Deferred Maintenance

My workshop is now complete,  so there is no longer any excuse for putting off all the little maintenance chores that accumulate around here.  The past few weeks have found me busy setting up shop, which has become the center of activity for detailing each and every piece of equipment that we use on our grounds.  I am beginning to catch up on deferred maintenance chores, so my blog posting frequency will probably pick up now.

I am very good at performing necessary maintenance on our equipment according to the manufacturers’ schedules for things such as oil changes, lubrication, and critical adjustments.  But there are some tasks that are non-critical that I have been putting off, simply for a lack of a decent place to do the work.  That has now changed with the establishment of a workshop.

One job that needed to be done was to fix the sun canopy on the tractor.  In my never-ending quest to achieve grounds keeping perfection, I have several designated areas that I have been trying to keep “park-like” for recreational purposes.  In order to accomplish this, I find myself having to bush hog around numerous trees.  Tractor-hating trees, if you will.

Crumpled sun canopy

You can clearly see what damage these trees have wrought upon my tractor’s sun canopy in the photograph above.  I swear, I am a good judge of the height of tree limbs.  I am certain that many of the trees around here have it “in” for me and my tractor.  Just as I pass underneath their shade-producing limbs, the branch will suddenly (and without warning) drop down a few feet, intent on snagging the tractor canopy, if not my head!  The result is a crumpled-up canopy, as you can see above.

This is not the way a canopy should look!

Here is a closer look at the damage to the front of the canopy.  The rear, although not visible in this photograph, has about as much damage as the canopy’s front.  In addition to the bent metal on the canopy itself, the iron frame portion of the canopy has also been bent out of shape.  It’s off to the workshop, where a heavy sledge hammer, a three-foot long pry bar, and a pair of 4″x 4″ pieces of oak (used as dolly blocks) and a lot of sweat coerced the twisted metal back into a rough semblance of its former shape.

Canopy after preliminary straightening

Now that the canopy was fairly straight,  as seen above, all that remained was the finish hammering, which after much tedious work, made the canopy look almost as good as new.  But the most challenging task was getting the canopy installed back on the tractor.  Between the sheet metal, the iron frame, and the 1″ thick insulation material (which prevents the canopy from acting like a giant solar oven, ideal for baking brains), the assembly weighs in at about 150 pounds.  Getting it back up on top of the tractor could be a little tricky for someone such as myself, who had no help available (now I see why farm families are usually large – they need all the help they can get).

Using the bush hog to help reinstall the canopy

On the theory that “brains can overcome brawn,”  I examined the task ahead of me, and devised a plan of action.  The first step was to maneuver the canopy up onto the support rails of the bush hog.

Taking advantage of the folding ROPS

The next step required folding the ROPS (roll-over protection system) down to a level where I could reach the support brackets.  Using a couple of C-clamps to help align the canopy with the ROPS, I was able to install the front retaining bolts of the assembly.  Once this was accomplished, the rest of the installation job was a piece of cake.  Using a come-along style winch attached to the front-end loader, I was easily able to pull the canopy and ROPS back up into their proper position.

Finished, at last!

After a few minutes of adjusting, squaring and bolt tightening, the job was finished, and the tractor looked as good as new.  And now I won’t have to drive around looking like a dork on a tractor with a crumpled-up canopy anymore! 

Relocation Day For This Critter

Morning sunrise at the ranch

Woke up this morning to a wonderful sunrise, and as I stood savoring the moment, I noticed Retta making her way toward me from the direction of the barn.  “It’s a baby raccoon,” she said.   “OK,” I replied,  “I’ll take care of it now, and then have my cup of coffee.”

After lacing up my boots and donning a light jacket, I headed out to the barn, where we are temporarily housing about 30-40 of our juvenile guineas.  Over the past few nights, some predator has consistently found a way to out-maneuver our defenses, with the result that several young guineas have (literally) lost their heads over these visits.

You can check-in anytime you want, but you can never leave…

So “Trapper Retta” fetched the Havahart live-animal trap, baited it with cat food,  and set it out alongside the guineas’ pen last night, and sure enough, she caught the (alleged) culprit.

Please, kind sir, don’t harm me!

It wasn’t really a baby – I’d say more of an adolescent raccoon, but he was plenty capable of bestowing deadly havoc upon our fowl.

Our journey begins

I loaded him into the back of our utility vehicle (thank goodness the captive wasn’t a skunk), and proceeded to transport him to a location a couple of miles away from our barn area.

The great iron barrier

To reach the relocation spot I had in mind for this raccoon required us to traverse a cattle guard.  Could this help foil the critter’s return to our barn?  I doubt it, as he could easily scamper across the iron pipes, or simply walk around the cattle guard to reach the other side.

The fork in the road

A little further down this road, we came to the (proverbial) “fork in the road.”  I suppose  it is possible that the critter might become confused about which direction to follow when he reached this junction,  but I wouldn’t count on this outcome as being probable.

Momma, why does he look like a man, but smell like a raccoon?

As we continue along the road some distance further, we pass momma and calf, whose presence (along with other members of the herd) might deter a wayward raccoon from trespassing upon their cherished grazing pastures.

Ouch!

