Michael Dooley's Place ~ C bar lazy M

2005 Archive
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11 December 2005 - Sunday Morn ~

Finished putting up hay in the southern 150 yesterday just after sunset. Because of the much cooler weather, it took over a week to get it baled and stacked. Beginning Wednesday, six days after the Cathy and I started to cut the hay, we started raking, and Jim and I started baling on Thursday. Cathy raked the remaining fifty acres yesterday (Saturday) morning—starting an hour before sunrise, with her warmest jacket and gloves on with a wild rag tied around her neck—with Felipe and Jim running behind the rake baling, while I started stacking. Well, she raked 35 acres, and then had to leave to attend a Karate tournament in Mexicali, where she took a first place trophy, so I finished the remaining 15 acres. A trucking outfit began picking up the fourteen dumps (814 bales) of hay that I stacked Friday about the time Jim and Felipe finished baling the last of the hay. Then another rig pulled in and Jim roadsided 7 dumps over to it. Then he put me in the roadsider and I picked up 8 more dumps. This harvest produced almost 1700 bales, or 100 tons of hay.

I wanted to learn the hay business, particularly the operation of the equipment used, and in that I can say this season has taught me a lot. Farming is a combination of science and art, much like flying, and although there is a lot more to learn, I feel I came a long way in understanding the process.

04 December 2005 - Sunday Morn ~

Okay – no more “that’s the end of it for this season…” statements.

I guess it’s just a different kind of winter. So far it has been very mild and the alfalfa just keeps on growin’. I got a call from the Weddle’s last Wednesday that the south 150 needed to be cut again, I guess they are not going to “sheep it” this winter. During the winter a lot of the alfalfa growers turn their acreage over to a sheepherder who grazes his sheep – up to 27,000 – in the alfalfa ‘til early spring, when they are shipped out. If the weather holds up the alfalfa will produce right through the winter; maybe this is one of those winters.

Anyway, we cut the 150, 60 Thursday, 60 Friday, and 30 yesterday. We’ll probably start raking the Thursday cut today or tomorrow and baling it a day or two after.

21 November 2005 - Monday Morn ~

Raked the 47 acres to the south last Thursday and baled it Friday Morn. Except for some oats to be cut this winter, that’s about it ‘til late February or March.

14 November 2005 - Monday Morn ~

Jim decided to get one more cut out of the “south” 40, along with one of his custom customers 7 acres, so Cathy and I cut it yesterday. Started at 0800 and laid off the first 10, but it was too wet – dew – so stopped for an hour ‘til it dried some, and then picked it up again about 0915. Finished up about 1730 and got the swather back to the home farm right at sunset. All the rest of the hay acreage is either in new growth, or has sheep on it.

21 October 2005 - Friday Eve ~

Been awhile since I’ve had time to sit down and write an update to the Journal, due mostly to my continued education in haymakin’. I noticed in my last update that I mentioned that the Weddle Farm operation was replanting many acres this fall. Jim did check me out in various parts of that operation – plowing, disking, and planting. As recently as today he had me take the seed drill and plant 20 acres at the home farm, and, in fact, of all the operations involved in replanting, running the seed drill is the one I’ve been involved with most. The neat thing about working on this farm is the range of equipment you get to work with. I have run tractors that are relatively new, such as the Case MX 135 used for tilling—with it’s 135 horse turbocharged diesel and computer, to an giant old diesel Case that pulls one of the bailers, to an Allis-Deutsch with an air-cooled diesel that pulls the rake or one of the drills, to the 1952 Ford 600 that I used today to tow one of the seed drills, with it’s little 4-cylinder gas engine. The Ford was his Dad’s first tractor on this farm and he cultivated a hundred acres with it. Compared to the newer stuff, it seems very much the antique.

Coming up this week, we’ll cut the last 150 acres for this season; then the sheep come in for the winter.

17 September 2005 - Saturday Eve ~

Cathy and I cut 50 acres today. I started laying off 30 acres at daybreak, and then Jim called and said he needed me to bale, so Cathy came out and started cutting while Jim and I went over to check the moisture on 12 acres that we did not get baled yesterday. The field needed to be fertilized and the irrigation is coming on Monday, so he had to get the alfalfa baled and cleared. The alfalfa was way too wet, so we went over to the shop to work on the seed drill. By 1030 the hay had dried well enough to bale, so I finished off that 12 acres and then relieved Cathy ‘cause she had an appointment. She had cut 30, so that left 20 for me to finish. After I had cut 10, she came back and took over again, so I headed back to the hacienda. We cut another 40 tomorrow, rake 60. This is maybe the next to the last cutting this season, and then there’ll be a two to three months to get the equipment ready for the next season, and work on many other projects that I got behind on. Mid-week Jim will start seeding the fields that were plowed up and prepped for new growth next year – about 170 acres. Don’t know if I’ll get in on that, but I’ll get to observe.

