The Useful Duck!

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Things you should worry about if you have a small business-The USDA assigns blame

I don't know how many people noticed the news story about the arrest of two farmers who have been blamed for the Listeria outbreak that killed 33 people last year.
If you did read it I'm sure you applauded the efforts of the government inspectors who traced down the culprits.
If you read the first news releases you of course did not get the complete story. You won't get the complete story because who, what, when, why, and how, are no longer taught the press release driven world of Journalism.
After a week or so we get tidbits of facts and can piece together what likely happened...
Here is a quote from the brave inspector who assigned blame...
Click on it to go to the article.

The FDA said one piece of equipment, a used potato washing machine bought just before the outbreak, was its possible cause and cited dirty water on the floor of the packing center as well.
"Several areas on both the washing and drying equipment appeared to be un-cleanable, and dirt and product buildup was visible on some areas of the equipment," according to the FDA report.
The way the cantaloupes were cooled after being picked may have exacerbated the listeria growth, the FDA said. Another possible source of contamination was a truck that frequently hauled cantaloupe to a cattle operation and was parked near the packing house.

You do realize what this quote means don't you? They don't have a clue how the actual contamination occurred or at what part of the picking, packing, shipping, or sales process, this all happened.
The only thing they could imagine was that the potato washing machine was dirty. Or get this, a truck that frequently hauled cantaloupe to a cattle operation was parked outside? Really? Or puddles of dirty water on the floor?
But yet they handcuffed and shackled these two farmers who are out of business anyway and who seem to feel terrible about the whole thing. No intent, no real criminal negligence, but they are making an example of them.
And...what makes you think it couldn't happen to you?
I could also write about the blueberry growers in OR who were extorted out of thousands over child labor violations.  In one article I read that migrants were asked why they liked to work in Oregon and they replied that they could bring their children to work with them. The gubment official was scandalized by this response.
I suspect that the children of migrant laborers are anxious to work so that they can make money to be upwardly mobile in society.
But, I'm getting of subject.
Perhaps I will go take some pictures of corn...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

For those who demand pictures of corn...

I should be moving stuff in out of the rain but I really needed to come in and tend the fire... And when I say "tending the fire," I mean another cup of coffee...
The neighbor came by and needed a load of silage for his cows...

Sharpening the knives makes a lot of sparks!

Opening up a new field

Better corn

Waiting for a truck... The last load of the day, not the corn blowing in the wind!

Wind and rain has arrived

We chopped 45 ten-ton loads yesterday by 7 p.m.
The dairy guy wanted to quit at 7 p.m. I was going to object but then it started really raining. I should have taken video of the trucks sliding in the mud.
We have high wind and lots of rain predicted.
It is raining rain and windy right now.
My brother calculated that some of the corn yielded 40 ton to the acre. I suspect this is somehow not correct. Either the calculation is wrong or my recently upgraded tractor has a lot more horsepower than the old one. Usually, I know it is 30 ton corn if I have to drop from three rows to two rows.
The no-till corn did not yield anywhere near that well.
It is somewhat of a guess to figure the yield before the whole field is harvested but it is nice to know it was not a complete failure.
We have ten acres left to go.
Now I am going to go outside in the rain and put stuff away that should have been put away several weeks ago.
I'm assuming our little helper will be a little late.
I really hope the corn doesn't blow down in the wind.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Shut it down....You worthless politicians don't have the balls to shut it down...It is all theatre...

I just saw on the news that the demos are calling the republicans terrorists over this debt limit baloney.
I join with many other people in the country to say, I don't care, let the economy crash again.
I've heard all this noise about the budget, obamacare, excessive spending, if it is as bad as you say it is then have the guts to SHUT IT DOWN!
If we go broke we go broke...
I mean essential services will never actually stop. They will still find the money to do machine gun raids Amish farmers people who won't shoot back, bomb crazy people around the world, not enforce border security, (other than take away your pocket knife at the airport).
I've got 150 bucks stashed in a fruit jar in the backyard and I have just installed a woodstove...

