Posts are mostly in the ground

Hoss came out today and we worked on setting posts. Now Annmarie got back yesterday and her list was quite a bit different than mine. Since I needed to get him started we opted for loading up the back of the pickup with gravel and driving up to set posts. I set all my wooden posts in gravel now and tamp it down with a metal breaker bar. The breaker bar weighs ten pounds and it is painful to use but the post is solid when I am done. We dug out dirt then placed the posts, I had forgotten my level so Hoss reminded me to use my IPhone with an app. Yep, it worked and all the posts got set without us having to make a special trip back for an old fashioned level.

On the 18th post, second load of gravel, my left forearm started to cramp. I was using the breaker bar and Hoss was shoveling gravel. We started alternating early on as the poor guy doing breaker bar is working a lot harder than the shovel guy. My forearm just said “we are done” and would not allow me to use the breaker bar anymore. So instead we went back down to the barn to do something else. Hoss was going to be here till 1600 so I might as well keep him busy.

I had fixed the crossing on Friday where the sheep were getting out. I really just need to move the fence line and take the water crossing out of the equation. It will take a solid 8 hours to tear out the old fence and install the new one. It’s on the list but not as high as the two upper fields.

We came down and fixed the barn floor. I took a saw and ripped off two inches in width off of the last board to be installed and we dropped it down into the opening. It left a 1/2″ gap on either side of the board but no lambs foot should be able to fall through. We then brought all the sorting chutes back into the barn and installed them. Since we were on a roll we tossed out fresh straw and cleaned up the milking area. We even made a trash run and cleaned out the trash. I have some trash left in the tack room still that will need to go out. I need to buy some large nails to install over by the windows so our temporary panels can hang neatly.

Annmarie had to bummer one of the new lambs last night. We are pretty sure its from our #1 ewe. She is our oldest herd member and she is skeletal thin after delivering twins. She just doesn’t pay close enough attention to the new lambs. The one Annmarie had to remove just couldn’t keep up. Her other lamb is tougher and more active so it manages to keep up with her. I don’t think she will live another year. We wandered the orchard and found another single lamb that had been born. I shared my cherries with the sheep and soon had 20 of them following me around the orchard. Annmarie was able to scratch on the ram after he came over looking for some attention. He is our second best ram ever.

Population boom

It has started again, the sheep are lambing. Of course Annmarie is out of town, but luckily all of the sheep but one were in the orchard. When I let the dogs out this morning I was pretty sure I heard a newborn lamb. I say this because they make a very distinct sound that only lasts a few days, after that their voice changes. It is odd but honestly you can hear newborn babies. I looked up on the hillside at the lone sheep who had snuck out of the orchard and she had at least one lamb, turns out she had twins. Hoss and I pushed her back into the orchard with another loner who made it out. They are crawling through the ditch. When it flooded this spring it lifted it out of the water. I will need to fix it tomorrow but I am going to have to put on my waders as my normal knee high boots are not going to keep me dry. Hoss and I also turned on water in the orchard and started to water the grass. We have not watered it at all this year. We then went out to finish digging all the post holes.

Hoss has been working on getting T-posts pounded into the ground and trying to finish the holes I started. It is too late in the season to be attempting new post holes in our ground. He has been filling the holes with water and digging out 2-4 inches every day. Today we tore it up and got every hole drilled that we needed. Some just required time, some needed finesse and some we had to dig out by hand. The tractor auger will sit on top of the clay but if you dig it by hand it will be much faster. We had to dig out five by hand. We have 24 done and ready for posts now. On Sunday we will fill the pickup with gravel and set as many posts as we can. I set all wooden posts with gravel now. They stay in place better and it cuts down on the weeds growing around them. Which makes it less likely for me to burn up the wooden post.

Hoss stated that yesterday he got stung 4-5 times by the yellow jackets in one particular place. The blackberry bushes were right up next to the fence location. He gave up. Today I took the tractor in there and shoved the bushes back five feet and knocked down the weeds. I did not get stung a single time. I think he was exuding fear.

