The Useful Duck!

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Oregon State Fair

I have been invited to guest blog for Ed Winkle while he is on his cruise. You can see what I did today over at his blog Not so sure how I feel about being a guest blogger. I think I like to be more anonymous. I kind of hide behind the Budd E. Shepherd identity when I'm on the internet.
Here are some photos. I like the old rides and the old buildings. I think guinea's are ugly! Wife took Sadie on her first carnival ride!!! And Sadie and I try out the Foot Tingler. Foot massage for a quarter!
And we had ice cream-but not photos to prove it!
Now Sadie and I are going to go and do something other than be on the internet. Not sure what it is but we are going to do it...
Sadie is looking over my shoulder. She say that the spider ride was the most fun. It is the ride pictured. It spun in circles and went up and down. She says this ride was her favorite part of the fair. The animals were, "ok." She does say she wants to go next year. So it must have been ok.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My profane neighbor

I was listening to the radio the other day in the stacker. It is one of those modern digital silly radios. Radios should have two knobs. It doesn't matter what the display says as half the time I'm bouncing around too much in a stacker to see it anyway. They should have good AM so I can get the odd ball stations bouncing off sunspots in the middle of the night. There is nothing in the world like the sound of Hank Williams coming out of a tinny AM speaker for a thousand miles away. It is like that song has been trapped in the airwaves for 40 years and it is finally getting out.
This radio has funny little buttons and it is mounted in such a way that you can't read the buttons so I have no idea what I'm doing and I just keep punching buttons till I get a station I like.
I was going to go off on a rant about the Bob Seger song I heard but I just remembered the funny guy I saw out at the shop yesterday.
There is this neighbor who is pretty loud. He is a short stocky guy and he yells all the time. He yells and swears, this doesn't mean he is mad, he yells and swears when he is happy. Since he uses the same swear words, happy or sad, you kind of half to give him some time to figure out what his emotional state is.
He actually annoyed Uncle Harold to the point that Uncle Harold went home early day before yesterday. Not sure why he was back yesterday. The girl who drives truck for the neighbor was telling how her brother and him got in a fight. It didn't turn out so well for the little short agressive guy as the brother is 6ft and a burley logger.
Profane guy is a logger. I think he runs heavy equipment like the cat or the yarder.
He was ranting about Ford vs. Chevy and how GM makes the best cars. He had another fellow we know cornered in the parking lot. The fellows Chevy pickup wouldn't start as the battery cable was loose. I hollered out the window-"That's what you get for driving an Obama-mobile Wally."
Profane guy launched into a rant, "You don't know nothin' kid. I've driven more GM trucks than you've ever seen."
I upped the ante a bit. "How come you let the government buy your company. The next new model will be called the Commie-mobile."
The profanity was unbelievable. I think that might be why it started to rain.
We did have kind of an interesting converstation. We discussed GM quality control and how they for years, had to worry about being a monopoly and how dividing up the company and separating the workers from directly being involved with the success and quality of the car hurt the company.
Then he went off on "Japs" I don't think he was old enough for WWII but he had strong opinions. Apparently he will not buy a new Toyota.
He said how angry he was to find out he engine in his Michigan yarder was a "Cummings" (spelled like he said it) that was made in Japan. I didn't question him on that one as I really wanted to get back to work. We were setting in the Ford pickup we were going to move home a baler. Just standing next to a Ford seemed to get him worked up. Walley drove off laughing to himself.
Profane guy drove off in his mid 1980's corvette. He did a little bit of a burnie to show us what his GM could do.
Mid 80's corvettes are secretary cars. It should have had a little palm tree on the license plate. The little banty rooster was driving a girl car. Ha! Ha!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Evening

