The part came from Italy for the sickle bar mower. Mr Professional spent most of the day on Thursday tearing it apart and I had to order more tools. I did not have a spanner wrench. I also did not have a large metric open end wrench over 18mm. Since I was already ordering tools I ordered another water fire extinguisher and a new pickup tube for the water extinguisher we have and two metal tank holders. I will mount one on the tractor and one on the side by side so we have water in case of a fire.
Friday we spent the morning pressing in new bearings and reassembling the sickle bar. Once on, we readied the tractor for mowing. I will mow the upper field on Saturday. I think I can get a couple of ton out of it even after all of the flooding.
Annmarie made a Dutch baby for breakfast! I like lemon, powdered sugar and real maple syrup on mine. After breakfast, I grabbed my full coffee cup, full thermos and quart of water and headed out to the tractor. I started to mow as soon as I got up in the field but I had forgotten how long it takes. The field is seven acres and the tractor will only mow 1 acre/hr, that is a lot of circles. I started to fall asleep while going down the rows, I am sure the neighbors thought I was drunk. My lines were all off. I started to subdivide the field into smaller pieces so it would feel like I was making progress. The hawks were amazing. I tried to get a picture of them but I am not sure I succeeded.
After seven hours I was wishing I had two more thermos of coffee. The doe and her twin fawns kept running around the fields. I drove back by the blackberries to see if they were ready. Turns out the first batch of berries are ready to pick. I have a friend who offered to trade huckleberries for blackberries, not a 1:1.
I will turn the hay in a few days and bale it in the morning. It makes nicer bales when you do it first thing in the morning. These will go in the barn. I have 6 ton of small bales to pickup and I have 40 ton of large bales still to pickup. I need to do that this month.
Thursday morning as I was putting on my shoes to go to work I heard Annmarie hollering from the upstairs bedroom. Now I did have my hearing aids in but when I am downstairs and she is upstairs in the master bedroom, technology cannot overcome the should differences. I managed to hear “coyote” and “ram pasture”. It’s all I needed, she identified the threat and gave its location. I ran to the front door sans shoes as they had not made it on my feet yet and grabbed for a gun, I had to move the 22LR to grab the .243. I ran out into the front yard, I need to spray some thistles out of the front yard, and spotted the coyote low on the back hillside and fired a shot and hit it. I took aim again and missed and then the gun clicked on empty. I only had two rounds in it. So I ran back inside and ran upstairs to the bedroom, threw open the closet window and grabbed the 17HMR, no angle and the tree was in the way so I had to run back downstairs and out into the front lawn, two more shots and I was out again! I need to work on keeping the rifles loaded. The coyote was laying up against the fence working on dying. I went in, loaded up on ammo and walked out and finished off the coyote. Annmarie said it was right behind the house where I feed the chickens compost. It would have had one of my chickens in another 15 minutes. When I went back inside the house I realized that the .243 has an ammo butt stock holder! I had ten more rounds!! I am so used to the 17 HMR and 22LR it never even occurred to me to look. I guess I will have to use the .243 more often.
Mr Professional came out to work on the sickle bar mower and tear it apart to replace the broken rocker arm. He found the carcass after following my directions explicitly. He tried to find it just by looking in the general area but it blended in too well. It’s now on the boneyard pile.
Friday we put the sickle bar mower back together with the new parts and it doesn’t make any noise!! It runs fairly quietly, a big change from the broken sound. I will mow field #1 on Saturday. It’s the last field we still have to hay. I may get 2-3 tons, we will know by the end of the week.
Well last Sunday I decided that I needed to mow the upper field #2. Since Mr. Professional is helping me we have devised a simple way to talk about the various fields. We start from the upper bottom pasture and number them in ascending order 1-4. Then you have the “pea field” down by mother in laws house then you have lower pasture down by schoolhouse. This forgets about the 1 acre piece closer to mother-in-law’s house and across the creek. We don’t talk about that field specifically so it just gets tossed into the schoolhouse field.
I had sprayed #2 field a couple of weeks earlier but it is so thick and tall it needs to be knocked down then sprayed 2 weeks later to kill the thistles. I drove up there in the tractor and remembered to add on a crescent wrench so I could fix the broken gate.
After fixing the gate, there was some internal dialogue about fixing the gate on my way out of the field, but you never know what is going to happen so I opted to just fix the gate first thing as a safer move. I think the bolt just came loose and it fell down, I don’t believe it was anything nefarious.
I started mowing on the left hand side of the field first. It’s the smaller side and I would get to see results sooner. The pecker poles are amazing! I knew exactly where the water was and was able to not get the tractor stuck. As I continued to go around in circles I kept spotting the baby deer. There were four different deer all had spots and they were about dog sized and running all over the place. The pheasants are also plentiful this year. I jumped four juvenile roosters that had their colors but no tail feathers at all. Since it was almost a 100 F outside I had raised the mower deck about 14 inches off of the ground. The weeds are incredibly thick and I did not want the mower to get overheated. My goal is simply to knock them down so that when I drive over the area with the side by side the spray gets evenly distributed. You could see where some swaths of field had great spray coverage and others were limited by the height of the weeds and spray dispersement.
I was taking a break after the first section was done when Richard pulled out and asked me if I was ok. He is the one who pulled the tractor out of the mud for me. He thought I had gotten stuck again as I was parked near where I was buried before. I chuckled and thanked him for checking on me but no, I was taking a break as the field is very rough and furrowed from the flooding and the tractor is beating me up. It really works your lower back muscles.
