Friday, December 16, 2011

Double Post!

Yeah, twice in one day. Lucky you!

Dad mentioned about a month ago that he thought he had seen Grandpa's old Chevy sitting up at St. Paul Equipment. One day, we were headed up to O'Neill to look at a tractor, so we swung through St. Paul Equipment, and sure enough, there sat Grandpa's blue truck, affectionately known to us as "The Bomb." It's an '88 Chevy K3500 4x4 with a 454. $500 and some help from my cousin Jake, and it's home again:

The key tumbler is all busted to crap, but a needle nose pliers works. We drove it around the farm yard a little bit yesterday when we got it home. I have some tires in the barn I need to put on it, it needs a fan, and I should probably fix the steering column so I can use a key. I'd like to get it running decent so I can use it to pull the seed tender/fertilizer trailers next spring. Guess it depends on how much time I have on my hands after I get the house done and Shay and I get moved.

Dad and I ended up trading for the tractor we went to O'Neill to look at. We traded in our John Deere 8120 (which had 190 horsepower) for this John Deere 8320 (which is rated at 215 horsepower - it's probably close to 230). It's an '02 and has 6500 hours, so don't be getting any ideas about us "rich farmers." I didn't get a picture of it while it was on the trailer, but I got a few after we got it unloaded. Here's one:

And here's the 8120 loaded on the truck, ready to head down the road:

It was kind of sad to see it go, as it was my first tractor. On the other hand, I'm pretty excited about the 8320. Hopefully it'll be a good tractor for us.

House Update

This is the bedroom. New ceiling tiles, ceiling fan, and painted. The two pieces of shiplap there are the beginning of the accent wall that Shay wanted and I was not so excited about. Here are some of the pieces of shiplap after some stain and a couple coats of varnish:

The shiplap is original to the house, which means it's really freaking old. Matter of fact, it's so old that nobody makes it in this size anymore. It's 1"x10" pieces of pine that have notches cut on the top and bottom. They then fit over one another. I'm using 1 1/2" staples and 2" brad nails to attach them to the studs. Here's where I admit I was wrong. The pictures don't do the wall justice. It's going to look awesome when it's all done.

To give you an idea, this is what the shiplap looked like originally:

We also had carpet installed in the bedroom on Wednesday:

Soft water and insulation have been installed, too. It's kind of nice to see things coming together. Here's the view from the front porch:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Some Stuff, Some Things

There's been some more work done on the house - did some painting, ceiling fan, a light fixture, sanded and stained some shiplap. The Culligan guys came last Friday, the guys from Builders are coming today to blow some insulation in, and the carpet installers are coming tomorrow. It's nice to see a little bit of progress. I was about to go insane for a couple of days there. I usually handle stress pretty well, but for some reason, this house thing is getting to me. It'll all get done. Some day.

I also need to go up to St. Paul Equipment one of these days and load up my latest purchase. They had one of Grandpa's old pickups on the back lot, so I gave them $500 for it. They said they had it running and drove it around the lot, so that's a plus. It needs tires, but I have a set in the barn, so we're good there. It also needs a fan, and when it got repossessed, they broke the key tumbler all to crap, so I need to figure out how to fix that.

Dad and I also bought a new (to us) tractor, and that should be coming soon. The salesman was hoping to line trucking up for Friday. We bought a John Deere 8320 and are trading in our 8120. With Dad going 12 row, it will be nice having the extra horsepower. Our 8120 put out about 190 horsepower. They were supposed to dyno the 8320, but I haven't heard what it did. I'm guessing around 230-235. I think I should put a straight pipe on it, but Dad isn't thrilled with the idea...

Friday, December 9, 2011

We're Back

I suppose I should've warned you all that we were headed to Vegas for a few days this week. We left Sunday morning and got back yesterday morning. Our flight left Vegas yesterday at 6:15, so we were up at 3:30 local time, which would've been 5:30 here. We just kinda lounged around the house yesterday when we got home. We had a good time - went to the National Finals Rodeo, gambled, ate, gambled, etc. Shay's parents took us downtown to the old part of Vegas, which I really enjoyed. I had been to Vegas once before, but we didn't go to that area. I actually like it a lot better than the strip. The Blackjack tables are a lot more fun and the cocktail waitresses come around more often. And they actually put whiskey in your drink. We had a good time, and I would share pictures, but they're on Shay's camera, which is in her purse. So.