12 September 2005 - Monday Afternoon ~

Cut 37 acres last Friday. Started to cut 50 acres Saturday morning, and after I had swathed 10 acres the auger quit augering. The auger is behind the reel rake and above the sickle, and feeds the cut material into the rollers, which crush the stems so that the hay will cure properly. So I took it back to the shop and upon close inspection discovered that the plate that holds the sprocket on the auger shaft had two of its three bolts sheared. Since the machine is still under warranty, Jim called the dealer to come and fix it. We were fourth in line for the field service truck, so he did not get to us until 1330 this afternoon. After repairs and getting it back together, the mechanic did not like the looks of the chain, and in fact, I didn’t like the looks of it either – it was stretched and kinked. He said that he would be out in the morning to install a new chain and sprocket.

It’s frustrating for me, as an apprentice, ‘cause the stuff I’ve already cut will be cured, raked and baled before the remaining 40 is ready. The good part is that the machinery is in position for the next 150 we have to do, which we start on Wednesday or Thursday. Just throws things a little out of kilter. I guess Jim’s used to it, he didn’t get all that bent of shape about the situation.

03 September 2005 - Saturday 1400 ~

OK – Don just served me up a plate of the dove stew. Delicious!!!

03 September 2005 - Saturday Noon ~

Dove season opened Thursday – the 1st – and the Yuma area looks like a town in California - if your judging by the license plates.

One of those plates is on Cathy’s Dad’s truck, Don Gregory, who arrived Wednesday afternoon from San Diego to participate in the hunt with his grandson, Joshua. Between Don and Josh, Clemente and his son James and their friends, they have got their limit every morning. I’m hoping that a major portion of harvest winds up in my reefer as I like dove a lot, sautéed in butter, in my special sauce over rice, etc. Unfortunately for me, I think most of guys like dove as much as I do. Don started a dove stew in the crock pot yesterday – we’re having that for lunch today.

22 August 2005 - Monday Eve ~

Field prep for next years crop of alfalfa is underway. Those fields that are scheduled for reseeding are receiving their last cutting and then plowed, disked, laser leveled, drilled (seeded), and the three-year cycle starts over again. I mentioned to Jim that I had heard that alfalfa produced a lot longer than that and he said that there were alfalfa fields that have been producing for a hundred years, but since he produced high quality horse hay, he preferred a three-year cycle. I can’t argue with that, his hay is the best I ever bought – Weddle Farms ~ Custom Hay.

Today he checked me out on the Case 135 with a three-bottom plow and I started plowing 20 acres—got 8 done today—get the remaining 12 tomorrow. Also picked up two 9-high dumps (74 bales) with the Roadsider (New Holland 1095 Bale Wagon) that were going to my place. Since it had been a couple of months since Jim started to check me out on it, his wife Karen – my favorite Roadsider operator ‘cause she puts the stacks in the barn real neat – re-familiarized me with it’s operation. As a former 747-400 driver, the computer is not that big a deal, but keeping the levers and buttons sorted out is taking some getting used to. It’s not Irish proof, but close to it.

18 August 2005 - Thursday Eve ~

Been awhile since I’ve updated – and I did not even realize it. Besides the haying operation, I helped check a friend into hospital here in Yuma, and Cathy and I went over to California Saturday last to visit with my sis Patty near Santa Cruz. We attended a barn dance in Last Chance where Patty used to live for several years before she moved closer to her coffee business in Davenport. Her son Max and family live there, although they are moving to Newport Beach for a few months to help his dad Tony finish his yacht. We took off Sunday and headed south to Los Osos to Suzie’s to pick up my Mom and transport her home to Big Bear. She spent several weeks visiting Patty and then Suzie and my Aunt Fern (my godmother). We spent Monday night at my Mom’s and then left early Tuesday morn for San Diego to visit with Cathy’s folks. Arrived back at the rancho close to sunset Tuesday.

Weddle (l) & Jim (r)


Weather has improved a lot for the Weddle’s; the CB’s last week set the haying behind about a week, so Jim and his troops got back into it last weekend, working 200+ acres to the south. I cut the last 40 down there yesterday, raked 50 this morning, cut 20 northeast, and tomorrow morning rake the 40 I cut yesterday and cut another 40 northeast, and they’ll be close to being caught up. After I finished today, I helped Jim work on one of his balers; the pillow block bearings for the cross shaft started to go south, galled the shaft, etc. Expensive breakdown. Finished the repair late this afternoon – it’ll be back in the field baling ‘round midnite…

09 August 2005 - Tuesday Eve ~

Jim’s Dad did some tilling this morning, but that was about it. We were going to change the sickle drive belt on the swather, but the part wasn’t in, so I didn’t do much other than clean the machine up a little bit. Starting about noonish, major buildups began to the east, and by 1400 there were thunderstorm and flood warnings out for Yuma County, and by 1600 it was coming down hard all over the southwestern county – with lots of lightning cloud-to-cloud and ground-to-cloud.

