Hurricane Farm

  (Scotland, Connecticut)
A view of life on our farm
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Work Begins On Our Newest Pasture

We've finally started work on our newest pasture.  This particular pasture is about 2/3 of a mile down the road...not far at all.  We've finally "tamed" the pasture that we acquired laste year--meaning all of the invasive trees have been cut back and we're starting to get the grasses to fill in.  This first pasture had not been tended to in years and needed alot of work.

Our newest pasture, however, is in GREAT shape and is ready for the cattle as soon as the cattle are ready to range (and once the fencing is finished).

The landowner of the new field has allowed us use of his 29 HP New Holland tractor complete with brush-hog and post-hole digger attachments.  First we mowed down some of the field to make space to work.  Then we attached the post-hole digger, drilled some holes, and set the corner posts.  The next job was to mark out the location for the rest of the posts on each side.  Some rebar and surveying tape worked nicely.

 

The attachment worked better than we imagined!  It took only a couple of minutes to line-up and then drill each hole.  We hit very few rocks, maybe 4 all day.  Great soil!

We were able to get down about 4 feet for each hole!  Now I can do this with a shovel, but not THAT fast!  Check out all the "Danger" labels on this thing! 

Corner post one.  Barely had to use that shovel off to the left.  A little "tamping" with the 2 x 4 and it's all set.

 

Being used to a 1963 Farmall Cub, this "new" tractor was a completely different machine.  I think that I could turn a complete circle atop a postage stamp with this thing!  Amazing control, both forward and back as well as steering.

Drop the three-point hitch, bring up the throttle, and then a touch of down pressure...

Still lots more to do, but we're off to a good start.  It's been a full few weeks, with field clearing, harvesting chickens, and building chicken coops for customers, but we're on our way to some new farm land!

 

 

 

 
 

Just In Time To Beat the Snow

A couple of weeks back we had about what seemed to be non-stop rain for days on end.  The farm had become a mud pit.  Almost like Spring, but without the flowers, grass, and other plants popping up and sucking up the excess water.  So...we had mud, in some places several inches deep.

Just about this time we determined it was time to move the hogs into their winter home attached to the barn.

When we first moved the hogs into the garden for their "Fall tilling excursion," we had all three of them in the same cage.  Not so anymore!  They grew quite a bit while removing all the old roots and grubs and other bugs from the garden.

We were able to get the first two up onto the trailer wihout a problem.  The third one almost broke out of the cage, so we had to wait to move him until we got these two guys settled in.  Check out the rooster along for the free ride!  He rode in on the trailer all the way from the garden.

We backed the tractor right up into the barn and then...

...unloaded the hogs.  A couple of curious hens accompanied the rooster and came out to watch us try to lift, drag, push, and pull the cages down the length of the barn.

It seems we got the hogs moved just in time, for that rain gave way to some snow and we were graced with our first plowable snow of the season.  Moving these guys in 4-5 inches of snow would NOT be fun!

Glad to see we got the "thumbs up" from our little supervisor! 

 
 

Some (Re)Assembly Required

A while back I was stuck in the mud with my Farmall Cub tractor.  I was furiously running the throttle up and down, back and forth trying to get enough momentum to break free and get the tractor moving forward instead of downward into the mud.  I eventually drove out (with the help of some come-alongs), but I had bent the throttle rod slightly.  I thought that I could bend it back, but when I tried the throttle adjusting lever that connects the rod to the governor broke off.  Ooops! 

The solution at the time was a washer and some cold welding compound.  I used J-B Weld, which seems to always do the trick.  The first two photos show the piece with the welded washer. 

This worked for a while, but I knew that I had to get in there and put a new piece in before the snow starts to fall and before it gets too cold to want to mess around with small parts under the hood of an antique tractor.

The unfortunate thing was...I had to remove the hood/gas tank to get the old part off.  After unhooking the lights and a few bolts, off came the hood.

While I was in there I was able to tighten up a squeaking belt by adjusting the alternator, so I was able to get two tasks done at once.

I wanted to replace the belt on the alternator, but that required removing the fan, the main drive belt, and a bunch of other things that were in the way.  Simply tightening the belt, however, worked out in the long run. 

Once I had the hood off, I thought that I could easily slip off the broken piece on the throttle lever/governor unit.  No so.  I had to take off the entire governor.  I was a bit nervous, but it went right back together.  I snapped several photos to be sure to have evidence of where everything went in case I got lost on the re-assembly.

