Thursday, May 27, 2010

All Systems Go for Seeding

Well today was finally the big day, I finally got the air seeder out into the paddock and started seeding. I've burnt.. well.. just about everything that needs burning, I've serviced everything that needs servicing, repaired everything that needs repairing, so it's all systems go.
Having a quite handy 15mm (that's 60 point in the old scale) of rain sure has helped too. All the paddocks are nice and damp now, and the weeds are all germinating so they can be sprayed out.
The process to actually get the seeding operation up and running is quite complex. The paddock has to be sprayed first with the boom spray, being pulled by the Ford 8401 tractor. And the mix of chemicals that goes in that tank is rather... exhaustive! Besides the water (which I'm surprised that there's any room for) we put in;
  1. ammonium sulphate (which is in "salt" form and is dissolved by the water)
  2. adjuvant oil (helps the plants absorb the chemical better - well least I think thats right)
  3. two different insecticides (not sure why there's two)
  4. oxyflurafen (helps the other chemical do a better job)
  5. trifluralin (stops new weeds from germinating)
  6. glysophate (is the main "knock down" chemical that kills the weeds, common name is Round-up)

So quite a complex operation just loading up the boom spray. I also have to load the seed and super grouper which is on the back of the Atkinson truck. That's how I get the seed and fertilizer to the paddock. Then the air seeder has to be loaded out of the grouper. And calibration of the air seeder. That's where I hand turn the delivery system on the air seeder and collect either the seed or super and weigh it so I can calculate the correct rate per hectare. I started on canola today which needs to run at quite a slow rate of 5kg/ha. This is really slow for the poor old Shearer air seeder so to get it down to that took some doing. After all this is done, and the paddock is sprayed it's time to pull her in and start sewing the seeds.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I need to burn more stuff

Looks like it's been a while since my last post... must mean I haven't done much work lately!
Nah not really, just lots of little jobs. The couple of major jobs that I have done is lamb marking. That is where I bring the ewes and lambs in and draught the lambs off so they can be counted, given and ear tag, immunised and tails removed. I spent about 3 days on the lamb marking.
The other job was finishing off the alterations to the airseeder bar. I widened out the row spacings to 12inch to allow for more trash flow. After hearing from the neighbours that they had done a test run in some of their stubbles... and ended up blocking up their machine, I thought I'd better do a test run myself. The same thing happened for me... the straw blocked up the bar. I still had the option of moving a few tynes around to see if that opened it up a bit more. I did that and then took her our for another couple of test runs. The result was still the same. I couldn't get all the long straw to clear the bar, and in one test I managed to completely block up one side of the bar... that was alot of straw stuck in one place. So hence, I need to burn more stuff!
I've pulled out the old hay rake (of which I should have included a photo, but haven't - maybe next time) and started running it over the stubbles to put all the straw into large rows ready for burning. I'll need to do all the wheat stubbles that I used the prickle chain on earlier in the year.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Stone Rolling

In this area we have quite a considerable amount of limestone in the soil. Both loose stones and solid sheet rock. One way to deal with these stones is to run over them with a stone roller (pictured below behind the John Deere 4440).
I only rolled one paddock that was particularly bad for stones. I has a few really rocky reefs and had a lot of larger loose stones on the surface. The stone roller actually smashes up the rocks as it rolls over them leaving just gravel really. It did a nice job of the whole paddock.
KI-KI Engineering stone roller
The stone rolling was done yesterday and the day before. Today more seeding preparations took place, including a test run of the air seeder bar in a heavy wheat stubble to see if it would actually be able to get through it without blocking up with straw. The test was unsuccessful, I have to move a few tynes around to allow more trash flow through the implament.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tractor Servicing

Just like we have to get our cars serviced regularly, I also have to service the tractors regularly to ensure they keep running throughout the important seeding season. The John Deere 8200 has just ticked over 4000hrs so there was a bit more involved in her service. I changed all the filters:
  • engine oil filter
  • hydraulic (transmission) oil filter
  • primary air filter
  • secondary air filter
  • fuel filter
  • fuel water separator

I even bought a primary fuel filter for her, and spent quite some time looking for where it goes... only to find out that this tractor actually didn't have one, so now I have a spare that I can't use.

The service also includes changing the engine oil and coolant, and checking the transmission (hydraulic) oil level, grease the king pins on the front axle and the steering linkage, checking the tyre pressures and the oil level in the hubs on the front wheel assist.

Three of the filters that were changed. From left to right; fuel filter, fuel water separator, engine oil filter.

Where the filters are on the 8200 with the guard lowered down for servicing

The Ford 8401 was also due for a service, and is used extensively during seeding as the spray tractor pulling the boom spray. The 8401 is quite a bit older than the 8200 and has done over 9000hrs, but not due for a "special" service this time. The service on the 8401 included changing the engine oil and filter, checking the coolant level and the transmission oil level, and greasing the front axle and steering linkage. I should really wash the windows sometime too.. it's much easier to drive the tractors when you can see out the windows.

and this is a quick snap shot looking over our play ground at dusk.

Monday, May 3, 2010

You know you live on a farm when...

... a lamb starts sucking on your toes while you're having tea at the kitchen table. At lambing time it is not uncommon to find young lambs abandoned by their mothers.. or worse, the mother dies during or just after giving birth.
Here are a couple of examples I prepared earlier. The older lamb is 10yrs old (actually getting quite old for a sheep). His name is Parsnip and he's definitely part of the family. You also know you live on a farm when you are woken from your Sunday afternoon nap by the hot breath of a sheep, because someone left the back door open and he's wandered right through the house to the bedroom. This is little Pauly. He is a teeny tiny little lamb that, sadly, we found huddling next to his mother who died shortly after giving birth.
It's sad that his mum died, but it's happy that we found him because otherwise he would not have survived for very long at all before crow or maybe a fox would have killed him.
So we are hand raising him now, feeding him bottles of special lamb milk formula several times a day. He often wanders around inside and even at meal times, under the table sniffing and sucking on any ones toes.
Today's jobs on the farm included sheep feeding, and continuing to work on the air seeder to prepare it for the seeding season. It is now all but ready to go.