Well, it’s been a long two days. Sunday we cut 18 acres of grass hay with a 25hp John Deere tractor and a side sickle bar. It took 9 hours to get it all done. We actually cut 19 acres by the time we were done. I even managed to get in an hours nap out in the field while Mr Professional cut for me. The only down side was waking up with a tick on my neck still crawling around, a little silver one. It was not attached but it sure does make me scratch and explore every odd sensation after that! It took me till dark to get it all completed. Now it just needs to be turned.
I had to go to work for a few hours Monday morning so Mr Professional came out, got the tractor cleaned off and full of fuel then went down to the school house and cut another 4-5 acres of hay! We have been getting it on the ground as fast as we can, pretty soon we are going to have to pick it all up!!
I got in another nap inside the house on the living room floor after getting the new weather station installed outside on top of the pole. It took longer than anticipated as it is sticking way up in the air. I need to dig a flat spot instead of balancing the ladder on a couple of rocks. I had to make multiple up and down trips on the ladder as I discovered that I needed some washers to add to the clamp to make it work as my pipe was smaller than the manufacturers designed. I did put the rain gauge out where the cows could rub on it so after some discussion with Annmarie I will need to move that closer to the house. We love having the weather station, I just don’t like maintaining it or repairing it. This is our third one and hopefully all that is needed now is a simple battery change. I was supposed to go pick up rock chuck carcasses. Wife shot three more two days ago, this heat is not going to make my job any easier. After she shot the first one with the 243 I showed her the 17hmr and said to use it. It was not more than 150 yards and did not need the 243. So to date we have dispatched 4 rock chuck just within sight of the house. Two of them were living under my lumber pile and making a mess on top of it!! It’s bad enough they dig out my rock cribs and make my fence lean, but to try and ruin my lumber is the ultimate insult.
This afternoon I gassed up the tractor once Mr Professional was done cutting and we swapped out for the hay rake. I went up into field two to rake. Field two needs some work! The center of the field needs about 3 acres killed, dished then leveled with the arena groomer, there are ruts ten inches deep and furrows and water damage out in the field from the flood that did not get repaired. It is truly teeth shattering to bounce around. I almost broke the water fire extinguisher twice, it kept leaping out of the tractor bucket. We need to rework the stand so it is attached to the tractor better. I also need to order new U joints, and a driveshaft cover and end caps to keep the hay from binding up around the shaft. if you get in the tall grass it binds up around the driveline and you have to stop and cut it off. It’s a pain and should not be an issue. I have no clue when it fell off the parts order needs to go in tomorrow. When I was going through the gate I forgot that the grass catcher was sticking out and bent it on the gate. The gate is a little dinged up but when I bent the catcher back it broke, this only shortened it by about 6 inches. I need to order a new bar. While I am ordering parts I may as well order the runner part for the sickle mower that fell off yesterday! Screwy part was we had been tightening all bolts and nuts first thing in the morning before starting any equipment. I managed to get all of field #2 rowed and the rest of field #3 done. There was still quit a bit of moisture in field 2, it had only been 48 hours. We should be up and baling by Wednesday. I will turn the 18 acres tomorrow after work. We can then start baling all of it on Thursday.
It was a long and an actual productive day. Some days are just long and head pounding, but even though it was a head pounder we managed to get things going and got it done! I had the round baler hooked up and ready from the night before and had started up the tractor and was headed out to bail when Mr Professional showed up and wanted to work on the old John Deere 336 square baler we purchased the night before. I had plans on testing the weld job on the Italian M50 round baler. Four hours later after some blood, a lot of swearing, cleaning and grease application we had managed to get it move all its parts. Surprisingly it was in great shape and had obviously been serviced four years ago when it was sold last. The only thing left to do was to actually try and make a bale with it. I cut through the side of the fields but Mr Professional had to go around with the big baler.
I was able to make round bales! The weld held and I was baling the outer rows and the rows down by the spring. Mr Professional showed up and started to feed loose grass into the baler, it made a couple of squares but it was only tying one side. He had me stop and help, this was slowing production!! An hour later, a lot more swearing and yelling and finger pointing we had figured out how to adjust the bale tension, we had to turn a ceramic grommet that had a groove cut into it by the constant string flow, it was causing a binding point and breaking the string, we also had to adjust the string tension. More bales, less bale tension and now the big loud green machine was only tying one knot on one side of both strings, even worse than a single good string. More reading of the manual, much more swearing and finger pointing and interpretation with more swearing. Me finally telling Mr Professional to adjust it like the manual says and I am gonna go bale or we are not ever going to make hay. He made some adjustments to the tying portion, which is fairly mechanically complicated and was making bales!! I had to jump off once and adjust bale tension again. The first 50 bales are a little lopsided. We are pretty sure its from not having enough feed material to make the bales.
