Scrap metal scrapped.

Today Jason and I went around the farm and dug up scrap metal.  I had been keeping the locations in my memory of all scrap metal pieces stashed on the farm.  We started out by going up on the hill near the cliffs.  I remembered there was some scrap metal up there I had noticed when I almost got the mule (four wheel vehicle) stuck while trying to spray weeds near the bluff.  We went up there in our pickup.  We started digging in a rock pile and more metal just started appearing.  Jason jumped back and started hollering about a snake, specifically a small rattlesnake.  I did not see it.  He stated that it had crawled back into the rocks.  I made some specific intimations about his imagination as I have yet to find a rattlesnake on the property in six years.  We continued to dig through the rock pile, Jason used a metal rod and just to be on the safe side so did I, even though I didn’t believe him.  Amazingly, it was a baby rattle snake.  We found it about 15 minutes later and killed it.  I admitted he was right.  We dug out half a pickup load out of the rocks and dirt.  Our adventures took us all over the farm and we consolidated the metal down by the barn and sorted it into two separate piles, scrap pile and Jason pile. 

We managed to get the area in front of the machine shop all cleaned up.  I filled our trash can full of old hoses and old plastic that were hidden in the grass.  I will be able to run the tractor mower in front of the machine shop now.  That will help us keep the weeds down in the summer. 

There were some old metal scraps down in a hole I was digging for dirt.  I used the dirt to fill in a low spot in my mother-in-law’s yard.  We pulled the pickup over and started pulling out the visible metal.  Again, there was a rock pile and some old wooden fence posts on the ground.  We started moving the fence posts and rocks and filled up half the pickup.  We found two old wooden metal tire rings that I took to my in-law’s house and four metal tractor seats all buried in the weeds and dirt.  It seemed like every time we started digging in the dirt we just found more metal.  Jason saw two more snakes down by the creek, black snakes, totally harmless.  I accused him of being paranoid.

We loaded all the scrap up onto Jason’s trailer that he wanted and all the rest went to the scrap heap I have near the grain bins.  There is still about two more days of just going around and locating all the scrap and getting it centralized so it can be taken to the recycle yard.  The place is starting to look neater already.  I just keep cleaning a little bit up at a time but it just keeps adding up.   Tomorrow is fencing day.  Hopefully, we can get the front barn sheep area all done in one day.  That is pretty optimistic but so far we are ahead of schedule.

Barn doors installed.

Side Door in place, with some additional siding added. Still more to come.

 Jason, the wild man, came up this morning and we worked on the barn.  The front door is now almost complete.  Two of the bar supports are broken but thankfully I remembered there used to be another sliding door down by the milk shed.  There are five supports in great shape so we will snag three of them to attach to the front of the barn.  We hung the door any ways.

Side door, 10.5 feet high and 7 feet wide.

Next up was the side door leading to the second hay area.  We had to cut away some of the outer layer of siding.  It was so warped and rolled on the edges there was no way we could install the overhead track.  After we cut out the warped boards they had to be replaced.  I didn’t have this door made yet so we laid the boards out on the ground in two overlapped layers and screwed them together.  Then we laid out the backwards Z and screwed it into everything.  Yep, it was very heavy.  We could not lift it off the ground.  In came the trusty tractor to the rescue.  Once we had the rollers attached we stood it on its end and walked it back toward the barn by hand.  Almost impossible due to weight.  There was no way we were going to get a one foot vertical lift to set the door in the track.  So we brought in the tractor again and shimmed it up to the tract height.  Jason stood on the ladder and I shoved.  It took a few tries and multiple shim adjustments but we got it in the tract.  Jason thinks it may need to be adjusted (crooked) but that would require us to take the door down again.  I said it looked and worked great we are leaving it.

Front door leading into hallway and tack room.

I am not so sure the honey bees are going to like the new door.  Their hive is on the far right side of the door when it is fully open.  I need to put in a couple more supports but by yesterday afternoon the bees were incredibly active.  It was not going to be possible to do anything and not get stung.  The real problem was I don’t mind getting stung a couple of times, it just seemed like I was probably going to get stung by a large exponential number of 2, a very large number.  On the plus side, it is looking good for honey this winter! 
Jason and I are going to clean up all the metal and tin piles I have stashed all over the farm today.  I want to get those all gone so I don’t keep hitting scrap metal when I am mowing on the farm. 

