The Useful Duck!

Contribute to my Vacation, please...

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.

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