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Posts Tagged ‘Farm Life’

Smoke Signals

Sweet, sticky, delicious ... and a family farm business.

Sweet, sticky, delicious … and a family farm business.

For a few weeks in winter or early spring, a talisman of sorts rises between the trees throughout rural Vermont. It is many places at once, yet the source, hidden amongst the hills, mountains and hollers, is not so disparate. On days when the wind is relatively still, these specter-like columns, comprised of smoke and vapor, can be seen for miles, beaconing those in the know.

They drive and trek, and as these seekers near their destinations, a faint yet familiar scent of something sweet intensifies the allure and further reinforces behavior learned from parents and grandparents, many of whom visited these same sites.

As is the tradition, these visitors are welcome. In from the cold and great outdoors, they enter the confines of cozy huts, known as sugarhouses, where the senses are greeted by steam and fragrance percolating off maple sap at the boiling point, and by the warmth of friends.

“It’s kind of like a big visiting contest,” says Hope Colburn, who along with her husband, Mark, runs Colburn’s Village View Maples, a sugaring operation near Glover, Vt. “During sugaring, people here drive around town to look for the steam and smoke from the sugaring, and they go from sugarhouse to sugarhouse … to be a part of this tradition, to witness it and visit. Of course, it dates back to … ” she pauses and laughs, “till who knows, but it’s definitely part of the heritage.”

From Vermont to Eastern Canada and across the prairie’s northern tier, sugaring—which typically lasts three to four weeks, beginning as early as January and ending as late as April—has signaled the end of winter. When daytime high temperatures reach the 40s (Fahrenheit) and nights dip back down into the 20s, a pressure is created in several varieties of maple trees, forcing the trees’ sugary sap to rise and flow out of breaks in the bark, whether natural or man-made.

Natives of these regions learned to collect the sap and boil it down long before Europeans arrived. They had their own rituals surrounding its collection and transformation into syrup, yet the addition of a warm sugarhouse has certainly added to that allure for the modern-era visitor. So have doughnuts.

“We go through a lot of them during sugaring season,” says Hope. Her mom makes the sinkers by the dozens, using maple syrup from the Colburns’ sugarhouse to feed those who visit at this critical time, when a year’s worth of nature’s and man’s work gets boiled down, literally, into sticky gold. Good friends help pass the time.

A sure-footed tractor helps the Colburns check tubing during sugaring.

Read the full story and watch Mark Colburn talk about why Massey Ferguson is twice the tractor of the lesser brands at http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/smoke-signals/.

Reman Parts Improve Uptime

04_13_reman1Mike Gryba is a certified mechanic and works with his brother Daniel on their 4,400-acre Saskatchewan farm, where they grow wheat, barley and canola. Mike’s main job is to keep the equipment up and running. Some days that means making the repair himself; other days it requires old-fashioned resourcefulness and help from his AGCO dealer, Full Line Ag in nearby Saskatoon.

Last spring when the Grybas’ RoGator® sprayer malfunctioned in the field, Mike quickly determined it needed a new wheel motor. He knew he couldn’t repair this complex part himself and called Full Line. While they talked, Full Line Parts Manager Dean Grindheim found a remanufactured wheel motor in stock. Within five hours, the motor, which was from the AGCO Reman remanufactured parts program, was in place and the sprayer was back online and ready to finish the job.

“It would have taken days just to get a [RoGator] mechanic out here, and then he’d have to rebuild the unit—providing he brought along all the right parts,” Gryba says. “We were looking at losing several working days by the time he could have gotten that unit up, so the Reman part worked out very well.”

The Reman Resource

AGCO Reman helps farmers like the Grybas get up and running faster and with less expense by using existing core parts that have been completely remanufactured. “We’re giving the customer a low-cost alternative,” says AGCO Senior Marketing Specialist Kevin Bolander. “Environmentally, we’re friendly too, because Reman takes less resources than it does to manufacture a new part; we’re recycling those parts that have failed and are turning them into good parts that are reusable.”

