Harvest

Farmer Ingenuity

It is no secret that farmers may be the most resourceful bunch you’ll ever meet. Sometimes they are just trying to create a quick fix to an issue to get by until a more permanent solution can be done, other times they look at something and figure they can build it themselves cheaper, and yet other times it is just for the enjoyment of doing something themselves.

I recently saw a picture of a 4020 John Deere tractor powered by a Deutz engine (for those who don’t know, in the John Deere world this sort of thing is sometimes considered an unforgivable sin), completely farmer done. Now, I don’t know his reasoning for this project, I imagine it had to do with having a tractor that needed and an engine, and an engine waiting to be put to use, but in any case you have to admire the amount of work done to get the finished product he wanted.
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I even know a couple of guys who have built scrapers for skid loaders out of scrap steel and old rubber tracks for pushing manure or snow. Farmers everywhere have been converting, modifying, and even building machinery to fit their needs. A quick google search will find you multiple home made tractors, tractors linked together, home made attachments, etc. In fact some of these farmer inventions have gone on to be mass produced, not only being sold to bigger manufacturers but also independently.

This ingenuity doesn’t just stop at big machinery, every day farmers find creative ways to solve smaller problems. I know a man who was sick of gates being left open and unlatched by kids and visitors on his livestock farm, he solved this problem by making nearly all his gates on his farm, self-closing and self-latching with the use of some scrap steal and some old springs out of a junk pile. I’ve seen home made wire unwinders to assist in repairing or replacing barbed wire fencing that attached to a tractor, skid loader, ATV, etc. I guarantee you could stop by any farm in America and find at least a couple farmer-built gadgets or gizmos to help make their life easier.

We’d love to hear from you, whats your favorite farm invention, gadget, or thing-ma-jig?

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This Old Barn

There is something about America’s old barns that keep me captivated. I don’t know if it is the old architecture, the real dimension lumber, the history, or the smells but I can’t resist exploring these old landmarks dotting the landscape.

It is amazing to me to think that 100+ years ago family and friends came together to build these important buildings, some times before the farm home was even built. Hand sawn, hand nailed, and without the advantage of cranes, telehandlers, and other modern equipment.

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One of my favorite barns is the old “horse barn” at the farm where my mother was raised. Not only did countless animals take shelter in that big barn but it was an intergal part of the lives of 5 generations with the 6th generation just getting old enough to show interest. It has been in the family since it was first built so many years ago. A walk through that barn is like a step into the past, built by Irish immigrants with repairs and changes made throughout the course of time to suite the needs of the current generation of farmers. Today it stands tall, with new tin on the front and sides and mostly used for storage, and as a tribute to those who worked the ground before us.

Preseverving these old barns is as important to me as teaching our kids history in school. They all have their own unique story to tell. Some of those stories are of heartbreak and tragedy and some of pure joy. Not only do I urge you to go explore an old barn if given the chance but go talk to the oldest member of the family about it. You may learn more than you ever dreamt you would.

#Harvest16 Photo-Recap

Late this past fall we asked our Facebook Followers to submit some #Harvest16 pictures. We had submissions from all over the U.S. We figured with all the wintery gloom now was a good time to put them all together for you. Thanks to all who submitted!

These Boots….

A good pair of boots become a part of who you are. In ways, they can be like a loyal dog. They are always there for you no matter the situation, providing protection and comfort when needed, and never complaining. Though work boots are often easy to take for granted, you couldn’t imagine living life without them. Maybe that is why it is so hard to let them go.

If you are anything like me you spend probably to much time finding a new pair of boots, trying them on for fit, analyzing every feature to be sure they are up to the tasks you’ll put them through, inspecting every last stitch hoping to catch a flaw while still in the store and not when in the muck. They are an important tool that you’ll use every day and you don’t mind shelling out the money for a good pair as long as they live up to expectations.

The life of a pair of good work boots is often very harsh. You trust these boots to keep your feet dry and protected day and night. You walk, run, and stomp unknown miles in them, in all sorts of terrain and, uh, substances. They get covered in manure, oil, grease, mud, fuel, you name it and it is probably on your boot. They’ve saved you from smashed toes and feet more times than you can count. Then one day it happens, they finally give you a sign that they are ready for retirement.