I wish I had the luxury of having the hood off when I was wiring the tractor up for lights, switches, and the amp meter...everything is so easy to get to!  I remember bashing my knuckles trying to remove the manifold with the hood on.  It would have been alot easier with the tractor like this!

Here is a close-up of the welded piece.  It served its purpose, but I didn't think it would last the winter with the workout that plowing snow puts on the tractor.

Below is the new piece all attached and ready to receive the throttle rod.  They don't manufacture this piece anymore, but I was able to find a used one, all sand-blasted and painted, from a used tractor parts dealer in Texas.

The next shot shows the extent of my dismantling...I had to remove lots of parts--parts that were not even near the area that I was working on.  Amazing engineering on these little tractors.

Here is the governor just about to be pushed back together.  It was a perfect fit, lucky for me.

While the throttle rod was unattached, I was able to straighten it out.  Now that everything is back together, the throttle travels the full range perfectly.  Also, no more alternator belt squeal! 

Bring on the snow!

 
 

Cedar Posts, Part 2

Just got word today from a wood-cutter friend several towns over that he has 76 more cedar logs for us. 

Perfect timing for some of my upcoming building projects.  I was starting to use up the first load with all the fencing that we put up in our satellite field and with the construction of the sugaring pavillion.

Now I can build pole buildings in each of the pasture areas for the livestock who stay out all summer as well as a nice lean-to alongside the brook out in the woods.  Everyone should have a nice quiet place in nature to which to escape--even if for a few moments.

If I have enough larger logs, I might even get a start on the hay shed and the machine shed (my Farmall Cub would surely be happy to be in out of the elements!).

 
 

Moving to the New Pasture

We acquired a "new to us" trailer that will work out perfectly for hauling hogs and our cattle, as well as myriad other things (kids, pumpkins, hay, wood).

Our plan is to move two of the cattle to the new pasture this afternoon.  If all goes according to plan, there may be some interesting photos up here this evening.  I still have some work to do on the trailer--right now both wheels are off, as is the hitch, and I'm in the midst of re-wiring the whole thing.  It should be ready this afternoon, though.  Yesterday the kids and I went out to the farm store twice.  The first time we purchased some nice, shiny new wheels (tires and rims) for the trailer.  They measured (in theory, apparantly) to be the right size.  The bolts holes were 4 1/2 on center, etc, etc.  We got them home.  No luck.  One bolt hole was off by less than 1/16" of an inch on each wheel.  Either we have some funky sized hubs on the trailer, or they are selling seriously flawed rims at the farm store.  So, back we went.  Which was good because I needed to buy about 12 more things for the trailer anyways.

We ended up going to a local tire store and they popped on two "seasoned" tires onto the original rims, which still have plenty of life left in them, for $80 including the labor and balancing.  Not a bad deal.  I'm planning to take the red truck up there soon now that I know they do that sort of thing.

Here are some photos of the new pasture being prepped for the cattle.  I'll be putting up a gate this morning, finishing the trailer, and then working on loading the trailer with one of the cattle.  We'll see how that goes...

The grasses (and weeds) are really tall!  The cattle will start working on that this afternoon, hopefully.

Violet will have one last chance to pick wild flowers before the cattle get to them.

The tools needed to string up field fence.  (Anyone look up "rod" yet?)  There is my trusty homemade fence-puller (the F.T. 2000) leaning up against the tailgate.  Yes, it does resemble some 2 x 4's and some bolts.  I also figured out an easier way to move around those heavy rolls of fencing using the tractor and some bungees.

The grass is almost up to the kids' heads!  We could use this as a hay field if we had the equipment, but for now we'll put the animals to work on it.  I'd love to bring down 50 turkeys, but I would worry that predators would get to them at night.

 
 

Old-Timey Shots

You'd almost think that this photo was taken 60 years ago. 

Anyhow, Erica snapped this on Monday afternoon in the midst of my fence work on the new pasture. 

Stunning looking machine, eh?  I got to drive it down the road about 1/2 mile to the location of the new field/pasture.  I needed to use it to stretch out the field fence.  And of course it is WAY cool to ride on the road with farm machinery.  I had not really gotten a chance to put it into 3rd gear, or what folks must now call "over-drive," and man did it cook down the road!  13 miles per hour seems really fast on an open chassis mobile!  Wind in my hair, indeed.

