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End of the Growing Season; Start of the New

IMG_5496The 2015 growing season is pretty much at an end. On August 29th, the soybeans were still dark green with just a very few leaves starting to turn yellow.

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It didn’t even take a month for the beans to dry down. I took this picture on Friday, September 25th. About an hour after the picture was taken, the combine moved into this field and harvested the beans.

IMG_0048On the following Monday and Tuesday, the Farmer worked the soil and then on Wednesday, September 30th, planted winter wheat. The wheat is up, growing and will be harvested in the summer of 2016.

IMG_0050The narrow row, in between the field radishes in the garden, is where the Amaryllis bulbs were growing. I dug them up last Saturday, washed the roots and laid them in my garden wagon to air dry. I pull the wagon outside into the yard during the day; in the evening I put it back into the garage. They look nice and healthy. The leaves will be cut off after they have dried, then the bulbs will be stored in the basement until I’m ready to start potting them in November. I’ll pot a few bulbs every 2 weeks so I have continuous blooms during the dreary days of January, February and into March.

I tilled the soil where the amaryllis were and then planted garlic cloves. They should push through by the end of October; winter over and start growing again as soon as the soil warms up next spring.

So, as my title says, it is the end of the growing season but next year’s growing season has started.

In the Garden

Last year I did a garden update every month. The weather was uncooperative this year and the garden wasn’t the bright spot it normally is.

IMG_5486Except for the pole beans, the garden has finished production for the year. I plant fall radishes after each section has finished growing it’s vegetable. The radishes suppress weeds and their deep roots loosen the soil for spring tillage.

IMG_5487The Amaryllis bulbs are still growing and one of them is actually blooming, a second plant has a flower stalk too. I’ll let these bulbs grow until the end of September unless frost threatens earlier. They’ll be pulled and allowed to start their ‘rest’ until they are repotted again in November.

The leaves do get beat up some from growing in the garden. I think it helps develop stronger bulbs by growing in the real world for a while.

IMG_5488On the east end of the garden are these beautiful hybrid sunflowers. They have been transformed into  flowering bushes instead of having just 1 seed head like they used to. I had originally planted a whole row of the sunflowers on the left side but whatever ate my tomato plants also ate most of those seedlings. I had used all my seed so I went back to the seed store. They were out of the original variety IMG_5489so I got another type. I think they’re even prettier.

 

 

IMG_5493The bees enjoy them too. There have been bumble bees, honey bees and some wild type of bee that looks like honey bees but are half the size.

I enjoy looking out the west windows of the house and seeing them so bright, colorful and cheery.

IMG_5496The soybeans are nearing the end of their growth. It is hard to imagine, but a month from now, this field will have yellow leaves with some of them turning brown and starting to drop off the stalk. If we have a normal (what’s normal anymore?) fall, they should be harvested in October.

After they are harvested, we’ll no-til winter wheat into the soil.

IMG_5462My flower beds aren’t very colorful anymore. The black-eyes Susans are still smiling but the most brilliant flower this late summer time has been the lily hostas. The early summer rains really made them grow, their flowers are beautiful. When I head out to the barn in the early morning, the scent of their sweet perfume is hanging in the air. It is too dark to see them, but they definitely let you know they are there.

In July we combined the wheat in our bottom field and baled the straw the following week. A combine can’t harvest every single seed grain so there are wheat kernels dropped to the ground. There are 3 wild turkeys who have been grazing the field ever since the combine did it’s job. They were there when we started baling, waddling ahead of the tractor eating the seeds. I would love to get a picture of them for you but I don’t have a telephoto lens on my camera. As I am typing, I am looking out the east window at them. They are determined to glean every loose seed in that field.

As we baled hay this week, the barn swallows gracefully flew and swooped around us; devouring the insects we disturbed. I’d take pictures to show you, but I’m not fast enough to snap one. I don’t know how much longer they will stay in northern Indiana before heading south. My bird book says they winter from Costa Rica to Argentina.

I did manage some sewing time this week, but I’ll share that with you in my next post.

Little Snowman Quilt

IMG_5412This is another of the little (17″ x 20″) quilts I pieced last winter. They were fun to make, so different from the big quilts I normally produce. I was concerned that having sewn the snowflake buttons on before quilting was going to cause problems, but it hasn’t.

The pattern is called Snowman Love and was a kit I bought from the Red Button Quilt Co. The border design was supposed to have been a kind of free hand drawn scrolling design. Cute design, but I am not good at freehand drawing so I just picked a stencil and traced it off, good enough. The quilting happened on and off last week. I should be able to finish quilting today.

This has been a busy week, we’ve actually had sunshine every day! The wheat has been combined and we’ve started baling straw. Yesterday morning I mowed down 10 rounds of hay. Monday is going to be an extremely busy day but these are the days I dream about in winter. Summer is my favorite season.

