Tractor teachings.

The tractor is going to make me a mechanic yet.  My nephew stated that the bucket on the tractor is not working again.  He got about 5 hours of use out of it before it died.  I am sure it is the quick disconnect.  I must have damaged it and under pressure it slips apart just enough to shut off the fluid flow but it still looks connected.  My solution is definitely farmer inspired, I just swapped the raising and lowering connections.  It worked today but I didn’t do any heavy lifting with the bucket.   I scraped the gravel road and leveled the area in front of our house.  I did the circle down at my in-law’s house but I need to finish leveling it off.   It looked a little rough when I drove by it to go to work.  

My nephew did use the tractor this evening to finish moving the  straw from the barn floor and the bucket was still working.  So my fix may work.  I went inside and looked at the buckled barn floor.  I am not certain if it is from the barn shifting or me not screwing that portion of the floor down.  I won’t know until I start pulling the boards up and look for screw holes.  I figure four hours to fix it.  It took 20 hours of manual/tractor labor to clean out the barn and move all the straw to a separate pile ($200 labor).  

Sarah started on the rock wall today!  It will take her a while to get it done, I am not sure it will be done in two weeks.  I told her her she will have to dig a little deeper to expose the wall.   I called Premier fencing to check up on our adult sheep sling so we can weigh the sheep.  I ordered it in April, but the lady said they still had backorders from February so she was unable to guarantee that I would get a sling in the next shipment. She said they just cannot seem to get enough made to meet demand. 


Tractor woes.

It finally quite raining long enough for me to go out and work on the tractor.  First thing I had to do was give it a bath and get all the mud off of it from the irrigation ditch.  I used actual warm water and soap plus much high pressure water and pulling of weeds and grass from various crevices.  Once the tractor was clean I discovered that did not fix the problem.  Dirt was not holding my bucket arm down and causing it to creep up at a subpar snail pace.  I then concluded that it was the control valve and it just needed a little adjustment (I hate being a mechanic).  I attempted to get a wrench into a small gap under the seat so I would not have to take any plastic cowlings off.  No go, three nuts and two of them jammed up against the middle one to prevent it from moving.  I had to remove some weird plastic pin/clip things that held the cowlings on (I had to move two not just one), a screwdriver pried them out with some difficulty.  I adjusted the valve and it did not solve my problem.  This necessitated me stooping low to something I don’t usually do, I broke out the manuals and read them cover to cover.  No help troubleshooting my problem.  

 I called the tractor dealer and asked for the service department.  The repairman and I went over what I had done and the lack of results.  He suggested I undo the quick disconnects and see if one of them may have come dislodged.  Also, if that didn’t fix my problem then to swap the lowering and raising quick connects to see if it is a cylinder issue or control valve issue.  I went out to find the problem.  I took apart and reassembled the quick connectors.  One was dang near impossible to put back together.  Took me 10 minutes to force the connector back together and get it to seal shut.  I had not realized that if there is pressure on the line it is going to be near impossible to put back together.  I was trying to reconnect the line holding the bucket one foot off the ground, note to self, lower the bucket before working on hydraulics.  It fixed the problem! 
 I then tried to get the fancy plastic rivet things to go back in the holes.  No such luck, so I went and got a hammer and tried to beat them into submission.  No go they just would not go back in the holes.  Then it dawned on me they do kinda look like plastic rivets and are in two pieces.  I worked the center piece out and put the rivet through both pieces and just pressed the center pin in with my thumb, no tools required.  

Yesterday the tractor was used to clean up the straw pile from the barn that my nephew shoveled out. I was informed this morning that the bucket on the tractor doesn’t work again.  So now I have to recheck the connection and may have to change out one side of the quick connector.  I must have scraped it on something when I was digging the ditch.  
I also saw the bull mounting one of the heifers a couple of days ago.  We are trying to keep track of his mating so we can predict when the heifers will have calves again.  Nine months from now would be late March which would be an okay time to have babies.  It is back to raining here, good for our pasture but bad for anyone with cut hay on the ground.   Our back creek is starting to slow way down in the last week.  This rain may give it a reprieve but I don’t expect it to stay running past the Fourth of July.  A small section of the barn floor warped so it will have to be repaired when I finish up the barn this summer.  

Worst Job Ever.

Well I have done a little work on the farm in the last week, but with Monica leaving tomorrow we have put off any plans this last week and have just done whatever and some things that needed to be done to get her ready.  I did manage to start some water on the ram pasture.  The sheep ate it down pretty low so we locked everyone off of it and have started to pore on the water in an attempt to get it to bounce back.   I also planted three very little black walnut trees out in the ram pasture.  They were volunteer plants from Grandma Lane’s garden hitchhikers in some imported compost. I will need to encase all three plants in a wire fence to keep the sheep/horses/cows/deer away from them for the next five years at least.  I have some time with the animal restriction in place before it has to be done.    I have a couple more wild roses to encircle and two small trees out by the grain bins.

