Friday, August 29, 2014

Blue Tractor

Guv'nor liked the blue tractor that he saw the other day and the owner accepted his offer! The deal even included delivery to our house.

So we are now the happy owners of a New Holland tractor. It is a 2002 model with 72 horsepower and 850 hours. It came with a front loader attachment and a bucket.

The sale didn't include any manuals, so Guv'nor has ordered both an instruction manual and a maintenance manual. Once they arrive and he's had a good read, he will be ready to start using it and able to show me what to do.

Our friend Fireman came over the other day to have a look at our new purchase and thought we got a good deal. He even fixed the air conditioning switch that I broke the first day fiddling with things!

The tractor was delivered on a flat bed trailer.

The tractor was secured with several large chains.

The large rear tires bumped down the gap between the trailer and the ground

The front loader and bucket were skillfully used to get the front tires off the trailer.

Our new blue tractor

The sale didn't include any rear attachments.

The inside of the cab with a cushioned suspension seat

The dashboard has a digital display with essential information.

The control lever for the rear hydraulic attachments

The joystick for the front loader and bucket

The usual switches for lights and windshield wipers

 I fiddled with the air conditioning and heating switch and broke it. :(

The radio

The essential cup holder and forward and reverse shuttle

The gear lever has 4 ranges with 4 gears in each range with a total of 16 gears.

The orange knob is the throttle and the yellow knob is the P.T.O. (power take off for rear drive).

The external tool box attached over the rear tire

The front bucket

The front loader with the bucket

Fireman fixed the air conditioning switch!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Six Calves

We took delivery of six cute calves recently. We've done a deal with Neighbor to buy some of his Red Angus cows at around $2 per pound. We are going to get five more cows in a few weeks, all most likely pregnant and due to calf early next year.

The heifer calves are all under a year old, newly weaned and separated from their mothers. The cows that we will be getting will not be related to these calves, because they need to be separated from their weaned calves. If the cows and calves are together too long, then when the new calves are born in the spring, the older calves will not let the younger calves get to the cow's milk. So it works out well for both us and Neighbor that we can mix and match the cows and calves to allow them to be separated and weaned.

No names have been given yet.

Here are the six cute calves.

The calves like to stay near the feeding trough under the trees.

This one stood still long enough to take her picture.

Cattle cubes are a treat for the calves.

The calves are able to roam the field to find grass they like.

They manage to find the best grass.

They like to sit in the shade of the trees.

These two heifer calves are sorting out who is boss.

Guv'nor is hoping to get them to eat out of his hand.

They come up to the fence to see if you have a treat for them.

The water trough has an auto-fill valve and is on a cart so it can be moved around the field.

Fence poles were put around the water faucet to protect it from the the calves.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Water Leak

We have known for some months that we had a leak in our water line. Every month our water bill had a big blue stamp across it saying, "Customer Leak Detected". We even knew where it probably was, since there was always a muddy patch up near the front gate.

So with nothing else better to do (I say jokingly), Guv'nor decided he'd tackle the leak by himself. This was yet again a time when we wished we had a few young farm hands to help out.

He decided he'd work on it, as it happens, on the morning that Daughter and I were out delivering Meals on Wheels. He had collected all the tools and parts he needed and thought he would be able to repair it while we were gone. So the water was off when we got home and he was out in the field. We thought, no problem, we can manage without water for a few minutes.

Little did we know.

Guv'nor had managed to dig a hole and find the leak. He managed to cut out the joint that was cracked and leaking. He even managed to fit the new section in place. But every time (and there were several times) he turned the water back on, the pressure on the line caused the new joint to "explode" (Guv'nor's words).

Fast forward a few hours, a few explosions, and a few trips to the hardware store. I'll spare you the gory details.

As it was getting dark, Neighbor came over to see if he could help. So they went again (third time's the charm) to town to get yet another part. And in the dark, with Daughter holding flashlights, Guv'nor fit the newest joint with all hopefulness that this one would work.

Sadly, it blew as well, and we were without water for awhile longer.

