Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I'm the guy on the big agricultural implement going slow on the highway

There's a fair bit of agro-tourism in this area and a local one, black-crow pumpkins and corn maze had one this year.
this is the corn maze I combined yesterday pic courtesy of black-crow pumpkins

I noticed the corn was still there in January (usually it gets knocked down or cut by someone, and found the owner of the patch, and worked out a deal to combine it.   It's about 10 miles from my farm, probably a 45-minute trip in the combine, and it looked like there was enough corn there to make it worthwhile, so off I went.  

The combine is 12'4" wide, and about 30' long, so when I drive in a traffic lane I take up the entire lane and 2-3' next to it.  Most of the time I can keep the machine on the side of the road, so I stick off onto the shoulder, but guard rails and poorly placed mailboxes and stuff make me edge closer to the center.  

The max speed for the combine is about 20mph (22 if I'm going downhill with a tailwind) and you don't see many on the road around here.  It's funny; people move to an agricultural area because they like the green and growing and wide-open spaces, but they forget that the roads are there for everyone - including giant green things that don't go very fast :)

I'm always mixed about whether to go as far right as I can - I do that as much as I can, but I've had other farmers tell me different.  "I drive in the center of the lane because it's when they try to sneak by you that things get dangerous.  Force them to commit to going head-on into the other lane and they tend to be more careful!" says one fellow.  I try to stay to the right to give them the best sight in front of me as I can, because I want them to be able to see the oncoming traffic.

People are very impatient though, but to keep it as safe as I could I pulled over every mile or two and let everyone behind me pass, and then pull back onto the road and kept going.  

The combining of the corn was the shortest portion of the day; about 4 acres of pretty dry corn.   There was quite a bit of lodging (corn that was laying flat on the ground) and something had been eating the corn kernels - even with corn laying a little sideways the corn head will pick it up if you're careful, but if there's no kernels left there's not much you can do.  

 I was curious what the yield would be because this corn had been hit by the same flood that hit me, and there were paths mowed into it (for the corn maze. )  I filled my small dumptruck with one combine load (about 150 bushels and then kept about half a combine load in the combine as I drove home, so the total was about 225 bushels or 6.25 tons of corn off of four acres; so for 2 hours of driving plus 90 minute s of combine work it was worth it.  

I talked to the guy running the corn maze and he explained that one guy planted it, and then another guy tilled it, and a third guy cut the corn for silage.  I said that next  year I'd be happy to till and plant it in return for being able to combine it like I did this year; what I'm hoping is that I can put together a deal with all the corn maze guys and maybe put together 16 or 20 tons of corn; just go down the road and combine it all in a day after they're all done with using it as a corn maze.  

On the drive back, the little silver subaru that was SOO mad at me.  I couldn't tell anything about the driver; but they passed me on a double-yellow section, and then made a point of slowing down in front of me and rolling down the window and honking and waving their middle finger.  I watched how animated the arm was and just had to laugh.  I wonder if they understand where the food comes from -- every time they eat a piece of toast or a corn chip somewhere a combine blocked some traffic for them.  


grasspunk said...

I bet your fellow road users are much nicer than I hear the Brits can be.

On the other hand the French here are awesome. I've never seen anyone get grumpy at an agricultural driver ever. There's usually no "other lane" so even oncoming traffic has to pull to the side to let you pass. For drivers wanting to overtake, the combine driver waits until a junction and then pulls off to one side to let folks through.

One big difference is you can't drive a vehicle that wide without a warning car driving in front with flashing yellow lights although folks break that rule all the time.

EBrown said...

My insurance agent/co advises that when driving farm implements we farmers should "fill the lane". Don't drive over to the shoulder because it brings some of the liability of an accident over to you. If you're driving within the law and somebody takes it upon themselves to drive dangerously they're at fault. If you're pulled as far onto the shoulder as possible you're driving is at fault too. At least that's what they told me to do to reduce my risk.

I don't have any implements as wide as a combine though. Obviously it's trickier when driving something that big.

Bill Gauch said...

I don't get mad at the bigger implements that cruise our roads 2 or 3 times a year during the growing season out here. I get mad at the guys who have a micro-farm and live a couple miles up the road. Instead of taking the car to the farm and using the small tractor that's already there or loading it on a trailer, they drive it home. What's worse, they drive it as if they're in a real vehicle, driving right in the lane at 8 miles per hour. What's worse, it always seems to be on a day when I'm running late to pick up my kids. I don't beep and I'm not rude, but at the first possible moment, I cut the wheel and stomp the pedal to the floor.

Nick in RI said...

Bicyclists call it "taking the lane," it's the same general idea: if you leave space, people will take that space. If you don't want them taking that space, don't leave the space.