Sheep herding.

Sheep attempting to steer clear of the dog.

Annmarie has been very ill this week, which caused the cows to choose a day I was gone to act out.  The stupid little bull got out again, crossed the road and jumped in with 20 full size angus bulls.  Annmarie was afraid they would just stomp him into the ground so she drove down to see him with Zeke in tow.  The bulls were treating him like a teenager calf and pretty much ignoring him.  Annmarie decided to leave the bull alone and just notify the bull owners.  She went back to the house and had Zeke chase the heifers into the barn lot.  The bull owners came and put our bull in a horse trailer and brought him back to the house, he ended upin the barn lot.  Which so far has been impenetrable.  No one knows for certain where he got out but I am certain it is the incomplete gate area.  I need to get it done.

Today the girls and I went out to worm the whole flock.  We had a couple of boys to rubberband (castrate), and one to retag.  Zeke herded everyone into the barn then the girls started to try and catch everybody.  The girls wanted to just grab fur and hold on.  I kept encouraging the belly flop method but it wasn’t catching on.  I finally had to start catching also.  The belly flop method does work, I may have had more sheep dung covering my entire body than either girl but my success rate was higher.  I even had a twofer!
We found a couple of uhohs.  One of the little boys I banded had a testicle!  I missed it.  So later I will have to fix it.  I sat one of the ewes on her butt to worm her and noticed she had a necrotic udder.  She must have caught mastitis.  The oddest part is she never got sick and her baby never suffered.  We spent three hours out in the barn and all of us were sore.   I put her down and took her body up to the bone yard.  I had to use the tractor as the pickup needs a new rear end and a new fuel pump.  Both are going to cost some money.

One of the good things to come out of today is the girl’s motivation to assist me in building a sheep sorting chute is very high.  They do not want to wrestle 50 sheep again any time soon.

How do you measure progress?

I spent around three hours Tuesday fencing.  The weather was overcast and cold.  One of those days were you never sweat, never really get shivering cold but cannot seem to stay warm, almost perfect fencing weather.  I went back to the gate area and concentrated on the right hand side.  I installed one H brace on my 45 degree corner and tightened it with a diagonal wire.  I then tightened the old fence to the new posts.  Luckily, there were some old cedar posts in the pile of fencing that I pushed away from the corner earlier with the tractor.  I dug a few posts out, cut them shorter with the sawzall (truly an all purpose fencing tool) then used an old shake roofing axe to split the posts lengthwise to use as wooden fence stays.

I have had to stop using the metal stays, as the cows and horses push on the top wire and bend them.  Now I save all posts, split them and use them as stays.  The best part is the stays only need to be about 4 feet long.  Which is great for rotten posts, I just cut the rotten part off and it makes the perfect length for a stay.  I stopped earlier in the week at the local fence building company and asked for a quote on 500 wooden stays.  I haven’t heard back yet.

I have a little bit of the woven wire left to patch.  It gets a hole and i just randomly wrap wire across the hole until it is covered.  It looks like a drunk metal spider attempted to build a web and then passed out midjob.  It does keep the sheep in.  All in all I finished 50 feet of fencing and only have 1 mile left!

Gate progress.

Future gate sight into lower CRP field.

Monica and I went out to do some fencing.  I made it to the PGG spring extravaganza on Friday and was able to get 10-15% off on all the supplies. I have spent $925 of the $2000 fence budget.  I managed to pickup three gates, four rolls of smooth wire, 10-6 inch wooden posts, 50 metal T-posts and some large fence stapels.
Before we could go out I told Monica to put on some blue jeans.  She ran around the house and came down stairs without jeans on.  I questioned her attire and she responds with “I don’t have any

Corner future gate.

Corner future gate.

clean jeans”. I laughed and told Annmarie obviously I wasn’t getting through. We found some clean jeans for her to wear outside and fence in. We dug holes and set posts all day long. The corner we tore out with the tractor and changed it to a 45 degree angle.  It was miserable outside, cold and the wind was blowing all day.  I still need to put in all the “H” parallel posts in and tighten the posts together.  Then I can restretch the fence, install some sheep fence and this little section will be done.  Nice thing is I have all the supplies for this section of fence.  I saw a whole load of woven wire going to the metal scrap yard last week.  All I would have needed for the entire summer.  So I went over on Friday to buy a ton (2000#) of wire.  Nope, they had crushed it all!  They are cleaning up the whole yard and getting ready to build a shop. 

Corner torn out and posts in place.

Posts in the ground and gate wired in place.

Again, the tractor came through in spades.  We attached the post hole auger and drilled the post holes.  It takes 6-10 minutes to dig some holes but there is no way I could do it in that time by hand.

So now I have to run over and load up on roofing tin before they crush it all.  I am ready for summer after that.  Unfortunately, it snowed yesterday and the wind is howling so spring is not quite here yet. 

Bug War.

I unleashed the poison!  Last month we got overran by bugs inside the house.  There were hundreds of box elder bugs and grease bugs that were getting inside.  Annmarie would sit on the couch and they would drop on her.  She did not appreciate this nature intrusion into our house.  I went on a killing spree and vaccuumed bugs nonstop and sprayed all the window casings for about two weeks solid and drastically reduced the bug population.  Well, last week it started to warm up outside and the box elder bugs are forming colonies on the outside of our house.  Hundreds of them crawling all over the corners of the house.  Our white house looks like an appaloosa horse from all the black spots.  The bugs were starting to invade the inside of the house again.  I went around today and sprayed four gallons of spray outside our house, the old house, the woodshed, the barn, the machine shop, the old bummer shed and my mother-in-law’s house and garage.  Tonight before coming inside I had to use the push broom to sweep off the front porch.  It looked like a bug graveyard.  You could not take a single step without stepping on multiple bugs.  I swept at least a 1000 bugs off the porch.  The spray does have some residual effects so I will hit them again in a week.  I am also tired of killing bugs inside the house. 

