Filed under: family, Farm, projects, repairs | Tags: diy, family, farm, repairs
It happened again. My youngest has the boys borrowing her tools, in this case a hammer.
Farm girls learn a little bit of everything it seems. Our children have grown up with us planting and harvesting, but also building, remodeling and refinishing. So who do the city boys turn to when they need some fix-up tools? A country girl, she can even show them how to fix it if they ask.
My favorite story from my daughters is from the first year our youngest was teaching. She was living in a house with two others. When food started disappearing from the fridge they decided it was time to change the locks on the door. The guy who was the “manager” of the house bought the lock sets and the tools he thought he needed to get the job done, despite our daughter telling him she had all the tools needed to do the job. Our youngest came home to find him with pieces all over, struggling to understand the directions. She showed him how to do the job and then went of to do some other things. That night when she came back, the back door lock was in pieces on the table. He was stuck again, so she just replaced the back door locks for him.
So watch out guys! That country girl just may be able to show you a thing or two about things you would least expect.
Filed under: Farm, John Deere, repairs, Tractors | Tags: farm, JD 4650, John Deere, machines, repairs, tractor, tractors
Called the mechanic, he’ll order parts, should be back in working order soon.
What is broken is the drive shaft for the front wheel drive. It is not a real hard fix, so when we can get the parts it should go back together quickly.
Filed under: Farm, harvest, repairs | Tags: farm, harvest, machines, repairs
A minor repair, another reason I have grease all over my hands.
Filed under: family, Farm | Tags: arthroscopic surgery, Arthroscopy, farm, health, knee surgery, medicine, physical therapy, repairs
Friday, June 29 I had Arthroscopic Surgery to take care of some ragged pieces in the cartilage in my right knee. I’m sure that the first damage goes back many years, but it got significantly worse this spring. I toughed it out until I got the bulk of the spring work done, then I started seeing doctors. Finally I saw a surgeon, and we set the date for surgery. With a bare minimum of preparation, they walked me into surgery, put me out, and went to work.
When I woke up, they walked me out to the car for my wife to take me home. What I could see of my knee looked like this.
The word was, keep it dry, start your exercises, change your bandages. Under the wrap I had two big pads to catch any leaks. A few days later we switched to band aids. I still kept it wrapped, mostly to keep the band aids in place.
Today was my second trip to the physical therapist. The swelling is down and range of motion is returning. I’m still a bit tenuous going down stairs, but the rest is returning. Today my knee looks like this.
You can see the two small scabs just below the knee cap, with one on the left side above. I’ve started sleeping without any bandaids or wraps on the knee. Showers are OK, but no swimming yet. Oh, you should see this!
Isn’t that a beauty of a bruise. That’s where they put the tourniquet. It’s going to take a while for that to go away.
I’m still working on range of motion stuff, but I am getting better. The knee is more than a bit tight. I have very little pain, even when doing my exercises. I wonder why I didn’t just go and have it this spring when things first got bad.
So there you have it, my knee is doing much better. Thanks for you concern,
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, family, Farm, farm animals, fertilizer, food, food safety, genetic modification, GMO, organic, P & E, planting, Politicians, rain, tillage, Tractors, weather | Tags: Agriculture education, children, family, farm, Food, machines, plants, repairs, science, weather
Farming, like any other profession has its own lingo, and much of America does not understand it.
I just got off the phone with a gal doing a survey on farming practices who was having a great deal of trouble with her farm english. It was very hard to understand what she wanted to ask because she was murdering words left and right. You had to listen carefully and try to interpret what she wanted to say. I hated to ask her to repeat any of her questions because her pronunciation of words did not get any better. To be fair she did not sound like she grew up speaking another language, she just could not pronounce these words because they were strange to her. Kind of like trying to pronounce those strange names you find in the Bible.
