Garden Time!

Posted by on 26 Apr 2012 | Tagged as: General

I don’t know if you paid attention, but over the ‘off-season’ I replaced the trusty Deere 300 with a 318 that was 15 years newer. Why? It wasn’t as trusty. Nothing major, just little things that kept it from running when it was needed most. Old wires breaking off, carb problems, etc. I choose the 318 because it was still a 300 series, meaning I could keep my existing blade and snowblower. Huge cost savings. However, the rear end was different and I lost the roto-tiller.
To solve this, I added on an aftermarket (you can’t find the factory ones) 3 point hitch. I also got a drawbar/suitcase weight rack with a 2″ receiver for other uses. I finally found an old Sears suburban bottom plow.

And plow it did. It took some setup and adjustment, and some practice, but I was able to get the garden ready this year in about an hour. Once dialed in, It is way faster then the rototiller attachment. Anyhow, Mason got to pick seeds and helped raked the beds smooth and helped plant summer squash, zucchini, butternut, sunflowers, banana peppers, and peas. We have some cucumbers that we should start inside.

Why no Spring posts yet telling of construction? Well……doing construction elsewhere. I should probably document more of that. Stay tuned, I’ll post some hints and photos here soon.

1st mow

Posted by on 02 Apr 2012 | Tagged as: General

I decided to get my butt in gear this week. Not only did I have a few other project in motion, I thought it was time to get the tractor back to the farm, get the gardens ready, and get mowing. It has been a warm, early Spring here and things are growing.
I managed to move the tractor down to the farm over lunch and got the 1-bottom plow hooked up to the 3 point hitch. I left at 6pm and made a few passes with it. It’s actually very cool and did nice work. The downfall was that my toplink was too long, and my replacement was lost in shipping. I tried to settle with a flat bar I had found. It worked for several passes, but I got too comfortable. With a little more speed, or going deep under established grass, the flat bar finally bent and knocked things out of alignment.

I then switched out to the mower deck and started. I know I mowed a few times with the newer 318, compared to the 300 we had for years. It’s faster, and has a wider deck. Still, I mowed everything existing and was greedy, pushing back tall grass in slow passes, then making 2nd passes to smooth it out. The tractor works well, as the solid stream of green leaving the deck is impressive. I got everything done, with a lot more ‘reclaimed’ and it was only 7:30. WHAT?!

7:30? I left the house at 6:00, used the plow, pulled off the plow and snow blade, hooked up the deck and mowed more area then ever before. Guessing an hour at most for just mowing, that’s still 30 minutes faster then ever before. Holy COW! Well, the cows were out up the street. I had enough time to lazily walk around the property for a while before the sun finally went down. ┬áLove those zen moments.

Spring Thaw

Posted by on 14 Mar 2012 | Tagged as: General

Thaw…not sure we ever froze this last winter. Still, I always pack up for the winter and don’t get anything done. I haven’t even had a chance to make sure things were still standing after a few of the storms we did have. I remember listening to wind one night and seeing on the news that gusts were breaking 60mph in the area.
I’ve finally made a few trips that way. Nothing wrong this winter. Everything in one piece, not even a limb down. The new roof on the shed worked, as the dirt is nice and dry. There is a little more to be done, but I’m getting dang quick at it. I’d love to pour some footings and replace the sliding doors with garage doors someday.
I did get rid of the tractor and tiller I had, and replaced that 300 with a 318. I found a single bottom plow and am testing fitting that now. We’ll see how well this works!

5 year review

Posted by on 03 Jan 2012 | Tagged as: General

This marks the start of a new year, and 5 years of owning an acreage.

What are the biggest points for a review:
-Bought farm, then moved to Jefferson the next fall.
-Poured a new foundation under the crib, replaced slat walls with sheathing, insulation, and siding.
-Got electrical service
-Door and windows on South, East, and west walls
-Staircase to 2nd floor, half of 2nd floor has subfloor
-Most of the bin work has been removed.
-Found shed to be in good shape, and most of the roof has been replaced.

-Camped here many nights
-Grew lots of food, the best crops to remember:
Tomatoes the first few years, huge pumpkins the first year, a row of potatoes, Established strawberry patch, always lots of peas, tons of onions.

RAGBRAI came to town with tornado that took out the matching barn.

