Saturday, July 29, 2017

Hay Baron

Owning 50 acres of land has a few downsides. It has to be looked after. My antenna farm when fully built will consume far less than the available space, requiring no more than 5 to 8 acres. The forest, bush and swamp take care of themselves so it is only 20+ tillable acres that are of concern.

It is therefore an asset that my neighbour farms the land. At present it is all hay. Years ago when he had a dairy operation he had several acres of feed corn where the big tower is now planted . Hay is pretty compatible with antenna since there is no plowing, just cut and bale however many crops the weather allows per year. We are having a record setting wet year which makes it difficult to find 2 or 3 consecutive days to do the harvesting.

Harvesting has finally begun.

It's all very neatly done. He works around the big tower anchors and base, not disturbing anything. You can see that the base section is now standing. It is temporarily guyed until I reach the 40' mark and can install the first set of permanent guys. Since the temporary guys are so low to the ground some hay could not be cut.

Freeing me from having to cut the field on my own is not the only advantage. I make money from the crop. Although I certainly won't get rich off the hay the income will buy small items for the station. Hay prices are up this year since the wet weather has impacted the crop across eastern Ontario.

To keep the haying operation going I need to minimize impediments for the farm equipment operating in the fields. For example I need to decide whether to bury cables running from the tower to the field boundary or suspend it overhead. Haying is compatible with both, although burial will disturb the crop along a path at least 1 meter wide.

When I build an 80 meter vertical array it will take one acre completely out of production. Haying is not compatible with radials. I will not start construction until after the fall crop is harvested.

The low band receive antennas will occupy a bush area of several acres where my experimental northeast Beverage is currently located. No farm equipment ventures out there. That field is behind the trees running between where you see the tower and the centre of the photo. The view is toward the northeast.

Keeping the tillable acreage to the maximum possible benefits me and my neighbour. Being a hay baron has benefits and responsibilities.

Were I to turn the big tower into a vertical on 160 meters I would put the radials down in the fall and roll them up in the spring. If I decide to build a wire yagi for 40 or 80 meters I would need to either make it a winter only antenna or arrange the element anchors to make it easy for the harvester to navigate. To do work on the tower I will mow paths and work areas just as I did for the foundation work.

So far I am happy with the dual use of the land. My neighbour has been very careful while working around the tower installation and has even moved stray cables aside to avoid driving over them.

Mid-summer update

The pace of blog posts has slowed. This is due to a combination of hard work on the tower and other station tasks, plus my disinterest in spending time in front of a computer during the fine summer weather.

Nevertheless there are several articles in the pipeline, all of which will eventually get done. The tower itself is progressing well, though not as fast as I'd like. I could raise sections right now if I wished since all is in place to do it. But I need to slow down since I received guying components that were the wrong type. The correct ones will arrive later this week. I don't want to have 40 to 50 feet of tower supported by temporary guys attached to the base section for longer than a day or two.

I am also shopping for the large amount of aluminum and steel I need for antennas and their supports. For a resource rich country that manufactures everything a ham could ever need it unfortunately does not follow that the distribution and retail side of the industry keeps pace. Most goes to export since Canada is a small market for the goods that are produced. It's annoying to often have to resort to buying from the US. Yet I persist in trying to source domestically when I can.

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