Marizy Doats

The Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

It started out so well– no rain in the forecast and, while the swather always makes me nervous because I know I am on borrowed time, we were making good progress.

Me, and the dragonflies, and the barn swallows, and the butterflies, just being out in the fields. It wasn’t that hot Saturday morning and I got three fields, or about 9 1/2 acres cut out of my 25 acres of oats. Back out on Sunday afternoon and a good breeze and cut another field of about 5 acres and moved into the last field, about 10 acres. I made one round, and there was a clunk and forward momentum stopped. It stopped on the right wheel anyway, the left wheel kept going. The machine makes a lot of noises and most of them make me nervous. This machine, a John Deere model 800 swather is from the 70s. They’re built like a tank, have a Chrysler ‘Slant 6’ engine (with a reputation of being bullet-proof), and they run forever except when they don’t.

It’s a machine I use only for cutting oats. It cuts the standing oats and lays it in a row; a ‘Windrow’. It gets used a day or two per year. But there’s no one in the area with a swather, so I had to find my own about 6 years ago.

Took a while to diagnose what was going wrong and it turned out to be just a chain off. Well I’ve fixed that before and it’s kind of a process but it’s not bad. Except this one was jammed in there and it was bad. Kelly came to help when I called her for a ride home. I was hoping to be all done cutting by 8:00PM, it was 8 o’clock when we gave up and went home. A few things to do the next day so it was about 4 o’clock when I went back out to work on it again.

I was down to plan “G” or “H” by this point. And that also revealed a wheel bearing going bad. Well, that would explain why the chain had come off. We did finally get the chain out and installed again and we felt pretty good about ourselves.

I had to decide: can I finish cutting on this bad bearing or do I need to attempt another major repair out in the field and replace the bearing. I decided to take my chances, because that’s what farmers do. Except this time, I only went about 10 feet and the chain was off again. And again, it was 8 o’clock at night. We went home and I was back the next day with some more tools. I don’t know how many trips I made back home to get ‘Yet One More Tool’ for this repair. I even took the Oxy-acetylene torch up there to heat up the wheel hub. I’m a little nervous using a torch in the middle of a dry field of oats, but I wasn’t really cutting anything or making sparks, I was just heating up the wheel hub to try to get that off the axle so that the bearing can come off the axle. Nothing has been apart for 50 years I presume. I worked for a few hours and gave up and called the John Deere dealer. It felt as though a huge weight was lifted off my chest because now this isn’t my problem anymore.

The plan was to start combining that oats that was already cut on Tuesday afternoon, however, the guy with the truck needed his trucks to haul corn so he couldn’t make it. He said he would have a truck out here Wednesday morning. With no rain in the forecast for weeks, it didn’t seem like a problem. And then it sprinkled Monday morning, not enough to hurt anything, and it sprinkle Tuesday morning but not really enough to hurt anything and then we had a thunderstorm warning Tuesday night– where the heck did that come from? And I got about 2/10 of an inch of rain. So now we’re not combining on Wednesday either. Could have been worse, it was a pretty bad storm with some pretty gusty winds and heavy rains, but we just got the edge of it and then it built up south of us and I saw some hail damage and some corn flat on the ground from that.

It’s not ideal for oats to get rained on when it’s cut, but it’s not the end of the world, depending. I leave 4 to 6 inches of stubble for the oats to lay on so that it gets some air underneath. And that works pretty well. Light rains like this followed by some sunny days with a breeze and it will dry out again and can be combined with minimal loss. The heavier the rain, the more grain is shelled out on the ground. There have been a few years I had to go out with the hay rake and tip the windrows over. That knocks off a lot of grain. However, the people who take the straw like it because there’s less grain left in the straw if I have to handle it before they get it. Everyone has their own silver lining, don’t they?

So that’s where we are at the moment, hoping the mechanic will get the swather fixed, hoping it holds together for another 10 acres, well really, I want it to hold together for the next number of years.

