The Useful Duck!

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Saturday, August 31, 2013

They really have no clue...

I just read an article noting that teen employment is down. For the fourth year in a row. It has been about that long that I've been afraid to hire a teenager.
When the regulations get to the point where it is just too difficult people will do whatever it takes to avoid the law. In this case, why would you hire teenagers with special wage and hour laws when you can just hire poor barely legal immigrants?
Here is the link to the article.

Here is a link to the regulations...

Here is a link to other insane regulation which deals with on farm storage of fuel. We don't have a tank farm. We grow grass seed, and grain, and hay. If someone drops a fifty-five gallon drum of oil it will never end up in the river. However, you can't prove that and saying, "well it hasn't so far..." would not get you off the hook!
The record-keeping will be impossible. Of course it all make sense if you realize it is in reality just a protection racket. Random inspections and fines. Of course you can pay in advance and have the regulators give you an assessment and lower your chances of an inspection.
Protection money...

Have a nice day...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rain, I listen to the radio, I complain

I was stacking wheat straw in the rain yesterday and listening to the radio.
The rain is not so good at this point.
I could be finished with straw this week, but for the rain.
I also am at the end of the line for getting it hauled to the barn as my previously engaged hauler "is too busy."
Something which I will remember when it comes time for good deals on hay.
I learned from the radio that...
1. all sorts of interesting facts can be revealed by recording what people say and playing it backwards. Mostly, this is interpreted after the fact, so it is much easier to go back and assign meaning to the somewhat garbled recordings.
2. The West is going to bomb Syria and spend a lot more money. This will benefit someone but not you or I.  The powers that be are accusing the Syrian gubment of a poison gas attack. Which I doubt the Syrian gubment would be stupid enough to actually do. Why would they? Why would they invite airstrikes and a "no-fly zone."
The only people who would benefit are the terrorists and Western Gubments who very badly want more war.
I suppose next the US will trot out an uncle tom with a slide show of RV's converted into mobile weapons labs. Oh, wait... that is soooo last war... Fool me once, fool me another 20 times.
3. FM Radio is a wasteland for music. FM Radio is a wasteland period. My daughter has some decent music on her iPhone. She heard about it from a friend and bought an album from Amazon. I've got to download some books on Mp3.
I think I will go outside and be depressed. This is much different from being inside and depressed.
All I needed was two hours more and my straw would have been in a stack... That hour I spent waiting for the pig feed guy and that other hour I spent complaining about farming to someone even more depressed than I. But, if I wouldn't have talked to him I wouldn't have got more straw storage and I would have wasted a half hour driving back from the straw field to meet the pig guy so there you have it...
Have a nice day...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I create a fountain...

If only I would have taken a photo!
I was opening a field of baled wheat straw with the stacker yesterday when it was 91 degrees in the shade. The plan was to pick up the bales from around the risers for the buried mainline so I would not hit them in the dark.
When you are baling and stacking you are often at the mercy of the random wanderings of the combine driver. Combine drivers rarely seem to drive in any sort of straight or coherent pattern.
We are baling a 60 acre field that is sort of kidney shaped with a buried mainline across the short waist of the field. There are risers every sixty feet I think.
The combine operator made the field into four circles broken up by back and forth rows. The field was farmed in circles and planted wet.
The combine operator took special delight in going across the planted rows. This makes the field so rough I have to stack in first gear and it still bounces the tie layers apart.
So I was looking at the round section of wheat that looked like where a riser should be and I heard a pop and I looked behind me to see a fountain of water shooting up thought the space in the middle of the stacker bed...
I called the field owner and attempted to understand his cryptic instructions on where the pump was located. Finally I decided (though my incredible powers of deduction) that it had to be next to the river so I drove along the river until I found a promising side road. I was sort of hoping for nekked hippie chicks bathing in the river but alas it was not to be so. (Naked hippie chicks are ok to watch, it is like National Geographic)
Soon the hispanic worker arrived. He said it was ok, his boss had ran over three risers this year but not to tell anyone. (So I put it in my blog). He also said that the combine had ran over the riser already and cut off the pipe that marks the riser so I should not feel bad about it.
My little helper found quite a bit of amusement out of my misfortune. I think I will tell everyone he did it.
In other excitement, the phone rang all day.
I'm not sure why so many people have decided to bale straw this year. However, I have an additional 100 acres of oat straw to stack at probably one stack per acre and half of it is 20 miles away.
I have an additional 60 acres of oat straw to bale for myself, an extra 60 of wheat straw to bale for someone else and I'm only going to get 5,000 out of the needed 8,000 little bales made as I'm out of wheat straw.
And my phone just chimed, $1.2 million says it is my little helper calling in sick... He looked sick yesterday and I told him to just sleep in or take the day off today. He said he would be fine. But I say differently... Ok going to check the phone in 3... 2... 1...
The text says, "Im really sick,"
Sort of expected that...
Now you all owe me 1.2 million dollars

