The Useful Duck!

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Friday, January 23, 2009

The Lazy Farmer

My namesake

Fertilizer Tubes

Have been working on adapting liquid fertilizer to my new Great Plains 1500. I started by just running drip tubes down alongside the seed tubes. Then I found that Blumhardt makes the right tubes. Well, not quite right for my drill. Mine is just a little different. The fertilizer tubes hit the small seeds tubes...
First picture is before, second is after.

I cut the mount and welded it back almost correctly. Blumhardt said they would make the mount to my specifications. Will have to do some experimenting.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

There is not as much meaning to life as one would think...

I was looking at the NewAgTalk forums last night. Lots of discussion about the election. I have some pretty cynical views of said candidate and political process so will not go there at this time.
There was one post about celebrating Confederate Heroes Day instead of the Saint Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King which caused me to stop and think.
No one really understands the South. Not sure people who live there do. I certainly don't. But, it is an interesting place. I worked in Florida a couple spring seasons during college. Baled straw there and then came home and baled some more. There was certainly a class system there. If you owned land and were the boss you were given respect. In 1984 it was hard to tell who was a carpet bagger and who wasn't. Bet you could tell now. I found if I was respectful and kept my mouth shut I got along with everybody. Pretty strong racial divide between white and black kids as I remember. Just way different cultures. Backs seemed to be trying to be city kids. Whites just wanted to drink beer and go to the river on Sunday afternoons.
I remember reading, "The Ice Palace," by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Girl goes north to visit her intended and the Yankees get to her. She comes back home eats a peach and goes swimming. Went to the Midwest for Bible school for six long months, then got my job in Florida. Kind of felt like I understood the story better.
The problem with Yankees is that always know better than you. You have to be their kind of progressive, accept their kind of people, they just won't let you be. Seems to me that the Northern style liberal christian is of the opinion that man is basically good he just needs to be guided and shaped and pushed along till he gains some sort of enlightenment. Southern Christianity accepts man is basically evil and you have to deal with it. So you have your standards and your code of honor and you live by it. Or at least that is how the old southerners I knew were. I suppose the whole honor and souther charm is all a dream that was never really true at the time it was to have happened. Still everyone looks back on it with fondness. The whole south is deeply offended for not being able to form their own country. I think that had as much to do with racism as anything else. Blacks had more rights in the South before then civil war than they did in the North. I suspect things changed for the worse for everyone afterwards. Just a different kind of slavery.
I like Tom Petty's Southern Accents album. Reminds me of the people I knew in Florida years ago. I understand that now it is all pastel condo's and annoying young liberal people now. Travis Magee saw it all coming. Not much room for the "Busted Flush," in modern Florida I suspect.
I remember sitting under a grain trailer one afternoon with an older black fellow. I had mired the baler tractor in the wet ground. I was waiting for someone to pull me out. I got to talking to him. He wanted me to go in the landscaping business with him. He said all the kids my age he knew were worthless. Just wanted to chase the girls and listen to loud music. He said he had to work when he was a kid. Was happy to see me traveling so far from home (Oregon) to work on a farm. Said it would be a good experience for me. Kind of funny, not a real racial divide setting there on a hot June afternoon. I must say I certainly wanted to chase the girls as well. Just needed to find some. That is what Panama City is for I think...

Planted today

Today was a beautiful day.
The sun was out and while the ground was frozen this morning when I should have been planting, it didn't get sticky enough to shut me down in the afternoon.
I'm planting cayuse oats about an inch deep into fescue sod. Fescue looks to be planted on 12" rows. Not a lot of bare dirt between the rows. It is a tad on the wet side. The Great Plains drill is slicing through the soil, not really crumbling the side walls of the seed trench like it should do. If this were late in the season and it was never going to rain again I would be pretty worried. I think it will be fine. It was nice to get away from the farm and do something to make money.
Daughter was sick today and missed school. Stayed home with her till 10 a.m. She slept in for two hours. Seems fine this evening.

