Equipment Jigsaw

We do not run irrigation lines in our hay fields, we prefer to let nature do it’s thing with our grass and pastures. Because we are not forcing the land to produce the next crop of hay we use the areas of hay fields as grazing fields for the cows once the hay harvest is complete. That means we do not have a second cutting or third cutting as some farmers are able to do, it also means that the one crop we do get is precious and is all that sustains our cattle throughout the winter beyond what they are grazing.

Now that we are done with the hay equipment for the year, it is time to get it cleaned up and stored away for next year. The process of getting all the chaff, hay seeds, dust, dirt and clingy wads off each begins with the high-powered air blower.

As each piece of equipment is cleaned, it needs to be stored away. The equipment takes up a lot of valuable real estate in the barns and it takes a jigsaw approach to get it all put back where it needs to go so they all will fit.

The first piece to go in is the Henry loader, the handy elevator that scoops bales off the ground and drops it over the top of the truck bed for stacking. The Henry has to be rolled in by hand in order for the tall top to fit into the space between the rafters in the barn. It takes two people to inch the Henry around the pole, past the stack of lumber that is scheduled to be used on a new fence in the bull pen during the winter months, and back into the designated resting place.

Next is the rake that has to tuck in right in front of the Henry without hitting the cement wall and leaving a walking path to the back of the barn that holds spare parts for year round repairs.

After the rake, the baler is inched in and with the help of hydraulic power of the tractor is swung to one side so the back of the mower envelopes the handles of the rake that protrude out. If the baler is in the correct position, the mower gets moved in next and fits snugly right up to the hitch of the baler.

If all goes correctly up to this point the fluffer gets folded up into a compact shape and wheeled into the last remaining square footage of the barn equipment area. Luckily, this year everything seemed to fit in correctly the first time, this is not always the case.

Hay season 2020 now can begin to become a memory, except we still haven’t unloaded The Big Red Beast, it may take a day or two before I want to mess with it.

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Delay Extended

For the past two weeks the logging project has been on rain delay. We had expected a few showers, then we expected a few thunderstorms, then more showers, there were more wet days than dry days. It seems like the summer just gave up on us and moved on. The loggers cannot make it up the hill, and the trucks are having a hard time making it in to get the loads out that are waiting in the landing. Continue reading

Moving In Days

A feller buncher is moving along the road at the bottom of a hill of forestWe have a small six acre spot on the hillside that is concerning. The trees in this area are at the other side of the ridge from the tangle mess of damage that Mike and I are in the process of cleaning up.

This area is at the edge of the neighbor’s clear cut. The trees in this spot did not sustain the damaging winds that the other section received because it is slightly below the ridge line on the lee side of the hill. The clear cut did however expose these trees to the other elements and they show the damage of sunburn and moisture loss.

Tops of fir treesThe growth on the tops of the trees has changed dramatically since the clear cut and we have been monitoring the tops as we drive the lower fields. The treetops show a distinct thinning of needles and the leaders are practically non-existent.

This section of ground is very steep with pole length timber and it is more that Mike and I can safely handle, so we called in our amazing loggers (Weller Timber Corp) to give us a hand with this operation. Most of the equipment will be staged at the bottom of the hillside where it is relatively flat. The trees will be dropped and hauled out of the woods tree length so they can be evaluatedĀ  for the best value cuts.

Equipment at the base of the hill for a log landing.The equipment kept rolling in over the next two days. Second to arrive was the fire suppression trailer with a 1000 gallon water supply along with enough hose and water pressure to attack and extinguish a fire. This trailer can be hooked to the bulldozer, skidder or feller/buncher and moved into the woods anywhere in the logging project if a fire were to break out.

Before any work could start, inspections by the Forestry had to be performed. The hauler, loggers, equipment and river crossings all had to be scrutinized before the official beginning of the project. Engines, mufflers, and water pressure tests took the most time for the inspection process but we are now certified and the loggers are ready to begin.


Time To Clean And Store

With the last of the hay fields completed and every last bale has been put into the barns and stacked for feeding during the late fall and winter months,

Hay equipment stored in barn.A visitor to the farm (a city person who had never seen working property before) took one look at the barn full of equipment and stated that farmers have the coolest toys. I try to keep that thought in mind while we use high pressure air to dislodge all the dry accumulation. Continue reading

About Halfway Done

Hay stacked in barnThree barns are needed to store hay and equipment. The hay storage in this barn is beginning to add up with five stacker loads so far. All this undercover area is a prime spot for storage and we have to use it wisely. By the end of hay season this middle section of the barn should hold enough hay to feed the main herd through the winter, the bale wagon, the logging Caterpillar, ten half-cord cribs of firewood, the wood splitter and the Gator.

For now, the good weather held for us to get about halfway completed with our hay season. With threats of several days of showers and rain, we are holding off mowing down any more grass until we have a good stretch of warm, dry weather.

The second half of our hay season needs extra drying time once mowed because these fields are enclosed by trees that line the meandering river. The shade from the trees keep these fields damper than the open fields and they tend to have early morning fog that hangs around longer that the bigger fields. Seems like a good time to take a break from hay for a few days.

Making The Hay Is The Easy Part

If you are thinking of a farm that is spread out over a flat valley with acres and acres making up a single field, you would not be thinking of my farm. On my farm, one would be hard pressed to find any flat ground larger than a few feet across. There are no square corners or straight fence lines that aren’t curved around swampy areas, slides and meandering river banks. And the county road bi-sects the farm. Our fields are small tucked-in spots around the river and it takes a lot of time to move each piece of equipment as they are needed into the field.

Moving hay equipment up a dirt road through forest.There is always a slow motion parade of equipment as we move from one field to the next.

Mike has just taken this piece of equipment up to the far hay field after driving up the county road. He has to follow the path through the forest and across the old log landing by the railroad grade before getting to the hay field. Once he is done with this piece of equipment it will need to be moved out of the hayfield to make room for the rake to be brought in to form the dried hay into windrows for the baler.

Cleaning Equipment

Powerwashing the tractor and spreader.The tractor and spreader get coated with the lime as it is applied to the hayfields. The powder sticks to every surface and builds up in every crevice and cranny.

This spreader is one of those pieces of equipment that has a long history. It had been used on my childhood homeplace by my dad for countless years before we acquired it over 40 years ago.

The power washer is used to blast the residue from the equipment. It works best to break up the cleaning into different days. One day to breakup the larger, cement-like, build ups while giving the tractor and spreader a good wet down to soak and soften the remainder of the residue. The second day to go over all the spots again and clean off everything is usually enough.

We had a good rain shower roll in as we were finishing on the first day to assist with the task of wetting down all the surfaces.

With this job and cleanup complete, the spreader will air dry in the barn several days before applying a thin layer of oil over the entire piece of equipment to protect it from rusting until it is needed again next year.

Into The Woods

A large machine to use in the woods.We had just barely finished with hay season when the logging equipment started to show up.

First to arrive was this feller/processor. It is a handy piece of equipment that not only cuts some of the smaller timber, it also takes the limbs off and cuts the pieces into logical lengths.

Water truck being delivered to the farm.Right after the feller/processor, was the fire fighting tank. We are now officially in fire season and our tractor with a small tank on the back is not enough for regulations.

This fire tank will be hauled up the new logging road right to the top of the hill near where the feller/processor will be working.