The Useful Duck!

Contribute to my Vacation, please...

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Reflections on the upcoming anniversary of working off the farm

I was looking back to 2015 in the blog history. I suspect my job sucked from day one. It was day two that I came up with the tuition, insurance, retirement mantra and that is how I have made it through.
Today I started a new job.
I am a temporary dump truck driver.
I have a commercial driver's license for something like 30 years. I've never really used it, but I've kept it up to date since the CDL was invented by the idiot gubment.
I can drive triples and tanker trucks. I've never done that before.
Today I declined the opportunity to drive a set of doubles. (another story...)
The steam line at my college is failing and so they hired a company to repair it. But first, they put off the repair for several years so their was continual steam venting from the earth. It was sort of neat in the winter....
But I digress.,
There is a company that has subcontracted the excavation work for the steam line. They seem to be having a great time. They climb their dirt piles with their electric UTV. The employees run from the excavator to the Bob Cat. The young kid does wheelies with the Bob Cat which causes the tight asses at my college to blow multiple fuzes.
Their supervisor has been friendly with me. I got to telling him stories of my truck driving failures whilst hauling silage. Like the time I had to shift the five and four in downtown rush hour traffic while hauling corn and I screwed up the ship and had to stop in the middle of traffic and start over. Or almost hitting a small car with a giant pumpkin in front of the train station in Salem. Or the time I was loading a truck with the really old but big Case excavator that my uncle used to own, and I dumped a giant load of mud in the bed of a small farm truck, which caused the truck driver and his passenger to hit their heads on the roof of the truck, and then it turned out to be the owner of the farm I was digging the ditch for.
Then he offered me a job driving dump truck.
I said, "But I'm just a farmer," and he said, "But, you have a CDL."
It turns out he was not joking and he is paying me twice what I make at my college job.
I promptly took a week off work.
Today was my first day.
I went to work at 7 am. We had a nice little chat. Young guy loaded me up. The supervisor showed me wear to dump. Everyone seemed happy. The supervisor came by a couple times and chatted with me while I was being loaded.
I screwed up shifting the 13 speed several times. The supervisor said he didn't know how to drive a dump truck and that he was just happy I was helping. I noted that I needed to make some calls as I also needed to haul hay today. The supervisor said that was fine and he assumed I was not going to do that while driving through the down town of our fair city.
At 11 am the supervisor and the kid said they were going home as they live out of state.
The kid showed me the controls on the excavator and how to switch from the normal controls to the weird controls that I am used to using. The said I should leave the keys under that floor mat and I could work as long as I liked.
AND THEY LEFT...
I am so slow with the excavator. I tried the controls in the normal setting but kept hitting the truck bed. The next load I switched the valve to the Vintage Case setting. But then I was all kinds of mixed up. The bucket rotates and tilts which is really cool and fun.
I got better.
Then my neighbor said he would haul a load of straw for me so I went home to help him. He wanted me to drive the truck but I begged off claiming incompetence and I drove the RoadRunner.
We hauled my two tie wheat straw into the barn. Now I only have five truck loads of fescue straw in the field. It has suffered two inches of rain already, I suppose the anticipated additional inch will not ruin it further.
I'm pretty much screwed in the farming department. I expect the main farm to be ok if we actually get our hemp harvested, but my personal farm is screwed.
I did not realize how essential my daughter was to the operation. She would go out to work at 9 a.m. and would ask for a job. This would set things in motion. She would invariably get sent back to the house until 10 am but at ten there would be a raking or baling job for her.
This meant that my retired helper would be able to bale which meant that I would be able to stack till midnight when I got home.
Without Lulu, the helper would rake for two days and then bale for three days and I would come home and work on the baler until 9:30 pm and be so irritated I'd feel like I stacked until midnight but in reality NOTHING GOT DONE ALL SUMMER. And so when I took a day off and actually got something baled it was so late in the year that it was shite and there was no real incentive for the people who were guilted into buying the aforementioned shite to actually picking it up and then we got 2" of rain.
And then of course as a side note, I didn't bale my feedstore 2-tie hight quality straw as I was still working for the main farm and so it all got rained on and I lost my customer.
I think there is a basic failing in my business plan.
Four more years and my daughter will have her degree in Cognitive Neuroscience or Nursing and I can quit this idiot job where I am not trusted with keys to Toro lawnmowers, or the green house, and my supervisor thinks I am wasting time on my cell phone and the list goes on and on.
It was really great to be appreciated and respected for just one day. I would have driven truck for free, just for the appreciation and trust shown by my new supervisor. If they offer me a permanent job, I suspect my daughter my have to look for more scholarships....

