Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Getting this Mess Cut Day 2

This morning bright and early I went out to check the cutting again and wasn't very impressed. As I had feared I knocked down rather than cut a lot of good hay making vegetation. I did a little research online and came across a comment from some old farmer who mentioned what they did when the fields were too thick for a sickle mower back when he was a kid. They brush hogged them.

So this afternoon after the dew dried I put the brush hog on the 8N and leaving it set about as high as I could so as not to scatter out the stuff I already had cut I went over the spots I missed. Certainly not an ideal scenario but it did level out the uncut rows and will at least add a bit more hay to the entire thing after it dries. The brush hog cuts the stuff a bit too fine for baling but I ran it slower than 540 off the PTO and managed to make it come out looking pretty good.

Still a lot of pushed over rather than cut hay out there though. I am not sure how that is going to effect raking. I might have to set the rake kinda high but I figure anything that pops back up will mean I can get another cutting off it sooner.  I imagine it's a lot like mowing one's yard after weeks of rain. The first cutting just doesn't do the job right so you have to get another one in quickly after the first to get things back into order.

Last night after my post the weather forecast changed from no chance of rain to heavy thunderstorms in the space of about an hour. Man was I fit to be tied. However the heavy storms failed to materialize this far North so all was well.

Still a slight chance of some rain tomorrow though so I am not out of the weeds yet.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Day 1 of Haying the Word is Juicy

After four shirt changes, countless hours spent turning off the PTO, dismounting to clean the sickle mower out and then getting back on to mow a whole 10 yards before having to do it all over again. The little 3 acre Alfalfa field is mowed. Kinda. Truth is I think I knocked down just as much as I cut to be honest. The weeds were so thick and so wet from all this rain it was almost impossible to cut it with a 70 some odd year old sickle mower.

The whole field can only be described in one word..... Juicy.

Yes it was that wet.

Had I cut it over a month ago when it was ready it wouldn't be such a problem but the rain and the surgery, not to mention the fact that I didn't have a baler yet, meant it had to go too long.

Here are a couple of views before cutting.

Look at all that Johnson Grass and Sourdoc hiding the Alfalfa under it. Some of that stuff had main stems as thick as my thumb and all of it drained water out when it was cut. Mostly it would jam up the blades on the mower and then bend around it clogging the mower up and then knocking down the rest of the weeds and Alfalfa until I noticed and stopped (note stopping procedure above) and cleaned the blade out.

Here are the after pictures from the same general spots.

It looks a little better in the pic than it does in real life trust me here.

Still I managed to get a lot of it cut down. Enough to rake up and try baling I guess. After I bale what I can I think I am going to run over the field with the brush hog and try and get rid of the thick stuff. With all the rain we got the Alfalfa should shoot back up and give us another cutting this year I hope.

Here's a shot of some cut stuff in a row that went pretty good for a few yards.

 I tried moving out to the big field but it was even worse than the Alfalfa field. The Alfalfa field was at least cut a few months ago but the main field hasn't been cut in over a year now and it pretty much just laughed at my old sickle mower. To be honest it needs more tractor and mower blades than I have to hit it with. So I called my neighbor and I am just going to have to wait until he can swing by with his New Holland the size of my house and Hesson mower to knock that crap down. Again had I gotten to it a month or so ago like I should have, if I had had a baler by then, it might be a different story but as it stands now I don't have the equipment to handle that over grown mess.

About halfway through my first pass I misjudged the distance the sickle mower sticks out and slammed into a railroad tie I have lining the driveway edge and the Alfalfa field. I snapped the little guide ground thing at the end of the mower off with a tang loud enough I heard it over the diesel engine.

SO I improvised a field repair.

If you can't guess what that is it's the handle off a little one handed bow saw.  I used hose clamps to attach it to the end of the sickle mower to keep the end off the ground as once the guide that was there broke the mower blades were just laying on the ground while the back half of the guide was acting like a little plow blade. I guess I need to remove that part and take it down and see if I can have the thing welded or maybe a new part made for it. I believe I can design a slightly better one for the guy to try and make.

So anyway day one of the great hay cutting adventure is now over. It was a marginal success since I did get some hay cut myself and can now test out the rake and baler. I also learned a lot. Like.

