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Monday, December 22, 2014

Six Days Cloud and One of Sun

Half a day of sunshine last week had us good and ready to see the sun when it finally came out Sunday morning. Combined with the heavy hoar frost on everything it made for some great scenery. It inspired me to get busy with the camera around the farm.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lazy Farmer Winter

I've been a bit lazy posting anything here lately. But really, there is not much happening. I am not working as hard as the real  lazy farmer , who has been busy with machinery maintenance.
The weather has been unseasonably mild so I can't complain about the cold and miserable conditions.
Plenty of weird news stories to discuss like the Calgary man who found DNA evidence of Bigfoot
Or the dissatisfied Tim Hortons customer who threw a live snake across the counter
It is about time for another helping of that classic humour from the Winnipeg Free Press we used to read in the 1960s. The Song Of The Lazy Farmer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Few Minutes With The Merc

Well actually a couple of hours as today was sunny and above normal temperatures. That means high 30s and it felt positively warm compared to some days in the recent past. 
After putting in a tractor battery and rigging up a jumper wire to activate the starter I was able to run a compression test on all cylinders. Started out with only two cylinders having compression but by quitting time I was up to seven so it was a good day. I shot some video of course but it is not included in this video I present here. This one covers the retrieval from "out of the woods" with a few vintage still photos thrown in to show how good it used to look, (and still might if I had stored it indoors 30 years ago). 
Made a little progress on the 39 Deluxe earlier this week getting the drain plug out of the gas tank and draining it. I was a little unprepared for how easy the plug spun out with the impact wrench and dumped about a gallon of 30 something year old gas on the floor. The shop reeks and likely will for a few days yet. On the plus side that gas has the volatility of water so it is not a safety risk.
I will close with a photo of another "restoration candidate" I shot earlier this week. Do I really need another project?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Getting Used To Winter

Although the calendar won't admit it, we are well into winter here in Sask. A good layer of snow everywhere now and down to -20F this morning. If that isn't winter weather I don't know what is. Although it was not a bad day since the sun was shining bright and no wind at all. Anybody that spends much time outdoors in Sask. knows that it is not just the temperature that determines whether a day is nice. Like this caller to CBC radio last week. He got it right and that clip went viral.
Have a listen
I took the opportunity of this cool though sunny day to haul a tank of water from the well before the truck's license expires end of the month.
That went so well that I was inspired to head to the hundred acre woods and pick up a hay bale that I had missed when hauling last month. It was not worth running the tractor and trailer five miles (one way), plus way too cold to sit on an open tractor. So I used a little ingenuity along with a cable winch and ramp to pull the bale up onto the truck box and haul it home in comfort.
The sun was getting pretty low by the time I took this photo.

Back before it got too cold or snow too deep I finally got the 30+ year engine oil change done on the 39 Ford. And of course there is video evidence.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Winter Work

Not a whole lot happening on the farm this time of year. Below normal temperatures, miserable wind chill factor are not conducive to working on old vehicles but I did get the 39 fired up and warmed up enough to do it's 30+ year engine oil change. A little overdue for sure. The video was a little long so I made it a "two parter". This is part one. 
Progress on the 52 Merc is slow as it is parked outdoors and subject to the slings and arrows of outrageous weather. There were snow flakes blowing into the spark plug holes this morning as I worked on un-sticking some of the valves.
Got the flax hauled out last week. No need now to worry about it heating in the bin or having to plow snow for a day to get the truck in there. Plus the ground is frozen solid now so now danger of getting stuck. 
Not such good news on the wheat though. Fusarium and vomitoxin levels tested high and it graded feed. So I guess we struggled through the mud to raise a crop that will sell for 1980s prices. Maybe I need to invest in a grain burning stove?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Will it Run? Episode 18: 1959 Chevy Biscayne! Part 1 of 3

Guys like this are an inspiration to me. I thought the Merc I hauled out of the bush recently was beyond hope but compared to this 59 Biscayne, its not so bad.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Put Away The Combine

I think the time has come to unhitch, clean up and park the combine in the shed after this scenic snowscape greeted me this morning . Short days, damp weather and poor drying are not going to let those last few acres of flax  dry in the field.