Today it's back to the grindstone. Culligan is coming over to install a water softener in the house, and Wednesday the carpet installers are coming, so I need to finish getting the bedroom ready to paint so Shay can paint it Sunday and Monday. The bedroom is going to be really cool by the time we're done with it. We couldn't reuse all of the shiplap in the living room, because we couldn't find any new stuff to patch it with, so my brother Sam and I pulled it off of a couple of walls last Saturday and insulated behind it (I think I've mentioned it before, but the house has never been insulated, which will also be remedied). I saved as much shiplap as I could, because Shay wants to use some of it on one wall of the bedroom. I guess it's called an "accent" wall. Once I get the wood sanded and finished, I'm sure it'll be cool.

Hope all is well with everyone.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not Much New Here

There has been some more progress made on the house, but Shay stole my camera and the other pictures are on Dad's camera. Dad tore up that awesome floral linoleum, Sam and I put in some ceiling tiles, took down some more plaster, put in a new window, and started tearing up the linoleum in the kitchen, which is not going so well. It was glued down about every 2 inches, so I have to rip it up piece by piece.

I needed a break from the house today, so I got all of my stuff together to prepare for taxes. Yeah. That's how much I needed a break from the house. Of course, QuickBooks wouldn't work.

After dinner, I had to drive Dad's tractor to Doniphan to pick up his new hiller. Round trip was 3 hours. Have you ever driven a tractor through Grand Island with a 25' wide implement attached? I don't recommend it.

When I got home, I changed the PTO shaft on Dad's tractor and put the stalk shredder on. I'll take pictures of that tomorrow. Basically, it shaves the corn stalks down to the ground, which allows the "trash" to deteriorate and makes it much easier to manage next growing season.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

House Pictures

Well, long story, so to save time, I'll just tell you that I grew up in this house, and Dad and Mom bought this farm on auction in October after renting it for 30 years. They had bought a different farm last year, so Shay and I are going to buy half of this farm from them with a Beginning Farmer loan from the FSA. It'll be about 55 acres of cropland with about 10 acres of place and windbreaks. There are a bunch of old outbuildings that I will probably have removed, and I'd like to plant a new windbreak to the north of the house. Anyway. Here's a picture of the house:

The original part of the house is over 100 years old. Grandpa thinks it could be 125-135 years old, but no one is around who remember what the original part looked like or when it was built. The original part was what is now the kitchen, which is basically where the porch is. Where the big picture window is was originally a barn, Dad added on the part with the two windows, there's another bedroom added on, and the second story was an add on. It's been interesting tearing stuff out.

Here's me with my sweet safety goggles. These walls had horsehair plaster on them, and it only takes one plaster rocket to hit you in the face to realize taking one in the eye might not feel too hot.

I'm not sure if the above wall and the wall with the window are the original barn wood, but I know the wall that my brother Sam is working on here is an original barn wall:

Yes, the barn was attached to the house. Shay and I have decided to sand the walls and stain them, instead of painting, paneling or wallpapering. We want to use as much of the original house material as we can. The ceiling had tiles on it. We're going to paint it.

This picture looks into the kitchen, The kitchen had linoleum laid over the original wood flooring, and then had carpet laid over that. I'm going to sand the floors down and refinish them.

The above picture is from the kitchen looking into the barn/living room. Below is a picture of the west wall:

I forgot to mention that when the walls were plastered, arches were installed. I started ripping one out, and Dad finished it. There's another one to go. This picture is also looking into the kitchen:

And in one of the other rooms, we pulled up the carpet to find the most awesome linoleum ever.

Underneath? More of the original pine hardwood, which will also be sanded and refinished.

