Sunday, July 19, 2009

Busy on the farm

It's funny how the busier I get on the farm, the less I feel like posting a blog about it, even when I've got all sorts of interesting things to tell you.

The current job going is getting organised for shearing, which starts on Monday... hey that's tomorrow. We've moved sheep, draughted sheep, weaned lambs, draughted more sheep, moved more sheep, yarded sheep, cleaned out shearing shed and sheded sheep in the last week. So we're all organised for tomorrow.

We've had lovely rains over the last couple of weeks so the crops are looking great. We made a good start at stone picking, but have had to put that on hold for a while simply because the paddocks have been too wet to drive the ute on. We've basically missed a week of stone picking and the crops are growing that quickly now that we're not even going to get back to do some paddocks.

I've also (almost) cleaned out the air seeder in that time which is basically getting in the two bins and vacuuming them out with the compressed air vacuum. I found that I should have done this job sooner, and not left the air seeder out in the rain, as the fertilizer bin doesn't keep water out too well, and the small amount of fertilizer that is left in the bottom turns to juicy mush... not very easy to clean.

I think both these pictures are from inside the fertilizer bin.

The other job was to sweep out the super shed, and remove the division in the middle ready for the air seeder to go back in there.

And no the air seeder hasn't gone back in... it's still sitting out in the yard in the rain while we're organising our July shearing. And it will stay there until we're finished the shearing now, which should take about a week. We have 410 hoggets, 250 ewes and 160 big wethers to shear.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Spraying done... for now

Was a good spraying day today and I was able to finish off spraying out the trace element blend on the correll wheat. I did number 14 at Bob's this morning and the two northern paddocks at granny's at Honiton. So that's it for the trace element blend (for now anyway - I may need to use more later but we'll wait and see) and I was even able to finish off the envirodrums I had perfectly, so I'll have no part drums laying around.

And a quick update on the stereo installation in the Ford tractor... I bought a new aerial for it today (I broke the old one (which wasn't real good anyway) when I took the roof off to put the stereo in). That's it, that's the update, haven't done anything else to it yet, so it's still speakerless and so while it looks really good I have no idea what it sounds like.

Stone picking also continued today with 3 paddocks at bob's being finished today. Numbers 5, 6 & 7, but not in that order (actually reverse order). Apparently 6 and 7 weren't too bad for stones, but number 5 is known to be pretty rough in places, and this year was no exception.

I'm not sure if I've explained what stone picking is or not. In case I haven't here is the explanation.

When the paddocks are worked to plant the seeds the digging action also loosens and pulls up stones that are under the soil. This is quite common in this area with limestone being plentiful. We need to remove these stones from the paddocks now while the crops are still small (so we can see the stones before they are grown over). If the stones are left they become dangerous obstacles for other farm machinery, in particular harvesters, when they are working in the paddocks. A large stone going through a harvester can do quite alot of damage. I've mentioned before that we use the Ford Courier tipper ute for stone picking, well one of use is the driver, and we usually have 2 that can sit on the back and spot the stones (1 on each side) and "pick" them and stack them on the back of the ute ready for tipping off onto a stone heap when it's full. We generally only pick the larger stones anything bigger than about a rockmelon. There are quite a few stones that are smaller than that and as they don't do the same damage as the larger ones, they don't matter. There are also large "fixed" stones that can't be picked. That's because they are so large, and still buried so well that they cant be moved. Some may even be part of really large slabs of sheet rock that are beneath the surface. We use a sledge hammer to break the tops off fixed rocks, where needed, or to break up bigger rocks that are too heavy to lift, into smaller pieces. We also fill in any fox holes we find while we're at it, and pull out any boxthorn bushes that we find growing in the paddocks.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I did get a bit of spraying done

I eventually got organised to get fungicide out on the peas we are trialling today. We have been using the John Deere 4440 to pull the boom spray ever since the Ford 8401 clutch packed up, and that is what I used this morning, even though I have got the Ford back from the repairer. Just that I hadn't had time to get the Ford set up for the sprayer again yet.

So the fungicide was pancozeb (I think), the rate 2kg (it's a powder that has to be mixed up) per hectare. It's only a small paddock, 4ha, so it was only a quick job. The trail is to see what happens when a crop of peas is planted on a paddock that had peas growing on it last year. Apparently it shouldn't be done, due to the disease risk, but we're gonna see. It's only a small paddock, so we thought it wasn't much to lose if it didn't work. We have a normal pea crop in the paddock next door that can be used as a control. The fungicide application is a bit of a preventative and none of the normally planted peas will get this application (unless there's a problem).

The John Deere tractor isn't the ideal tractor for pulling the boom spray for a few frustrating little reasons, and after doing the quick spray job, I'd had enough of it. So I decided to change the tractors back again. This was a little involved because I had started putting a new stereo in the Ford and so had taken the roof off. That had to be put back on again. The wiring for the power supply to the boom spray had to be changed back, and all the wiring for the boom spray computer in the cab. We also moved the mount for the computer over to the other tractor, so that had to be moved back too. So a couple of hours later I had it all changed over, hooked on, fuelled up and ready to go for the next spray job.

The next spray job was trace element blend on the Correll Wheat. I managed to get a couple of loads out this afternoon. Three paddocks at Bob's, 5,6 & 7. And the west paddock on wendelbournes. And it was much nicer to be back in the 8401 with a brand new clutch.

It has a brand new stereo as well, which I'm sure works really well, but I haven't had a chance to put the speakers in yet, so couldn't tell you for sure. Might have a chance tomorrow.

The stone picking also continued today, with Oldlands being finished off, and the paddocks at mum & dad's started off.

Monday, July 6, 2009

And the Stone Picking Begins

We have had a week or so of wet weather so there was no chance to get out onto the paddocks, well for anything really, without getting any vehicle bogged. But today, after a couple of dry days we decided to give it a go. I've got some spraying to do, and the stone picking is really on the urgent list now, so stone picking it was. We started bright and early over at Oldlands on the pentonvale paddock. It wasn't real heavy picking, but we had remove an old fence line, and this year is the first year we have worked over it, and there were quite a lot of rocks that had been thrown up against the fence over the years. They all had to be picked. There is Correll Wheat growing in there and, for this time of year, it's looking really good. It's started tillering and starting to get a bit of height into it - hence the urgency for stone picking. I noticed that there is quite a bit of rye grass starting to germinate in there too, so that will need spraying out sometime soon. We use the Ford Courier ute for stone picking, the traytop ute that is, as it's a tipper so we can just load her up, and tip em off. There is a picture of the courier on the side panel of this blog with a load of stones on, taken last year. We picked 5 loads today. That was off the pentonvale paddock and half the next paddock which is Jollys trees. The Correll Wheat on Jollys trees looked even better, taller and greener, and thicker. We worked out the difference was that the wheat on Jollys trees was sown onto a pea stubble (peas grown there last year, which boosts nitrogen levels in the soil) and the wheat on pentonvale was sown onto last years pasture. There was/is quite a noticeable difference.

Tomorrows jobs.. well I am going to do some spraying (fungicide on my peas on peas trial and trace elements on the Correll wheat we used logran on), and the other guys will continue on with the stone picking (a job which will probably continue for the next month or so).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Not much done today

Due to more wet and windy weather nothing happened on the farm today. It would still be too messy to try and get out onto the paddocks. I took out 18mm of rain this morning, and we've had more during the day today. There is more wet weather forecast, so I'm not quite sure when I'm going to get the chance to finish off spraying out trace elements on the Correll wheat.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A wet windy one today

I know it's been quite a few day's since I've done a blog, and in that time we have done quite a lot on the farm. My excuse is that for a few days there we had no internet connection. But we have now so here we are.