Here is a shot from the back of the pasture looking towards the front.  I am pleased to say that I managed to get up 80 rods (yes, rods---look it up) of field fence up in three days, rainstorms included!

Pictures of the completed project, with cattle hopefully, to follow.  Am I lucky to to have such a wonderful photographer as a wife, or what?  Tractor calendar, anyone?

 

A Day Out with the Tractor (What Mud?)

It all started when we decided it was time to claim the firewood we'd stacked from cutting down some trees last summer.  It was time to haul it up to the front of the yard nearer the house so that my dad has something to do when he visits (He's a professional wood-chopper, in case you didn't know).

We'd hooked up the tractor to our trailer and things were moving along smoothly...at first.

I'd cut about four trees to make access to the wetlands and the brook just after we moved in last summer, so the pile was somewhere between 1-2 cords and it will be perfectly seasoned for heating and cooking.  We'd had a lot of rain, but drainage seemed to be no problem.  Things were relatively dry and we did not overload the trailer so as to avoid getting stuck.  (It did start to mist, hence our hats!)

While Liev and I piled wood, Violet roamed about looking for flowers.

She found quite an assortment.  I think that she ended up feeding them to her brother's steer, Mr. Greenshoes, who was watching on as we worked.

Liev helped load and then took his position at the front of the wagon ready to make the drive up to the house with the wood.  He's tipping his hat to Mommy as she takes some photos.

After loading a few times and being sacked by thousands of tiny black ants, Liev decided a change in job was due...Check out his new green web belt!  My favorite of all belts!

We'd made great progress.  As you can see below, the wood pile was almost gone.  I think it took us about 4 or 5 trips as we did not want to put too much weight into the tired and old, yet rustic trailer.

We'd made a small rut in the mud with all the loads coming and going, but we had not gotten stuck.  In fact, we were mentioning this wonderous fact when...

We had moved all the wood.  I'd removed my cap as the rain ceased.  And we decided that we would take one more "joy ride" around the field.  This time the mud got us!

I think that the problem was that the trailer's axle had dug deep into the mud, but I tried a series of back-and-forths in a vain attempt to unstick the tractor.  No such luck.  I also think that we need to get a better set of tires on the tractor, but that is for another day.  (Check out that nice new exhaust system!)

Luckily, all was not lost.  The kids had a joyous time romping in the muck, even as the trailer sank deeper and deeper.

In the end, it took a substitute driver (Erica) and a whole mess of chains and come-alongs to pull the tractor out.  We have the whole works anchored to the tree on the far left of the photo.  A small cherry tree, in fact.  We almost had one more tree for firewood, but it held in the end and we pulled the tractor to dry land.

A small family victory as nightfall approached!

 

 

 
 

Charging All Batteries

So it appears that the one-wire alternator on my Farmall Cub works.

This afternoon found me tinkering with the tractor for an hour or so.  Removing the tire chains so we can drive on the roads again, greasing up all the fittings, adding a much needed gauge to indicate the voltage, and also trying to hook up the abandoned alternator.

It seems to work.  I also tweaked the ignition switch so that it is now in the standard Up/On--Down/Off position that logical folks worldwide understand.  I think that the switch was always spinning around so no one was really sure if it was switched on or off at any given time.  I don't need the points burning out, so we've standardized that little issue.

We cruised up and down the road in 3rd gear.  Man, 13 miles per hour seems REALLY fast when you're in an open tractor.

Sweet!

 
 

Tractor in Haiku

A poem explaining the ongoing (non)runnings of my farm tractor.

Magneto defunt;
Enter the distributor.
Purrs like a kitten.

 
 

It's Alive! Or, My Tractor is Working Again

After several long and stressful months of changing spark plugs, ignition wires, and magneto caps, my Farmall Cub is up and running again!  I was able to get Leon, owner of Reliable Tractor Repair in Lebanon, CT, to come over and correct the incorrect timing on my magneto.  He also checked over the tractor generally and told us we have a great little tractor on our hands.  Who hoo!  If you need any tractor work, I would highly recommend Leon.  We can put you in touch with him if you live here in CT.

Aside from the rebuild on the magneto and the timing, I did a little tinkering myself and the tractor is looking sharp and running strong.  What follows are some photos and some commentary.