Keep your hay field cut or it gets positively unruly.

My 861 Diesel likes to pull to the right when I am looking at the cutting as I drive it.

Big juicy weeds suck to cut. I actually already knew that but I know it on a sickle mower now as well.

Cutting hay is a lot of work when you have to get off the tractor and clear your mower every 10 to 30 yards or so.

Now I let this stuff dry and test out the rake. Oh joy.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Twas the Day Before Hay Cutting and.....

We got the baler home this morning. She looks a lot more faded int he bright sunlight than she did in the shed but still pretty good for her age.

My son and I left at 4:30 this morning, met up with my dad who drove his truck as a trailing vehicle and moved the baler just as the sun was coming up. At first I was worried as I couldn't get more than about 15 miles per hour without the baler bouncing around and sounding like she was going to fly apart. After we got out to the main highway however she pulled smooth as silk. I never took her above 45mph though and mostly tried to keep her between 35 and 40. My son rode shotgun and kept a constant eye on how close the overhang came to the road edge.

The entire thing worked out beautifully and we barely met any traffic at that hour.

It was also pouring down rain most of the morning as well. Go figure.

After getting her home I spent a couple hours greasing every fitting I could find. Used some WD40 and oil on moveable parts, some of which were a little reluctant to start moving once again. It was then time to drag out the 861D and see if the baler would hitch up and at least run even if I had nothing to bale yet.

Everything appeared to work perfectly. I did make a call and decide to pull the baler around with a cross bar between the two point instead of the hitch bar off the bottom. I really like the emergency lift capabilities the cross bar allows me and the slight bit of extra clearance. Maybe it will be a mistake I am not experienced to know yet.

After testing the baler it was time to pull some fluid and lubing maintenance on the 861D. Something I should have done months ago when I brought her home but didn't since she seemed to run so well. As I mentioned she was showing way over full on the dipstick so I drained the oil and replaced the filter. The service manual says 5 quarts of oil with the filter change. I drained over 2 gallons of oil out of the old girl. It was thin stuff too. I was really worried that perhaps something was leaking into the oil pan but it passed the flame test so it couldn't have been diesel fuel and the hydraulic fluid levels were fine along with the coolant. I know I didn't put four extra quarts of  oil in the old girl. She must have been pushing out oil since I got her I guess.

So after the oil change and lube job she was running like a kitten and I put the sickle mower on in preparation for tomorrow's mowing. Weather permitting of course.

With the old MF 31 dynaflow sickle mower hooked up I went around and found all the lube points the reprinted owner's manual I have shows and got her set.

All three implements and both tractors appear to be in top running and working shape now. As near as my inexperienced and untrained eye can determine anyway. The 8N required a negative ground lead to the battery be fixed and I had to clean the sediment bowl out once again.

There are still about a million things that can wrong. The baler especially is just a huge question mark at this point. I have it lubed, threaded and I know the moving parts work but who knows if the timing is set properly still or if I am even properly knowledgeable enough to run it. Honestly though I think the sickle mower is the weakest link. It is old, has suffered uncounted undignified field repairs over the years and is actually missing a front piece off the outside ground guide which I didn't notice until today. I am not even 100% sure it is totally set right with all the extra wire and crap someone has put on it.

Unless it rains the adventure/experiment begins tomorrow. Lord knows I have sunk a huge amount of my long term operating cash into this little experiment.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sunday Reading - Farm Auctions for Sustainability and Moving the Baler

Sorry for the lack of pictures on this post but time just literally got away from me today and I am going to be out of ouch most of the day tomorrow as well.

Saturday was another farm auction in the area and my Dad, brother and I went and got a little out of control with the bidding. Luckily we ended up buying another trailer at the sale so we were able to load up all our loot (which included a Troy-bilt Pony rear tine tiller, several brush cutting hand tools, a mountain bike I bought for a dollar, a really huge old cylinder jack used to lift up hay wagons when loaded and some other misc. stuff) and get it home.

Now that my barn/implement lot is full to the brim I have some notion to start re-selling some of this stuff just for giggles. We have been getting so many good deals lately seems like a way to continue funding our fun at this point.