Today was interesting.
You may have read my morning post. I may had been a touch frustrated at the time I posted.
While I was waiting for my cousin to drive by I decided to take apart my Fujitsu tablet. I bought it to run FarmerGPS but as I started to install software it died. It does not seem to recognize the hard drive. If this were a Mac I could fix it. It is not a Mac. I would like to fix it with a sledgehammer but I suppose that would be counter productive. I emailed the ebay store I bought it from to see if they could direct me anywhere or send me a restore CD. They extended their offer of a SquareTrade Warranty. So I could my money back from SquareTrade after 60 days. I don't want my money back, it ain't that tough to fix, I just don't know how. I took it apart and looked for loose wires. Nothing as simple as that.
Cousin gave me a ride to 2-135. We looked at his sweet corn and had a nice chat. I felt a bit better.
Drove tractor down to the gun. As I backed down the gun alley I could see down corn. The POS had failed probably 15 minutes after I last checked on it. Didn't even make it 500 feet. I guess it was good luck that the hydraulic drive on the irrigator decided to speed up and reel the gun in a double speed so less corn was knocked down the closer to the gun I got.
So, do I pull it back out and re-water or do I hope the corn comes back up part way and dries out a bit? Got my cousin to come back and give me advice. We decided the corn couldn't get any flatter and since the gun was only shooting 30 feet on either side instead of 90 feet, the rest of that corn did need water. So I pulled it back out.
Bill arrived soon afterwards and we got both the water going and the combine running.
As it looked like rain we also put the truck full of oats in the shed and I drove over to where we stored straw last winter to retrieve the extra tarps so I could cover hay.
Accuweather said it was going to rain around 5 p.m. today. They were wrong.
While I was discussing the fate of farming with the owner of the shed and his friend I get another call. It was pouring at home and Bill ran out of gas with the International tandem on the hill going up to the barn. He said he was too short to get the tarp over the truck and he was a little peeved. I headed for home at high speed.
When i arrived he was putting gas in the truck. He had found a ladder and put the tarp on. He told me he almost got stuck coming out of the field. He had to put the interlocks on the tandem to get out. The water from the blown pipe had backed up into the fescue field and when he turned the truck around he nearly got stuck.
We looked at the damp alfalfa stack and decided there was no point in tarping in the rain. We went for lunch.
At the Amity cafe the nice lady made me a BLT and a bowl of soup. They don't bring us menu's anymore. We just tell them what we want. Kind of funny. May have been there too many times.
Owner asked why we left the alfalfa out in the rain. I told her I baled it too dry so it was kind of like soup concentrate. The rain would make all the leaves come back. I don't think she bought that line. Actually I didn't want to tarp it after it was already wet as it was 75 degrees and the sun was expected to come out. Tarping wet hay is a really good way to get it to mold. Not getting the hay wet to begin with is really the key in this sort of a situation.
As we set there a pair of bicyclists pulled up. They looked like drowned rats. Girl was kind of cute however. Guy was scrawney with those funny tribal earrings. Kind of like something out of National Geographic. Should have had a bone though his nose as well. The waitress looked at his shorts and exclaimed. "It looks like he is wearing speedo's. I hate speedo's they are gross. I'm outta here!"
The owner took their order. They had Garden Burgers.
Only in Amity...

Ed Winkle wants me to guest blog for him. Not sure how to do that. He is one of those smart farmers. I'm the other kind...

Writing someone else's blog is kind of like wearing someone else's underwear.
Well now I'm just getting weird. Think I'll go to bed...

Half-Assed Farming

I hate having absolute crap to farm with. I'm not sure what to do about it, but I hate it just the same. It once made me so angry that I spent $12,000 on a baler (paid off early). Hmmm and my brother and I are in the process of spending $26,000 on a stacker that we didn't get enough work to make the payment on. So, perhaps spending money is not always the answer. Or perhaps once again, it is timing. Should have bought the stacker when I bought the baler....
But-that is not the point. Brother is gone truck driving. I meant to get up and check the water early but got distracted by the internet. I have several old rotary dial phones and I want to make a phone network for the kids out here. I want to mount on in daughter's playhouse and another at the barn or at the cousins house across the lot. I found instructions to hook 2 together with a 9v battery but not sure how to do the ringer.
Again, I digress.
I drive down the hill and no water.
I drive down the road and there is a lake. A huge freaking lake. It has filled the ditches on both sides of the road, flowed through the culvert and down into the clover field. There is a 1 foot gap at the very end of the mainline.
Now my cousin's dumb-ass kid is camping at the river, driving up and down the road, shooting guns, the dogs don't like them so who know what else they've been up to.
Did he call me?
Of course the irrigator is still running as the tractor has no murphy switch and the irrigator has sped up somewhere in the night and is almost in.
That irrigator is such a piece of crap anyway. Has cost us so much money. The last time it was on this setting the cart kept tipping over, so this is the second failure in a row.
Of course I get a text from employee, he has another crisis.
When his daughter moved out with her jail-bird boyfriend they somehow got his mail canceled and now he has to pay his electric bill and go to the post office to straighten it all out.
I need 2-135 to pull the gun back out (if I can pull it!!!) and it is hooked to the baler three miles down the road.
I'm sitting in my office (and when I say office I mean-I'm taking a crap) waiting for a call from cousin who farms nearby, he is going to give me a ride to the tractor, which is in his field. Wife is at a garage sale, dad is 90 and not sure I trust his driving. I could walk...
This is why people turn to drink.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things I thing are funny

The things I think are funny are sometimes really not what other people think are funny. I was setting on my porch steps and I saw a fellow motor past on his Harley. He was wearing a leather vest and leather chaps and no shirt. Have you ever slid a motorbike down the highway? Do you know why you wear leather? I have noticed that most Harley riders dress like gay porn stars (not that I have ever seen any gay porn stars, really...I mean that.) so perhaps they don't wear the leather for protection from the pavement. Perhaps there are other reasons. I'm sure there are no connections between homoeroticism and harley motorcycles...
And I found this about a SPCA person who left their doggie in a car with rolled up windows on a 90 degree day. How many times do I need to say it. The sDog belong in the back! (sometimes an issue at our house)

I just feel tired...

