The Useful Duck!

Contribute to my Vacation, please...

Sunday, November 11, 2018

My Job, My former home, A bag of seed, Last field of the season?

Sometimes I love my job, sometimes I hate my job.
I'm not going to talk about why I sometimes hate my job.
I'm just going to focus on the simple pleasures. The color of the leaves that never stop falling. The fact that it is not cold and raining.
And, that Monday I found two quarters and a blunt in the stands.
I was going to give the blunt to the Workstudy student but thought better of it.
I could have smoked it but since I'm not a smoker it would have brought me little pleasure.
To be truthful I did not examine the so-called "blunt" that closely. Perhaps it was just an unfiltered Lucky. The story is better if it were enhanced with a little "Chronic."
Still, I could have and that brought me happiness.
The fifty cents was nice to find. Can't buy coffee with fifty cents anymore but if I'd find another two dollars to go with it I could get a cup of medium roast, no room for cream, medium sized, from the Starbucks on campus. Hey, life is about opportunities, right?

Last Friday was the final soccer game of the season. In an uncharactoristic burst of "foresight" the soccer coaches looked at the weather forecast and saw rain was predicted.
They looked three weeks ago. The weather has been pretty spotty. Mostly light showers although we did get a couple days of heavy rain.
One of the coaches did groundskeeping as his Workstudy job in college. At his old job they used to tarp the field in case of rain. Last year we overwatered and then it rained three inches so the field was a little damp. This year has been very dry and the field is not we. But they have been tarping the field off and on the for the past three weeks.
Interestingly enough, the tarp acts sort of like a greenhouse. They bought those huge blue plastic tarps like you can get at Harbor Freight. Under the tarp the ground is wetter than outside the tarp. The grass is growing faster under the plastic but also turning yellow. I thought it would just die.
I planted the field a week before they put the tarp on. I think the tarp helped sprout the grass. It is kind of hard to tell. The soccer scoring area is covered and the middle of the field is not.
But when I was planting I realized I didn't have quite enough seed to cover the field so I put the seed on the bare spots in the goal areas and let it run out in the middle of the field. It was less trouble to just pretend to plant than it would have been to explain my miscalculation. Plus, half the time the new seeding doesn't actually work anyway and the field was scheduled to be aerated and sanded in three weeks anyway. Not sure what the rush to plant the field was exactly but I have given up trying to figure things like that out and I just agree with what I'm told to do.
But I digress.
After the tarping the irrigation manager wasn't told by the Supervisor to turn off the water.
When it was 85 degrees and had not rained in three months I suggested they water the field twice a day to keep the new seed damp on the baseball field. This was considered a genius plan and so it was also done on the soccer field.
It was not a bad plan but as the nights got shorter and the dew got heavier and rain was forecast, there was a little room for modifying the aforementioned scheme.
I'm not so good at giving suggestions. I'm not the irrigation manager and my pay reflects that. If it is not a huge deal I tend to just shut up. I have hobbies at home. This attitude was mentioned in a performance review, I said I would try to do better...
I had noted in the morning meeting that the water was still on.
Still, no one turned it off. Sometimes I'm supposed to show initiative and sometimes when I show initiative I'm accused of not properly communicating and so I tend to do what ever brings me the most entertainment. I thought about just leaving it on and seeing what would happen under the plastic but thought that would make more work for myself in the end so I shut it off.
The day after the tarp was on the field the irrigation manager panicked. He forgot to turn the water off. I didn't say that I turned if off. In fact I may have encouraged his worries a bit. I was so entertained by his consternation that I kind of forgot to admit to turning the water off.
He got so worked up he even confessed in the morning meeting. I said nothing. Sometimes that is best.

Last weekend I stopped by my old house. It has been trashed by tweekers. I know a person should feel compassion for the "outcasts" of society but... I think you should be able to take all the drugs you want and to ruin your life in whatever way you see fit but I don't get the wanton destruction of the house you are squatting in. Why would you break the windows and pile filth around. Why not take your garbage across the road or put it where it won't draw attention to your little secret drug hideout. You can be homeless and not be a slob. You can be down on your luck and still take out the trash. Why soil the nest?

