Category Archives: Repairs & Maintenance

Repairing/Rebuilding Trashed Feed Bunks

Doing MUCH better with ragweed allergies to the point that, as long as i stay far away from the plants themselves, i can spend considerable time outside without effects and even without taking meds.  Almost back to health.

So, during this transition, i’ve taken the task of dragging all our bits and pieces of feedbunks together and making a plan to repair and rebuild to the extent of my ability and with no other expense except labour and reasonable amount of time.

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This feedbunk frame will be attended to last – i think this chrysalis is still going, so i’ll wait until the monarch butterfly emerges.
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Drill hole through liner and into the metal frame, then screw in these screws to hold tub in bunk properly.
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After the tub is screwed into place, the bunk is turned over to reveal all the missing braces that will need replacing.
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I dragged an old mangled gate out of the trash pile to cut to length for the bunk braces.  This DeWalt sawzall (reciprocating saw) does the job in no time.
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After cutting a piece of the gate to 30 inches,  it is placed in the bench vise as shown.
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Then with some muscles, I crank down the vise to squish each end flat.
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After marking proper placement for the hole, i use the drill press to make it easier to drill a hole on each end.
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Then mark the spot on the feedbunk and drill a hole through the brace with my handheld cordless DeWalt drill.
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Line up my newly made brace with the existing brace on the bunk and run a bolt through. I’m not spending any money on this project, so using old bolts we already had.  However, i discovered the old bolts were fine thread, so i did have to purchase fine thread hex nuts at $.19/each from Orscheln’s.
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Ripping old board salvaged from another project into four strips to be used as replacement runners on feedbunks.

 

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Drilled then bolted runner to existing rotted metal runner.

 

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Project almost complete.
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Added chains on one end to make it easier to hook onto to move the bunk around.  Chains are leftovers from old and mangled gates.
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Finished!

Spraying Done for this Year

One of the main projects i had planned for this year was to spray brush.  Truly had hoped to cover the entire farm, but there is just so much that between regular work and windy or rainy days – well, i did get quite a lot done actually and i’m pleased.  My focus did switch to completely covering (spot spraying) the west 160 and that was accomplished by July 1.  It is important to keep track of that date because three years from then, the farm can be used to grow certified organic crops.  Weed and brush management from now on will have to be by brush hogging and intensive grazing.  One of the ironies of ‘certified’ organic is that i can’t chemically treat individual plants even once for three years, but i could burn all the fossil fuel i want mowing them down.  But rules are rules.

So to finish the project also means to clean up and put away the tools used.  My 30 gallon spray tank and pump were purchased new at Orscheln’s this year and i hope to get several more years’ use out of it.  Their brand name is Country Tuff and it has worked flawlessly all season.  I did switch out the coiled hose for a straight one we already had – i just didn’t like the coiled one.

For the chemical, the easiest and most effective in my opinion is Crossbow.  i buy it by the case (4 gallons) at a cost of $200.46 at Butterfield & Associates Grain in Meadville, MO.  Mix half gallon to 30 gallons of water and you are ready to go.  This spring and summer, I sprayed about 1200 gallons of mixed spray.  That’s about 45 hours worth of spot spraying.

Cleaning up:

  1. drain and rinse out the tank with clean water
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This photo shows that i place a 2×4 between the tank and the edge of my Gator bed which keeps the tank from rubbing on the side and also keeps the clips that hold the sprayer wand from breaking off.
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i used a couple tarp straps around the tank to secure the tank in place.  The 3×3 inch board in front keeps other items from bumping against the tank and the motor.  (My Gator is usually full of other stuff)
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Under the motor, the draw pipe is located.  Shown here, i’ve undone the pipe from the tank and showing the screen is partially plugged.  The sprayer will operate with this little bit of stuff clogging it, but you will definitely notice a lack of spray distance.  It’s important to use clean water and keep stuff out of the tank which can clog the orifice and screen.
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I’ve cleaned the screen and replaced it.  (Yeah, i know, i need a manicure badly!)
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This tube actually had a small part of a leaf in it when i set out to clean the tank for storage.  I knew i had a lack of power and had cleaned the screen before.  I just thought maybe i had run the motor so much it was worn out.  However, i have no doubt now it was because of the leaf blocking this tube.  I’ll remember to check that next year.
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Inside the tank is the draw tube.  This is where that leaf had gotten trapped.  i’ve cleaned it out now.
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The electrical plug and wire goes from the motor and up through my Gator back window and down under the passenger seat to the battery.
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Horrible photo, but black to negative and red to positive for battery connections.
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Cleaned, drained, ready for winter storage
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Properly labeled as to what was used in this tank and when.

