Last Friday I past my Elesca assent to be able to self certificate my electrical work the assessment is a mixture of administrative and qualifications checking and practical knowledge and inspection of work carried out so it was never racking to say the least.
I should apologise for not being around much here in recent months but unfortunately my wife has been very poorly so she has had to put up with me and the boys looking after her and the home along with all the training etc has meant time has been very short for anything else, and the situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon.
So Neil was not at the shop when I purchased the cultivator, I asked Liam three different times if he was sure this would go with the Massy 7700 I was getting, it looked a little big. Liam said aye three times, but I was a little unsure still, but I had work to do and so I did not want to wait till the next day when I could talk to Neil. Sure Neil was only the mechanic there but so far he has steered me right and I was willing to take his advice, now I have taken this cultivator up to the island to start my work at the main farm. I get all the way there and get into the cow field and drop the cultivator and my tractor will hardly pull it, so I run it a bit and realize that Liam steered me wrong and I have to go clear back to the shop and waste more time with that fool.
I decide to stop by the house and ask Thomas’ advice and he lets me know that Liam is a bit of a langer and only works there since it is his uncles shop, I got the Kuhn DC 401 due to how it was compact and would fit well around the town and on the ferry, I cant go to long or some turns and the ferry are out of the question. Thomas said that there are too many rocks in the ground to go with a single row like that, and that a tiller style will catch and that a disc style will roll over the rocks and can be filed and hammered into shape later. Thomas called up Neil and asked if he could help even if it was his day off, Neil said he has one he had just made up himself he would sell for cheap, he said just to head over to his place not far from the shop and pick it up and I could bring him cash later for it. So even though I am no dwarf nor do I work in a mine the high ho song was in my head as I drove off, sitting there on a few old pallets was my new cultivator Neil even showed me how to stick the pallets in the frame so I could sit it down anytime I wanted.
Back to the farm with my set up I go hoping to make up lost ground and with it being a slight rain I hope to not get stuck. I got a good change in the weather a little after noon and made good progress on the cultivation of the main farm, with the cow pasture done and ready to seed in grass I went on to the open area to the east of the farm yard just south of the green houses, Rathlin Island town committee also gave me the whole run of the main farm but not the farm house as that was still property of a family who had items in there of old family heritage. That means that those green houses are mine to use as I would like. Now to find some manure and a water tank for a good price, I will contact the animal shop and see if they have any manure I can buy off of them. On a completley different note I bought a pony with a cart to help bring stuff around the farm, when I used the internet to face time my family my children were super excited that we owned a pony, my oldest kept screaming that she wanted a pony all her life, she is four!!! Planting of grass will come soon, as well have the need to get that wood chipper back and find some wood to chip up for money.
Progress has been made, bushes are cleared and the areas are looking so good in fact that they city council asked if I could help with the weeds that had come in under the brush. I started with the main farm as they call it, it has not been used in some years and the pig and cow pastures have been over grown with weeds and big dirt spots. I bought a plough with the money I made from selling wood chips, good money to be made there, I decided if I am going to do this I may as well do it correctly so I got a fertilizer spreader and a cultivator. I spent several days doing all that work, I covered the whole main farm east of the old house just south of the green houses. Thomas got permission for me to do just south of field thirteen where the sheep usually graze, I also bought three fields near the dock from a farmer who was not using the area and was willing to sell for a good price. Does that make me a local since I now own property in Ireland? What it did make me was almost deaf from the scream my wife gave me on the phone, she wanted to know how we would afford the taxes and what we would do with this land, but not so calmly.
Busy several days that is for sure, even after all that I am still up forty-five thousand euros. Mid spring and I will be planting all grass soon, with a thought of getting into the sheep farming side of things though I am told milk cows make good money as well. Pigs take actual crop so those would not do well for me even though Ireland is in need of fresh pork. So many ways to make it, and so many ways to fall to my demise.
I was told fair play, maybe I am not just one of those loud Americans who was not of the full shilling. Another of the fellas around said that was a gas and I was no eejit either. I looked at them and said I was just happy out for the work to do, they stopped with surprise that I had understood them. I have watched a few movies you know.
(So just a forewarning, I have never traveled by air and the only time I have personally left the USA was on my honeymoon cruise down to Mexico. So I will not cover stuff I have never actually done and for the things that may be inaccurate I apologize in advance.)