I think it is the whole economy and the whole farming situation. It was very nice to see someone as enthusiastic as Mr. Winkle. I was enthused for almost a whole day.
Got to talking with a friend of mine about local farming. This whole grass seed market is dead. It is funny to see how many folks have become totally dependent on growing a luxury item. Golf courses are figuring out how to avoid reseeding, the whole push towards the green bs is also hurting. It is going to be back to small grains and specialty crops. But, there is no livestock industry left, dairy industry is going down. These idiots who tell you bigger is better should all be taken out behind the barn and, and, and, made to set on tacks!
If there were say lots more farms 100 clear up 800 acres, (less than 100 acres often means strange yuppie folks or horse farmers or gensing growers or alternate lifestyle folks) and those farms had 20 head of cattle, or a few hogs, and some chickens those people would be buying feed from other farmers in the area, and those with plenty of manure would be using the manure, and selling the extra, and if there were a few 350 cow dairies there would be silage to chop and corn to grow. If there were a few row crop farms there would be corn to haul and no one person could afford an expensive no-till drill or a monster combine or a 400hp tractor and a disk ripper and there people would practice conservation tillage-because it is their own farm and they have to look at the same ground every day... But it won't happen. Everyone thinks they have a vision from Donald Trump to be the biggest farmer there every was, and every farmer thinks he is the best farmer there ever was.
In other news, we are almost done with straw baling. Got a little peaved with employee yesterday. He has been baling for me for 10 years I think. I had just left the field with the stacker and he wanted me to come back and fix a knotter. I said, "look under the hood by the knotter fan, there is a decal with pictures of broken knotts. Find the one that looks like your problem and do what it says." He grumbled a bit but called back a half hour later and said he fixed it. Good Job Bill!
Later he called and said the swather kept dying. I went over looked at it with him. We pretty much decided it was the fuel pump. Actually that was Bill's opinion to begain with and we just did some basic trouble shooting and decided that was most likely the problem. (diesel Hesston 6610) I called a friend to ask his advice and Bill got tired of waiting and he took the fuel pump apart. Note: not the injector pump, the fuel pump. By the time I got off the phone he had the pump apart and found some broken seal parts lodged in the diaphram. He put it back together and it worked!
Have 14 blocks of wheat straw to bale and 20 acres of thin barley straw to bale. I bale the barley straw to put into ponds to kill algae so I'm putting those in 2-tie. If it will bale it... Lots of bent bales yesterday. Forgot what a PIA a Freeman 200 can be...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ed Comes to visit, wonder if he like Garbonzo beans?

Ed Winkle came to see me yesterday. He arrived pretty close to coffee time so he got to partake in a 50 year old tradition out here. Couple farmers stopped by and we had a good discussion about no-till, Moline tractors, and lime. The lovely and gracious Mrs. Winkle went to check out the local antique shops. Then they were headed for the Oregon Coast. Sounds like quite a trip.
It is so amazing that you can meet and learn so much about someone via the internet. The weblog provides an amazing communication medium. I suppose you can pretty much pretend to be anything you want but I think most people posting about our regular lives are pretty honest.
I didn't give him the farm tour. I wanted to discuss strip-tilling and how we do it different here than there, due to the heavy clay soils and the compaction from late harvesting. I was going to show him my turbo-till coulters and fertilizer injectors on the White planter, I wanted some corn advice, but we sat around the coffee table and had a good chat. That was a good thing to do I think. What is the term when you bring your work with you, busman's holiday? don't know.
Then I went back to baling. I finished up the alfalfa. Finally made some really bright green alfalfa. Used the old Freeman 200. Decided to bale some wheat straw with it but didn't make it quite to the neighbor's place. Bill wanted me to move bales where he was baling with the 3-tie hesston. So I took the stacker over. Brother sold a load of straw in the field so I put up a truck load of squeeze blocks last night.
Then Jose called me. I have been growing an acre or so of Garbonzo's for Jose' our former employee every year for the past five or four or whatever. It never really works. You see we are not very good farmers. I know that, its not that I'm really insecure, its just that I'm not a real farmer.
So, this year thought I had it figured out. We worked the ground, got a sprout, harrowed the sprout out, and I did twin row Garbonzo's (chick peas) for Jose with the GreatPlains drill and it sort of worked. (Two rows 7.5" and two rows skipped.)
Jose actually got a Garbonzo bean harvest and he wanted to bring me some. I was baling and stacking in the field behind Jose's house and so he brought me a bag of Garbozo beans boiled in bacon fat and two tortias with macroni (sp?) and cheese on top. It was dark, 10:30 or 11 p.m. and so I could toss the tortias under the stacker when Jose wasn't looking. I hate to tell him sometimes this stuff makes me sick..
There is a little more to the story but we will skip that. Bill stopped baling and came over and we had quite a chat. The moisture went 12 percent to 16 while we talked so it must have been at least an hour.
I am really worried he did not understand the directions to the field. He drove around to the wrong side of the field and the only way to get to me was either across an irrigation pipe or through a clover field. I'm a little worried I may have to do Jose damage control in the morning.
I went back to stacking. Had one more stack to make an 8-pack for the truck. Stupid stacker is computerized. All I have to do is point it at the bale. Lost tier 4 and 5 right away. Had to restack them. The second stack I just took it easy. Moisture came up and the bales would slide right on the table. Last week it was 100 degrees. One rain in August and it is fall. I hauled the stack home and went to bed.
Did have a nice time with Ed Winkle. He is a much better farmer than I am. Of course so are Bruce and Garth. But, I'm a nice guy (At least Jose thinks so) and that has to count for something.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back to 100 degrees

