The Useful Duck!

Contribute to my Vacation, please...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday rain

Woke up to rain this morning. Yesterday I got a late start. I needed to check a field that a vineyard fellow wanted me to disk for him. He said it was 12 acres. My GPS says it is 4.5 acres. Kind of hard to make money on that job unless you have a $500 minimum charge...
Got started planting at 1:30 p.m. Forgot my lunch. Forgot to get any money. Had $1.50 for a burrito at Dad's Market Deli. Another farmer offered to loan me $2 but I declined. I had hoped to bum a spicy dog (type of hot dogs favored by cousin) off my cousin. It is his notorious lunch of the day. Unfortantly his wife was sick. I'm planting amost with in sight of his house.
I've moved from the riverbottom to a field across from the Grand Island store. No money and I could see the store.
I'm planting wheat into winter wheat stubble. The drill pulls hard.  Had to drop into 4th gear. Auto rate controller not working. GPS drifted almost a whole drill width from 3p.m. to 9 p.m.
I finished that field, 45 acres, by 9:30. Next I'm planting wheat in to fescue stubble. Will see how that goes in the rain. My go to daughter's soccer game instead.

Friday, October 30, 2009

I hate television

There is no school on Fridays in our school district. My wife is not working mornings. I woke up late. I sitting in my chair eating my bannana for breakfast. Daughter is up working on a huge jigsaw puzzle and the TV is on. We only get public televsion which does cut the choices down. (This is a good thing.)
Sid the Science Kid is on. What an annoying show. Annoying voices, annoying computer generated clay annimation style graphics. Idiotic science, today it is about decaying bannanas. It is just loud and annoying, with an annoying kid as the lead. Just, noise, all noise. What about quiet?  What about sounds of a real child playing? I like to hear her make of silly songs, have the lego people talk to each other, whatever....
Last night we built a lego house. Sadie got a lego kit from her aunt and built two of the three houses. I wanted to build the third house. She didn't really want to. I started and then it turned out to be really tedious. She wouldn't let me stop. She told me to finish what I started. When I finished we used up al lthe extra pieces on the yard. We had more fun doing that then following the directions.
Today the sun is out. I'm going to plant!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More rain, less planting

Today was pretty much a waste. I put together a bill for doing a custom farming job. The guy will owe me $6000 for planting 50 acres of hay. He doesn't have the money. I hope the in-laws who own the place are paying the bill. Ten trips across the field to get it perfect and then I planted half of it in the rain. May have to do some replanting for free this coming spring.
So, if he gets three ton to the acre, and he can sell the hay for $100 a ton, then that will be $15,000 in return. But, most likely it will be two tons of weedy hay cause he didn't get it sprayed and I planted through a pretty good sprout of wild carrot and thistles so I'm thinking a net loss per acre. I better collect now...
Last night my electric flow control for the hydraulic powered pump for the fertilizer on my drill stuck wide open. I had to plant at 7 mph to get the rate right. I did get done sooner so all was not lost. The field looked rototilled. I guess that is a good thing.
I spent all afternoon trouble shooting the flow control. It is a clever motorized flow control with some sort of balanced pressure feedback. You just turn a dial and it runs a motorized valve. Always maintains the same pressure through electronic feedback. Don't have a clue how it works. There are four wires coming out of the motor. Three black wires and one yellow wire. I took it all apart and found nothing I could see that was wrong. I did have an extra motor. I bought a box of Source Hydraulics motors on ebay a while back. I thought I had really wasted my money as I would never use them as I didn't have the valves to go with the motors. One of the motors had a two wire hookup and fit my valve body. Two wires means you can use a double throw reversing switch. So, I wired it all up and it works. I have no guage or reference point but I probably don't need it. Will see how it works tomorrow. Hope to have a break in the showers so I can move to the next field. Need to get back to work.

From Sunshine to Rain-12 hours later!

