It’s raining

Does this look like I am ready for rain?  I have been trying to get our hay into the barn. Now I cannot do this if I don’t have hay here at the house. It takes me almost two hours round trip to get a load and get it unloaded and back. So I can only squeeze in one trip in the evenings that I and the seller are free. I am trying very frantically to get it all here on the farm and then I can get it into the barn. I currently have three loads “stacked” outside the barn doors ready for me to move them inside.  It picks this week to rain!!  Now I have to wait a couple of days before I can stack it inside the barn. Just another added delay. 
I just about have unloading down with the new tractor but I keep dropping one or two bales which makes for uneven stacking. This has caused my stacking job to look more like a pile than a stack. On a plus side I am just going to grab them and toss them inside the barn to then be stacked again. Neatness doesn’t count midway through. 
So Thursday we have a nice steady light rain coming down out of the sky. Hopefully the bales won’t get too soaked. 

Life flashed before me

I headed out an hour late to unload the traile Sunday morning . I fired up the tractor and got all six bales unloaded. Easy peasy. Off I go to get my first load of the day. Only four large bales left then we can add on some small bales. The large bales got loaded onto the trailer in an even row. The tail end bale puts a lot of weight onto the back of the trailer. With the six bales two more went on top on the front half of the trailer. So small bales were loaded on top and I strapped everything down with four straps instead of my normal two. I headed out just like normal. My route took me through the reservation and part of Pendleton. This was to avoided much of the  freeway as possible. I only had a two mile stretch of freeway to drive on. I got on the freeway and at 65 mph the trailer started to sway. I stepped on the brake and it got worse.  It was going four feet on each side of the pickup and the pickup was starting to move. I had enough time to look at the cab and realize it was still clean so I wouldn’t get pelted with tools when the pickup rolled. I also acknowledged that this was going to hurt and we would need a new pickup. All this in a split second then I punched the gas. The brake wasn’t working and I thought if I could pull the trailer in a straight line I might be able to stop the swaying. It worked!  I immediately let off of the gas, slowed down and pulled off to the side of the road. It took several minutes for me to feel comfortable getting back on the freeway. I thought this was caused by a brake issue so once I got to the other side of Pendleton I tried to go 55 mph. It did the same thing!  So I turned on my flashers and drove 30 mph on highway then got onto the old road and drove 20 mph! I made it home, contemplated life again in the cab then got out to unload hay. The tractor only did about 20 bales before it ran out of gas!  Are you kidding me?  I had to block the trailer in place, unhook it and take the pickup to get another ten gallons of fuel. The fuel gauge still read 3/4 of a tank. I unloaded the last two large bales and finished putting up the portable corral around them to keep the critters away. The alpaca think the only bales that are edible are the ones on my trailer!!  No matter that two large bales are broken open on the ground!  They go for the trailer bales every time, swearing and running at them has not discouraged them an iota. 

I did manage to get another load but it ended up staying on the trailer. Annmarie loaded bales into the barn for me while I went on an EMS run. She got 18 bales into the barn and I did another 20 when I got home. That is a ton of hay as the bales are quite light. I am really liking the light bales. Dragging those 100-120# behemoths around is a lot harder. I gave her many kudos for helping me out. 

We have a predator problem again. The raccoon is remaining very elusive. We have gone out twice in the early morning and this last time we never spotted the raccoon but it had killed two stupid chickens. One of the chickens was still in its death throes when we got to the coop. I have had the trap out with no success last night I put the trap in front of the enclosure entrance. I am borrowing another trap from a friend but it has to be attached to a post so it doesn’t go away. It’s game on!!  I only have 12 hens left plus two roosters. I need to get this killer under control before I end up with two roosters only! 
Our single kitten is still hanging in there. It doesn’t know what to make of the horses now that they are coming in at night. I have not felt well the last two days but I need to start unloading hay so I can make more trips. I have seven more trips to go. 

Tractor does work

Well this is kind of a mish mash of things that have happened allweek. I was busy and didn’t feel like I had enough for an entire blog entry then by today I had too much, go figure. I was gone last week so I am on a time crunch to get the hay loaded and setup here. It chose this week to rain for three days. We have had nothing but fire for two solid months. It never fails that when I want to do outside work the weather does not cooperate. 
I decided to do some painting as outside work was not possible. We had picked the colors and purchased the paint a while ago. We used a palette designed for turn of the century homes. We decided to go with some real color this time. I am painting the walls with doors in them and surprisingly the paint matched the doors amazingly well. This was a happy accident!  It does take two coats to prevent the white color from bleeding through. 

