Life of a Farm Blog

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March Madness

Earlier this week the temps got into the 80′s and we even sat outside after dark to take in the warm night air and listen to the frogs. Now temps are dropping toward the 40′s and they say we could see snow flurries tonight. Great, as if we all weren’t sick enough. I hope all the plants we’ve set out can take the cold. That’s the bad part of setting out your garden early. If you do get a freeze sometimes you lose what you’ve started. So far we’ve put out 2 kinds of potatoes, onions, peas, brocolli, cauliflower, and cabbage. We also started some seeds inside for tomatoes and peppers. My older brother Paul and his wife are planning to come visit a lot this summer and help in the garden. Previously they had tried to garden a little in Owenton where my mom and dad have a small place. Since mom’s going to be here we decided they should just come here and help in our garden instead of planting their own.

Garett has been helping me feed every evening I’m home. We made a deal that if he’d help me keep the goats from stealing the cows feed I’d jump on the trampoline with him. He gets his stick and stands by the door. When the goats try to come under the door he taps them on the head. He calls it whack-a-goat. I’m proud of the kids for helping with the farm like they do.

I’m embarrased to admit I ran the 6000 out of fuel tilling. I guess I just got caught up in the moment and never looked at the gauges. The fuel gauge plainly says empty. On a good note though I think I’ve finally got the truck fixed, and my dad fixed my pallet forks that I bent loading railroad ties. Check out the pics of his modifications. Anyone with the pin type quick-attach pallet forks should consider this. The truck took 2 fuel pumps. Seems the cab chassis models have a weird design that has the back tank pump fuel into the front tank and then the front tank supply the engine. Both of the pumps on mine were bad. The front one was working part of the time but not at good pressure. All this stalling and cranking ate up one of the batteries and the starter. So after 2 fuel pumps, a PMD, a battery, and a starter it has finally run for a significant length of time. Only one problem left. I bought an Advance auto parts starter and the nose on the starter is a little different than the original and it is causing the dust sheild to hit the flywheel under load. So I’ve got to take the starter back off and either shim it or re-engineer it. It will have to warm up before I do though.

I need to get fertilizer on the fields here and the 38 acres I have leased. Once I get the truck fixed right and can catch a rain coming I’m going to do that. Last year we put almost $1000 worth of lime and fertilizer on the 38 acres and got about 100 rolls first cutting and countless squares on the second cutting. There is so much more profit in squares I hope I can get the help to do more of them this year. I want to buy a new square baler, but I keep telling myself I can’t justify spending the money if I’m not going to be able to get help putting in the squares. I’d hate to have a new square baler and still end up having to roll. Just doesn’t seem like folks want to work anymore.

Farm Credit let us know yesterday that they were willing to do the loan on the chickenhouses for the equity in the farm. Makes me wonder if they weren’t bargaining all along just trying to keep themselves in a more secure position. Worst part is now I’m second guessing myself as to whether or not to go this route. It will destroy 2 of my dreams for this farm. One to have a pumpkin patch for the school children to visit and the other my plan to build a house at the most secluded spot on the farm someday. On the other hand it would mean that the farm could finally be profitable. That and I could finally get out of Kingsford Charcoal. The cancer rate surrounding employees at the plant over the last 20 years is alarming to say the least. Most folks don’t live to collect their pensions for very long. Although Clorox has taken steps to reduce the dust, it simply isn’t enough. I find it very interesting that companies are able to subject you to dust that has been shown to cause “occupational lung disease” and never suffer any penalties.

March is even more depressing for us Kentucky basketball fans! I’m sure some programs would be thrilled with a record and a #8 seed in the tournament like we have, but this is Kentucky. The winningest program in all of college basketball. What Rupp built here is slowly being torn apart. One can only hope that the changes that need to be made to keep UK competitive will be made. If the AD isn’t going to do it then he should go too. Actually I think he should go anyway. The only up side to this tournament year is Rick Pitino has Louisville playing like the 1996 Kentucky squad. That’s probably the only praise Ky will get all tournament and the praise is to a team from 10 years ago.

Well, keep checking back. The fun is only begining for the year here!