It is hot again! The humidity is much lower than the last hot weather spell. I can bale past 11 p.m. Don't really have that many big fields so that I can take advantage of 16hrs of baling time. Last week it rained 1/2 inch. Not enough to skip an irrigation cycle on the corn, but enough to ruin the tops of the stacks that were sitting outside. And to color the straw-and to make the weeds grow in the wheat stubble.
Fixed the A/C on the White 2-135. Got a new compressor after several wrong ones. The difference between a rotary compressor with flare fittings and one with o-ring fittings is nothing but $100. Ouch!
Then, when I was looking for leaks I removed the evaporator from the cab. I was very careful cleaning it and handling it, so no fins were bent. Then when I was blowing out the a/c vents in the cab I hit the evaporator with the air hose and knocked it to the ground. It landed one of the fittings and it made a hole when I straightened the fitting. I soldered it! Unbelievable. It actually worked. It was impossible to reach, plus none of the butane torches out here worked, couldn't find any acid core solder, or flux. But, after much fussing around I was able to melt some solder on the crack in the fitting. Then I drew a good vacuum and dumped in some a/c leak sealer.
It worked yesterday evening. Hope it works today. Pretty hot yesterday, today it is supposed to hit 100.
I have to get everything ready in anticipation of a visit from Ed Winkle. Not everyday a famous blogger comes to visit you!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Great Marketing Idea!

I watched the movie "Matchstick Men" a couple weeks ago. It was about a con artist who gets conned and then finds true happiness by losing all his ill-gotten gains. I like those movies. Saw the "Grifters" years ago. I read in Reader's Digest about the fellow who was an airline pilot with no training and how he fooled all those people with very simple counterfeit credentials. (movie was "catch me if you can") That story helped me get into lots of places for free as a highschool and college student.
I'm always been fascinated by people who can convince other people to give them their money and be happy about it.
I've been puzzling over the whole issue with Dad and the OSHA training manual from J.J. Keller. I think it is a scam. But, a beautiful scam, one that is actually legal, but gets you to pay a lot of money for something you could get on your own, but with a little work. My brother brought me a post card. You are offered a free training manual for truck drivers with the promise that you will want to subscribe to the whole training program once you see what valuable materials are in the free notebook.
We have a good idea what happened with the OSHA materials. Dad sent for the free notebook, the saleslady called and talked him into the whole program. The regulations are enforced by fines and you do have to have this material so it is not difficult to put this into a hard sell. It is not illegal or probably unethical, but it is smooth salesmanship.
The whole JJ Keller website is full of these training programs and promotional materials that you think you might need but really don't. You buy them because you think you are providing yourself with training security. "If I have all the OSHA requirements and training updates I will be protected," of course you have to actually read the foot thick manual. And when you go to an OSHA training meeting you often get a CD with all the training materials in PDF format. So I could just print the whole thing out myself. I don't need the stuff because we go to training sessions every year and we don't really implement what we see anyway. What good does a 50lb manual and $500 training materials do if you never read it. Kind of like buying a good luck charm.
It is amazing that mindset has made many many $$$ for J.J. Keller and associates.
I wish I could think of something like this myself!!!
Would anyone subscribe to, "how to look like a farmer but not really do anything in 10 easy steps for $500," I'm not so sure...
Edit: I forgot to add one big point about the JJ Keller training materials. I know the OSHA stuff is just public domain info. I imagine they have staff researchers who put together all these different government laws that are on .pdf and availible to the public and then they send you the updates. Probably make it a little more readable.

Going to sleep whist blogging....