Now, what have I been up to?? Well since we finished seeding we have tailed all our lambs. If you've been following my blog for a while you'd probably know that we're running 4 mobs of ewes with lambs. We tailed a mob each day (starting a few days ago... I cant remember the exact days we did them).

The tailing operation involves bringing the mob of ewes and lambs into the yards. Then draughting off the lambs (that is separating them off from the ewes). They are moved into a small yard so they can be easily picked up. They are picked up placed in the tailing cradle so all the tailing procedures can be done. We give them a Glanvac 3-in-1 B12 injection (a vaccination for 3 things -- cant remember what the 3 things are, and also a vitamin B12). The young rams are castrated with an elastrator rubber ring, they soon become wethers. Their tails are docked and, being merino (the breed), we mules them.

The first mob we did was the mob over at mum & dad's. The lambing percentage there was 97% (that is 97 lambs for every 100 ewes). The next mob was 108%, the third 107% and the last mob, over at bob's... 65%. So I'm not sure what the difference was with that mob.. but they didn't do quite as well. We had to do a little extra draughting on that last mob, as there were a few mobs running together, so we sorted that out while we were there. That was actually yesterday.

To keep the mobs separate we had to do some fencing. I was about to say "a quick fencing job" but it wasn't really all that quick. We had to run out new cyclone along the entire side of one paddock. Probably about 300 to 400m (yeah ok, so it was the short side of the paddock). Then had to wire the cyclone (which is fencing wire... um it's hard to describe, but I'm sure more information would be available with a quick google search) to the posts. We just put it on straight over the old stuff, which had basically disintegrated... and the sheep were just walking straight through.

About a week ago we started to notice yellowing in some of the wheat paddocks. Our agronomist had noticed too and suggested that it was probably chemical damage from the Logran we used at seeding time, especially where there was any spray overlap. He recommended using a trace element blend to keep it up and running. So I have sprayed the three paddocks at Oldlands, and intend to do all the correll wheat that we used logran on. I'll do that as soon as we have the right weather for it. Today has been the first day that I've had available, now we've finished lamb tailing. But today has been quite wet and windy, and I couldn't get any vehicle onto a paddock without either making a very big mess, or getting it bogged on the paddock... or both.

Other ongoing jobs include the repair of the Ford 8401. The clutch packed up on it. Today I gave the mechanic in town a hand to fix it up. He had split the tractor (right down the middle - pulled the front (engine) away from the back (cab and gearbox etc)). So he had the clutch out, found that it was had it, and got a new one. He found that the flywheel was also stuffed, but was able to get the local engineer to machine it back, and it was good as gold. Today I gave him a hand to put the flywheel back on, put the new clutch in, and put the tractor back together again. I left him to reattach all the wiring, hoses etc. and I should be able to get the tractor back tomorrow. Although I wont be able to use it... as it will still be too wet. But never mind, we never complain about it being too wet. Right at this moment I can hear heavy rain falling on the roof, and it's a very nice sound.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Try to find a vehicle on the farm that will actually start day

Well the plan for today was to clean out the air seeder and put it away now that seeding is finished. What I actually did today was to work on vehicles that wouldn't start.. including the John Deere 8200.

I've had niggling problems with it starting for quite some time now. All I'd get was a "click" when trying to start. Usually after a few "clicks" it'd actually engage the starter and start no problems. Well after clicking away for about 10 minutes this morning I gave in and decided that maybe today it wasn't going to start. I checked the starter/solenoid, fuses, relays... the operators manual, but didn't have any luck. So I called the local John Deere dealer. He couldn't help either but had a service tech in the area that could come round later in the day. It didn't take him long to diagnose a faulty starter relay. That effectively means that the relay wouldn't close and send voltage to the starter solenoid to turn the starter. So there's a new one being freighted down overnight. I'll fit it in the morning and we'll be all go again... then air seeder clean out.

I don't remember if I mentioned that I had problems with the supalux (toyota hilux) a few weeks back. If not, the story is that it completely died on me on the way home with it one day. Since then we pushed it into the shed to deal with after seeding. Well it's after seeding now so I dealt with it. A quick call to the RAA (Royal Automobile Association - road service organisation), and the mechanic come out to have a look. He found no spark, anywhere. Nothing at the spark plug, nothing at the points, nothing at the coil, nothing even at the ignition fuse in the cab. But he did find a blown main 30amp fuse near the battery. He didn't have a spare, but has ordered one. Least he found the problem and, once again, as soon as I have the part I'll be on the road again.

I'm also not sure if I mentioned that the Ford 8401 tractor has a clutch problem. I'm sure I would have, but probably not updated you that I've taken the tractor into the workshop in town. The mechanic was working on it today, and found the the clutch has got serious problems, and that he has to split the tractor in two to check it out, and fix it up. I'm hoping to get some good pictures of this.

I didn't think we'd had any rain in the last 24 hours, so I never checked the rain gauge this morning, even though my wife said she thought she heard rain in the night. I know that I should never question the wisdom of a good woman, and found, when I did actually look in the gauge late this afternoon, that we had in fact had 4mm of rain at some stage. I'm glad she was right.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The final seeding update for 2009

Yep that's right it's the final update because I've finally finished seeding. It's been a few days.. ok, 10 days, since the last blog. In that time we did lose a number of days seeding time due to rain/wet weather, which is a handy problem to have. Since the last blog I have only had feed barley to sow. I actually finished on Thursday June 18 with the paddocks at Mum & Dad's place, that will be used as seed paddocks for next year.

On Friday I finished off sowing all the left over seed, both wheat and barley. I just sowed them into a couple of pasture paddocks. Actually I also had about a tonne of fertilizer left over too, so I sowed that out there as well.

Since then the tractor and air seeder had been brought back home here ready for cleaning out. You'll notice how I said ready for cleaning out... I haven't actually gotten around to doing it yet. The Ford tipper truck (our seed and super unit) will also need a clean out. Dad has given the boom spray a clean out. He flushed the whole unit with fresh water. I think he also used a little soap powder to clean it out. It's always good to flush out the boomspray with fresh water after use. It makes sure the pump and other components are free of corrosive chemicals, and stops chemicals settling out in the lines and hoses which can cause blockages in filters etc when we come to use the unit next time.

Jobs that are coming up in the next week or so include the clean outs, but also our lambs need tailing - a job that we actually usually do before seeding, but we started seeding earlier than we usually do this year - and also we need to start stone picking. That is clearing the paddocks of all the stones that were pulled up when I worked them with the air seeder.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Seeding Update

It's good to have an early knock off every once in a while, and today just happened to be one of those once in a whiles. The reason for the early knock off was the weather again. There are more good rains forecast for the weekend but leading up to the front we have got strong north/north easterly winds blowing. It's really cold (that's a relative term for colder than it usually is) and because of the wind we couldn't continue with the spraying, which needs to happen before the air seeder. That's so the chemical can be Incorporated into the soil. When it gets too windy there is too much spray drift, which not only makes it far less effective, but also can drift into our neighbours paddocks and kill there new crops.

All up today we sprayed and sowed about 46ha of feed barley. The variety of feed barley we grow is Maritime. I sow it at the rate of 80kg/ha so it can compete heavily with any weeds that come up, in particular rye grass. Spraying is done before the air seeder, as with all the other crops, this time with paraquat, trifluralin and strada. I'm not sure what strada is or what it does. But it was recommended by our agronomist so we added it to the mix.

I'm not sure if we're going to get much done over the weekend with more weather forecast, but that wouldn't bother me, because it's also nice to take the weekend off once in a while.

seeding update

Well I know it's been a while since I've given you an update on the seeding progress, and plenty of things have happened since then. But I've only got time to give you a quick update now.