We came back to the house to look at the hay mower. It needs more than a couple of bolts. I need to tear apart the cylinder, find the correct bolts, remove the broken bolts from the welded in place nuts straighten the blade arms and put it all back together. This is going to take a couple of days. I will need more tools.

Once I realized it was going to take more than a couple of hours we moved onto the next project. I decided to finally move the panels in the bull enclosure so that any animal can take itself to water. We had a trough initially and it worked for the horses but the sheep we had to water separately in buckets. So we moved a panel out into the channel and added two more. They were very hard to get unpinned and moved. The fence is incredibly strong. I will need to add in a gravel pathway so the animals do not sink into mud when getting a drink. I had 20 more yards of gravel delivered last week. I knew we would need it for the fence posts and the skinning pole. I will need at least five yards just to fill in under the skinning pole. I am looking forward to not having to work in the mud when skinning an animal.

We moved the horse trough down to chicken coop. I want to level a spot under the eaves of the old house so that the rain helps keep it filled and then I want to get goldfish! I think they can survive the winter. They are cheap and I miss having fish.

Zeke, our herding border collie, keeps getting out of the front yard. I was certain that he was jumping over one of our gates. He got out again today and ran into the upper fields to harass the wildlife. So I added new slats to the gate to make it too tall for him to leap. I then ran to the store for a quick errand knowing he was secure. When I got home he was outside the fence again. I have no clue how he is doing it. I am going to have to install our game camera up onto the trash can to watch the front fence and see where he is getting out. I suspect he is going over it I am just not sure where. Take my advice, do not teach your herding dog to get over, under, through every fence when herding because you are just creating a containment nightmare for yourself. Until we figure it out he goes on the overhead run now whenever we are not home.

We also installed some metal equipment rims in the old oak tree spot down at my Mother-in-laws today. I am not sure how it will be received so I am holding off on pictures until later.

After a solid 8 hours it was time to call it a day. I sat out in the rocking chair, drank some water and ate Sorbet! It was very good and incredible after a hot day. It was 90 degrees today. Our back creek is still running which is amazing. I suspect it to end by August.

The sheep are popping babies out everywhere. We had three sets of twins and at least one single born today. I called Annmarie and she said it was time. I thought they were all due in August. This means next week we have to get the barn functional so we can sort off the market animals and the new babies. The babies will need to be tagged and banded. We also need to track their mother and birth date! Since I could not get close today I will take out the binoculars tomorrow and I should be able to get tag numbers and quantities born. I will even use our new tracking software!

Supposed to get something done

It was a holiday weekend so I had an extra day off. I had all these plans on accomplishing tons of things, this did not happen. I did get some stuff done but not as much as I envisioned. I also ended up with a couple of surprises. Sometimes the surprises are not pleasant and this weekend was no exception to that rule. I spent Thursday and Friday finishing digging out the barn. Hoss went to play in the mountains for the holiday so I finished digging out the barn the first day and then spent the next day moving piles of straw and sheep manure onto our compost pile. We have two piles and the old pile is almost ready to be distributed as soil. It takes 2-3 years to break down the straw and manure into a usable substance.

Meathead came out and sheared the dogs. Annmarie asked her to use a longer blade and she did not want to shear their tails. She is opposed to them having rat tales. It is easier to keep the cheat grass out of their hides with a shorter coat.

We went out and covered one of the plum trees on Saturday. It is loaded and the bats are out at night and Annmarie is hoping this will keep the bird and bats away from the fruit. We looked at the other trees but they do not have very much fruit on them. I will need to shape the trees this winter and we are going to shorten the tree skirting. We are talking about putting the two bully alpacas out with the three sold eating cows. This way we only have to skirt the trees for the sheep and not alpacas or horses.

We have a lot of thistles in the orchard so I am going to push the entire sheep herd into the orchard for a few days to eat the entire field down, then I will work on killing thistles again.