Really, it is no wonder that folks with no connection to the farm do not understand us. We deal daily with names like FSA, SCS, CAFU, EPA, USDA and PCA. We go to places like the Commodity Classic and Farm Equipment shows. Farmers deal in dollar amounts that would make the head of the average person spin. We fertilize, apply pesticides, insecticides and fungicides, we deal with too much rain and not enough rain, and all so we can pay off our loan at the bank and feed our family.
Farmers talk of tractors and combines, rippers, chisels and disks, they discuss spraying and cultivating. We speak of organic, minimum till, no till, plows and erosion. Farmers know horse power, breeding schedules, days on feed, days to maturity, bushels per acre, chemical rates and livestock nutrition. Livestock producers know about sires and dams, sows and boars, rams and ewes, gilts, colts, geldings, barrows, chicks, hens and toms. Farmers deal with politicians, activists, genetically modified crops, inbreds, pure breeds and hybrid vigor. Farmers can fix many of our machines with duct tape or a welding torch, can rewire delicate electronics, and some even understand computers. No machine on the farm is complete without a well supplied tool box, and no pocket without a pliers, knife or a few odd screws. We on the farm live a complex life that our city cousins would like to understand, but have not lived, and so they can only marvel at our differences.
We hide ourselves behind jargon and numbers. What you really need to know is that farmers care about what happens on the farm. We raise our families here. We drink the water and breathe the air. We depend on the soil to feed us and our family for many generations to come. Farmers and their farms come in many sizes, but we all care deeply about what we are doing. We are here on the land because we cannot think of anything more important to do with our lives.
Despite all of the strange words we use, we are just like you, trying to build a good life for our families. So if you do not understand us, ask. We want you to know. We are not trying to hide things from you. You, our customer, are important to us also.
Filed under: house, repairs, travel, wood heat | Tags: electric water heater, hot water, hot water heater, machines, repairs, water, water heater, wood fired boiler
So, here you are, planning a trip out of town and you have a problem with the water heater. If the house was to be empty, no problem, turn it off and deal with it later. Nope, I’m going alone,wife would prefer to have hot water while I’m gone.
Now nothing in our house is simple. It comes from not liking to pay fuel bills. When I hooked up our wood burning boiler to heat the house, I also used that hot water to heat our household water. There are extra things hooked to our heater and I would like to be here to explain when the new water heater is installed. I may not have the chance. I’m already in a time crunch and I have to plan on a water heater being replaced while I’m gone, wonderful.
So here’s the old heater. Notice the dark stain of wet cement on the floor? That’s what gave me the first hint of trouble. The heater is 20 years old so it has had its life. We are on load management with the electric company so they and I can save some electricity in times of high need, we both save money. Because of that I get a big water heater while paying less for a top of the line electric water heater. The electric company can shut the heater off periodically to save during times of peak demand, never long enough to notice if you have a larger, well insulated, tank.
Notice also the white lines on the heater? Those are signs of previous leakage. Not good things to find.
See that yellow tag, it’s wet. It hangs from the electric junction box on the water heater. When I removed the cover from that box I discovered that water was coming out of the heater from around the electric cables. This means I have to replace the heater. I make the plans to replace everything, and hope it all holds together so the plan will never go into effect. If things go wrong, one phone call and my wife gets her hot water back.
Luckily everything held together while I was gone, now I can get things done my way.
While I was gone the new a water heater was delivered. Today I wrestled it into the house and got it out of the box. The next step is going to be interesting. The tank is 30.25 inches wide and the top of my basement stair well 30.25 inches. Yep, tight squeeze. But hey, I’m home and the job will get done. It’s much easier for me and a load off of my wife.
It happens so often, you are headed off on, or just back from a trip, and something goes wrong. So far no problem, so far.
