Week Ending March 25 The continued cold/wintery weather makes it hard to believe spring has arrived on the calendar. We still have snow on the ground and frost.
We have been working on getting the planters ready for spring this week. We have been replacing a lot of chains, seed disks, and other wear items on the planters. We should have them totally ready by the end of next week.
We have started moving some of the tractors south to Farmer City to be in position for spring work starting there.
We changed over the tires on the sprayer from narrow row-crop tires to the wide tires we use in the spring. The wide tires give it much better floatation in the soft ground.
More grain is being hauled. The poor weather conditions have made grain hauling a little challenging.
Week Ending March 2nd More grain hauling to Corn Products in Chicago this week. We finished up our grain trailer modifications where we mounted air cylinders to open the hopper doors on a hopper bottom trailer. This week we installed the electric connects to allow the doors to be opened with a remote control. There are some safety features including a lock out switch and a flashing light to tell you the doors are open. We will start using the system this week hauling grain to see how well is works.
We started building a new seed tender trailer this week. The new trailer will be on a drop deck semi trailer and have room for 8 - 50 bushel seed boxes and liquid starter fertilizer. The trailer will use a conveyor system to move the seed.
Week Ending March 23rd Sarah and I enjoyed a great trip to Germany this week to visit the Claas company facilities. Check this page for details on the trip.
Week Ending February 16th Mom and Dad, and Brad and his family got away to Florida this week for some vacation time at Disney World. They had a great time. Temperatures in the 70's were much better than they left behind.
We continue to haul grain to market out of the farm storage. Bob and Sarah got ready to go on their trip to Germany next week.
Week Ending February 9th We were back working in the shop this going through machines and designing a new system to unload our hopper bottom grain trailers. We came up with a way to use air cylinders to open the slide gates on the trailers. The system is still experimental but we think with a few modifications we will have a fast and simple way to open the doors. We have had electric and hydraulic operated doors in the past but we have had some issues with reliability and speed. Our goal is to have to trucks dump as quickly as possible so they can make it back to the field for the next load. A faster turn cycle allows us to get by with fewer trucks.
Below is some work in progress on the air doors. More details to follow as we get the system refined.
We did get just a touch of snow this past week, enough for a little sledding for the kids. Most of the precipitation came as rain which is welcome. We still need a lot of rain to build back up our sub soil moisture.
Week Ending February 2nd We had a full week of conferences and trade shows this week. We attended the Ag Connect farm machinery show and conference in Kansas City. It was a good show. We learned more about several piece of machinery we were interested in. The new CLAAS combine was displayed. The latest model has more power, a new cooling system, faster unloading, and many other minor improvements over the previous machines. We are looking forward to running one in the fall.
We also learned about several high speed planters that are coming out this year by Kinze and Horsche. Both have electric meter drives and improved meters to help plant at higher speeds. We hope to see both of these brands run this spring to see how they perform.
We finished up the week by exhibiting at the Farmland Investment Fair in Joliet. The fair is put on annually by the Chicago Farmers group. We have a booth there each year to meet investors looking to acquire land in our area. We have started some good relationships with people we have met at this fair over the years.
Below are some photos of the Ag Connect show including the CLAAS and Horsche planter displays. We were honored to have our farm feature in the CLAAS display as part of their 100 year anniversary celebration.
Week Ending January 26th We are back to working on equipment in the shop this week. We needed to run our Challenger 765B in the shop on a dyno to diagnose an electrical problem with the engine. Trying to be fancy we made up an exhaust system to pull the fumes off the tractor and blow them outside. It worked great until the tractor got up to operating temperature. The exhaust fan that we had in the line quit and the aluminum duct work that made up the piping melted. So much for that idea. The good news is the Cat mechanics were able to diagnose the tractor's issues.
We met with an subsurface drip tape irrigation company this week. After the extremely dry weather we are considering adding some irrigation to some of our fields. Irrigation is new to us. We do not irrigate any of the land now. The subsurface irrigation is intriguing in that it takes about 3/4 of the water of a traditional system, it can be used to reach all corners of a field, and it can be used distribute fertilizers as well as water. The company we are working with is Netafim. The drip tape is typically installed every 60 inches across the entire field. The tape is run with the crop rows.
Week Ending January 19 We tried plowing in some more field tile this week but we ran into +6 inches of frost which made for tough going. The plow tractor was able to make it through most areas but we had trouble spinning out where the frost was too solid.
The video below shows the machine running. We were able to run right along where the frost was broken up. We were installing 4 inch tile at a depth of about 3 feet. We are running a Trimble FMX system which is controlling the tile grade and steering the tractor. There are also some pictures below of stringing out the tile ahead of the plow and making the connections to the tile main.
Given the tough field conditions and forecast for more wintry weather coming, we decided to park the tile plow for the winter and hit our drainage projects again in the spring. We have now returned to projects in the heated shop. Efren got his Challenger 875C serviced, waxed and ready for spring this week. I looks good.
Week Ending January 12th We are off to a good start in 2013. We were able to take some time off to enjoy family and friends over Christmas. We had just a touch of snow for the kids to sled on in the picture below but not much. We are now back to some of our winter projects including machinery maintenance and drainage tile.
Despite some winter weather we were able to get some drainage tile installed last week. We installed a 15 inch main. We are digging in the main with the excavator. We made a large steel tooth to go on the bucket the makes a half-circle form in the bottom of the tile trench to hold the tile. We ran laser guidance on the excavator to set the grade for the tile. We are using dual walled pipe that comes in 8 foot sections. The 15 inch main runs about 1/4 mile. We will be hooking 4 inch laterals into the main every 50 feet across the field.
Installing the main was a challenge with 6 inches of frost when we started. We then had about 1/2 inch of rain and had to deal with mud on top of the frost. The main is totally installed now.
We will try to install the laterals this next week with the tile plow. We will see how the plow tractor handles the mud and ice.
Below are some pictures of the work from this week.