In other news, three or four inches of rain on the way, 30 acres of corn left to chop. We did 350 tons yesterday.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chopping silage, My stove passes inspection, a rainbow

I have been working on installing a woodstove at bit at a time. My friend came and did virtually all of the work on the chimney a couple weeks ago. I had to install the pad, drill a hole in the floor for the fresh air vent and get the stove lined up and then bolt it to the floor.
It took me a week to install two lag bolts.
Yesterday I called for the inspection. I had to get it permitted and inspected for my insurance. Otherwise...
Today Yesterday the inspector showed up. I was completely surprised.
I started a fire in the stove this morning as I figured this would be the last day for a while that I would be close by to watch it. I needed to cure the paint of the stove when i could have all the doors and windows open and keep an eye on the stove.
The inspector showed up as I was trying the vent and cool the house. Got it up to 85 degrees pretty fast.
He had a bemused expression.
I said, I suppose I'm not really supposed to make a fire until it is inspected.
He said, "yeah, not really..."
He was a nice guy. He said the installation looked good. (Thanks dh, and please get me a bill for the parts)
I stole a chunk of oak from my uncle's shop. Started it burning at 8:30 a.m. Fire was still going at 11 a.m. I was kind of impressed. It was just coals by 11:30 but that was not even a full firebox.
We chopped corn silage today yesterday. It rained.

We have an old IH truck kind of like Ralph Goff's truck. Ours in a tandem and a complete rustbucket.

I actually had to engage the front wheel assist on the 2-155 White, and use the differential lock. We got everything going around 3:30 pm. Lots of little problems. We chopped 150 ton by 8 pm.  The field was getting pretty slippery by then. Only 1,500 more ton to go.

There was a rainbow. I could see the end of the rainbow and I am sure there is no gold there.

There was good corn and bad corn.
This is the no-till corn I've been taking photos of this summer. It could have been better.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Four days of rain and no end in sight

If we get rained out on our silage harvest again this blog will be titled, "The Lazy ex-Farmer!"

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The usual story of farming at the home of the Lazy Farmer...

Finished planting the worked ground last evening... Here is photographic proof!

So a friend of mine called me two days ago. His baler failed him and he wanted me to bale straw for him. I didn't have time and so I loaned him our baler. And later, the stacker. I don't loan my wife or child or chainsaw. You do have to draw the line.
Yesterday I'm planting and the phone rings. The stacker died and the computer is beeping a flashing "88." My first thought is that a new computer for the stacker is $5,000...
I talk his hired man though resetting the computer and starting the stacker.
The phone rings again...
It is my friend, he has baled the needles on the baler.
I send my little helper to investigate.
My little helper says, "Oh no, the spring on the knotter safety latch broke and I forgot to tell you..." I say, "dumbass"  "well don't admit that to anyone else you knothead."
So he calls Agwest, $250 each for the needles and it takes three...
Ok, so my friend doesn't have an account and my helper admits he knew the spring was broken...
So that is $750 on the account...
So then... I get a call, the needle yoke (or shuttle) is bent. Another $750...
What happened is this...
I am running 300lb knot strength twine. Two things happened at once. A knot from splicing two balls of twine together got stuck in one knotter, a plastic bag off a roll of twine wrapped in some twine and also jammed up causing twine to wrap tightly on two of the knotter bill hooks. This caused the knotter shear pin to break in the tying cycle. Since the plunger emergency stop didn't work the plunger hit the needles at full speed.
If there is one broken bale behind the baler it is just random bad luck. If there are four or five broken bales behind the baler then it is operator error.
I didn't go look.
The bill will pass $2,000 I imagine. I haven't looked at it. The friend thinks we can straighten the needle yoke. I have never had that work with the old freeman balers.
Perhaps I need to call salvage yards today.
Have a little more planting to do.
Need to get the trucks and silage chopper ready.
Need to finish the wood stove.
Need to take the car in to be serviced.
Need to do something about my life insurance.
Need to go visit MuddyValley.
Need to take a nap...
Go over and read the song of the lazy farmer at Ralph Goff's blog.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Planting before the rain

We need to plant our annual ryegrass. I'm sure Orin has his planted already.
Actually, Orin probably doesn't need to plant his annual ryegrass by the middle of September. His farm doesn't go under water every year.
The theory is to plant early to get the crop above the water level and ahead of the geese who keep it mowed all winter.
This is a good theory. Many times it works.
I have 60 acres that could be done. It wouldn't even take very long. Less than a day.
We thought we would get the fertilizer delivered. a few gallons of 10-34 in the row is also part of our clever plan for raising annual in cold, wet, low pH soil.
But of course... Wilco doesn't deliver, (Perhaps Orin could do something about that) CPS has a new field man who hasn't known us for 40 years and so they really don't care. They just said they would the fertilizer guy to deliver fertilizer. I suppose this means it will arrive Monday.
So I cleaned out my pickup and found a 300 gallon tank. Since 10-34 is like 11lbs per gallon we will see how that works.
As soon as I post this I'm going to wait at the gate at Wilco.
I also have to go and pay my life insurance today...
It is going to rain this afternoon.
Monday we are supposed to chop silage.
My wife just brought me jeans fresh out of the dryer. They are nice and warm. And she fixed me breakfast and brought me coffee. My daughter just gave me a hug.
However, her kitten just bit my foot...
The temptation to take my daughter to the beach today is very very strong... Perhaps the ryegrass will plant itself.
Perhaps my little helper will figure out how to run the drill...
Needless to say, King Kong will not be shown this evening!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

