Friday was the day to dig back into the hay. I even managed to get out and get to bailing by 0730. This seems late but I had to to fill the tractor with diesel, blow off the entire tractor with air, paying special attention to the radiator to get all of the dirt out of it. I have a screen filter in front of the radiator that catches all of the weed particles but the dust will clog up the radiator if you do not blow it out every day during the summer. I focused on field #2 and noticed that the rows near the creek side kept jamming the baler and then I had to stop and dig it out by hand. Yes, I do turn off the pto, turn off the tractor after I lift the rear of the baler, and I even turn the hydraulic valve closed to keep the baler open. The baler lid weighs far more than I want squishing my while my head and body are inside the baler trying to clean it out. I finally got tired of digging out jams after five times and just quit rowing on that side of the field. It has to do with my mowing job. The grass was super tall and I ended up only cutting about 70% of it so the still live grass is jamming up the baler. I need to change the blade on the sickle bar obviously. Mr Professional came out in the afternoon and turned all of the loose hay that I had not yet managed to bale. I managed to bale over 500 round bales with the Minibaler and finished the neighbors field A.
Mr Professional got a couple of young men from up the road to help us start moving the hay into the barn. The unfortunate part of this is that the hay has to go to the ceiling, which is 16 feet high! I have not welded the old hay ladder find I picked up three years ago yet so it is all done by hand. I am thinking that the ladder is going to have to become a winter project this year. I have dubbed the new helpers Mr Hustle and Mr Flow. I did the baling while they did all the heavy lifting, the people in my life who think I should still be taking it easy will be happy. I am not very good at being inactive. I have lost my popeye arms and upper back muscles. Any activity causes a lot more muscle weariness than I am used to tolerating prior to Covid. I am feeling much better, just saw the cardiologist this week and will continue meds for another three months. It is improving and for that I am grateful even if I am a lot frustrated.
Mr Hustle told me that he saw a cougar last week on our place. It was up on the rocky hillside by field #2. He watched it come off the hillside and go into the tall grass then a few minutes later all of the deer ran out of the field. They come up to the corner of the field to get a cell phone signal so tend to hang out in their cars for a while whenever they feel the need for electronic device time. There is no cell phone signal up the canyon from us, not really any even at the end of our place in spots. The only really decent cell service in the area is Verizon if you are looking for all around access any where in the state. It’s different when you are in a city but once you get into the rural areas the access can change dramatically.
I ended up jamming the baler one last time and just called it quits, I was tired of digging it out. I had an epiphany and decided to not clean it out, I just drove back to the house with it all jammed up and drove right into the orchard. I lifted the back end of the baler and locked it open. My hope is the lambs in that field will just reach in and clean it all out before I get to it the next morning.
It has been a long two days. I worked a 19 hour day between my paying job and the farm. The lights we installed last year are really helping. The weather was beautiful and I was able to use the rake while wearing short sleeves and even once the sun went down it never got super cool. I just kept going. Until I broke the rake. It has two legs off the back and square tubing that is bent 30 degrees. It broke right at the bend and this ended my raking at 2300 instead of midnight like I had planned. So now the new welder needs to get in play again and fix this issue. I want to be able to reinforce this angle and purchased some angle iron and flat iron to be able to make this happen. I am going to need to create a spot in the machine shed where I can store all of these scrap metal pieces to use for various projects.
Mr Professional has been out of service for the last couple of days and was returning to the farm today. I gave him the good news that I had broken the rake. But I wanted him to stay focused and just get the old John Deere 336 baler up and baling the hay I had rowed. We need bales made! he got it going this afternoon and in under one hour made 200 forty pound bales before it made a noise and stopped working. Turns out we need a new bearing. I had to come home early and take a nap and had enough time to run into the parts store. I was running on empty and could not keep going. I got a bearing, picked up a sandwich for us to split and headed home. The bearing looked weird but it was a part in hand. Mr Professional was already out in the field making round bales. I looked at the broken baler and broke out the repair manual. Come to find out we needed the gear box bearing seal. All of the oil had leaked out and according to the book we need to pull the entire transmission out of the baler! So this will not be a two hour fix.
I went out in the field just as Mr Professional broke the mini round baler. He took the covers off and the shear bolt was broken. The problem with this is he took the tool bag out of the canvas bag on the tractor. He violated the tool rule!! We both know that the tools have to be on the tractor, this is why we have a special bag with all of the correct sized tools to repair the baler. So we had to go back and get tools and shear bolts and then he left me to go work on the old John Deere Baler. I started in on it and kept getting both gears to turn when I turned the baler splines. The internal gear should be attached to the shaft which should be stationary as the tractor is not moving. The only reason it could move is if the same gear insert problem we just welded on the other side happened on this side. My gut said it was the problem. I was texting Mr Professional who kept telling me to just replace the shear bolt. Hard to do when the gears won’t align. I was saved by a call from work and I had to go into the hospital, problem was I am dirty and covered in grease. I went home, turfed the problem to Mr Professional and went and got cleaned up. Big surprise 30 minutes later he is pulling it into the machine shed. The exact same problem occurred and it needed to be torn down to expose the gear so it could be welded to the insert. I was called off of work but I was now clean. I ended up doing some dishes, putting away laundry, watering my plants and starting Roomba. I even took the time to work on the blog!! I want to get to bed before midnight and I will need to be working nonstop after work for the entire weekend to get the hay thing under control. I am hoping we can get the bearing tomorrow for the old John Deere. We made about 200 square bales and 25 round bales. The square bales are around 40# each and the round are calculated at 50# but probably weigh closer to 65#. We will need to weight some to get an accurate count. So about 4.5 ton are baled and the property owner gets half, we get the other half.
It only took Mr Professional two hours to tear it apart weld it and put it back together! It took 8 the first time on the other side. It is 2230 and he is out on the little tractor in the dark making round bales. I am going to go to bed so that I can get at it tomorrow afternoon and on into the night also. It is nice to work with someone who gets it.
Snoop, the alpaca, is so lazy he is laying down and eating baled hay off of the old baler!! That is lazy.
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.
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.