Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Maybe it will feel like we got something done today..."

Yes, today was Thursday.  It doesn't matter that we have reached the place we should have been about noon Tuesday, it's still Thursday.  But look on the bright side.  We haven't been to the hospital, no fire runs for us, we've not been the family being comforted at the funeral home, I guess in perspective this week hasn't been so bad.

When it starts out like this a farmer knows he isn't going to be having fun
 Perhaps I need to explain that one.
We've always been able to put dry corn, or almost dry corn, in the old government bins at Gramps, put a fan on the unloading tube, and keep it all winter. This fall we were putting 14.5 to 15% corn in them straight out of the field.
But ... we never tried it with corn 95 degrees out of the field.  So many nights were above 65-70 that it never cooled out.  We were checking the fans a couple weeks ago and noticed a couple of the housings had water in the bottom of them.  That confused us.  The only way we could explain it was the moist air being pulled out of the corn was hitting the cold fan housing and condensing.  So we started watching it more closely.  Late last week we decided maybe it was time to pull a load out of each bin and check it.  We finally got around to it Monday.  That's when we decided it was time to halt fieldwork and move corn.
 Steve can probably look at this and tell you what we were doing.  We had saved back the bean bin at Mom's in case the elevator got full.  Fortunately we didn't need it.  We also saved back one of the dryers at Gramp's for corn from True's.  It came out dry and the elevator had room, so we took it straight to town. That photo is moving corn fom one of the north government bins at Gramp's to one of his dryers.
Eventually you get down to this point:
 The old government bins are beginning to concern us.  They are aluminum ... at least 50 year old aluminum. And the bolts are the same vintage. Dad put stiffeners on them because one started to wrinkle.  When we were cleaning out the last one late Thursday we noticed this:
Daylight shining between the bin sheets.  The Bible tells us everything has a season.  We are wondering if these old bins are nearing the end of their season.
We've also fought dead batteries on 2 tractors and a grain truck (most of them were new or almost new), an unloading auger that just would not work right, broken belts, a funeral I had to attend, on and on and on.  Been a long week.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Papaw drives red combines

Adam is beginning to get a grasp of colors.  It was mentioned Papaw was test driving a green combine.  He was a little bothered by that because Papaw only drives red combines.  Today we tested a red combine.  Bane Equipment has an 8120 they are demo'ing around. 

Lot bigger combine than I can justify.  But it gave us a chance to play with the bells and whistles we don't have on ours. Touch screen monitor, computer controlled everything. But you put corn in one end and it comes out the other just like a 55 John Deere.  It just does it a lot faster and easier.

One thing we were surprised by was the corn head they brought.  We have been looking at cornheads.  Regardless of what we do, ours needs replaced. One of the reasons we went to Louisville to the Farm Show this year was to look at heads.  We had discussed Drago and Geringhoff, and Surprise! They brought a Geringhoff Northstar head
 I was really glad they did, because I would have hated to spend more than $40,000 on a head that disappointed me so much
I had some planter problems and double planted a couple spots. That gave me the opportunity to see how it handled down corn.  My old worn out IH head would have done a better job.  Part of the problem is the snouts do not get low enough
This is about as low as they go. Maybe just a bit lower, but I think in the position they are in the gathering chains re touching dirt. The tips of the snouts never contact the ground.  They don't get under the downcorn well enough, and when it does pick up down corn you get this

It doesn't seem to slide well.  To be fair, we had some drizzle in the morning and the leaves were still just a bit damp.  But I was rather disappointed in the head.

The combine worked great. The 7010 is a similar machine just a little smaller.  But I ... well, I haven't seen any numbers but will be very surprised if this class (size) of machine fits in my budget.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A GREEN combine?

No, it is not an end to life as we know it.  But it was educational.  Actually kind of fun.  And a bit bewildering.  Jerry from Schilling Brothers brought us out a demo combine Monday.  We have been talking and I commented I had never even driven a John Deere combine.  He said he could take care of that.
This is not it, I didn't get a good shot of the side. But it looked just like this one I found online.  This one was experienced.  It wasn't some shiny, carefully gone through by the shop demonstrator.  In fact it still had someone's seed corn jacket stuck behind the seat where it had been forgotten. This was how it would look after being used a while.  Steve asked me to take pictures.  I took a few, but was too busy to take very many.  This is Aman finishing out a land.
We were cutting double crop beans in a field with an irrigator without an alley, so we had to start in the middle and work one way so the 'gator could be moved. So he ended up with a 2 ft or less strip near the road.  The header is 30 ft wide.  The combine is sized to run about the same speed we run our 20 ft head.
This is the operator console.  The 3 orange buttons on the left are the throttle. It's like Mom needs on her lawnmower.  It has idle, high idle, and operating speed.  No lever, just touch a button.  The big yellow buttons at the top turn on the separator and the header.  Other buttons turn the rear wheels on, adjust fan speed, etc.
It is an interesting machine the header has a one touch connection.  You unhook the header lock and disconnect all the hoses and lights in one motion.  To set the combine you just select the crop on a screen and it automatically adjusts.