However I must admit these farm auctions have been a sustainer heaven for me. Waking in and finding turn of the century old hand tools for a dollar or two is wonderful. We have even managed to pick up an implement or two in the process although I have noticed most of the actual farming implements go for way more than you can find them for sale in other places. Still since there ain't much by way of flea markets or swamp meets around these here parts the auctions seem to be filling the void.

Today I got beat out on a Lincoln 220 volt mig welder I wanted bad. I stopped bidding at $200.00 though, and about 50 4x12' sheets of roofing metal I wanted for my equipment shed rebuild. Like the last auction were I let the stock trailer go at $300.00 I will probably be kicking myself about it for months.

So it was dark by the time I got all the loot unloaded and I will be heading out again at 4:30 in the morning to make the 60 some odd mile trip to get the baler. It's all ready to go. I went out this evening and put the magnetic trailer lights on it and made sure the tires held air and all was well fro travel. I figure it will take me about an hour and a half to get it home tomorrow morning and then I will spend the rest of the day doing tractor and implement maintenance in hopes of getting the hay cut Monday.

Gonna be a long day tomorrow but I will post an update when I am finished and get some pictures taken then.

Wish me luck for an uneventful baler towing experience.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!


Friday, July 24, 2015

Beetle Attack!!! Jamby and Kymber would be Proud and My Next 3 Building Projects

I was kinda racing a storm front all afternoon trying to get my weedeating finished, among other things. The morning had been rather hot and sunny so I had the solar wax melter going and then decided to get out the gas trimmer and take down the large weeds around the concrete pad that is the target for the new outbuilding.

Unfortunately my battery powered trimmers (which I still swear are a better invention than the light bulb) are a bit too under powered for these weeds since I have let them go all Summer. Of course if you have been reading my blog very long you also know that I consider small gas engines  as instruments of the devil and the smaller they get the more evil they become. That would make things like trimmers and my little bitty tiller something akin to Beeazulbulb or Azmodius.

I do have this one Ryobi trimmer that I use with a blade on it for cutting small trees and heavy brush that I also have  a string head for so I decided to use it. It actually started and worked for about 90% of the way around the concrete pad before the string got broken off. Since I can't use my third leg as a hand the string kept exploding while I had it apart and the holder apparatus refused to go back together so I finally tossed the useless thing back into the barn in disgust.

Luckily I was able to finish the weedeating with my trusty 40 volt Black and Decker trimmer. Man I love that thing. Always starts, easy to rewind the line, absolutely zero maintenance and enough battery power to do around the entire barn area even after two years of use. A second battery gets me around the house and garden area as well.

So anyway the concrete pad is now exposed and ready for the new building. Just about the time the county changes the tax laws so buying a moveable structure isn't quite the deal it once was too. Figures.

In the background you can see the pasture I brush-hogged yesterday and the old loafing shed with a pig shed/lean-to next to it. This is my next project as I plan on claiming part of the main shed and the lean-to for implement storage by the end of Summer once the fencing project is completed.

While I was trimming around the pad I noticed Boris was leaning against the ram's fence and the ram, Frazier, was headbutting the fence, and Boris by proxy, rather hard. Boris was rather upset by this and was obviously in some pain. What had happened is Boris tried sneaking between the fence and a tree and got stuck. The ram got kinda pissed at Boris for hanging out on his fence and started headbutting him.

After getting Boris out of his stuck position I then jammed this old tire in the spot to keep him from going back in there, because ya know he will. So finally I found a use for an old ugly tire. Good thing I hadn't taken this one in yet I guess.

Since the garden is basically a bust this year, although e did get our first Tomatoes today, made yummy BLT and Egg sammiches with them too :)

Anyway the Japanese Beetles haven't been hanging around attacking my garden. I been wondering where they got off to and today I noticed my big Apple tree was looking awfully brown.

There are literally millions of beetles eating the leaves down to nothing in that tree. I am going to have to spray it with something I am afraid or it will be entirely defoliated in less than a week. These beetles are almost as evil as weed trimmer engines.

Always something around here.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!

And Kill Japanese Beetles too.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Busy Day while the Hangers On Lounge and Scratch

Even if they are not done with us yet the rains are slacking off. We have had several days now where the prediction of scattered thunderstorms has actually really been scattered and went around us or we only caught the edge. Only a couple of really sunny days but we are drying out bit by bit.

