Tiling the east field

Our farm came with six fields, but in the years that we’ve lived here, only five have been in use. The far east field has been “in rehab.” In fact, it’s also known as the rehab field. (This post shows a bird’s eye view of the property.)

The field is boggy with two marshy areas, one of which is right in the middle. It’s hilly and on some of the slopes the soil has washed away and the ground is very stony.

Green marshy area in the middle of the east field

The farmer who rents our fields told us that several years before we bought the farm, one of the previous owners brought in some dirt and regraded the field, and after that it didn’t drain properly. In the time that we’ve been here, the farmer has augmented the soil with manure and tried various measures to drain the field. Nothing has worked.

In fact, he’s gotten more and more frustrated as his equipment gets stuck in the mud and the field remains unuseable.

This view shows the east field and the big field from the same vantage point a few years ago. You can see that the big field is a lot healthier looking than the east.

East field

Big field

Every year we talk about tiling the field, and this spring our farmer decided to go ahead.

Note I wrote tiling, not tilling.

Tiling involves running weeping tile throughout the field underground to drain the water.

Our farmer hired a drainage contractor for this project. The first step was to survey the fields using GPS to map out the best drainage path.

Surveying the field by ATV to prepare for tiling

Then the big stuff showed up. A backhoe, bulldozer, a drainage plow and biiiiig rolls of weeping tile.

Baxter surveys the backhoe

Baxter standing in front of a spool of weeping tile

The plow was a really cool piece of equipment. It was a large tractor on caterpillar tracks with a spindle to carry the giant spool of tile. The plow cut into the ground and fed the tile into the trench and filled it back in all in one pass.

Drainage plow

Even after living in farm country for seven years, the novelty of farm equipment has not worn off for me. I marvel over the tractors, the combines, the plows and all the rest. So I loved seeing the drainage equipment at work. The maneuverability and power of the tractors was awesome. They went through the water, up hills, through trees–nothing stopped them.

Baxter watching the drainage plow tiling the field

Tiling the field

The crew laid tile all through the east field, a bit into the big field and drained it all through the front field and into the creek that runs across the front of the property.

Weeping tile

Field drainage tile flowing into a creek

There is still work to be done before the field is finally out of rehab. There’s a big section where top soil was scraped off, and it needs to be pushed back. As well, the trenches and ridges from the plow need to be leveled.

Field after tiling before levelling

Ridges in the field after tiling

The ground is still a little squishy in spots, as you can see by my boots (please give me props for not tipping over and dumping the baby into the mud).

Standing in the mud

But the tile is a huge step towards hopefully making the field more useable.

Do you have any muddy spots at your house? Or have you spotted any cool equipment at work? Is part of your property also “in rehab”?

 

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First snow and first fire

Snow dusting the split rail fence by the barn

Thursday night the flurries started, and Friday morning we woke up to our first dusting of snow this season.

The puppy was entirely over-excited until his feet got too cold (temperatures also fell incredibly far overnight) and then he was excited run back to the warm house.

Baxter surveying the fields after the first snowfall

Tire tracks across the field after the first snowfall

Baxter surveying the fields after the first snowfall

Snow on the barn roof

After all of the cold and snow, I was very happy to also have our first fire of the season this weekend. (Yes, that means our chimney is clean. One more task crossed off our fall to-do list. How to post to come).

Logs burning in the fireplace

I’m writing this in front of our second fire of the season, enjoying a quiet, cozy wind down to our weekend.

I hope that you all had a good weekend as well. What was the highlight for you? Any weather changes where you are?

Harvest report from Illinois

You saw on Monday that our last hay harvest of this year happened on the weekend. In Illinois, harvest is also underway, although there’s some variation in the crops. Sarah is here today to share a crop report.

Harvest 2017 is officially underway. I say “officially” but that just means that I saw my first combine this week.

If you remember back to some of my spring posts, we had an extremely wet season.

Of course it affected my planting but more importantly it affected the farmers’ planting. Most farmers either had to wait to plant, planted then had to re-plant, or some were just lucky enough that the first planting made it.

With these three scenarios, I find it fascinating that fields that are usually all ready to harvest about the same time are now looking completely different.

I took pictures on my way home one night of different fields of soybeans all in different stages of harvest.

