Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When things break down

There is an unfortunate principle in general farm maintenance that nothing ever breaks down when it's in the shed and not being used. So it's unfortunate that when the equipment is in full use that that's when the breakdowns happen, and can be quite time consuming.

Since seeding started a few weeks back I have had a few breakdowns along the way, but thankfully none too serious. Here is a list..

  • broken share (pronounced shear) bolts on the air seeder tynes
  • bent air seeder tynes
  • broken airseeder boots
  • split/broken airseeder hoses
  • broken spring on air seeder tyne
  • air seeder tyne fallen off
  • knife points on air seeder either broken or just gone missing (probably because they broke).
  • cracks in the air seeder box frame (they are still there... haven't been bothered fixing them yet... just hope it doesn't completely fall to bits)
  • bolts on the A-frame (the tow hitch) on the air seeder broken. This could have been more dramatic if it happened driving along the road because these bolts are basically what holds the front to the back, and it could have all come apart.

and that was just the air seeder! The seed and super unit grouper has had a bit of a problem with one of the elevator chains. This has been quite a frustration for me because the chain is.. well quite old and has broken on numerous occasions. Not real easy to fix either, being on the inside of the elevator. It also jumps off the sprockets quite often, and bends the chain up a little - very frustrating because this is also quite annoying to rectify.

Now the boom spray... Well my Dad is the boom spray operator during seeding (do I need to say any more???). Damage is often done to the outside nozzles, triplets, support brackets, boom lines when the outer wing on the boom hits the fence, or tree, or stobie pole. It has been a frequent problem. Yesterday I was operating the boom spray and I had a break in the outer wing. The outside for metres of the wing is hinged in a way that is designed to "break away" when it hits something like a fence for instance. It has, what I call, a break away clutch. It swings back and then returns to the working position. Well yesterday for me it really broke away. Let me stress that I didn't hit anything with it, the clutch just gave way, with the bottom mount completely breaking off while I was going along. It meant that the outer wing was left dragging on the ground. It was a bit like a door would be with only a top hinge. Oh yeah... I also had problems with the fuel gauge in this tractor the other night. It told me there was some in there... but I think there actually wasn't. I discovered that the tractor runs better when there's actually some fuel in the tank.

So there we have the fun part of seeding. Seeding is rolling on, while some farmers in the area are starting to finish their seeding programs I'd say that we'd probably have about a week to go.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

First signs of life

The most nerve racking time in the farmers year is right about now. It's the time between when the crop has been planted and when it can actually be seen coming up out of the ground. (The other time is in lightening storms in December during harvest, but that's another story). Well I'm happy to report that yes our first crops are now starting to emerge, and they seem to be looking ok. The reason it's so nerve racking for me, is that I'm never absolutely sure that it's gonna come up at all, or if there were problems during planting and there will be big blank gaps in the crops where no seeds were planted (yes embarrassing I know, but yes it does happen - 2 years in a row for me in one paddock once. Believe me, I made sure that same spot wasn't missed the 3rd year running). Planting a crop each year is like taking a huge gamble that it is going to be successful, the crops actually coming up out of the ground is the first part of the journey. Whilst it is a nerve racking stage it is also a good thing that this stage happens while seeding is still going on so I generally don't have that much time to think about it. So the cropping program is still continuing and I'd say that I'm about 2/3rds the way through our 3200acres. All the canola and wheat has been planted, I'm just about finished the peas leaving only barley after that and a little pasture seed. The weather had been quite good for us in the last week or so. The wind is the main thing that holds me up as I cant get out there and spray the paddocks if it's too windy, which it has been today, so the seeding operation grinds to a halt. The rain also slows us down... but you wont hear a farmer complaining about any rain in the growing season

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Well seeding has been going at full steam ahead of late, with very little time off for anything else, including eating or sleeping. Yep that all happens on the go - well the eating part does, maybe not the sleeping part, even though at times it's quite difficult staying awake after hours on end in the tractor. The John Deere 8200 (eighty two hundred) is the main seeding tractor, pulling the mk III shearer air seeder box, and the John Deere 2200 cultivator bar. So far the good old Johny hasn't missed a beat. I'm over 1/3rd the way through the cropping program now, having clocked up over 1000 acres and all the canola and durham is planted, and within a couple of days I will be finishing off the wheat (that's what I'm working on now). That will leave peas, which of course are field peas, not the green peas you can buy in the shops for eating, and barley.
Farmers always have their eye on the weather, and so far the weather has been pretty kind to us too. We've had good follow up rains and I think I have only lost one day seeding due to inclement weather. Yes we love the rain so we don't complain, but it can get too wet to continue seeding. The wind also has to be taken into consideration as it effects the spraying, which is also a big part of seeding. If it's too windy most of the spray that is supposed to be killing my weeds would end up on the neighbours paddock... possibly killing their new crop that has just come up - not the best way to keep up friendly neighbour relations.