There are hawks everywhere! We have at least 6-8 living all over the farm. It is pretty amazing. I am sure that at least two of them are juveniles as our nesting pair is back but we may now have two pair of nesting hawks. They used to only be on the upper end of the property but are now the full length of the place.
I started in on the second half and about halfway through tragedy struck!! The weeds are tall and you cannot see the ground. I do pay attention as I don’t want to hit rocks and need to stay on the completed line so I can get finished in a timely manner. I came around in a shorter square pattern, I get tired of doing the entire field and tend to break them up into pieces. It looks like I am getting done quicker. I came back around and saw a 1-2 day old fawn on the ground dying. I had run over it with my actual tractor wheel. If I had mowed over it the fawn would have been just fine as the mower is set high, but alas of the four foot wide swath my tractor makes only a 2.5 foot tire free zone. This did cause me angst for the rest of the day. The fawn never tried to get up or run away and it was so much younger than all the other babies I had been watching run all over the fields.
After mowing I spent another hour digging more ditches. I managed to not get stuck this time. There is still water coming out of the ground and forming a small running spring. This water does not leave the field it ends up running down about half way and getting reabsorbed. I finished the field and went back and cleaned off the tractor. A couple of days later I had come to terms with the mowing tragedy. I took a finished photo below.
I keep wanting to be more timely with the blog. I am learning that after working all day on the farm I am tired and don’t have the gumption to sit down and write. Also, Annmarie tells me when I do write something at that time it is very dry and factual because I am too tired to be animated. I actually agree with this statement so I have taken to making notes so I can remember what was accomplished and can sit down and write it all out when I am not exhausted. I had to work at the paying job on last Friday so the only thing I managed to accomplish was ordering the extra battery cable and a charging control switch so I can mount a large marine battery under the driver’s seat of the side by side and run two batteries. I already have the trickle charger on it and we just purchased another new battery as the other new one was destroyed and would not hold a charge any longer.
Saturday morning Annmarie wanted to go up and check on the cows. She swore that the green tag cow was bursting at the seams pregnant. We went up first thing in the side by side. The side by side needs a tuneup bad! The new battery is nice and the second battery will be nicer. The far upper gate was off its hinge and open. The cows were all still in the correct field but Annmarie was convinced the cow had a calf. We drove back and forth over the entire upper field to make sure there was no calf. I do not believe she was pregnant but sometimes its just better to listen and do what the wife wants. This is not a common theme in our marriage so it is something I am working on.
There was no calf. I went to town after that and picked up tools, yard hoses and an electric mower. We are also now watering our yard so I fired those up before I left for Pendleton. While I was in Pendleton I priced a new calf table for a paltry $1650!
I came back and cleaned out the baby area in the chicken coop. I had friend want to give me straight run 3 week old chickens but they needed a home. So I dug it out and refilled it with pellets, wood chips, food and water. I called my buddy and told him he could drop them off in the coop at any time now that it was setup.
I took the tractor and drove the few miles down back roads to pickup the manure spreader! I know it needs some work but the price was great and all but the top piece spun around. After I got it home I started in on the bolts and grease zirks with an all wire brush and some W-D-40 attempting to get the 40 years worth of buildup off. It’s going to take a few days and a couple of cans of W-D-40 to get the fenders off and hopefully all the parts moving! I may have to weld in one piece of angle iron at the base of the machine on each side to accommodate the chain. It needs more cleanup and some more W-D-40 to get a couple more bearings free. All of this is to be expected for the fixer upper price I paid for it. It will probably cost me about $500 to get it up and running. I have been looking for a manure spreader for years. Everyone that has been getting composted manure from the barn lot pile is going to be disappointed. I will only be letting the manure sit for one winter then spreading it out the next year. I am hoping this can prevent me from having to purchase fertilizer.
Well it was time to get back at some outside work, the real problem is my timing is totally dependent on when I have time away from my paying job. So when the weather person predicts that it will be 107 F during the day I still plan on working as I have time. This is more of a needs based time decision and not a will it be convenient type of decision. Mr Professional and I were at it by 0630 and spent some time cleaning off vehicles, gathering all the needed tools and filling the tractor up with hydraulic fluid. Now that we use the hydraulic takeoffs there is some inherent amount of leaking with making the connections. The tractor moved and the bucket was amazing after we got the hydraulic levels corrected. We are still trying to organize things in the machine shed. It will take another month of moving things out from the old house to get everything settled into its new home in the machine shed.
Mr Professional and I went down to the feed field and tore out the spring fence crossing. The old cross fencing up by the apple tree had already been removed earlier in the week. That new section of fence parallels the ditch instead of crossing it twice. We hand dug three holes for reused railroad ties. I also want to add in a rock crib on the East side of the water. We made a triangle out of 2×8 and tossed all our loose metal pieces, wires and fencing wire into the center and will fill it all with rocks. We did not have time to get rocks today. We added an H brace and then used an upper and lower cable strung between the posts to create a breakaway crossing. When the water and garbage pile up on the up water side it will cause a dam. This creates pressure on the fence and the lower clips are breakaway clips and they will spread and break allowing the panel to be lifted off of the ground. The upper part of the panel is attached permanently to another cable locking the two posts together. It took us about four hours to get it all apart and back together. I had to use a scoop of precious gravel. I have a small pile left and have had no luck from two different suppliers to get gravel delivered out to the house.
When we pulled up I set my coffee and speaker up on the H brace and spent about 10 minutes feeding apples to the cows. No one could get to the apples that are falling on our side of the fence. I was choosing our music selection and the bull really wanted me to give him more apples. The long sleeve shirts are what I normally wear during the summer but it is essential when it is super hot outside. Music selection is important as I don’t want to listen to country music, I prefer girl singers or Disco.