I got the post hole auger installed on the tractor Saturday and had plans to dig all the post holes on Sunday. Unfortunately I decided that I needed to weed eat the front driveway as the cheat grass and weeds were getting out of control. I moved the pickup back out of the driveway as it was covering weeds. I left my car in place and Annmarie was at church. On one of my trips to the pickup for weed eater fuel I noticed that my car window was busted out! Now mind you I had goggles and hearing protection on but the rocks getting kicked up from the weed eater were pelting me and they hurt. It did not occur to me that I would blow out a window on my car while trying to make the driveway neater. This sucks and now I have to get it replaced.

I did finally get on the tractor and go out and start trying to drill holes in the ground. The first five holes I only managed to get about 2-4 inches down. I did not have a bucket but will bring one up and start filling the holes with water. I will need to do that for a few days to soften up the dirt. Once I got down into the bottom fields the soil was actually muddy once I got six inches below the surface. This would explain the weed jungle that I have in the upper field. It is so bad I cannot even mow it. I have the tractor bucket fully raised at 8 feet and the weeds are still taller. The plan is to get the fence up around this field and to push the sheep up in the morning and bring them in at night. Our hope is the sheep can tear it up and thin it out so I can get the mower through it. There is still a muddy area in the middle of the field that I cannot drive the tractor through. Our hope is the sheep will knock it down enough I can get the tractor in to see the wet areas and dig a few ditches to let it drain better. I got 9 holes completed and five started, only 12 more to go.

On the way back to the house I noticed our three feeder cows out of their fence. The gate had not been latched correctly and they got out. I had to move gates around and get them pushed back into their pasture. The gate is latched correctly now.

My hope is that Hoss and I can get some fencing done this week, time will tell.

Weed patch fence started

Hoss came out yesterday and we started to distribute fencing supplies throughout the upper two pastures. The first trip was spent spreading out the newly purchased wooden posts and panels. I had a total of 42 posts and crossbeam and we used up every one. I should have purchased 10 more. I don’t like to finish a project without having leftover supplies. It never fails that I need more and now I will not have it.

The second trip we loaded up 4 gates and 200 T-posts and all the wooden stays I had left onto the trailer. I managed to slide a T-post onto Hoss’s foot when I was standing on the large pile tossing them to the edge so he could load them onto the trailer. I did apologize, but I suspect it will leave a mark. We started dropping off posts and marking out T-post and wooden stay locations. I like to put T-posts every 8′ and a wooden stay between them at 4′ it makes for a very tight fence. We staked out some string and painted marks on the dirt while measuring with a tape. I ended up having to go get the tractor to knock down some more weeds along the bank. We had a small pile of supplies left but we still had a small section of fence to lay out so I just said to leave it and we will use it later.

Hoss had to leave by 1500 on Sunday so I packed up the fencing and came back to the house. I had been wanting to get out to our driveway entrance and weed eat and clean up our Steel Wheel fence. I drove the pickup out with the weed eater and cleaned up the entrance then got down on my hands and knees and pulled all the plants away from the fence line. It looks great! I am very happy and enjoy the sight when I am leaving for work and coming home.

I just need to get two colors of wood stain and work on the wooden century sign now. You cannot see the lettering without the contrast. I think I can get a sanding tip for my battery powered multi tool and clean it up in place and stain it in place.

The sheep wanted to go wander this morning when I went out to open the gate. Last night I had not used the dogs to push them into the barn lot so they were very reluctant to go in. I had to walk back and forth and holler at them. I was not able to get them into the barn lot as I had lost patience. Annmarie was sure they would sneak through the fence at the creek crossing last night. The fence is up on a piece of drift wood and they would hardly have to duck to just walk through it but they stayed in place. Which is why I had to go out and open the gate this morning, I didn’t push them down into the ram pasture. They look great! We will be sorting them later this month and keeping four to kill, for three different customers. It is July 1, 2019 and the back creek is still running. It is composed entirely of snow melt from the mountains and tends to be dry about this time normally. If it goes until August 1 that will be the longest we have ever seen it run since we have moved back.

