The Useful Duck!

Contribute to my Vacation, please...

Friday, June 14, 2024

Oregon Frances Unemployment-my fiasco continues

Have you ever spent 5 hours on hold? 

Last Monday it rained and so I decided I should work on my Unemployment benefit payment which is an utter joke.

There is a toll-free number which if you ever succeed in accessing, will solve all your problems.

I started dialing at ten minutes to the 9 a.m. opening time. I would get a busy signal and then immediately get cut off. I hit redial after every disconnect. 

I repeated the process for a hour until I finally got through to an automated phone tree. I put in my info and the automated voice told me to expect a two minute wait.

I was on hold for four and a half hours.

This was not terrible. I put the phone on speaker and I did the dishes, four loads of laundry, fed the chickens, pulled the PTO on a White 2-105, attempted to pick up my tools, and then I saw my wife was home for lunch.

She suggested I drive in to town and show the folks at WorkSource Oregon that I was permanently on hold. I think it might have been that the only hold music was starting to drive her insane. Especially after I started whistling the tune some what off-key.

So I drove in to town.

The WorkSource people were not unsympathetic but went through the whole process of explaining that they were unable to do anything about it and solving benefits issues was not their job. I might as well tell DMV my problems as I would get the same result.

I explained that I knew that this but DMV cannot access my Frances Account and make notes or interpret cryptic messages from faceless benefits administrators.

So they logged me in and made notes and told me to just stay on the line. 

I went downtown to the Liquor Store Harbor Freight and looked at the screwups in mowing the practice field at my former job. I was in the drive through line at Burger King when the line was answered.

I gave my information and explained that I had proved my identity many times and asked for help.

The lady asked if she could put me on hold for 15 minutes while she researched my problems. I said, "no problem!" She seemed surprised but didn't press the issue. I was overjoyed at only 15 minutes on hold. 15minutes is nothing after 4.5 hours...

I went through drive through and got my Whopper.

She came back on the line and said my issue was just a box not checked and asked if she could fix it. I said "please!"

When I got home I saw that my claim status for the week had changed from denied to under review. 

A week later it says "paid."

I still have not seen any money or a payment card in the mail.

This weeks claim has been flagged as due to the fact I worked at an educational establishment they suspect I am on summer break and they can't pay me on summer break...

It is a wonder anything gets done at the State of Oregon...

Sunday, May 26, 2024

When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail- Planting Timothy with Great Plains 1500 no-till drill

I planted Timothy yesterday. I had worked the ground a couple weeks ago right before a good rain. The plan was to get a sprout, spray out the weeds, and no-till the Timothy into a stale seedbed. 

I had a choice of three grail drills. 

My favorite is the 1953 MM drill but it is only 9 ft. We also have a mid 1970's John Deere that is 12 foot but I hate it. 

But, I do have a Great Plains 1500 no-till drill and it is hooked to a very comfortable tractor with heat and AC and it is 15foot wide.

The problem with the Great Plains is that is has so much down pressure it is hard to regulate planting small seeds.

The small seeds box has separate tubes which drop behind the v-openers and right in front of the press wheels. There is so much down pressure that in loose soil the v-openers dig a trench regardless that I have the press wheels set as far down as possible.

It did not work.  The field looked like I had disked it.

Outside round is with down pressure. Second round is without. You can also see the difference the harrow makes.

Harrow vs no harrow?

I had removed the harrow on one side for repairs and left it off because I suspected that the harrow was responsible for burying the seed. This was true. Without the harrow the seed was the right depth but it was at the bottom of a two inch deep trench. This is good for a dry summer but not good for a hay field.

The Great Plains 1500 no-till system is two parts. There is a three point style drill with press wheels and heavy down pressure springs. This is then mounted on a cart which has no-till coulters and a hydraulic lift.

To decrease my down pressure I added cylinder stops to the main lift cylinders.

I added cylinder stops until the v-openers quit digging a trench. I also blocked down the drill wheels but the small seeds turn so easy there was no problem with the drive wheel slipping

This worked quite well. I was able to reduce the spring pressure on the drill to the point that I was no longer digging a deep trench. I left one harrow off to see it that would help.

After planting I flat rolled the field to conserve moisture. 

Flat rolling to conserve moisture. I suspect it won't rain again until we put hay down

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Well Poop...

It was probably too early to cut hay anyway...

I had a plan. Today was supposed to be Sunny! I was fluffing up the hay when suddenly it rained. I suspect hay making is over for today, and for another week...

It was actually really nice looking hay. Had $150 worth of inoculant on it...
Some people don't like Conklin Proserve. We have used it for years. I usually add another quart of molasses to it. I suspect it just makes me feel better. But adding molasses is always a sure bet, animals can smell any amount and they love our hay. 

My current plan is to go fishing. 

My wife went to Church. I stayed home...

Monday, April 29, 2024

Oregon's New Unemployment Program has a clever name but doesn't work. Frances is a slow learner or just more administrative dysfunction

My unemployment misadventure is becoming less entertaining.

I have collected zero unemployment benefits. This is not the end of the world for me as I don't pay rent and I have a freezer full of beef. However, there are people in Oregon losing their homes because of the failure of Frances.

Frances is the clever acronym for the new Oregon Unemployment Insurance benefits website. It went online March 1st of 2024. It was not a complete failure, only a partial failure.

I expect any new software to have some bugs but the problem with glitches in the Frances website are compounded by the structure of the State of Oregon administrative state. 

If something goes wrong with your claim, there is no reliable way to fix it. Sure, the spokesman will say there are several options for help built into the system. That is true. But they actually solve the problems people are having.

There is an online chat icon. I think it is an owl. It bounces with enthusiasm when you ask it a question. I found that despite the nice graphic, it is mostly programmed with stock answers to imagined questions. There is supposedly a live chat also but I have very mixed results with that option.

There is a phone number to call for help. The phone number is always busy. If you get past the first busy signal then you get a second busy signal and it hangs up on you.

