The Useful Duck!

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Monday, May 25, 2015

The not very dangerous lone biker club, we never meet, but always wave!

I got into a bit of a discussion about motorcycle enthusiasts the other day. It started with me ranting about certain news events. I was really surprised at the venom directed towards "bikers."
I'm not a fan of biker gangs.
I've known people involved in the 1%.
I wouldn't even buy the same type of jacket.
I don't even aspire to the $30,000 Harley owners club of middle aged white guys who wear $6,000 worth of leather and pretend to be tough.
I'm not much into the twitchy bike crowd either. Don't like setting with my bottom up in the air. Makes me a bit on edge.
Still, motorcyclists are all about image. You see them checking out their reflections in the shop windows.
I have been trying to identify the theme music playing in my head as a moderately terrorize the neighbor hood with my glass packs on the ratty old Triumph.
I think it is banjo music, but now I have a Honda and a Triumph so perhaps it is dueling banjos or perhaps slightly out of tune Japanese Electric Guitars which were purchased at thrift shops.
I probably should just embrace my folly. I do enjoy myself...
Perhaps I should start my own brand. The .00001 percenters. The percentage of motorcycle enthusiasts that know they are dorks and don't really care all that much...

Here I am in all my motorcycle badness. I think I am Gary Nixon but am really Herman's Hermits.
Note the slight belly, poor muscle definition, male pattern baldness, uncool leather jacket.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The point where I alienate all my law-abiding readers

Ok, so you have a bar brawl with bikers who are supposedly also shooting at each other and no one else but bikers are killed. Lots of head and neck shots.
So, what really happened...
Judging from the slaughter (quite a few injuries) and the fact that a police SWAT team was stationed outside I did a search for "how many bikers were killed by police at a small town in texas."
And I found this article.
Actually the main reason I got suspicious was the police chief saying that "officers felt threatened," which is code for the rookie went nuts and unloaded 16 shots and everyone else fired out of instinct.
Note: I'm not a fan of motorcycle gangs.

Edit- the "gang" massacre in Texas is an interesting and frightening story. 
From doing some reading and from attending swap meets and sort of knowing a few gang members, you have an unlikely mix of hardcore criminal types and regular folks who love motorcycles and beer and leather jackets. You can't tell them apart. (The Trayvon and his hoodie argument)
Bikers tend to not mess with you or provoke cop unless you mess with them OR infringe on their criminal enterprises.
I'd put money on cops seeing what they thought was a gun and going nuts.
That explains the lack of real info, like who shot who and cell phone video.
And, cops feeling threatened is the comman theme in all the protests of police violence all over the country.
Note the spin on this incident, "white people gangs get away with murder."
They got away with 19 to 20 casualties and nine dead.
Who shot who?

Monday, May 18, 2015

If I owned 500 acres...

I'd rent it to someone for $200/acre and just do hay at Muddy Valley...
I think we have been chopping silage forever but it has really just been two weeks. Or three...
I started at 11 a.m. for reasons to boring to explain and finished at 8:00 p.m. We chopped 31 loads which probably averaged ten tons.
I do not understand dairy people.
I had a whole discussion Sunday about this subject with a hay buyer. He is from Canada and was telling me woes of selling hay to dairies. They try to beat you down on the price and then when you do come down they don't pay you anyway so what was the point.
I try to avoid selling any top quality hay to dairies for the exact same reasons. I only try to market hay to a dairy as a last resort, and then ONLY to people I know.
Silage chopping is the exact same thing.
I do the chopping for a small neighboring dairy.
He is a pretty good guy but he often reverts to Dairyman form.
Today was a good example.
I have a neighbor helping to haul. He is doing it more as a personal favor than as a way to get rich.
I run the silage chopper because it is a decent way to make extra cash in the spring, but also to help my neighbors.
We are not trying to get rich. Mostly we just want to get the field done so we can go home and eat supper before 9 p.m.
The plan is to weigh random loads. Perhaps every four or five loads. It is not so much to keep track of every scrap of silage as to establish a way to be compensated.
We should probably just charge $85 an hour for the truck and $150 for the chopper and another $85 for the mower. The key is that you have to average those numbers to come out. When you work by the ton you have the potential to make more money but then you don't get paid for down time so by the time your are done you hope for these figures as an average.
The dairy fellow decided the silage was drying out so he had the truck drivers weigh. Sure enough they were lighter loads.
This is fine, it averages out.
But then one of the drivers weighed again and he picked a load I accidentally loaded light. I don't intend to load trucks light. I try to cram as much on a truck as will dump.
Because I want to go home and eat supper by 9 p.m.
So then he wanted the other truck to go weigh.
It was 7:45 p.m. I did not want to wait 15 minutes for the truck to come back. I told the truck driver to tell the dairy fairy that the scale was closed. There were only two loads left.
I think he just made up something.
The last load I thought I had crammed the maximum amount on the truck but then I realized I had actually forgotten to top off the back of the truck so perhaps the dairy fairy has a point.
I got my supper by 9:30 p.m.
There has got to be a better way to make a living...

