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The cold November rain

Agriculture.com Staff 11/17/2009 @ 10:00am

Well, where did November come from? It seems as though we were just getting the boat ready to go skiing and now it’s time to catch a turkey. It has been a beautiful long fall with bright yellows and brilliant reds that is starting to look worn. Tractors with disks, plows, and corrugators work through the night to turn and mark the soil for a new Spring to come. I miss the midnight bowls of chili and the thermos of hot coffee that broke the long stretches of fall work. The smell of diesel smoke in the heavy fall air brings it all back.

Welcome to Fall at Sunrise Acres. Carol is busy piling up a bumper crop of locust pods and leaves. It has been a good year for crop production but not an outstanding one for profits. Harvest drew to a close last week at Sunrise Acres. With the forecast of windy, rainy days to come it is good to be done. While the straight tall rows of drying corn were rearranged by the heavy winds in late October, Dirk and Doug Johnson were able to do a good job of harvesting it. The process was spread over several days due to rain showers and the foggy mornings that our close proximity to the Snake River brings. Even after 3 continuous crops of corn in the same field, the yields were better than last year. After completely missing the high prices with last years crop we spent more time watching the market and thanks in part to wet weather in the Midwest were able to get a fair price.

Our pasture and fields of hay look a bit ragged after the frosts and winds of Fall. We chose not to try for a fourth cutting as the weather turned wet and cold. Sometime later this month or next, Frank Shirt's band of sheep will pay a visit to our fields and trim the shaggy growth. While we often toy with the idea of getting a herd of our own cattle again, a great deal of fence repair would have to first take place. With the hours and travel required by my real job, the prospect of cattle running loose through the backyards of our numerous neighbors (not to mention the golf course!) rules out that plan for now. It just doesn't seem like a real farm without animals. As is the case with a lot of hay growers this year we still have an ample supply of hay until the demand improves. The prices I have heard are about half of what we received last year. Even with fuel and fertilizer prices lower than 2008, the margins aren’t good.

Carol gave the weeds one more shot of Roundup herbicide just to make sure they were good and dead before winter. She does a much better job of keeping the farmstead weed free than I ever did.

Hopefully sometime before spring I can treat the large open areas with soil sterilant to save having to spray them repeatedly next summer. The irrigation systems have been winterized and siphon tubes stored for the winter. Now its time to clean the gutters, split more firewood, and get ready to enjoy an Idaho winter. I have always been thankful for our four seasons.

Speaking of bringing harvest to a close, this month has been a busy one at Agri-Lines. With the help of some great installation crews I have several projects close to completion. The shorter days and wet weather make it a challenge to keep a schedule. After spending a wet, muddy, cold day finishing up a pump station in Cambridge I told the guys that the memories will be much better when we recount the project in pictures at our Christmas party. I really appreciate the effort and hard work that the crew does for us. It is very satisfying to take a project from a pencil and paper concept to a finished product. Soon the season of meetings and seminars will fill the winter months with opportunities to meet with growers and manufacturers. There are new technologies and processes that are constantly improving the efficiency and labor saving aspects of mechanized irrigation.

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