There is a message feature that is a little hard to find. This is NOT email or text messaging as you might imagine. You write a message in the Frances website and you are assigned a number. You may or may not get a speedy reply. You must use that number with all correspondence. 

I found it is best to list only one problem at a time and include your phone number. At first there was a really good chance of getting help. I spoke on the phone with a couple people and they really helped me. However, they called me as I had included my phone number in my message. Now they don't even answer my messages.

The live helpers are limited in what they can do. This is also the problem with going in to a WorkSource Oregon location. The live people I talked to were very helpful. They could all look at my account and see possible problems, but they could not fix the problems,. Apparently there are caseworkers behind the scenes who make the decisions and they are separated from the real world by a wall of bureaucracy.

Also, I suspect those caseworkers are actually contract workers in India.

My problems with Frances started March 1st. 

Suddenly, my password would no longer work. I could not prove my identity but I was in the system. It took a month but I found someone who helped me. I can't really talk about that made a promise. I was lucky.

I can now log in. And whhile I missed the March unemployment because I couldn't record my job search, I was eligible in February and April forward.

Every week I log my job search and every week I get declined. 

The letter states that since I worked at an educational institution Oregon law requires that I verify that I am not on spring break. (I swear I am not making this up) I have filled out questionnaires asking me this question. I have written messages stating that I worked in facilities and we work during spring and summer breaks, I went as far as to point out that even if they didn't want to pay me for the week of spring break, there were no Schools that had a three month spring break!

I have written messages online. I tried to file and appeal online. I even wrote an actual letter and sent it though the US Postal Service.

Last Thursday I went to WorkSource Oregon location (again) and I bought my letters and I ask for help. The fellow was a little grumpy which I don't mind. I actually prefer grumpy and effective to happy and a bit dim. He dives in to my file.

After a lot of muttering behind his computer he comes up with this diagnosis. Someone keeps denying me benefits because they think I am on spring break. My former employer may be objecting to my collection. of benefits but he can't tell if that is the case. He didn't think they had responded yet.

So I went home and email the head of the University HR and asked her. I got a very nice and very quick reply. They were not objecting and she was going to log into Frances from her end and see if she could fix the problem. 

We shall see...

In other news:

I have been working like a dog! Unfortunately for me, I cannot charge for my work as I must not have any income or I will have serious insurance problems. I have been helping out neighbors and building a sprayer. As long as my diesel tank is full and someone helps me load bags, I am good.

I no-tilled oats in a little valley that I never knew existed

I am building a sprayer for the Gator. Since I have no income I have been using up all the parts I bought on sale and buckets of leftovers from other projects. It is going to be interesting. A seven nozzle sprayer with a five section auto rate controller, gps speed control, and output for my FarmerGPS guidance system. Pretty much overkill for a 15 foot RTV sprayer and a 50 gallon tank!

Friends from Church invited us to an Alabama tribute band concert. It was absolutely entertaining. There were old folks dancing in the aisles. Plus they totally rocked. They also ROCKED really black wigs. Our friends said they have been going to tribute band concerts. They saw a Eagles cover band and a Led Zeppelin cover band. This might be a good plan. They tribute bands are fans and they love the music. They were not bored with playing the same songs. It is also cheap. You are not paying $150 and up to see a group of 80 year olds mumble through the words. Of course the bonus real bands is might get to see Bono have a heart attack on stage. This is also the bonus when you watch Joe Biden eat an ice cream.. But I digress...

Thursday, April 4, 2024

It takes a computer genius to figure out unemployment benefits, or an idiot...

Do you remember all the stories of people who make a career out of collecting unemployment benefits? There is absolute essential truth to that concept but it is not what you think.

I qualify for a whopping $350 a month in unemployment benefits. At this time I have collected ZERO ($0). I have spent an inordinate amount of time online and on the phone. Phone time consists of listening to a busy signal to the main exchange and then getting disconnected. Sometimes I make it past the main exchange and then get the inside busy signal and then I get disconnected.

Things started off promising. The State of Oregon had a kind of clunkly webpage without a lot of graphics and a bare bones type reporting system. After filling out the online question boxes I was able to log in and get started. 

I even got a call from a nice lady who said she was an abjudicator and was handling my case. She was very helpful. But things soon started going wrong.

I was supposed to go to a WorkSource Oregon location and prove my identity. However, I found where I could do it online and I attempted that. I chose the online method, as it said in the instructions that, I needed to make an appointment with WorkSource Oregon and I was supposed to use a toll free number. The number didn't work. The other magic number, (877) 345-3484 might as well be disconnected as it is always busy.

My mistake was silly and simple. I had to go in to my local WorkSource Oregon and speak to a live person. I assumed that if the phones were busy there would be a five hour line at the live location. 

I knew I had to get this all done before March first because the State was switching to a new system called FrancesOnline March 1, 2024. This new system would be better and the phone numbers would all be fixed.

March first I was locked out. I could no longer report my job searches, my password and identity got me into a dead end loop and I did not get my letter to prove I was real. (Note: All I had to do was go to the Worksource Oregon physical location) 

Since the phones do not work I had to send in messages. The message system is pretty ineffective. You ask a question and are given an id number. This number has to be in the subject line of all messages. You cannot establish an email chain. You are not given a contact number for any one person. But, the messages are all signed by the same first name.

My adjudicator lady can view my file I am not sure she cannot act on anything. My message lady can view my file but she can't talk to me. I had to wait for letters through the US Postal Service to verify my identity so I could log in.

Finally, last week I was able to sign in. I was able to report last week's job search, but not the previous two weeks. I thought one out of three was ok. It was promptly declined.

So I called my abjudicator. She was very helpful but she said I had to get myself into the WorkSource Oregon physical location and register. So I did.

It wasn't bad. There was no line. I used their computer to step up another profile that is supposedly linked to the other profile. Then I had an interview with a nice guy who is giving me help with my resume and options for retraining. 