This is a close up view behind the drill. Just making a little slot, dropping the seed in and closing it up. This photo looks good.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Here we go. It is the first Sunny Day in January and the neighbor is ready to plant Oats! My neighbor likes to plant his oats early. That is where I come in as I have the no-till drill that he likes. He called me Saturday and said he wanted to start Monday. I was thinking about the new tires I bought for the drill and not thinking about cleaning out the tractor cab or changing the oil or if I had the right orifice plates for the fertilizer rate he wanted to put on.
When I decided to put liquid fertilizer on my drill I of course had to do something different than anyone else. This was under the pretext of saving money but really I just thought the blue screw together fittings looked really cool. Plus, they were free!

The way this all happened was that my cousin had bought a used International drill with a Blumhardt fertilizer setup. Blumhardt booms are made of individual little sections which screw together. Pretty cool idea really. My uncle was once a dealer and he gave me most of his new old stock. Cousin with the International drill is not the son of the Uncle with the Blumhart fittings. Cousin is kind of a far off cousin, like third or fourth or something...
Anyway free sprayer fittings, well, not so much free as my cousin said I could borrow them and he didn't want to sell them to me. So he said I could use them and he might some day decide to put fertilizer on his drill again. This is not real likely as the pump and all the hoses are pretty much shot.. But, It could happen!
Anyway, here is a nice picture of the colorful Blumharts fittings. Woop! Whoop! As Mayor Budd Clark used to say.

Most of the booms set up around here were not set up for 10gallons per acre at 6 mph so finding the right orifice plates was a bit of a chore. The spray bar on my drill was of course used and had sat outside for years. The plastic was a bit stiff and the temperature today was a bit nippy. Finally I just dumped everything in a bucket of hot water. Then my Uncle pointed out a NOS Blumhart kit. So I just exchanged the red orifice plates for purple and screwed them in, only to discover I was short by three. Then my neighbor brought me a nearly new (well 20 year old but it's been in the shed for a while) 24 row spray bar with the deluxe 10lb anti-drip set up. Wow! Now I'm really stylin!
Then the fellow I'm planting for called and said he had decided NOT to apply liquid fertilizer. He filled up his tank at the Co-op and then thought he would as the price. $6 per gallon for 10-34 so @ 10gal per acre it would be $60 bucks an acre for only 10lbs of N. So he pumped it back out again. Of course I decided to work on the liquid fertilizer first...

After servicing the drill I headed to the field, sometime after noon. Three triangular shaped fields. First thing that went wrong is my population monitor quit. I spent an hour on the phone with Loupe ( ) only to discover there was a connector inside the frame of the drill which had pulled apart. In the process of discovering this I lost all my special settings in the drill monitor. Of course the Oats I was planting turned out to have a different bushel weight than the last batch of Oats I planted and since I had lost my monitor calibration I manage to plant 10 acres at 135lbs per acre instead of 110lbs and so I ran out of seed at 20 acres with five left to go. I planted till 6:30 p.m. but decided to quit when I realized I was planting through water. Not such a good sign this time of year...

Photo is out my windshield. I'm planting cayuse oats into dead fescue sod. Goal is 110 lbs acre with 1" planting depth. Looks like it is doing a good job.
Next photo is what it looks like out the window when the sun goes down. The point of the photo was to show my low budget GPS at work. FarmerGPS is a program that runs on a PC. The red arrows seen at the bottom of the screen in the dark photo are screaming at me to turn left. The purple lines show where I have been. Somewhere I have a close up.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday ramble

I'm a Mac person. I have been a Mac person since the day I gave up on the old Commodore portable. This could be the first time in my life I have purposely and under no duress sat down with a PC and written something just for the fun of it. Strangely I feel no shame.

And since this blog tends to be a bit stream of consciousness I'll digress... Steve Jobs is toast. Pancreatic cancer does not go away. You have it you are are dead. My Mother died of it.The statistics are pretty grim. The average is two years. Should you have treatment, chemo, or the infamous Whipple surgery, the average is still two years. Once fellow lived 10 years. This ruined the curve. Mom lived three months.

That has nothing to do with me using a Fujitsu 3400 tablet PC.

The 3400 is my tractor GPS system.

I am cheap and a bit misguided.

I just downloaded OpenOffice. ( I can now do everything that I could do with Microsoft Office. For free.

