Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Parker's Report: Week 8

Week 8: Publicity and Pigweed
June 27-31, 2016

                  I stepped out of my truck Monday morning and sweat started pouring from my brow. It was going to be a long, hot, humid day and I hadn’t even done anything yet. I began my morning routine feeding the horses and cleaning the barn. Seth and Mr. Mike then situated me on the small sprayer attached to the back a tractor. They showed me how to run it and which chemicals in which proportions to mix. I was on a mission to kill pigweed. Technically the plants I was after were spiny amaranth (Amaranthus spinosus) but are in the same family as what people commonly call pigweed. The spiny amaranth had grown up around the feeding troughs and spots where hay had been fed over the winter. It is ugly as a weed in general but more importantly causes ring worm in cattle. Therefore, it needed to be eradicated. The chemicals I used where a combination of RoundUp, surfactant, and a nitrogen based compound. The nitrogen essentially tricked the plant into thinking that the RoundUp was good for it so it would absorb it more quickly. I had fun driving through all the pastures spraying the pigweed. It took me a while to get the hang of spraying. Unlike bush hogging there wasn’t a clear indication of where I had driven let alone where the spray had fallen. Most of the time I could see my tire tracks but sometimes I couldn’t. From there I had to judge to the best of my ability how far out the spray had fallen and how close I needed to drive so that everything was covered. I kept having to remind myself to trust my tractor and the sprayer to cover everything. Towards the end of the day a storm blew in. I had watched it build all afternoon. The wind whipped around and it sprinkled a few large drops. Lightning struck in the next pasture over. However, it passed me by so I continued spraying until the end of the day. The skies were a dark and ominous gray on Tuesday. I saddled up SisterBear and Ginger and Mrs. Dee and I moved the Quad cattle from one pasture to another. After cleaning the barn I brought in the big 4555 tractor to the shop to have a new muffler put on. Then I mowed the yard before the rain finally began to fall. While I was out mowing the board of directors from Alabama Ag Credit came by for a visit. They were celebrating 100 years of business. The main reason for their visit was to tour the farm. They helped with the finances for building the big 120-acre reservoir on the farm that collects water during the winter and supplies it to the irrigation systems during the growing season. While Alabama receives close to 60 inches of precipitation a year, most of it occurs during the non-growing season. The reservoir collects this water and saves it for later. This way the irrigation system can not only provide water during drought but allows it to provide water in the correct amount and at the most opportune time. Water in the right amount and at the right time is vital to crop production. It is a big factor in increasing overall crop yield. On Wednesday a group from the United Soybean Board came to film. I saddled two horses for Mrs. Dee and I to move a group of bulls as part of the footage. Mr. Matt was there dusting crops in his plane and showed off for the camera. While the filming continued I returned to spraying down pigweed. Even though it had only been two days, the pigweed I had already sprayed had turned a sickly shade of yellow and begun wilting. I felt a keen sense of pride knowing that I had done a good job. Part of the reason I enjoyed spraying so much was because I got to watch the cattle. I always assume cattle don’t have personalities, at least not as apparent as say horses or dogs. However, the more I work with them the more I see their quirks. Late in the afternoon as I was spraying my last two pastures I heard a loud pop. I thought it was just a normal sound from bumping around but as I turned around to check my spray pattern I realized there wasn’t one. I stopped to see what the problem was and quickly discovered that what I called “the pressurizer” had fallen off. I thought I knew how to fix it but was afraid that I might be wrong and end up causing a bigger problem. Just to be on the safe side I made my way back to the shop and put the tractor up for the night since everyone had already gone home for the day. If Monday was like a sauna then Thursday was perfect. It was warm but with a cool breeze blowing. When I would drive past a hay trap it smelled and felt like a flawless fall day. Mr. Mike helped me fix the pump that had fallen off after I had taken care of the horses. All set to go, I finished the last two pastures in no time at all. That afternoon I put a bale of hay out for the bulls. With not much else to do with a holiday weekend coming up Seth told me to head on out for the weekend.

Happy July 4th!

Pictures below.

Storm rolling in    

Momma cow and her calf cuddling    

Mrs. Dee moving the Quad cows    

Mr. Matt crop dusting    

Filming for the United Soybean Board    


Spraying the spiny amaranth 

Horses grazing on some fresh grass    

Ace wanting to be petted as usual    

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