Old Lamb barn sided.

Horses won’t be stealing any more food!

Today was the day the lamb barn got resided.  Mr. President would have been proud.  I didn’t think it was going to get done before winter even though it was on Annmarie’s list.  Monica (foreign exchange student) and I went out today and got the board completed on the board and bat siding.  I still need to tear some boards in half to put on the bat portion of the siding but that can wait.  No animal can steal hay from the lamb barn and no weather can get in except for a little wind through the cracks.  It was a good day.  I had hoped it could be done without cutting any boards, but we had to cut about half of them.  They all had to be taken to the main barn (only place that the extension cord can reach) to be cut off.  We kept trying to get the boards as close to the roof as possible to keep the birds out but that did not work.  It looks a little odd from the side now as the bottoms of the boards are all within about an eight inch span.  I figure a good kick board will fix that no problem.

My sprinkler is still going in front of the barn.  The soil is having trouble absorbing the water as there were free standing puddles forming.  I am going to keep the water on until Sunday evening.  Hopefully, it will be dry enough for me to dig some holes on Monday afternoon.  I need to be able to drive the tractor over the dirt without sinking in yet not have everything dry out totally again.  It is going to be a balancing act.  If I cannot get the holes dug I will work on getting the supports between the posts and tying the posts together so I can start pulling wire and attaching it.

We broke open some more straw for inside the barn and set up the three jugs with straw.  Everything is all ready for babies.  Hopefully, I can get the doors on the barn by the end of the week. 

Digging holes in September…

Fence almost moved

I have actually been doing stuff on the farm.  Mostly fence building, since it seems to be the same thing daily I have not been making blog entries.   It seemed redundant.  The story is not actually changing as I need about 30 days of fencing still (actual days worked).  On the plus side I actually have some pictures because the fencing has progressed to the point that you can actually see some physical changes (that whole planning and marking and measuring phase is boring).  I have been to the parts dealer three times looking for a shear bolt for my post hole auger.  They keep ordering the wrong part.  I was given a 1/4 inch bolt 3 inches long after the new guy found the right part.  He ordered me five and they are coming.  I came home to replace the bolt and realized that it may not have been all their fault.  I kept asking for the shear bolt on the auger.  The shear bolt is actually on the drive shaft where it connects to the gear box that drives the auger. Not really the same thing.  Gave me some respect for the new parts guy.  He kept digging until he found it.  It helped that he could tell what parts had been ordered and that they were wrong.  I just about have the ram pasture fence moved.  In the above picture you can see the light brown line that extends to the back left corner of the picture, that is the old fence line.  The new fence line allows access to the front creek so the animals can get to water 365 days of the year whether or not the back creek is running.  I even managed to pull up the old post that used to hold the knob and tube copper wire running to the barn.  It did not want to come out of the ground.  Annmarie came home and I had the tractor up on two wheels trying to bounce the post out of the ground.  It took a few tries to finally get it out. 

Front creek barn lot

I spent some time digging out the front creek by hand yesterday.  This is a very painful task.  The mud is heavy wet and stinky.  I am trying to get the creek to just a little channel, not a five foot wide mud hole.  If the sides will just dry up I will have it.  I was digging and dragging from the bank when I noticed Zeke playing with something in the mud, it was a crawdad!  It was almost 3 inches long and surprised me.  I did not think anything other than insects lived in the creek.  My bridge is holding up well.  I am pretty happy with it, in hindsight I should have made it wide enough to drive the tractor over.  Oh well. 

The front barn lot fencing is more painful.  I cannot drive a few metal posts and the tractor and I were unable to drill five holes in the ground.  The auger just sits on top of the ground and won’t advance.  Yesterday I tried chipping 1/2 inch of dirt away and trying the auger again.  I managed to get one more hole dug but broke the shear bolt again.  Rocks suck.  Better than me digging it by hand.  I called uncle and set up a sprinkler on the area.  I plan on keeping the water going for 2-3 days nonstop.  Hopefully, this will soften the ground enough for me to get some holes dug.  I keep decreasing the number of wooden posts that need to go into the ground.  All this work has convinced me that I need three less wooden posts and will just use metal posts instead. 