I’m just about ready to open the one show in town and I’m just starting to work on another show. Remember the song about home improvement from the LGMS and at the end he says, “Now I can go out and mow the lawn!”? That’s kind of what I feel like.

But the beans are looking really good, they’re almost waist high, lots of flowers, lots of pods. 316 GDU’s above normal. The corn ears have already determined their length and girth and now they just need to fill out. If they’re stressed by weather, the tips won’t fill. Be interesting to see how it does this fall.

Often corn will have two ears on them, but only the one really develops completely.

The baby ducks arrived from California after a 2000 trip. These are some well-travelled ducks! I was worried about them making a trip but there were two little Dixie cups taped inside each box that presumably had some kind of food nutrient in it. Lost two of the 40. They were busy little ducks! The first day pretty much all they did was eat and drink.

 What’s your most critical tool that you use the least?

79 thoughts on “Marizy Doats”

  1. Sherrilee, you are just begging for this answer, and I’m looking to get it in first. The most critical tool, and one which I don’t think would wirk if I needed it, is my brain. I’ve rarely even tried to use it. No idea how it works.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. But seriously, you were probably expecting us guys to say big words like “Torque Wrench.” I have a nice one, which I don’t believe I’ve used since I followed a setting in the factory manual, and broke a crankshaft, just as my common sense was telling me that the setting was ridiculous. I rely on an unreliable thing called “intuition” now. At least I haven’t broken anything.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. i use my torque wrench for motorcycle oil changes
          my brain doesn’t torque it enough and to compensate can be a real problem on these ok’d bmws

          Liked by 2 people

        2. I suspect thaf if BMW gives you a setting, it will be the right one. With Enfield India, that is less likely, I’ve discovered.

          Like

  2. Loved that song, Ben. It was Charlie Maguire singing Talking Home Improvement Blues, I think. And it’s not on YouTube. Charlie called himself the Singing Park Ranger, I think. My favorite line from the song: “All right, chimney. DRAW!”

    Liked by 6 people

    1. He was a park ranger, going around doing concerts.
      Ben, our only grain crop was oats harvested with binder, stood in shocks, hauled to threshing machine. Binder and threshing machine belonged to a still functioning grange. You got use of machines by helping others and paying share of gas and repair bills. Threshing machine was kept and operated and well maintained by one man. Binder was passed around. My father got it first because they knew he would overhaul it for the season. Takes many skills, including working canvas and leather. Never broke down when we had it. Did for others later on. We went to repair it.
      My father’s one tool was the “the wrench with a hole in it, which I have talked about before. 1/2 and 5/8 open ended which he found on the side of the road. I did a blog about it.
      I have very few tools any more. It hurt to give them up. But my failure caused it. Been 11 years. My real tool now is patience with a hole in it. We will soon celebrate our 56th anniversary. For 55 years married to same woman. This year married to a different one.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. Clyde, are you coming out to us as polygamous? Polyamorous? Wink-wink.

        This must be hard to see Sandy’s decline. We are pulling for you as her caretaker. I admire you a lot.

        Liked by 8 people

      2. transition is a challange
        i met a guy yesterday who recognized me from high school
        i laughed and said yeah i see it in your face now but it’s so hard to look at ok’d people and realize that they are my age. i don’t feel old until i help my daughters move and gave to be the muscle lifting stuff to climb three flights i’d stairs

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Tim, me too. Every year I have to ditch another of my macho exploits. This year I finished cutting up a leaning tree for my neighbours, from the top down. I cut it all the way down, into pieces, then said, No more. There was another one to do, but until I obtain or build a winch to pull it away from the building it’s hanging over, as I cut it, it stays there. I was almost shaking with nerves, though being no stranger to heights. But I do hate the constant trickle of jobs I no longer want to do.

