Friday, April 19, 2019

Our Recent Purchase, Headache, Adventure, and Toy

Well, I said I would write this blog post 2 days ago and we see how that went… about as well as our delivery of said item.

Mystery Object

If you know us, or have been following the blog, you know we moved out into the country in December and have 12 acres. Our 12 acres now has a small orchard planted on it and we are planning our next project, a big garden. We lease 7-8 acres of the land to a farmer currently (honoring a lease that was signed with the previous owner). The garden still should be rather large with some room to expand. Some of the area is part of the field that the farmer gave us back, but a large portion of it is grass.

The person who farms our field has nicely offered to disc the garden for us, but it will need to be broken down further before we can plant. So… the moment you have all been waiting for…. What did we buy…….

A TRACTOR! Not just any tractor but a 1947 Farmall Model A and as one person commented of course it is old! We sure love our antiques. We went with a Farmall Model A because it’s small enough to fit in the barn and made to do row crops with a high clearance. We also really like that it looked like the older style of tractors (Pre-WWII) instead of the new style of modern tractors more similar to Ford Model 9N.

Farmall Model A

Farmall was a model/brandname for International Harvester. Most Farmalls were made for row-crops. They were primarily built as affordable, all-purpose tractors for small to medium family farms. It perhaps is one of the most well-known tractor brands in the 1940’s. The model is also a 1 plow tractor. The engine on this model is offset from the seat to be able to see where you are going.

Offset Engine from Seat

Now, we are super excited to have our Farmall tractor. We had been looking at these for a while and we got a good deal on this one. It needs a bit of work though. It needs all four tires and the clutch is stuck, but it runs well. So, after a quick call to my mechanic father to see if he’d help us fix up the tractor, we bought it!

Next step, how to get it home. The guy who owned the tractor also had a tow truck business and offered to drop it off. This is where the fun starts… They came to drop off the tractor and the flatbed truck pulls in the driveway (mistake 1). He then realizes the tractor needs to go into the carport. He tells Jeremy he will have to drive on the grass a little bit to get it turned around. This is where things go haywire.

Sunk Tow-Truck
The truck goes off of the grass more than a little and sinks. Not just sinks a little but buries itself to the axles. …. OOPS. Well, he can’t get out. He then calls another tow truck… which is unable to pull him out…. Then, he calls another larger tow truck and in the process of being successfully removed from the crater he had dug himself rips up even more of the yard and adds to the new pond that’s been dug for us.

It's moving!

Bye-bye truck!

Our temporary new swimming hole

Finally, after being extracted he gets in his truck backs out of the driveway and cuts the wheel really hard and digs one final rut before leaving… wow what a crazy 4 hours. At least the owner of the tractor/tow truck company has said once things dry out he will fix the yard up just like it never happened. So now we hope it stops raining so it can dry out.

One last rut for good measure.

This blog post was partially delayed because the tractor was unloaded anywhere it could be gotten off of the truck safely to lighten its load. So, it was stuck half rolled over a stump and Jeremy and I could not roll it over it. So, special shout out to our good friend who drove over the next day to help us push it under the carport out of the rain that seems to never end this spring.

The bright side to it all is that our 1947 Farmall tractor is home and awaiting its new life on our farm.

Home Sweet Home

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Planting the Apple Trees

With the apple trees ordered, it was time to do some research into how to plant the trees, along with doing some preparation before they arrived. One challenge was how much information is out there for planting apple trees. This is because the many different sources contradict each other. For example, some would say make a hole 2x the size of the root ball while other say just a little larger than the root ball. Another source would say, prune the roots or the branches while another would say never do that. In the end, we did our best to follow any direction that was provided by the nursery we ordered the trees from, since they provided a survival guarantee.

Before they arrived, we picked out ground for where we wanted them. The area seemed to stay well drained (much of our yard space is not), could be seen from several windows, was near the pond to help with watering, and was on the side of the house. Setting up a small orchard in the side yard seems to be very common historically, at least around here. Next was a soil test. Everything tested well for the apple trees except for the nitrogen test. That test seems to be a dud, as it showed no color change, nothing, at all. That just isn’t possible since there is very green grass and other things growing in the area. After reading reviews where others experienced similar “results,” we decided we were not too worried about this.

We then started some prep of the area, which included getting fence posts and fencing to keep deer away from the young trees. After some reading, we decided on four T posts around the tree with a five-foot wire welded fence set at a diameter of six feet. This should provide plenty of room for the tree to grow, keep deer from eating the tender branches, and for us to get in there to work if needed. While buying all of this at the store, (along with the fencing needed for the garden later) we had several people comment on how much work we had ahead of us!

We then cut out the sod in a four-foot diameter circle with the center of the trees spaced about 13-14 feet away from each other. The recommended distance was 12-16 feet so we are right in the middle. We then drove the fence posts into the ground. Then back to waiting for the trees.

The trees finally came! Wow, that is a much smaller box then what we pictured! The trees came well packed and were set up to be able to be stored for a few days if needed. We set them aside in a cool and dark place (also known as our basement) until we could get them into the ground.

Looking at the weather and knowing the time it would take we saw a window and went for it! We started late in the afternoon with excitement. Reading and rereading the directions provided we dug our first hole. Taking care to get the roots in a good place and pushing down the soil as we filled in the hole. Making sure the graft area was several inches above the soil and mulch level. Once the tree was in we put a good layer of mulch down around the tree. Then moved to the next one! At first, the archeologist in the family wanted to screen the dirt coming from the holes. So someone else made them a screen to do so. Well, this was really slowing things down and with nothing found in the first hole the search was suspended. The screen will be used another time!

Once all the trees were planted, fertilized, mulched, and watered we turned to the fencing. At this point, the sun was providing its last rays of any warmth with the wind turning to come from the north. While putting up the fencing and bending and twisting each of the clips into place the chill settled in! We were on the home stretch so kept going! We reached the last tree and started to stretch the fencing around when it became obvious we were three feet short! Into the truck we jumped and into town we went! We were both starving so dinner was had and another roll of fencing procured. Racing back home we completed the last fence in the dark with the headlights of the truck. Making it into the house at 11pm.

We woke up the next morning realized it had poured rain a good portion of the night and was still raining! Four of the trees were in good shape but one, which was in the lowest spot, was flooded. We went out into the rain and dug a trench to drain the water away. That evening the rain changed over to snow with dropping temps. The trees sure got a welcome to Michigan!

Thankfully, the young dormant trees are not supposed to be impacted by cold temperatures, snow, or frost.

Now we wait for them to wake up! Once they have leafed out we will water them again and keep watering them. They are supposed to provide fruit in 2-4 years but some have said they did get some apples the first year. We will find out later this year!

After all this, for some reason, we ordered a peach tree, cherry tree, blueberry bush, blackberries, and strawberries. But that will be another story.

Carpenter Bee Bee Gone!

This was a quick little project that wasn’t planned! This year we have noticed quite a few carpenter bees around the two barns and at least ...