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Saturday, May 31, 2014

I Shouldn't Be So Lucky

Really, I figured it was gone for good when I lost my good little Canon Elph camera in the field a few days ago. I searched in the 3 likely spots it would have fallen out of my pocket when I was out of the tractor and found no sign of it. I was already shopping online for a replacement but did not go ahead with it.
Today I tried my last guess. Wondered if it might have fallen out of my pocket when I leaned down into the air seeder tank. So before re-filling the tank with flax today I drained the tank , looked inside and could see nothing but decided to reach in with the broom and push the last few seeds out. Something looked a little unusual on the metering auger. It was the camera laying on top of the auger. Just a bit too wide to fall right inside but it rode there for probably 25 acres of seeding. The rotating auger wore some more of the paint off and tore off the string. Other than that it seems fine as this test photo shows. I had to climb right down inside the tank to pick it up.
It has been a long day and I have been going strong since 5:00 this morning. Finished up the last 30 acres of spraying, then into the Magnum 7130 for some high speed incorporation with the 37 foot field cultivator. Speed being necessary as the forecast kept warning of approaching rain later in the day. Finish that up by 2:30 and by then clouds had rolled in but I hitched up to the air seeder and made a start anyway. Transferred the Ezee Guide (GPS) over from the sprayer tractor as I knew visibility was going to be poor planting into freshly tilled dirt. Good decision as visibility got even worse later when slow drizzling rain gradually made the cab windows a real mess. I managed to get 60 acres of flax planted by 9:00 when I finally quit. Between the dirty windows and approaching darkness  , even the GPS screen was not enough to avoid leaving unseeded gaps in the field.
Its a good slow rain. It will be great for the crops that are planted . A hundred acres to go whenever it dries up enough.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Rain Delay

Yes, 10 mm or just under a half inch rain this morning has given me a break from tractor driving. The past week has been kind of a blur of activity with a lot of seeding progress. Trees turning greener by the hour. Grass shooting up out of the ground like magic. Things change quickly this time of year.
Canola all planted and hopefully germinating as I type. The last of the wheat went in last night. Just a day past the traditional 24th of May target we used to go by to finish planting wheat. Not bad considering the late start. Cold days turned hot with a couple of 30C days that had me complaining about the unusual heat.
According to the file info I took this picture on May 22 while filling the air seeder tank. Water levels being higher than ever this year on that particular farm meant I could not drive far off the highway with the loaded truck. Makes for extra driving back and forth to fill the air seeder but better than getting stuck.
Just have to brag a little about Case-IH batteries. The "Magna-start" batteries in that Magnum tractor just turned 16 years old on May 16 recently. I would not believe it if I did not have the service record and date in my own hand writing. That is about double the normal life of a battery in farm equipment. 
Interstate makes a good battery too. The "Workaholics" in my CIH 1660 combine will be 15 years old later this summer and were still working fine last harvest. 
Seems like no particular brand can claim to be the best though. I've had some poor service from Co-op batteries but I also have some old six volt Co-ops that are setting records for longevity too. The one on the Cockshutt 40 I installed in 99. Still going strong all year round. The pair in the 730 Case I don't know for sure as my uncle installed them. Considering he died in 2002 I know the batteries are at least 12 years old, maybe more. 
Now I will probably go out tomorrow, turn the key and find the batteries have suddenly died. :-(

Monday, May 19, 2014

Wind, Then Rain

Yesterday was a wild and windy day . Any dust I raised was soon gone. I did manage to get into the field with the air seeder finally. Got the first field of wheat , 70 acres, done by 5:00 and since rain was in the forecast I went right back with the packer harrow bar and got it smoothed out ready for rain. (which started a few hours later) No great amount has fallen just yet but the forecast is for significant rainfall.
It is "maylong", the Victoria day long weekend on which many like to take the first camping/fishing trip of the season. You could not pay me to sit in a camper/tent, boat on a windy cold, rainy day like this. But many will.
Here is a photo of me using old technology, a pitchfork, to burn some flax straw and pick a few stones. Not much complicated works to go wrong with that.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