My supervisor found a new supplier for seed and chemicals. This is the last bag of Triumph turf grass. I think someone at the old company liked Triumph cars or motorbikes.
I have been instructed to do lots of replanting. I've already done the Softball, Baseball, and Soccer fields but I needed to do the practice field and the supervisor wanted me to redo the soccer field.
The school is going to turn the soccer field to fake grass. I think this is offensive and wrong-as a groundskeeper.
Actually, it is probably a bad idea just from a money making perspective. The existing soccer field has some problems. It is on really wet ground but it does have a lot of sand on it and when we don't over water it then you can play pretty late in the year.
However, the ten acre practice field is rough, poorly drained, and is either mud or hard as a rock. But the practice field could bring in summer camps which bring in money and possible recruits. I would put my money on leveling the practice field and getting it booked through the summer.
Rather than plastic grass that costs a fortune to put in and looks like crap after three years.
But, no one asked me.

I think I planted my last field of the season today. The weather has been dry and sunny. I no-tilled wheat into corn ground. I was helping a neighbor who has done several favors for me and it was also a trade for getting wheat straw. It was the best kind of job.
The farmer left me a truck with 4,000lbs of wheat and said there was around 30 acres in the field and told me to make it come out so there was no seed left. I ran the GPS on the field and found the actual size to be 29 acres. I figured 32 acres with headlands and set the drill for 120lbs. I was not accurate enough on my turns in the dark last night and so I had to make two extra passes on the headlands. I was really worried I was going to run out of seed. Especially since I was too lazy to do a measured distance and weigh the seed to find my exact rate. I keep records of everything I plant so I figured I was pretty close on my setting.
I came up with 33.3 acres and the low seed alarm went off on row 12 and 24 right as I finished. I evened out the seed in the box, turned off the acre counter, and had enough to fix a couple skips and then I just ran out the drill on a couple hard spots that didn't cover good.
The ground was so mellow I had to set the drill really shallow to avoid burying the seed. I was amazed. I am also amazed at how little daylight there is.
We stayed for the potluck at Church and so I didn't get going right away. When I finished at 4 p.m. it really didn't look like I had enough daylight to get home. Plus, I had planed on either going for a motorcycle ride or playing monopoly with my daughter.
Instead I loaded hay. I was going to tell the guy to sod off as it is Sunday but he was a nice fellow and I really didn't have the heart. My nephew helped or rather I helped my nephew who didn't look like he wanted to load hay either.

UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that the cigarette in the photo may not actually contain Chronic. I should also note that it is not actually a "blunt" rather it is a "spliff."
I forgot that a cigarette which has had some tobacco removed and a little "Mary Jane" ( as the Longhairs supposedly called it-back in the day...) is called a spliff and if you do the same with a cigar it is called a blunt. Swisher Sweets seem to be the cigar of choice at my institution of higher learning. I used to find them in one certain parking lot all the time. They were usually not smoked much past the herbal remedy insertion point so they were easy to spot.

Disclaimer, this is really not the place to find a definitive commentary on youth culture or proper terms for describing the consumption of cannabis. I am a total dork and I'm old. Any information found on this site should be taken for entertainment purposes only. Any slang terms you pick up by reading this blog will cause folk to wonder what in the Sam Hill you been smoking. So if your are here for real information I suggest you hang it to Houston and hammer down out of this site cause the longer you stay the higher the chances you will end up nuttier than a pet raccoon.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A long hot summer where things go wrong

This summer has been one long heat-wave.
90 degrees at 9 p.m. Smoke from California and endless bales.