Was looking at post from last night. Once again I actually went to sleep while typing! Note the last couple words in the post. Had the same problem a couple days ago, actually fell asleep with my hand on the keyboard resulting in very long post on the letter "o"
I did actually get something done yesterday which off sets the fact that I didn't go visit anyone.
As I think I related previously the a/c compressor locked up on the 2-135. I ordered a new one from Harold Electric Co. and it turned out to be the right one for the White part number but the wrong one for what was installed on the tractor.
A local tractor repair service had what we thought was the correct compressor. I spent Saturday flushing the a/c system and trying to find leaks. I installed the compressor, put oil in the system, then removed the caps on the compressor. Flare fittings instead of o-ring fittings. Wrong compressor. I called the repair service and the fellow say's, "oh no I was looking at the pulley and I forgot to check the fittings." So I take it back Monday. I should have double checked the fittings. Stupid me!!!
Bill ended up running combine all day so I did not have him to swath wheat stubble or cut hay. I thought I would get the 2-135 together so I concentrated on fixing the a/c.
By 5 p.m. I was so uptight I couldn't sit still. Wife had to go get daughter from Salem about that time which was the one thing, other than me being tired and uptight, preventing us from either going to the Butteville Store music and pork extravaganza or to Bruce's house for dinner.
I installed the old compressor and tried to pull a vacuum on the system to check for leaks. It would not hold a vacuum and I couldn't find the leak which added to the frustration. Finally at 7 wife was home and we talked about dinner. Sadie and I were going down to the river to check the alfalfa field when Bill showed up. He had finished combining the good part of the oat field and all was left was the patches with lots of Morning Glory (field bind weed) which had gone to seed. The seeds are very hard to clean out of the oats so we were doing them seperately. (Wauken oats-notilled into sweetcorn stubble in the fall. Should go well over 1 ton per acre-one good crop this year)
So Bill and I decided to go get the 2-155 which was at gopher valley along with the harrow, cultipacker, and plow. Sadie didn't want to go along so I dropped her off at the house and away we went. Had to replace wheel bearing on harrow but we were prepared.
Up at Gopher Valley they were having a Mexican Rodeo. You could hear the music and hollering from across the valley. They were certianly having a good time. It is funny as Gopher Valley is a narrow bottleneck valley five miles off the coast highway 18. Bill hooked the harrow on the pickup and I hooked up the plow and took off with the 2-155. We have an old Melroe 911 five bottom pull plow. I did have to stop partway down the valley and lock the tailwheel as it started to fish-tail pretty bad. Along the way I was passed by-and met carloads of hispanics. They certainly know how to get around wide farm equipment on a narrow road. They don't mess around, when there is an opening they zip past. It was actually less stressful than the usual string of traffic that accumulates behind me on that road. No fingers out the window either.
I got home right around dark and Bill and I went to check the irrigation. I felt much better. I actually got something done. Moving to and from Gopher Valley is kind of stressful. Now I do have a tractor big enough for the diskmower (Hesston 1340) although it might be a challenge to cut hay or bale with duals on. But, we shall see.
The one good thing with all this compressor problems it that I ran into a neighbor who I should know, but whose name I can never remember, (it is ok cause I know who he is related to) who wants me to plant 80 acres. Oh boy! I have 1/8th of what I need to make my drill, my tractor, and the stacker payment! Well perhaps more like 1/10th or perhaps 1/16th. Perhaps I should just stop wondering about payments and just concentrate on getting stuff done now.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I have a problem with friends. I have just realized that in the past couple years. I get the impression people think I am a friendly and outgoing person and I think, the same thing with my wife. Really we are kind of shy and I know I am fairly introverted. As a result we tend to stay home. Unless forced to leave the shelter of our own happy spot.
We were invited to a friends place for dinner, and we had also planned to attend the Flying Pig musical extravaganza at the Butteville Store.
But we had to pick up daughter in Salem and I accomplished nothing all day.
So, we didn't go to either event, but we got our daughter back from her aunts.
I was trying to fix the A/C on the White 2-135. The first compressor I bought was completely wrong. The second was slightly wrong, but in the end they were both wrong. Finally I gave up and went up to Gopher Valley to get the 2-155. We brought it back and I think we are going to mail and cccc

Friday, August 14, 2009


Last night we went to visit our friends from Iowa. We didn't actually go to Iowa, we went to Dundee. They were cleaning/sorting her parent's house after her father passed away.
Don was a pretty neat guy with a funny/quirky sense of humor and a long-time supporter and advocate for the Daily Strumpet, America's former irregular newspaper-for irregular folks.
They had BBQ from Huckabee's BBQ just down at the foot of the hill. BBQ seems out of place in "Wine Country," but it was very good. M's brother and wife were there from Chicago to help.
I kept thinking about how we cleaned out my Aunt's house, brought boxes and boxes of stuff to Mom's house, then Mom died. Whenever I get involved in the sorting or determining who gets what-my brain shuts down. I kind of get claustrophobic almost. Very strange, and kind of interesting. I didn't cry at her funeral. In fact the pastor asked me to read her obituary and give a talk. I made everyone laugh. I was fine. But I get in the house and start looking at her stuff and I just go blank. Get very stressed, very uptight. Wish I could have cried at the funeral, had a public breakdown, whatever it took to get it out of my system. I even have a hard time in her house. Pictures are not where they should be, her stuff is not how she wanted it.
So, I feel for anyone having to deal with a parent's death and their stuff.
We have but one child. Hopefully she will just call an antique store and tell them to take it all...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How I made a fool out of myself today

Well I sent off two emails to J.J. Keller, one to the main website and one to the President, Mr. J Keller himself at his little dogsled racing page.
Two hours later I got a call from Shelley, the person in charge of my father's account. She got my brother's name wrong, and did not understand several things about the business, so she thought we were trying to scam them. I explained the complexities of our farm business and the fact that dad does some strange things and then forgets what he does. I also noted that Dad had been talked into a number of purchases, 20 gallons of rustproofer, 10 gallons of mouse bait, and so I was kind of touchy about these issue. She my dad seemed to know what he was talking about and was capable of making decisions. I said, well that's half the problem. She apologized and said she would not charge our account. I asked for a return authorization number or what to do with the materials, I said there was just one packet of information and a bill for $500. She said that they sent us a huge thick book in May. Moment of silence. I said, "oh' Another moment of silence, now it starts to make sense. I couldn't figure out what my brother was talking about when he said we had already got some of the materials. I remember that book. Dad thought the Oregon OSHA people had sent him the book as part of the OSHA class I had attended.
So I apologized and said I thought we had to pay for what we had received. So we all shared apologies and I hung up very embarrassed. I suggested the start a course on "Communication within a Business." She did laugh...
Well, that is what email contact numbers are for. I did get results and I did express myself. It is a shame I was WRONG...