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

We bale straw and break things

I have a clever plan...
I am making 14 x 18 x 46" wheat straw bales for erosion control.
Since I am paid by the bale I am using the smaller size bales to get more bales per stack.

I got so excited about it all that I went out and bought a baler...

I often have clever plans...
They never result in any large payoffs, just more work.
I usually don't borrow money to further my plans but this baler was almost new and it was very shiny!
Last year I rented a baler and last year I had lots of really pretty bright wheat straw with long stems.
Last year I sold two loads right out of the field.
Last year I had unlimited storage.
Last year I had a fellow who wanted to haul for me and was happy to be left alone with the ten truck loads and he hauled a couple loads a day.
This year the farmer decided he didn't want me to swath the straw before baling. He has an IH combine with a 25 foot header. This makes nice windrows but it also puts all the chaff in the windrow. This may be a problem. But, I won't know until I sell the first load.
The fellow who is buying the straw has not paid me for four loads from last year. History has shown that he will pay me but probably not before he needs more straw.
My back-up plan of selling straw to the local horse ladies may not work due to the shortness of the straw and the amount of chaff in the bales.
I am also not getting the volume of straw I need. It appears that 100 acres will only bring me 6-8 loads instead of 8-10 loads.
And then things have been breaking.
First the PTO clutch came off the baler. It was not a big deal. It seems it was only held on by one bolt anyway. But it came off at 6 pm and there was no place to buy sex communist thread bolts after 6 pm.
Yesterday my little helper got it going and actually baled 1,000 bales. But at 6 pm the PTO adapter broke in two.
He was at the far end of Grand Island loop road by the state park and I was 15 miles away stacking for someone else.
Strangely enough, he got a ride to the pickup.
We did not have another adapter.
My brother made a quick trip to town and found another 1000 rpm to 540 PTO adapter.
Our little helper went back and attempted to install the adapter.
He called me to say it didn't fit.
I said, "What do you mean it doesn't fit, it is a standard shaft size it has to fit!"
He said, "It doesn't fit."
I said, "Well bring the PTO shaft home and we will make it fit."
He said, "I have to go back?"
I said, "yes..."
I got home at 10 p.m. and was able to resolve the problem by 10:30.
Because I am practically a mechanical genius I am sure...
I used a vice, a rubber mallet, some anti-seize lubricant, and (don't tell anyone) a air power die-grinder.
I think it will wear in...
I wish someone would give me 1.2 million dollars...

Note: A word of explanation, I am using the infamous 2-155 from the land of Obama Rodeo Clowns which is the anti-tractor. Meaning Everything that was supposed to be right turned out to be wrong-as in screwed up.
White tractors with a digital tach have a setting to read the PTO rpm. You can set it to 540 or 1000. It is just a switch in the tach. It doesn't affect the actual PTO speed. This 2-155 is 1000 rpm only. However, the 2-155 is 160hp. So... We put a 1000 to 540 PTO adapter on, set the Tach to 540 PTO and run the tractor rpm to match the 540 rpm reading on the tach. This makes the tractor run at 1100 rpm which is enough to run the alternator and A/C but is considerably less fuel consumption and slower forward speed. Seems to work quite well as long as you remember to NEVER open it wide open with the PTO engaged...
Pain and suffering will occur!!!!
I just need to make it to the end of the summer...
1.2 million dollars, is that too much to ask?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

How I cured my headache, a funeral, and an idea, and a book I enjoyed...

