Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Springing into action
I haven't posted on here for nearly ten days but that's not because we haven't been busy with stuff.
On the contrary, the good weather has had us out and doing farm and garden chores that would ordinarily have to wait for April or May.
The first job every spring is to get the farm and yard equipment ready for service. I'm always pleased when the various engines fire up after the winter. We don't have enough inside storage for equipment and so some of our machines lie outside in the snow all winter, albeit "blanked off" with various pits of plastic sheeting and wotnot to keep out the worst of the weather.
Our Bolens yard tractor, which hauls a fairly large trailer around all summer long with loads of firewood, hay, fencing and tools for jobs remote from the workshed, was true to its reputation and started up first try.
But the Bolens had a flat, which needed a tube. The problem was, after getting the new tube in, the tire wouldn't seat well on the rim. In my misguided attempt to use more air to seat the bead, I managed to blow up the tire!
Luckily the explosion went sideways, or I maight have had part of my face ripped off by high pressure air and debris. The bang was loud enough to bring Aimee from the interior of the house, which is a rare event. She's become all too accustomed to strange husbandly noises emanating from the workshop.
To fix the problem, I took a long car ride to a fellow I know who has a large pile of yard machine tires, Mr. Trask in Corinth, Maine. Sure enough, he had two suitable ones, and I bought extra tubes as well. The new ones were designed for a slightly longer axle, so I had to drill out new holes for axle pins half an inch further out from the originals, but my "new" forty year old, fifty-dollar drill press (found at a yard sale last year) made short work of that.
It's so nice to have "proper" machine tools. One fine day, I hope one day to find a lathe and milling machine on sale somewhere too, and perhaps a small blacksmith's forge for castings.
The next picture is of a mouse hole found in the lid of my spare toolbox. This is a larger wheeled box made by Stanley, which is great for loading up lots of tools when you're working away from home, but not as convenient as the steel chest of drawers I keep on my workbench, and so it sits on the shelf much of the year.
As you can see, whatever tiny critter that was small enough to get through this hole also created this collection of dog food discards. The hole is only three-quarters or five-eighths of an inch wide, but there was at least three pounds of dog food in there.
Aimee hypothesized that this creature must have been doing so well on all the dog food that there came a time when it got so fat that it couldn't actually get through its hole any more.
So much for the fearsome reputation of Shenzhi-cat (seen here in the rafters), who regularly patrols the workshop. In her defense, she can't get in there during the nights and when we're not here, so the mice have a degree of freedom.
Finally, here's Aimee's new commercial venture, a display stand for yarn sales. This is going to be placed in our coffee shop and local food emporium, Crosstracks in Unity, where proprietor Monica will sell on commission.
We're hoping this outlet solves the problem of the Womerlippi "wool mountain."
This basket represents only about a tenth of the credit we have available at the mill. We take our fleece in regularly, but can't get through that much yarn ourselves. And shearing season will be on us again shortly, perhaps doubling our credit again, especially since our new ram "Bentley" is the size of three normal sheep.
At least no-one can complain that this surplus is the fault of farm subsidies. More than anything, I think it represents our fine ability to grow food and fiber, contrasted with our weak ability, and small amount of time, for marketing.