Of course as far as the garden and other crops are concerned the year is over with and almost a complete bust. The rain and the brain surgery with hospital stay and recovery time has pretty much put us way too far behind in the weeding and caring for department. We got some Zucchini, early Peaches, Butternut and Acorn Squash along with some Potatoes but at this point I am just letting the garden and raised beds go until weed growth begins to slack off and they dry up. I am honestly thinking about moving the temporary fence around the over grown garden and just letting the sheep have it. The only thing stopping me are the Sunflowers blooming that the bees really like and my bean trellis which is still going. I need the beans for next year's seed stock. Once they are harvested the sheep can have the garden.

The raised beds are going to require some serious work to reclaim them from the weeds but I will work on that over the Winter. I needed to scrape out the walk paths and put down some new barrier webbing anyway.

The Pumpkin patch is a complete bust. My plan there is to mow it with the sickle mower, rake it up and feed it to the sheep then till the ground and plant some late Buckwheat. Hey it might work. 

Top priority now though is keeping the front pasture cleared of cockle burr growth, more commonly known as brush hogging and getting the first test run of the Hodge Podge hay equipment up and running on the small Alfalfa field next week (weather permitting). If nothing breaks and everything works it's then on to the what remains of the main hay field. To see what I can manage to get off of it or what the sheep have left us.

Once the hay is harvested off the main field I can move the useless nags over to it so I can open the gate up to the main pasture and place the new out building I ordered last week. I had a 14'x50' concrete pad that was going to waste out there so we got a building to fit on it which will allow us more storage and get us out from under the second home we been maintaining for a few years now in town. This is also a part of my overall Fence project as the building will also act as divider between the main barn, a side dry lot and the pastures. Once it is in place I can finish the fencing project and have an anchor point for small shelter for one of the rams.

So I got the mowing and brush hogging done today. The pad is ready and I should be hauling the baler home this weekend. So far I am right on schedule.

The various hangers on however could care less. As you can see some moth that looks like a leaf is trying to claim the stupid boot birdhouse my Mom made me put up for her. Like I didn't have 101 useful things to be doing with time to stop and hang a damned boot birdhouse that will fall apart in 2 years. Pantheon the ex-kitten from hell now known as laziest cat on earth is sleeping on a bed of nails behind the wood furnace. I don't know why he likes to lay on that board with the nails through it. I put it back there so no one would step on it and now he thinks it's his personal day bed barko lounger or something.

And Boris the useless whether Mrs. PP demanded we keep who likes to head butt me for attention is using my cross support boards as a scratching post now. At least while they are lounging they aren't tearing stuff up I guess, although Boris looks like he may actually knock one of those supports out one of these days.

So anyway I am caught up and on schedule so far. There are still about a million things that can go wrong and I have to put in a 12 hour shift at work today so I won't be replying to comments until tonight.

The entire plan hinges on the three basically untested implements working properly along with no tractor breakdowns. If all goes as planned I should be back to the fencing project by the first week in August.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!!!

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Attack on Rural Communites

Perhaps you have seen the outrage and warnings associated with the latest Obummer scheme that has been going around lately.

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing or something like that.

This thing is presented as a project to move inner city subsidized/affordable housing from the large cities and force the suburbs into zoning areas and then financing for that type of construction. The premise of which is that lower wage or poor families will then be moved into the affluent suburbs. This type of utopian scheme allows the anti-White crowd to rub their hands together in glee thinking of the prospects of culturally enriching rich White people against their will.

To achieve this nationwide parity of race and class, HUD will require each municipality to study and compare it's own demographics to other municipalities within the region with again a premise that each municipality within the region should balance out to an effective demographic parity that HUD has adopted as "fair".

You can read about the popular conception of this project and find links to the actual initiative etc. Here if you want.

Whatever points are highlighted and waved about however are just a facade. This initiative is in reality nothing more than a wealth redistribution scheme designed not to bring diversity out into the suburbs but to force those same suburbs under the control of the cities and remove the rural population almost completely. The parameters set for the so called acceptable demographic make up are impossible to achieve therefore what will result is a defacto extreme reduction in trickle down tax dollars to the suburban and rural areas as they will now be directed into the cities. The courts will be used to keep any suburban or rural municipalities and entities silent on the matter either by direct ruling or the threat of law suits coming from HUD and the Federal government once the racial standard demographic cannot be attained.