King Kong on the barn not very likely this weekend

It is most likely going to rain Friday and Saturday. I can't run the 16mm projector in the rain.
We are planting and getting ready to chop silage.
Monday or Tuesday my little helper had a crisis. However my brother's oldest son ran tractor for a while.
I had a field worked nicely and was waiting for a sprout. Got the sprout and started to work the field. Discovered I was actually just burying the weeds after working late with the harrow and roller.
Next day, broke the other harrow, broke the roller.
Found out the disk had a bearing out.
Finally decided on the old Do-all which is a combo field cultivator, stalk chopper, and harrow. I can pull it at 7.5 mph.
Had to then roll and pack the ground again but got rid of the sprout.
Decided on a "special" brand of annual ryegrass which is most likely a scam.
Waiting on seed.
Got the drill ready to plant.
2-155 won't lift drill.
Got covered in grease and hydraulic oil.
A/C fan failed on 2-155. Fan motor is of course made in China and failed because it was a piece of crap. Only a few years old.
Discovered the center hydraulic valve goes into bypass under heavy load. This is the valve I have always used to lift drill. Will now have to reprogram my brain to use the inside lever to lift drill.
Need to pack the worked ground one more time or use the old Minneapolis-Moline drill. The Great Plains no-till drill has a little too much down pressure for loose soil.
Not ready to chop silage Monday...
Now, you have to check out my welding and patching job on this roller. It was pretty much hacked up to begin with and I added to it. A true farmer repair.
Note the multiple chunks of scrap metal used to lengthen tongue. Note the scabby welding! Note the heavy metal welded to light metal during different decades. Now that is real farming!

Monday, September 16, 2013

No more hay baling in 2013

I am done, finished, it is over...
starting the clover field

Unless I bale that last little bit of wheat straw in the back corner of the farm I forgot about, or I drive 10 miles to bale some oat straw that someone said they wanted but now won't take because it got rained on. Straw that I did not have time to bale but I like the guy whose straw it is and hate to see him stuck with windrows in the field he wants to farm.
But I digress,
I finished hay at 11 pm Saturday evening.
It has taken me a day to deal with the frustration that came from making and attempting to stack wet hay. After dark the moisture came up really fast. The paint is worn off the second table of the stacker. This is where the bale layers are formed. The damp hay won't slide on the bare metal. This was not good. It made for a lot of hand stacking.
But I pushed on.
Finishing the clover field

I actually brought the baler home and cleaned up the field yesterday.
Some of the clover hay was heating up in the baler. I guess the hay preservative is supposed to make it all ok. It will go through a sweat and then be ok.
Or so said the sworn testimonials I've read.

Baling the clover field

Now it is on to planting, corn silage, working ground, fixing a truck, fixing a dump box, cleaning stuff up, finding the rotary mower and mowing some hay fields... and it never ends....

Saturday, September 14, 2013

!@#$%^&*( and furthermore *&^&%$#$#@!

I'm setting in my living room watching it mist on the hay stacks out side my window. I think my brother is working. I can hear crashing and clunking outside.
This is what the hay looked like yesterday...

I baled Teff with the 656 hydro. Sort of funny to hook a $20,000 baler to a free tractor which you can tell was free by looking at it. But, as my dear departed mother used to say, "poor people have poor ways..."

We have spent a week trying to get alfalfa/timothy hay and Teff Hay dry enough to bale. Yesterday I said, @#$%^& and also, "oh fiddle," and baled it. We mixed up a triple rate batch of $150 a gallon hay preservative and a lot of molasses and applied it liberally.

And I baled at 20 percent moisture and at times, just a scoche more...

Having a moisture testor sensor in the bale chamber is a blessing and perhaps a curse... The moisture in the Teff hay climbed 2-4 points in the bale as measured yesterday.