18 Hour Day

18 hour day, though I had a few  breaks. On the road with the Loadstar to Eskdale with flax arriving 8:00 am. Nice quiet and mostly sunny morning. 229 on this load and Cal said come back with the rest about 12:30 so he would have a load of cleaned ready for me to take home. Back to yard and load up about 150 bushels more flax. Still two hours to spare so thought about taking the chain saw out in the field to cut up the trees the beavers dropped at the edge of the field. But considering rain is in the forecast I decided I better work the rest of the garden first and plant a little as it would be good to have seeds in the ground when rain comes . Consequently the beaver logs are still in the field. Another day ..
Just got going with the roto tiller when cell phone rings. Neighbor M still wants seed flax from me but now has no bin to store it and both his trucks full of seed or fertilizer. Which also means he can't help with the trucking. So I can store it here for him for now.
Finished the tilling. Planted a row of new Caribe potato seed and a row of beans (green I think). Off to the seed plant eating my lunch on the road. Got a good load of 229 bushels clean flax and hauled it home to dump in the Westeel aeration bin. Took the opportunity to empty the leftover flax seed stored  in the air seeder tank into the truck and then mix it into the bin of new cleaned flax.
Next clean load would  not likely ready before 4:30 so I kept busy at various other jobs til then . Cloudy and threatening showers all afternoon but nothing happened. Took another half hour or so to finish the cleaning. Lots of unthreshed flax pods and chaff. i need to do a better job of combining flax next year.  Got that load hauled home, unloaded and back to pick up the screenings. C busy working at the oat cleaner so I loaded the screenings by myself. Nearly loaded coriander screenings by mistake but noticed it in time. Then nearly plugged the system as I forgot to start auger number 2 as well as number 1.  Seeders going all along the way. Met B on the road and had a brief chat . He had just been to his second grass/stubble fire in two days.
Got the screenings unloaded in Twister bin after moving the auger. Then move the auger back to set up at the fertilizer bin. Then install the fertilizer tank in the truck box. A big job that took the rest of the evening. Loaded some fertilizer into it. Partially solidified at the bin bottom and terrible dusty, this being a rare and quiet day in Sask. Then emptied the leftover wheat stored since last year in the air seeder tank into the truck boc. Air seeder and truck now ready to go but by then it was dark enough that I decided to quit. I had hoped I might get the air seeder into the field and seed a few acres of wheat today but the flax cleaning took longer than expected. Rain in the forecast for Sunday night. Even a chance of showers tomorrow so maybe I won't get in the field at all. There was a time when we did not work Sundays but we seemed to have more time in those days. Now seven days a week are not enough to keep up it seems.
Got in for supper at 9:30 and washed several days worth of dishes. Thus ended a typical 18 hour day at seeding time.

Raising Smoke and Dust

I have done a little of that this week. Actually making a little dust as the field surface dries out behind the anhydrous cultivator. The smoke is from burning flax straw. Seems that every time I drag an implement through a flax field it pulls up more straw that needs piling and burning. It takes time and energy. I even resorted to "old technology", the pitch fork, to finish up some of the burning.
Taken earlier this week.
Finished the anhydrous job with only 2 flat tires on the cultivator. Seed cleaning is really holding me up. The flax seed should have been cleaned and ready to go over a month ago but I guess it has been a busy spring at the cleaning plant. With a little luck I will have the job done today and maybe make a start on seeding the first field.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Reminds Me Of A Song

An interesting day. Long but not necessarily productive. Stuck trucks, stuck anhydrous valves,, leaking anhydrous valves, keys locked in trucks. I've probably forgotten a few other little hindrances. At the end of the day, as some like to say, I did get rolling with anhydrous by a little after 5:00 and got 48 acres done by quitting time. Quitting time of course being a pretty flexible thing depending on the situation.
Nice sky about 2:00 this afternoon.
And here is the song. Some good Canadian country music.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

My Day Was Going Well....

