The Useful Duck!

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Thursday, February 26, 2009


The weatherman was right! Snow on the valley floor by morning! Sure enough... Daughter coughed all night. She has problems with congestion frequently. We had her tested for allergies. Spent a lot of money and no real results.
Congestion started when her and her mom spent weekend with aunt who has a dusty house. Then got worse when she went to my brother's house after school. Brother and family live with Dad in the big old farmhouse. The fireplace was smoking pretty bad. Then at church on Sunday we had the same problem. Have a fireplace at church. (We meet in the activity center of a rest home) I think it was Tuesday that she had a stomach ache and missed morning of school. Did make it in time for the chicken nugget lunch.
So today she has a bad cough. Last night none of us got much sleep because of it. Not sure what I am going to do. I've got another feed order! As the Jeffersons used to say, "Movin on Up!"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cool old truck

The seed truck for last weeks planting was a very well kept Mac. I like old stuff...

No-Till no longer saves Carbon!

I just found out I've been promoting old science. I found this in an article in Grist online. (Click on Grist to go to article). This article brings up a number of things that bug me and have not so much to do with no-till farming.
1. The religion of science.
It is a wonderful new belief system, because you can never be wrong. If you are the right person, (more holy than the rest or perhaps more approved than the rest) you just say, "well I have new scientific information which has recently been discovered which outdates the previous science. So, DDT can be good (1940's science) DDT is evil, (Rachel Carson's science). Or we can have global cooling when I was in highschool, but now have global warming, due to the evils of capitalism.
There is no forgiveness of sin or shall we say redemption, instead we have "re-education."
Oh, just go read "Animal Farm." I'm not feeling real profound....
2. Selling carbon credits is selling the right to sin. While I won't turn down the money because I don't belong to their religion and thus it means nothing to me, I think it is a joke to make folks like Al Gore rich.
3. Environmental groups exist for these reasons. First to make money for those people running the groups. Second, to support the bureaucracy (is that spelled correctly) of the environmental group. Third redistrubution of wealth on a national and global scale. Fourth, a place get rid of white guilt without actually changing your life or reconnecting with your faith-i.e. finding God. Fifth, a concern for taking care of the earth.
4. Those in the environmental movement want a fundemental conflict with traditional farmers. They don't like us, they promote misconceptions about us which suit their mythology (back to relegion there) and they will not actually come out and talk to us in a non-confrontational manner.
5. Never reveal any information other than what is directly and absolutely needed should you ever talk with a government official or environmentalist. True it promotes the misunderstanding in 4. but you can't trust them. They don't like you.... But, always be polite.

Now to answer the article in Grist. No-till may or may not promote carbon sequestering. I have never seen a dime from carbon credits and it is not that much money anyway. But, no-till does not mean a huge increase in herbicide use.
In general my customers use three quarts of Glyphospate before I plant. Then what ever chemical program they would normally use. Most people I plant for would also use Glyphospate before they did conventional tillage.
My old and ineffecient tractor with it's diesel sucking Hercules 471 uses just under a gallon of diesel per acre planted. My friends modern JD uses around 1/2 gallon per acre.
No-tilling into fescue sod (which is mostly what I do) saves 8 trips across the field. Half of those trips would be heavy tillage and I'm thinking you would use a lot more than a gallon per acre. Don't have the figures in front of me now. So, no-till is saving a huge amount of fuel.
The other issue is soil health. We are trying to promote residue, cut erosion, control weeds with rotations INSTEAD of herbicides, and generally improve soil health.
Finally, we really don't give a rip what Grist magazine says. We are doing it for our own reasons, to promote our own soils, to take charge of our own lives. I think that is what annoys the enviormental groups and the government groups the most. It is all just the annoying Yankee type protestantism that has to tell everyone what is best for them. Only without the benefit of finding the one true God. What ever happened to just mind your own business?
I got to go to work...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Latest No-till effort