Funny, I was just thinking yesterday as I carefully picked my way through the field with the tractor and harrows that the last thing we need is more precipitation of any kind. I am literally "losing ground" as can be seen in each consecutive trip over the fields. The ruts I left in the soft ground with the combine a few weeks ago now have water in them which has come up from below. The sloughs that were full of water are now running over to the next one. Today's snow will add to the problem. The municipal pump has finally been shut down this week in preparation for freeze up. The pump, literally running for weeks (months?)  has kept the water level down on one of our major grid roads but heavy winter snow could put us right back where we were by spring.
In other news, in the tradition of Mr Toad I hauled another "classic" out of the woods last week while waiting for the ground to "dry" from the latest precipitation. This 52 Merc has been here for over 50 years and has spent the last 40 or so in outdoor "storage" so it has suffered the ravages of our harsh climate (and raccoons)
It has rust holes in the floor, not quite like Fred Flintstone's car but pretty bad. From the floor up it is not bad at all and should not take much to make into a "runner". At this point I am still in the assessing stage while I clean up the mess inside. It certainly has patina .

Monday, October 20, 2014

Another Day In The Field

Not the greatest photo but the one I took today turned out to be invisible so this one is from yesterday. . Just one small problem in a series of bigger ones . I am going to try and be like Bud E. Shepherd and remain an optimist and have a positive attitude though.
With that in mind I will not complain about getting stuck in the mud with the swather (again) and pulling it out myself (with a little help from the tractor). Flax swathing went well aside from that. The walk for the tractor through moose territory was uneventful thankfully.
And of course the biggest bright spot in the day was that I did not burn down the combine even though there was smoke coming out of the feeder house from the smoldering bundle of flax straw that had somehow wrapped and accumulated on the return auger shaft just above the cylinder on the 7721 combine. I really need a new pair of gloves without holes in them. Although the holes in mine did help me detect where the hot spots were on the combine. No serious burns luckily.
Again on the positive side it was a beautiful warm day with record breaking high temperature. Exactly what I need to get the harvest done. I would prefer not to have wasted at least two of the good hours on mud and fires but hopefully there will be more weather like it. I need a few good days.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Stuck In The Muck

I should have taken a picture, but it was dark. Maybe I could have entered it  at stuck in the muck As it was I was more intent on just getting the swather out of the mud holes I had dug with the wheels and back onto (mostly) solid ground.
Just another chapter in this season that has been plagued by too much rain, muddy ground and drowned out crops. Maybe if it had not been dark I might have noticed how muddy it was getting as I worked my way farther up the hill side. Those big fat "turf tires" have excellent floatation but at some point they run out of traction and turn to smooth , tractionless doughnuts.
Lucky for me my "support crew" had just showed up to drive me home for the day. Instead they got to help me move a tractor down from the next quarter and pull the swather out of the mud.
Its only an 80 acre field but could take quite a while to swath if I have more of these incidents. Some of those drowned out patches are 90% foxtail and not worth cutting, but the good patches are fairly decent. Too bad the frost hit early and damaged some of the seed . I think it is going to take a long time to fill the combine hopper this year.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Harvest Thanksgiving

Only in Canada as I know the U.S. has their's later. I had an uncle who used to say it was too early for thanksgiving. Too early to sing the hymn "All Is Safely Gathered In", and he would sometimes refuse to go to the Church service to give thanks since he had not yet been able to finish harvest. Many are in that position this year as harvest is late due to wet weather.
I still have a ways to go but am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as I finished the standing wheat today and only have a few acres of oats and flax left to do. This last field of wheat was thin and short in places so I made good time. Acres per hour were high, bushels per hour not. Glad to be done in the "swamp" that this field has become. I have no end of respect for the mud handling capabilities of the 1660 CIH combine. Those big Goodyear tires were churning up mud numerous times, to the point that the rear wheels would not even steer anymore. And still it maintained forward motion. Having two big tow ropes on stand by must have been good insurance. Its not hard to stay awake on this job having to keep close watch for water down under the crop canopy, or that "sinking feeling" as the wheels quite literally sink in mud. The hydro starts to whine a little as forward motion slows. Its an adventure......
Lots to be thankful for including good friends and family who put on a special thanksgiving/birthday dinner today.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

In a Flap Over Ducks

Its been in the news the past couple of days. Certainly not great timing for any organization to put out an ad blaming farmers and their draining land for flooding problems elsewhere. But that is what Ducks Unlimited apparently has done.  It has stirred up angry reactions from farmers on the Western Producer site  Not surprising at all. We are losing acres to flooding here every year. Roads have been built up and flooded again as the water table continues to rise. Pumps running 24/7 in some areas to bring the levels down on some of the municipal roads.
No question we have always known this is "pothole country" and we grow a lot of ducks for that reason. We have always been used to farming around the sloughs but recent years have expanded those potholes into small lakes in some cases. We are farming the high spots while some very productive land lies under water or growing cat tails. Dreams of next year getting back to "normal" don't come true and the water just keeps increasing.
 In other news, tried a sample of wheat today and it tested over 18% moisture so I parked the combine and went back to bale hauling. Beautiful day, just not dry enough to combine yet. Man, those fields are wetter than ever since the last rain. Ducks should be happy.

