The grainary walls continue to fall down slowly. Jason was going to come salvage the building but with winter arriving it was too difficult. I contacted him so we could get the building down. He came out a few days and started emptying the building. He made two piles, keep and burn. He wants to salvage as much as possible and was very interested in saving all the main structure of the building. I went out and was working on the upper prime pasture fence and decided to call it a day. Jason was taking the building apart a single section at a time. I stopped and told him at this rate it would take him another two weeks to take the building down. A plan was hatched with my input to assist the take down of the building with a chain and the tractor. Being an astute soul, Jason verified that Annmarie was not home!
We hooked the tractor to the first support, via a chain, and I pulled outwards straight away from the wall. It took a couple of jerks to rip it down. Unfortunately, this technique caused part of the main support board to splinter. Not leaving it in pristine condition. So in true man fashion we decided to try again, but this time we would pull in line with the wall. Well, the supports were better anchored for a inline stressor. I had to hit the chain several times with the tractor before it came down. We would go in and take out all the pieces and do it again. We had three sides off except for one support pillar on one side six feet from the intact wall and the roof was still standing. We moved back to the intact wall and had 80% of it torn out and the roof was still standing. It was amazing. We were able to salvage 90% of the boards, totally unbelievable.
The roof fell straight down onto the floor with a slight twist. Jason will be able to salvage the entire roof without ever getting on a ladder. We made a deal for me to keep all the 2×6 lumber from the roof. They are all 16 foot long. I am going to use them to finish the overhead walkway above the jugs in the barn. I have already talked to Annmarie about filling in the concrete footings with gravel so we can then build another building over it to house the tractor and mule with doors on both ends so you can just drive through the building. Years from now plan.
Hopefully, in six weeks the building will be gone.
The farm has been busy the last couple of weeks and I keep letting myself get behind on the blog. I keep saying I will do better about making timely entries but I am usually so tired when darkness arrives that I just sit in the chair and watch some television. So this is my written vow to do better! I seem to stick to things better and have come to realize that this blog is a record of our farm life and a window into our lives. I go back and review it occasionally and am always impressed by the amount of “learning” I have done over the years. Since I seem to learn best by my mistakes it takes a lot of mistakes to learn that much.
The bull has been getting out. He went down to the wire gate behind Donna’s house and pushed through. Now I had been meaning to tighten the gate as it had started to sag. The bull beat me to it. It was a Saturday morning when we noticed he was missing. Annmarie headed over the upper hill with Zeke following cow tracks. I jumped into the pickup and started driving around looking for the bull. I had four separate pleasant conversations with our neighbors but no one had seen the bull. I picked up Annmarie and Zeke over the hill at the neighbor’s farm. Still no bull. We all drove around looking for the bull. No bull. Donna called us and said the bull was down in the one neighbor’s house who we did not go visit. By the time we got back, Gannon was pushing the bull up the road into our lower pasture. He ran right to the creek and waded through the water into the lower pasture by Donna’s house. I had to go lower the panels back over the creek and wire them in place. The cows don’t mind wading through the creek. The sheep won’t get their feet wet, kinda like a cat.
This necessitated the purchase of lots of fencing supplies including new gates, T-posts, smooth wire, cattle panels and wooden posts. We went to the PGG spring extravaganza sale and bought in bulk for maximum purchasing power. The nice thing was the new pickup proved why a V10 is a very nice engine. It may only get 10 MPG but it does that loaded and unloaded. It didn’t care that the bed was full and the 16ft trailer was full.
Gannon and I mounted two 16 foot gates in place of the rickety gate and the bull has not gotten out since. Now he just keeps terrorizing my cow panel in front of the machine shop so he can get to the all you can eat hay buffet. Yesterday, I had to finally open the gate because he had gotten stuck inside the hay area and could not get out. He will still come over and take food from our hand but now we have to chase him off occasionally. He gets upset that there is no treat and starts shaking his head at us waving his horns around. Annmarie and I have gotten bumped a couple of times. So we let him come to us and take food from us but if he starts to toss his head around then we chase him off just like we do the horses. He is learning that he has to be polite if he wants to approach us.
It is officially spring. The rain is here and it is starting to warm up. We went away for two days and were amazed by all the greenery sprouting every where. Zeke went outside with me yesterday and just got soaking wet. It was so muddy that when I stepped out of the chicken coop the chicken he was chasing around the coop turned at the corner and Zeke slipped and landed on his side and skidded forward on his side over the mud. He doesn’t know Mr. Newton personally but he did demonstrate his law quite effectively. I had to hose him off and dry him before he could go inside. He doesn’t particularly like that but he is starting to understand it is the price for getting to come out and work the animals in lousy weather.