It blew so hard yesterday that it blew the shade tarps out – livestock and horses. That’s the second time in less than a week, so this time Clemente put slits in them to give some relief. Hopefully they’ll last a little longer this time out.

08 August 2005 - Monday Morn ~

Cut 20 acres – laid off 20 last Saturday afternoon and night. Yesterday, I cut the 20 I had laid off and then went to another location and started cutting another 20. I started in on the last 10-acre block after sunset.

Kept an eye on the sky most of the day, trying to get a handle on the shower/thundershower situation. The only rain on the radar was south of the border. As the day progressed, buildups began to gather to the north and east. About sunset, it started to look pretty ominous to the east, and then severe weather warnings started coming over the radio. The first one was for an area well east of us, the second for Imperial and Riverside counties over in southeastern California. I called Cathy and she said it showed heavy thunderstorms in the Ajo area, but nothing close by. But I could see a rapid buildup of the clouds to the east of me. About twenty minutes later, I called Cathy again and asked her to take a look at the radar. She said there was a moderate shower to the east, moving west – towards me. When I was halfway through the 10 acres, the buildups had turned to full-blown CB’s with lightning to the north through east. When I started the last third of the block (3.3 acres), the gust front hit, so I called Jim and asked him what I should do. He told me to park the swather and he would come get me. On the way back to the farm I asked him what would happen if it rained on the cut hay. He said a little rain – no problem, a lot of rain would turn it in to cow hay. I’m on the way to the field to check it out now.

05 August 2005 - Friday ~

Clouds, rain, thunderstorms on and off all week. Even got some at the place here—damped things down pretty good. The big winds from the gust front earlier in the week blew the canvas out of the shop shade canvas. It had been on for a couple of years so the sun had got to it and it was ready to go anyway.

You may recall me writing a bit about my Marine friend, LCpl Steve Stanevich, who was sent off to Afghanistan for a year when that ruckus kicked up. He’s assigned to the USS Boxer for six months – takin’ a little sea cruise in the Pacific. I look forward to seeing him when he returns.

Cathy and I will be cutting 250 acres of alfalfa over the next few days – weather permitting – then take a few days off on the California coast, the Left Coast, that is…

01 August 2005 - Monday ~

The monsoon season is definitely upon us now. Big t-busters last night, with lots of fire cloud-to-cloud and many strikes cloud-to-ground, some of it fairly close by. Went into town around midnight. Many intersections and roadways flooded, signals out, and a fire engine rolling to some place east. The town was lit up okay, as well as the aerodrome—I suspect the Jarheads have their own back-up. Got some rain at our place – just enough to damp things down.

Last night we had three power outages—the first two of short duration. The last one—about midnight—lasted for a couple of hours. That’s when we – Cathy, Benito and I, went into town, ‘cause we couldn’t sleep after the a/c went off, too humid. We opened up the windows to get a draft through the house, but the wind died. Just couldn’t win.

Thunderstorms forecast continues for today and tomorrow.

As I write this – big gust front just hit – estimating the wind at 50 – 60 knots – with several power interruptions.




23 July 2005 - Saturday ~

There is a thunderstorm forecast for our area that began yesterday and runs through Tuesday, the highest probability for rain occurring today. On the way home from town last night, we saw a line of storms over the Tinas Marias, a little range of mountains to the east of us. We stopped and I snapped a bunch of photos with my Kodak DX7590 while Cathy went over and sat on the ditch bank to watch the light show. Initially we stopped so I could photograph the top of a t-storm that was lit up by the fading sunlight, but then a lot of lightning kicked in so I snapped a few more in the hopes of catching some strikes.

We’re in our monsoon season (end of June thru mid-September), so we may catch some of it this year; last year we got zip. We are on the western edge of the monsoon area, so our t-storm incidence varies from year to year, although the folks east of us usually get a lot of rain via t-storms every season. Sometimes it is very impressive.

Last night we had three power outages—all of very short duration. 99% of the time the outages are caused by two things, wind or rain. Last night it was wind; it howled-out of the south. Died off in the wee hours.