Planted oats into wheat stubble Saturday. I was never so happy to hear the low population alarm go off in my life. Actually that is not usually a really happy experience as it mostly means something is wrong. Finished up at 9:35 in a light rain. Was very happy for my FarmerGPS program. Lets me run guidance on a $60 ebay special, Fujitsu 3400 tablet computer. Oh and how I do hate Windows... but that is another story, one full of violence and broken screen digitizers...and need for self help books on tape!
Anyway here are some photos and them I'm going to bed. It poured down rain today. Think we got like an inch or so in last two days. It is unbelievable how much I have to do and how little I am getting done. Can't sleep at night and can't get out of bed in the morning.
Farming is getting more interesting. Fundumental shifts locally. Grass seed is not moving and farmers are quickly moving to commodity crops, wheat, oats, perhaps barley. Price is terrible. We are going to grow some. Have some very wet ground and I plant on planting the barley when soil temp gets close to 50 degrees. Not sure if I will no-till or not. Hope to get some radish contracts. This would work good in a no-till rotation. Goal is, grass (for hay or seed), wheat or oats, or barley, then radish, then back to grass, or might be able to plant clover with the radish. This is what I would do if we didn't have all wet riverbottom ground.
So back to the no-till. Planted oats into wheat stubble. Did two fields 10 miles apart. First was prennial ryegrass, lots of sprout and very green still, just sprayed out. Planted spring wheat, don't know variety. Next was Montezuma oats into wheat stubble. Fairly tall, some a foot hight. Very wet heavy clay ground. Kind of iffy. Was in a hurry to beat the rain so planted at 7 mph. Looks like it was disked. Hope the heavy rain does not uncover the seed. Applied 10 gallons of 10-34 fertilizer per acre. Goal was 1 inch depth for oats. 120lbs per acre or 1.1-1.4 million seeds per acre. (according to monitor don't know how this applies to actual seed per bushel/lb count)
Have had wide variation in population count with oats. So if you have really heavy oats and you go by lbs per acre you actually have a lower population than if you have little light oats. What does this mean? Obviously you have a lower plant population from what one would think of as better seed. I don't know, I have a liberal arts degree...
Ok, photos are all mixed up. First pictures with the green field are of wheat into recently sprayed prennial ryegrass. Planted 3/4 to 1" deep. Pretty good sod, didn't work the ground very much. More of a silty clay soil. Should have paid more attention. Rate was 120lbs seed, 10 gallons fert. Fertilzer was mix of 10-34 plus some 32. Not sure exact mix used. Was in a hurry must take better notes. Planted at 6.5 mph. Does a pretty good job at that speed.
Photo in the cab is planting oats into wheat stubble 10 miles down the road. Did 75 acres Saturday. Not too bad a production rate for having to drive a long ways to fill the drill, with 50lb bags. Usually 28 bags to the fill. I didn't push it much past the point when the low bin alarm goes off. Have a couple more acres after that but running out sometimes leaves a pattern.
Planting at 8 mph pretty much worked the ground. I really, really hope it comes up good. Could be a lot of problems with this field, too wet, too cold, too many slugs, mice, probably low pH. Time will tell. Good night.

Movie Night at the Great White barn

We have only lived here at the family farm for a year. There was an old house here which had been hit by a tree. It took a while to get rid of it. So we put our manufactured home where there was room. The problem was that two years ago the neighbor put up a huge straw barn right across the road. So, the view out the back door is a huge white barn.
So, I bought a 16mm projector and started showing movies on the side of the barn. I was looking for more movies this morning. My daughter is sick and home from school. I found Fritz Lang's Metropolis on ebay. Now I never pay more than $50 for a movie as I don't have a lot of free $$$ floating around. In fact most of my movies are $10 ebay finds that no one bids on. Films we have seen, Using fire extinguishers the correct way, Mr. Magoo, Woody Woodpecker, (My favorites) Farmer Alfalfa and the Mechanical Cow, and various surplus school films. I did splurge on a Gene Autry- The man from Music Mountain. And an old TV show, "Surfside Six."
But, Metropolis! Now that would be pretty cool on the side of a barn. I was outbid at $120. It sold for $350!!!!
I think I bought "Fury of the Pagans", (oops) and "WC Fields THe Dentist."
It is pretty funny when cars drive by and see the movie on the barn. Barn is across the road from the house. Sometimes they stop and watch... But, we always get brake lights.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Little things go wrong

It is amazing. I can't get anything done. Almost new drill and finally have a good tractor. But, still the little things go wrong. This morning I was ready to go but developed a hydraulic leak on the valve that runs the fertilizer pump. Thought it would be a simple O ring but that didn't help.
I have four customers to plant for. I follow a first come first served schedule unless there are too many miles between jobs.
Yesterday I checked fields. The first on the list field was too wet. Second on the list didn't have seed. Third on the list is 20 acres 20 miles away. Fourth on the list is on the way to third on the list and he has 50 acres that is ready. But, his seed company did not bring him the seed. So, I called second on the list. He said he would be ready and he is close.
But, then I when I tested the fertilizer pump and boom on the drill, it started leaking. I put one of the sections together wrong. Of course it took me a while to figure out... Then I found a broken bolt that keeps the hydraulic cylinders in line on the drill. Then the electric shut off valve started leaking. Then, there was a hydraulic leak. So, I didn't get to the field until 11:30 today. Then I forgot to top off the diesel tank and since White tractors have pathetically small fuel tanks I had to go after fuel.
I did almost 50 acres. I would have gotten done tonight but I developed a major hydraulic leak-under the cab! Glad it was not hot weather as there is nothing like vaporized hydraulic oil to start a fire! I thought the fog of hydraulic oil in the lights was just fog coming off the field. I even got off and looked. Finally I stopped with the tractor running at high rpm, and I found the leak.
I didn't feel like ripping out the cab floor tonight.
I could take the 2-135 over. It is not 4wd though. Main problem is that now I have GPS, a seed monitor, automatic electric valve that shuts off when you lift drill, I need an extra valve for the fertilizer pump, so by the time I wire it, and plumb in my "add-a-valve" I might as well just fix the 2-155. If everything would work I might be able to get this 150 acres, made up of 50 acre fields 10 miles apart, done by Saturday? Don't think so...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Planting pictures

