Tag Archives: tractor

Plan at work

With daughter’s family away this week to let grandson be with his father’s family for a few days before his service tomorrow, there have been no morning duties other than to the animals.  The morning person, me, usually awakes as the sky is dawning, but there have been several nights this week where sleep came quickly for about an hour, then wide awake for 3 or 4, then sleep again for a couple.  The pups haven’t been too demanding, and napping or just lying about until near 8 a.m. has been the norm this week.  This morning, when the dogs were let out and the outdoor kitty fed, it was already warm enough for just a t shirt.  As soon as all the critters had been fed and given outdoor time, the garden called.  The boxes we bought two days ago needed to be assembled and put in place.  The first one required undoing one end of an existing box to make it a double.  The raspberries were thinned and heavily mulched with spoiled hay to try to reduce the weed load.  They may be dug up and planted in half sunk pots to contain them, but the rest of the work needs to be done first.

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The description of the plan seemed confusing, so last night the online garden planner was pulled back up, the plan deleted and a new one begun.  As this is oriented, the chicken coop is just off the upper left corner.

plan at work

This was taken just about where the garden gate is, off the row of 4 boxes in the diagram.

The top edge was done and one more box assembled, hay moved around, raspberries mulched and a break taken to go to town.  Groceries needed to be purchased, a new garden fork was also in order.  Mine had a fiberglass handle that split lengthwise two summers ago.  It still works okay for cleaning out the coop, but lacks the strength to do garden work.  It was taken in last year to see if the Feed and Seed guys could put a new handle on it, but sadly not.  Wrapping it with fiberglass tape might give it some more life, but probably still not garden worthy.  Last year, eldest son’s was used, but now that they are in a house, not an apartment, it moved to his house.  At the Feed and Seed store, they had a garden cart too.  Plans had been in the works for one of those.  We have two over-sized single wheel wheelbarrows, but they always tip over when I use them, plus they are very heavy.  Both of them are stored now in the barn until one can be taken to eldest son.  We came home with a cart and a fork.

cart  Fork

 

Each time a gardening session is in order, many trips must be made back and forth to the garage to get all the tools needed for the day’s jobs.  Then many trips to return it all.  This little two wheeled cart is light enough for me to easily use, big enough to load everything into in one trip each way, and will come in handy for hauling bales of straw or bags of mulch.  To make room for it in the garage, first a major cleanup was done in there.  Jim had gone off to enjoy the springlike day on the BBH (his motorcycle).  Once the garage was done, the tractor was brought down to the garden.  Nothing on this farm is flat so the tractor bucket was used to terrace for the new boxes.  That part of the garden is deep in rich compost and pushing it off to flatten areas will give me great soil to fill the boxes.  The remaining boxes we recently purchased were assembled in place, unprinted cardboard laid down between the boxes and covered with spoiled hay to make good aisles and two of the new boxes were filled.

That was all this body could handle in one day.  There is rain expected tomorrow morning, then clearing off, but cooler, perhaps the other two boxes can be filled and more aisles laid and mulched.  The plan still needs 4 more of the boxes, but they are for tomatoes and sweet potatoes, so I have at least 2 months before safe planting time for them.  In the meantime, the newly acquired essential tool will be used to continue to remove weeds from below where the tractor moved the soil and the onion sets will be planted, seeds will be sown indoors in about 3 weeks for the tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos.  The plan is in progress.

A Day Outdoors

It isn’t really here and cold will come again, but yesterday was spring time.  The tractor finally got warm enough to start, allowing  some chores that had been needed for a while.  Haying farmer friend always brings me a couple of bales of old spoiled hay after he takes the new hay each year.  That old hay is used in the chicken coop until it gets too wet to be usable, it also is used over cardboard as mulch between the beds in the garden to help keep the weeds at bay.  One of the bales was dropped where it could be rolled down near the coop, but the second one was too far from the garden.  Our little tractor is too small to load a large round bale and though that ball wasn’t a full bale, it was too large for the bucket, so it just sat.  Now that the boxes are being put in place in the garden and mulching between them is necessary, the bale needed to be moved.  pushing it with the tractor bucket started it to unroll.  Once it was about half of it’s original size, it fit inside the bucket and was dumped over the fence into the garden.  Then the unrolled parts were collected with a hay fork, loaded into the bucket in several trips and dumped over the fence as well.

 

garden

 

Now there is a huge pile of spoiled hay just inside the movable part of the fence that serves as a gate.  Maybe this spring, a real gate will be hung. Shortly after moving in, we bought 4 half wine barrels at a winery to use for storing root vegetables.  They were only used for a year or so that way and then two of them were put in the garden for flowers and later for potatoes.  The remaining two were left behind the house and had begun to come apart.  One of them was sound enough to move very carefully yesterday in the tractor bucket and carried into the garden, partially filled with soil to help hold it together.  There are now three in the garden for potatoes.  The fourth one fell all to pieces and needs to be puzzled back together.  It really should be in the garden too.  For now it is a pile of staves, metal rings, and a bottom.

