Thursday, April 29, 2010

I now have fertilizer

As the seeding preparations continue a few of the important jobs have now been done. I had to pick up my new seed and super grouper, seen below. I bought it second hand from my cousin and still have to get it set up properly on the back of the Atkinson truck.
Just about all of the chemicals I'm going to require for seeding is now of the farm too. This is a picture of some of it.
I also removed a fenceline across the front paddock, but that also included moving a water pipeline. You can see in this picture two utes tied up to the poly pipe about to drag it across to the other side of the paddock.
Tied on ready to go. So with a little re-plumbing of the water line, plus moving a water trough and pulling out all the posts, what was two paddocks is now one.
A quick trip up to Ardrossan the other day in the Kenworth and now I have 25tonne of DAP fertilizer. I've backed the Kenworth into the shed (mainly because the cab is too tall to fit under) to keep the tipper out of the rain so the fertilizer doesn't absorb too much moisture. I backed the Atkinson in there as well.. not only does it make for a nice picture, but I've also got seed grain the the shed behind it which I will just put up on the back behind the seed and super grouper.
Work also still continues on the airseeder making sure the tynes are all set at the right spacings and ready to roll.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Slowly getting all the jobs done before seeding starts

I just noticed that my last blog was on Monday... it's Thursday now... it looks like I haven't done any work for a few days... but don't worry I sure have been.
The snail bait spreading is the big one, or the urgent one that I finally got out the way yesterday and this morning. I guess a farm is like a giant garden and the snails on the farm need controlling too.
I've also been organising the Atkinson truck so I can go pick up a seed and super unit to go on it. That should happen tomorrow, but before I could put anything on it I had to get the old grain bins off it. So over the past few days I've been working on it. A push off with a fork lift seemed to be the easiest way.
There were 2 bins on the truck, this is the back one coming off
and the front bin
and now outside the workshop with no bins.
Had another small problem I had to fix up before the Atkinson was going to go any further too. The water hose coming off the bottom of the header tank down to the radiator had a rusted out fitting which actually broke off completely. So I had to take the header tank off and take the old fitting out, head to town and pick up a new one (which I was surprised to be able to get) and then put it all back together and top it up with coolant again. She should be right to roll in the morning.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A few odd jobs done today

The day started with sheep feeding again. Most of the ewe mobs seem to be doing quite well now. One of the mobs wasn't doing so well before I started feeding them and a few of the ewes died in the lambing process. But now they seem to be ok.
A few sheep from a different mob managed to get out onto the road this morning so that was another early job putting them back in their paddock... and fixing up the fence they knocked down.
Later on I moved another mob, a mob of wethers this time, back up to my place to "greener pastures".
This is Andy and Elly working the sheep along the road heading south.
I had a couple of my vehicles in town for the past week or so for repairs and today they were both finished and ready to come home. This morning I picked up the supalux (toyota hilux), and then this afternoon brought home the Kenworth and trailer.
This year during seeding I am going to be using a seed and super grouper and will need to have that on the back of the Atkinson truck. I haven't used, or even moved, the Atkinson for quite some time now... 2 or 3 years in fact. I had a few minutes to spare this afternoon so I decided to get her going again and take her for a bit of a run out in the paddock.

Here she is where she's been for the past probably 3 years

After checking oil and water the next step was to put 2 batteries back in her.

I'd like to say that she just fired up and was good as gold first pop, but I did have a little bit of a problem with the electrical connection to the starter motor for a start. I'm hoping the problem was just because it hadn't turned for so long. When it did eventually turn over (which was the result of a few quick words to God) then she fired up first pop. I drove her round and took her for a run out in the paddock, tested the air horn and then parked her in front of the shed rather than behind. Next step is to re-register her and take the bins off, then go collect my new seed and super grouper.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Little Weekend Maintenance

Fencing to be exact, and my type of fencing is to pull out the posts and get rid of the fences all together. My brother was kind enough to come out today and help me remove a fence that was in disrepair. He removed the wires last weekend (what wires were still there that is) and today we got rid of the rest. Using a chain on the bucket of the Belarus front end loader we pulled out all the posts. The chain was tied to the arm of the loader and then tied around the post. I lift the bucket and the post pulls out of the ground. Some come easily, some not so easy, but in the end they all come out. The picture is as I am pulling up on the post.