I stayed up late reformatting my wife's new (to us) iBook. The Mac OS has what is called a "Migration assistant," you run the program which tells you to hook your old computer to your new computer with a firewire cable. You then restart the old computer into what is called "target disk mode" by holding down the "T" button on the keyboard. The program creates a new user account on the new computer that is the same as everything on the old computer, apps, music, network settings, all the passwords (which I've forgotten), but it also keeps the new computer's identity so that if something else needs to be changed you have your backup. I did that, renamed the iBook, did a software update, and she is set. It has a very nice 14" screen and it looks like about 4hr battery life. Pretty good for a $295 ebay snipe. The iBooks and PowerBooks have actually kept their value really well. The Mac faithful really resent the switch to the Intel chip and the evolution of the PC-like mac.
Which brings me to something I need to get off my chest. I HATE the PC. Last night I wanted to shut down my Windows XP based tablet that I use for GPS. It says "Are you sure you want to shut down?" And I get three buttons, one of which I need to push on the screen. It is dark, I'm tired, I want out ofthe tractor as fast as possible, but if I just yank out the usb cables and go it will cause problems. Yes I do want to shut down, otherwise I would not have gone through the program menu and found the shutdown command with my little pen. I have never pushed that button and not wanted to shut down. Actually, I didn't want to shut down, I wanted to put the dang thing to sleep, but it is not a mac and you can't just tap the sleep command. And if you make it hibernate or whatever stupid interpretation of the sleep command microsoft has come up with, it still runs the battery down, so what is the point? I will tell you things that will make the computer shut off but are really counter productive.
1. Banging it repeatedly on the steering will. This ruins the hard drive.
2. Punching the screen. New screen digitizer
3. Ripping it off the dash and hurling it out the window, new tablet
4. Just holding the on-off switch down until the screen goes dark. You have to wait EVEN LONGER for the POS to start up, because it "shut down unexpectedly."
5. Tapping repeatedly on the icon of an application because it will not open. There is a "keyboard" memory. If you tap repeatedly on the browser icon then eventually you will have five hundred browser windows open, all trying to load at the same time. You can tap repeatedly on the FarmerGPS icon. It is smart enough to just open one time...

If some shadowy super rich people read this blog and decide to front me as president, in much the same way they did with a kid with big ears from Kenya, there are some executive orders I will issue.
1. Cell phones will have standard functions. There will be no external buttons that can be accidently pushed while driving a tractor over a rough field. You will not be able to accidently get "voice command" while flipping open the phone. The phone will be tested.
2. Coffee makers will fill and empty without dripping over the counter.
3. People who walk in front of vehicles when not in a designated cross walk will not be able to sue anyone-ever...
4. Finally Products which do not meet basic quality and ease of use standards will be shoved up the CEO of the company's arse...

I think that would be a good platform to run for office...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm back to planting!

Today I planted 23 acres! Nice to be working at something that makes money again. I spent all morning washing the drill from my last missadventure. There was wet sticky mud in places I didn't know mud could go.
My wayward employee showed up for work today.  Worked quite hard but took off at 5 p.m. Had to bring me a part.
I'm planting probably 15 miles from home. At the small town of Wheatland, Oregon. I'm not sure it is a town, I'm going to look it up on Wikipedia. There is a ferry there that crosses the Willamette river.
If you follow this link to Wikipedia you will see a field which I planted last year. The photo shows the field planted to fescue. I no-tilled it to wheat last year. If you were to turn left onto the last road before the ferry, and drive down a narrow gravel road past Arcane Cellers makers of Wheatland Ale, you will find a White 2-155 and a Great Plains no-till drill parked where the road turns into a private drive. With the amount of rain that is falling at this very moment, there is a good chance it will set there for a couple days.
It is somewhat of a wonder that I got anything planted today at all.
The drill was a mess and had to be washed and all the fescue, orchardgrass, timothy, alsike clover, bits of plastic, rat turds, and whatever else Saddle Bute Ag threw in those bags of seed and ended up wedged into the seed cups of the drill, had to be vaccumed and blown out with compressed air. Then I had to install a low rate flow meter, repair various connectors that pulled apart when the three-point settled and the weight of the quick-hitch pulled everything apart. Then I had to move a pickup, then the drill. Then the hydraulic flow controll failed so the fertilizer pump only runs wide open, then I crushed the magnet that runs the run/hold switch for the GPS, fertilizer, and acre counter. I put the roading pin through the hole without checking to see if the magnet had come loose. It had and it was under the pin so when the hydraulics settled it crushed the magnet.
I called bill to bring me a new magnet. I use the special high-powered rare earth magnets that come with the Baler Stroke Counter kits we sell. The magnets are mounted in a holder which needs to be ground away before they will stick to the metal of the lift tube on the drill. Bill aparently is not Mr. delicate with the grinder as he was able to make one loose it's magnatism and broke the other in half. But, I got it all going. Unfortuantly the SprayMate II auto-rate controller is fairly hard to adjust with the pump wide open and my range adjustment control on the flow bypass is fairly touchy to adjust. I did average 7.5 gallons per acre which was close to what I wanted.
On my way to the field I nearly wiped out a large 4wd Suburban on the bridge at Amity. These people are such idiots. This guy can see I am in the middle of the bridge, there is no where to go, as is typical, he stopped right at the approach to the bridge at the very last second. I should have backed off on the throttle or stopped but I didn't. We missed by inches. Ooops...! Defensive driving is a must on a tractor, especially when you are 16 feet wide. Then there was the other little bridge on the other side of town. A lady pulled out of the next road without looking into the lane she was pulling in to. Either that or she was just to stupid to realize that there was a large tractor coming her way and she was going to have to avoid it somehow. Of course then she sped up trying to beat me to the bridge, but right at the last second she lost her nerve and slowed down. This was not good as I was timing my approach to pull off between the garbage can, the telephone pole, and the bridge guard rail-without actually stopping. So, I had to jam on the brakes to avoid another row of garbage cans. I must remember, Wednesday is garbage day in Amity. Then, I got a shy driver that followed me all the way over the Amity hill only finally get up enough nerve or frustration or whatever, and pass me on a corner, the very second I took my eyes off the rear view mirror. But, I made it!
Wife was supposed to give me a ride home and she called when school was over. I didn't need a ride as I had moved a pickup earlier. I just missed a rollover accident by Maude Williamson park. It was have been Darwin day in Yamhill county...
Bought my wife an iBook for our anniversary. It is a G4, 14" 133mhz with a write/read DVD drive. I sniped it and got it for $295. That is a real deal. This will replace the POS net book PC she bought new last winter. Now I need to sell something. Anyone need a iTronix tablet with FarmerGPS installed? I'll throw in an old MidTech GPS receiver if you want it...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More random Tuesday

