September 16, 2012 – Wagons for Sale

Time to make some room in the shed and move out some things that I’m no longer using.  Following each of these items is the starting price – they will drop $50/week until sold.

corn caddy for sale

“Corn Caddy” by Heavybilt.  Mobile grain bin holds 1500 lbs of grain. Has lights and brakes.  Tires like new.  Original prices $1725, asking $850.

new idea barge wagon for sale

New Idea barge wagon, approximately 6×10 and box is about 27 inches high.  Pretty good rubber and wood in good shape.  Asking $400.


small gravity wagon for sale

Gravity wagon – not too sure how much it holds – top is about 6′ x10′.  Three tires are decent, one is bald.  Dent in front right and some small holes in box.  Asking $400.

Respond with a comment if you’d like more photos or more info.

February 5, 2010 – New Tiller!

We’ve been thinking and starting to prepare for a while about a new way of growing our crops. We want to get rid of the monolithic blocks and instead garden in four foot wide beds separated by grass/sod strips. The mental and physical energy to manage 4 foot wide steps seems easier in terms of planting and crop rotation, weeding and harvesting. I’ve been looking for a 48 inch PTO tiller for a year or so and finally got lucky today and saw one on Craiglist that was listed minutes before I saw it and was the first one in to get it.

So here it, is ready for spring.

one year ago…”First Lambs Arrive”

November 17, 2009 – Corn Caddy

Here’s the latest piece of fun farm equipment – a corn caddy – essentially a small silo on wheels.

We can use this unit to get chicken food from the co-op and move it where ever it needs to be – whether it needs to be by the layers over the winter or broilers over the summer.  I imagine with a serious pasture raised chicken operation, it would be great to bring out to the pasture to store and keep grain dry and near the chickens.  It was on super close-out at the farm store – original price $1800 marked down to $750. No more trudging through the snowbanks to the shed to get feed in the winter!

one year ago…”Can Anything Else Break Today?”

November 17, 2008 – Can Anything Else Break Today?

I’ve had these kinds of days before. The day usually starts out on good footing. Today, for example. I was able to get the to get the town job work and other minor things done in the morning and started on the day’s farm work. After about an hour of steady getting things put away for the winter, I was thinking I’m really not getting that much done. That was my first mistake.

An energy pulse from the universe said, “He thinks he’s not getting anything done, we’ll show him what that really means!”

#1 Failure: Yesterday we tested out the chick brooder we bought at the auction, and to my surprise, it worked wonderfully – even the small red bulb under the brooder worked – the thermostat worked and was even linked to an exterior white bulb that lit up when the heating element was on and went off when the heating element cycled off – pure luxury. Since we didn’t get new laying hens, ours are 2-3 years old and really slowing down, so we ordered some laying hen chicks (pullets) set to arrive tomorrow. So I moved the brooder to the brooding building, set up a cardboard shelter around it to keep drafts out and even made a partial roof.

Then the brooder never warmed up. Eventually I turned it over to see if I could see what was wrong – and either due to moving it or energizing the heating element caused it to break. Fortunately our neighborhood electrician was parked nearby in an empty grain truck, waiting for a load from the combine in the adjacent field. I asked him if there was a special way to mend a semi-coiled heating element.

He told me where to go at his place to get the tools and connectors to fix it while he got loaded and dumped his truck in town. I retrieved the tools, but the wire was just too old and brittle and kept breaking whenever we tried working with it. So, that meant dragging it out and trying scrounge up working heat lamps, bulbs and necessary extension cords and a different enclosure.

#2 Failure:  A couple of weeks ago I needed to put a new catalytic converter in on of the cars after the check engine light went on.  The light went away, but now it’s back.  I’m afraid it might have been the sensor and not the converter that was bad.

#3 Failure: The blower fan on the corn stove gave up the ghost.  Needs a new one and will need some new wiring as well.  It’s something I can do, but have to wait for the part to arrive in the mail.

#4 Failure:  One of the tractor tires was low, so I was going to start it up and move it to the air compressor.  I turned the key and pressed the silver start button and the starter cranked away weakly and I release the button and turned the key off, but the tractor kept trying to start and after about 45 seconds of cranking, the battery died.  First step was trying to recharge the battery, but the battery freaked out the chargers, so something was amiss.  By this time daylight was fading, dinner wasn’t even a thought and the kids were ready to be picked up at the bus.

one year ago…”Doesn’t Get More Old Fashioned than This”.