17 July 2005 - Sunday Eve~

This is the third time this season that the weather folks have issued a “Heat Warning” for the Southwest. To us in this area it’s laughable. The first heat warning they issued was early June, as I recall, and it was for 110º. Hell, 110º for us in the normal range. Around here most folks that work outside - like the ag folks - adjust their work schedule so as to be in the shade during the hottest part of the day. Start the day before the sun comes up and knock off around 12-1300. Except my partner Clemente - he goes straight through. I believe the sun has cooked his brain so he doesn’t know better.

Raked 40 acres this morning of the 40 Cathy cut last Friday. Jim and Tony baled the last 40 acres in the Alegria 150. We arrived back at the home farm about 0800.

Cathy Sue took a 1st Place at a Karate tournament in Mexicali Saturday; she beat up two poor little Mexican girls...

05 July 2005 - Tuesday Eve ~

Back from Big Bear where we visited my Mom and brother James and his wife Janet. It was a pleasant place to be over the 4th, low 80’s during the day, low 40’s at night-which I will admit was a mite chilly for us Yumaites. Cathy and her son Josh really enjoyed the flora and fauna of the Valley. The fireworks show last night was a good one, especially the reflections off the lake.

10 June 2005 - Friday Morn ~

All the cut hay has been baled and stacked. A couple of days off and the cycle starts all over again. This hay thing gets more intense with each passing week as the weather allows the alfalfa to grow at an amazing rate; at least it appears so to me. Karen Weddle picked up that last 10 acres of baled hay yesterday afternoon, acreage that surrounds their house, and now they have a big, beautiful lawn that in 28 days will be over a foot-and-a-half high with purple flowers all over it.
And then we’ll mow it again…

08 June 2005 - Wednesday Eve ~

The stuff I cut a few days ago gave Jim fits getting baled. He is very picky about the quality of his hay. One of the factors in quality horse hay is the moisture content of the hay. If moisture content of the bale is above say, 20%, there is a chance of mold and fungus. If it is too dry, well, more on that later.

After the alfalfa is cut it lays in the windrow for two to three days to cure. The curing lowers the interior moisture of the hay—stems, leaves, bloom—and the cure time is dependant on the moisture in the air. The last few days we have had dry conditions here – as far as humidity – and so the windrows are raked into baling windrows after a couple of days. However, there must be a little moisture on the exterior of the hay so that the flakes will be well formed and the bales wont disintegrate when the twine is cut. In other words, if the hay is too dry, when the bale is opened the leaves will fall off the stem and it makes a mess. This exterior moisture can come in the form of dew, and we haven’t had any dew for the last couple of days—until this morning. The temp dropped to a chilly 66º this morning and dew occurred. Hustling right along, we got 30 acres baled this morning. There is 60 acres to bale at the home farm – if the weather cooperates. Well see…


05 June 2005 - Sunday Eve ~

Cut 60 acres yesterday and 40 acres today. But that’s not the big thing – Jim checked me out on the “Roadsider.” Actually, a roadsider is also known as a “Bale Wagon” or “Stack Cruiser” by the manufacturer, and is the machine that automatically builds the dumps-or hay bale stacks-and transports them to where they are needed, or are to be stored. It will make up dumps in 7 to 9 courses (or more). There are 58 bales in a 7 high, 74 in a 9 high.

Jim was taking his time letting me learn the Roadsider, I suspect for a couple of reasons. First, you can really foul things up if you don’t know what your doing, or aren’t aware what the machine is doing when it is making up the dump. A computer runs the make-up of the dump – after the operator sets the size desired – but occasionally a bale gets catawampus and you have to catch it before the course is raised up. The other reason, I suppose, is because there are three operators available and a fourth is not required. Anyway, I’ve had the desire to run it every since I started learning the haymaking process so I’m glad he gave me the chance.

Cutting another 20 acres in the morning.

27 May 2005 - Friday Eve~

Raked 40 acres of the 60 I cut last Friday. Stopped by tonight about 2100 to check the windrows for moisture - they were very dry. Jim will probably go out about midnight to check. My bet would be that he starts the baling between midnight and dawn. We had a dry wind out of the SE today which might be the cause of the alfalfa turning crispy. Baled 60 acres last night, 3 miles west of my place, of which I did a few acres. It’s the 60 that I raked Tuesday, and is part of a 150 acre block that they were finishing up. And it starts all over again in 25 days. I can’t get over how fast alfalfa grows. There was leaf on the stuff we were baling last night. Jim had me running around in his truck checking the moisture in the bales. The humidity held up about right so he could finish.

24 May 2005 - Tuesday Eve~

Cut 60 acres and am on the way out to bale...

