Farm Work in Cold Weather

What Do You Do When it’s -20 Outside?

You work.

MondayHigh +28º/Low +21º. Wind 10-20 mph. Wind Chill 0º Spent this balmy day in the machine shed. Had to take apart 16 row openers on the 450 John Deere bean drill. The row openers aren’t broken, but they have to be taken apart to new insert two new spring-loaded tines inside each row opener.

When planting beans, the row opener opens the dirt a wee bit, the planter releases the seed, and the tines loosens the dirt on either side of the furrow. The press wheels follow along close behind and presses the dirt back down on top of the bean seed. Beans are practically planted on top of the soil. These tines are important in placing the dirt just on top of the seed to encourage growth.

John Deere 450 Bean Drill
This bean drill was purchased in 2000 and is old enough to be of legal drinking age.

These tines were ordered in April, to install for the 2021 spring planting season. They weren’t delivered until July. We limped along and made do. This is a job that is well overdue before this year’s spring planting.

TuesdayHigh +34º/Low +6º. Wind 10-20 mph. Wind Chill +3º Finished installing the spring-loaded tines. This job can’t be done with gloves, as this process requires nimble fingers. A farm-sized space heater is situated close to the planter, and keeps the area around +30º.

The job is completed around 5:00 pm. Four old spring-loaded tines are set aside in case we can’t get additional backup parts this year. Replacement parts are proving to be hard to find.

Close up of John Deere 450 Bean Drill Tines
Notice the bar coded parts? They were inserted between the row openers. Tedious work.

The old worn out metal parts are put in a community metal recycling bin to raise money for community projects.

WednesdayHigh +13º/Low -10º. Wind 20-35 mph. Wind Chill -25º Studied and then took the Private Applicator Test. This study session and 4 hour online test takes the most of the day. This test allows farmers to purchase crop chemicals. We tend to hire the cooperative to do most of our applications. They have better equipment and it’s like having an extra person helping with spring fieldwork. (Scored a 90%)


Photo of computer on desk

ThursdayHigh 0º/Low -16º. Wind 10-20 mph. Wind Chill -30º Delivered a wagonload of beans to the elevator 8 miles away by tractor (with a heated cab) and also dropped off Wednesday’s test results.

The timing of commodity selling by farmers are made for all sorts of reasons. Here’s a partial list.

Why and When Farmers Sell

  • South American swings in weather, that cause up and down US pricing.
  • Cost of production vs current prices, with target prices pre-set related to this.
  • Tax due dates.
  • Stock market fluctuations impacting commodity prices.
  • China, Russia, Canada, Mexico, name a country, impacting price changes.
  • Currency rates.
  • Mortgage payment is due.
  • Operating loan payment is due.
  • Energy market fluctuations impacting commodity prices up or down.
  • Covering spring input costs.
  • Movement of grain out of grain bins to assure quality.
  • Following a pre-planned marketing plan.
  • Fear of long term lowered markets when there is an extended downward price change.
  • You need the money.

FridayHigh +12º/Low +6º. Wind 10-20 mph. Wind Chill -15º Worked on income tax paperwork. Paid bills. Priced some inputs.

Went to a local mechanic and discussed the replacement of a worn out clutch for a tractor (that’s 40 years old…) The part is available!

SaturdayHigh +22º/Low +6º. Wind 15-20 mph. Wind Chill 0º Loaded beans into a wagon to take to the elevator next week. The grain bin has some issues unloading. Spent 2 hours troubleshooting. Perhaps it’s a bearing in the center vertical auger? Will need to talk to a technician about this issue next week. Greased axel bearings on the tractor.

Loading Farm Wagon in Winter


SundayHigh +18º/Low +9º. Early morning snow. Wind 10-20 mph. Wind Chill +6º And Sunday we rest. (After snow is moved in the yard.)

Moving Snow on an Iowa Farm

By the way, ALL people who work outside, do just that, they work outside, when it’s cold, when it’s hot, and when it’s just right!

 Be Blessed!

Love to hear what you think!