          Liked by 4 people

      3. Clyde, I wish my dad was still around to ask about how much they shared equipment and manpower. Reading my grandmothers diaries and she writes often about where “the Men” are that day. Over at Caspers, working at Walts, at Joe’s today, hope to finish at Stanleys, moving to Glenns… those were my dad and uncles. Stanley seemed to be the most innovative; he seemed to be the first to try something new. Glenn was right behind him. Casper ultimately didn’t make it as a farmer. And I think they could all fix stuff, but, I’ll claim my dad was the best at it. 🙂

        I have a favorite wrench; 1/2″ and 9/16″ box end. But with a curve on each end. Almost thought I lost it the other day…found it under another tool. Whew!

        Liked by 4 people

        1. We call wrenches “spanners.” It was a long time before I realised it’s because they”span” the nut or bolt.
          Is a box end what I’d call a ring spanner?
          I love spanners. I used to buy old one wherever I saw them, and have hundreds,of various ages. Very few complete sets. It’s time I gathered up all of them (mostly off the floor), sorted them into sets as nearly as possible and allocated a set for the garage. A set for the van. Maybe a small set for the house. Then spare sets in readiness for all the extra workshops I’ll build when I have TIME!

          Liked by 3 people

  3. There is this box called a file cabinet. A person can put papers of a certain kind into a folder, label it, and put it in the box so that the papers can be found later. If a person arranges the files in some sort of order (alphabetical is one, but others could work), the folders and, hence, the papers are easy to find. I will tell Husband about this ordering thing once he is back to his full mental capacity.

    Liked by 9 people

      1. When I took over business stuff from her 5 years ago, files, maintained by once very highly regarded office manager, were utter jumble. Drawers would not close. So random non-details oriented me got them back into order. How weird was that.

        Liked by 4 people

    1. I have offered to get YA a little file cabinet but she has declined. I’m not sure what happens to any papers that go into her room!!

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Husband’s favorite piece of equipment is his new smoker/grill. Our continued drought makes using it strictly illegal. He got it last year, and has only used it a handful of times.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. We probably wouldn’t start a range fire in our back yard, but the drought here is awful, and the fire authorities just don’t want to deal with anything.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. When I was working, it would be a carpet knee kicker. Installing carpet over padding is pretty much a residential application and I would typically use a power stretcher. I’ve seen people destroy their knees and damage material mis-using the knee kicker but certain situations call for it’s limited use such as positioning material and working pattern matching at seams. If you have carpet installed over padding and all the person uses is a knee kicker to do it, you have received substandard workmanship.
    https://carpet-rug.org/resources/installation-standards/

