Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Photo Post

I have taken photos as we travel and of the things we are doing, I thought since today is a laundry day and I am simmering tomatoes I would post some pictures of what we have seen and some of the things we have done.

 At Earthtools, discussing the drum mower.

The equipment all loaded.

 Ralph using the flail mower to clear the fenceline and to start to get used to the Grillo Tractor.

 This is at the highest point of the land, looking south. The hayland is recovering well.

 Queen Anne's lace.....a dilemma as it is considered a weed but the bees and butterflies love it.

 Bullfrog heaven with Dragonfly dreams!

 Tobacco ready to pick

There are scores of these massive butterflies all over the farm.

We are so enjoying the time at Cubrub. It is strange how at home we feel there!

Take care all of you and be well.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Views Through A Chipped Windsheild. Part 2

It's Monday morning, we are still in Kentucky. I am blogging on my tablet from the hotel room.
Where is Ralph? Well he is at the tire shop,  ahh that old saying for the want of a horseshoe nail the shoe was lost! Well we found the horseshoe nail! One thing about Amish country is a nail hazzard. However this is the rub, the tire went flat in the field,  the jack would not lift the pickup, it just sank into the ground.
Of course this was on Sunday when we had just watered the transplants before heading back to Virginia.
A tow truck call after a two mile hike for a phone showed Ralph can still march like the Marine he was.
The pickup in the field, waiting for the tow truck.

The good news is we have turned earth with the Grillo and rotary plow!

Grillo 110 with Berta Reversible Rotary plow.

The Berta Rotary plow is a great piece of land working equiptment, it turns the earth a good 12 inches deep and breaks sod into garden quality loose earth in one pass. This version has a system where you can turn the plow and come back along the same side of the row you have just worked.

Ralph also cleared fencing with the flail mower and it is better than expected, it can take down tall grass and weeds or mow lawn smoothly. It is heavy and we have to get the wheel weights mounted to the tractor for this piece of equipment to be easier to work, it is front heavy without the extra weight.

Here is Ralph clearing the entry gate area to the field.

We ended up with the road fenceline cleared using the 34 inch Flail Mower. With the Berta Rotary plow Ralph had plowed a furrow, almost like a raised bed for the plants. The soil is excellent and Ralph only hit 2 rocks of any sized. The way the rotary plow works means rocks are thrown to the side and the tractor does not jump like a roto tiller.

The strange thing was despite the heat and several days of no rain, the ground was really a bit too wet to work. We had enough tilled to plant 40 pepper plants, they looked so happy in dirt after a harrowing plant oddessy, in travelling from Virginia.

We called it a day, it was 92 with a heat index of 105. We had had a great day with plans made to do a final planting and watering in the morning. We would then head back to Virginia for the next load.

The young couple were outside so we stopped at the house to say hello and keep them up to date on our plans. They invited us to sit,  we took advantage of comfy lawn chairs by the house in the shade of a tree. 
We had a marvelous time, talking about the farm, watching wild turkeys in the lower field and keeping an eye on the little boy.

It was a successful day!

Ahh Ralph is tire on the pickup and things to do.
More adventures are on the way and we keep meeting wonderful people.

God bless you all!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Views Through A Chipped Windsheild. Part 1

We are travelling our little pickup truck. Today the Clampetts are starting to move things from Virginia to Kentucky! As we head down the road with a load of...........buckets and.......tomato plants most of the world thinks we are bonkers!
We have our utility trailer piled high with the Salvaged honey buckets from the bakery.

Interstate 64, early morning with fog lifting.

We are heading to Cub Run to find a storage unit and then to Earthtools to get the equipment. We have some business to do in Cub Run as well.  We want to go to the county office, find out about things like garbage pick up, find a propane provider and electric company.
Saturday we will spend with the Grillo and assorted attachments, breaking ground for a new garden for the Travelling Tomatoes! (It sounds like a folk music group from the 60's)

As with any Interstate travel...Signs for places to see.

As we drive we plan and of course plan more but this trip was going to take some turns we did not plan for.

The first of many mini storage lots we visited.

There were a lot of storage units dotted about the area the farm is in, we got phone numbers on a previous run. There were so many we should have had a hunch there was a demand....nope we though this would be great,  lots of selection!