The alfalfa is third cutting. I baled it at 14 percent at 3 p.m. and 85 degrees. It had been cut for five days and I fluffed it every day but.... and this is a big Butt.... it had stem moisture.  I baled it anyway.

I picked up two loads with the stacker last night but it was so damp out that the bales would not slide on the table. I looked at the evening sky, it was red, so I went home. I think that may have been a mistake.

Doesn't look good for baling clover hay today. I wouldn't be so annoyed but this was to be the last good day of the year. The weather says scattered showers till next spring.

I must call my neighbor to see if he will haul my ten remaining blocks of 2 tie wheat straw into the barn for me. I don't really want to bug him. Perhaps they will haul themselves...

Friday, September 13, 2013

The last Sunday of Summer

Daughter and I made our last float trip down the river last Sunday. I suspect that not only is it the end of the Summer but the end of an era. Next summer she will be 13.
The water was amazingly clear!
I caught three small mouth bass
I now believe that fish actually do exist...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September 12th

I forgot about September 11th. I have to work. Plus, I try not to think about September 11th. It is not because of the people who died. It is because I want to thing of the USA as the great country which instigated the Berlin airlift, the country whose soldiers gave kids candy bars to kids in a country we had bombed to absolute rubble. The country who people really couldn't quite hate even though they tried, because they wanted to live here more than anything in the world.
It ain't the same place it once was...
I loaded hay on September 12, 2001.
I was struck at how quiet it was. I am somewhat used to the ever-present drone of an airplane and the faint hiss of tires on Highway 18 from some miles away.
I remember talking about the future with my brother. We were not very optimistic.
September 12th was the last day of the America of our forefathers.
What September 11th revealed was that our democracy had become a bureaucracy. Those who run this country, from the large to the small, rely on rules and procedure to govern.
Despite what the conspiracy people say, the attack on the WTO was a low tech effort. There was more than one plane because "they" never expected to be completely successful. Our leadership had no clue how to respond to an event with no landmass capital to bomb.
So they just made stuff up and they did it poorly. They kept the failed heads of departments who had missed the opportunities to capture the hijackers before they got on the airplanes and they developed a war like a Hollywood script. What "they" thought we wanted.
(unless my conspiracy theory is correct, that they hijackers were actually part of a sting operation which was supposed to be busted at the last moment and the government agent went on vacation or maternity leave on September 9th and lost them. Sort of like the first WTO bombing and selling guns to drug gangs in Mexico and our loan with FCS)
But, anyway...
I was listening to the spaceship guys last night while stacking.
Sure, the bureaucracy of government had plans in place to deal (or take advantage) of a huge and damaging event. But, it is more of an example of unchecked government growth and the paranoia of a huge bureaucracy that can't see out of its own fishbowl, than the master plan of the new world order.
A huge bureaucracy is like a virus, it expands and grows feeds off its host.
We have been making hay next to 99W by the local airport. We watched a traffic stop. Six cop cars and a K-9 unit and lots of running around while a guy stood handcuffed next to his car. It took hours to arrest one bozo for drugs. And with a really good lawyer the guy could still get off because some procedure wasn't followed. And a the same time, they could have dropped him face down on the pavement and got away with it, as long as it was following procedure and someone felt threatened.
So I suppose I have an even more depressing view of the post September 12th world than the conspiracy people. They have a defined source of evil. I see it as a blob taking over my country. (not very eloquent)
The after-effects of the terrible event have been much what I had feared. A long and undefined war that has done nothing but make people hate us. The loss of the essential freedoms that made us a unique society. We have torture as acceptable policy, "they" can hold you without charges, "they" can record your every move and conversation, "they" can bust down your door and shoot/and/or arrest you without a warrant (Recall Boston?) and we still have incompetent leadership.
And... There ain't a durn thing you can do about it!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

So it is 92 degrees and I am going to get my hay rained on...

I keep thinking about the interview I heard with the guy who jumped off a bridge. He said it takes a long time to hit the water... Have a long time to think about it.
When I saw the forecast for a week of sun I cut hay.
Now that it is Wednesday I realize that if I bale 40 acres a day starting today I will be done by Friday and it s supposed to rain on Sunday and off and on thereafter.
But I won't bale 40 acres a day...
Last night the rake developed two flat tires on one side. The wheat straw I'm baling has wet spots in it. The Teff and the Alfalfa need to be fuffed, the neighbor's hay needs to be fluffed, I have 40 acres of stacking to do.
But, the alfalfa and clover hay I need to do is not drying that fast. I doubt anything will be ready to bale until Saturday. I can't bale 80 acres in one day with one two tie baler. I'm not sure I can even stack 80 acres of little bales in one afternoon.
So we keep plugging along.
Just put an aircompresser in the pickup and am going to try just keeping the tires pumped up on the rake.
Of course the a/c failed on the 2-155. The hottest day of the year...
Probably going to put the baler on the M670 Super and drink lots of water...
Should have baled more last night... or stacked... Or something....
Nothing like being a lazy farmer!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Troubleshooting an alternator, Three videos of the Roadrunner song, One of Turn Your Radio on, and other rambling