Case Windrower

18 May 2005 - Monday ~

Cut 45 acres this morning, finishing up at 1800 and arriving back at the home farm at 1830. The reason it took so long was a breakdown on the swather. I was boogying along - if you call 6 mph boogying - when the reel rake quit turning. Everything else was going - sickle, pressure roller, two-way auger - so I shut it down and climbed down to investigate. Pulled up the left hand cover on the header and saw that the chain had come off the sprocket that drives the rake. Called Jim and he called out the Service Truck from the Case dealer he bought it from. The mech arrived in a couple of hours, realigned the sprocket, put the chain back on, drove in a new tapered keyway pin to secure the sprocket, installed a new belt that drives the rollers, and I was on my way with 24 acres left to cut. Cost me about 3 hours. Rake it tomorrow.

15 May 2005 - Sunday ~

Cutting is the most time consuming operation - as far acres per hour - in the baling process. The set of equipment used in the baling operation is the swather (windrower), a rake, and two balers. The swather will cut about 8 acres an hour. Weddle’s Case has a 14’ header so the average swath is 12-13’ depending on the overlap. I’m not sure how many acres I can rake in an hour, but I’m guessing around 20. With two balers going we tear up a 10 acre block in fairly short order Then in comes the Roadsider (flatbed harrow) which builds the dumps (stacks) and drops them at the pick-up points. Jim hasn’t checked me out on the Roadsider yet. Don’t know why - it’s computerized. Fear is a funny thing...
Scheduled to cut 45 acres in the morning...

Case Windrower

13 May 2005 - Friday Nite ~

Cut 40 acres yesterday, and 35 acres today, after raking 8 acres of rye and taking part in baling 5 acres. Finished up about 1830, and got the swather home right at sunset. Lubed the header, got my junk out of it and headed home. Long day.

One of the balers - a Freeman pulled by a Case

11 May 2005 - Wednesday Morn ~
At Daybreak - 0515 - headed out to the 24 acres that I cut Saturday to meet Jim and Tony to rake and bale. Jim did not rake it Monday or Tuesday because it was windy and too dry, so on the spec that it would be right this morning, we showed up to rake and bale. It was too wet. I picked up a handful from the windrow and it was real damp. I said to Jim, “What do you think?” And he said, “No - what do you think?” I said, “It’s damp.” And he said, “No - that’s what we call wet!” Because the balers are going to be chasing the rake, it has to be just right - moisture wise - to bale, so Jim told us to come back at 0730 to give it another shot. I’m learning...

At 0200 this morning we were awaken by the rumble and rattle of a Huey right over the house, and then it landed. Looked out the window and saw it sitting in the field across the street, and on the road next to it were what appeared to be two deuce and a half's all lit up with pinball's and searchlights and an unmarked sedan. The chopper sat there for ten minutes while men approached it several times. Then it took off and headed north. About five minutes later, the sedan left followed by the trucks. Our first impression was that it was the INS, but then we weren’t sure after we saw the vehicles. And, I’ve never seen the INS use Huey’s while they were chasing illegals. Odd...

Update - Started baling at 0900 and got in 5 acres before it got too dry. Then Jim sent me over to Joe Bell’s-a local hay broker-to rake 10 acres of rye. As I was finishing up, Jim showed up with one of the balers and young Tony started baling it.

08 May 2005 - Sunday Afternoon ~

Cut 5, 15 and 4 acres of alfalfa yesterday. There’ll be a bunch of swathing this coming week.

23 May 2005 - Monday ~

Friend Cathy and I took off early Saturday morning and drove to Fallon, Nevada. Danny Martinez, my horse trainer buddy from Winnemucca, flew down for his daughter Jamie’s graduation from Antelope High School. He was scheduled to compete in a team roping in Fallon on Sunday, so we decided to drive him up and get away for a couple of days. It was a nice trip. Stayed over Saturday night in Fallon, watched Danny and his partner, Charley Sarasota, rope a couple of rounds, then headed back south. It was still daylight when we got to Vegas, so we pressed on to Laughlin. I like Laughlin – kind of a mini Vegas. Stayed overnight at the Pioneer and after breakfast this morning, set out for home. Rolled in about 1530 – had to stop over on the other side of town to pick up 500 shirts that Cathy’s company has to print.

Weather was great where we were this weekend – low 80’s – and no humidity. Clemente said it was hot and windy here.

Talked to Jim Weddle about an hour out this afternoon to see if there was anything going on in the haymaking department, and he said that they were going to rake and bale the 40 acres I cut on Friday and I could start early in the morning and cut 40-60 acres 6 miles NE of here. So I shall.

28 April 2005 - Thursday Eve ~

Jim Weddle called at 0730 and asked if I wanted to bale hay. To let him know that I wasn’t that eager, I said, “I’ll be right there!” He had two balers running and we (Tony the Basque Sheepman and I) did up the 30 acres in short order. I had Jim and his Dad screaming at me, but I got it sorted out. How - I have no idea. Then Jim sent me over to a 20 acre block about 3.5 miles to the ENE of the home farm to cut. Finished up and arrived back at the ranch about 1430.

