The Useful Duck!

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why I hate cats part IIIIVXI

I'm setting on the couch eating my lunch of leftover Chinese food (i think) and the highly neurotic cat that my wife rescued from somewhere wants attention.
I ignore him which of course means he thinks I like him, (because he is a cat...)
He perches on the back of the couch.
I return to my noodles.
Suddenly he starts retching and jumps down to the carpet.
I realize he is about to puke at boot him on to the fakehardwood flooring.
This horrendous act which would undoubtedly violate the WMS zero-tolerance policy, if anyone actually knew what it was, (including the board of directors and the fundraiser turned administrator) caused Krazy Kat to panic and he ran for his favorite corner, puking all the way.
I started for the closet to get the Mossberg 500 but thought about the kind and caring souls in the family who would perhaps be very unhappy with that course of action and instead got the beach wipes.
Instead of suffocating the cat with the bleach wipe, I cleaned up the puke. Nearly puking up my chinese food in the process. I guess that would have been cat meeting cat.
Now that dadburned creature wants to snuggle.
I am going back to work.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I get the G1355 to actually start up!

I kind of had lost hope. I never thought I'd see this tractor run. We don't even want to discuss the money spent on this tractor. It has the LAST set of oversize Minneapolis-Moine 585 cu inch in the world installed. They were not cheap.

There is a 50/50 chance you will get the injector pump timed correctly. Those of you who have followed my blog know which side of the 50/50 split I fell on. Not only was it 180 degrees off but when I reinstalled the pump I didn't compensate enough for the slip on the helical gear and I got it one tooth off.

It misses a little bit but it has good oil pressure. Now we have to fix all the oil and water leaks, put the cab back together, make sure the PTO works, make sure the lights work, figure out the oil cooler problem and fix the a/c.
Oh, and figure out why it is only hitting on five cylinders. It has a distinctive lope as if there is a problem with the advance on the injector pump. I'm not really sure if I can get it correctly timed without removing the pump.
Perhaps my brother will come back and help me. He is a mechanical genius.

It may be a sunny day or then again it might rain

I'm a little down this morning.
I keep being reminded that I am neither a good farmer nor a good businessman, I am also terrible at contract negotiations, public relations, and defending my wife.
I can't play guitar, washtub base, yodel, fiddle, play the banjo, or do algebraic equations.
I am fairly good at setting in my lazyboy and drinking coffee. I also do a good job of complaining.
My wife's unfortunate experience with the school she devoted a decade and a half to has pretty much put me into a funk. Every time I get enthused something else comes along, be it farming or employment.
Why take to the internet to express my depression? Well, because this post will probably get the usual 40 hits today from the same 25 locations and so I'm thinking I am not really broadcasting my personal feelings to the entire world but rather to a group of friends who are far enough away that I don't have to see them every day.
My wife doesn't want controversy. She would like her job back but not if she is not wanted. The only solution to the problem is to turn back time. However, I am almost positive this will not happen.
We got an email from the one board member who is not on vacation. Apparently the people who I called to see if they would give my wife a reference for the employment board have been calling and emailing school board members. This upsets the school board as we are not "following proper procedure for an appeal."
They are upset with us for contacting parents.
It is not "us" that is contacting parents. It is me... My wife has not contacted anyone on her own. She did send out a letter to a the board and also a few other teachers but that is it. The board of course, ignored her letter because it was not sent to the exact proper channels.
I think it is now time to move on.
I've been encouraging parents to express themselves but have not been recruiting them in the last week. I did send two emails to parents who had kids in my wife's class and those turned out to be to people who supported the administration and they apparently contacted the board and said I was stirring up trouble.
I am frustrated because I was somewhat inept in my attempt to defend my wife. I didn't handle a number of things correctly.
In the grand scheme it really doesn't matter. I'm probably not going to have any interaction ever again with most of the board members. I really doubt my wife will get her job back. The board's unfortunate choice of a fundraiser and reformer to be head administrator will never really be questioned. Instead there it will most likely be a self fulfilling prophecy. The administrator may face opposition. He of course does not understand that he is just inept and will most likely claim persecution for his beliefs. Qualified teachers and staff most likely will leave. Parents will most likely not pull their kids but also may not promote the school in the future or give money. The local reputation of WMS will probably take another hit and mediocrity will prevail.
No one will ever understand what went wrong. I feel sad that I have been part of it.
On the other hand, I just ran into another parent yesterday. She was pretty upset about what happened. One of her children or friends children was in the room when the incident occurred. She says the kids were just clowning around and what my wife did was nothing. She says the kids at school are finally starting to figure out why my wife is no longer there and are starting to get upset about it.
It felt pretty good to say, "if you don't like it contact the school board, you are paying for a private school education and you deserve to get your money's worth."
Of course I know what the board will most likely say, they will blame my wife and I for agitating.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I give my opinions on stuff

