The Grovestead

Farm, Family, Fun.

Category: Tractors (page 2 of 3)

First cutting

John Deere tractor cutting our hay field

Elsie with daddy watching the tractor

Ivar watching the tractor cut our field

First cutting of our hay field


Planting days are here at last!

Preparing the soil for planting

The weather finally cooperated long enough for us to till and begin planting our garden on Monday. I took the day off and with the help of my awesome sister-in-law Lisa and her mom and daughter we got our fingernails dirty.

Girl standing by blueberry beds

Our first project was the blueberry patch. We bought 16 blueberry shrubs from the same nursery where we ordered our apple trees. First we prepared the beds, mixing in peat moss to make the soil more acidic.

Preparing the soil for blueberries

Then the shrubs were planted in two rows of different varieties (Northblue and Northcountry Blueberry), both cold-hardy for our Minnesota climate.

Planting blueberry shrubs

Two rows of blueberries

In a couple of years these shrubs should be producing 3 to 7 pounds of berries per bush.

Next we tackled the large vegetable plot. Using a borrowed tractor, I tilled the 25 x 60-foot plot.

Tilling garden with tractor

Then we set to work dividing it into several rows with walking paths between each. The plan is to put corn, peas, tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, onions, beets, potatoes, and squash roughly in that order. The taller plants like corn go on the north side of the garden so they don’t shade the shorter plants.

Digging rows and paths in the garden

Last year I created my own drip irrigation out of PVC but it didn’t work as I’d hoped. So this year I ordered a drip system from a reputable dealer. I’m also experimenting with plastic mulch to see if my weed control fares any better.

Setting out the drip tape irrigation

Laying down plastic mulch in garden beds

Dumping wood chips for garden paths

It was exhausting work. We had to dig the beds by hand, lay the drip tape, then cover the beds with plastic and shovel dirt on the ends to hold it in place. Probably would have been easier if we had this:

This is just the first of many planting days. There are still the raised beds to prepare and my no-till experiment. After it warms a bit more, we’ll transplant the tomatoes and start the corn.

Planting days are here at last


Farming woes

Tractor planting field

I was reluctant to tell this story, having just blogged about our bad luck with getting our field planted. But then I thought no, the embarrassing mishaps are all part of farming and one of the reasons I started this blog was to share our story, warts and all.

So here’s what happened. Last week after waiting almost a month for the stars to align (or the clouds to part), our generous neighbor Jeremiah showed up to till and plant our field.

I met him, brought out the seed bags, took a few pictures, and watched the tractor drive out into the field. About 30 seconds later the tractor stopped moving. A minute later the engine turned off and Jeremiah began walking towards us. Becca noted aloud, “that’s not good.”

Turns out the seed drill was broken. Something to do with a shaft. I nodded, as if I knew anything about seed drill shafts. Jeremiah would attempt to fix it and bring it back. Okay, great. A small delay, but at least we’ll get it done today.

Six hours later, the tractor comes roaring up the lane. This time its pulling a different seed drill. Jeremiah wasn’t able to fix the problem, but found another seed drill. Great!

He got started immediately, making up for lost time. We only have about four tillable acres, so the whole job takes maybe 45 minutes. Jeremiah will be done in no time.

About 10 minutes later I heard the tractor turn off again. Humph. Jeremiah finds me and asks if I have a socket wrench. “What happened?” I ask. “Ran over something, popped the tire.” Unbelievable! Turns out, a 30-year old rusted out vice grips wrench was dug out of the earth during tilling and positioned just right to send a 5-inch spike into the seed drill’s tire. If he had been 2 inches in either direction he would have missed it.

The tire gets fixed and the tractor starts up again. But this time, I notice instead of heading out into the field the tractor makes a u-turn and pulls into our lane, as if to leave. Then the engine stops again. Jeremiah steps out of the tractor and says, “I need to fess up.” Nothing would surprise me at this point. Jeremiah explains that the new seed drill he brought over had been set differently than he realized, for larger seed. All our seed (100 pounds of it) for four acres had been planted in two rows. Okay, that surprised me.

Jeremiah offered to go pick up more seed, but the seed store was closed for the day. Of course. “I’ll pick up more seed tomorrow,” I tell him.

That night it starts raining. And doesn’t stop for six days. A friend asked if maybe God doesn’t want our field to be planted. I was beginning to wonder that myself.

But yesterday it finally happened! Jeremiah was out of town but his father Dean brought the equipment over and together we got the field planted.

Figuring out the seed drill settings

Rory and Dean figuring out the seed drill settings while Ivar watches and Elsie dumps chicken feed on herself.

Dumping seed into the bin

Filling the seed bins with pasture grass mix.

A look inside the seed bin

Riding on the seed drill while tractor is planting field

I actually rode on the back of the seed drill for the whole planting. We had to make sure the settings were correct, so while Dean drove I watched the drills and kept an eye on the bins to make sure we had enough seed. We did.


Replanting our field

Tractor getting ready to plant

In a previous post I wrote about why we needed to replant our field this year. It was supposed to happen earlier this week, but rain beat the farmer to our field. And then we had to wait for everything to dry out. I never really knew when to expect him.

Then this morning around 7am as I was trying to figure out where that low rumble was coming from, I saw a huge tractor pull up in our field pulling a 40-foot plow.

Tractor tilling our field

We are extremely fortunate to live up the road from a family farm. They were generous enough to include our tiny parcel among the fields they planted this year.

Pasture mix seed getting dumped into the seed bins

Tractor beginning to plant our field


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