Friday, January 28, 2011

What's New at the Farm? Farm equipment maintenance and a very long shopping list

Enough already! Enough snow; I can barely see out of my windows. Enough cold – the wood pile is shrinking much faster than I had planned on. Enough cloudy days – seems like forever since we’ve seen the sun. Enough is enough!

Well there, I’ve got that out of my system.

As we approach the end of January we look forward to longer days and some warmer weather. December 21st has the shortest day of the year which is approximately 8 hrs and 51 minutes whilst by the end of January we have gained nearly an hour of daylight to 9 hours and 48 minutes. This makes a huge difference for anyone whom has chores they must do at the end of the day. I hate waking all the birds up to get their before bedtime snack, whereas now they haven’t gone to roost before I get home from work and can get fed and watered before nightfall.

The increasing daylight will allow us to get some stuff done before it gets dark; now if we could only have some sun. The next three months will find me busy in my shop getting some woodworking projects out of the way before summer comes along. You’d think I would have learned by now that once the weather warms up, time for building projects isn’t available as planting and fishing chews up my extra time. Maybe I’ve figured this out by now.

On the farm between bouts of snow removal we are continuing to work on equipment; getting it ready for spring. We have quite a fleet of farm equipment now; a partial list follows:

10 tractors – 4 cultivating tractors, 2 loaders and four for general field work

And for equipment: two transplanters, a bed former, a mulch layer, a floating row cover installer, a manure spreader, a hay rake, a land plow and a chisel plow, two sets of disc harrows, a grain drill, a general purpose wagon, two irrigation pumps and a pipe trailer, a Reigi weeder, a tine weeder, two sprayers, two fertilizer applicators, a rotovator, a flail mower, a field cultivator, 2 company trucks, and the list goes on. I’m sure I missed a couple of things.

All this equipment enables us to farm all the acreage we do with the personnel we have. But of course it all needs basic maintenance to keep it in usable shape. Each piece of equipment gets brought in, inspected and wearing parts replaced as needed. Anything that needs to be ordered is, and as soon as the parts come in, is installed and ready for use.

We like to keep equipment up to date with the three-month rule. That is “what are we going to be using in three months” and is it ready to go? As much of our field prep equipment will be used in three months – or could be – we should be ready. There’s nothing more aggravating than going to use a piece of equipment and having it not ready to go – there’s also no excuse for equipment in “not ready to use” condition.

Things to order an keep on hand include oil, fuel and air filters, fluids, cultivator parts, electrical parts, welding supplies, tools, nuts, bolts and washers, an assortment of steel, and other parts and supplies we use in abundance. Winter is a good time to stock up on these things because I’d rather shop for these on a cold, winter day than take time in the summer when we’re kind of busy. It’s also nice to come into spring well stocked and ready for whatever pops up and not have to chase down stuff we need to operate the farm.

This advance shopping also goes for greenhouse supplies including but not limited to: garden hoses, fittings, fertilizers, potting soils, pesticides, planting flats and containers, greenhouse plastic, water timers, heat mats, thermostats, water supplies, label and stakes, irrigation parts and pieces, poly repair tape, wiggle wire and channel, sticky traps, and so on. For the farm, the list includes IRT mulch, floating row covers, fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation supplies, safety supplies, steel stakes, trellising supplies, harvesting crates, barrels, 5-gallon buckets, compost, mulch hay, long and short handled tools, and so on. So as you can see, we’ve plenty to keep our minds busy during the long and dark winter months.

Until next week, Brian