I finished planting my 50 going on 60 acre field. The airline pilot fellow whose field I was planting is off flying somewhere. I think he said he was in Klamath Falls. I went down and looked at the field. It looked very wet. I thought about it for a few minutes. I have seven acres left, tomorrow it might rain, the next day it will rain. The ground has been worked and it is sticky, nasty, goey, and generally yuckie. However, I am not leaving ruts and if I raise the drill at little to reduce some of the down pressure and drive at around 7-8 mph the speed flings a lot of the mud off the press wheels. So... away I went! I got it done, plus he had another 2 acre section that turned into five acres that he wanted planted to timothy. I had timothy and orchardgrass with me and this section had not been worked, so I drilled it as well. Then I went home. It was 5 p.m. I didn't even make too much of a mess on the highway!

Then I attempted to fix the headlight in my wife's truck. She has a 1997 F-150, we did not buy it new. It was kind of a gift... Some of you my know just how low budget we are here.. The right hand head light was not so hard. It is a replaceable halogen bulb. They burn out on a pretty regular basis. I fixed the right hand one and then the left hand bulb burnt out. This is not so easy to replace. The water over flow tank for the radiator is in the way. You have to crawl underneath and reach up through the wheel well to change this bulb. The engineer who designed this and the manager who approved the design should each be retrofitted with these replaceable halogen bulbs-up the anal cavity.

Daughter's sore throat is gone. Nurse advised me to watch for more swine flu symptoms. Namely headache and high temperature.

I spent two hours washing the drill in the dark. It is muddy beyond belief. Three point quick hitch came down and pulled out wires to the monitor, broke a no-till opener, broke my seat, have wet fescue/orchardgrass/timothy mix in the drill box. Need to go get my pickup, need to move 15 miles to new field. Probably should go to bed!

Tuesday and random thoughts

The sun is out this morning. Accuweather says the rain has stopped for couple days. Daughter has a sore throat. Half the county has the so-called Swine Flu.
We read the information that comes with the notice that vaccinations will be offered at her school. The vaccine may or may not keep you from getting the influenza. Although, It will most likely help prevent you from getting it. This current round of influenza could turn into pneumonia but then so could other varieties. You may or may not die, but then you could also die from the regular flu.
So what is the truth? Will the vaccine help? What was the point of the information sheet? You can't say, "this might be a good idea but there are many risks and then again it may not work for you and you should do something but we won't really tell you what, but we do think you should get this shot.
Or perhaps they should just say. "We want everyone to be vaccinated and we also want everyone to worry about the side effects..."
Should you just take your chances? Everyone I've talked to who has had the flu says it is pretty nasty stuff but most of them are still kind of undecided if it is worth getting the vaccine.
When I was a kid there was no question, you got the vaccine...
The truth in the 21st century is so hard to find. There is so much information but most of it is not true. I think we are back to superstition, decisions by tea leaf and the toss of a coin. Only we use a computer and the internet instead of a pinch of salt over the shoulder....

In other news- Brother and I were setting on the steps that my wife built and discussing what we are doing this week. He mentioned my problem with bicyclists. We had some other ideas.
We agreed that the problem with bicyclists it that most are activists and so they know more than we do, and are trying to convert us.
We thought of another issue. Bicyclists enjoy a special status in that they use roads and bike paths and pay no licensing fees, nor is insurance a requirement for riding a bicycle on the road.
Then there is the idea presented in the Slate article that right of way disputes could be settled by bicyclists just looking each other the eye and knowing where to go. Now that is a joke and no one called the moron on it!
Then again there is the big issue. It don't matter if you think you are right or have the moral high ground. If you do something that gets you run over by a MAC truck-you are DEAD! So don't run a stop sign, ride defensively!!!