Fortunately my wife and daughter were gone this weekend. I hope neither reads this blog...
So I had a severe pain in my the right front center of my brain for two days.
I suspected it had something to do with stress but my skin also hurt which usually means I need to just go to bed and I'll be over it in a day or so.
Part of it was that I needed to attend a funeral yesterday. The fellow who died was kind of a larger-than-life character. At one point I thought he was going to defeat cancer through sheer force of will-power.
Funerals make me tense.
It started when my Mom died. Normal people cry or get drunk or spend a lot of time reading their Bible and praying.
I didn't cry and really didn't feel specific grief like I expected. She had lived a good life and was spared the pain that comes from the final stages of pancreatic cancer.
Instead of crying I promptly forgot all the important information she had told me in the last five years. I thought that was a bit odd, but then I am a bit odd...
Mom's funeral was not too bad. I gave a little speech and made everyone laugh.
I was feeling a bit guilty about my lack of grief but then a neighbor died.
I simply could not go to the funeral. I just couldn't bring myself to go.
The next funeral I went but once inside the church I felt like I was going to have an anxiety attack. I distracted myself by talking about sturgeon fishing with someone I hadn't seen in 20 years. I don't really care about sturgeon fishing. They have lived for 100 years leave them alone. In general, the sturgeon general, I mean.
So... Apparently I am a freak...
I survived the funeral the yesterday. We just went to the graveside and the dinner afterwards. It was a good dinner.
I came home and went back to work. I thought about going back to bed but I did need to make pig feed. MuddyValley had called and left a message offering moral support for my illness but a by product of my headaches are the desire to be left alone.
So here is how I cured my headache.
I was unloading a truck load of camelina into large bags using an old Bazooka grain auger that had been converted to hydraulic drive.
I decided to climb up the side of the auger to tie up the hoses.
I slipped.
It was not a long fall.
But on the way down I smacked my sensitive regions on the unused engine mount. While clutching my unmentionables in pain with one hand and trying to hold onto the auger with the other I tipped over backwards and practically split my head open on the loader tractor that I was using to power the auger.
I lay on the ground for a few moments said a few rather sacrilegious phrases followed by a quick prayer of repentance for taking the Lord's name in vain. Although I really am not sure it was in vain, I really did want to damn the whole conglomeration to the pits of hell for all eternity, although I would like to get scrap metal price out of it all first...
After a few moments of staggering around I declared myself well and suddenly realized that the pain inside my head was now on the OUTSIDE of my head. Much better sort of suffering in my humble opinion.
Later, I retired to the house and ate supper in the dark. When I did turn the lights on I discovered I had been bleeding all over several pieces of furniture.
I could only imagine the consternation that would have occurred if the family unit would have discovered me wandering around bleeding from a scalp wound.
But, my headache is gone! So, all is well that ends well...

In a totally unrelated subjecct that I have been wondering about for two days...
Could one use a peltier device to run 12v fans on a woodstove. Not one of the fans that sit on top of a woodstove but rather construct a heat shield around the stove with the Peltier devices powering those little computer fans which would circulate air around the stove?
Here is a link to how to build a fan but this is not exactly what I would do. The muffin/computer fans will take up to 24volts and I've found a TEG module on ebay that outputs 0-16 volts.
Here is another link.
If I were not electrically challenged I suspect you could build a power supply that turn the fan when a useable voltage was reached or perhaps that is not needed. Would hooking the fan direct burn it out a low voltage? Or do you just need a big capacitor?
I do not know...
I think I will go out and start the Studebaker cruiser. It is not aging well setting under the Ash tree. It needs to be driven.
Have a nice day...
There will be no corn pictures today...