A Sunny Day to Haul Hay

It was a nice sunny day with not too much wind and "seasonal" temperatures. Since I felt the grain would be not quite ready to combine I decided to get some hay bales hauled. Big plans of two trips soon got trimmed down as complications set in. Installing the bale spear and having to re-set the brackets. A little tire maintenance, tractor needed fuel. Loading took forever as I had to carry the bales up the hill to load on a level spot. Running a tractor with no brakes means level ground is essential for loading bales. Its a ten mile round trip on an open tractor so this job needs to get done before it gets really cold.
It was the first working road trip for the Massey Super 90 this year since the head gasket replacement and it passed the test with no problems.
By the time I was home with the load and emptied the trailer it was close to sundown so that was the end of my road travel for the day. One trip down, Probably five more to go.
Nice scenery and I should have taken more time to set up this photo but didn't have much to spare. Out on the stubble field at Winstanley Grove.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Days Of Clouds

And then a half day of sunshine. That is what we have had for the past week it seems. Not what we need for harvest. I've got in one afternoon in the combine in the past seven days, but I've already covered that in the last blog post. Showers predicted for this afternoon which will set us back again. Looks like plenty of opportunity to catch up on some of the "non harvest" jobs around the farm. Like hauling sand and gravel which I did yesterday. Its low quality material but it is close by and free so its what I use. This nice sunset scene ended the day as I was parking the machinery back in the shed. Red sunset??

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tough Grain In The Bin

Yes, I have some tough wheat in the bin now. I made an "executive decision" yesterday afternoon to combine wheat. For those not familiar with the term "tough", it refers to the moisture content of the grain. Wheat is considered dry at 14.5% moisture. Anything above that level and we will receive a discount on the already low selling price. Plus the grain is at risk of spoilage.  But when the days grow short as we reach September and heavy rain is in the forecast, sometimes we have to gamble. At least the cold temperatures were in my favor as cold grain stores safer than hot.
With the cloudy cold and still damp morning I had been prepared to leave the combine in the shed but when the sun came out about noon it inspired me to head out with the combine and try a sample. It went well but I could tell the moisture content was up just by the way the grain piled in the hopper. Short trip home for a moisture test confirmed my suspicions. 17.1% moisture. Still, after two days of inactivity from the last rain I wasn't going to give up that 4 remaining hours of sunshine and wind knowing what tomorrow's forecast held (rain). Every rain fall robs us of quality, weight and price at this stage of the game. A quick change over of the grain auger to the aeration bin so I can blow a little air through the tough grain and I was rolling again. My ever faithful truck driver showed shortly to take the grain away and I commenced serious harvesting. Slow going in the heavy, lodged crop areas and the old 466 was surging up and down in rpm as heavy slugs of straw hit the rotor. Carefully avoiding flooded areas with only a few scary incidents of wheel slip I was able to work well after sundown. In fact I had serious hopes of finishing the field if I could stay awake til midnight (or more). Optimism and hope were dashed though as I rolled up to the truck to unload and heavy mist hit the windshield about 10:30.  
It varies from one region to the next and hard to find an up to date online harvest progress report but the last I heard Sask. is well behind normal progress for this date. Somewhere in the 50% complete range. Good to hear. I am about 51% done.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sunshine and Wind

That is what we have had most of the week so I have been harvesting every day. Not a bad crop. Hottest day of the summer happened this week. Grain yield is good, quality fair. The wheat is terribly dusty and I am surprised my truck driver has not walked out on the job yet.  Fields not as bad for mud as 2010 but still interesting at times It is never good to see mud on the tires of a combine but that 1660 Case IH never fails to impress me just how much mud it will go through without getting stuck. Beaver dam(age) is incredible on one field with some crop flooded and inaccessible. I would sit there 24/7 with a shotgun to get rid of them if I had the time but obviously not possible.
No major breakdowns yet, except for the 300 dollar gear box on the grain auger last week. Obviously working  with a 26 year old combine and 43 year old grain truck it is only a matter of time til the next breakdown.
Cloud and damp this morning so it does not look good to get back in the field today.  I hope I am not sounding too negative and complaining but if you want a more positive and cheerful view you might like to check out The Lazy Farmer
Great fall scenery here this past week.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