I am using that ability to avoid work. I just took the Christmas tree down to the river. Have had a hard time getting rid of Christmas trees since I read the Hans Christian Anderson story about the little Christmas tree. I know that they really have no consciousness, but still... So I am setting in my pickup trying out the word processing feature of OpenOffice. It is a beautiful day. The ground was covered with frost when I woke up this morning.

I do wish Apple would have made a tablet computer. Of course I could not afford it.

I am running my GPS guidance system with this Fujistu 3400, (ebay $60), FarmerGPS (program cost $350, see, and a Raven Invicta 210 receiver and antenna (ebay $350).

There have been addition costs. My first 3400 had a hard drive failure. ($60 ebay) Then it melted. I was driving along spreading slugbait with my free Ford ranger, using my gps at 20 mph with a heater as opposed to freezing my bottom off using a four wheeler. I smelled electric smoke, then the screen went blank. I saw smoke coming out of the vent on the 3400. I actually melted the motherboard where the USB connector mates in. I just got another 3400 on ebay, which seems to work much better than the first one I bought.

Farmer GPS is just a program that runs on the tablet PC, or any PC for that matter. It doesn't take a lot of processing power. Has a birds eye view, and there is a light bar at the bottom of the screen that will tell you which direction to turn. Will do last pass, circles, AB lines, and you can get an interface box to shut it off when the implement is raised. You can also export shapefiles and I think you an import Google maps. I don't know how to do that but it sounds pretty cool.

I like it as I have a lot of problems when I'm no-till planting after dark. When I plant back and forth I get lost when turning around at the end of the fields. The drill doesn't make enough of a mark to see as you make a wide turn. The other feature is that you can drive around a field and tell the acres, or if you are nearly done, you can also drive in a circle and see how much you have left.

Plus, I can use the PC for iTunes, which lets me listen to music, or if I get really bored, watch cartoons or South Park episodes which I have previously downloaded.

So I am hiding down here at the river. Listening to the hunters blasting away at ducks and not really worrying about all the crap I have to do.

Yesterday I delivered my weeks effort of ground feed. Got $550 out of the deal. Had to take a check.On the way back I stopped by the neighbors place. His truck driver is interested in 50lb bags. They made fun of my truck. Neighbor is a good friend. He has a 1967 red Ford F700 are well. His is in perfect shape. He just waxed it and it looks new.

Mine is not so nice. I bought it somewhere around 10 years ago at an auction. Paid, $2500 for it with side racks and an automatic endgate. Since then it has hauled quite a few loads of silage and hay. Three years ago my cousins son crashed his little Dodge Dakota into it at 50 mph. He was heading down to the river on our farm with his friends. The friends were going ahead and he was following in the dust. Driving pretty much blind on a one lane gravel road. The truck driver headed for the ditch with the first car. Next car didn't see the truck and hit the bed just behind the cab. Since the truck was turning the pickup slid down the side of the bed till it hit the rear duals. It his so hard it bent the truck axle and knocked the rear end completely out from under the truck. Sixteen foot bed loaded with 7 ton of silage. Totaled the pickup. One kid left by ambulance, one by helicopter.

No lasting injuries, other than pride.

I got $3500 out of the truck. Then fixed it up again. It is not the same... There are some wiring problems, lights quit, two speed motor doesn't work. Now the transmission pops out of two gears. At some point in time my larger than life employee stood on the roof, so now if you stop suddenly after a heavy rain, water runs down throught the window which won't roll up completely. Truck drives nice.

Just another thing that needs to be fixed.

I guess with that reminder I had better go back to work...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What I will do for cash...

