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Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Very Productive Day

Much accomplished on the farm today including repairing my broken down combine and getting the last of my crop harvested by a neighbour. I am very lucky to have a brother who is about the best mechanic I know. A sister in law and nephews who can handle pretty much any situation that arises in this adventure we call farming. And a good neighbour who offered to combine last field of flax. While he and I worked on the flax harvest, my brother , SIL and nephews drove for parts and re-assembled the giant jig saw puzzle that my pull type combine had become in the past 24 hours.
Then I lost my wallet with all my inportant cards and documents when I left it on the roof of the grain truck. Miraculously I was able to spot it laying by the trail where it had fallen off the truck as I drove back to the field.
Then in the dark I nearly lost the old IH Loadstar as it rolled away while I was up on the combine talking to the driver. Racing down the combine ladder and hitting the ground on the run I could tell the truck was increasing velocity as the slope of the terrain grew steeper. Although I was gaining ground on it I was pretty well maxed out and running out of space by the time I made a leap for the running board, got in and hit the brakes only a short distance from the trees. Lucky it was bright moonlight. It would have been harder to catch in the dark
Warm as summer, lots of colour, perfect fall day in Sask.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Baling straw, fixing combines, etc.

I might just be the last guy combining in this area. Tried my flax swaths this afternoon and although they went through the combine just fine, the grain tests a bit on the high side for safe storage.
The John Deere combine narrowly escaped a major breakdown. While getting it ready to try the flax I found that the sieves had shaken shut from excess vibration. Red light signal right there. Sure enough a rubber bushing on the shaker arm had worn flat and would have shaken all the sieves to pieces in a short time. 25 year old rubber so I guess it owes me nothing. Several trips for a bit of welding and some parts and eventually it was ready to go.
These combine sieves are huge compared to the little old combines we used to run. While waiting for my help to come and assist re-installing the sieve, I took the opportunity to bale some oat straw with the square baler. Dry, broken up straw that resembled chaff was not a problem for the old Massey and it produced some good solid square and heavy bales.
Had an extra chore to take care of involving wildlife. The racoon trap contained a skunk yesterday morning. I didn't want to get sprayed by the skunk and didn't really want to kill it either as they are a beneficial animal around the farm. With a little patience and care I was able to get the trap open without overly scaring the skunk and it made it's escape. Hopefully having learned a lesson (Stay out of racoon traps!)
The unusually warm and dry weather continues. Will it last long enough for me to finish the flax? Should I trust the weather forecast and  wait for the grain to dry a little more or just take a chance and combine it a little high moisture?

Saturday, September 22, 2012


OK, I give up, I can't make round bales behind an IH axial flow combine. I'd been told this before but never believed it til now. The straw is broken up so short by the combine that the baler will not feed properly. I tried it early this morning with frost on the straw thinking that would make a difference. I did make one bale after a struggle but spent much more time unplugging straw from the baler pickup.
So I will make a few square bales for bedding as the square baler seems to handle it better. Still have a field of "john deere straw" that I can make some round bales from later. Today I have to get back to swathing flax. Started on it yesterday afternoon and it is slow going. Variable height of the crop means constant adjusting the reel . Too high and the knife will build up with material. Too low and straw will wrap around the reel creating a snowball effect and swath lumps. Bad news for the combine.
I am double swathing it, laying two 21 foot swaths side by side which will save a lot of time combining. It takes a little extra time and work when swathing but will hopefully be worth it and not a big mistake. I'm hoping the double swaths might be more resistant to wind damage too.
As of the 17th I finished combining all the other crops so this flax is the last field, plus a little 3 acre patch of oats where I ran out of flax seed.
The swath deflectors I fabricated for the swather seem to help a little although need a little reinforcing as they bent a little on yesterday's first trial run. Got to get that flax harvested before the large ungulates eat and trample it into the ground. Saw these four nearby a few days ago.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Combining Oats with the IH 1660.

Harvest continues
I am too tired and it is too late to do a "real" blog post so here is a bit of video from today giving you the view from my "office window". Great weather, fair crop, beautiful scenery, really can't complain about much today.

Change as good as a rest

As the old saying goes. I ran the pull type combine yesterday for a change. Gave the IH self propelled a rest as I harvested the last field of wheat. Like most days, the hardest work is in getting ready. Move a round baler and tractor to get the pull type combine and tractor out of the shed. The usual greasing of the combine and fueling up the tractor all take time. Then I decided to unload that wagon load of tough wheat from last week into the truck box. Figured I'd put a hopper of today's super dry wheat on top and it would mix as it augered into the bin. Happened to have the wrong tractor on the wagon for this job. The old Cockshutt 40 has such a small hydraulic system that it does not have enough oil to raise the dump wagon high enough to unload completely. So I ended up shoveling a good part of the load off the wagon. Sunny warm weather was not the best conditions for this job but I survived. Numerous other little jobs like bolting the fins on the straw chopper and adjusting the knives. Cleaning the oats out of the hopper sump on the pull type. And probably a good many others that I have forgotten by now. After all that I enjoyed a good nine hours of rest in the air ride seat of the tractor combining the last field of wheat.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

