The 2013 crop year photo and video re-cap

Here is just a small (my Facebook friends can verify how small) selection of photos from the 2013 growing season. Also included are a series of videos we made as well.

This is also what “Muckville: Farm Policy, Media and the Strange Oddities of Semi-Rural Life” is about as well! Again, thank you for your support!



A Comedy of Errors … AND One Close Call

Sometimes things can go wrong on the farm … and those wrong things can snowball into a chain of events that can ruin your day. Like yesterday. Allow me to elaborate:

On Friday afternoon into early Friday evening we sprayed 62 of our 99 acres of onions with some post emerge herbicides. Our new employee  Brendan drove the army truck around which is our tank truck and my dad and I sprayed on our two Farmall Cub sprat rigs. Overall things went well, until we about finished up the first big tank … my dad’s Cub inexplicably would not start without a jump. Uh oh. Well, we jumped it later and finished the 2nd tank for the 62 acres at around 7:00pm.

Saturday morning my dad called me early to tell me he and my brother changed their minds and wanted to spray their remaining 37 acres on Saturday, because rain was coming and you need the onions to have a good waxy coat to spray the materials we would spray. An onion develops a waxy coat with adequate sunshine and rain breaks down the waxy coat. Ok … fine … no problem.

MISTAKE TIME: My dad called the repair guy Kenny to tell him that his Cub was not taking a charge. That usually spells problem with the generator. My dad said he told Kenny we needed to spray still. Well, my dad and I went out to the fields to put flags in our spray rows and by the time we got back Kenny was already there and started to take the tractor apart. T was exactly what we thought … the generator. So I call my dad over and told him what Kenny was doing. and my dad rushed over to say to Kenny “Uh Kenny .. we have to spray today.” Kenny: (loudly and frustrated, because he started to take the Cub apart) “Well, nobody told me.” My dad sheepishly responded he did in his message … but I doubt it. Kenny is a good mechanic and the last thing I wanted to do was piss him off so I said, reluctantly, “Don’t worry, I’ll just spray  it myself.” We would have to do 2 separate tank mixes and spray at 3 different locations. Well … so much for drinking a 4Loko and mowing my lawn later.

The first tank, which was 7.5 acres at two locations, went uneventful and the tractor was parked at the second location, where I had 26.5 acres more to spray. The third location was 3 acres by the house. Okay, we mix the tank and get out there. I was still hoping to get to lawn mowing later. Now, as aI started to spray the second tank the sun was completely gone and clouds were really filling in. Next thing you know … a drop here .. a drop there. Oh brother. So, I spray 11 acres and move to the next section and as I go up the first field (this video shows what it looks like from my perspective to spray: ) I look to my boom on my right and see a leak … a leak where chemicals are spewing out … not really bad … but bad enough. It’s part of the boom that broke the last time I sprayed and my dad’s fix didn’t take. So, as I am coming back down the field I wave to my dad to come to me. So, he has to call my mom so she can pick him up and he can get the material for the temporary fix … you guessed it … electrical tape. So, I have to sit there and wait for him to get back. He puts the tape on and now it’s not so much spewing … more like a weak pee stream (can I just say I’m ordering this on Monday: ) but, it’s acceptable.

But now, the rain is more of a steady drizzle or mist. I finish that 10 acre block and move to the last 5.5 acres at this location before we have to move one more time. As I am finishing spraying my radio boom box … my source of music and what makes this job bearable … GETS FRIED FROM THE RAIN! HOLY CRAP, I AM NOW PISSED! (see photo)

I finish the field and try to load my sprayer on the truck … well the ramps are wet and I start to spin as I go up them onto the trailer and nearly flip the tractor. So, I yell to my dad to fill me up full and to drive the dump truck and trailer back and have my mom bring him back for the tank truck and I will drive the spray rig the mile or so down the road from this location tot he fields behind my parent’s house and I’ll spray them. In the meantime my dad and I are fighting … he’s blaming Kenny for taking the tractor apart and me for going along with it and I’m screaming no, after today we won’t need to spray for 2 weeks and he DIDN’T NEED TO CALL KENNY THIS &*%$#@) MORNING BUT COULD HAVE WAITED TILL TOMORROW, OR MONDAY OR TUESDAY ETC …!

I pull on to Pulaski Highway (the road is really wet) and only after maybe 50 feet or so I hear a pretty loud snap and the tractor bops a bit. So, while wearing my spray mask and goggles, going in third gear (maybe 12 mph or so), in the rain, with full tanks, I start visually scanning as I’m driving down the road to see what the hell that was … and I look at the front and then rear axles and then I see it (this all takes place in a minute or so) … on the one side it looks like 5 bolts are connecting the wheel axle to the frame while on my right side there looks to be only 2 bolts left and the axle appears to be separating … HOLY CRAP!

If the wheel separates I will obviously crash. I will most likely survive it … providing I’m not tossed off the tractor and crushed. But, I’m loaded with material. Now, it’s not much material … 35 gallons of water to the acre and the chemical is only 1.5 ounces to the acre so it isn’t a lot of material but still … if I crash and those tanks burst … holy moly what a mess that would be … assuming I’m not hurt that bad.

So now I’m just hoping I make it to my parent’s driveway … and then I am just praying I make it to the lawn.

I make it. My dad pulls up in his jeep and I wave him over. I start pointing to the wheel and he has this expression on his face of “oh crap!” So, he drives to get the forklift, so as to add some bolts and I have my mom take me for the tank truck. After bringing back the tank truck my dad tells me he couldn’t put in any replacement bolts because all of the bolts had been sheared off and a portion of them was still stuck in them. So he tightened the two remaining bolts and told me not to use the brakes.

No kidding dad.

I had just enough material to finish those fields and I gently drove the tractor back tot he barn.

Then my lovely wife came out to see why I was just getting back at 5pm. After I vented a bit she brought me a beer and things got a wee bit better.

Next week will be 4Loko lawn mowing time for sure.