Am I going green?  Good question I can't answer yet.  I have to look at some numbers, do some thinking, still haven't decided if my best move is trading or rebuilding what we have.  But  I could get used to a 30 ft head.

What would Dad think?  If you look in the NW corner of the tool room there is a board Dad saved.  It was from the box the cab came in for his 55 John Deere combine.  If we went green Dad would understand.  He's also the one who bough the Bush Hog from the dealer across the river.  Yes, there's more to that story ...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pondering spending money

I know, it doesn't take much thought to spend money.  That's why I am pondering on it.  Mom and I were thinking today about combines.  Dad bought a used John Deere 55 ... long time ago.  I can just barely remember it.  He traded it for the 410 MF, then (as I recall) Gramps traded his year old 510 for a new 510 with a quick attach head.  That was a real innovation.  You could change heads in less than 15 minutes!  Then they traded both for Massey Ferguson 750's (photo is one I found that is similar, not actually ours)

 These were especially memorable for Sue and I.  On our first date I took her to Casey and we looked at Dad and Gramp's new combines setting on the lot waiting for delivery! (She should have gotten a clue what was in store and lit running).  The only thing bigger than a 750 was the MF760.  We ran the 750 for ... had to be about 8 years.  Dad traded for a new International Harvester 1480.  A HUGE combine, even bigger than the 760! (photo is one I found that is similar, not actually ours)

We ran the 1480 for 17 harvest seasons and traded for a used 2166.  The only used combine I really remember Dad buying.
 but the 2166 is showing its age  it is a '95 model and anything grain contacts is wearing.  For example, before harvest started we replaced the elbow on the unloading auger because it had worn the heads off the rivets!

We had Farm Pride inspect it this summer.  When Dale said "replace the elbow"  I kind of laughed ... until it was explained to me if the elbow failed the auger literally fell off the combine.
We have been pondering on whether to rebuild the 2166 or replace it.  We haven't actually figured rebuilding cost yet, but we are told if we do it right it will be at least $10,000.  We'll be putting in things like rotor cones

Which will cost $1500 to $2000.  We know the bottom of the grain tank will need replaced

because we have 2 or 3 holes patched in it already.  Plus augers and bearings and auger tubes and chains and  on and on and on.  $10,000 is probably low, and that is us doing the labor.  On the other hand, here is a used combine for only $239,000

... plus heads.  I turned down a used combine last year for a lot less. I probably should have traded then.  I've been pondering which is the best direction.  Actually, I know what I want to do. The questions are "Can I afford it?" and "Is this really the best way to go?"

I mentioned our ponderings on AgTalk As of a few minutes ago there had been 48 replies and over 25,700 views of the discussion.  And the really amazing thing to me is no salesmen have called!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Your moisture tester has to be wrong ....

I cut beans Friday!

I know, no big deal, right?  I think it was the first beans I cut this year.  In fact, I think it was only the second time I ran the combine.  Aman runs the combine and I haul.  Works out well.   He wasn't feeling too well today, so I told him to rest and haul in a couple loads of beans if he felt up to it.

I should mention the other time I ran the combine a belt broke after one round.

Anyway, I'm cutting the last "big" field of beans.  Big meaning when I finish it we have 30 acres of first crop beans left ... in 6 fields.
I start on this last big field.  They're going through good, but boy do they look rough.  Green stems,  green and yellow leaves, really rough looking.  This photo doesn't do it justice.
I put the first hopper in the truck and they looked even worse.
 So I told Aman to run a sample home and check the moisture.  He called me.

"The wet sample was 11.2%"

yep, moisture tester HAS to be broken.

I cut beans until after sundown.  I quit just in time.  Beans quit working good just about sunset.  I made a couple rounds and decided to quit.  I unloaded, cleaned the combine off, and got in to come home when I noticed the left end of the reel wasn't raised.  I hit the button and it raised ... then settled down again.  I got off, checked the left cylinder, no problem.  Walked around to the right end to find hydraulic fluid dripping off it.  Sometime between my cleaning off the end of the head and getting back on the combine I blew the hose.  (I hear someone going "Wait a minute, you said left ..." The left cylinder is a slave off the right side.  The hydraulic oil goes to the right side cylinder and then feeds the left cylinder.)

Remember my comment about the other time I ran the combine this fall?  I may get delegated to permanent truck driver status.  So Saturday in addition to setting an auger, unloading trucks, and normal maintenance I get to replace a hose.  I decided to let it go until morning.

Oh, setting an auger. The elevator is currently out of space for beans.  Fortunately we anticipated this might happen and kept one bin empty just in case we had to have some bean room.

We've made pretty good progress on harvest.  We have 40 acres of corn left.  It was replanted and when I checked moisture Wednesday it was 20%. (that was the elevator's tester by the way) I decided to let nature dry it a bit more and went back to beans.

As I mentioned earlier, when we finish this field (hopefully tomorrow) we'll have 6 fields left of first plant beans totaling 30 acres.  We haven't planted any wheat yet.   Fly free date is October 6, and I don't get too excited until after October 1.

Oh yeah, that's today.