Not at all ready to harvest:

Starting to show signs of the foliage dying:

And almost ready:

The corn is in similar stages:

None of these examples are from the fields that Steve farms. He says that he is about 2 weeks away from cutting his first beans. I think this is going to be a long drawn-out harvest season.

How are crops doing in your area? Have you seen any signs of harvest approaching?

It seems like this has been a good season for hay in our area. The wet weather has meant it just keeps on growing. The farm across the road had at least three cuts, I think. You have me curious about beans and corn, Sarah. I’m going to have to find a field and take a look.

Get to the choppa

Ahhh, a peaceful weekend morning in the country. The bugs buzzing and the birds chirping. The hum of a tractor in the distance. The sound of gates creaking and horses neighing at the farm across the road. The pop of gunshots and whir of a helicopter. The… um, what was that?

No, the farm has not become a war zone. But we did have an interesting invasion on Saturday when a helicopter landed in the big field.

Hay wagon

Honestly, I wasn’t paying much attention. There’s a shooting range a few kilometres down the road, so gunshots are something that we hear fairly regularly. They’re just background noise to me now.

I definitely heard the helicopter. But again, I wasn’t concerned because there have appeared to be helicopter lessons happening over the farm throughout the summer. They fly low and they fly around and round. It’s noisy and odd, but not novel anymore.

However, a helicopter landing on our property is novel, and apparently that’s what happened.

Matt, who was out for a walk with Baxter, had seen the helicopter. However, he wasn’t expecting to see it touch down in our field. Matt and Bax were on the road, some distance from the field, talking with a police offer who had pulled over when he saw the helicopter flying erratically.

The helicopter only touched down for a few minutes, so Matt–and the cop–didn’t have a chance to find out what was happening. And I didn’t get a chance for a picture.

The cop’s comment was, “If it crashes on that side of the road, it’s the city’s problem. If it’s on this side it’s our problem.”

Ummm… if it crashes, it’s a problem period. If it crashes on our farm, that’s our problem. Not helpful input, Mr. OPP.

After an apparently safe takeoff, the police officer went on his way, and Matt and Bax returned for breakfast. Later in the day, Matt commemorated the occasion by finding Predator on TV–hence the title of this post, Matt’s favourite line from that movie.

The rest of the weekend our fields were pretty much back to normal.

Our last hay was baled, so tractors and hay wagons replaced the helicopter. The closest we got to a helicopter was this spinning attachment on the back of the tractor as our farmer was preparing the hay for baling.

Haying

Baling hay

Did anything unusual happen at your house this weekend?

Sunset visitors

After just over five years of farm living, the novelty of the wildlife lives on and passes through our property has not worn off.

At sunset on the weekend, we had three deer munching in the back field, and much, much closer we had one very chill deer relaxing in the centre field.

Eventually she stood up and trotted away, white tail waving.

The whitetails were waving again on Monday morning when Baxter and I were out for our pre-dawn walk. The white was all we could see as four deer headed away from us through the dark field.

They keep coming back, though, and have been in the back field each evening so far this week. And it’s still exciting every time.

Grey days

Two grey days, exactly three weeks apart.

Snowy field in mid March

I swear as of this week I’m seeing the fields turn green. I can handle grey skies when I feel spring is coming.

Field at the beginning of April

This bird’s eye view is courtesy of a deer stand at the edge of the back field.

Looking down from the deer stand at Baxter on the ground

A great way to see the farm. But too tall for puppy.

Deer stand

As excited as I am for the green, last night we had a few snow flurries. C’mon spring!

What’s the weather like where you are? Are you seeing signs of spring?

Dry fields hoping for rain

Oats harvest

Last week our farmer harvested our fields. It’s been an incredibly dry season. As the tractor rolled across the fields dust plumed behind the wheels.

The fields had been planted with oats. Our farmer was not happy with them, but it looked like he got a good quantity of bales.

Baler behind the hay wagon

He was hoping desperately for rain in the next couple of days. Underneath the oats, he had also planted hay. We needed rain or else we were going to lose all of his seeds.

On Wednesday night, just a few hours after the harvest, the skies opened up. We had rain off and on for two days.

Hopefully that means good things for his seeds.

Tractor harvesting blaes of oats

It would be nice to have another harvest yet this year.

What’s the weather been like in your area?

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