I may be able to get a certificate in Sports turf management from one of the OSU's (Ohio State has a better program for sports but Oregon State may be better for me due to the agriculture side of things). I probably should get a Welding Certificate, or HVAC, or Accounting. I can't make decisions. 

Today I spent hours trying to get everything from two days ago to work. Layers upon layers. After spending hours trying to get things moving and another hour redialing the helpline I called my nice lady again. 

She called me back after lunch and explained everything to me. I was not wrong, only mildly confused. I had filled out the proper questions and it would just take a few days to update. Plus, I was a week ahead on my reporting so all is well.

It is amazing when you can talk to a live person...

Have a nice day!

Monday, April 1, 2024

Administrative Malaise and Frances Online, Life in the People's Republic of Oregon

The administrative state is worse than the bureaucratic state, or is it just the head of the snake?

I gave you a link to a report by the Heritage Institute so there is your morning's reading.

I am setting in my easy chair and it is a beautiful day outside. I need to be volunteering on my Brother's Farm. I am attempting to collect Unemployment from the State of Oregon.

Yes there is a reason I qualified for Unemployment. Yes, there is a rumor that 17 other people will be "separated," from LU in the next year. Yes, LU is going broke. They are unable to recruit enough students to make up for "rising costs." 

Yes, basically all the roofs on campus need to be replaced. Yes they have been "saving money," by deferring maintenance. 

After wasting eight years of my life driving a lawnmower in circles at the institution, I do have opinions. 

LU has been top heavy with administration who don't really understand why students choose a small college. The solutions to the budget crisis have resulted in anyone really qualified and innovative either learning to shut up and wait for retirement/or child's graduation, or find another job. 

But, there is a lot of administrating going on. There are people gathering statistics and there are people misreading them and there are people writing reports and there are people having meetings. Lots of meetings.

And here is where I had to laugh in humorless sympathy with my caseworker.

The State of Oregon decided to revamp their unemployment insurance claims system. They started a new website and it has the clever acronym, "Frances." 

Frances started the first of March and pretty much disconnected anyone who had signed up ahead of time.

After a number of emails I found out that somehow they had an incorrect birthdate for me. It was hinted that this was probably not my fault.

Of course, I have not reported jobs since March 1 because I couldn't sign in or call in because the most basic of problems, my date of birth did not match my social security number.

In a proper third world bureaucracy there would be an office and a lot of forms and a rubber stamp and most importantly, someone I could bribe. In the PRO (People's Republic of Oregon) the only currency you have is politeness and a nice sense of humor. 

Things I discovered at the other Administrative State run Institution, be really nice to the people who actually do the work. They are tired of being yelled at.

I promised my person that I would not talk about how we figured out my problem so I will not discuss the idiotic administrative rules that prevent a humble public servant from doing their job. But, we shared a moment of understanding...

Friday, March 29, 2024

Do not stare at the paint shaker, It is hypnotic

Maybe my problem with painting is that I stare at the paint shaker too much...

I am afraid to go to the shop this morning.

Yesterday evening I painted the last hood panel for the White 2-155. When I walk out and open the shop door I fully expect something to go wrong. I have precedence for this worry.

Last winter when I was painting this tractor I had damage from, wayward cats, birds building nests, a hole in the roof, mosquitoes swimming in the metal flake, a chicken feather that was on my hat and fell into the wet paint, hooking the airhose around the barrel holding up the hood, oil on a rag I thought was clean, runs, sags, orange peel, strange puddling of the flake after painting because I thought I needed to build the gloss in one little spot and ended up with too much paint. 

Then there was the time I had it perfect and screwed up the clear coat. This may yet happen as that is the next step. I think I will wait a week before attempting any sanding.

I left an imperfection on the lower back of the panel as an appeasement to the whims of fate. 
Hope it works!

It honestly looked pretty decent when I left for supper last night. I wonder where the roof leak appeared and where the rain puddle is setting. Or perhaps a chicken roosted on it. Or the cat struck again...

Perhaps I am just negative. I mean, I was never struck by lightning, or earthquake, but I suspect a Container Ship with sketchy registration papers could somehow hit my shed and put a scratch in my pant job.

As long as I don't see the hood I feel it will somehow remain unblemished.

I have done the dishes, fed the chickens. talked to my friend who wishes not to be mentioned in my blog, applied for a job I do not want (and so it will be offered to me), sat a spell, petted the cat (literally, not a euphemism for anything), my hip exercises, and I swept the laundry room. 

Eventually I am going to have to look...

Perhaps I should split some kindling first. 

Sunday, March 24, 2024


Today I was looking at my blog and trying to remember how to edit the layout. I saw the top five posts in the last month and I see my rather poorly written review of The Blue Goat restaurant is back in the top five.

I suspect this reflects more on the lack of popularity of the blog than it does on the increased popularity of the Blue Goat.

However, I started thinking about the life and local changes since 2011.

I would have to say the hilarity that was Amity has decreased considerably. I don't think I would classify the town as especially weird any more.

No naked guy in the park. No crazy guy with a megaphone telling people how to park down town. No weird guy setting out front of his antique shop reading a book. There is no Cafe that I eat at every day and the owner comes out and yells at me for ordering half a cob salad.

No old guys pitching quarters in front of the barber shop, no good BBQ...

But, the Blue Goat remains.

Sometimes it is open. Sometimes it is closed. You don't always know when. The food is interesting and generally good. I have not been there in several years, so I suppose it is time to try it again. I am sure that when I go back it will be quirky.

I do miss the old days.

I congratulate the Goat for remaining. 

I did have to laugh about the hours. Of course they do roll up the streets in Amity after 8 pm nowadays. The winery crowd apparently doesn't "party down," like they used to now they have hit 65. 
(Of course one should not confuse the Blue Goat vs the Blue Moon.)

Friday, March 22, 2024

How I set my grain drill

There is nothing more maddening then to discover you are five acres short on a fifty acre field and it is after 5 p.m and it is going to rain tomorrow.

