Happy October! It’s officially Fall. And in Deep South Texas – in our little corner of the world – it’s finally cooling off to a nice 85 degree average. This is a nice Fall teaser for anyone who lives in the Rio Grande Valley. If you’re not from around here, 85 degrees probably sounds like a nice Summer day. But we play along with everyone else and pull out our pumpkins and faux maple leaves in hopes that we’ll see the temps dip into the 70’s before Thanksgiving. And if it does – you know we’ll crank up our fire places, pull out the sweaters, and start a pot of chili. Because it’s the right thing to do and it’s Fall time at it’s best ’round these parts. And I love it! Where Fall time never fails around here though is on the farm. Fall time on our farm is serene and for the most part tranquil. Harvest time is over. We don’t have any crops in the ground. And our focus is working the fields in preparation for the next crop. Of course there is always work to be done in the barn, equipment to be maintained and office work to be done. But, the heart of the farm is in the field and what happens in the field sets the tone for the farm.
When it comes to agriculture, the Rio Grande Valley is very diverse. There are some irrigated farms in the area that are planting corn, sugar cane, cabbage and other produce. But our farm is a dry land farm, which means we don’t irrigate for water – we rely on rain. So we don’t have a Fall crop on our farm. And if there’s one important thing to know about farming, it’s this – timing is everything. So this is the time of year that farmers work the land meticulously and prepare it to make the most of every rain in the next few months. Making the most of every rain drop is vital to a prosperous crop – especially in the dry land.
A few short years ago I never would’ve imagined that so much thought and process went into “moving” dirt around. I just figured a little rain got the dirt wet. You thank God for the rain. Then you wait around for more rain. But it’s not that innocent. Maneuvers and methods are practiced systematically to make the most of what you get. And it’s not like putting buckets out to collect rain water…well it is – in a conservation sense of things. But in a more practical approach, those maneuvers and methods include cultivating the land and setting rows. It’s a simple process of taking care of the land.
This is what one of our fields looks like after harvest. As you can see…it’s flat. The weeds have grown up. And weeds actually “steal” moisture from us. Not cool. So this is where we start working the land – across the whole farm.
Our tractor is cultivating across the field to turn the dirt and destroy the weeds.
It leaves a pretty path of freshly turned dirt in it’s path ready to be rowed up and ready to collect rain (moisture).
After the land is cultivated, a tractor (or two) comes through the field to lay up rows. This essentially prepares the seed bed for planting.
As a small kid, I used to “lay up rows” with my fingers in the dirt. You know, drawing “lines” across the dirt. It’s pretty much the same concept in farming – but much more intense. Obviously. No fingers in the dirt here. In fact there’s a whole thought process that goes into the rows. It’s not just a bunch of lines across fields. For example, these rows are exactly 36 inches wide.
We set them at a certain width for plant growth and equipment accommodations. It’s fascinating how precise it is.
This is the implement that makes the rows in our fields. We call it a bedder bar. This preparation process of cultivating and laying up rows will take weeks to complete to get the whole farm done. But once it’s done, it’s done. And then we’ll sit back and pray for rain and let the ground do it’s thing to absorb all the moisture it can and “save” it for the growing season. It’s like a savings account for moisture. And this process grooms the dirt for being a good saver…to put it in layman’s terms.
And because it’s Saturday on the farm – we’re having a little family fun in the field today. It’s how we roll, man.
And after one field is finished we’ll parade on over to the next field to continue our Fall time work on the farm. This is what traffic is like on our street. And my very technical job on the farm is to pick up this hunky farmer from the side of the road. It’s a rough job.
I hope you enjoyed a look at some of our “behind-the-scenes” work on The Farm. Planting time and harvest time are big times on the farm that usually get all the attention and glory. But this is another work day on the farm that goes into growing a successful crop.
Cheers to a great weekend of fun, family and farming in the Fall.
XO – Laura