Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Every year we venture out into the bush on our property to find the family Christmas tree. It is alway fun to trudge through the deep snow in the willow brush yelling to each other "here's a good one!" Of course, everyone is yelling the same thing at the same time! Eventually though we find THE one and start the drag home. This year, we had pre-scouted the tree in the fall and walked right up to it.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
Friday, November 24, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
From this view, you can see how complete the baler is. The belts are far less than perfect and will need replacement. Belts on the combine seem fine, but who knows when it actually starts working. Bearings will need TLC. The back of the combine shows how perfect this machine is. There is next to zero rust. Paint is still ok too. Will need canvass (which seem to be rolled up inside!). It is also missing the cutting bar and teeth. That shouldn't be too bad to replace. Otherwise, I have my fingers crossed that there is very little to do.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
This is a friend who lives along the coast of BC. He operates a small diversified farm and uses this old Massey 35 combine each year to harvest small fields of oats and other grains. It looks like the old combine works really well although I can feel the "itch" just looking at the picture! I get itchy with grain dust while I am inside the cab of my 503 let alone the open station of the 35 being so close to the table. It is a neat old combine and the perfect size for a small, diversified farm.
The AC 8550 is a fairly easy tractor to drive. The controls are well thought out and handy. I was pulling a relatively small cultivator, but I was breaking pasture/hay land that hadn't been dirt for years. The roots were thick and the ground was compact. The goal for the day was to simply create some 'scratches' in the soil to allow the tiller to come along next and really get things worked up. I would say that overall, I accomplished more than just scratching the surface. There were some spots with thick grass where the shovels would dig in and we just skidded along the surface, but those were isolated spots. This is what I saw each time I looked back.
Time for Fall field work. I have been busy over the past while cultivating fields in preparation for next years' seeding. First, I was helping with Vince's field work. He acquired a new piece of property and I spent a day going over it with the cultivator. One of Vince's tractors is an early 80's Allis Chalmers 8550. I believe that this was the largest tractor that AC produced. It is big!
Friday, October 06, 2006
Last night 'Penelope' was in her hut and wouldn't come out to eat. This is somewhat unusual for her and when I checked her udder, she had lots of milk! I went back to the house and mentioned to Cindy that I thought she was close. Sure enough, this morning as I was walking past her hut to feed the chickens out in the field, I heard some squeaking from within. I checked quickly and there were two that I could see. I am unsure if she was still in the middle of labour, but I hope she has more than 2! When I get home from work I will check again and see what is up and report more. In the meantime, I had a chance to take a quick picture before I left her for the day.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Garreth and I took a few days off to go Antelope hunting last week. It was fun to be out of the house together and I had been successful in a draw for a trophy Antelope in southern Alberta. I have never hunted with a rifle before, but being a bowhunter, and very familiar with the area we were to hunt, I suspected that our hunt would not last very long. I was correct. We drove for 5 hours to the zone we were allowed to hunt. We then sought the landowner to give us permission to hunt and found him in his truck overlooking a vast prairie landscape with a small herd of Antelope visible in the distance. After a brief conversation, Garreth and I snuck a couple hundred yards to the crest of a hill where we could be at least a little closer. I steadied the rifle and began searching through the scope for the buck. At first I couldn't see him, but soon spotted the tips of his horns bouncing towards us from behind a distant hill. Garreth and I became very still as he approached to within 150 yards and stood perfectly broadside. I whispered if Garreth was ready and he nodded "yes". I have to admit that the crosshairs of the rifle scope were vibrating a little with excitement, but it was nothing compared to the panic of being within 20 yards of your prey with a bow in your hands. I pulled the trigger and the buck went down instantly. Our hunt was over. We spent the rest of the evening, cleaning and cutting Antelope meat and then drove home the following morning. It was a good little trip.
It was finally time to harvest our small field of potatoes. There have been a couple of killing frosts over the past 2 weeks and the tops had died off. I had hoped that the skins of the potatoes had set enough to avoid damage going through the digger. I have an old horse-drawn digger that has been modified by a previous owner to be pulled by a tractor. The N did a pretty good job, although a tractor with more hp and a lower gear would have worked better. We ended up with somewhere around 600 pounds of Russian Blue and Banana Fingerling potatoes. The kids followed behind the digger collecting the potatoes that were left laying on top of the newly dug soil. We put all the potatoes in a wagon and brought them back to the house to be stored in the cold room downstairs.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Harvesting has ground to a halt and the ground is too wet to do much of anything lately. I have been tinkering around the farm here and there, but other than that, I have been enjoying a bit of a rest. Still though, with winter coming fast, it would be nicer to be out getting the harvest complete and finishing some other tasks around the place that are weather dependant. We had a killing frost on Sunday night...that means that the potato tops are now dead or dying. I can go ahead and harvest potatoes anytime after this coming weekend. Tonight, Cindy is renting a one-man auger for installing some fence posts. I have to finish my new pig pen before it snows.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
I don't think I can scan the article to show everyone, I will have to check on that.
If you scan WAY WAY down the page, you will see the little blurb about my article.
