Stepping into the 21st century

Susan Manzke
Bob Manzke checks for seed depth of his new no-till planter.

Spring took a mighty about face when we had a blizzard a few weeks ago. All the farms had been getting set for spring work. When the mountains of snow arrived, spring equipment was taken off tractors and replaced by silage pushers. Those tractors then went to work plowing snow from farmyards and backroads. It was the only way for milk trucks to get to the dairy farms.

The snow left slowly. Our fields remained wet and mushy. This is never a good way to enter the planting season. Bob had hoped to put in oats, but no way could he get out onto our land to plant early enough. As often happens, plans changed.

One day Bob found out a neighbor had a no-till planter for sale. It was only a couple of miles away, so we drove over to take a look at it.

Bob debated over purchasing the planter. “What if I only use it one year?” he said. He knows age is catching up to him.

“So you only use it one year. It might be the only way you get onto our fields now,” I said. “I think you should get it.”

Bob back into the second field … notice the tractor change. The John Deere is borrowed/rented from a friend with a good heart.

I didn’t have to push him. We both knew it was the right thing to do.

When Bob brought the planter home, he had to learn a lot about his new gizmo. It has a lot of bells and whistles on it that Bob’s machines have never had.

Hooking up the wires to the tractor cab was the hardest part of the setup for Bob. The planter he’s been using had nothing like that, maybe because it was made in the Stone Age. This ‘new’ machine actually had cameras that showed the operator how everything was working. 

A lot of curses flew in the farmyard as Bob attempted to wire his tractor to this planter. Good thing it came with a manual. Bob read it like it was his bible.

I know nothing about no-till planters so I wasn’t of any help. Once in a while I walked out by him to see how things were going.

“Are you close to giving it a try?” I asked.

“Maybe this afternoon.” Bob wiped oil from his hands.

After lunch he was ready to give it a try.

“Where will you go first?” I asked.

Bob pointed to the field behind our buildings. “I’ll take it there, where no one can see.” He wasn’t sure of his success — farmers are always ready to watch others work, or not work, whatever the case would be. 

I walked out to the field behind the tractor and planter. Bob had to get used to the controls. Hydraulic levers were pulled. The wheels went up and the planter dug into the ground as Bob drove forward.

Bob stopped after a few yards. I went to check for planted seeds, digging with my bare hands — I don’t recommend this if you’ve just had a manicure.

It took too much digging to find the seeds. More adjustments had to be made for the soybeans. Bob needed a wrench so we went to the machine shed. 

Turning the adjustments didn’t take long. Soon we were back in the field.

Bob complained that he couldn’t see what was happening when he set the planter to work. He drove slowly so I could walk behind and watch. Everything seemed to be moving properly, at least as far as I could see. It was time to fill the hoppers with more beans.

There were a few issues that needed more tinkering, but it wasn’t long before Bob drove across the field with his ‘new’ planter. By the end of the next day forty acres were planted, which was fantastic for us. 

Bob was happy with his purchase. Too bad his 40 year old tractor had a major issue the very next day. Oy! Some days it doesn’t pay to get out of bed, in fact it gets pretty expensive.

Susan & Bob Manzke, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com