July 21, 2008 – Red Green Alive and Well at High Hopes!

Today’s creation is inspired by Handyman’s Corner from the Red Green TV show.

To many of you, this might look like an old, tired gas grill that missed trips to the dump over the last two years. But sometimes keeping things around too long pays off. We also have an old cooktop from the kitchen remodeling that is usable, but awkward to carry and safely use. We also like to can outside in the summer – nothing like taking the hour long boil of a batch of tomatoes outside the house on a hot summer day. Sooooo, I’m thinking the two units need to be combined…

First remove the cover and all the old propane connections and tubing.

Hmm, after the cover is gone, it turns out the cooktop won’t slide inside, so I need to get the sawz-all out with the metal blade to make the frame relatively level. Then, slip a couple of boards in where the grates used to be, screw the cooktop into the boards and the unit is almost ready.

Here’s the completed unit! Note that the duct tape concealing the joint between the cooktop and old grill is for aesthetics only – it does not provide structural support in this case.  Now we have a portable unit with wheels, a self-contained and hidden propane tank and a battery of knobs that to the untrained eye, do absolutely nothing – but I’m wondering if I could wire them to the controls of a radio and use the grill knobs for tuning and volume of a hidden radio…

one year ago…”Harry Potter and the Dilly Beans”

April 2, 2008 – Old Silver Maple Makes Way for Wind Turbine

I got a call a few days ago from the wind turbine guy saying that dependent on weather, April 11 was the day to pour the foundation for the wind turbine. Amazing as it may seem for an Iowa farm, we had a difficult time siting the turbine on our property because of all the tall trees, the 70 foot buffer from the edge of the property, and needing it reasonably close to the house. We eventually chose a site with a full northern and eastern exposure, good western exposure and poor southern exposure. I later found out that the most common wind direction is from the south, although the N-NW quadrant is the most common quadrant. In order help out the southern winds, we opted to take out one old silver maple tree and to place the turbine in the path of the hole in the trees.

Here Martin plays on the trunks of the recently felled tree. I called in a professional to cut the tree down as one main trunk was leaning towards a building and I imagined three possible outcomes (presented in most likely order of possibility). 1) tree falls wrong way 2) chain saw gets stuck in tree 3) tree falls right way.

This shows the view of the tree before it was cut.

The view of the sky after the tree falls. Now it is my job to cut it up into firewood and haul the branches to a bonfire pile.

one year ago…”Willows in the Ground”

December 21, 2007 – New (to me) Camera!

I used to have a nice SLR camera (Canon AE-1) that I bartered for a bunch of Christmas trees back in college. I loved that camera – while climbing a mountain in Utah, it became separated from me and bounced down a snowfield in its case a couple of thousand feet and lived to tell about it.

I started with point and shoot digitals for the last few years, and was waiting to save up for a new digital SLR, but could never quite justify the cost with other expenses.

My current point and shoot was starting to be on its last legs, so I bought this Canon S2 on Ebay for about 1/4 of the list price. Since the S3’s are out, all the folks that need the latest and greatest jettison their old stuff – but it is in perfect shape and I appreciate that on this model I can attach filters, wide and telephoto lenses and have manual control if I so wish.
one year ago…

November 14, 2007 – One Step Closer to Wind Turbine

We are one step closer to getting a residential wind turbine at high hopes gardens!  We had a site visit by an installer and now are waiting for a more final estimate.  If all goes well, it could be up in late spring/summer.  The following bit of information was very interesting to me.  It shows the wind speed and direction over the course of a year.  The site also has monthly charts to see how direction and speeds change over the course of the year.  The site is a branch of the ISU Agronomy Department, of all places! They have the charts for 17 cities in Iowa.

I was very surprised that the most common direction of wind is from the south, although the most common quadrant direction is from N to W.  I’m a bit of a closet weatherman (I think all farmers are) and am impressed how much data can get crammed into a simple graphic like this one.

