The Useful Duck!

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Reflections on working off the farm for one year

One year ago today I started work as a groundskeeper at a small private college in Oregon.
Look! A shrub!

Was it a good idea?
I really don't know...
I applied for the job because the stress of farming was doing me in. My father-in-law lived with us and my father lived with my brother. My father had to move into a nursing home and it looked like it was going to be an expensive proposition.
My father-in-law living with us made it so my wife couldn't work part time so supplement my farm income.
It had also been a very stressful summer. It looked like several of the jobs I do for other people were going to end and I have been finding it difficult to just keep up the pace of doing custom work off the farm to make up for the money we lose actually farming.
Look! A DC-3!

My daughter gets straight A's and wants to go to college.
But mostly it is that farming is changing.
All the good guys are dead.
You can't make it on a handshake agreement anymore.

My intense frustration started that Spring silage season.
We have been chopping silage for a few neighbors and the dairy down the road from us. Our equipment is old and I haven't been keeping up with painting stuff.
We have a 160 hp tractor and a pull-type silage chopper. I get a couple friends to help haul and so it takes a week or two to get it all done.
I've been a little frustrated as it is hard to get our own crops done and the silage chopper is expensive to run. I had to buy a tractor to pull it, repairs are very expensive, we have to have a truck and a driver. But, it brings in good money.
However, everyone else has 600hp choppers and they haul the silage and pack it for the dairy and do in a day what it takes me a week to do.
So I'm working my little heart out and I blow up my tractor and get another tractor hooked up and I don't even lose a day, and I hire a guy to come out and rake the clover that the farmer put in a row too wide for the chopper to pick up (for the fifth year in a row) and all I hear is how the other guy has a new chopper and gets a lot more done than I do. And we get the dairy to chop his grass and all I hear is how that other guy can chop it all in a day and will pack it for him and I'm out there working my little heart out and I wear out my disk mower and truck and bend the cylinder on the dump box and I lose $40 a ton on my hay cause I'm chopping for people that apparently are just giving me the job due to charity.
And then I start stacking and all the bales are crap and the people making the bales don't really care and I kind of forget how much money this all brings in to run our farm.
And then we start chopping our corn silage and all I hear is how this other guy will chop it and put it in the pit and pack it and how he will do the dairy guy's farming for practically free and so I figure screw it...
So I take this job and I figure I that I can do a lot after work and if I make it a year I'll have more vacation time and I can take time off work and still get stuff done and I probably exaggerated all my frustrations any way and people will still trust me cause I've always got their stuff planted and chopped and stacked.
And I have one customer left.
I got all his bales stacked. However, I don't think that is going to be enough to make my tractor payment and that money was supposed to go to supplement my personal income.
All said and done... I'm in worse financial shape than a year ago, but I do get an hourly wage and have my daughter's college tuition taken care of and Monday something like 20 percent of my measly income will go into a retirement account.
On the other hand I'm up at three a.m. because I can't sleep.
I think I will go work some ground before it rains so that we can plant a crop which we won't be able to afford to fertilize and will probably fail anyway...
Monday I'll go back to work and when the loan comes due I'll just have another mini nervous breakdown and perhaps something will work out or it won't.
But, worst of all... The dairy guy will come over and tell me what I nice guy I am and how he sure hated to take the job away from me but he thought it would rain and boy they sure got it done in a hurry.
Look! A $1,100 tire with a split in it and corn in the background which would have paid for the repair!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why I became a groundskeeper reason number 25 or I take three days off work don't go to England so I can chop silage and the neighbor hires someone else at The last minute

Well my entire blog post was in the title so I have nothing really more to say.
I'm going to take my two days off to plant our own crops which always get neglected in favor of helping other people. So far doing work for other people has given us worn out equipment and we have neglected our own crops. If we don't go broke this year I'm kind of thinking about stopping the whole work for your neighbor program. They don't appreciate you anyway.
So screw em.
Used New Holland silage chopper with three row corn head and wide grass pick up is going to go on craigslist this afternoon...
Your blog this morning was angrily brought to you by apples wonderful speech to text program on the iPhone.
Largely unedited.

