Machine shed ready

Friday we spent the day figuring out how to get all of the hay equipment put back together and into the machine shed. We have an old chain lift that is now hanging and oiled with 200# of tractor weights hanging from it in hopes that it will break loose. I beat on the pin a few times with a hammer but could get no movement out of the lift either up or down. I spray WD40 on it every couple of weeks. It would be nice to have something that could move a thousand pounds without any difficulty. We did manage to get all the equipment mostly put back together. The mower is missing a slender nut on a pivotal bolt. I kept doing a parts search and writing down the id labels so I can place an order for spare parts. I have 15 items I want replacements on hand so it can be fixed immediately. I had gone to my parent’s house and picked up my father’s toolbox. He was a machinist when he was alive so I thought he would have a full set of metric tools. I was wrong, he had a lot of tools and micrometers and dial calipers and inside calipers and then a ton of English tools of all sizes but not a single metric tool in the entire chest! I will be moving my large tool box out of the old house into the machine shed. The plan is to get all of the English tools into the large box and convert my father’s into a metric only box. Annmarie had me order black anodized aluminum business cards and we are going to use the laser engraver to make parts drawer labels for both toolboxes. I will epoxy the labels onto the tool boxes so I can quickly find the needed tools. We were able to get all three pieces of hay equipment and the sprayer lined up in one bay. The end bay is for the tractor to stay out of the weather and a pallet sized area is needed for the cultivator/seeder to live. We had to use the pallet and screw down some wooden supports for the reciprocating mower. It was a little tippy with the blade in the upright stored position. We even placed them in the order they would be needed in the spring! Hoss made a holder for the extra netting to be stored. I opted to keep it in the box to minimize the dirt collection. We did get the baler together and moved but I still cannot figure out how to install the new roll of netting. It is not intuitive at all. I will have to call and get instructions on how to use both pieces of equipment, the rake is very easy compared to everything else. My dad’s toolbox is brown and the small upper part is bolted to the lower part forming one unit. I wanted to put them on a pallet so they did not sink into the gravel. I really need to get some more ear muffs to install near the anvil. Its kinda loud when you start beating on metal. I also need a trash can in here as I have a pile of trash on the floor currently.

Afterwards, I fired up the pressure washer from mom’s and started in on the fence. I figured I could do the whole fence with one tank of gas. Nope, I will need 3-4 tanks of fuel to get the entire fence cleaned off. Annmarie tells me that I am going to end up scraping some of the fence by hand as the pressure washer is only getting about 80% of the loose paint. We are going to use the same paint but this one only lasted 4 years from the first time I painted it. I am going with better preparation the time around will make the paint job last longer. I just slapped paint over it the first time after installing it. I had to move the cars after I blew paint, dirt and water onto them. Annmarie wanted to know what the finger streaks on her car were from. I figured if I did not get the wet paint off of her car it would dry and stick semipermanently. I did not want that to happen!

Mowing is not working

Saturday Hoss and I started out the morning by cleaning up around the machine shed. We managed to get all the junk up and in its proper place. We then hooked up the rotary mower to the tractor and I went up to the upper 7 acre field to clean up next to the cross fence. Hoss said that he could not get to the wire to tighten and attach due to all the weeds.

I ran the mower alongside the fence and got as close as I could. There is a hidden ditch near one end that I had to avoid so I did not tip the tractor over. Since I was already down this way I decided to try and mow the 7 acre field. It is one of the fields I want to plant in grass. The weeds are 4-7 feet tall and are very thick. It really needs some cleansing fire, but I am afraid to burn anything as I think it will get out of control quickly. This limits me to the rotary mower. The mower did not get choked out because all of the weeds are so dry. They don’t act like a rope when they get under the mower deck. The real problem is all the seeds and fuzz that the weeds put off clogs the air intakes on the tractor which cause the tractor to overheat.

I ended up overheating the tractor in under two hours of continuous mowing. I really need lights on the tractor so I can mow at night! I will do some research and figure out what kind and how to mount them on the tractor.

