Sunday, April 27, 2008

An Eventful Weekend

Well, I went down to the land to try to get some farming done and some other things, the weather didn't cooperate very well so the farming part still isn't completed but such is life.

Here's the pickup and trailer loaded for the weekend:

I had the tractor, 7' box blade, the spreader, 600lbs of sorghum, 300lbs of peas, 600lbs of corn, 300lbs of protein pellets plus all the stuff I would normally take down there for the weekend!

Here is the tractor called into service a few hours later. This is my biggest hog to date (the bucket on the loader is 5 feet wide), and the 5th so far this year. Based on trail camera pictures I think I am actually putting a dent in them or they are staying away from the my land for some unknown reason!

Here is a close up of it's tusks.

Another task this weekend was going to be getting rid of a huge bee hive that is about 50 feet from the travel trailer.

Here is a picture of the stack of lumber the hive was in. I'm going to try to use some of this wood to build a blind this summer.

I originally had a guy that keeps bees as a hobby that was going to come and get the bees from me this spring so I didn't bother killing them this winter when it would have been easier in the low temeratures. He backed out on me at the last minute and I tried to find someone else that would want them but no one was willing to come and get them so I decided I would have to kill them.

The guy that backed out on me said that if I tarped the hive and put some dry ice in there with them that it would suffocate them but not hurt the honey so I bought 10lbs of dry to try it.

Here is the hive tarped up. I even used duct tape on the seams to make sure I had a good seal.

Well, long story short, it was a complete failure, all it did was make the bees mad. You could hear them buzzing under the tarp from about 25 feet away!

Well, since I already had the thing tarped up, and you can buy honey at the store, I figured I would buy some bug bombs and set them off under the tarp and see if that would work. I bought 6 of the bug bombs that are good for an entire room and set 2 off that night, set 2 off the next morning and then checked on them a few hours later. There were still bees in there buzzing!! It was pretty cold out (under 50) so I waited a while for them to settle down and then pulled the tarp back and then started a bug bomb spraying directly into a crack where I had seen the bees going in and out of the hive. After a few seconds of that the bees came out pretty quick. I put the tarp back over the hive and set the last bug bomb off and then started hitting the hive with a big rock to get them riled up while the spray was going.

An hour or so later I went and checked again and there were still bees buzzing but even when I hit the stack of wood with a rock none were flying out. I pulled the wood off the stack and decided to go for broke. I flipped the lumber over that the actual hive was in and here is what I saw.

The lumber with the hive on it in the left of that picture was on top and is 2' wide and 8' long. If you look close you can see that the honeycomb was actually nearly the entire length of the lumber but that is what they live off of in the winter so it was eaten down to the last 2 feet or so. The way the lumber was stacked it was perfect for the hive.

Here's another picture:

There were still hundreds of bees still alive in the honeycomb! It was cold enough that it was everything they could muster just to fly away and all of the protector bees were already dead so I just watched from a couple feet away while they flew off. Hopefully they might start another colony somewhere nearby that isn't quite so close to the trailer and not inside the lumber that I want to try to use.

I didn't get everything planted before it rained and it was too wet after so I will have to go back down there to finish sometime in the next week or two. I broadcast spread some other seeds and didn't get a chance to use my disc to cover them back up so hopefully those will do okay with as is.

Well, I think that is about it. I thought it was pretty eventful!


Monday, April 21, 2008

40 years old!

Well, today I turn 40 years old. A few years ago I would have told you that was pretty old. For sure middle aged, no doubt about it. Now that I'm 40 I don't think 40 is that old. What's that saying, 40 is the new 30? Something like that. With Eli running around the house I sure don't feel old.

One of the traditions that we have had in our family is that when each sibling turns 40 the family rounds up 40 of something to send them or give them on their 40th birthday. I'm the youngest of 11, so it is a tradition that has been around for almost 20 years now. I've been wondering for a while what they would get me because I don't really collect anything and my hobbies are pretty diverse.

They ended up deciding on 40 different poker chips. My brother Frank sent me some on his own (and made it sound like he was doing it on his own and everyone else was doing something else) and I mixed them up with the others, so I ended up with 69 different poker chips.

Here is a picture of them all together.

They made some custom ones with Eli on them.

And these had some nice religious messages on them and some state flags. I'm thinking of making up some type of frame that I could hang in my office and those will provide some good conversations.

They even had some black ballons and some banners up for me when I got to my office this morning so I've got plenty of well wishes and flak at turning 40 from my co-workers too!

We did spend some time this weekend planting tomatoes and peppers. We put down some weed barrier fabric and mulch so hopefully we won't have to deal with weeds and stuff down the road. I'm going to try to get some pumpkins and watermelons planted this week too.

