Fresh garden tomatoes. Cucumbers and squash. Oh and cherry tomatoes, great on a salad. My little brother is such a suck ass. He bought an acreage a few years back and they’re growing a garden this year. It sounds like they have produce coming out of their ears. It never works that way for me.
I married the stay at gone mom because she said she was a gardener. She said her and her dad used to grow one. The first year after our oldest daughter was born I disked her up a nice big strip alongside the lane so she could plant her garden there. I can’t remember how much we spent but the garden turned out to be a strip of foxtail and other weeds. She grew no produce. Said something about the baby not allowing her to get much done.
So for years we never mentioned it again. Then when she sold the building we had converted to a beauty shop so she could be a stay at home mom she said she wanted to grow a garden. This time I paid attention to how much she spent. Around four hundred dollars. The cost was higher she said because she had to till her plot this time. She still won’t tell me how much she spent last time. The patch of lambs quarters, pig weeds and wild hemp that took over the plot this time did look a lot healthier than her first weed patch. I was even able to rescue two pepper plants that had refused to die and each one put on a couple of peppers. One hundred dollar peppers. I don’t think she can compete in the market.
But she can grow weeds. Maybe we ought to move to Washington State or Colorado. Weed’s legal there I hear.
Dad started farming in the 1940’s. I’m not sure what year. I think it was after the war. Grandpa had told him he could rent a farm if he could figure out how to farm it. He began on a farm not a mile away as the crow flies. It was one hundred twenty acres that an older brother of mine has been farming since the 1970’s. Dad started out farming using an old International Harvester McCormick F-20 with a cracked head on the motor. He used to go out to the field carrying a cream can full of water because the cracked head would slowly leak the water out. He said that the cream can full of water would last until noon when he would come in for a meal and more water. The same thing in the afternoon only then it was a light lunch. His was a three can a day operation. He claimed the tractor wouldn’t let him get hungry. It was always thirsty.
I have been shipping out corn using an old International Harvester 1066 hydro that I bought cheap. The reason being it had a motor that had a hole broken through it where a rod bearing’s failure caused the connecting rod to smash through the side of the block. I had an old IH 915 combine with the same size motor. I switched out the tractor motor for the combine motor. That was three years ago. About every seven thousand bushels or so I need to add two gallons of antifreeze/water. That’s about four or five hours of motor run time. I think I’m losing as much water as Dad’s old F-20. It took me thirty years of farming but I’ve finally caught up to the old man in something. As long as it’s carrying water to an old worn out tractor.
I started out farming in 1984 with a little brother for a partner. We were told Dad would rent us the farm if we could figure out how to farm it. We were allowed to use Dad’s old IH model “M” tractor that he’d kept back from the machinery sale he held after he’d quit farming in “76. I was only fourteen back in 1976 and my little brother was only ten. Needless to say we never knew what we were doing. Neither one of us had a clue. We were going to both work in town while we would sow the whole farm down and raise cattle. We never planned to make farming our livelihood. We had both Dad’s blessing and encouragement. An older brother talked us out of it. He said Dad’s advice would bankrupt us. He said this was called the corn belt for a reason. He said cattle belonged out west where the grass was. So our plans changed before we ever got started.
The fact that we were able to tool up to grain production (Dad had everything we needed to raise cattle and hay) and pay off the machinery in one year during what is now called the greatest farm crises of all time is something we were both proud of. I had even made enough extra money to buy my first tractor, an IH 856 diesel. When I suggested we go for it and try to farm a thousand acres my little brother balked. He had only promised Dad he would give it two years. After one he wanted out. He kept his word though and gave it another year. He’s worked and lived in town ever since. And that older brother who told me we would go broke? He sold out and started hiring the farming done for him. The government paid him to sow down the farm he’d paid too much for and twenty years later when the feds were done with that program he was rich. If government cheese is rich.
We all have to live with our conscience. I don’t even like being in the USDA’s production program. Getting a farm from them would ruin me. I’d be racked with guilt. Dad said his dad said anyone that needs the government to buy them a farm has no business owning one. Back in the day he had figured out how to get the government to pay for a farm using the federal government’s old land bank program. Grandpa would have no part of it. I think I would have liked Grandpa. When I think about it if giving away farms worked everybody would still be on the farm that there great grandfathers homesteaded. Most of them folks are back in town. The railroads that were given the right of ways have mostly all gone broke too. I don’t think you can give away anything without ruining the one your giving it to. Our egos demand that we earn it.
Been to school but still don’t know the mystery
Even though you handed in each lesson
Dug out of the pages of our history
Failing to pass the tests from all the stress n
Buried deep in the twenty first century
Beneath a mountain made of mole hill mess n
Hangman’s here to hold up both judge and jury
Been tricked into a through and through confess n
I guess I’m not as cutting edge as I think I am. But I drank the beer when chemical reps were trying to sooth hurt feelings because their company’s new chemicals carried over to screw up the next year’s crops. I even volunteered to take the half empty keg back to Hy Vee for them. Just as soon as we’d finished drinking it. Of course I’d not used the Scepter brand soybean herbicide that was killing the next year’s corn. I was only there for the free food. The free beer was a nice bonus. For a couple days. Then I had as bad of a hangover as the chemical. Almost. Unlike the corn Rotation I grew out of it eventually. But then my rotation window is a lot shorter. At least it was back then. Anymore it’s taking longer and longer for me to feel like drinking a beer after I have indulged in a few too many. Thanks Willy. But I can write.
Today when I clicked on “New Post” in my usual place on the page here on Cocreator’s New Blog the version of editor that popped up wasn’t the same. There are at least two places to get here that I’ve found so far, with one offering the same editor mode I’ve always used here on WordPress and the other offering a newer glitzier version. When I noticed an option to click over to classic mode I took the bait. I guess I’m not as cutting edge as I think I am. Glitzy isn’t me. One time I painted a tractor back to original and ended up rolling that tractor within a year. Smashing up the cab I had just traded for the fenders. That was one reason I’d painted it, to make the paint on the cab match the paint on the tractor. I’m not meant to have nice things.
Even though I no till farmers were no till planting for decades before I adopted it. Even though I planted cover crops last year it was my first year. Unless you consider oats planted to get alfalfa up and growing a cover crop. I don’t. I’ve both cut it for oats hay and combined it for the oats. Some years both. I have grazed down an oat crop that I had used to get forty acres of brome grass to establish. But I had never planted a cover crop to keep green land that was in a two year corn/soybean rotation. Weeds usually did a good enough job of that. If you count weeds I’ve been using cover crops from the get go. Shepard’s Purse. Pennycress. Dandelion. Foxtail. I’ve used them all. But actually spreading radishes and rye grass, no. Now I read farmers have been doing it for decades. I’m maybe not as cutting edge as I think I am.
Even the rotational grazing I try to do to increase stocking rates has been around for decades. I’ve been doing it for maybe one. The Australians and the New Zealanders were the ones that supposedly developed the rotational grazing system. Long before American farm magazines were promoting it. I was doing it before I knew it was a system simply because I’d got in the habit of only selling bulls and I was getting too many head to simply let graze without starving them. My first rotation grazing was taking them out of the pasture and dry lotting them on hay. I’d notice the pasture would come back thick and lush if I would simply let it rest. After reading about paddocks I divided up the pasture into four sections and the rest is history. Which is where I usually come in. I love history. So I guess I’m not as cutting edge as I think I am.