Farm 3 Predators 0

Well now that I am back to work I only have time to blog occasionally again. My goal is still 6-8 posts/month and I have done pretty good this year keeping to it. I was driving to work early Tuesday and spotted a coyote in our driveway. I knew we had one on the property as a friend had called and told me they had spotted it in the stubble field. A coyote hanging around the place is bad for the sheep. One of our nephews shot the coyote this week! So the sheep are safe and I don’t have to spend time hunting it down. Tonight, Annmarie spotted a porcupine on our back hillside. Luckily we dispatched it before the dogs discovered it or we would be going to the vet with three dogs. Annmarie is pretty sure the dogs tangled with a raccoon in the dark early one morning this week. Winter is coming, the predators are starting to come in to the buildings and head towards the chicken coop. The vet bill to sedate three dogs, remove quills and come in on an emergency basis, around $800-1000 for enquiring minds. Our oldest border collie has a torn up ear from wrestling with something in the yard this week. The dogs are valuable team members with a very specific job and they need to do that as we are going to have to start moving animals for selling and feeding in the barn.

We took our first two cows in to be butchered. Thursday evening Annmarie took both border collies into the upper fields and pushed the cows down into the corral. Mr Professional and I showed up after she had the cows in the corral. We sorted off two cows for slaughter. It helps that most of the bunch were on the menu but we just snagged a couple of the bigger ones and sorted them off into the third pen. We then pushed everyone else out and gave them water overnight. I backed the horse trailer up to the chute so I could just open the chute up and push the cows into the trailer first thing in the morning. We had to be there by 0730. The cows are all pretty skittish as they have not seen a human for about two months. Friday morning I just opened up some gates and pushed the cows into the trailer and off we went, took 10 minutes and we were on the road. We are going to have to drop off the cows two at a time and the sheep in batches of five. So we will be doing this every week. We were going to kill one of our original three cows but she is pregnant! She is so mean we had wanted to make her into hamburger. She is going to get another one year reprieve. Our bull only had access to her for about one week after she gave birth but it was enough to get her impregnated.

Today we started out the day with homemade cinnamon roles that raised overnight in the refrigerator along with some Kansas City bacon! It was so good we are having a repeat tomorrow morning. I am going to drown my cinnamon role in butter tomorrow though. It kept raining off and on throughout the morning so when I went outside I had my rain coat on. I had to run to town for diesel before getting a start. It was raining again after I got the disc hooked up to the tractor. If it gets too wet I cannot pull the disc. I remembered that a cheat for this is to weight the front of the tractor down, I found and put 350# of tractor weight into the front bucket to give the tractor more traction. I headed up to the upper pasture to disc with the rain coming down hard. I managed to get a few times around before going into field #2 and working out some of the water ruts in one area. I was cold as I only had a neck gator on and a long sleeve shirt under the thin raincoat. I need better clothes for this, I need to use my chest waders, a warm vest and some waterproof gloves! By the time I made it back to the house 3.5 hours later I was freezing cold and spent 45 minutes in the shower getting warm. We got 0.12” of rain by 1700 today and have gotten 15.49” of rain this year so far.

I like the rain as it softens up the ground but too much and I cannot work the fields. Such a gamble, I had no idea how much luck was involved in farming. Our Morris chair hinges came today. Some old geezer makes them, so now I will be buying a couple of pieces of oak so I can take apart the chair back, make a new rail and reglue the entire back.

Forever Friday 45/45, on to Monday

It’s that time, time to go back to work, vacation is over! By work, I mean the paying job, the stuff done around the farm was for rest and relaxation. I spent the day before we left for the coast discing the field down by my in-law’s house. I want to plant it in grass this fall but I need it ready for seed. It is still too dry to plant but if we don’t get rain soon, I will have to put the seed in the ground anyways. Mr Professional came out over the weekend and changed the oil in the tractor. It is all ready for winter. The tractor now has just barely over 1200 hours on it.

I went out today and used the arena groomer to knock down all the big dirt clots and drag all the extra dead grass out of the field. It took about three hours to get it smoothed out and ready for seed. I even picked up any scrap metal, rocks and loose old hay strings. Once that was done I swapped out the arena groomer for the box blade. I have a real hankering to get the field number 2 cleaned up and move some of the dirt out of the damp area so I can get a usable grass field planted. I moved the dirt out out of the middle of the area and am using it to fill in all the washboard flooding damage in the field. I got about 25% done today in four hours. I think I can get the rest of it done in about 12-15 more hours with my mistress on the job. If I have some leftover time on the backhoe I need to rent at the end of the month I could get it done faster. The backhoe is needed to finishing fixing the berm and creating a new one in the middle of the field. If it does flood I only want it to wash out into small portions of the fields, not the entire thing!

I saw several rooster pheasants today and two large covey of quail. The quail are incredibly passive, they fly off just enough to get away from you but still within 40 feet of you. The sheep are looking mighty fat and this week we start hauling the cows in for slaughter. We are only doing a couple at a time so we will be spacing them out and letting the customers know when their cow is ready. I will probably be helping Scott with his two sheep next month after it cools off a little. I did not get a deer tag this year so I will not be hunting for venison on the place, our nephew is coming out to see if he can shoot one of the two bucks we have on the property. So far I don’t think he has been successful. I still need to finish the barn lot fence…

Forever Friday 39/45

Sunday morning it dawned on me that I had a pull behind furrow for the tractor and was not utilizing it! Thank you Penny for convincing me to buy it when I had no need for it. I have had it a few years and not used it but once or twice. I hooked it up to the tractor and drug the ditch the entire length three times and it tore it up great! All I need to do now is go up there with the box blade on and I can finish getting the ditch cleaned out. I suspect it will take me another 8 hours to get it all cleaned up. I saw our friendly kestrel again. It must have a nest or be living right in the area. While I was digging the ditch I got the overhead tractor lights caught in the branches of a tree. After a few hours of digging my large light fell off the tractor and was hanging by its cord. I drove home and called it a night. I needed to fix the lights anyways.