I Planted along the Yamhill River last week. Red silty clay dirt. Started out pretty slimy but dried out over the course of the day. Planted Kanota Oats at 120lbs per acre. 3/4" deep, some more like an inch. No fertilizer.
Silver thing is cell phone thrown in for scale. It is a bit wet but seed is covered. Side walls of trench are crumbling and it is not just making a slot through the mud.
Today I worked on putting fertilizer tubes on the drill. I have the scars to prove it. Nothing like busted knuckles and dirt falling in your eyes and ears.
I also installed air design scrapers, they are a spring loaded scraper with a tungsten blade. Very aggressive, they peel the mud off the inside of the disks so it drops out. The standard v-scrapers just bunch the mud up so it plugs up the small seed tubes. Too many brackets on one bolt. Kind of expensive. I think it cost me $17 per row. I think I paid less then $10 per row to put them on my first drill.
Scrapers and fertilizer tubes are shown below. Seems like there is a lot of wear inside the v openers for only 3500 acres on the drill. The v-openers have a design where one disk leads the other by say 1/8" or so. The leading edge has curled slightly which may explain why the drill doesn't go in. Looks like those tungsten edged scrapers will keep the disk blades pretty sharp. They did on the old drill!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Daughter at NorthWest Ag Show

Have been reading about Ed Winkles enjoyment of the National Farm Machinery Show. On his HyMark High Spots blog. Thought I would show my daughter's enjoyment of the show. This silage chopper looked pretty hungry to her!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why I would think auto-steer would have its drawbacks

This is the view at the end of the last field I planted...
River is about 30 feet down the bank! Nothing like farming right up to the edge.

Messing with the kids head

I know this has to be wrong on some level but sometimes it seems I just can't help myself.
Daughter and I got in an argument a couple years ago, when she was 4 or 5? Had to do with toys coming to life when you are asleep or gone. I said yes she said no.
So, when she is sleeping or at school I move the Barbies around. Sometimes they get up and have tea. Sometimes they go hang out with my old cowboys. Once they were found having a picnic with cowboys under the kitchen table. (My wife may have been involved in that one.) This tragic legoland accident my have the last straw.
The other day I came in from lunch to find the lego castle and a very impressive scratch built motorhome sitting on the kitchen island. So, there was a tragic accident. Motor home ran over the motorcycle. Knights (who moonlight as paramedics) rushed from the castle to save the accident victim.
That evening when I got home the accident was mentioned. I said that one should have a talk with the lego figure about driving safely while one is at school.
The daughter informed me that I was not fooling anyone. 1, Toys do not come alive at night or when no one is home. 2. You are the one doing all of this messing with my toys. 3. The reason Bruce R. moved here from New Zealand was not because he got tired of always sliding against the wall (cause of the round earth theory). 4. I have the weirdest dad in the world...

I have been told...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentines Day...

The family went to Tacoma to visit wife's sister. Daughter was pretty excited about the whole trip. Had been planned for a previous weekend but something came up. I don't really know. I don't always pay as much attention as is required.
I had planned to take wife to local cafe for the 2-for-price-of-one steak dinner special. She also wanted to see a movie. Something about someone not being that into something. I probably should have gone along as I think the brother-in-law is home. He is a nice guy. Feel a bit lonely today. Kind of like it also...
However, I think I should be planting.
I spent all day yesterday fooling around with the feed grinding business. Need to find a new flat-belt as the old one is coming apart.
I need to be getting the drill ready. Neighbor called yesterday and he did get the Roundup on the field. Noted some standing water however...
I have been thinking about traveling to the coast to visit my friend Mel. Seems like a long drive without my daughter's enthusiasm to keep me going. He lives right across from the Seal Rock wayside park.
I'm looking out the window and the sun is shining bright. There was a heavy frost this morning so I could actually be planting. Until the frost turns to muddy soup. This constant freezing and thawing is pushing our newly planted alfalfa right out of the ground. Same thing with the shallow rooted medium ryegrass. As usual, I will have a lot of replanting on our own place.
My brother signed us up for 60 acres of barley. Don't know the variety. Possibly, another 20 of kanota oats. Poor yield good price, I think around $320/ton. I have hints of a possible sale of 40 acres of oat hay. Have to decide if I should go with Cayuse oats, which I know will grow well but be a bit coarse stemmed, or buy expensive Magnum oats, which would be better for forage.
I try to mow my oat hay before the milk stage. If possible in that stage where bloom is almost done. Perhaps just a hint of milk. I don't get the tonnage but the oats are much greener. The goal is the horse hay market anyway. Should have more energy also.
I have the drill parked in the barn. Need to change fluids in the tractor and clean out the cab. The drill needs to be greased, needs the new fertilizer tubes installed, and I need to mount my hydraulic flow control somewhere. I may have ordered automatic rate controller from Micro-Trak. I'm not sold on it. Probably will cost just under $1,000. Don't know it if is worth it.
Have been thinking about setting new planting rates. Either sticking with $26/acre and no fertilizer options, (just pulling the tank and everything) or $26 without liquid and $30 with. Everyone else is at $30. I have a hard time charging that much.
Phone just rang. It is my enthusaistic former employee who wants to be a farmer. He is all set to grind feed and look at farm equipment. Foolish young man.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When I grow up I don't think I want to be a Farmer anymore.