I guess I don't really fit into the whole modern farming network. Ed Winkle is as close as I come to a link with legitimacy and you do have to admit that Ed is not quite mainstream in a lot of ways. Ralph Goff is a real farmer but of course he is a foreigner. (That was a joke) But, you have to admit, Ralph is a bit of fellow odd duck, with his video camera and his IH truck and his Cockshutt tractor.
So what got me on this subject was...
I just got my Capital Press and was about to use it to start the fire when I came across a story on farmers who are getting the word out about agriculture though blogging.
I am completely shocked that The Lazy Farmer is not featured!
The Capital Press also has a blog. It is worth a look. You can certainly see has issues concerning mainstream farming.
I think American farmers need to get over this conceit that it is our duty to feed the world. I think Oregon farmers should just admit that people don't eat grass seed. I think farmers need to realize that when people get stuck behind a convoy of ten brand new combines on highway 18 that they are not feeling love for farmers. I doubt that cutesy blogs by young enthusiastic farmer wives will really help all that much. They think that if city people can see a glimpse of their lives that they will like them. I don't think that is true. There are so many differences in values that an honest view of your daily life gives the city folks a shock and more fuel for their "us vs THEM" view of the world.
Also, pretending to be just one of the regular folks when you are driving a $250,000 piece of farm equipment, or rather, having your Mexican drive your $250,000 farm equipment, doesn't really work. -Even if you wear Romeo's and point out you only had to come up with ten percent down and the rest belongs to Case Credit.
And about this feeding the world thing...
We get paid to do it. Rationalizing that we are feeding the world somehow justifies all sorts of short sighted decisions and questionable ethics. Priorities should be as follows: God, Family, State, Country... Meaning, you should be ethical, you should do the right thing, you should take care of yourself, your town, your state, and then perhaps the big picture. You can't uses feeding the world as an excuse to screw your neighbor out of 15 acres.
Also, the cover story on the Capital Press is about Willamette Egg farms responding to shakedowns from environmental groups. Sure, the article is a positive fluff piece about how this huge factory farm is becoming more transparent and humanitarian and the positive spin continues. That is all fine and dandy now that there are few to none independent egg producers of any medium scale left in Oregon. I'd say it is a payoff situation of some sort. Huge factory farms can change in a click of the policy writing pen. Small farms change through pain and suffering.
I was fortunate enough to meet a few older farmers who farmed because they loved the land and the animals they raised, and their farm was where they wanted to be.
They never had a blog...

I also found The Rural Blog. Interesting for news.
And I was sent a link to this blog:

Monday, February 24, 2014

I fix things that should not be fixed

My forklift has steering problems. It also has problems with the brakes. So.... if your forklift tends to dart off in unexpected directions and the brakes don't work then it does make it hard to unload a truck or put pallets away.
I end up with a lot of broken pallets and I tend to stick the forks through random objects.
Friday I decided I had enough.
My little helper was here and he put the forklift in the shop.

There were two problems.
First problem was that the tie rod ball joint had pulled out of the end of the steering cylinder and ruined the treads and actually split the cylinder rod.
The second problem was that the tapered end of the ball joint had come loose in the steering knuckle and had wallowed out the hole.
I tried calling my local hydraulic repair guy but he didn't answer the phone.
I needed the forklift.
After much consultation I decided to make an executive decision. I have a welder. Are we mice or are we men?
Or rather, we are farmers and if it can be welded or wired or beat with a hammer, it can be repaired.

To repair the tapered holes I found a piece of carbon rod that we just happened to have laying around the shop. I ground it to the taper of the ball joint, I put it in the wallowed out hole, and I ran a bead of 6011 around the rod until the hole was filled.
I then ground the top flat and encouraged my little helper to make liberal use of green loctite. (Of course he forgot to use the loctite)

To repair the cylinder end I decided to first repair the threads on the ball joint. I used a thread chaser to repair the damaged threads. I clamped the steering cylinder in the vice and threaded the ball joint as far into the cylinder shaft as possible.

