Forty one degrees Fahrenheit. No sun all day. The ground was starting to look kind of dry when the spitting mist turned into a drizzle about four in the afternoon. Over by sunset with a north west wind. Pretty clouds as the sun set behind them. Pretty cold too. For the last days of April. Rain on Easter Sunday. Rain the next Sunday. We could have a pattern developing. I’ll keep you informed.
Driving to town today I didn’t see as much corn planted as I saw unplanted fields. So I’m in good company. I think there’s more planted in the two square miles around me than anywhere else I’ve been. One heads we all head. Give somebody a toy and they’re going to play with it. I’m no exception with one farm done. For right or wrong. At least I’m five and a half miles south of I-80 here on Rosewood Road. This morning on the farm show I watch they said north of I-80 the soil temperature was in the forties. Not good for growing corn. With air temps below that it must be going down. It can’t be going up.
When I got home at dusk the cows had herded themselves up into the barn yard down wind sides of the two red barns. They do that when it’s going to snow. For the last couple weeks it’s all I could do to get them to stay near the hay. They want anything but that. I wonder if they know something I don’t. Only morning will tell. I haven’t watched the weather forecasters yet. I know they know more than I do. I don’t know if they know more than the cattle however.
Speaking of good company Mom and I just had a wonderful meal at The Cornstalk. A restaurant in town. After I visited my little sister for a walk I headed in to see Mom. They both live in the same town. Since my birthday is tomorrow Mom asked me if she could take me out for supper. It was a nice surprise. I guess rain can be a good thing after all. So can chocolate chip ice cream. Which brings up the next project. Tools needed ; a bowl, a spoon, a bucket of ice cream (chocolate chip), a place and a time to enjoy it. I think I have what it takes.
I cut mulberry trees out of the terraces here on the home place Friday afternoon/evening. I had burned the pit in the rain the other day so there was room. Barely. Not only is the pit filled back up I have a day’s worth of heat once I cut up the larger branches into fire wood. I treated the stumps with Tordon RTU to keep them from turning into bushes as they try to regrow from the stumps. That’s something I’ve been wanting to do for the last few years but never seemed to get around to. The trees grow fast in this part of the world. Just like the corn. They are ahead of me before I know it. Last year I started on the trees in the new fences. If I had Tordoned them when I put the fence in instead of thinking that regular low vol 2-4-D would knock em back that job wouldn’t have needed doing. That reminds me, I have to get those branches gathered up out of the road ditch before they’re rotted away. Waste not want not.
Yesterday I was able to get started planting corn here at home on those very same terraces. By dark I was half way across the bottom nearly to the windmill. By half past midnight the whole farm was planted and I was back inside the house. Thirsty, hungry and tired. But done planting corn on the first farm this planting season. So I can call First Farm. Thirteen hours done. Sixty some hours to go. Planting corn. If everything works flawless. Not counting the moves between farms and running after seed. But I’m going to have to start carrying water to drink at least. Thirteen hours strait through with neither sip nor sup is about all this old man can take. Around four thirty or five yesterday afternoon I found an old 7-UP bottle with two good swigs of stale pop in the 1466’s cab. Leftovers from last fall during the harvest run sometime. Just in time. It felt like coming upon an oasis in the desert. It made for a nice half time. After midnight when I was snarfing and slurping at my desk trying to recharge a little too late I looked up at the bottle of rye and decided I deserved a stiff shot. Since I was so stiff. Sore and shot. Here’s to the first farm.
Now that it’s raining this Sunday morning I’m glad I suffered for the cause yesterday. The thunder is my siren song. And that siren’s singing taps. I hear the bed a calling. Maybe a little food first. Work all night ……. sleep all day. Tornado please stay away.
Construction crosses begin to rise
Swinging arms about in the air
Building becoming before your eyes
But what it will be is not yet there
Silhouetting up against the skies
The native ogle on in a stare
Severing off our earthly ties
A frozen iron forest laid bare
Industrious progress in disguise
The round peg protruding from the square
Fifteen percent to just pay the tithes
The priests of profit taking their share
There’s no time like the present. This is the 1440 story.
Last summer as I was reading the classified section in a monthly newspaper titled Iowa Farm And Ranch Statewide Edition I came across a classified ad for an IH 1440 combine with a lot of new parts. Had since new. Always shedded. In excellent condition and ready to go to the field. Priced at $4,000.00 American Dollars. I remember thinking that sounded like a good buy.
A few weeks passed and I still hadn’t called on the ad. As a matter of fact I could no longer find my copy of that month’s edition. A week later the next month’s edition came in the mail. I made a point of putting the paper where I wouldn’t lose it until I found the time to call the phone number listed on the ad. By the time I was done putting up hay there was more than a combine in the paper I was interested in. A New Idea double basket hay rake listed had caught my eye. If it was what I thought it was the price looked cheap. The combine ad I was looking for was gone but another ad for a 1440 that said new price $2,7oo, if not sold by July 15 will part out good unit or lots of excellent parts. Procrastination pays???
