St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Explosion on the Farm!

Awoke to the birds singing, full daylight and the feeling I had overslept.  Rolled out of bed and got up for the day and was making coffee before I glanced at the clock as noticed 5:30 am!   Now, that is earlier than I normally get up by an hour at least!  But, dressed and ready for the day, too much work to go back to bed. 
Grandpa's Barn on the River Road -- Long gone now. 

As it was cool, and I had stalled the Cub Cadet in the garden the previous evening, decided to see if I could get it going and finish cultivating the pumpkins and squash half acre in the field across the road from the cabin. 

The Cub has a rusty gas tank and my newly installed gas-line filter sometimes plugs totally.  I didn't try to unhook it and blow it out yesterday as I don't like to fool around with hot engines and dribbling gasoline.  Grandpa P.H Hanson did that ending up with some pretty serious burns back in ought 9 of the previous century (he was the first customer for gasoline in Barron WI--the druggist kept a barrel that came in by rail just for Grandpa and a couple of early horseless carriage enthusiasts.  When he filled his gas tank on his stationary gas engine used on his buzz saw rig while it was still hot--everyone went far away--Grandpa should have too). 

Filled the gas tank, checked the oil and pulled off the rubber hose gas-line --very little gas coming through.   A mighty puff (with my embrochure set just as band teacher Mr. David Bilderback taught me for the sax--don't puff up the cheeks) and the gas poured out again.  Stuck it back on with the pliers clip and the Cub started right up.  Adjusted the needle valve to lean it out a little and was off.  

I "checked" my pumpkin and squash hills again this year so I can cultivate North and South and then East and West and get most of the weeds without hoeing.  I spent an hour driving back and forth and up and down the rows trying to spot the tiny  2-leaf barely sprouted after a month in the ground seedlings. Looked pretty good behind the cultivator. 

Making a turn on the road ditch edge of the field, the small mounted cultivator with 6 shovels hit a stump under the surface and one of the shovels fell off.  Stopping to check it out, found that the channel iron holding the very end tooth rod had snapped right off.   I stuck shovel in another slot thinking a trip to the welder was in order sometime later in the day (yes, I have a welder, but Dad said my welding was more like 'dobbing' than welding).  

Spent some time hoeing and got inside at about 7 am.  Too early for breakfast, and filled with ambition, I took the weed whip and drove the 2 miles to Mom's to touch up her yard and around the garden fence.  I planned to spray the apples for the first time with Sevin with the sprayer mounted on the B-Allis  The Allis has an old 6-volt battery, so the first thing I did was hook the 4 amp charger up at 6-volts to give it a buzz while I then whipped things into shape and took the tiller through her 8 rows of deer-fenced garden.  

Her peas are growing, but not blooming; the radishes roots haven't begun to swell, the lettuce shows promise, but is about the size of a cat's ear; the strawberries set and a few showing tiny green berries; the Fredonia grapes blooming and raspberry canes lush, but not blooming yet.   Lots of weeds bit the dust with a few hours of hoeing still needed. 
Putting the tiller away, I turned on the gas on the B-Allis, turned on the switch and decided to leave the charger connected to give it a slight boost.  Into neutral, choke out and standing side of the battery, used my hand to push the foot rod starter.   With the first touch an explosion deafened me!

Taking inventory, I was OK, but the battery center cell had the top missing--blew the plastic completely off the top of the of it!  No acid on me and no damage to me or the tractor, but quite astonishing to happen.  The theory is that charging causes hydrogen gas to boil off and a spark can set it off--normally that means be careful when hooking jumping or charging, but never ever had anything like that happen to me before. Lucky standing so close I wasn't hit or acid drenched.  

I unhooked the charger, and after studying things a little and getting some hearing back, unconnected the two battery posts and removed the battery.   Figured I would have to dump it before I could haul it to town and get a new one, I tipped it over onto some weeds next to the shed to let the earth buffer the acid.   