Filed under: Fall, Farm, fertilizer, harvest, Minnesota, nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, seasons, tillage, weather | Tags: Corn, fall, farm, harvest, machines, Minnesota, repairs, Soybeans, weather
Harvest is over, but farm work is not. Many seem to feel that when a farmer finishes his harvest, the year is over for him, in a way it is, but it is not. When we finish harvest, we start getting ready for the next year. This is especially true here in Minnesota where the cold sets in and stops all cropping activity. I can usually plan on the ground freezing solid the first week in December, the most common date, December 5th. We will not get enough warm weather to melt snow and start field work until April. If we can get into the field by April 20, we are happy, this year rains kept us out of the field until May 1. It is possible for us to get some warm weather that may start field work early, but that is rare. We had one year where some farmers were able to plant oats and wheat in January, but that is the exception. So, contrary to popular myth we do not have 6 months of winter here in Minnesota, with 6 months of tough sledding, we have only 4 months of winter, and March can, at times, be very nice.
So what are we doing to prepare for the next crop? For most farmers this includes some type of tillage to help bury the residue of the last crop. This not only makes it easier for the next crop to grow, it buries the plant material so it will not blow away over the winter, and allows plant material to start to break down so it will provide nutrients for the next crop. This tillage can include chopping, disking and moldboard plowing in the extreme of one end, to just letting it lie on the other. We are somewhere in between, where corn was planted in the spring we use a heavy disk to turn over the top few inches of soil, yet leave much of the plant material near or on the surface. In soybean stubble we use a strip till rig to place fertilizer for the next crop and leave most of the ground undisturbed.
Fertilizing for the next crop is a big part of our planning for the next year. Phosphorus and potassium, plus a few micro nutrients, can be expected to stay put in the soil, so we will place most of those nutrients in the soil now. They tie to plant and soil particles and don’t move until a plant uses them. Nitrogen can be a bit of a different story.
I like to place a little nitrogen down in the fall, and the rest in two extra doses in the growing season. Nitrogen is only somewhat stable in the soil. Cold weather helps to keep it from going off into the air or water. When you have a very wet spring like this last one, much of your nitrogen can leach out into the ground water. Most years this is not a problem, so many farmers take the chance and put down their nitrogen in the fall when it is less expensive. For me, I have found that I can use less nitrogen and get a better yield by applying it later, even though it will cost me more. This year that approach payed off, but that is not always the case.
Livestock farmers have extra chores to take care of after harvest. These chores include cleaning barns and spreading the manure and used bedding, and harvesting some of the left over plant materials for winter bedding. Manure tends to break down slowly, and will act like a slow release fertilizer. It is rarely possible to spread livestock waste on standing crops, thus the extra spring and fall rush for livestock owners.
We also have some cleaning to do of our machinery before storage, and a few repairs that could not be, or were not, done during the harvest. Cleaning out the dust and litter from a machine helps to keep out mice who want to have a warm winter bed (and who chew on wires and hoses), and also helps you to identify possible repairs before they get worse. Having harvest end early really assists in the cleaning and proper storage of our machinery.
So today I’ll have an easy Sunday. I’ll do a little yard and garden work, then I start getting ready for the harvest of 2012. It is only 11 months until the next harvest after all.
Filed under: Fall, Farm, harvest, Minnesota, repairs, Soybeans | Tags: farm, harvest, ice water, machines, Minnesota, repairs, sandwiches, Soybeans, tomatoes, wind
For my dad and I the 2011 soybean harvest is finished. I spent most of the last 5 days looking down the rows of soybeans. Dad spent the last few days driving and unloading trucks.
Actually I rarely looked this high, my eyes were usually down where the action was, down on the sickle making sure the beans were feeding into the machine properly. Then if something went wrong it had to be fixed.
Yeah, I did this a few times. Once in a while something would get into the sickle that could not be cut. Something would have to give, and it was usually the bolts that held a sickle section on the bar. Then it’s get out and replace it. Hammer out the old bolts, insert a new section, tighten the bolts, put away the tools and off we go again.
