Putting the Pieces Back Together

I think I mentioned a couple weeks ago that it seemed like everything around here was breaking.  First the golf cart, then the lawn tractor, it was getting bad.  On the way back from our vacation I ordered a rebuild kit for the golf cart engine.  That means there is a plan to get that back in action.

Once we got back I had grass to cut and I needed a quick way to make some headway.  I put the finish mower on our big tractor and got to work.  When I was done with what I needed to get done, I got to work trying to fix the lawn tractor.  After taking the deck off and surveying the situation, it became apparent that the problem might not be as bad as I first thought.  The spindle seemed like it was still ok, but the bolts attaching the spindle assembly to the deck seemed to have backed out.  I was able to find some acceptable hardware, I would have preferred better but it was what I had, so I got everything put back together and the Cub Cadet is back in action.  This is actually quite big, as it allows the boys to help me get grass cut.  I realized when I was on the big tractor, I hadn’t really cut much grass this year, and that was just fine by me.

I made a video for the YouTube channel on the mower fix.  If you are interested, you can find it here.

Until next time.

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Back From Vacation

We were blessed enough to spend the last week in Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach actually, with our family and my in laws.  It was great, and I will have a post on the week in more detail shortly, but I just wanted to let you all know I’m still here.

Now that we’re back, it is back to the chores of daily life.  While I was cutting some grass for the animals I started wondering if there was a way to save some of this myself for the animals to eat when the grass wasn’t growing.  I am currently looking into ideas of do it yourself, small scale haylage and silage.  I’ll be sure to let you know what I decide, but if you have done either, please let me know.

I also have ordered the rebuild kit for the golf cart engine, so that will probably be a post or two, and a video as well.  I’m also tossing around the idea of rebuilding my hay wagon, if I can find time, as well as building a post frame shed/building for the pasture animals.  Lots to do before the snow flies.

What is on your to do list before winter?

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No matter how far I go, I always find my way home to this sunset

 

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The Homestead is Falling Apart, and it’s all My Fault

It seems like every time I touch something on the Homestead lately, it breaks.  If you watched my golf cart video on YouTube, that was one of the things to which I am referring.  In that case, my not checking on the oil on a regular basis is going to cost me several hundred dollars in order to rebuild the golf cart engine.  Check out the video where I explain the situation more fully.  The one silver lining to that situation is that I will get to learn how to rebuild an engine with my father so I will gain that knowledge, so there’s that.

The latest event happened a couple days ago.  Homestead Boy #2 was out mowing the grass when I hear a sound coming from his direction.  It sounded like he ran over something with the mower and that said item was stuck in the blades.  He did the right thing and shut off the blades and then the mower, and waited for help.  When I got over there I didn’t find anything in the blades or anywhere else that made it evident what the problem was.  It drove fine without the blades on so we took it to the barn and put it up on ramps so I could get a better look underneath.  After careful perusal I believe I have found the problem.  The center spindle on the mowing deck went bad.  In other words, I believe the bearings have failed, meaning I will have to remove that spindle and replace it.  This could have been caused by a multitude of things. Lack of grease or the blades being out of balance are the leaders in the clubhouse.  Since I was able to find a silver lining to the golf cart fiasco, let’s see if I can find one for the mower…..  Let’s go with me being able to show the boys how to replace a mower spindle and making sure they know where all the grease zerks are on the mower.

They say that “unlucky” events come in three and while I am not a superstitious person at all, I am at the current moment hiding under a chair waiting for number three.

Until next time.

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Huge Farming Operation

The other day we had an opportunity to visit with one of my wife’s co-workers and her husband.  They live just up the street from where my wife and I lived not long after we got married so it was fun to drive past there and show the kids.

They have a beautiful new house tucked back in the woods on 16 acres, it is idyllic.  We were able to have dinner and visit for awhile which is always great.  The kids even got to play some pool and meet their grand kids and play with them for awhile.

One of the main reasons for our visit was that they wanted to show us my wife’s coworker’s uncles farming operation.  It was just a few minutes away, and quite impressive.  I am repeating any stats from memory so forgive me if I get them wrong.

They have a large milking operation milking over 3,000 Holstein cows, which they milk pretty much 24 hours a day.  They have about 3,500 of their own acres that they farm, and then lease that many more which to my mind is an amazing undertaking.

We were able to see the milking parlor briefly, and the amount of automation that goes into that is a sight to see.  The stanchions for feeding the cows while they get milking are all automated and raise up when the cow is done milking, allowing the cow to leave the milking parlor.

In the barns where the cows spend a lot of their time, the cows each have their own waterbed for laying on to rest.  Apparently it helps in their digestion.

The kids were then able to see some of the calves in one of their calf barns.  When you have an operation as big as theirs, calves are being born just about every day, and sure enough we saw a calf that was born that morning.  It reminded me of last spring when we bought five steer calves to raise.