And in another unrelated issue that I just thought about...
I get a fairly steady flow of visitors from Great Britain and Canada. So have any of you read the book "The Hired Lad" by Ian Campbell Thomson? I really enjoyed the book. A boy working on a farm in Post WWII England. And there was another book, something about years on a tractor seat about a kid driving a Fordson and watching dogfights overhead and then seeing little puffs of dust in the field and realizing that bullets in an air war do actually hit the ground. I read the book some years ago and can't remember the title. Perhaps I will do a search for Ian Campbell Thomson. What a clever idea! Why didn't I think of that before?
Oh, right...
Brain damage...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

My brain hurts

I have a splitting headache...
If my daughter was here she would say, "no one cares about your personal problems, the world is full of suffering."
She would be so happy to get to use that line on her father that she would most likely then get me more coffee and give me a back-rub.
My wife would make me take medicine and tell me to eat breakfast.
But they are gone.
I first got the headache yesterday when I arrived at the field I was to stack. The field is owned by the widow of a farmer I always admired. He was a farmer who was a farmer because he loved the ground and the act of farming, not because he wanted to farm 10,000 acres.
And then he died.
I looked at his tractor a year or so ago.
The last time he was driving his White 2-135 he was eating an apple. He got an apple for me also. I was no-tilling wheat for him and he was pulling a drill behind his Roterra (large rototiller that works the ground with horizontally rotating tines instead of vertical tines). We were going to compare yields.
Next thing I knew he was in the hospital and by the time I figured out how to go visit him it was too late.
So I got to his field and got to thinking about the times I had been in this field before it was rented to better farmers than I, and I got to thinking about the funeral I have to attend today and my brian started to hurt.
I'd say it was just stress but my skin also hurt and I had stomach cramps.
I picked up a couple loads and was a little distressed that my stacks were not straight. So I pulled down into the lower corner of the field where no one could see me and took a nap.
I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.
I was parked next to a yellow-jacket's nest.
But, true to my "side-ways" style luck, I did not get stung.
I stacked 26 stacks or three-truckloads by 5 p.m. I should have been able to do it in four hours instead of 8 hrs.
I made more than one trip down to the shade tree.
In the mean time I watched traffic on Hwy 18.
It never stopped.
People on their way to gamble at the casino I suppose.
The only reason I would not rather be a farmer in the 1950's is lack of air conditioned tractors.
Here is a photo of another oak tree.
It is not perfect. It has two trunks.
Some day I will find the perfect oak tree. But-of-course, I will not have a camera...

AND here is a photo of corn. This is taken from the same spot as all the other corn photos. The no-till corn is too short. It has good color but the stalks are skinny and the plant is short. I did not look at the ears yet. I suspect there was more compaction than I thought. My brother dug up roots and they were not going sideways. There was a decent root ball. The pH is not the best.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The perfect oak tree

I just realized I have not posted in several days.
I'll just do a quick generic post which includes my favorite topics...
Farming, blah, blah, blah, out of date audio equipment, blah, blah, blah, obscure country-western artists, blah, blah, blah, farming, blah, blah, I'm annoyed, blah, blah, blah, something is not right, something is quite wrong, blah, blah, blah. My daughter, blah, blah, blah, more farming, corn, stacking, straw, blah, blah, blah, gubment conspiracy, blah, blah, blah...
Banjo music, blah, blah, blah...
So now you are up to day with my life...
Here is a photo of a cool old barn with the prefect oak tree.

Note, I picked up the bag of soymeal by wedging chains under it and picking it up quickly so it turned up right. I ruined the bag but spilled very little soy meal. Alls well that ends well.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Justifiable reasons for swearing

This bag is half full of $900 a ton organic soymeal.
Do you see any problem with the bag that would make someone exclaim, "oh fiddle!" followed by !@#$% and $%^&* not to mention )(*&^!
Just asking...
-Note- I'm really an optimist. I didn't say half empty... I also didn't pay $900 for the bag, but that is a whole other story...

Monday, August 5, 2013

What ever happened to the real America? Beauty Queen accused of being a mad bomber when really she is just what once was a normal 18 year old

The people who run this country are idiots.
Click Here to read about a Utah pageant winner who made water bottle bombs and has now had her life ruined.