Until I did this.
Apparently after 33 years of careful operation I have run a tree through the grille of my tractor. Never heard or felt a thing but saw this gaping hole in the grille when I got out of the tractor. I should have known better. Cleaning up a mess of dead fall and beaver logs along the edge of the field with the blade and it was going so well. That just ruined the rest of the day although if I was a "glass half full" type of person I might consider that another inch or so would have also pushed a hole in the oil cooler. If I had stepped on the clutch even a second later I guess the tree would have continued its journey right into the main radiator rendering me helpless 5 miles from home and the anticipation of a huge expensive repair bill at a time when I really don't need that.
On the bright side I did get the grille straightened out pretty well using some wooden dowels and plastic hammer the next morning. I pretty well closed up the hole but did not risk trying to solder it. With my history I would probably only have made the hole bigger and ruined another day.
Our cold, late spring just gets later. I even had the heater on in the cab late this afternoon.  I did get the left over flax straw piled and burned yesterday in what is probably the driest field . The field I harrowed today was the worst I have ever seen for excess water levels and erosion. Water runs in off the neighbors field, flows from one slough to the next and eventually gets high enough to run over the road on my south boundary in it's meandering journey to the lakes some 20 miles south. Apparently my request to the municipality several years ago for a culvert at that location got filed under "F' for forget about it.
I should be well into planting crops by now but so far have not even got a start on the 3 to 4 days of anhydrous application ahead of me. It seems anhydrous tanks are in short supply and I will just have to wait my turn until the next tank is available.
According to Gorges Smythe those annoying cat tail plants are edible. I think cat tails and ducks might be the biggest crop on some of these acres this year.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

April Showers, May Flowers, whatever

The old saying of April showers bringing spring flowers is of course true. Even though some of our showers were snow the first crocus flowers are showing in the few acres of undisturbed prairie sod on my land.

Those showers sure left the fields wet though. That and the 15 inches of rain in thirty days that I got last summer all add up to an almost impassable field. As I found out yesterday trying to do some fence checking and repair with the trike. It was impossible to get to some parts of the field without driving through water. That and the weight of the fencing trailer brought me to a stop . Some time later, leaving deep, water filled ruts behind me I continued on my way. Trikes going to need a wash.
It is an unusual spring with colder than normal temperatures. Slow drying and no field work done at all. Some years I have been close to finished planting by this date (May 7).
The next picture shows the wierd clothing combination required for this weather. The wide brim hat to protect my pale anglo saxon skin from sun burning and the heavy coveralls to protect me from the cold wind.

With all the water around this spring maybe I should be getting out the fishing rod like the lazy farmer was recently.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Winter Project Complete

At least I hope it is done . I think I have set a record for the longest elapsed time to replace a head gasket on a Massey Super 90 Perkins diesel engine. I drove it into the shed late last October with half the cylinders mis-firing through a burnt head gasket. It was a learning process and there were a good many times I wanted to drag it outside and put a for sale sign "as is" on it. Many days were just too cold to work in the un heated shed and the ever increasing cost of heating oil made me reluctant to start the furnace. Had my doubts if it would ever run again but in late April the Perkins cranked over and surged into life, smooth as a brand new tractor. History tells me that these engines have a weakness for burning head gaskets so I guess I was lucky to get nearly 20 years use out of it before it failed. If it last another 20, well maybe it won't matter to me.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

2 Auctions In 4 Days

I haven't been to that many farm auctions in two years but this week I made up for it. Came home nearly empty handed from both. Well there were a couple of items that I will try to explain later. For now I need to get busy at some real work before it rains/snows again. Freezing right now.
A bit of video from the latest farm auction. Enjoy the typical sights and sounds of a farm estate auction in Sask. in April.