Big Jobs Fill Small Windows

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planting season

Photo by Catrina Rawson

On hectic days, I humor myself with thoughts to add a lengthy extension cord to my hair dryer. That way, I can multi-task and trash a few more sticky-note reminders of things that need done. Rather, I dry my hair and resort to prioritization of the to-do list, a difficult task when everything ranks of equal importance.

Welcome to this spring’s situation on the farm, where spring planting and related field work all happened at once in a short time due to unfavorable weather. Mother Nature delivered an abnormally cool March and then the second-coldest April on state record. She also tossed in snow for three Sundays in a row, Palm Sunday and Easter included. The result: Easter egg hunts inside the farm shop and no spraying, fertilizing, planting, gardening, mowing and little fertilizer application before late April.

On top of that, the weather prompted grass to stay dormant longer than normal. With no grass to eat, cattle needed hay, which led to a forage shortage and high hay prices throughout the area. Calves kept coming, one of our few signs of spring. And despite the season’s lingering cool and wet field conditions, our guys avoided thumb-twiddling. They cleaned out some old farm buildings and even brought the combine into the shop for harvest maintenance before we planted a single seed for the season.

When field conditions warmed and dried in late April, farmers across Illinois collectively showcased an impressive performance of preparedness and efficiency. Farming’s springtime to-dos happened fast and efficiently in a condensed window of time. Bigger, high-tech equipment deserves some of the credit, as does farmer ambition. When the weather turned, our corn and soybean planters started at the same time, my cousin supplied seed to both, our most tenured employee ran a reduced-tillage tool across some of our acreage, and my dad sprayed with limited help for water and herbicide refills.

The condensed schedule inundated the local FS service center for “need-it-now” fertilizer and herbicide applications. It overwhelmed local service technicians with more machinery breakdowns than men available to fix them. Local dealers kept a hectic pace with demands for seed. And my husband worked with his team of precision farming specialists to keep the season’s field applications straight, accurate, and working as they should from a technology standpoint.

What a speedy spring. Just like the rest of farm country, our guys worked in all directions during this overly hectic season, perhaps most evident to my mom as she delivered nightly field meals. And she somehow managed it all without an extension cord.

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