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Monday, July 18, 2011

My hands smell like fish and I haven't been fishing.

Saturday was nearly unbearable for working conditions.  I spent the day sharing time on a jackhammer working on my son's Eagle project for Boy Scouts.  He elected to demolish a limestone grotto at the Basilica of St. John in Des Moines, ostensibly because it was falling apart and a safety hazard.  Eight hours later we quit for the day with another four hours of work left.  Turns out the grotto was built to withstand a nuclear attack with it's 8" thick concrete wall w/ a stone veneer and a 24" concrete base.  This really has nothing to do with me spraying my field other than the similar working conditions.  Both days had lots of sunshine, humidity levels that left eyeglasses foggy and temperatures hovering in the mid-90's. 

My neighbor who has been doing my field work mowed a couple of my pastures last week.  As I've previously posted my tractor is down with no near term prospects of getting it repaired due to the anticipated costs exceeding our anticipated availability of funds.  That means I'm paying a per acre rate for a fair amount of field work that I could have done myself like the mowing and, if I had a sprayer, the spraying. 

Anyway, my neighbor called yesterday to see if I was ready to spray the pastures.  If you've followed my posts you'll recall an earlier one in which I described spraying my newly planted hay field with raw milk, fish oil and sugar.  Yesterday's batch of spray was similar but with some salt added.  Apparently microbes really like salt and sugar.  I can say that neither the salt nor the sugar enhanced the smell of the field (or me for that matter). 

We were spraying about 10 acres.  My formula called for 2 gallons/acre each of milk and fish oil.  I only had about 8 gallons of milk available so I used all of that.  I figured a little would be better than none.  I had plenty of fish oil and put that in.  I added about 10 pounds of salt figuring a foliar spraying rate of 1 lb/acre.  We left a strip down the middle of one of the pastures unsprayed to see if there was any difference.  We'll probably need a good rain to wash the spay into the soil for it to really start benefitting the microbial activity there. 

As with the prior spraying event the nozzles constantly clogged from a combination of sour milk globules, grass clippings that I didn't filter out like I should have and flakes of hose material from the aging sprayer's hoses.  A one hour project took closer to 2 1/2 hours.  Next time I'm going to use a screen honey filter on top of the bucket to filter my amendments.  Hopefully that will reduce my number of steps following the sprayer.

In the picture above notice that the boom is extended to the left but not the one on the right.  We found that the right boom almost immediately plugged with the left boom and center section had at least some of the nozzles spraying almost all the time.   We decided it would be more time effective to make more passes with the tractor than to constantly stop, clean the nozzles and head out again.  Wish we'd have thought of that earlier.

Needless to say, after 8 hours in the sun on Saturday and another 2 1/2 hours on Sunday, I was sporting an ever improving farmer tan, dehydrated and near exhaustion.   But, because I love my wife and she asked very nicely, I helped her move the chicken tractor, hauled two buckets of water for the chickens and then agreed to go for a one mile walk on the Earlham H.S. track with her and our new Aussie/Border collie mix (she'll be the subject of my next post).   Isn't farming glamorous and romantic?

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