Yesterday my sometimes a great helper and I were going to look at a family friend's old truck. The friend has passed away and but we are friends with his family. The truck has 101,000 miles. It is in perfect shape but doesn't run. My helper says it is worth something to collectors. We were going to look but then he had to work at his dad's body shop.
The fellow who owned the truck was Don S., a long time subscriber to the Daily Strumpet. He was a very interesting fellow. Quirky sense of humor. He liked Spike Jones. He worked at Oregon Mutual insurance with my uncle Ted. I've often wondered what kind of mischief these two characters cooked up in their younger days.
We were called to check things out after his sale. They had a person who does estate sales do it. It makes me pretty uptight to go into a person's house and see it all gutted out with all his memories in plastic trash bags.
All the interesting old folks are kicking off. Somehow I don't have the admiration for aging hippies as for the folks that went through the depression, WWII, and the 20th century. From outhouse to the internet in one generation. Wow!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Rain has Returned

This is the view out the window this morning...
My drill is but a few feet from the edge of a very wet field. The fellow I'm planting for got the exact amount of seed for the size of the field. I forgot to double check and count the sacks. I always get 10 percent more than the actual field size due to corners and overlaps. I'm 7 acres short out of 50 acres. I really needed to get done. It is bare ground.
I need to work on the drill and I have real no-till to do which I could get done with just a couple hours of sun. This is going to take two days of sun.
Today I paid bills and did bookwork.
I hate Quickbooks pro. It is a moronic program.
I discovered there is seen in the old White corn planter. Tomorrow I will clean it I think...
I need to finish cleaning equipment and put things away. It is hard to know where to start.
Employee has disappeared.... It is that time of year...

Our Anniversary

October 25, 1997 is our wedding anniversary
October 25, 1854 the anniversary of the ill-fated battle of Balaclava during the Crimean war-
Remembered in "The Charge of The Light Brigade," made famous by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns1' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not,
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

Despite the ill-starred date of our matrimonial bliss we are still married. I see no signs of parting. There is happiness and there are frustrations. That is the way life goes. You enjoy and make the most of the happiness and endure the frustrations. Many of the people I have know for years are on their second marriage. Those mentioned in Tennyson's poem charged into what was assuredly an unsurvivable engagement. Not so many came back as went out. I think perhaps one could liken this to marriage in general...
We had a nice anniversary. No get-a-way to the beach. We installed a fake hardwood floor in our kitchen. I hardly ever am able to help my wife do things like that. I think she appreciated it. We went to the Amity Cafe for supper and breakfast. No one was injured in the installation.

The lego boats have already set sail on the new hardwood "ocean." I would say we have a happy family. I can hear my daughter in the bedroom singing. She has made up a song about all the states, the refrain is, "don't forget Alaska." I don't have a clue where that came from. There is a map of the states on the bedroom wall. She is going to sleep alongside her mother. After she is sleeping I will pick her up and put her in her own bed and tuck her in. On nights that she is unable to finagle a spot beside Mom I lay in bed with her and read her a story. We say our prayers and say goodnight to grandma whose photo is beside the bed. What more can you do? Is there any more meaning to life than that?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bicycle article in Slate

