Friday, May 28, 2010

Replaced my tractor seat.

Based on the title, that doesn't sound like much of a project, but believe me, it was.

My tractor seat has been in disrepair ever since I bought the tractor 4 years ago. It has been getting worse and worse and for the last year or so it has been more like riding a bucking bronco than riding a tractor. Cathy was helping me with a minor repair of the steering a week ago and I needed her to sit on the tractor and turn the steering wheel while I put the pitman shaft in and when she went to sit down she almost fell onto the floor of the tractor so I figured I really needed to break down and replace the seat.

My tractor had somewhat of a hard life before I got it, so I'm not sure what happened to the seat to break it in the first place, but the factory parts to repair/replace it were over $500. You can buy a complete new seat at Tractor Supply for $100 so of course that was the option I went for first.

I knew it would possibly take a little extra work and maybe even some drilling in the floor of the tractor, but the aftermarket seat even looked a little more comfortable than the stock seat so I thought it would be worth it. After getting the seat home and checking it out I found a problem. The seat was too tall.

Here's a picture of the stock seat next to the one I bought at Tractor Supply. It doesn't look like that much difference, but it was. The distance from the floor to the base of the stock seat was 5" and the distance from the floor to the base of the new seat was 9". That 9" gives plenty of room for a suspension to improve the ride, but it put my head into the canopy of the tractor and knees into the steering wheel. It was not going to work no matter how many holes I drilled.

Here's another picture of the bottom of the stock seat. I didn't do anything to bust it up or anything, just set it on the floor and you can see how bad of shape it was. I had pieced it back together before and it stayed for a while, but it was pretty much beyond repair now. I may hold onto it and practice my non existent welding skills on it sometime as there is a metal bar that is broken and missing that holds the suspension parts in place.

After looking around online, and posting on a tractor discussion board, I finally found a nearly identical seat to the one at Tractor Supply at that was only supposed to be 4" between the base instead of 9" like the one from Tractor Supply. The stock seat was 5" so I was thinking the new seat would work perfect. Well there was a little bit of false advertising, the seat was 5.5" from the base to the bottom of the seat, but I thought it would still work. 2 hours and plenty of drilling and creative thinking later I had the seat installed. It is still a little bit higher than the factory seat when it is all said and done. I think it will work though. I have to mow the yard this weekend so I should find out for sure pretty quick. It will be interesting to see how much different it rides when there is actually a suspension in the seat vs. in the past when every bump I hit went straight up my spine (and there are lots of bumps when you are running a tractor).

Oh well, not very exciting, but not very many of my posts ever are!


Monday, May 24, 2010

Hog Hunting

Last week we had some friends come down from Wyoming for their daughters graduation from ACU and for a change they were able to stick around and actually spend more than 1 night trying to hog hunt.

We made it down to the land and hunted the first night but it was really windy and we got in the blind kind of late and didn't see a thing. The next morning was a bust as well and we had some rain in the forecast and I had been working on getting some warm season grasses planted so I spent the afternoon planting and spraying roundup on some newly sprouted weeds while my friend checked the cameras and set out some raccoon traps.

I got everything finished with a few minutes to spare, and we got in the blind around 6:00. Sunset was set for 8:30 so we had a long wait ahead of us but hopefully we would see something and make the wait worthwhile. It was still pretty windy, but not near as bad as the night before. Around 7:00 we saw some deer moving through some trees, but it still seemed pretty dead. We had setup an special LED light over the feeder so we were prepared to be there for the long haul. The night before a boar hog showed up around 9:30 and we had left the blind around 9:00 because it was getting too dark to see, so we were prepared with the feeder light.

Around 8:30 we saw a pig moving through the trees. I stayed back in the trees about 20 yards to the north of the feeder and then moved out. Before I ever hunted over a feeder I had always heard how the animals got used to the sound of the feeder going off and would come running. Either that isn't true or I do something wrong because I don't recall ever seeing any animals come running to my feeder when it goes off. (Of course it probably doesn't create a sense of security when their buddy ends up getting shot when they do end up coming into the feeder!).

Anyway, the pig left and it was getting close to dark. We had setup the feeder light during the day and it is activated by a sensor and only comes on when it gets dark so we were hoping that we had it setup right because it looked like we were going to need it. Then about 10 minutes later the same pig comes back toward the feeder from a completely different direction. It looked like he had circled completely around the feeder to see if he could smell anything. He was very cautious, but not cautious enough!

After about 30 seconds he moved broadside and then my friend put him down with his .300 WSM. He dropped right there. Turns out we didn't need the feeder light after all.

Since I had all my farming implements including my tractor there doing my planting, I was able to just go pick him up with the front loader of the tractor. Pretty decent sized hog. The bucket on the tractor is 5' wide.

Something that I try to do whenever possible is actually weigh the animals that are taken on our land. Sometimes I am unable to, but with the tractor down there it made it easy to weigh this one. Here's a picture of him on the scale with my friend standing next to him. My friend is 5'10" and weighs 185lbs for perspective. The pig's nose is about 2" off the ground.

