These are busy, busy times on the farm.
We have begun harvesting our soybeans and have been pleasantly surprised by the yields. Considering that in July and August we were expecting that our crops could be a near-total write-off due to the drought, I don’t think we have anything to complain about. A big relief!
Yields are about average, which is great as far as I’m concerned. We have not begun harvesting corn yet. That will be the big question mark. Through the grapevine, we have heard everything around Iowa from less than 100 bushels an acre for corn to more than 200 bushels to the acre. The average is about 160-180 in our area, I think. We will keep you posted.
My husband, Robb, is enjoying running his new (to us) combine. It’s big, it’s fast, it’s green and it’s working well. The biggest problem we’re finding is that we are having to make some field entrances wider because the new soybean head is a lot wider than the old one! That sometimes means cutting down trees or adding culverts to ditches. If that’s our biggest problem ...
I really like watching the yield monitor in the combine while it’s running. You can see the map of the field on the computer screen and a little green combine icon on the screen shows where the combine actually is by GPS positioning. Then, as you drive across the field, the map fills in with colors that designate the yield for that 20-foot section of field. It’s really cool. Of course, we’d prefer to see the map be all green with a little yellow because those are the best yield categories, but I will admit that there are a few spots of red, orange and purple indicating less-than-ideal yields.
This past weekend was our (chilly) fall cattle roundup. With the help of a bunch of friends, we rode our horses out to bring the cows, calves and bulls in from the pastures for their fall vaccinations and deworming. It’s always a noisy and tiring job, but very necessary to control disease and parasites in the herd.
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The calves get their first doses of vaccines in preparation for weaning in a few weeks and then moving to the feedlot. The cows get booster vaccines to prepare them for another winter of being pregnant and are checked to see whether they are pregnant or not. The bulls also get vaccine boosters to keep them healthy. All of the cattle get dewormed to clear them of anything they’ve picked up on the pastures over the summer. I can’t imagine there were too many parasites, given how hot it was, but you never know.
I also want to remind everyone again to please watch out for farm equipment on the road right now. I think I write this in almost every column at harvest time, but just the other day I read about another tractor vs. car accident in the newspaper. Someone tried to pass a tractor from behind in a no-passing zone just as the tractor began to turn left.
Accidents like these can be all too common at this time of year. Please be patient. Please don’t take dangerous risks to get past us. Farmers also need to be careful to check blind spots and to use their turn signals and flashers, especially as their work hours stretch long into the night. Let’s all work together to make this a safe and successful harvest!
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.