That is what my daughter told me the other day. I would have to agree. While I tell her glowing tales of growing crops and honest labor, the truth is perhaps much different.
It is 40 degrees and raining. The sort of weather that drives us Oregonians to the depths of depression. I don't want to leave my easy chair.
If only I had more than two "Song of the Lazy Farmer," cartoons perhaps I would have more understanding.
In days gone by I would have been off to the used bookstores in Portland to find old farm magazines. Or rather, I would have gone out to the shop to work...
I took Dad to his heart Dr. in Portland yesterday. Dr. Rudolph says he is in great shape for a 75 year-old. This is funny and good because as his Dr. knows, Dad is 90. Dr. says I could live to be 90 as well. That is both good and bad news I suppose.
Dad is not lazy. Dad is a very hard worker. His youngest son, has to struggle. Dad goes to work every morning at 7 a.m. He puts bills in his laptop computer and then spends the day, alternating between selling moisture testers, making kind of strange brochures on the photocopy machine, and organizing his office. Not all of this is productive but we do not tell him this. The fact that he a times loses important bills and the fact that he tends to organize things in a strange and random manner is not as important as the fact that he is working. He is busy, and he is doing something.
Sitting in a chair, drinking coffee, and posting into a blog read by three people is not productive either...
The problem is, I'm not really sure farming is what I want to do. I just came back here to help out in 1989. Just for the summer. Now, I see that 1989 is a few years back... The problem is I have no idea what I really want to do. This was not such a problem a couple years back when I actually thought I knew how to farm, or should I say, I thought I had the talent to be a good farmer. I read lots of soils books, I studied the "nu-till" system. (Was going to add a link but the website seems to have changed.) Somewhere I have all the PDF's I downloaded from the old site. I read all the back issues of NewFarm Magazine. I had it figured out how to build up our soil and get back to raising the crops my dad grew when I was a kid.
As part of that long range goal I got into the no-till planting business. That is when I started learning the importance of getting everything right, at the right time. And I came to understand that without Dad, we don't really do that. Plus we have very wet, low pH soil. Plus, we are broke all the time from various back luck situations, frost, flood, not getting paid, being screw by Farm Credit Services. Now the dairy down the street which was key to getting the manure has been going downhill, and well frankly I'm tired...
I really wish I had not 1. purchased a used 1085 balewagon, 2. Bought a new Great Plains drill.
First the balewagon. Bought it used for a good price. But without it, we would not have had to bale. Oh we would have, but the old stacker would have died and we wouldn't have got much done but we would have fooled around and looked busy. The baler is paid for anyway.
The Drill makes all my money for me. But, I should have just stopped putting on fertilizer. If I would have just quit the dry fertilizer I would have still got jobs but would not have spent $42,000. I would have paid it off this year so there would have been a lot more money coming in. If I kept patching it together I could have milked the drill operation for another few years and then just quit.
I wish I had an alternate skill, like making banjos. I think I would like to try something else...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Long Live The Family Farm

Here are some family farm photos for you. So there are still some poor suckers using AGCO orphans!

(Note: Photo's are not from 1980...)

AGCO wants to connect with farmers. They have a shill on the NewAgTalk website. Oh, and they have a blog. And A picture site. Wonder how long that will stay around...

Was just looking at photos on AGCO's website. Ed Winkle did a blog about the site on his blog. ( For his efforts he got a plug on another AGCO website (
Ed seems to be a pretty positive sort of guy, while traditionally here at the Daily Strumpet we have pretty much thrived on finding the black lining to every silver cloud. Back in the day of the paper publication of The Daily Strumpet, much of the humor was gained for finding the odd little tidbit and blowing it completely out of proportion...
So, I suppose I should do a quick history of Moline and post some photos over at the Long Live the Family Farm website.
The problem is that I really don't like Agco. I never liked White. I did have some admiration for a company that could take two companies, Oliver and Minneapolis-Moline, and totally alienate their most loyal followers in the course of a decade. They were able to take two companies which had something like 10 percent of the tractor market each, and merge them into one company with like seven percent of the market.
I did like White-New Idea. It seemed like they were really trying to build on the old lines. I thought the White American series was a pretty neat line. The last small tractor really built in America, I guess that is not a good advertising slogan. I wish they would have rebuilt the M670 Moline or G1000 rather than the Oliver 1800 but I appreciated the effort. I still dream of having White American's with FWA and Cabs pulling my hay equipment. Of course I was totally broke at the time the White American came out.
The merger with AGCO was a dark day in my new found White appreciation. It would seem that Agco's goal is to become the General Motors of the farm equipment business. Instead it seems more like the American Motors of the ag industry. They have bought up legions of small line manufacturers and made them disappear. Sure there are a lot of logos on the AGCO heritage site but that is basically all they are. Just logos...
So now we have the Long Live the Family Farm site. Just what does that mean? There are no family farms of the sort represented by old calendars and Marx play sets.
I live on a "family farm." We are going broke farming 400 acres. We got rid of the cows because we are off the farm doing custom baling and planting to hold of going completely broke, and we don't have time for the livestock. We don't all come in for a big dinner, we don't milk 10 cows, but we do run old Minneapolis-Moline and White equipment. Does AGCO really care? I think if they did they perhaps would not charge $800 for a hydraulic valve or $100 for a valve rebuild kit.
And then there is the issue of Hesston. I understand the disappearing brands. After AGCO concentrates really hard on a brand, gets rid of the old engineers, cheapens the construction, irritates the customer base, then they have to retire it. The key to understanding when this is going happen is to watch for the last gasp advertising campain where they tout the "Heritage" commitment of AGCO and it's love of small farms which still use, for example: Hesston products.
MasseyFerguson was one of the best selling world wide brands. But, really it was the only brand AGCO had not completely ruined by associating its name with. So it has become the final target of destruction. (Although, I see all Orange on the new AGCO websites. So perhaps they think people have forgotten the royal screwing all the AC owners got back when the signs were all green and the old dealerships were forced out of business.
So, there is no more Hesston. My grandfather worked for the fellow who started Hesston. (Was a while back.) I switched to Hesston when I bought my first real (meaning expensive) mower. A Hesston 1340. It has been an excellent mower and the parts prices were at one time so affordable I could actually run it. Later I bought a Hesston 4690 three tie baler, also a very good buy. (I hear Hesston will discontinue the three-tie baler soon). Almost bought a new 1345 but didn't want on that said Massy-Ferguson on it. So I bought a Great Plains drill instead...
Then there is the White corn planter. The White planter is considered one of the best planters on the market. It has a very loyal following-so why would you rebrand it MF? Hesston has a long line in the hay business, MF does not... So the obvious choice for AGCO... Rebrand Hesston.
Or what about this for an idea. Sell Yellow tractors to Cat industrial dealers so that they can COMPETE with AGCO and Hesston dealers who have been struggling to promote their brands for years. That is sure brilliance!
Anyway, perhaps I'll post on the site anyway. DOn't think I'll get a link back...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Daughter at the Northwest Ag Show