I have arrived in Rathlin Island after 3 connecting flights and an hour drive from Belfast, tired and worn having never traveled much before. I ring the old turn style bell on the door at the address I was given by Thomas, he had mentioned that he has a hard time getting around lately so I was prepared to wait at the door for a while. While I stood there at that little stone cottage, red door and green shutters, definitely not modern in the slightest but beautiful as you could imagine. I heard a faint “Be right there.” A few people walk by up the street looking towards me with curiosity, I figure I may be the first stranger in a long time here, but maybe not. There is a rattle on the inside of the door and it creeks open slowly showing the smiling face of Thomas, “Welcome cousin come in.”
Hours pass as he and I chat, when its supper time he has a pained expression on his face, he explains that all he has in the house are a few cans of stewed meat soup. Without a second thought I walk over to the little café I passed by and order 2 meals, although taking them to go was not an expected request, after explaining the situation to the owner he takes no time at all to foil up the plates and says I can bring them back tomorrow no worries. Supper passes and an early bedtime for me.
The dock area of Ballycastle as well as the Island of Rathlin used to be maintained by Thomas before he fell ill some years back and shrubbery and all sorts of weeds have started to overtake the roadsides. I stop and talk to Patrick, whom Thomas told me to talk to, about me resuming those duties while I was here in town. How I was going to do so I was not sure exactly, but there was a need and I was going to try to fill it, I had a chainsaw from Thomas and was told of a shop in Ballycastle who sold and rented out some equipment. I took the Hurliman to the dock and had to wait for the ferry to be ready to launch, luckily it was parked on the island late yesterday, and I was brought over by a nice gentleman in his dingy.
The shops mechanic had an answer on how to help with all the shrubbery rather than burning it. He seems to be rather a wiz at rigging equipment together to server unusual purposes, Neil showed me the chipping part that came off of a Bruks Hakkuri 605PT that was a bit messed up, he had taken it off of the trailer with the claw arm and had rigged it up to hook to the front of a tractor three point and would be powered by the PTO. He even had it working to grind up stumps with a bit of work of the driver. Neil was real excited to see it work that he let me lease it from him for 5,104 euros, he said the four at the end made it seem official, the shop let me rent an agroliner tipper trailer for 2376 for the initial cost. I would end up leasing this stuff for several days. I started not far from the shop over by the trailer park and the Ballycastle Livestock barn, Neil told me that that road was down to a one lane road because of all the overgrown trees, he did not think the city officials would mind. Hours later I was struggling to even get access to some of it as it was so tangled and tough, I was cutting by hand and throwing small pieces into the grinder which was blown over the tractor into the trailer. I had a full trailer load before I stopped to think I was not sure what to do with the chips I had. A stranger stopped as he walked by and realized what my problem was, “Over to the Agri-Merchants with it are ye? Or perhaps the bio heating plant over on the Island? Both will take it as a burn material.” I do believe that man was an angel sent from on High at that moment. That first day I came out over a thousand euros in the hole even after selling a bit of material, and all for a sore back and blistered hands.
It was well after sundown before I made it back to the cottage of Thomas, “Mrs. Murphy from the café was worried about you, sent us over supper for us. Said this one is on the house as appreciation for the kindness you have brought.” I wolfed it down and hit the bed like a dead man from a three story building, I did not even notice my cell phone blinking its missed messages and calls from my wife.
She may have killed me there on the spot if she knew I blew through the fifteen thousand the first day here.
So my wife thinks I am certifiably crazy, who really can blame her, I come to her with “What would you say about moving to Ireland to farm!” She literally looked at me to see if I had grown a tumor or a second head, and then she burst into laughter like you have not seen before, holding her sides and slapping her knee. By the time she was done laughing she was on the floor out of air and wheezing, asking if I was pulling some long term April fools joke.
After I get her to stop laughing some thirty minutes later and sit her down and tell her about Thomas and Rathlin Island and the whole story she is actually looking up skrinks and facilities for mental health. She says ok, so you found info on your ancestry that leads you to Ireland. Why would we go there just because that is where the info lead you to? We have jobs here and family here and a house with a car loan, church and friends. All valid points I will admit to, this is a really crazy notion, but something in my gut says this is important, and it’s not just last nights tacos either. This feels really important, like God sized important to me, and who am I to question His plans for me? After all am I not a faithful servant to Him? Do I not put my life in the hands of Jesus Christ my Savior, the guy who died on a cross for me even though I am a wrectched undeserving soul?