Keeping windows clean enough to see out of was a job. The dust from the plants stuck to everything. The windows got washed down at least twice a day. Dust covered everything unless the wind was blowing enough to move it off. Blowing dust at times can make it hard to see what you are doing, especially just before sundown. I’m glad I have A/C in the cab, but dust still got in somehow.
I didn’t stop for much once I got going. My lunch bag was there beside me. Every morning I put in two sandwiches, some small yellow tomatoes, two quarts of ice water and some fruit. There was already a can of peanuts in the cab. That kept me going until I decided to quit for the day.
For us, this years harvest was only average. The bean plants were dry so they threshed out well, and the soybeans themselves were a little on the dry side.
So tomorrow it’s clean up the combine and get ready for the corn harvest. Still plenty to do.
Filed under: church, Fall, Farm, harvest, Minnesota, repairs, Soybeans, weather, wind | Tags: farm, fire, harvest, machines, Minnesota, repairs, Soybeans, wind
I finished combining soybean field number three today, that leaves one to go. If everything hangs together we will be finished on Wednesday.
It has been quite a harvest. We started harvest on Thursday due to the unexpected arrival of our local tree service. I had called him earlier about some trees that were in the wrong place. He removed branches that were hanging over buildings and several dying trees that I did not want to tackle because of their location, trees dropped on houses and other buildings are not appreciated. We most likely got a two day late start on soybean harvest because of his arrival.
Thursday was a VERY windy day. We had sustained winds of over 30 mph with gusts exceeding 50 mph. As I am working I see what seem to be fires both east and west of me. When I checked my facebook page that night I find that two of my fb friends had fires in their fields. One fire was most likely started by spark from a combine, the other was sparked when the combine caught fire. There were so many fires in the area that all fire crews were out several times Thursday. It was not a day to fight a fire. The winds made the fire move fast, and gave plenty of air to really make for some big fires.
The newer diesel engines have extremely hot exhaust systems. They heat the exhaust up to make sure that all of the pollutants are fully burned. Unfortunately when the wind blows dry plant material onto exhaust systems that are over 1000 degrees a fire can start instantly. To see pictures of new combines turned to junk is very upsetting. These new machines can cost over $400,000. That is a very significant loss of money and harvest time.
Luckily my problems this week were smaller. That twisted piece of metal in the picture above is the divider that should keep the soybeans from messing up the end of the sickle on my combine. A 2X2 channel iron broke off right at the hinge and twisted the remaining pieces that were still holding on to the combine head. That meant that the first order of business after church this morning was to straighten and weld the pieces. By 3 we had the iron all put back into almost perfect order and could finish the field we had started Saturday.
Soybean yields have so far been better than expected. We’ll see if that translates over to the corn as well.
Tomorrow morning I make a trip to pick up parts, little things that keep breaking but do not significantly affect the performance of the combine, then we get the machine ready for the last field of soybeans. Fingers crossed, here we go.
Filed under: church, Minnesota, repairs | Tags: church, repairs, volunteer
When you think of doing work for your church you do not always think of the repairs and building projects that get done by volunteers. This is a volunteer week for me and many others at our church.
Yesterday I took my chainsaws to church to cut a branch that was in the wrong place. When I got part way through the branch it broke off. The middle of the branch was rotten! It was indeed time to cut that branch.
I was just starting to think the evening was going to be slow when Kelly called me to say the fence for the parsonage was ready. Could I come and help him? So I grab the truck and some tools to spend my evening putting up a fence.
It started with just the two of us, but as the evening went on we had six of us working on the fence.
Having Kelly there with his post hole digger really helped speed the job along.
Some of the fence had been installed years ago to create a bit of privacy. Now with a busy preschooler in the parsonage Pastor Jay requested that we enclose some of the yard.
Now with a complete fence we can call this job done.
Church jobs are not done for the week. We have a parking lot to seal the cracks on and a parsonage to shingle. I’m going to have a busy week.