Setting the grain drill is one of the biggest frustrations on the farm. I have an operator's manual and a lot of times it is correct. I also write down all my settings. But, if I do not double check my rate I am always sorry.

My favorite way to calibrate my grain drill is the Seeder Meter ( This tool was invented by Dave Berckes of Minnesota. Now I have written about this before but I have to write about this again because I love it.

It is so simple that it genius. It is just a scale which is calibrated according to drill row spacing and distance covered.

You drive the distance and put the collected seed into the scale cup. There is a little ring by which you hold the scale and a level bubble on a sliding weight.

To use it you pull off one seed tube and put a bucket under it. You look up the chart printed on the scale and drive the distance according to your row spacing. You can also use  two tubes and drive half as far. I generally can set the drill pretty close going by my book so I just fill up the whole drill and use the Seeder Meter to fine tune the drill.

I just keep a wire or a bungie cord on the side of the drill and use it to hold the bucket to collect seed from row one. This way I don't need to make a skip row. I just overlap a little on the next pass.

I do some specialty seed which is not on the chart. Generally I can pick similar seeds out of my chart or off my records and set the drill close. Then I just pile the seed over one row and drive the distance. 

I have planted really light seeds and used different spacings which are not on the chart. You can compensate by driving twice as far and diving the rate on the scale or using more tubes. 

There is a chart on the side of the scale which has row spacing and the distance needed to drive to get the required amount to get the weight right.

The Seeder meter is not the best for light seed especially if it is windy. In that situation I lift the drill and turn the wheel by hand. For example if I am planting 2 lbs per acre on 15" spacing the weight is going to be pretty light so I have to do some planning as you are not going to get a lot of seed in 115 feet.

Generally I am planting 7.5 inch spacing so my distance is 232 feet so I do try to get the rate pretty close to start with as that is a fairly long distance to drive.

Of course the issue is measuring the distance. I have a magnet wheel sensor on the drill so I can use an electric acre counter sent to feet. The other tool I have is a GPS speedometer which I can connect to a Microtrak Calc-an-acre or SprayMate to measure distance. This helps out considerably.

It doesn't matter if you drive a couple feet too far. Of course I do also try to count the number of seedbags and the number of acres I am getting per bag just to keep myself honest.

I also have a set up in my Gator. But I like gadgets.

I find the sensor-1 GPS speedometer very handy. It also puts out a pulse for an external controller like this MicroTrak FlowMate II.  You can also use the Sensor-1 to check calibration on your external flowmeter or acre counter. The GPS sensor is always correct so you can compare speeds on your magnet sensor device or meter which needs calibration. 

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Life on the farm seems to be a series of minor crisis followed by sore muscles


A couple days in the life of a crippled farmer

Today I am still in bed and it is 9 a.m. I have ice on my leg. I decided to take a break. I can hear everyone working like mad outside. I think my brother just loaded up the bin-on-a-trailer with more barley so I suppose I really need to get to work. I am truly the Lazy Farmer.

Maybe one more cup of coffee...

A baby calf appeared!
I am raising dust

I figured out how to load the drill with a broken leg. (Hint, it involves use of a forklift)

Then I went back to working ground. Or since I am taking the photo, my brother took over working dirt and I started planting
When the GPS works properly it is a beautiful thing
I planted ten acres without knowing I had lost two V-openers. There may be some seed on top of the ground
The service Gator uses very little gas and has very little horsepower.
Herschel has cheapened the bearing assembly on their openers. I am sad. Try installing a rubber hubcap when your hands are freezing!
Of course the fertilizer pump failed!
Some progress was made...
Planting Belford Barley at 50 degree soil temp and 1/2 to 2" deep. (Long story there) The goal is 120lbs per acre. My copy of The Doanes Farm Management guide, which I keep under the seat of the tractor says 90 lbs, but I figure with inflation I should plant more. The seed company went a little heavy on the seed treatment and the barley keeps plugging up the seed tubes. After hearing that beep and the screen saying "low seed rate row 4," I was suffering from mental fatigue so I now I am one hopper short of a full field.

Sometimes it happens

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

My first day as a farmer

Today went as I remember farming to go...

Went to Derry after oat seed. Thought it would be 1200lbs. The pallet was 2000lbs and they said to bring back what I didn't need. I think I overloaded my wife's half-ton Ford.

Got back and the big tractor had electric failure. I took off for town to get a cab solenoid, sign papers for FSA, pickup parts. I was going to take my wife lunch but forgot my wallet in the ttruck.

Went to the welding store. They were laughing with me about my limp and made a comment about if I has handicapped I could be president. I said, "Hey! I like ice cream." A good time was had by all...

Got home. My brother wiggled a coupe wires and the tractor was working.

My wife had fixed me lunch.

A friend from work stopped by to see me. I got him to help me a little bit.

My brother and I decided to go check on our helper. He was working up 30 acres for barley. The soil temp is not quite 53 degrees so we are using a Vibrashank (spring tooth) to stir up the dirt.

The 1966 Ford quit. No one was home to come get us.

We walked a mile and a half. I was really missing my cane by the time we got back to the shop.

I decided to drive the White 2-60 in to the Co-op to pick up 5000lbs of 38-0-0-7 and the bulk spreader. There was a line for fertilizer. (It was 70 degrees and sunny) I had an hour wait. However, they were nice enough to load my bucket with cheapest glyphosate and helped me untarp the box.

Went down to the field to take over the ground work. 

The a/c wasn't working. 

Around dark I found out that the number six injector line had broken off where it hooks into the injector. This is a brand new line and is the hardest to replace as the injector connection is between the block and the injector. I did not have a stubby 3/4" wrench or a tubing wrench and I couldn't get it off.

I went home.My wife brought me a bowl of soup and made me sit down. She brought me some ice for my leg.

I got in almost 12 hours. Not a bad day.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Stepping off the brink

March 18 was a long time ago...

After digesting a lot of information which may or may not predict the up coming year I am not impressed. This whole concept of pulling oneself up by your own bootstraps is the bunk.