Mom had some brunch ready so we visited a little and I told her to be on the watch for two separate deliveries of boxes of the new "75th Sterling Settler's Picnic" book coming by UPS later this week.  She was, as always, determined to pay me for tilling and weed whipping.  I would prefer to do it as helping out, but she is very stubborn, so I take the small checks and either buy some gas or rip them up--although I suppose I deserve the money as much as the charities she sends too (dozens from March-of-Dimes to Father Flannigan and his Boys Town and a bunch of Hell Fire preaching TV ministers).  Quite a racket those charities have with old folks.  

Headed to the sand garden where I grow watermelons and flowers and hoed a little but it is even less sprouted than the pumpkin and squash garden.  The flat seed plants just don't get going without some warm weather. Maybe this week that will happen.  I had set out some all ready started melons I got from brother Marv and from Walmart, but those the cutworms had left seemed to have gone into hospice mode too. 

Headed back to the cabin and weed whipped around until the machine and I ran out of gas so at about 11 came in and checked my email, posted some stuff on Facebook (did you know that the 2012 economic growth rate for MN at over 3% was more than twice the 1.45% growth of WI and the .24% growth of SD?)   I feel obligated to point out to my Republican friends that cutting taxes does not always lead to economic growth.  

Still having a little ambition, changed the oil in the 99 Hyundai mostly because I wanted to look under it and figure out where the extra sound from the exhaust system is coming from that I noticed leaving Mom's today.  Couldn't find anything obvious, so decided that the explosion must have improved my hearing and that is why the car has a louder purr than it used to.    I use Geritoil in the Hyundai--it has almost 200,000 miles on it likely has "iron poor, tired blood."

Friday, when my brothers helped me haul an old sewing machine and other miscellaneous museum items to the Cushing museum, we stopped at a garage sale.  There was a mountain bike--maybe a 24 inch or so--in nice shape for $10.  Marv took it for a spin and made it look so easy I got sucked into buying it "as I need something to make me bend my new knee and get it loosened up."   

I aired the tires and checked it out and everything looked OK except the tiny seat needed to be raised to the max to fit an adult.  Got on it and realized that the seat must be designed for riding while standing up.  Found I couldn't bend my knee enough to bring it up and pedal, so coasted to a stop,  and got off.  The seat, sort of like a hunting arrow, was pointed and very narrow--reminded me of a suppository.  

Realizing that bike is a little too small -- and will be donated to Marv's bike collection to help when his 16 grandchildren stop by, decided to see if my old bike was really past rehabilitation.   Tires held air, chain oiled up nicely and using a stepladder to climb over the bar, got on and started off.   Bike ran fine, but again my knee kneeds work on the bending further.  Hard to ride when you have the agony of deknee instead of the thrill of victory.   I just need to follow the doc's instructions and bend the damn thing every morning to get the hinge rust out. 

Worn out, headed to Tractor Supply, my best local chance of getting a 6-volt tractor battery.  $80 later, and after a McCrispyChickenBacon Wrap at McD's, and a stop at the Restore store and a couple of drive-by visits to the shiny new tractors at the Baribeau farm machinery lot, I came home--ready to put the battery in the Allis tomorrow and spray those 30 full sized apple trees.  Last year I didn't, and they were so wormy only the deer chose to try them.  

Writing this, got hungry for an evening snack to take out on the porch and watch the sun go down, so following my recipe learned by trial and error, took 4 marshmallows, a pat of butter and put them in a glass microwave safe cereal bowl and zapped for 45 seconds.  The microwave started making sparking noises and looking in I saw flashes of fire.  Standing far to the side, I turned it off and after time for reflection, pulled the dish out.   The metal twist-tie had fallen in under my marshmallows and had caused the microwave to spark!   So, fixed that and finished the melt and then dumped 1 cup of Rice Krispies in and stirred together to make one nice big Rice Krispie ball --instant gratification!

I noticed the electric blanket seemed to be fraying at the cord when I made the bed this morning--with the luck I'm having today, think I will unplug it tonight. Tomorrow--batteryfi the Allis, spray the apples, repair the cultivator (bought some rubber mounted springy hayrake teeth to try to add), change the oil on the Ford 2N tractor, work on some computer poster projects, tar the roof (although it hasn't leaked now for 2 days)... or maybe I will check the clock and sleep late!
Haying on the Hanson Farm took up much of the summer.  Marv on the wagon.