The middle field we are fencing in now does have some grass in it, I just need to get the field enclosed so the sheep and cows can get up here.

Machine shed needs to be functional

I decided it was time to get the crates unpacked and gets the machine shed organized this weekend, that goal was a a bigger bite than I was able to swallow in one weekend. I ran into several problems that I did not anticipate.

The hay equipment did not unpack nicely. We got the supports removed from the pallets and all of the loose stuff out And put away but I could not figure out how to get the support arms onto the baler correctly and I could not tell about a safety bar on the mower that looked like I would bend it if I picked it up. We kept looking at it and speculating then finally I announced that I would have to actually look at the operating manual and see if I could find a video online. The Italians are not making intuitive farm equipment.

We worked on getting the bolt organizers up onto the wall. I then spent three hours sorting bolts by diameter, nut, washer and lock washer. I also ended up sorting one column all into carriage bolts by diameter also. I got every bolt I owned onto that wall. I am thinking about getting a small organizer with 16 drawers to put all the metric bolts for the hay equipment in, this way I can keep them separated.

I am using the old metal cabinet for tractor and hay equipment parts. I will also be using the metal red and white cabinets. I need to install a shelf under the bolt organizer so I can put the extra PTO shafts on it. I also have an extra cutting bar blade preassembled. After reading the instruction manual I figured out that I have to rivet those blades onto the bar. It will be an interesting repair to say the least. The far bay will be left open for the tractor, so that it can be stored inside.

I had Hoss add 16 feet of plywood to the back wall. The. Back wall is only 7 feet tall so that left a nice one foot wide piece to use as a shelf. I am thinking about some sort of bin organizer on this wall but honestly I managed to get all the pieces stored in the space I have already. I think the metric bolt organizer is all I need to purchase at this point. The plywood will help stiffen the walls

We put up two more sheets of plywood on the wall going to the hay room. I don’t have all the boards up on the wall separating the hay room from the shop side yet. I will only be putting big bales in there this year and we cannot stack them. No tractor on the place that will lift that much weight. I think I can store 20 big bales on the ground. I will use them last and use the ones stored outside first. I want the plywood up to keep the hay scraps from blowing over into the shop area. We also added two shelves over in the corner. I want to add two more above the plywood. I have some stuff I only use once a year and it can sit up on those shelves. We are running out of 2×4 for more shelves. I need to make another run and buy 10 more.

We did get the new bench made! It is a solid piece of wood, the top I got for free and it is all laminated and glued 2×4. I bolted legs into the ends and used scrap wood from the pallets to make X on each end. I plan on adding a shelf under the bench as I want to store my small compressor under this bench. I also want to put a hose reel above the bench. I love using this to blow out the dirt and weeds from the tractor grill and radiator. The pallet to the left of this bench will hold the two tool chests. I have a large rolling one in the old house that I will be moving over here. It will hold all the English tools and I will bring my father’s out and make it the metric only. I need to get organized so I don’t waste so much time hunting down tools. Whether I like it or not I will be working on this equipment. This means I will need some lights out here. I plan on installing a flood light in every bay. If I control the lights individually I will be able to wire them all into the same 20 amp breaker. I will use all LED lights to cut down the power consumption.

We got rain this weekend. I was hoping for a bunch when it started on Friday but we only got 4/100 while three miles away they got 7/10! Last night it rained again and we got another 1/10 for a total of 14/100. Not exactly exciting but enough to get the grass to turn green, but we were vindicated later today by getting another 42/100 for a total of 56/100, over 1/2 inch of rain! The best part is it did not all come at once so it all got absorbed into the ground where it fell. We just need a pleasant week of moderate temperatures and the grass will start growing everywhere.

We are sold at this point on getting a combo welder/generator so we don’t have to install a new power panel service in the shop. The electrical service would cost us more than the generator.

Relaxing weekend

Yesterday when we brought the sheep in we noticed three more babies, this morning I saw a fresh placenta on the ground and Annmarie just brought the sheep in again and says there are at least 6 untagged babies already. Yesterday, Annmarie spotted a dead lamb up in the Upper Prime Pasture and had me go up as she thought it had been killed by a coyote. It had no tag and was between two logs, I suspect it went down head first and broke its neck, Mother Nature does her own thinning sometimes. The sheep are a pleasure to work as we have an amazing group of calm lambs and ewes.