It rained again this evening and dropped another 8/100″. I would like to see it drop another 1/4″ this week but the wheat farmers are not saying that. I did manage to get drawn for another buck tag this year so I will be shooting anything with horns again this year. Hopefully this time it won’t take me three days to figure out that the little deer really does have horns. Annmarie is riding with the Pendleton Round-up mounted band. This meant I had to take care of her cowboy boots. She tells me its been 10 years since I put any kind of treatment on her boots. I must need to give them a quick pass every couple of years. On a weird side note, we looked up mounted bands on the internet. This band is the only one in the country! So bizarre, we had no idea. Most of the people are just regular folks having a good time around horses that don’t care if they play instruments.

Honey do list

Well I had a whole list built up in my mind about what we were going to accomplish over the weekend. This did not come to fruition as the wife had other ideas. Not only did she have other ideas but she was frustrated enough to demand a “honey do list day”. I don’t get these very often and I try to avoid them (as do most men if they are honest) but it was happening so I opted to just roll with the punches.

I started the day with a full cup of coffee and when Hoss showed up we dug right into the list. The front yard sprinklers are throwing water too far out into the driveway so we moved them down the hill another 6-8 feet. This did require us to lower two more T-posts with the grinder.

Next on the list was moving the woven electric fence from the orchard (it has only been there for the last 4 years) and into our front yard. The plan was to install it on the hillside, next to the front spring to stop the dogs from going on the front hillside. We are watering the front hillside until it turns green then I am going to kill it with Roundup. We want to do that twice this summer then plant clover seed this fall. We are hoping the clover will get established and choke out any other weed.

Once that fence was in we fired up the chain saw and cut down the volunteer trees growing from the exposed roots. This prompted me to start trimming some of the low branches on the big trees. We had only been at it about 20 minutes when the wife came out and declared that task was not on her list! Technically, it was not on her list, but the sprinklers were and this would make the sprinklers cover more ground by removing the low hanging branches. This argument did not work and we quit cutting down branches and just tossed the downed branches over the fence to the sheep.

We now have four ewes living in the orchard. Number One Ewe is so pregnant that earlier in the week when Annmarie was moving them back to the ram pasture at night old number one just gave up, laid down on the ground, neck laid out and refused to move. So now she and three of our oldest ewes are in the orchard away from the main herd so they don’t have to run up and down the whole length of the farm every day. She is getting old and skinny, it looks like she is carrying twins again!

We went to the old house next and cleaned off the porch and put away about 50% of the tools laying around. Getting everything off of the old house porch took longer than I expected. We had a lot of parts and pieces of old hardiboard from the downstairs floor. I tossed out all of it but the four intact full sheets.

I was able to set up the radial arm saw so that I can just open the side door on the building and extend out the support arm and cut long boards. So not only is it no longer on our front porch but it is still usable!

The front porch now looks like a front porch. Annmarie is thinking about refinishing the wooden chairs and repainting the front fence and painting the bridge! I am all for it.

Hoss and I also went down and planted two new trees for my mother in law and cleaned out the weeds away from two other trees that have cow panels around them. I managed to hit myself in the head with the T post driver. It does not feel good. I did not see stars or have to take a knee.

Annmarie and I went to the farm supply store one day sale to get fencing materials for the upper prime squared pasture. I think I am going to ask Annmarie to burn a map onto a piece of wood of all the different fields and add their name to them! She doesn’t agree with me on all the names.

After dinner I went out to the 7 acre field and started trying to clear out the dead Sumack branches along the field. I started by pushing them up the bank but after about 50 yards I realized I was creating an impenetrable wall! So I started dragging the branches down off the berm and making one big pile. I was told today that it would go faster if I rented a small backhoe with a grapple. I believe this to be a true statement but it costs several hundred dollars and I would only get 8 hours of engine run time. My tractor works I just have to break up the sumack with the bucket and go over the same spot several times. So I am sticking with the already paid for version of cleanup. This will take me about another 25 hours to get done. It’s already too dry to burn so I will end up making 3-4 large piles on the edge of the field and will burn them this winter or next spring. This may mean I can only plant about 5 of the 7 acres this fall.