Note what the dumb ass fire department spokesman had to say, "a person could lose a hand," really... The fire department spokes man certainly could never loose his head, it is so far up his arse...

"Yes those small pieces of aluminum foil really do smart! I suppose wouldn't really feel it over the pain from the acid in your eyes though," says Budd E. Shepherd who may or may not have experimented with such devices hypothetically many years ago.
"They can do a great deal of damage to property," Mecham told KSL-TV. "They can sever limbs. They can even kill people."
The problem is when people in authority just out and out lie to you about the little things then kids tend to disbelieve them on the big things.
There is no way you would sever an arm with a plastic water bottle filled with swimming pool cleaner and aluminum foil. It is a very slow reaction. It blows up because it over pressurizes the plastic water bottle. It does this slowly and you pretty much have time to get out of the way.  I will say (hypothetically) that you should never roll one up behind your small employee when he is changing a tire. You may (hypothetically) injure yourself laughing when he hypothetically poops himself.
Of course any idiots knows you should not throw them at people because you could get acid in their eyes and because it might make them poop their pants. They will not start a fire. I'm not sure how you could possibly sever a limb. If you held one in your hand really tightly and stared at the cap it could put your eye out when the cap blew off and cover you in dilute acid. That would be bad.
The only way it would kill anyone is if you shoved it up your ---. Of course that could have happened on the West Coast...
And of course the kids have to get in trouble. It is an incredibly bad idea to drive around and throw acid bombs at people. That is of course why kids are tempted to do such things. This calls for a slap on the wrist an community service or an essay or a spanking from dad-(oops that's not allowed anymore!) Or even kicked out of the pageant. However, the kid becomes another victim of the government when she gets an arrest record for doing something silly at age 18.
The adults in the country are so pathetic. How did they get this way? Good gracious, these are people my age. I did all sorts of crazy things and I'm still alive. I reckon my kid and nephews will as well. I will certainly act upset but will spend my last cent on a lawyer if they are subjected to the hysterics of law enforcement. 
Now filling a chunk of pipe with black powder, lighting the fuse, and throwing it through a window is a whole different story...That is incredibly dangerous and you should be in trouble.
 AND I am not telling any kids about when my friend and I nearly blew up the neighbor's cows... (We were wearing hard hats, should have been wearing ear protection)

The cat turned off my alarm and I overslept

Perhaps it was angry that I made his extra bowl of catfood into an omelette.
I have no other ideas, other than aliens or sprites. Although it could have been those pesky elves who left me a bowl of strawberries and a check for $24 on the kitchen table Saturday.
I don't know.
I was going to get up at 5 a.m. and make some pig feed. Now it is 7 a.m. and the guy was going to be here around 8 a.m.
I suppose I've probably left the key on in the forklift and it won't start. I have to use the grain auger and I'm pretty sure the old 656 won't start. The 670 will if it is here.
Life is full of heart-break and disappointments.
I have spent the last half hour trying to find the lyrics to the song my grandfather used to sing. Something about the Polecat on the pole who did not know where he was at.

Nothing like a good waste of time to start out your Monday...
I need a manager. Someone to sell my feed and hay and answer the phone and keep track of the checks and deal with the public. Someone who doesn't hide or refuse to answer their phone and who does not periodically tell customers things like, "if you don't like my work, go somewhere else," or "yes, you are right, my feed is not up to quality but what did you think when you were buying half-price feed. Better go somewhere else..." and "if you want your hay/straw picked up in a hurry, here is a list of other people who will pick it up...."

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Drinking beer and listening to Tom T. Hall and I think I made a catfood omlette

