Friday, July 20, 2018

Cattle and the weed hay

It was late last night when the last of the videos uploaded and I published my blog post.  So I forgot to say that my sad saga would continue.   Here is tonight's episode.

I thought the cattle would be curious about the weed hay, but with green grass they would move on.  I wouldn't have worry about the weed hay until Fall when the grass dried up.  I didn't really have time right now to build a fence around the weed hay.

Sunday, July 8, I checked and the cattle were pigging out on the weed hay. They thought it was fantastic and wouldn't listen when I told them it could make them sick.  Seriously cattle!!!

I planned on buying hay from my neighbor, Wyatt.  After supplying his regular customer's (who he calls the pretty horse ladies) he wasn't sure he would have enough hay left for all that I needed.  Donna still had plenty of hay leftover from last year for her horses so she let me have her field.  Between her field and Wyatt's I should have more than enough hay.  I wanted to get Donna's field cut and baled before Wyatt's field so I would know how much I needed from Wyatt.   Wyatt, even with swather problems, finished cutting his field on Saturday.  I needed to cut Donna's field Sunday if I had hopes of baling her hay before Wyatt's.

So I let the cattle be in the weed hay for now and cut Donna's field in the afternoon.  For once something went well and I finished cutting her field early evening.   Before dark I got barb wire and fence posts and started building a fence around the weed hay.  First Donna helped me herd the cattle to the middle pasture where they wouldn't have access to the weed hay.  I got the steel fence posts in the ground by dark.  Because I was worried about not having enough room I had pushed some of the hay bales back farther.  Three hay bales more than the others.  Now I wanted to push the three bales back to be next to the rest.  After sitting a few days the bales started to get flat on the bottom.  Also pushing the bales back over hay that earlier unraveled as the bales rolled, was another hindrance.  So I was 4 fence posts short.

Monday afternoon I went to finish the fence.  First I pitchforked some of the "3 bales" hay back to the group and eventually was able to roll the three bales back to the group.  I didn't need the 4 posts after all.

I built a three strand barb wire fence around the bales.  While the high temperature that day was 91 degrees, where the bales were was a low spot among trees and mostly sunny with no air flow.  So add another 5 to 10 degrees to the 91. The previous evening mosquitoes were a problem.  To my great surprise they were much worse Monday afternoon in the heat and sun.  Fortunately I had brought bug spray.  Still, the mosquitos were very distracting as hundreds flew around me looking for an unprotected spot as I worked.  So I left the fence at three wires.  That should be good enough.

I remembered the bug spray - I forgot water or food.  By the time I opened the gate to let the cattle back into the south pasture I was weak and seeing spots and on the road to heat exhaustion.  I had trouble counting the cattle as they passed through the gate.  Still I noticed the bull was missing.  I looked and found him with the two cows in the north pasture.  Half the middle/north pasture fence is still only three strands with the top strand just a wire and not barb wire.  The bull broke the wire and hopped over the fence to be with one cow who was coming into heat.  When the bull saw the rest of the cows go to the south pasture he stood by the gate and waited for me to open it.  As he walked to join the cows the cow coming in heat also wanted to join the bull (the heck with her calf!).  I closed the gate and kept her in the north pasture.  Later, and for 24 hours she and the bull would call to each other across the pastures.   In the morning the bull stood by the south/middle pasture gate in hopes I would open it for him.   Nope.

Tuesday I sprayed weeds all day.  I am way behind schedule for spraying.

Wednesday morning I planned on baling Donna's hay.  First I had to talk with a neighbor about buying some hamburger from my upcoming cow.  That talk took longer than planned.   Then I notice Wyatt was raking his hay.  So I had to go talk with him as I hadn't talked with him since before he cut his hay.  He was raking the hay so I could bale later that afternoon.  "Well... first I have to bale Donna's field."

After talking with Wyatt I walked over to check the weed hay and fence.  I found a half dozen cattle standing there eating the weed hay.  The cattle had pushed the top two barb wires down to the level of the lowest wire and stepped over it into the hay.  Oh, for Heaven's sakes!

I was late to baling Donna's hay and had to go.  I would think of what to do about the weed hay as I baled.

I had major problems baling her hay (a future blog post) so I had the evening free.  I took twelve of the temporary green corral panels and made a fence around the weed hay (after chasing the cows away from the weed hay).  That seems to have solved this problem - though I haven't checked for a few days.  When these cows want something they work and work at it.

