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For once this winter, everything works

Agriculture.com Staff 02/05/2010 @ 4:45pm

I hauled corn Wednesday. That is not unique or even interesting. What makes me proud to report that event is that for the first time this winter, everything worked as hoped. I do not remember any time in my farming career when so many things have gone wrong in such a short time as has been the case this winter.

Harvest was uneventful for me, except for the problems with drying corn. It was finished a little later than normal, but at least I do not have crops still in the field. The difficulty began when I set out to do the work in the fall that I like to get done before the snow files. Fall fertilizer application and soil testing was put on the schedule, but the dealer's agronomists never got here. From the on, things went down hill.

Unusual mechanical mishaps started to happen. A tire went flat on my four wheel drive pickup on one of the coldest days of the winter. The problem was not a nail or thorn, but old age. The same pickup refused to start even though it had been run the night before and everything was working fine.

Not long after that the batteries went dead on the 4440 I use for moving snow. I was able to nurse it along by leaving the charger hooked up until a day when my fingers would not freeze from below zero temperatures. You might guess that the date on the batteries was January 2005, exactly five years ago. Batteries expire like clockwork! On the coldest night of the season, our kitchen pipes sprung a leak. I am not much of a plumber, so we called the local handyman for help. That would have been routine except that he was committed to solving emergencies for people with frozen water lines. He ended up working into the evening finally to get our new sink and faucets installed.

My formerly trusty 1974 grain truck even let me down. I had been having problems with the starter most of harvest. When checking the vehicle for the winter, I discovered that the anti freeze was low. The engine burns propane. The mechanic checked it and found that the vaporizer gasket was dripping coolant. Getting the work done was a slow process because my shop stove no longer works, so we had to wait until a moderately warm day to get the job done.

I have wanted all winter to get the centers pulled out of my bins to prevent moisture migration to the top center of the stored grain. Of course the unloading augers were all frozen tight and the controls covered with ice. None of that mattered because the driveway was full of snow anyway. With the help of a neighbor I finally got a half day of hauling done on January 18.

With three days at home this week, I was determined to haul some corn. Monday it was too cold. Wednesday was predicted to be the nice day of the week. It began with the temperature at 10 degrees. Mid morning I began to work on getting the unloading equipment running. It took until after noon to free everything up. I was lucky. All of the equipment, including the truck, went all afternoon without breaking down. Before quitting time I had enough bushels hauled to fill my contract.

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