First of all, here is my helper, Liev, ready with his tools at hand.  Notice his tractor all ready to be worked on in the background.  We'll get to that after we work on mine.


So I set out to replace the entire exhaust system.  You can see the old one below after removal.  It is supposed to be six distinct parts; however, the old one has been fused together over time into one long and rusty maze.  Just thinking about the new muffler was exciting.  It sure would be a step up from the old one to which I referred to as the "exhaust-redirecting-hole-filled-tube."  Sure, it looked nice, and the rust matched the earthtones so prevalent here on the farm, but it was LOUD!

This is the engine's intake and exhaust ports after removal of the manifold.  Note my shiny new plugs and wires along with the new fuel line and in-line filter. 

I had to be very careful scraping off the old gasket.  If any pieces worked their way into the intake, it would be bad news for the pistons.

Speaking of gaskets...Check out how much was missing on the old set.  No wonder the tractor was having a hard time running.  It may have been sucking in air through a gasket leak.  Or, it may have been leaking exhaust.  At any rate, old ones=bad.  The new ones are quite a step up in the gasket department.

Below on my tool box are some additional parts that I had recently installed.  Lucky for me I got to practice putting them on again after having taken them off to work on the exhaust.  You can see the new carburetor and air intake pipe below along with a pile of tools.  I should really get those organized, but it does give the kids something to do while we work.  "Hey guys, I need a socket that is a little smaller than this one!"

I have found, while working on my tractor, that I need to acquire some new, larger tools.  I never seem to have a wrench large enough for the bolts and nuts on the tractor.  Just today I needed something around the 1" size.  Luckily, I found an old wrench that happened to come with an old table saw that a friend gave us (thanks Bruce!).  It came in handy in removing the oil drain plug this afternoon.  For, as you know, "hand tight" is only good in some applications...

Ah.  The new parts all nestled snuggly in their packages.  These Farmall Cub tractors are so popular that even though they are decades old, many parts are still newly manufactured for them.  That's nice.

Here is the manifold installed on the tractor.  I had to fit the nipple and the elbow onto the manifold and then sneak the whole thing up and under the hood WHILE AT THE SAME TIME sliding it all onto the four bolts that attach it to the engine.  Whew...That took some patience.   But, it was easier than taking off the hood, which is also the gas tank, which is filled with gas.

I had to pull out "Old Cranky" to align the fittings so that the underslung exhause pipe would point down and to the rear as it should.  I think Galileo was indeed onto something.  It's amazing how much torque you can get with a tool like "Old Cranky."  And to think, he was only $4.00 at the livestock auction. 

Check out how little clearance they provide one in accessing the bolts that hold on the manifold.  Luckily, I had the foresight to shoot lots of PB Blaster onto those bolts for a couple of weeks to free up the rust.  They came off and went back on like new (with lots of tiny, short wrench strokes...thanks to that clearance).

I do have a shop manual for the tractor.  It is a genuine International Harvester publication.  But, for some reason, they like to write confusing things like:  "adjustment and alignment will be evident upon removal and inspection of..." 

Huh?

Well, I suppose that these manuals are written for people actually trained in tractor repair.  If the prose is obscure to me, at least the expanded diagrams--with all their arrows and numbers--are somewhat useful to my untrained understanding of what is going on inside these parts.  These annotations and arrows and letters and numbers are probably just like those on the back of the 8 x 10 color glossy photographs from Alice's Restaurant.

Someone out there put a more understandable and usable tractor manual on my Christmas present list...

Well, the tractor is working great now.  We plan to use it tomorrow to plow the manure in the garden and then later on in the day to pull out some trees that I cut down to make room for our new orchard and bee hives.  Yes, bees are indeed on the way to the farm.  Photos on that later!

But wait, oh no!  I'll have to first use the tractor to reclaim Liev's loader from its precarious perch atop a pile of cedar logs.  How did he get it up there?!

 

 
 

In Pieces

I came in to look for the camera to take some photos of the little project that I am immersed in right now.  The tractor is in many more pieces than it should be.

I have the exhaust off, the manifold nuts came off like they were brand new.  I am glad that I sprayed them with "loosen up" stuff for many weeks.

I should have the new exhaust on in an hour or so.  If I can find the camera, I will post some photos of the old and new parts.  If it all goes well, there will be a shot of me driving it around the farmyard...