I don’t have pictures from my garden but the green beans are producing well. I pulled all the garlic several weeks ago and the heads are drying in the garage. Part of the onions were pulled last week and the rest are ready to be harvested this week. The new red potatoes are delicious. I’m surprised at how well they have produced, they were viciously attacked by potato bugs early on but have come back and yielded well.

I’ve linked to Kathy’s Slow Stitching Sunday.

 

Red Radiance is Quilted!

IMG_5381Sunday evening I finished the quilting on Red Radiance! She needs to be trimmed and have the binding sewn. I not sure how soon that will happen. This picture looks blurry, but if you click on it, the photo that pulls up looks much better.

 

 

The left side triangle border for my Jane is now completed.

 

IMG_5367Left part of border.

 

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Right side of border.

 

IMG_5383The right side border is prepped and I was able to sew 9 triangles the end of last week.  This week has been very busy and I haven’t had time for hand work or piecing.

We’ve been getting constant rain for the last 3 weeks, not everyday but often enough we can’t get in the fields. The problem is now it is time for  the 2nd cutting of hay. We decided to go for it and mowed down a field last Saturday to wet bale and wrap on Monday. Sure enough, it rained late Saturday night or very early Sunday morning. (I heard it raining but I was too sleepy to look at the clock to see what time it was.)

Monday morning we had fog and I couldn’t start raking until around 9 am. It was very overcast and dreary and it looked like it could rain any minute.

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We need to rake the windrows together to make the bales pack better.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5379We custom hire a neighbor to come and bale the field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5380While he is baling, the Farmer and I pick up the bales. I drive the tractor and wagon and he runs the skidloader. The skidloader has a bale punch with 3 prongs. He stabs it into the bales and lifts it onto the wagon. We can fit 15 bales on the wagon.

 

IMG_5376I pull the wagon to where the bales are going to be wrapped and the Farmer unloads the wagon. He stacks them in a row, ready for the wrapper. In the background you can see bales we wrapped from the 1st cutting in May. We got 70 bales wrapped and this will be fed to the cows next winter.

 

IMG_5372Like I said earlier, we’ve had constant rain and I have been busy sewing on my Jane. I’ve my neglected the garden and it looks like a disaster! See the green beans there next to the garlic? The garlic is fine since it was mulched.

 

 

IMG_5373The broccoli is doing great, they love all the rain, but the potatoes are under attack by potato bugs.

Today was garden clean up day. I pulled weeds, hoed and tilled. It looks a lot better than it did this morning, but she still needs more work. When I’m satisfied, I’ll take updated pictures.

Jane Stickle Triangles, Crops and the Garden

May was a very busy month. Yards to mow, crops to plant, hay to make, garden to plant and, of course, quilts to piece. I’m going to start with quilts first.

IMG_5304I made good progress in May on unfinished projects. Besides the Medallion quilt top I showed you several posts ago, I’ve finished a long time Zig-Zag 9-Patch project that was started many years ago. The intent was to use up older fabrics but this didn’t even put a dent in the stash. He will be gifted to a friend who will add borders and hand quilt him.

 

 

 

IMG_5302I embroidered these quilt blocks years ago. They came 6 in a package but there were only 3 packages available. Using one of my quilting stencils, I marked and embroidered 2 more to make 20 blocks. I’ve cut pieces for flying geese to make the side borders wider; the geese will be leaders and enders for the summer. There will be another border after the geese, but just one step at a time.

 

 

IMG_5306I had to take a break from quilting on Red Radiance. My fingers got too sore and developed some cracks. Ouch! But I could applique.

 

 

 

IMG_5305The light green sashes have been attached and I started appliquing the hearts. Sometime I’m going to get a good photo of this crib quilt. I know I cropped this photo. I guess the computer wanted to show you the green grass!

 

 

IMG_5307With those projects out-of-the-way, it was time to pick up Jane again. I prepped the top row of triangles, started sewing and here they are. I’ve made a few changes. One of the changes was to eliminate the annoyingly narrow white borders that were on some of the triangles. I just cut the pieces longer and extended them into the seam allowance. I need to cut out the alternate plain triangles so the whole row can be sewn together before prepping the next row.

IMG_5330We were able to plant all of the soybeans in the early part of May but corn planting was halted because of rain. When the soil was dry enough to plant the rest of the corn, the hay was ready to be mown. Forty acres of hay made 155 bales which were wrapped. We would have like to have dry baled some hay, but they were calling for rain and we didn’t want to risk getting it ruined. That was the right decision. Hopefully we will be able to dry bale the next cutting. And we did plant the rest of the corn the same week.

IMG_5324Soybeans were no-tilled into the corn stubble in the field south of my garden. I will be showing you their progress over the summer.

