Friday, June 15, 2012

Done Farmin'

I finally finished a job that should have been accomplished a month ago – the seeding of a small plot of hay just below the house.

Production on this field had been falling over the last few years as the alfalfa died out, leaving only poorly-producing grasses.  This is a normal occurrence, and is the reason that hayfields must be plowed up and re-seeded every 7-10 years.

I had tried a new technique: rather than use a mold-board plow to turn strips of sod upside-down, I had sprayed out the grasses and burned them off, then pulled through with a chisel plow followed by a duck-foot plow to break up the roots and soil.  It seemed to have worked well, and I followed up by pulling the leveler across the field before reseeding.

Chisel Plow

I tried a new technique there also.  Instead of waiting until spring, I had drilled in the hayseed along with winter wheat last fall, with the intent of having that new crop already up and growing this spring during the time when it normally too wet to farm.

Didn’t work.  The field was overcome by weeds, and the fall planting of alfalfa emerged only sparsely under the dense canopy.  I plowed it all under and started afresh.

It’s a small field, and only takes a couple of hours to cover, but it took a number of trips over the field, and almost-daily rain showers continually delayed the process.

The first pass was with the duckfoot.  But it left streaks of green weeds in the field requiring another pass cross-wise, and then another at a different angle again.  Then a pass with the disc to smooth out all the clods.  Finally I hit it with the leveler – again with three passes:  first north-south, then east-west, and finally at a 45o angle across that.

Duck-foot Plow
 It seemed as if every pass was followed by a rain shower.  Most of these showers contained enough moisture only to delay the farming process for another day or two, while not really adding anything significant to the soil moisture profile.

Then the drilling.  That should have taken only another couple of hours, but I ran short of seed and had to make a trip to town for another bag of alfalfa.  And then it rained before I finished.  

Drill Seeder

I was really puzzled by the amount of alfalfa seed I was burning through - until I looked again at the drill setting table:  I had read it to say that I needed a setting of 14 to get 4 pounds per acre, whereas a setting of 4 would deliver 14 pounds per acre!

But we’ve done all the farming we can do for awhile, and now we’re on to other tasks.

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