Monday, 30 April 2012

Putting "dumb farmers" to rest.

Hello all! (and by "all" I mean probably all two of you reading this blog. Erik and Dave, my loyal followers, know I miss you both!)
Let me tell you about life on the Ridge this past week...
This week, I've been farming. Let me tell you, farming has been fun. I like farming. I got so excited when I hopped on the ol' John Deere that first night. Picture this; the fresh smell of worked up land, the sun is setting, and good chats with my brother...paradise.
Planting in 2011. Note the Ridgetown water tower in the background!

In order to understand my week, you've got to understand how the Vyns do farming. My dad farms with two of his brothers, my brother, and some of my cousins. There's a whole hierarchal system too.
My uncle Stew, (he's a stud ps.) he is the chief.  He calls the shots. If I had to choose one person to do the Amazing Race with, I would pick him. Funny thing is, he's the youngest of all the brothers by 5 years. He's my only uncle who is a full timer. So what Stew says goes. He's got the brains and the brawn of the operation. It's a joke in our family that if you have a problem just call Stew cause you "can't stump Stew."

Told you he was a stud haha

My dad, though a farmer, is more of a talker. He is a born salesman. He helps out where he can, but Stew gets to run the big jobs like planting and combining. My dad, he's more like the glorified water boy. He works hard, but he isn't exactly handy. He likes to say that famous quote from the Red Green Show, "If the women don't find you handy, at least they find you handsome." Sad part is, he's neither.
Richard, taking a little (or a big?) break. He calls it "supervising"

My uncle Harold, he's the brains of the operation. He works for Union Gas during the day, then helps out at nights. He isn't as much of a talker like my dad, but he's extremely smart. He can always rig up some contraption or another to get the job done. His son is Greg (my cousin) who just started full time farming. Greg is a character. He's always singing at the top of his lungs or making some funny comment or another.
Greg, Grandpa, and Me!

My grandpa Dick is probably the cutest grandpa you will ever meet. He's 85 and isn't allowed to drive anymore (which is a very good thing) but that doesn't stop him from taking the tractor up town when he needs to get stuff done. He helps feed the "old people" at the nursing home every other day. He says it keeps him feeling young. His heavy Dutch accent and years of not wearing a dust mask makes him impossible to understand, so everyone knows to just smile and nod. I've heard his stories 500 times, but they don't get old. He wants to help on the farm so bad. This week, he kept trying to help me and Stew. He was in the way and almost hurt himself falling on the ground off the transport truck which had all the corn seed on it. Rich sometimes gets frustrated trying to make sure Dick doesn't get driven over by a tractor. When I was driving grandpa home, he said to me; "Brianna, I miss farming. I wish I could plant." I almost cried, that is how cute my grandpa is.
So, a little recap:
Uncle Stew: the stud chief man
Papa Richard: the glorified water boy
Uncle Harold: the brains of the operation
Cousin Greg: the character
Brother Jevin: the new kid on the block (just bought his first farm a few months ago)
Grandpa Dick: nicknamed "quick dick" cause he's always breaking things (like his trucks)
And me? Well, I just do what Stew tells me to do. I run up town ten times a day to Tim's for coffee, run to Chatham for parts, open seed bags, test the depth of the planted seeds, burn old seed bags, etc. One very important thing I've learned on the farm is that the "dumb farmer" stereotype is wack. Do you know the different between an rts and a cultivator and a disc? Do you know that you have to plant corn about an inch and a half in the ground depending on the moisture and soil type? Did you know corn likes sandier soil but soybeans can handle a more heavy clay soil? Do you know how to fix a sensor on the GPS auto steer function on the tractor? Do you know you have to put talc powder into your planter so your corn seeds will more easily be put into the ground at the correct multiple? No. You didn't know those things, but Stew, Rich, Harold and all of them know that. They know that and a heck of a lot more.
You gotta be pretty dang smart and strong to be a farmer. Being a farmer is not as easy at it looks. One of my city slicker friends thought a combine was called a concubine. We need people like that. People to sue our doctors, people to be our doctors, and people to work in those fancy high rise buildings. But if you wanna eat, you need our farmers. Farmers feed cities, they put food on your plates three times a day. So tip your hat and wave your hand to the man up on the tractor :)
My brother tells me that because he's the oldest child and boy, he gets the farm when my dad retires. After this week, which reminded me again of how much I love farming, I think I'll give him a run for his money!
Planting 2012.

All done planting corn! Next stop: soybeans.