Mr Professional went down to field #3 to bale, I worked on the dregs in #2, I sheared a shear bolt and realized how much I hate relearning to change them out and dug out the jam. When it jammed in the same place again 6 minutes later I gave up, dumped the partial bale and went to get the sickle mower. I had to move bales on my way out of the field and spotted a very angry 3 foot snake curled up and ready to strike. It did not appreciate at getting ran over by the baler! We parted ways amicably but I was unable to get a picture, it kept sneaking under the grass clumps. I needed to cut anyways and the big green beast was chewing through the downed hay.
I cut the rest of field #2 and then moved onto the one small portion of #3 that I had not cut, about an acre. Unfortunately or fortunately, however you fill your glass, the grass is very tall! I was very careful to cut next to the spring runoff so I didn’t end up in the stream. The second pass though you drive on the already cut grass and I managed to get a little too close to the bank and fell into it with the tractor! I did not tip it over, it just ended up very sideways. Mr Professional came and pulled me out and I was back at it fairly quickly. Annmarie and Sarah came down to see my calamity, there was some discussion as to why I did not line each side of the stream with pecker poles like I did in field #2 (the one I buried the tractor in last year). I had marked a wide marshy area but not the running stream. The grass has never looked this good before!! I can usually tell where the stream is and avoid it. So now I need to buy some more poles and drive them in on both sides of the stream. Annmarie was taking pictures of my sideways action and discussing the poles when she fell into the stream. She didn’t see the edge!! Sarah and I did finally go pull her out!
I started cutting the neighbors field until 2200. We should get the rest of the field cut on Sunday.
So the baler was not working yesterday. I came home and helped Mr Professional and we had all the moving parts doing what they were supposed to do in ten minutes. He put it all back together so it was ready to go first thing Friday morning. I had some dinner then went out with the mistress to cut more hay. Since the baler is back up and running we figured it was time to lay some more hay down. I did that until dark. Good old normal hay stuff, all is well.
The plan was for me to go into town early-ish and pickup our calf table that had just come in the day before and to pickup all of our TREX decking for the front porch Friday morning. I would come right home, Mr Professional was going to bale hay then we would switch out and I would bale while he starts picking them up. Naturally everything arrives when I need to do nothing but get hay put up. So now I will need to stack the TREX off into a safe location in the yard! I am hopeful we will get to this in a few weeks. I got notice today that our alpaca shearing blades have been sharpened and are in transit back to our farm. The calf table needs to be attached to a pallet top and bolted down so it cannot be knocked over. I have the perfect piece of scrap board we got last year and saved and using it on the wood pallet is a great use of it. So I am in town picking up TREX decking when an ongoing crisis at my paying job required me to go in. Now I am bummed I will not be baling when Mr Professional then starts texting me. The phone is blowing up. The baler bottom roller is not turning! This is the exact problem we thought we had fixed. Since neither shear bolt broke it was not an obvious issue. I finally just told him to drag it back to the machine shop and call the company, don’t waste time looking for the problem. They stayed on the phone with him for two hours and walked him through the problems and disassembly on the baler. Turns out someone in Italy thought that pressing a central shaft insert into a gear assembly with no welding was a good thing. They must think they have a side deal with a little known entity called friction. Mr Friction Fit failed! Who would do that? So Mr professional got the two pieces exposed and used my welder to merge them. The baler is back together and Saturday morning we test it out. This took most of the day to accomplish and I have more hay on the ground!!
One of my coworker/friends had recently told me about a baler for sale, I hunted it down and am now the proud owner of a very old John Deere 3360 baler. I have been unable to figure out yet when it was made. It does use string and not wire. Again on Saturday, Mr Professional will see if it works. We have the weekend to test it out for purchase. I had to go in Friday night and bring it home with the pickup. The unknowns and lack of stuff is a constant battle. Here’s hoping that Saturday is a perfect day.
