Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Change in Plans

On Monday, my wife noticed that some of the herd is showing signs of an intestinal parasite problem. Net result, we did an immediate reshuffle of all other ranch business to handle the problem of worming the herd. The process is simple: catch a goat, weigh the goat, measure the medicine and force the goat to take the medicine. The easy part is weighing the goat. Using a syringe without a needle to measure the medicine and force it down the goat's throat makes those parts relatively easy. The hard part, of course, is catching the goats one at a time.

The goats do not want any part of taking the medicine. They have been through this many times before and most of them hate it with a passion. If they know it's worming time, they will even ignore food. They resist being rounded up and that, of source, is the first step. It took over an hour to get the whole herd in one compound about 1/2 acre in size. Some, of course, knew what was happening and lined up. They were easy. The rest got progressively more difficult. Putting out hay with oat pellets allowed us to catch a whole bunch. The last dozed, or so, had to be roped one at a time.

It is not easy to rope a goat. If they see the rope coming, they stop and change direction. The trick is to have a rope coming from the other side, so that when they turn to avoid one, they turn into the path of the second rope. Three ropes at once result in a tangle of rope and the goat getting away. Those last dozen goats took about two hours this time.

This process took the whole day and took the wind out of our sails for the day. So much for the plans we laid out for the week on Sunday! Well, we will get to the fence posts later today. Life goes on...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Parise the Lord! It's RAINING!!

This morning, I awoke to a glorious sound - rain! This is the first significant rainfall we have received in the last two months!

More good news: on Thursday, a new kid hit the ground. This one is black and the doe is gray. This leaves us wondering who the buck was. We do not have a black buck. The kid is healthy and doing fine. She was strong enough to head to the East Pasture yesterday with the rest of the herd.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Tractor is Running

The parts for the tractor arrived just days after we ordered them. Sunday, my son and I pulled off all of the pretty sheet metal and then "had fun" replacing the water pump. First, we removed the hoses. Our first problem, there was no room to get a wrench to the front of the fan to remove it from the nose of the old water pump. We removed the rear cowling from the radiator, but that did not help. We removed the air filter to get access to the bolts which held the radiator to its frame. We loosened the radiator in its frame to lift it out, but that did not work either. The lower radiator hose fitting would not pass the fan blade and, of course, the old water pump would not turn. We ended up removing the radiator frame. This exposed the front of the fan.

Before we went any further, we stopped and scraped off all of the accumulated dirt, grease and other gunk. Some of it we already had to remove, just to find the bolt-heads in order to disassemble to the point where we were.

The next steps were straight forward. Loosen the alternator to release the fan belt tension. Remove the fan from the water pump and, lastly, remove the old water pump. We took about three hours to accomplish the first half of a one-hour job!

Now, it was time to put it back together. We started by mounting the new hose which connects the engine block to water pump, then mounting the water pump. Next, we attached the radiator by-pass hose from the water pump to the thermostat. We bolted the fan blade to the nose of the water pump. We hung the fan cowling on the fan blade. The radiator frame went on next, followed by the radiator. We bolted the cowling to the radiator frame. After we connected the new upper and lower radiator hoses, we filled the cooling system again. Lastly, we mounted the air filter. The engine was ready to test. This section of the job took us about a half hour.

The tractor started without any problems. We let it run for a few minutes and did not see any leaks. The pretty sheet metal is still not mounted. It needs to be cleaned and painted and we do not need it mounted to use the tractor.

We still have a few problems:

  • The structural elements in the nose of the tractor need to be cleaned and painted. This includes the radiator frame, the cowling and the fan blade. To do this, we will have to disassemble the cooling system again.
  • The hydraulic hoses to the rear of the tractor are old and one of them leaks. Fortunately, those hoses are not required to run the three-point hitch.
  • All of the gauges on the dash board need to be replaced.
  • All of the wiring, including the battery, starter and starting circuit wiring, is old and needs to be replaced. It will work for now, but its life is very limited.
  • The pretty sheet metal needs to be cleaned and painted, both inside and outside. Not only will this make the tractor look better, but it will also protect it from the weather.
Now, we can plow the garden!

She may not be pretty, but she's still a workhorse! 

Using the tractor, we are having some problems with the three-point hitch. Without warning, it sometimes lifts the plow blades. This causes us to stop and back up the tractor, drop the blades and try again. I suspect we may need to rebuild the hydraulic system. Again, age is the major factor.

The plowing is now done! The next chore is to level the garden and get the seeds planted. Once the seeds are in, we will get the fence up to keep the herd out of the garden.

Friday, June 02, 2006

More New Kids

Last week, two new kids hit the ground, for a total of four live kids, of far. Both have been doing find. Today, a fifth kid hit the ground. This kid is a little shaky, but nursing from the doe. We still have a number of pregnant does and are expecting more kids to hit the ground in the next few weeks.

Our children are doing only a reasonable job of making sure that the herd gets out into the East Pasture to feed. This pasture needs to have about a half mile of fence replaced. Thus, the herd must be supervised to insure that the remain in our pasture and not our neighbors' pasture or, worse, their gardens. The herd needs to browse in the East Pasture daily. The Main Pasture has been overgrazed and needs time to regenerate.

Bad news, the chainsaw died. It was ten years old and has seen lots of use for a multitude of purposes. It cut the firewood that keeps the ranch house warm in the winter, trims the trees that block the fence line, cuts new fence posts, and more. The most important use is to cut browse for the herd. I searched the web for recommendations on a replacement and came up with three names: Husqvarna (better known as Husky), Stihl and, suprisingly, John Deere. We will have to see what is available locally and who would service it.

More bad news - our Massey-Ferguson tractor will not crank. First, I drained the fuel tank and filled it with fresh Diesel oil. I pulled the starter and had AutoZone test it - it was good. I pulled all the non-essential wiring from the tractor and verified the starting circuits. It still will not crank. We had the local tractor repairer come out to look at it - he says the battery cable and the water pump need to be replaced, but he got it to start. Thank the Lord!! Now, we have to find and order a water pump for a 1964 Perkins diesel engine. While we are at it, we had better replace the water hoses, also. They are ten years old and, if replacing the water pump does not force us to replace them just to reassemble the cooling system, the increased pressure from the new water pump will quickly cause them to fail.

While I have the tractor apart, I might as well rebuild the entire wiring harness. The insulation is dried out and cracking. All of the gauges and the headlamp switch need to be replaced, too. First, I will have to see if I can get the voltage regulator tested. That may need to be raplaced, also

All nine puppies are still doing well. We have an advertisement in the local American Classifieds and have gotten a few nibbles. None have sold yet. The best part is that these puppies leave the new kids alone.