Haying forever

It has been an incredibly long week. I am supposed to make several posts and spread out all this information but honestly, I just don’t have time. The weather is against us, we are under a “heat dome” now and it is currently 108F. It is supposed to get to 115 and may last for at least ten days. It is absurd, our heat pump is not keeping up so we are at 75 degrees inside the house it may get to 80 by the end of the week. It is definitely not the pleasant 72 degrees we usually keep the house at during the summer.

I did have a lot of help off and on throughout the week. Mr Rain Man came out at 0530 on Tuesday to help me with baling of the hay in field #1. I had no idea how much hay was in that field. I think we are going to get about 3.25 ton/acre. It is our best performing field for sure. The problem is we keep hitting moisture issues and its making it hard to bale. Mr Rain Man had never ran any equipment this small but due to the heat he could only work until around 1100 in the morning. He did this for two mornings until he got a piece of something in his eye and had to spend a couple of days irrigating it. I blame the contact lenses. He came out on Saturday to help move a little hay.

I managed to bale hay for a few hours one evening. We have over 800 bales on the ground and have still not managed to get all of the loose hay baled yet. The front porch is a dream, I have been focusing on trying to get the hay bales off of the field and into the barn. But its taking so long due to the heat that the porch is on hold for at least two more weeks. Annmarie and I are actually going to leave town for a week. I ended up working all day at my paying job on Friday so was unable to do any farm work.

Mr Professional came out and got the hay rake repaired and welded together one late night after it cooled off. No one wants to work in the heat, its miserable.

Mr Rain Man, Mr CrossFit and Mr I Need a Belt Bad all came out on Saturday. Mr Rain Man came out at 0530 and started baling hay. Mr I Need a Belt Bad came out at 0730 and spent about 45 minutes weeding the back garden. He forgot to bring a long sleeve shirt and he knew we were going to pickup some hay. It’s going to be a miserable day. We grabbed the pickup and went out and started to fill it up with bales. Mr Rain Man went back to the house with us as he was just not getting the hay to feed right. All of us unloaded hay, I did more supervising than working. I did provide some verbal instructions for Mr I Need a Belt Bad related to inertia and lifting with shoulders and using a knee to keep the bale moving. This “feedback” was continued for two days to give him an edge. It’s hard to keep up without using all the available muscles to the best of your advantage. He is starting to catch on. He should have it down by the time we get all the hay done!

Mr CrossFit and I worked on getting three 3’ wide barrier cloths installed between the raspberries and blackberries. We did this after moving hay on Saturday. We had plans to set the lower railing posts in concrete also but after doing the barrier cloth it was too hot to do any more work. Annmarie wanted to cut down on the weeds and it just so happened that one of my coworkers was getting rid of some rubber bark! There was enough donated rubber to do about 2.5 barriers and we used a few bags of leftover from the lavender patch. We only have about 7 bags unopened now and I will need to put them out on the lavender patch so the sun doesn’t eat the bags.

Sunday, Mr CrossFit and Mr I need a Belt Bad unloaded a pickup load into the barn and then we got two more loads. Mr Professional and a helper came out Saturday night and loaded in 110 bales into the barn. We got another 3 + ton into the second barn bay today, so 5+ ton into the barn in the last 24 hours. There was so much hay that the last load we closed the lower doors on the barn and opened up the upper doors. The hay had to be tossed up to the overhead opening. That electric 16’ hay elevator really needs to get repaired! Tossing them by hand is not easy and Mr CrossFit was moving as fast as he could to get the bales loaded as high as possible. Mr I Need a Belt Bad took more instruction. He is hanging in there. Honestly, hard work and perseverance are the key to success and should be fostered. As long as he keeps working and trying he is welcome to come out. After we get the hay in we will need to start digging out the barn, which is a miserable and smelly endeavor. I would not say that I am the easiest boss to work for, I do provide instruction and set expectations and provide feedback. The feedback can be colorful but it does get the point across.

Welding pass

This week was the last day of my college evening welding class. I passed with a B, for which I had to work hard. I attended every class, got highest scores on the written tests and scored the lowest on most of the actual practical welds. What I did learn was this is a skill that needs to be practiced, a lot. I am not a natural and it would take me hours to learn some particular skill. I am now able to do it, which is a huge leap forward compared to where I was when I started the class. Now I need to figure out what type of equipment I need out on the farm. I really need to get a cutting torch operational and I need a stick welder. The major problem is I don’t have 220V wired anywhere on the farm. I can fix this in the old house but I don’t really want to weld around a wooden building. So I need to look at 120V welders, the good part is I don’t really need to weld through anything thicker than 3/8 of an inch. This will make it easy to cut back on the type of welder I need as I don’t need super high amperage. We also have a propane generator. I need to see how many KWh it puts out and if it has 220V capability. I don’t know as it is for emergencies and we have not had to use it. It would solve a lot of portability problems if it will put out enough juice to run a welder.

I ran out to look at the generator as I am curious now. It will do a 4000 W start and continuous 3250 W, but only does 120 V. The nice part is it has an RV plug so it will do 20 Amps. Further research has led to two SMAW (further use will be stick welding for the uninitiated) welders that run on 120 V. A Hobart Stickmate 160i stick welder for around $570 and a Century Inverter Arc 120 V stick welder for $260. The problem with the cheaper welders is you only can weld about 3 minutes out of 10 minutes and only go up to 90 amps so you must weld thinner material. Since I am already slower than the average welder the down time requirements are not going to hurt me. For you purists out there depending on how the weld was set up and as long as I did a good root weld I could layer in the rest of the welds and still weld thicker material. Luckily for me, I don’t have really anything thicker than 3/8 of an inch to weld and most of those are repairs. I really need a little cart I can put the generator on, propane tank and welder all in one place and have it ready to go. Maybe I need a bigger generator? I probably do not need a bigger generator as I am not a full time farmer working on great big piece of equipment. I am trying to keep our costs realistic and not go all out and buy the most expensive thing. I am also going to do more Oxyacetylene welding, its slow but it doesn’t need any power at all, hard to beat that advantage for some things. I told Annmarie my end goal was to be able to build a 10 foot diameter igloo out of old used horse shoes of all various sizes, old nails, rust and bent shoes included. I have not convinced her that it would be a work of art and not an eye sore yet. I need a few thousand more horse shoes. I only have a few hundred now. I am willing to pay $0.05/horseshoe or $50/1000 shoes, which is way better than the scrap yard. I have not given up the dream yet.

This morning she talked to me about marking the babies and mother sheep when we start lambing. We tried a crayon marker a few years ago and did not have very good luck. Instead of using paint irons where you have to use multiple irons her family uses a L shaped iron and marker paint. She drew it all out on a old envelope to teach me. You create a grid of 9 numbers and use the L iron to create the sides of the grid around the number you want.

I have copied in the four examples she showed me. The I threw me as it is not on the grid she made for me until I said it wasn’t there and she said it equals 0. It made sense when she told me what it was. You just have to have the orientation to the lamb correct and you can match the mothers and babies for the first month at least. She said I needed to just weld the marking rod. I figured out today how to make it without welding anything. I just need to get a piece of 1/4″ square stock 24″ long so I can make it. I will make a wooden handle so it won’t be so cold to handle.

We are very short on rainfall, less than 1/10″ last month. We need some moisture in any form. It can rain for all I care as long as it doesn’t warm up too much and fool the trees.