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Saturday, March 30, 2013

40 Years of International

I'd been waiting for the day to do a photo shoot 40 years apart showing the old IH pickup in the same loctation as it was in 1973. Unfortuntely in 2013 the ground is still covered with snow that is only just beginning to melt. Spring  was a little further advanced in 1973.
That is actually my little brother in the original photo from 73 but since he was not available today I had to stand in for the photo.
The old truck still runs good. Brake pedal a little spongy but definitely stops when I want it too. The heater core is starting to drip anti freeze into the cab. The scene is a little reminiscent of Jed Clampett's truck with Granny's rocking chair up in the back but of course around here any empty space gets used for storage so the old IH has accumulated a lot of 'junk in the trunk" as it has sat in the shed over the years. Including the bench seat from a newer Chevy.
Stay tuned for the driving video. I've got a mountain of snow to move out of the yard as it starting to melt today and I want it out of here while the ground is still frozen.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bent Out Of Shape

No, not me, I am much the same as always. But my old reliable grain shovel as seen in this photo is badly bent backwards. Not that I use it a lot anymore but it has been on the farm longer than I have and has some sentimental value. I think I must have backed up against it with the tractor wheel while trying to maneuvre out of the doorway of the quonset. The doors are next to impossible to open due to freezing so I was trying to sneak out with just one door open. To move snow yet again.
That job never ends this "spring". I was lucky to get two semi loads of flax out yesterday while the road was still good. Flax is over $15 a bushel now which is a very good price. Hopefully I will have a little cash left over after I pay the crop share, trucking bill and this year's fertilizer bill.
Pre buying dry fertilizer is a bit of a gamble like most things in farming. The price is down right now so it is a good time to buy. It is a non-returnable product though so I have to hope that I will have enough acres that are not too flooded to plant this spring and use it all up. Its no fun carrying over a few tons of fertilizer to next season.
Delivery is going to be interesting. Trying to pull all the right strings so the road is not filled with snow/too soft from thawing when I get the semi to deliver. And hope the unloading auger does not break down during the unloading  process like last year.
Wild south east winds the past 24 hours have drifted snow everywhere. No point opening my driveway til the wind drops . More snow predicted for tonight so no rush. Maybe I'll head out to the workshop and try to straighten the poor old bent shovel. Turn up CBC radio and drown out the sound of the wind.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Sunny Day In The cattle shelter

Just playing with the camera waiting for spring. It is more like January than March. Colder than normal, not even close to spring thaw. Yet standing in the sun you can tell it is warming up. The cattle are content eating hay and soaking up the sunshine.
 Yesterday's snow must have been at least six inches deep. My driveway has not been so deep with snow in years and it was a good workout for the old tractor and snowblower today. Hopefully it will be wide enough for the grain hauler to get in and out of the yard without incident. The snowbanks are so high along the sides that I can't tell where the edge of the road is anymore and frequently slide off into deep snow with the tractor.
30 inches of snow in the sheltered areas of the yard. Yes, I had to measure it just to see. When this all turns to water we are going to have interesting times I think.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Small Victories

I think that is the name of a song or something but it seemed appropriate for today. This calf in the picture is (I think) going to be a success story for today. Last night I figured it didn't have much hope after struggling for an hour to get some milk replacer into it (with no success). It had plenty of strength to fight and no interest in drinking milk.  I couldn't leave it outdoors with the cow as heavy snow was predicted. It stood a better chance in the shelter, even with an empty stomach. The cow showed no interest in joining it in the pen so they spent the night on opposite sides of a corral panel fence.
This morning the cow was right there calling loudly for her calf and the calf was up and showing interest in her. A pail of chop and some hay enticed her into the pen although its always a bit of a struggle to keep the wrong cows from crowding in with her. That calf didn't take long to find out where his breakfast came from and soon everybody was happy. Another night indoors is in order since although the storm is over, the temp has dropped to 0F and I don't want her taking the calf away to spend the night in a snowbank.