According to Bolander, Reman parts save equipment owners 30% or more over the cost of a new part, but they still come with the same one-year warranty. (If installed by an AGCO dealer, there’s also a six-month labor warranty.) The customer pays a core deposit, which is refunded when the old part is returned to the dealer. Reman parts include numerous product categories that are commonly in stock.

Unlike reconditioned or rebuilt components, AGCO Reman parts undergo a consistent process to restore the product to the original manufacturer’s specifications. Every component is fully tested and found to be up to standards before being sold to the customer. “If there’s a design change that’s been made that improves the product, the Reman product is brought up to the new design specifications. It’s actually upgraded,” says Bolander.

Although cost savings, quality and warranty are all reasons customers choose AGCO Reman parts, at the end of the day, getting back to work is what matters. “We love Reman parts for a simple reason,” says Gryba. “We can go there and pick up a box that’s a complete assembly, and we can bolt it in and can go back to do what we do.”

Currently, AGCO Reman offers a wide-ranging assortment of some 5,300 parts. Get more information at AGCOreman.com.

Baling Efficiency Redefined

Key changes that contribute to increased capacity in the 1840 small rectangular baler are the upturned augers, along with the redesign of the stuffer action to follow the contour of the stuffer floor.

Key changes that contribute to increased capacity in the 1840 small rectangular baler are the upturned augers, along with the redesign of the stuffer action to follow the contour of the stuffer floor.

Josh Moorefield, a hay producer from Shreve, Ohio, recently put two balers from different companies to the test in a field consisting of orchardgrass/alfalfa and timothy/alfalfa mixes. He then loaded two semi trailers destined for a customer in Miami, Fla. One truck received bales of both mixes that were bundled by the new Hesston® by Massey Ferguson Model 1840 small rectangular baler that Moorefield had been field testing; the other truck was loaded with bales of both mixes from his competitive-brand baler.

Thanks to the uniform bale size and density of the Hesston bales, Moorefield was able to fit an additional 3,800 pounds on the load. For his customers, that means lower freight cost and more hay.

Building on the success of its predecessor, the Model 1839, Massey Ferguson significantly enhanced the 1840 in terms of high-capacity baling and rugged reliability. The design engineers started up front where pickup and feeder capacity have both been improved—especially in large, uneven and varying crop conditions.

New features also include storage for 10 rolls of twine for fewer stops, an adjustable drawbar that allows attachment to a wider range of tractors and a new, optional knotter fan to keep the knotters clean. The latter is part of a high-performance package that also includes hydraulic bale density for tighter bales. Last, but certainly not least, the 1840 adds 14 more inches to the OptiForm™ bale chamber to ensure greater consistency in bale shape and density.

Higher capacity, faster feeding and denser, more uniform bales, regardless of the crop or crop conditions, are also key features in a new line of Hesston by Massey Ferguson 2900 Series round balers. Available in two models—the MF2946 produces a 4- x 6-foot bale and the MF2956 creates a 5- x 6-foot bale—the new balers feature a redesigned rotor feeder system with adjustable feed auger strippers, as well as more room above the side augers to smoothly pull the crop into the bale chamber. While the new features provide better feeding in all crops, they’re particularly valuable in residue crops such as cornstalks, soybean residue and wheat stubble.

“The new Model 1840 rectangular baler and 2900 Series round balers both feature design enhancements that keep pace with the productivity needs of our customers,” concludes Dean Morrell, product marketing manager for hay and forage equipment. “The Hesston legacy of innovation and commitment to quality is evident in the detailed engineering and rigorous testing that each of these models has undergone.”

Find out more about the 1800 Series Small Square Balers at http://www.hesston.com/products/square-balers/1800-series-small-square-balers.

Work Smarter with AGCO+ Plus

AGCO+ Plus makes stocking up on parts easier.

AGCO+ Plus makes stocking up on parts easier.