    Liked by 4 people

  6. OT!!!! Our Aha! moment happened! Today, going down to walk the dogs, I almost asked my inlaws, kidding, so did the contractors take all that earth back, that they shouldn’t have dug? (Forgot to say it, I’m known to be forgetful). Last night the dogs didn’t get walked, Sandra said it was too hot, to my annoyance. They still need their walk.
    Anyway, here I was, finally walking the dogs, and I arrived at the scene of the crime. I filmed what had happened. I was so flummoxed. They’d re built the bit they’d taken away. The earth had come from the NEXT project, and what ( on earth!) was it? Later, as I showed the film to Sandra I realised what they were building, as if it wasn’t obvious. A few minutes later, I realised how the mistake had been made. It’s not that exciting. But Bill, for one, is just dying to find out. So, as Adrian Monk would say, “Here’s what happened:” The road surveyor, a competent, bossy lady who I haven’t met, though I have now seen, came to investigate a couple of dangerous or damaged spots, further up the same road. While there, she looked at the whole road, and decreed that the corner now in question, thougb little used, was highly dangerous and had to go. As usual, she put down marks for the contractors to follow. That was our theory, but we underestimated its scope, as did the contractors. They did one of the repairs further up the road, and did their usual crappy job. Two other jobs needed a larger excavator than they have, the kind that in England is known as a “Rubber Duck.” A bigger, more effective machine than it sounds, and this one has a really nice, helpful, COMPETENT guy driving it, and he’s doing a great job.
    This corner, however, just, so far, needs earth shifting about, and the regular contractors have a smaller machine that can handle that. I’ll try and explain the mistake they made. I’ll try to be clearer than I often am.
    The surveyor decided to put in a new stretch of road, let’s say, fifty yards long, cutting across and “straightening out” the corner, as no doubt all of us have seen done, on corners that we are familiar with, no matter where in the world we live. She drew two parallel lines, depicting the edges of the new piece of road. So the earth on the very corner was to be left in place, forming an island between the sheer drop, and the new road, ensuring all traffic would then be unable to even get near that drop. And young Fenton on his tractor, flying downhill “with the stick out,” (I wish), courting couples looking for a quiet spot, with their minds not on the road, boy racers overindulged on weed or vodka, would pass by in safety. I hope so far, that’s clear.
    The contrsctors showed up, and saw the first line the surveyor had drawn. They didn’t see the other, parallel line. So they started digging away the earth between the road, and that first line. After all, that WAS cutting across the corner. But they were supposed to leave that earth in place, and dig between the first and second lines. Please, I’m trying to be clear, somebody please tell me if you can understand.
    So the pair we saw on the phone, yelling at the contractor, was the surveyor, checking on the job on her way home from work, and probably her husband. Only reason he was joining in the yelling was, this is Spain, and everybody knows best, everybody yells.
    So the poor old contractor had sat down for a couple of beers, with all well in his world, and now was suddenly racing back into the countryside again, bewildered, to get yelled at. I think this kid is the son of a father and son outfit, who employ others as well. He’s not too good at anything involving getting out of a tractor seat, I don’t think, but he’s a nice guy who pulled my van out of the mud after one of my heroic, unnecessary episodes, and I feel sorry for him. I take it he’s done a good few hours work that the surveyor will see he doesn’t get paid for. I have a feeling she doesn’t take nonsense from contractors. I will proofread this, Steve. I’m doing my best…….
    Ten minutes later: I’ve ironed out all the mistakes I can find, and am about to hit Send.
    But, you know what? I’m 70. I have thirty years left to go back to England and buy another proper tractor. I’ll drive down to the bottom of that hill, and check their are no vehicles, no pedestrians. I’ll drive back up, hitch up the heavily loaded trailer I have waiting, and go back down that hill with the stick out. See if I can get round that new curve without touching the brakes. Either I or my family will let you know how it goes.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Tools? Gee, I used to have some. Two that I still own and treasure are bottle openers given to me by Linda and Barb. They allow me to wrench the tops off V8 bottles, which is something I can no longer do with my hands (because Campbell’s employs gorillas to screw the tops on just to spite arthritic senior citizens).

    The one tool I use several hours a day is my computer. That is my magic carpet. With it I can read the news, submit off-topic comments to this forum, access videos of my favorite band, view predictably plotted Netflix flicks, write sentimental letters to my friends and run barefoot through the flowery fields of YouTube. I used to watch local sports teams play games, but I’ve had to ditch that because watching this year’s Twins team is a stress my heart cannot be expected to endure.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. I suspect Ben may have just been playing around with language. Mairze Doats – both grains with a surplus letter, and both grains that he grows.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. It’s an old song, PJ. I’ve never heard it, I think it was by somebody on the fringes of being a blues singer, too much on the showbiz side. Butterbeans and Suzy, maybe. “Mairsy doats and-something, something” I forget what the words were. Mares eat oats, and somebody else eats something else. Or something like that.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. I want you to know I had that song stuck in my head for hours after looking up the spelling.

