Friday, October 7, 2016

Farm Wife Secret Code

21 - 17 - 0.
It's the secret code. It's the secret handshake. It's the right combination.
 It's my overactive imagination at work again.

The "secret code" is actually what kind of fertilizer I'm getting at the Kanza Co-op. It stands for 21 percent nitrogen, 17 percent phosphate and 0 percent potassium. (Why do they have to include something that's 0 percent? It's the law that fertilizer be labeled with the percentages of those three ingredients.) We are applying about 12 gallons an acre.

Randy began planting the 2017 winter wheat crop on September 26. He was hoping for an inch of rain before the planting began. But while areas around us have gotten some moisture in the past couple of weeks, the rain has skirted our fields.

Meal delivery is my specialty. But during these wheat planting days, I add fertilizer delivery to my list of chores.

I take the pickup and trailer to the Zenith branch of the Kanza Co-op to get the next tank load of fertilizer. First stop is the scales, where the pickup and fertilizer trailer are weighed empty. (After it's full, I weigh on again.)
It's there that I offer the "secret code," telling them what kind of fertilizer I want. They then hand me a ticket, which I take to the fertilizer shed and give to the co-op employee there.
One time last week, I had to wait for my turn. It was my version of a traffic jam - country style!
Once it was my turn, I pulled the pickup and tank into the fertilizer shed. The co-op worker hooks a hose from the co-op's tank to the trailer, then pulls a series of valves to get the right mix of nitrogen and phosphate.

They are used to me wandering around and taking photos. (Sometimes I wonder what the new employees think about the crazy lady with the camera. On second thought, maybe I don't want to know. But I'll bet they forgive me when I bring cookies!)
After the tank is full, I pull back onto the office scales so they can bill us for the fertilizer we receive. Often, the trips to Zenith include filling up the fuel tank with diesel for the tractor. Since the tank holds 100 gallons, it takes awhile to fill, so I try and remember a book to help pass the time.
Then it's back to the field, where Randy can then apply the starter fertilizer blend as he plants.
Randy refills the yellow fertilizer tank on the drill by hooking up the trailer that I brought from Zenith. The "nurse" tank holds 1,000 gallons of fertilizer. Kind of like a big "measuring cup," the tank is marked. That way, Randy can look at the tank to see how much fertilizer he's applied to each landlord's field. The co-op can then bill everyone accordingly. (When I go for fertilizer, I always tell them how to bill the previous tank.)

It means plenty of trips back and forth to Zenith during wheat drilling season. (And it means a hefty bill will soon appear in my mailbox. But we hope it pays off down the road for the 2017 wheat crop. Time will tell.)
Willie Nelson has nothing on me: "On the road again ..." This morning, I'll make three trips "up north" to help get the drill, wheat truck and fertilizer trailer moved to a new location. Early this afternoon, I'll bring Randy lunch when it's also time to get another load of fertilizer and diesel. I will sandwich in a trip to Stafford to deliver a meal for a family with a new baby and cookies for a memorial gathering tomorrow.
There is a fringe benefit to all the time in the driver's seat:  I have a front-row seat to the arrival of fall.


  1. I just love the 'crazy woman' with the camera and am stunned that she finds time to share the photos via her blog. I hope the right amount of rain falls soon.

    1. Thanks, Helen. Randy moved to our last location for planting wheat yesterday afternoon. We had gotten a little more rain over there, so he is planting into more moisture than he'd been finding, which is a good thing. We hope to be done planting tomorrow. We could use a nice, gentle rain on our newly planted crop.