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Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Little Diesel Smoke

Although I was not able to raise as much smoke as BuddeShepherd did with his Minneapolis Moline, I did see a puff or two out of the Super 90 Massey today. Not enough to smoke out even a few rats though. It seems that air is in the fuel injection system and so far has evaded my best efforts to bleed it out. So far I have put more diesel fuel on the floor of the shop than into the combustion chambers of the engine. Even though  I had that engine warm to the touch using the block heater. Yes , it is still winter here even though it is March 29 and this engine has never been a good starter at less than 40 degrees without pre-heating. No luck today though. It ran for a few seconds and that was all.  I suspect I have an air leak in the makeshift fuel line and tank I have rigged up for the inaugural test run.
Having better luck with the cattle though. The latest calf , now 11 days old, is looking good. In this picture from today, he has just come into the barn with the cow for the evening and laid down to relax after a day playing outside with the others.






Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Saskatchewan in The 1950s

I could spend hours, well actually I just did, looking at the slide collections of Everett Baker portraying life in Saskatchewan in the 1950s. Funny how you find such things when looking for something else.
The pictures

Friday, March 21, 2014

More On The Massey

As promised, an update on progress (or lack of it) on my old reliable right hand tractor, the Super 90 Massey. After sitting in the workshop all winter,  finally got the head re-machined down to a supposedly perfect level fit with the block last week. Surprisingly enough Agco (now owns Massey) was able to supply most of the gaskets to put the engine back together. With the exception of water pump gaskets so I got out the old carving tools and gasket paper and made a reasonable facsimile that should hopefully serve the purpose when I bolt it back together.
With a little help from my brother (the real mechanic) and nephew, we got the head lowered into place and torqued down. There was a time I would have just done it myself but the recovery time for an injured back makes me think before I try these things nowadays.
A few digital pics have helped refresh my memory while trying to figure out the jigsaw puzzle of parts, fuel and hydraulic lines, etc. Daytime temperatures a little above freezing certainly make it better working conditions.
This fifty year old tractor is one of the more complicated I have worked on. Massey and Perkins liked to pack a lot of parts into a small space. In so many cases you need to remove part #A, B and C to get at part D. Its a good thing I don't pay myself by the hour or this would be quite an expensive repair job. I shot some time lapse photos of the job yesterday with the Gopro but it would not make very interesting viewing as a lot of time lapses and not much change is seen in the project. Heres one.
Sometimes I get a little sidetracked on other jobs such as this windshield wiper circuit board on the Blazer. Funny how I never remember it had a problem until it rains or the windshield needs washing. Suddenly I am reminded I need to fix that problem. A new wiper , multi function switch listed at over $600 . A new wiper motor assembly, about $132. So do I just throw in new parts in hopes one of them will be the fix? The internet came to my rescue after a little searching and apparently this is not an uncommon problem on 90s GM wiper systems. There are even instructional videos on youtube to walk me through the disassembly and repair. A few minutes with the soldering iron and I think (hope) I have it fixed .

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spring Calf

I guess I got lucky with this little guy. If it had happened two weeks earlier he would likely have froze to death.
I wasn't expecting a calf from this cow for another month or so but what do I know. Spotted her standing over a new calf yesterday afternoon. Sunny day with the temp above freezing so figured they'd be ok. Some time later I see the calf laying in mud near the cow with magpies hovering around. Not good. Old "Starvin"  is a very quiet cow but a little slow witted and not doing much of anything to help out plus I think she stepped on the calf. Luckily again it was not a long haul to the barn and I mostly carried this (not so)  little guy there so he was in a warm dry place. The cow was enticed to follow in with a pail of chopped oats as incentive.
Next (this) morning all seemed well in the barn but the calf looked , and sounded, hungry. It was trying to get up but seemed too weak and unsteady to stand so I figured a drink of milk replacer might give it strength.
By the time I got back with the pail ready to feed it, this calf was up and moving around. A little hay to keep the cow occupied and standing still allowed me to steer this little guy in the right direction and get fed with something far better than milk replacer.
In other news, the Massey Super 90 project is back on track with some actual progress made this week. I guess all it took was some warmer weather.  More to come on that.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cutting Firewood

The people, places and machinery change over the years but the sturdy poplar tree remains the tree of choice for our firewood in this part of Sask. I think this is one of the earliest photos I have of cutting firewood here about 1940. My dad at left, Uncle Sandy at far right. Too bad no view of the tractor running that drive belt.

