Saturday, March 23, 2024

Construction Project - Prep an I Beam

The deflection my 2nd floor joists meant that I needed to provide them some kind of support. The building codes and span tables only tell you the maximum span allowable for a given set of joist sizes and spacings. They don't say anything about how a floor should feel while walking on it.

I really didn't want to have to put a beam in - I've sistered joists, put in extra lvl beams, and put in longitudinal metal straping (like a suspender) along both sides of the doubled/tripled joists - but the sensation while walking on the second floor still wasn't right. 

I bought a 23 foot long W8x18; its 8" tall and weighs 18 pounds/ft.  I welded plates on the bottom of each end to facilitate bolting the columns to the beam, as well as welding short pieces of threaded rod so I can bolt a 2x4 wood nailing strip to the top of the beam. That lets me nail the joists to the top of the beam.

To raise it up, I will build 2 short walls on either side, and at each end, of the beam. Those walls can support a come along. I'll raise it slowly and block it off as I go up. Ultimately I can use two bottle jacks to finish putting it in position, then install the columns at each end.

Things, and attitudes, I learned more than 30(!) years ago make this possible.


At each end there is a continuous bead of weld on the underside of the plate.

Got it in with a little guidance from my neighbor

One of the columns will bear on the built up 2x12 beam at the top left of the above photo.  There is a window in the basement just below the position of that column requiring a much more substantial header, and there was no room to fit it above the window in the basement.  For the other end I'll have to put a small footing in the basement and bring a column up to the first floor level. A column on top of that will hold up that end of the beam.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Saturday, September 2, 2023

An Update: Kernza, Wheat, and Purple Top Turnips

I've been busy. Harvesting, planting, repairing, etc. Things are moving along, some good, some not so good. 

I haven't had the time or energy to write about this here, preferring instead to make short video clips and put them on our YouTube page.  It's just a lot easier, at least for me, though the fact that I don't edit the videos might make it harder on you!

Below are a few of the latest videos. The first two are about the swather, which is used to put the kernza into windrows, where it dries down for a few days prior to going through the combine. The grain on the head of the kernza is dry before the stems, and the green stems would plug up the combine. But --- we need the mass of material going through the combine to properly thresh the hard to shell kernza. The action of the combine rubs all that material together, in the process filtering out the grain from the chaff. We plan to harvest the kernza with the combine and pick up head on Sept 4th (tomorrow!). 

Before harvesting the wheat, we swathed, then combined it and put it in the bin to cool down and dry a little. The wheat should be ready to market/sell in another week or two. 

The last video/pic is of purple top turnip seeds which I'm drilling into the tilled wheat stubble as a cover crop. It'll grow some this fall, but I'm hopeful that it will come back next spring, before I'll mow it down ahead of next summer's soybeans.

Late summer of 2021 I drilled purple top turnips as part of a cover crop mix. This is what came back in the spring of 2022.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Hail Damage in Corn

I didn't take my camera with me when I visited the fields 14 miles away, so no photos, but 50 of the 90 acres of corn has some pretty significant hail damage from a recent storm. The leaves weren't entirely stripped from the stalks, maybe 50% (?). Ears were just starting to form on the stalks and the plants are almost ready to start tassling, a very vulnerable stage.

We'll see how it turns out.

The beans, 5 miles away, avoided the hailstorms, and look really good. Likewise the kernza and the wheat.


When first assessing a field with hail damage, it can often be depressing and discouraging [ed. No shit ]. However, it is important to be patient when assessing the damage and that the observed damage often looks worse than it actually is.

photo capture from here

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Loose Heifers

 I got a call this morning from a neighbor who asked me for some help. Several of her heifers were spooked into knocking over the electric fence that held them in her pastures, and they were (supposedly) helping themselves to a nearby vegetable garden. I think it was more a case of the next door neighbor freaking out over a loose animal or two, as there is plenty of standing grass/hay for them to eat everywhere.

In any event, it took a couple of hours but we got the four of them back on the right side of the fence using grain as a lure.

It's not what I thought I'd be doing today when I woke up this morning.

Typical Repairs

 Now that things have slowed down a bit I'm starting to repair the equipment that broke or was damaged in the past few months.

The support stand for the tine weeder got bent when I was attaching the implement to the tractor. I didn't take a before picture, which would have showed the tube was bulging and cracked. I got the protrusion hot and used the hydraulic press to get it flush with the surrounding material, then welded short flitch plates on all four sides of the tube.

(Click on picture to make it bigger.)

I normally use 6011 welding rod, as it cuts through rust and paint, which I often can't remove from the metal I'm welding. In this case I suppose I could have used a 7018, as it leaves a nicer weld bead, but once the paint goes on it'll look good.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Wheat and Kernza Comparison plus Crop Updates


Funky shadows. Wheat on the left, kernza on the right. A penny in the center. Click on image to make it bigger.

I picked these two samples about two weeks ago.

Kernza is really tiny, roughly 80,000 seeds/lb, while wheat has around 14,000 seeds/lb. It's going to be a challenge to sucessfully combine the kernza. 

It'll be another 2-3 weeks until both are ready to harvest.

For a lot more info on Kernza you can search, where you find a fairly comprehensive 48 page grower's production guide.   

direct download link here -    []

In other farm news -

The corn is up and, where I got a good stand, looks promising. I replanted about 15 acres, which seems to have been the right move. Some weeds, some poor emergence in about ~15% of the ground ; at this point it's canopied and I'm done with it until harvest.

The beans are from 6-16" tall, with most towards the larger end of that range. It turned out to be a nice stand of healthy plants, though there are weeds in about 15%, which at this point I'm ok with. I've made the 2nd pass with the row cultivator on 1/3 of the acreage and will finish up the rest of them in a couple of days. I'm not sure if I'll make a 3rd pass. It depends if they can canopy before any weeds make it up.

The buckwheat is about 4" tall, looks good, with some weed pressure.

I've got a bunch of equipment to fix, and have been busy working my way through the list of projects.