'Real Farming' with a CUT

   #1  

Greyfields

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Mar 24, 2007
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I bought my first tractor this last winter so am a relative new-comer to the whole "agricultural" world. Let me say that I wanted a tractor that would fit in our garden (surrounded by 8' high deer fencing) and would be a good tractor in the fields as well. I settled on the JD 4120. I had reserached tractors quite a bit, being of an engineering mind set, and found that a 35 HP PTO was about as small as you could go and still eventually get fun "farming toys" to play with. I also liked the weight and stability of the 4X20 series, which is 3700 lbs sihpped + driver + fuel + front loader + filled rear tires.

I got a couple PM's asking me to photo document some of my projects. I think a lot of people are in the same boat, being new to farming, having tractors, then trying to figure out how to use them. So, I will start sharing today. Old-timers, please tell me what I'm doing wrong. New-comers, remember no question is too stupid. I ask stupid questions all the time. Unless your craddle was painted John Deere green, people learn through experience, rather than having done it their whole lives.

First, our farm is Greyfields. It's located on Puget Island, WA, which is 5-mile long, 2-mile wide island in the middle of the Columbia River. We are 39 miles upsteam from Astoria, which makes us the first fresh water port on the River. Our river and sloughs are tidal and Wahkiakum County receives a stupidly high amount of rainfall ( ). We are raising pastured (grass fed) beef, pork and lamb; along with pastured/free range Christmas goose, duck, meat chickens and eggs. We sell at the Two Island Farm Market, which is at the farm adjacent to ours which is supremely convenient. You can find all these on Local Harvest if you search. One final note about our name, "Greyfields". It's an allusion to my cousins' dairy in Herefordeshire, England, called "Woofields" (Anglo-Saxon in origin for "the field with wolves"). My grandmother, mother and wife are all English, so we spend at least a month every year across the pond.... thus Christmas Goose being natural to us, rather than turkey.

First, a panorama:
 

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Greyfields

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First we'll cover hay making. I used to "buck bales" as a teenager, and there is nothing I hate more. Hay makes my skin itch, turn red and my nose run. After reading about modern hay making requiring a lot less labor, mostly due to round bales, I thought I'd give it a try. I don't have to touch the stuff much afterall, then. Plus, I don't need to hire labor.

Our pastures are pretty rotten currently; but mowing them monthly for 6 months has helped quite a lot. The "problem" plants are tussock grass, horsetail, canadian thistle and creeping buttercupt. The 'good' grasses are tall fescues, white clover and reed canary grass. The reed grasses grow very well here (water table is between 2' and 4' down depending on the tide and time of year), almost too well. They easily grow to over 10' in height and very densely. If you keep it well cut, though, it is actually nutritious.

You need three attachments to make hay.

a) a cutter
b) a rake
c) a baler

Here are some photos of the baler. First in the "travel" position. If you've only ever used brush hogs (rotary cutters), it takes some getting used to these since they are offset from the tractor. When you raise and lower them, the weight shifts and it can feel a little squirly at first. The big difference is that a disc mower cuts the grass off cleaning, but does not chop it. It's like a knife cutting it off at the ground, laying the grass down in a row. The first time I used a disc mower, I didn't think it was actually cutting and that the grass just laid down. Sometimes, it even remains standing in clumps, but if you pull on them you'll realize they've been sawed off.

The other photos are the discs, the mower and the cut grass laid in the swath.
 

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   #3  

Egon

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Very interesting.:D Keep the pictures going.:D

And thanks for the ones seen so far.:D :D

I always did like the smell of fresh mown evening hayfield's!:D
 
  
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Greyfields

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Friday is market day, so I didn't get to finish posting the material I had. But here is a preview! I tedded my first fields today, and will be doing two more on Sunday. So, I'll have photos of before/after. Here is my rake/tedder:
 
  
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Greyfields

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Picture didn't stick...
 

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Greyfields

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And a preview of things yet to come....
 

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   #8  

AKfish

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Greyfields -- great pictures! The panoramic was awesome! Thanks.

Nice, shiny... er, implements. And that's just what every small farmer... NEEDS!

(I'm showing all this stuff to my wife! As a way of educating and informing... OK, lobbying!)

Maybe a bit of info regarding (I guess I could search the web) the specs on your new tools would be a great addition.

Like the minimum HP for the disc mower, width of cut and what brand is the rake/tedder? (I didn't know there was a combo rake and tedder in one unit..)

Anyways, can hardly wait to hear (see) how the new baler does for ya'.

Keep 'em comin'!

AKfish
 
   #9  

Mickey_Fx

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Vancouver Wa.
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Nice to see you discovered the tedder. Almost a necessity here in the PNW for first cutting.

I used a mower conditioner to speed up drying. I had a 2 row tedder and a side delivery/tedder by Madds-Amby of Holand if I recall. Loved the Madds rake and was a very unique design that worked quite well with tall grass or first cutting clover or alfalfa.

Would have never guessed Puget Island would be locate on the Columbia. So far from the Puget Sound.
 
  
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Greyfields

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AKfish said:
Maybe a bit of info regarding (I guess I could search the web) the specs on your new tools would be a great addition.
Like the minimum HP for the disc mower, width of cut and what brand is the rake/tedder? (I didn't know there was a combo rake and tedder in one unit..)

The baler is in the driveway. I picked it up in Salem yesterday, then towed it home with my truck. Let me give you some links to the implements. I do have more photos, but am a bit busy with work and making hay, so it may take me a few days yet.

The baler (not yet photo'd) is a small round baler. It's a Massey Furgeson 1745.

http://www.masseyferguson.com/agco/MF/NA/HayForage/RoundBaler.pdf

My tractor is 42 HP / 35 PTO, so I really wanted the 1734, the smaller baler even. But, I was given the choice if waiting a year for it to come from the factory, or going the next size up. Since the 1745 has a 40 HP PTO requirement, we did a bunch of checking with the 'factory boys'. If I stay away from doing the maximize size bales (5') of heavy material (silage), the HP won't be an issue. I will no more probably Tuesday as I begin bailing.

The disc mower is a Hesston 1005. It requires 35 HP PTO and has a 6'6" cutting width.

http://www.hesston.agcocorp.com/@resource/agcoproductspecs/HS_Disc Mowers_Product Specs.pdf

The rake/tedder is a Braber TR300. The manual seems poorly translated from German. It's all I know, except that yes it indeed rakes and teds (I also looked at the Universal 300's which are rake/tedders, but the Braber was a far less complicated looking design). I haven't found a linky yet.

Anyway, my advice regarding tedding is to be sure and get your top link set correctly, so you're not tedding up the mulch from the previous cutting. I cut in a little too deep initially, so had to go back and pick up by hand a few clumps. I got my first job already baling on shares. It's a field of white clover / prennial rye, to be baled into the smallest diameter round bale I can make. It's far better than any forage on my farm, so I'm really excited!!
 
 
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