 

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

Getting Ready

One would think you could just pull in and start with tillage for planting crops as part of my fescue elimination project.  Alas, that isn’t true in my case.  Since i had subdivided the 120 acres into 6 paddocks with 2 wire hi-tensile electric wire, all this had to be wound up and stowed for replacement after 4 years as per my plan.  Old fence posts and wired had to be pulled up and stacked for burning when time allows and entrance gateway had to be widened.

 

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There’s been a 16 foot gate here for longer than i’ve been alive, although this is a new gate i had installed about 5 years ago.  But, 16 foot opening is far too narrow to pull in comfortably with big equipment, although you’d be amazed at what a skilled driver can get through!
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So, this is the new look – set two new corner posts and hung two 16 foot gates.  Very professionally done by Jim Fitzgerald.
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HUGE thank you and shout out to North Central Missouri Electric Coop for quickly removing, not only the lines from the transformer to the meter pole, but also my farm lines from the meter pole to windmill pump. About an 1/4 of a mile’s worth. While i did the ground work of chaining the pole to the front end loading, Dallas pulled the posts. Afterward, i dragged them to a burn pile with my Gator.
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The electric company removed the wires from two tall poles which were on my property.  Our little tractor had to shove a bit on the pole, then really hunker down to get these poles pulled up.  As you can see, they are buried quite deep.  Instead of burning these poles, they were cut to length and used as the corner posts for my new gateways!
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Old fence left over from who knows when still across the pasture with wire buried and tangled.  What a mess but at last we prevailed.
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Here are half the posts from that fence.  These will all burnt in a pile.  Would make good firewood if they weren’t full of staples and wires.  The corner posts were too heavy for me to lift into the bucket, so we just used the tractor to pull them ’round to the burn pile – it wasn’t far.
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An old home built load out chute we drug up out of the middle of the pasture.  
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With most posts pulled up, Dallas is building me a low water crossing while I pull the remaining posts to burn pile and roll up another half a quarter mile of hi-tensile wire.  Weather is perfect for working but I’m about out of steam!

 

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I bet you were wondering how I can roll up 12 gauge hi-tensile electric wire.  The key is this spinning jenny from Powerflex Fence.  Don’t do this without a spinning jenny  Notice the rolls of wire I stored nearby; ready to roll back out after the 4 year renovation.  All told, I rolled up a bit more than 2 miles of hi-tensile wire and pulled some 140 fiberglass posts.  Many were 1 inch and were easily pulled by hand.  I hauled them all home and have them stored on a pallet in the barn.
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Here you can see the old hand strung electric line from way up at the barn down to the electrified pump.  It used to be run only with the windmill, but there is not enough reliable wind to make that very viable.  Anyway, those were the posts Dallas and I pulled up.

Dallas and I did this in a couple days of remarkable weather in November!

Cheers

tauna

Getting Ready for Spring

So much to do to ready the house, yard, farm for spring growth.  In north Missouri, there is always a very narrow window for such activity when it’s not too hot, not too cold, not too muddy, not too dry, not too windy, not too green.  Yeah, spring work needs to happen before spring brush and grass starts growing.

Today is about 70F, cloudy and very windy, so no outdoor burning, but otherwise great for outdoor stuff.

Dallas and i cleaned out a small ditch near the house which contained ancient metal trash – he ran the tractor, i ran the log chain and we made short work of it – had a few interruptions – but finally all pulled out, loaded, and hauled off.

Also, taking time to prune trees, rose bushes, and ornamental grasses.

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Tall ornamental grasses in front of house
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Tied into a bundle before cutting because it’s exceptionally windy here right now and i don’t want to be chasing this stuff all over!
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My trusty Easy2Start Stihl MS211C
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Both bunches cut off
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Bundled and ready to put on my garden for composting.

Get ‘er Done!

Sometimes, we are stymied or overwhelmed by the number of tasks we have before us and sometimes, we are just being plain old lazy!  There are Scriptures which address that sluggardness.  Shake it off and get crackin’!   Analysis paralysis runs rampant in our culture.  You know how we, as parents, hear from our children ‘there’s nothing to do!’  Oh, mercy, that is music to our hears!  😉  (My children learnt at a very young age to never say that and as young adults, they know that there is also something to accomplish or improve.)

