Making Hay
Week of May 19th, 2002 | The weather was very cool.

Mixing garlic in untreated seed corn.

Mixing garlic in untreated seed corn.

Hello everyone! We had a busy week. The temperatures were very cool, but that doesn't keep us from working in the field. I am going to detail what happens on a busy planting day from hour to hour. Planting corn is very dependent on both soil conditions and timing. A farmer's decisions during this season are critically important.

5:45 AM (Thursday): Dad was dressed for work. He filled the 7405 John Deere tractor with fuel, replaced two scrapers on the disc and ground a load of feed for the pigs. I assisted him as he unloaded the feed. He told me that I would be staying home from school today to help farm!

7:00 AM: We watched the Today Show while we ate a hearty breakfast. Matt Lauer was in Cambodia on the "Where in the World is Matt Lauer" segment.

7:30 AM: I begun discing a plowed field where we will plant corn later this week. Dad did chores and checked the cows.

9:00 AM: Dad was finishing dragging a field for corn when I saw him and told him about the broken axle on the disc. Luckily, Dad had an extra axle on hand and with some welding, we had the disc fixed and working in just an hour and a half. I watched through my welding helmet as Dad fixed the axle with the welder. The replacement axle was too long so he cut it to the correct length and welded a steel plate to form the new end on the axle. It was quite an experience to see someone that has welded for over 30 years do such an important weld.

10:30 AM: Dad was now planting and I was discing. He had to decide how many kernels of corn to plant per acre as well as how deep to plant them. Any large errors here will hurt corn yields. We have to try to get the corn to emerge from the ground before the weeds do. This is the most important decision that effects how well we control the weeds. All farmers face these decisions at planting time but organic farmers do not have chemicals to fall back on for weed control.

12:00 Noon: We quit for dinner. Mom was at work and we heated up meatloaf, potatoes, and vegetables that she made for our meal. I like to cook and help with the meals.

12:30 PM: Dad and I went back out in the field to work ground and plant corn. Everything was working well.

1:00 PM: Dad came over to my field to check and I showed him a disc section where the nut at the end came off. We got it fixed in an hour and a half.

2:30 PM: We were back doing our fieldwork. I was making the first pass after the ground was plowed and I had to drive much slower because the soil was rough.

6:00 PM: I just started my second pass with the disc. I heard a noise and we had a wheel bearing going bad! We tried to find a replacement bearing, but our inventory did not have that size in stock. Dad and I quit for supper. Mom just got off of work. She can get a new bearing in the morning.

7:00 PM: We ate supper and discussed the progress made so far.

8:00 PM: Dad went back outside to plant corn. I fed the bulls, checked on the pigs, played with Sammy, and then I went inside for the night.

9:00 PM: Dad came in from planting corn. He finished the first field inspite of the breakdowns. We all watched E.R. and afterwards went to bed. Some days are better than other days! The plan for this day certainly didn't go as expected. There are many other days in the farming year like this- harvesting, cleaning a hoop building, other field activities, shelling corn, and more that can be very productive and we can get more done. But when something breaks down, it seems like everything can go wrong! And of course, certain times of the year can be much busier than other times. Planting and harvesting season can be long days of work, getting up earlier than usual and staying outside until late.

Friday, Dad worked ground. He finished my job so he could plant corn. Friday morning, I woke up at 5:00 to go to my 8th grade class trip. Mom drove me to New Hampton to get on the charter bus at 6:15 AM. The bus left at 6:30. My classmates, teachers, and I went to Minneapolis, Minnesota. First, we toured the Science Museum. I enjoyed looking at the fossils, electronics, weather experiments, etc. I had fun! Then, we ate lunch and toured the Minnesota Zoo. We walked through the jungle and saw tigers, leopards, monkeys, birds and fish, just to name a few. After that, we only had time to walk the North Trail. Some of the animals that we saw there were camels, horses, prairie dogs, moose, and more. We also went to a petting farm. That took about 1 1/2 hours! Then, we watched Unlimited X movie at an Imax theater. I have been to an Imax before, and loved it! I liked this one, too. After the movie, we took group pictures and went out to eat supper. My class and I decided to go to McDonalds. After that, we went home and attended a dance at the middle school. The dance was half over by the time we got there, but I still had a really fun day!

Saturday, I worked ground with the disc and drag. Then, Dad planted it. Preparing this field for corn took all day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It's a big field. Dad finished planting corn Saturday night. We have a total of 56 acres in corn this year, all certified organic and fertilized with composted manure.

Farm Fact: An Organic Valley dairy farmer from California told us that one-cup of garlic powder applied to 1 bag of seed corn will reduce seed maggot and wire worm damage. We used this for our seed corn this year. We mixed this garlic with hot water and then stirred it with the seed corn before pouring it into the planter. It really smells and this is supposed to keep the insects away! We'll find out during the growing season.

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