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12/2013 – December

Posted by Kevin Carpenter on December 28, 2013
Posted in Still alive in 2019  | No Comments yet, please leave one


Its December.  What can one say?  Its COLD! 

Two weekends ago we warmed up to 18F.  We put three bales of hay out for the cows and basically tried to stay warm.  OK, OK, yeah, I checked the freeze proof water supply and it was apparently working (liquid water on the surface being a very good indicator at 18F).  Alas, we had problems with our Kubota RTV 900.  The steering failed on it moments after we pulled it out of the shed.  Raised it up using the hay fork on the tractor and couldn’t move the wheels either by hand or with the wheel.  The wheel, in fact, just spun.  Hopped on the net, and the good folks over on
http://www.nettractortalk.com/ came to the rescue, after a bit of debate of course!   Many were curious, but after a few days of discussion, we guessed there was some water in the hydraulic lines that froze up.  Great guys over there for what is is worth – within hours I had advise, diagrams, explanations of how the steering work, etc.  How the steering works?  What type of idiot am I?  The wheel turns a shaft that turns the rack and pinion setup that turns the wheels right?  Ah… nope!  The wheel turns a small multi-chamber valve-pump with hydraulic pressure on one side.  That moves a hydraulic piston that turns the wheels. With the engine off, the unit acts like a pump and manually moves the piston.  There is no shaft, just two hydraulic lines running to the steering wheel!  Anyhow, feeding the cows and fooling with the RTV was about all we got done.  We went home early since I had to arise at 3am to go to the airport (real work… helps pay the bills… but so inconvenient at times).

Came back this weekend and
hoped into the Kubota before we even made it to the house.  You see, we had a surprise warming spell – it was 44F.  If there was water in the lines, the steering should now work.  Started it up, and voila!  I could steer again.  Apparently no major damage.  We actually took advantage of the kids being of off school for Christmas and left early on Friday.  Managed to get into town (Kirksville) in time to buy 5 gallon of hydraulic fluid and other project supplies.  So I had what I needed to replace the fluid.

Saturday was maintenance day.  Started by putting another 3 bales out for the cows.  That was the most important thing.  Of note, after chatting with the neighbors, the 3 bales we put out 2 weeks ago had just been polished off the day we arrived – good timing.  Those 2 weeks had snow cover, so it will be interesting to see how these 3 bales survive.  Once the cows were fed it was time to turn my attention to RTV.  Evia attacked the old hay bales I had placed in the garden for spreading.  It was, after all, a balmy 45F or so!

When I went to drain the old hydraulic fluid out, what appeared looked like salad dressing!  It was a creamy
off-white.  Clearly water was emulsified with the oil.  I flushed the system 3 times before the fluid ran clear.  Changed the engine oil while I was at it (it only takes 3 quarts if you don’t do the filter, a cheap $6 maintenance routine – the filter cost that much and despite Jiffy-Lube advertising, really does not need to be changed each time).  The engine has 420 hours on it, a lot of that idle time, but still.  I’ll change out all the fluids and filters the next time I do maintenance on it.

We took a run around the farm and came back for a late lunch.  Both freeze proof water lines were plugged with silt.  Opening them fully purged them and all is now ok.  Of course, do so means removing my outer flannel, rolling up my sleeve, and sticking my arm in 35F water up to the elbow.  Believe it or not, you get use to doing such things.  

Oh, ugh, its almost 5pm.  Guess it will be an early dinner!
  Oh, posting this Saturday night.  No big plans for tomorrow, will probably just haul cow droppings to the garden. 

Top photo is of L
arry peeking around a hay bale 2 weeks ago.  Bottom photo is the herd taking a mid-day break today.    The bottom photo is part of the view from our back porch.  Someday we hope to have a lake down in the valley where the trees are.  As always, you should be able to click on the photos to see bigger images.

11/30/2013 A not bad weekend

Posted by Kevin Carpenter on December 3, 2013
Posted in Still alive in 2019  | No Comments yet, please leave one


We have commonly spent the long Thanksgiving weekend at the farm, but this year schedules only allowed us to put in a normal Friday Night->Sunday trip.  Still, we managed to get a lot done:

1)  Got a long nights sleep.  We arrived early, about 6pm, but of course, this time of the year it was already dark out.  I think I flopped into bed about 7pm and woke up about 9am.

2)  Went for a long stroll…  ok, not exactly a stroll, but I did walk around for several hours as I merged the herds back into one group.  Moe and Curly have been steered, so we didn’t have to worry about them with the girls, and Larry has been DNA tested, so anything that arrives in 9+ months can be validated as either being Larry’s or Duncan’s.  It was amusing to watch them re-integrate, complete with the whole herd pecking order reshuffling.  I was a bit concerned about Larry and Duncan, both being bulls, being together, but Larry didn’t make it up high enough in the pecking order to even approach Duncan.  While this was going on I checked both of the freeze-proof water system and they were good.

3)  Dumped the last of the water out of the summer trough and turned it over.  A nice rock on top and it will be good and dry during all the freeze/thaw cycles that will occur over the next few months.

4)  We spread all of the screenings (mostly chaff but a lot of live seed) Frank had provided us.  That was work!  Evia drove around and I dumped material into our seeder.  At 50-75lbs a bag, dumping partial bags while standing in the back of a moving, bouncing, vehicle left me rather sore.  Each bag was around 8 cubic feet of material, and out seeder only holds about 2 cubic feet.  The material didn’t “flow” well either, so when not dumping I was pushing material towards the chute.  The spinner caught my fingers a few times, but its not a chore if you don’t bleed a bit (unfortunately, true more often than not on a farm).  Next day, when we did the 2nd half, I wore leather gloves!  Who says I can’t be trained!  Oh, we found Chucks skull, picked clean and bleached white, but Evia wouldn’t let me keep it in the house.

5)  Found some shorts in our electric fence.  Starting to have problems with the original plastic wire holders breaking.   They were a pain anyhow, needing to be stretched over the T-Post, with a little plastic tongue that prevented them from sliding down, and a big plastic nut on the back that held them tight.  I’m replacing them with snap-on holders that have a plastic pin.  Much easier.  Not sure which is cheaper, but at this point convenience wins (the new ones may actually be – less parts, less plastic content, much less complicated to make).
  Also removed several hundred feet of electric fence opening up two adjoining fields.  That cattle now have the run of the complete farm, which I like to do in the winter.  It gives them more grazing options and multiple water sources should there be a problem.

6)  I put out two large round (1600-1800lb) bales of hay for the cattle.  They don’t need it right now, but not sure what the weather will do between now and the next time we are there, so rather safe than sorry.  Wish I had my camera.  Half a dozen of them played with their new toy and were covered in hay!  Most amusing.

7)  Finally, Sunday late afternoon, I hooked the tiller up to the tractor and did the garden (results shown in the photo at the top).  If we had another day, I would have tilled fire breaks for burning next spring, but also that was time we didn’t have.  We did a bit of fence work as well, but since that only took an hour or so, it is hardly worth mentioning.

We had great weather all weekend.  Highs were in the mid 50’s, so T-shirt and flannel weather.   A few tractor photos below:  Me on the tractor – that is a hay fork on the front used to move bales and the tiller on the back.  Frank dreaming of driving some day and Gabby thinking she is ready.  Sorry kids, not yet!  (ps.  The kids photos were from this past summer.)