On The Road With The 39

Not too far though. The old flathead still does not run on all 8 cylinders all the time.  The old Ford is pretty cantankerous about starting at times too when it gets warmed up. Probably a weak ignition coil. Of course the optional one gallon fuel tank would not allow for long drives either. Plus that whole having no brakes thing. So the half mile driveway will suffice for now. Sometimes I feel like "Toad of Toad Hall" messing about with old cars and trucks when I should be working. With the dismal cold and wet forecast for the coming week I wanted to get some video of the car in action this morning on what might be the last sunny day for a week.
I see John Dillinger liked Fords too. Interesting story.
Meanwhile the lazy farmer is out standing in his field with an overheating tractor and day time temperatures of 90 degrees.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Yet Another Roosty Restoration Episode

I am getting a little behind at posting the restoration videos. In real time the resto is done, or at least done well enough to make a showing in yesterday's wedding photos. I'll try to get the rest of the video editing done and on youtube soon.  I know inquiring minds need to know how it went.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Swathing, starting cars and stuck in the mud

Almost all that in one day. The car starting was actually yesterday. Today was just more swathing canola and wasting an hour maybe getting stuck , walking home for the tractor and then pulling the swather out. That five inch rain on the weekend put some water in the low spots and it can't be seen through the green growth until I'm in it. Sure glad my favourite mechanic got the AC working in the swather yesterday. I'd have likely died in there today in the heat and humidity. Especially after the adventure of getting out of the mud. The canola is not great, lots of disease (sclerotinia)? Plus some drowned out patches that are weeds.

In other news, the 39 Ford runs!! It took a pull with the tractor and a little shining up the ignition points (remember those?). The borrowed six volt battery is pretty weak and several valves are sticking in the engine. The old flathead V8 misses a little but at least it was able to be driven back into the shed under it's own power. Carefully with no brakes.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Roosty6 Restorations

No, I am not trying for a spot on the history channel's latest monster garage or rods-n-wheels type shows. Although the finished video might just look like that is my intention. It started out a few days ago as just a quick clean up of the old 39 Deluxe for a prop in an upcoming family photo shoot. I thought the multi color paint patches I had applied over the years looked a little shabby so why not spray a little tremclad black paint on the front fenders. Of course that meant I would need to sand the surfaces to do even a half decent paint job. I got a little carried away and ended up sanding the whole car as I kept finding little rust spots. Naturally the front wheels needed to come off so I could do a proper job of the fender edges and wheel wells. Gee , those wheels are a little rusty and dirty looking, maybe sandblast them and spray a little paint on them too. Is that a missing clip on the chrome trim? Time to check out the 38 parts car for a replacement. You can probably guess that this ended up with a complete paint job from bumper to bumper.
The actual painting does not take long, it is the preparation, the sanding, masking etc. that takes the time. Can it really be 43 years since I last painted this car?? I'd say I got pretty good mileage out of that quart of hardware store black enamel. I won't be around to do the next paint job in another 43 years.
Stay tuned for the video.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Not Quite Fateful Eighth

Well last week's post about the fateful eighth almost came true for some. We missed the worst of it here but south country got some major wind and hail damage. The power was off all night over a large area, including me. About the worst effect here was that the 3 tenths of rain made the gravel roads muddy enough that I didn't want to take my "antique"  IH truck to the museum show and park beside the rest of the real antiques. I drove the "all weather ' Blazer to get there and it was a good sunny afternoon of looking at the classics.
The next two days I was able to get a second application on the chem fallow. Long overdue but still the ground ranged from wet to mud to water as I dragged the sprayer through the field. Dust was non existent. The sloughs have definitely expanded a bit from the last time I was out there in early June. Seems I am getting to be a smaller farmer every year lately. Some places I can barely get through between sloughs with my small and out dated 60 foot sprayer. Not sure how I would deal with it pulling 90 feet but try finding a new 60 foot sprayer!

Hot and humid "jungle weather" the last  few days are pushing the late crop along to maturity. Might be time to get the swather ready to roll. First thing to check, is the AC working?
In other news it was a wild ride for the lazy farmer recently when a mechanical/hydraulic failure almost caused disaster.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Fateful Eighth

That phrase comes to mind today. My dad made reference to it  most years on August 8th. Apparently he got it from Grandma Goff. A severe hail storm passed through the area on that date and did major crop damage in one of their early homesteading years. So the date lived on in their memories, although not for a happy time.
Today carries good potential for a replay of that storm. Already hot in the early morning hours. High humidity, all the ingredients for some severe weather later today.
Here is an old photo of Grandma taken in the war years of the 1940s. Likely a fall picture judging by the lack of leaves on the trees and that huge pumpkin. Wish I still had that double barreled shotgun leaning against the rocking chair.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Trail Riding With Roosty6

Nice day for a trail ride/crop tour yesterday. 13 of us on various forms of atv and off road vehicles, although we did mostly road driving. Still plenty of places where water is over the road for those that like to play in the mud. Sometimes the short cut is not the best way to go. At one point I had to pour water out of my shoes after encountering a deep spot in the road. Apparently the beavers decided that road needed a ditch cut across it.

