Monday, May 27, 2013

Coopworth Genetics 2013 Annual Conference

Southland were host province this year.
Did a few days 'road trip' for this one, about a 1000km drive to Invercargill, starting with a 5am traffic-free run to Wellington to catch the Interislander Ferry, and including an overnight stop in Ashburton to get there.
Took a leisurely enough pace to be reminded what a down-home friendly mob Southerners are.
The loss of sheep country to dairy over recent years, Canterbury to Southland is startling, while the area gone over to vineyard Blenheim to Nth Canterbury is also very noticeable.
Day one started with a trip around to Riverton, mini-Riviera seaside community and fishing port on the south coast, and a visit to Templeton's Flax Mill. The flax industry had closed down around the 1970's, but this place has been kept operational as a tourism venture. Flax would have lost ground to synthetics as raw material for roping, furniture stuffing, and woolpacks, with just a bit going these days to craft people. These days too, there'd be environmental problems to overcome, waste discharge, and the machinery is noisy and possibly an OSH risk.
Raewyn and Graeme Black's 'Lawson Lea' stud offered the first Coopworths sighted.
Set piece discussion centred round succession of the recorded flock and the thought breeders needed to give to future-proofing ram breeding, all sorts of challenges, dairy, composites, non-rural careers pursuit for young country folk, or even whether they simply dont find interest in flock recording at the Coopworth level of intensity.
The Black family stand out as one that has grown and endured, from Bob's early days spent bulldozing and breaking country in, to the 490 ha breeding/finishing unit it is today, supported by a further 572 ha tussock hill country breeding block. Peter and Leon's renowned flock and block next door is further testimony to this family's grit.
Should have been obvious what's needed to meet the challenges of a changing world.
Grit. Focus, (as in not getting side-tracked by the "changing world").
Like a lot of us sheep people, theyre now surrounded by dairy. I suppose you could say a bit pariah in the circumstances, but, to bastardise a phrase, 'who's going to come, if you dont build it'.
Well done Blacks anyway.
And specially for the gourmet lunch organised at the local hall, oysters, whitebait, cray.........
plus an exhibition of local artist's work.

To be continued.......

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review: TYM T723 4WD Tractor

Bought this tractor back last November, so like with the topper, have had it long enough to settle on an opinion, having just completed the crop-regrass cycle. Again the opinion is thumbs up, and more so.
Have to hand it to the the South Korean manufacturers, TYM, nice work.
I was initially attracted to the heavier, (than you see elsewhere in similar sized tractors), build of the mechanicals, axles, diffs, g/box etc. Now all that remains to be seen is how reliable and durable a piece of machinery it is. I'm betting on the good side.
I've come from running a 40 odd year old cab-less Same Minitauro, which I've incidentally kept as a FEL drone (the PTO's stuffed enough I cant face exploring repair), with just a few years interspersed with hired JD 6310's, so my gee whizz comments might seem ho-hum to some readers.
Big thing to keep in mind, with manual gears rather than electronic, this is a budget package, an NZ$ mid 40's bargain when I got it, but justifiably increased since.
Its got the 3 cylinder Perkins swept to 3.3 litres, 73 hp. Interestingly, it sure does the same work easier than the old 56hp 3 cylinder Same, but using more diesel to do so, surprised me a bit, was expecting the other way round. Have settled on working at a 2000 rpm sweet spot, but seems to be racing at that compared to the Same.
Other comments, no particular order, just as they come to mind.
As in the pic, it came with the front-end weight set, it needs it, weight centre feels back a bit, so the bigger front tyres are a help, and the power steer is a dream, so is the lock/turn radius.
The bonnet catch is easy to locate, and the hood a nice simple strut assisted lift and hold. No header tank means you have to open the radiator cap to check the coolant, bit of a nark too high to look down the filler, instead put a finger in. The oil dipstick can be checked without lifting the hood.
Diesel filler cap bugs me a bit too, can only be opened unlocked with the key, and the filler spout too small to upend a 20 litre container direct into without spilling the first glug. Mod called for here, bigger throat and cap needed.
Cab doors, (lockable), open and shut OK, given the cab's pretty airtight. Nice big grip on the steering wheel, and as mentioned, the power steer imparts a real light feel.
Everything in the cabs got a decent man feel about it, no crappy plastic.
This model doesn't have any fancy power shift, which is a big part of the competitive price. The clutch, which you have to use for all changes, is pretty sweet. There's 3 ratio range shifts, and there's no ground speed overlap with the 4 main shifts between ratios, ie. 12 shifts linear. The range shifter graunches if you're not completely come to a halt, but the synchro on the main shifter is so good it works just as fast as a power shift, even working the clutch.
Not having to be concerned about possible expensive power shift/shuttle breakdowns is a plus in my book.
There is a forward/reverse shuttle lever, works with the foot clutch, works good with a single movement, not so good if you let it lag.
The throttle lever's a bit poky, might try and put a T-bar on it one day.
Brakes are good, separate pedals give enhanced turn, but the dash clipped parking brake is just as easy to forget about leaving on, stamp on pedal to disengage.
The clutch pedal's got a hold open clip, for long term park up clutch freeze avoidance, but I cant see I'll use that much. Depress clutch to get key start to work.
There's a lot of control offered over the PTO, but I only use the live all times option, with the quick on/off button on the dash.
I like the seat spring height adjustment, the dial's numbered looks like with driver weight, I turned it to setting '90' and it's just right for me. Small seat, but I've done long days in it no discomfort, no side arms but that's great for turning round to look at things. I would have liked a tractor with a training seat too, but you cant have everything.
I love the cab. A/C on hand, leave the fan on 1, adjust the temp according. Hardly use the side and rear windows, and the roof hatch only for putting the magnetic base GPS aerial out on the roof.
Radio reception's good, talk-back in the mornings, classic hits FM in the afternoon, engine's a bit loud but I'm not going deaf adjusting radio volume to suit. CD player included, or you can plug in an MP3.
Usual other stuff, cigarette lighter plug I use for the GPS. Lights and wiper switches are pressure pads in the side pillar, had me confused, took me a while to find them.
Lighting's great, and the wipers are too.
Rear fenders are a bit light, need to be careful not to break them I think.
Solid stable hydraulic arms, CatII self-hitch, I'm in dreamland swapping implements compared with before.
Overall, simply a joy, I could work in it all day.