I get a resounding absolutely no way in this world would make my wife want to go along with this weird plan, even after explaining that it may not be something in this world leading me to do this. So like a wise man I let it go and I do not press this matter anymore on this day, after all Rome not built in a day and all that. I continue on with my week as normal, work and little ones in the house to feed, bath and chase like a wild buffoon trying to tickle them if they are too slow. While looking further into this myself, cost of a plane ticket there and a bed and breakfast to stay at in Ballycastle, what am I going to do when I get there? Thomas only has the one tractor left a little Hurliman that is only eighty-eight horsepower, I am not even sure what can be done with that.
I told my wife that I have fifteen days of vacation at work and I can borrow up to fifteen thousand against my 401K, I would like to take that and go make a try in Ireland. My wife being the loving caring woman that she is looked deep into my eyes and had the softest look on her face and told me to explain how it would even work. So I elaborate on the plan that I had prepared and with my gifted Irish mouth explained away every question she could throw at me, but still not fully convinced but with no further argument tells me if I want to waste away our retirement money for some **BadWord** and bull plan that it would be me working in old age not herself.
So off to Ireland with fifteen thousand and a dream, maybe I am insane after all!
So, funny story of how my farming career started, it all started with looking into my ancestry. I got on an ancestry site knowing that my mother's father's family came from Ireland, probably-ish based on the last name of McKee. After several months I have still only reached 1859 with the birth of my grandfather's grandfather's father, confusing I know, that if 5 generations before me and still only in Illinois, USA. For all I know I could be Scottish and would not even know the difference.
Back to farming though, with the first part being truth and little of it I have decided to make up a story to go along with my game, I love the Rathlin Island map and have started playing it recently and have not made it more than three days into spring. So here we go!!!!
I finally received an email back after months of searching and this one guy had all sorts of information on my five generations ago. Long story short he lived on Rathlin Island and had a big book of family history, I called him up and talked with him for several hours about this and that and all such matters. He was an old farmer there on the island and through extremely bad events had lost both of his sons some twenty years prior and would have no one to continue the work. Most of the work he did for the island government itself, mowing road edged and keeping of grounds, a bit of forestry was done in there as well and then just helping locals maintain their crops and fields. In his older age has had a few health problems and has been unable to do some of the upkeep, and because of such has lost much of the equipment he had to be able to live.
Talking to Thomas about this whole situation got me wondering what it would be like to be in Ireland, it may not be the land of my father to son traced back to the motherland origins, but my Grandpa was a very good man and I loved him while my dad’s father was a cruel man who died when my dad was still just a teenager. This side of my family tree meant more to me that the last name I had now.
Ok, I have some crazy ideas I need to go have a talk with my wife and see how bad she is going to scream when I mention maybe going to Ireland to work.
.. and exams, passed C&G 2382 BS7176 17th Edition Wiring Reg's and C&G 2393 Building Regs
Also did some 3 phase knowledge and testing.
3 Phase boards
my tester and test board
The torture room sorry classroom
Next week is the Testing & Inspecting coarse and exam, then back in a month to take the next level Periodic testing & inspecting.
I have been away on the first week of training to become a electrician last week, I have been pushed to the max on the theory side especially on the first day when it was a lot of math equations and formulas. There are 8 guys on my course from all sorts of backgrounds but we do have one thing in common our age, we are all over 45 and looking to either change career or to be able to work on our own electrics at home.
Having left school with virtually no qualifications many years ago this sort of thing made my brain cry but I think all of us have got it now, the first week has been a big eye opener on the amount of planning and preparation that should go in to any electrical work, over the years I have done a lot of electrical work with out understanding fully what I was doing, fortunately I was taught by people that did know so I have the practical know how and am beginning to match that with the theory.
I have decided that I don't want to shell out £129 for this
Instead I am going to build my own button box with a joystick, it won't look as fancy or have 25 buttons, but it will give me great satisfaction in building it.