Want to stock up on parts or other equipment? Or pay for repairs or preventative maintenance to maximize uptime during planting, harvest or other critical times of the year? The new AGCO Plus+ financing solution allows customers to proactively manage their cash flow, providing convenient billing and a flexible payment plan that meets the needs of farmers.

Available through AGCO dealers, the new program features a speedy application process for customers, with approval often available in as little as five minutes. In addition to competitive rates on financing, special programs and offers may also be available to customers who purchase with their AGCO Plus+ account.

The new program continues its roll out through North America, so check with your local dealer for details. AGCO Plus+ is designed to help you access the genuine AGCO Parts, service and expertise you’ve come to expect from your dealer. It’s all about helping you work smarter.

For more information on AGCO Plus+, visit AGCOparts.com/AGCOplus.

Catching Air

Time has stopped, he’s in the zone and on autopilot.

Body is square to the jump, knees bent as he pops up and off at 25 mph. Flying high into the air, body twisting, contorting in different directions at once—gazing skyward, blind to the ground and seemingly out of control.

Air squeezes puffs of snow spray out as the board and rider land as one, straight and true. The jump is nailed.

In summer, Mitch practices in the farm pond, while in winter, he uses ramps built with a tractor.

In summer, Mitch practices in the farm pond, while in winter, he uses ramps built with a tractor.

Mitch Keet says he still revels in the feeling of when he has nailed a landing, or “stomped it,” even thousands of successful jumps later. “It feels so good. You just know that your hard work has paid off,” he says.

Growing up on the family poultry and grain farm amid the Canadian prairies, snow-covered mountains and big bodies of water are not exactly something in Mitch’s backyard. The nearest ski hill is more than 100 miles away, and the closest lake about the same distance. Old-fashioned rural ingenuity brought the altitude and wet stuff to the farm near Grandora, Saskatchewan.

During the winter, one of the family’s Massey Ferguson® tractors scoops and pushes snow together to build a small jump beside the poultry barns. An elongated pond of water was dug behind those same barns for summer wakeboarding. With his father, Derick, at the throttle, a homespun, carnival ride-sized winch pulls Mitch through his practice maneuvers for both wakeboarding and snowboarding. He can do more jumps in an hour than he can in a whole day on the natural slopes or water.

Mitch’s wakeboard achievements include being named Saskatchewan Rookie of the Year in 2011 and the Most Improved in 2012. He won gold at the provincials in 2013. Mitch has also achieved membership on Canada’s National Development Team.

Mitch gives much of the credit for his work ethic and the confidence to pull off his amazing areal stunts because he’s been so grounded through his experiences on the farm. The Keet family’s 600-acre farm, Double D Poultry, was started by Mitch’s grandfather David. Derick took over much of the day-to-day work of running the family farm the year Mitch was born.

Every eight weeks they ship 100,000 broiler chickens for processing to the nearby city of Saskatoon. Derick and David handle most of the work using their fleet of Massey Ferguson tractors. Mitch, however, can be counted on to handle a daily list of chores. “I go through the barns and pick up chickens, and when the birds go out, I’ll clean barns and spread straw and dump feed and spread manure, and harvest and combine for long days in the fall,” says Mitch.

While Mitch has his sights set on making the National Pro Team and competing at the world championships, he wants to do it his way. “The farm is the best; it’s open, it’s nice here all year round. And,” he continues, as if divulging the secret ingredient to his success, “the farm, it taught me skills and working, and that kind of stuff. I’ve got a good family, so I don’t want to go anywhere,” he says.

Mitch said being raised on the farm with chores and parents who take the time to teach him has made him both tougher and definitely more confident. “I’ll always remember that my dad taught me how to drive a tractor. He taught me how to drive the combine. My father’s confidence in me makes me very much more confident.”

And that attribute, says Mitch, is a big reason for his success, in boarding as it is in life.

Read the full story and watch a video of Mitch Keet catching air at http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/catching-air/.