We are still pushing on with seeding, but on the home stretch now. I'm not sure where we were up to in the last update, but we've now got all our peas in, also the durham wheat, and are well into planting our feed barley. In fact we only have about 140ha to go. We've had a couple of hold ups along the way. The Ford tipper truck, that is our seed and super unit, got a pin hole in the bottom of the fuel tank. I fixed that by putting ordinary household soap on it. That kinda worked, but I did lose probably 3/4 tank of fuel. The clutch on the Ford tractor (the one we pull the boom spray with) packed up. The clutch wouldn't disengage at all. So we pulled that tractor off the spray job and put the John Deere 4440 on it. We also bought a 2nd hand ezyguide plus GPS for it.

The other good thing... this is a good hold up, is that we've had another good rain over the last weekend. Totals around 43mm I think it was. We don't mind hold ups like that. We actually only got going again today. We hadn't done any seeding since Saturday. One of those days I spent the day driving the boom spray.

Nothing much else to say, except that we are on the home stretch now with seeding. Three days would see it out if they were uninterrupted... but there will be interruptions as there is more rains forecast for the weekend.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Seeding Update

The crops have well and truly started coming up now. This is a quick snap i got of a young wheat crop while I was seeding in the next paddock... not real clear I know, but it's definitely green, and definitely in rows.

I started on the Hyperno durham wheat today, actually that's the only paddock I got done today. First up I loaded the air seeder straight out of the silo I had the seed stored in, using the Heaslip elevator that's usually behind the truck. Then onto calibrating the air seeder for the new seed. I'm not sure if I've ever explained the process of calibrating the air seeder or not, so I got a couple of pictures today.

I'm not sure if I've got the pictures in the right order, but this is the handle to turn to... I'll need to explain this fully...

I can calculate the rate that the seed is sown per hectare by turning the mechanism the equivalent of 1/10th of a hectare, weighing the seed that comes out, then multiplying that by 10. I know the width of the machine (ie. how wide it sows) and the circumference of the wheel that drives the mechanism. From there I can calculate how many turns the wheel has to make to cover 1 ha. The handle (which is just a socket on a bar - which turns the gear box) turns at a slightly different rate to the wheels (cause I've altered the sprockets on there), so I have also calculated how many times I need to turn that handle to cover 1/10th of a hectare. And if you're interested that number is 29.25 turns. So I select a gear, and you can see the slides for selecting gears on the right hand side of the gear box above the sprockets. There are actually 2 sets of gears, 1 for seed and 1 for fertilizer, and both sets have 2 slides. 1 slide has letters A to E and the other number 1 to 5. So I can select a gear, for example B2 or D1 or C5, any combination, with A1 the slowest and E5 the fastest. I know what rate I want to sow the seed... or fertilizer, so I keep trying different gears until I get the right one.

These two pictures are out of order... and one is strangely sideways. I catch the seed in the bag around the air hoses (there's actually 2 bags around 2 banks of hoses, but I didn't think to take a photo until I'd reconnected 1 of the banks). Then put the seed in the bucket (not usually sideways). The bucket is hanging on scales, so it's all weighed, and being the amount for 1/10th of a hectare, I multiply that amount by 10 for the rate per hectare. And then run in that gear out in the paddock.

Number 17 at bob's is where the Hyperno went in. I had 1 tonne of the seed to sow, so a small paddock, 11.7ha, was ideal. All that we reap off that paddock will be seed for next years planting.

Next was a repair job to the rubber tyre rollers. We broke the A-frame yesterday, and so had to bring it back home here to the workshop for a quick weld up job, and a bit of reinforcing so it doesn't happen again (as quickly).

Spraying continued with knockdown going out down at Goldsmiths beach, ready for seeding tomorrow. I didn't get any more seeding done, but did get the tractor fuelled up, and air seeder cleaned out (after Hyperno) and moved down to Goldsmith's beach. The truck is also loaded with maritime barley ready for tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Seeding Update

We have been sowing peas for the last couple of days. I finished them up this afternoon. Yesterday I did 3 paddocks at Bob's, numbers 8, 9 and 11. Not a real big area, actually the last couple of days have been pretty easy days. 8 is just over 8ha, 9 is just under 20 and 11 is 4ha. And today I did number 10 which is only 21ha.

The peas are our first crop in our rotation. So all the peas I have planted have been sown into paddocks that were pastures last year. I'm not sure if it's coincidence or not, but we seem to get a good control of snails in the peas at harvest time doing it this way, and then it sets up the paddock nicely for a wheat crop the following year. Snails are or can be a big issue in peas in this area. Not only are they a contaminant in the peas, but also they smash up going through the header, and it gets gummed up with "snail guts", which causes all sorts of problems. But the last couple of years, since we've been sowing peas onto a pasture, we've had no snail problems at all. Having said that, the last few years have been unusually dry which may have had some effect on snail number too.

The reason I was filling you in on our rotation is because we have 1 pea paddock, number 11, that we are running as a trial paddock, with our agronomist, this year. We are trying to do something that shouldn't be done, just to see if it actually can be done. It's only a small paddock so we haven't got much there to lose. What we are trying is a variation in the rotation, and we have planted this paddock of peas onto a pea stubble (ie. it was a pea crop last year). Due to disease problems this shouldn't be able to be done... but we're going to see.

I finished off the peas today in number 10. The bin that I've been getting the pea seed out of is empty and the last tonne or so that I had over I just broadcast out into a pasture paddock. Then did an air seeder clean out. And now I'm ready to load up again tomorrow with durham wheat. I've got 1 paddock to do, and then we move onto barley.

In the mean time what's Dad been up to in the boom spray? Well he's been spraying out paraquat and trifluralin in front of the air seeder so that the trifluralin is incorporated into the soil by the seeding operation. He's also been rolling the paddocks with peas sown in them with the rubber tyre roller. And He's sprayed the first few pea paddocks with Diuron and Imidaan. These chemicals (or at least one of them) is a post sowing/pre emergent spray. That means that it has to be sprayed after the crops been planted, but before it comes out of the ground. The Diuron is a broadleaf (plants with wide leaves - as opposed to grass) spray, and the Imidan is an insecticide. It will protect the plants as they emerge from being eaten by all sorts of insects. The remaining paddocks all need to be sprayed twice (double knock) so number 17 at bob's has been sprayed with powermax (glysophate) and ox240. Actually now I think of it, number 17 has had both of it's knockdown sprays. We are using boxer gold, instead of trifluralin, and praquat. That was done today, and doesn't have to be Incorporated within such a tight time frame (within 4 hours is recommended for trifluralin - even though we do stretch that out to sometimes more like 8 hours). So that paddock is all ready for me to get straight onto in the morning.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Seeding Update

Ok well it's been a few days since I've updated the blog, and since then we have covered a little bit of ground. We finished up down at Honiton and then moved back to the home block. After we moved the ewes and lambs off the back middle paddock down to the 5roads we went ahead and sprayed knockdown (powermax & ox240) with trifluralin and then I come in and sowed peas in there.

This happened Friday, and I can vaguely remember a hold up that afternoon, because I only got that 1 paddock done that day, and it's only 28ha. That's right, we had a load of EasyN delivered. EasyN or another name for it is UAN is a liquid form of nitrogen. So it's instead of Urea. We will spray it out with the boom spray when the time is right. We had 29,500ltrs delivered, a B-double load. And our tank wasn't empty enough... so we had to duck into town to pick up a few empty 1000ltr shuttles to hold the excess.

Saturday I planted peas in the next paddock, the sheepyard paddock, and then onto Goldsmiths Coobowie Rd paddock, where I got a neat little piece of video footage... The "Ants Eye View".