I haven’t been very enthused about gardening this year but everything is planted now except for the winter squash. The early planted vegetable are doing fairly well. Some of the early green beans didn’t survive the light frost we got the middle of the month. After the crops were all in, the Farmer was able to help in the garden. My tomato cages never stay upright when the tomato plants are mature. They always fall over because of the weight. The Farmer pounds a fence post into each individual cage to keep it upright.

IMG_5326This year I’m experimenting with growing green beans on this curved fencing panel. (This was also a Farmer job) The idea is the pole beans will grow up the fence and the green beans will hang down so I can easily pick them and save stress on my knees.

IMG_5327The amaryllis bulbs have been transplanted into the garden. I try to keep the soil from the pots intact and set the roots/potting soil into the hole, cover with soil, then mulch. They normally just sit there for several weeks and I worry that I’ve killed them. The roots are growing into the surrounding soil. Once the roots have spread out, they send up new green leaves. They have all survived.

The west end of the garden IMG_5329is planted with broccoli plants I started and transplanted into the garden. Once the plants are full size, I’ll plant winter squash seeds into the paths between the broccoli plants. About the time the broccoli is finished yielding, the squash should really be taking off and spread over the broccoli plants, I hope anyway. On the east side of the broccoli is a row of early red potatoes. Yukon Gold potatoes were planted later and haven’t popped up yet. As you can see, we’ve been receiving plenty of rain.

This is what happened in May here on the farm. What is happening this first week of June? We’re busy making memories with 6 of our grandchildren!

Harvesting Soybeans

Last week we ran the soybeans. As usual we custom hired the combining. The head on the combine has a reel that sweeps the soybean stalks into the machine.

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Just like combining the corn, the stalks and husks are blown out the back of the combine. Beans are very dusty to harvest.

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We store the soybeans in a grain bin behind the barns. It very small compared to the bins at the feed mill, but it is large enough for our needs.

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The Farmer pulls the gravity wagon to the auger. The bottom of the auger rests in a hopper.

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The beans are unloaded into the hopper, then they run up the auger into the bin.

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The auger is powered by the PTO shaft on the Allis.

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We will store the beans this winter. The Farmer watches the soybean  price and sells when he thinks the price is good.

The first soybean field harvested was no-til planted to wheat. I wanted to take pictures but the drill didn’t arrive until after dark.

The combine finished the beans and left around 10 pm, the Farmer unloaded the last loads of beans and closed the lid on the top of the bin. The no-til drill was still planting when I went to bed, but he finished planting the wheat. It was raining when we got up the next morning, but that’s ok, the beans are in the bin and the wheat is planted. Harvesting is almost completed for us, we have a few acres of wet corn that we will shell later this month.

Start of the Harvest

We started the corn harvest yesterday with the field south of my garden. On July 1st the field looked like this.

 

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And this is what it looked like yesterday morning.

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It looks nice and tall, but if you walk into the corn, there are several places the corn has lodged. It was weakened due to the July storm.

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As usual, we have custom hired the combining. First the combine opens the field. It combines the corn off the ends of the field so there is room to park the gravity wagons.

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As the corn goes into the head, the ears are pulled off and the corn is shelled. The shelled corn goes into a hopper on top of the combine. On the back of the combine is a chopper which chops up the stalks and corn cobs, then spits them out into the field.

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When the hopper is full, the combine pulls up to the wagons, moves the auger over a wagon and unloads the shelled corn into the wagon.

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When 2 of the wagons are full, the Farmer pulls them to the feed mill.

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When he gets there, he pulls onto the scales. They weigh the tractor and wagons of corn. They also take a sample of corn from each load to check for the moisture and test weight.

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He then pulls the wagons into the shed to unload. On the side of each wagon is a wheel which opens the chute on the side of the wagon. The farther you open the chute, the faster the corn runs out. You unload 1 wagon at a time. The corn is unloaded into a pit.

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After the wagons are unloaded, he pulls back on the scales and they check the weight again. This is how they know how much corn he has unloaded. He goes back to the field and hooks up to more filled wagons. There are 2 other men pulling wagons to the mill also. They just keeping going.

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After the corn has been unloaded into the pit, it goes through the dryer.  Heated air is blown over the corn and removes the excess moisture. The corn is dried to lower moisture content. If you don’t lower the moisture content, it won’t keep over the winter.

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After it is dried, it is blown through the long pipe at the bottom of the picture and into a grain bin for storage. We store all of our corn at the mill.  The corn will be used in our cow, heifer and calf feeds. They subtract the amount used in the feed against the amount we have stored there.

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They started combining around 9:30 in the morning and by 5 pm, they had this field finished. I hope the rest of the corn harvest goes as smoothly as this field did.

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