My wife and daughter are gone. I think they went camping. It could be that they have a completely different life. Perhaps they have a whole other family with a father that doesn't work all the time and has lots of money and they only hang out here so that they can appreciate their real life of luxury.
Be that as it may, I was left with many helpful instructions on what to eat and what to feed the cats.
Which I promptly forgot...
A snapshot of what goes through my brain... Straw, stacking, straw, baling, crisis, where is Bill?, straw, pretty bird!, straw, BOOBIES!, straw, wife, mmmm pie!, Oh I like pie! and cookies and ice cream, I would like some pie, and cookies, mmm chocolate chips, oh crap what did she say?, daughter, daughter, straw, baling, stacking, straw, I hate straw, I hate baling, I hate stacking, oh my daughters kitten is soooo cute, straw, old country western music, straw... Where's my coffee cup?
My daughter bought me a six pack of beer. That was very nice of her. It was my favorite brand of Henry's.
I usually get my wife to write down the instructions as I like the little smiley faces and sometimes she draws pictures.
I also was determine to either eat all the food or feed it to the dog so that she doesn't worry about me forgetting to eat.
I swear she said the dish in the refrigerator was salmon. I'm a little nervous about eating radioactive fish but since I'm already eating radioactive ice cream I guess it doesn't really matter.
I kind of slept in this morning.
I have not really been feeling in top form this summer. I'm not really sure why. I suppose it is the general depression that seems to infected every person who has to work for a living and figures those who are in charge of world affairs are either idiots or evil or both. Which pretty much accounts for the opinions of every one I know.
I wandered into the "den" to find a suitable album. I found a whole collection of Tom T. Hall which I had forgot I had purchased in a moment of poor judgement. Four albums for one song? Of course that was not as bad as when I bought the three worst albums by the Kinks when I only wanted "Schoolboys in Disgrace."
But I digress...
After four cups of coffee I decided I should have breakfast.
I put on another Tom T. Hall album and cracked a beer.

My friend D. texted me about going to Antique Powerland but I don't really know what to do if I don't have my daughter and so I tend not to leave my house.
I rummaged for food. I really wished for that list and the smiley faces.
I spied a dish which looked like salmon. I know my wife said something about making an omelette. She has learned to capitalize on my focus on certain things which interest me. (See the book, "On the Tip of My Tongue," by Iles Brody)
So I got out a carton of eggs and a few green onions. I couldn't find any mushrooms and forgot there was bacon in the freezer.
I put a generous helping of butter in the teflon pan and threw in the onions and the salmon looking fish.
 Then I realized I had forgotten to feed the cats. Actually, I realized I had locked the annoying cat out for two days and he was yowling at the door. I usually solve that problem by putting on the Legendary Stardust cowboy, but my wife and daughter had entrusted me with care for the kitties and I could not let them down.
And then I realized, the catfood and the salmon looked amazingly the same. Had my wife put half a can of catfood in the refrigerator because she knew I would forget to feed the cat, or was it salmon?
I ate it anyway...
It was not all that great... Now I have added queasiness to my chronic headache, backache, and anxiety about visiting old people that could die at anytime and I don't visit them, and the hundred and eighty acres of straw I have not started to bale yet or the fact that I have no vanilla ice cream to make a root beer float.
I've switched the music... I thought it was a Beach Boys tape but for some reason I has random Joan Jett songs and some very offensive modern alternative country music on it. (SomaFM)

Didn't seem to help...

Friday, August 2, 2013

What is important news and what is not...

This is good news!

My wife sent me a photo of a package of Hostess Ho-Ho's on the shelf at a store in Waldport, OR. Now if they only came wrapped in aluminum foil again. Those tasted the best. Plus you could make interesting designs with the aluminum foil.
Now that is the best news I've heard in months.

And then there is the stupid news.
US embassies are closing this weekend because of a "possible threat."
So, the clever folks that "keep us safe," are betting that the there is such a tight time schedule for crazy people to blow themselves up in front of great public buildings- that being closed one day will derail the whole shebang?
Perhaps the fellow will loose his nerve?
Or the 70 virgins have sewing classes on Mondays and just can't be bothered with rewards until the end of the week...
Or when potential exploder reads the "closed" sign in the window he will just wander off and go boom somewhere else, cause you know that is like a three week fuse and once it is lit you can't put it out.
Or perhaps the crazies just don't read MSNBC or watch TV or listen to the radio and haven't heard the ENDLESS self-congratulating warnings?
Well I feel pretty secure knowing that every single electronic communication is stored somewhere and can be searched after the event happens.
Never in my life did I think I would be laughing when the Rooskis gave us the finger!

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