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.