A small, family farm in Wisconsin

Posts tagged ‘farm machinery’

I Was Gone

But now I’m back…..

My laptop was in the hands of the Geek Squad for 2 weeks.  Longest 2 weeks I’ve seen!  I was able to use my very old desktop for emails and such, but it gave new meaning to Ramona’s “turtle time” expression.  How slow can you go??  You won’t understand that reference if you don’t watch NY Housewives.  The Geeks replaced my defective battery and all is well in my computing world.

This is Lee’s new (to him) tractor.  If you care about tractors, you can click on the picture to see it  full size.  He can’t wait to try it out on the land.  Oh wait…the land is still too wet to work.  Here we are nearing the end of April and not a lick of field work has been done.  It’s been cold and wet and spring has been a long time coming.  The wheat and hay fields that were already existing, have some concerning bare spots.  Crazy weather.  Weather is causing price fluctuations in the grain and livestock markets.  Purchasing corn to feed our hogs is not fun.  It’s really high priced right now.  On the other hand, the hogs are  getting a good price at this time.  I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing we’re not making a profit though :).  We’ve been using a somewhat local butcher shop to process the hogs we sell to private customers and the ones for us and family members.  Not long ago the butcher shop lost their supplier of hogs and asked Lee to do it.  He takes them a specific number of hogs each week, so that’s been a nice boost for us.  First because the butcher shop likes our hogs enough to want to sell them in their shop, and also because it gives us an easy weekly income to count on.

In other spring farming news, lambing season is over.  Our little ram must have been incredibly fertile because all of the ewes lambed within an 11 day period.  We had 3 or 4 single lambs, 2 sets of triplets, and the rest were twins.  Sadly, we did lose a ewe due to complications from a prolapsed uterus so her little son is an orphan and being bottle fed.  I named him Goldie because he’s worth his weight in gold!  We had the vet out twice for his mom.  On Easter Sunday.  Combine emergency charges with Holiday charges and you’ll understand the expense.  Plus, powdered lamb milk replacer cost $50.00 for a big bag.  I don’t think we’ll recoup our losses on this one, but he’s awful cute.

Anyone who knows me understands that I’m a serious fussbudget. When  I was a youngster, and the Peanuts characters became so popular, my Dad bought me a Lucy doll because Lucy and I were kindred spirits.  The thing is, that my family and friends continue supplying me with reasons to fuss, fret, and worry.  Lately it’s been the weather.  Tornados and floods and lightening strikes keep me on my toes.  If you live in an area where bad weather is happening, rest assured that I am here in my house,eyes glued to CNN, fussing and fretting about you.  Pestilence?  Bring it on.  I’ll worry it to death.  Some of my family have been inconvenienced by storms but they’re physically all right.  Some of my friends have lost possessions in tornados, but they’re safe and alive.  Maybe we all should move to a place where nothing bad ever happens.  No earthquakes or tornados or hurricanes or volcanos or floods.  Where would that be?  Most will say Heaven, but I really do wonder if there is any place on earth that is devoid of natural disasters.

I’m posting this photo because so many people have told me they’ve never seen or heard of yellow headed blackbirds.  Well, here they are.  They’re similar to redwings in their habits and habitat.  Larger than redwings and very noisy.  We see them every spring.  Some hang out here and nest, most move on to the marsh.

Now that I’ve cleared my head of all the flotsam and jetsam that is on my mind, I’m finished with this post!

Wheat’s Done

Wheat being loaded into the semi

Wheat being loaded into the semi

Last week Lee finished getting his wheat harvested.  He had a couple of hold-ups including some rain, and minor combine repairs.  The wheat was loaded into a grain truck and hauled away to the elevator.  Wheat prices aren’t so great right now, but it’s a paycheck that we will appreciate.  We had  hail damage to the wheat, corn and soybeans,  but we do have some insurance on  our crops, and the damage wasn’t too bad. 

A load of straw ready to be taken away.

A load of straw ready to be taken away.

Part 2 of the wheat harvest is baling the straw, which is the stalks of the wheat, minus the grain.  Lee began that process today.  There is a local dairy farmer who buys our wheat straw every year.  Lee bales it and fills the wagons, and the farmer’s employee comes and picks up the full wagons, takes them to the dairy, where they unload them, then he brings back the empty wagon to be filled with straw bales again.  The farmer who buys the straw appreciates that it’s always clean and baled well and he pays a reasonable price for it.  He’ll be taking several hundred bales.  I think he uses it for bedding for his young stock.  So, the wheat’s done for another year.   The next big job will be soybeans.

Making Do and Getting By

It’s time to harvest wheat here, and I was going to write an informative little post about the ins and outs of getting wheat off the field and to the grain market.  While writing it in my head, it morphed in a slightly different direction.  I’m going to write about Lee and the other farmers who are trying to make a living on a very small farm, and how they do it. 

combineThis is Lee’s combine.  It’s  used to take grain off the fields.  Wheat, soybeans, corn, oats and many other crops are harvested using a combine.  A new, 2009 combine starts at $250,000.00.  Lee bought this very used combine by bidding on it on eBay.  Yep!  They sell farm equipment on eBay.  I don’t remember exactly how much Lee paid for his eBay combine but I think it was around $2500.00, plus the cost to have it transported here from Iowa.  Here’s where the “making do” part comes in.  People who are farming on small acreage buy used equipment and implements, and keep it running by using their own mechanical expertise and ingenuity.  I think every farmer must be a Rube Goldberg cousin.   Lee has boxes, cans, and containers full of nuts, bolts, belts, parts, wires, washers and gaskets.  He throws away nothing, just in case he might need it someday.  If he needs parts for machinery he can go to one (or all) of the used implement dealers to look for a junked machine like his.  If he finds one, he takes his tools out of the truck and removes the part/s  he needs.  The implement dealer then gives him a price for the part.  Machinery parts are incredibly expensive so it’s a good thing to find them used whenever possible.

Tractor RepairOne of our tractors needed some major work done, so Lee did as much of the work as he could, and a free lance mechanic came to the farm to do the technical stuff.  He saved a lot of money doing it this way versus taking the tractor to a dealer for repair.

In this time when frugal living is an experiment for lots of folks, for farmers it’s a way of life and always has been.  We waste nothing, and we get by with what we have.  I’ve always had tremendous respect for my husband’s work ethic and his determination to make a life off of the land.

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