Once the post was pulled out we loaded it on the back of the ute to take back to the yard. Here on the farm the boys start learning essential farming tasks from a young age. Here my 10 year old son is driving the ute and his brother is watching as we move along the fenceline.

From the tractor seat looking down the fenceline.. I guess you could say this is the before shot, with wires removed but posts still in the ground. I just drove along the fenceline pulling out each post as I was going.

The end result was the view I had out the back window of the tractor. You can see where the fence was.. but no more fence. Now the two paddocks can be worked as one, and that paddock will be about 140 acres or 60 hectares.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Prickle Chain Repairs

Actually there were a few other jobs I got stuck into before the prickle chain repairs, come to think of it the prickle chain repairs where more of an after thought.
First up I fed our four mobs of ewes. Then spent a few minutes cleaning up a few stones from and old wall that collapsed a few months back. Next up refuel the John Deere 4440 and a quick trip to town with it to unload a boom spray for the rural shop. It was supposed to be quick, but the truck was a few hours later that it was supposed to be, so not such a quick trip after all.
It was after all that that I thought I'd shorten the chains on the prickle chain.. they were a bit loose ya see. So there it is in the yard behind the 4440. The chains can be seen (this is in the folded position - usually they sit flat on the ground) and it easy to see why it's called a prickle chain. The chain does wear over time so it gets looser and looser. The solution is to cut out a few links, join it up and you're all set to go.
Disconnecting the chain was the hardest bit. Those bolts hadn't been undone for a while, and they get pretty rough treatment running so close to the ground. The whole chain rolls as it is dragged over the ground, and the "prickles" do their job. So the bolts were quite tough to get undone, but once I undid it (there is one for each section of chain) I could just unhook the chain and cut out a couple of links with the angle grinder.
I'm still trying to undo the front section (the left side - the right side is visible too. Cutting the links. I took two off each section of chain.
John Deere 4440 and Cunningham prickle chain (in folded position)

Cloud Making

Yes that's, yesterday I was actually making clouds.. more on that later (including photographic evidence).
This post is for yesterdays activities which started out early in the morning to prepare for burning off again. I ran the prickle chain over a couple of paddocks, one I burnt yesterday - that was to stimulate any weed seeds that may have survived the burn so they might germinate and be sprayed out later. The second paddock chained was one I planned to burn, and that was to "fluff" up the grass on there so it would burn better. I used the John Deere 4440 with the prickle chain, and here's a couple of photos taken out the back window of the tractor while I was going along.
The afternoons task was to make clouds.. oh sorry I mean burn off the two paddocks I needed to. To avoid burning the trees to the ground I needed to backburn up to and then around the tree carefully first. Here's one of the boys working hard at backburning.
He's dragging a rake with burning grass. The paddock is completely on fire. This is the view from behind the fire. I laid one row of fire with the fire stick behind the ute and the wind carries it across the rest of the paddock.
Now for the cloud making. As the smoke rises up into the air you start to notice clouds forming. I guess the conditions have to be right, and I'm sure there's a complex scientific explanation for it all, but it's just interesting to watch. Here's a few pictures of my cloud (petty I couldn't work out how to make that cloud rain as well).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I love burnin stuff