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The occasional update

My daughter is in college...
I should be very happy.
She is going to a private Christian college, living on campus, and she will have almost no debt, (if she is smart...)
I am rather apprehensive about it all.
When I attended this college in 1987, I was very disappointed with my education. I could not afford all four years so I got an Associate degree from a local community college (for free) and then transferred in as a Junior. I got a better education at the community college...
Aside from the mediocre scholarship, I just really didn't bond with anyone. I don't hang out with friends from college.
The only person who I just go see for no particular reason is MuddyValley. I pretend it is because I want honey but really it is because his wife is really nice, also I like his dog. I think I've visited him three times in the past five years, other than baling his hay fields.
But, I digress...
I helped "Lulu" move in Friday. We went to all the meetings and speeches. She thought it was funny that I insisted on attending with her as she knows I skipped all that stuff when I went to college.
I asked her if she wanted to end up weird and old like her father... I got a somewhat bitter laugh.
The problem is that she takes after me in so many unfortunate ways.
She got a scholarship from the college I work for that pays her tuition to this University. There is a program called TheTuitionExchange which facilitates this between something like 400 small colleges and Universities.
When you go to work for the college they make it sound like the Tuition Exchange is easy to get. It is not. Lulu applied for tuition at Azusa Pacific University in the shite-hole of LA, George Fox University near where we live, and I signed her up for Pepperdine which has its own surf club.
GFU really wanted her. My wife and I both attended, our pastor attended, one of the dorms is named after my wife's family, and I called frequently and made the tuition exchange lady laugh.
Plus, my daughter wrote one heck of an essay talking about mission work and the call of God for her to be a nurse.
She has decided on pre-med at this point but I don't want to talk about it.
I also have strong opinions about the clever idea of small colleges to have Nursing programs to bring in students. The key (which is where my college is failing) is to then get them into another program when they drop out of nursing. Retention is key.
GFU has studied such things in the years since I was there and it was facing failure. I recognize the tactics as my college has been doing some serious self examination.
Starting with the first hint of attending GFU the student has constant email contact with "advisors." They are given a GFU email address. They have a personal contact, they get invitations and overnight stays.
GFU identified their target market and they work it hard.
I was amazed at the number of pickup trucks with bulk fuel tanks in the back and Oregon and Washington plates are in the parking lots. Working class people are sending their kids to GFU instead of my college. (I did not notice a lot of Idaho plates which I take to mean there are fewer Quakers.)
On move in day there is a team of students who descend on their cars and move everything in in mass, there is a chapel for parents. There is talk of Jesus and faith and prayer. I did notice they left themselves wiggle room. Your Student's faith my not be exactly like you expect. You want them to think on their own but you expect them to end up like you. They must make their faith their own.
Meaning, if your daughter comes home with a butch haircut, nose ring, and a girlfriend, and lectures you on Liberation Theology at Christmas Break, don't yell at us...
Says Cynical Me...
We shall see how this all works out. I suspect working two jobs and not spending time doing my own indoctrination with my daughter has had an impact which I don't like.
In other news...
Farming is frustrating. This is a new thing to read on Lazy Farmer I know but I swear, farmers are such arseholes nowadays.
My high school buddy who is determined to be the hemp expert of Yamhill County rented ground away from another friend of mine for at least double what he was paying. This screws us all as it means another major jump in rent prices. Plus, it was such a dick move. I would have rented him 20 acres in a HEART BEAT for that kind of money. Or he could have subleased the ground from the other guy as he just needs it as a rotation. Then they could have kept the increase in rent on the down-low and it wouldn't have screwed the rest of us.
As for me, I'm so far behind in baling I doubt I will ever catch up.
The guy who buys my straw put me off a week at a time and I didn't pay close enough attention because of my frustrating job and other issues and suddenly it is the end of August and I have three semi-loads of wheat straw which the mice have moved into and ruined the strings and three semi-loads of three-tie annual ryegrass from last year which I couldn't get to because of the wheat straw. Plus, the guy I was paying to load the annual ryegrass stole my customer so I'm not sure what to do with it and the incoming loads of straw from this year.
I baled four truckloads of fescue straw and the fellow buying that straw rejected it because of rain damage. I should never have agreed to bale that straw in the first place as I had a friend who wanted to bale it. I knew I didn't have time to get to it in a timely manner.
And the two-tie baler is busted. The original plunger bearings lasted for five years. The name brand bearings we replaced them with failed in one and a half years. Cheap China Shite has infiltrated every aspect of our infrastructure. Even if the bearing says it is made in USA it most likely has some sort of Chinese crap in it. CCS should be a brand name...