I had written about this earlier but my iBook is dying. I bumped the power cord and lost it all. Actually a lot more complicated than that but we will just keep it simple.

Daughter was talking about the big Ag Show. (See posts below) On the last day I took her with me. Things were so dead that I figured she would have some time to see the show. Plus, brother took Dad up so there were plenty of us to man the booth.

She came prepared. She bought a little gameboy she got for Christmas, her notebook in which she says she is documenting her life, a blanket, plenty of marking pencils, a stuffed doggie, a mini windup emergency lantern, and a box of snacks. She immediately set up shop under one of the tables in our display. It is funny to watch her work. She carefully spread out her blanket, wound up the lantern and went to work in her notebook. She likes to draw. Does pretty well.

My brother was looking a the show so Sadie and I stayed in the booth with dad. We looked around a little bit. Checked out an industrial food dehydrator. Found out how it worked-blows warm air over the fruit. Found out that is how jerky is made. Fellow at the booth was happy to describe everything to her and offered her some fruit leather. She very politely declined. She is a little shy. I snagged it for her anyway.

Later we were able to take a tour. The tour was a bit frustrating for her. I’ve been at the show enough years that I know many exhibitors. When there are no customers it is pretty hard to make it across our building without talking and introducing the very shy daughter to everyone.

First we stopped at the JCB booth. Sadie really liked the mini- excavator and skid-steer. I liked the 45 mph fast-trac tractor. I would love to have one of those squirt boom loaders to move hay with. Salesman was very friendly with us so she got a good tour.

Next stop was the gopher blaster. I needed to spend more time with her there but I just got a call from someone who wanted to meet me in the next haul. She thought the exploding gopher tunnels were just the coolest thing.

She also was captivated by the grape harvester. It is kind of an amazing looking machine. It straddles two rows and has big rotating plastic fingers which pull the bunches of grapes off the vines. There are intermeshing plastic discs between the rows set up so the grape rows push the disks aside. I think these may also collect grapes. Then there are little conveyers on each side that take the grapes up to a box on top of the harvester. She was pretty impressed but I really didn’t know how it worked. There was no one there to tell us how it worked.

She also enjoyed the toy tractors at Reber’s Farm Toys. We had already been enjoying yoghurt covered raisins from Carols House of Nuts, so we went right by there. She was tempted by a mini sausage from the Pamper Chef folks but was again a little shy.

She picked out a Dodge Pickup from the farm toy booth. She really wanted it. Thinks I should buy one for real. I got her the one that says AGCO on it. She was quite happy, only $2.99.

Then we met a friend of mine from New Zealand. She did not believe that the reason he moved to the USA was that he was tired of always sliding down the floor and ending up against the wall. She says that the earth is round and that people on the bottom do not fall to the ceiling and that people on the sides do not slide up against the wall. Don’t know what the teach kids in school these days.

Standing around and talking is not what she likes to do so she headed back to her table in the booth. I took my friend to the Rankin booth to see a Aerway Pasture aerator. Only to discover that there are protected dealerships and Lehman Brothers can’t sell them. Fisher Lawn and Garden is the dealer. I said I brought you this customer he can’t buy it from the company that will never stock parts and he will have to beg to buy this from. Rankin salesman said he could sell it through AgWest or Linn Benton tractor so perhaps it will all work out.

My friend then spied loader brackets which could be bought from Lehman Brothers so perhaps I’ll get my bottle-o-pop commission on this deal.

I went back to find Sadie.

On our next mission we went to find the antique tractors. Sadie wanted to see the WWII tank. I think it was an M2, had a seven cylinder aircooled engine. Looked like an oven to drive. Crammed like five people in a tracked coffin. See:

There was also a Dodge 4wd staff car with was actually pretty cool. Saw an old stationary baler, a minature train layout, and helicopters.

Sadie was impressed with the helicopters used for spraying and Christmas tree harvesting. She got to look inside and actually touch one. She though the second copter was pretty funny. “It looks like a Dora helicopter,” she said.

I think she had a pretty good time. She played with her new toy pickup in the empty booth near us and also helped us take down the dispay.

Our tradition is to have a steak dinner after the show, although I don’t think we sold enough to pay for it. We went to Busters BBQ ribs. Sadie had a very expensive sausage and fries but she seemed quite happy.

