Yesterday was the official return to home date after our stint at Church camp, I was the camp nurse and Annmarie was the camp chaplain. It was very relaxing, nothing to do, very little nursing work for me and we both got to take naps every day! Mother Nature could have turned down the heat some but it was so much better than the two weeks prior that I was not going to complain. We brought home 25# of black cherries I picked from an orchard in Cove and we are going to work on trying to eat them all in a week. It’s going to be a challenge but after we gave some out to the various family members so we should be able to do it.
As we were driving down the driveway we had a discussion about me needing to give the cows some more food. I really need to finish tagging that last calf and banding the one that got away. This will allow us to swap cows and sheep. We need to move the four cows in the upper field down to the lower pasture and all the momma, bull and calves and all of the sheep to the upper fields. I can open up field four so that the animals have access to filed #2-4. This should give them enough food for at least 8 weeks if not longer. This no rain or moisture weather is rough on pasture. My Mother-in-law called me this morning while I was picking up Mr Professional to also request that the cows get food today. We went out to get bales but the bucket on the old tractor was acting up and I could only tip the tractor bucket not raise and lower it. So we stopped, cleaned out the linkage, tore it apart, tightened a few spots and then lubed it all up so it works very well again. This will help Mr Rainman finish cleaning out the barn this week. I was able to pull bales out and push them to the cows below and the two stuck in Alcatraz.
Once that was done we dug holes in the front yard and concreted in the two end posts for our new stair railings. We then finished getting most of the substructure completed. We just need to get the outside railing in and the stabilizer boards between the decking boards installed. I need to focus on getting the house cleaned, curtains installed down in the craft room, and toilet paper holder installed in the upstairs bathroom. We have company coming on Saturday so we will need to be ready. I am driving on Friday to go pickup our new ram.
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.
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.
I brought the tractor home this week from its repairs. It has the back hydraulic takeoff connectors repaired, a hydraulic leak under the tractor and the front wheel bearing seal all fixed. It is no longer pouring out oil from multiple locations on the tractor! They even power washed all the grease off of it. I wanted to drive the tractor home via the back roads and not use the trailer, it would have taken about 90 minutes to get home. Annmarie told me to just take the trailer! I would have needed a ride to drop me off and had to make a special trip to town instead of just driving the pickup to work. I used the trailer.
One of our cows had another calf so 4/6 have now had calves. Unfortunately they are taking their time. So next weekend we are going to herd them all up to the barn and sort them so the four babies can be tagged and banded. We will have to get the other two later. I don’t want to have to tag and band a 8 week old calf. Mr I Need a Belt Bad was excited to hear that we would be working cows next week, we will see how excited he is after he has to help catch and hold them down.
Mr Professional came out yesterday and got the sickle bar mower attached to the tractor. I had to work all week so no weeds got sprayed. I am on a new drug regimen for my post covid pericarditis. It is back to tearing up my gut and the constant chest pressure is starting to wear me down again. I have been instructed by multiple parties that I am to take it easy. So I have added napping to my schedule and only get to do a few light things in the morning on the days I am not working. I hate it. But I am tired and I want to get better and limiting my activities will help.
Today Mr I Need a Belt Bad came out and we set him on the yard first thing. Our front hillside has sprouted with cheat grass and it needed to be mowed. We have some clover coming in and have vowed to not use any herbicide on it in an effort to get it established. So we had him mow and bag all the cheat grass with the mower on the low setting. It did not disturb the clover and it decimated the cheat grass. He had one instruction when I set him up with the mower, do not hit the black hose connecting the sprinklers! That is actually two directives as he was instructed to mow the hillside and not hit the black pipe. I had to use a wire wheel to clean off the sickle bar mower goop so the grass slid over it and was using the grinder when he came over to tell me that he had hit the black pipe!! He had one job! I grumbled and told him to finish mowing and we would fix the pipe later. He was back five minutes later showing me a four foot chunk of pipe he hit that was not connected to anything. I had removed it a couple of weeks ago as it was not needed and had just tossed it to the side. So even though he violated the rule, no hitting of the black pipe he maintained the intent which was to not interrupt our watering capability.