Penthouse apartment?

Here on the farm, we take our slogan, "mov'in on up" quite seriously!

Friday, May 15, 2015

A success

I This evening I received this photo from a neighbor that I planted fescue for.

He asked me to send him his bill and seemed quite satisfied with my planting job. 
This was encouraging as I just heard from another neighbor that planting fescue seed "three fingers" deep was most likely going to fail. 
This field was no-tilled at 3 pounds of seed per acre. The seed was placed 1 1/2" to 2" deep, the rows are 22 1/2" apart.
 The seed depth was measured from the surface of the ground. I set the front coulters on the drill 2 1/2" deep and the  double disk openers 1 1/2" deep. The press wheels force the seed into the bottom of the trench and it is usually covered by 1" of packed soil and then another inch of loose soil.
Then the farmer rolled the field at opposing angles with a corrugated roller. This broke up the hard surface and helped seal the ground.
I think I planted this two weeks ago.
It also had 10 gallons of 10-34 fertilizer placed in the row.
One key is that it rained a good half an inch soon after planting. I think that will keep it growing through the summer.
Makes me feel better about life...

Friday confusion

I thought I posted at 3 a.m.
Last night I started coughing and finally just got up and set in the easy chair for a while.
I wrote a slightly funny post about it.
But it has disappeared.
It had to do with chopping silage and had a picture of a rainbow and a Minneapolis-Moline tractor and a hay rake...
That tractor and that rake are two of my best buys.
The moline G1355 allowed me to farm, which was probably a bad idea.
The recent rake purchase really is invaluable. It has the power to rake wet clover! And as per terms of my loan agreement, I  not allowed to loan it!
Towing the dead 2-155 it was not a good purchase...

In other news...
I have been listening to Amazon Prime music on my iPhone while chopping silage. They switch around the free music so all my Joan Jett is no longer available, as well as Dr. Feelgood and the Kingbees, but The Band and Commander Cody is still available.
And I own the Vern Gosden CD...
And three billy Jo shaver albums. (Where you want it buddy, the face or the gut, and "if you don't love Jesus you can go to hell")
So, after listening to the same Social Distortion song three rotations in a row, I tried switching to FM 101.1 and talk radio.
Now I know that in this day and age there is no freedom of speech so this blog may get deleted from this observation but it is kind of funny.
I'm listening to conservative talk FM radio.
It is the only conservative FM talk radio station.
during the news break for Lars Larsen, they bring in the entertainment commentator who is queerer than a pink three-dollar bill. And he is getting quite giddy about a musical coming to Portland. He got to go back stage. He starts talking about musicals and the thrill of theater and I had to chuckle.
As I changed the station I could imagine radios clicking off all over the state. Not a lot of Lars Larsen listeners who care about entertainment news as breathlessly delivered by a lisping gay entertainment reporter.
Also, just how many in the Portland gay community are listening to Lars?
I could imagine (but try not to) a gay coffee klatch, listening to Lars and sipping coffee, holding their little fingers out, and giggling...
"Say Mufassa!"
"No, no, no, no, don't say it,"
"Now say Lars Larsen..."
Anyway, I say, Way to go FM 101.1
You sent me back to my weird iTunes playlist once again...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A rainy Tuesday