However, I have been doing my exercises and I feel better. Yesterday I had my wife help me come up with a process to get into the tractor and back out again. We practiced climbing onto the grain drill. She helped me climb onto the fertilizer bin which will carry the seed to the field. I need to be able to load it which means I need to climb up the side, remove a tarp, and then untie the bottom of a 1200lb bag which is being held over the bin by a forklift. I think I can do it.

Today is essentially my first day of farming.

I am scared. I talked to a fellow at Church Sunday who is paying $250 an acre rent and who has had to take out his one year old Fescue grass seed crop. He is subleasing his farm to someone else. He thought he was done farming for five years.

I want to plant oats today and barley tomorrow. I really don't see those as big money makers. I know too many farmers who don't get paid and crops that are too low priced. For crying out loud, wheat is the same price it was in 1972. It was a good price then, but a new combine was $20,000 then, not $350,000.

So I kind of feel like I am stepping off a cliff. I probably will have to go to work at a Golf Course in the end. 

Perhaps I will feel better when I actually get to work.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

If I would have just... The start of a post that got interrupted

"If I had to do it all over again," said my accountant. When my dad bought me one of the first computers and wanted me to study computers and stick around I would have done it, she said.

"Don't you have one of those? (thoughts)," she added.

Well, yess! Never quit your first job without finding another job! Even if it means you got to spend two months in Costa Rico. 

This is of course not a fair question. You do what you do because of a lot of reasons and how you build from your actions and how you view yourself is really the definition of success. 

Of course neither one of us robbed banks or served jail time. My answer to the question, what would you do different is probably just a rationalization. There are lots of things I would do different. Starting changing jobs last October, not walking on the ice, and finishing with not going so close to that tree and busting the boom off the sprayer I worked over last week.

That tree jumped out and grabbed the boom. Mother Nature's revenge!

And then there is this, "You gave them the best years of your life and they gave you this...," She said somewhat jokingly. (My accountant and I tend to philosophize.) She is a graduate of my former employer and she does not approve of the direction her college has taken.

But, I digress...

I now feel like a real farmer... (This is not because I am sort of depressed.)

My brother took me to a farm meeting and then we went on the Northwest Farm Show which was rescheduled due to freezing rain.

It was interesting to be back in the farming world. There are a lot fewer farmers than I remember.

My leg hurts like sin, but I can't admit it to anyone (meaning my wife) because it was an obviously bad idea to walk on concrete.

This will have to be a second installment as I am out of time for blogging. 

Monday, March 11, 2024

I am actually healing!!!!

I am doing great!
Today I went to physical therapy. I am doing really well. The NIH exercises were spot on. I had an excellent therapist who answered all my questions. 
Yes, my hip will hurt when I stretch muscles that were already stretched to the critical point. Limping stretches other muscles and puts things out of balance so I should avoid that.
I can go back to walking, although an exercise bike might be better.
I don't need to sell the YZ/IT 175 as I my PT says I will be riding by summer. (No Vintage MX)
I need to add heat before exercising and use ice packs afterwards.
My therapist says by the time he is done with me I will be able to stand, one foot on the drill, and one foot wedged in the pallet on the truck bed, and pivot with 50lb bags of seed. I should have the stamina to do 50 bags every two hours once again.
I feel he is a bit optimistic but goal setting is awesome.

I had to do a little editing on the above picture.  One does not want to startle the horses!

Saturday, March 9, 2024

I am so glad i did not give all work shirts to the homeless guy

Because my former job is what it is, you have to give back all your work shirts clothing when you no longer work there.

The story I heard is that someone outfitted a local homeless guy in College Swag as a joke and you can't make jokes about the sanctity of the University.  (The official story is that people will use the facilities branded apparel to gain access to the college. This is pretty much BS.)

Today I was doing some cleaning and found an extra shirt behind the seat in the pickup. I put it to good use. 

Nothing like the smell of Hoppe's #9 on a Saturday afternoon

I had a lot of clothing after eight years of employment. I did my best to outfit the resident homeless guy but I never got any feedback. I am somewhat disappointed.

Friday, March 8, 2024

I do spraying stuff, I write a blog post while on hold with Kaiser HMO, it may been another nice day!

I wasted a lot of time yesterday. I should be supervising a baler rebuild, but then I want to get involved in a hands on manner and there I am all day.

Instead I worked on a sprayer. I think that is what farmers do when they don't want to do real work. They say, "well, I have to get the sprayer going..." This is a good plan because it is an unpleasant enough job that no one will question your work ethic, it is an invaluable piece of equipment, and there is always something to repair on a sprayer.

My Gator came with a crappy electric sprayer. I hated that sprayer at work and I wanted it to disappear. I only accepted it for parts as I hate throw anything away. When I had to use it before, I used it exactly like the person who built it told me to use it. He built it, it was his plan, and he knew how he wanted it used. So I had no reason to change.

There was no real problem with his design. He built it with what he had. The main issue he had was the electric pump and there was no agitation for the spray tank. The other problem was/is that for some reason when you get down to two gallons in the tank, the pump loses its prime and won't reprime. 

I didn't really take good care of the sprayer as I had never intended to use the sprayer again. It sat in the greenhouse until it started to rust from the humidity and was so much in the way that I was going to throw it in the trash. The mechanic told me to take it home. I was accumulating parts to build a sprayer like I rebuilt for the college so I thought I could use something off of it. I wanted to build a sprayer for a UTV while I am a cripple but, I am limited in what I am supposed to be doing. Welding and lifting stuff is highly frowned on by the higher powers. Also, it causes pain.)  

At some point over the couple years it has been setting in the way I decided to try using it to spray molasses into the feed mill. That completely plugged it up. 

So I had some problems.

I also discovered that the pressure regulator wasn't hooked to a return line and so it actually worked the opposite of how you would expect. This was not a difficult fix but required digging through buckets of pipe fittings and numerous trips to the shop at a hobble.