Started Greene Bean Coffee

What’s up next:
Replace some brome grass with clover for…
BEES!
More tomatoes, onions, potatoes, cucumbers.
front half of shed roof
Install windows on 2nd floor of crib, add the 2nd floor interior.
Plant trees, bushes, ornamental plants around crib and shed.
Would like to replace large shed doors with garage doors and pour footing across openings. Then fill shed with crushed rock.

Sometimes it seems like these projects take forever, but looking back we have done a lot since this is a spare time/spare money project.

Fall panic(s)

Posted by on 09 Nov 2011 | Tagged as: General

You probably caught it the last few years, that I get into a mad panic mode of “get stuff done before winter” This year was no different. What took most of the time was getting a new roof on the shed. Last year I used old shingles to patch holes. Come spring the patches were there, but twice as many new holes had opened up. And I was out of spare shingles. To keep our possessions dry, and the shed from rotting, it was time to fix the roof. This involved stripping 756 sq feet of cedar shakes off the rook, hammering in the little nails, adding new plywood decking, then finally shingling.
I didn’t get it all done at once. In fact I had it 2/3rds stripped when some fall rains started the week before vacation. I quickly got a layer of tar paper up just to keep it a bit dry while we were gone. There were a few rips, but nothing too drastic. Thinking ahead, I had laid a bunch of spare 2×6’s out on top of it. After vacation, I found that the tar paper would rip if you tried to traverse it. So, it was time to shingle what was completed, then finish prepping off the remaining 1/3 at the top. I might have looked odd, but it was far safer and allowed me to work in blocks.
Rick was back on the scene after being laid up most of the summer. He helped clean things up and started opening up the remaining bin walls. It was really starting to look cool. Luckily, the grass stopped growing and I got a John Deere 318 to replace the 300 I have been using.
Yes, the new tractor is 20 years old. However, it is still 15 years newer then previous one. It is in very nice shape, runs strong and can use all the previous implements except the rear tiller. I might sell the old one, as I don’t know if I really need a spare. In fact, I just bolted on a 3 point hitch to the 318 tonight.
The second panic this fall. Well, I should say that I have always heard a squeak in high winds at the farm. Never found it, and I spent a good deal of time staring at the inside of roofs, and at the metal roofing and trim of the crib. I figured it was a loose nail on the metal roofing someplace up high. Just before vacation we were in the crib and it was really blowing and we were amazed how solid the place felt.
Until two weeks ago….
Reagan and I stopped by to pick up something and kinda waste time down there. As soon as we walked up the stairs, there was big squeaking and a worse noise. As we looked up, the entire couple was rocking from side to side, almost 2″ I bet. This was new.
In a panic, we got to work. I’ll explain that the couple is a 6′ by 8′ box that sits above the roof line. The corner supports are 2×6’s that do run down to the top of the bin walls. That’s it, and those were toe-nailed in to the top of another board. Well, sometime in the past 80 years, the middle of the crib settled about 3/4 of a inch from the weight of the full bins of corn. The outside walls did not. The roof never moved, but the floor did. The nails that held these supports were barely touching anymore. I have added a few nailer blocks and toe-nailed a few extra screws into these supports, but never really reinforced them, as that was an area we would be working on later, and that we hadn’t sen any movement there before. Opps.
The first act was to grab any scrap plywood we could find, and nail in large gussets to reconnect and stabilize these 4 supports. Right away, that seemed to make a difference. The north and south copula walls have the corner 2×6’s then just a pair of 2×4 studs in the middle. Both of the 2×4’s were cracked across the entire nail area that held then down. The 2nd phase was to fill the stud bays with blocks running both ways to reinforce this area on both walls. Then connect all 4 studs with a new 2×6. The north side was ok, but only had 1 original nail each. That would lead to flexing too! Now that there was a secure frame around the copula, and a lot more nails, we were feeling ok. I quickly added some scraps to tie the East and West walls down to the joists and one last piece of plywood up on the North wall.
Fast forward a week after a good storm.
Everything was OK! I got some XPS foam insulation and started filling all the stud bays of the copula. From there, both the North and South sides (the axis the flex was on) got sealed in solid plywood. No chance of flex now. We only got 1/3 of the east wall sealed, so I’d like to get a bit more done before Winter really hits. Might as well finish this.

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