Next week Jason is coming over so we can do a little more barn work.  We need to hang the two slider doors.  This is the last big item beside finishing the siding.  I do need to reside the old lamb shed so the horses quit eating the cows hay.  We have moved the horses out so they cannot get at it, but a completed building would be nice. 

Maybe water will help?

Fencing just plain sucks

We bought the key holder at a craft fair at Maryhill Museum.  I made the board from a piece of maple.

I went out today and made a concerted effort to fence all day long.  I usually only fence for a few hours then go do something else.  Since the animals keep escaping I need to make the barn lot animal proof for the winter or there are going to be serious issues.  I went up on the hill and wound up my guide string I used for the rock cribs and brought it down for the new momma and baby enclosure.  I staked it out and used a tape measure to mark spots for wooden and metal posts with little flags.  Red flags are for metal posts, and orange flags are for wooden posts.  I then found all the metal posts I could and then pulled another ten out of the ground with the tractor.  I laid out the metal posts next to their respective flags and did the same with all the wooden posts.  I am about two wooden posts short.  I think there may be a couple of railroad ties left that are not rotten.  Most of them were rotten when I checked the other day.
I also laid out the new fence going through the back barn lot.  This will let the animals get to the front creek from the ram pasture.  The ultimate goal is to get every pasture access to the front creek.  The creek is 40 degrees year round, it never freezes and comes out of the ground about 100 yards above the house.  I don’t want to have to carry water or fill containers.  I started driving metal posts into the ground.  September, after no rain for two months is not the best time to fence.  I had to hit each post about 100 times.  There is one section of the fence where the cliff face is right near the surface of the ground.  I tried and tried to get a post into the ground.  No luck.  There are three posts that I have in the ground but they need another four inches of help.  I am going to have to have a second person on the post hole driver with me to get that last four inches.
Thankfully, when I put the seven post in the back barn lot it was pure dirt!  Smooth as butter, I could have done 100 posts that way without even breaking a sweat.  I need to get the outer fence up and functioning before I tear out the inner fence to reposition it.  No escaping animals is the goal.  If I get this all done in time I may even be able to replant a couple of the pastures so they snap back in the spring.  I have 50# of pasture seed in the pickup. 
After fencing was completed ( I got tired, arms felt like lead) I came back to the house and worked on sanding a piece of maple for the key holder.  I finished it after dinner and applied linseed oil.  It is drying in the laundry room.  I still need to get two copper screws to attach it to the board.  It turned out nice, Annmarie didn’t want to just hang the key holder on the wall because the keys would scratch it up.  So she wanted an oval shaped piece of wood to go behind the holder.  It passed the muster.
I never did get out and change the light bulb in the chicken coop, another day soon hopefully.

I am really fencing…

Century Farm sign version 2.0

Annmarie and I went to town today to do some quick shopping.  It is Round-Up time in Pendleton and the traffic and craziness is too much.  I only almost got side swiped three times.  We went to the tractor equipment store to get shear bolts for the post hole digger for the tractor but they had to order them in. 
So I worked on the century sign again.  The wind had ripped it down early this spring.  I retightened the whole structure and put in some longer screws then my mother-in-law wanted barb wire wrapped around the sign.  I had some old wire from the orchard fence I worked on last week so I wrapped it around the sign and added new eye bolts and new chain (welded this time so it won’t come apart in the wind). It turned out pretty good.  They want to spray paint the shiny chain so it looks aged, works for me.

I got the tractor going today.  Yesterday when I went to start it there was nothing.  No sound came from the tractor when I turned the key.  I had left the key in the ignition and the key turned on.  So I had to go get a charger from my dad and hook it up overnight. 