Today I am going to meet my daughter at the Newberg Dairy Queen and drop off a textbook. GFU says you shouldn't see your student for a couple months to get them acclimated but she hasn't lived at home for four months anyway so I don't think it matters.
I was going to take her to Church but she is supposed to go to Chapel by herself.
Ten bucks says she slept in and missed it.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Golfcart fuel truck

Four gallons at a time goes pretty slow.
My daughter is a good driver

I thought the river was going to flood the field where I left my tractor. I ran it so low on fuel it wouldn't start when I went after it when it was pouring down rain. My daughter helped me. She drove the golf cart which was what the farmer uses to get to the field.
I think I'm going to have to find a new pickup truck.
And by new I don't really mean "new," I mean something 20 years old that I didn't own before...

I've spent the day icing my back. I would try the hot tub but I get bored.
I was looking for photos of my daughter as she has turned 18.
Today she went to her senior prom.
I can't believe how fast time has gone by.

Here are some random photos:
 An enthusiastic farm girl
 Both these tractors are really old
My daughter raking hay

Sunday, April 7, 2019

I plant oats and then it rains and it might flood and my tractor won't start

I've had the opportunity to get off the mower and do a little planting.
I went from the top of the Amity hills to sea level in a week. I forget how beautiful Oregon is when it rains all winter.
Top of the world and red dirt

Last week I planted oats on 60 acres of riverbottom. It is nice soil. I suspect it is Chehalis type soil. Well drained silty clay loam. Lots of organic matter.
I planted after work on Wednesday. I finished up in the rain at midnight.
River bottom silty clay loam in the rain

The trusty old 2-155 was running on fumes. A tank of fuel is really only good for one move and 65 acres. I ran in fifth over and idled down a little to conserve fuel. My pickup truck is not doing so well and I have to get someone to bring me fuel.
I pulled something in my back at work Wednesday. I mowed the baseball field with the reel mower on Tuesday but we have had warm weather and the slow release fertilizer kicked in big time. My supervisor is susceptible to slick talking salesman and he fell for the slow release polymer coated fertilizer with humid acid.
Mowing the baseball field between showers

Fertilizer companies put the hard sell on slow release fertilizer in our area a couple years ago. It sounds like a good idea. But it is really expensive. We were using an organic type fertilizer which was basically chicken poop. It worked because it broke down slowly. The polymer fertilizers have a coating which (The way I understand it) expands when the temperature is above 52 degrees to let the Nitrogen out.
It doesn't seem to have been the best choice for fall fertilizer as the fields were stressed all winter and then exploded when the temperatures hit 60 degrees for a couple days.
I mowed the baseball field in the rain and I got clumps of grass. My supervisor suddenly realized there was a baseball game the next evening and wanted me to go out with a leaf blower and break up the clumps. I opted for the Walker mower as it sucks up the clumps and I wanted to remove the POA seeds.
Then it rained again and the Walker is so poorly designed that it plugs up in a light shower and you have to lift the mower deck and unclog it. After lifting it all morning my back started to get sore.
I of course ignored this and planted half the night.
The next morning I couldn't get out of bed.
My wife and daughter made me stay home from work.
I've been pretty much worthless since then. I was going to move the tractor home after work on Friday but my back hurt and I went to bed.
This morning we got a weather alert for flooding in our area. I tried to call the farmer but he was on vacation. I called his neighbor and he said I should probably move my drill as it did flood.
Bleeding the fuel lines in the rain

So, my daughter and I loaded up five gallon buckets of diesel and went after the tractor. We had to used the farmer's golf cart to get to the drill for various reasons not connected to me not having a fuel truck. After making friends with his dog through liberal offerings of doggie treats we headed to the field.
Of course the tractor had lost its prime.
I think I have lost my prime especially after a week of back pain but I suppose that discussion would take us a whole different direction.
We came back home and got more five more buckets of diesel. I brought a portable air tank back and pressurized the fuel tank while my daughter tried to start the tractor. This was a success.
I really doubt it would have gone under water but you never know.

