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.