I’m sure some people have food plots down to an exact science where nothing goes wrong. They buy the right kind of fertilizer and seed and apply them in perfect proportion. Their equipment works flawlessly. And the weather cooperates smoothly.
More often, though, Murphy’s Law seems to apply: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
There are just too many moving parts and uncertain variables to mess things up, not to mention human error.
I started a week ago Friday by getting a friend to do the bushhogging and disking. In the process he ran over a 3-foot timber rattler with the bushhog. I guess that’s something that went right, since that means I didn’t step on it.
The tractor work took half a day and left it up to me to do the rest, namely spreading lime, fertilizer and seed — all of which I had in the recommended amounts.
I had 31⁄2 food plots to plant, and I wanted them in solid clover.
Just a quirk of mine. I have fond childhood memories of lying in a yard full of clover, chewing on a stem, looking at the sky planning adventures.
As an adult I had success planting crimson clover. It grew lush and deep, and though it’s considered an annual, it came back for three years before weeds crowded it out.
I remember the days when crimson clover and purple vetch painted Mississippi roadsides in beauty comparable to Texas’ famed wildflowers — back before the highway department and some county supervisors started spraying roadsides with herbicides and turning them a sickly brown.
Plus, perennial clover should ideally come back year after year, so I wouldn’t have to replant next year. That was the plan, anyway.
I had a couple bags of pre-mixed perennial and annual clover left over from last year, each of which supposedly would cover a fourth to a half an acre. I bought another 5 pounds of Chickasaw clover, which according to instructions should be more than enough for the rest.
So I spread pelletized lime and triple 13 with a hand-cranked spreader — a good workout, let me tell you. Then I needed to drag the plots with a chain harrow attached to a four-wheeler.
Problem was, my four-wheeler wouldn’t crank, even though it has a new battery. I had to jump it off with my side-by-side.
Mr. Murphy, you know.
So I dragged the plots, after which I felt like a kid getting off a tilt-a-whirl, dizzy from countless loops.
The next morning I got down to planting. I set my hand seeder at the right notch for clover and took off walking the first plot, which is between a quarter and a half an acre.
It should have taken one bag of the pre-mixed clover. It took two. People later told me I should have mixed it with sand to stretch it.
I should have had enough Chickasaw to cover the remaining plots, but the same thing happened — the seed disappeared in a jiffy, covering just half a plot.
So here it was mid-Saturday morning and I was halfway through my plant-ing but out of seed. I wasn’t willing to spend another small fortune on more clover seed, so I decided to finish up with oats, one of the cheapest seeds going and a good winter food crop.
At the co-op, everybody else was doing the same thing I was. What with pickup trucks, trailers, forklifts and people milling around, I had to wait minutes before I could even get into the parking lot.
The place was a beehive of activity as everyone was taking advantage of the end to the heat wave to plant food plots.
I ordered a sack of oat seed and went outside to see whole pallets of seed and fertilizer being loaded onto trucks and trailers. The customer in front of me was waiting on 40 sacks of triple 13 and 60 sacks of pelletized lime.
And I thought I was working hard.
A buddy came up behind me with his own tale of woe. He and his pals had decided on the spur of the moment — inspired by the cool spell, no doubt — to do their food plots that day, with no planning. I haven’t checked to see how that went.
I returned home with my oats and broadcast them easily with the spreader. But oat seed, unlike clover, has to be covered, so that meant jumping off my four-wheeler again, hooking up the chain harrow and dragging the oat plots.
The last phase of the project involved walking the plots and tossing out the random chunks of wood. I used a grabbing tool for that.
On Monday a soft rain fell all day, hopefully soaking the clover seeds into the soil.
So Mr. Murphy didn’t have the last word after all — or at least I hope not. I won’t know for sure until the greenery is up.