Monday, March 29, 2010

Planting the succotash patch

I decided to call it the succotash patch. Mixed vegetables, corn and cow peas in this case. I picked the seed at the farm supply store from the plastic barrels they have there, yellow dent open pollinated corn and Mississippi Silver field peas, because the seeds are about the same size. I wanted to mix them together and plant them in the same row. That's what I did.

When I bought the planter, I stopped on the way home with the wood pallet of boxes and big angle iron parts in the back of the pickup. I stopped at a little place at the edge of town where the Old Glory Feed Store used to be.

An old man and his wife live there along with a horse, two mules, a few head of cattle and a number of nanny goats and kids. The old man is an ornery old guy, former Marine, farmer, trucker, and at 83 has forgotten more about most things than I will every know.

I don't know much about planters, but I know they're fussy and planting row crops is a two man job, provided at least one of them knows what he's doing. I wanted help and you just can't get better backup than an old Marine. He started learning this stuff in the 1930's behind a mule, from his dad, who was an old guy at the time.

I like to listen to the old folks. They know stuff and will take the time to share it with me. My neighbor, a professional musician who is my age, says it makes them immortal, to pass on what they know. My neighbor is right, even if that's not why they do it. I think they do it just because it's the right thing to do. Sometimes they are surprised when I show an interest. I'm not sure what that implies about guys my age, but I am sure it isn't anything good.

That was a few weeks ago. The planter came with a little instruction book. I read the book and put it together.

Saturday morning the ground was ready for seed.

We took the planter out with the hoppers empty and adjusted the angle of the planting foot and the packing wheel to the ground. We went back by the shop and set the spacing between the seeds by installing the appropriate gear on the drive shaft and installed the plate for the size of seed we used. Back at the field we gave it a try and discovered the plate that was supposed to keep the planting depth even would dive under the surface every little while on the uneven ground. We took it off. We next found that the disk at the side of the fertilizer spill chute would snag the grass roots and trash in the field and mess things up. We took it off. The spill chute itself then started snagging the trash. We took it off. Planting too deep. Adjusted the top link up and put a limit to the downward travel of the three point hitch.

Finally we found the sweet spot. It was about noon.

I engaged the apparatus and went off down the row. The old man followed behind on foot for a ways just to watch things work. Every few rows I'd stop and he would check the seed and fertilizer, adjusting the application rate at first until it suited him. He filled the hoppers when they needed it, he would snap the lid back on the hopper and tell me over the tractor noise, "Off you go son!". We were done well before supper time.

The first thing I noticed about finishing this job was that their was not much to show that anything had been done. Just the tracks over the ground. The old man pointed out that we had less stuff in the bags than we had when we started. "Might be something will grow", he said. Might be.

1 comment:

LeAnn said...

I LOVE IT!! I think I know that man. Or at least I know a few just like him.

I love that. :)

Here's hoping it grows!