Sept 17 - 25
Like clockwork we had rain yesterday evening and we spent the morning taking care of our cows and getting all our hay equipment ready. Today starts our big push to bring in the final hay for the year. We start down on field 21 where last time in the early summer we pulled just over 107K L of loose grass off the field for silage in our silos. This time around we will be baling the hay for storage in the building down here at the sheep area to feed our sheep for the coming year. Our target is 26 bales which would be close to the 107K of what we got off the field the first time.
The grass did not dry off until around mid day so we are full court press on getting as much done because of course we have rain in the forecast again for tomorrow. Working well into the evening we got 46 bales off of the field and we got some put away before we broke for the night and finished the job the following morning. We also worked on field 20 and was able to pull 19 bales of hay of that field before the rain came. In planning for the large hay harvest off the new field we moved the few bales we had left over from the early summer mowing of field 20 so we could use those first. The first few days into mid autumn will be spent working on that hay harvest as we actually have 2 consecutive days with no rain in the forecast. Lets hope that does not mean we get a popup hale storm.
Today I went shopping for some new equipment, since I had none to work with. I was able to pick up a couple of nice John Deere tractors, and I leased out a plow and manure spreader. Since it will be about 8 days before I can plant anything, I suppose I should take the time to prepare the fields properly. I also recorded my first vlog of this journey into agriculture! Hopefully folks visit my youtube channel to view it, and I hope they like it! I was able to meet Frank, the shop manager. I also was able to meet some nice folks who I could hire to help with the plowing. I am thinking that after we are done with the plowing I may actually trade in my tractors for some smaller ones. Or at least sell one of them. Considering the size of the farm and fields I don't need huge tractors. I am sensing it is important to find that balance between overpowered and underpowered! For instance, I tried to pull a low loader with a tractor and manure spreader loaded on it with only a pick up truck. Well, it didn't go anywhere! I ended up just returning the low loader and driving the tractors around. Perhaps someday I will get a pick up which possess enough power to pull a fully loaded low loader. But this is not that day! I am excited to get up into the mountain and do some logging, they say it is good wood up there. However, I also want to make sure I am preparing my fields well for planting. Tomorrow is another day, for now I'll hit the hay!
Well, I have always dreamed of farming and agriculture. After looking for many, many long months I finally found a great spread in the black mountain area of Montana! I have always liked the views in Montana, and now I can look at the mountain as I am drinking my coffee in the morning! I came by this property thanks to a gentleman named Farmer Klein. He did a great real estate video on the area and the farm, and so I decided to inquire. After taking out an Ag loan and conducted a successful Gofundme campaign (people will give to anything on the internet! Thanks Al Gore!) I was able to purchase the main farm plus some fields. The main farm comes equipped with outbuildings and cross fencing for cows and pigs! Plus, the property also comes with a sheep pen, although it is some distance from the main farm. I have had a chance to meet a few of the locals, they are quite nice indeed. The moving truck should be coming soon with my belongings, once I settle in I will make sure to create a video on my first day of real work! Of course, I will need to purchase some equipment first, as the farm only came with a truck for vehicles. At least I don't have to walk to the shop! I will have to get a GoPro so I can do some videos on youtube. People love farming videos!
Sept 13 - 16
We finally got all of the barley out of the field and the straw up off the ground. We had more than plenty of straw for our cows from the wheat field and the pigs wont need nearly as much straw as the cows and clearly no where near as much straw as we got out of our barley field. Once we had more than enough straw put away for our pigs we took the rest of the straw over to the heating plant for sale. In total we made a cool $30K in straw, they where giving us about $450 per bale so we sold just over 3 full trailer loads down there.
We got a late start on the canola field but we some wet weather threatening us tomorrow so we go ahead and get started on bringing in the canola this evening. Once again we hire some local help to run the harvester while we delegate ourselves to carting the canola off the field and over to the pig silos. All of the canola we get out of the field will go toward our pigs for food for the coming year. Thinking the weather will hold out we break once it gets dark and pickup the harvest the following morning. It seems like we have had a decent amount of rain this autumn but so far it has come toward the evening when it does rain. Hopefully this kind of timing will continue as we still need to bring in our autumn hay harvest.
We will need to transfer some wheat or barley over to the pig silo from the main farm silo at some point in the coming month also.