Monday, September 11, 2006
I spent the weekend busy as usual around the farm. On Saturday I was combining for most of the day down at Vince's place. We were still combining oats. These were the oats that I had swathed last weekend. We had had hot dry weather all week so the combining went really well. I was in second gear with the variable speed kicked up a couple notches...as far as a 1968 combine is concerned, I was flying! Still though, it was a little disheartening to watch Vince's much newer John Deere 8820 going past me on a regular basis. It was like the first time marathoner, so proud to have trained so hard to be there in the first place only to watch the entire field of runners filing past one after the other throughout the race! No surprise though, the JD has almost three times the capacity and a 280 horsepower diesel compared to my 105 hp gas engine.
On Saturday morning, I did manage to get one irritating problem corrected. On my old tidy tank, the hose was leaking every time I used it. I had to stick the hose end deep into whatever tank I was filling to avoid losing fuel onto the ground. I went to the UFA store and picked up a new hose...then I thought I may as well install a filter. It didn't take long to install, but it wasn't a cheap R&R either. It is an older tank with 3/4 inch hose fittings. The only filter fitting I could find was 1". I needed some pipe fittings and teflon tape to make everything come together. It is a much longer hose now too...I don't have to get quite so close to whatever I am filling anymore.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Summer is almost over and it is time to start getting ready for our long winter of feeding animals. To that end, we have purchased 100 2nd cut alfalfa bales. They are certified organic and are very rich. We will mix this hay with our grassy organic hay from our own land when we feed the cows. The pigs will eat this rich alfalfa hay as it sits. I will run it through the hammer mill and then mix it with the grain chop. I can feed it dry, but they much prefer it when I mix it with warm water. It makes a great smelling green porridge! Very tempting. We only got 72 bales on this load. Tonight I will drive to the farm and pick up the remaining 28. I do need a bigger trailer. Usually, I would take the big Ford diesel for a job like this, but I have the insurance off it for the time being and didn't think to reinstate it for this week of hauling hay.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Here is a better view of the part that I broke. I assume that it is cast aluminum and it is quite thin. Any ideas out there for how I can fix this? There is a sliding cam that needs to fit into this housing and it does need to have the strength to resist the turning of said cam. Still though, I don't think it needs to be tremendously strong or they would have made it thicker to begin with. I have been told that perhaps some sort of epoxy would work.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Friday, August 18, 2006
Monday, August 14, 2006
Friday, August 11, 2006
Here is a 20 pound bucket of Certified Naturally Grown honey. It is a rich golden colour this year...last year, it was definitely a lighter colour. I am not sure why the difference, but it has to do with what flowers the bees visited and also the fact that the frames of honey comb darken with age and therefore, the honey also darkens. I personally like the darker colour of honey, but it is interesting to note that the lighter honeys demand higher prices commercially. In different parts of the world honey comes in a multitude of colours...some of it is dark brown. Alberta is one of the leaders in the world for honey production. There are hives everywhere!
This is the extractor in operation. The photo makes it look like it is spinning much faster than it actually is. Really, it doesn't take a fast spin or a very long spin in order to get all the honey out of the frames. There is a large valve at the bottom that, when opened, allows the honey to drain once it is out of the frame. I was looking for an extractor when I saw this one advertised in a local paper. I went to see it and it was in near perfect shape and very old. I am thinking that it was built sometime in the 40's or 50's. It works the same as it did the day it was built and I intend to look after it so that my grandkids can use it if they want to.
This is what a full frame of honey looks like as it comes out of the hive. It looks white because there is a thin layer of bees' wax that covers each individual cell full of honey. This is called "capping". Once the cappings are removed, the honey is ready to be extracted with centrifugal force in the antique extractor.
Well, I was about 3 weeks late in getting the honey out of my hive. It was just one of those things where I couldn't get organized enough to get it done. Cindy finally picked up some containers and I finally found a few hours to try to get the job done!
The first step in extracting our honey was to get the bees out of the way! What I do is take the boxes (supers) full of honey and bees and set them aside and on their sides. When the 'hive' is re-orientated on its side and exposed to the light and open air, they will vacate. At the same time, I replace the full supers with empty ones to give the bees room to start filling comb again. After I take the full boxes off and tip them on their sides, I simply wait for a couple hours to let the residents get out of the way!
The next step was to actually take the honey from the comb. This is the fun part. The frames are taken out of the supers one at a time and I cut the cappings off. The cappings are simply the "corks" that the bees put over the honey to let it cure and keep it safe for later. Once I have the cappings removed with a long knife, I can place the frames into the old extractor.
Once all four frames are placed into the extractor I just spin the handle for a few seconds. It doesn't take more than 30 seconds or so of spinning to get all the honey out. Once one side is extracted, I flip the frames over and spin them again to empty the other side.
Last night I only managed to get one super extracted. It was cold and rainy...about 15 degrees celcius. The honey wouldn't flow very well at that temperature and it took a long time to have it go through the sieve and into the large buckets. I need to put the raw honey into disinfected buckets to let it settle out any foreign particles and impurities. The air bubbles rise to the top and the particles fall to the bottom. In a few days, the honey will be ready to bottle.
It is amazing honey...when it is fresh you can still smell the flowers! It tastes wonderful that I can tell you!