I made the calls and arranged the itinerary. One day I would journey out to Nebraska to look at the rakes. The next day I would journey up to east of Sioux City to look at the combine. It was quite a drive out into Nebraska. The rakes weren’t what I thought but they looked like they were still in good condition so I bought them. One was a right hand rake and one was a left hand rake. One had a longer hitching tongue than the other so they would pull staggered to not miss the narrow strip between them had they not been staggered and overlapped. They both were hydraulically driven instead of ground driven. Both hooked to a three point toolbar that they trailed behind.
The next day after getting directions from the farmer’s wife I headed up to see the combine. I left without the cell phone my wife offered to send with me. I left without the directions the lady had given me. So I simply wandered north by west through the countryside on the back roads until I crossed highway 20 east of Sioux City. That much I remembered from the directions I had written down. I also remembered it was two miles south of the old highway 20 that could be seen from the new highway 20. I had also remembered that they lived about twenty miles east of Sioux City and the farmstead had two upright silos near the road by the other out buildings.
When I had found highway 20 I headed west until I came to the twenty mile mile marker. Sure enough I could see the old highway 20 pavement from the new highway 20. I drove the two miles on south of the old 20 and started heading back west. Then back tracked east to the place I’d started two miles south of old 20. Then on east looking all the while for two silos. There were a lot of farms with two silos but none were along that stretch of road. So I tried the roads a mile north and a mile south of the one I’d been searching. Eventually I came across the local mail carrier. At last I thought, this guy will know everybody in the area, it’s his job to know.
He’d never heard of any Wilcoxes in this area. However he had heard of some one town over. (I say one town but what he meant was in the next town’s rural delivery route) He gave me a rough description of how to get to the house he thought it was. When I got there and saw the two silos I thought this has to be it. It wasn’t but the guy there had heard of Gary and knew where he lived. Even though one of the houses he told me to turn at was no longer there I could tell it had been a farmstead at one time by the windbreak still standing across on the other side of the road. When I pulled into the farmstead I’d been directed to the lady was out in the garden just like she’d said she would be.
She called her husband and said he would be by shortly and proceeded to direct me out to the shed that the combine had always been shedded in. When my eyes had adjusted to the dim light I couldn’t believe them. This sucker still looked like new. The tires were like new. The chains and belts all looked like new. It had a chaff spreader attached. I had already decided to buy it if it ran like new.
When he showed up Gary assured me it did. He said that even though he hadn’t bought it brand new he had bought it two years old with only 800 hours on it and yes it had always been shedded. He went on to tell me he had run a rock through it so insurance had bought him a new rotor and concaves. (the parts that do the actual threshing) he further told me it had a new motor installed not that many hours ago. The hydrostats had been replaced with new ones. The final drives had been rebuilt. I could see the unloading augers had been replaced. He had converted the header height control from the old cable actuated to an electric over hydraulic actuated one.
I was basically buying a new combine for $2700 dollars. We began talking and had he not had hay to bale I think we could have talked the rest of the day away. He and his wife were very personable. I felt like I’d known them all my life after a couple hours. But he had work and I had driving to do so after I’d written the check we parted company. I tried to find a route home that I could drive the machine on without overtaxing the hydrostats along the way. Western Iowa can have some very steep hills to climb and I wanted to avoid the worst of them if I drove it home.
By seven or so I was still lost and getting very tired. When I rolled into Logan Iowa from a direction I’d never driven before I was at least on familiar ground. Logan is the county seat for Harrison County, one of the counties I farm in and home of the USDA’s Farm Service Center where we sign up for the government cheese. (Farm Program) I whipped the pickup into a parking stall outside one of the watering holes I stop at when I’m in that town. I had a few drinks with the locals and caught up on the local gossip. Then I had a few more when the rounds were being bought faster than I could drink them. When the bartender suggested I get a room instead of trying to drive home I was all for it. I had nearly fallen asleep driving as it was before I’d even had a drink.
When I went back to hauling hay the next morning a friend showed up and said the stay at gone mom was calling every sheriff between home and Sioux City looking for me. It’s OK if she stays at gone but let me slip off the radar just once …….
I used my little cream puff to harvest all the crops last fall. I only climbed into the 1460 to move it out of the way and to park it in the barn at home for the winter. Along with the five row head I’d bought from the rake guy. It will become my new home made six row head this summer. I bought another four row head for the parts I need to make the transition.
I went back and bought a couple of Lundell gravity box wagons from Gary and towed them home with the pickup. I could only drive twenty five miles an hour towing them. That’s when I decided to have the combine hauled home by a professional trucker. The five hundred dollars it cost wouldn’t go far buying another new hydrostat if I wore it out driving it all the way home.
This post is way longer than I thought it would be. Sorry about that. I’ll tell you the story about the original home made six row corn head some other time. When I have more time/room.