15 Responses to “March Madness”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Joel, Family & Friends,
    Great news about your loan going through. I understand about the second guessing and the possible regrets of losing your best building site, but it sounds like the modular and the log house are really where your home is. Because of them, Mahma, Pahpa, Dad and the kids (NOT THE GOATS) can all be together, which is most important for all of you.
    Too bad about the UK team. I haven’t heard how my alma mater did in Division 2, even though they hosted it here, in town! (They had the number 1 seed of the tourney! They have had several good teams over the years and have had a number of both men’s and women’s championships.)
    I remember us using upside down Mason jars to try and keep the frost off of new plants. I’ve seen other folks use cut off two liter clear plastic pop bottles and milk cartons. Personally I always thought if you just covered them with loose straw and some roll plastic you could get them through that way too. (Just take the plastic off, and pull back the straw when it warms up enough in the morning.)
    When it comes to equipment it always seems like when something goes wrong it is either the last thing you look at, or something you would never guess. Last Sunday my tractor at work wouldn’t restart after I had gotten loaded. I had the click-click-click under the dash like a bad battery or connection, so I popped the hood and looked at the wires. They looked okay, so I pulled off the battery cover. The terminals on the batteries were covered in corrosion, so I used my ice scrapper to get as much off as I could, and then I got a soda and poured it over the terminals. (The soda reacts with the acid of the corrosion and neutralizes and flushes it away.) I tried to restart it again, and still got nothing. I called the mechanic, the owner’s son (who is also a mechanic), and got no answers. I then called the owner who called his son, who called me back. He showed up 2 hours after I was supposed to leave and pull started me. I had to let the truck idle at every stop, because I couldn’t shut it off without fear of not being able to get it restarted.
    Well, I’ve been too long winded! Take care and you’ll get it all done!
    (I mentioned Mahindra over on the Gardenweb’s “tractor” forum. I told one guy that if he needs a great tractor under the 15k price point, he needs to look at Mahindra and one other brand I know about. Both of them are made in India, and both produced tractors for American companies before establishing themselves under their own labels.)

  2. Kevin Says:

    Joel, Family and Friends,
    I saw on the TV this morning where UK will be playing KU this afternoon, around 4 our time. (I hope the cats pluck the birds! I get tired of them.) It ought to be a good game. I know KU is assumed to be a powerhouse but they have always had a bad habit of clutching in the post season. Maybe UK has a better chance than what you thought.
    I talked to a guy at work who follows my old university team. They won the tourney and are in the Elite 8 for Division 2! Just keep an eye on the UCM Mules, they might win another Championship!

  3. Kevin Says:

    I forgot, take the starter off and take it back to Advance. Tell them it doesn’t fit your engine properly. Sometimes they get in starters with the wrong nose piece installed. This is especially true when they are dealing with foriegn suppliers and starters that have minor differences between the gas and diesel versions. It beats trying to make it work, when it doesn’t even fit properly.

  4. Shelly Says:

    I like your tractor. We also have a Mahindra, and even I love to drive the thing ! Wish ours had a loader ! We only have about 40 acres, but someday hope to have a little more. We farm pine trees on our 40, and use our “Big Red” (as the kids call it) to mow and garden mostly. The hubby and I have 2 kids, 8 and 5 and we live in Ga. Just wanted to wish you luck with your farm, and whatever you decide to do with it. Keep at it, I do so appreciate our real farmers ! God Bless. Shelly

  5. Char Says:

    Hi again! Just stopped by to read your latest posts. Seems things never slow down, whether it’s farm or factory work. I would still love to live on a working farm. I recently got a job in a factory, and though I’m getting paid for it, I feel used somehow. I think that if I were working farmland, at least I’d have something to show for my efforts!

  6. Savannah Says:

    Hello, My name is savannah and i’m an anthropology student at Ohio state university. I grew up in a small town in West Virginia. Now i live in columbus, Ohio (in my opinion, the armpit of the united states). So, I went to a central american country, and silly me, I fell in love with a farmer. Now i’m probably engaged, since I told this guy i’d marry him. I’m goin to live on his family’s farm in september. I dont’ know one thing about animals or farming. so i’m readin what you write to learn a thing or two, so i wont’ make a complete fool of myself. I have some questions for ya. Since i’m a woman, i’ll be cookin and planting, and killing chickens and cleaning. do you kill your own animals? or do you sell them? if you kill them, how do you kill a cow or chicken? how do you ride a horse? They kill their own animals. It is completely out in the middle of nowhere. How early do you wake up in the morning? How do you plant seeds? Oh, lord have mercy on my soul! because i don’t know what i’ve gotten myself into.

  7. David Armstrong Says:

    Great blog, I will be a regular reader

  8. joelw Says:

    Kevin,
    Didn’t work out for those wildcats did it? I modified the starter and all is well. Noticed the truck needs an alternator belt too though. This week I’ll pick it up and try to get me a toolbox for the back of it. I’ve got tools everywhere and I’m going to lose them if I don’t put them up.