Today I opted to get the disc set up and running. I had seen it up between the wheat fields. It took me abut 20 minutes to get the drag behind rakes off of the disc. There is so much organic matter I knew they would just clog up and I would have to stop every five minutes to empty it out. It took me a another 15 minutes to get it working correctly. I circled the little patch of ground between the wheat fields then took disc up to the seven acre field and went around its border three times. This way if I want to burn it in a month I can. The real reason to use the disc was to tear up the area I want to drag with the box blade. I want to lower the water laden area in field two another one foot and take that dirt and build up the surrounding area. I need to fix all the wash boarding that occurred from the running water throughout the field. I went over it in every direction for about 90 minutes and was able to get a fairly good loosening of soil. Using the teeth on the box blade now I should be able to drag this and move a bunch of dirt. I am running out of time! I only have half a day tomorrow then we go to the coast. I am going to work on tightening the momma/baby fence tomorrow. I can hard wire in the gate for now as I won’t need it to operate correctly until the spring. After I get the gate wired shut and the other fence tightened I just have the one spring crossing to harden. Luckily if they get under that fence they just get trapped in the second flower area and there are no flowers in there. So as soon as I get the fence tightened it should hold animals and we will be ready for winter. Next week after I get done working I will ready the barn and make the last rock jack. I may need to blow out the drip lines also. Winter is coming.

Monday morning I fixed the lights on the tractor. I had a smaller light that I installed looking forward. The light is about 75% smaller than the one I knocked off. I realized that you don’t need much light looking forward, more looking backwards where the equipment is pulling behind the tractor. I had so much light power I was sucking the battery dry. So less light is better for multiple reasons. Today I cut a piece of pipe to use as conduit so that branches could not grab the loose wires. I will need to try it out in the dark and see how it works still.

Forever Friday 37/45

I opted to move no rocks as I did not sleep well, my shoulders are constantly aching and all of my muscles are twitching so bad they are keeping me awake. I ended up in the spare room so I did not keep Annmarie awake also. I vowed no rock picking on Saturday and I am going to stick with it. I do realize that a large portion of this this is my own fault by not doing some more baseline exercise. I need to think about that and consider the fact that I am not getting younger! I do believe there is an inherent amount of wisdom gained by getting older, mine comes mostly from past mistakes.

I ended up using the arena groomer to smooth out the area around the machine shed and grain bins. I want to replant them in grass again. We need to get on top of the weeds and this is helping. I then switched over to the box blade so I could go up and look at the flood damage in the 7 acre field (#1). The field is incredibly rough from all the water rivulets that were created from the flooding. I want to focus on the old irrigation ditch. All of the fields used to be flood irrigated. I am looking at cleaning out the ditches and setting them up again used for this purpose. I started at the near end and worked for four hours. I was able to get about 20% completed. My goal is to get this completed this week, we will see if I have the time.

I got to see a kestrel hawk come in and fly about 20 feet away. The wind was perfect and the hawk was just suspended in air and just twitching its wings to stay in one spot. I am thinking about using more of those 16’ posts in the ground for the predator birds to use as perches around the outside of our fields. More mice and voles getting eaten is a good thing. On the way home I stopped at this buried piece of metal and attempted to dig it out. I thought it was a piece of equipment. It looks like it was five anchors for something. The ground is so hard I cannot get it out with my tractor and will have to wait until spring and tackle it again. Hidden things in the weedS are bad for the farm equipment, especially the mower. My coffee cup does not appreciate getting covered in dirt, but I tell it that as long as it contains the elixir of life I will always love it.

As we were settling down to dinner I let the dogs inside. Mouse starting talking because he wanted dinner. He talks at us when its food time, it is not a bark, more like a whine/controlled vocalization. We told him no as we had dinner on the table and he was going to have to wait. He kept pacing so Annmarie told him to lay down in the hall. He came into the kitchen, flopped down on his side and then voiced his protest at not getting dinner! We made him wait until our dinner was over then all the dogs got to eat. He definitely had an opinion and was able to express it quite eloquently.

Forever Friday 36/45

Yesterday is proving that I may need a slight break from hard manual labor. I managed to get one rock crib filled and the other about 1/3 of the way done before I gave up on the rock cribs. My back is screaming at me after I move about two ton of rock now. I only have 2/3 of a rock crib left to fill and one rock jack to construct. The nice thing about the rock crib is there is a pile of rocks right next to where I am making it so I can just reach over and fill it without having to move every rock twice. The completed rock rib is on the right side of the picture and the partially full one is on the left side of the picture. I also turned on the sprinkler at dark plus it rained 3/100” last night!

I picked out the largest rocks from my current pile and brought about five loads up onto the back hillside behind the barn. The sheep are constantly knocking the dirt down the hillside and I wanted to be able to create a level spot so I can see if I can get some grass to grow up here in the spring. I arranged the rocks so they were stable and then dumped gravel over the top and scooped and spread gravel until it filled all the cracks and crevices. Once this gets some rain I will work on removing the gravel from the rocks so I get a better rock outline. I won’t do that until late spring of next year. I want everything to settle into place.

Since I was not going to move more rocks, I worked on leveling the strip of dirt behind the machine shed with the box blade then switched to the arena groomer to tear up the surface dirt of the field around the grain bins. I want to be able to plant grass again in this area and see if it will take hold better this year. The weeds are virtually nonexistent this year compared to last year. Once I get the fencing done I will be moving onto grass seed planting. I am going to do tractor work tomorrow.