Somewhere in there I also had to do a bit of a clean out job in one of the bays of the super shed. We wont be putting any more fertilizer in there, so it's good to have it all empty. I was lucky to have one of my workmen helping me that day

And here is a picture of the Bob's old trusty Massey Ferguson front end loader tractor. That's the one I've been using to load the super into the seed & super truck.

We took Sunday off... besides having to sort out some sheep down at Fountains that were in the wrong place... and actually turned out to not be our sheep. And Dad also got a little bit more rubber tyre rolling done on the paddocks I had already sown to peas.

This morning we moved back up to Gumbowie, to Bob's number 21. We got 21 and 24 sown today. Here is a picture of the Seeding unit here at home waiting to head over to Gumbowie this morning.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Seeding Update

Yesterday and today have been relatively uneventful on the farm. The seeding continues with about 45ha sown yesterday at our block called Fountains, and that being the last of the wheat in.

So first thing this morning was a clean out morning. I had to clean out the seed compartment of the truck, then go reload with peas. We started on peas today, the variety being kaspa. Once the truck was all loaded up I headed down to Honiton and did the same clean out job on the air seeder box.

Then calibrated the air seeder for the peas. We planned to plant them at the rate of 100kg/ha, which would mean we would need 23tonne of seed. I'm not sure how much seed we actually have, and feel that we may not quite have 23tonne, so I dropped the rate a little down to about 95kg/ha. Then we were ready to roll. I did all the paddock called Correll's today. 59ha in total. The boom spray ran ahead of the air seeder with trifluralin and roundup. And then after the air seeder dad came back with the rubber tyre roller and John Deere 4440. He rolled the whole paddock. We do this to roll in as many stones as we can, and to get a good soil to seed contact.

Tomorrow the plan is to move back up to the home block and continue on sowing the peas.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Seeding Update

I got another couple of paddocks sown today. Number 12 and 13 at Bob's. About 42ha all up. It was quite a rough day as these two paddocks are the roughest (as in have the most rocks) that I'll put into crop this year. Here are a couple of pictures of the solid limestone that protrudes out of the ground. I know that it looks relatively innocent in the pictures, but believe me it's not.

No, they're very hard and working the machine over them does take its toll. So it was really slow going today. I was using lower gears in the tractor and alot of the time I was back to half the speed I would normally go. The tynes, points and boots (all the parts on the seeder bar involved with the digging and placing the seeds) copped quite a beating and I also spent a fair bit of time today repairing the damage - which was mainly the seeding boot snapping off. I finished in the dark so there probably still some damage that I'll have to sort out in the morning.

Today the boomspray went ahead of the air seeder with the paraquat/trifluralin mix. Then moved down to "Fountains" to run out a knock down. That's where I'll be seeding tomorrow.

I was able to get a little bit of video footage today from outside the tractor. I'm not sure what the quality is like, but there's only one way to find out... lets have a look.

Well this looks like one of the few smoother patches in the paddock.. trust me it wasn't all like that, but most other paddocks are.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Seeding Update

We had another lovely drop of rain yesterday afternoon and overnight. 10mm in all which is really nice. I'd noticed the last couple of paddocks I had sown were quite hard due to lack of moisture so the rain will really help that.

We need to keep a couple of days ahead during seeding to be organised with spraying and so this mornings job was to move a mob of sheep to make way for the boom spray tomorrow. We had a mob of wethers down on our Fountains block. The did manage to get out on the road on the weekend, so it was time for them to come back home. We moved them back up to "Goldsmiths" which is right next door to the home place. They probably wont stay there long because... either they'll need to be moved again to make way for more spraying... or (and this is the most likely) they will get out again because the fences in there are very ordinary.

Coming along the road towards home with the sheep. Andy's just enjoying a few of the puddles on the road from last nights rain.

We did a quick tidy up in the farm yard of a pile of... well junk, that we had laying around after that, while there was still a few showers around, but after that it was back to the seeding operation.

No actually... before the seeding operation (I almost forgot). The Supalux died the other day on the way home, and I had to be towed home (we've got great neighbours who, amazingly, know how to be in just the right place at the right time). Well the supalux was towed in and left in the yard. We put it away in the main shed before we got back to seeding.

So I was off to Bob's to load the truck with seed and super. In the picture above, that's loading the wheat seed. You can also see the division in the tipper and the super in the back section.

I got 2 paddocks done today. Number 15 at Bob's and number 20... not in that order. Dad sprayed paraquat and trifluralin out in front of the airseeder. Then went on to spray glysophate and oxyflurafen on Bob's 13. 12 and 13 will be the 2 paddocks in line for sowing tomorrow. It will be a long day. Not that the paddocks are that big, but they are the roughest paddocks we will put in this year, so it will be slow and rough.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Seeding Update

I know I've got a couple of days worth of blogging to catch up on... again, so I'll try and remember what I've been up to. Being seeding time we've covered quite a few paddocks in the last few days, and the problem I have is that I cant remember what my last blog actually said, so I cant remember what paddock I was up to.

Well we were coming to the end of the Correll wheat, and I know we finished off in the front east paddock here at home. I then went and emptied the airseeder box by sewing the "left overs" into a pasture paddock. I think I did mention all that.

Here is a picture inside the airseeder seed bin, with just the dregs left in the bottom ready for clean out. Actually I think I was actually part way through the clean out.

In there is the Correll Wheat seed. It has a pinkish colour to it because it was treated with a seed dressing when we cleaned the seed. It prevents the plants getting some diseases. Now what else can you see in the picture?... There is a baffle in there to stop the seed moving across to one side with the gentle vibration as it goes along. Attached to that is the white seed level sensor. This sets off an alarm in the tractor when the bin is almost empty. If you look closely you can see the "stars" that turn in the bottom of the bin to control the flow of the seed out to the hoses. And my knee is in there as well... Yes I was inside the bin with the air vacuum cleaning out the remaining seed.

And there is the bin all emptied out and cleaned up ready for the next variety of wheat which will be Kukri. (I say will be, but we have already started on that and done a couple of paddocks, so I should have said it is Kukri).

I finished the Correll Thurday night. Did the clean out Friday morning. Reloaded the tipper truck (which I also had to clean out that morning) that morning, calibrated the airseeder for the new seed and then started on the front west paddock. The boom spray has been working in front of the airseeder for each paddock so in that time Dad has been out there spraying the paraquat and trifluarlin. He's also being spraying the initial knock down on paddocks a day or so in front of the airseeder. So with that he's covered Glackens river gum paddock and back paddock, Bob's 20 and 15 and 12.

Late Friday afternoon I moved up to Glackens and sewed the back paddock and the river gum paddock there with Kukri Wheat. And that's as far as I've got with the airseeder.

The next day the wind had picked up to a point that using the boom spray would cause too much spray drift (although I did notice that a few of our neighbours still did a little bit), so we put that on hold until the wind dropped out a bit.. which it never did on Saturday.

Instead I headed down to Honiton to pick up the John Deere 4440 and prickle chain to bring them back home. I had 1 more paddock to do with the prickle chain, and that was at Wendelbournes, and that would have all the chaining done. So that's what I did, in the west paddock at Wendelbournes.

That's what the prickle chain looks like all folded out behind the John Deere. It has a chain laid out in a diamond shape that has spikes... or "prickles" and the chains roll as it moves along. It moves the soil levelling it all out and covering the furrows that are left by the air seeder bar. We wouldn't normally use it, but we did this so the chemical we are using to try and control barley from growing with the wheat, will be controlled.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Seeding Update

Isn't it funny how little motivation there is to blog after working all day on the tractor. Actually today wasn't all day on the tractor, I actually had a couple of other jobs to do as well. But for a start I was basically on the tractor.

