Thursday, July 20, 2017

Irrigation and Wyatt's hay

Today I completed extending the mainline irrigation pipe, moving the two active sprinkler lines, and moving the backup sprinkler line from the south pasture to the hayfield.  This took much of the day.  The nice thing is the pump started right up pumping water when I re-started the pump.

I was about to hook up the extended mainline when I seen Wyatt picking up a load of hay bales he just made.  I waited and then had him deliver me one load using a path through the south pasture then the hayfield to reach my barn.  This way I could avoid Wyatt driving through the middle pasture where the cattle currently are located.  The cattle are in the middle pasture because they elected yesterday to walk in the river around the south/middle pasture fence.

I was able to only put the top row of eight bales into the barn this evening before dark.  The rest will be moved tomorrow.

I have the ladder and several long boards against the hay bales as the top bales in the outside rows kind of wanted to lean outward.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hay bales and irrigation continued

Today my goals were:
  1. Move the remaining 8 hay bales from the hayfield over to the NE pasture,
  2. Cleanup the hay flakes left in the hayfield and re-bale the four totally broken hay bales,
  3. Extend the mainline irrigation pipe across the hayfield,
  4. Move the two sprinkler lines
What I got done...

I moved the eight hay bales.  It went well.  Only one bale flaked once.  I finished moving the bales by noon.

I cleaned up the hay flakes then turned my attention to re-baling the broken bales.  From the hay flake pickup I had about a fifth of a bale made.  I re-baled two broken bales and used a little from the third bale before I had a full hay bale made.  I know I lost a little hay in the re-baling from the broken and fine hay too fine to be picked up by the baler, but it wasn't that much lost.  I put down most of the 'shrinkage' due to the new bale being more compressed than the old bale.

It was now 3 pm.  It took me three hours to clean the field and re-bale two bales.  I went to work on the last two bales.  They were a challenge.  Once I finally got all the hay re-baled I had about a half of a bale.  More shrinkage.

I tried to wrap twine around the bale.  The twine would not go into the baler.  There was either too much loose hay in the baler or the hay to go into the baler was too fine.  I tried using some hay that had not been re-baled yet.  But then I used the wrong lever.  I started to open the back door and not move the twine tube.  I didn't open the door but I must have moved it just enough because the bale would no longer spin in the baler.   All the bales I made this year and this was the first time I used the wrong lever.

So I had to dump the bale.  But then it would not come out of the baler.  I had to use a long crowbar and pry the bale out of the baler.  Other than it really wasn't much of a bale but a collection of hay "glommed" together.  The bale came out in pieces.

It was now 5 pm.  I would have better off just using a pitchfork and loading the hay in my pickup to be offloaded in the barn as loose hay.  Because that is what I will have to do tomorrow.  In addition I will have to rake up the chewed up hay spread around the field as I attempted to re-bale the last broken bale.

What a mess.  And I still have work to do with hay tomorrow.

The remains of two full bales

What a mess.

The hay bale once I pried it out of the baler.

Look a how fine the hay became after I re-baled it.

Once I dumped the bale, I cleared the loose hay from around the baler and then decided to run the baler to drop the loose hay in the baler out the back.

Gee... the twine that wouldn't go in the baler when the bad bale was inside somehow got sucked into the baler when the baler was empty.  I had to get a knife and cut the twine along the roller as the twine was tightly stuck.

I did a quick check of the belts.  They were all in the right spots.  The bottom belt that had jumped the divider yesterday was also still in its spot.  I did noticed the left side of the belt that goes under the metal in the far lower left side of the photo was out of the metal and starting to ride on top of the metal.  So I used a smaller crowbar and pried the belt back under the metal.

Then after a late lunch I turned my attention to the irrigation pipes.  I moved the two sprinkler lines.  The northern line I moved over one valve.  The south line was at the western end of the ranch.  I drug all its pipes to the very eastern end of the ranch to start watering the hayfield again.  For now I am leaving on the third line in the south pasture that I have used to relieve water pressure when switching lines.