Monday, September 26, 2016

My family leaves me for an adventure in London and Paris and randomthoughts

I dropped my family off at the airport this afternoon...
My wife got a small inheritance from her father and she has always wanted to go to England and to Paris.
I told her that Paris has a lot of dog poop, people are really not that friendly, and the Eiffel Tower is kind of small.
I pointed out that people in England talk funny and you can't understand them and that they charge you money for bog paper in public restrooms.
This proved to be ineffectual as it was pointed out that I am just kind of negative in general.
I was invited but opted to stay home and work.
Great decision on my part....(sarcasm)
My wife says she will actually go to the "motorcycle breakers' and find me a fairing and mounting brackets for a red Honda VT500E.
I insisted that they take a roll of the best double layer plush toilet paper available. I think they ignored me. When I went to Europe many years ago the two things I that I appreciated the most was the roll of good toilet paper and the roll of electrical tape.
We were able to to convert the our Citroen 2CV from a 1-CV back to a 2CV and drive slightly below traffic speed on the M-1 using that electrical tape on a leaky spark plug wire.
But, I digress..
For lunch we had Dim Sum at the House of Louie in downtown Portland. Click here for a really good commentary on how Portland has changed. I hate modern liberals...and Hilary Supporters. Oh wait... one and the same.
I never thought it would come to this but give me a corrupt republican over a Hilarycrat any day of the week...

But, I digress...again...

The lady at House of Louie asked us if we wanted Calamari and Baby Bok Choi right away. In fact she seemed to already know what we wanted off the Dim Sum cart.
The first time I went to House of Louie was in 1984. My wife and I have been going there since 1985 or so when we first met. I suspect we went there separately when we were not dating. And we have gone there off and on since we were married and have taken Lulu a couple times a year since she was born.
Is it possible that the waitress remembers us???
It does not seem likely to me.

Now, I have to go look at a field to plant and if I were worth a crap I'd finish working some ground for annual ryegrass. I kind of want to just not do anything...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Happy Birthday to me

What I did on my birthday...
I was actually singing "Happy Birthday to Me," but it didn't show up on video.

The lovely wife and daughter and going to England. My lovely and gracious wife was left a small inheritance. She has always wanted to see London. They are leaving this weekend. I figure I can live on Snickers and coffee for a couple weeks...

Saturday, September 10, 2016


I plowed today.
I forgot the radio was on when I took the video
I also forgot how to plow.
I laid out the lands after dark using GPS. I went 100 feet instead of doing the first land at 100 and the rest at 200.
My helper took over this morning and seems to have figured out how to fix the problem.
I took the suction tube from the filter to the hydraulic pump out five times attempting to fix a hydraulic leak on the number two 2-155. I welded up the wear grooves on the tube with the wire feed welder and sanded it downs smooth. 
Then the other end started leaking.
I put bigger o-rings in. It seems to have stopped.
I hooked up the Melroe 911 plow with AC bottoms to help plow. It would not go in the ground.
I went back home and attempted to grade the driveway with the only tractor that worked and had three point. The number two White 2-155 with duals. It was dark and the three point is a little jumpy for grader work. Several shrubs died in the process.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A crisis solved

I was hurrying back to the main facilities building for my break. When I was flagged down by the cleaning crew supervisor and her helper.
They excitedly informed me that there was a big nasty slug on the steps of one of the dorms and they were afraid someone would slip on it.
I am mediately passed it off to pest-control which is my supervisor and suggested that they fill out a work order.
But I am basically a happy agreeable person and so after break I went and picked up the slug. 
It was a truly horrifying experience.

Although, I really did expect it to be somewhat larger...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day to do list

Blah, blah, blah...

Gene Logsdon died...

I've been feeling my age... Not to sound too much like a whiner but the truth is that this blog is one long running whine...

In a few more days I will be a deck.

I went to MuddyValley's brother's party yesterday. Folks seemed a bit older.

On the other hand I posted a photo of my Triumph on a Triumph owner's group on Facebook and I got 74 likes and counting.
So I got some validation. Ain't that what Facebook is about?

I've had a lot of comments to add to this blog but I mostly forget them by the time I sit down to write.

I know it was coming but Gene Logsdon was writing hero of mine. So I will take a moment and remember Ed Winkle, Frank James, and Gene Logsdon. Then I shall go find the cover crop disk and a tractor and disk up some ground that will probably yield half of what it should and move one step closer to loosing the whole damn dern farm...

Also, what ever happened to that guy from Africa? Now he was NOT a whiner. He is probably getting something done somewhere... Wonder if I still haves his email address.

Perhaps I'll throw in some random pictures. Everyone loves photos!

Could I pull this with my 2-155 white? How do I tell if they are 16" or 18" bottoms? I don't think I can pull 6-18" inch bottom in Whapato soil.

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