I really do have a lot to do this winter. But, I have trouble with winters. Last few years I have had trouble with the whole farming situation. Those of you who have just tuned in may not have figured out that I am not a Big Time Operator.
Anyway, instead of getting ready for summer or making a new catalogue or website for my father, (see ) I have been grinding feed. You have perhaps heard of turning straw into gold. I figure basically what I am doing is turning gasoline into cash-this is at west a one to one sort of translation.
Feed prices are still very high at the local feed store, so I'm grinding up leftover odds and ends of various harvesting operations. For the last two days I've been running a mix of wheat and triticale. This should have pretty good protein. Don't know if the cows will like it. I did dump a fair amount of molassas in with the mix. Spent an hour digging it out of the hammer mill.
My neighbor farms a lot more acres than I and is quite a bit younger. He also has a seed cleaning facility. He followed triticale with wheat. Triticale (a cross between rye and wheat) tends to shatter pretty bad. The seed salesman won't tell you this. You can use this to your advantage. After combining your triticale just leave the field alone. It will sprout and with a little fertilizer you will a nice forage crop for next year. We got nearly 18 ton per acre silage off a small field managed in this way. (I do use the term managed quite loosely). I don't think this was his intention as he worked the field and planted wheat. The triticale seed and wheat seeds are nearly the same size so there is no way to separate them. Of course I found out about his problem much too late in the year to profit from it. I planted for several people who were planting forage crops this year. Dairies are short of affordable feed and this fall were trying to find spring silage crops. A couple people planted oats and peas. It sort of gets you off to a bad start if you are paying $800 a ton for seed (120lbs/acre rate) in order to plant a silage crop. However, at $5.50 a bushel, ($150 a ton?) the cost per acre goes way down. The wheat/triticale would have worked with the addition of winter peas as well. That would have added to the price per acre.
Triticale is an amazing plant. With a little extra N it will grow at an unbelievable rate. It is a bugger to combine (in my opinion) and the hay popluarity in this area has declined. I think people probably cut it too late. I know they like to do that with oats as well. I know if you cut your oats just out of bloom or even in late flowing stage, the tonnage will be down but the quality and appearance of the hay is so much better.
Anyway, I'm grinding it for feed. I keep getting a small order here and there. Sold two 50lb bags day before yesterday. Took an order for a ton yesterday, and earlier in the week sold two 500lb bags. Most of the transactions are a barter or cash. I think lots of livestock are raised on a sort of underground economy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

White Christmas

We had snow.
I just downloaded the photos off my camera. I ordered some fertilizer parts for my Great Plains drill. I am such an utter scrounge. I put liquid fertilizer on my Great Plains 1500 drill. After paying an unmentionable sum for this same drill this year. (A story of its own) I decided to scrimp on adding the liquid fertilizer. Mainly because I had NO money left. I knew that the LBrothers Shop used to sell the Blumhardt liquid fertilizer system. I actually found one on a drill that a friend of mine bought used. It is pretty cool, instead of a spray boom it uses individual fittings that all screw together kind of like an erector set. And I got it for free. And there you have a photo of it! So, anyhow, I found out the company was still in business and called them to see if they made a special attachment to put the fertilizer down between my double disc openers. Right now I'm just using nylon drip tube with I've zip tied to the seed flaps. This is not so precise and not so durable. I of course became confused and tripped over my words and terms so I'm sure the folks at Blumhardt thought I was an idiot, and of course I got the wrong fertilzer tube. So I took pictures of the whole set up and emailed them off to Blumhardt this evening.
Which brings me to the White Christmas. We haven't had one of those in Oregon for a very long time. We had a good two weeks of snow. We had a little over a foot here at the farm. Folks up in the hills had four feet. I'm going to have to make the long trek to Gopher Valley and look at my hay shed. Four feed of snow is a lot of wet stuff on my hay.
So here are some photos. Sun was not out and I didn't adjust the white balance on my camera. Should have used film. Could have done it with film. But it was a dark and gloomy week. The snow just kept coming down. Studebaker photo is early in the week. White tractor photo is probably Christmas day. I see freezing rain on the windows so it would have been near the end. The snow is pretty deep on the hood.
I spent the time doing some serious sledding with Miss S. I took the blade to the hill one the road going down to the river bottom. I packed and graded a mini bobsled run. We had a pretty good time I must say... Although my extra weight on the sled resulted in an increase in speed with put a little out side on the turn which meant- through the fence and into the black berry patch. Miss S. was a good sport and helped her aged father back up on the road!
Note: Pictures are all out of order. I'm betting anyone clever enough to find this blog is clever enough to figure out what I'm talking about...