We crossed the rail trestle of the abandoned rail line and some of the more adventurous ventured right down the steep banks to see the creek flowing through the crumbling concrete tunnel. On foot of course. It is far to steep to drive, almost too steep to climb on foot but we made it. Maybe not as fast as I did 47 years ago.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Saskatoons In The Hundred Acre Woods

I said I was not going to bother with picking them this year as the mosquitos are terrible and the Saskatoons appeared few and far between. They looked pretty good from the seat of the tractor while I was raking hay on the hundred acre woods so I did spend part of a hot afternoon picking . The heat tends to keep the mosquitos out of the picture, at least until you get into the shade. Soon as the temp drops a bit below 80 though it is pretty bad. That ancient can of "Off" repellent did not seem to improve with age but I think it did help a bit.
Flax is finally looking blue but this is late blooming compared to other years. We are going to need another month of frost free nights for this crop to survive.

Finally all planets and stars have aligned and I am moving some of last year's crop to market. 3 semis of canola out today. Thanks goodness for a grain vac. Shoveling grain out of a  bin at 80 degrees is probably one of the hardest jobs on a farm. Or at least it used to be. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

July 1944 -70 Years Ago

It just occured to me while watching "Monuments Men" last night , that 70 years ago right about now, late July, my dad was working his way across Normandy as part of the allied advance. He was with the 18th anti tank battery. Luckily he wrote down some of his experiences from that time and can tell the story better in his own words than I can. Here is the latest segment of "Les Goff's WWII memories".

 We stuck pretty close to our diggings for a while. Then
an infantry man claimed there was a tank out front and
behind a stone wall. They wanted us to give it a blast so
Faibish and I made a hundred yard dash back to the gun.
Jack pointed out where they thought it was so I took a
very quick aim and fired. I saw a cloud of dust where I
hit the wall. Then I heard some one holler somewhere in
front of the gun. Apparently there was one of the
infantry men dug in not too far in front of our gun. Gave
him quite a shock. Jack and I again raced back to our
trench expecting an 88 to blast our gun out at it was out
in the wheat field standing out like a sore thumb. Not a
shot was fired at us. Whether there was a tank behind that
wall we never knew.
          XXIII.    We were in that position for a couple of days. This date
          must have been around the 16th to the 18th of July in the
          area of Andre Sur Orne. After two days of sitting at this
          point expecting a German tank attack they decided to
          move us to another position where things were more
          interesting. At least a lot more shelling. However we got
          stalled en route being daylight. It was decided to wait
          until dark as the road ahead of us was being constantly
          shelled. So we laid low for a while. I can not remember
          what was towing our gun as our own tower had been put
          out of action by mortar fire back at the gravel pit. When
          there came a lull we proceeded. There had been a rain so
          we were staying on the road. It was one hell of a trip. It
          was not far from our previous position. After flopping in
          the ditches a  few times I was soaked and plastered with
          mud. By this time it was just about dark. Another wheat
          field. We set up our gun, found a couple of small
          trenches. Faibish took one end, and I took the other.
          There was a blanket laying in mine and a German
          automatic machine pistol which I took. Quite a prize. I
          guess I must have been more tired than I realized for I
          laid there not caring much about anything and fell
          XXIV.     When I awoke it was broad daylight. Jack Faibish had
          also done the same as I and was also getting up. This is
          when I found the rest of our gun crew about a hundred
          yards away in a German bunker. Quite a good one
          compared to what we used to hurriedly dig. Things
          seemed a little more quiet at this time and at this place.
          Luckily we had some rations so got something to eat.
          Off to the south west we saw a great column of smoke a
          half to a mile away. It was our gun tower which had
          been left at the gravel pit owing to its disability. A
          mortar had made a direct hit on it. It burned with most
          of our kit stashed on it’s top along with 5 thousand
          rounds of 303 ammunition, hand grenades and some 17
          pounder ammunition. We did not stay at this place for
          long, moving again to another hotter spot where there
          were definitely German tanks. I near saw any but they
          sure seemed to be able to see us. It was here or
          somewhere nearby that we lost some of our men. The
          shelling was devastating. Mortars and 88s. We dug in
          and kept our heads mostly down. We did not lose any of
          our gun crew but two or more crews had members
     XXV. Red Walkly, Sintaluta, Ken Harkness, Indian head.
     Chick Fox of Indian Head . John Mucha of Indian Head.
     Lloyd Baller, Grenfell .Wounded, Sergeant Walt Owens,
     Colonel H. Murray, Lieutenant Jim Armstrong. Some of
     the men were hit while in their trenches. It was not
     uncommon to have mortars dropped into slit trenches
     and of course a mound of dirt from digging a trench was
     an invite for 88s, mortars, etc. I don’t think any man
     could say he was not damn scared at times. Everyone
     could relate to how close he came to being blasted. It
     was also at this time and area that Sergeant Ab Davies
     gun crew accounted for three tanks. Panthers I believe.
     They were spotted crossing their field of fire , range I'm
     not sure of. However, with Gordon Skinner of Indian
     Head doing the firing starting with the rear tank, he took
     all three out with a single shot for each tank. I thought it
     was good strategy on the part of Sergeant Davies taking
     on the rear ones first. They appeared to be completely
     unaware of Davies gun. I personally never saw a live
     German tank all through France. Of course they had the
     advantage mostly as our troops wee the attacking forces
     so they were usually waiting for us from well
     camouflaged positions. As soon as our infantry , tanks,
     etc. put on an offensive they came under devastating
     fire. As soon as they were successful in getting their
     objective we were to rush up our anti-tank guns for
     support in the event of a counter attack which was often
     mounted if the Germans had the resources. The only
     catch here was our gun towers being a thin skinned
     vehicle was useless against any kind of fire. So just hope
     the Germans didn't counter attack before dark as that
     was the only chance we had of getting up to an effective
     position hopefully. It was not always that simple. In
     theory our officers were supposed to look the situation
     over along with Sergeant in charge of a gun and crew.
     Then decide where a gun could be located for effective
     fire power and at the same time reasonable cover for gun
     and crew. This was quite easy to do on manoeuvres but in
     practice under very intense fire sometimes made it
     almost impossible. This is how we lost some of our
     officers and NCOs. I saw at one place near May Sur
     Orne four gun towers of 20th battery all burned out in
     their effort to move up by daylight.
          XXVI.     We did most of our moving after dark. When we got the
          order that a move was imminent we all became very
          keyed up knowing it meant exposing ourselves driving
          after dark or near dark, no lights, cooped up in a tin can ,
          five to six men who could be put out of action with a 22.
          As things became a little quieter at St. Andre Sur Orne,
          there was another area close by being heavily contested
          called Verrieres Ridge. It was a hot spot. Being on
          higher ground, the Germans had an advantage. British
          7th armoured along with Canadian tanks and 2nd division
          infantry assaulted it with some success and heavy losses.
          It seemed to me I saw more burned out Shermans than
          mobile ones.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Raking Hay, New potatoes