The slaughter truck was coming this morning so Annmarie and I went out last night to sort out the four lucky souls.  Zeke and I had them in the pen ready for counting in 10 minutes.  It is amazing how much faster it is to work the sheep with a dog.  He is learning so fast and now follows some hand signals.  He still does the best with me as we are always outside hanging around together.  Since the sheep were all together we counted heads again and compared ear tags.  We found one of the missing lambs and lost another adult sheep.  No I truly do not get it.  So we are still down two sheep for the year.  The sheep would not cooperate and go through the gate in a single file line.  Once they started going for the gate it was like a bunch of exiting concert goers with the stage on fire!  It was out of control.  I had to just let go of the gate. We chased the sheep into the barn (the old section where they have been staying the last three winters) and Annmarie waded in and caught the whethers (neutered male) one at a time.  She grabbed them by the head, and pulled their noses in the air, straddled them and then waited for me to wade in and drag them out.  The first one pushed up off onto his hind legs and she was holding his front legs off the ground, he overbalanced her forward and she fell forward.  She was scrambling to hold onto his legs when I belly flopped on top of him!  It stops them cold every time.  They only weigh around 100#.  My 165# does make a difference.  I was laughing so hard it took me a while to get off the sheep.  We had one whether that got away three times.  Eventually, we got all four into the pen for the night.  The truck came this morning and soon we will have more lamb chops.

On a side note, since it was getting dark I went in and collected eggs from the chickens and counted them.  There were 21 chickens!  We were + 2 chickens from last month.  Obviously, a few someones had been sleeping outside the coop.  So the predators don’t get credit for those two chickens.  The score is Predators 6, Farm 3.  We are counting Annmarie’s skunk and the nephews shot a raccoon on the back hillside recently. 

There were only four eggs today, I think the light may have burned out in the last couple of days so I will endeavor to change it tomorrow.  I still need to clean out the coop and refill it with fresh wood pellets before winter. 

Today I built a ramp on the front of the barn so the sheep can go in and out of the fancy door.  There was almost a two foot jump before the ramp went in.  I just need some rain to settle out all the dust and see how much more dirt I need to move.  I started moving posts into position with the tractor.  I will get them all laid out next to where they go so when the post hole digger is available I can just punch some holes in the ground.  I need to go get some more used sheep fencing from the scrap yard also. 

Leave them alone and they will come home…….

….wagging their tails behind them.  Oh, wait, that song is about sheep.  How’s that saying about cows go?  Isn’t it something about something happening, “when the cows come home?”  and isn’t the meaning something along the lines of, “once in a blue moon?”  Yeah, I think it is.  There is a reason those old sayings developed.

So, we spend an evening earlier this week getting the wandering sheep contained.  That night, we saw the cows in the lower bottom.  I took note at the time because they’ve been hanging out in the upper bottom, so it was a bit unusual, but I wasn’t too worried.  The next day, Steve worked on the fence, and I asked him he’d seen the cows.  He said yes, last night.  I clarified to mean that day, and he responded in the negative, so I suggested that we should probably go find them.  That was a twilight.  We went out in the pickup, and headed up onto the hill so get a vantage point of the bottoms.  We drove upstream and down.  We drove up through the CRP to take a peak at the alfalfa field they love.  No cows.  By now it was getting dark, so we came on home and I decided I’d go out in the morning, and we settled down to watch a truly abysmal movie.  Really, the movie was awful.

I get up and head out the door at 6:00 this morning.  Steve is charged with transporting Sarah to school for the volleyball tournament in Condon, and off I go.  I walk down to the lower bottom and along the creek up to the schoolhouse.  No cows.  I walk back up the hill so I can get a bird’s eye view of the upper bottom.  No cows.  I get back home and take off my boots an hour and 15 minutes later, in time to watch Steve drive off to work.  He calls me on my cell phone, and we decide to let Mom know the cows have wandered.  I slip on shoes (not boots) and walk down to Mom’s house.  Mom asks if we’re ready to sell the cows yet, and then suggests that we call the Mooth’s (up the creek near the alfalfa field) because that’s where the cows went last time.  She calls, but they don’t answer, so I drive up.  No cows in Mooth’s yard, so I drive past and turn around.  And see the cows.  They are in the alfalfa field after all.  Zeke and I pull in and unload.  We have to go through a couple of animal pens with sheep in them, but we make it in and start to move the cows. On the way, I call Mom to let her know I’ve found the cows. 