The last stop on the tour was the swimming/fishing pond and what I will call the party barn.  They have created an amazing spot for their family to have get togethers and visit.  They have the swimming pond, to which they added a zip line, water slide made out of plastic culvert pipe, and a couple swings that swing out over the pond.  They also have a sand beach volleyball pit and a soccer field.  The party barn was a big open, very nice barn that had bathrooms and plenty of space for the family to gather.  They have a set up that I am envious of, and someday hope to have similar.

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It was a very impressive operation, and I was honored to have it been shared with our family.  I can’t imagine trying to manage that amount of property, animals, or chores.  Honestly, it’s not something I personally would be interested in, but it is very cool to see.  I’m more of a, couple of cows, pigs, chickens, etc on as much grass and pasture as possible but we need some of each to make the world go round.

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Another Great Rodeo Weekend

This past weekend we were at another Sparta Rodeo.  The oldest three and I went on Friday, to try and help out any way we could.  I am not a rodeo person per se, I didn’t grow up with rodeo events or horses.  The most experience I had with horses was a good friend of mine in high school having a couple horses that we could go ride wherever we wanted.  It was my first taste of riding without having my horses nose in the butt of the horse in front of me in line, and it was a lot of fun.  But I didn’t grow up in the country “culture” of rodeos, and FFA, and 4H.  I am learning, but it isn’t something I am extremely accustomed to being around.  That being said, it is just a fun, and relaxed atmosphere.  Rodeo people are nice, they let your kids ride their horse, or golf cart, or four wheeler.  They share their food and drink.  They teach you how to throw a lasso so you can rope a bull.  In short, they are good people.

Friday night was the speed show.  It was fun watching people of all ages compete in the events.  The contestants ranged in age from about 5 to 60 and while they all wanted to win the buckle, which is the prize for first place, they were all rooting for each other to do their best.  Some young girls all really wanted to win, but when the day was done, they genuinely congratulated their friend for beating them on that day.  It was nice to see.

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I think my favorite event was the rescue race.  It consists of a two people on a team.  One team member stands on a barrel at the end of the arena.  The other team member has to race down to them as fast as they can, get them on the back of their horse, and race back out of the arena.  It was quite fun to watch the different ways people tried to jump onto the horse.

On Saturday late morning there was an event called Cowboy Poker.  Everyone gets together for a ride from the camp grounds to downtown Sparta.  They visit seven stations around the town obtaining a playing card at each station.  Out of their seven cards they make their best 5 card poker hand, and the winner takes home the pot.  A good time was had by all.

Saturday and Sunday evenings were the main events, the actual rodeo.  People chose their spots on the hill surrounding the arena and cheered for their cowboy, or bull, and laughed at the rodeo clown’s antics.  My middle kids’ favorite event is the boot scramble.  They have the kids come into the arena and take off their shoes.  The clown and pickup men then scramble their shoes at the other end of the arena and the first person to get their shoes on and give the clown five wins an ice cream.

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Any time we are away from our home parish for a weekend we enjoy visiting different parishes.  Cathedrals are always a draw if we are near one, and this weekend we happened to be.  The Cathedral of St. James in Grand Rapids is a beautiful church.  The Mass time that happened to fit our timing also happened to be a Spanish Mass.  It gave me a chance to brush up on my Spanish comprehension skills.  I have to say I probably understood about half of the homily, which isn’t bad considering I haven’t spoken the language on a regular basis in at least ten years.  I was very proud of our kids, despite not understanding the language, they behaved well, and HB1 even understood some of the homily himself.

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I was happy to be able to make it this year, last year I was sick so the family went without me.  I enjoy helping out where I can, visiting with people who I haven’t seen since the last rodeo, and relaxing around the camp fire looking at stars.

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I hope to be able to get a video together on the rodeo soon, so look for that on the YouTube channel.

Until then…

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When Internet, or the Lack Thereof, Gets in the Way

Since moving out to the Homestead, I have not had any regrets, not one.  This week tested that sentiment.  I have mentioned before that we have had to use satellite internet.  No other service will provide for us.  All of our neighbors can get internet, literally ALL of our neighbors can get at least DSL.  Apparently we are literally feet too far to push their signal.  I have been calling and emailing any nearby service to see if there is some way to get better and more reliable internet all to no avail.  I will keep trying, but at this point I feel defeated on this front.  First world problem, I know and am aware, doesn’t make it any less frustrating for me.

The reason this came to a head this week was I have been unable to upload several YouTube videos.  I have even tried going to two family members’ homes and tried uploading videos, but I would have to leave my laptop there for hours to upload and if something were to go wrong I wouldn’t be there to fix it.  For my blog, I have always saved on our data usage by using the WordPress App and uploading pictures from my phone using that instead of uploading them from my desktop.

