Back at it!

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.

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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.

 

 

Mechanic I am not

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Since I was stuck home due to the quarantine and felt great finally, I decided to get some more farm work done.  The upper three fields need to be cut so they can be turned into hay.  The Upper Prime Squared field is going on its third year as a grass field and it looks great!  It is the best field we have and one I am aspiring to get the others to duplicate.   So I opted to start on it.  The real problem is it is still covered in some flood damage and I was unable to get it all cleaned up.  When I was using the sickle bar to cut the hay I kept running into the dirt/grass piles and it did not like this.  I had broken all three of my spare bolts when I realized I had only managed to cut 2/3 of the first field.  I spent an hour on the phone with the micro hay equipment company.  They did not have any of the needed bolts or parts.  The arm that had some cracked bearing casings had to come from Italy.  He did not know of anyone else that had broken theirs in the past so it was not on hand in the parts warehouse.  He is supposed to be getting me a quote from the Italian company.  I am starting to get desperate enough to look on Italian websites for the company and purchase my own spare parts cabinet.  I am just trying to figure out how to do it.  This may come as a necessary evil.  If anyone knows someone who can read Italian and knows about micro hay equipment, give me a holler.

So I am still on the hunt for 3-4 metal cabinets, one for herbicides, one for oil products, two for spare parts for the haying equipment.  I need to get organized.  I could not cut any more hay so I developed a plan for Annmarie to pick me up some bolts and nuts that I can weld a slant onto then grind them to some semblance of a cone.  Mind you I only have access to a wire fed welder and I never got to practice with a wire fed in my welding class, that was the next class.   Of course that night it rained 3/100 of an inch, me cutting hay so far this year has 100% rain predictability.

 

On Friday, I spent two hours welding and I use that term very loosely an approximation of a cone.  On half of them I welded directly next to bolt head and on the other half I sandwiched two bolt heads together and welded a small bead around the second nut.  I then ground all eight down to form a cone.  To get it to fit inside the hole I had to take some of the protective pieces off of the sickle bar.  I then had to figure out how to use an easy out to remove the broken bolt.  This  went on and on and on for a total of seven hours before I finally got it all back together.  It got greased very well, two zerks are missing and need to be replaced, I ordered them the day before from parts warehouse.  I started it up but there was still this weird clanging.  I went out and finished the last 1/3 of the field and made it one time around the second field before it broke again, 2 hours of run time only.  The arm part now has a deformed head and bearing which means I need a new part.  I am not a gracious mechanic.  There were lots of explicatives used throughout the day and some blood letting.  No more hay gets cut until I get a new part.

It was getting dark anyways.

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Scaring away rock chucks

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Mr Professional came out to the house and picked up bales of hay from the orchard and drove the trailer over to the barn.  He has been working on another project in town that Annmarie asked him to do so his time on the farm has been limited.

On Thursday, Annmarie spotted TWO rock chucks down in the ram pasture and went out the front door with the 22 rifle.  She flung lead at them and they got away.  I saw this all from the living room window.  Without a carcass she gets no kill credit.  She even admitted she missed.

Friday morning, Annmarie’s spotted another two rock chucks and went outside and started flinging lead again.  Again, they both got away.  I was not home at the time but she told me about it.

I had gone out to barn to move the hay inside off of the trailer.  It was a mere 98 degrees F and I did bring some water.  There were 60 bales to go in from the orchard haying (1.25 ton) and someone had to do it.  I got them all in the barn and stacked.  I needed the trailer cleared off so I could go and see if the metal scrapyard had any panels or culvert for me.  I found some amazing panels but the owner was taking them home and I did find a piece of 4’ culvert hidden in the back corner inside a piece of 6’ culvert. I will come back in a few weeks after I gets some more haying done and have them pull it out and cut it down to 16’ long.  I decided to go with a longer culvert.  The gate is 16’ wide and that would allow any size truck to cross.  I am going to use Rasta blocks and install a concrete wall on both sides of the culvert so it can withstand the water cresting it if needed.  On a plus side, I did not pickup any scrap metal and they gave me a sold recommendation for a portable welder.  I will be buying a Miller Multimatic 200 and using flux core wire.  I have been shopping around looking at prices but it looks like $2200 is the price I am going to have to pay. This is less than the allotted $3k I had set aside for this needed purchase.  It will even work off of my generator and will do 110/220v power supply.  This was a major tip and I am grateful for it.  I will be converting my old small pickup bed trailer to a welding trailer and mounting the cutting torch and welder and generator on it all so I can just hook up and go!