Stewart Creek is officially no longer running. This is the latest it has run as it is fed solely from winter water runoff from the mountains. We have a couple of water spots still but it is no longer running down the creek bed. I have been working on spraying the star thistle both days. I have managed to get about 75 gallons of spray on the ground as of noon today. I can only go out during the mornings due to the temperature. I only tried to roll the tractor three times going up and down the back hill. The one right behind our house is the worst as it is the steepest and the rockiest. I try to do it first so I am very cautious the rest of the time.

Yesterday we had three of Annmarie’s cousins come out to visit the house. It had been over 6 years for two of them and one had not seen any work on the house. They were amazed at all the work we have done and really liked it. It is always a pleasure to show the house to people who used to come visit or remember it when Annmarie’s grandparents lived here.

Annmarie found a marble in the barn lot yesterday when she was bringing the sheep in! I have added it to our collection in the living room, there is about an inch of space left in that container before I will have to start filling the container in the office I set up for marbles.

It’s hot outside and I am supposed to be relaxing so I took mink oil and oiled the entire outside of the wooden chest we got at auction. It is a leather wrapped chest with metal and wood strips over the leather. It did darken the leather but I am super happy with how it turned out. I just need to let this dry for a few days then I will take a lint free cloth and clean up the chest one more time. Once that is all done we will make a spot for it in the craft room and I will start looking inside the chest and figuring out how to preserve the inside. We emptied some of the stuff out but I think the rest is going to go into the trash can, its mostly old yarn. We learned the hard way that super old yarn just becomes brittle and not worth working. It looks like the inside has a wallpaper lining so I most likely will just wipe it down with a lightly damp rag and call it good after I vacuum out the dust and paper flakes. This was a great find for $70.

That hurts

This Saturday we decided to tag and band the lambs. There was much discussion (arguing) as to how many lambs we actually had and wether or not the coyotes had been picking them off. Annmarie shot one Friday night and I missed one later in the day Saturday, so we know they are close to the barn lot. We opted to not use the dogs to push the sheep from the barn lot into the barn. We wanted the sheep to remain calm and just mosey on into the barn. Well they were calm, way too calm. We finally had to get shaker sticks to encourage them the last little bit of the way into the barn. Once in the barn we put up three gates to shrink the available area for them to roam in and I grabbed the tag and band supplies. I sit down on the floor of the barn with the supply bin on my left and my coffee to the right. The coffee didn’t last five minutes before some random sheep knocked it over repeatedly. I finally had to give up on having coffee during this labor intensive endeavor (I spent the entire time on my backside while Annmarie did the lamb catching!). We ended tagging 25 lambs and 2/3 of those were boys. We still have had more girls than boys lambs born on the farm since we started over 10 years ago. We have just been increasing the ear tag numbers every year sequentially and we started with the number one.

After the sheep were done we decided to work the cows. This required closing gates and setting up the corral for the cows. I was in the barn getting fly spray for the cows when I heard this bone chilling scream coming from the corral area. Both Hoss and myself were in the barn and we took off for the corral. I thought Annmarie was being mauled and stomped by the bull or one of the three steer in the corral. Nope, the asshole of the bee verse, a yellow jacket, had stung her on the hand and she had responded by trying to verbally assault the offending party at the top of her lungs. She went inside to treat the fire in in her hand after I agreed to find and kill the offending party. I had placed an old sheep horn in the corral fencing and it made a great place to build a Yellow jacket nest. I gave Hoss the spray and told him to go kill all the offending parties. He did and then we sprayed the cows with fly spray, we had to let the four cows out of the chute after the bull and another started fighting. We ended up letting the bull go out to the other female cows. He has not been near the house since rejoining the female persuasions.