First thing is though, to load the Ford tipper with seed and super. So I headed over to Bob's to do that. I got there, untarped the truck (which has the "old fashioned" tarps where I actually have to get up on the truck to roll it forward - not like the lovely modern ones, roll tarps, that can be opened and closed from the ground) and first loaded the Correll wheat seed into the front section. Then took it over close to the super shed and then used Bob's old Massey front end loader and loaded the super into the back section of the truck. This is what happens every time I load her up.

Back to the paddock I went with it where I then had to load the air seeder, as I ran out of seed last night with only a little bit left in the paddock. So loaded up and finished the hectare or so I had left to do there and then moved onto the next paddock. About 10ha in the main rd paddock at Wendelbournes. Needless to say that paddock didn't take long. I did have to refill just before I finished that paddock and that's when I noticed I had broken a tyne (well actually lost a tyne - that's what happens when the pin that it pivots on breaks. A short time later I was lucky enough to find the broken tyne (I should really say missing not broken, cause it was only the pin that was broken) so I found the MISSING tyne and as it happened I had a spare pin with me. So it wasn't too much of a task to replace it and get going again. In fact it would be more of a task to actually describe to you how I replaced it.

I started on the next paddock, and as we are coming to the end of the Correll seed I was working towards finishing the seed off, and working in the truck loading and field bin emptying and all. So when I was half way through the northeast paddock I was off to Bob's again, and did empty out the Correll bin, so it was all in the truck. I had also emptied 1 of the 2 super bays in Bob's super shed. As I still had a load of fertilizer in the semi-tipper I got that out and backed it into the almost empty bay and tipped it up and unloaded that, and also cleaned it out. So I was over there for a while.

When I eventually made it back to the paddock I finished off that one, just before dark. It was just over 22ha. Then onto the last paddock of Correll wheat. The front east paddock here on the home place. That one's nearly 9ha and in that time I emptied the seed section of the tipper ready for cleaning out tomorrow so I can move onto a new variety of wheat. Any seed I had left in the air seeder after I finished that paddock I drilled into the pasture paddock next to it. Just to run it out. The air seeder also empty now and back home ready for a clean out tomorrow.

Dad's been busy on the boom spray as well. We use a "double knock" method of weed control - well we are for the current paddocks anyway. We didn't for most of the Correll wheat, where we used Logran, but will for the rest of the cereals. So that means that a day or so before seeding we spray a glysophate knock down, and now I remember that I have told you all this, because of my "glysophate/glyphosate" dilemma. Anyway he's been doing that. Glysophate with oxyflurafen 240 a day or so earlier, then trifluralin and paraquat in front of the seeding operation. Today he did the "1st knock" on the front east paddock (and front west I think - that's where I'll start with the next variety tomorrow), the middle and back paddocks at Glackens and number 20 on Bob's.

He did the 2nd knock on the paddocks on Wendelbourne's that I drilled and the front east paddock. I think the spraying has basically been incident free, besides the usual trouble that everyone has sucking glysophate out of envirodrums in the cold mornings, and he also cracked a boom line late this afternoon. He ended up taping it up to bet by but did also buy a new one that he will install in the morning. The boom line is what carries the chemcal down to each nozzle. The nozzles are connected to the boom lines.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Seeding Update

Another day on the tractor today, although it was a short day due to other commitments in town.

I had meetings from 10am ish but before that I had time to duck over to Bob's to reload the seed & super truck ready for when I got back to the tractor and air seeder.

It turns out that it was 3:30 in the afternoon before that happened so it ended up being a bit of a rush to get the paddock finished I was in before dark so I could bring the unit back home along the road. (It's illegal to drive oversize vehicles on public roads after sunset in South Australia).

I did manage to get the paddock done in time, so that was Granny's Nth West at Honiton done, from there I moved back up to the block across the road from our home place. The block is called Wendelbournes and I started on the west paddock. It's 26ha and I almost got it all done before I ran out of seed (there's that small seed & super unit problem again). Turns out that I have about 1.5ha to go.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Seeding Update

Got a couple more paddocks done today. First finished of number 10 at Bob's. Then juggled loading the airseeder and truck and then moved on down to Honiton, with a quick fuel stop in at home for the tractor. Got the nth east paddock at granny's done by late afternoon, and then got about half way through the nth west paddock before I ran out of seed in the truck. The big draw back about using the Ford tipper as a seed and super unit is that it doesn't carry enough seed to last for a full day. I know that I could have come back to Bob's to load up again, but that would have been at around 7:30 at night, and it's a fair way to go, so I decided to call it a day and I'll finish off down there tomorrow.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Seeding Update

Got started today by replacing 2 broken springs on the tynes of the air seeder bar. I had a couple of spare ones laying around so it wasn't too much of a hassle to replace the broken ones... that is until I found I had 3 broken springs, but only 2 spares. While Dad was at the main farm filling the boomspray he had a look and found 3 more spares stored with the spare complete tynes. So a bit later on when he brought them over I got the chance to change another 1.

I finished 3 paddocks today, all at Bobs. Number 5 - about 12ha, 7 - about 18ha, and 6 - about 15ha. And I got started on number 14. Still planting Correll wheat.

All relatively uneventful although I have noticed that my new seeding boots I made may have a weak point. All the paddocks I've done so far have been quite stony in places and the closing plates must hit down on the rock when the tynes are recoiling. The mounting bracket have broken in the same place on 3 or 4 of them now. Which isn't a really good average seeing as I only put about 15 of them on, and they've only lasted 3 or 4 days. Hopefully they'll be ok.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Seeding

Seeding is in full swing now. I just started slowly with a few shorter days, but as of tomorrow the long hours will start in order to get all our crops in.

Here are a couple of pictures from inside the tractor cab.

This first one I took to send to a mate because we have this ongoing joke about how rough the country is that we try to sew crops in. What you can see there is a pile of stones about a foot high, so I sent him the picture with the message that this was in fact prime cropping country. In reality there was an old fence running through there dividing the paddock into two. This year we decided to remove the old wire and actually work through the old fence line.

The view from inside the tractor cab.

Loading the seed wheat into the front section of the Ford tipper. We use this truck as our seed and super unit.. seed in the front, super in the back.

Since the last blog I have only finished 1 more paddock. That's the pentonvale paddock at Oldlands. I only worked half days both Saturday, and today. Actually today was only a couple of hours this afternoon just to get the paddock finished.

On Saturday, while I was finishing off Jolly's Trees paddock at Oldlands, I recorded a video with a commentary to give you a little bit of an idea of what happens inside the tractor cab during seeding. Here is the disclaimer... It is quite difficult to make a video using a mobile phone and drive a tractor, following a GPS unit, at the same time, so I apologise for the quality of the filming. I can't guarantee that I followed the GPS perfectly while filming. No animals, or trees, where harmed during the filming... Now you can watch it.

So that's basically how it all happens.

Today I finished off at Oldlands, and moved the unit up to Bob's farm. I also loaded the seed/super truck ready for an early start tomorrow. Number 5 (paddock 5) and 7 have been sprayed with the same brew we used at oldlands, so that's where I'll be starting.

Oldlands is some of our rougher country (not that Bob's is much... actually any better) and it has taken it's toll on the seeder bar. I discovered 1 tyne has a broken spring, and another tyne's spring is missing all together. So first thing will be to take a couple of spare springs over there and replace (or put) them on the bar.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Seeding time

Yesterday was the day that I actually got started with the seeding. It was a pretty busy day to get that far though. There was quite a few "organization" jobs to do to get going. Things like making sure I had all the tools I would/could need, fuel for the small motors etc. I hadn't had a chance to put my new seeding boots on the bar yet either, so I started that yesterday morning. After I'd put about 15 on I thought I'd leave it at that and move onto something else, otherwise I'd never get started with seeding.

