Making Hay
Week of August 11th, 2002 | The weather was very nice.

Loading out soybeans.

Loading out soybeans.

Hello everyone! I thought this week would go by nice and slow. Was I wrong about that! Mom, Dad, and I were just so busy- like usual! We were busy working on the garden, cutting and baling hay, and went to a big farm sale, too.

Do you ever help your parents in their garden? It can be fun when you make it fun. Farming is like taking care of a great, big garden. Raising livestock on the farm is also like caring for pets. This, too, can be a great experience. Farming may not sound like fun, and just a lot of hard work, but if you make it an enjoyable experience, you'll feel great about what you're doing and reap the rewards. Take time to appreciate the animals and pet them, work together as a family on some of the outdoor projects, care and nurture your growing crops, and especially take time to appreciate what you've accomplished.Dad and I were doing chores on Thursday, I knelt down in a straw bedded pen of 10 pigs (about 60-80 pounds) and stayed very quiet, not making any sudden movements. The pigs came right up to me. I felt the pigs' noses. They were soft, rubbery, and wet. It reminded me of a puppy dog's nose! I gently petted them for a few minutes. Their hair is very big, long, and itchy. The pigs are friends. They love living on our farm. Sometimes, one or two pigs might breakout and run into our yard. We really don't care. They eat up any spilled feed and root some grass (just as long as it is not in Mom's garden!!) Sammy likes to play with the pigs, too. Almost every morning, she likes to ride on the ATV with Dad and watch him feed the sows and little pigs out in the pasture. Sometimes, Sammy will jump off of the ATV and run and play with the pigs. She even likes to eat the sow's feed!

Monday, Mom, Dad, and I worked in the garden. We added some more rock in between another area of our raised beds. Our neighbor helped us dig up some of the grass and dirt where we wanted to lay the rock. He used a skid loader. A skid loader is a small loader the size of an ATV. We couldn't use our loader, because it was too large to maneuver in the small area. Wednesday, we borrowed another neighbor's skid loader for the day. This time, I ran it. It was pretty fun. But all skid loaders can be dangerous to work with. The job that I was doing wasn't too difficult. I was unloading rock that Dad and I got from the quarry on Monday. This rock was loaded into a grain wagon. I was loading rock into the bucket of the skid loader and pouring it in the dug up part of the garden. On Thursday, Mom, Dad, and I placed two posts in the ground and hung a gate on it from my grandparent's place. We also built a low bordering brick wall.

While doing all that garden work, Dad and I found time to cut hay on Tuesday. Since it was such a large field, we took shifts at the job. Wednesday, Dad and I sorted hogs and sold five market hogs. After Dad hauled these five hogs to Charles City, he came home with premix from St. Ansgar. Wednesday afternoon, Dad and I loaded out a semi-truck full of beans. This grain was last year's crop. As you see in the picture above, we used a grain vacuum. This is a very loud machine ran by the tractor. One end has a hose sucking the grain out of the storage place and the other end has the grain pouring into the truck. This machine is so loud that Dad and I have to use hand signals to communicate with each other. At least this project doesn't last long!

On Thursday and Friday, Dad and I unloaded two hayrack loads of small rectangle bales of straw. (Look in my glossary of farm terms under small rectangle bales.) I unloaded the bales onto a conveyor. This conveyor carries the straw bales into the straw shed and Dad stacks them neatly. We only bale small rectangle bales of straw about every other year because we usually use the large rectangle bales. The small bales are easier to use for inside of the barn during winter.

Friday, Dad and I raked the hay we cut on Tuesday. That afternoon, our custom baler baled that hay. Dad and I worked until late that night picking up all of the baled hay and unloading it into the shed.

After I attended a 4-H meeting Saturday morning, Dad and I went to a farm sale. This was a large farm sale with people coming from at least three states. Dad and I didn't find much that was interesting, except a uni-power-unit. We were interested in the tractor because it had very few hours on it and it runs by diesel fuel! Ours has quite a few hours on it and it runs by gasoline. Gasoline costs more than diesel. But, they sold the tractor with a corn head, two bean heads, and a corn body. Heads are the front pieces that cut the crop's stems off of the ground. Bodies are what harvest the crops. We didn't like that, and the tractor sold too high a price. Instead, Dad bought some parts for our ear-corn-picker that we do need and also a harrow. This harrow is brand new and just needs to be assembled together. This is the right size, too. Even though we do have a harrow, this one will be built so we can pull it behind the field cultivator or the disc. It will be a good building project for the winter.

Farm Fact: The soybeans that we sold on Wednesday were taken to Hope, Minnesota. Here, the beans will be cleaned. The large beans will be made into an organic health food called tofu. The small, broken beans will be taken to Riceville, Iowa, to be made into soybean meal for organic livestock feed.

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