I was dragging after unloading the hay in the heat, tired, did not feel good, so after my shower I am upstairs dressing and Annmarie started shooting again at rock chucks!  At her opportunity rate I am going to have to increase my accuracy to offset it.  She shot at two more rock chucks.  I am thinking its the same two she always shoots at.  She now has to sneak out the back door as they will run away if you use the front door.  Friday morning I had removed the screen from our bedroom closet window so I could get a shot off if needed.  It doesn’t show the whole ram pasture but I can see  the hillside.  I spotted a rock chuck running up the hill and got off two shots.  We both missed.  My plan is to now just use the upstairs window when I want to shoot at the rock-chucks.

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This is my view from the upstairs bedroom closet!  I have a decent field of fire if they run for the upper rock pile.
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Haying for now

Friday was spent haying some more.  Annmarie spotted a female calf from our bedroom window and then when she looked with the binoculars there was no ear tag!  We knew the cows were hiding more calves but had finally given up and figured they died.  Nope, now I need to tag it, luckily its a girl.  I managed to only shear two shear bolts all day, one upper and one lower.  The upper ones are a lot easier to fix!  I like to take my fiber directly from the soil.  The coffee gets pretty thick when the dust starts to fly.

Mr Professional and the kid started picking up bales from the field.  I think they are dry but Friday night I started to hit some wet patches.  I truly do not want the barn to burn down. After much discussion I am again using the horse training corral to store hay in.  They are out in the open, and since they are wrapped they won’t absorb a lot of moisture.  This was the best plan and the safest.

The micro hay equipment is nice, once you get used to it!  We are learning a  few things, like don’t row the hay or make the rows too high.  If you do drive over the hay rows watch the drive shaft picking up hay and wrapping around the driveline.  You will need to cut that off before it becomes a problem or it will stall out the tractor and it is a lot harder to get out when it is jammed in there.  Rocks are bad, the baler does not like them.  I am going to have to pick up rocks in the far upper field.  There are too many loose big rocks, even fist sized is too big.  The netting wrap is great but you really have to pull on the cord for about 3 seconds to get the friction roller engaged.  Once the bail is wrapped a couple of times you can let go and the machine does the rest.  The hydraulic rear lifting is amazing.  This is crucial when something goes wrong or you shear a bolt.  On the other the hydraulics were self contained and the pump was reliant on the pto so when you sheared a safety bolt and needed to lift the back of the baler it had to be done by hand and its very heavy.  Keep lots of shear bolts on hand, I recommend 36 of each kind.  It’s a stupid reason to have to stop and go to the hardware store to try and find them.  They are hardness 8.8 which is hard to find, everything easily obtained was harder and you don’t want a harder shear bolt.  Clean out both sides of the baler every time you shear a bolt.  This is probably overkill but you have the covers off anyways and it makes me feel better.  Clean off the equipment every night with the hose, get all that stuff and dirt off your machine.  Remember the bale counter is triggered every time you lift the tailgate on the baler so if you keep breaking stuff and lifting the back the count can be off by quite a bit.  You will need to count bales when you load them unless you never do anything wrong and all goes smoothly.  I have been unfortunate and have not had this problem.  Don’t take a super tight turn as you can catch the pto shaft with your rear tire, this is not good.  Don’t be surprised when you start out if the bale rolls forever.  It takes a bit to learn how to work the baler, we have some bales with 30-40 layers, they will be very hard to get into.  The average is about 8 wraps very reasonable.

