The average is the middle between the two extremes. My guess is that we are somewhere around average when it comes to rainfall for the past two years. Last summer we were at zero, and this summer we are somewhere close to building an ark. They say variety is the spice of life — well, I could use a little blander life right now.
In any case, it is wet, and the extended forecast is for more wet. Without a doubt, it is extreme weather and extreme weather calls for extreme measures. I needed to finish planting corn and the weeds on the field were embarrassingly tall and Coop couldn’t even begin to give me an ETA. That meant one thing — I needed to dig the disk out of the machinery row and knock the weeds down to finish planting corn.
We started no-tilling over 10 years ago and to the best of my memory, that was the last time the disk had been touched. I guess if I wanted to know bad enough, I could have counted the rings on any of the four trees that I had to cut down to move it. On a side note, cutting trees out of a disk is hard on chainsaw blades. I think I will just replace the chain rather than try to sharpen it.
You know it has been a while when you must cut one of the trees down in sections so you can move it after it is down. After the logging part of the recovery was done, we had to get the hitch out of the dirt and high enough to hook it up to the drawbar on the tractor. Apparently, the jack on the disk had either been robbed for some other implement or broken a long time ago. If I were a gambling man, I would bet on it having been broken and never replaced.
It would have been simple enough if we could have put a jack under it and jacked it up to the proper height. Well, nothing is ever simple for me. I had to dig under the tongue, snake a chain through and hook it up to the loader. Then we lifted it high enough to get a jack under it so we could get the tongue to the proper drawbar height. Believe me when I say that the lift was all the tractor wanted.
Then we had to find the hydraulic hoses, and they looked like they have spent the last 10 years out in the elements. I pulled and dug and finally got to the end of the hose. Funny thing was that end was about two feet shorter that it should have been. The other three hoses were dug out and they revealed the same injury. Yes, every hose had been cut off about two feet from the end. Our best guess was that one of us was mowing weeds with the sickle mower and probably got a little too close to the disk.
To my surprise, they all came off with a minimal amount of cussing and grumbling. In retrospect, the hoses being cut probably was a good thing and saved me from changing them after I had hooked them up and applied pressure to them. The look on the parts guy’s face when I brought in eight pieces of hose was almost worth the trouble. It took a little bit of CSI work, but we matched all the pieces up and figured out how long each hose needed to be. Four new hoses later, we were completely hooked up to the disk and the moment of truth was near.
I slowly raised the disk and went back and checked tires expecting four flats. To my surprise, I had three tires that were completely aired up and the fourth had enough air to make the 50-yard trip to the compressor. I should have gone and bought a lottery ticket — what were the odds of four tires sitting for 10 years and holding air, especially given my normal amount of luck.
Three hours after starting the recovery project, I was out in the field and the next critical juncture was ahead of us. Did the stupid thing still work? Were the gangs froze up? I put the disk down and slowly started through the field. One gang protested a little but finally started turning and soon the squeaking stopped, and the disk did its job.
I have to say that it was rather impressive that something could sit for 10 years, grow trees through it and still work once it got to the field. It not only worked but it worked well and after two passes the big, tall nasty weeds were worked down and the field was ready to plant. I took the disk back to the machinery row and unhooked it in the same place vowing not to let weeds grow up or to cut the hoses again. All I know is that it will be ready to go, whether it be next week or next decade.
Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.