We had a good turn this week!  We were given an old safe from the late 1880’s. There are only three small issues regarding the safe. First, we had to figure out how to load it ourselves. Secondly, it weighs a lot, over 600#!  Thirdly, there is no combination with it and the door is shut. The smart wife engineer came up with the idea of using a come-a-long. We hooked it into the fifth wheel attachment base.  I had stopped and gotten two 2×10 boards cut into 6 feet lengths. We used those as a ramp but our handcart had flat tires. The two of us managed to get it in the back of the pickup in under 30 minutes.  It is amazing. When we got home I had to get it out of the pickup the next day. I thought I could just lift it out with the small tractor. Nope, not enough lifting height. I finally just had to grab it from the tailgate end and jerk it out while raising the tractor bucket. This left a divot in the ground a few inches deep. I did check the ground first to make sure there were no hard objects. I had to put it on the short side of the front porch for the same reason, not enough lift. We are still working on the combination issue. Surely there has to be a way to “crack” the safe by discovering the combination. We want to be able to use the safe. It will become an end table in the living room. 


We have a raccoon. Annmarie woke me up two nights running and the second night we had to get out of bed at 0330 and go hunt for whatever it was. I saw the raccoon but forgot to turn off safety on my trusty Walther. It’s obviously time for more target shooting. I placed a trap baited with marshmallows but all the raccoon did was pull it down and toss the tasty treat into the dirt. Sarah came up with the idea of smearing peanut butter on the trigger plate of the trap. I am going to try that next. 

After all the work on the pickup it still needed tires. We tried to get used but nobody had four matching so we got cheap tires instead. They are still 10 ply sidewall so they can handle the trailer and load weight. I had to get a new front tire for the old tractor. The side facing South had rotted from sun exposure. Unsurprisingly, the lug nuts for each front tire were different sizes. I guess I should be grateful that they were the same size on each side. So mixing and matching cannot occur. 

Moving hay, maybe

Saturday was the day to start picking up hay. I invited Mr.Red Shirt to come along. He was already injured so I figured he was safe. We started out by finding the pickup location and getting loaded. The plan was to start with large bales then move to small bales. There were 28 large bales to move. My trailer will only hold 6 bales at a time. I had a heck of a time unloading the trailer. Some bales would lift others I tried to tear up. Some got pushed as they would not lift. On a plus note, I figured out the fuel tank will hold 10 gallons and the fuel gauge jumps to 3/4 tank indicator. We went back quit a bit later and got load two. Mr Red Shirt would direct me so I was trying to grab the bale with a level set of hooks. I sliced up the strings on one bale because the hook actuator has a hang up and you have to rapidly bump it to get it to fully engage and disengage. This time the tractor died, behaving as if it ran out of fuel despite the ten gallons that had just been put into it that morning. Mr Red Shirt called a buddy to look at it while I went to get another load. It had a “vapor lock” and worked just fine. Come to find out the reason I could not move large bales was operator error!  The hooks only go one direction so there is a metal wall on the tractor side of the grapple.  That wall must be placed directly against the end of the bale so the hooks push the bale into the wall. Who knew?!  With the magical vapor lock gone and direction from Mr Red Shirt on angle placement I got the whole trailer unloaded. We did a total of six trips. Eventually, his Captain called and he went on another mission. I left the last load on the trailer so that Annmarie and I could go to the movies. I would whip that out in the morning and start the process all over again. 

Tractor hates me

I am sure this will be a love/hate relationship. I am going to love hating the old tractor. I tried to get it started on Friday again.  It would not start!  It turns over great, the new battery is doing its job. I tried throughout the day, three times with no success. I even brought Annmarie out to see if she knew something I didn’t, still no luck. So I spent the day cleaning out the rest of the barn lot and removed all the animal poop from the lamb shed with my John Deere. 
I was frustrated we had just paid someone to come out to tell me I was an idiot and the tractor still would not start. While in the shower it occurred to me that the repairman had filled the old tractor with fuel from the wood shed. This was fuel for the lawnmower and could be a year old. I had asked around and had someone coming out to help me take a look at it when I figured I should drain out the old fuel and put in 92 octane instead. So I went out with two gas cans and took off the glass bowl filter chamber and realized that no fuel was leaking. The repairman had left the fuel shutoff valve closed!!  After spilling a pint of fuel on me I managed to get the glass bowl back on and the tractor started. I grabbed one large bale of hay and took it out to the cows. This was a request. The bale dropped three times. I was told that using the hay hooks on large bales doesn’t always work. They cannot hold on. Happier now I went back in and cleaned up. 