 

 
 

It's (Another) Snow Day

It's another snow day here in New England.  We have about 8-10 inches with another few on the way.  Luckily, I spent some time working on the tractor yesterday.  It's a 1963 Farmall Cub, by the way.

Last month, I ordered a plow extension plate which makes the small plow on the tractor into a bigger small plow.  It worked great today.  Pushing the snow was no problem at all.

Recently, though, my tractor has been suffering during start up and also while running under load.  I have all the parts for a magneto rebuild and the tractor repair man will be coming by (hopefully) sometime soon to show me how to rebuild it.

Meanwhile, though, I was able to install a new carburetor.  I also have a new manifold and exhaust system to put in as soon as it is a little warmer.  I added a new throttle assembly (sort of like the gas pedal, though you run it with your hand) and also flushed out the transmission (it froze up earlier in the winter!  water got in there) and added the missing gasket that allowed water to seep in. 

It was still running rough after new spark plugs (I've now experimented with every brand on the market) and wires, so I cleaned out the main jet in the carb, adjusted the governor a touch, and it seemed to work pretty strong today.

I think that the spark is still sort of weak, so the magneto rebuild should have the tractor as good as new.  (As good as new for a 1963 tractor, of course.)  The new exhaust will also bring down the relative noise level I suspect.

This is a photo of the small plow without the added extension plate.

Did I mention that it's a snow day?

What is a snow day without some sledding?

 
 

Progress On the Farm...Before and After Shots

So here are some photos of our farm just before we moved in.  These were taken by my wife and our friend Jeff, who checked out the farm when it was for sale.  These photos (actually, mention of the barn!) was all it took to convince me to buy the place.  We put in a bid before I even stepped foot inside.  It's all been working out quite nicely...

Here is the meadow that we turned into our pasture.

  And here is a shot from the other end looking toward the barn.

The next two are some shots of the interior before we put up stalls and made a workshop.

        

We spent many days working into the wee hours of the morning cleaning out and building up the barn.  We now have stalls for our sheep and milk goat, cattle, hogs, as well as seperate areas for brooding poultry, housing laying and meat hens, housing turkeys, and for milking the goat.  Several other smaller areas can be converted into whatever needs may arise.  We hope to have a few lambs nursing in one or two of these areas in a few weeks' time.

Here are some shots of the work in progress from last summer.  The first one is just beautiful.  It is so cool watching the dew burn off on an early Summer morning.  Don't be fooled--those rolls of fencing are easily a couple hundred pounds each!

Here is the fence after a morning's work.  Let me explain about those posts...We dug those holes by hand.  That was by far the hardest and most time-consuming job we have had here yet.  It was also quite a mental challenge at first as the spot we started in was all rocks and hard soil!  We thought that it would take all Summer.  Eventually, though, the digging went much quicker when we got down the incline into more forgiving soil.

Have you heard the saying, "Too many cooks spoil the soup?"  Well, let me tell you that this absolutely does not apply here.  Notice how my mom is right there supervising?  It was the first real job that we used the tractor for.  I built a fence-stretcher out of two pieces of 2 x 4.  We bolted them together with the fence between and we were easily able to put enough tension on the field fencing to snug it right up to the posts.  I'm sporting my "Summer beard" there.

Here is a shot of the barn area after some work.  This area that my son is so diligently sweeping is now "Turkey World."

Finally, here is shot of the completed pasture fence as our young poults begin their explorations.  We are lucky to have such a great mixture of grasses in this field.  This year, we will be dividing up the pasture into two areas in order to rotate the animals back and forth and sustain high quality grass all season.

 

 
 

It's a snow day

It's been a rather snowy winter thus far, and we are loving it!  I finally figured out the most efficient way to plow snow.  What I mean by that is I have finally figured out how to do it and move the snow only once.  The first few times I moved it here, then moved the pile there, then realized it was in the way and moved it yet again...

Who needs a heated cab?  Or a cab, for that matter?  The little tractor is one of the greatest things we've bought for the farm.

My son also plows, though he does it with his shovel (his "blue plow" as he calls it).  Here he is after a successful summit attempt atop one of our snow mounds.

Our cat is a cat of many names.  The kids sometimes call him "Milk."  They more often call him "Paco."  I call him "Pibbs," "Mr. Pibbs," or "Paco the Pibbs."  Sometimes I call him "Paco Ike."  He answers to them all affectionately.  Here he is running along the pasture fence in the snow.

 

 
 
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