The John Deere Gator is home base for the two farm dogs, Jackson and Butler. They know that if the Gator is not parked in the shop, there is a good chance that a farm task will be worked on soon and the Gator will be part of that task. Neither dog wants to be the last one one the Gator.
On this day, the bed of the Gator was filled with large tubs of kindling for our firewood project.
Neither dog was able to get into the bed with it already being full, so they did the next best thing and made do with the smaller space on the front where the passenger legs area are supposed to go. Once on board, these two stood stock-still for about 10 minutes while patiently waiting for a driver, neither one attempted to sit on the seat because they know that the bench is off limits.
When the dogs were little they both would fit in this space easily with still enough room for a human. Now that they are full grown it is a little tougher, but they are not about to lose the chance to go to work. And just who needs another human passenger anyway?
One of my devoted and extremely special followers (don’t get fooled, every one of my followers are devoted and extremely special to me), took my ranting over a simple whistle to heart and went in search of one since I was unable and a little lazy getting one on my own. That is me in a nutshell, quick to rant and slower to act, but I digress from the story.
My friend found a single whistle while visiting the nearby ACE Hardware store. I never expected that they would carry that product and I can’t fathom why a hardware store would carry a whistle. Perhaps there is a need for one to get the attention of a spouse that is re-attaching a gutter atop a ladder on the second story dormer gutter, or a handy person that has only his/her behind sticking out as they repair the leaky drain under the sink. Somehow a whistle does not seem appropriate in those instances, but I am thrilled that my follower found one in the unlikely hardware store!
In a place of honor, the shrill bobby whistle now swings happily side to side from the roll bar of the Gator as we traverse the forest in search of our nuisance seedling munchers. Yes, deer and elk, I’m talking about you. Be aware, me and my trusty whistle are on the lookout.
Pulling the Gator into the driveway after the morning chores across the river, Butler the dog was sure that there was more work to do since we did not park inside the shop.
For the next two hours he stayed vigilant (as he napped) so we didn’t drive off without him.
Both dogs consider the Gator to be home base no matter where we are or what we are doing. We could be in the riparian zone along the river, out in the hay field, in the deep woods of the hillside, or fixing fence along the perimeter, the Gator is their ticket to adventure and they will not wander far from their home base.
Our John Deere Gator is our most used piece of equipment on the farm.
At the bare minimum it is used twice a day for feeding the main herd across the river and it is used much more than that on most days. We can be seen driving up the county road to check the far field, or up the hill during the summer months to go logging. We take it around by the river and through the old railroad grade when looking for missing/hiding critters.
The Gator hauls chain saws, wood chunks, hay, firewood, dogs, rocks and people. Sometimes it is loaded down with wire, t-posts, cedar posts, drivers and shovels for fence fixing, other times with 5 gallon buckets of diesel for the bulldozer. Many, many times it carries tools with various bits and pieces to fix other equipment that has broken.
This beast of burden is not very pretty to look at with mud and muck covering most of the outside and underbelly surfaces. But with the temperature dipping into the teens at night, it is welcomed into the warm garage so the goop doesn’t freeze and lock up the tires.
This beast is simply too valuable to miss a day of work on the farm.
Jackson the farm dog loves to ride the bales. When the Gator is loaded with five bales, he likes to fit into the niche of the two on the second layer.
It is a good vantage point as he scours the landscape for squirrels, chipmunks, birds and coyotes. The added benefit of the hay bales give him good back end support as he rubs those itchy spots.
Now if I could only get him trained to feed the hay bales in flakes off the Gator we would have a much easier time feeding the cows.
The extreme warm temperatures have moderated. We had a couple of days of moisture that reduced the fire danger in the area, so it is time to get back at it before the real rains come and muck up the dirt roads that lead up into the woods.
We are back to cleaning up dead and dying trees in the forest on the hillside above our hay fields. This process will still take a couple of years to complete since we are also doing some much-needed thinning at the same time. Continue reading
The frozen tundra was the last to thaw. The many inches of rain we have gotten since the snow and ice just could not absorb into the ground.
So areas like this one got a sloppy, muddy run off. This spot is along the nursery field. There is a rocked road just on the other side of the fence and the hillside beyond that. The thin layer of dirt and mud that was thawed slid right over the top of the layers that were still frozen.
The slurry flowed down under the wire fence and deposited itself in sweeping mounds at the edge of the field. These mounds will have to be taken care of before the grass tries to grow through the thick layer because the hay equipment will not be able to drive through and the grass will get choked out.
The spots that are the thicker layers of deposit will be scooped up, the bigger ones by tractor and the smaller ones by shovel and bucket. The deposits that are thinner yet will be dragged apart by the field harrow pulled behind the Gator. The harrow is nothing more than a blanket of steel teeth pulled behind a piece of equipment that combs through the grass to pull out moss while smoothing mole mounds, foot imprints, and other small imperfections in the topsoil.
We harrow all the hay fields every spring anyway, we will just have to spend a couple of extra days on this area to get it back into healthy, grass growing production. The harrowing will start when the ground has firmed up after the winter rains.