I make a fool out of myself...

Apparently my 90 year old father sent in a subscription card for safety training materials. Somehow he signed up for a five year subscription with a company called J.J. Keller & Associates or and I don't think he realized it was going to be $500. Plus he didn't use a credit card so we could just dispute it though the credit card company.
My brother called and it seemed simple. He got a return authorization number and everything seemed cool. Then dad got a call on his cell phone. It was a salesperson trying to talk him out of canceling. So my brother got on the phone. He was standing outside the shop but I could tell by the color of his ears that he was angry. In the end they talked him into a one year subscription. I am not criticizing him as I think there was a really good saleslady on the other end. But, after being through this sort of thing before I am really angry with JJ Keller and Associates. So what if someone sent in a subscription card. We are not happy. So what if it is useful info, we are not happy. Cancel the subscription.
So I followed Ed Winkles individual activism approach and wrote an email. Sent it to the comments section on their website. I think I will also send a letter through the mail.
Letter is as follows:

Our business recently received a package of safety training materials and a bill. Upon reading the bill we saw that we had signed up for a five year subscription for safety information.

My brother called your company and apparently our 90 year old father sent in a subscription card and requested the information. My brother says that because we sent in a subscription card we could not cancel the order and but you did cut the subscription rate down to a one year subscription.

Now, I was not the one on the phone, and I am but a minor partner in this business. This is a very small business. My brother and father are good natured honest people. Perhaps you should branch out into taking candy from babies. You could probably resell it on your very nice slick website-that makes you look like a legitimate business.

I really don't care whether your materials are good, or if there are a hundred glowing testimonials.

I really don't see how it matters if we sent in a subscription card or not. Your materials are not what we need or want. If you were a reputable business you would take the materials back and cancel our bill. This is totally unbelievable that you would even argue about this issue. We are not happy, we don't want your services and that is all.

Won't do much good I don't suppose but I'm still pissed...

I was wrong

Last week I was quite upset about a field of straw that had been promised to a guy who is sort of my friend and a hay customer.
Yesterday I saw the Farmer whose field it was and he told me how uncomfortable it was to be in the middle of the deal.
His son had told my annoying friend he could have part of a straw field. This farmer who owned the field then found someone to bale the whole field. He told the baler guy that he had to make a deal with annoying guy for the straw that was promised to him.
Now, annoying guy told me they wouldn't give him any straw, but rather offered to sell him year old straw for a high price.
Farmer said the baler guy offered to bale straw for annoying guy at a reasonable cost or to haul him last years straw, to his barn for a reasonable price. Not, quite the same story I heard.
It sounds like he didn't get his straw because he is; ANNOYING.
I really didn't think the farmer would not be true to his word.
But, yet this is the classic straw field story. Someone always needs it more than you do and it is for your own good that it is given to someone else.
Lessons: Just because someone likes to talk doesn't mean they like you-it just means they like to talk. Generally, people with horses who wear funny tight pants call horse riding "dressage" are unreliable. Don't fly off the handle about something with out knowing the facts...
IF SOMEONE GIVES YOU A FIELD OF HAY or STRAW-GET ON IT! Get it done before someone else gets it. Say thanks, move a tractor, pay them money, do something to make it yours, and what ever you do-DON'T ANNOY THEM!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cash for my Clunker

I was at a relative's house Sunday and they were talking about taking advantage of the cash for clunker's program. It was suggested that I look into it.
I think it is basically the vehicle can't be older than 1984 and you have had to have insurance and registration on it for a year.
(Kind of funny the logo on the NPR program talking about the program features a 1978 for truck, which would not qualify)
So, I could buy a stripped down Ranger pickup for $10,000. I could trade in my 1984 service truck, which is in pretty rough shape, for $4500. I would have a new, fuel efficient truck for $6,000, with low interest and low payments.
It would be a good idea in advance of the coming inflation as the economy collapses from unbridled government spending. I would be paying for it with worthless dollars so my payments would be lower.
I could state my feelings towards Obama buying GM by not buying a GM product.
But, I would have payments. I don't want payments for a vehicle. If I have payments I want payments for property.... Think I may pass on this one.
Especially when I think about the fact that this $4500 is really my money that I will be paying in taxes over my future life. So, it is really double payments-I'm just paying uncle sam instead of the bank...

