Farm Equipment Fridays: Raking hay

July 30, 2010

FEF badge thumbnail After the hay has been tedded and dried, it needs to be raked into big piles. 

The rake does exactly what it sounds like it should do.  It gets pulled behind the tractor…

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It has these tines that spin around and grab the hay…

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And the tines pull the hay into a pile just to the left of the tractor/rake combination.

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So after the rake passes by, there’s a long line of a pile of hay left behind.  This long pile is called a windrow.  Depending on the thickness of hay in the field, sometimes one windrow gets raked again with more flat hay to form an even bigger windrow.

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Once the windrow of hay is thick enough, another windrow is started.

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And on and on, around the field it goes.

DSCN0977 Here’s a close-up of the rake coming…

DSCN0978 Here it is!!

DSCN0979 And there it goes…

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Here is our lower field, partly raked into windrows.  I think this looks pretty neat from the birds-eye view.

DSCN1058 I would have loved to give you a shot of the whole lower field raked and ready to bale.  But, before the raking was finished…

DSCN1061The baling had started!

More on the round baler next week…  That is by far the coolest part!

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Bull adventures update

July 30, 2010

Thanks to everyone who sent their thoughts and prayers our friend’s way.

He is still in the hospital, but has been out of ICU.  He is flirting with all the nurses, so I guess he doesn’t feel that badly!

He’ll likely stay in the hospital over the weekend, and then will be home early next week.  The challenge will be making sure he rests, instead of trying to jump back into farming!


You don’t need to be a professional bull rider…

July 27, 2010

Last week, one of my heros, The Pioneer Woman, posted about the Professional Bull Riding bull riders.  She talked about how dangerous this sport is, and how powerful the bulls are.

Well, you don’t need to be a professional bull rider to be hurt by a bull.

A close friend of ours was seriously injured by his own bull yesterday.

This was a supposedly “tame” bull.  He had been shown in 4H as a calf, and was used to being around people and to being handled.  He was even halter broke (as halter broke as a bull can be).

He was relatively easy to handle and be around when he was 500 pounds.

Now, this bull is full grown, and pushing 2000 pounds.  (That’s right, 2000 pounds.  That’s one ton.)  He’s a big bull.  And when he wants to do something, he does it.

Even though he is “tame,” that does not mean he is safe to be around.

I am not clear on the details of what exactly happened yesterday, but our friend was out in the pasture with this bull.  The bull knocked him over, and proceeded to “play” with him.  In the process, our friend suffered a broken leg, some broken ribs, a lacerated liver, and possibly a punctured lung.  He is doing okay, but is in ICU for a few days.

Luckily, someone was there with him, and was able to help him get out of the pasture to safety before he was hurt any worse.

No matter what someone tells you, never trust that a large animal like this is “tame.”  At the end of the day, 2000 pounds is 2000 pounds.


Farm Equipment Fridays: Tedding hay

July 23, 2010

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This is a hay tedder. 

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(When I first heard of this contraption, I thought Bob was as good of a generic name as Ted.  So I called this a Bobber.  Do not do this in front of any serious farmer.  You will get laughed out of town.)

The tedder’s job is to grab the hay with these spinny tines, flip it around, and let it fall back to the ground.

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The long tines on this thing spin around, grab the hay off the ground, and throw it up in the air. 

Here it comes…

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Here it is…DSCN0922And there it goes…DSCN0923DSCN0924Although throwing hay sounds like fun, it also serves a couple of purposes. 

First, the tines damage the waxy outer surface of the hay more (the conditioner part of the mower/conditioner starts this process), which helps the hay dry. 

Second, the throwing action also does some flipping, so the parts of the hay that were underneath before the tedding are on top after the tedding.  This also helps dry the hay.

Making sure the hay is completely dry before the baling process is very important.  Once hay is baled, it can be stored for years (although it does lose some nutritional value after a while).  If hay is baled when it is wet, it can grow some pretty nasty mold that can cause diseases in the animals eating it, and in the people handling it.