The hay before the cattle found it.

Tobey the bull.

The two youngest calves got in the action.

Chowing down.  Who needs mother's milk?

Mama is behaving and not in the weed hay.  Instead she messed with my wheelbarrow.

From where I had rolled the three bales back.  One bale can be seen lower right.

My simple fence - which didn't stop determined cattle.

Fence?  What fence?  That didn't stop us.

Hopefully the final solution.

And yes, the sad saga continues…

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Finished the baling of my hayfield

Friday, July 7, I took my flat baler tire in to have it fixed.   They said the flat appeared to be because of the tube being pinched.   Perhaps the tire was not fully inflated?   Normally when I have a full bale it get dumped out the baler right away. But to get rid of the weed hay I immediately took the bale across the hayfield and across one pasture to dump it in a low area.  Perhaps I went too fast in a few of the bumpy spots in the pasture.  The bad news.... the hole was right next to an old patch.  $33.30 later and I had a new inner tube installed.

Back at the baler I found the other tire was inflated to 25 pounds of pressure.  The tire says not to drive faster than 25 mph in large letters.  In the small print it says to inflate the tire to 35 pounds of pressure.

Also, when I had the wheel off I found the zerk for greasing the wheel axle.  It was tucked way inside where the wheel is mounted.   A trip back to the tool shed to get a grease gun.  I greased one wheel, then started to grease the other wheel and ran out of grease.   Seriously?!!   Only two zerks to grease and I have to walk back to get another tube of grease?!

Where is the zerk?

Oh, there's the zerk… tucked way inside the wheel.

Since I discovered the two pickup belts would jump the metal disc divider, every time I dumped a bale I would set a catch on the baler and go inside to clean the wet, clumpy, and jammed hay/weeds out of the baler.  After that I had no more pickup belt problems.

I circled the baler's catch.

Here is a 30 second video of a bale being dumped out of the baler:

On Saturday I made the final two bales.  I had 12 bales in all.   Just as I was finishing the last bale, Donna, her daughter and son-in-law came over to see my mess.  The daughter and son-in-law were in town to celebrate Donna's birthday.  The son-in-law helped me clean the baler of weeds and seeds one last time.

Here is a 1 minute 40 second video of us cleaning the baler:

Their dog, Max.

Finally, I hauled away the partial bale I had dumped when the baler's tire had gone flat.  Most of the bale held together even though it was not wrapped in twine.  I only had one full wheelbarrow of weed hay to pick up that fell from the bale.

Here is a 52 second video of me pushing the partial bale down the hill:

The heifer and calves were interested in the new people, and especially their dog.

Here is a 41 second video of me carrying salt blocks and moving the cattle to the south pasture:

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Starting to bale my weed field

Thursday, July 5, at 5 pm I started to bale my weeds.   Since I was dumping the weed hay right away I didn't bother wrapping the bales with twine.  Once I made a bale I drove to the south pasture where I dumped it out of the baler.   The weed hay wasn't completely dry, that is, it was still a little green.   The weed hay would clump up, so after dumping a bale I would pull and remove green soggy weed hay from the outside of the baler.

When I dumped the bale I was at the top of a small hill so the bale would roll down to a low area.  As the bale rolled it would start to "unwind" the hay.   Also, with some effort, I would roll the bale a little further back.  I didn't know how many bales I would be making and I didn't want to run out of room.

I had half of a fourth bale made when I noticed the baler's pickup tines were hitting the ground.  I had set the pickup low in order not to miss and weeds and seeds.  The ground is not completely level and occasional the tines would kick up dirt briefly.  But this was different.  I stopped and looked and discovered the baler had a flat tire.   Seriously?!!!!   What more can go wrong?!

I had to dump the bale in order jack up the baler to remove the tire.  I tried to wrap the bale with twine but it wouldn't work.  The soggy weed hay had blocked the twine from moving through the rollers across the width of the baler.  *sigh*   I dumped the bale untwined.  I'll deal with that mess later.

It took an hour to remove the tire.  I was halfway across the field and had to make multiple trips for tools.

A trip for the jack.

A trip for a shovel to dig a hole when the jack wouldn't fit under the baler.

A trip for a board as the ground was still damp and soft and the jack would go into the ground instead of jacking the baler up.

A trip for sockets when the tire irons were not the right size.