The one modification I made was to change the boom plumbing so that I could shut off the main boom and just use the side boom for spraying ditches. My friend who built the boom made it out of PVC pipe and used this cool irrigation fitting to make a side swing boom. However there were two problems. Since it is a wet boom, I had to improve support for the PVC pipe and I needed to shut off the main boom and run the side boom. I didn't want to use electric valves or add bulky plumbing.

The support issue was solved with a bit of scrap metal. The boom problem took more thought. Fortunately my friend had plumbed a drain on the side boom. I added a quick connector to the drain and put a quick connector plug on the main boom, and I was in business. I just have to switch hoses to use both booms.

The electrical issues are ongoing. The pump does not prime unless I pressurize the tank. I don't want to spend $175 on a new pump. I installed a voltage gauge in the Gator which lets me know if I am out of power. I also installed my MicroTrak, FlowTrak II and a Sensor-1 GPS speedometer. Because I like stuff like that. It makes me feel all scientifical and stuff. I think also I have the parts to also put my FarmerGPS computer in the Gator for guidance.

The FlowTrak gave me a lot of problems. I was using it on the new sprayer at work and was going to donate it to the university when I left. However, I just decided to keep it. For some reason I had to completely recalibrate it even though I had the same flowmeter and the same brand of GPS speedometer. 

Calibration was frustrating. I think low voltage was a problem as the speed calibration would not save to memory. Finally, I just started spraying ditches as I needed to do something before dark. 

I had a clever plan. I found a long straight road. I set the FlowTrak linear measuring setting to zero. I started spraying. I then used the app FieldsAreaMeasure to also track my distance. I then could compare the distances. When I selected Run/Hold, Calc and turned the switch to change wheel size it also updates your distance. So I just adjusted the wheel size until I got the same distance as FieldAreaMeasure.

Suddenly everything worked. Even the gallons were close. Isn't science wonderful!

My secondary scheme is to use the FlowTrak to turn the pump on and off. I actually read the manual and I think there is an extra wire which I can connect to a relay which I can use to switch main power to the electric pump. Then I can wire the pump directly to a battery and use the run/hold function of the FlowTrak to turn the pump on and off. 

The best thing about this idea is that I will end up with a convoluted maze of wiring and I will never remember which wire goes where. This confusion for some strange reason gives me comfort in life.

Go figure...

(this blog was created while on hold with my HMO. I still don't have an appointment with my HMO because when I finally got a live person on the line, I was disconnected...)

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

I try out recently cleaned records and rant about something off subject

The rain has stopped and the temperature has fallen to 28 degrees in God's temperature measuring system. The sun is out as well. The front yard was frozen over and I have been forbidden to leave the house until the ice is gone. 

I have important things to do. First I have to call the unemployment people and prove I exist. Secondly I need to call the financial aid department of my HMO and see I they will give me a break on my break. But, I am taking a break. Perhaps having a break-down. Although that may be a different department.

Speaking of breakdowns, the idiot Republicans in Oregon have sponsored "take your guns away," legislation this time in the form of a so-called Suicide Prevention bill.

I have come to the conclusion that anyone who seeks public office should be immediately disqualified from public office.  I staunchly supported Christine Drazan in arguments with the former President of LU because I thought she would be great. Her son was my workstudy student and they seemed just folks. I can't square my understanding of her then with what she has supported recently. (Also, I recognize OFF is a little extreme but maybe it is also that I am really irritated that I didn't get an Oregunian decal with my last donation to them.)

But I digress..

I also feel the same way with people who claim to study mental health. They are mostly mental or they wouldn't be interested. Of course I feel there is no real answer to anything other than saying your prayers in the evening and dragging your arse out of bed in the morning and just going to work. So what do I know... (one of my best friends got fired for allegedly saying the way to stop racism was to kill all the white people and not only has he not killed anyone, (that I know of) but I think he won his lawsuit.)

After being forced to set through a number of trainings on mandatory reporter issues I am not surprised that people have untreated mental health problems. 

Let's say you are having a crisis and you try to talk to someone about it. If you choose a person who has anything to do with your school, work, or church, they will have to report you to someone else who doesn't know you and who is probably an over educated idiot and you will then have to explain your whole life history to someone who has no vested interest in your mental health and will put you on drugs, screw up your medical record for every and possibly raid you house.

If you have a friend in a metal health crisis and you call the cops, there is a good chance they, or their dog will get shot.

If someone is seriously suicidal they don't need a gun. However, if you are angry at someone you could certainly get their guns removed by claiming that they are abusive or suicidal which sort of reinforces the point of why you actually need a gun.

But I digress. I lost all my guns and can't afford to buy any more... So what do I care?

I used my Spin-Clean to clean approximately seventy 45 rpm singles from the sixties and seventies. They have been well-used so it was probably a waste. Now I need to figure out how to sell them.

I was able to try out the Dual 1019 turntable I rebuilt years ago. It works flawlessly. 

If you compare with the Singer 45 rpm player from two days ago you may hear a difference

I assume this is a song about a broken heart, a chicken, and a sweet heart's picture framed in gold. Things may go wrong as gambling may be involved. Or it is about the Mexican Revolution.

Another Buck Owens test. Note: the q-tip is not a Wu-Flu swab, it is what I used to clean some of the dust off the sensitive bits of the record player

Edit: Help me, I am a cripple...  Click here to buy me an Oregunian Sticker!   I was looking at their swag and discovered that I had an account. I had forgotten that I purchased a Oregunian hat and pink tank top for my good friend and his wife who live in NYC. Strange that I did not receive a thank you card.... Hmm, they probably forgot.

