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Farm Work
30 September 2007


The barn is almost ready for its final inspection.  There are only a handful of things left to do and finishing those things has been a priority of mine for awhile now.  Unfortunately, sometimes nothing goes as planned.

One of the last minute projects on the barn is a set of built-in shelves.  Actually, one side of the wall will be shelves while the other side will be a lumber rack.  I was in the middle of working on this project when the goats came walking up the driveway.  They weren't supposed to be on the driveway, they had jumped over the fence and came walking up the driveway on their own.  So I had to stop what I was doing and build a new goat fence.

Houdini could take lessons from our goats.  I've fixed the fence many, many times and they always find a way out.  Since we're going to remove the macadamia nut orchard anyways, I decided it was time to build a new goat fence, preferably one that is goat proof.  I knew it would probably take a couple days but would be worth it in the long run.  We're getting tired of chasing escaped goats every day.

Before I could put in new fence posts I had to mow the area.  We've basically abandoned the macadamia nut orchard so the weeds are quite tall.  The weeds are so tall that they hide large rocks and logs, logs big enough that the mower can get stuck on them.

I tried pushing and pulling but the mower wouldn't budge, it was stuck good.  I walked back to the barn to get the ATV.  Not only did the ATV not have enough traction or horsepower to free the mower but it also decided to stall and refused to start again.  The ATV has been needing an overhaul for quite some time now.  What I really need is a new ATV but new ATV's aren't free.

So I walked back to the barn again to get the tractor.  I've been having problems with the tractor, I think its hydraulic pump is about ready to give out.  The chipper was still mounted on the back of the tractor but it had drooped and the three-point hitch didn't have enough power to lift it up again.  It took me a couple hours to wrestle the heavy chipper off the back of the tractor.  I need to figure out and fix whatever the hydraulic problem is but that will have to wait.

The tractor pulled the mower right off the log.  Then I used the tractor to tow the stupid ATV back to the barn and walked back to get the mower.  The mower deck was bent but still worked and I had just enough daylight left to finish mowing.

The next day I pulled the cutting deck off the mower so I could sharpen the blades and bend everything back into shape.  The day's first challenge was getting my bench grinder to start.  The grinder made a humming noise but wouldn't spin, very frustrating since the grinder is still like new.  After a couple hours of fiddling with it I came to the conclusion that the problem is a manufacturer defect and should be replaced under warranty.  Unfortunately, according to Ryobi, my bench grinder is three years old while the warranty is only good for two years.  It doesn't matter if the grinder sat in its box for nearly three years.

In hindsight, if I had just run out and purchased a new $150 grinder I would have saved myself a lot of time but I hate throwing out perfectly good stuff.  I fiddled with it for a couple more hours until I discovered that if I put the housing on backwards then the grinder works great.  It had just been built backwards!  So with a few hours of fiddling I saved myself $150 and sent one less piece of trash to the landfill.

As I triumphantly put the grinder back together I discovered that I had dropped one of the tiny nuts that bolt the housing together.  The barn floor is all gravel and it is amazing how well crushed lava rock gravel can camouflage tiny nuts, bolts, screws, nails and bits of wire.  I had recently acquired a magnet specially designed for retrieving dropped metal parts and this seemed liked the perfect time to use it.  That's when I made another unexpected discovery:  most of our lava rock is magnetic!

Using a magnet to find dropped metal hardware doesn't work so well when the magnet picks up all the rocks too.  It took some determination but I eventually managed to find the missing nut by crawling around on my hands and knees.  I put the grinder back together and it works great.  Then I went to pull the blades off the mower deck and they wouldn't budge.  My new pneumatic air wrench doesn't have enough torque.  I found a heavy pipe to use as a breaker bar then got out my new heavy duty metric socket set.   The socket set has a 17mm socket and a 19mm socket.  You can guess what size socket I need.

On the way to the store to buy an 18mm wrench, I made another discover.  One of my 33 tires (I've counted them:  truck, car, tractor, mower, trailers... and a wheelbarrow), this time it was the front-left tire of my truck that found a small bit of metal wire and gone flat.  Even if the rock weren't magnetic I still never would have found this tiny piece of wire but the truck's tire did.

The local Costco has a tire center but they won't fix a flat unless it's a Costco tire.  The Midas shop wanted way too much money, would take way too long and was way too rude.  I ended up at a tiny auto repair shop that looks like they've been there since 1950 and haven't cleaned the place once.  $15 and 10 minutes later, my tire was fixed.  I also had a nice chat with the mechanic and decided I should buy my own tire plug kit.

I'm almost done with this week's web post (if you're reading this, then I'm done).  Next I'll run out and buy that 18mm wrench.  The new gate for the goat fence needs a second coat of paint then we'll have a new goat pen that even Houdini couldn't get out of.  I took all my scrap lumber off the ground and stacked it on the new rack.  I fixed our little pulper (it had broken at the end of last season) so now we can pulp this year's coffee even though the new pulper isn't installed in the new barn yet.  If all goes well and everything can hold together for awhile then hopefully I'll be ready for that final inspection soon.  In any case I'm sure I'll have plenty to keep me busy around the farm.


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