I had found a set collar that just fit over the steering cylinder shaft and I put that on first.
Next I welded up the crack on the shaft. I slid the set collar over the welded split in the shaft and then welded the shaft onto the ball joint and then I welded the set collar so that it covered up the welds and will keep the shaft from going far enough into the cylinder to ruin the seal.
We put it all back together and it now steers. I think I will avoid driving it down the highway. Of course driving an ancient detroit diesel power forklift down the highway is not the most pleasurable experience anyone could have. Not like you want to zip into town for lunch at the Blue Goat in your Mercury-Pettibone.
Uncle Jacks, might be good. Actually, Uncle Jack's BBQ is pretty much always good.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The importance of motivation

My lovely and gracious wife has been helping out around the farm. This is not a bad thing. I usually call on her when we need serious motivation.
We had quite a wind and rain storm a couple days ago. One of the door blew off my uncles's shop which is located on the farm. My uncle is 85 or so, perhaps a little older. Hmmm, I should ask.
The building is used for storing oxygen and acetylene and other gasses in metal cylinders which are used in welding. There is also a tank of helium which he loans to the local school to blow up balloons.
Uncle enlisted me to help patch the door back together with drywall screws and pieces of scrap lumber we found laying around.
I suggested that we purchase new materials. These suggestions are often met with some resistance. The building was built in 1942 out of materials salvaged from the family's former farm. The old folks think if it has lasted 40 years it will last another ten and everyone figured they would be dead in 10 years but 9 years later they are all still plugging along...
I started to get just a wee bit frustrated. I'd rather build a whole new door than spend two days patching rotting plywood and T-11 siding together with drywall screws.
Then I thought of my wife. She knows how to build things and the Uncle likes her. This is because she periodically bakes pies for coffee time. And she is a almost always happy.
So I brought her out to the shop and showed her the door. She went into action immediately. The door had been pieced together using a frame of overlapping 1"x6" boards. These were probably really cheap in postwar US when there was a timber industry and lumberyards and sawmills were in every town.
In the modern world 2x4's are cheap and 1x6's are expensive.
I tried to explain this to the uncle but was met with stiff resistance.
But my wife just does it...
First thing the next morning we bought supplies and by noon we had the door framed. It is 15ft by 7ft and mounts on rollers.
Now you do understand that there is a reason the blog is titled "the lazy farmer." This is an "old school" business where things traditionally stopped at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. for a coffee break (my Grandma and Aunt took tea at that time) and everything stops at 12 for noon.
I went into the store where a couple farmers were looking at brochures and talking about buying a new fertilizer spreader. The Uncle was busy calling on the phone to see how soon he could get one and what options were available.
So I stopped to talk. We were in the midst of a discussion of something I can't remember but which I'm sure was quite important when my wife came looking for me. "Get to work she exclaimed," and then she called me "Gabby Smurf," the room erupted in laughter.
I went to work.
The new door looks great. My wife is very good at measuring and cutting. I am pretty good at some of the design stages and figuring out what will for and what is too heavy or too light. Unfortunately I ofter forget to use my words and have complete communication failures so I mostly stick to using the screw gun or heavy lifting.
I tell you now that if my wife had not have got me going I would still be staring at that door and making plans and discussing the cheapest place to buy plywood and debating the virtues of overlapping 1x6 joints vs just buying those clever new steel plates and brackets that let you butt 2x4s up to each other and fasten them without toe-nailing or overlapping anything.
I suppose I will be know forevermore as Mr. Gabbysmurf...

Friday, February 21, 2014

The single biggest threat to small to medium sized farms

Is the gubment...
We lost our essential civil rights with the so-call patriot act. Our right to health food and freedom to farm in a sustainable medium scale manner while appreciating biodiversity is at risk. Meaning, if a deer or a goose poops in your hay field, you might have to do isolation to keep it out of your hay bale.
The 2011 Food Safety Modernization act is what I am talking about.
Read this article in from the Rodale institute.
We got a speech about this from a grass seed salesman today. The FDA is proposing to regulate hay sales, grass straw sales, and grain sales.
Food grade grease for the baler?
Of course the conventional mainstream farmers didn't care about this issue when they thought it wouldn't directly affect them.
It is for our own good, for the children...
Speaking of children I have really come to understand why we have fewer really good teachers than we used to have. Why in the world would anyone ever want to become a teacher when you have to realize your life could by ruined by one school policy change.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A hay customer for MuddyValley