A less obvious reason that hay needs to be dry is heat production.  Wherever the hay is stored, it is exposed to lots of heat – whether this is in a barn all summer long, or sitting out in the sun in a pasture somewhere.  If the hay is baled wet, the outer surface of the hay will dry out, no big deal.  The inner parts of the hay bale, on the other hand, are a different story.

Wet hay heats up.  Period.  As the hay is exposed to ambient heat, it gets even hotter.  Believe it or not, it can get hot enough to spontaneously combust, and can cause some pretty nasty fires.  (Ever been in a barn that’s full of hay and straw?  Yep, huge fire hazard.)

Right.  So dry your hay.  Please.

DSCN0931 We tedded the morning after cutting, the following morning, and again that afternoon for a total of three teds before the hay was dry enough to bale.  The length of time it takes for the hay to dry depends on the weather (Rain while hay is down is a farmer’s worst nightmare.  Well, one of them anyway.), the thickness of the hay (how thick the grass is before it gets cut), and the type of hay.

We farm primarily grass hay, which dries relatively quickly.  There’s a few different types of hay – perhaps that will be another post of its own.

For us, we cut on a Tuesday, tedded on Wednesday morning, tedded again on Thursday morning and afternoon, and were able to rake and bale Thursday late afternoon.

Here’s our lower field, all tedded up.

DSCN0940 Next week – raking!  (Way easier than the raking your leaves in the fall.)


Pedal Tractors

July 22, 2010

It is fair time in this part of Indiana, and boy are we in it!  Our fair started on July 4th, and was hot, and wonderful.  The surrounding counties are also in full swing.

Around here, fairs mean 4H, food, and fun (more for some of us than others).  Hubby is on our county fair board, which means that he spends an extraordinary amount of time at the county fair (translation – more hours than it is open).  And we eat most (for him, all) of our meals at the fair during the week.

But there is a new addition to the Southwestern Indiana County Fairs this year – the Adult Pedal Tractor Pull!

Most likely you have seen (or at least heard of) tractor pulls.  It’s where a guy on a big loud tractor (or truck) is attached to a big sled that generates more and more friction with more distance traveled.  So the farther you go, the harder it is to pull.  And the guy who pulls the farthest, wins!

Our county fair has had a children’s pedal tractor pull for years.  There’s a mini pedal tractor (remember Big Wheels?  It’s that, but it’s a tractor) attached to a mini sled.  And the kid who pulls (pedals) the farthest wins. 

This year, the Southwestern Indiana Young Farmers Group managed to get their hands on an adult-sized pedal tractor with a sled.  (We’re borrowing it right now, but are hatching a plan to build our own.) 

The Gibson County and Posey County Fairs have both featured a new event – the Adult Pedal Tractor Pull!

John pulled in both the GC and the PC events.

John pedal 1

John pedal 2He didn’t win, but he was a serious contender in the Gibson County event!

I did not pull in the Gibson County pull, but I sure did in the Posey County pull!

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Don’t make fun of the unflattering pictures – those things are heavy!

And, hey, I won my event!  We had a $2.00 charge to play; 50% payout to the winner, and the rest was donated to Farmers Feed Us.  All of 6 women competed, but $6 bought me dinner at the fair that night!

You can see pictures of the Gibson County Adult Pedal Pull (and so much more!) on Facebook – search for Gibson County Fair.


Miller Mondays: Nontraditional Work

July 19, 2010

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Welcome back to Miller Mondays!  In this, the last section of 48 Days to the Work You Love, Dan talks about going into “nontraditional work” – not being a “regular” employee, but rather finding something creative to do with your time and your life, while still making an income!!

Our take home points today are:

1.  There are mountains of choices in the work environment today.  Sometimes the best options are just a small shift from what you are already doing.

2.  Focus on results, not time – this will open up new opportunities!

3.  You don’t have to change who you are to start your own business.  Incorporate your skills and abilities, personality traits, and values, dreams and passions into your new creative endeavor!

There are some basic questions to ask yourself to see if you have “what it takes” to do something on your own.  Dan goes into more details on all these in the book, but here’s the quick-and-dirty questions.  The more questions you can answer “yes” to, the better suited you are to running your own enterprise.