Thankfully, I had a few gallons of water stored up for such times as this. And even more thankfully, Neighbors had kindly offered to let Guv'nor shower over at their place, otherwise I'm not sure what he would have done. So we managed through the night.

Guv'nor was up early the next morning and made another trip to town -  different hardware store, different part - and very thankful that it was a big enough part to hold under the water pressure. So by midday (a little over 24 hours), the water was back on.

Here are a few things we learned:
  1. Fill up sinks, tubs, buckets, jugs, bottles before turning off the water.
  2. You use a lot more water than you think you do. One gallon per person per day is the bare minimum.
  3. Store extra water containers for emergencies. One gallon milk bottles work well. Don't forget to store extra water for animals.
  4. Water is heavy. Have you tried to pick up a 7 gallon water container? Use one gallon bottles instead.
  5. If you have a sink full of water, scoop out water and pour over dirty hands rather than submerge dirty hands into a sink of clean water. Wet paper towels also come in handy.
  6. Have a separate source for drinking water. A stand alone water filter works well.
  7. Have a few ready made meals in reserve that only need to be heated up.
  8. Don't let your trash and dirty dishes pile up - at least rinse and stack them. Use paper plates instead.
  9. Lay down plastic sheeting over muddy areas you plan to lie down on.
  10. We can save a plumber's bill if we don't mind being without water a day and are prepared to make a few trips into town for parts.
  11. It is possible to survive longer than 24 hours without taking a shower. 
  12. No matter how hard you try not to, you still will instinctively flush the toilet.
  13. Make friends with your neighbors. You never know when you might need to take a shower at their place.

We've known about the leak since January.

We found the leak by the wet patch in the grass.

Guv'nor dug up an area around the wet patch.

We have sticky black gumbo dirt.

The leak was up near the front gate.

The water cut off valve was about 20 yards away by the fence.

The leak was in a section of 2" pipe.

Here's the leaky section that was cut out.

The joint used on the first attempt was, in hindsight, rather feeble.

The final joint was expandable and monitored a few days for leaks before filling in the hole.

This 7 gallon water container is very useful but very heavy.

I prefer storing water in half gallon, 1 liter, and 1 gallon bottles.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Green One

One thing that I've always wanted to do was drive a tractor. The closest I'd ever come was sitting on one at the state fair. It always just looked fun to me. Sitting up high. Plowing through an open field. Turning the big steering wheel. Working all those gears.

So when a friend invited us out to his property to look at his tractors, I said, yes please.

The tractors that Fireman has are bigger than we need, so it was good to see if I could actually handle his. His were big Green tractors (I can't remember brands but I can remember colors!) and 100 to 150 horse power ones. The rear tires were taller than me. Of course, he was sitting next to me telling me what to do. But I did it. Hooray! And it was much easier than I had expected. The one main thing I learned is that you don't actually shift gears like you would with a car. You choose the gear for the job. You start out in a gear and mostly keep it in that gear for that particular task you're doing. But there are sometimes 16-18 gears to choose from. It definitely takes skill.

The one thing Guv'nor learned is that he would want one with an enclosed cab. It's not just a luxury for the heating and air conditioning, although that is a nice thing. It is more a safety issue with dust and debris flying up in your face.

We are hoping to buy a tractor soon. We will need one when we get cows and just generally to manage the property. Guv'nor is doing his research and scouring the want ads for previously owned tractors. They're expensive! So far he's found two he likes - a Blue one and a Red one.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Zero Turn

We have needed a good lawn mower for a long time. The one we've been using is an electric walk behind one that we brought with us from Florida.

Guv'nor researched zero turn lawn mowers and came to the same conclusion as Neighbor that Toro made the best one for our situation. He chose the SS5060 model which has a Kawasaki motor, dual speed controls, and two deck washout nozzles. He discovered that the local hardware store could order it, and even better, could service it in the future. It took them a couple of months to get the exact model that he wanted. When it arrived, we both went down to look at it. I wanted to make sure that I could handle it, if and when the need arises. It will fit on our trailer, but the store delivered it and gave us a lesson on how to use it.