It is raining this morning. My tractor and drill is parked in a very muddy field. It was my first major custom job. I may have bid a little low. I was waiting for a little rain for a sprout but I think I missed it all by one day.
You see, I was on my way to the field, but the Phillip the interesting older farmer that still works like a maniac even though he just got a new kidney, wanted me to plant 50 acres of wheat in the same area as my field. When I finished the 50 acres he had another 150 acre field to do and I went and did it, then another fellow had another 50 acres with no fertilizer and I did that because it was a fast job, then the dairy fellow need his pasture redone and I had to switch to grass anyway. Then it rained, I planted in the dark and did not check my seed rate. Apparently half a drill tank of triticale changes the seeding rate for fescue. Then the other neighbor wanted me to do a four acre corner, but he didn't want triticale so I cleaned out the drill, then I broke my seat arm rest which kills my back. I then discovered I was missing a no-till coulter, so I had to go find that. Then the fellow's whose field I worked decided to go to Tillamook but he said the field was dry. I didn't go look at the field because the gates were up and I didn't want to walk through cow poop. Then I had to load the drill myself and carry the seed bags out of the barn. 20 fifty pound bags get heavy after a while.
Then it didn't work...
There was a lot of trash in the field. I worked it and smoothed it all out. When I put the drill in the ground everything was just wet enough to cause problems. The front coulters would not cut through roots of the weeds and it all just balled up around the edges of the coulters. The v-openers wouldn't really go in because the press wheels had two inches of mud on them. I did find that enough mud flew around at 6.5 mph that I could get the grass seed in about 1/4 inch and covered by loose soil. It should work. I did 20 acres but at dusk it got so sticky the mud started jamming up the drive wheels on the drill. I quit.  Fellow is planting 40% prennial ryegrass 30% fescue, 28% orchard grass, 2% clover. Or something like that. I think there is also some brome. It is the nastiest stuff I've ever planed. Rat turds 5%, floor sweepings 10%, bits of plastic, old bags, cracked seeds. Looks kind of like screenings. I didn't say anything. I don't want to unload 20 bags out of that drill... I would not plant that combo. I think it is all going to get ready too early and it will be hard to get good quality hay. I kept my opinion to myself.
After I did 20 acres he showed up. The field long and narrow, like a 1/2 mile long and runs north to south. I farmed it the long way. He wanted it farmed East to West and said he told me that earlier. This is kind of funny. It was so foriegn to me to have someone want to cut hay on a field the short way that I just assumed I was doing it the right direction. I never even looked at the N arrow on the GPS screen. Fortunatly is too late to worry about it now...
But that is not what I planned to talk about this morning.
When I opened my browser this morning there was a link to an article about bicyclists in Slate magazine. I was interested as I find bicyclists to be both annoying and interesting.
I read the book, "Breaking Away" in grade school. I saved my money and bought a racing 10" speed. This was silly living out here on crappy roads. I had a lot of fun with it. Should have just bought one of those BMX bikes, would have had more fun. But, I digress.
Modern bicyclists are activists. They all wear the uniform, the stretchy pants, the bright helment, they all have the conviction that they are so cutting edge, so green, so very enviormentally responsible. They are fit and they are atheletes and they are free thinkers.
Thus there are conflicts.
It is called the undeniable virtue of the oppressed.
I read the article in Slate. Click on the link to read it.
I have no idea of my readership save for the four subscribers. I see the hit counter change but I really don't have any clue who would be interested enough in no-till planting and odd-ball social commentary to say what anyone wants to read.
I care about bicyclists because I live and work on one of the popular routes for bicycle riders. Every year Cycle Oregon disrupts a day of my life. Hordes of bicyclists with seemingly nothing better to do than block traffic roll down the back roads. They like to see the local color, farmers in the fields, oh-and wineries, they like the wineries. There is even a bicycle wine tour. Drunk bicyclist, oh boy!
But, again I digress... I'm revealing my personal bias.
The article discusses the different view points of bicyclists. Those who favor traffic laws and those who are opposed to the automobile.
The point is brought up several times that if you didn't have cars you wouldn't need stop signs. I think this one statement defines the argument.
If you have everyone riding bicycles then you would need some sort of traffic control system.
Now you have the tight pants wearing maniacs, zipping through traffic, proud of their ability to go the wrong way down one way streets, dependent up the fact that cars and truck now have really good brakes.
Put those some single minded maniacs with three-wheel bicycle carts, kids, old ladies, non-english speaking, old bikes with no brakes, dogs, and other sacred cows and you would have a crash. Perhaps more than one.
The problem with bicyclists is that they are proving a point. They are a movement, They are trying to affect social change. They are missionairies, they KNOW MORE THAN YOU....!
That fact is, if there is an agreed set of rules and you put yourself outside the rules or above the rules, you get benefits. Running stoplights, stealing candy for babies, raiding the Goodwill collection bins, whatever. You depend on everyone else to follow the rules. Essentially, everyone else is giving you a free ride.
Popular opinion sides on the part of the Bicyclists as they are vulnerable and a Mack truck is not. So even if the idiot pulls out in front of the truck by running a stop sign and is killed, this is not labeled as "natural selection," no it is those big trucks are dangerous.
What is so important about this whole bicycle argument is that it has wider implications.
This is the attitude of a whole class or should we say generation of people.
We are (insert your cause here), we have a better idea, your stupid "classist" rules don't apply to us. We are oppressed because, (insert blame group here. hint, use a large group that is in charge and can't defend themselves without sounding like whiners) we are not understood, because Christians are horrible people, because white europeans put us down, because of big corporations.
Thus we have the right to be above your stupid rules. Rules are for the fools. We are individualists and you can tell because we all dress alike and we have tatoos!
You know I really have to go to work, I kind of lost my train of thought.
I close with the profound words of the bunny...

