Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tractor time

Well I finally managed to get some tractor time in yesterday.  Since I cannot get the 10 ton of hay yet, I decided to put away the tractor and its attachments.  This involved getting diesel for the tractor since I only had a little over a gallon from the dealer upon purchase.  Did you know that all gas cans now have safety features?  They have an actual valve so they cannot tip over and leak.  This makes them a lot harder to use, but since beggars cannot be choosers and I need a 5 gallon can for diesel I am the proud owner of a plastic gas can with this hokey plastic handle valve contraption.  I did manage to get the fuel in the tractor without too much difficulty (took forever).  It fired right up (after I went back in the house and got the key, forgot it).  I managed to flop the post hole driver into the bucket and drive it all to the lamb shed.  I had to let the roll bar down to get in the main door.  I had to move an old sheep panel out of the way and managed to flop the post hole digger out onto the ground.  Of course that meant I had to back out, turn around and back in again to get the mower off of the tractor.  I pulled the three pins and kicked on it till I managed to move the arms out of the way (was wishing for a hammer).  Supposedly the PTO connection is just a splined piece of metal and I should have had to just pull to get it disconnected.  I pulled and pulled, ended up cleaning all the weeds out and still couldn't see very well due to the safety covers that were keeping my fingers away.  I finally got the right angle and it pulled right off.

Now it was time to do some work!!  The main driveway needs to be scraped to fill in the potholes.  I purchased a box blade for this purpose but have never used one before.  Instead of just winging it and trying to smooth the driveway I figured I had better practice with the box blade first.  The salesman told me there was a learning curve associated with the box blade.  What he didn't tell me is that it can be hard to hook up.  Especially, when they set it on uneven ground with the attachment points pointing downhill and stuck on a piece of protruding iron hiding in the weeds.  Said iron pinned the blade in place (it is very heavy).  At one point I was frustrated enough to break out the directions!!  Damn things did not help so I had to go back to just figuring it out (back up, align the holes and put the pins in place, Duh?).  I did it eventually (45 minutes later).

Off I went to the orchard to tear up some ground.  About 5-6 years ago the front creek got flooded and it tore up the orchard, causing a channel to be created.  The bad part was there is about a 60 foot section that is deep and shaped like a narrow V, this caused me to go onto three tires both times I was mowing the orchard.  Three tires are not very stable.  I almost tipped the rental tractor over.  The V needed to vanish.  I started to just drag the box, not a whole lot happened. We have some form of large grass clumps and the box would latch onto those and stop the tractor!  I made a couple of passes with very little effect.  The solution to this is to lower the ripper blades on the box blade.  I extended them as low as they could go (have to do this individually by moving a pin) and started again.  I ended up making multiple passes to just rip up the ground.  I spent a lovely 2.5 hours dragging and moving dirt with the bucket.  I only had the tractor on three wheels twice, only almost tipped it forward once and only got stuck four times!  Annmarie came out and made me quit.  There is nothing more relaxing than to be on the tractor, playing in the dirt and listening to tunes on an i-pod.  I need about another 4-5 hours to finish it up but it looks much better now and the head of the V is gone.  I just need to take the steep part of one side of the V down now.  It is so steep that you cannot take the tractor along it, you have to go straight up and straight down. 

On a side note, the horses like the tractor far too much.  Every time I stopped and got off they would run over and start exploring the tractor with their lips.  I am making a mental note to not leave the tractor alone with the horses. The great chicken experiment is kinda working. Two leghorns are boycotting the chicken enclosure and roosting outside somewhere.  Now there is only one leghorn (Farm 6, predators 16).  Stupid chickens.  I didn't get eggs yesterday, Sarah will get them tonight and we will see how many green eggs have been produced in the last two days.  Then I will make some culling decisions.