Sept 10 -12
Our local JD dealer has come through again and lined up a MAN truck and a large trailer designed for potatoes and beets to be at the shop first thing this morning. We have a limited time to use the truck so were out of bed just before first light and off to the shop to see how many loads we can deliver before we have to turn the truck back in.
The trailer on this truck is awful long and the area around the pig farm is rather tight. I don't think we scratched up the trailer or truck to much, so I hope they don't withhold any of our deposit money.
As the guys at the root crop distributor where unloading the first trailer they invited me back to see their sorting facility. It was really impressive with a the heavy machinery and conveyor systems moving potatoes around and splitting them into different crates. Once we got word that the trailer was empty it was back in the truck and off to get another load. We got into a grove and for a while it seemed like the truck and I where making some really good music and then I saw the time. OMG I said I would have this thing back to them by mid day. It was a bit past half past one before I got it back to the shop and we didn't get quite as many potatoes sold as I had hoped but they where not to sore about the scratches to the truck or the trailer and to my shock they did give me my full deposit back.
While it was threatening rain the entire morning it didn't really start till around 1:30 just as we where finishing up. Since it was raining we where kept out of the field so we took the opportunity to top off our cows feed and water. All in all not a bad day, we where able to sell just over half our supply of potatoes and bring in around $40K. This should help us with leasing the forage harvester and other equipment needed to bring in the corn soon.
Tomorrow its back into the barley field to finish collecting straw and once the standing barley drys off we will finish out that field.
A new day a new field to harvest, last night we finished collecting the straw off the wheat field and in total we got way more bales of straw off the field than we will need for the coming year so no worries in having to buy in straw next spring or summer. We will actually be in a great position sell straw to neighboring farmers should they need it. We had a popup hale storm that interrupted our day but it ended about as quick as it showed up so things dried up fairly quick.
Now we look at our forecast and it is not putting me in a very happy place. We have rain predicted every other day for the rest of the month. I had budgeted two days for our barley field and two days for the canola field but with rain in the forecast I am going to be hard up to get the barley field done in two days which will likely put our canola harvest back.
Once again we set two hired hands to work on the harvester and grain cart while I bring a third hand in to help with the baling of the straw. After all we need to do our best to get the straw off the field before the rain tomorrow. Even with getting started just as soon as the morning dew dried up I was only able to put a single trailer load if 32 bales away over at the pig area. By the time I got back everyone had left for the day. Now with rain in the forecast for tomorrow and not knowing when it will start I am left to load up a second trailer load in the dark. I wont be putting these bales away tonight. Its late so I just pull the tele and the trailer full of bales into one of the sheds at the arable farm and start making calls trying to line up a truck to haul some taters cause the root crop wholesale place down at the docks gave me a call today. They have a desperate need for potatoes and heard we just put away a great harvest.
As if I don't have enough to do with it being harvest season and all...
Day 3 of Late Autumn
I did not feel like getting out of bed this morning. It rained most of the night and was still dripping when I forced myself outside. My wife was just returning from a run, she was cheery, I was not… but I managed not to take it out on her. By the time I returned, I was feeling much better, a light breakfast made everything good again. We talked about the day, we wanted to bring in the corn. I hoped it would dry before we lost light. The phone rang.
I quickly replayed last night's events, yep… I remember buying a tractor. I wasn’t exactly talked into it, but the timeline was moved up considerably. Realizing that we would be waiting most of the day for the crop to dry I coaxed my wife outside to get things set up. We got the corn header attached and moved to the field and it was about time for an early lunch. I was getting a little bit excited. I managed to get her in the truck without too much manipulation and we headed to the shop.
When we pulled into the lot, two things surprised me. First of all my wife seemed to somehow know that the shiny new tractor sitting in the lot was for her and showed jubilation that rivaled a championship win. Secondly, it was pink. I tried to focus on my wife’s joy, but it was pink. I’m going to have to be prepared for the friendly gibes.
We accepted delivery and got some pointers, she seemed to know how everything worked… I really thought the reverse driving was an interesting feature. I was assured that it would mow my fancy grass like a dream. I was impressed with its 400 horsepower, this was going to pull the plow quite nicely. I’ll have to talk to Mr. Harris soon so we can try that out. When we arrived back home she pulled right up to the tipper and we hooked it up and headed out to the field. We managed to harvest all the corn in the afternoon, just three tippers worth, but it will be plenty for the pigs. I did notice that she took a very long time to unload, I have a feeling that she did a little extra driving in her new pink tractor.