Barn Blues

I have been having Hoss work on the barn during the week. He usually comes out first thing in the morning and works until it gets hot. He has been digging out the barn with the tractor and by hand. I put in an hour or two after work but I am the one who tore up the barn floor with the tractor. There has been a few boards buckling near the back of the barn. I almost had to rip them out last year and reattach them to the floor braces. After I let the floor dry out they lowered themselves and I opted to leave them alone for another year. Now that I have ripped one out of the floor with the tractor I will have to pull up four rows, clean them all up, clean up the loose poop and then attach three rows Once I am down to one board only I can measure and custom cut it to fit the gap. The floor is tongue and groove and I did not leave any gaps so there is not a lot of movement allowed in the floor. On Wednesday when I went out to the barn for an impact driver I spotted a large pile of poop up against the wall below. I was just starting on Annmarie’s list of to do and thought that a few minutes with the mistress would do me good. So I climbed up onto the tractor and started to scoop up some poop.

Holy smokes! The pile was hot! It was steaming and the temperature was over 80 degrees. I ended up having to scoop up the entire pile at the end of the barn. The 8 inches of rain in one month we had caused us to have more moisture in the barn than is normal. When you dig up the floor with the tractor and leave it in a loose pile you aerate it. Once it gets oxygen with that much heat and moisture the composting process went into overdrive. So now the race is on to empty the barn. The only nice thing is the undisturbed floor/straw manure layer is so dense it doesn’t get a lot of oxygen so its not heating up. It just smells horrible when you disturb it. Hoss has marching orders to finish the barn up this week. It only needs about 6 more hours to be complete. Once it is empty we will let it sit for a couple of weeks then put all of the sorting chutes back inside. We will need to count sheep this month so our buyer will know how many we are selling. We are not even sure how many we are selling until we count them and get a feel for how big they are. He wants them on the bigger size so it limits the number we have available.

It rained 1/10″ on Wednesday. I had the lawn almost mowed but the rain put a temporary halt to my efforts. Running the mower for 3 minutes then taking 3 more minutes to empty the bag and restart the mower makes it very tedious. I would like it to rain one to two more days that much so our hay fields green up a second time.

I found this freeloader on the plywood sheets on the old house porch. I let it go under the bridge, hopefully it will survive.

Hoss disturbed one of the swallow nests in the rafters of the barn by driving in and out of the barn. The nest fell off the 2×6 it was hanging onto and the nest had baby birds. He spent ten minutes catching all the baby birds running around on the floor and put them and the nest up on the ledge inside the barn. When he came back the next day the only thing he found was a pile of feathers! One of the barn kitties probably had a bird snack after he left.

I am going to live

I have had the plague for the last week and the sleeping and feeling horrible is making me inactive. I hate it but luckily Hoss has already started in on the barn. He emptied it out and is now digging it out. He took everything out! It does make it easier to clean but I had a couple of panels screwed to the wall so he had to work at it.

Yesterday I just could not stand staying inside any longer. I saddled up the mistress and we went into the barn and tore it up! I was only able to last 1.5 hours before I wilted but I did a bunch of stuff in that time. I went in and showered and just laid on the couch until bedtime.

Today I went out and worked on mowing the lawn. I had to repair the mower first, it needed the keep run handle cable replaced. I had purchased this part last year and installed it today. Here is the real problem, its 2″ too long. I reread the tag and yes I have the part for my tractor. I ended up cutting the cable and using my high tension fencing splicing tools to put it back together. It worked just fine, but boy I wish the parts fit like expected. I mowed half the lawn then mowed the front hillside.

Gizmo thinks the new wood window casings are made just for him to lay about in the sun. He is not shy about scooting out and making his own space amongst the glass insulators. I used to space them out evenly but he kept knocking them over and moving them around so now they stay grouped together.

The front hillside sprinklers are now working! I have one on the very end that is high up in the air that doesn’t work. It’s too high! I will have to do something different.