Saturday, January 10, 2004

I had a long conversation with sweetie last night over what we need to do this year farm-wise to keep moving towards the point were we can actually make some decent money. I actually made a profit last year, but it was razor-thin and did not take my time to account at all.

She's not happy with me because I want some more equipment... She asked what other rusty crap did I think I needed?

Well, we need another tractor for one thing, preferably a 60+ hp Ford with mfwd (to give me something else to mow and bale with), but I'd settle for a 35 Ferguson (to free the 3600 Ford from raking/tedding). I'd still need another big tractor, but even a small one would be helpful (I'd have the added advantage of being able to get a finish mower and keep the yard groomed a lot better than I have been).

Ok, actually I sat down and figured this out once. To be productive by myself I need FOUR more tractors. Heh, she won't go for that. Ok, truthfully I need two more, but four would be better. One big one (100+ hp) to leave the disc mower on all summer and another all-around (60-70-80hp) like my 285, preferably with a loader, so that I would have two loader tractors. The other two would be a small chore tractor to use around the barn (pulling a manure spreader, mowing the yard*, scraping driveways... that sort of thing) and another small tractor like an Allis Chambers G or a Farmall A with a full set of cultivators and a planter/side dresser for the once every three years when I get a wild hair and plant sweet corn (lots of sweet corn).

I'll shut up about tractors now.

I made a big mistake when I bought the disk mower, I bought a big one (9'), I should have bought a 7' or 8' so that I could use it with a smaller tractor.

I also need to get a 4' wide round baler. I need to start rolling all my leased ground and try to do all of my square baling at home. I've got the ground here, if I can rebuild my fences and move the horses around, I could probably get 2000+ bales right here and 100+ rolls from my leased ground. I need to roll it anyway because the Johnson grass has taken over my big field.

My other big problem is finding a way to handle my square bales without having to hire so much help (or working myself to death). This past year we went back to the old fashioned method of towing the wagon behind the baler and having a couple of guys on the wagon stacking. That works better than anything else I've done so far. On my smaller fields, I was able to do it without any help, I'd bale until it got piled up in front of the wagon and stop, climb off the tractor, go stack and be back baling in a couple of minutes. The only problem with that is that it's SLOW going.

I've tried a New Holland stack wagon, I've tried an accumulator, unfortunately, like most everything else I have, they ALMOST work the way they're supposed to. Maybe with a little tweaking the stack wagon will work... (it has before, but only with 70lb bales that are perfectly shaped, I like a 50lb bale) but the problem with it is that's its a very complex piece of machinery. If it doesn't work right, then I have x number of bales lying on the ground to be picked up by hand.

The accumulator may be my best option, but the unit I have is very old and tends to get bales stuck in it, drop bales when it's only half full, or not drop the bales at all. It doesn't handle broken bales or misshapen bales at all. I saw one at Sunbelt that will work (he offered me a thousand dollars trade in on mine) but it's $5500 and I can't see spending that much money right now... ok, I can't afford to spend that much right now. Which brings us back to the round baler,

With a working accumulator, I'd be able to take all the labor out of the square bales, but I need to either modify mine or look into buying a new one.

I've also got fences to rebuild and a new barn to finish (and an old one to fix) sometime before this summer.

Great, now I'm depressed.

I've been inside too much.

* The neighbors look at me very oddly when my riding mower is broken and I use the disc mower or the batwing bushhog to mow my yard with...