I got a call from the Uncle. A nice lady was at the shop looking for hay.
So wandered out to see what was up.
There was a girl waiting for me. She was not unattractive. She wearing bright red lipstick, a cropped denim jacket, low rider jeans, and leather boots. She wanted to buy three bales of hay.
You have to realize that while we don't have snow, it is cold, wet, and windy. 
The old guys at the coffee table were enjoying the show. One asked her if she didn't get cold dressed like that. She pulled up the jacket far enough that it probably recharged a couple pacemaker batteries and exclaimed that no she does not get cold.
She seemed happy.
Her husband or boyfriend stayed in the truck for the hay negotiation. He got out to help load hay. He seemed like a nice guy.
I asked them how they found me since I don't advertise and never answer my phone. They said neighbor's wife offended them so they came here to buy hay.
I gave her a good deal. She gave me cash and a smile.
I almost called up MuddyValley but figured it wouldn't take too long to load three bales and he was a long ways away.
As they were about to leave I heard a strange sound coming from the back seat in their truck. It was a baby.
Okay, now I'm officially impressed. Of course I didn't really look but... A child in a car seat who didn't really talk and the Mom has no stretch marks, she is wearing a cropped denim jacket and low rider jeans and no muffin top! 
How did she do it?
Perhaps I should have asked...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Some musings on a rainy Monday

I have a problem with this blog.
When I check my statistics I see that there are quite a few local followers.
I don't mind complaining and/or telling tales to people who are on the other side of the country. If there is an exaggeration here or a couple omitted facts there or an embarrassing story about myself, I feel no shame.
The very name of the blog, "The Daily Strumpet/Lazy Farmer" pretty much gives you a clue that the writer's grasp on reality is not exactly as firm as it could be.
The Daily Strumpet name comes from a print newsletter which I did for many years. The print version was in a newspaper format with articles which exaggerated everyday events to fit my odd sense of humor.
The Lazy Farmer blog has been more of a tension release. I kept the Strumpet title so that former readers of the newsletter could find the blog through search engines.
The thing is that I have no idea who is reading this blog or what throw-away-comment will come back to haunt me. Meaning, what if I offend someone I like-by accident?
The saving grace is that people I know and tell about the blog usually get bored and stop following after six months. It is usually people who don't know me that keep following.
I've considered three options,
1. Quitting completely. I only have two or three subjects. My farming career is sort of a train wreck. I'm not sure I need to share it.

2. Going completely public. Real names! No censor bars across faces! A disclaimer, "hey this is a joke if you don't like it go way back and sit down!"

3. An different blog. You would have to email me to transfer over. There would be no searchable terms from the old blog. No Daily Strumpet. Probably would keep the Lazy Farmer name but would look at Wordpress.

Just thinking about this as several things have put me into a introspective mood. Anyone remember why Frank James quit?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ideas to make money

I've been rather busy for the dead of winter. Lots of people who need me. Not so much in productivity.
I've been attempting to figure out how to get a steady income in the winter. This has not been quite as successful and I had hoped.
It turns out there are a lot of regulations concerning making feed. Those regulations are centered around larger business which make a standard product out of the same ingredients and then do more retail sales.
I wanted to sell ground grain with no additives according to ratios found in pre-twentyfirst century books and sell it to a reduced cost to people who don't need a certified feed analysis. The key to this was my ability to get small amounts of different grains and screenings and to make small batches.
I have refined this to a point where I eliminated the screenings and now use mostly whole grains which I grow myself.
The basic mix in 2000lbs is 1400lbs barley, 400lbs wheat, 250lbs flax, 150lbs camelina. I have the option of substituting in oats, peas (I really like to use peas), clover screenings, and alfalfa hay, with a gallon or so of molasses to keep down the dust. Sometimes I get various other types of screenings which I add to maintain a consistent density.
This basic mix works well for chickens, pigs, goats, and cows. I tweak it a little for individual customers. If the customer wants additives I make them add it themselves to the mixer.
I am going to have to change how I do this to meet regulations. I think I am going to give customers a sheet where they can check off the grains they want and the lbs they want in the mix. Then I will make a batch to their specifications.
This will be a custom grinding operation which I suppose will mean that everyone gets a 1099.
Here's the deal...
If I screw up someone's feed they won't come back. I will lose money. I don't advertise and so rely on word of mouth. If I don't make a quality product then I don't get any work. I have no intention of cheating anyone. If anyone is unhappy I make it right.
In fact it would be a lot more work to cheat someone than it would be to just do it right.
But there are the regulations. I'd be more upset but I realize it is the regulation that gets me a business opportunity.
I think I am almost at the point where I could make a standard product which I could get labeled.
The main problem is lack of funding.
I need at least $50,000 to buy better equipment and set up a system to weigh and unload grain without moving boxes and pallets for half a day to make a ton of feed.
But.... if I borrow then I have to raise my prices and I have to have regular customers.
Nothing is ever simple...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

It is getting cold up on the roof

Snow has arrived.