I've posted most of the other views of haying here so I guess it is only right to include the raking operation.

 I used the old Super 90 Massey and the six wheel Pollard hay rake to turn two swaths into one on the weekend. It saves wear and tear on the round baler. Makes a better bale I think too. Not so much need to weave side to side on the swath to get the bale even. When it is one big swath coming in slowly it just rolls up nice and even. Plus I  don't need to drive so fast and shake the baler (and myself) up. Hayfields are notoriously rough here. I broke a hitch pin on the haybine yesterday after bouncing through a deep hole.
The old Perkins diesel works as good as it ever did before the head gasket failure but the mosquitos and grass pollen take the fun out of open air tractor driving. It was good to get back in the 2090 cab to bale.
The wheat is looking great as this photo from this morning will show. There are no great canola crops around but I am reasonably satisfied with mine (in the background of the photos) considering the year it has been.

First new potatoes out of the ground today. A little later than some years but welcome whenever. Now I need to clean out the bin . Planted way too many last year it seems.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Baling and Blowing Things Up

What an unproductive day. I decided to get the Massey baler out to bale up the little bit of hay lying in the yard. It was actually about a half a round bale that had begun heating after sitting several days inside the baler and I unrolled yesterday to dry. Ok, I baled it way too damp on the weekend . With thunderstorms in the forecast I figured bale it up into a few small squares which I can always use. First off the only available in my fleet of tractors was the Cockshutt 40. I had to first remove the bale spear and three point hitch which took a little time and effort. Then hitching up to the baler the hitch jack did not want to fold. I soon found out the baler was sitting low due to a completely flat tire. Rather than work on it back behind the shed in the long mosquito infested grass and heat I risked slowly driving it to the shed doors. It took some effort but finally got the tubeless tire to seat and take air.
That hay was still plenty tough and it pushed the limits of the flywheel shear pin, right up to the breaking point. Now I get to spend some time inside the baler pickup unplugging the tough damp hay.
Eventually I got the hay put through with a grand total of 7 square bales. Not much to show for a day's work. Cleaning up the baler to put it back in it's parking place I noticed the stacker had low tires so I started filling them up with the air hose. Tire number two had a little surprise in store and went off, almost in my face with a big bang. The rusty little rim had split allowing all the air inside the tube to exit like a small stick of dynamite. Lucky the wheel was contained in a double fork assembly which prevented it from becoming flying shrapnel or I might not be here .