The sleight of hand part of this initiative is actually quite brilliant if you think about it. While the suburban and rural populations are worried about seeing construction projects starting up for ghetto type housing and rows of section eight clap houses. Which is a another misnomer, section eight and affordable housing projects are two very different things, the suburbs and rural areas already have section eight rental properties among them. They won't notice that what is actually happening is that all the funds that now maintain the suburban and rural infrastructure is being sucked up by the cities and given to the "diverse" population. The suburbanites and rural population will only be relieved there are no housing projects popping up around them in the short term.

As the infrastructure falls apart and less money is spent in the suburban and rural areas of course many of the population will then find themselves forced into the cities as well in order to maintain their own livelihood, health and other services connections etc.

In essence this initiative is not designed to move the cities into the suburbs it is designed to move the suburbs and rural population into and under the control of the cities.

This is another move by the Golfer in Chief that he hopes to take credit for immediately while the actual effects won't be known or felt until he is out of office. The short term benefit will be more money available to his supporters and cronies in the cities during the last two years of his term while those being shafted won't really notice the infrastructure crumbling until he is long gone. If the next President puts a stop to this initiative then Obummer has at least achieved some short term gain regardless. If someone like say Hillary get's in and extends this initiative then Obummer can continue to take credit for it in safety while Hillary get's the anger.

How this effects us Sustainers and Preppers is that we should begin to prepare for a life of more isolation and service interruptions. Power outages, loss of communications and no more upgrades to existing lines, road closures, bridge failures etc. Much like how Rome eventually abandoned it's rural communities and Latifundia (farms) during it's long slow slide. 

Remember at the edges is where the decline starts.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Not Much Honey Yet

Generally around this time of year I usually make my first big honey pull. The Spring flows are over and the Fall flows haven't begun yet and I can usually get a nice mixture of light Spring honey and some heavier early Summer wild flower honey.

Not this year though.

Oh there is plenty of honey on the hives but none of it is ripened enough yet. The girls are doing their best but the humidity is so high from all this rain that they are just not drying it out very fast.

The rains have extended out the clover flow and the Dutch White Clover is still going pretty good although I have noticed that most of the spindly Sweet Clover are now dried up stalks. My Alfalfa is actually blooming for the second time and I have noticed many of the girls working it but the Buckwheat is long gone having been overwhelmed by the weeds. What few Soybean fields that were planted around here this year have at least another two or three weeks before they bloom as well so I am not sure what the girls are concentrating on right now. I have seen some early wild Sunflowers up but mostly of the large varieties no Tick Seed Sunflowers yet and I know the honey bees work those hard around here.

So I went around the other day peeking into the hives for some capped honey frames and only managed to find six frames of capped honey (in the surplus supers anyway) out all 16 of my hives. That's a pretty poor harvest for mid-July but it has just been too damned wet and humid I am afraid. Even with most of my production hives having two entrances for good airflow the moisture is just not getting removed from the honey very fast. As I said there is plenty of unripe honey on the hives though and the top supers are still getting some brood and eggs laid into them which means the lower brood chambers are still filled with unripe honey as well. If this keeps up I may need to harvest some brood frames to alleviate the pressure and allow the queen to go back down into the brood chambers where she belongs on each hive.

Seems like our week of rain free weather decided to come to an end Saturday night and Sunday. I noticed several farmers got caught with fields of hay on the ground too including my neighbor who cut his Alfalfa field Saturday afternoon. It's all out in windrows now ruined after the heavy bout of rains we got Saturday night and this morning.

We had a few blessedly dry days although the humidity was near 100% but so far this week appears to be going right back to more rain. Doing anything outside requires a change of clothes when you are finished. I went over to hang a couple hooks for my Mom and by the time I was finished with even that minor task it looked like I had jumped into the water trough fully clothed. The renewed rains also brought the fly plague back as well. Oh Joy.

And of course it's time to mow again.

I tell ya I am already looking forward to Winter coming back around and that usually doesn't happen until late August.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!!