Last week’s warm weather shook off winter’s coat and brought a flurry of field work and planting activity to the area. This is my dad’s 59th year of planting, and he was eager to get going. Here he is with two friends and pupils from his winter foal training project.
No, he never farmed with horses, although his dad and grandfather and great grandfather did. But he did start planting at age 14, and he’s seen a lot. The first time around he planted with a two row wire check planter. He tells me it was a two person operation to plant and move the stakes at the end of the field for the wire that regulated the spacing of the seed. On a good day, they planted 10 acres.
Today, he has a GPS guided 24 row planter with high-speed precision planting technology. In the first few days of the 2016 planting cycle, by himself, he planted a little over 900 acres. The planting summary on his iPad showed coverage of the last field he planted before getting rained out yesterday. Here’s the quick iPhone snap of that.
Note the small white tab at the top, just to the left of middle in the orange rectangle. What’s that? It’s where he stopped and made adjustments to work around this killdeer bird nest.
Much has changed since Dad planted his first field 58 years ago, yet killdeer still make their nests in little depressions on the ground in the middle of the field, and he still looks out for them.
He still teaches me by example that whether it’s one acre or 1,000, the latest technology or the oldest methods, farming is about caring for the plants and critters and land all around us. He shows me that making the extra effort in the interest of their well-being defines a farmer.
These prairies are blessed with great farmers. If you have the privilege of knowing one, please join me in thanking them and wishing them a safe and productive planting season.