Did not get any rain today, although there are showers to the south of us over Mexico. Got a little breezy though...

28 April 2005 - Thursday Morn ~
Headed for the Weddle’s last night to bale the 30 acres that I cut Sunday and raked yesterday morning, but Mother Nature wouldn’t cooperate. A dry North wind came up about sundown and it turned the windrows into crispy stuff, so Jim decided to wait until this morning to see if the humidity - and dew - would come up and make it fit to bale. According to the forecast, it is suppossed to be quite breezy today with a 30 percent chance of rain. Oh boy!

Like I’ve said before - farming can be a real crap shoot...

10 April 2005 - Tuesday Eve ~

Cut 35 acres today and scheduled for 60 tomorrow. Hmmm - that’ll take about 8 hours. All is going pretty well here and the days are warming up. The plus about that - snowbirds are fleeing by the thousands to the north...

07 April 2005 - Thursday Morn ~

Had a great time at Michelle & Eric’s. My grand kids are so cute. Kirk, Heather and kids headed back to Kona yesterday on Aloha. Their flight came into, and departed from, John Wayne. That surprised me - ‘cause originating a 2200 nm flight from a runway that is tight for a J-3 Cub - is, well, interesting. Especially with the goofy departure procedures imposed on pilots.

I haven’t been to Southern California for some time, and getting reacquainted with the horrendous traffic there, was not pleasant, and although it would seem a stretch, the increase in housing--and associated population--is marked. I guess someday Southern California will have the look of Sim City, solid buildings from coast to mountains.

03 April 2005 - Sunday Nite ~
Daughter Heather and husband Kirk with my two grandkids—Jasper & Ila Lee—are visiting Michelle in Mission Viejo, so I drove over to see them and my new granddaughter.  She is so sweet!  Cont Monday Morning ~ Woke up this morning to overcast skies and rain. Eric and Michelle were off to work and Heather and kids were still asleep; Kirk has gone off to see a friend. Made coffee and things are beginning to come into focus. Pretty here - everythings green and lush. However, there are lefties every where you turn.

01 April 2005 - Friday Nite ~ Cut 20 acres for the Weddle's today.  It was the first block that I was ever turned loose on - solo.  It was last fall.  Jim was off in the mountains hunting and Karen called me and said she could use me to cut 20 acres 'cause she needed Felipe to irrigate.  She told me that the swather was located at County 15 & Avenue 4E.  I drove over there and there it was.  What she didn't know, was that in previous turns on the machine I was in training—and it was always running when I got there—and it was over a year before since I was on it.  I found the keys under the seat, and after a couple of minutes figgered out how to get it going.  When Jim got back, I started to tell him about it, and before I could get past the first sentence, he started laughing and said, "I never showed you how to start it!"  That was the old swather; this new one is a real Cadillac...

29 March 2005 - Tuesday Nite

Went to Fawnskin - Big Bear Lake - to be with my Mom and Jim & Jan over Easter weekend. My sis Donna came up also. She brought a "spiral cut" ham and Janet cooked up a fine Easter dinner.  Seemed funny with just five of us there.  In years past, you couldn't turn around without stepping on one rug-rat or another.  We did not hold the egg race Easter Morn either.

Plugged in my Dodge at night–it was in the low 20's at night; in fact, it wasn't all that warm during the day, although they thought it was. It helps to keep it warm when the temps are down; it takes awhile to come up to temp and is a bit smoky when it's cold; no use aggravating the Californian's any more that necessary. A lot of them don't seem to be all that fond of diesels. Lots of snow still on the north slopes — and they lake is super high!  Haven't seen it that full in many a year.  Must go fishin' this summer.

Donna left Sunday Morn ‘cause her daughter, Holly Pat, had an art show later in the day. She’s a sculptor. Believe mi hija, Michelle, attended also. Benito and I left  before noon and arrived back at the ranchito in mid-afternoon.

Thought of our troops a lot over the weekend – hope they get to come home soon...

25 March 2005 - Friday Nite

Clemente and I expanded the cattle pen today; the bull broke out of his pen last night and wanted to get in the cow's pen.  We had the impression that she invited him over.  The calf ran over to the bull's pen and moved in, struttin's around like he was boss of the camp.  Think I've got bull and cow sold--we'll keep the young'un.

Owl Update - Clemente walked in this morning with yet another chick.  I don't think the Mom ever heard of birth control!  I took it over to the AzG&F office this afternoon and the fellow that is taking care of them (the rehaber) was there to take it home.  We talked and it was apparent that he was very familiar with these birds.  I asked him how the three were doing that I brought in yesterday and he said, "Just fine!"  Good to hear.  I told him about the one I fed last year, and when he heard that I had an ample supply of jackrabbit he said he sure would like to get some.  I told him we would procure for him.