  1. Are you a self-starter?
  2. Do you get along with different kinds of people?
  3. Do you have a positive outlook?
  4. Are you able to make decisions?
  5. Are you able to accept responsibility?
  6. Do you enjoy competition?
  7. Do you have willpower and self-discipline?
  8. Do you plan ahead?
  9. Can you take advice from others?
  10. Are you adaptable to changing conditions?
  11. Can you stick with it?
  12. Do you have a high level of confidence and belief in what you are doing?
  13. Do you enjoy what you are going to do?
  14. Can you sell yourself and your ideas?
  15. Are you prepared to work long hours?
  16. Do you have the physical and emotional energy to run a business?
  17. Do you have the support of your family and/or spouse?
  18. Are you willing to risk your money in this venture?

Dan tells us that about 60% of American homes are operating a home-based business.  On average, in 2003, home-based businesses generated around $52,000 in income!

Do you have to be so creative that you develop the newer, bigger, better mouse trap?  Absolutely not!

The trick here is to find something you are passionate about, and start running with it.  You don’t have to be completely original – often all you need to do is be 10% better than everyone else who is already doing the same thing!

Take Domino’s pizza for example.  They didn’t come into the pizza market with a better tasting pizza, a better sauce, a cheaper pizza.  All they did was add delivery to an already popular food choice.  Ta da!  How successful have they been?

Do you have an idea for an improvement on an already popular product or service?  Do you have an idea you have been thinking about “maybe doing something with sometime in the future?”  Make your future now!  Ready, set, go!

Having said that, Dan does recommend what he calls “soft transitions.”  Don’t quit your job today with the thought that tomorrow you will start a webpage and on Wednesday you will be replicating your previous income with your new venture.  Recognize that it may take some time to get the ball rolling here.  Work on your new business idea in your spare time, in the evenings, or on weekends, while still in your “regular” job.  Set some goals for yourself, and project a timeline.  Set a deadline for yourself – for example, “When my home-based business is creating 50% of my regular income, I will quit my day job and focus full time on my home-based job.”  Then go for it!

Be creative, be insightful.  Good luck, and most importantly, enjoy yourself!


Farm Equipment Fridays: Cutting hay

July 16, 2010

Since meeting my husband, becoming more exposed to farm life, and finally moving to our small farm, I have realized that there is lots that I don’t know about farming and farm equipment.

Lots.

The animal stuff I’ve got a pretty good handle on.  I’d better, after all my Large Animal Veterinary education!  It’s the crops that are new to me.

Mostly to educate myself, but also to educate fellow bloggers, I am officially starting Farm Equipment Fridays!

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Last month, we cut and baled hay on our farm.  This goes on over a couple of days, but always is an “emergency.”  Once the hay “is down” (has been cut), everything has to happen pretty quickly.  The hay needs a few days to dry before it can be baled (the amount of time really depends on the weather), and there is usually a whole lot of hope and prayer that the hay will have time to dry, but not get rained on.

The first step in cutting and baling hay is, obviously, cutting it.  The machine used for this is called a mower/conditioner.  Not only does it mow the hay, but it conditions it as well.  (Pretty obvious, yes?)

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The mower/conditioner is pulled by a tractor.

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The tractor drives offset from the mower/conditioner.  The tractor is driving over hay that has already been cut, so it doesn’t flatten the hay as it drives through the field.  Flattened hay is harder to cut with the mower/conditioner.

This particular mower/conditioner is a disc mower.  It cuts with a bunch of round disc-shaped blades that spin, just like a giant lawnmower.  The blades are on the front of the mower/conditioner.

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The mower/conditioner cuts (mows) the hay, and then the hay is sort of thrown back into the conditioner.  The conditioner part is on the back of the mower/conditioner.  The tines in the conditioner crimp the outer waxy surface of the grass, which helps it to dry faster.

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The mower coming…

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The conditioner leaving…

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This is our lower field after it has all been mowed.  Pretty, yes?  (This is part of the view I get from my office all day long.)

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Next week?  Tedding the hay.