      I could have sworn I copied it correctly and when I find the website with the faulty spelling, I’ll let you know.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Long ago, I got to work a barley harvest old style at Turtle Lake Minnesota. The grain was put up in piles that we loaded on a wagon (tractor not horse drawn). The barley was threshed resulting in an enormous pile of chaff. My buddy and I worked the grain into a storage shed with aluminum shovels. It was incredibly hot and dusty. The beer that we drank (waaaaay underage) tasted incredibly good. A bunch of us kids got into that straw pile that night and leveled it. Man, was that farmer po’d!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. In my whole life I never did get to work on a thrasher, as we called them. I only saw one working once, in the field next door, holding mum’s hand, when I was four. Not counting at working events in later years, great to see, but not the same.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. My tool that I don’t use very often is an electric chipper. It doesn’t chip anything very large, and it is pretty worthless if you try to use it to chip green wood. The thing it chips really well: old spent raspberry canes. They are quite thin, very dry, and I have lots in the spring. I feed ’em into the hopper and they are mulch. Then the chipper goes into storage for another year.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Linda, those things need big engines. I worked on one for one day in a chipboard factory, they called it a “hacker.” You’d throw in a constant stream of logs, maybe up to six inches across, three or four feet long. Chuck the log in and BAM! It was instant, turned into chips, you didn’t even see where it had gone.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. OT
    The Twins are coming to Cincinnati next week. I have tickets to the Wednesday afternoon game. I will attempt to give updates. I had been a Dodgers fan with Drysdale and Koufax. After that loss by Minnesota, my mother barely spoke to me about baseball. Nineties Twins baseball was epic. Maternal and Son were joined by Puckett and Hrbek. I am now in Ohio, a Red State (although me being Blue). Please, Twins! Roll over!

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Oooh, PJ, I love those dog phrases. Another favorite is “Lay down with dogs, get up with fleas.” This was especially true in the #45 years, but those that went to work for him did not seem to understand.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Jacque I’m amazed at how many otherwise smart people worked for him, excusing themselves by believing they could prevent him from doing bad stuff. We know how well that worked out. Then those folks wrote books about how bad the man was, and I keep thinking why didn’t you say so when it could have made a difference?

          Liked by 4 people

        2. Because then they wouldn’t have been working for him any more, Steve.
          The whole cult is still frightening me from the other side of the pond.

          Like

        3. Looking at the man, I can sort of see how a total fool could be taken in by that mock sincerity. That implication of understanding and ability beyond the grasp of us lesser beings.

          Like

  11. I lost my wedding ring in the few days surrounding the swather repair. Trying to snake my hand up inside by the chain and I thought I better take my ring off so it wouldn’t catch on something. I said to Kelly “I’m putting this in my pocket”. She watched me. Then I forgot about it for 4 days. And it’s not in my pocket anymore.
    I’m kinda heartsick… It was a plain silver band. We both have nice wedding rings with diamonds, and plain bands. We had Pastor Mike bless both sets. I’m sad he’s not around anymore so this ring was special that way.
    I’m holding a little hope that it will still turn up, but I don’t know…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ben, I lost mine, and knew when and where. But it was a populated place, and it was gone. I was more sick than Jane was, losing things is the story of my life.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. So sorry to hear this, Ben, it’s always sad when you lose something that has symbolic value attached to it. Keep your eyes peeled, though, it might still show up. This morning I went to throw away a wadded up something that had been in my shorts’ pocket when I washed them. Turned out to be two five dollar bills enfolded in my paper shopping list.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Mentioning money reminds me that I lost 70 euros last week. I earned it clearing weeds in ninety degree sun for a few hours, and came in the house anxious to get out of those clothes and in the shower. I’d put the money, a fifty and a twenty, in my shirt pocket, and driven away from Lynda’s house. I came into our house and said, now I’ve got three hundred and seventy towards my new chainsaw. “Oh, great!” my wife replied sincerely. Thinking, I’ll forget he wants a chainsaw. That cash will be handy. (You may think I’m being unjust).
        Later, I couldn’t find that seventy euros. There was three hundred in the tin in the drawer. The seventy wasn’t on the table.
        It wasn’t in the pocket of the shirt, now in the laundry basket. It, all right, to cut a ling story short, wasn’t ANYWHERE. The house, the entire laundry basket and everything in it, the van, the ground between. I cannot I CANNOT, remember if I had it in my hand at any time since leaving Lynda’s. For instance, did I have it in my hand when I came in the house, and leave it on the table while I saw to other things. And did Jane subsequently, no not steal it-that was a joke. Did she decide to put it away safe because I can’t be trusted with such an amount? And figure she’d tell me when she remembered to? Not likely really. I haven’t lost that three hundred in the tin. I can’t ask her, can I? Admit I lost it? Not likely.
        So the first stage of grief is denial. I was in denial all right. It has got to be SOMEWHERE! And is there a stage where you question the point of earning it in the hot sun in the first place? I had that stage at the same time. And a few others, they all happened pretty much at once. I really miss that seventy euros, life just doesn’t seem the same.
        It probably blew out the van window, I’m thinking.