I remember going to this show as a kid. Seemed like there was so much more. I miss all the demonstrations. Like the guy with drill bits that will drill through anything. Or the fellow welding pop cans. The fellow with the gopher hat was not even there. He is always pretty entertaining although you never want to fill out his card to win a TV because he will call you every morning at 7 a.m. until you buy something from him.

I remember the first New Holland chopper with metal alert. There was a display where you could stick a piece of wire into the feed rolls and they would stop and the alarm would go off.

Not so many advertising handouts either. No golf tees or matches or little squishy animals with pesticide company names on them. Key fobs and pens were in very short supply this year.

But we all had a good time.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I planted my 40 acres

I actually planted the 40 acres of oats which was my goal. I started in mud but the sun came out and soon it all dried off. Had a few plugged seed tubes and the drive wheel on the drill slipped so I had trouble getting the desired seed rate. Then i busted my GPS computer screen so it was just one of those typical days for me.
You can see my mess of wires. Have a calc-an-acre which gives me acres, acres/hr, mph, hrs, and distance. Has two total acre counters. I reset on counter each time I fill the drill and reset the other each time I change fields. That way I keep track of area and also can compare acres to bags of seed put in the drill.
Then I have the Loupe drill monitor. It gives me seeds per acre, distance per seed or seeds per distance, acres, mph, beeps if one of the rows plugs up, low seed rate, or too high a seed rate. Too high a seed rate alarm goes off if I forget to close clean out door on a row. I could only afford to do 8 rows. Cost something like $1200. Works really well at low speed. It is pretty hard to count 1.4 million seeds per acre. The reading on the monitor does not always match when you are trying to set the drill based on seeds per bushel but it gets you pretty close.
If you can see it the monitor reads, "should be seeding," Not sitting and taking a picture.
The little screen at the bottom is a backup camera I bought on sale at Shucks. I have it pointed at he seed level indicator on the drill. My fertilizer tank blocks my view from the cab. Pretty handy!
I was trying to boost my seed rate to 120 lbs.
Now I do love my Great Plains drill but it is pretty ridiculous that they don't have a more precise means to set the drill. The drill adjustment lever is the exact same design as the one on my 1950's Minneapolis-Moline drill. On the Moline you could at least move the lever as it had two levers to control a 10 foot drill. (Each box had a seperate drive) The Great Plains has one drive for a 15 foot drill and you basically can't move the lever with a full box of seed. You can turn the drive wheel backwards and release the sension of the seed cups sometimes. Today i got a hammer and punch and pounded the whole stinking drive shaft over to open it up. $42,000 for a stinking drill and you have to use a hammer and punch to set the stupid thing. I'm glad Roy Applequist is not staying up late at night worrying if someone is having trouble with his drill design. $42,000 for a stinking drill and Great Plains won't even do the basic metal prep to keep it paint attached to the metal.
Of course with a John Deere drill I probably couldn't have planted as it would have plugged up with mud. Big green boat anchors. That is all they are good for. Sometimes I think that.

So here is the view out my front window. This is a photo from a couple days ago. Didn't down load photos from todays planting. Here is my GPS screen before I busted it. Blue lines are where I planted. Circles are where I turned around at the end of the field. Finally got it to not paint the ends when the drill is out of the ground.
I hate Windows the most of all. Today i somehow got the task bar across half the screen. Then I got the stupid computer to log in as adminsitrator insead of user and I lost all my iTunes files. I was trying to get rid of the stupid task bar and find my self help books on anger management when I hit a bump while perhaps over applying the stylus to the screen and I busted the screen digitizer. So, now I can see where I'm going but I can't actually do anything without a keyboard and mouse. I would really like to take this little tablet out to the woodpile and apply a splitting maul to the screen perhaps that would get rid of the task bar. Then i think I would like to take what remains and apply it to Bill Gates neither end, Sam Adams style... Unbelievable that Windows became the world's operating system.
This is what it looks like out the window at night in the rain. Red area is the headlands. I like the GPS for finishing up the field as any skips show up. Takes guesswork out of the headlands when I don't always turn as good as I could. Needed it tonight as after dark I had a very hard time telling where I had planted. It worked pretty well but was unable to save my field records without a keyboard. Will have to find a new screen on ebay.
GPS was working good today. Computer works a lot better in administrator mode. i think it freed up some memory. Hate to admit but I think I had too large a desktop picture.
It was of my daughter in the snow. Very sweet.

Saturday morning

I really need to get to work. Have 40 acres to plant. Guy as already called me and I didn't answer my phone. It is 8:30. The problem is that this fellow wants a specific answer. The answer is, well it may be too sticky to plant. If called on to quantify this I would say there is an 75% chance that it is too wet, but I will probably do it anyway because I want to get the job done. No, I will not do it on Sunday. Plus we will have to get into the whole issue of the seed rate.
They added up the number of bags left and the number of acres I planted and say I'm only planting at 100lbs vs 120lbs. I have a population monitor on 8 of the 24 rows on the drill. The monitor says 1.1 to 1.4 million seeds per acre. I also checked my rate with a bucket and scales. Plus, I kept track of the bags and acres. I know I'm not less than 110lbs. When I was planting cayuse at 110 I was at 980,000 seeds per acre. I'm betting 1.2 million seeds will do the trick.
I just answered the phone. Yes, I was right. So, off to work I go...
Photo is from thursday. Before and after. No-tilling Kanota oats into dead fescue sod!
I want to go back to bed. Perhaps another couple cups of coffee will get me going. I need banjo music in my tractor. Or one of those back massager seat covers.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Spring Planting

