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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Baling, raking, taking pictures

plus a few other things made for a busy day. I was reluctant to cut any more hay seeing as rain is forecast and I don't want it to get soaked. But some that I cut the other day looked almost dry enough to bale so I figured get it done before the weather changed.
The Cockshutt 40, usually so reliable, failed to start. The 15 (or so) year old battery seemed too weak.So the next best candidate was the Cockshutt 50 beside it. Weak governor action, armstrong steering and a weak pto clutch but it got the job done. Made a few more good quality square hay bales to re-stock the hay loft for next winter.

Had to do an inventory check on the spring harvested flax before making arrangements to sell it. Between it being low bushel weight and high (12%) dockage it is not going to be a big money crop.
I took this photo  while on top of the flax bin as the canola is starting to bloom pretty good right now.
Did a little hay raking with the Super 90 Massey late in the afternoon. Hoping by turning the swaths they might just be dry enough to bale tomorrow. Some of it had only been cut down for 24 hours so there is still some drying needed before it is safe to bale. Hopefully, weather permitting, I will get it done tomorrow before rain moves in. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

WWII Another Installment

Just adding another chapter or two of my dad's memoirs of WWII. This bit from July of 1944 gives a good impression of life under fire in the 18th anti tank battery. A few memorable days at Troteval Farm near the location of the battle of Verrieres Ridge

26. So again, it was for us to move up. I guess the
situation must have been pretty grim for we started out
late in the afternoon approximately the 20th of July,
maybe later. Our attempt at moving forward got
stalled on the road on account of heavy shell bursts on
the road directly ahead. We were a pretty worried
crew, seven in all. Jack Faibish, the Sergeant said the
ditches are supposed to be mined so keep out of them.
At the same time I’m thinking if the shelling gets
much closer I’m heading for the ditch. So we just sat
there and waited in open country. There we are hoping
it will hurry up and get dark. Our objective was a farm
yard about a mile ahead called Troteval Farm which
was located on Verrieres Ridge. By dusk there seemed
to be somewhat of a lull so we proceeded. We were to
put our gun in position on the west side of the farm
yard which seemed to be spread out over quite a large
area. Brick buildings and fence. We quickly unhitched
our gun , set it ready for action. However,
there was a knocked out Sherman close by . Thinking
it might give us a little more protection Jack decided
to move the gun over to the Sherman about a hundred
yards away. So we hooked the gun again and
proceeded toward the Sherman.. Harold Hammett, Bob
Hartley and myself walked ahead to the knocked out
Sherman where I noticed quite a large hole in the
ground alongside and partly under the track which
was broken. We stood there waiting for the gun to be
pulled up. Being almost dark Jack walked alongside
the truck and driver. When they were almost abreast
of us I saw a great flash. Next thing I knew the three
of us were on the ground. I guessed it must have been
the concussion, at first I thought it was a shell. It was
a mine, same thing that got the tank. Being
temporarily stunned it took a moment or two to take in
what had happened . I heard Hartley calling me to
help with Hammett who was temporarily blinded.
There didn’t seem to be anyone else around. I took a
quick look for Jack. He was laying beside a large hole
in the ground and partly under the front wheel which
was badly battered on the drivers side. I heard anti
freeze leaking out. Jack appears to be quite dead. The
rest of the crew are gone so Hartley and myself help
Hammett to the other side of the farm yard where our
officer was with a jeep. The three men who were all in
the tower at the time of hitting the mine all had
wounds so they were all evacuated. I can not
remember the details on how they went back or where
Hartley went. I never saw him again.
27. I sort of lost track as to what happened immediately
after except our officer said don’t go back to the gun
as that area is mined. I concluded there was not much
doubt about that. I met Bill Todd about this time . He
said join up with our crew which I gladly did. After
the shock of losing all the men off our gun I was at
loose ends. Bills trench which he was in the process of
digging was in between two buildings, all brick and
the dust was pretty thick. Kicked up by German
artillery and mortars. I guess what was drawing so
much fire was the presence of infantry who had set up
their three inch mortars and were really laying down a
barrage at times. One thing about them, they usually
drew fire. It didn’t take the Germans long to get their
28. We had just acquired a new officer due to Jim
Armstrong being wounded . The new officer’s name
was Heaps. I believe he was from Montreal. He
became quite popular with the troop. He arrived the
next morning quite early and informed us that Buster
Gross had got a bullet through his heel so we lost
another man. He hinted to me about taking over our
gun to replace Faibish but I declined the offer saying I
would rather remain number 3 gunner. Jim Erwin, also
a gunner was persuaded to take the job and the crew
was made up of new recruits all except Jim and
myself. One of these I remember quite well was
Michael Oliver from out of McGill University from
Montreal , Rosemont, the son of an Anglican priest.
Mike was a big likable character. Mike was good
natured and was quite amused by us westerners and
our gophers. I spent a few days in the same trench
with Mike He seemed to think I should learn some
French so to break the monotony and Jerry with a
Spandau and the odd 88 I did learn a bit of French
before we left Troteval Farm.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Crop Spraying/Auction sales/Haying