I started in on the new fence up the hillside.  I got the sheep fencing stretched and in place and a single strand of smooth wire above that.  It takes quite a while to install all the clips and get it all stretched out.  I also cleaned up the front area near the old blacksmith shop.  Piled more wood onto the burn pile and found some more buried metal.  I found a pile of old wire from hay bales.  I just scooped the top off with the tractor and left it.  I will slowly start digging through the pile as time permits.  I just want to get it all organized and cleaned up.  It is slowly starting to take shape.  There is a huge old tractor tire that I think I am going to cut the sidewall off of one side and use as a cow feeder.  I can put a couple of boards inside to keep the hay off the ground.  I will have to cut a couple of drain holes on the other sidewall so it doesn’t hold water. 

No luck so far with the first ad in the Agri times.  I will try the nickle next.  We have lots of babies to get rid of by the end of the year.  Anyone who wants lamb or knows someone let me know. 

Corner rock crib and gate finished.

New corner rock crib and wire gate with woven wire on the bottom. 

Rock crib.

It took all day but I got it done.  This was the last fencing project from last year that I did not get to and was supposed to complete.  So almost 8 months late, the last of the burned out fence posts was cut down and replaced with new fencing.  I also installed a new gate and took out the three cow panels that were covering the opening.  Those will be used to cross the creek on other sections of fencing.  I am all about repurposing when it comes to fencing.  The rocks take a long time to gather even with the tractor.  The nice thing is you only have to load the bucket by hand and then load the rock crib by hand. 

In progress rock crib.

I had some rocks that were way too big for the rock crib so I dumped those in Donna’s front yard for her dirt mound.  She still needs a few more ton of rocks for decoration.  As an aside, I managed to clean out the bottom land behind the shed of all rocks and impediments for the mower.  I can freely mow and not hit hidden objects.  This is a very nice side effect of collecting needed rocks. 

Orchard fencing completed today.

Orchard creek crossing.

 It is done!  The orchard fencing is completed.  Sarah and Monica went out with me today and we installed the wire and a few ton of rocks to hold the embankment in place.  Sarah fetched rocks for four hours while Monica and I built fence.  We used the rocks to stiffen the low spot where the creek had diverted and dug a channel through the orchard.  I filled in about two feet of the ditch last year with the tractor.  Luckily, we only had to add a couple of extra layers of smooth wire just over the white posts to make up for the height difference. 

Orchard far corner,

 The white posts are pressure treated 4×4 from an old fence behind the in-laws house that got torn down this winter.  I am reusing the posts.

We used cattle panel to go down both sides of the creek and across it.  They just seem to work the best for creek crossings.  I have tried other ways but the ability to raise and lower them as the water level changes is amazing.  Plus, it is very had to support a woven fence across open water.  Too much hassle.  I managed to salvage off one full panel and 3 partial pieces after fixing all the fence. 

Low spot, repurposed fencing and 3 ton of rocks.

When we went in for lunch the cows ran through the open fencing and down to the school house in the bottoms.  The bull had been trumpeting all morning.  Well we went inside and he ran down to the school house because on the other side of the road there are 20 full size angus bulls.  He got up on the road and stomped up and down making a weird noise somewhere between a sick bull bellow and a bull elk whistle.  It is pretty odd to hear.  Annmarie was just coming back from town and called me on my cell phone.  So we sent Zeke her way and walked down to the school house. There were holes all over the fence down by the road.  More holes to fix when I start in on the perimeter fencing.  My next fencing is to install wire on my new divider I installed last fall.  Once that is done then I will start working on the perimeter fence.  Most likely down by our in laws house.  I need to install a gate and then start putting the sheep fencing back into the fence. 

Winter is not quite over, fencing starts.

Winter is not quite over.

Subfloor supports down and second layer of insulation done.

Well it snowed yesterday all the way down to the foothills.  Winter is not yet over.  This morning it was 28 F.  I went up and worked on the attic.  Got most of it framed out.  Only one more spot (four boards) left to install.  Once that is all done then I need to cut the plywood to go over the supports.  You can see how full the attic is already.  This is the reason I need more space.  More space = more junk (I mean stuff) that can be stored up in the attic.  I think we have 10 bins of just Christmas stuff in the attic now.  With the extra space I can bring in the stuff still stashed out in the old house.  That second layer of insulation is more than welcome.  We burned 350 gallons of propane last month to keep the house heated.  Only about 10% of that is for hot water and cooking gas.  I am extremely glad we have a 500 gallon tank now.  They will only fill the tank to 85% full so the most we can have is 425 gallons at any one time. 

I had to start in on the fencing today. The stupid sheep were out on the bag hillside.  We had been chasing an occasional stray out of the front yard lot but almost all of them were out on the hillside.  So Zeke and I went out with Monica and he chased them back into the ram pasture.  We isolated them from the orchard pasture.  They found another large hole down by the creek.  This afternoon the girls and I went out on the back hillside and attempted to put in metal posts on the rocky hillside.  Four of the five posts went into the ground.  It just rained in the last two days so I was hopeful they would go into the ground.  I could not get any posts in the ground last summer in those areas.  There was one spot were I will have to add another rock jack.  The ground just will not take a metal post.  Sarah and I went out and tore out the old fence in the orchard that has been patched five times.  We sunk in four wooden posts and two metal posts.  Tomorrow we will finish stiffening the posts and adding new wire.  We need to get that area opened back up.  We are feeding the sheep extra while they are cut off from the orchard pasture.