Trivial Pursuits

I have a lot to do. I need to overhaul the engine on my White 2-135, the hydraulics are leaking badly on the 2-155, the Moline G1355 has a bad knock, the G1000 vista needs a hydraulic pump and a transmission rebuild. The M670 Super needs an amplitorque, clutch, and electrical work, the old M670 needs hoods, the other M670 needs to be put back together and who know what else, plus the Hesston 4690 needs plunger and header repair, stacker needs work, grain drill needs to be finished, and the list goes on.
Went to dealer yesterday to check on getting Hesston in the shop. Fellow didn't really want to work on it. Said the plunger guides were a pain to remove. Suggested time anywhere from 4 hrs to a day. I did find out there was a 15 percent discount on parts if ordered by the 15th so I went back home and made a list of parts. Ouch...
Also attempted to get the right tires on my grain drill. 11.5 x 15 eight ply multi-rib implement tyres are now $113 each. Up fifty bucks from the last time I bought.
In the midst of my parts list search I got a call from my first sale of ground feed. He wants more! He admitted I was selling too cheap at .12$ per pound. He wants another ton. He did say that some of the bags were a bit wet but that I had certainly added enough extra feed to make up for it. Seemed quite happy. So, instead of doing real work I'm going to fire up the old hammer mill and grind another ton of feed.
When I'm planting I charge $26 per acre. I can do a good 10 acres per hour.
Grinding feed I can do a ton in an afternoon. That would be $240. What would make me the most money, grinding feed or getting my drill ready? What do you think I'm going to do? (hint, when grinding feed I almost always get paid cash...)

Monday, January 12, 2009

For Collieguy

Should you still be watching this blog and wondering why the Studebaker never gets any further down the road. At least now it is parked....

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I attempted to read a book...

I was looking at my beat up collection of old dime novels when I came across this supposed gem. A pocket books copy of "The Razor's Edge," by W. Somerset Maugham. I attempted to put a link in there but only managed to mess up my fonts. 
I did attempt to read this book. I will admit that most of my reading time is either late at night or in the bathroom as I have a 7 year-old only child who likes to spend as much time as possible with her father. I am typing this right now laying in bed with her. She was having difficulty going to sleep and needed some security.
We were reading "The Lion's Paw" earlier in the evening. I may have put a wee bit to much dramatic flair to Ben's encounter with the alligator. I will admit to also changing the story line to the alligator catching up to Ben as he frantically rowed down the creek. She figured out there was a deviation from the story line when the alligator's jaws closed round the boat splintering into a million chunks of twisted wreckage, Ben's frail body ground between the jaws of the gasping leviathan until his head popped off his mangled body like a cork from a bottle, bouncing off the broken boards like a ripe pumpkin, the narrative was interrupted by the usual frustrated "DADeeeee," followed by, that's not how the story goes... I know you changed it." Not sure what gave me away. I thought it was much more exciting this way. Would have ended the sailing adventure a tad prematurely however.
But, I digress.
I was unable to wade through even the beginning of The Razor's Edge. The dense prose, the whole Eastern, pre-beatnick, finding oneself BS just got to me. The noble fighter pilot, suffering from the great war eschews fame and fortune to wander and find true meaning in life sounds much better when you are a dumb-ass college student. 
I think I enjoyed "The Lion's Paw," a bit more. Actually having trouble reading one chapter at a time. No wonder it has been out of print for years it is actually a good book...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fogggy Saturday Part 2