Today it rained all day.
I spent the morning trying to sleep off my whatever illness that makes me cough and feel like crap.
Then I attempted to balance my books.
Our formerly wonderful local bank, First Federal Savings and Loan, has allowed some slick talking IT person to con them into upgrading their computer system.
"For security reasons..."
You used to get statements that were pre-punched to go in a three-ring binder, and online files that could be downloaded in a number of different formats.
Now it is just confusing. An annoying interface with more security but when you add more annoying security features people just make more simple passwords.
What is really funny is that this is all supposed to be more secure. I discovered one check that had my name so badly misspelled as to make me really question how the bank could process it. But, it went though the high-tech scanner thing so I should not complain.
The thing is, they had a great system before. We are at the point where "upgrades" only make things worse.
However, I was able to get my account in order so it was not a wasted day.
I took my daughter to her softball game. Drove there in the rain. Stood in the rain for ten minutes before they decided to call the game. Yeah, big surprise there...
We got home and it quit raining.
I suspect it would have been a better idea not to swath the rest of the clover Sunday. But, no one asked me and if they would have I'd have just agreed with what ever they wanted to do.
I suspect things would go better if the dairy fellow would just tell me what what moisture level he wanted I'd just do it. However, I'm not really asking for the responsibility.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A nice Sunday

I attempted to sleep all day.
My attempt actually failed somewhere about 9 a.m. when I started coughing and just gave up. We had people visiting anyway.
I've had a cough and a sore throat for a week. I thought I would sleep it off.
I didn't.
There was not a big Mother's day celebration.
Lulu and I attempted to get the electric fence to hold in the goats as they had escaped once again.
I actually hooked two fence chargers to the fence at one point. This made it pulse twice as fast.
I made chain collars for the goats.
They still went through the mesh fence.
Finally I soaked them with water and the one goat pushed his head and shoulders into the fence and just kept pushing, flinching with each pulse of the fence.
I need one of those old fencers that is just a lightbulb to drop the current enough so it doesn't kill you.
I watched one goat eat half a poison hemlock plant. I bet you $10 it doesn't kill it.
I have stopped viewing them as interesting little creatures and started viewing them as burritos. One phone call and they are gone.
I could say they were stolen...
Lulu wanted a motorcycle ride so we took a cruise. There is a change in the weather. It got chilly. We were gone two hours. It was fun.
Tomorrow it is back to silage chopping.
It is going to rain and the clover will be too wet.
So it will be back to the 20 year conflict between farmer and dairyman. The farmer trying to get the dairy to take it too wet and the dairy guy coming up with strange ideas on moisture that are based on how much he can push with one scoop of his tractor.
The thing is...
We sell moisture testers for this, but a few years ago I decided that there just was no point in arguing for a moisture test when all I'm doing is running the chopper. I get paid by the ton, not by the phone call.
I should have had the farmer mow on Friday but I was behind due to odd breakdowns and the farmer figured that I would never get to his clover field because I would never get my chopper to work and I just didn't really feel like taking about it.
Perhaps the farmer is right, I don't really want to chop silage anymore. But I really don't want to do anything anymore so I fail to see what difference it makes.
I suppose I should be more positive. A happy positive attitude would cover all sorts of screw ups and I could talk people into what ever I wanted just by having a can-do attitude and using clever speech idioms.
I will work on that tomorrow.
Hammer down!
Now we're cooking!
Hang it to Houston buddy!
I love it!
Rock an Roll!

