Signs of the Times

Sometimes it feels like we have only been on the farm and working on this house for a few years and then I remember that it has actually been over 6 years since we moved in. There have been so many projects completed, but they are so difficult to use to mark time since things are so interconnected. For example the dining room ceiling has been down for several years because of all of the water and electric that was burried in it.
The trees in the yard are a bit different and don’t stop growing just because we are working on plumbing or electrical for the 5th, 6th or 7th times. When we moved in there was a row of young evergreen trees along the road. The trees didn’t even come up to my waist when we first found them by burning down years of overgrowth on the yard. They are visible on the far side of these pictures as little dark triangles.

By comparison a couple of weeks ago I rode past these same trees on my horse and these trees that used to be so short 6 years ago were over my head while I was riding. That means that some of these trees are pushing 10 foot plus. It is great to see that the wind break is growing in and gives me hope for the trees that we have planted elsewhere on the property one day growing up.

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Creative Mower Deck Cleaning

Recently I made a little mistake. I filled the gas tank on the push mower before setting out to clean the deck. On our mower if it is leaned back on the handle it leaks gas all over the place. I didn’t want to wait the couple of weeks that it would take for the tank to run down enough to lean the mower back so I used the ½ Ton Chain Hoist from my previous post, and some rope that was laying around the barn to make a cradle for the mower. Christopher got a good laugh while he watched me rig up my little harness.

The harness worked great and I will never tip a mower over again to clean the deck.

The Moral of the Story is: When at first you don’t succeed go for overkill.

Growing Potatoes

I know that this might sound crazy, but as a kid who grew up in Idaho and who can make a meal out of a baked potato I have never grown them myself. This year I decided to change that poor sad fact.

I remember watching my grandmother dig potatoes as a kid and so many seemed to get speared by the pitch fork as she turned them up. I didn’t want to deal with that so I am growing tire potatoes this year. The bottom of the first tire was filled with straw, dirt, seed potatoes, more dirt and more straw. Then as the plants get taller the goal is to add more dirt and straw so that there are only a few leaves sticking above the straw. The goal is that when it comes time to harvest I just need to knock over the tires and the potatoes will be ready to pick off of the ground.

Since these pictures were taken I am running out of tires as the plants are getting taller and thriving. Ihope that means that this experiment is working.

Chain Hoist

The tool that you never know that you need until the moment comes that low and behold you do. Then you are left thinking, “now what do I do?” For years in the garage we have had a small chain hoist for lifting up mowers and bushogs when it was time to clean the deck or service the blades. Just a small one tied onto the bottom side of the rafters, that though small enough to be portable was stuck in once place once it was hung. Being a smaller hobby style farm we don’t get our diesel fuel delivered to the farm, but we go through enough that keeping 5 gallon plastic jugs around are not quite enough to fill our needs and we are stuck at the whim of the diesel market for pricing concerns, To get around that a few years back we purchased a 50 gallon fuel tank that sits on a stand in the barn. The problem is that the bugger is heavy to lift when it is empty, let alone filled with fuel. In the past it was a careful dance to get the tractor bucket possitioned just above the tank, chain it up and then carefully lift the tank and drive it to the truck. The problem is that this requires moving in tight quarters, and  usually involves maxing out the lift height of the tractor and barely making it, This is where a chain hoist is nice for a taller lift, but being in a fixed possition it doesn’t help getting from the tank stand to the truck bed. Rapidly running out of options that didn’t require two people and a bit of breath holding Christopher found a chain hoist that was tracked to run on an I-Beam with the beam cheaper than other options to just buy the beam. He found the hoist on Craigslist, and it turned out that the hoist and beam had come out of an old factory. The hoist is a Detroit 1/2 ton that has a walking chain rather than being pulled along the beam by hand which makes everything just a little bit easier. 

After some discussions with fBI who built our barn some bracing was added into the rafters to support the added weight of the I-Bean at one end, and the other was set on top of the exterior wall.