Friday, August 7, 2009

When you are young

Last Saturday I was in the local autoparts store to get a airconditioning hose made. This was right at closing time and there were very few customers in the store. I had been to several places trying to get a new hose end put on.
One of the shop/counter guys is a Studebaker collector and so I went to him. He is also the best guy at the store. He was making me a new hose and I was leaning against the counter waiting.
All the parts department people were heading out and someone made a comment about catching the "last train to Clarkesville."  Another parts guy speaks up and says he saw the Monkeys in 1965 and it was a pretty wild show. The younger guy at the counter didn't have much to say and wandered off. I went over and asked the guy what it was like to see the Monkeys back in the day. Were they serious? Kind of a joke like they seem to be today? 
Guy says it was a wild show and the Monkeys were actually really good. He said during Last Train to Clarksville they were pushing each other around on stage in a hospital gurney. Said they would send it from one side of the stage to the other with a big crash. People were wild, everyone was having a good time.
Said he also saw Jimi  Hendrix. Said that was an amazing show. Must have been really something to see Hendrix in person. Guy said that Hendrix did stuff with his guitar that it would take a computer to recreate. It was as they say, "an experience."
He noted that he almost saw Janis Joplin. Drove quite a distance, got tickets, then got too drunk at the part the night before. Missed the concert. I'm not much of a Joplin fan but Hendrix would have been amazing and the Monkeys would have been interesting.
So my question/comment is:
You are young and hip and living life to the fullest and all that stuff. 
Does anyone stop and think, "I wonder if I could grow up to be a counterman at the McMinnville autoparts store."
In my case I did wonder if I would end up being a farmer. But then I was never tragically hip...
Note: I am not putting down folks who work the counter at the auto store. My friend with the Studebakers is really good and it seems to be the perfect job for him. Good access to parts, lots of people with the same interests-etc.
I'm just not picturing it as the glamour job for the younger set.
What you think about when you are young and where you end up when you are old are two different things.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It is gonna rain!

The weather forecast says no but I say yes. I don't have everything that needs to be put away taken care of either. Baler broke down. I bearing flange in the header busted. We just went all through those parts and put most things in new. One part we didn't change and it busted. Sometimes that is how it goes.
We took the header apart and came home lookin gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooOh
um, wow-went to sleep. Perhaps I better just go to bed! Pretty funny!

The Joy of Straw

They say Oregon is Whine country and I've been doing my share. Looked back over some posts and realized there is a certain negative tone...
Found my annoying friend some straw. It seems as though there is a lot of wheat straw to be had. Neighbor wanted to get rid of some as there was too much for him to plow under. It was well over three ton to the acre of straw. He made a deal with annoying guy and sold him the straw at, or below cost. Neighbor is now laughing at me as he says he sold it so cheap this fellow will think the price should always be low. It is funny because it is basically true.
Have actually been getting some baling done. Did 25 acres of 3-tie oat straw yesterday and stacked most of it. Have another job doing 2-tie for a nursery. Got the nursery their 300 bales but had a lot of problems with the little Hesston baler. It doesn't like 3-ton oat straw which has been combined with a 25 foot header, right down on the ground. The bales are like five feet apart. I got the 300 bales delivered so that is out of the way. I'm putting the rest into squeeze blocks and will store it and sell it in the winter. Hopefully it will bring in pretty good money. Good 14x18 bales are really hard to find. You can actually pick these up with a loader or hay hooks or a squeeze so they should be easy to move. 
Weather is cloudy and looks like rain. Hope it will clear off enough to bale today!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Post at NAT

Yesterday I posted my frustration on NewAgTalk. The results were a bit different than I expected. I must confess I thought I would get a few folks who agree with me. If you give somebody something you should stick with what you said. Or if you get a field with the agreement you need to take care of someone with a prior agreement-you take care of that person, in a fair manner.
I think perhaps I need to realize this is the 21st century and people whose word is their bond-people who lived by handshake agreements-that world is no more.
It was pretty funny however. Some people wondered what horse people used straw for. (bedding) The point was brought up that I shouldn't care as I didn't want the straw anyway, that is true, but kind of misses the point.
But, the basic understanding I keep getting reinforced is that you need to be a much bigger farmer. And you need to get there anyway possible. After all farming should not be your lifestyle-it should be a business. That of course means you should try to get the best of every business deal, I suppose...
One fellow did thank me for advice I gave him on my White tractor, so that was nice.
Off to work I go! Hi! Ho! Perhaps I can steal a field of straw from someone today! Whoop! Whoop! That will bring me personal satisfaction!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More jerks in the farming world

I have this friend who has horses. He is pretty annoying but he is basically a good guy. He is obsessed with getting the best deal possible, and he is an Austrian immigrant so the whole combination is both frustrating and comical at the same time.

He found a field of wheat straw two miles from his house. So he asked the farmer if he could have enough to bale 600 bales for his horses. He wanted me to bale it and he would haul it with his Super 1048. 

We have had several discussions about when I am going to bale it. I said middle to end of the week and he wanted it done right away. I pointed out that I have commitments and have to keep a schedule. Finally I told him to just get the whole field spoken for and I would bale it at the end of the week and take what he didn't want. We could run a swather over and do a proper job.

Finally, I just called the farmer, who I have known for years, and talked to him about it. The farmer said he had given the straw to another baler person, but that person said he would take care of my Austrian. This was basically ok with me as I didn't really want to bale there as it is a long drive from where I need to be. I think I have plenty of wheat straw if I want to bale it.

So, my Austrian friend calls me that evening. He had gone to check out the field and found the baler guy and the farmer at the field. The baler guy offered to sell him last year's straw for $50 a ton to replace the perfectly clean straw in the field. Austrian said the farmer backed up what the baler guy said.

I didn't call the farmer again. I guess I should and get the story straight because this sort of thing just really pisses me off.

Farmer will give you straw and then someone bigger comes along and the farmer will tell you that the bigger guy needs it more than you do and gives it to the other guy.

