Well, things have changed greatly since my last blog post. Things looked rather dire then, as a fresh layer of snow had just covered the ground, and seeding looked as though it would never come. Fears of a repeat of 2011’s disasterous crop tore through my mind like an earthquake splitting asphalt. But, the snow melted, and hope rekindled as the weather took a turn for the better.
Bright, summer-like days have graced us for the past week now, and the snow is all but gone. The soil has shown itself after an 8-month slumber. Grass grows green (kind of) again, and weeds are poking their fledgling shoots out of the still-cold soil. Yes, spring has arrived, and none too soon, for despite the excitement of seeing spring begin again, it is the eighth of May. Seeding is quite delayed, and this will be one of the latest starts in my lifetime.
You may think my last post was a severe overreaction to an event hardly unimaginable, given the year so far. You may be laughing at my rashness, to go so far to excitement for seeding to begin, to the next day believing all was lost, and coming full circle today believing again that seeding will start soon. It does sound awfully foolish, even I will admit that.
This, however, is the very nature of farming. The weather chooses to do what it does, and sometimes this can be extraordinarily frustrating, painful and depressing. Sudden joy can erupt from even the smallest of rain showers in the early days of June, giving the seeds the moisture they need to germinate. Conversely, a July storm can quickly turn from wonder and astonishment of the power of nature, to a devastating, horrified feeling as you watch hailstones shred the crop of your dreams.
Farming is full of ups and downs, and can be a rollercoaster of emotion. Such has this spring been, and for this reason I have swung from optimism to pessimism more times than I can count. It is for this reason that I started this blog. It is an outlet for me, a place for me to pour out my emotions and lay them bare. Nature can be a cruel mistress, taking dreams and hammering them mercilessly to the ground. These are the lessons we learn, and the longer we farm, the better we learn them.
Fortunately, my fears last week were proven wrong, and we plan to begin seeding as early as Monday (we hope). Our air drills are pulled into the yard, and we have one of them pulled apart to get it ready. It is entering its sixth season, and has seeded nearly 40,000 acres in its lifetime. Not surprisingly, it needs some maintenance. Our other drill is newer, a 2010 model, and being that 2011 was not really a year where many acres are seeded, it is still relatively new, and needs little work.
You see, an air drill is a toolbar that steel soil openers are mounted to. These open up the soil, close it, then a packer wheel seals the soil closed again. As the opener runs through the soil, it drops metered seeds and fertilizer into the row. While there are dozens of variations to this design, this is the basic premise of all air drills. They are called air drills because the seeds and fertilizer are forced through the opener by a large fan mounted on the tank following, which holds the seed and fertilizer. Search “air drill” in Google and you will see what I am talking about.
Yes, we are moving to the most exciting, adrenaline-fueled part of the year, where we will drop hundreds of thousands of dollars into the soil and pray that Mother Nature rewards us. I will try to keep you updated as this intense season continues. Talk to you soon.