By the time I got the pipes moved it was getting dark.  And I was running low on energy.  The mainline extension and sprinkler line addition will have to wait till tomorrow. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hay bale and irrigation blues

This hay is getting on my last nerve. I've about had it.  I should have been done with this a week ago and here I am still struggling with the hay.

Today I planned on moving all the hay bales to the NE pasture.  All didn't get done.  I had problems with loose twine, hay flaking off of bales, and bales falling apart. Some twine was only partially wrapped around bales and I ended up wrapping by hand some ends back around and around some bales.  All this took time.

I drove slow carrying bales to reduce parts from being shook off the bales.  Some bales fell apart when I lifted them up and I had to leave them in the field.  One bale flaked and flaked until I reached the gate and a small bump caused the bale to fall completely apart.  I was left with a small core around the bale spear.  The bale blocked the gate so I had to spent some time moving the hay out of the gate and to the side.  Some of this bale's flakes were "sheets" of hay.  Mixed with loose hay it can be hard to move the "sheets" of hay.

I have 8 bales left to move from the hayfield.

Then when I took a break to move the sprinkler lines I encountered two sprinkler pipes I couldn't unhook.  The hooked part was at the top of a high point which put pressure on the hook.  The pipes in each direction dropped and then rose by their ends.  That trapped the water in the pipes making them hard to move.  I was able to unhook the second pipe from the third pipe but raising the center hooked area did not drain the water.  Turning the hooked area to the side to relieve pressure did not work.  Nothing worked.  So I drug the hooked section over to try to get away from the higher area.

Dumb move.  With my strength I easily moved the pipes.  But the one pipe end didn't move and the pipe kinked badly.  So badly as to ruin the pipe.  Maybe I can salvage the pipe by cutting off the three feet to the kinked section.

So I had to go get an unused pipe.  More time wasted when I need to get the hay bales moved.  I am at the river end south of the mainline and tomorrow I need to move that line of pipes back to the hayfield.  Which has hay bales, broken bales, and flakes here and there.  Tomorrow I need to move the rest of the bales, then get the baler out to re-bale the flakes and broken bales.  Then lay the mainline pipe across the hayfield, then move the one sprinkler line.

Right.  You know with the luck I am having now this won't go as planned.

An example of a bale that needs to be re-baled.

Some of the bales that were good enough to be moved, still are in poor shape.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Baler cleaning and more blues

I cleaned my baler this afternoon.  What I thought would take an hour or so took all afternoon.  Initially I planned on doing minor cleaning as I plan on cutting and baling another neighbor's field once my haybine's u-joint is fixed.  But I got carried away and did a thorough cleaning.

During the cleaning I noticed one chain was wrong.  The chain was on the wrong side of a pulley. The following photo was taken after I fixed the problem.  The right red arrow shows the pulley.  Since the pulley was not tensioning the chain, the chain rubbed on a piece of metal (shown by left arrow).

The chain fix wasn't too bad to do.   The next problem was more difficult.

Once I finished cleaning the baler, I opened the baler door to do a last check inside.  That is when I noticed the problem with one of the bottom belts.   The rightmost belt was under the next belt.

View from the front of the baler.

View from inside the baler.

How the belt got across the disc divider (shown by the red arrows) is a mystery.  I looked in the baler's manual and their only solution was how to remove everything in order to change bottom belts.  Unlike the top belts, the bottom belts do not have "stitches" one can remove to take a belt off.  For a bottom belt one must take off:
  1. the twine box in order to reach bolts, nuts, and cotter pines behind the box, then
  2. the pickup bar (the faded yellow seen in a previous photo), then
  3. the roll bar, then
  4. the bar with the disc dividers.
Man, o man!  A lot of work!

Maybe there is some way I can pry the belt back into the correct place.  I was able to unhook the tensioning bars for the disc divider.  That gave me a little more play.  Still the belt had to go over the one disc divider.