Monday, March 4, 2024

It is snowing, I am still a cripple, I found a Buck Owens 45, I wish I had a Long Colt .45, or that I had $150,000 or even that I wasn't a cripple but I am happy not to be a quadriplegic

Today is March 4, and we have snow. It is crappy wet global warming type snow and is probably the result of some secret gubment weather manipulation scheme. However, I can see the white tops of the local hills and it doesn't make me feel so guilty about sitting in my easy chair with ice on my hip and the wood stove on high.
Yesterday I went to Church with my brother. One nephew was teaching Sunday School Class and the other preached. My mother would have been proud.
My friend who made me promise never to mention his name in my blog has been on a mission to prove that Jesus never said He was the Son of God, instead Jesus says he is the Son of Man. This is not something that has really been much on my mind. For some reason, I just don't care. But my unnamed friend is persistent. 
Using his parameters, I have have not found an example of Jesus stating, "I am the Son of God."  This must be a red letter statement in the KJV and the scope is limited to the Gospels which have been accepted into the major translations of the Bible. 
I am not sure this proves anything other than Jesus was really stressing the concept of the Son of God who became one of us and was tempted in all the same ways. It can boost your argument that Jesus was just a man but once you understand how to make Confirmation Bias work for you. You can convince yourself of anything so I am going to believe what I want to believe. (cynical much?)
My nephew is going to Bible school and it was suggested I give him this question to take with him. Years ago when I went to Bible School I got in trouble for bringing up several questions that were raised by my insane Anthropology teacher, whose goal in life was to make sweet Catholic girls from Mt. Angel cry. (I did my best to comfort them, oh my.... I had forgotten about Anne Marie. Perhaps, I will take a break from blogging for a few moments...)
I digress...
I screwed up my unemployment claim. I have to prove the Peoples Republic of Portland that I exist. This is harder than you would think and using existential arguments does not seem to work with the State of Oregon.  I would prefer the days before the Democrats were trying to replace Black folks with Indios from failed socialist countries and I didn't have to have five pieces of identification to prove I wasn't an illegal immigrant from a country not exporting leftists.
However, I want that money.
I have several projects that I am working on as a cripple.
I need to apply for financial aid for my injury. I got a bill for $6000 from the insurance company. However, I am close enough to the poverty line to qualify for financial aid. I think. I am not good with paper work and I will probably end up in Jail over all of this. 
I also need to finish my unemployment claim. This requires some sort of meeting with a live person. I might be able to do it through an online meeting.
My wife wants me to sell some of my collections online. I have been going through my 16mm movies as I feel that hobby is over with. 
I have over one hundred 45 rpm records which seem to be in rather poor condition. I would like to sell those. I have been attempting to clean them with my Spin Clean Record Cleaner which I see is now available for the rather steep price of $79.99. This is a lot of money for a plastic tub and some rollers. However, it does work really well and what is the point in giving them away for free.

The Spin-Clean does a pretty good job on these very dirty 45 rpm records. I am worried that I will contaminate the brushes with grit. I need to listen to a few of these on a real record player and see how they sound.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

My second check up

I wonder I could provide some sort of guide for people who break the ball off the end of their femur. I feel I might have good advice. Mainly, don't do it!!!

Today I went to Kaiser HMO for my month and a half check up. (I think) I have a hard time keeping track of time.

My x-ray technician told me my break looked awesome.

I got a great doctor this time and she answered all my questions.

But, I hurt like heck. I guess it is from the mobility tests they gave me. 

I attempted to work this afternoon. My nephews are painting an IH 656 Hydro that one of them rebuilt in his community college shop class. They wanted advice on painting the tractor. I found my supplies and tools and helped them get set up to paint.

I feel like this would be a great time to note the incredible education that I got at Chemeketa Community College in 1984 and note that my nephews are also getting an awesome, interactive, and involved education at the same College now. I would like to compare that with the education my daughter got at GFU, and the disappointing education I got at GFU, and the not that useful an education I have observed students getting at Linfield University where I worked. Community Colleges give you a huge bang for your buck. There are a lot of instructors at Community Colleges who have real life experiences and who decided to work at a Community College to share those experiences with students. At small universities you get people who say that same thing but I didn't seem the same energy. I have observed a lot of unpleasant politics at the small college. Maybe they just want to think they are a mini Brown University  on the West Coast but they always seem to loose sight of their local market. The Community College professors want to teach you how to get stuff done. IMHO... But, that seems to be they way with trade schools. I really don't know all that much.

But I digress.

I have no idea why I hurt so bad. I must have exercised a previously unused muscle. I am setting in my chair with ice on my leg and really wishing someone would come visit me who I could talk into getting wood for the fire!

In other adventures...

Yesterday I exercised the Gator. It was fun until I hit a huge mud puddle and water came up through the floor and soaked me. Actually, that was also fun but it was cold!

I have been buying GPS speedometers made by a certain company. (Sensor One don't tell anyone, it is a really good product) They have a digital readout. They come terminated with connectors for a number of different agricultural use interfaces to match sprayer monitors and brand specific planter monitors. There are only three wires. There is power in, ground, and a third wire which provides an impulse for the speed control on the monitor. I look for weird connectors that people don't use any more, get the expensive GPS speedometer for a good price, cut the odd style connector off and wire it for what I need.  Not a high volume business but a satisfying one.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Musings about Clover and toxic chemicals that I would like to use

The rain has returned. The weather service predicts snow. It is not cold enough to replant rye, according to what I have read. Rye needs several days with temps below 34 degrees F to vernalize. This might not be a problem with the upcoming cold trend, but I also have to be able to drive on the ground to replant. I can see plants but the the population doesn't look good. I just need a few thousand pounds for the whiskey guy next door but with a now plant population I suspect it will be pretty weedy. 

Yesterday I looked for crop rotations which would add organic matter and might lend themselves to no-till. A friend was telling me about Balansa Clover. I made the mistake of filling out an information request from I am a little worried they are going to think I am a real farmer. 

The Balansa clover looks like a good cover crop or a potential seed crop. According to the propaganda you can plant in early fall and it will tolerate wet soils and a ph of 4.5. I suspect it does not like a pH of 4.5 all that well and probably especially not with complete soil saturation for six months.

I would like to be able to rotate the clover with annual ryegrass. 