While the tractor was out, the culvert at the top of the driveway received a clean out as the winter rain has caused it to nearly fill with fine gravel again.  Two buckets of gravel, sand, and soil were scooped out and utilized to build up the area in front of the garage door that was forming a pond with each rain.

driveway

It was pretty quick work to scoop a bucket full from the ditch, drive it down, dump it and use the bucket to spread it flatter.  It only took a few more minutes with a rake to make a gravel area again where it was only sandy mud.  We will see when it rains again if the pond is gone and the water runs around the house as intended.

Some flower bed weeding was accomplished, the chickens loving something fresh and green to eat, the peach tree pruning was begun, but just too much to tackle in one attack.  It won’t produce fruit this year, but will be a much more manageable size for pruning in future years and perhaps the other peach tree will give us some fruit this year.

It was nice to be outdoors in February working in the yard and gardens.  Last year, we had just been plowed out by our farmer friend from one of the largest snows of the winter.

We are still searching for some chickens to increase our flock.  Chick days are about to begin, but that is really not the preferred approach.  Hopefully, the hens will be prolific this year and there will be many homegrown chicks from which to choose.  Their fencing still needs to be removed and replaced with a finer mesh and a top put in place to try to thwart the hawk so that we don’t lose so many this year.

We are toying with adding two piglets, putting them in the lower garden which is a large space.  To do so, perhaps that fencing will be used for the replacement fencing, it is good welded wire fence and just run a row of chicken wire around the bottom of the chicks pen.  We could just use strands of electric to keep the piglets in or put hog panels between the t-posts. More research needs to be done before that step is taken, to see how much a port-a-hut costs, how much feed will be needed, and where and how to get them processed.  It needs to be economical in the long run.

That would be another nice step toward self sustainability.  Still loving life on our farm.

 

 

Abysmal Day

It blew gales, the rain coming from all directions at once, whipping around the house, whistling and shaking screens.

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The driveway looked like a river, culminating in a pond in front of one of the garage doors,

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And created a new, but temporary creek between the house and the gardens.

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Actually this is what is supposed to happen, though the pond in front of the garage door shouldn’t.  That is the result of the grands digging there where the softer soil has washed down the edge of the driveway.

When the rain quits and before it freezes, the tractor will have to be driven up to clean the culvert on the uphill side of our driveway.  The crushed gravel has washed down across the road again and about half filled the ditch.  Maybe a tractor bucket or two of that will be dumped and smoothed in front of that door. The design of the garage is raised enough that this water does not come in, but it is a mess to get to the cars.

The chicken coop was opened, but their food was put inside.  They didn’t venture out until the heaviest rainfall slowed.  I could hear Mr. Croak out there voicing his displeasure.  The high temperature for the day occurred early and though through Wednesday, it will still be mild, the rain should finally quit and a bit of drying out to occur before the cold arrives on Thursday.  Wednesday night’s low will be Thursday’s high and winter will return to the mountains.

Eleven and an Escape Artist

For the past several days one of the young Buff Orpington hens has been giving herself a free range walk-about. One day we let the rest out too. Somehow, she is getting herself back in by bedtime or if I put a special treat in the run. She won’t show me how so I can try to stop her and she is laying in the coop so she is at her own peril, though she is pecking every red tomato within her reach.

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Today there were 11! There are only 12 layers and one still has pale small comb and waddles so I’m excited that maybe Broody/molty girl is over it. More than 9 eggs a day provide enough for our use, a dozen for the 2 neighbors that help us out and enough to sell to buy feed for them and the meat chicks.
Yesterday I opened the ark and freed the 5 week old meaties into their run. A few came out for a few minutes but they mostly hunkered down in the ark. Today I put half of their food out in the run in a dog feeding pan and as I went to put them up for the night, I had to lure them in with food. They were so active, it was a joy to watch them play and run and chase the grasshoppers that were fleeing the mower.
Today though mostly cloudy was delightful and I took advantage of the dry, cool weather to start the major fall mowing of all 30 acres. Because of the recent rains, I started around the house and worked out doing 3 small fields that only get hayed in spring and mowed in fall. The 2 huge fields, making up about 2/3 of the farm remain and we know we are facing hours and hours mowing unless our haying neighbor comes and brush hogs with his bigger more powerful tractor as he has offered to do.  Though I don’t particularly like pushing the lawn mower or using the huge weed wacker, I do like mowing on the tractor.