Friday, June 7, 2019


To replace a failed idler bearing on the riding lawn mower, I had to remove the mower deck. While I had it apart, I changed the belts and mower blades.

I bypassed the "safety" switch so I can back up and cut at the same time. In place of the temporary clamp I drilled through the switch body as well as the moving switch pin, hold it "closed" with a cotter pin.

Some kind of critter ate through the fuel line this past winter. The grommet/gasket between the fuel tank and fuel line was leaking as well, so I pulled out the old one and put in new parts.

The 6620 had damage to the grain tank. The 1//8"thick top metal rail was bent in about 1" and the wire mesh was split in several places.

I used the hydraulic press and oxy/propane torch to get it reasonably straight.

Also on the 6620 the left rear wheel had a split in the rim. I jacked up the combine, took the wheel off and dropped it off at the tire shop (20 miles away in Barron, WI).
The split is about 8" long and an inch above the edge of the joint between tire and rim, unhelpfully hiding in the glare of the sun in the pic above.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Moving Birds Outside for the Summer

They're about 5 weeks old and have enough feathers to stay outside overnight without the supplemental heat they get in the brooder. I bought two of the "Homesteader's Delight" packages from McMurray Hatchery.

They'll stay in the coop all the time for about a week, enough to establish a sense of place, then I'll let them roam around during the day. I have to lock them back up at night because of raccoons, mink, weasels, foxes, and who knows what else might eat them. My dog does a fairly good job of keeping them "safe" during the day. I think, or want to believe anyway, that they'll eat ticks. In the past years I've raised guinea fowl, but they're hard to get from the hatchery in early spring. By the time they're big enough to eat bugs the summer is almost over.

In the fall I'll slaughter and freeze the birds, giving them to friends and family.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Oats and Red Clover Are Out of the Ground

You can’t see the clover, but it’s there, about 1/8” high.  The oats are in rows 7.5" apart and about 4" high. 80 acres of this are planted. My tractor sprung a hydraulic leak this past Sunday, causing me to delay getting the last 15 or so acres in. I hope that in a few days things will dry out and I can finish the job.

It’s been a very cold, and wet, spring.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Planting Oats and Red Clover

I'm planting oats and red clover on 90 acres. This land is going into certified organic production, with the first cash crop, corn, harvested in the fall of 2021. The oats are a place holder, crowding out any early flushes of weeds, which gives the red clover a chance to get established. The clover will be mowed, to kill any weeds that make it through the oats, at least once this summer. The clover will return next year, fixing additional nitrogen from the atmosphere that is needed for a healthy corn crop.

The John Deere model 750 no-till grain drill holds about 1500 lbs of oat seeds in the main hopper and roughly 120 lbs of clover seed in the small seed box. I'm putting about 57 lbs of oats and 10 lbs of clover on each acre.

(click on any image to make it bigger)

Friday, April 26, 2019

Field Work Ahead of Planting

This video does a great job of spelling out the things that I'll be doing soon.

My new tractor and stalk chopper/mower were delivered to the John Deere dealer today, joining the seed drill.  Next week they'll change hydraulic fluid and engine oil (filters too). It'll probably be around $700. A little more expensive than going to Jiffy Lube. Then I'll bring them home and put them to work.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Spreading Turkey Litter

I buy turkey litter from the nearby Jennie-O Turkey "plant". They dumped the litter in piles in the fields last fall, intending to spread it then, but the weather was bad. They came back yesterday and spread it at a rate of 2.5 to 3 tons/acre.  In the video I think there are 8 semi-loads. At 22 tons per load that's about 175 tons. I pay by the ton to have it spread. For the relatively small amount I need there's no way to justify buying my own spreader and loader. Unfortunately that means I need to wait for them to come and spread it. It was so wet this spring, even if I had my own equipment I couldn't have got out into the field any sooner.

Now, weather permitting, I'll work the litter into the top layer of soil using a field cultivator, killing any weeds at the same time. I'll follow that up by drilling, the same day, a mixture of red clover and oats. This is what I'll grow on these fields for the next two years as part of the transition to organic production. If all goes well, in the third year, 2021, I'll plant corn, which will harvested as a certified organic crop in the fall of 2021.

Baby Chicks Are Here

I bought two mixed packages of chicks from McMurray Hatchery and they arrived at the Post Office this morning at 6am. They called me and I went over to pick them up. A few minutes later I shot this

There are 20 chickens, 4 geese, 4 turkeys, and 4 ducks.  They'll stay in the brooder for 3-4 weeks, until they get their feathers. Then they'll go outside in the coop.