Day 2 of Late Autumn
I knew it was going to rain today, I could feel it in my bones. Something I’ve had to deal with for a long time… also, the boy told me. My first priority (not putting off my walk) was to get the new business back up and producing. Folks around here must like to stay warm during the winter months. I took off early and my plan was to fell only one tree and chip it… I’ll spend some time bringing it up to one hundred percent once I get my corn crop in. Oh yeah, my corn is ready to harvest. I’ll have a couple of days without rain after today, so I’ll bring it in then.
Working in the dark was a trick, but I managed to take care of the task with just the right equipment and patience from my bride. We headed back home just after first light with over half of our large tipper emptying in the bins so that we could get back into the profit sharing.
I didn’t do my full walk, but I did walk down to the girls and take care of them, I spent a good part of the day topping their feed off and making sure they would be good for a couple of days. The bull of mine is something special, he only throws heifers. Perfect!
I must have done something right, not only did my wife help out with the tractor driving this morning at the new business but while I was taking care of the girls, she did the monotonous job of filling the pig feed troughs, except the root crop, I grabbed what seemed to be a few bushels as she was finishing up. I then filled up the magic greenhouses and the pig’s water trough and my chores were done for the day. Late lunch.
I was looking through a local publication and was reading about poplar crops, it gave me an idea. I think I might talk to Mr. Harris about selling one of his fields by the new business and plant a field of poplar to use as fuel, instead of felling the large trees. I think it’s a grand idea. I’ll have to extend a loan, but I think that my winter time I’ll be spending time in the woods and I’ll be able to increase my profit sharing some. Plus, I’ll figure out just want I need until next year’s harvest and I’ll sell off the surplus I have in my silos. Good thinking.
After lunch my wife told me that I was going to the shop, the boys were getting together and she would drive me, no need to pass on the “flavoring” in the coffee. Okay. She dropped me off and told me I should make sure to play nice and have a good time. I think I walked into a set-up, it’s as if everyone was waiting for me to arrive. The boy was there and had that grin that he always seems to have. He passed me a glass full of flavoring, no coffee. I was introduced to a game called Pitch Penny, I wasn’t so good and didn’t get any better throughout the afternoon.
The topic of conversation quickly turned to tractors, specifically Valtra tractors and my wife. They all seemed to know her rather well and they were impressed with both her willingness to help them out on their farms and her ability to drive the machinery. They went on and on about what a kind hard-working lady she was and it all came down to the fact that she should have her own tractor. I kind of chuckled at first but realized they were serious. I let them know I was thinking about buying her one, I’ve even looked at some brochures. They gave each other knowing looks.
With an arm around my shoulder, the boy let me know matter of factly, that they had done all the legwork and all I had to do is give the okay and they could have the new tractor delivered tomorrow. I took my last swig and agreed. It’s as if that decision signified the end of our evening, they all started tidying up and a few minutes later the pastor pulled up in a small bus to carry us all home. There was some singing… or chanting of some sort on the way home, even the pastor joined in, I didn’t know what they were saying. I couldn’t help but laugh when they all did. I had a very entertaining evening, and I’m pretty sure I bought my wife a new tractor.
Day 1 of Late Autumn
I woke up early and decided to go for an actual run… well, jog. I didn’t make that decision because I wanted to increase my cardiovascular workout, I did it because I forgot about my greenhouses. I was also thinking about how long it would take to drive over all the chaff so that I could cover the silo. So off I went, carrying a flashlight with me as I ran. Some folks around here call it a torch, but I think of Olympians running in skirts with torches, just not me… certainly not an Olympian. The animals were good, I made one of my mental notes to cut some fresh grass for the girls.
When I returned I decided to wash the tractor first. It seems when I was driving the forage harvester I may have missed the trailer and I wanted to get the chaff that was stuck to the tractor off before it became a topic of conversation. Once that was done I filled all the greenhouses with some manure, I’m getting quite good at that task. The water could wait a day or two so I headed back to the house so we could get ready to go out to the field and finish off the corn chopping.