Farmer always thinks he is the most honest guy in the world and figures I will be understanding.

Baler guy thinks he is really smart for getting another field of straw away from someone else.

What a bunch of jerks.

The field was only two miles from the guy's barn. He was totally set. I've found him straw but it is 10 miles away. 

Baler guy could find straw anywhere. He is going to truck it with squeeze and a set of doubles anyway so 3 to 10 miles makes not difference.

Farmer should have stuck by his word. 

Is there anyone who is honest and fair anywhere in this world. I would like to go down there and tell the weird old @#$%er with the baler that he owns me either 600 bales or $750 as he just stole my job. Just start picking bales up with my stacker. But, I guess I don't know the whole story. Will have to corner the farmer as he comes out from time to time. I didn't want to do the job anyway.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Antique Powerland Sunday

Took dad and S. to Antique Powerland Sunday. S. and I go every year. We like to look at the old tractors, ride the miniature railroad, see the trolly museum, ride the trolley, wander around. 
She always has a cup of shaved ice, and we get the home made style ice cream made by the steam engine driven off the saw mill steam supply. Seems to taste better than regular ice cream. 
Dad thought he wanted to go with us this year. There was a lot of walking for someone who is 90 years old. I should have found him an electric wheel chair. He was a pretty good sport. We didn't see everything. Sadie and I have sort of a random approach to seeing the show. Dad wanted to see the steam sawmill so we walked over there first. Sadie wanted to ride the miniature steam train so we caught the trolley over to Willow springs railroad. It was quite difficult for dad to get on the trolley. Just too high a step. Have a photo of him and sadie setting on the train.
Sadie was disappointed there were not many Minneapolis-Moline tractors. We looked for our Moline that Antique Powerland borrowed this year. Rode the people mover around the show grounds  a couple times. Found it in one of the sheds. They use it for mowing the grounds. It was with the tractors they use. S. finally found a Moline and I took her picture.
Later we had hot dogs and ice cream. When the temp hit 89 we decided to go home. Did miss the old style tractor pull where folks step onto the sled and the steamer pulls them out the gate.
Sadie really liked the blacksmith shop. I have a photo of her watching the blacksmith pound out a large metal bar. The fellow was running a big trip hammer. Dad used to have one of those set up in the shop. I remember dad running the forge and trip hammer. Long time ago now. Probably 35 years ago.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Define Absurd

We watched movies on the neighbor's barn tonight. Now that in itself is not that strange. The neighbor built a big white barn across the road from our house. It makes an excellent projection screen. I've been finding 16mm films, cartoons, old commericals, cowboy movies, and we invite some friends and watch movies on summer evenings.
What amazes me is this following little story.
My wife got a call from her sister yesterday. Her niece has been in Spain learning the language and experiencing Spanish culture. Her host is now visiting her in Tacoma and experiencing American culture.
I've read the emails from my niece. They visited 500 year old sites of historical value. They went to museums, they ate at small interesting and romantic cafe's. They hung out with hip young people and had good food and coffee and whatever else you do in Spain. They toured a big farm where the girl's uncle was a manager. It was clean and neat and really big.
So-my sister in law brings this very nice and kind of quiet girl from Spain to our farm in the middle of freakin' nowhere USA to watch movies on the side of a barn. We watched Farmer Alfalfa and the mechanical cow, Woodie Woodpecker, the Piano Tuner, A racially insensitive Mr. Magoo, Forage Harvestor Safety (neat old film form IH), this stuff would not even make Nick at Nite. Next they are taking her to Church camp meeting. This is totally absurd. They are doing this with a totally straight face, no tongue in cheek, no sense of the ironic or appreciation of the contrast between my niece's experience in Spain and the host girl's experience in the USA. 
This is not even a fair example of life in the USA. No body watches old movies on the side of a freakin' barn.  With, hay trucks going by on occasion, and neighbors stopping by to watch.
I just wonder what she thinks.
I asked her and she just laughed. 
Who knows...

Saturday morning

It has been quite the hectic week. Temperatures were up to 107 degrees. This would not be such a big deal but-the humidity was so high it affected the baling. 
I was attempting to do 80 acres of fescue straw and 30 acres of meadow foxtail straw. The moisture levels were so high that I could not start baling till 11:00 am and then it would come back up at 10:30 p.m. If you have temperatures of 107 at 4 p.m. and have to take a couple hours off due to fire danger, well you don't get a lot done.
I didn't do the whole 80 acres. I did 50 and gave the rest to the young fellow who what given the other half of the straw (160 acres total). The farmer I was selling to decided the straw quality was not good enough and suggested I sell to someone else. The fellow who got the other half of the field had already said he would buy my half to I sold to him.
I got to thinking whilst driving around the field in the high temps that I was not making a lot of money. This other fellow has a lot higher payments than I do. What is the point in selling to him when he could just bale it and I could go do something else. So I gave him the rest of my share. Seemed to make him happy.
We may watch movies on the barn tonight.
Tomorrow daughter and I are going to Antique Powerland at Brooks. Hope it is not 95 degrees there.
I do enjoy the smell of woodsmoke and distillate.

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