Big wood piles called for big crews to get the job done in a day. I can see at least 5 neighbours in that photo above.
Later years we burned less wood so it became sometimes just a two man job. This photo from 1987 shows my dad at the saw.


My uncles  continued to rely on wood heat and cookstove right up to the end. I helped saw huge piles of wood there and it took more than a day. Usually just three of us working by then. This photo shows my Uncle Don and Pete Babiak at the saw in November of 1999. There was a huge pile of firewood and a lot of sawdust by the time we finished there. That ringing saw blade was accompanied by the two cylinder background beat of the old reliable John Deere AR tractor.

Moving up to modern times, (yesterday), I helped my brother and his family cut a small load of firewood into stove lengths to replenish the stack in the wood shed. This time accompanied by the relaxing tones of a 65 year old Wisconsin V4 cylinder engine.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

One Day Spring.... One Day Winter

After a week of mostly mild weather and melting snow we are back to cold and freezing today. Nothing unusual for March in Sask. At least I had my supply of granular fertilizer delivered this week at an almost ideal time. Leaving it too late means that roads and ground are soft from spring thaw and can cause difficulties getting around with heavy truck loads.
It sure doesn't take long to run a pile of cash through that ten inch auger. It took the rest of the day to clean out the auger. Fertilizer is extremely bad for rusting metal and that auger is really hard to clean out. Grain inspectors have zero tolerance for fertilizer granules in grain samples so it is a necessary task..

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Story of my life

I think this photo is a fair analogy of my life. Sometimes so out of control  that all I can do is hang on, enjoy the ride and hope for a soft landing. (It was)


Friday, March 7, 2014

Not All That Bad

Lest readers might think, based on this morning's blog post, that the sky is falling here in Sask. I should point out that life is still pretty good out here on the farm. I really shouldn't do blogs in the mornings as I am not a morning person and tend to have a negative outlook at that time of day.
The comments re: the Canadian Wheat Board and lack of grain movement are still true but I guess as long as I have grain to sell and able to pay my bills I won't complain. The grain may be carried over into next year before I can sell it, unless I am content to sell at a poor price. The dry grain will be fine but the higher moisture wheat will need watching and probably "turning" which means moving a load out of one bin and into another to prevent "hot spots" from forming.
Sunshine and blue sky today and it felt positively warm at just a little above 0F degrees. Warmer weather is on the way. A perfect clear and quiet night out there right now at midnight. Sky full of stars, not a breath of wind or a sound to be heard in the -15 degree temperatures.
Freeze frame from today's video. Six inches of new snow. Don't put that snow shovel away just yet.

How Bad Is It?

Ok , I will be lazy today and just post the link to this article with some interesting comments on how much better off we are now that the Canadian Wheat Board does not control our grain sales. (Note, sarcasm intended).  Apparently "marketing freedom" now allows us serfs to keep 40 percent of the value of the grain we grow. In the middle ages the serfs were allowed to keep at least 75 percent of their crops. Of course they likely didn't grow the impressive yields we did last year but that only makes it harder to take. Best crops in decades and it is being stolen from us.

http://www.cwbafacts.ca/2014/03/how-bad-is-it/

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Late Easter=Late Spring

It used to be a common saying that if Easter was late than spring would also be late. True or not, Easter is late in April this year so we can expect late spring. Looking out this morning, as we head into our fifth month of winter, I can believe it. Low visibility in heavy falling snow and still colder than normal. Although a big improvement from the -40 wind chill factors of a few days ago.
Maybe we are only a few weeks away from bare ground and warm temperatures as seen in this video I shot last spring. We live in hope..