A breakfast of melons and biscuits was ready for me, melons cold and biscuits warm… they smelled delicious. Although there was still a lingering manure smell on me. Maybe that’s why my wife said she would meet me down at the field.
I was told that I was driving the harvester again, she said that I was really good at going straight. Another job I’m getting good at doing. After a couple of loads, I started to worry a bit. I would watch her drive off and then just before she reached the bunker she would increase the throttle and up on the chaff pile she would go, it wasn’t level and I was terrified that she was going to turn over the tractor and trailer. She would stabilize and open the tipper up, dumping the load throughout the bunker before coming back down and heading back out to the field. I then heard a very loud engine roaring from behind. An oversized, monster of a tractor was heading down the road on the outside of the field. It had eight tires and was carrying what looked like a box on the back. The boy blew the horn and smiled when he saw me gawking. I headed up to the silage bunker.
My wife and I were both impressed with this machine. It was a Claas Xerion 5000. The boy explained that he was just borrowing it from a friend for the afternoon and that it would be very helpful since I was apparently trying to break my tractor or my wife the way we were currently carrying on.
The box turned out not to be a box. It was a silage pusher/leveler. It unfolded and worked much like a front end loader bucket, but without the ability to hold stuff in it, it was just a blade. We were anxious to see how it worked so the boy climbed back up in the Claas and backed up to one end of the silo and stopped. My wife grabbed my arm with excitement when the cab of the Xerion lifted up and slowly spun itself around and placed itself back down. Apparently, she really likes tractors that can drive both ways, the Valtra that the brochure was open to happens to have that reverse drive option. Though, I don’t think it is that dramatic when you put it in reverse driving mode. The boy spent some time and leveled up the bunker, once it was fairly level, he would drop off the attachment and just drive over it. He stopped and said a bunch of words while we were gawking at him and my wife grabbed me and said we needed to finish bringing in the chaff… I knew that.
We finished up the field and as if we were being watched, some folks showed up to take the forage harvester back to the shop. That was convenient. We dumped the last load of chaff and then played follow the leader with the Claas and the Massey rolling it down. It was all finished just before dark, which is getting earlier and earlier!
We covered the silo, the boy estimated 700,000 l of chaff, I think that should be enough. He climbed back up into the monster, spun the cab around, picked up the attachment and headed out the back… headed to wherever he goes. My wife and I climbed in the Massey and headed home. She was pretty excited about driving the Xerion, I was just tired. I think I’ll aim for walking in the morning.
Sept 1 - 3
A new day a new season... Reminds me of a poem my brother wrote back in second grade...
Anyway dawn on a new season and a whole ton of work has just come upon us. Our fields of wheat, barley and canola are ready to come in. Our large grass field across the street from the house has come to full potential and needs to be cut and baled into hay. Our cows seem to have decided they now need 5X more straw for their bedding than they did just yesterday and to top it all off we cant do anything to the crops cause it rained last night. Argh, well its off to plant more saplings until the sun can dry the wheat field enough. Those 8 bales of straw we got back a while back have held us until now but we used the last bit in mixing our last batch of powerfood and the cows are starting to see the bottom of the feed trough and that seems to scare them. The cows seem to get rather vocal when they start to see the bottom of the grass and TMR troughs.
The local shop couldn't get us a John Deere harvester but got us a Fendt one instead. She is a real beauty and the large grain header will make fairly quick work of our fields. We have a budget of 2 days per field to harvest the grain out of the wheat and barley fields and bale up the straw. My best guess is we need about 95 straw bales to hold our cows until next fall and the pigs are going to need about 18-20 bales themselves once we pick them up. I am hoping we get close to 200 bales off the wheat and barley fields which will give us a nice nest egg of straw should the need arise.
It wasn't until about mid day that we had enough sun on the wheat field that I felt it was dry enough to try to harvest. By the time we got the harvester into the field things where well dry. It was rather obvious I had not been in a harvester in what feels like 4 years but it slowly came back to me and by the evening hours we where able to jump in the 8530 and start baling straw as our two hired helpers run the harvester and the grain trailer back to and forth from the silo.
