Feels like winter again.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Yeah, it’s chilly out there, and the wind has a sharp ‘bite’ to it.  Over Christmas, we had some unusually warm and sunny days, near 70F! (21C)  We knew it would not last long, and it is probably a good thing that it did not.  We wondered if our spring flowers would be sprouting!  But we have temps in the high 30s, and the gray skies add to the chill in the air.  It is winter here in southern Indiana… gray, chilly days are the routine.  To be honest, I’d rather we had 20F (with no wind) all winter.

The return of the cold is a good thing.  If we get a good freeze soon, we will have the top-dress nitrogen applied to the wheat crop.   That is the next ‘urgent’ operation that must take place.  We have a pretty large window of opportunity for that; if we can get it on before March 1, it’ll be just right.    (The closer to March 1, the better)   The wheat looks pretty nice right now.  It is at a good stage of growth to go through the winter, and it has a healthy green color.

The soybean planter is now at the JD dealer where we purchased it, Alliance Tractor.  They are replacing all the ground-engaging, high-wear parts:  opener blades, seed boots, press wheels, and seed tabs. The new seed boots and press wheels are narrower, making for a cleaner trench into which the seed is placed.  These are part of an upgraded opener design called “Pro Series”.  Click on this website for a video of how this Pro Series opener works. 

Even though the JD 1890-1910 NT air drill is only 3 years old, it has been across many acres, and those parts were not in good enough shape to run through the entire planting season for 2020.  There are a few other hoses and springs that will need replaced.  One hydraulic cylinder has a leak that will be repaired.  They will place a 1-year warranty on the parts that they install, so it will be almost like having a brand new drill again.  These repairs should make the drill good again for at least 3 planting seasons… a reasonable investment, and the cost is much less than trading it off for a brand new machine.  There are no appreciable technology improvements on the new models, so the re-build of this one makes good sense.  Alliance Tractor’s  mechanic “JR” is working on this drill today, and he may get some more help after the new year holiday break.

The 1890 NT drill is in the shop at Alliance Tractor

The bins of new parts are emptying out. Front box has opener blades, the back one has seed boots.

The stack of worn-out parts is growing…

JR shows the difference between a new and old press wheel. The new one is larger diameter and thinner. This press wheel runs directly behind the seed boot, and firms the seed into the trench made by the opener blade.

One of the 60 row units, the opener blade and gauge wheel tire are quite worn.

Here is a re-built row unit. New opener blade and gauge wheel are very visible improvements.  The angled trench closing wheel in the back of the unit shows no wear, and will not be replaced.  

We have no big plans for New Year’s… a quiet night at home…watching the ‘ball drop’  in NYC, then off to sleep.  New Year’s Day will be for watching the Rose Parade and multiple football games.   Thursday will bring us back to work.

We will spend a few moments reflecting on the highs and lows of 2019, but we won’t dwell there very long.  In my communion talk yesterday at WCC, I emphasized Philippians 3:13-14.  “...forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…”    Let’s focus our thinking on making the best of the days ahead.  2020 will have its own challenges and opportunities.  We will trust our Maker through them all.

Have a blessed and successful and happy New Year!

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