I had gotten my neighbor Curtis to come over and look in case he had other ideas.  With both of us using crowbars we worked and worked and finally got the belt back into place.  Since the belts were on top of one another they were pinched by two roller bars (seen in photo with the yellow pickup bar).  Curtis used a crowbar to pry the rollers apart while I worked the belt sideways until they no longer were on top of one another.    Then I used a smaller crowbar to get the edge of the belt over the disc divider.   Then more working and prying and pulling to get all of the belt over the divider.

I re-tensioned the disc divider and hope that prevents this from happening in the future.

In the photo with the yellow pickup bar you can see one bottom belt has a tear.  I think I can still use the belt for now - as replacing the belt would be a major undertaking.

So the baler is clean and put away for now.  But for not as long as I had planned.  This evening I started to move the hay bales to the NE pasture.  Some bales were loose, others were not twined well.  To wrap twine around a bale, I tie the end of the twine to some hay, toss it into the pickup, then run the baler to suck the twine and a little more into the baler, then keep the bale spinning so the twine wraps around the bale.  It seems as if on some bales the starting twine with hay did not 'stick' well and the twine wrapped loosely.  I picked up a couple bales and part of the bale fell down.  On one bale so much hay fell that the twine fell too and then the whole bale fell apart.  Other bales only lost small chunks when lifted.  Most bales are holding together but I drive slowly as I am afraid a big bump may shake some of the bale loose.

On some bales the end of the twine did not stick to the bale, and when I drove the tractor, twine got caught under the tractor's tire and then the twine started to come off the bale. For all bales I now check for a loose twine end after I lift the bale, further slowing my work down.

I only got ten bales moved before dark.  Once I get all the bales moved I'll see how much of a mess I will have to clean up.

For the one bale that fell mostly apart I will have to re-bale it.  Oh joy.  The fun never ends with this barley, oats and pea hay.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Irrigation pipe switch and fix

Now that the baling is over life is calming down.  I was able to do some chores put off by the baling, such as, taking a shower, buying groceries, washing clothes.

I also worked on my irrigation system.  It appears a pipe near the beginning came apart enough to reduce the water pressure enough to cause the pump to turn off.  I had a problem once before with this pipe separating a little and leaking.  So this time I replaced the pipe.

The replaced pipe was similar to the one in the following photo.  Minus the clamp (and stick).  The old pipe fit into the pipe in the second photo with the valve.  To keep the two pipes together I wired the pipe without the clamp to the opening for the hook.  I have a few pipes in the mainline like this.  The difference is those pipes are more inside the mainline and not near the end.  The other pipes in the mainline keep the wired pipes from slipping out.

Oh, the reason for the stick is to keep the pipes from slipping.  While the design should allow the pipes to move enough to where the clamp holds against the lip and not have a leak, sometimes that movement is enough to allow a small leak to occur where the pipes come together.

I had one pipe available where Dad had replaced the half circle clamp with a hook as the half circle clamp doesn't work on pipes with valves and hook openings.  This hook setup will hold the pipes together.

I also reinforced the elbow.  I had some metal pipes and posts around the elbow but over time the pipes and posts moved.  The elbow has a small leak which softens the ground.  I added a two by four board between the tree and pipe next to the elbow.  I'll watch to see if these changes stops the pipes near the elbow from moving in the future.

I moved the two sprinkler lines and started my pump.  It started pumping water right away.  So it does appear my pump packing tightening solved my pump starting problem.

Before I started the pump I added some mainline pipe a little over a third across my hayfield.  In about three to five days I will complete watering the pastures.  I am going to move the sprinkler lines back to the hayfield.  The cut hayfield has stayed green and looks to be wanting to grow so I will see how much grows if I add water to what I just cut.  Why I added only a third of the mainline pipes was to break up the task of carrying all those heavy steel pipes into multiple days, and I haven't moved the hay bales out of the hayfield yet.

I got my electric bill for last month's irrigation.  I didn't irrigate the entire month.  My electricity cost came to $300.  Plus almost $49 a month as the basic charge for the privilege of being connected to the grid.