Early on in the YouTube channel, I was making one take videos on my iPhone so I could also upload the videos using the YouTube app on my cellular data plan, no problem.  Since I have been trying to make more professional, and longer, videos I have needed to use editing software.  It has made the videos better, but uploading a 4GB video eats into our data allowance in a huge way.  I actually think part of the problem with uploading was the fact that I wasn’t pre-rendering the videos.  I use Corel VideoStudio X9, and when I was trying to upload a video it would render the video and upload it at the same time.  I think something about that timed out the connection.  Last night I figured out a way to render the videos to a file, and then upload that file.  It seemed to work even on our slow connection because I was able to upload three videos.  Here is one that has spent a week in the can, waiting to be shared with the public.

One of the three videos I uploaded was my son’s first video.  He has seen me taping for videos and wanted to start his own channel so I opened a Homestead Kids channel.  His first video was just scenery on the way home from a friend’s house.  He time lapsed the video, added music, and at title shot at the beginning and end, and he did it all himself.  If you have a couple minutes, take a look, and if you really want to give him a thrill subscribe.  While you’re at it, consider subscribing to my channel as well.

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Star Photography, First Attempt

I have always been fascinated by stars.  Before we even moved out to our Homestead for years I loved being out here early in the morning or late at night after hunting and just looking at the clear night sky and all the stars.

A couple times I have tried to take pictures of stars, but I always tried to let the auto features on the camera make it work, and it never did.  As I have been doing more videos with my YouTube channel I am learning my camera better so I decided to give star photography another go.

These are the pictures I came up with, they aren’t great, but it leaves plenty of room for improvement.  I  had my ISO at either 3200 or 6400, I believe the f-stop was around 3.5(which was as low as my camera would allow), and the shutter time was 15-20 seconds.   One of the most unique pictures is the picture that has a streak of light through the bottom, it was a car driving buy during the exposure.  Let me know what you think, and give me some tips if you have experience with night photography.

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That bright streak across the bottom is a car passing by during the exposure.

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Bringing Home the Bacon

Today was the day.  Today we went to go pick up our American Guinea Hogs.  It was about an hour and a half drive each way.  We got on the road around 9:30 and arrived at the farm we bought the pigs from at 11, fortunately we didn’t have to make any stops which is never a guarantee when traveling with kids.

The man we bought the pigs from was very nice.  He has been rehabbing an old run down farm house and has been busy getting his hog facilities set up.  He has both American Guinea Hogs and Julianna Pigs.  We were able to walk around his farm a bit and the loaded up our pigs and got back on the road headed home.

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When we got home and got the pigs in their new enclosure it was time to get their hut finished.  It took less than an hour to get the pallets screwed together and get the roof on it giving the pigs some shelter and shade.  I was able to get the sides on it between dropping off HB1 at a church group, and picking him up.  It isn’t perfect, and it will still need to be winterized, but it’s good for now.  I forgot to take pictures of the sides on because I needed to run and pick him up.

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I ordered a pig watering nipple from Amazon and it should arrive tomorrow at which point I will use a 55 gallon drum I have to make them a waterer allowing them to use the small trough that I have for baths.

Watch out for a video on the YouTube channel soon.  They are cute little buggers.

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Closer to Bacon

We are inching our way closer to being ready for pigs.  As of now I am planning on picking up the pigs early next week.  Things have been slowed down because a couple of the little ones have been sick.  Even so, we are still getting some work done, the latest of which was getting the gate hung, pounding T posts in between the wood posts, and fixing the corner where the wooded posts were slightly too far apart.

The boys have been a big help.  I do my very best to make sure I let them know when I am going out to do a project and to let them help in some way.  Lately that has even included working the cameras for making YouTube videos.  Always learning, teaching, or both(or at least attempting to).

Here’s the video from hanging the gate.

 

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Posted in DIY, Family, Farming, homeschool, homesteading, kids, Outdoors, pigs, Preparation, YouTube | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Putting up Hay for the Winter

It has been a dry summer, so much so that the grass hasn’t been growing much at all.  Because of this the sheep and cow are currently eating hay and I will probably have to give them another bale soon.  I’m not sure hay prices are going to drop so I wanted to get some hay now.  I was able to find someone who could deliver 10 bales yesterday, so I pulled the trigger and had it delivered.  Delivery was the best option for me, I could only fit four round bales on my trailer, if I really work at it so it would take me three trips to get the ten bales he was able to deliver.  At over an hour and a half round trip, it was money well spent.

I used the tarp with which they transported our house.  It kept the inside of the house from blowing away on the highway and is over 70′ long and probably 12′ feet wide.  When they were leaving after putting the house together they asked if I wanted to save the tarps or throw them away, I definitely wanted to keep them so they have been stored under the house since then.

This should hopefully be enough hay for the winter.  We currently have 13 bales, one of which I will give to the animals while the grass grows back, and if we are lucky we will get a couple more bales when they bale our field in the fall.

If you’re interested, here is the video of me moving it with the tractor.

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