Friday, June 25, 2010

Universe is coming back into alingment

So the Mrs and my eldest return from the mission to Guatemala tonight. Wohoo! My sitter and the kids have been awesome, but I'm dying for a little normalcy. The baler is fixed, i'm going to stop living like a single parent of 5 with two jobs (and good thing, cause that's nuts). BTW my hat is off to all the single parents out there, I know it's hard and you have my sympathy.

All my fussing aside, I really have it pretty easy. I am thankful, and the last two weeks have been a stellar opportunity to focus in on just how fortunate we are to have a whole family, good friends and a community that stands with us.

Truly blessed we are...


Sunday, June 20, 2010

So hay madness...

Turned into maddening hay. First the weather around here has been really goofy, cold and wet. But I had a window to get all the neighbors hay cut. So I went for it. Swather worked for a while, then I "tinkered" and broke the starter solenoid, so I had to break out the 5' disc cutter. No biggie, new solenoid is on order and the disc cutter is as fast as the swather.

One step down.

Next is the raking, which went really well. The 50 year old Massey Ferguson 25 I bought raked like a beast, just like earlier in the season. Man I am on a roll.

Two steps down.

To bad I stopped rolling down the hill by hitting a wall at the bottom :)

Then I fired up the baler this weekend to get some of those green cubes made and stack. This did not work so well. Despite a pile of new parts and a fair amount of adjusting, my baler makes 3 bales then two blobs, 2 more bales, 3 blobs, a bale, 2 blobs, 3 bales, etc. Not a recipe for success. So I make a panicked call to my farming buddy down the road, check the weather (looks like rain) and hope maybe after fathers day I can borrow a baler and get this cutting over with.

Well first, no rain came. All weekend it blew to the East AND West of me. 3/4" in an hour less than 3 miles to my west. Torrential downpour 7 miles to West. Radar looked like a giant hand was parting the ran as it moved up from the south. Make of it what you will, but with rain predicted at 60%, I'm still dry as are my neighbors who's hay is on the ground.

Figure I'll call the Newholland dealer and see if a mechanic can get my beast working, if not they have two units in stock that will do the job. It's just money right? In a way it is just money, with a "real" job 6 kids and my spouse I don't want to spend my life monkeying around with equipment I don't fully understand.

Tractors? Easy.
Cars? Child's play.
Rakes? Hydraulics? Elementary.

Balers? Designed by Satan himself. Pure genius in design, fairly simple in construction and infuriating to learn to adjust, tweak, tune and maintain. I may have finally met a machine I simply don't have the time or inclination to master maintaining on my own. Part of it is the simple frustration that to test it, I have to have crop to bale. By then it's a little late to figure out it's not working and I cannot figure out how to fix it.

So I'm bringing in the the bale mechanic or sales man. Visa, take me away.

I figured maybe I can get those bales up in a week or so. Sigh.

But then....tonight the phone rings. My buddy who I called in a panic. Long and the short of it is, he's going to try raking my hay in one field, tedding hay (fluffing) in the others and then baling and stacking the whole shebang. Did I mention that the hydraulic pump on my ancient harrow bed (bale collector/stacker) is trying to die on me too? I don't mind picking up bales by hand, but power tools are sure nice.

On top of all of this weeks drama, I've been waffling between cursing my busted implements and blaming anyone who I could think of and thanking God for an opportunity to work on my patience. Without help and time, there is simply nothing I can do. I cannot magic my baler into working. I cannot stop the hay from getting rained on. In the midst of what is probably the longest two weeks I have had in recent memory (more than just the hay...all kind of stuff is going south, hitting at the same time) here is a friend calling to help me out.

He has every reason in the world to take some time off now that his hay is caught up. He's been seriously ill (and no doubt exhausted), and is constantly overworked. He can probably come up with something better to do than bail out (pun intended) his newbie farming buddy down the road. But there he is. Even when he could have a 1000 reasons (not just excuses) blow me off, here he comes anyway.

Thanks Robin.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hay season madness

So the first cuttin was pretty much a total loss. Poop happens I suppose. Now I am on to my sharecropping (I split the harvest, and I do the work) with some of my neighbors. Sun is shining, weather is nice. Man I love this time of the year. I'll be completing some overdue chores like replacing the regulator and starter solenoid on the old Swather, fixing some irrigation (one of my buddies calls it "irritation") equipment and maybe getting some more water down. Hard to imagine that after the wettest may I can recall in some time I'm already watering again, but it's time.

Summer is upon us.

Oh yeah. I was awoken last night by another chicken being attacked. Last year we lost several to a big Raccon. Several turkeys as well. This time I caught him in the act and in a location where he could not escape.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Baler rides again...

Well the upside to our swampy spring is that I've had lots of time to ressurect the baler after the untimely demise last year. Replaced lots of bits (hay dog springs, twine finger bar...last on in the world it seems...twine fingers, arms, etc.) And assorted nuts, bolts cams and washers. Welded the bale chamber shield and tinkered other things.

Today, i made some green if it will only dry out :)

Friday, June 4, 2010

BP Oil Spill

If this is ever developed inot a solution, just remember you heard it here first. Unfortunately someone has probably already suggested it and it won't work...but here's my $0.02 anyway :)

So I was reading the news about suggestions for stopping the BP leak in the gulf. Instantly I thought of an angioplasty baloon. Why not make a giant angioplasty baloon, insert it into the well and then inflate it?

Here's what I was thinking...take a couple hundred feed of steel tubing (say 1/3 the diameter of the open hole in the blowout) and perforate the lower portion and seal the "bottom." In the perforations put collapsed round balloons made of something like Kevlar (which has a strength of 3600 MPa or about 500,000 PSI). Inflate the baloons to seal the bore.

By having a series of small balloons (rather rthan a few long verticle ones) we would prevent the failure of any one balloon from causing the seal to fail. A smaller diameter pipe inside the external pipe carries something like concrete/bentonite (drillers mud), etc. to inflate the baloons and seal the well. Comething that hardens would be idea. Once the well is blocked, both the interior shaft and the void space (if there is any) between the exterior shaft and interior shaft could be filled with concrete as well.

Assuming you can pum the "filler" at sufficient pressure to inflate the balloons, it should be relatively trivial to get this kind of contraption in place (just shove it in the bore) and put it to use. Should be cheap to build as well.

I have uploaded and astoundingly poor diagram of what it would look like in two dimensions. The little shaft to the upper right shows the balloon inverted in the "feeder shaft" that connectes the balloon to the inner core where fluid can be pumped. Getting the balloon sealed to the feeder shaft in a manner that would resist the astounding pressures could be really hard.

There. I came up with an idea. Tell the Shrimp boat captains I tried. God help them folks, 'casue I don't think anyone else can.