Tomorrow I'm back to work. My daughter is getting free tuition so I have to stay at the job for another four years but sometimes it is difficult.

The above picture is a good example of why I dislike my job.
The bollards on the sidewalk are close enough together that you can knock the axles from under your trailer if you forget and get too close. People in the facilities department go around them if they are towing something wide.
This kills the grass and promotes mud.
No one admits to doing it although there are only four people with trailers and two that actually use that path on a regular basis.
So... Instead of coming up with a solution so you don't have to drive a long ways out of the way or go around the bollard they added another bollard and built up new curb.
Of course the geniuses just did it to the side that people were driving around. They didn't do the other side so I guess it is not that much of an inconvenience. This was enough of an expense that it had to be approved on up the chain of command.
I suggest to my supervisor that he just ask people not to drive around the bollards. Apparently that didn't work.
I suggested areas that were more of a hazard and he told me we "don't always get what we want."
I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
It is truly amazing how money is wasted and we are going broke...

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Global warming or Global climate change which can be used to make money for the clever folk


Today we had sleet and tomorrow it may be 50 degrees.
It is because we use lots of fossil fuels and we can fix it by a redistribution of wealth.
Also, I started working on air-conditioning systems and I've had a couple catastrophic failures....

Sunday, February 17, 2019

My College is going broke

I am taking a course in Accounting. This is a major personal challenge. Business Class is the only class in college that I came near flunking. My "D" in Business didn't keep me out of the top ten percent of my class, but that was probably more of a statement about what happens when small liberal arts colleges are going broke than a statement of my other stellar performance in school.
The Accounting course uses the WileyPlus system which is an online study program that eliminates your textbook and provides assignments and tests online.
It also provides the instructor with a lesson guide and standardized tests. Basically, you talk your college into paying for your lesson plans for the year and you can go off and do whatever crap professors do in their spare time. Try to score with co-eds, brew beer, protest social injustice, bugger the dog... whatever....
The benefit to students is that you get to do your work online with a little screen which is awkward to look up information. I'm really glad for www.accountingcoach.com which is what I've been using to help with my assignments.
Click Here to read what other students have to say....
After reading the their reviews I suspect I hate it because I need the paper textbook. There are other products that are much worse.
The one thing that really angers me is the cost. You pay $200 for a time limited access code. This is a clever plan as it means you can't but a used book and the company gets paid for every use.
I can see how they sell it as a useful and money saving product but I don't like it.
I should not have taken this class.
I can't seem to retain the information. I made little note cards and carry them around with me but when I set down to make a balance sheet or a statement of retained earnings I can't think of the correct items to write down. It is kind of insane as much of it is plain common sense.
I spent most of the day Sunday doing my assignments. They were late and I only got half points.
I'm going to have to drop the class when it is time to start farming. There is just no way...
In other news....
My college is going broke.
They do not know why.
The old President retired just about the time everything started crashing and they just hired a new President who was dean of a business school in Virginia.
The previous President focused on building the endowment (which was basically nothing) and starting a wine studies program. He moved away from a local presence in the community and the colleges religious roots.
The new President is very enthusiastic and thinks he is going to get stuff done.
There are a couple areas that bring students to the college. There is a good nursing program, the athletic department is really good at recruiting, there is a decent business program.
The faculty immediately suspected a sinister plot to destroy academic freedom at the college and started a rumor that tenured professors would be cut.
There was a meeting. The President gave an impassioned speech about unity and that they could not cut staff positions any more. There had to be solutions. One of the faculty asked him if he was going to take a cut in pay. He told her he was not taking a cut in pay but was contributing to the college and if she thought she was so clever she should take her fine academic qualifications and look for another job where she would feel appreciated. (a bit of a paraphrase)
Next came a retirement offer in an attempt to get rid of the Tenured Professors who are draining the college funds and are pretty much full of BS. Those Professors did not take the offer. (of Course) Instead, several people retired in the facilities department. Didn't even make a dent in the budget.
The latest news is that students are tagging on campus, "I stand with faculty."
There is a petition going around to other universities to stop the oppression of our faculty.
It is kind of funny.
I've observed that liberal arts College Professors are College Professors because they thing they are pretty damn smart and they just have to bring you about to their point of view. Not so much that they are passing on the sum of classic knowledge accumulated by our civilization. Heck, our acclaimed English/Writing professor is the one that finally figured out the soot on the chimney sweeps in Mary Poppins looks like a vaudeville act. And because he is white, he is offended.
I took my daughter to tour the campus and during the intro for parents and students the faculty heads introduced themselves.
There was a Professor who was on Oregon Public Broadcasting for years and he started talking about journalism. I wanted to take his class. Then the Writing Professor speaks, she kind of smirks and talks about English Lit. from a Queer perspective. I could see young people cringe all around me. It isn't because of the "homophobia" it is because you know she thinks she is just as clever as shite for being all "on the edge" and challenging her students, and the students are thinking, "I just have to get through Lit. 101, maybe I can do it at Chemeketa Community College...)
Here is an article about the "Threat to Tenure."
Another interesting article which shows how serious college Professors take their brainwashing mandate.
But I digress.
The point is not how much I disliked 80 percent of my college professor but rather, will I have a job next year.
The faculty at my school are completely convinced of their own self worth. They seem to think that if they set there in their small town and send out a few clever article to the New York Times that students will just appear.
It ain't gonna happen.
The school has to find its focus. It has to cut expenses. It has to concentrate on what makes money/brings students. I would not be surprised to go to work one day and discover that they were eliminating the grounds department and were hiring a Mow Blow and Go company to do our jobs. That is why I have a resume and I'm looking at other jobs.
The faculty is incensed that the College bought a new campus for the Nursing program in Portland but it is an amazing campus and that is about the only thing my daughter is excited about at the school. The old arraignment didn't work and Nursing is what is paying for the Archeology and the Humanities professor salary.
Read this discussion.