I also had to completely clean out the Ford tipper, the truck I'd been using to load up the sheep feeder, and so it still had barley grains in it. So I spent the rest of the morning cleaning it out to avoid contamination in the wheat seed I was going to be sowing.

Then it was up to the "real" jobs related to seeding... as opposed to the "getting organised with everything" jobs for seeding. So I headed off to load the truck (the Ford tipper - we use that as our seed and super unit. It had a division in the middle of the tipper, with seed going in the front section and super (another name for fertilizer) in the rear). The seed bins and fertilizer are over at bob's so I headed over there to load up.

Then off to the paddock, and I started on the paddock that I sprayed first at Oldlands, the point paddock. Loaded the air seeder, using the same elevator I used when loading the sheepfeeder on the ute. Then calibrate the air seeder. This is a process of running the air seeder in different gears so it will dispense seed or fertilizer (which ever is being calibrated) the product is collected and weighed and the rate per hectare can be calculated. With our old seeder box it's a bit of a procedure of testing several gears until I get the one that gives me the right rate. My target rates are...

  1. Correll Wheat - 100kg/ha
  2. DAP fertilizer - 70kg/ha

In past years we usually run heavier fertilizer rates, but as we've had a run of bad years we needed to cost cut, and so we've come down to minimum on the fertilizer.

I eventually got started with seeding at about 3:30ish in the afternoon, and just took it easy and got 10ha done.

Today seeding continued. First job was to go and top up the truck with seed and super, then straight back over to Oldlands to finish off the point paddock. I only had minor hiccups with the air seeder, mainly with nuts working loose on the seeding boots that I just put on. I have to admit that with the design of the mounting bracket on the boots, it is hard to get a spanner onto the nut and really tighten them up. In hindsight where I used 1" angle iron I probably should have used bigger to allow room to get a spanner firmly on the nut. Still I could get them pretty tight, and with a spring washer, and some lock tight, most of them are still good.

I finished the point paddock, 29.7ha and got most of the way through the next paddock... Jolly's trees. It was drizzling on and off all afternoon, with some showers getting quite heavy, so I didn't push to do any more than I did.

Dad took over with the spraying today. He usually does the spraying at seeding time. So he loaded up the boom spray with the same brew I used on the other Oldlands paddocks, and he started on the pentonvale paddock at Oldlands. He had a breakdown with it though. There's a couple of sheer bolts in the wing pivots... and on one side they sheered off. It took quite a while to fix it up, because not only do you have to replace the bolts, but when they break the boom wing swings around to the folded position and breaks off nozzles when it hits so hard. So he didn't get much more than a lap around the outside of the paddock done. I mentioned earlier that we had drizzle basically all afternoon. Actually it was more like a shower every 15 mins. So once the boom spray was fixed he couldn't do anymore because of the rain. For the chemicals to work they cant have rain on them for a certain amount of time afterwards.

So that was it for today. Tomorrow I'll finish the Jolly's trees paddock, and Dad will go on with pentonvale.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

If all goes to plan seeding will start tomorrow

There are still a few jobs to get sorted out before we get started with seeding, so I got a couple of them out of them out of the way this morning. The first thing I did was to make up a couple of... um... things... I'm not sure if they've got a name or not. I'm sure they would have, but I'm not sure what it is. They are for the boom spray, the foam dispensers for the foam marker. I wanted to make cloth ones, the old plastic ones had worn out. So I chopped up a plastic lined canvas shopping bag and pulled the old sewing machine out and sewed it into a tube shape.

And there we have the finished product - well 1 of them anyway, there's one on the the other end of the boom as well.

Ok, another job to finish off this morning was the service on bob's old massey front end loader. I took some oil over there from home and topped her up. To tell the truth we probably actually put too much in, but ya get that. Hopefully it'll be alright. We also changed the fuel filters (they looked like they hadn't been done in... well quite a while) and topped up the power steering.

Now the power steering, there's a story about that. We've been using bob's loader each seeding for the 9 years we've been leasing his farm. For the first few years I didn't even realise it had power steering. Then bob mentioned something about adjusting the power steering, and that he'd do it. And he did, and it kinda improved it a bit, but it was just like really old power steering that only sort of made a bit of difference. It's been like that since then. Well today we (as in Dad & me) discovered there was hardly any oil in the reservoir. In fact there was probably more water than oil in there. So we completely drained the oil. Cleaned the filter as best we could. At the same time I got busy with the grease gun and greased all the steering linkage (and the rest of the tractor - the grease nipples I found anyway). We filled up the power steering reservoir with oil. It just takes normal engine oil, and then gave it a test run. And I nearly fell out of the tractor cab (see I would have said fell over there, but I couldn't do that.. I was in the tractor cab). It was the smoothest, easiest power steering I have ever used (besides a 1964 Chev Belair). Loading the fertilizer into the seed and super truck will be a breeze from now on.

So the tractor servicing took till midday. Moving closer to seeding and the next job was to get the boom spray up and running to get a few paddocks done before I come in with the air seeder. But still there was a couple of jobs to do before that happened. Like get the tractor started again for one. You remember how I told you we got a band new battery for the Ford8401.. a couple of weeks ago, well I left the isolator switch on. And that's just like leaving the head lights on. There's something in the tractor that drains the battery. So the brand new battery was dead flat. I had to find another one that would work. First one... which came off the Ford tipper truck.. didn't. Second one, out of the John Deere 4440 did. And the new battery from the tractor went on the charger. Next thing... months ago the pull rope on the water pump broke (the pull rope is what you use to start the pump). So I put a new rope on the pump and loaded the boom spray up to go.

First thing we are going to plant is Correll wheat, and the recommended chemical use for that is:

  1. Ammonium sulphate - 1 bag per 2000l of water to soften the water to help glysophate work.
  2. Lonestar - another name for Logran, which gets incorporated in the soil to prevent new weeds growing. We wouldn't normally use Logran but chose to this year as it will provide some control of barley in wheat, and our Correll seed had some barley in it.
  3. Ox240 - or oxyflurafen240, gives the glysophate a little more bite
  4. Powermax - I think its powermax 680 which is glysophate 680 which is a general knock down herbicide. Glysophate with oxyflurafen will kill most weeds that have already germinated.

Quick apologies now... I often get confused whether it's actually "glysophate" or "glyphosate". So I may have it backward. Now I could go out to the chemical shed... or even into the business computer and check the active ingredient of powermax... but... I'll just put in an apology instead, in case I have it wrong. (I'm sure I wouldn't be the only person who gets confused with this one).

I should have listed the rates above too. Ok here they are...

  1. Ammonium sulphate - 1 bag/2000l water. I think 1 bag is 25kg
  2. Lonestar - 35g/ha
  3. Ox240 - 75ml/ha
  4. Powermax - .8l/ha

I filled up a full tank (4100l) and headed up to our block we call Oldlands. There are 3 paddocks there. I started in the point paddock, which is 29.5ha I think I clocked. For the first paddock of the season It went pretty smoothly. I just had 1 nozzle a little blocked at the start, and the foam marker pump played up a few times, but just needed a tap to start pumping again. I moved to the next paddock, Jolly's trees, after that and emptied the tank as I finished the paddock. It was just over 28ha. I used a water rate of 70l/ha.