In the bedroom on the first floor, I tore out the carpet and ripped down the ceiling tiles as the roof had leaked at one point and some of them needed replaced. We also need a new window. It has some sweet paneling straight out of 1977, but to keep costs down, we're just going to paint it. Dad and I are going to put new ceiling tiles in tomorrow, hopefully. Mom primed the walls today. We need to get the ceiling, paint and window done so we can get new carpet installed.

Originally, Shay and I had talked about living in this house for 10-15 years until we could build a new house. The more we get into this project, the more we've discussed having someone completely renovate it instead of building a new one (when we get rich...). We live in a 35 year old manufactured home now, and I can't believe how much more solidly built this 100 year old house is. I guess I should've known better. The house has never been insulated, so I'm going to talk to some people about that next week. I'm also going to get soft water installed. It doesn't have central heating and air, and I have no idea if it could, but that's about all that will be lacking when we're done.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lots of Things

I'm going to be kind of all over hell in this post.

Finally started doing a little work on the other house today. Not a whole lot. Pulled some ceiling tiles down. Dad and I carried an old dresser out. Discovered after pulling a panel off of a wall that it's smooth, therefore easily painted. I'm going to do more demo tomorrow and Wednesday. I'm hoping to be done tearing stuff out this week so the real fun can begin.

Dad is upgrading from 8 row equipment to 12 row. This means we would like to buy a bigger tractor. We thought that there would be a glut of good used tractors on the market since farm incomes will be high. Well, there were. We saw a few while we were picking that we liked, but kept saying "we'll see after harvest." We're finding that most of those are sold. I used to move snow with a salesman at the John Deere dealership in Central City, so he's trying to find something for us. We also might have a lead on another tractor. It's pretty amazing how fast good used tractors get snapped up. Guess we learned that lesson.

I have a friend named Brett Thomas. Smart man, this Thomas fellow. He introduced me to a musician named Will Hoge some years ago. I've always kind of liked him, and actually have a couple of his albums. I have been in a music rut lately and was cruising iTunes looking for new music, and saw that he had a new album out. I checked out a few songs on YouTube. I'm really digging this new album - Number Seven. Here are a couple of songs off of it:

This is off of his prior album. I really dig this song:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's Over

We finished harvest last night. I was going to come home and write about it, but Shay and I decided to go up to the Nitecrawler to have a beer to celebrate, and then Steve was serving wings, and then a neighbor started talking with us, and stories started getting told, and you know how that goes.

We need to empty one of the semis into the bin this morning, bring the combine, auger and semi home, and then that'll probably be it for the day. Supposed to be cold and windy. We'll clean everything up and put it away Monday, I'm guessing. Then work on the house can begin!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This Was A New Experience

I've never picked corn in the snow. It came down pretty hard for a little while, then the sun came back out and it got cold. I didn't have my camera, so these are from my phone. It was pretty, except the part where we had to quit picking. I was thinking we'd be done Friday, but this might push us back a half-day or so.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Nov. 14th (Really?)

This month (and year) are moving right along.

Well, we aren't done picking corn yet. We should get done this week, hopefully by Friday. Why Friday? I'd like to watch the Husker game Saturday. Yeah, I suppose that's a lame reason, but I really don't care. I think Dad and I might possibly, maybe, could be going to an auction next Monday, so that's another reason to get done.

Since I'm a seed dealer for Channel, we do a test plot every year. In fact, next year, we're going to do a corn test plot and a soybean test plot. Basically, you plant a bunch of different hybrids in the same field, at the same population, the same fertilizer rate, and the same irrigation. This way, you can find out what works for your area and what doesn't. It also gives the seed company an opportunity to compare their hybrids in different soils and management styles. You put up a bunch of signs with the hybrid numbers on them for advertisement purposes, also. My DSM came out last Thursday with his weigh wagon, and we went to work. Basically, you pick each hybrid separately and weigh them separately, measure the distance of the rows, weigh the corn, blah blah blah. Anyway, you do all this figuring and find out how many bushels per acre it makes. We had 11 hybrids - 10 Channel numbers, and one Pioneer. 4 of the Channel numbers were green snapped pretty bad and only made around 165bu/acre. There were 3 Channel numbers that made in the 190s. The Pioneer number made 188bu/acre. Channel 211-99VT3P made 200bu/acre, Channel 208-72VT3 made 216bu/acre, and Channel 216-63VT3 made 220bu/acre. Anyhow, I'm boring you. Here are the pictures:

Also, I came across a couple of pictures from a long time ago when I was working on the bean head. Making an appearance is my Grandpa, Bill:

And a picture of our "new" house. I think it's actually the oldest house in the area. I'm excited to get to work on it and make it ours.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Harvest Continues

I'm in a much better mood than I was the last time I blogged. Sometimes it just gets to a guy, you know? I figure if I want this blog to be real, I can't blow sunshine up your asses all the time.

So here's some not-sunshine. We picked some bad corn today. Do you remember the greensnap pictures from way back this summer? The wind huffed and puffed and blew some corn down. Some of Grandpa's was worse than I thought. I was sick about it. I talked to our District Sales Manager for seed today, and hopefully, they can do something for Grandpa next year, either through discounted seed or some free stuff. I took some pictures with Dad's camera, but honestly, it's kind of hard to see how bad it is in the pictures. You just have to see it in person to understand it.

I did a quick acre count tonight, and considering we don't lose days to weather or break downs, we could be done by next Friday or Saturday. It feels like we're finally picking up steam, which is awesome, considering 3/4 of harvest is over...

Once harvest is over, I get to start working on our new (to us) house. I need to get some pictures of that place up. I hate moving, but knowing that we'll be moving to something we own is a totally different feeling. I've also learned that I've been blessed to farm some more ground next year. Basically, the size of my farm will double. I'll be farming around 430 acres next year. Considering my goal 3 years ago was to farm 1,000 acres by the time I was 30, I'd say things are going down the right path. What can I say, other than God provides and blesses. I should've remember that when I was bitching the other day.

Hope all is well with the readers. One of the die-hards told me today that the "peons" were waiting for another post. So, here you go. :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Seems Like

It's been a long harvest. It doesn't look like it's going to end anytime soon, either. We lost 4-5 days before we even started due to software problems with the combine, we've lost 2 days to rain, and lost this afternoon to another breakdown. This on top of probably a day or two down due to other nagging little problems. Add to that some other things that have been going on for me personally, and I find myself wishing more and more that harvest was over.

When I started this blog, I couldn't wait until harvest. I wanted you all to share with me the joy of reaping what God has blessed us with, but for the first time in my life, I'm not having much fun this fall. It's not exactly because of the machinery problems - that happens. It's not the weather, either.

It's the constant grind of being the go-between for two men that, for some reason, can't communicate with each other without going through me. The hope that your grandfather might slow down next year and give you maybe 80 acres to farm, only to find out that won't happen this year, but maybe next year... again. The fact that I've been running a combine or an auger wagon for a long time, but I still get told how to do one or the other nearly every day. The proof that twin-row was a good investment, and even though someone you're close to knows it has worked well, won't tell you that you were right, all because when you bought the planter, he told you "that will never work. All it's going to do is greensnap and fall over at harvest."

I'd like to be told when I'm doing something well, instead of how wrong I am all the time. I'd like to get in the tractor or combine for one day and not have anyone tell me how to do something I already know how to do. I'd like to be told I was right, just once. Mostly, I'd like to pick the last load of corn, clean up the equipment and put it away, so I can decompress for a few days.

The joy that comes with harvest being taken away... That's what upsets me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You Wanted Harvest Pictures

You got 'em. Some are from my phone, so not the bestest. Some are of me - Shay gets a little picture happy. I look pretty intense when I'm running the combine. Harvest has been... normal, I suppose. We've had some down time, little problems here and there, but it's going ok. Our yields have been pretty decent, for the most part. Better than I expected, at least. It's supposed to rain/snow tonight and tomorrow morning, so I think we're going to spend some time fixing a few things.