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 14 Hay Cutting

Got in a productive afternoon of cutting hay in the hundred acre woods and also on the hillsides of the next quarter. It went well until a knife guard broke late in the day. I was sort of prepared, having a spare in the toolbox. Unfortunately I did not have the right wrench to loosen the bolts. I finished up the patch I was working on anyway, leaving a narrow strip of uncut grass from the broken guard. I wasn't going to finish today anyway so now there will be a little more for tomorrow.

In other news, the IHC B110 truck has no rear brakes. I didn't think I was going to get the rear drums taken off to inspect as they require a special brake puller to remove. I got a little creative and came up with a crude but effective improvised adapter and was able to pull the drum off without too much trouble. Now the search for replacement wheel cylinders. Its only a 55 year old truck. Shouldn't be too hard to find parts.

Here is the adapter plate. Don't laugh too much.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Alf's Cabin, then and now

Cutting hay today and as the tractor bounced through the depression that marked Alf Goff's cellar under the log cabin I thought of this old photo. Taken in the 1930s by his sister, Kate Hobetzeder, Alf stands at the door of his log cabin.

Sure was good to work in the cool and dust free cab watching all that grass pollen and mosquitos outside. Although I am feeling it a bit tonight. Is there more pollen than ever out there or am I just getting more sensitive to it?
Just finished spraying crops and chem fallow yesterday so now I can get at cutting hay. Late of course as everything is this year. Crops are surviving and some actually looking not too bad after all the excess rain. Although you'd have to drive a long way to see a good field of canola. Reports in today indicate there are at least two million acres of flooded crops in Southeast Sask. due to recent heavy rains.  According to what I read in  this news story maybe we are part of the problem?
Crop spraying was long, drawn out and stressful with more mud and water to drive through than I ever thought possible. I left some terrible ruts but never got stuck and the weeds are dying.
Spotted this moose cow and calf in one field of flax.

Monday, June 30, 2014


That is the word I have used the most this past while. Although I usually add  "unf======ing believable" lately every time I go out and check on the latest rain and water damage. I empty the rain gauge every morning and try to record it as there is no way I will remember it. Just one day after another of rain and they all blend into a blur.  I am getting away easy compared to some. My house is relatively dry unlike those in town who are spending most of their time moving stuff out of their basements and pumping water.
High water in Sask.
My driveway was still passable last night with both culverts running full capacity but half a mile north or south and the main roads are under running water so I won't know if they are still passable until I get out on the atv to check. Even the highway to the east has water running over it although no damage yet.
Crop damage is inevitable and has sort of taken a back seat now as we look at the more immediate concerns.
Crop spraying for weeds? I won't even take a guess when (if) that will even happen now. Those last fields may have to grow "organic" in the parts that survive the flooding. Luckily I am not locked into any contracts for this year's crops. It will be enough of a challenge just to fill the delivery contracts for last year's grain assuming it stores safe in the bins with all this rain. Trucking has been an issue all spring and I keep thinking the roads will improve as spring turns to summer. In fact things have gone downhill there too.
It is making snow, cold weather and frozen ground look rather attractive right now.
Yes, I did move that water pump.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Forgetful But Lucky

Sometimes I forget things. For example a couple of months ago I "borrowed" a small clamp off the fuel filter on the 59 IH pickup to use on the new fuel line and valve I was installing on the Massey tractor. There were none to be found anywhere else and it was a long way to town for new clamps. I had good intentions of buying new clamps and re installing them on the truck. But we know all about good intentions.
Fast forward to today and I am working on the truck. Since the incessant rains make it impossible to get in the fields and spray crops I am doing what I can. After a few seconds of cranking I suddenly notice flames from the engine compartment which was cause for great concern since the truck was securely parked in the big shed surrounded by other farm equipment. If the fire got ahead of me it could spread to the whole shed and the rest of the machinery. Nothing appeared to be burning, just flames coming off the shiny painted inner fender well.
At least half an hour away from the closest V.F.D. so that is no option. Maybe hook up a tractor and chain to drag the truck out and let it burn? No, that might take too long. Got a thousand gallons of water in the tank on the other truck not far away but could I carry a pail of water fast enough to put the fire out? Back the water truck close enough to run water from the hose on the fire maybe? No, still too slow. I grabbed a piece of carpet and smothered the flames, which by this time seemed to be decreasing on their own.
Turned out I had left the fuel line disconnected from the filter so that the pump was spraying fuel out onto the spark plug wires. There must have been just enough of a spark leak in the wires to ignite the gas. Lucky that today's gas is not quite as explosive as it used to be. Otherwise there might have been a "big bang". The truck ran fine after  I found a clamp and re-connected the gas line.
In other news, its raining again. Although that is not really news here anymore. Rain seems to be a constant thing lately. Another 8 tenths this afternoon and it ain't over yet.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 19 Way Too Wet