Out of the Drought

Well here, we are..... but still not so fortunate in other parts of the country.
Not so far north of here, 50km as the crow flies, things look absolutely dire. From SH1, Taihape and Hunterville hills looked grey and grim under an overcast sky, in a late afternoon drive-through last Sunday. Quite rightly they're worried about the onset of frosts stopping autumn growth in its tracks, whatever of that they could expect from 9mm rain through April reported by one source.
Compare this kitchen-window shot with the March one
Down here, a stone's throw from the coast, we've had 141mm through April, and with heaps of latent heat in the soil, daily PGR's have been cranking along at 50 kg/ha since middle of the month. That's on the hills, the flats do 5kg better than that.
Actually, its hard to call it a bad summer and autumn for here. The extraordinary lower rainfall Sep through Dec, about half historical average, certainly set things up bad with no surplus feed carry-over, but rainfall Jan through Mar was actually above average each month.
The summer feed crops have been a boon, and I can now use the buffer hill-sidling feed reserve to build the cows up, while the back hills recover.
Its great to see the replacement ewe lambs putting some meat on. Although they've been on crop all through, I have pushed them to clean up the stubble, and lets face it, there hasn't been much feed off it.
Till now....
Hire cherry picker fixing woolshed spouting
To be honest, I've enjoyed the long summer days, it hasnt been too hot but working in loose clothing has been order of the day from sunup to sundown, not being rained off all those satisfying repair jobs, and stock work, no holdups getting the shearing done.
The last few summers have been pretty crappy short affairs, its almost like a cycle of return to the long summers we enjoyed years ago, when drought was an annual distant plaintive from somewhere over Hawkes Bay way.
The bees must have enjoyed it too going by reports from apiarists about this seasons honey crop being a bumper. Makes you wonder if the poor summer weather has been the cause of bee population decline rather than the anthropogenic wailing.
When seasons are wet, flowering's poor, and bees cant fly, its OUR FAULT.
And when we get a drought, its still OUR FAULT.
FFS, some people need to get real jobs.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Review: Fieldmaster GMT230 Topper

Had this machine coming up 12 months so sufficient time to settle opinion.
Basically, its thumbs up.

  • solid construction, heavy duty gearboxes
  • easy to mount and dismount to/from tractor
  • thing I like most is the height adjustment, undo 4 lock nuts, turn the top screw to the required setting, there's a scale pointer marked in inches. I've bought a purpose wrench handle and appropriate size socket which I keep in the tractor
  • looks like the skids are reversible, handy for when they inevitably wear
  • joy..., have discovered it handles small to medium rushes, as in pic
  • mulch function great for cleaning up crop stubble, cali's etc, ahead of direct drill, I think the fine mulch is a benefit to the organic matter hamper. I've got the triple blade tip mulch option
  • don't think it covers ground quickly, I've settled on 8-10 kph ground speed, rather the efficiency is in its width. There again, I enjoy working slow, and its a great way to make gear last a distance
  • dosen't cut cleanly in some going. I think this is a result of blade rotation direction cutting over rather than against the "nap" left by the rear tractor tyre, requiring at times some overlap of swath and resultant loss of cut width efficiency. On the other hand, on cut targets that stand up, like rushes, it works really good, so am not complaining, plus you can jiggle with the cut height and sometimes get under the problem
  • cost, here in NZ $11k odd plus GST, that's about 25% of the purchase price of the new TYM tractor its attached to. I traded my 9' roller seed drill to get it, a fairly close swap