We could not find a place that had any for rent. Storage site after site were full and had waiting lists! We were now starting to worry as we still had to get the equiptment.
Finally we found a place in Munfordville,  actually the unit had only been emptied the day before! It is a big unit but priced well (we are used to east coast prices) and has a door on each end and room out front to back the trailer in. We quickly unloaded the seedlings and buckets. The plants had taken some heat damage from the delay of looking for storage.
Now we were late. Ralph called Earthtool and explained, Joel said he would wait and we headed north.
This went well and we had time for a demonstration of the drum mower, it makes a beautiful cut and small swath of hay, just what we wanted. The loading went well.
The trip back was long, Ralph was getting tired from a very long day.

More scenic Kentucky Highway.

Unloading was a challenge as a fair amount of equiptment had been loaded easily with a loader at Earthtool. We are not as young or as strong as we used to be! We were exhausted and pleased at the same time as we locked the unit and headed for the Hotel.
Tomorrow would see gardening taking place on our own land!

Monday, July 20, 2015

And Now The Work Begins....Part 2

Here is the continuing list of our equipment purchase.

Plastic Mulch Layers About $700.00 Click HERE for a video of a plastic layer in action.

The unit is $425.00, but we got the hitch, a drip tape accessory, we got it modified to hold larger rolls of drip tape, etc. We got the two foot size, not the three foot. It buries about six inches on each side, so you are left with about a foot wide in the middle to plant into. I wanted this for tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, squash, cucumber, zucchini, watermelons, cantaloupes, winter squash, etc. to be planted into. It will help to warm the spring soils, keep down weeds until the plants are established, and hold summer moisture in the soil. Joel looked at me and hesitated. Then he said “No one ever orders the two foot”. I told him that, for me, I was only planting a single row into the plastic. Therefore, the two foot was all I needed. And the two foot is what I will be receiving. 

Aldo Biagioli ETR-5 Cultivator $450

Also got hitch, drawbar, and tool carrier. Sometimes, I may not need or want the power harrow for weeding. This is the back up/alternative for the power harrow.

This requires eight horsepower for operation.

Wheel weight hangar posts $69.00

Debris screen for diesel engines $69.00

This is to keep debris from clogging the cooling fins on the engine. I felt they should have come standard. To me: a design defect! Oh well.

Berta Franco 34” Flail Mower $1849.00

From Joel's website:

These heavy-duty mowers feature a horizontally-mounted drum with numerous sets of hinged blades mounted to it.  The blades “flail” out by centrifugal force (at a drum speed of about 3000 rpm) to pulverize material.  Flail mowers are excellent for reducing mowed material to a very small size for quick incorporation/breakdown into the soil; very popular for cover crops for this reason.  A six-foot tall cover crop can be reduced to 2” – 4” pieces in a single pass and left evenly distributed across the width of the mower.    Because of the time and horsepower required to “grind up” the material that is being mowed, the taller and denser the material is, the slower this type of mower typically has to travel (unlike a Cutter [sickle] Bar Mower, which only cuts material off at the bottom and therefore doesn’t care how tall it is, or a Brush Mower, which will give a decent cut at higher speeds but just not grind the material up much).  However, with the introduction of the Berta (same company that builds our Rotary Plow) brand flail mowers in 2010, this has changed…Berta is the first manufacturer to offer flail mowers with an  easily removable baffle in the rear of the shredding chamber: If the baffle is removed, the mower discharges the cut material in larger pieces, therefore requiring less power, and the mower can be run at higher ground speeds, essentially allowing the Berta flail mowers to double as an effective and fast Brush Mower


If the unit hits a rock or stump or whatever, the flails just kick back with no harm or danger.

I was going to get scarification blades for field rejuvenation. Joel told me not to. He said the tedder/rake would do the same job. Money saved/not given to Joel.

Click here for a short video of the Berta flail mower in action.

Click here for a video of the Berta Flail mower cutting cornstalks.

This unit requires an eleven horsepower diesel engine. 

