What are you doing for spring cleaning? Perhaps sorting out closets and cleaning out kitchen cupboards? Hopefully you won’t find as much dirt and muck as we do here when we are preparing our tractors for the farming season! It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. And judging by the look on his face John seems to be enjoying himself. After he finishes hosing down the tractors he brings them into the shop. Here he works at changing the oil, the oil filter, the fuel filter, the air filter and then he greases the bearings. In other words, he is making sure the tractors are ready to perform at their full capacity when we need them the most. You can learn more about spring farm work by visiting “Mucking About In The Manure.”
Today is Canada’s Agriculture Day. A day we can come together to celebrate Canadian agriculture and the food we all love. Through every month of the year we take great pride in providing a quality product to feed Canadians. Each potato dish pictured on the slideshow was developed in our kitchen. You can find all the recipes at “Spud Smarts – About Cooking Potatoes” and in previous installments of “The Common-Tater” in the recipes categories. Bon Appétit!
There are always a few farming jobs to wrap up in the late fall. One of them is the harvest of the grain corn that we grow as a rotation crop. RJ and my brother-in-law can (and often do) talk at great length about whether the corn is ready to be harvested. I have to admit that most of the time I have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. Most of their conversations seem to revolve around the moisture content of the corn. All I can tell you is that they wait until the corn is as dry as possible before they truck it to the elevator. Since I have never travelled to the grain elevator, I believe I have more questions than answers for you today. Perhaps I will delve deeper into the grain corn mysteries over the winter! In the meantime, you can visit “Farewell Winter Wheat” to see photos of the very impressive combine at work.
This video is a very common sight when we are working the land in the fall. I have no idea where these seagulls come from but it’s a little bit eerie. There is virtually no sign of seagulls here all summer, but as soon as the tractors fire up in the fall they swoop in by the hundreds. Where do they come from? Where do they live all summer? And how do they know it’s time to feast? One of life’s little mysteries to ponder by the fire over the winter….You can visit the “Animals” category in The Common-Tater for more pictures and videos of some of the animals that live with us here at the farm.
You may have been wondering where I have been for the last few weeks. I took a short break from the Common-Tater to get started on many different home projects that all had to wait until the harvest was finished. The guys have been very busy catching up as well. There is equipment to clean and winterize, buildings to maintain, potatoes to pack and deliver, and of course there is more field work to do before the snow flies. These pictures are of an implement called a soil saver cultivator. Despite my previously unspoken thoughts, I have been informed that this is not just a piece of equipment invented for farmers who want to keep driving tractors once the harvest is finished!! The cultivator plays an essential role in improving our soil. It loosens the ground that has been compacted by heavy equipment, improves water drainage, works up the organic manure and is invaluable in preventing wind erosion over the winter. If you would like to have a more in-depth look at our fall field work you can visit “Fall Field Chores.”
So what’s REALLY like to work on a farm during the harvest? Here’s a 10 second video of our crew unloading a bulk truck full of potatoes. They are hard at working making sure that any rocks and weeds picked up by the harvester are not put into our storage. If you watch this video 100 times you will see how long it takes to unload one truck. Multiply that by 10 trucks per day and then multiply that by 7 days a week for 6 weeks and you will have a good idea of what we have been up to! (Give or take a few rain days and this year even extreme heat days.) To learn more about the function of the bin filler is you can visit “Journey From The Underground Part III” or watch a video at “The Potato Bin Filler.”
They say it takes an entire village to raise a child. In our case, it takes an entire dedicated team to raise potatoes. Here is a closer look at some of the people who have been working hard at #harvest17 (although we are missing a few key players who were busy at other jobs off the farm when I took the pictures yesterday.) After his morning job of delivering potatoes to our customers, Curtis keeps the bulk trucks rotating so there is always one truck getting unloaded and one truck getting loaded in the field. John and RJ have logged hundreds of hours operating the windrower and the harvester (with a little help yesterday from our office assistant Shelby!) Alfonso works beside the harvester all fall driving the bulk truck. The crew back at the storage run the bin filler which keeps the potatoes moving out of the trucks into the storage. Every once in a while I escape the office and the accounting to travel around on a photo shoot. And as for Murray, he keeps a watchful eye over the whole process! With a little luck and some decent weather we hope to finish the harvest by the end of next week. If you would like to learn more about the potato harvest process you can visit “Journey From The Underground Part I” “Journey From The Underground Part II” and “Journey From The Underground Part III.”
It’s funny how things can change so much yet remain completely same. These photos were taken approximately 30 years ago in the mid 1980’s. To my untrained eye I am surprised to see how similar some of this equipment looks when compared to what we are using today. In fact, the bulk truck still resides at our farm as far as I can tell. (Of course, I could be wrong since distinguishing between different makes and models of vehicles has never been one of my strong points as RJ and my sons could tell you!) While today’s equipment is more sophisticated, the basic work flow is still the same. In these photos of the potato harvest of yesteryears, RJ is using the windrower to dig up potatoes. Don follows with the harvester to pick them up along with a few extra rows. The potatoes get loaded into a bulk truck and taken to the farm for storage over the winter. To have a closer look at some of the equipment we use today you can visit our "Photo Gallery.”
The cavalry has arrived! Let the fall harvest begin! Over the next 5 to 6 weeks everyone at the farm will be working together to bring in the potato crop. I wanted to post this funny little video before everyone gets too tired to appreciate the humour in it. I debated for quite some time whether to call it “The Cavalry Arrives” or “The Almost Crash.” I leave it up to you to decide since I still cannot make up my mind. Stay tuned for harvest updates broadcast directly from my back porch! To see a video of the potato harvester operating at actual speed you can visit “The Potato Harvester.”
Over the last few weeks, there have been tractors hustling no matter what window I look out of here at home. From fertilizing to banking the potatoes, there is quite a bit of field work to do once the crop has been planted. This photo clearly depicts the weed suppression that is achieved through banking the potatoes. As John works his way across this field, you can see the fresh earth hilled on the potatoes and the way the weeds are ripped out between the rows. It’s quite a difference from the section of the field that hasn’t been banked yet. To find out the other reasons we bank potatoes, you can visit “Banking: The Potato Farm Way.”
Thompson Potato Farm
Farming is fascinating!