These pictures are on the first lap of the Jolly's trees paddock. In there you can see the Ford 8401 tractor, the Hardi 4228b boom spray (4100 ltr tank and 28m boom) and on the end of the wing you can see the new foam marker... "sock" I'll call it, even with foam coming out. It leaves a trail of blue foam at the wing tips as I go along spraying so I know what ground I have already covered. The next pass I line up the end of the boom with the foam trail. When the paddock is all done there are lots of lovely blue foam trails all over it. The foam eventually disappears after anything from an hour to.... well a few hours depending on the wind etc.

I did a quick welding job on the frame of the air seeder box when I got home. Which involved completely unhooking the tractor off the front. That's done so the electronics on the tractor aren't damaged by power surges from the welding. The welds were in a bit of a tight spot on the frame. I had a vertical weld to do, a weld on the underside of the frame, and one along the top, but that one was hindered a bit by the actually air seeder box. But in the end the top weld turned out ok. I cant say the same for the vertical weld. I was too busy dodging hot flux that was spitting everywhere while I was lying under the machine to do the weld. And the underside weld wasn't much better, but at least that one does have a coupla spots where the weld looks good.

So only a couple more things to organise in the morning before I actually can pull into the paddock and officially start our seeding for 2009.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fertilizer pick up day today

Was an early start this morning to head up country in the Kenworth and tipper to pick up an early load of fertilizer (DAP). I had 3 loads booked in to pick up today so the first one had to be an early one at 8pm and I actually ended up getting in just after 7:30 for the pick-up so that wasn't too bad. So I was able to pick up the 3 loads no problems. 68tonne all together. We had a shower of rain while unloading the 2nd load which made it a little difficult, but we never complain about rain. We need ever drop we can get.

We looked at, and started, servicing Bob's front end loader, the old massey, later in the day. Drained the oil and changed the filter. So tomorrow I'll take some engine oil over there, and check on fuel filters, power steering etc.

Now that we've got the fertilizer it'll be all systems go for seeding. I'll probably start with some spraying, probably as soon as tomorrow. And the air seeder will roll not far behind that.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I got my truck back today

After nearly a week of repairs to my semi tipper I finally got it back today and she's good as new and all ready to roll. In fact I've booked in up country to pick up my fertilizer tomorrow. 3 loads starting bright and early... actually it wont be bright then, the sun wont even be up. (Yes I know it'll be a bit of a shock to this lazy farmer who likes to sleep in).

This morning I finished of making up my new seeding boots. Now I have a full set of 53 (that's how many I need on the air seeder bar... that's how many tynes it has) and I recon I've even got a couple of spares. Hopefully I've counted them correctly... guess I'll find out when I go to put them on the machine. The last few I welded up today are slightly different to the others in that they are made with tubing that has a bend in it. So the top of the boot lays back off the tyne. This will be good for a few of the tynes where the hose leading down to the boot has a long reach.

I finished servicing the Tractors. Well I finished the John Deere 4440 anyway. I had to refill the grease gun. Then I greased both the John Deeres and the air seeder. I also blew out the engine air filter on the 4440 (this is all I have left to do on the 8200) and by the look of it it had been quite a while since I'd done that. A lot of dust and dirt come out of it!

So then I hooked the 4440 onto our prickle chain (shoulda taken a photo cause if ya don't know what a prickle chain is... it's way to hard to explain). Now that unit is all ready to go. Oh I also checked the tyre pressures on tractor and prickle chain and pumped up where they were a bit down... which happened to be every tyre. And now that unit is all ready to go.

I checked grain prices on the net. We still have some grain warehoused at the local storage facilities and are looking at the possibility of selling some soon. The prices are down at the moment though, and no body is really interested in buying mainly because the value of the Australian dollar is relatively high and only increasing. That means prices are decreasing as overseas buyers would have to pay more for us to get the same, but what happens is they pay the same... and we get less. Unfortunately with grain marketing and selling, there are times when you have to sell because you need the cashflow rather than holding off and selling when the prices are better.

I picked up the truck in the afternoon. Yep she was already, and me and a mate brought her home. He wanted to borrow a set of harrows from us, and I said "No problems at all... I wont be using them". We don't use harrows anymore as they're not suited to trash farming where all stubbles are retained. We haven't used them for years. The were superseded by the prickle chain, which can handle the trash, but even that doesn't get much use now that we use minimum tillage. This year I am planning to use it on our Correll wheat crops. Just a pass with it after the seeding bar to spread the herbicide we are using, so we get a good even coverage with the Logran. We found there is barley seeds in our Correll wheat seeds. Logran is a good chemical (or a chemical that can... maybe not good) prevent the barley growing, but it needs to be incorporated in the soil evenly to prevent the barley in the rows (ie planted barley) from growing.

It was then that I did all my tyre pumping up etc. because I checked all the tyres on the truck. While I was on a roll I also did both John Deere's and the prickle chain. Then Moved things out of the workshop yard ready for use. The truck got moved out front ready for me to leave with it in the morning. I plan to leave with it at around 6:30.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Last round of sheep feeding today

With seeding fast approaching and the greenfeed now coming on in the pastures today's sheep feeding was the last I will do for the year. As it worked out the truck that I have been using to load the feeder with emptied out today and we'll need it as a seed and super unit when we start seeding (which will happen mid this week if all goes to plan). So the afternoon job today was to empty out the truck fully, and feed out the grain. As it was only 2 of the mobs got fed, the other 2 are on good pastures anyway. So nice quick job, the most difficult part was having to get up in the truck to scrape out the last few bags of grain.

Friday, May 8, 2009

More welding today

I spent most of the day in the workshop today, thought I'd have a go at welding up the new seeding boots I'm making. Actually I didn't plan to do that, just that when it was sheep feeding time it was also raining so I thought I'd play around with a little bit of welding until the rain cleared. Well the rain did clear. In fact I don't think it rained for long at all, but once I got started with the welding I kinda got on a roll and just kept going.

So here is the parts laid out on the back of a tyne (that is in the vice) as they would sit on the actual machine. Here I was trying to work out in my mind how it would all come together and I ended up making a jig (hope that's the correct spelling??) so I could weld the parts together in that.

The jig was pretty simple, just a few nails in a board with a sheet of metal to protect the wood a bit, and stop it from catching on fire. I'm not sure if the tin was successful or not. Was good for clamping the earth clamp to though. The nails held the 2 parts together firmly at just the right angle so I could weld them together. I just put the nails in when I did the first assembly and then after that all I had to do was slip the 2 parts into the jig between the nails. Below you can see the first weld - or at least where it is, between the mounting bracket (the angle iron with the hole in it) and the closing plate, right in the tight "V" there. And look, the earth clamp there on the bottom.

And then turn the whole jig over and weld the second weld between the two plates. It's easier to see the nails holding the parts in this picture.

Once that was done I just pulled the new mounting assembly out (that's what I'll call it) with the chipping hammer in the bolt hole, and the earth clamp and then check the angles and position of the welds against another assembly that was already completed. That way I made sure that they were all relatively uniform.

Here's 2 I prepared earlier (I just wanted to say that)

So I did about 55 of them this morning. And no the poor old sheep missed out on being fed. There is alot of green grass and other weeds coming up in the pastures now so the sheep feeding isn't quite as vital.

I went into town again today (another excuse for the bakery) 1 because I'd used up all the welding rods, and 2 because I wanted to check on the progress with the repairs on the semi tipper. Well the bakery was lovely - beautiful vegetarian pastie and a Farmers Union Iced Coffee. I had no problem dropping into the rural supply shop and getting another box of welding rods (or electrodes - all the welding I do at home is electric arc welding by the way). But when it came to the semi tipper repairs... they're going slowly. I was hoping I'd have the truck back this afternoon so I could collect some of our fertilizer, but It wasn't going to be done today. So hopefully sometime Monday. By then we'll be desperate as we'll want to kick into gear with seeding... and we cant do that without fertilizer. At the same time let me just say that the guys are doing a fantastic job with the repairs and I'm glad they're taking their time to do a top notch job. I know I wont have any problems with it in the future.