And I'm not going to check my spelling because I am an individual. I have my way of spelling and who are you to tell me how to spell correctly. You can't put your sexist, classist, ethnocentric, rules on me you running dog of capitalist imperialism.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How do you get stuff done?

There are people who farm a thousand acres, by themselves. How do they do it?
I don't really have that much to do but it all needs to be done at once.
Employee has gone into whatever strange mental state he goes into. Sleeping on his couch? I called him and he sounds pretty bad. Sore throat and the works. Probably the Obama influenza.
I'm supposed to do 60 acres of worked ground, plus 15 acres of pasture at one location. Then I move down 5 or 8 miles of narrow gravel roads, two hair raising miles on highway 22 and up the side of a minor mountian to do 60 more acres of pasture. Then 15-20 miles to Grand Island for possibly 90 acres, then back to two miles away from the mountian field for perhaps 50 acres, then another 5 miles of narrow roads, three tense miles of Hwy 18 to do perhaps 100+ acres for a fellow I know has not been paid for his grass seed, and then on the wrong side of sheridan for 20 acres, then if it has not rained too bad, my 15 acres of Timothy hay...
I need to get this done in two weeks... Not that many acres, it is the logistics.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Coffee Makers

Once upon a time I had a Mr. Coffee. Now the old Mr. Coffee was really nothing special. You put coffee in a filter, you put water in the tank, you put the pot on the hotplate under the coffee drip and you turned it on. I once had one that you could actually set a timer to turn it on it the morning. I was unable to figure out how this worked even though I just last month reprogramed my GPS receiver...
We have a Hamilton-Beach Stay-n-Go coffee maker that is less than a year old. It's claim to fame is the insulated carafe which is supposed to keep the coffee hot but not burn the coffee like the hot plate type coffee makers do.
It came with two insulated coffee mugs which you can set side by side under the drip thing so you can make just two cups of coffee to go.
Now let's put this all in perspective.
Mr. Coffee was the first in 1972 and basic design has not changed that much since then. (although that wikipedia entry was made by Mr. Coffee himself so it might be biased-oh my goodness!)
What is there to change? When I was in Costa Rica years ago I saw Carlo's mom make instant coffee by pouring boiling water through a cotton sock type bag full of ground coffee. The ingenious little device was held open with a wire loop on a wooden stand and the coffee pot or cup sat under the sock. Mr. Coffee just used a paper filter and had a hot plate and a nice plastic case.
The Mr. Coffee is the only good coffee maker I have ever owned. The rest have been fancier with more features and timers and whatever, but they all had one thing in common. They were junk.
So my lovely and gracious wife really wanted another thermal carafe coffee maker. We had one a couple years ago, but that is another story...
I could not find the same model we had before. It's serious flaw was that if you didn't get the carafe positioned correctly under the drip it would make a huge mess.
To be continued. Wife is home...
It is evening and I'm back in my easy chair. I'm not really as annoyed with coffee makers as I was earlier in the day.
I think the point of the story was that the Hamilton-Beach Stay-n-Go has a flaw which pretty much makes me want to smash it with a 10lb hammer.
It leaks when you try to pour. My wife has managed to master the art of pouring from the carafe but I have not. When you attempt to pour a cup of coffee the coffee flows out the fill hole or runs down the pour spout.
Now you would think that with all the millions of dollars that Hamilton-Beach company has you would think they could afford just a little for product testing.
I guess not.
I've been looking at replacing it with a Zojirushi fresh brew. I've found a few on ebay. The consumer reports article I read suggested just buying a good regular coffee maker and pouring the hot coffee into a thermos.

This is a piece of poopie! Don't buy one! (In my humble opinion)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sick Day

Feeling a bit under the weather this morning so I'm sleeping in. Think I'll post some photos and then go to work. I'm looking out the window at the weather. It rains, then the wind blow 35 mph and it dries out. Then when I start thinking I can plant it starts raining again. I need to look at a 40 acre oat field whose owners want to put it into pasture. I have a couple fields I think I could plant in the rain. I have also borrowed/rented a John Deere 750 no-till from the neighbor. That is the drill I should be using to plant into worked ground. But, I just can't bring myself to run a John Deere...
Frankly, I feel like crap today and just don't feeling running around looking at fields whose owners have no clue what to do with them and expect me to be the Wilco field man. If there was somewhere I could just go and drive in circles and not really think too much. That is the sort of field I need today. I have that field but it is too wet. I'm going to check it out as soon as I post.
Photos will appear in no real order.
The once with corn and a 2-135 is the neighbor's corn field. He hired us to chop 500 ton. Most of it was very tall. The stocks and ears varied in thickness and quality. Really amazing differences from one end of the field to the other end. Some of the ears were tiny and not filled. Then, right down the row, it would be moster ears and huge thick stocks. Not sure what he did with fertilizer and water to get that to happen. It probably averaged 30 tons.
Photo with the drill in the dust is what I was doing the field before it rained. Fellow disk-ripped the field three times and had me use my Great Plains no-till drill as a secondary tillage device.... Well, the GP drill cuts through the sod really well. He had me plant shallow into what was basically powder with root balls, so I'm betting there is a lot of wheat on top of the ground right now.
It took way longer to plant at 4.5 mph with me bouncing all over inside the cab. 100 acres in two and 1/2 days. Forgot my lunch one day. The White has a defroster panel that you can lift to blow air on the windshield. I sometimes use that as a refridgerator. I found some chocolate covered raisens and had those with my coffee. They were only a few weeks old. They were not so bad...
Dust was so bad I couldn't see the drill behind me. Hope the GPS was working...