Friday, May 8, 2015

A wonderful day

I'm chopping silage and everything is going wrong. 30 acres behind. I'm sick but don't tell my wife. Sore throat, cough, wake up drenched in sweat. Not trying to complain, just setting the scene.
Blower on the chopper wore out after only two years, two year old lower radiator hose failed on mower tractor, (very hard to repair)

Had to chop my clover early because my neighbor was worried aboutvolunteer radish. Started mowing this morning and the hose to transmission oil cooler blew out. Kind of an off failure as I had checked all this last year.
Fixed it, got new helper mowing. New helper drives slow but did a good job.
Came home to move goats out of the garden that is not ours. Goats did not pay any heed to new electric fence, a half hour turned into an hour or two.
Helper finished mowing.
Friend who was bringing second truck was busy farming. Went with one truck. Had plenty of time to sharpen the knives.
Second truck showed up for last load from grass field.
Moved to clover, shear pin on spout rotator broke,  Had to find new pin.
Our IH truck started overheating, then driver had to leave. 
Finished clover with one truck.
Moved to neighors clover field. Some other friends brought two trucks.
Clover neighbor called to see why I wasn't chopping his field, I thought he was joking and said I quit when my drivers quit. I made that joke as I had just driven past his house with chopper.
He wasn't joking and said he would get someone else to do his silage next year.
Thought about telling him two loads had gone by his house already and then thought, I've been chopping his silage for twenty years sometimes in the rain till midnight and if he thinks I would just quit early and purposely let his clover dry out them it really is time to make a change. 
I was going to suggest he not wait till next year but instead Said, "you better do what you need to do," hung up phone.
Loaded two more 13 ton loads.
Decided to haul one more load before dark.
At 8:30 pm I looked at oil pressure gauge. It said zero. No alarm buzzer and not hot.
Killed tractor. checked dip stick, lots of oil. Removed sending unit, cranked starter, no oil.
Got ride to my pickup with truck that was almost full of silage.
Farmers son offered me a Bud-lite. It was a nice guesture.
Went home.
Tomorrow I will put the planter tractor on the chopper, it has low oil pressure already. Needs new main bearings.
Perhaps I can kill two 2-155's with one clover field.
Having a couple stress issues right now. I should just go outside and unhook the tractor from the drill, not like I'm going to sleep.
I sort of hate farming...
I left a little radish just to screw with them.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mowin in the rain

And so it begins...
Never ending summer...
Yeah, I'm happy again!

And now I have too move everything three miles down the road, and talk the dairy guy into taking four acres of grass silage, so my neighbor can gross $3000 an acre and net $50 but get the satisfaction of hearing his Universal Seed salesman tell him what a "can do" sort of guy he is.
I'm pretty sure those five wild radish plants you can see from the road will contaminate the whole valley, especially since the next radish field mile and a half away.
But in the end he will sort of be screwed any, in a nice passive-aggressive "Christian" sort of way.
I should bring a cake and flowers to there next field conference. 
Oh, no I can't, against my belief system!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Universal Seed is the most annoying company