        Like

    3. Ben, my grandma lost her large, elaborate diamond and wedding ring and could not find it for years. There was wild speculation about a burglar in the house or the druggie grandson selling it for drugs (which grandma could not admit because he was her favorite). Years later she dug it up in the garden.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. That reminds me, Jacque, of how my mother used to keep two twenty-dollar bills out in the open on a bookcase near the front door. She explained that experts claimed if you kept cash in an open place, a visiting burglar would just grab it and flee rather than tossing the whole house. I liked her answer when I asked how that had worked. “In three years, the only burglar I caught was George,” she said. That’s her husband, my father.

        Liked by 4 people

  12. Good luck, Ben. During my last hospitalization I removed my wristwatch and put it in a pocket of my shorts. The watch, a Timex Easy Reader, has become a special object for me, so I alerted Molly to what I’d done with it. Told her four times. But, helping me out, she ran the shorts through the laundry and forgot the watch was there. A Timex can take a licking and keep on ticking, but it cannot survive a laundering, it seems.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ben, if you lost it where you did that repair, one day, as long as the ground is cultivated, one day someone might find it. I was working on the edge of a field and found an Elizabethan shilling. Only way it got there was someone dropped it right back then, hundreds of years ago. Maybe it was someone’s wages, going home from work. It was right out in the country. It was split with the weather, and one whole side was swelling outwards. I treasured that shilling till I lost it a few years later, a few hundred yards along the same hedge line.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t mean you necessarily HAVE to wait 500 years to find it. Just remembered the wrench (as you chappies would call it), that I left on top of the plow (ditto), after making an adjustment in the field. I wonder how long that took to PLOUGH back up? I never went back to ask.

        Like

      2. I have gone back to the spot. Haven’t found it yet… I suspect it wasn’t there I lost it, but some some other random place when I pulled something out of my pocket.

        Like

  13. I nearly lived that swather repair with you, Ben. I like working on machinery, probably you do. But not in the middle of harvest. I remember contractors’ combines in the sixties breaking down. It was because the two firms I knew were still running poorly maintained Massey Harris /Massey Ferguson 780’s from the fifties, working them hard throgh to the late sixties. Jimmy Fogwell especially, he just had one, which he drove himself. He also had a novelty, a Swedish (Danish? Yes, probably. Do you know, PJ?) Dania,which his workman drove. At least, they drove them occasionally. Sometimes, only one them would be broken down, and a little bit of combining would get done.
    In the seventies, it seemed to be owner operated, secondhand forage harvesters that broke down while we were making silage. So I’d have to help investigate the problem. I really prefer to work alone on jobs like that, in my own workshop. I really wasn’t happy with the makeshift conditions accompanying breakdowns on poorly equipped farms. I just wanted to play on the buckrake.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. i have a bunch of tools

    i love working with tools but have not been able to get at them

    maybe soon as a reboot of life plan takes shape

    recreation is not a big part of it right and meditation happens on the fly so i’ll have to figure out how to give myself permission to have tool time

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Does the bbq count as a tool? We’ve only used it once, but it did make the most delicious pork chops we’ve ever had so I guess that’s something!

    Great post, my fingers are crossed for your repair and weather luck!

    Like

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