In previous posts I have mentioned digging fire breaks in preparation for burning off... well today was the day that we actually burnt some stuff. A few paddocks to be precise. The lads love burning off too and in the picture below one of the boys is dragging the fire stick (which is usually dragged alongside the ute) with the main fire burning across the paddock in front of him. I'll remind you that fire breaks have been made around the edges of the paddock, we also have 2 fire fighting units with over 1,500 litres of water, so this is a relatively safe practice.
The reasons for burning off in the past was to get rid of the grass on the paddock so the cultivation equipment could get through the paddock without getting blocked up. These days most farmers use equipment that can handle a lot of grass, or trash as it's known, so we don't need to burn for that reason any more. The reason we burn off now is to kill snails and destroy weed seeds. The fire has done a good job on the snails here. I'm going to plant peas in this paddock this year, and snails love peas, so the fewer there are for a start the better.
This one's been cooked
This is the after shot. All the grass is gone. Good work Son.
Not much left here.
We did 5 or 6 paddocks today so here are a couple of pictures from other paddocks. I forgot to mention that there is a bit of a system to burning off. I always start on the side of the paddock that the wind is blowing towards and burn the row of grass that was raked up when I made the fire break. Then I come back along that same side a few more meters into the paddock and let that strip burn to the fire break on the edge. That gives me a nice wide break and then if the wind isn't too strong I can light up the grass row (with the fire stick in the top picture) all the way around the paddock, and usually if there is enough grass on the paddock, the fire will burn all the way across the paddock. If the fire isn't likely to carry, or the wind is too strong, I will cross back and forth across the paddock parallel to the first burn, lighting smaller strips until the paddock is done. Often another person will drag a metal rake (like a heavy garden rake) with burning grass to light smaller patches of grass that haven't ignited by them selves.
There is someone dragging a rake in this picture, just burning the last patch in the paddock that hasn't quite burnt.
Other jobs today included feeding 1 mob of sheep over on Bob's, checking on the progress of the repairs to the Kenworth and tipper, organising a shuttle (1000ltr water container) and after burning off adjusting a few more tynes on the air seeder bar out to 12inch spacing.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Back into sheep feeding

As seeding time is approaching there are many maintenance type jobs that need to be done in preparation. The Kenworth and the tri-axle tipper need some repairs done and so the first job this morning was to run the truck into town to the local repairer so he can fix her all up.
It's been a while since I last run some feed out for the sheep so today I did that. Had to load the feed truck first, and found it was quite a dusty old job doing that.

The dust is almost like flour that's coming off the grain. The reason for that is that at some stage weevils have gotten into the grain. The chew a little hole in each grain and basically turn it to flour. So loading is quite dusty, and the nutritional value of the grain is greatly reduced.

These are the silos we have the feed stored in. The feed is screenings that were taken off when I've had seed cleaned in the previous years.

I fed all four of our ewe mobs today, and gave them a full feeder full (that's about 8 bags). I need to keep pumping it out to them now mainly to get rid of the old infested seed.

A little grain marketing this afternoon. Grain marketing being my least favorite job on the farm. I hate having to sell grain at terrible prices and not knowing if that price is likely to be anything like the best price I can get for it. And then never knowing if the price is going to rise in the next week.

I decided I'm going to burn off a couple more paddocks. So later this afternoon I was out there making fire breaks around these paddocks. I haven't burnt off the last few paddocks I have prepared last week yet, but the plan is to have a go at it tomorrow.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Shiftin some Seed Peas

Prior to each seeding season (the time of year I plant the crops) I have to organise all the seed grain. I grow durham, wheat, barley, peas and now canola, so I have to have enough seed to cover all the paddocks I want to plant. As it turns out I have started leasing the neighbours farm this year and will need more seed. It was lucky a mate of mine happened to keep more pea seed than he needed so today I went down to his place to get some more seed.
This picture shows unloading the peas with the cup elevator. I used the elevator to minimise the damage to the peas. Every time they go up an auger more of them split and thus become unusable as seed, and these peas have already been through the auger a few times.

The Kenworth with the tri-axle tipper unloading the peas. We load them into a field bin. At this time of year we have all the field bins set up in the yard with all the seed grain ready for cleaning.

