we went but we took our Frog Toggs from Cabela's just in case. 

It rained and rained, and rained, and poured and poured and poured until the fairgrounds was under water. We ate on the voucher, Bruce watched Marv and we stayed for the Soybean dinner but left shortly after because we were parked in a grass lot and more rain was still coming. We were a soggy pair when we finally got to the pickup, it's just amazing what farmers will do for a free meal!

I had to rescue Zoe from the gazebo where she was holed up all day, we'd had an inch of rain and it was still coming down. I was finally able to shed my wet clothes and don my comfy, warm sweats, turning on the electric mattress pad under the flannel sheets. Heavenly! I certainly hope Spencer catches a break on the rain or plan to wear your Wellington's up there. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Road tripping!

Yesterday (Friday) we woke up to yet another thunderstorm that dumped an inch of rain, making the total for the week five inches. After the rain ended, Bruce went to the farm and I putzed around the house, getting some meatloaf ready for the oven and messing around on the computer. An email came in from Jean, Bruce's sister, that she and John were in the Holiday Inn Express in Vermillion SD for a game tomorrow.

John has Token Creek Productions and this was the maiden voyage for a new truck, Pioneer, he and his crew have been working feverishly on all summer and there was still work to do once they were on the site. 

When Bruce came in for dinner I asked his plans for the afternoon and he said, "Do you want to go to Vermillion??" Great minds do think alike! We found out Jean's room number and headed out, it's about 1 1/2 hour drive but it's pretty scenic and we seldom get over that way. We found Jean's room, shared hugs and were just ready to head out somewhere when another knock on the door. Jean checked the peep hole, it was John, so she shooed us behind a wall to surprise him, which we did. 

Even though John was bushed, he wasn't back to catch a nap but bring a key to Jean so we followed him back to the truck for a tour. For an electronically challenged person as I am, all the screens, boards and wires made my head spin. It's darned impressive!

We didn't dawdle and get in their way, they still all had work to do so we set out in the car to explore the town. Jean asked Bruce where Yankton was, she remembered their Mom listening to WNAX when she was a kid. Bruce said it was on west.

Vermillion has a Music Museum that we see advertised on a billboard so after some wrong turns and retracing, we found it. There was a huge banner at the top of the building that we managed to drive by 2 times without seeing! It was very interesting, we spent an hour because that is what we fed into the parking meter.

We drove back to the main drag through Vermillion, searching for a place to eat, we were nearly to the edge of town when we saw a sign, Yankton - 23 miles. Bruce said, "Let's go to Yankton!" And we did! We drove right past the WNAX studio and saw the new truck they are giving away next January, through historic downtown, past a sign that tickled Jean's funny bone, "Yankton, the Mother of the Dakota's" or something like that, and on to Gavins Point Dam.

Where we took pictures. A few years ago there was terrible flooding from the massive releases of that dam and people drove to Yankton just to see the water. This was taken on the south side, the dam in the background.

Jean took this on the north side, the spillways are closed and everything looks calm and serene. What a difference.

After our photo shoot we drove around a campground and found our way back to Hwy. 52, once again through historic downtown Yankton, that was a maze of construction, and back toward Vermillion. We stopped in the little town of Meckling, where a sign from 'Toby's' touted their famous chicken. They weren't kidding, if you are ever in the area, stop in. Their shirt proclaimed, 'Toby's been giving you the bird since 1971.'

After a very satisfying meal, we had a short drive to the hotel, hugs all around and thanks for such a fun day. Now Jean can cross Yankton off her bucket list. We headed for home, taking a different route, checking on crops along the way. It's fun to just play hooky sometimes and go where the spirit moves you. Harvest will be in full force soon and no road trips, except for parts....

Thursday, September 8, 2016

There is a touch of fall in the air

Bruce loves the fall, he looks forward to football and harvest, bringing in the crops that he worked hard to grow all summer.These cool mornings have me brewing hot coffee again rather than the iced coffee liberally laced with International Delights York Peppermint Patty creamer, that is the stuff that gets me out of bed in the morning.

Chopping silage is the first sign of fall around here, the neighbors finished theirs in one day, it takes Bruce and I a little longer but we managed to wrap it up before the rains hit. Bruce chopped and I ferried wagons back and forth, when four were filled he rode in with me to unload and pack the pile.

Last year was a bear, the corn was so tall it didn't feed into the chopper very well and Bruce was constantly unplugging it, this year was better but not flawless. We did find out that it didn't work well in the early morning or evening when the plants started taking on moisture.

At this point Bruce said we were about half done, still looks like a lot to me but the rows get shorter all the time.

This was the moment we were looking forward to, the last two rows - don't plug now!

Bruce gives a big 'thumbs up' to a successful silage harvest. We had to wait a couple of days for the wind to go down so we could cover the pile and that came Monday night. It's a great job to have done.

This is a side note of fall happenings, if you want to teach your kids about sex, send them to the farm. In a perfect world all our cows would have been bred by now but one old gal didn't get the memo and was 'bulling' in the pasture, drawing the interest of the bulls.I watched this romantic interlude take place right by the road, for all the world to see. Louie, bottom left, won the prize and is resting after his exertions, The little boy calves are fascinated with the strange smells and hung around the cow all afternoon. Even though they were castrated before going to the pasture, that didn't stop them from strutting around and boasting about their sexual exploits.

Another sign of fall are the test plot meals, yum, yum! A lot of seed dealers have a test plot where they plant their varieties along with competitors to see how well they stack up. They invite farmers to come, eat and check it out, Producers really do it up right with a tent....

...ribeye sandwiches....(Can you say YUM, YUM??) all the trimmings, beans, party potatoes and fruit salad but outdid themselves with homemade ice cream to top it off.

We found out it paid to be there early as late arrivers missed out on the steaks!

After the meal, Bruce, Jon and Willis the dog, checked out the corn, we have a field of Producers seed by the pond and it looks outstanding.

Today is another meal at the elevator and next week is Bruce's buddy, Fred's field day. Farm wives everywhere rejoice, no cooking tonight!