Yes, I am complaining about too much rain again. The farmers on agriville were commenting on the fact that "rain takes grain" and after checking my fields this morning I can agree that the rain is gradually taking our hopes of a good crop away. Drowned out areas are everywhere. Cereal crops are turning yellow from too much water. Canola is turning purple. I did get the canola sprayed for the second , and final, application today. It needed it and with the forecast of more days of rain I guess today was my last chance. Hopefully the rain that hit just after I  finished will not wash off the herbicide before it works.

Driving through the mud and water I am doing a lot of crop damage but a crop infested with weeds is not a good option either.

Rising water levels are making ever more difficult getting into the grain bins at the yard in the "hundred acre woods." We can drive through the water across the trails with small vehicles and equipment but forget about loaded trucks. I need a load of gravel in there to level up the bins now that they are installed on their new floors as of a few days ago.

With a rainy weekend forecasted I'm not sure just how we will accomplish this but....

And what is it with these horrendous little biting flies that we are besieged with lately? I don't recall ever seeing so many of them before. I even wore earplugs to keep them out of my ears today. Blackflies ?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Once again, rain!

Nothing new here. Just rain every day this week it seems. The ducks and beavers are happy. Crops are growing pretty good, as are the weeds since it is impossible to get into the fields with a sprayer. I am well on the way to matching last year's "15 inches of rain in 30 days" figure. Maybe I will have "organic" crops this year. No herbicide applied to them. Unfortunately that would mean likely half the yield and weed infested fields and not able to sell the grain for organic prices. You need to be an "accredited" organic farmer for that and it takes several years.
Meanwhile, rubber boots are the footwear of necessity here, preferably ones that don't leak. To see sunshine and hay making in process you can look at the Lazy Farmer's blog.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Walt Disney Moment

Checking out the latest photos on the trail cam and some made me think of the Walt Disney movies where all species seem to get along and be friends. No fighting or killing. This rather large raccoon is eating a bit of wheat that was swept out of the truck box recently. The doe came along to get her share. As well the magpie was right in there. I saw no sign of competition or aggression. I guess if it comes down to the last few kernels of wheat we might see a fight.
At least they won't be fighting over who is greater, Allah or God. I have not watched this supposedly graphic and violent video yet.
 Not sure if I will. The damp and rainy weather preventing me from crop spraying is depressing enough without watching something like this.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lilac Time

Yes, its that time of year again and I've been meaning to take a picture but never seem to take the time to stop. This morning I did. It isn't Kew Gardens and its plenty far from London but here is the blooming lilac bush on display at "The Poplars", the Ernest Nevard homestead. I wonder if Ernest and Mary were thinking of the lilacs at Kew Gardens when they planted these lilacs so many years ago on their homestead in a wild and distant land, far from where they grew up in the U.K. Maybe this was a little reminder of where they came from.
As usual I was racing against inclement weather trying to get crop spraying done. With threatening rain and rising wind (both bad news for spraying herbicides) I still stopped for just a minute to take this shot with the lilacs in the background of the tractor and sprayer.
3 hours and 90 acres later the sprayer tank was empty and I was on the way home in strong winds but still no rain.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sunny Skies and Shiny Trucks

Another "lazy " blog post. Rather than come up with some creative comments I am just posting the link to my latest youtube video featuring a closer look at the International Loadstar that has been moving grain on and off this farm for the past 30 years.Thought I better shoot some video of it while it was clean.
Otherwise I am still the hamster on the treadmill. Managed to get the last field planted a few days ago and found that the canola was up and needed spraying for weeds right away. The chem fallow also needed spraying yesterday. It is almost unbelievable how things have grown with all this rain . Grain needs to be moved and rain falls every other day. It is wetter in the fields now than it was a month ago. There is discussion over on agriville about which is worse, flooding or drought. Consensus seems to be whichever one you have right now is the worst. The only drought I have ever experienced was 1988, Otherwise it has been adequate to excessive moisture the rest of the time.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Rain On The Window Pane

The rain today puts me in mind of this "Lazy Farmer" story. I should be sitting in my rocking chair as I type this I guess. But then I am not quite yet the lazy farmer. Trying but too many things to do before I get around to it.

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.