I have been stacking straw bales after work and on the weekends. I need to take time off work but I'm behind at work as well. I seriously lack motivation.
Working at for the sort of bureaucracy I work for is mind-numbing.
For example...
The local soil conservation district is doing a restoration project on the creek on campus. I think was spearheaded by the environmental studies instructor but I don't have all the details correct.
Step one was bat houses and bird houses. The bat houses were important as the attic of the oldest building on campus was sealed and the bats kicked out. The bat houses were to provide a new home for the mosquito eating little furry creatures.
For two years the bat houses and bird houses have been sitting in storage because "there is no time" for grounds to put them up, AND... According to upper management, insurance doesn't allow volunteers to climb ladders on school property.
Really... I can think of multiple solutions but I suppose that is why I hope to NEVER be in management here.
I have problems with crab grass on my sports turf. I've been digging it out with my pocket knife. This makes mowing pretty slow, but if I let anyone else mow then the crab grass multiplies. There may be chemical solutions to this problem. But they must be researched... There are chemical company field representatives who could help. Many emails have been exchanged...
Perhaps next year...
The good news is that a new guy has been hired who has professional sports turf experience. I have been assured I will not be replaced. However, it would make sense to put the person who know what they are doing in charge of athletic turf.
Which is what makes me fairly sure I will not be sent back to cleaning parking lots...
Straw is never ending.
There have been some spectacular failures.
An example:
One evening I was a little stressed. I got in my service pickup to find all the tools and spare parts that usually sit on the dash were now on the floor. The roar of no exhaust reminded me that only two weeks ago the exhaust pipe had fallen off whilst driving down the road. Then there was the time I came home to discover the large air compressor had tipped over in the back of the pickup. Not one to hold a grudge I just smiled and drove on. It was perhaps a bitter ironic smile. After all I had in fact disrupted the tools in the back of my father's pickup and cause him great consternation on several occasions.
A strange clunking sound kept invading my consciousness. It was hard to discern over the dull roar of the 450cc Ford engine which was running on at least six out of 8 cylinders, not all at the same time.
During one of the moments of silence when all 8 failed at once I could definitely hear a clunk coming for the front end.
Being of an inquiring mind, I pulled over and wiggled the right front wheel. It moved in and out at least an inch. I figured since I had only made it two thirds of the way to the field I better just go back home.
Upon arriving home I realized I had the diesel for the stacker in the back of my pickup and the stacker was almost out of fuel.
My brother graciously offered his pickup but it is a totally thrashed (actual automotive term) mid 1970 Chevy which I'm sort of embarrassed to drive. But, mostly I'm afraid to drive, because it runs on fewer cylinders than my Ford but appears to be powered by bunker crude.
Fortunately my cousin who lives near where I was to stack offered to bring me fuel. So I drove my vintage GMC (slightly better than a Chevy, akin to Coors lite vs Coor Banquet). It was only 97 degrees but I don't think that was why the radiator exploded. The radiator exploded because it is a cheap Chinese aluminum POS radiator.
And then I committed the unpardonable sin. I jumped in the stacker without greasing or checking the frequent failure items. I got my diesel and I cranked up the AC and I went to work.
At approximately 10:30 PM I heard a funny grinding noise when the second table went up and I just knew what it was.

The second table cylinder mount had busted and hit the brand-spanking-new $2000 hydraulic pump.
Hydraulic oil was spraying everywhere. I quickly dumped by part load and stopped.
The cylinder had pushed the power steering port fitting out of the pump, stripping the aluminum threads....
That was a while back. We fixed it...
Yesterday was worse. I just wanted to go home. The A/C quit.
Now I am a certified Automotive A/C tech. I took an hour class and was tested and I have a certificate. The class had NOTHING to do with the sort of A/C repair I am called on to do. As in backyard retrofitted R-12 to R-134 forty year old farm equipment. It was actually funny. If the A/C doesn't work. You hook up your fancy A/C machine and evacuate the system. If it won't hold a vacuum you start replacing parts. They don't even recommend flushing the system anymore. You NEVER top off a system.
They also didn't cover fixing melted switches with a piece of wire which you happen to find under the seat. But, I did a last have glorious cool air...

