Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Joys of Farm Equipment

(post by Jason) It's a good job that everybody around here has something that they're especially good at. Of course I think we're all especially good at caring for horses, that goes without saying. But successful full time farms require people with a lot more skills than being good at caring for horses if they are really going to go well. 

Melissa excels at communicating with our clients in various facets. She takes the photos and the videos, writes the blogs, she does all the invoicing and she handles nearly all of the day to day client/horse care issues that come up. In truth there is very little that Melissa isn't good at. Comparing myself to Melissa perhaps it's easiest to say that I don't think there's very much that I'm good at! Thankfully I do bring a couple of savant like skillsets to the table. 

One of these skillsets is that I very much have a green thumb. If I can't grow it successfully and, for lack of a better word.....well, then it probably can't be grown successfully or well in this part of the world. Green thumbs are very necessary on any horse farm because there is no animal group on the planet that I am aware of that's harder on pastures than continually grazing horses. 

If you don't manage a horse pasture rigorously even at low density, a group of horses will completely destroy a pasture over time. Horses are spot grazers. Because they have both top and bottom teeth they can, will and do graze certain areas of the pasture literally into the ground while leaving other areas, sometimes mere feet away, completely untouched. Nature abhors a vaccum; bare ground is not a natural condition so once the grass goes one will very quickly have an excellent stand of weeds. I spend hundreds of hours and many thousands of dollars repairing, maintaining and enhancing our pastures every year. While I would never claim our pastures are perfect they are a very long step better than the unmanaged and unmaintained horse pastures that are so typical.  I love to make green things grow and I think my efforts are apparent when comparing them to other local horse pastures. 

I mention my other savant like skillset reluctantly because it's NOT something I enjoy even though thanks to a lifetime of conditioning I am pretty good at it. I can keep old, wheezy, elderly farm equipment going for a very long time. Every farmer out there will nod his or her head when I say that even new farm equipment likes to find reasons to break down for seemingly no reason. 

Thanks to large levels of computerization which come with large levels of cost we don't currently own any brand new equipment. That's a good thing because it's well past my level of expertise to keep *new* equipment functioning. Our "new" tractor was manufactured in the late 1990's and is almost 20 years old. Most of our tractor attached equipment is this vintage or older with the exception of our larger bushhog. Some of it is much older. Our John Deere manure spreader was manufactured in 1949 ! Our older Kubota tractor was manufactured in the 1970's. Imagine the joys of keeping a vehicle that you used every day in running order when it was forty years old. That's about the level of fun that old farm equipment brings to the table. 

Thanks to a lifetime of keeping old equipment in running order I have a pretty fair skillset to call upon when things go awry, as they often seem to do. At this point I think an example is called for. The other day I decided to clean up, grease and service our 70 year old manure spreader in preparation for some hard use later this month. I was unsurprised to find that our older tractor....the one I wanted to hook to the spreader...... wouldn't start when I went to turn the key. I figured it was the battery which was well past it's replacement date so I thought I'd jump in the truck and head to town to get a new one. 

I had insult added to injury when I went to start our truck which is only two years old only to find that it too had a dead battery! Oh well, easily fixed. I took the car to town and got batteries for both truck and tractor. The truck battery must have been a dud because a new one fixed the problem immediately. Unfortunately a new battery did not fix the elderly tractor which still refused to start. That left wiring, solenoid and starter as possible problems. I've replaced all the wiring and I redid the starter a couple of years ago so the solenoid was my best guess. Another trip to the parts store and lots of fiddling with wires yielded..... finally.....a tractor that started. I let out a victory whoop that all our employees heard! But victory with any type of farm equipment is always fleeting, so wish me luck on the morrow when I try to make stuff work again! 

one dead solenoid

Trigger, Chance and Convey

Romeo and Asterik

MyLight and Calimba


Lotus and Gus

Hesse, Baner, Taylor and Alfie

Cisco and Levendi

Wilson and Walon

Magic and Ripley

Johnny and Happy

Charlotte and Renatta


Toledo and Rubrico

Rocky and Johnny


SmartAlex said...

Sometimes the best way to handle broken farm equipment is to just keep trying to start it over and over until it decides to run and skip all the money and monkey business you will waste fixing things that aren't broken while waiting for the farm equipment to decide to start afterall.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

About a month ago (right after my Dad replaced a belt on my Kubota) I noticed a slight vibration and some deviation in the consistency of the cutting that wasn't there before. My agricultural superpower is noticing the sounds + smells + feelings that a tractor sends out before it breaks down. Dad's is excellent mechanical skills, but despite my warning, he didn't investigate. Sure enough - last Friday I smelled burning rubber, the mower threw a belt, and something really dire happened to the spindle...