The next “barrier” we must pass is the new barbed-wire fence our neighbor just completed across a section of his property.  If you were a raccoon, would you want to chance scraping your back on the sharp, pointed barbs of a newly-stretched fence?

Actually, I sincerely doubt that any of these so-called “barriers” will prove to be an impediment to the raccoon, should he choose to return to our barn.  A couple of miles is not a particularly long distance for a raccoon to range,  and the barbed wire fencing, the herd of cattle and the iron cattle guard are mere trivialities to a critter such as this raccoon.

Hey, this doesn’t look so bad after all.

What I am counting on is my blissfully naive hope that this young raccoon will find his new relocation spot sufficiently attractive in it’s critter-type amenities so that he wouldn’t even consider leaving it to return to our farm.  I’m hoping he will find this old, unused barn to be a perfect home for a young raccoon, who is just starting off in this world.

Or perhaps I should have loaded him into the truck, and transported him down the highway for about twenty miles before releasing him into the wilderness?  We’ll know soon enough!

They’re Back!

It sometimes seems as if there is no middle ground in the precipitation department.  While some areas of the country are still undergoing a drought of severe proportions, with crop failures, a pending rampant fire season, and localized water shortages, other regions (Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, for instance) find residents with flooded homes, rivers 20′ or more over flood stage, and farmers with ruined crops.

Fortunately, we have fared pretty well weather-wise in this part of the Ozarks.  You may recall my post lamenting the lack of enough rain to keep the ponds completely full.  You may also recall, however, my post regarding this season’s hay crop, which ended with a photograph of the ominous skies that appeared over our hayfields at precisely the time that the grass should have been cut, dried and baled.  Since that time, we have not had three successive dry days in a row, which is about the dry period that is needed to process the grass into bales of hay.   The result is that our hayfields have still not been cut.  It remains to be seen whether or not the grasses will be sufficiently nutritious and appropriate for baling when the next dry spell occurs, whenever that may be.

Too much rain?

On another front, the lack of dryness has caused the lawn around the house to grow much higher than I normally like to keep it.  Even when there has been no outright rain, the fog, and the dew that accompanies it, has prevented the lawn from drying enough for me to play lawn-mower man.

Mushrooms poping up all over the lawn

Because the weather conditions are just perfectly fine for fungi, the giant, unidentified mushrooms (which you may recall from this post) have returned in force to my perpetually damp lawn.

A shovel beside the mushrooms to show scale

Again, in case you missed the last post about the mushrooms, here is a picture to help depict a sense of scale of these mushrooms.

Young mushroom specimen

When they first emerge, the mushroom cap looks like the one in the photograph above, which takes on a sort of helmet shape.

Mushroom taking on a convex shape

Soon, however, the mushroom cap breaks free of the ring at its base, and flares out into this convex configuration that you can see in this picture.

Mushroom cap that has flattened out

After attaining a convex shape for a short period of time, the cap then starts to flatten out, and even begins to curl up around the outer edges, which can be seen in the photograph above.

In my last encounter with these mushrooms, I contemplated making a meal out of them, but Duane, for my own safety,  convinced me not to, even though Ed reassured me that Cholula Sauce goes well with anything!  But now I am re-assessing the situation.  Maybe I was a little too tentative last time.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have chickened out, and just doused the mushrooms with Cholula Sauce and proceeded to eat them.

Maybe this is the way to deal with them!

On the other hand,  perhaps they would taste better basted with Stubb’s Mopping Sauce and grilled until golden brown. 

I’ll let you know how they turn out.  Or maybe I won’t!

Animal Roll Call

I’ve been “tagged” by Karl at Pile of O’Melay’s to compile a roll call of the animals we currently provide a home to.  Here is my pictorial animal roll of our domestic denizens.

Chipper

Chipper is our gelded quarter horse, probably around 18 years of age.  Born and raised on the farm next-door.

Tojo

Tojo is our gelded Missouri Fox Trotter,  who is about nine years old.

George

George, our yellow Labrador Retriever, has boundless energy.  He loves the water, which is what you would expect from most any Lab.

Gracie

Gracie is our very large Great Pyrenees.  She is a wonderful watchdog, as well as a loving, gentle pet.  She loves a good roll in the mud, as you can see from this photograph.

Max

Max (our oldest tabby) was the sole kitten in his litter, born on another farm located next-door to us.

Bosco and Hobbs

These two cats are Bosco and Hobbs, whom you may recall were rescued by Retta along the side of a local rural highway.

Adult guinea

We currently have 12 adult guineas, but they are soon to be joined by our fledgling flock of guinea keets.

Guinea keets

We now have 40 guinea keets that the adult guineas have hatched for us, and they will soon join the adults that wait outside the nursery.

Roosters

These are two of the three adult roosters that have survived the predators that occasionally pay a visit around here.  They are quite sociable, and always seem to be curious about any human activity that they observe.

Chicks

And these are a few of the 17 chicks we are currently raising.

 To recap in list form:

  • 2 horses
  • 2 dogs
  • 3 cats
  • 12 adult guineas
  • 40 guinea keets
  • 3 adult chickens
  • 17 young chicks

Be sure to check out Karl’s post to see what animals others have at the moment.