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Finished my field in the rain

I woke up to the sound of rain this morning... Not a lot, just enough. I didn't sleep all that well anyway. Still a bit tense.
I drove out to the field to check it out and it didn't look that bad. There was enough sod to keep the mud from sticking too bad and I have really good scrapers on the drill so I gave it a try. I finished up around three this afternoon. Ended up with 70 acres on the calc-an-acre. Seed rate really changed with the rain. Had to go up a gear in the drill transmission. Tried to keep the monitor at a mininum of 1.1 million seeds and a max of 1.4 million. It came out pretty close in the end.
Have been amazed at the huge house setting in the middle of 200 acres of rolling hills. Has a castle turrent over the garage.
I asked the farmer I'm working for about it. He said the fellow recently died. He said he talked to the man when he was buying the place a couple years ago, said the man was his friend and that he just died. Pretty nice house. Such is life. The thin line between success and failure.
Farmer told me his father nearly owned a huge ranch in Argentina. His father was the ranch foreman. The ranch was owned by a German fellow. When the guy died they had an auction and sold horses for three days straight. It looked like the foreman was going to get the place but a woman turned up who had a son who was supposedly sired by the ranch owner. She swore on the Bible that this was true and the son got it all. So it goes...
Here are some photos:

 The house.

Starting the field yesterday.

Planting in the rain today.
Finishing the field, just the corners left.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why my head may explode...