    Shelly,
    Big Red, that’s cool! The kids call my truck Old Blue. Tree farming is what my greta uncle Pete used to do. Pine beetle pretty much wiped every pine in these parts out though. If I can ever find time I hope to do a timber stand improvement on the woodland here. Thanks for reading and keep checking back.

    Char,
    I’ll choose the farm over the factory any day. It’s a shame that a lot of folks have had to take a factory job just to keep the farm. Thanks for reading and keep checking back.

    Savannah,
    Is Colombus really that bad? My neighbor James retired as a machinist in Colombus and came back home. Yes we kill some of our own animals.The big things like cows and most pigs we take to a local slaughterhouse, but we have done our own pigs, chickens, rabbits, etc. There’s really not any wrong way to kill animals so long as it is quick and does not cause suffering and does not hurt the meat. There are different techniques like stunning, shooting, and bleeding out. I didn’t know there was a wrong way to ride a horse either. Most folks mount from the left side of the horse (if you are standing behind it your left). You’ll find that when you sit on the horse if you lean back a bit it is more comfortable. One bit of advice would be to keep your feet from getting into the horses flanks as this usually makes them go (flanks are the area just in front of the rear legs). I get up a lot of mornings at 5 am, but since I’ve been on this crazy swing shift I do sleep some during the days on weekends since I work all night. To me the perfect schedule would be to go to bed at dark and get up a little before daylight. Planting seeds isn’t a science either. Most people make the mistake of planting too deep. A lot of plants only need the seeds planted 1/4 inch deep. The biggest thing to remember is surround yourself with folks that know how to do the things you want to learn and just watch and learn. You’ll find everyone has their own little ways. Good luck and keep checking back. It might not be a bad idea to pick up a copy of the late Carla Emery’s The Encyclopedia of Country Living.
    http://www.carlaemery.com/

    David,
    Glad to have you reading. Hope you enjoy!

  9. Mary Says:

    Joel,

    I absolutely love your blog. I’ve added it to my favorites so i can see what’s going on out on the farm.

    You undoubtedly have to be the luckiest man living. Three great children, living on the farm . . . how does it get any better than that? :)

  10. Kevin Says:

    Joel, Family & Friends,
    Too bad the cats lost! I was really looking forward to the birds have thier tailfeathers pulled out! (Kansas City is only 50 miles from Lawerence KS, so we hear all of the KU sports news, even though the majority of KC is on the Missouri side! We’ve got lots of KU, MU & KState alum in the area, but the last two get second fiddle mention on the TV.)
    My alma mater, the UCM Mules will be playing this afternoon in the Division 2, Elite 8 tourney. Around 5 PM Central time. Hopefully everything will go well for them, but once they get into this round you never can tell.
    Savanah another good source for information on Gardening and Farm Life are some of the various websites and magazines out there. As to on farm butchering most folks only butcher small animals unless they live to far from a processing plant. No matter what animal you have to butcher the main thing is getting them killed quickly and humanely, next is getting them bled out, and then the entrails and skin removed and the carcass cooled. (I hope I didn’t gross anyone out, or step on Joel’s toes. After all this is “his house”, so to speak.)
    Take care, and keep at it! Eventually it will all get done.

  11. Alex Shalman Says:

    Hey there. I found your site because it was being advertised, via google adwords over there. Not sure that it relates to my topic though. Regardless, I looked over some of your articles and you’ve given me a new look at farm life. You make it seem fun =)

  12. Hillbilly Willy Says:

    Joel,
    Enjoyed your blog on March Madness. Your thought on Kentucky basketball are well taken. Kentucky has been one of my favorite teams for several years. I live in Arkansas and root on the hogs. But click on the link for my blog March Madness . See if you can tell where I graduated!

    10-4 Willy

  13. Hillbilly Willy Says:

    Joel,
    My Team bit the dust last night. But click on the link Click on the Link beside the Monkey. It will show how I feel about the game. As always keep up the good blog.

    10-4 Willy

  14. Kevin Says:

    Joel, Family and Friends
    Well, the UCM/CMSU Mules lost by 5 last night in overtime, so they are out of it. Those damned birds are still in it, I am just hoping the UCLA Bruins get them plucked! The big news is Tubby Smith announced he is leaving for Michigan, I hope he does well there and Kentucky gets a good coach to replace him.
    Joel, are you planning on planting any field crops this year or are you going to concentrate on the hay, stock and custom work you’ve been doing? I know, depending on what happens with the chicken op, you might have other things to keep you busy.
    Well, keep at it!

  15. Coursbo Says:

    Joel,
    How many poultry houses are you planning. Somewhere I missed that.

    Agriculture in America – Dedicated to the Rural way of Life>

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