When I told my friend that I thought his pig was a 200 pounder he seemed a little bit disappointed. When we got him on the scale it turned out I had under estimated a little and he weighed in at 210lbs on the hoof. I told him that it was an ACTUAL 210lb pig, not someone just guessing. I told him that most people who say they shot a 300 or 400lb pig didn’t actually put it on the scale, they just guessed.

To prove my point I posted pictures of the pig on 5 different bulletin boards and asked other hunters to guess how much he weighed. Overall there were 115 guesses and the average guess was 285lbs. The highest guess was 700lbs and the lowest guess was 145-150lbs. I’m not 100% sure that the 700lbs was a legitimate guess, but the next highest guess was 470 and that was a real guess based on the comments by the poster. There were 10 guesses that it was 400lbs or bigger and 43 folks had it at 300lbs or bigger. The overall results were brought down by 2 places I posted this where people are more experienced hog hunters, otherwise the average guess was over 300lbs on the 2 general hunting forums I posted it on.

That makes guided hog hunt success number 2 now. I really think the key is being able to spend more than 1 night hunting because they can be pretty unpredictable. My friend was actually prepared to spend another night if we didn't connect on the 2nd night but it worked out pretty good. We were able to turn the pig into sausage and a started the backstraps curing into ham and they were headed back to Wyoming with time to spare.

The only negative to the hunt was that it was a boar hog that came in by itself so I didn't get a chance to try out my AR-15 to see how many little piggies I could count with it!

That's it for now. Nathan

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New gun safe.

Well, after buying the AR-15 and the new turkey shotgun, and after reading about several folks getting their homes broken into and their guns stolen, I decided that I probably should buy a gun safe. Also, I ended up buying one with a 1 hour fire rating and probably the most important reason is to keep the guns locked up so Eli can't get into them unsupervised.

I ended up making a whirlwind trip to Dallas to present an audit and decided to drive the pickup and pick up the safe at Cabelas on the way home. The safe weighs 700lbs, but it really ended up being pretty easy to pick it up (3 guys helped load it in the truck) and was amazingly easy to unload and setup at the house. My brother in law came over and the 2 of us had it out of the truck and set where I wanted it in about 15 minutes.

The thing that did not go as smoothly as I was expecting was anchoring it to the cement slab. You would think that a 700lb safe wouldn't need to be anchored, but If 2 of us could unload it and move it, then it wouldn't take too many folks if they were determined enough to take the entire safe. (Of course the 700lbs is empty, I probably already have 100lbs of stuff in it!).

I ended up using up 3 masonry bits to drill the holes in the cement, and it probably took 4 hours to get the anchor bolts installed, but they are rated at 6,000lbs of horizontal force each so I really doubt that safe is moving anywhere now.

Here's Eli helping out when I was working on drilling the holes. You can see that the safe fits under the stairs in the garage VERY snugly. That should make it even harder to move if anyone ever wanted to try. Here is the finished product and most of my hunting stuff stacked up next to the safe in the nice little cubby hole that should work pretty well. It was always a pain to haul everything upstairs where I used to put it all, so hopefully this will make it easier when I get back home to get everything unloaded out of the truck and into the safe or beside it.
Here's what's inside it now. Plenty of room to grow! It says it is a 24 gun safe, but I've only got 5 in there right now and I think it would only comfortably fit about 10 or 12. I think I'm going to buy a 1 hour fire rated box that I am going to put all of our important papers in and then keep it inside the safe. That would give the important stuff at least 2 hours of fire resistance. Hopefully we will never have to find out how long it is actually good for!Oh well, not that exciting of a post, but I'm a few projects behind on getting things posted and this seemed like a good place to start.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bobcat mount is back!

Well, after a short 4 months, my bobcat is back and sitting in my office! I really like the laying down pose as it give a lot of different options on where to place it. There's a picture on a world famous taxidermists website of a bobcat mount laying on the couch that looks awesome, so I took a couple pictures of it on the couch in my office.

I think it is going to go on my credenza for now.

Here's a couple close ups of it's face.

I'm one of those guys who hasn't seen very many bobcat mounts that I like in the past, but I'm very happy with this one. This mount isn't perfect, but it is pretty darn good I think. The price was pretty reasonable, and the turn around time was pretty good too. It worked out pretty easy shipping the skin and he did an awesome job with the packaging shipping it back to me after it was mounted. I should have taken a picture of the way he had it boxed up, that was an art form by itself. When it is all said and done I'm REALLY happy that I shopped around and sent it off to a guy I knew would do a good job.

Another thing I noticed is how hard it is to take a picture of it that does it justice. I'm sure if I had a nice light colored backdrop and some good lighting I could make it look really good, but I just took pictures here in the office with a little point and shoot Canon camera.

Thought I would share.