Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Another Chicken Day

I took another load of chickens up to St. Paul for processing last Friday. As you can see in the picture, it was terribly rainy that day and has been for more than a week. I used the tractor to pull the trailer from the field where the chickens are instead of the truck. The truck is much heavier and I didn't want to risk getting stuck or making a bunch of damage to the field of Fall Rye.

Harvesting has ground to a halt and the ground is too wet to do much of anything lately. I have been tinkering around the farm here and there, but other than that, I have been enjoying a bit of a rest. Still though, with winter coming fast, it would be nicer to be out getting the harvest complete and finishing some other tasks around the place that are weather dependant. We had a killing frost on Sunday night...that means that the potato tops are now dead or dying. I can go ahead and harvest potatoes anytime after this coming weekend. Tonight, Cindy is renting a one-man auger for installing some fence posts. I have to finish my new pig pen before it snows.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Small Farm Canada

This publication is self-explanatory. It is a great magazine that has many different articles geared towards homesteaders and small farmers. I was honoured to have an article published in the magazine in the latest issue. It is simply an article about winter feeding tactics for pigs.
I don't think I can scan the article to show everyone, I will have to check on that.

If you scan WAY WAY down the page, you will see the little blurb about my article.

Monday, September 11, 2006

New Doors

I finally decided to take on the task of building barn doors. Until now, and for the past 5 years, our barn has been without doors and doesn't look all that great. The wind carries the rain and snow into the building and the sunlight still wreaks havoc on the rubber tired implements and tractor. Most importantly though, Mrs. Schneider wanted doors. I thought about how best to accomplish this task. The openings are 10x10' and so that effectively ruled out plywood as I would have to piece together sheets or buy special 10' boards. I decided I would try to build a door using 1x6 rough cut spruce in a more traditional type of door. I was worried about weight, but I bought some BIG hinges and went ahead. Admittedly, I am probably the worst carpenter in the world. Nothing I have ever tried to build with wood has worked out terribly well. I just don't seem to have the patience for fitting things together properly. Give me a cutting wheel and a welder any day.
I layed out the boards side by side on the ground until I had the desired width and then snugged them together while screwing braces on the back side in a "Z" shape. To my surprise, and with considerable effort, the door came out square and even! A quick measure and a run with the cirular saw...and then a mighty heave to get it up there and I had half a barn door mounted. I was impressed enough that I duplicated my efforts and got the other half built and mounted in a very short time. The only screw-up was that I ran out of lag bolts to secure the hinges...I thought I had more than I actually did. I substituted a small hinge with wood screws for the time being. The door works well and looks really good in my opinion. I still need to mount a door stop on the header to stop the door from swinging inwards as far as it does, but that will not take long.
I still have two more openings to go before I am done. I will take it day-by-day and when I find some time, I will finish the doors this fall.

Weekend Tasks

I spent the weekend busy as usual around the farm. On Saturday I was combining for most of the day down at Vince's place. We were still combining oats. These were the oats that I had swathed last weekend. We had had hot dry weather all week so the combining went really well. I was in second gear with the variable speed kicked up a couple far as a 1968 combine is concerned, I was flying! Still though, it was a little disheartening to watch Vince's much newer John Deere 8820 going past me on a regular basis. It was like the first time marathoner, so proud to have trained so hard to be there in the first place only to watch the entire field of runners filing past one after the other throughout the race! No surprise though, the JD has almost three times the capacity and a 280 horsepower diesel compared to my 105 hp gas engine.

On Saturday morning, I did manage to get one irritating problem corrected. On my old tidy tank, the hose was leaking every time I used it. I had to stick the hose end deep into whatever tank I was filling to avoid losing fuel onto the ground. I went to the UFA store and picked up a new hose...then I thought I may as well install a filter. It didn't take long to install, but it wasn't a cheap R&R either. It is an older tank with 3/4 inch hose fittings. The only filter fitting I could find was 1". I needed some pipe fittings and teflon tape to make everything come together. It is a much longer hose now too...I don't have to get quite so close to whatever I am filling anymore.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The 503...a blur of activity

This photo didn't really work out. With the flash on, all you could see was the inside of the cab...with the flash off, it was dark enough to be blurry. Still though, it is kind of an interesting photo...I like it!

The 503 at home

Here is a picture of my new 503 at home in a field of oats. I am excited to have a combine and it is quite a bit of fun to use this old piece of machinery. The 503, at the time it was new, was the largest combine in the world. It is still big enough! I plan to fix it up and keep it running for another 30 years or more.

The New Combine

I picked up my new combine last Thursday. My Uncle Ren gave it to me. It is a late 60's International 503. It is in very good working condition and I was trying to figure out a way to get it home. I had to get it from his farm near Gibbons Alberta to my place more than 50 miles away. I really didn't want to drive it that far, but with the extreme high cost of transport in Alberta right now, trucking was out of the question. I took the day off work and bit the bullet...I packed a lunch and a thermos of coffee and decided to try driving it home no matter how long it took. I was surprised at how little time it actually took. I drove it home exclusively on gravel roads and 4.5 hours later I was home! The combine ran fine and I had absolutely no troubles. There were some concerning times, when I had to go down steep hills and across bridges...these combines are belt driven and are very large and heavy...if a belt breaks on a hill, you have a runaway on your hands. On Friday, I went over it with the grease gun, replaced some lights and prepared for the next leg of the journey which was to my friend's farm down near Thorsby (about 1/2 an hour by truck). This would be a shorter drive, but much more dangerous with many hills and rivers to travel over. Still though, the combine ran perfectly and in 2.5 hours I was there ready to help him with his harvest of over 800 acres of organic grain.
I started actually combining on Sunday afternoon. I started on a field of oats. The combine ran well enough, but we think that it isn't running fast enough. Vince is ordering me a new spring for the governor so hopefully that will fix the problem. We have perfect weather for grain harvesting right now. I spent the whole day Monday helping Vince and it was terribly hot. I ran the swather for most of the day while the dew dried and then later in the afternoon, I started combining again. The 503 overheated a few times (again probably due to the lower rpm problem). Later in the evening when things cooled down a bit, I went along without a hitch.