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Editor’s Column: A petition to move the May long weekend?

Holding the May long weekend in the second half of May probably seems like a great idea for people in the city looking forward to a couple of days outside. And if the point of the weekend is to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday (May 24), I suppose having it at the end of May makes sense. But if you ask me, farmers should get together and lobby to have this holiday moved to the middle of January.

If something is going to break down in May, it’s always going to break down just before the long weekend.

We finished seeding eventually this season, but things were less than ideal the week before the Victoria Day long weekend. First, we had problems with the tractor engine that took a day and a half to fix. Then the air drill took its turn to stop working and take a couple of days out of the field. Both of these snags meant lots of time on the phone trying to diagnose the problem, time online trying to figure out how other farmers fixed the same thing, trips to Regina, Weyburn and Estevan for parts, and then having mechanics make service calls to see if they could figure out what was wrong.

I’m sure you already know that when something as important as the air drill isn’t working on the Friday before the long weekend, farmers start to feel extra pressure. This year, the mechanic was out most of the day on Friday, and on the Saturday morning of the long weekend the air drill was still out of commission.

Most of our suppliers are good about staying open to keep everyone running during seeding time, paying their staff overtime to stay on the job while their friends in other lines of work are out camping. But quite a few of the businesses we deal with close up tight for both Sunday and Monday.

Having only two days off for the Victoria Day weekend probably seems short for the parts people who work in the dealership, but living in a house for two days with a farmer who has to wait 43 hours to get that one critical part would seem like an eternity. That would truly be a long weekend, and I’m sure we’d all be counting down the seconds until Tuesday morning.

So when I was sent to the bolt specialty store in Estevan on Saturday morning to pick up a bag of heavy bolts for the drill (“Quick! Before they close at noon!”), you can bet I made some pretty fast miles getting to town and back. There was no time to stop for a coffee or a loaf of bread.

You could almost see the black fog of cursing lift from the farm when Brad got the drill back in the field by two that Saturday afternoon. Thankfully, it managed to keep itself together for the rest of the long weekend, and the rest of the seeding season.

In hindsight, we’re not that unhappy to have had a few days of delays. On the morning of May 19, the Sunday of the May long weekend, it was -3 C here, which would have been a tough temperature for sprouted plants.

I hope you’ve had a successful seeding season, and that your crop is off to a healthy start.

Are you ready for a dry fall?

If it’s as dry at harvest as it is now, fire control is going to be on our minds.

If you’re looking for a new way to be ready to fight a fire quickly during the busy harvest season, Clark Oberholtzer has a product for you. He’s developed the “FireTamer” — a 12v, remote-controlled water cannon designed to be installed as a front turret nozzle on your high-clearance sprayer.

photo: Clark Oberholtzer

The FireTamer uses your existing sprayer tank and pump, pumping water out of the front water cannon. The water cannon has 70 degrees of vertical travel, and can be controlled by wireless remote, inside or out of the sprayer cab. You can spray up to 100 feet in a straight stream, or spray in a “fog” pattern.

Fill your tank with water, and keep this fire-fighting machine ready to go. Early cost estimates are in the $7,000 range. For more information, search “FireTamer” on YouTube, or email Clark Oberholtzer at [email protected].

photo: Clark Oberholtzer

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