Goodness — December is here already! I am not prepared for Christmas yet, although I did get a jump-start on my shopping this year. I love Christmas for the family gatherings and the joy that it spreads. People just seem to smile more at Christmas, and I really like that.
On the farm, things have quieted down a bit. The biggest two chores lately have been getting the chiseling done and getting the equipment put away for the winter. Our combine has been delivered to the John Deere store for some end-of-season repairs, maintenance and cleaning. Most of the other equipment has been backed into the appropriate storage shed for the winter, except for the couple of things we use all winter. The baler and chopper can finally rest, the chopper wagons are lined up perfectly in the shed, the tractors are mostly at rest and the semi trucks and trailers are parked neatly for winter storage.
The manure spreader and feed mixer wagon are, of course, much in use now, so we need a tractor to run both of those. Feeding cows is a daily chore that involves fetching hay bales and silage to mix up in the wagon and dump into the feed bunks. Manure hauling soon will become a regular chore, too, as we try to keep the feedlot as clean as possible. Now that the crops are harvested, we have a place to spread manure again.
My husband, Robb, just finished chiseling our fields and had a few to do for a neighbor as well. That’s something that needs to be finished before it gets too cold because the chisel can’t penetrate frozen soil. A chisel has big “fingers” that are curved and dig down into the ground as it is pulled behind the tractor to work up the ground a bit. It allows the corn stubble to be broken up a bit so it can begin decomposing over the winter. It also loosens soil where it has become compacted, such as the areas of the field that we drove over repeatedly with the semi to get corn out of the field. We do not chisel all of our fields since we do a lot of no-till planting.
And just to prove that there’s always something happening on the farm, I called Robb the other day to say hi, and he was grumpy because the loader tractor had just sprung a fuel leak and the skid loader wouldn’t start. The fuel leak turned out to be a small hole in the tank, so it had to be drained and removed for welding. There also turned out to be dirt in the seat belt housing of the skid loader that was easily cleaned. You see, there’s a safety feature on skid loaders that requires you to buckle your seat belt to start the engine. Without a buckled seat belt — no go! We also have a bull with a sore foot that I’m treating, so we have to deal with him every couple of days. It’s always something.
I hope your Christmas preparations are going well and that you won’t have any small disasters like we’ve had on the farm to deter you. May your celebration of the Advent season throughout this month allow you some time to spend with family and reflect on the real reason for Christmas.
Jennifer Ewoldt, DVM, and her husband, Robb, are farmers in the Quad-Cities. Her column about life on the farm is published every other Monday.