Currently we try to have a three year plan. Year one we work the annual. Sometimes we plow. Year two if we get an early rain and a sprout in the fall, we spray out the annual and no-till. Year three, we try to disk aggressively and then get a sprout, then work again and plant or spray and no-till through the sprout. Year three requires a decision, are there enough weeds it has to be worked or can we use same decision process as year two. Generally we stay the course on year three. Then start over again with heavy tillage on the fourth year.

If it would be possible to break the annual on annual cycle with something like Crimson clover or this Balansa clover it would be very beneficial. The Balansa is supposed to give a huge forage yield so there would be the possibility of taking a forage crop and then no-tilling a spring grain or maybe even switching to a long term grass crop.

The other idea I was researching was the use of Idanziflam herbicide to control annual weeds in grass fields. I used this product as a pre emerge to keep right-of-ways and field borders free of weeds as a grounds keeper and it really works well. I have observed the improper use of the product on the field next to the University and I knew that the shrill people are gearing up a campaign against it. It must work really well to inspire a whole new fundraising campaign.

The only product that appears to be registered for use anything close to what I want to use it for is called Alion and it is only registered for carbon planted Fescue for seed.

The main problem with using the chemical for turf was that it is such a tiny mix rate that you could easily use too much. We are talking in the .25 oz range. It is also like $350 a pint or something outrageous. If you over apply the chemical, nothing will grow in that location for several years.

I probably should not share this post with anyone professing a belief in Regenerative Agriculture. 

Can you imagine a Timothy field that was free of annual ryegrass, bent grass, reed canary grass, or Foxtail? That would be amazing!

And now I need to go feed the chickens.

Have a nice day...

Click her for Tractor Wars!

Monday, February 26, 2024

The recovery process is longer than one would hope for

The sun came out. We had a couple nice days here in Western Oregon. Of course I took the Gator apart instead of spraying. This was somewhat poor judgement. It is somewhat telling as to my mental issues.

Saturday was a beautiful day for a drive. Note that I am the passenger. Rode with my brother to get the mail.

In all fairness I am a cripple most of the time. I say most of the time, as sometimes I feel really good and the next day I don't. The other issue is just figuring out what I can and can't do. The issues that bothers me the most is going from inaction to action. I get out of bed or out of the chair and my leg and knees are super stiff and hurt. After I walk around a bit, it all loosens up and I feel better. I stop moving and then I am back to pain and suffering until I get moving again.

I am going to ask the Doc about at my next appointment. Maybe I need to drink more water.

Sunday I put the Gator back together. I still have a bucket of tools to sort. Today it is alternating rain, sun, sleet, sun, rain, wind. (Actually that wind came from a Duck that has been hiding behind my chair. It has terrible breath)

I want to use the Gator to spray ditches and spot spray a few fields. I have an electric sprayer that fits in the back and I have a wand and homebuilt boom. I think I may have to do some upgrades. 

I needed to get to the electrical circuits for the lights and accessories and I needed to repair the cab mounts. I had been trying to access the wiring from under the dash. Saturday I unbolted the cab, lifted the front of the cab up, and removed the "hood." I could see all the wiring which brought up the standard problem of old equipment. The wiring was a mess of taped and faded wires. There seems to be only two colors of factory wiring, Yellow, and Black. Generally, black meant a ground wire, but everything else was yellow with a different colored strip. Finally I just got irritated with it all and ran jumpers around what appeared to be open circuits that were buried deep in a taped up wiring harness.

I really wanted brake lights and there was no power on the positive side of the brake light switch. I ran a jumper from the ignition switch so the brake lights are going to work when the key is on. I was going to rewire the whole light and signal wiring to the rear but it was too much for a Sunday.

Look at me! I got a beacon, I have at least one turn signal, I have lights!

I also hooked up a volt gauge and a cigar lighter so I can charge my phone or run a sprayer monitor and I can tell if the electric sprayer is draining the battery. The gauge reads 12.5 volts fully charged so I suspect there is not a lot of charging capacity.

My good friend from work came to see me Sunday. He cleaned out my locker for me when I separated from my employment. I thought I had cleaned out anything of value as soon as my daughter graduated as I planned on walking as soon as I got my PTO down but there was actually some good stuff. I was really happy to see my A/C certification as it has my registration number.

We went though the accumulated crap from eight years of employment and got to talking about the really toxic and incompetent people that Linfield has not fired and laughing a bit at myself. Good grief that place was a toxic place to work. The toxicity varied on what your job was and how much you could just do by yourself, but how that place stays in business is beyond me.

One story that came to mind was when I got the job with the Steam Line company working on campus and the main part of the interview was to drive the dumptruck after work and see if I felt comfortable driving.  The constructor foreman left the keys under the floor mat of the dumptruck. Basically, if I could figure out how to drive it I was hired. So, I took my friend for a dump truck ride around campus.

The next morning I was called into his supervisor's office and questioned about driving the dump truck. I thought it was all a joke and exclaimed, "well they left the keys under the floor mat!"

The supervisor was a cool guy but had to explain that someone had actually reported me for joyriding in the dump truck. 

I was not allowed to drive the dump truck or work for the company while wearing anything related to Linfield. I had to change my hat and my shirt before going to work.

The other funny thing about the construction job is that they would leave the key to the excavator and dump truck under the seat and they just trusted me to run the equipment. Yet, when I worked at Linfield I had to return every key to a lock box every evening. All the lawn mowing equipment owned by the college did not add up to the value of an excavator and dump truck plus the damage that could be done if I went rogue after work.

What a bunch of idiots. I am so glad to be gone.

But, I digress...

The sun is out and I am going to try hooking up my sprayer.

Also, just adding a bit that I thought of later in regards to the college.

A couple days ago the former President of the University gave me a call. He has a really fun new job and is pretty happy. He said he just wanted to know how I was doing and said he appreciated me. We had a nice conversation. It made me feel better about life. I made some really good friends in my eight years as a groundskeeper and I am really thankful for that.

Have a nice day!

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