My "new" tractor has been a continual source of frustration. I have gradually dealt with the problems, whittling my way down by either ignoring or fixing issues. Along the way I've put over 200 hours on it. Time for an oil change!
The alternator is the latest frustration.
When you turn the a/c fan on to high the voltage drops to 10 volts. If you don't notice it will fry the a/c compressor clutch. The a/c clutch is a magnetic clutch. Low voltage in hot weather results in slippage which you can't hear in the cab...with the radio on...

But I digress,
In fact I have completely lost my point...
Tractors, Alternators, problems, yes...
First we installed a 90 amp alternator, then tried a smaller pulley. The smaller pulley helped.
I am wondering if it is the voltage sensor wire turning off the alternator too soon?
Of course the tractor is hooked to a baler ten miles away.
My little helper asked for the day off as his son is having "relationship" problems and made a comment on facebook which was interpreted by my helpers crazy ex-wife as a suicide threat. Crazy ex-wife called the cops. Of course the kid probably wouldn't have "relationship" problems at age 13 if his "crazy" mother would have been just a touch more careful about bringing guys home to impregnate her... But, that just sounds harsh doesn't it... Has nothing to do with alternators...

Here is the link: Click here, it explains all about delco alternators. Very useful info, plus you got to see three different versions of the song "Road Runner."

Update at 6 p.m. when I should be making pig feed.

I found that the sensor wire was connected to the power wire on the back of the alternator. This causes the alternator to shut off too soon as it reads its own voltage. So, I moved the wire to the battery input on the starter.
This sort of helped.
So I check the voltage at the starter. 14 volts. Then I checked the voltage at the cab, 10 volts with the radio on... and the a/c on high.
So I started looking for heavy gauge wires that could be pinched or have a bad connection. I found the main cab power wire under the fuel tank, soaked in diesel, with a glob of melting electrical tape. Under the tape the bare wires were just twisted together.
So I put in a crimp splice and covered it with shrink tubing and then that plastic insulation in a can stuff. I should have soldered it but we really needed to cut hay. My little helper came in to help me despite the family crisis.
I now have 13 volts in the cab with the radio on... and the a/c on high... goin' 17 miles an hour, with the radio on... You have to watch the video to understand. The Bo Diddly one is the only good version of "Roadrunner."

I also changed the title because the only person that actually cared about Delco Alternators was Ralph Goff! Pretty funny, only like five page views today...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Randomness on Friday

I actually helped my lovely and gracious wife with some carpentry work this summer! She built a pergola, which is a porch without a roof.
Today it is pouring down rain.
My little helper and I will most likely pick up irrigation pipe in the rain. Something I am really looking forward to doing.
This website has interesting historical stuff. Aside from the potential of getting you on a watchlist somewhere. CLick Here

Thursday, September 5, 2013

King Kong at the Great White Barn- Maybe

I bought King Kong on Ebay...
It has not arrived.
I should not bid on things late at night after working all day...
I am 90 percent positive it has sound.
When it arrives I plan on showing it on the side of the barn that is across the road from my house. I will, of course, not invite anyone till the last moment...if at all.
However, if you see this notice, consider yourself tentatively invited...
The weekend of September 20th, on a Saturday evening. I have not looked at the calendar.
Things that will influence the showing of this movie...
1. If I forget
2. If it does not arrive
3. If it has no sound
4. If I drop the projector again and bust the bulb
5. If it rains
6. If aliens abduct me and don't return me in time for the movie
7. If I have to bale hay or chop silage or something farming related
8. If the rest of you are raptured and I get 20 feet in the air and say "oh #$%^&*" and fall back down to earth I will be too depressed to show the movie and will take to drinking in a big way.

Things that will not prevent me showing the movie...
1. roaming pole thieves stealing all the electric poles. I have several generators
2. earthquakes and pestilence- I have a generator and a bug zapper and gas masks
3. no one showing up to watch it...

In the mean time...
Check out this girl playing guitar!

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