Planting season seems to sneak up on a person or maybe just on me. One week there’s 6 inches of snow and it’s 15 degrees, the next week it’s beautiful and I’ve removed three layers of clothes by the end of the day. I start to look to the fields for signs it’s getting dry enough out there to get excited about putting some seed in the ground.
    There’s always the hope of an early planting year when small grains and hay are seeded before the last snow. Nothing makes for an even alfalfa germination like a pile of snow shoving it into contact with the soil and soaking it thoroughly as it melts. I can’t get too excited and pull everything out of its tightly packed winter storage configuration in the shed or a bunch of equipment finds itself parked outside with a foot of snow on it unnecessarily. If I wait too long, valuable planting days are lost getting equipment out and ready to go. I always seem to wait too long due to a bit too much optimism. I’m optimistic that I have at least a few more days of a somewhat relaxed chore schedule before the field work season starts. I had looked over the equipment before packing it away. It’ll be no problem to just pull it out and go.
    Reality tends to show up as a warm wind blows up from the south and the fields are suddenly ready to go when they were still quite wet just a couple days before. This tends to be a surprise to me when after weeks of checking, I walk out to the wettest spot in a field and find it only slightly soggy wet but the rest of the field ready to go. It’s at this point I generally discover a missing bolt on the soil finisher that I didn’t notice in the fall. No worries, we’re just getting going, there’s plenty of time for a little repair. Better now than a big one later. Oops, there seems to be a wing missing on this disk scraper. How did I not see that last summer? At least I have all the pallets of seed here. Wait, I ordered 12 bags of graze and chop mix but I only see five now that I look closer even though the receipt says 300 pounds.
    The second dose of reality comes when the weather forecast suddenly switches from a week of sunshine to three days of sun and then three days of thunderstorms. While a little rain isn’t a big deal, a lot of rain might end planting for quite awhile. Wouldn’t it be so nice to just get it all done and enjoy the rain days rather than be waiting around for it to dry up so we can go again? This tends to lead to a couple very late nights working ground and planting. That cheap GPS unit I bought years ago is worth its weight in gold at about 10 p.m. in the middle of a field when the soil texture changes and suddenly the wheel track of the planters last pass seems to completely disappear.
    In the end I never seem to get everything I want to do done. The rain shows up just a bit too early and the planter gets pulled in the shed to wait with a couple pallets of seed for the sun to work its magic. Oh well. As they say, April showers bring May grazing or something like that. Hopefully you all got at least a start on your fields or gardens. Until next time my dairy good friends, keep living the dream.
    Tim Zweber farms with his wife Emily, their 3 children and his parents Jon and Lisa by Elko, Minnesota.