A trip for a large socket wrench as the 3/4 socket that fit the bolts was for a small socket wrench and the tire bolts were on very tight.

I was just removing the tire when my neighbor Calvin and his wife stopped over on their ATV.  I had the flat in the field near the road.  I was about to say I got it handled when I noticed several of the baler's pickup belts were off.  (Earlier when I asked what more can go wrong... yes, more can go wrong.)  If you remember from last year with the slippery oat/barley/pea hay, one pickup belt jumped the metal divider disc over to the next belt.   Now I had a middle pickup belt halfway over to the next belt and positioned on the divider disc.  The end pickup belt and the belt next to it each migrated toward each other and were identically positioned with the divider disc in the middle of the two belts.

Last year I needed a second person to help me pry the belts back into place.  Calvin offered to help me.  The single belt out of place was relatively easy to get back into place.   The two belts over each other were difficult.  As they were on top of each other and over the divider disc there was no slack and no play.

We pried and pried and had little movement.  Occasionally I would briefly run the PTO to run the pickup which spins the belts.  That sometimes would help in moving part of the belt.

The mosquitoes were eating us alive but just when it got dark we got the belts separated and back to their correct spots.  It only took us an hour and a half.   We had to be careful as you can see in the previous photo how the jack was holding the baler up at an angle.

The sad saga continues....

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Cutting my weed field

On a Thursday morning I had verification from a Ag extension agent that the pennycress weed is bad for livestock.  By Thursday afternoon I was cutting my field.  It didn't matter that the weather forecast for Friday and Saturday had rain.  Who cares if the cut weeds get wet?

I cut for a few hours Friday morning while the dark rain clouds approached from the west.  I imagine the people driving by thought I was crazy.  Later a few people Donna knows who live down the road commented to her about this.   They didn't say I was crazy for doing this.... that I know of.

It rained and rained the rest of Friday into Saturday.  I didn't start cutting again until Sunday afternoon and finally finished cutting on Monday afternoon.

Looking south.  The dark rain clouds approaching were from the west.

My tractor fits under the power line towers.   I had disced and planted under one tower.  Then the weeds grew.  I had never tried to go under the tower when cutting hay as the offset haybine/tractor width was larger.  But the weeds were thick.    I made it with an inch to spare.  But the inch and the cockeyed tower angle meant I was very close to rubbing on the tractor cab as I exited the tower.  By the time I stopped to reposition I had rubbed the one inch bump where the radio antennae comes out of the top side of the cab. I still get radio reception but I have a hole in the top layer of my roof. My neighbor Curtis said we can fix/seal this.  We use a fiberglass tub repair kit.  Another item on my to-do list.  A self inflicted item.

Look what my cutting turned up!   A turnip.   Ten or more years ago when I had a garden, one year I grew turnips.   I tossed garden waste, and most biodegradable food items out in my hayfield.   I guess turnips seeds can last ten or more years before growing.

Wednesday I was going to get the baler ready and maybe even bale a few rows of weed hay before going over to Joyce's house for a July 4th meal celebration.  First I wanted to put the haybine up in "transport mode".  But the hydraulics wouldn't get the haybine up the last 80% to lock the haybine in place.  I checked the tractor's hydraulic oil level.  I needed to add some hydraulic oil.  I did, but the haybine still wouldn't go the last 20%.   Curtis thought I may have gotten air in my hydraulic oil lines from the low level.   Slowly work it up and down repeatedly and the air will be pressed out.

Thursday I tried some more.  Still couldn't get the last 20%.  I read up on this on the internet and watched YouTube videos.  Nothing more than what I was doing.   The tractor has four hydraulic hookups.  I tried the other two.   Now the haybine would only raise/lower 20%.   I went back to the original two hookups.  I was stuck at only 20%.   What is going on?!

I talked with my neighbor Wyatt.  He suspected I hooked up the hydraulic hoses wrong. "But why would it work for 80%?"    He came over and looked.   Yup.  I hooked up the hoses wrong.  What a moron I am!   Still no idea why the hydraulics worked for 80%.

For the baler's four hydraulic hoses, last year I had painted the four hoses and four hookups four colors to prevent mixups.   Now I painted the haybine's two hoses two colors to match the correct tractor hookups.

So Thursday afternoon - a week after I started to cut my field - I could finally start to bale my weed hay.

The sad saga continues...