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Sunday, February 7, 2010

What I was doing in 2007 at this same time of year!

I had a blog before. I've been trying to find some posts. I had some kind of interesting stuff when I started writing around the time my Mom died. This is what I did find. It doesn't seem like 2007 was that long ago, but it seems that I have had my White 2-155 longer than that. Hmm, different fonts.

Here is my new tractor. For those of you interested in tractors. It is a White 2-155 series III. One of the local Minneapolis-Moline collectors spotted it at a dealership a half hour away. It is a 1982 model. Has 6500 hours and fairly new paint. I spoke with the previous owners before and after buying the tractor. It has less than 500 hrs on a rebuilt engine, new clutch, rebuilt three speed, and new pto clutch. I paid $17,500. Seems to be a good tractor. However, It really drinks the fuel. Worse than my old MM G1355 it think. Have only used it one time. Had an early planting job.
Of course I got stuck. Doesn't look so bad here but it got worse. By the time we got it out the steps were in the mud. I was planting for the neighbors. I spun out when the drill broke through the sod. They brought a two wheel drive tractor without duals... Almost pulled the drill out but John Deere's have no bottom end and he killed it. I raised the drill when it started moving so the coulters wouldn't act like a bulldozer. When we stopped the wheels instantly sank. We were stuck. It took a JD 4wd, the 1355, and their 2wd tractor to pull it out. Not to mention four broken chains. The ruts are amazing. Attending the show, four neighbors, plus the various farmers who went by and didn't stop.... A John Deere tractor of the era of the 1355 was such a gutless piece of crap. However, I think the old 1355 has a bit more bottom end than my 2-155.
Of course I had but four left to acres to plant. When I got out, everyone left but my brother. I was planting along at a pretty good clip when I suddenly stopped. Sort of like applying the brakes. I hit a spring or seep in the field. While the ground looked solid, it was really somewhat like Jello. I walked around behind the drill to check the damage. Water spurted up with every step. My brother hooked up the 1355 and then we saw the neighbor on his way to help. He cut across the field where I had already planted. He almost got stuck. No duals on his tractor. The drill and 2-155 combo has pretty good flotation. So, you can get way out into the mudhole before you get stuck. We hooked up two tractors. But, I must say it looked worse than before. Although it was less sticky, just just goopy mud. However, there was another difference. My brother and the MM G1355 were there. The brother did not realize what gear range he had the 1355 in. So instead of using third he was in fourth or fifth. He took up the slack in the cable and the old MM just grunted at just above idle. Neighbor had the JD in a low gear so it wouldn't stall when he took off wide open. So then brother opened up the throttle on the MM, slowly, so it wouldn't spin out. The neighbor with the JD was already wide open so he started dropping back. I actually had to stop to keep from running into the neighbor. So, basically it was the 1355 that pulled me out. We did it in one try which was the key to our success. I lifted the drill when we started moving to get the openers free and then put it back down when the wheels started to sink, then lifted it a little to transfer the weight to the press wheels and all the while the 1355 was pulling like crazy.

I spent a couple hours washing the nasty sticky clay mud off the drill and tractor when I got back.
I really blew my money this year. I figure it is the last year I will have any money as my brother and I will probably have to get a loan to run the family farm.
I bought a Loup drill monitor and a GPS speed sensor for my tractor. My new tractor is pretty basic. No digital dash, or radar, just S&W gauges and a tach. I have an extra calc-an-acre that I accidentally bought on ebay so I installed that as an acre counter/speedometer. I was having trouble finding a place to hook up the magnets for the speed sensor when I found a skytrak 7htz gps speed sensor for $150. I bought it. They are usually $400.
The Loup monitor is pretty cool. It was too expensive to reveal the price, but it does work. It has sensors on eight rows. It counts the seeds per foot, gives the distance between seeds, and the seeds per acre. Plus, it tells me if I’m low on seed, has a speedometer and acre counter. The counting info is useful only in making sure I’m putting the same number of seeds per acre as I was when I started planting. The seeds per foot info is only accurate at 2 mph as the volume of oats going past the sensor pretty much overwhelms it.
The most useful purchase was a $40 balance scale that is calibrated to give me pounds of seed per acre. You put a bucket under one seed tube and dive 235 feet. (I can measure feet traveled with the calc-an-acre) You empty the seed into the hopper on the scale and it reads out in pounds per acre. I start planting and make a note of the population reading on the Loup monitor. Eventually I’ll have a chart of seeds per acre for typical planting rates for the different seeds I plant.
The population monitor is pretty interesting. The drill plants differently at high speed and soil conditions. If you drive over 6 mph the population goes up. At 10 mph it can go down because the drive wheel on the drill slips. I usually plant at 6.5-7.5 mph. In soft soil the population goes up when the drive wheel sinks in. The population went up drastically after the first four acres of the season. Not sure why but it did.
The low bin alarm and the seed rate alarms are pretty nice. I have the main seed box set so the alarm goes off when I am down just above the agitator. This gives me a couple acres to get back to the truck when planting oats or wheat. Yesterday I was running with just 400lbs of seed in the drill to keep the weight down. I was quite low on seed but had very little left to do. Normally I would have been stopping to check my bin level or I would have put another couple bags of seed in to make sure I didn’t run out. However, with the level alarm I was able to basically run the seed down to the bottom but not have any skips and save a trip across a very soft field.
Now all I need is the acres to pay for this whole mess….

So that was 2007. I now have a different drill that I am making payments on, and I have the tractor paid off. I am still afraid I will run out of money...

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