Hoss and I then went up to the Upper Prime Field and finished installing wood stays along the creek side of the new fence. We used 100 of the 200 I had just purchased the night before. On the way out of the field we stopped and patched the new cross fence in six places. The last little section of fence near the new T -brace and new gate needed to be reworked. Hoss had not stapled the fence to the T-brace, once we did that a wire needed moved down to just above the woven wire. A few more wooden stays got installed and the fence is now sheep proof! The new fence, a section of the old fence has 6 strands and no woven wire. It may need some more T-posts and wooden stays but for now it should keep the sheep inside.

Hoss will start in on the next pasture on Monday, I want him to start in on the wheat field side and we will work our way around the field counter clockwise. I figure it will take 2-3 weeks to get it done, no more than 4 weeks hopefully.

Bummer twins

Over the weekend, Annmarie found a set of twins that got abandoned. She discovered them while pushing the sheep into the barn lot. The babies were so weak that one of them hardly wanted to drink. She brought them into the house and cooled them down and fed them. What do you do with twin lambs? You call the housekeeper to come get them!! This way you only have to babysit them for a couple of hours. Annmarie called the housekeeper and got no answer, she texted and no response, Uh Oh. So now a place was needed to keep the lambs contained overnight.

They are babies and need fed every two hours. The problem is we don’t store diapers or have a covered area near the house that we could contain two lambs inside. Mind you, I was asleep while this was going on, Annmarie ended up tossing towels and our dog water absorbent rugs onto the floor in hopes it could contain the messes to come.

At midnight when I got up to go to work, Annmarie’s alarm went off, as she was sleeping on the couch. She woke up and warmed bottles. The two of us fed the lambs in the kitchen and Annmarie told me that Sarah was sleeping in the spare room. She was going to do the 0200 feeding and Annmarie would do the 0400.

When I got back in the morning at 0800, the lambs were fed and running around the kitchen. They were energetic, having no issues and playing with the dogs. Annmarie had tossed everything from the bathroom floor into the washing machine and done a first pass on the floor. I ended up on my hands and knees doing a deep scrub of the floor before my shower. After I got out of the shower I saw Annmarie in the kitchen and commented that we should have used the tub as a container for the two lambs. She mentioned that was a great idea and if I had thought of it earlier we would have had a lot less cleaning. Yep, she was right again.

The housekeeper came shortly after my arrival home. Annmarie was grateful as she did not want another night like the prior one again.

Maybe hay

Last week was very hectic for us. We managed to get our new equipment off the truck on Friday. The new baler and the new mower were both there, but no baler netting. I made the semi truck driver check his inventory for a third pallet, no third pallet present. I checked my phone for an invoice in my email, no invoice present. The baler is quite a bit bigger than the loaner and it has a hydraulic hookup on it. I did not expect this and don’t have 1/2″ takeoffs on my tractor only 1/4″. So now I need to figure out how to get an adaptor hose or get a rear set of hydraulic takeoffs installed on my tractor.

I had asked for some spare parts but without an invoice I do not know what is extra or is supposed to be included. I will message the company and hopefully get an answer. Until I get an answer I am going to leave the equipment on the pallets it was shipped on. Who knows what will happen. We got the other two pieces back onto their original pallets and strapped down. The mower is broken, I bent the shaft on one of the cylinders when I hit the hidden pipe down by the schoolhouse. I will need to pull that pipe out of the ground before I try and cut hay down there again.

I had grand plans of working on fencing all weekend and making loads of progress, but that was a dream in an ideal world. Instead I spent 30 hours working night shift at work. This did not equate to any work getting done as Hoss was sick and decided to take the weekend off in an attempt to rest up and heal up. We have been bringing in the sheep every night as they keep having lambs! Its starting to turn into summer in Eastern Oregon. The terrain is showing what it is really like to live with minimal rain. We got 1/100″ in a 30 minute window and I was cheering. Unfortunately for us, it stopped and no more rain came, none of the wheat farmers were happy even with the minuscule amount. Oddly, our back creek is still running at the end of July. Its not much but it is actively moving and we are hoping it will make it to the first of August. If so, then that will be the latest the spring runoff creek has ran since we moved back to the farm 12 years ago.