Pretty eventful weekend for me. I really don't feel that much older!


Monday, April 14, 2008

More Tractor Repairs....

Well, last Sunday afternoon I started to use my Kubota tractor to fill some of the holes I had dug for the apple trees I never ended up buying, and to smooth my driveway, and when I first started out, on every full turn of the wheel there was a popping sound coming from the left front wheel assembly. If I put it in 2wd it went away and if I was going perfectly straight in 4wd it went away. I smoothed my driveway in 4wd (I was shocked at how quickly the tractor lost traction and stopped with a 7' box blade behind it in 2wd) and it did okay. It popped a couple times but only when turning or backing up. I knew I should have just parked it but it didn't really sound that bad.

I went to fill up some holes and was using 2wd but got stuck down in a hole and switched to 4wd to back up out of the hole. The wheel stayed still and the axle made a horrible popping noise. I took it back out of 4wd and used the bucket on the front end loader to get me out of the hole. I went and parked it and there was gear oil all over the left front wheel rim. It still seemed to be fine in 2wd and when I put it back in 4wd it actually worked, but it made the popping sound.

I called a friend who is a John Deere industrial machinery mechanic (he works on the yellow John Deere tractors, not the green ones) and he came out to look at it with me last Monday.

Here is the axle before anything was done. You can tell by the built up dirt and grease (and the kitty litter on the floor) that it has been leaking for a long time.

Here it is when it first came apart.

I think this bearing failed first but not positive.

Here is the drive gear itself and the stripped teeth.

As you can see it ended up having some pretty good damage. I ordered about $750 worth of parts including shipping and got them in and my friend was able to help me get started on the repair and actually helped with some of the hardest parts on Wednesday but somehow the parts order was missing a bearing so I finished it this past Saturday on my own. I don't think I would have been able to do it all by myself by you never know. I for sure would have taken MUCH longer and not have near the confidience in the finished repair job! There were a few tricks to getting the bearings seated and the oil seal around the front axle was the hardest piece to get seated of all. Everything seems to be set and no leaks or anything but on a repair like this you really don't know how good you did until it stays together for a few more years!

Here it is going back together - everything in this picture is brand new.

Almost ready to go back together.


I probably cost myself a couple hundred bucks by running it another 30 minutes after I first heard the popping noise to begin with, although we might have replaced all the bearings anyway there were a couple other parts that were probably damaged by running it with the gear damaged and stripping metal off into the oil.

I'm going to run it a while and drain some oil to see how it looks and go from there.

Overall it took about 5 or 6 hours to get it apart and put it back together but that was with an experienced mechanic helping. It would have taken me a lot longer by myself if I would have been able to do it at all.

I'm going to try to start getting back to at least a weekly posting again now that busy season is winding down.

That's it for now.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

More Government Subsidies!

Well, I spent Friday afternoon signing up some of my property into the CCRP Quail Buffer program. Basically the government is paying me to plant the perimeter of my fields into native grasses and forbs for the benefit of all wildlife, alhtough it is specifically targeted toward quail. The area on the two bottom fields shaded in the rust color are the buffer zones.

I have been using google earth to draw up an overall property management plan where I'm trying to think long term instead of just running out and making improvements here and there willy nilly. Not sure if it really is working or not though, most of the improvements I'm making are based on how the property was already laid out with the current fields as food plots, etc.

Since I had to go to the county extension office in Roby, I stopped by the land on the way home and shot another wild pig. It was somewhere around 100 - 150lbs and was a young boar. It should taste pretty good. That makes 5 pigs that we have shot in 2008 so we are starting to make a dent in them. Looking at the trail camera pictures there haven't been a lot of pigs around the last couple weeks so that is a good thing. Of course now that it is spring there are lots of alternative food sources so they might just not be coming around to the feeders and getting on camera.

Here's a picture of the pig I shot from the day before. I actually missed with the first shot when he was at the feeder, he was facing toward me and I tried a head shot and am still not sure why I missed. He ran off but I was able to get out of my blind and go around the back side of the hill and he had slowed down to a walk and I was able to shoot him through an opening in the brush. A much more difficult shot than the one I missed at first so I guess the problem must be with me instead of with the gun!

Still getting some pictures of raccoons even though I ended up trapping a total of 15 in March. I had one trail camera picture with 4 raccoons in the frame, but that is better than the one earlier in the year that had 13 raccoons in one picture so I have made a dent in them too.

Things are starting to slow down at work, looking forward to planting a garden at the house and maybe working on putting in a lawn so Eli can play outside without getting stickers in his hands everytime he falls down. I need to get some crops planted on the fields down on the land also so I guess it is good that things are slowing down at work because the projects are piling up at home.

That's about it for now.