Seven owl chicks!  I hope this is the last of this batch...

23 March 2005 - Wednesday Morn

There are five Barn owl chicks in my living room, brought in over the last four days. Don’t know why they are falling out of the nest, but I am calling my vet, Dr. Tené Miller, to find out if there is a place that takes in wild things. This is so weird.

21 March 2005 - Monday Nite

Got a call from Jim Weddle this morning asking if I wanted to cut 30 acres of alfalfa at the home farm.  I did - and I did; took 4 hours.  Beautiful stuff--going to make nice hay.

19 March 2005 - Saturday Morn

Friday ~ Baled for 6 hours - about 360-400 bales.  As soon as it is stacked, it is shipped out to the dairies or delivered locally to folks like me that were out of hay.  Got a little tight this winter, as far as feed goes.

Today ~ Working around my place.

17 March 2005 - Thursday Nite

Wednesday ~ Baled 30 acres in the morning at the home place then moved the swather 6 miles ENE to cut 40 acres; got back to the farm at sunset.

Today ~ Raked 80 acres 4 miles west of my place this morning--had to quit just after Noon when the windrows got too dry.  At sunset the temp dropped and the humidity went up and it looked like we were going to be able to bale that which was raked this morning.  No dice - a dry west wind came in and carried the moisture away so Jim and Felipe will probably start baling around 0330 in the morning - if the moisture comes back.  Scheduled me to rake another (remaining) 40 tomorrow morning.

Cooked up corned beef and cabbage on this fine St. Pat's Day - 'twas tasty.

14 March 2005 - Monday Nite

The layout was different today and I was cutting a little over 8 acres and hour - 3.6 hours to cut 30 acres.  I should have a pic up shortly of the machine.

13 March 2005 - Sunday Nite

30 acres swathing alfalfa today-one machine-and it took 5 hours and 40 minutes.  Yesterday Felipe and I did 80 acres.  I'm guessing that this particular block will bring in about 2500-2800 bales.  Tomorrow I cut another 30 acres.  Felipe will start raking (windrowing) tomorrow on the first cut at the main farm - start baling that Thursday or Friday - depending on the weather and humidity - and I'll start raking what I just finished Wednesday or Thursday and start baling that Saturday or Sunday.

 11 March 2005 - Friday Nite

Cut alfalfa for Weddle Farms for nine hours today on their brand new Case MX 1101 135hp Swather.  What a nice machine, fully upholstered, 3-way air suspension seat, air conditioning, AM/FM.  Jim Weddle is really happy about the weather, which is perfect for haying.  This winter was so wet here, that the area ran out of alfalfa hay; we were having to ship it in, which is unheard of in this area.  Not only is Yuma known for it's fine hay, but has the longest growing season of anywhere in the nation.  Hay normally sells around here for 5-7 dollars a 120# bale--depending on the season--but is currently going for $10.00 and up.  My supplier (Weddle's) estimates that the ton price is going to be between 130 to a 140 dollars a ton for the balance of the year.  Usually it drops to under a hundred in the summer and in late summer/early fall drops to 65-85 dollars a ton.

10 March 2005 - Thursday Nite

Cut alfalfa hay for Weddle Farms most of the day, then assisted in baling 20 acres of oats for horses on a private contract. What a difference than working with alfalfa--a lot more work! Tomorrow I will be cutting 120 acres of alfalfa with another swather. Swathers are cool--a giant riding mower. Next week I’ll windrow what I’ve cut this week, and then bale it, probably by the end of next week. And you do it all over again in 28-30 days - weather permitting.

Does at their new home

06 March 2005 - Sunday Afternoon
Friday afternoon, late, thunderbusters began to build up to the southwest and arrived here about dusk.  We got a good rain out of it but the thunder upset Sweetie Pie so about 2000 I sat out there - in my truck - and kept her company for about a half-hour.  She lonely without her Momma, but I don't want to put her in with the rest of mares and their babies just yet.  She can get a little rasty at times and I don't want her beating up anyone.  Got some light rain on and off Saturday but the big showers ran north up the river.  The low must have been sitting right on top of us, 'cause the circulation of the showers was counter-clockwise around us.
Sold all of my goats (34) except one, which we'll keep as a pet.  More on this later - with pics...

