September is a very busy month on the farm. Between finishing up harvest, hauling bales, making silage, harrowing fields, selling cattle, cleaning pens, starting on fall projects, getting the kids back to school and bringing in vegetables from the garden, there was quite a bit to capture on camera! Elaine and I are only able to go out for the occasional weekend, so we would have missed a lot. Thankfully, our family chipped in by taking photos when we couldn’t be there. As a result, this blog post is going to be filled to the brim with farm imagery.
Gordie has a cow/calf herd, so his operation is different from Warren’s (I’ll explain a bit more in November when I document the Cypress River cattle sale). Warren buys his cattle in the fall (at around 475lbs) and gives them a growing ration of corn silage and hay throughout the winter. They then spend the summer in pasture and continue to grow there until he sells them the next fall (at that point, they are around 900lbs). His cattle are sold in lots by video and to prepare, he sorts them into groups by size, quality and colour.
Around mid-September, Warren combined his soybeans. Normally he would swath the field and then combine, but this year he rented a flex-cutter to straight-cut the soybeans (meaning it could be done all in one pass). After the fields are harvested, they need to be harrowed (which essentially means breaking up the ground/stubble).
For alfalfa fields, baling happens throughout the summer, but for straw bales, it happens after the combine goes through the field. Straw is needed for bedding the corrals over the winter (gives the cattle a warm, dry place to lay down). Gordie typically needs around 400 bales to get through the winter while Warren needs around 200.
Warren grows corn for silage and with the machinery he has, can only silage two 30-36″W rows at a time. At that rate, it takes around a week to finish a 70 acre field. This year, Warren paid a custom outfit to do it, and with that in mind, instead of seeding in rows, seeded solid. It took them a grand total of four and a half hours — which ultimately saved Warren, Dad and Gordie a significant amount of time, freeing them up to work on other projects.
Speaking of other projects, Dad and Gordie spent about two weeks modifying the old John Deere combine to clean the peas out of Gordie’s canola. You may remember me talking about the experiment that Gordie tried with seeding both peas and canola in the same field? If not, take a moment to read what happened back in May. They finally got it working, but Dad is still hoping to make some improvements before next year (provided Gordie chooses to double-seed again).
They also cleared trees along the fence line, continued on the scale project at Warren’s place (that would be little five year old Dion helping him out), and when the harrow or plow turned them up, dug big stones out of the fields and hauled them away. In addition, Gordie had the manure in his pens composted, which like any good compost, puts air into the pile and makes the process work faster. When the manure gets hauled out to the fields, there will be less to take out, and the nutrients will work their way into the ground faster.
I don’t have pictures of everything that Mom and Nicole were busy with, but trust me when I say they were busy as well. Among other things (like cooking and taking meals out to the field), their respective gardens had to be taken care of — vegetables to be cleaned and frozen or canned, fruit to be made into jam, frozen for future desserts, etc. Ian’s hockey season has started up again, so Warren and Nicole have been busy taking him to practice and games. School started of course. Dion’s birthday was a little while ago, so Nicole made a pinata for his party (in a Mickey Mouse shape). Erin has been super excited about horses in general, so Warren’s been taking her for rides (the other kids too).
I’ve probably missed something, but this should give a sense of life on the farm in September. That’s it for now.