The kid left early afternoon and Mr Professional was done loading hay, so he went out to bale hay while I went out to pick up bales.  I went up to the far field and picked up the triticale. We got 61 bales, 2400# not exactly a whopper crop off of 3 acres.  Between the flooding and my inexperience in prepping the field in the fall and planting it it was very lackluster. I tried to pick up rocks but there were a lot and the pickup bed was full of gravel for fencing, the hay and rocks were starting to cause the safety chains to drag on the ground.  I need to do some serious rock picking up here.   I will break out the arena groomer after the next cutting and work this field smooth and pick up rocks.

When I got to the barn I realized that I had not disposed of a winter’s worth of hay cord, that took a while to get them into old feed sacks.  I then had to move last years hay over to the front so we will use it first.  It is old and dry so I will use it as feed/bedding once we get the barn cleaned out.  I unloaded trailer and was about 50% done when it started to rain again.  Mr Professional came by and helped me unload the trailer, I stacked it until there were 10 bales left and I just called it quits!  I was beat and tired and done for the day it was dinner time anyways.  We only got 7/100” of rain Friday night.

 

Week in review

It’s been a long week, I have kept notes so I could keep track of all the things that have happened.  Monday evening after dinner I went out and turned all the hay.  It just keeps raining.  The hay is not very good after all the rain and flooding.  I need to get it up into bales so the grass underneath can come up and I can get a good second cutting.  I worked until dark and got it all turned and in neat rows.  Mr Professional came out during the day and worked on setting wooden posts in our field closest to the barn lot, I would like to get the sheep and horses off of the hay pasture.  They keep eating the barley sprouts.

Tuesday after work I went out to the field and got the baler to work.  It’s a learning curve and I had to get my memory back up to speed after last year.  It is not quite the same critter as the string non-hydraulic one I had last year. I got it to make about 20 bales up in the triticale before it got dark.  I was happy but I have learned there are some things that are not easy to do in the dark and baling is one of them, seeding is the other.

Wednesday after work I went out to check on Mr Professional.  He was hot!  He had broken 9 shear bolts already and the hay was too thick.  It was a constant battle.  I went out after dinner and threw the hay back out.  No rows, the tractor carriage is too low and the underside hits the hay pile.  I really need a side pull but I did not think of this.  I may be able to accommodate this at a future time.  The real answer is just don’t row it.  Just throw it around and pick it up with the tractor.  The little baler does better if it is not plowing through super thick material.  It can grab a bunch and pull it in and shear the safety bolt before you know it.

Thursday I had off and Mr Professional and I had to go to town to find a bolt as one had broken on the arm for dumping the bales.  The arm got bent in shipping and I did not think it was a big deal.  It is turning out to be a problem.  I will need to order a replacement soon.  I forgot about it when I placed the big order last week.  We may have found the right size shear bolt at hardware store but we did not have any to compare.  We left them at home.  When we got home I found the dozen spares I knew I had ordered last year, they were not with the others.  It took us 2 hours to clean off the baler, replace the shear bolts and grease and oil it so it was ready to go.  I baled about 100 bales and only broke two shear pins, one low and one high.  I hit some wet grass and sheared the lower pin.  After spending 30 minutes digging it out I just gave up.  It was dinner time and I was beat, I took it all back to the shop, we can get it ready tomorrow morning.  Mr professional and the kid worked on the fence.  My manure clamp on hooks for the tractor bucket arrived!  I used them to move mud and hay away from the fence, they are great!  I am thinking that cleaning out the barn this year may be a lot easier than normal.   The tractor can push the spikes into a pile of mud and hay where I never could have gotten it into the bucket before.  The only thing is it makes the tractor pretty front heavy, I need to attach the box blade on the back for counterweight.