25 February 2005 - Friday Morn

Mom and I left Los Osos yesterday at 1100.  The drive was very pleasant and scenic, lots of green and beautiful cloud formations - especially in the Mojave.  Stopped in Bakersfield at the Black Angus for lunch.  Going through Tehachapi Pass encountered fairly heavy rain showers and then occasional sprinkles on the way to Barstow.  Brother James met us at Camp Rock Road in Lucerne Valley and Mom transferred over to his Tahoe for the final leg up the mountain to her home.  Her visit in Los Osos spanned a couple of months and she was anxious to get back home.

It rained here - big time.  Clemente said when the thunderbusters came over the place, it was a lake in 20 minutes - livestock in water up to their ankles, and so forth.  This is the wettest winter we have had since I moved here in '94.

Lost a mare yesterday - Sweetheart.  I believe she coliced.  She was my favorite of the elder mares - she was 21...

24 February 2005 - Thursday Morn

Sun's up - and it looks like Mom and I will be off to Big Bear in a couple of hours. Still have to call Jim to see how it looks, but according to WX Underground - it's going to be OK...

23 February 2005 - Wednesday Morn

Wow! The Sun's coming up (I'm blind! I can't see!!) and it would give the appearance that the great flood is over. Don't know if I'm going to get Mom home today - looks like it still might be snowing on the mountain...

22 February 2005 - Tuesday Noon

It's been raining here in Los Osos since my last report, at times heavy, mostly light. Waiting for brother James to call and tell me that he can come down to Lucerne to meet me and pick up Mom. The weather up on the mountain is not conducive to driving - but maybe tomorrow...

19 February 2005 - Saturday Afternoon

Left Yuma yesterday morn at 0222, stopped by the Brandon's in Shafter (San Joaquin Valley - NE of Bakersfield) to drop off some stuff, and then on to my cuz Suzie's place in Los Osos on the Coast, where I arrived just after Noon. Very pretty area. My Mom is visiting with Suz and her mother - my Godmother and aunt - Lana Fern (Fernie to me), and my mission is to pick up Mom and transport her back to her home in Fawnskin - Big Bear Lake, California. We'll leave tomorrow or Monday. Woke up about 0400 this morning to a fairly heavy rain. It slacked off by 1000, and since it has sprinkled on and off. Nice place, good governor, one so-so Senator, one rotten, stupid Senator...

11 February 2005 - Friday Morn

Started sprinkling yesterday afternoon and by midnight a steady light rain was falling, and it looks like it is going to continue to do so for the rest of the day. Thunderstorms are in the forecast, but so far all that action seems to be taking place to the west in California’s Imperial Valley.

Karen Weddle brought in 32 bales of alfalfa yesterday afternoon from their first winter cut. Their broker got the rest of it. They were hustling to finish baling 80 acres, get it stacked and covered before the rain set in. It’s typical winter hay, super green and high in protein. I’m guessing it’s running about 24%. So far I’ve been lucky with my horses, they seem to handle it okay. I prefer to feed them hay that is in the 14-18% range. I’ll mix this hay with some Bermuda that I have to cool it off a little. I hope they have another cut coming soon, I’ve only got about two weeks supply right now.

03 February 2005 - Thursday Afternoon
Filled up all the feeding stations--four bales to the pallet--and will run to the Cox's to pick up more hay tomorrow.  I can hardly wait for the Weddle's to start cutting, 'cause they bring it to my barn with their Roadsider carrying 9 high dumps--72 bales to the dump.  Beats bucking it myself...

15 January 2005 - Saturday Nite


I suppose like most folks, I am having trouble comprehending the magnitude of the South Asian Tsunami.  Not the size of it, nor even the damage that it caused—because that, when looked at in a localized way is not that uncommon, but the loss of life that occurred in the seconds and minutes after it arrived onshore is difficult to grasp.  I recall being stunned when the toll was estimated at 10,000, but as the hours pass the toll keeps climbing—162,000 via print a couple of hours ago—170,000 plus announced on an Tsunami Aid telethon a few minutes ago.  And who knows where it will go if disease gets the upper hand.  And the poor people who survived losing children or parents.  The numbers are staggering and pushes ones ability to get a handle on the size and scope of this disaster.  As Mother Earth matures, she continues to demonstrate that when she shudders, it can have a devastating effect on her inhabitants.


Update - 20 January 2005 - Thursday ~

Tsunami toll now estimated at 225,000 - this is an epic event of Biblical proportions.

04 January 2005 ~ Monday Morn

It was a dark and stormy night, so much so that the dog were hesitant to go out in it to go potty and the horses and livestock were standing with their tails to the gusty winds. They had to keep turning ‘cause it was coming out of all quadrants. This is good, because we had a relatively dry summer - the monsoons never got to us. And, remarkably, we did not lose power last night - which is very unusual.

"It was a dark and stormy night..." is considered one of - if not the worst - line ever to start a story. I always kinda liked it...