Weaning Pglets & Rosie Troubles

Pigs & piglets

It is May and as such lots and lots has been happening on the farm.  A few weeks ago we got 30 Guinea Fowl chicks and they are growing happily in the brooder.   We weighed all and weaned most of our piglets.  I say most because four out of the eleven escaped and found their way back to mom.  We had hoped the gilts would wean the piglets themselves but at nine weeks Bon Bon was just too skinny to leave the piglets on any longer.  Randy took our first four boar hogs to the processor on Monday causing all sorts of happy and sad emotions.  In the vegetable garden we have been setting up irrigation, seeding okra, weeding the onions, preparing the soil to plant cover crops, and generally trying to keep the chaos at bay.  We are still feeling the effects of our cold and very wet late winter/early spring, but we have managed to get back into our stride for summer crops.  The solenaceous crops (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant) and cucurbits (squash, cucumber, melons) are looking good and the second round of all the above are in the greenhouse and will be ready to plant out very soon.     
 
My Love/Hate Relationship with Rosie
Randy disking with Rosie in JanuaryRandy and I fixed the tractor.  The clutch was out of adjustment and the bolts would not break free of the adjustment screws (in case you were wondering).  We spent about three hours working on it early last week before throwing in the towel and calling our tractor guy.  He was out of town for the week.  We called a neighbor, to ask about barrowing his tractor but now that the soil was finally dry for the first time since 2014  he couldn’t spare his tractor.  Randy even flagged down someone with a small tractor going down our road.  Same story.  The manager at the local Co-op gave me the name of a guy who works on tractors.  He said he’d come by, but he didn’t.
 
We were on our own.  On Thursday morning, we took another stab at it.  We had both had time to think about the problem and come up with new ideas.  Randy understands how machines work.  But I am the one who has to lie under the tractor and reach up through the ridiculously small hand hole into the dark and greasy tractor guts and drop tools on my face.  He tells me what to do, and I try to explain why that is impossible.  Think you’ve got a great marriage?  I’ve got a way to test it.
 
Tractor malfunction is a panic attack inducing experience.  There are so many unknowns.  Exactly why isn’t it working?  Can we fix it?  How long will it take to fix it?  I hate spending hours and hours trouble shooting only to find that we need a new part or that the problem requires taking the tractor to the doctor.  I hate taking time away from what I was planning on doing to work on something that makes me feel panicked, incompetent, and powerless.  At least that is how I used to feel.
 
I am cultivating a more resigned approach to tractor maintenance. Sometimes the tractor works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  Fixing it takes as long as it takes.  Maybe we can fix it, maybe we can’t.  No use worrying about what else I need to be doing right now.   While I would not say I had fun working on the tractor, it didn’t tie me into a percolating ball of rage as it usually does.  I only started crying once and very briefly, I only wailed on the tractor with a tool once, and I only swore at Randy in jest.  Could I be turning over a new leaf in my relationship with Rosie?   Also getting covered in grease makes me feel really hardcore.     
 
Together we put 12 hours in, but the tractor is working.  For now.  Rosie is unreliable.  It’s not her fault, she is an antique.  She is also small.  Preparing the soil for planting takes longer with Rosie because it takes so many passes back and forth across the field with the disk harrow.  And at 11-or-so horsepower, there is just a lot she cannot do.  We need a bigger tractor.  Time to start putting our pennies in the jar to save the $30,000 our new tractor will cost us. We may even start a fundraising campaign, more on that soon.