Here’s a picture from the manufacturer’s web site of the turbine.  It is a Skystream 3.7. We may have to trim the tops of some old silver maples and maybe take down one behind the chicken coop.  More on that later.

one year ago…

August 6, 2007 – Step into Another World

There’s a place in downtown Melbourne that hides its secrets well.  “Vern’s Implement” always has a yard full of old farm equipment along with an accesssory lot along side the road on the way to our place.  In the past, I’ve bought a thing or two from Vern.  He’s also got a small retail store complete with the old general store type wood strip floor, big wooden entrance door, and a couple of aisles of different size bolts, nuts, etc. in old wooden bins. A while back, I had a hard time finding a certain length bolt in a 5/8 width – not at big box stores, not at True Value – all the while, the right one was sitting at Vern’s.

Back in the shop it really changes.  I swear Vern doesn’t like to work on equipment made much past 1950.  I thought I might get him to work on my ’47 Cub, but he has other work he evidently enjoys more and said he didn’t have time.  (I don’t think he likes mundane repairs.)  He also has an older solar array on the front of his house – probably from the 70’s – so he is obviously a tinkerer.

Here he is, looking at a steam-powered, steel-wheeled tractor from the early teens.  He has fabricated missing parts, rebored what needs to be re-bored, and finally painted it.  It’s a massive hunk of machinery – you can see the back steel wheels are about 5 feet tall.  It takes about two hours of burning before the engine is ready to go.

This shows the back of the tractor and some of the gears – there is one “gear” – forward and back. This is in the way back of his shop and to get there, is like traveling through a tractor graveyard, with all kinds of other tractors in various states of repair/restoration – it’s got the feeling of an old blacksmith’s shop.  I’m sure there are other places like this (at least I hope so) but they are getting rarer by the day.

one year ago…

August 5, 2007 – And So It Goes…

Yesterday (doesn’t really matter what day!) brought a common occurence on the farm – something not going according to plan.  This isn’t particularly compelling story, but typical. Had some weed-trimming to do, so in the more relative cool of the evening (if 85 degrees and 75 degree dew point can be called cool) I set out.  I had previously outrigged the weed whip with a head that was a chain, so it really cut tough weeds and nascent mulberries, and lasted a long time – over a year by now.  It finally needed to be replaced and so I tried to turn the screw that kept it in place and it wouldn’t budge, even with penetrating oil and some time (as it is getting dark and no work is getting done).

Finally, the head breaks off the screw, so more extreme measures are needed.

Between a bench vice and a vice-grips, I was able to get the shaft of the screw out and replace the head.  The replacement head had a better design, which didn’t rely on a single screw to come out, but used the whole cutter head assembly to tighten onto the shaft. I guess the good news was I had a replacement head on time, but it was still not until after dark that the repair was made.  But at least it is ready to go for another day.

one year ago…

July 16, 2007 – New Tractor Tire

Usually 9 days away fror the farm leaves A LOT to do upon our return. However, we are getting better at it, by working extra hard the weeks beofre we leave to get as much done as we can. We were fortunate (or not) that there was not any rain while we were gone. Very few weeds grew and no need to mow the brown grass.

The first order of business was to take care of a leaking tractor tire. When I bought the tractor it had one new tire and an old one. The old tire finally started leaking a few weeks before vacation, and required frequent filling. It also had the fluid in to give the tractor weight and not freeze in the winter – that was hard on the rim (rust) and I don’t really need that extra weight – so I called the on-farm tire service – they came and sucked out the fluid and replaced the tire. It sure beat trying to jack up the tractor, remove the lug nuts, get the wheel off…

one year ago…

June 6, 2007 – Corn Transfer

Lots of little projects were completed today.  In getting ready for a couple of tons of chicken food to be delivered, we had some leftover corn from the corn-burning stove season in the gravity wagon that we needed to move to make room for the chicken feed.  The gravity wagon is the easiest to get a few buckets of feed at a time with, so we transferred it to a different wagon. 
Here, Emma is controlling the door to fill the bucket (we don’t have a corn auger)

Loading it in the tractor bucket – about 15 buckets per scoop.

Finally, dumping it into another wagon.
one year ago…

June 2, 2007 – Most-Used Piece of Equipment on the Farm

The humble garden cart gets my vote for the most indispensable piece of equipment on the farm.  We bought one of the Vermont Carts new and picked up another at an auction.  They are the best money ever spent on the farm.  We’ve had one ten years and it is still works as well as the day we put it together.  It is sturdy, very easy to push, fits through gates easily, tips, and can haul hundreds of pounds if need be.

Now there is an alternative – the guy who brought the world the whiz-band chicken plucker has published plans to make your own cart.

one year ago…