And now, I am going to water the garden and feed the chickens and do the dishes as my family returns home from the grand and glorious adventure to Ireland.
Have a happy day!

My blog looks fine on my phone and MacBook. However, on the PC at work the formatting is weird. Does my blog look like crap on your computer? Just curious, I most likely won't bother to fix it...

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Summer, my daughter goes into the big wide world, I feel old

I have been remiss in my blogging.
I was warned about getting a real job.
It is difficult to go from being one's own boss to working for someone else. It is difficult to go from being task oriented to being procedure oriented.
Or rather,
I propose a question...
Do you know the difference between a brown nose and shit head?
The brown nose knows when to stop...
Learning to do my new job was a lot of fun. Fairly stressful, but still interesting. Every new experience is interesting.
I have run into a wall.
When you are farming, you may be broke, but you continually think how to better yourself. I have started a planting business, non GMO feed business, custom hay stacking, bought a baler for feed store straw, and built my own GPS guidance system.
As a groundskeeper my goal is to mow straighter lines...
I am learning about plants and trying to remember their names. I need to learn about turf irrigation. I need to improve my spraying and fertilizer timing.

But... I will NEVER make more money, be able to built the tool I need for grooming the baseball warning track, build a better sprayer, or get a group of alumni together to actually fix the soccer practice field.
Nope, the next five years will be driving around in my little golf cart trying to do the best job I can and still appease the utterly irrelevant and random request of my supervisor.
And trying to stay awake after working a second job, whether it be farming or something else.

It is summer.
I think it is the latest we have made hay since the horrible year in the previous century when I cut like 200 acres and we baled it with two Freeman 200 balers and no one bought it.
I should be finished Tuesday. Then I have to get it hauled and stored. The fellow who was going to buy it lost his sale and so there will be 250 ton of slightly over ripe hay to sell. Highly digestibility, and low feed value. Perfect horse hay. I sure wish I would have offered $1,000 less for the rent...
I have left no bales or tractors in MuddyValley's field to disturb the Elk. This is an achievement for me.

My daughter is in Virginia. She is taking part in the Young Writers Workshop which is put on by the University of Virginia.
It is being held at Sweet Briar College near Lynchburg. She could attend Sweet Briar and get free tuition. It is part of the small college exchange program with the college I work at. She would have to pay for her own horse though.
She says everyone thinks Portland is like the show, "Portlandia," which it is.
I miss her.
It has only been a day.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

I mow things, my pastor forgets lunch with me, I mow more stuff

I'm sure you all are waiting for the next epic update in my groundskeeping saga.
First of all, the outside of the baseball field did not actually die. It just remains a slightly different color.
Wednesday I mowed the practice field. This is around ten acres and I use a 14ft batwing Bush Hog mower. I didn't take the photo of the mower. I took it of the field.

It generally takes four to five hours to mow the field. This is my second year of mowing it. Last year we had so much rain in the spring it was very difficult to mow. I just kept getting more piles of grass and it was too soft to pick the grass up.
This year the fellow who walks across the field to come to work started driving and so he didn't scare the geese off the field every day. They have kept much of it mowed short. This is good for me. I mowed in a record four hours.
The field is rough and soft. Every time you mow you leave ruts. My dear leader plans on renting a large roller and rolling it flat. I tend to think rolling fields leads to compaction but I do not have a background in groundskeeping. We shall see.

I applied for a job at another small college. It is the college I graduated from. It is twenty minutes from home. On a good day. However, trip home could take an hour due to commuters from Portland. They offered me more money but less retirement. I asked for a lot more money, the supervisor said he thought they could do it and would call me tomorrow morning after he talked to his supervisor, they countered that evening with a little more but I didn't take it.
If he would have offered $1000 more I would have taken the job even though I had decided ahead of time my bottom line. That school is growing, has a marketing focus, the grounds supervisor is a working supervisor and everyone in the department was all excited about their plans. Plus, they do not have a wage freeze.