The real test of the new hoist came a few weeks after all of the installation and bracing up was finished when it was again time to make our anual diesel run. The new hoist worked beautifully and just as intended. It marked the simplest trip that the tank had ever taken easily moving from the truck right to its place on the stand with no fuss or stress. Even if this hoist is only used once or twice a year for this one purpose it has been worth the time and money that went into it.

Forest River Dump Bed Trailer

In February of 2016 we drove up to the manufacturing facility for Forest River Trailers; in Elkhart, Indiana and picked up our shiny new 14′ Dump Bed trailer. Little did we know at that we were in for an adventure. The trailer was factory direct through a dealer in Wisconsin that was facilitating the sale. Due to snow that week the trailer was pulled into the load bay of the shop so that we could look it over. Christopher had a check list for features and it was our chance to inspect the trailer. First off the spare tire that we had paid for had not been mounted on the trailer, so someone pulled the spare and rack off of another trailer to put it on ours. One of the tail lights was also malfunctioning so the team at Forest River worked to put a new assembly on the trailer, but no one unhooked our truck and blew the fuse in the truck as they pulled the harness through the metal channel. Luckily there was a fuse that we could use in the truck to make sure that we had lights going home. There were also little things about the trailer as we first looked at it that seemed a little off, but alone didn’t raise too many red flags; serial number not on the trailer, valve stem caps on the tires didn’t match and the a fore mentioned items. The team at the factory had reasons for each of the deviations that we accepted without too much question.

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The days and weeks that followed after getting our shiny new trailer home proved to be quite trying. Christopher being well versed in product quality started working with the trailer to set it up with the wooden riser sides, hooks for the tarps and other modifications to make it meet our needs. In this time he kept finding problems that alone would not have been much, but together made us wonder about the long term quality and durability of the trailer. After weeks of sending emails and phone calls requesting that warranty cover the problems. After close to two months at last Forest River choose to send us a new trailer rather than continue with the list of problems that we kept finding.

The new trailer was delivered and we went over it to check each item that had been flawed on the first trailer to make sure that this trailer had been built properly. Finally we had our new trailer, and Christopher was able to get started with his upgrades. He added boards into the tracks to raise the sides and installed fold flat hooks on those boards to connect to a rope that he had installed on the provided tarp.

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He also added some hooks to hold the set chains up closet to the trailer as can be seen on the back of it. The rod that allowed the gate to be locked down would shift back and forth so he added collars to hold it in place.

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The final modification had to do with the tool box where he installed a proper battery bracket and made room for a crate with heavy duty straps to be stored with the trailer where they will be used for the tractor when it is in transit.

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Once the upgrades were all in place this trailer has been wonderful. We have used it so many times to haul rocks to the creek wash outs, and to move debris from the current house remodels that you will have to wait to see what has been going on there. C&L Rausch Farm has been quite busy over these last few months.

RIP Cole

This last week we lost our first barn cat Cole. We called him the Grumpy Old Man since he was always unhappy if he wasn’t getting his way, but he was a great snuggler when he wanted to be. When he would come in for dinner he would look like he was over weight and we would debate cutting back his feed till someone picked him up and realized that under his winter coat he was very fit and nothing but solid muscle.

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This hunter always earned his keep. He would go after a mouse if the opportunity presented itself, but they were low on his culinary choices. Cole would wait hours for a ground squirrel and shrews  to pop out of its hole, and he would never share them. During the summer he would trot down the sidewalk with a robin so fat that he couldn’t see where he was going when he carried it. This cat even brought baby weasels up to the garage on two occasions. Seriously what cat kills a weasel? This wonderful hunter and four legged child will be missed. Cole you were far too young to go. 2015-06-16 18.45.43.jpg

Redevotion

This corner of the web is dedicated to C & L Rausch Farm in Indiana. This is a 10 acre hobby farm and 101 year old home that are all going through a major transformation. While I have been documenting projects for the past couple of years it has been hit and miss, and this is a redevotion to the cause of sharing our many projects with family, friends and future friends who want to share in our adventure. 4-17-13 010.JPG