Zanon 40” Disc Mower $1550.00


From Joel's website:

Disc mowers are ever-more popular for mowing hay with 4-wheel tractors, and now we offer a model for a walk-behind tractor.  These mowers feature spinning discs with small hinged blades on the outside edges which will “fold back” in the event of hitting a rock, stump, etc.   Advantages over cutter bars are lower maintenance and no vibration, disadvantages are higher profile and more power-consumptive, hence not as much available cutting width per tractor horsepower.  On this model for a walk-behind tractor, the two discs with 3 blades each turn opposite directions and toward the center, leaving the hay windrowed down the middle and the row straddled by the tractor.  We have found that the disc mowers are an advantage in regions with highly abrasive soil/high sand content soil: because rains tend to “splash” some traces of soil up onto the lower few inches of plants, the highly abrasive soils will cause premature wear of cutter bar mowers because of the way the blades scrape against one another like a big scissors.  With the disc mowers, all that suffers in these conditions are the 6 little blades, and they are inexpensive and very easy to change.  Cutting height is fixed on this mower; unit runs on ball-bearing-isolated heavy steel “bowls” (for lack of a better term… that’s what they look like!) mounted beneath each disc.  There is no way to adjust these, so you just have to live with about a 2” cutting height.  As with everything else Zanon manufactures, this unit is super-heavy-duty: cast-iron gearbox housing and PTO mounting flange with hardened steel shafts & gears in oil bath.  Has an oscillating swivel-joint in driveshaft housing to allow mower to "float" to follow ground contours. Because the cut material is straddled by the tractor, tractor must be equipped with 5x12x22" tall wheels or larger for adequate ground clearance.

Unit requires eleven horsepower diesel.

When cutting hay/grass, it windrows it down the middle of the tractor underneath. The tractor just runs over/above the hay/grass. It is already in a windrow for easy forking after drying. It is not all beat up by rakes. It may need to be tedded if moisture issues arise.

Molon Side-delivery 60” Hayrake / Tedders $2375.00

From Joel's website:

This well designed tool is PTO driven, so it has plenty of power to move a large amount of hay and sweep the ground clean. Fully adjustable height of tines make it adaptable to any situation.  In fact, when lowered all the way, the tines will de-thatch a lawn!  This rake makes perfect size windrows for our Baler, or you can rake a plot of hay into a central ‘haystack’ for easy forking into a vehicle loose. It also works very well as a tedder (spreads the windrows of hay back out to dry in case it gets wet before baling) - - it takes about 20 seconds to convert from a rake to a tedder or back again; just one simple frame adjustment. The front wheels of the rake are controlled by a steering system to guide the machine; steering lever protrudes back over tractor to operator. Available in 40", 48", 60" and 72” widths (only 40” and 60" stocked; others special order). 40" size works well for raking pine needles in narrow rows and is more economical for really small haying operations where the Baler is not justified.

This unit requires eight horsepower for operation.

I also got a DeWit E50 Raised bed builder w/straight handle. $46.00

This is a man/woman powered raised bed builder (hoe). It is wonderful to work with. I had one years ago. The “hoe” is about 4” high by 12” wide. It pulls a lot of dirt. You will be able to tell you have done some work at the end of the day. I used it mainly for pulling dirt up around plants. It is harder than a hoe for moving a lot more dirt quicker.

I had an interest in a Caravaggi BIO-150 Chipper / Shredders $1799.00. Not so much for chipping. I don't expect to have much brush to chip, but for shredding hay/straw to use as mulch. Joel said I didn't need it. He gave me an unsolicited suggestion. He said that I was getting a flail mower. Use it to shred fresh hay/grass. Let it dry. Then, use the hay rake to rake it into a windrow and then fork it up and use it where needed. He had lost a thousand dollars on the power unit. Now, he lost another $1800 on the chipper/shredder sale. He said it would probably work on dry hay, also.

Sickle bar mowers in varying sizes are available. A log splitter is available. Sprayers, spaders, generators, etc. are available for both the BCS and the Grillo. We got what we thought we needed to make our jobs easier and to help us do them better. We're not thinking of just today, but twenty plus years down the road. All of this equipment is well made and could/should easily last that long. I don't know about us. We feel this is an investment in our future. We cut back on home, land, etc. for this. We feel this is more important than a painting on the wall or a fancy window or even a paved driveway. We all need to have priorities. And this will help us to have more food and take better care of the land. It will help us care for the animals. To us, this was a priority. One of our priorities. We have no regrets on doing this. I took a check for $18,000.00 and wondered how much over that it would go. Thanks to Joel, he is writing me a check. We never reached that amount. And I got extra filters, blades, etc. so I wouldn't have to later. And still never went over. Maybe Fiona can talk me into a “cute” baler now.

The purpose of this post is not to brag or flaunt. We are fortunate to be able to do this. It is God who provided, not us. We wan