He then got set up with the weed eater, a new experience for him, and yes he had goggles and hearing protection. He did not like the weed eater as much, it is heavy, you have to use a chest harness and it does wear on your arms. He ended up mowing about half the front yard and will finish the rest tomorrow. He should even have some time to work on the garden also. Mr Professional came out and pulled the hay rake out, sickle cut the orchard and worked on weeds. He is also working on getting the chain saw put back together. We need to do some creative repair to the plastic handle. I am picking up a couple of packages of JB weld to create a fix.
I mowed the hay today with the sickle mower. I got about four acres cut. I have maybe another two in one field but it can wait a week and the #1 field can wait at least another two weeks. We are going to try and spread out the cutting so we can get it baled in between and it won’t get too dry like it did last year. I suspect we will be cutting the neighbor’s field mid to late week and starting in on it also. The goal is to get 35-40 ton in the barn, shed, buildings. I still have about 12-14 large bales left over from last year. I use two per week when it is bare and no feed available. We will have to hook up the trailer to the tractor to feed out the small bales. I love the way the grass lays down when you cut it and the smell. It is very relaxing.
Thursday was a perfect day to catch up on our field spraying. The side by side is all ready and as long as I put a quart of oil in every time I add five gallons of fuel it works great. Yes it is burning a lot of oil. I am hopeful there is a treatment I can add to the oil that will extend its working life. Now that we have the big marine battery installed under the driver’s seat it starts right up! It is pretty amazing to just turn the key and have it start.
We are mixing 10 cups of 24D, 3 cups of sticker and 7 ounces of Milestone to 50 gallons of water. This is killing the broadleaf and the thistles are dying. I noticed after looking at the fields we sprayed a month ago that it was time to spray again. New broadleaf weeds were 3-7 inches tall and ready to be murdered. I was able to spray all of field #1, 2 and 1/3 of #3. This was incredible progress, the wind finally started to pick up so I had to call it quits. During this time I realized that our home weather station is broken again. I kept trying to check the wind speed (no spraying over 15mph, I like to stop at 10mph). The trees were moving the wind was blowing and our weather station little round cups were not moving at all. Turns out they have decided to stop going around and around in the wind. So we researched another brand and purchased a new one, this one using sound to measure wind speed, it has no moving parts! Our hope is this will last and not cause us problems. Luckily, the pole I installed on the last replacement can be used for the new one so this will save a lot of time.
I was able to spray all of the fence lines along the fields also with the hand wand. This has caused me to realize that I need to install a hose on a reel for the spraying that is self retracting. This way when I get off the side by side to spray I can move around more than 12 feet. I am going to have to look at what Harbor Freight. I am sure a frame will have to be welded to our current setup to get it to fit and be stable.
I was able to spray all of #4 and another 1/3 of #3 on Friday before the wind made it impossible to continue. The fields look better and I need to cut at least one field as it is all cheatgrass. The sheep don’t like to eat it but after last year we have learned that if I bale it we can use it as bedding for the entire barn. The sheep will spread it around and then pee all over it. If I have enough of it I don’t have to buy any straw to use for the bedding. The best part is the compost pile gets hot enough the next year to kill all weed seeds. Unfortunately, the tractor is in the shop for repairs. The front wheel bearing seal requires too much work and a hydraulic press which I don’t own. When I took it into the shop I found another leak from it sitting on the flatbed trailer. I had them quote me for fixing the wheel bearing seal, for fixing rear hydraulic takeoff connector, the hydraulic leak and the bucket controls are sticking so they are going to fix that also, for the low low price of $1200. Annmarie heard the quote on the answering machine and wants to talk about a new tractor! I do need a new tractor but we are waiting two more years until Meathead is out of school. So for now we will repair the tractor and continue on.
I net wrap I ordered came and a spare hydraulic hose for the sickle bar mower. I really needed the actuator arm for the baler. It is bent and the constant pulling on it is making it worse. I will need to call them on Monday to see where my last two rolls and the actuator are.