More Miles, More Acres

Another ten miles on the road today with the combine as I moved to the last canola field. Moving all the equipment between farms eats up a lot of good working hours but thats how it is when your land is spread around 3 different ranges. Was lucky to meet no other vehicles but my SIL was not so fortunate having met several combines with wide headers and a house. Yes, a house moving along the grid road taking all the road and maybe some of the ditch. She was able to pull into a field with the 50 foot grain auger and avoid the moving house.
I didn't set any records for acres or bushels today but should finish the last canola field tomorrow (today as it already 12:30 am).
The wind damage was not nearly as bad as I had been led to believe from other reports. Yield still not great but better than I expected.
The venerable IH Loadstar had a minor breakdown last night which caused some concern until we found we could still start the engine even when the ignition key was twisted off inside the ignition. I guess 41 years and 115,000 miles of metal fatigue have taken their toll. It also threw a minor fit when one side of the Holley carburetor quit and it ran pretty rough for a bit til it "fixed itself". Thats the kind of problems I don't mind having.

Blowing In The Wind

I don't know if it is the answer or the question but I hate wind!. Sask gets it's share but the past few days have been extreme even for us. Canola swaths have blown far and wide in some areas rendering them impossible to pick up in the combine. Nothing left in them anyway after tumbling across the fields.
I was lucky so far as most of my swaths stayed in place with only a few damaged spots on hilltops. The crop was  not great but is yielding near normal.
Lots of miles driving back and forth between farms with the combine changing headers and then long hours in the field. Its been dry which is ideal for harvest. Cold nights but no hard frost.
Hope my flax has not threshed out in those winds. It is still standing not quite ready to swath. It will have to stand a few more days before I can get to it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Many Acres, Not so Many Bushels

Beautiful day behind the glass of the combine cab but wild windy and a bit cool outside. That wind damaged some of the canola swaths today. Sure did keep the combine clean as dust could not settle anywhere. Unloading the hopper had to be done in the shelter of the trees or the grain would blow away.
I'm doing a lot of acres per day but not as many bushels as there should be. Seems to be typical from reports of other crops I am hearing. Crops look good but just not yielding as they should. Ironic as grain prices are great and we were looking forward to a very profitable year.
Finished the standing wheat this evening. Now about 130 acres of canola swath to pick up as well as 50 of oats and 60 of wheat on another field. By then maybe the 140 acres of flax will be ready to swath.
Dry , dry conditions are allowing harvest to progress daily. Could do with a little less wind though. This was extreme, even for Sask.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Harvest 2012 First Day

September 2, Sunday, first day on the combine. As an old friend used to say, "the better the day, the better the deed". There was a time nobody harvested on Sunday but those days are gone.
It was a slow start having to move numerous other vehicles and machinery (one that would'nt start) to get the pull type combine out of the shed. I finally got out to the field by about 2:00. After going a couple of hundred feet with the cleanout doors open and dumping all the oats on the ground, I finally realized why nothing was appearing in the grain hopper. The mice and birds will feed well.
Strong winds blew the 40 foot swath around as it came out the back of the Titan II. Not sure what I was thinking laying a double swath of such a heavy crop but thank goodness I had only swathed maybe ten acres and then switched back to single. That heavy double swath had me right down to first gear and standing still at times. One place where the swather canvas had stopped and dumped a pile of straw was more than the combine could handle. The Magnum dropped from 2100 to 0 rpm in about a second, stalled dead by a heavy wad of green straw that hit the cylinder a little too fast. At least the strong west wind carried the dust away as I worked away underneath the combine pulling out a few straws at a time. That green straw was strong as rope and I finally went to the yard for my hook to help pull out the last of it.
The moisture test was an unbelievable 11% which is well into the dry range. I figured having only laid in the swath four days the oats would not be dry. Guess the heat and wind speeded things up.
Worked til 8:30 in the dark and called it a day. Not a bad afternoon's work.

Harvest Progresses a little in spite of the weather

Up until this afternoon I was making some progress being near the ten percent complete mark after only 3 days combining.
Today it all went downhill. Threatening clouds interspersed with just enough sunny breaks to give me hope. After driving to the field to fuel up the combine this morning I discovered that a hole was worn through the cone on the combine. After 3300 hours I guess it has done well. Spent an hour trying to patch it up with a bolt which may or may not be successful. Then decided the canola green count was too high and figured I'd try the wheat instead. This required a trip home (5 miles at 4 mpg) to change to the straight cut header on the combine. Back to the wheat field, all the time watching the ever increasing clouds in the west. The wheat threshed ok but sure isn't yielding like it should. Another trip home for a moisture test revealed that the wheat was not quite dry. I might have kept going except that rain started falling inducing great haste to empty the grain tank of the combine into the truck to prevent it getting soaked. More frantic trips up and down the road with truck , tractor and grain auger as we had to set up at a different bin in a different yard. Luckily the rain quit during the unloading process. The most annoying part was that by the time I got within a couple of miles of home the roads had dried up and dust was billowing out behind the grain truck even though rain water still dripped off the body. No rain here at all.
So the combine sits out in the field at the mercy of the rain and fuel thieves
Maybe like little orphan annie I will sing, "the sun will come out tomorrow", or not.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Harvest 2012 First Day

Well I had a wordy and descriptive post typed up about this video but blogger decided to log me out and lost the whole thing. After the day's other frustrations I will leave you with this Readers Digest "condensed version".