The first sign came a couple weeks ago, I managed to tear the leather on the heel area of my right boot, not knowing what else to do, and shoe repair places becoming a thing of the past, I glued a rubber tire patch over the hole. Then yesterday as I was out in a corn field I felt a sharp poke in my right foot, upon further inspection a piece of corn stalk actually penetrated the sole of the boot, a definitive sign of what must be done.
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Though my other, more beautiful, half tried to tell me a couple months ago it was time to replace them I didn’t listen. I just couldn’t bring myself to get a new pair. These boots are MINE, they’ve conformed to my feet, they’ve been well weathered and worn and have gotten quite comfortable, and until yesterday never let me down or given me any reason to doubt their worthiness. Now, I see she was right, it is time to find a new pair and that leaves me with a decision to make regarding these Georgia boots of mine. Do I hold a funeral for them, sending them to cremation with other farm trash or do I relegate them to light duty? Either way, as the torch gets passed on to the new pair, I will be a little sad to see these old ones go.

The Importance of Carpet Farming

If you grew up on a farm or around a farm or in a rural area you likely have fond memories of farming several thousand acres on the floors of your bedroom, kitchen, living room, hall ways, and even some custom work for a neighbor over in the bathroom. You likely had some of the newest equipment of your favorite color. There were probably times you had to beg your sister for some pasture space in her room for your newest heifers.

At times I see kids tearing across the floor combining corn or baling hay and I’d give nearly anything to be able to go back to those days when a trip with Mom or Dad to the local farm store or implement dealer meant a chance to hopefully bring home another piece of equipment for MY farm. My birthday, Christmas, and sometimes Easter usually meant I’d get at least one new addition for the farm.
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Carpet farming taught me as well as other kids some very important lessons over the years. A large part of that state of the art machinery I had was purchased with my own money and I learned early the importance of saving for what I wanted and budgeting expenses accordingly. I also learned what it felt like to beg the banker (Mom and Dad) to spot me the money that I PROMISED to pay back (I wonder how many of those promises I actually made good on). I still remember the first time I learned about sales tax. I was at the Clay County Fair and though my farm was primarily green, a toy booth had a New Holland tractor and implement, I think a ripper, and for some reason I thought I needed that for an upgrade. I happily went to the check out counter and bought my newest equipment, after walking back to where I was meeting my parents I realized the change I received wasn’t correct, or so I thought. I failed to realize we had to pay sales tax, boy that was a shock.
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I’m sure you all have similar memories and lessons learned from those days. We also shouldn’t forget how much fun a kid has when his/her parents, grandparents, or any adult really, gets down on the floor and plays along. Kiddos love that, especially if you let them be farm manager. You may be amazed at how much fun your having yourself, that is until you try to get up and those old knees are stiffened up.

To all my Carpet Farmers out there; Farm ON!

National Ag Week

As you probably already know this week (March 13-19) is National Ag Week. Today I’ve noticed a number of posts on social media thanking farmers. This of course is great, but I want to make sure everyone remembers that National Ag Week isn’t just to show appreciation to farmers but all those involved in agriculture.

What many don’t realize is that it takes a great number of people to keep up with the world’s demand for the products we produce. Team work is truly needed for all of us to succeed in this rapidly changing industry, if one wheel falls off the whole car comes to a halt. Farmers and ranchers rely on everyone from truck drivers to veterinarians, agronomists to mechanics, sales people to hired help, advisors of all variety and most of all the farm/ranch families. This week is truly for all of us involved in agriculture.

Agriculture is the nation’s largest employer of over 23 million people, and in 2010 the U.S. exported more than $115 billion worth of agricultural products. These figures go to show how much impact each and every one us make to not only the nation, but to everyone around world. Give yourselves a huge pat on the back!

 

A Travel through Technology

I was recently scrolling through the pictures of those who I follow on Instagram (Follow us at @profoundag1) when one particular photo and caption caught my attention advertising a small drone for sale. The caption read that it was an AgriCopterPro made in Tennessee by Agriimage. The description goes on to read that it is ideal for crop scouting and comes with some add ons for better performance. Brand new the list price hovers around $4,000 dollars but this particular unit was used, and was being offered at only $3,000. Something about a drone made especially for crop scouting seems a bit futuristic for me. I remember growing up hearing of one day having combines and tractors that will levitate to reduce compaction, as well as hover craft ATV’s but I never took them seriously. I’m sure someone probably told me that drones would eventually be common on the farm but I either tuned it out or filed it away with the other mythical sounding things, like remote operated tractors.