Here are some tasks that are easily put off, but are imperative!  (This list can be applied to ANYTHING; the car, pickup, office, shop, barn, you name it, it needs cleaning and organising!)  GET ‘ER DONE!  (The Scriptures even address cleanliness for our own good)

  1. Throw all the bedclothes, curtains, drapes, rugs, doilies, etc next to the washing machine and start a load of mattress pad or sheets.
  2. While those are washing/drying, clean out every single drawer, box, hanger, and throwaway or give away if you haven’t used it or worn within the past year or less.   Most stuff will be trash.  Papers, magazines, articles – throw them away!  If in doubt, throw it away.  Work fast or you’ll get bogged down and not complete the job!
  3. Keep the washing machine and dryer going!
  4. Now vacuum the mattress – both sides and the box springs (if you have one), vacuum each and every nook and cranny of the room; ceiling, corners, edges, drawers, closet.
  5. Scrub down and/or dust every nook and cranny, this includes floors, floor and ceiling trim.  If you have a lot of knick knacks that need dusting, consider giving them away. Take this opportunity to lighten your future workload!
  6. Keep the washing machine and dryer going!
  7. Wash windows, mirrors, and glass inside and out.
  8. Haul out trash to recycle or burn or take to dumpster.
  9. Keep the washing machine and dryer going!
  10. Make minor repairs as needed and make a list of supplies needed to make larger repairs.  Don’t lose the list!
  11. Put mattress pad and/or sheets back on the bed, rehang curtains, lay out rugs, whatever you have.
  12. The room should flow smoothly from start to finish with no stopping if you move along and keep the washing going and you’ve probably lightened the load in the room by half in dust, grime, and junk.  How relaxing!
  13. Boom!  One room down – now for the next.  Yeah, there’s something to do.

 

Remember, that giving away items to a non-profit organisation will garner you a tax deduction.  Ask for a form that will record the items and value.

Have Fun!

tauna

Rehanging A Curtain Rod

Repairs on the farm, in the house, car, whatever are neverending.  When renovating our old house to be used as a guest house (into which we subsequently moved), it was challenging to deal with the old plaster walls when it comes to hanging things. Some months back, I had to ‘rehang’ this curtain rod.

Check out this helpful wikihelp site for determining the best equipment to use for your specific situation;  How to Put Anchor Screws In A Wall

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Sometimes the plaster just crumbles immediately, sometimes, like this case, it took a couple of years, and the screws and plastic anchors pull out.

 

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Fill holes with nail hole repair stuff and let dry.
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Carefully sand it down with steel wool.
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Fill the holes with nail hole repair.
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Drill new holes and insert new plastic screw anchors
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Touch up paint on repaired wall and reattach rod bracket
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Voila! Good as before!
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I really like the curtain rod rings – especially for applications where you might be opening and shutting the curtains oftens. They just glide so nicely by hand without all the challenges of installing traverse rods.

The Road Ahead

Reprinted in part from Farm Journal, December 2015.

Reassess, Dump Loser Assets

Smart farmers will survive the challenges that arise in 2016.  Just as they’ve done in the past, they’ll reassess their spending and recognize cash is king.  I also recommend the following:

Understand true cost of production.  Account for every dollar.  It’s how you’ll quantify whether you’re headed for profit, loss, or breakeven.  Don’t overlook your true living expenses, including what you set aside for college and retirement.  “Tis the year for living frugally.

Scrutinize every line item in your budget.  It’s the only way you can stop haemorrhaging cash and become leaner.  Is there a way to cut your overall costs?  I challenge you to cut all expenses by 1%.  It might seem small, but I’ve witnessed this exercise lead to six-figure savings.  Question input costs and negotiate with suppliers.

Be sure to liquidate all non-productive assets.  You can generate thousands of dollars by selling losers.

Stay in contact with your lender.  They realise down cycles occur.  The last thing you want to do in tough times is cut them off.

article by Peter Martin, Finance & Growth Expert, Farm Journal magazine.

My comments:  Just because an asset is no longer working in your operation, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a ‘loser’ for everyone.  Sometimes our goals change and someone else needs exactly what we no longer need.  Of course, if the asset is junk,  be sure to sell it that way.