I struck out on the sheep again.  I had a buyer on the hook for 20+ sheep but she backed out.  So now we are back to the drawing board.  We have three sold for meat and we will be eating three more.  That gives me five more months to find buyers for the rest of this years babies.  I am going to expand our craigslist add to the tricities and see if that doesn’t help.

I had decided the pastures are drying up so they need some water.  Passive irrigation is my favorite way to water.  Of course this involves lots of manual labor, hard manual labor.  I decided the lower pasture needed to have the irrigation ditch redone.  I fired up the tractor and started to drag the ditch with the box blade.  I spent one day dragging the ditch and then tried to scoop out the ditch near the concrete weir.  The ditch walls got washed away years ago when the back creek got dammed up and jumped to the front creek.  Their was too much water to contain and it washed out the western side of the ditch.  This created a huge swamp!  I cannot drive the tractor out due to it sinking.  The plan was to try and get the most water back into a channel so the swamp will dry out.  Once it dries out I can maneuver the tractor into place and hopefully finish the ditch.  Today I went out and hand dug the ditch.  The channels were off by five feet so I had to hand dig the connecting ditch.  Digging ditches sucks a lot!  All those people that pay for working out need to come to our house.  I can provide a maximum effort workout with some constructive output for free!  I ended up jumping into the water and grabbing the weeds and throwing them to one side to clear the channel.  By the time I was done I could hardly move my legs or arms.  On a plus side, when I went out a few hours later to take pictures the water had made it all the way down to the horse fence.  I had ended my ditch at that exact fence.  It was running into an old flood irrigation path.  In a few weeks I will get back down there and finish the ditch down to the school house.  The water will be able to drain back across the bottoms underground and back into the creek.  No electricity needed. Now if the ditch would just dig itself…

Gannon, Zeke and I put the cows into the pen and dusted them for flies.  Hopefully, they will be happier now.  Zeke had a hard time moving the cows due to the babies.  Everyone kept pawing at the ground and charging him.  We did get the cows into the pen in 15 minutes.     


Playing catch up.

I really have been working on the farm.  I realize the blog doesn’t reflect any forward momentum but we have had computer issues.  I am now on an iPad, and the learning curve is steep for me.  I still don’t know how to get pictures on the blog now without taking them from the pad camera.  Typing Is not easy for me either, thinking I may have to get a keyboard.

I however do know I have been doing lots of work on the farm even if it is not getting documented.  I mowed a second time around the house in an attempt to stifle the cheatgrass.  Since, I was on the mower I decided to mow the upper bottom fence rows.  I want to do some fencing up there next year but the weeds and grass form an almost impenetrable barrier near the fence.  I maneuvered the tractor into position and fired up the mower.  It chewed down 4-5 foot tall weeds and grass!  There were a couple of places were the hillside was just too steep on one side to get the tractor in place without tipping it over.  I don’t want to have to make that help call, “I’m trapped and I cannot get out”.  I would carry that infamy with me forever.  Besides the tractor is newer (has a dent and horse teeth marks already so it is no longer new) and I do not want to be the cause of further permanent damage.

I spotted multiple deer, some white tail and muley both.  I had not seen any white tail on the place last year so I thought they were gone.  Badger holes are all over the place.  I found over ten holes throughout the property.  I would lower the front bucket in an attempt to find the large rocks before hitting them with the mower.  I found another horse drawn plow hidden in the tall grass.  It stopped the tractor.  I almost passed out from heat and effort before I dragged it up the hillside far enough out of the way to mow past.  These mowed areas only leave a small weedy patch next to the fence which I can safely burn out next spring or winter.  My fire season is over already, not enough rain to burn any more.  Burning the farm down is not a good thing.

I started back in on the fencing yesterday.  I went down by four corners and emptied out a rock crib to move it so it lined up with the two fences I need to repair.  After I emptied it and started to move it it started to fall apart.  I moved it and rebuilt it and filled it back up.  Oh those rocks are heavy!  I fixed a fifteen foot section of fence and the gate into the CRP.  Now I need to go down near the creek and willow tree to fix another rock crib.  That one is the corner for the long side along the creek and CRP.  It is on a hillside under some large tree branches so it is going to be difficult to work on.  Once that is done I will get that whole chunk restrung then go down to four corners and rebuild the whole corner section.  I tightened the smooth wire fence that runs in front of the school house last week.  I have a couple of staples to put in to finish that run.  The fence hums now when you hit it.  I like the whole high tension wire but it is $25-35 for the hardware for each wire and I need at least six strands.  The wire has to be contiguous and at least a quarter mile long to be effective according to most fencing articles I have read.

The cows are doing great.  We still only have two baby cows, with one still pending.  Both the new baby boys have been banded and tagged using the new cow tags, salmon colored #1 and #2.  One of the calves only had one testicle, verified by three different people.  So now we will see if we are right in a few months.

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