Sunday on the farm

We had to catch up on farm chores today, even though it was Sunday.  We aren’t overally religious, but we try to take one day a week as rest.  Just not today.  Anyway, we took yesterday off as we were supposed to get our first major snowstorm of the season.  We got about an inch!  I think we need some new meteorologists in our area.  They have bombed on every forecast this winter.

Those same meteorologists have predicted extremely cold weather for the coming week and we believe them, even though I have my doubts as to whether they accurately predict anything anymore.  So, that meant we had to work today, on Sunday.  We were just about out of feed for the cows and two pens of pigs so that means it was time to grind feed.  We grow all of our own grain which we then grind and mix together to make a feed “chop.”

I absolutely hate grinding feed…probably more than any other job on the farm.  I hate it, hate it, hate it!  Did I mention that I hate this job?  It’s loud, dusty, dirty and it takes a long time to grind just one batch of chop.  I always try to weasel my way out of helping but today, Cranky, my husband made me help.  Usually, I can con one of Cranky’s cronies into helping because most of his cronies are not farmers but they get to pretend that they are when they help.  I couldn’t find a Cranky Cronie anywhere today.  Where are those dudes when you really need them? 

Cranky giving the old John Deere more throttle.

Cranky giving the old John Deere more throttle.

We use an old, diesel John Deere 4010 tractor hooked up to a New Holland feed grinder/mixer. 

The John Deere was the first big tractor that my daddy purchased to farm with.  He thought he had made it as a farmer when he bought this tractor.  He even bought it used, but it has been a great farm tractor, almost like a member of our family. A couple years ago, when the head cracked on it, there wasn’t even a question whether we would fix it or junk it.  You just don’t get rid of a member of your family.  Even though the cost of the new head could have been used as a down payment on a new tractor, we just aren’t into “new” stuff.  Besides, it’s fixed now and we don’t have tractor payments.

My daddy did buy the feed grinder/mixer brand, spankin’ new many, many years ago and it has paid for itself many times over.  I can’t begin to tell you how many batches of feed it has ground over the years.

Corn pouring into the hopper.

Corn pouring into the hopper.

The first batch we ground today was cow chop in which we mix corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, and alfalfa hay.  Did I mention how much I hate grinding feed?  Our feed recipe came from our county extension office.

We store our grain in old gas tanks that my daddy converted many years ago.  These tanks were once under the ground at gas stations in our area.  By law, the gas tanks had to be removed from the ground every so many years per the DEP (Department Of Environmental Protection).  The gas companies faced difficulties disposing of the tanks so in those days, it was easy to acquire the tanks.  The gas companies would even deliver them to our farm.  Since my daddy has always been frugal and ingenious, he turned the tanks into grain storage silos.  The tanks have served us well over the years and basically, the only cost being my father’s labor and boxes of welding rods.  He was green long before it was “cool” to recycle and reuse.

See that tie strap attached to the grain auger? It's used to keep the auger from blowing over in the wind.

See that tie strap attached to the grain auger? It's used to keep the auger from blowing over in the wind.

My daddy even built this grain auger.  My father might only have an eighth grade education, but his knowledge and intelligence is well beyond a master’s degree from a prestigious university.  I wish that he would have passed on his mechanical skills on to me instead of his temper.  And it’s not an even temper, if you can smell what I’m stepping in!

Cranky checking how much feed is in the tank while grinding alfalfa hay.

Cranky checking how much feed is in the tank while grinding alfalfa hay.

Cranky cleans up real good when he isn’t farming.  It’s so hard to believe that Cranky grew up in town!?!  Yep, that’s right, the boy was one of them…you know?  A townie.  But after I staightened him out and taught him about the good life, he has been a good ole farm boy for twenty years now.

Another gas tank converted into a feed tank.

Another gas tank converted into a feed tank.

My daddy has a fetish for junk, err, I mean, usable rusted tractor merchandise.  Notice the junk tractor sitting next to the feed tank?  Believe it or not, it still runs.  It has a flat tire and for some reason, my father parked it there.  I don’t ask anymore, I just live here.

Guess who goes crawls to the top of feed tank to take off the lid?

Guess who goes crawls to the top of feed tank to take off the lid?

One of my jobs when we grind feed is to take the lids off the tanks because Cranky is afraid of heights…

Yep, that’s right, big, strong, 6’2″ Cranky is afraid of heights!  That’s okay, because this is the only part of grinding feed that I like.  I have mentioned how much I hate grinding feed, right?

Look, that's my shadow! Isn't it a purty shadow?

Look, that's my shadow! Isn't it a purty shadow?

 I like the view from up here anyway.  Especially when the unloader auger cable gets wrapped up and won’t release the auger.  I can stay up here where I do not hear any cussing.  I can take photos of Cranky fixing the cable instead.

Cranky looks ticked (and cold).

Cranky looks ticked (and cold).

This is where Cranky gets his name.  He is pretty much miserable all the time…I kid, I kid.  Since I am an ultimately happy and optimistic person most of the time, Cranky is quite the opposite.  What is that they say about opposites attracting?  I vaguely remember, but it is true for us.

"Are you okay up there?"

"Are you okay up there?"

From up here, I can also see Joe waiting patiently for us to finish up with this farm work so that we can give him the attention he thinks he deserves as the alpha dog .  Joe can be pretty impatient at times.

 

Cranky feeding the finished product.

Cranky feeding the finished product.

After all that grinding, mixing, backing up, moving forward, one minor cable problem, noise, dust, dirt, and my continuous complaining about how much I hate grinding feed, the feed is finally finished.  Now, it’s time to feed the cows and see if they like the finished product.

"What do you think, B.B.?"

"What do you think, B.B.?"

B.B. the bull is the first tastetester.  I’m not sure what to think with his first reaction.  Is is too salty? Too much corn this time?  What about the flavor? Too much oregano, basil, garlic, cayenne pepper?  Tell me, Big Bull, what do you think? And be honest.  It won’t hurt my feelings if you do not like it because I did not want to grind feed today, anyway.  Cranky made me help and is the one that mixed it up.  If you don’t like it, I’m blaming him.

"Yep, I like it. It's good stuff!"

"Yep, I like it. It's good stuff!"

I’m so glad that B.B. likes the chop, because I really hate grinding feed and if he didn’t like it, well…I’m not sure what I would do.  Probably just complain some more about how much I hate grinding feed.

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2 Comments

Filed under farm life

2 responses to “Sunday on the farm

  1. Hey, Cranky is kinda cute, for a townie 🙂 I think they are the best, no set ideas, and sooo trainable. I’ve had mine for 30 years and he is still working.

    I love the tractor story, we had to rebuild my brother’s tractor, because it was cheaper than buying a replacement. Runs like a top.

    I have a question for you…do you like grinding feed? 🙂

  2. I hate grinding feed too, maybe it’s just the itch that goes along with it 😉

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