On the mechanical side it seems there is hope of keeping my 42 year old International truck on the road. The brake shop has located some supposedly good used front brake drums, relined the worn out shoes and with a little luck I should get the new wheel cylinders on in the next few days too.
Nice to hear the price of oats has risen to near $3.90 a bushel. This would be even better news if I hadn't sold a good portion of mine for $3.75 last week but I'm not complaining. This grain marketing is always a gamble.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Driving The Winter Driveway

The video of these impressive snowbanks along my driveway should be fun to look at this summer when its hot . Middle of March and no sign of winter letting up. More snow coming tonight and no thawing predicted in the near term forecast. Looks like it will be a late spring, and a wet one if flooding predictions are right. Maybe as bad as 2011? I've spent many hours and many gallons of gas running the old tractor and snowblower up and down the driveway numerous times. At least my fellow blogger the lazy farmer is able to get in the field and plant an acre or two.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mackerel Sky

"Mackerel sky, mackerel sky, never long wet and never long dry". Thats the old saying that came to mind when I took this photo on last Saturday on what was the nicest day we have had yet this year. Warm and sunny with no wind. But the saying was true, the weather did not stay long dry for in less than 24 hours it was snowing. Then the wind got up from the north drifting the new snow into the trenches that my driveway has become. The poor old Cockshutt 40 is having to work far harder than any sixty year old tractor should pushing that snowblower this winter. Today's snow blowing was the heaviest work yet this winter. Maybe the driveway will stay open longer this time although more snow flurries are predicted in a couple of days.
Incidentally, the recent video I made on the "mackerel sky " day showing the tractor and hammer mill at work has run afoul of the safety police over on New Ag Talk forums as some seem to think my cavalier attitude towards farm safety is a bad influence on younger viewers. Responses ranged from "yes it is very dangerous to its nobody elses g.d. business how he works on his own farm. Obviously I have assessed the risks and decided they are low enough that I won't be changing my work habits any time soon.
Grain is finally starting to move, well sort of. Oats looked good at $3.75 a bushel today so I have committed a couple of semi loads to sell as soon as there is room, or roads are passable. Always fun trying to arrange trucking in the spring and work around the spring breakup.
Wheat is dropping in price. Canola price is good but I am sold out. Flax is also good in the high $14 range and I was ready to sell but found out that I can't until I have my flax tested for gmo triffid genes Its a crock but is one of the hoops we have to jump through to please the anti-gmo crowd. To my knowledge nobody had ever come up with any sound evidence that genetically modified flax seeds are any threat to our health. But as they say, the customer is always right, even when he is wrong. Anyway, the seed testing labs will be happy to take our money for the test.
I have no doubt that in a few years we will have GMO roundup ready flax just like the GMO canola we have grown successfully for years.  Theres big money to be made in those tech fees and monsanto needs it.
Mackerel Sky

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Cockshutt 50 Running The IH Mill

If today was the first of March we would have to say that March came in like the proverbial lamb. Sure was a nice day in Sask. today. As usual, the lack of wind makes all the difference between a mediocre day and a really nice one. Today's quiet and sunshine might just be the calm before the storm if the forecast is right. Winter storm warnings for us tomorrow. I'd like to say that I picked the best day of the week for this job but it really just happened by luck. A few "not so nice" days this week and then I spent most of yesterday moving snow, digging wagons and grain augers out of the snowbanks in preparation for putting this load of oats through the old International hammer mill for cattle feed. It all worked amazingly well. The old Cockshutt 50 fired right up after a six month rest in the shed and ran pretty well. I got lucky with drive belt alignment and was able to run at capacity without the belt slipping off the pulley or needing frequent applications of belt dressing. There is still a rather serious oil leak at the front of the engine but it still had oil pressure at the end of the day . I guess I will find out just how bad the leak is next time I check the oil and decide if I need to pull the front cover and install a new gasket.