Saturday, June 7, 2014

Time passes and stuff happens

Months slip away like water.
So let me bring you up to date. I'm off on another work trip to California, it seems like I live here part time. Last week we were made our yearly spring trip to camp. This year's big project was to move the outhouse. The old outhouse hole was full. I don't remember what year I dug that hole, I'm guessing 2005. 9 years isn't bad for a hole I dug by hand while the outhouse was tipped forward. We probably should have made some sort of a box when we dug that hole to keep the dirt around the hole from collapsing in, you live and learn. This year we rented an excavator to do the digging. We built a box 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide by 32 inches deep out of OSB scraps and 2x4s, then dug a hole to fit the box. Finally I built a frame of 4x4s to slide the outhouse onto. The sliding went pretty poorly when the outhouse hung up on a concrete block as I slid it. I should have stopped at that point and jacked up that corner with the wagon jack to get the block out but instead I ended up wrestling it around with the excavator. Later on I had to spend a bunch of time jacking the outhouse up to get the 4x4s back into the right place. The other mistake I made was not spiking the 4x4s together, mostly because it didn't occur to me to buy spikes...

The next day we used the excavator to dig a test hole in a place Dad thought there might be some gravel. Off to the side of one field is a hill that appears to be degraded shale or slate which breaks up pretty good with the excavator. We dug some up and used the wagon to haul it to fill some wet spots in the road. Angie ran the excavator while I made runs with the Cub Cadet. I had the much harder job, the excavator can fill the little wagon no problem to the point where the Cub Cadet can just barely handle the weight. Then the dirt would be stuck in the wagon. Since it was a little wet when I'd dump it'd stick in the bed and I'd have to shovel it out.

To make this work we need either a real dump truck or a bigger dump wagon we haul either with the truck or the Farmall Super M.

Speaking of the Super M it got all new wiring this trip. We'd known the wiring harness was in tough shape for awhile and when the tractor wouldn't start at all we knew it was time. We finally did get it running by wiggling some wires but it wouldn't run well and couldn't pull any kind of engine speed. Fortunately we'd already ordered a wiring harness. The harness included the main wires from the generator to the switch and voltage regulator and from the switch to the coil but didn't include the lights or some other incidentals, we made those other wires ourselves so now every wire on the tractor is new except for one battery cable. That got the machine running and I used it to plow and disc the garden. I tried to shoot some video of my rollover plow but I haven't reviewed it yet to see if its any good.
While the tractor now runs its probably time to do a 12 volt conversion on it. 6 volt batteries are expensive and seem to be prone to failure. A small 12 volt battery would cost half what we pay for a 6 volt, it'd probably last twice as long and in a pinch we would be able to jump start the tractor off the truck. Having 12v electrics on the tractor would also allow for an inexpensive electric ignition conversion. Thats not a big requirement I've never really had any trouble with the points but it would make for a better running engine with increased reliability down the road.
I almost forgot, while we were doing all this work I put in new spark plugs too.
After all that effort the tractor started nice as you please although it did crank slow from the bad battery. When we left I put the battery on the desulfator, we'll see if a few months of that maybe helps salvage the battery. I doubt it and I see that a 12 volt conversion kit runs about $150. I may end up just doing that in the fall.

I'd bought some asparagus to plant at home but the package of roots I'd bought was way more than we could use around our house so I bought the rest to plant at camp. Asparagus is cool for camp since it comes up in the spring and requires relatively little maintenance the rest of the year. I planted a 14 foot trench worth which should provide us with about all the asparagus we can eat. The trenching was hard work and in retrospect I should have used the excavator.

Buster liked the trench though, he came up to inspect and immediately flopped down in it. I'd guess the bottom of the trench was cool and it was a hot day, especially for a black dog.

Finally we planted our yearly camp garden which feeds the wildlife. We've seen a big increase in the deer population around our farm over the last couple years and I'd like to think this garden has something to do with that so I keep doing it. This year we planted mostly turnips but some kale, squash, cucumber and whatever other old seeds we had at our house. Angie also bought some sunflower seeds which she put around the edge of the plot.

We planted by broadcasting seeds which we then disced in with the Cub Cadet. I'd tried plowing with the Cub Cadet but the so was unusually strong, last year we didn't get good coverage with the oats we'd planted so the grass took right over again. The plow I've got is also a little over large for the Cub Cadet and we're probably under weighted so it just had a hard time. The Super M just walks away with the 2 bottom plow I've got and it only takes a few passes to clear this area. Our neighbor Grant came by with an old spring tooth harrow which made short work of cleaning up the furrows. In past years its taken me hours to plow and disc the plot, working with the bigger tractor certainly made things easier.