I have not posted for a week as I've been very busy and because I've not been feeling real talkative. Not the best harvest we have ever had. 
But that is another subject.
The reason I started the blog was for self expression.  Now that people I know have found it I am no longer Budd E. Shepherd the anonymous farmer who complains a lot. So if you know me and I didn't invite you, I don't mind if you are here but please note that this blog is supposed to be somewhat of an outlet for frustration...
I'm setting in my easy chair at 10 p.m. not because I have taken off early, or because I am just relaxing at 10 p.m.
I'm setting here because, 1. I can't plant, 2. I can't go to bed because first of all, I drank half a freaking thermos of coffee and secondly I am so pissed/frustrated/annoyed that I need to just take deep breathing exercises and gently lower my blood pressure.
I've been trying to plant. I've got a 75 acre field I'm trying to plant for the neighbor and everyday has been a set back of some sort or another. The field is disked and rolled bentgrass sod and when it rains tonight it will turn to mush.
I got to the field somewhere around 1 p.m. I remembered half way to the field (five mile trip) that I had forgotten my bucket of hose adapters so that I could fill my drill with the fertilizer pump. Upon arrival at the field I discovered that the hose out of the tank had a male end and so did my hose. Of course that is not such a big deal as I can fill from the top of the tank. I removed the lid and promptly fell off the drill. This seems amusing but this is the third time in four days I've fallen off the drill or the tractor and I have slightly bruised ribs to show for it. In all the years I've owned a Great Plains drill I've perhaps once slipped off the drill. Whatever...
I got the fertilizer pumping into the tank and noticed it seemed kind of milky. This is not a good sign but I'm committed now.
I went 2 acres before plugging the filter. Then I went another two acres, Then I went three acres, then 1.4 acres, then back to three acres, this continued through 175 gallons...
Then there is the seed rate. I'm planting Wheat with a hoped for rate of 135lbs per acre. I've got a population monitor. It counts just about every seed. So if there are 900000 seeds per pound that would be 1.215 million seeds per acre. That is about what the monitor was reading. I checked my seed rate with my balance scale. I take one seed tube off and I put a bucket under the seed tube and drive 234 feet. The scale reads my lbs/acre seeding rate. It showed 130lbs, so I set the planter down a notch and figured I was fine.
And away I went. You get a lot done at 6.5 mph pushing 7 mph. The automatic rate controller was working on the fertilizer and aside form cleaning out the filter every couple rounds all was well. Then the low bin alarm goes off at 11 acres. I know I have two acres left in the tank with wheat so that is 13 acres on 2000lbs. That is 153lbs per acre. So I turn it down five notches and refill. The neighbor's ex wife who still works with him brought me my adapters so I was able to fill the fertilizer tank through my filter. I've found that if I filter what I put into the tank I can run a fine mesh screen on the filter after the pump and I don't have to clean out the nozzle screens as often.
This works and I don't have to clean the filters again. Although I notice that the fertilizer is clean instead of green. I wonder briefly if he really wants to put on 10 gallons of 32 solution as that would be 100lbs of N. Usually the 10-34 is green and 32 is clear but who knows with our local fertilizer outfit.
Next drill fill up is at 14 acres which is not much of an improvement. I really set it down but discover I'm out of seed in the powerbin. I discover this after filling one side of the drill. So, I get out my 2.5 gallon bucket and even it out.
Meanwhile it is dark.
Now, I have spent close to $800 putting together a GPS system. Raven 210 which sold for like $3,000-$4000 new, FarmerGPS program around $300, Itronix rugget tablet PC off ebay, this system should really work. It does work good when I can see something of a mark, but I can't steer by the screen in the dark, in dust so thick you can't see the ground. I stop 10 feet short of a huge washout in the field that I have already mapped on the GPS, had to lock up the brakes.
I've got a foam marker, but I can't get that to work either. The foam gets dirty and the stupid thing keeps quitting. I try a 20 foot log chain off the back of the drill. That is pretty much useless. I'm either a foot overlapped or a foot too far away. The GPS is off on some of the hills some of the time. There is only a bird's eye view and a little arrow which draws the path and a on screen light bar. I need the kind of GPS that draws a little highway I guess. I really don't want to spend $2500 more GPS, I need new tires.
I've done 30 acres.
I quit.
It just didn't work. The one time all this stuff had to work and of course it did not. I really need the money from this job...
Oh, and I tripped over the harrow and fell flat on my face. Skinned my wrist and then spilled liquid fertilzer all over myself.
This is known as adding insult to injury.
In the mean time Bill and my brother have been working on another no-till drill. I borrowed another neighbor's John Deere 750. I know the JD 750 is not the best no-till drill but I'm not doing no-till planting. This is all worked ground.
It was no where near ready to go. Replace 10 packer wheel bearings, and the whole fertilzer system needs work. Pump was leaking, tank was leaking, had to put correct orifice plates in, mounted a valve doubler so we could run markers and the fertilizer pump, put a electric flow control valve on the hydraulics, and didn't get it all going before dark.
Wonder if I can go to sleep?
Perhaps I can trip and fall down one more time today!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Back to Silage Chopping

I was trying to plant some intermediate ryegrass which is a cross between annual and prennial resulting in a longer lifed and finer stemmed plant than annual. It is the only thing availible with a decent price and a contract so we are doing 30 acres.
I just heard the secret is raising good grass seed. Spend the money on planting and you will get it back at harvest. Well are not spending money. Disked it twice and harrowed and rolled it to pack it. I thought we were going to get 2" of rain so all the golf ball to marble sized clods would melt together. It didn't rain.
I'm planting with the Great Plains 1500 no-till drill. I have the press wheels set all the way down and it still wants to bury the seed. Have discussed irrigation. It is really dry.
Also having problems with my Spray-Mate II automatic rate controller. It works for small speed variations but doesn't have enough range when I slow down. I have to always get out and adjust the bypass valve when I change gears.
Then I got a call from my neighbor at noon. He wants me to chop 500 ton of corn for him. This is a long story full of miscommunications and twists and turns. Essentially Farmer sold 30 acres of corn to a dairy. This was brokered by the chopper guy. Farmer guy wants to grow 60 acres. Chopper guy acts like he is a broker and says oh yeah they will take it all. They didn't take it all. Chopper guy annoys farmer.  Farmer finds someone else to buy the 30 acres for ear corn silage.
Today the Farmer guy made a deal with dairy across the road for the greener corn. Possibly 400-500 ton and calls me to chop it. I of course jump at chance to show up selfpropelled BTO chopper guy and say I'll do it.
But... I'm sure there is more to the story or he would not hire me to chop. A New Holland 890 pulled by White 2-134 is not going to load a semi in 10 minutes..
We had the chopper cleaned and the chains oiled and the duals on the tractor. It is really good corn and I'm not sure we can chop it using all three rows of the three row header. Might have to drop down to two rows.
The John Deere owning neighbor with his 30 ton Pioneer corn and us with our lower corn yields and our White and Minneapolis-Moline tractors.

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