I’ve seen bales in other fields here on the Eastern Shore but this is the first year they’ve collected the chaff on my field. It’s a fascinating process for anyone who likes mechanical machines.
It starts with the combine harvesting the wheat. Rather than uniformly blowing the chaff out across the field, it dumps the majority of it in a trail behind the combine. This concentrates the material.
Next comes a tractor running the baler. Unlike hay, the wheat chaff is a combination of wheat stalks and bits of chaff. The baler sucks and scoops in the trail left by the combine. It compresses it layer by layer. The machine makes a very distinctive mechanical chunking sound. The bale gradually exits the baler. When it is the final size, that bale stops and the next bail starts. The finished bale eventually drops out the back.
After bales have been created and dropped around the field, another tractor runs around with a collector. The collect runs behind and off to the side of the tow tractor. This is important since the driver needs each bale oriented side-to when being collected. The tractor operator creatively catches a lengthwise bale with one of the collector arms to make the bale rotate into the correct position. Bales are collected in twos. Each pair of bales is then flipped up onto a carnage. When the carriage has six pairs, the entire stack is stood up in a row of bales.
The weather has been anything but cooperative, especially for the farmers. Many fields have had the winter wheat waiting for harvest. No sooner is it dry enough, then we get a heavy rain. The fear has been mold.
I’m sure it wasn’t ideal but they brought in two combines and four tractor trailers and brought in the crop “in my front yard” today.
It was slow going since heavy wind and rain had knocked some of the wheat over. To harvest this wheat, the combines need to run slower and cut closer to the ground. This not only takes more time but more fuel as well. It all cuts into the profits.
I don’t know how this crop compares to previous seasons but the wheat is out. Bring on the soy beans!
poker players might call these 'tomato stakes'
The field has been plowed with the berms set, drip lines buried, and the poly wrap installed. Next will be hooking up the irrigation lines and then planing all of the 28,000+ seedlings.
A year ago the transitioned from large, above ground irrigation feeder pipes to buried trunk lines and smaller flexible above ground connecting lines.
This year they upgraded the pumping station at the irrigation pond as well as the supplement injection system.
upgrading the irrigation system
Previously they had large holding tanks at grade level as well as down near the holding pond. Earlier his spring they removed all the old equipment and and filled in the area to level everything up at the same level as the field.
Now they’ve finished most of the work. They’ve poured a concrete slab and install stainless tanks that can introduce different “stuff” into the irrigation lines.
a polyphyletic assemblage
Today’s photograph is brought to you by all the strange weather we’ve been having. A long dry spell followed by a long wet spell made for the perfect conditions for mushrooms. The Puffball is a common variety on the ESVA. In its young form, it’s edible but it has very little flavor and even less consistency when cooked.
Private airports – especially those on a farm – tend to have minimal traffic. Once in a while, the owner may try to put together an adhoc fly-in. But for most of the year, the airspace over a private grass runway is pretty quiet.
There are exceptions to nearly every rule – even rules of thumb..
This morning, I had intentions to go fly. The day dawned with thick fog. Once the fog lifted, it didn't go far – if became very low clouds. The clouds were too low for my flight plan, but it didn't ground everyone.
I took the opportunity to take a few pictures.
multi-row planting rig
Commercial farming has become very mechanized, even labor intensive crops such as tomatoes.
This tractor tows a special built trailer which covers six rows at a time. The trailer has six seats. In front of each seat is a spoked wheel which is designed to poke holes in the poly that covers a planting bed row every 24 inches.
Above the spoked wheel, is a large sloped rack which is loaded with partitioned crates containing tomato seedlings. A worker sits in each of the seats, takes a seedling, and plants it in the hole made by the spoked wheel.
All of this happens as the tractor rolls down the rows. The workers can not waste any movement or they will fall behind and miss a planting.
Rows are 300 feet long and there are often 100 or more rows in a field.
Anyone looking for work?