Which reminds me of a funny story about the college I work for. Last year there was some sort of protest. It was a Gay LBGTQRTY social justice protest and they had signs and determined looks and they were blocking the highway by the Art department. Well, they looked determined until they saw me, a groundskeeper in a Kawasaki Mule, zipping down the sidewalk. They started waving and apologized and quickly got out of the way. I had to tell them that was not how you do a highway blocking protest. Apparently, they were just posing for photos and certainly did not want to impede the progress of the grounds department...

But, I digress...
Actually, I kind of forgot what I was talking about...

The last time I posted I think I talked about planting 90 acres of radish for my neighbor. It didn't come up. He called me yesterday and said I planted it too deep. I offered to replant it. However, he came in after I no-till the ground (which actually tills it up quite a bit) and planted red clover and so he doesn't want it worked up again. I think what happened was that it rained hard after I planted and all the loose soil in the seed trench turned to mud and buried the seed. I was actually worried about planting too deep as there were radish seeds on top of the soil in places. Then when he planted clover over the top it buried it more. This is a bad deal as it is close to a $3,000 job. Probably $180 in diesel plus I took off work and also worked all day Sunday to do it.

My daughter has been accepted into a summer workshop for young writers in Virginia. This is going to be expensive and she is going to miss prime baling season. I encouraged her to do it even though she had decided not to go as she now wants to be a nurse. I don't know if I did the right thing. Not sure how to pay for it.

I hope everyone had a good Easter.
Tomorrow I'm supposed to go to lunch with the pastor of the church we have been attending. I was supposed to meet him last Wednesday and I got to the crappy Chinese restaurant and he forgot.
Here is a photo of my fortune... (out of the cookie)

Pretty sad when your potential pastor stands you up. Perhaps he thinks he's already got me. I didn't tithe today. Plus, I spiked his survey with requests for sermons discussing irresistible grace and predestination of the elect, or whether our belief in God is evidentiary or experiential, and if the existence of Alien life should cause us to question our spirituality. I wish I would have thought to request more hymns cause I find worship team music really boring. Often my daughter and I amuse ourselves by getting my cousin's really nice wife to laugh while singing.

My nephew from the big city has been working for my brother in the shop though spring break. He went to Church with us this morning. Possibly because there was food. It was nice. He is a decent kid. Took my daughter shooting Saturday. She doesn't see the point in shooting. The exploding paint cans were cool but she was not much into blazing away at already dead cans and wasting money on ammunition. It could be her age... However, I found myself not as thrilled as I once was.
I've got offers on my semi scary gun and its a matter of just doing the paperwork at my neighbor's backyard gunship and I will have a little extra pocket money. Think I'll give part of it to the Oregon Firearms Federation.
We are going to get severe gun control in Oregon.
Bolshevik bastards...

Monday, March 5, 2018

A long winter

I've neglected my loyal readers.
I apologize.
Shortly after Christmas we took our bathroom apart. It has been a long process.
The MacBook Pro I use to blog with keeps dying.
Blogging with a LG-6 is not as easy as blogging with an iPhone.
I can't write what I want to write about my job.
Here is a glimpse of my life.
I have things to blog about. Like blowing out a hydraulic hose in the middle of the baseball field. Or frying the main drive belt on the Mule climbing a hill. Or planting oats at night and getting lost in the field because I can't follow little glowing GPS arrows or the fascinating details of my ongoing attempt be an audiophile and my obsession with the Rek-o-kut 120 tonearm. Or how I got my MacBook Pro to work again. Or my compelling and insightful views on politics. Or my worry that girls at my college will get a terrible draft in cold weather due to their poor choices in clothing... I'm sure these are all great blog posts and I owe it to the world of blogger to report on aforementioned events.
But, I'm lazy...

Please leave comments! It is really easy!

You just type your comment in the text box below the post. You can be anyone you want.
And...Would the joker who keeps clicking "offensive" please leave an explanation ?!