I made a note to look up the company that builds these gizmos, and kept scrolling through my Instagram when I saw another post that caught my attention. It was a video of a young man, I’d guess high school age, that had just got his John Deere B running for the first time since performing his very first engine overhaul with the help of his father. This made me think of all the technological advancements made in agriculture in such a short time.

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Today we have tractors equipped with satellite transmitters and GPS that can literally drive themselves through a field with pinpoint accuracy. Our sprayers can turn off each nozzle one by one to prevent over application of chemicals, not only saving money but helping to keep some of the more aggressive environmentalist off our backs. The combines almost all have a fancy monitor in them that shows field yield and immediate yield, moisture level, fuel usage per hour, and much more. A few years ago I rode in, a then brand new, Case IH combine that belonged to a neighbor. As I was with him I heard a bunch of beeping and chirping coming from this computer screen in the cab. I asked him what was going on and he told me it was just an alert to let him know the tank was getting full. He also chuckled and told me a story have having his grandson with him a few days prior to my visit. His grandson thought the chirping was coming from a cell phone and after about an hour of riding in the combine the little boy instructed his grandfather to “either answer your phone or turn the stupid thing off.”

My father grew up on a farm here in Iowa and he tells me all the time the way things have changed over the years. He says that if someone had told him that someday we would be farming with tractors that produced 500+ hp he would have laughed at them. However, he is not the only one with such feelings. He grew up using a variety of equipment and implement brands that are no longer even in existence such as Oliver, Minneapolis Moline, Allis Chalmers, and many more. He also used implements that are rarely ever used any more such as; corn pickers and shellers and mounted cultivators. If I go back another generation to my grandfather, who still works hard every day even though he is nearing his 85th birthday, he could tell you of even more changes. He remembers being a young boy and his father bringing home a brand new John Deere A. The A was a game changer on the family farm and shortly there after came a B as well as a host of other equipment. He remembers thinking they had the best there would ever be while running these 2-popper tractors. He laughs to think that his current lawn mower has a higher hp rating than that John Deere B.
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I recently got done doing a partial restoration to an old John Deere 999 corn planter that my grandfather had given me around 7-8 years ago. It has found a home as a yard ornament out front by the road for all to see. A buddy of mine stopped over one day shortly after I put it out in the yard and being a young farmer himself he went over to check it out. “Pretty amazing isn’t it”, he said. I had no clue what he was talking about and just shot him a funny glance. He explained he was talking about the planter and how odd it seemed. Originally it was designed to be pulled by horses and later my great grandfather had converted it to be pulled by a tractor. My friend was in awe. He stated that it would take nearly a full day to plant 10 acres with a couple horses and this contraption and I suspect he could be right.

If you were to talk to many of these retired farmers they would tell you that the price of modern equipment (even old used equipment), as well as inputs, and seed is ridiculous, but I bet if you tell them about these drones that are offered for multiple uses from crop scouting to chemical application they would have a tough time believing you. I would also wager when you told them a simple crop scouting drone was $4,000 dollars they would tell you how they bought a brand new Farmall 350 for around $3,000.

What I find very interesting is even with all these technological advances in agriculture much of the old technology is still used every day. For example, my father owns a 1965 Famall 656 equipped with a Westendorf loader. It is nearly 50 years old and still has a use on the farm. My uncle has a couple of 1960’s John Deere 3020’s that quite literally get used every day. There are a ton of tractors and even some implements still playing a vital role on even the biggest farming operations across the country that are 40-60 years old or more. Some things just don’t need changing.

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From the days of the first Deere & Co. plow to now it is amazing that with each innovation farmers have always thought “we have the best that there will ever be,” and yet we should know by now that what the future holds can potentially change how we do things forever. I may have thought that a drone used to scout crops with a such a high price tag seemed crazy, but I realize it is here to stay for the long term and may very well find its way into everyday life of the American crop producer. I still have my doubts about the magical levitating combines though.