Balancing Act

Mike is getting quite good at using the front loading tractor when it comes to dexterity. With the scoop bucket he mucks out the barn and drops the loads into the manure spreader, scoops rock and lays down thin coatings on the driveway and hauls the generator back and forth from the various barns. With the front tines on instead of the bucket, he moves logs, transfers wood cribs, loads and unloads the pickup of cargo, fluffs the log decks and moves large butt blocks of wood to the big splitter.

Since our furnace can hold pieces of wood pieces that are quite large, Mike likes to split those big butt pieces of fir that are left after logging. He has a big pile of them stacked near on of the log decks, most blocks weigh well over 200 lbs. and some 500 lbs. When we have a break in daily chores, we bring out the big hydraulic splitter and work our way through a few big blocks at a time. Two or three blocks take more than an hour to break into pieces small enough to lift by humans, and that is about all the energy we have for one day. It is a good thing that our furnace can take really big pieces. Mike calls them ‘good night’ pieces because one will burn all night long. I call them ‘goodnight’ as in, goodnight they are heavy and cumbersome.

On this day of splitting, Mike went to scoop up a big block to bring it close to the splitter. He balanced the block on one tine of the front loader and moved it from the pile to the splitter where we made quick work of getting the massive block broken down into manageable pieces.

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View From the Tractor

I have to give a super amount of credit to my family who put up with all the goofiness that I add to their lives. Especially when it comes to harvest time. It doesn’t matter if it is in the hayfield, in the woods, out in the garden, in the barns or in the kitchen, my family likes things to run smoothly and methodically. I come in with a loosey-goosey, carefree attitude and demeanor and all those ramrod straight lines become verrrry blurry. Continue reading

Everybody Gets A Chance To Practice

The new tractor is going on 11 months old now and Mike has been the only one to drive it so far. That seems like a long time with a new rig without at least one other person learning about it, but the year has flown by with projects, the huge logging cleanup and inevitable planting, winter downtime (not for me but for many of the pieces of equipment because of mud, muck or snow), the new firewood bundling job, and the list goes on. The tractor was Mike’s to work or play as much as he wanted but the time has come for some learning to go on so that hay season runs smoothly. Continue reading

A Word To The Wise

Mishaps can happenĀ  at any time. After a mishap the phrase ‘If only I had known…’ seems to pop up. It seems like even a hint of an issue ahead of time could change a calamity, perhaps this is true or perhaps we just don’t hear the clues we are given. Such is the case with our new front loader tractor.

After picking out the tractor at the dealership, we needed a few things configured for the type of farm use it would be used for. We did have a canopy installed so we wouldn’t have to hold an umbrella over our heads on 100 degree days in the hay field. We ordered the larger bucket for the amount of barn refuse we move around. And we ordered farm tires a different size and tread pattern to get us through swampy areas as well as hay fields and barns.

While the enhancements were being made to the tractor, we were busy with hay season and did not pay too much attention to the goings on at the dealership until the day they said the tractor was ready for delivery. We should have asked more questions. Continue reading

Tractor Solution

It has been a long process since the small tractor broke down during hay season, we looked at many options. It came down to looking forward to the needs of the farm and the amount of time and effort we wanted to put in to fix the broken equipment.

The tractor in need of repair worked well for us when we purchased it even though it was a little small for some of the things we wanted to do. We found that we were lacking when it came to horsepower when running equipment or cleaning the barns. Continue reading

Old Reliable

A John Deere tractor baling hay.Our elder tractor, the one that we have used a lot over the last 30 plus years is going strong. This rig is doing many tasks this hay season.

We switch from mower, to fluffer, to rake, to baler sometimes several times throughout the day.

After this hay season is over, Old Reliable is going to get a spa day. A complete cleaning, lube and a check of all belts and fluids is on tap, this hard working rig will be in need of a little TLC for all the extra work.

Obvious Trouble

Water leaking from tractor.It’s always a bad sign when you are filling the fluid levels on a vehicle and the ground gets saturated as fast as you are pouring.

The water pump went out in the little tractor. This is the tractor that we use a lot during hay season. It is powerful enough to run the baler, nimble enough to pull the rake, and comfortable to drive the fluffer.

Repairs during the middle of hay season are always a bother, first parts need to be ordered. Then once the parts come into the dealership a trip into town is needed, before the repair can even be started which takes valuable time away from the business of making hay.

In the meantime, we are limping along with one tractor. It much more work to switch equipment for each task, and it takes longer because only one job can be done at a time rather than having one tractor fluffing while another rakes.

But First

On a working farm, as with life in general, jobs and tasks and plans have to be adjusted to the ‘but first’ scenario.

  • The barn needs to be cleaned, but first the tractor needs to be fixed.
  • A load of logs needs to be hauled from the landing, but first the haul road has to be smoothed before the loader can get in.
  • I would like to go shopping for something other than leftovers for dinner, but first I have to get gas since I forgot the last time I was in town.
  • The laundry needs to be washed, but first I have to empty the dryer from the load I did a couple of days ago.

I’m sure you get the idea. Continue reading

Power Tilling

A John Deere tractor with a tiller mounted on the back makes a first swipe through the weeds to work up the garden space.Mike made good use of the tiller that is attached to the John Deere tractor to work up the main part of the garden.

To the left is lawn, to the right is the garden space with cover crop and weeds (mostly weeds) growing after the unimaginably wet winter and the hard crust of compacted earth. By using the tractor to work the ground, the task to finish with my small rototiller takes many hours out of my hands.

There is still a danger of frost in our area for a while yet, so planting this space is still a ways off. But it makes me very happy to see the weeds turned over and the ground getting ready to be planted again.