Day 8 of Mid Autumn
As I was heading out for my morning walk I caught glimpse of a huge machine outside. Walking past the table I noticed the brochure open to a page describing the Valtra S, I took note. Once I got outside, my wife and the boy were standing by the machine, which turned out to be a forage harvester. The ground was still too wet to get started with this early, so I excused myself from what looked to be a class and made my rounds. I took care of the girls when I got down there, instead of walking home and riding back down, I wasn’t cutting my walk short… I did after all have to walk back once I was done. I made it back up to the house and I topped off the pigs and made a mental note that I needed to tend to the greenhouses but it looked like class was over and my wife was ready to head down to the field. I was sure that the boy was going to go down and at least supervise, but off he went.
I talked my wife into lunch before we started, I had a feeling supper would be late. With full bellies and a thermos of coffee, we headed down to the cornfield by the girls with the Rostselmash and the Massey, a red equipment day.
It was very similar to offloading a regular combine, except you do it continually with no stopping. She drove the harvester around the outside of the field while I collected and dumped in the clamp, I’m glad it was right next to the field. We made about three headlands and she decided we should change jobs. She mumbled something about my driving and “RostelSmash”. It didn’t take me long to realize why she wanted to switch, she did a great job on positioning herself next to me and I see how I must have been making it difficult for her. I didn’t have the class.
We worked until late afternoon, I didn’t want to be caught in the dark and it was getting difficult to drive over the mound. We needed to take some time to compact it. Tomorrow we should be able to finish the field and roll the clamp, though I think it’s going to take some time driving back and forth to get compacted enough. I think I should probably get started early, I may have to skip my walk.
Well, with the potatoes out of the two fields and nothing better to do we borrow a new cultivator from the store. Seems to me it is more like a paid trial but anyway... The plan is to see how much poplar we can get into the ground before the busy fall harvest season. The locals tell me that poplar is kind of a magic resource here in the valley and it will regrow like grass!
I tell myself this I got to see and invest in a poplar planter and a few crates of saplings and head off. OMG this is SLOW work. I don't know why I have a machine as it sure feels like I could stick these saplings in the ground just as fast by hand. Working all day and well into the night we get maybe 2/3rd of the smallest field done.
I sure hope these things do grow back after harvest cause the time invested in putting these things in the ground is ridiculous.
Day 7 of Mid Autumn
We invited the pastor out to breakfast this morning, and anyone he wanted to bring along. My wife made some phone calls and realized that we would need to start cooking early. It was a simple fair. Scrambled eggs with homemade biscuits and sausage gravy, some bacon on the side with some fresh melons from our magic greenhouse. Orange juice, coffee, and fresh milk. The prayer meeting went well. I was pushed out of the house after everyone left and we started cleaning, I was told I needed to take care of the girls. A day of rest was my excuse to skip the walk and I did as I was told.
Besides making a milk run, the only other thing I needed to do today was to take off some pallets from the new business to sell, simple enough. I found when I returned home that the Deere was hitched up to the trailer and the boy was waiting. We took off and mostly chatted about how it was about to rain, not easy to hold a conversation while going down the road in the tractor, well… I have a tough time understanding even in the quiet.
Once we got the pallets sold we walked over to the shop where hot coffee was being sold, the boy said we should join them. The rain started to come down. We spent about four hours telling stories and drinking too much caffeine. I passed on the “flavoring” because I had to drive back home, pulling a trailer, on the wrong side of the road. But I did make a couple of decisions.
The boy told me we should chop the corn soon, we could do it while it was green and we probably had a couple of days without rain. I wondered how much that would cost me, he assured me he could get me a deal on a harvester, that I didn’t have to purchase one since I just had the one field to do. So I decided to do what he said, he’s been right on so far.
I then found out my wife likes Valtra tractors. I had no idea! I knew she has helped out on a couple of neighboring farms with some work, but I didn’t realize she’d driven enough tractors to have a “favorite”. I’ve heard her mention them here and there. Apparently, she’s made it known what she prefers to drive. I wonder if it has anything to do with a birthday coming up. I was handed a brochure on the way out.
The boy stayed behind and we said our goodbyes, I made it home just after the rain cleared and just before it got dark. We worked on the books and sure enough, the sales today brought us back to the black with some wiggle room. I left the brochure out and we spent the evening talking outside, we talked about everything from our kids and grandkids to our plans here on the farm. I came up with an idea that I really thought she would like.
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