Saturday I went out to move all the old bales out of the machine shop. I got the first one that was right on the ground. I dropped it twice. Next I have two rows stacked four high. I could not get the hooks to go into the top of the bale so I could lift it up. I tried twice then backed the tractor out and tried again. One of the problems with this old farmhand arrangement is lack of direct line of sight. The equipment is blocking your view. I thought I had the hook platform horizontal and ended up breaking out a 2×8 and 4×6 cross support beam out of the ceiling. It was over before I realized what had happened. I then tried to pull the bales over but I could only find one hook!  I lost my other hay hook.  So then I climbed up on top of the bales and tried to push the top two bales off without success. I finally gave up. We need to get those long spears made for the tractor so I can move the big bales. This will necessitate another trip to the metal fabrication shop plus a request for a quick turnaround time. I need to get hay as soon as Roundup is over. I also need a weight box for the back of the tractor with a few hundred pounds of weight in it. This is good news as we had researched new tractors and were looking at $28k for a set up to move hay. I am guessing but I think after repair work and fabrication and tires we will be close to $5k. Still a much better deal. We also need new front tires for the old tractor. The sidewalls are rotten and coming off in 1/4 inch chunks.  It won’t be long before they blow out. I took pictures and will get them on order tomorrow. 


We have no pickup and trailer for this week. Annmarie asked me a few months ago if she could loan them out for the dress up parade during Roundup. I agreed without really understanding what I was agreeing to. So I have had to get all new brakes installed on the pickup. The pickup now has a brand new muffler. I cleaned out the pickup, probably the first time since we had bought it. It took me most of a day. We have new seat covers and floor mats in the pickup also. The trailer needed repairs as I had broken out the tail light holders and broken the license plate holder and broken the ramp holder lock. I took the trailer to our local metal repair shop and they welded supports into the tire wells, welded on running boards on the back half of the trailer so that when I hit something the trailer will just slide off. No more hooking the light boxes. They welded new light boxes on and moved the spare tire holder forward to the front half of the trailer. A new ramp holder was welded in just behind the tires accessible from one side with a pin lock. No way for me to drag it off when the trailer drags bottom when I am driving it through the creek or out in a field. The only thing left for the pickup is new tires, but I don’t want to spend $850 -$1k for tires on a vehicle that gets less than 3k miles a year on it. My name is on the list for a set of used tires. There is a slight shake still at highway speed. I am unsure if it’s due to the tires or if it is from the brake job or it just needs a front end alignment. I don’t know and until I get new tires and do the front end alignment I will not be able to narrow it down. 

I owe an apology to Annmarie’s father, Ted. He had knocked out part of the back wall of the machine shed with this old tractor. I thought this was just his illness making it harder for him to control the beast. After breaking two boards on my first attempt I now realize he had better control while ill than I do now. There is a definite learning curve. I am currently on the steep upward slope. 

Ruh-oh!

I want it known that I had just worked all night and was trying to sleep on Monday when the tractor repair man came out. I realize that I had called on Friday for the repair but I feel that this incident should be given some leeway in its interpretation. I freely admit that I am new to this farm life thing and I have never before driven any old tractor. I freely admit that I am not a mechanic. These revelations should be taken into account when the reader reviews my actions. 
present the above picture as my defense. Can you honestly say you know where the gas cap is located?  I choose to believe that it is not that easy. Bottom line when the repair man came out the tractor was out of fuel!  He came back to the house and requested fuel. He was given a five gallon gas can and proceeded to fill the tank. The black cap nearest to the steering wheel is the actual fuel cap. I did not know this. He finished hooking up the hay grapple and testing it. I drug myself out of bed and went out to meet him to discuss all the operations of the tractor. We are already paying for a farm visit so I might as well get as much out of it as possible. I had him go over every little switch and lever to show me what did what. This turned out to be necessary as the power pto hydraulic lever was not getting engaged. So the hydraulics do work they are just slow without engaging the power pto. I would have thought it was just slow all the time. There is a small leak in the power pto device but I was informed if we tore it apart it would probably need a rebuild and parts would be almost impossible to find. So it looks great as is!  AnnMarie is rubbing this in every few days. The repairman got a good laugh out of it. Thankfully, the “fuel cap” I opened was the radiator cap and it was full of water so I did not put fuel into the coolant system!!  To top it all off AnnMarie was right!  It was out of gas. Since he was here I asked him to order a power disconnect switch. I will install it on the side of the tractor and to disconnect the battery you just turn the switch.   I will be moving the bales this upcoming weekend.