I am planting spring oats. It is not spring. It is down right cold out. Have been working on this project for a week. I'm not planting for myself as our ground is so wet there is no way I could get near it. I am no-till planting for my neighbors.
A couple years ago I rented a Great Plains no-till drill to plant for myself and a friend. Enough people were interested in hiring me that I bought the drill. I wore that drill out (the dry fertilizer killed it) and just bought another drill this past year. Not making any money farming. All the money is coming from my work for other people. Kind of crazy.
So, I spent a week getting the drill ready. Had to do some wiring. Have just been adding gizmos to the drill one at a time and ended up with quite a pack of wires going out the cab window. I got it all together at the end of last week and went to work.
It has not been working as well as it should. First of all I've been sick all week so have not been in top form. Then the silly things started going wrong. Monday started planting late in the morning. Then I discovered the two bolts that keep the hydraulic cylinder aligned on my drill carrier were broken. Took me way too long to make new bolts, but I got going again with out too much trouble. Then I lost an opener disk and nearly ran out of diesel. That silly White tractor has too small a fuel tank.
Tuesday I got another 40 acres done. I should be able to do twice that in a day. The drill pulled pretty hard, the ground was a little wet. It freezes every night so the ground is pretty goupy in the morning. I almost moved the drill that night but hated to drive after dark.
Wednesday I moved to the next field. Took me way too long to vaccum out the drill. Felt like crap. I was planting cayuse oats at 110lbs per acre, but next changed to Kanota oats at 120 lbs. Kanota are a forage type oat. My customer got a contract for $250 or so a ton. I'm not that impressed as Kanotas don't yield that well. But, I keep my opinions too myself. The field is hard packed fescue sod. Kind of a heavy red clay type dirt. Packed like a rock. I went 50 feet and all the alarms started going off. Rows 1-8 low population. I start checking and the transmission is not turning on the drill.
It has a lawnmower type transmission made by Peerless for Great Plains. There are little dogs that shift the gears. The gears don't slide the little pawls or dogs slide in a keyway on the output shaft and engage the gear you need. They were both broken. I called my friendly lawnmower shop and he knew what I needed. So instead of ordering the parts next day air from Great Plains I went to the lawn mower shop. Wrong parts. I ordered them and they were to be here today. They were not. Uncle harold brazed them for me and a was able to just leave the transmission in third gear. But, then I found a bearing out. Bearing is attached to the drive sprocket. Great Plains dealer said I was only breaking parts he didn't have. Parts had to come from Kansas. So I made-or rather my brother made a mount for me to use a regular flange bearing. Didn't get it done before dark. Next morning I put drill back together.
Checked the seed rate. 1.4 million seeds per acre should be 120lbs per acre. Planted 40 acres yesterday. Then it started pouring. Was able to finish the field.
This morning farmer called me. He had counted the remaining bags of see and divided by the acres and I only put on 100 lbs. So he want me to set the drill up a bit. What ever...
I'm going to sleep...

The Cat Stole my Chair

I came in a little early from work this evening. Wife and daughter are at some church thing. A mother and daughter evening tea. Has a chocolate fountain and they will sing Kariokie or how ever the $%^&* you spell it. Much too modern for me. I inquired as to why there was not a Polka band and opined that cavorting naked in the chocolate fountain would be a lot of fun. My daughter bet me a dollar none of those things would happen. My wife merely rolled her eyes and said something like, "your father's weird." To which the daughter whole heartedly agreed.
So, as I said, I came in a bit early and fixed myself supper. Left over chili and a fried egg. And half a jar of pickled beans. My wife makes good pickled beans. Think she made the chili as well.
I checked out the New AgTalk forum and my email. I have an on going discussion with the creater of FarmerGPS ( because I'm not smart enough to get my GPS guidance to work. I may have discussed this before. FarmerGps is a program which runs on a on PC notebook which provides you with guidance for your tractor. Helps you stay on the row when you can't see where you are going. Since I am very cheap I put my system together out of stuff I bought off of ebay. Sometimes it doesn't work. The inventer of the program seems quite happy to give my support. Probably thinks I'm a nut.
But, the point of this post is the cat. I got up from my chair to take a shower and perhaps post on The Lazy Farmer and Baby the cat stole my chair. He always does that. He is a big old grumpy cat. Those are the best kind. In general I strongly dislike cats. This is one cat I actually like. Came with my wife so he must be something like 14 years old.
I just left him alone.
Found another place to set. Tomorrow he will be in that chair.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Northwest Ag Show