I have a little field which I usually take for hay.
It is four acres.
For some reason I have a problem with volunteer mustard. This year it has volunteer radish, for some unknown reason.
So I called my neighbor to see about loading a truck load of ryegrass straw which is stored in his barn.
He says he will if I mow my hay field which has volunteer radish in it.
His field man from Universal Seeds is upset about possible contamination of his radish crop, which is a mile away.
I'm not sure why this irritates me so much.
Universal Seed has made a lot of money by restricting production of various brassica crops.
They were in the forefront of the successful effort to ban Canola from our area.
They have a clever scheme. They find a farmer who has quite a few acres. They tell him what an awesome farmer he is. They appeal to his personal pride. In this case, they sent my friend a field man who I think is a pastor. This is pretty good as now it is God's business.
So the farmer jumps through all the hoops and when all his ground is contaminated with radish seed they find someone else.
I used to throw sunflowers into one row of the corn planter.  I like sunflowers. It made a pretty pattern. But, did the Universal Seed guy come to me and note that since I like to grow sunflowers perhaps I could get a contract to grow them? Nope, instead they told me I should not grow them.
Last year the field man gave my sister-in-law a bag of Sunflower seeds.
I planted sunflower seeds from the grocery store.
No one gave me any sunflower seeds.
Last year they wanted me to pull my volunteer mustard. I told them it was Camelina.
I wonder if I can convince them that the radish is actually hybrid flax.
But I leave you with this question...
Why should I give a rip about volunteer brassica in my field? No one has offered me any sweet-heart contracts. That nice fellow from Universal Seeds makes three trips a day past my farm and has never stopped. I think it is a little late... Where is my hat? Where is my bag of sunflower seed? Where is the offer to pay me to take a loss in yield for harvesting my field early?
Why should I care about specialty seed contracts so that my neighbor can make big bucks?
Of course I will probably do something about it because I like my neighbor, but I don't like Universal Seeds and while I would smile and nod if the field man stopped, I doubt I would grow for them.
And I tell you what, as soon as the silage is off the dairy field I'm thinking about no-tilling radish out in the middle just to see what will happen next year.
So I was walking the two miles home after mowing grass at the dairy where we are chopping. Both my brother and my wife forgot to come pick me up and I do hate to beg...So I walked.
My neighbor stopped and gave a ride and complained about my wild radish. He noted that if I would have mowed my field I wouldn't have had to walk home.
I said that since I didn't plant it then it must have blown in from his field.
He told me how much money he lost from cross pollination last year.
Which is another reason to grow filberts instead of radish for his favorite company.
I say BS. Think it's a trick by his seed company to weasel out of their contact which they oversold. There has been talk of this sort of thing happening before. They would certainly never admit to selling him less than perfect seed.
Another reason why I dislike his company.

Monday, May 4, 2015

I hate farming part 8

I've been busy the last few days. I am supposed to be chopping silage and no-till something like 200 acres of Fescue all at the same time.
ButI realized this evening the world needs my happy contrast to those, "Don't complain with your mouthful," and "Everyday is Earthday for Farmers," and "My other car is a Ford Pinto," bumper stickers.
Actually having a Ford Pinto bumper sticker has nothing do with what I'm saying I just like the bumper sticker...
I mean, every other farmer is happy and making loads of money and their wives are writing blogs about the wonders of "family farming" 5,000 acres and making money hand-over-fist cause well, they are just wonderful folks.
Shouldn't there be a contrast? A grumpy broke farmer who breaks everything and gets stuck in the dark while listening to Clide Lewis talk about flying saucers and blogs using a iPhone that doesn't work quite right because he has anger management issues and tends to throw it as hard as he can when he gets five calls in a row from the same person.
But I digress...
I realized the world could not live without hearing of my misadventures when I started up the Moline G1355 we use for mowing (after having it apart in the shop for most of the winter) and the alternator exploded into flames. I admit I just watched it for a while having never see this happen before. It was blazing away like a little jet engine. Apparently the cooling fan in the alternator does do something.
I bet this has never happened to you before...and yet, it happened to me.
Today I spent some time with the fellow I'm planting for. He told me I did a good job, paid attention to details, and he was happy to have me work for him.
Great news...
I am almost sure I planted the first field too deep, the second too shallow, I think I skipped a spot but I can't figure out where, I think I got the seed rate off (which is really bad considering I'm only planting three pounds of fescue seed per acre) and I capped off the evening by burying the tractor and drill in his field.
I drove right into the wet spot whilst staring intently at my marker furrow which I could hardly see as the headlights are really bright but cast no shadows. Suddenly I saw water filled ruts and I cranked the wheel. But, it was too late.
I had to walk, I hate walking.
I was going to unhook the drill and pull it out sideways but I gave one tug on the hydraulic hoses and realized that I since I messed up my back Sunday, unhooking hydraulic hoses has come to be a challenge.
I was just helping a nice horse lady out on Sunday as I'm sure her horse was starving and she broke her leg and she always says please and thank you and has big boobs such a nice smile. So I wedged two bales in the back of her Ford Bronco and I twisted wrong and well, I can't actually lift a 50b bag of seed with my right hand. Made loading the drill interesting today.
And then there was my failed attempt to finally weld the hooks on MuddyValley's loader tractor. I started up the welder before I was going to leave and discovered that there was a hole in the oil filter...
Really... How many times has that happened to you?
I hate farming....

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