Monday, February 11, 2019

I get my college bill and understand why small non ivy league private colleges are going broke.

For those of you who are just randomly stopping by I shall explain. I am a farmer who decided to become a groundskeeper at a small liberal arts college so my daughter could get free college tuition. 
I did this partly because it looked like she was going to be a writer and I was probably the bad influence. 
Student loans suck the life out of you and a liberal arts education is not always useful.
Fortunately she decided to become a nurse and the college I work at has a great nursing program.
The fiscally sensible thing for her to do would be to live at home and commute the 7.5 minutes it takes to get to school.
Speaking of fiscally sensible things, I decided to take advantage of my free tuition benefit and take an accounting course.
I hate accounting. I hate balance sheets, asset to debt ratios, debits, accounts payable, and my mind goes numb hearing about them. In fact I'm kind of drifting off right now.
But some day I am going to have to actually do it. 
I can't take the class for credit because I already have a degree.
That is idiotic. They say it is a tax issue, I say it is BS.
More creative accounting.
It brings to mind why I hate accounting.
Small colleges usually give tuition discounts to make up for the pathetic pay scale. When times are good they see it as a great benefit. But when times are bad and they want to cook the books the decide it is a expense and want to cut it to make it appear they are saving money. It only puts off the inevitable as potential employees realize they can just get a real job and save for college with the difference in pay...
So I got my bill today. Over $5,000 for a four credit accounting class. The nice lady at the counter even said it with a straight face. 
I think I clicked on the take it for credit box on the online application to see if I could get away with it.
Now I'm back down to an audit. There were a few phone calls and a trip to the registrars office.
Let's add this up... $5,000 for a 200 level intro to accounting class and $235 for class a stack of photocopies and a time limited access code for a website text book. Sounds like one heck of an advertisement for community college for me.
Actually, that is my plan. I'm taking the "free" class so I actually know enough terms to take the financial accounting for farmers from the community college. Because that is the one I can actually use. 
yeah, I'm going to do a few debt asset ratios to find investment opportunities for my private investing account. Yup, that's me... Donald Trump, today junior groundskeeper, tomorrow... Well probably tomorrow I'lll be cold and wet and annoyed and trying to do my accounting flash cards in the rain...
Self improvement is a lot of BS...

Please leave comments! It is really easy!

You just type your comment in the text box below the post. You can be anyone you want.
And...Would the joker who keeps clicking "offensive" please leave an explanation ?!