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Ern’s Birthday Present

by @ 11:18 pm on July 18, 2011.

I blogged a while back how Ern got me a Ford 2000 as an early birthday present. When his birthday rolled around, I couldn’t let him outdo me so I bought him a Farmall H. I didn’t actually plan to I have to admit. It evolved in a comedy of errors as we tried to learn to plant corn. And so the story goes…

Some years ago Ern’s dad raised 40 acres of corn for silage. There came a point where corn got so expensive and good hay was cheap that they decided to stop corn and go with just hay. Ern and I came to the conclusion that wasn’t working out well so this year Ern decided to put out 20 acres of corn. His old corn planter was a complex beast that had sat rotting down in a shed for several years. Not being a fan of technology Ern wanted a plain old two row ground driven planter. I found him on craigslist a very nicely restored international planter. Once upon a time it had been a pull type but its owner had converted it to a three point hitch. It should have planted 32″ rows. Planting time comes and it turns out the the modification to three point hitch it will only plant 34″ rows. OK. We run with that and managed to get 20 acres of corn planted in a few very, very long days.

Now the time comes to spray for weed control. We had prepared for this and over the winter I had tested for and received my pesticide applicator license. About this time Ern starts figuring which tractor to put the sprayer on. And here is hindsight mistake #1. Always make sure you have a tractor with a wheel width that will drive between your rows without running over the corn before you plant it. As luck would have it, my Ford was easily adjustable and Ern spent a day getting to ready to go. On the plus side, as part of that he cleaned the brakes. They still need new seals, but they work much better for now.

Anyway, while my Ford is not necessarily the best tractor to spray with, Ern figures he can make do. We dig the sprayer out. It’s 25 years old, not in the greatest shape, but Ern is hoping it will get him through this year. He gets it hooked up to my Ford, and we try to get the thing calibrated. And here we come to an important piece of information it would have been nice to know beforehand. Old tractors have a pto geared faster than new tractors. This means my tractor runs the pump for the sprayer way too fast. What used to cover 5 acres would now barely do 1. And then the sprayer drum springs a leak.

So we ponder and try to figure out what to do now. We considered a new sprayer. But they are expensive, no one stocks them so by the time we got one the corn would be too tall to spray, and even if we could get one in a hurry we still had the problem of my tractor running the pump too fast. We get down to our last option – a cultivator. Back to craigslist I go. Surprisingly I find one.

It’s located up around the Pittsburgh airport. Ern calls and arranges to go get it. And then he starts talking about how nice it would be to have a tricycle tractor to cultivate with. Of course they don’t make those anymore and most of the ones out there are old enough they don’t have the arms of a three point hitch. For curiosity I look on craigslist and find one available. I show Ern on my phone but the pics aren’t very clear. Next thing I know he heads to the house for a bathroom break. And while there my computer illiterate husband manages to pull up craigslist, find the ad, and call about the tractor. I figure it must have been meant to be because on a day’s notice it worked out perfectly to pick up both the tractor and the cultivator in one round trip. And so Ern ended up with a 1948 Farmall H. The sheet metal is just OK and it’s in need of a paint job, but the engine runs great and must have been recently rebuilt and the brakes were just redone. So all in all Ern thinks he got a pretty good deal on it.

And that is how Ern came to get an H for his birthday and why we cultivated the corn. Next year we’re getting a new sprayer, going with round up ready seed, and spraying before the corn comes up. Or at least that’s the plan.


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One Response to “Ern’s Birthday Present”

  1. Farmer Kate » Blog Archive » Corn Planter Says:

    […] Well, that WAS the plan. For the full backstory, read this post. […]

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