Armed with my new box of welding rods I decided to get stuck into welding the boots up. What you see above is a prototype we ran last year on the air seeder bar. It seemed to work well so the new batch of boots are based on this one with only a slight change. Below is a new boot - freshly made today - and you can see that I've used a 90 degree angle plate as a mounting bracket rather than a straight piece of plate as you can see above. This will make it easier to get the nuts on and off (which doesn't have to be done often once they're on there) and to keep them tightened up (they can work loose).

The steel tubing I used is actually exhaust tubing (inch and a quarter I think - no it might be inch - not sure but it's rare to find this smaller size on cars any more apparently). All the pieces of tubing are actually recycled from a previous design boot that we used on this bar - unsuccessfully, so you can see remnants of the old mounting brackets still on there. But that wont affect the operation of this new design at all.

So what you can see above there is the finished product. I did about 45 of these this afternoon. I couldn't do all 55 because I actually ran out of tubing. A few of the old ones have either gone missing somewhere, or were destroyed when we had them on the bar originally. The pictures below show the steps in welding the boot tubing to the mounting assembly. I'll talk you through them.

Ok so there is a piece of tubing clamped tight in the vice. I even squashed the end in a bit to narrow down the seed/fertilizer's exit from the boot for a more accurate fall into the furrow. That was the theory anyway. In reality I didn't really squash them much at all, this one just looks like it.

From there I tack welded the mounting assembly on. This is the one step that I don't have a picture for but you can just imagine it if you like, on the bottom end of the tubing you can see above. Then I did a full weld on the top side of the bracket.

Then move it in the vice so I can weld one side.

And turn it over again so I could weld the other side.

Then pull it out. Chip off the slag with the chipping hammer (I hope you know what that is - if you know anything about welding you would - but I've already had to explain it once today to my son, which took a while, so it would probably take longer to explain it here).

And that was it. All done!

This is the finished product (possibly before slag chipping - I cant remember from when I took the photo, but it looks like the slag is still there).

And there is the finished product on the back of a tyne on the air seeder bar all ready to go. The rusty looking angled down part on the front of the tyne (the tyne is the bendy diggery thing the connects to the top of the bar) is the point. It's a knife point, meaning it's really thin for minimum tillage, with a tungsten tip, so it doesn't wear out. That's the bit that does the digging.

So it's all very technical, but the important thing is it does the job. Before I put the rest of the boots on I'll just clean up on the inside of the tubing where I've cut the pieces or weld has dropped into the inside of the tube. That way the seed and fertilizer will have an uninterrupted flow through the boot. I'll just use either a round file to do this or a die grinder if it's too much for the file. I need 53 boots all up for the bar, and I'll probably want a few spares, but as you know I only made about 45, so I need to make another 9 (that's how many mounting assemblies I have) and I plan to used the same exhaust tubing for them, but this time the other end of what was the old boots. They will have an angle in them (cause they were on the bottom originally) which will be ok as some of the hoses the seed etc runs down stretch a fair way and would benefit from having a "laid back" kind of boot. I'll show you the pics when they're done.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chemical pick up day

The preparations for seeding continued on the farm today. I got stuck into a few more maintenance jobs, and Dad finished cleaning down his header. It's almost a race to get everything done now, cause as soon as it's done we can get started. But it's happening slower than I would like. 1 of the big hold ups at the moment is the repairs to the cracks in the semi-tipper. I'm waiting on that to be done so I can go and collect fertilizer that needs to be planted with the seed to feed the crop as it grows. It doesn't look like I'm going to have my tipper back now in time to get any fertilizer before Monday. I'll probably get it back tomorrow but wont be able to book in in time to collect fertilizer. And I'm sure the plant wont be open on the weekend. There's a good chance I'll have enough to keep me busy until then anyway, but don't worry, there isn't that much more to do.

First job I did this morning was to head into town and pick up all the chemical I'd need for weed control during seeding. After the agronomist came around yesterday I calculated what we'd need of each chemical, and took into account what we already had on hand, and made a little shopping list. It took two trips into town actually to get it all, and here's the pick-up of the first load. (Actually the ute was loaded too, but I didn't show that).

And there we are, the whole lot unloaded, with the 110ltr envirodrums outside and all the 20ltr drums, and ammonium sulphate 25kg bags, inside. I would give you a list of everything I bought, but I don't have a copy with me... and I cant remember. But amongst them are:

  • Powermax, which is glysophate for knockdown weed kill,
  • Ox240 or oxyflurafen 240 - helps with the knockdown
  • Paraquat - a 2nd knockdown herbicide used as a"double knock" to stop resistant rye grass
  • Trifluralin
  • Logran
  • little bit of boxer gold
  • strada - I'm not sure what that does, but it's funny how we listen to what our agronomist says, and just do it.
  • and I told you I couldn't remember everything I got.

Amongst other jobs I attended to today was a quick service to the John Deere 4440. That included an oil change and oil filter change.

    There's the new oil filter. You can see on there how I've scratched the date and the engine hours on there so I'll now when it's due for it's next service. I also need to grease the... well everything that need greasing on it, but that will happen tomorrow. I still have to do that on the John Deere 8200 as well. I did adjust the stop cable on the 4440 as well. That's kinda just above the filter. It is in the photo, but if you don't know what it looks like you may not recognise it. Anyway the clamp holding it at the fuel pump end (the back of the fuel pump is in the picture just in front of the oil filter). So it didn't work. It's supposed to stop the engine when you pull the stop button in the cab. So I fixed it. Pulled the cable into position and tightened up the clamp, believe me there was no way it was going to move now. Only problem was it worked too well. I could barely get the tractor to even run. Pulled it in too tight. So I let it back again and re tightened. It still didn't work quite right, so after a little bit more fiddling I decided that it's a real touchy little cable that has to be in just the right position. And you'll be happy to know that I did eventually find that perfect position. It'll work just fine now... until the first time we need to use it.

    And there's the 2 Johny's side by side, just waiting to be all greased up and then they'll be ready for action.

    Back last year sometime I managed to break the bottom elbow, and the anti-vortex in the bottom of the Granni pot on the boom spray. Here's another moment where I wished I'd taken a picture... it would be much easier to describe that way. Firstly I'll let you know that the Granni pot is a mixing pot mounted to the side of the boom spray and all the chemical is loaded into the main boom tank using the granni pot. It works using vacuum pressure generated by water flowing through a venturi, and it's a strong enough vacuum to draw chemical out of envirodrums. Chemical in smaller drums, such as 20ltr can also be measured into the granni pot, then drawn into the main tank. It can also be used to dissolve granular chemicals that need to be dissolved. So as you can imagine an essential part for the operation of the boom spray.

    Well when I broke it last year (by leaving it in the folded down position while spraying - it lasts alot longer when you remember to put it up) and replace the essential parts, but at the time I couldn't get a "lifting stirrup", but I could survive without that. So I put it together and I was up and going again. The new lifting stirrup (the old one got lost somewhere in the paddock where the thing broke - I drove for quite some time before I noticed. Guess I'll find it out there some day) came a week or so later. Now the reason I'm telling you all this is because today I finally got around to putting the new lifting stirrup on. When I did I found the rubber seal in the bottom of the Granni pot was stretched so I replaced that while I was at it. If it wasn't in perfect condition then there's a chance that the Granni pot wouldn't seal down airtight, and so it would not only leak, but also wouldn't be able to hold a vacuum and hence wouldn't be able to draw chemical out of envirodrums. So that was a good maintenance job out the way.

    And that was the day.