I got a call the other day from the farmer who rents the farm which has the house where I used to live. Perhaps Collieguy will remember the charming old house with stained glass panels in the windows, old oak doors with odd handles, and the oak fireplace mantle that came from a historic house in Carlton.
The farmer told me that the doors had been kicked in and the windows busted and someone was trying to steal our piano.
We left the piano for the supposedly responsible next renter who was only a little down on her luck and just needed a beautiful charming (cheap) old farmhouse to rent while she saved some money.
Of course she never actually lived in the house and used the opportunity to get her worthless kids a place to live. Kids so utterly stupid and lazy that they could not figure out how to run a riding lawnmower. I actually went over and mowed they lawn because I thought it was victim lady who just need a little help.
But, I digress...
It was not vandalism for the sake of vandalism. No, they stole the stained glass, the oak mantle, the 1950-60's appliances, the door handles, the radiators and batteries out of my landlords two very nice studebaker trucks and my not quite as nice 1941 but pretty good Studebaker truck and whatever else was interesting.
We brought home the piano. My father-in-law refinished it several years ago. The wood is beautiful. I suspect it was destined to be cut up and sold for the wood.
I am somewhat happy to know that the meth-heads who did this will get almost nothing for their trouble.
I asked the former landlord if he would sell me the kitchen sink, bathtub, the remaining oak door, but he didn't want to do that. I'm sure they are gone by now. I don't have the heart to go back.
I think I will go back up on the roof. It was so peaceful up there.
Kind of chilly.
I need a game cam for home. The neighbor's have had batteries stolen.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I'm not listening to Pete Seeger

I keep getting outbid on the Lee Moses record. I got annoyed with the Grammy awards after reading Self Evident Truths.  I did watch the Madonna/Miley show. My theory is that Madonna is a vampire. She lives forever by sucking the soul out of young hot female musical artists. When she made out with Britney she stole her life force. Britney then self destructed. The question is, who vampired who at the Grammy performance this year? Will Madonna have to strike again as there was no soul to steal? Or will Miley start doing coffee table books in which she is nude?
I do see a flaw to my reasoning, I don't actually know if Britney Spears was ever good singer as I've never watch a Britney video with the sound on.
I figure great artists never make it into the top 40. If they are halfway good someone kills them off. Stevie Ray Vaughn won a couple grammies and then got into a helicopter.
Lee Moses toured with Jimi Hendrix. I just listened to Moses singing "Hey Joe." Lee Moses is dead. Jimi Hendrix is dead.
Unitarian churches around the country did not get together and sing "Bad Girl" in 1997 when Lee Moses died. I'd rather have heard "Hey Joe" then, "I have a hammer."
This has nothing to do with Lee Moses, just my ongoing annoyance with the Seegerites.
You know the thing is... Since the Russian revolution Communists have been killing people around the world. It is pretty well documented. Stalin killed a few million, The nutcase in Korea is still operating mass prison camps for political types.
Back when Pete Seeger was singing commie lite music and tell congress off there really were commie spies in the government. If anyone remembers there were nuclear weapons pointed back and forth between the two countries. We fought proxy wars in Korea and Vietnam.
We have filtered our history. Congress was crazy to worry about commies and Hollywood was brave to resist. Even though the Hollywood types were a bunch of rats who told on each other left and right.
In the end we didn't blow each other up and the USA has turned into a sort of anti-religious kind of progressive Police State where it is really hard to have a small business and there are regulations for every single thing you can do and the Soviet Union now has freedom of religion and you can pretty much do what you want as long as you pay off a couple mobsters.
So, yeah, I really like how the Pete Seeger message was interpreted by his listeners. Perhaps I've been a little hard on him. He just knew what was best for us, it was for our own good, so it went a little wrong. A few eggs got broken along the way...
Whatever, it is Sunday night and Monday means a new week. Corn photos and no-till planting and tractor repairs and chicken feed. Happiness without end! Whoop! Whoop!

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