I think crop spraying is finally slowing down. Not to the point I have unhitched from the sprayer but just taking a break before hitting the chem fallow a second time. Did a poor job on the first application. Amazing the difference it makes leaving out one jug of Roundup from the mix.
Finished the last of the canola last week and shot a bit of video while driving. Plus a little outside taking a close up look at what appears to be herbicide drift damage to my canola from the neighbor's spraying. Contrary to popular belief, the newest sprayer technology is still not immune to high winds and ground speeds.
Looked at a really nice self propelled at an auction a few days ago but could not quite bring myself to spend what it would take to bring it home. 
Nice , well kept equipment, good weather made it an interesting auction but its taken me 24 hours to get over the back ache from all the standing around. I need to remember to sit down on a piece of machinery for a break sometimes. 
Haying has begun, on a very small scale here. Just enough to try out the 40 year old haybine and make sure everything works. It does. Baled up a few small squares along the driveway to replenish the supply in the hayloft that I depleted over the late winter when I had a cow confined in the shelter. 
Naturally laying a few swaths of hay seems to attract rain. Not a lot but just some damp drizzly weather that puts everything on hold until the sun comes back. 
Early canola fields are blooming already. Pictures to follow. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day

Hearing quite a bit today that this is Father's Day so I  guess its an excuse to write something here. My dad used to say that every day was fathers day and he didn't want to make a big deal out of it. Here is a photo of him and his three sons back in the summer of 63. Or probably late spring judging by the blooming dandelions. They still bloom just as good now over fifty years later. Maybe I should take that 52 Merc in the background out for a commemorative drive. Sounds like a good excuse to me.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Stopping On A Dime

With 90 cents change, I think that was the old saying . Yes, the 52 Merc now has four wheel brakes that hold on the first application of the pedal. I'm so used to pumping it three times to slow down that it will take some getting used to.
I took advantage of the help I had here today to get the long overdue job done. Bleeding the air from the brake system can be done alone but it is so much easier and wastes less brake fluid if there is someone to help work the pedal.

So it stops good, now if I could get it to go better. Not that these heavy old flathead powered cars were ever considered to be fast but this one is well below even my modest expectations. Its like the dreams I used to have about trying to stop a tractor pushing brake and clutch pedals with all my strength and it just won't stop. Only in this case pushing the pedal to the metal (gas pedal) and the old Mercomatic won't shift up until I ease up on the gas pedal. I'm going to need a longer test track to see what it will do after the 1-2 upshift.
Edit: I finally got this posted this morning. Fell asleep in the middle of trying to upload a photo here last night. Woke up and forgot what I'd been doing and shut down the computer . Lucky that blogger had saved it in drafts so I didn't have to re-write the whole thing.
Sun is shining and wind hardly blowing so maybe back to the crop spraying today.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Crop Spraying

Its going well, until it isn't. We had one really good day this week. Meaning no wind, not too hot or raining. Otherwise it is usually too windy and I end up spraying herbicide when it is less than ideal and blowing expensive poison all across the countryside.
Crops doing pretty good with only moderate weed competition.
Looks like I was a little too cheap with the roundup on the chem fallow. Everything except the twitch grass is dying as intended but the grass is hanging on. Should have thrown another jug in the tank.
Daytime highs hitting into the 80s a few days. Been a while since the last rain. Days? Maybe a week. No worries yet. Plenty of mosquitos to make life miserable when there is no wind to keep them away. Tent caterpillars are starting to thin out. As are the leaves on the trees due to the caterpillars.
Still trapping rats in the chop bin but no luck with raccoons. Turns out I had the safety latch on the trap for a month and wondered why it never caught anything. I really need to pay more attention to details.
Hilled my first row of potatoes already and they are looking great. Everything is a bit early this year so I should probably be hitching onto the haybine any day now.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

D Day Repost

This is a re-run but seeing as we have just passed the 72nd anniversary of D Day (June 6) I thought I'd repost this blog entry from my dad's memoirs of WWII.

Memories of WWII

Les Goff’s WW II Memories
July 6, 1944, 2nd Canadian Anti Tank Regiment of the 2nd infantry division left Tilbury Docks at London, England bound for France. We arrived on a beach near the town of Bayeux, Normandy where we were able to disembark without having to wade or drive through water which we were grateful for. However our trucks and towers were water proofed up to a point, possibly 3 or 4 feet of water. We arrived without incident
We had 17 pounder anti-tank guns which were towed by either Ford or Chevy towers carrying six to seven men. All kit, 40 rounds of 17 pounder ammo, five thousand rounds of 303, also each man carried a rifle. One bren machine gun per gun crew. A number of grenades , two mortars and various other pieces of equipment. So we were rather squeezed in. The ammo and packs were carried on the roof of the tower which was built for that purpose.
On going ashore there was plenty of evidence that there had been a lot of shelling. There were a lot of knocked out tanks and I regret to say that they were mostly Shermans which fell victim to the deadly German 88 mm. It was a very capable and versatile artillery gun which we would soon learn was better than anything we had and we better respect it. However the 17 pounder proved to be a good gun and came close to matching the 88's power.
We spent our first day and night somewhere in the vicinity between Bayeux and Caen, just out of range of the firing which we could hear. We were very concerned about where , when and what our next move would be. We did not have to wait long. Towards evening of the second day we were informed that we would be moving into position after dark taking over from the British 51 Division which was coming out for a rest. Our officer informed us it was pretty grim up there. That remark was very sobering. I realized later that he was not exaggerating. So, come darkness we started our move to the front. There are no lights, no cigarettes, just slowly moving with officer beside driver to show the route, a narrow dirt road. As much as I could see it was a fair amount of trees and hedges alongside the road. All went well for awhile when suddenly there was a burst of machine gun fire that sounded very close. We came to a very sudden stop. Our officer ordered everybody out. We piled out double quick, rifle in hand and hit the ditch. After laying there for 2 or 3 minutes all was quiet so Armstrong, our officer says quietly,"Unhook the gun, we have come too far, turn around and head back a ways.".........................