Drilling for Soybeans

I noticed yesterday that the labels on the images I posted did not reflect the credit given them as they should have. My apologies if I captured an image from your site without citation. It was unintentional and I will try to find out what I did wrong or whether it was a continued problem with the computer or WordPress, as I mentioned yesterday.

Mike is out the door already this morning and headed to another soybean field. His drill broke earlier in the season and he has borrowed a friend’s. Good thing about that is the friend came with the drill! That means there are two of them taking turns planting and things are progressing nicely.

I want to talk about that drill thing. I mean, we all know what a drill is, right? It holds the doohickie that you put in the front thingy and tighten up with one of those chuck thingamabobs, then you squeeze the trigger and bzzzzzz, it bores a hole. So I was really confused when Mike told me he would have problems planting the soybeans this year because his drill was broken. Whaaa?! They sell cheap ones at the hardware store and mine is out there in the garage. What’s the problem? About $15,000 (used).

Now this jim-dandy little piece of equipment isn’t my idea of a drill, but okay. It hooks onto the back of a tractor and follows along behind like  a pop-up tent follows a tourist. It has moving parts, but it does not drill. I mean, seriously, why do they call it a drill and it doesn’t?

This is how it works. The little disk things you see between the wheels sort of scratch the surface of the dirt and can be spaced at various distances between rows. I think Mike sets his at seven inches. In the back of the machine, there are what look like scrap pieces of garden hose forming a little curtain. Each hose corresponds to the disk at the front. As the tractor creeps along, the machine spits out the seed through those tubes and they land (hopefully) in the scraped grooves the disks made. The top of the machine, most of the green part in this picture, holds bags of soybeans ready for planting, and can be adjusted for seed size variations: grass to soybeans. But there is no where on that machine for you to put a bit!

Anyway, the whole machine operates on a set of gear boxes located beneath the seed cache and above the disks. The boxes contain clockwork-like gears that spin against each other and which drive a chain pulley which spins a wheel that allows the seed to drop into the chutes. My terminology may not be exact, but I think you get the picture. These gears, powerful enough to drive a way-heavy-duty bicycle chain are held in place by a thin metal housing– basically three sides of a box. The paint on the thing looks thicker than the metal! To this neophyte, it is a design flaw. The torque from the spinning gears and chain simply tears the housing off and throws the whole thing out of kilter. That is what happened to Mike’s drill.

Then again, his drill was used equipment and the original housing may have been ‘farm improved’ at some other time. Remember, farmers often fix their own equipment.

In any case, on the farm, a drill is not necessarily a drill. A tractor throttle operates backwards, and there is more than one brake on a tractor. And a cow is not necessarily a cow: new lessons for this city-girl.

Here’s a link to another blog with videos about farming. Today, they are preparing to plant soybeans.

About cattlebaroness

I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a BA in History, nearing completion of a Master of Arts in American history. Born and raised first on military bases around the world, then in Orange County, CA, I moved to Kentucky when my children were small. I now live on a small family farm and am learning about farm life, planting and our newest addition to the landscape--cattle. Until a month or two ago, all I knew about 'cows' were that they came in brown, black and white and that some are raised for milk and others for meat. I am a quick study out of necessity.
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