Crop #12, Poplar Trees

The 12th crop on our farm this year, is one we have never had before!  Well more accurately we have been growing this particular crop for years, some of the trees are just about old enough that I hardly remember what the fields looked like without them. It’s only 8 acres of trees, but planted on a 10×10 grid, once the project is done we will have moved just under 3500 trees off the farm!  Which, let me tell you, is no small process!!  Thankfully we were lucky to get Pihl Logging in for the project, they make it look easy!

finalAfter making the decision to cut down the trees, I’ll admit I couldn’t get visions of the movie “The Lorax” out of my head.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s a Disney animated movie (story of which was originally written by Dr. Seuss) where the whole world basically gets logged and there was nothing left, it was a huge mistake, someone had to stop them…it makes loggers look awful to say the least.  So I took a step back and really thought about what we were going to do and why, and I realized something very important.  I am not living a fairy tale not do I operate our farm in a Disney movie.  I farm and take care of our land in the real world.  The real world that comes with real dirt, real crops (even trees) that need to be harvested, real pests, and real decisions that have to be made now to make our farm sustain into the future.


final-1Hoot even got to take a ride!

So why did we cut down these beautiful trees?  We logged the trees because when they were planted around 15-20 years ago in different blocks, they were planted mostly as erosion control in some very wet, unfarmable ground.  As they have grown, and wow do they grow, they have started to make a large portion of our good farm ground unfarmable as well.  This is because, in part they shade the hillside that goes up against them, and they also shed their leaves every year smothering crops that we have planted there.  For years we have fought the leaves and shade, which seems to only leave room for weeds to prosper and thereby hurting our crop that we are trying to grow.  It was time to harvest this crop of poplars!

final-3final-1So we finally made the decision that the trees were big enough to cut down and send to the pulp mill.  These trees will go to make products like toilet paper, notebook paper, newspaper….you get the point here!  It was also a timing decision based on where that particular field was in our crop rotation.  We plan to no till plant spring wheat into the field this spring.  This gives us plenty of time to get log trucks in, loaded on solid ground, and off to the mill with as least amount of damage to the soil as possible.  Please don’t ask us what we are going to do with the thousands of stumps we have left sitting there, that is going to be a whole other blog post

Here are a few videos…

So there is my real life, not fairly tale depiction of our 12th crop, poplar trees!  Decisions of how to best take care of the land are hard thought with complicated issues such as timing and  lot of pros and cons.  I look forward to taking care of this wet ground, I look forward to farming our good soil better, and I look forward to the next crop of poplars…of which I’m guessing the 4th generation will get to take care of.

Wheat harvest

We are finally done harvesting our 7th crop for 2016, spring wheat!!  final-5final-1The process of harvesting is slow for us, mainly because we are working with equipment that runs…but is old and a bit slower than newer machines and equipment.  But it gets the job done, and when the weather cooperates, it works well for our farm.

The first step is combining the wheat, or separating the grain kernels from the straw.  final-2You can see the grain filling up in the grain bin behind my head while I drive.  This is where the grain is kept until I have to dump into the truck.  Once it gets into the tank we then dump into trucks on the go.  The less we stop, the more we get done, and efficiency is the truck is full it takes the wheat to our grain bins.  Using an auger, we move the wheat from a pit on the ground up to the top of the grain bin and it falls down in slowly filling up with grain.

final-7final-8finalThe tube that you see along the ground is an airation tube.  When the grain comes in it can be very warm because of the heat of the day.  The tube runs to the outside of the bin and has a fan attached.  The fan brings cool air into the bin at night, then as it blows through the wheat it cools it down so it can be safely stored.

final-4Hoot & my mom Karen (better known as Mimi) checking things out while the wheat dumps from the truck into the auger.

This wheat will be stored here until later into the winter when we will truck it up to a seed plant to be cleaned and eventually taken out to farms next spring to be planted again.  It feels good to be cleaning the combine one last time of the season.

We are hitting the point here when we get to put things to bed for the year.  Homestretch is always a nice term, followed by a long sigh of “there’s light at the end of the tunnel!”

Photo Friday, Grass Seed Harvest

Grass seed harvest has begun…well then it started raining so it stopped.  But it will pick up again once things dry out.  Until then here are a few photos from the first few days.

This is tall fescue seed that is being harvested.  It has been cut and cured on the ground for about a week.  Once harvested the seed is trucked to a cleaner, tested for weeds and germ, then sent all over the world for golf courses, laws, sports fields, etc.

Here are some photos from day 1 of harvest out in the field.  We run two combines, one John Deere and one New Holland.

Davor is learning the life of harvest, which means family time is spent out in the fields.  The boys and I bring dinner to the crew every night, and sometimes Hoot and I get to drive the “bines” (as he calls them) while the drivers take a break.  I use the term “sometimes” very lightly, it’s hard to keep that boy out of those combines!



So while this break because of the weather is frustrating, we will get back out into the fields soon.  Until then we will enjoy a little slower pace this weekend, and pray for more sunshine to show up…very soon!!

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