Had my coffee break. Nice fellow who everyone calls "cowboy" brought doughnuts and his friend Mr. Cook. Cowboy is retired. Rebuilds saddles, rides horses, goes to rodeos, wears a big old cowboy hat and a rodeo belt buckle. Used to work for the city road department. So, everyone calls him Cowboy. Mr. Cook is in his 80's. He made a fortune building roads and buildings and doing important things though the 50's till the mid 1980's. He is an interesting old guy. Can't get around without a walker but Cowboy brings him out for coffee break on Saturdays. Usually brings a box of doughnuts.
Phillip also stopped buy. He is your classic old German farmer. Big fellow who has worked like a dog all his life. Not holding up so well. He stops buy a lot more often than he used to. While here he got a call from someone wanting to buy hay. He said he was in an important meeting and would be a while. "Business before pleasure," is what he told the caller. Everyone throught that was pretty funny.
I got a call. Neighbor wants to buy a bag of feed. That would be a 500lb bag of feed. I just put everything away so I've got to go dig the hammer mill and tractor out of the barn again. Have the windrower parked in the way and the battery is dead. Put a charger in it and came in the house. Sitting in my chair having my fourth cup of coffee.
Hammer mill is a story.
I have a kid who used to work for me. Dad always calls him Eddie but that's not his name. Dad is just hard of hearing. Everyone now calls him Eddie.
Well, Eddie wants to be a farmer. He especially likes the riding around in pickups and talking to people, looking at interesting tractors in the Machinery Trader, and doing fun projects. Fun projects may involve a lot of effort but generally they do not qualify as real work.
Eddie raises a few Black Angus steers for beef and he has been complaining about feed prices. Wilco is $10 for a 50lb bag of pellets. I happen to half a truckload of barley and about the same amount of oats. Now what do you do with half truckloads in this day and age. Fuel was $4 a gallon and the nearest cleaner was a 60 mile round trip. So we unloaded the truck into 500lb bags and they are sitting in the barn attracting rats. Eddie was sniffing around and found our pristine 1930 something Minneapolis-Moline hammer mill. He just had to try it out.
This hammer mill was an early acquistion in our collecting efforts. We got it some 20 years ago at the local auction. It has been gradualy being buried under our continual layering of interesting crap since that time. A couple years ago the local steam up folks wanted to borrow it. It was in the summer and I didn't have time to mess with it so I said if they could dig it out they could have it. They didn't dig it out...
So Eddie and I yarded it out. It had good screens and a 20ft flat belt. We built a base and set it up in the barn. Then we discovered our tractor with a belt pulley no longer had the belt pulley. That was quite a hunt. Finally we dug up a NOS pulley out of the old parts house at the farm.
So we were up and running. Except that the pulley was rubbing on the wide front in of the U. I did have a 1949 MM Z with a narrow front but it had never really ran and was setting out behind the house as part of the scrap pile.
The carb was full of rust so I rebuilt it and then dumped some muratic acid in the fuel tank to get rid of the rust. I through the tank in the back of my pickup for a couple days so the acid could slosh around. I then rinsed and dried the tank. It was bright and shiney inside.
My brother is much better at ignition stuff than I am so he got the old girl running. I installed the new tank and the old Z was sounding pretty good. Then I noticed the fuel leaks. The whole bottom of the tank was full of pinholes. I guess I had a tad more rust than I thought. Fortuantly we do have more old MM tractors behind the barn so I had another tank.
We hooked her up to the flat belt and away we went. We are in the feed business now! Would be really stylin if it were 1949!

Fogggy Saturday

Today would be a perfect day for me to be in a Lazy Farmer cartoon. I do have a rocking chair, don't have a beard but am sporting three days worth of stubble, I don't have a potbellied stove. I guess that pretty much puts me out of the cartoon. I guess i'll actually have to go to work.
Was able to waste most of the day yesterday. Started out pretty good, after an extended rest in the house, and a couple cups of coffee. My sloth was interrupted by a call from my friendly New Holland salesman who is calling to tell me the used 1085 NH balewagon is ready to be delivered.
Since he always asks about my no-till drill I thought I would wash it so that it would be all nice and shiny for his inspection. I had sort of hoped that my employee who is actually even more lazy than myself had really cleaned it like I asked him to do before he took off for the winter.
Perhaps I should digress and explain my employee.
Well, I would talk about him but I see the fellow who always brings doughnuts for coffee break is hear. There ain't much better than a maplebar and a cup of watery coffee to get me out of work on a cold foggy morning! Yessir!

Friday, January 9, 2009

To Post or Not to Post

It is a beautiful day outside. It is 8:29 a.m. and I'm really not in the mood to work. I am hardly ever in the mood to work in the winter. That is why the blog is titled "the lazy farmer."
There are a couple reasons for this lack of enthusiasm. First it is the two inches of mud everywhere on this farm. Second is my frustration with farming. So, I'm sitting in my easy chair letting prime working weather pass me by. Much like the fabled lazy farmer of the old Farm Journal cartoons.
The plus side of my whole winter depression is I did write in my blog for the first time since the great blow-up of 2007 when I deleted two years of blogging with a click of a key...
I just wonder who still checks my blog?

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