Sunday, 18 November 2012

Happy harvesting

Reaping Barley with the chaff cart on
Well the title says it all, not to much to complain about so far. We have been harvesting now for just under three weeks, and slowly but surely it is coming away nicely. We have only had two breakdowns so far, which included one new radiator for the truck. Sometimes you can't win, we put new tyres on the truck just before its first load then about load number three the new tyres picked up a rock and threw it onto the radiator. It was frustrating as the radiator was sent up from Adelaide the next morning but went missing in transit and ended up getting delivered to a different town. Meanwhile the truck couldn't move. The second one was yesterday when Ben was reaping, and the next thing he heard a huge bang. It turned out that a feeder bar fell off and was actually caught by the stone trap, so we had to get whole new chains and bars fitted to the header. Luckily everything was in stock at our local town so it was only a couple of hours down time.
Ben tearing his hair out on day two of harvest, with our truck driver Lyndon
The peas were the first thing reaped and surprisingly this is the first year that snails have not been a problem in them. Normally they gum the header up with literally squashed snail bodies. Often they coat sensors on the header so they don't work and you have no idea what they are yielding. This year they yielded about 2.5 tonne which could have been a lot worse considering the dry finish they had. We sold them all straight off the header, and at $315 the price is historically pretty good.
The chaff cart heaps that are spread in rows along the paddock. These collect chaff  rye and some Brome grass seed, and are burnt in autumn
heaps dumped out along the paddock
The darker stubble is last years wheat stubble
We reap low to the ground to pick up as many weeds as possible that have fallen over, and use  lifters also which helps.
Watching the storm rolling in over the farm until it got to close for comfort, and we run for cover
We  moved onto barley at the block we call Tamar. This was a slow process as we had a big thunder and lightning storm just after we started reaping here and we had 6mm of rain with it but because of the cooler days that followed we didn't get a whole lot reaping done for about 5 days afterwards as the moisture of the grain was over the limit. I along with plenty of others never enjoy the storms at this time of year, as we are always on the lookout for lightning strikes starting fires in paddocks. We just hope that wherever the lightning strikes the rain will put out any fires.  Luckily it doesn't look like there has been any damage apart from the Canola which has blown all  over the paddock, so this will have to be reaped with the big front on which doesn't do as good a job of picking the canola up as the pick up front.

The most amazing sunset after a very dramatic thunder and lightning show
We have been pleasantly surprised with the Barley, although our Commander has come in just under the malt classification for protein. The fleet that we have grown this year for the first time has been excellent. It has yielded well and is all being classed F1 which is  good, as you cant ask for more  with a feed variety. The head retention has been great with pretty much no head loss. Interestingly enough there was not a whole lot of difference in yield between the Commander and the Fleet even when they are in the same paddock side by side. Unfortunately it was not a good year to trial the Modus as there was no head loss anyway, where we had sprayed the growth regulator the yield was exactly the same but we were running the header comb low as the Barley was very short.
    Ben trying to lift and tilt the comb so that it fits through the gateway, that yes.... we made to narrow.
We picked my mum up at the airport 10 days ago, so it is great to see her again. I am in and out the house all day during harvest so to have someone look after our kids full time is fantastic. She has been out here now 23 times. I see her much more now than I ever did when I lived in Scotland.

The harvest hours really take their toll after a while, Ben is working from about 8am through to about 11pm some nights. Our truck driver Lyndon has also been working long hours, a few days ago he took the last load up to the silos at 8 pm, which means he will sit the truck in the lineup at the silos and drive back to Arthurton where he lives. Probably not getting back home till 9pm. He starts a lot earlier than us and usually is up at the silos by 7am.
I really feel for farm kids and wives  at this time of year as they miss out a lot on spending time with their dads and husbands. Ben doesn't take any time off, as it is  important to get the crop off quickly.
We are lucky in the timing of our seasons in that we can usually finish in the week leading up to Christmas. The Christmas spirit is usually increased by the relief that harvest is finished.Us wives don't miss out anymore on pressies now we are in the era of on line shopping and hands free steering, so there are no excuses lads!!!!

The kids having a long walk out in their PJs to give Ben his dinner
Ben eager to get off the header for his dinner, and to say goodnight to the kids
The truck is just  keeping the grain away from the header, and we toyed with getting the silo bag machine out when the turnaround at the silos were slow, but we decided to fix up our " if we really need it Bin " and drag it out to the paddock with a new wheel that Ben had just stolen off our caravan.

We have now moved onto the wheat. So far the first two loads have gone APW. It is often a difficult decision to work out which order to reap things, as some crops are more prone to weather damage than others. We only have wheat and Canola left and we have heard that the Canola is quite tricky to reap this year and may take a while so we will leave it to the end. We had two wheat paddocks ready but decided to reap the Gladius first as it is prone to sprouting, if it gets a big rain on it. Getting downgraded to feed wheat is the last thing we need so off it comes.
More grain off to the silos
Well its been great weather for reaping the last few days, here's hoping it continues. We have been filling forward contracts that we took out earlier in the year, a lot of them are $10 - $20 better than what is being offered at the moment, so I am happy with that. I dont think there will be a  whole lot of movement in the prices being offered for a while, so I cant see us holding off on selling anything this year.  
Let the cheques roll in !!!!