Thursday, December 1, 2011

Coyote Hunting and a New Tractor

Its been a busy week or so what with the new job with the Sheriffs Dept, hunting season, the sudden cold weather (for here), Thanksgiving, a couple tractor jobs for a neighboring farmer and occasionally working at the cattle ranch  replacing ear tags on the yearling heifers and steers. On the medical front my final back surgery checkup went well, I am healing better than expected, and the doc says my dizziness should diminish over this next year. I also had my exam for the dranage and bleeding out of my right ear that had all the hallmarks of something major like a tumor...turns out that when I was in Iraq last time a piece of a ballistic sound suppression ear plug broke off in my ear and it was irritating the lining of my ear canal. The doc was able to get it out with the aide of a magnifying scope and a pair of foreceps....and for those of you who are shooters or military it was the lower half of one of those orange ear plugs that have the soft concentric rings. Funny now but it had us worried. Oh and I cut the tip of my left index finger off fleshing a coyote hide..cut right through the nail bed to the bone and took the side clean off. Yes it hurt...thanks for asking.

The weather here has been alternating between warm (in the 50s days) and cold (not out of the 30s) with nights in the 20s but its generally been sunny and gorgeous and we have been working outside every day...and I am actually making some money doing it. Which brings up the new tractor; one of the things we have found we wish we had was a tractor big enough and with the horse power to easily run an auger, sickle bar mower, baler, and a decent size rotary cutter and perhaps even a 2 bottom plow and disk harrow. And what do you know, I was talking to a friend the other day on an ambulance run and he mentioned he was selling his 1966 International Harvester 424 Utility tractor at a price that was way below market value. He is a good friend and meticulous in his maintenance regime and this tractor is exactly what we were looking for; it will do everything we need it to do at 39 hp and 36 hp at the PTO. It doesnt have a FEL but the 3 point is in excellent shape, it has a live PTO with a 2 stage clutch, the tires are good, the sheet metal is in great shape, all the gages a lights work, not a drop of oil or grease can be found anywhere on the engine, and everything is tight and works as it should. This tractor has the gas engine with 8 speeds forward and 2 in reverse and important for us, it has the wide front end. We also ended up with an old antique looking John Deere 6 foot rotary cutter ( tows from the draw bar with a pintle hitch, has a tire on each side and the height is adjusted with a hand crank that raises and lowers the axle).

Yes..we now have 3 full size tractors and 4 garden tractors and our implemnent collection is growing as well but we work our equipment and this new tractor will be used for haying, grading the road, logging, and pulling the hay wagon (yet to be built). To my friends in the military or in addiction to speed and fast motorcycles has transformed to slow tractors but this is about it for tractors...except for the Ford 8N we are looking at...or the John Deere B that may become something we cant live without..or the......
The owner of the ranch where we work sometimes and are allowed to hunt and cut fire wood has had an increasing probem with coyotes killing his new born calves and raiding the chicken house so he asked if we could help thin them out a bit. I shot this young female at 75 yards with the Savage 30-06 in the off hand position..while it was running across a pasture. Holly was with me as a witness and though I am a pretty good shot I must confess that this was a lot of luck as much as marksmanship. 

We actually enjoy the coyotes most of the time but with the drought we have had these guys (who normally dont bother much) have become very agressive and we have lost 2 barn cats to them this fall and they need to be thined out. We dont eat them obviously but nothing goes to waste here and I skinned her out and am curing the pelt. Unfortunately, I lost my old gambrel and tail stripper when we moved here that would have greatly simplified skinning the coyote and I had to do it the hard way but we got the whole pelt intact including the tail and ears and the eye holes were not even damaged. This young female was very healthy with no fleas or ticks but like most coyotes...she had that unmistakable musk. Luckily as you get older your olfactory senses arent as sensitive and it doesnt bother me much but the young ones dont like the have been warned!

I decided to cure rather than tan this one since it will just hang on the wall of the shop. After fleshing, I stretch the hide on a piece of ply wood using aluminum nails (you need to use something non-reactive so it doesnt stain from all the salt) then I heavily salt it to draw out the moisture, spread Alum over it to help keep the beasties away (balances the Ph I think) and after a week or so I wash it in a warm water solution of natural soap and disinfectant to clean the hide and kill bacteria. I then stretch it and salt it again until its completely cured. You end up with a stiff hide that works for hanging and you can soften it a bit by using a wooden dowel to break up the collagen (I use a base ball bat).

This time of year we get views and sunsets like this almost every night from our living room window.

And here is the new tractor. It had been sitting for several weeks but started right up with no smoke whatsoever. When new, these tractors originally had the exhaust manifold turned down and the exhaust dumped under the engine like on our Kubota but most folks converted them to  exhaust through a muffler or stack like you see here. I havent had time to do much to it yet or really check things out but it looks to me like the manifold was just flipped so the flange pointed up, a small hole was cut in the hood and a piece of exhaust pipe was bolted on and a muffler (with the ever so pleasing hinged rain cap) was slipped on. Its really a heavy feeling tractor and it operates very smoothly with no strange gear whine or other noises you typically get with older machinery. It steers easily when its moving but this one does not have the (then) optional power assist steering so you do get a workout ...good thing I have kept up with the lifting.

My friend Joe is another transplant (originally from Colorado) and at age 67 he is on the Fire department with me, he is frequently my ambulance partner, and despite some serious back problems of his own he never complains and is always there to lend a hand or give of his considerable mechanical, wleding or lock smithing expertise. It was on his farm that we zeroed Holly's new rifle and he is just a fine Christian man with a delightfully happly wife and a great attitude. I consider myself fortunate to be able to call him my friend.

Note that the rear wheels have the turnouts. You can loosen a couple of bolts then drive a bit forward while dragging the brakes and it will adjust the rear wheel spacing.

It has a very heavy duty front bumper and grill guard that looks like it came from the factory but I havent seen anything like it in any of the contemporary literature. You can get front weights for the front wheels or hang suitecase weights off the bumper.

There literally isnt even one ding in any of the fenders or sheet metal and zero rust.

Joe replaced most of the 3 point hardware and its in great shape. All of the hydraulic lines are fairly new and he welded up a pintle hitch that attaches to the draw bar so its a very useful machine as is.

All of the gages work and are new including the tach, ameter, and oil pressure gage. The lever in the fore ground is to shoft from low range to high range and the gear selector is a 4 speed which gives you 8 speeds forward and 2 in reverse. The 2 stage clutch with the live PTO allows you depress the clutch enough to shift gears without stopping the PTO or you can fully depress it and it disengages both the transmission and the PTO.

So....thats what we have been up to. I almost forgot that we had the neighbors over for Thanksgiving and cooked both a store bought turkey and Chris' wild turkey and both came out great. It was interesting to see how people liked the two side by side. I much preferred the wild turkey while Chris and Judy and the neighbors liked store bought. I brined them both over night then roasted the store bought in a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes then turned it down to 325 to finish for a couple of hours while with the wild turkey I basted it, covered it with strips of bacon, then roasted it covered in aluminum foil. Both were juicy and had great flavor. We have such an abundance of wild game in the freezer now that I really am finding the saltwater injected and dyed mess that they call "meat" at the grocer to be unappetizing. Next week, fencing, wood cutting, Christmas shopping, and making cookies....retirement is tough!


  1. Congratulations on your new tractor! It certainly looks great! And with Joe’s customization, I bet the tractor runs like how you want it to run now. How are the rear wheel turnouts? Rear wheels are critical in a tractor, as these help in keeping the tractor from sinking deeper in the soil.

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