The cows have finally started to have their babies. We were only a couple of months off on our prediction. #1111 had her baby two days ago and it was a little boy. #1161 had her baby yesterday and it was also a little boy. The heifers stash the babies in the tall grass then wander off to eat. They will leave them alone for a couple of hours at a time, just like deer. I am not sure if commercial cows do this or not. I got to pet #1111’s boy today and 1161’s but she was not happy with me and tried to lunge at me. I had anticipated this and jumped around the railroad tie fence. I only cut up my hand a little. So we have decided to leave the cows to wander as the babies are doing well. This weekend we will tag them and see if I can band them. I didn’t reach around and cop a feel when I was petting the calf. I will check this weekend. The babies are very healthy and surprisingly big. We expected them to be small but they really are not that small. Certainly not half the size of a calf like their moms are half size cows. This weekend I hope to get some mowing time and beat back some of the cheatgrass.
Month: May 2013
Cheat grass season has begun.
Things have been very hectic around here lately so not a lot of work is getting done. One of the major perils of having full time jobs and some family time. The cheat grass is getting tall every where on the farm and starting to head out. I needed to mow it but still had the hole auger on the tractor. Monday I decided to drill the last few holes and switch out to the mower, no big deal. Unfortunately, the holes were next to the road and two directions of buried telephone line. I had been delaying because I did not want to cut the telephone line (after cutting the one by our house in three separate places). I nutted up and drove down to the corner to drill some holes. I wasn’t one inch down when I caught the fence and snapped the safety bolt on the auger. I took it as a sign that I was not supposed to dig and will put in a large rock crib for the corner support. I snagged some huge rocks that were on the outside of the fence and stopping my mowing ability. They were mower killers! I used them to fill in a runoff ditch to cut down some erosion. I wrestled the auger off and drug it over to it’s home in the old lamb barn. It seemed heavier than when I put it on, could be because I had help installing it.
I was very careful to park the mower so it would be easy to put back on. It took me an hour of cussing and swearing (there is a difference) to get it installed correctly. Then I had to try it out to see if it still worked. Now mind you earlier Annmarie had asked me to mow a path in the upper bottom for the electric fence. So instead I played around in the barn lot and mowed cheat grass until she came out and hollered at me to mow a path. They all went up on the hillside and brought the temporary electric fence down. I had guesstimated the approximate distance for
the path then mowed a closer cross path. The closer one was the ticket. We installed the fence in the rain and the girls moved the sheep over to the barn lot. I had added some wire paneling to the gate earlier so the sheep could not crawl under. Everyone else ran inside out of the rain. Four hours later I came in off the tractor. I had put on a coat I thought was waterproof, it wasn’t. When I could not stop shivering I finally came inside. After an hour long hot shower I almost felt human. On a plus note I finished mowing the barn lot. I have about 16 more hours of mowing to do.
I finished the next section of fence on the upper hillside. It is definitely slow going when you do it alone. Monica had been helping me but she is allergic to some weed up on the hillside and it keeps giving her hives. So I finished stretching all the wire and installing the clips. Once that was done I moved the temporary electric fence. It took over 1.5 hours to get the fence down and back up. It is hard to get the stakes in the ground on a rock hillside. The available pasture almost doubled on the hillside. We finally opened up the orchard again. The three weeks with no sheep let it snap back nicely. We also had to start watering already. No rain for a few weeks. I would like it to rain next week for a day or two. So far it is just hot!
The new baby pullets showed up today, 18 blue Andalusian. They lay white eggs and are supposed to be a nice chicken. We have never had this type and I wanted to be able to tell the breed. I went out today and collected 8 eggs but 4 were green and 2 were white, that means 14 hens only produced 2 brown eggs. I am going to give them another week and then if the brown egg production doesn’t pick up then I am going to eliminate all 14 brown laying hens, leaving me with three adult hens, 8 teenagers (now laying) and 18 babies who won’t lay until December. I will never get in the black for the year if I allow all the freeloaders to stay.
The herbicide is working. All the sprayed weeds are starting to wilt. Another 2 weeks will tell the whole story. In a couple of weeks I am hoping to set up the tire rim fence. I have to put up some temporary panels first so I can move the one railroad tie, take down the existing fence and flatten the area. Once the post has some time to settle in then I will get some help and we will stack the rims to form a fence. After they in a visually appealing pattern I will get them welded together.
Weekend work progress.
|Fence cleaned up and new woven wire stretched.|
|New rock crib #3.|
Monica and I went up on the hillside and built rock cribs on Saturday. Since I pulled the other a little bit with the fence puller we used a whole 16 foot cattle panel bent into a circle and locked into itself. That takes a whole bunch of rocks to fill the thing up. We had to scavenge rocks from the fence line after using all the rocks in the old rock crib we tore out. We had to use some tractor power as a few of the rocks were so large I could not lift them over the wire. It looks like the crib is holding steady but the wooden post is trying to shift inside. It is hard to believe the post could move around that much.
Today, we rolled up and removed the bottom three strands of wire and lifted the top four strands off and laid them on the ground. After calculating how many times I was redoing the clips I decided to go with twice. Once to remove the wire and one more to put the wire back in place. Less cumulative work for me is a good thing. We got the woven wire stretched and started to apply all the clips. The old clips are stiff and hard to apply but at $0.25/each I am reusing as many as I can.
Friday I sprayed all day. The recipe is 8 cups of 2-4-D and 2 oz of surfactant to 25 gallons of water. The thistles and stinging nettles are already starting to wilt! I got all the property around the buildings and close pastures all sprayed. I need to do the back hillside and upper and lower pastures. After the major spraying I did last year the weeds just don’t have a hold this year. I am amazed by how well the weeds were controlled. I spot sprayed four of the fields to keep my spray useage down. I only had to broadcast spray two fields. Eventually, I would like to just spot spray over the whole farm. That is a ways off but I think very doable if I can stay on top of the weeds.
I am going to take my rusty hay lift mechanisms to work and one of my coworkers is going to take it home with him and sandblast the rust off of them. I am just going to have him shoot some black primer paint on them after the rust is off. I will think about painting them at a later date.
Need a timeout for weed destruction.
I went into the lamb shed today and started up the Mule. It started right up after I choked the engine. I was very surprised. I still had to pump up the two flat tires. The only clean spot on the thing was where I sat to drive it. I drove it over by the house and actually applied some soap and water to it to get it clean. It looks a lot better now. I then filled the sprayer tank, replaced one of the sprayer heads and drove around the ram pasture until I had fixed all the jets. It had a nice even spray out all nozzles. Now I just need to buy some roundup so I can kill the driveway. I will hose down the pastures with 2-4-D and kill all the broadleaf plants.