I’m thinking that the cows will go back in the same way the came out, like the sheep, so I’m not too worried about the road, and am on the phone with Mom, confident that I’ve got the problem solved.  The cows try to turn around and not go through the gate a couple of times, but between Zeke and I, we get them headed in the right direction.  They go out through the gate, and turn up the road instead of going through the open gate into our CRP.  Mom & I develop a plan that involves opening the gate into our other CRP.  All the cows have to do is turn right at the corner and follow the road down.  Zeke and I are walking behind and to the left of the cows to encourage the right-hand turn, but they are a ways ahead of me because they move faster than I do.  Zeke is not liking walking through the weeds and stickers, but we all do what we must.  Mom, in the meantime has woken up the sleeping nephew, and they’ve gotten the gate open.  She drives up to block the left-hand turn, and the cows go straight across the road into the neighbor’s CRP field.  Now, this CRP field has no fences – not one, and the neighbor’s house is right in the middle of it.  Mom darts her car into the drive way and tries to head off the cows.  They go around and head off into the CRP.  I send the nephew for my pickup, and waive Mom off down to the corner, and go after the cows.

Now, at this point, I have been walking for a solid 3 hours.  I’m wearing slip-on clog-type shoes of heavy leather and decent quality, but boots they are not.  I’m also walking through CRP, which is kind of like native grass-lands but with furrows from the field prep and planting.  And native grass-lands are not grass.  They are nasty stickery thistley things that leave pokeys in my socks.  Walking is really not the appropriate term.  Hiking off-trail is closer.  Stumbling is probably the most accurate.  I walk wide around the cows to try to turn them around.  They are headed in generally the right direction, so I’m still hopeful.  No longer optimistic, but hopeful.  My biggest concern is that they need to turn before they get to the other road.  I keep trying to send Zeke on ahead to turn the cows, but he’s been going for 3 hours by now too, and he’s tired and doesn’t really understand, so he’s pretty much just walking at my side.  We get close to where I want the cows to turn, and I pick up the pace to a run.  So do they.  I quickly realize I am not getting ahead of them, and hope for the best.  I see Mom standing in the CRP where she has had the same idea as me.  She is already ahead of the cows, so I hope, futilely as it turns out.  The cows see Mom and turn – away from home. 

About this time the nephew shows up with my pickup, and we regroup.  We come up with a plan that will involve using two pickups to herd the cows out of the field, and one car to block the corner.  About this time Mom points out that she got a flat in that maneuver at the neighbor’s and offers to have Grandma come out with her car.  I suggest Mom could just drive my car.  So we all pile into the pickup (Zeke is in the back seat), and drive home to get the vehicles.  I drop Zeke off at the house, ’cause he’s done for the day, and stick my head into the house to let Monica (the foreign exchange student) know where everyone is.  She’s calmly eating breakfast and wishes me good luck.  Zeke stays on the run and we all head off in our respective vehicles.  Cooper and I devise a strategy which involves him on one side to turn the cows and me on the other side and behind to move them along.  I go push them out of the corner they’ve settled into against another neighbor’s fence, and for once they move the direction I want them to.  They are doing pretty good, and only try to turn around a few times, but in general, they are headed home.  We get all the way to the edge of the field where they need to go down a little bank and cross the road to go home.  Cooper is parked a ways off, sort of watching.  I get out of my pickup to try and gently encourage the cows to move.  They do – right around me and back into the CRP.  I dash back into my rig, Cooper realizes what’s happening and tries to turn them, but it’s too late.  They’re back out in the middle of the field.

We try again, and this time we’ve got both pickups moving with the cows, and again we get them to the edge of the field (there were only a few times we drove with reckless abandon in reverse to keep them going the direction we wanted – it’s a good thing there was nothing else around).  This time, they reconsider and decide to go down the bank.  Yay!  And, they actually turn the right direction on the road.  Double Yay!  And wonder of wonders, they actually go in the gate.  Hip Hip Hooray!! The cows are home.  We close the gate behind them, decide that they can make their way through that field on their own, and head for home.  It is now 10:40.  Remember that I started this adventure at 6:00 and hadn’t even had breakfast.  Mom brings my car home, and calls to get her tire repaired, and I come home to eat breakfast and shower, not necessarily in that order. 

For now, they are relegated to the pastures that are within constant site of a house, and if that means we have to feed earlier, then we’ll just have to get more feed.  No more using the upper pasture until the fences are all repaired.

Mom asks again if we’re ready to sell the cows.  Steve says not yet.  Of course, he’s not had to get the little buggers back in yet.