It has been a long ten days! I had plans on blogging over the weekend but I was tired and busy and it just didn’t get done. I find that it is surprisingly hard to keep after it some times. I have a goal, 8 posts/month and I do my best to make that happen. Sometimes I make it and sometimes I don’t but I have learned to just get back up to the desk and write. My single biggest motivating factor is I like to occasionally go back and remind myself that stuff is actually getting done and jobs are really not multiplying, they are merely setting us up for success in the future.
Mr Professional got the tractor back up and running. It of course started to rain because we had cut hay. We only managed to get about 1 ton baled before the rain came. We have turned the hay twice and attempted to bale again three days ago. Mr Professional hit a clump of wet sodden grass and jammed the roller baler. He spent a couple of days digging it out off and on till he got tired of messing with it. He had the thing torn apart when I came home this evening. Within ten minutes we had it up and going and then he had to put all the pieces back on. He went out and turned the hay one more time and we will start baling again tomorrow and cutting again. I have about another 6 acres that needs cut and baled then we are going to move across the road and start cutting and baling. We will be at this for the next 3-4 weeks. It’s going to be a long month.
We have had two more calves. I was able to get pictures of one right after it was born, a few hours. Mom did not like me driving the tractor close but I told her she had to calm down. The babies are doing well. We have five calves now and one cow left to give birth. We need to be done calving so the bull can get turned loose with the mommas.
Doom and I went and picked up a wrought iron fence that Annmarie found on the digital classifieds. You never know what you are getting but it was indeed handmade, only about three feet tall but well worth the $300. It just needs to be cleaned up and then the posts cemented into the ground. We are going to use it on the side of the house. I am pretty sure that Zeke will be able to leap it no matter what we do but he has to slow down at some time as he is already over ten years old. Mouse won’t go over it and the fence will get a covering of small gage wire to stop Gizmo. It was well worth the trip, even if Doom drinks passion fruit tea instead of coffee at Dutch Bros. A person with the name Doom should drink coffee black and strong not passion fruit tea. Doom went home today and stated that he will be back sooner than later. It’s always good to see friends from far away, they come, they go, good friends.
The weather has been miserable. It just keeps raining. There is so much rain that our back dry hillside is greening up again! It only does that after about a week of steady rain and warm weather. Every year the rain comes no matter how late I wait to cut hay. Hence the reason I only cut some of it. I knew that the bad luck fairy was going to visit again. I did make a decision on the tractor. I am going to get a Kubota. I thought the change would be good, this one has a front snow blade that can be turned, it has a 3 point large bale spear, pallet forks, a bucket and a rear sickle mower. When I add that to what I have already I think I have most of the bases covered. I am even going to have some ballast put in the rear tires. I am hopeful this takes some of the tipping tendencies out.
This morning the plan was to get Mr I Need a Belt Bad to finish the lawn and kill some more weeds in the garden. While he was doing that I was going to get some more field work done. I got him started in on the lawn and took the side by side up to spray East side of field #2. I have what I believe to be a type of hairy vetch that is proving hard to kill. Mostly because it does respond to the spray but it grows so fast that it keeps snapping back from getting sprayed! I sprayed out another 50 gallons. The grass is pretty tall in places but has not headed out yet so I think I can wait another 1-2 weeks before I cut it. Once the spray was done, I opted to grab the tractor and cut the West side of #2 for hay. I had about two acres cut and was almost done when the tractor refused to steer. I jumped down and looked at the steering mechanism. The picture shows that a cast iron piece is broken! This is a new broken piece and on the left side this time. They just fixed the right side wheel bearing last week. So the plan to turn the hay I cut yesterday is on hold. I need the tractor to work! After a brief consult with the wife where she tells me its okay to buy a new tractor. I wanted to hold out for two more years, tomorrow I will be getting quotes on a new tractor and get the broken piece overnighted so we can continue to put up hay. The real question will be can they get me a new tractor in under two weeks?
Mr I Need a Belt Bad dug thistles out of the garden then Mr Professional got him hooked up with the five gallon back sprayer and he walked along the driveway and sprayed the stray grass stalks. He did this a couple of times. Annmarie had him help her plant some new flower ground cover under the old metal harrow rake. Next week he will get to finish weeding the garden, spraying the grass in the planter garden and start weeding the flower rock garden. He is going to whip our yard into shape this summer. We got some more clover seed for him to plant on the front hillside also.
It always seems like something breaks and stops us from haying! Here is to hoping we can get it fixed quickly and not lose any hay.