We sell moisture testers. We meaning my dad and brother and I. Every year we have a space at the Northwest Agricultural Show in Portland, OR.
We have testers for hay, grain, grass seed, soil, compost, as well as an alarm that will wake you when it is time to bale and a device that counts the number of bales you have made and how many plunger strokes in your last bale. (this is important for length and density, trust me...)
Dad turned 90 in January. Had a little party at the Rock of Ages rest home. He doesn't live there. He lives with my brother next door on the farm. Had a lot of his friends there. Was a surprise for him. We have church services at the home two sundays a month.
Anyway, back to the ag show. It was pretty dead. I think we sold three testers. Now the point of the show is to get contacts for the rest of the year, but usually we sell enough testers to pay for our booth. Dad works off the contact list all year. He has hundreds of names in a database on his Apple laptop. At 90 years of age he sometimes forgets how to run his laptop but usually with a little prompting it will all come back. This is pretty amazing for someone who started farming with horses. He is pretty sharp.
I am a little worried about the future of agriculture. There is a lot of money out there. A lot of farmers have really made the dollars in the last few years. But I didn't speak with anyone who had confidence in the future of our economy. This huge government spending program has everyone scared and they are not spending money. This is the opposite of what the idiots who are running the country say they are trying to accomplish.
Resource based businesses are what create wealth. As a farmer I should grow crops which are needed to survive. There should be a surplus so that after feeding our country we can export to other countries. Timber and mineral companies are harvesting resources which are then made into goods we need and use. Banks and lawyers are just transferring wealth back and forth between people while skimming a little (or a lot) for their own use.
Of course farmers in this area grow grass seed, which is now worthless, and timber companies export the logs to factories in China, so nothing really works right anymore.
So the agshow was pretty slow for sales. Talked to lots of folks who are holding onto their money because they know they are going to lose it next year. What a positive outlook!

My brain Hurts!

I woke up this morning not feeling my best. We did have plans for the day. The goal was to attend an early church service and then head to Portland for dim sum. Our child, who is 7 likes Chinese food and was looking forward to it. Not to mention the lovely and gracious Mrs. who loves dim sum at the House of Louie in Northwest portland. So I put a pillow over my head and went back to sleep, putting an end to the whole early church service idea. Eventually I did drag myself out of bed and decided I really did not want to let down the family as we haven't done much together lately. Plus, I just got the Dale Carnegie course on MP3, "How to stop worrying and start living" and I was determined to make the most of a bad situation. I tried a breakfast of coffee and bread with butter and homemade raspberry jam. A few minutes later I had not only a splitting headache but was slightly dizzy. I kept the dizziness to myself and I made Mrs. drive.
Mrs. loves to shop at GoodWill. She sells tupperware and other treasures that she finds there on eBay. Kind of her hobby. Sort of like getting egg money in the old days, I guess.
So, we make our first stop at Beaverton Goodwill. I found a lovely velvet painting of cactus against an orange desert sunset. Unfortuantly it was past my budget of $2.99. I tried to talk wife and daughter into supporting me as I pointed out if that piture were hanging in our house we would always feel like we were on vacation and staying in a very cheap motel. So we would be happy ever
y day. Daughter was not impressed, wife had heard it all before.
Dim sum was quite tasty. Of course getting there was a bit of a frustration. The geniuses who run Portland have installed wide pedestrian islands and trees along the streets thereby limiting an already pathetic parking situation even further. Sam Adams and the rest of his "smarter than we are" crowd know that cars are of course the root of all evil and public transit is our salvation. What is it about buses? Is it that Rosa Parks was on one? Did the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. or any of the other members of our new pantheon of saints ride light rail? Perhaps Che invented light rail, who knows... Anyway you can't drive into downtown Portland and count on a parking space without about 20 trips around the block. Perhaps if Sam Adams spent less time on the dirt road and more time real road he would figure out there are other people using his fair city than underage pages an
d fellow greenies.
But, I digress.
Dim Sum was delicious. Don't have a clue what I was eating. The waitress wheels a little cart around and you point to what you want. We started with spring rolls, and shu mai (meat dumplings) and moved on to ha gow (white rice flower dough with shrimp inside), steamed broccoli, and then calimari (squid). There were a couple other experiments but I don't remember what. My wife likes to make a dipping sauce from the wine vinegar and hot oil on the table. This really adds a bit of spice to the shrimp and calamari. She handed daughter a bit of calamari on her fork and she got a bit of pepper off the fork. Her whole face turned red! We did have some very good noodles as well. And lots and lots of tea. Was really quite good. I want to try the chicken feet some time just to say I did, but didn't see any today. (Mad magazine always pictured chicken feet when people were eating chinese food.)

On the way home we hit a few more GoodWill stores. I just about said no as I really started feeling bad once the car was moving. In the end I suppose it was for the best that I agreed to continue. At the last Goodwill we found Legos. I spotted two Lego boxes, a fireboat and an airplane. The boxes felt kind of light so I opened them. There were the instructions and some odds and ends so I put them back. A lady quickly grabbed them when I put the boxes back on the shelf but soon saw they were empty. Daughter and I were ready to head for the car when wife comes by with two big bags of legos she spotted in the cart of stuff to be put on the shelves. There were the parts for the boat! So we brought home two pretty cool lego sets, plus we found an almost complete race track set in the bulk bags.
Once home I helped wife
on a sears metal shed which we have been working on assembling on for two months. Felt so ill I didn't have time to feel guilty about working on Sunday. Finally gave up and went in the house to lay down. This was what daughter had been waiting for. Out came the legos! They washed them and I laid down on the floor and closed my eyes for a while.
Then we sorted legos and I put the lego fire boat together while daughter worked on racetrack. Found instructions for racetrack on ebay. Strangely, I feel much better now.
Tomorrow I go back to planting. Did 20 acres Saturday afternoon.
Rewired all the additions to the monitor and gps on my drill. I finally got my farmergps program to work. I wired in a relay to put the acre counter/guidance on hold when I raise the drill. Now my calc an acre sensor doesn't work...
To0 many gadgets...

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