The peas unloading. The variety of peas we grow is Kaspa. There are many varieties of each type of grain. The durham we grow is Hyperno, wheat is Correll and barley is Maritime. I mentioned earlier that I also grow canola. This is a new thing for me. I have ordered enough canola seed to do 80 hectares (200 acres), but I don't remember what variety that is going to be. Anyway we'll see how we go.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fire Breaks

After spreading a couple of paddocks with snail bait yesterday I decided that it may be easier to burn off a few of the other paddocks that still have quite a bit of grass on them to get rid of the snails. Burning off will also destroy quite a lot of the weed seeds that may be present in the paddocks. But before any burning can be done I need to make fire breaks around the paddocks so the fire can't (or shouldn't) escape. The implement used for this task is the scarifier. Ours is a really old one, and I haven't used it for about 5 years (we don't do very much burning off).
This is the scarifier hard at it behind the John Deere 4440. I had already raked the excess grass away using the old hay rake, and in the bottom right of the picture the row of straw can just be seen. The John Deere 4440 and scarifier.
Before burning off I also need to obtain a permit from the council (during the fire ban season). That was the next job for the day. Now I just have to notify the council by phone on the day I want to actually do the burning. That day will be weather dependant. Warm weather with light winds is ideal.

In the afternoon I went back to a job I had started working on last week. That was changing the row spacing on the air seeder bar from 9inch spacings out to 12inch. That basically means the gaps between the seeding rows will be 3 inches wider, and the overall gaps between the tynes will be quite a bit wider allowing for greater trash flow. Trash flow is the amount of straw that needs to "flow" through the bar while seeding. There's quite a bit of straw on the ground this year, after quite a good harvest last year, so that is my reason for making the change.

The picture of the bar above is the before shot, as it was with 9 inch spacings. I've pretty much changed over all that side of the bar to 12 inch now. I've been taking off any of the tynes that are too worn and move too much from side to side while I've been going.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Snail Bait Spreading

Last night we enjoyed a little rain... 7mm to be exact. Now I know that 7mm is far short of the impressive rainfall totals enjoyed in other regions of this state, but it's enough of a drop to get organised with the snail bait spreading. See the snails like a bit of moisture in the ground to start moving and feeding. And if they're moving and feeding then they can be killed by baiting (because they eat it - state the obvious I know). So it was off to town for me this morning to pick up a pallet of snail bait. That's 42 bags each weighing 25kg. Quick maths calculation... that's 1tonne and 50kg. And there it is on the back of the Courier.
Ya gotta love the old stone building there. That's our old barn (that basically gets used for junk storage these days) and that's where I put the bags for storage. In it's hay day the old barn would have been filled up with bags of seed grain ready for the next seasons planting.
I mentioned yesterday the sheep feeder. Well there it is on the back as well, although it wasn't used today.
Shortly after lumping the tonne of snail bait into the barn I put the bait spreader (not pictured) on the back as well and tied it down. Then went and got stuck into some bait spreading. After doing 2 paddocks, 60ha, I got sick of it and then went onto another job.
I want to burn off a few paddocks tomorrow, but need to make good fire breaks around them first. So the first stage of that process is to get the old hay rake and rake the excess grass and straw out from around the edges of the paddocks. It heaps the grass up into a nice row that can be burnt, making the fire break even better. I got that far with the breaks, next job is to plow around the outside to finish the break. That will be tomorrows job too.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Time to crank up the sheep feeding

I've taken it pretty easy on the farm over easter, but did decide to start the sheepfeeding today.
I had to put the sheepfeed bin on the back of the ute.. and then wire it in... and then wonder why the thing still wouldn't work. After checking out all the wiring I found a dodgie connection and found that once I'd fixed that, it worked quite well.
So the idea of the sheep feeder (just in case you couldn't be bothered looking back over my blog to march last year where it's fully explained) is that I can load it with some kind of grain - today was barley - and then take it out to the paddock to the mobs of sheep where at a flick of a switch it unloads on the go leaving a lovely neat row of grain for the sheep to feed on.
We generally only worry about feeding the mobs of ewes, because they are in the middle of lambing at the moment. We have four mobs of ewes, and today I fed two of those mobs. I'll do the other two tomorrow, and then alternate each day from now on until the pastures start springing up themselves.
Often we find abandoned lambs while doing the rounds of the mobs. We did find one today that was really frail. I doubt that it will survive, but it seems to be going ok at the moment. We brought it home and have managed to get it to start sucking. It has had quite a good drink now. I would have been born today, probably a twin, and the mother probably walked off with the other one, and just left this one laying there.