This morning, while in bed, we heard this metal scraping out in the back creek. The water has raised a foot overnight and is raging. It must have picked up some old metal debris and was dragging it down the creek. I suspect it will get lodged down at the apple tree dam. That is going to be interesting to clean out this summer. I just hope it doesn’t wash out the back creek. Annmarie tells me that it has in the past.
I need to get the new upper fence pasture created. I have been trying to figure out how to get it done quickly and easily. I realize that fencing and easy are words that don’t belong together. I was going to run the fence up the hillside and cross the creek but every time I cross the creek I have to hang panels and they have to be moved up every spring and lowered every summer. For ease of installing and maintaining I have decided to fence off the creek. This will cost me some extra materials but it will be better in the long term maintenance department. I am going to just run the new fence in the bottom only. I may even decide to run the fence up the hillside and cross the creek later.
Thursday I took the box blade off the tractor and attached the mower. It is getting easier with repetition. It only took me about 40 minutes. I had to straighten and adjust my front bucket leveler indicator also. I wanted to mow the upper pasture fence line so it would be easy to find. I ended up spending a couple of hours mowing the entire upper pasture prime area (my new name for the soon to be fenced in area). I mowed along the creek and all over the bottom. It was mowed late last year to a height of one foot. I mowed it down to three inches. I left the bunch grass higher as it runs next to the wheat field fence. I saw lots of field mice and voles. Zeke snagged a couple of them but spent most of his time tearing all over the place. I had to keep calling him back. I want to install two gates in that fence line. I will only be installing two sides of a rectangle and repairing a third. I opted to enclose a bigger area. I was going to build three separate upper bottom pastures eventually. I decided to enclose the first two in one fell swoop. I can go back later and subdivide the “upper bottom prime” pasture later.
The mower did good work. I had one metal part fall off! It is on the front of the mower and helps hold the front skirt in place. When it is not pouring down rain I plan on looking for it. I did try and use a new app on the iPhone to figure out how many acres I am fencing in. No go, user error. I again proved that a Lifeproof case is water proof. I also discovered that when the water is running off the screen and your hands are cold the iPhone won’t sense your touch. I finally just gave up.
Annmarie wants me to install a cable to help hold, the already installed, gate leading into the wheat field. I was thinking I would have to put in a new post but I might not have to do that. I am going to try it. I also need to install a cow panel over that gate so the sheep cannot get through it. This has prompted me to make up a list of needed items to go into the fence budget. The two 18 foot gates and 70 T-posts and 8 wooden post for the lower barley field are necessary. The new 16 foot metal gate for the machine shop hay area is mandatory! I will also be installing two rows of 1×12 along one wall side to prevent the cows from reaching through the supports there also. At current prices that is $480 in gates, $335 in T-posts and $100 in wooden posts for $915 total. I need at least another 125 t-posts for the upper pasture at $600. Five rolls of wire $315 and a bag of clips is around $200. Two more gates at $360 for prime pasture and one six foot gate for $90 for lower pasture. I need about six cow panels at total cost of $150. Grand total $2630. Not bad only $130 over budget, only trouble is I didn’t allow any money for labor. Good thing I work cheap! This is why I am hitting the spring extravaganza sale on this upcoming Friday. If I only get a 10% discount I will make my budget!
I have spent one week trying to get the cows organized. They are not on board with this plan and have been thwarting every attempt to separate them. The youngest calf is now almost eight months old and they all think milk straight from a tit is still necessary to sustain life. They only nurse a couple of times a day but the poor cows are pregnant also and it is too much. Gannon and I sorted the caves into the barn lot, the bull into the machine shop area and the female cows into orchard. This put 150 feet of dead space between the mothers and calves. No one liked this arrangement, there were some very vocal cows all night long. The next morning the babies were still in the barn lot. Now the barn lot was open to the upper pasture which is full of old not fixed fence (not secure). I was hoping that the cows would stay in the barn lot as they would be the closest to their mothers.
Nope, Gannon found them out on the road by the school house. He put them into the school house pasture, which they promptly got out of and into the lower pasture. That dividing fence was just done last year but I had to go raise all the fences over the water last month and the cows just jump in the creek and wade up it. The sheep refuse to get their feet wet! Sometimes I think they think they are a cat. I had not thought this would be an issue when I raised the fence. So now the calves can get next to the mother’s dividing fence which let’s them nurse through the fence again! I went to town and purchased a 240# supplemental feeding tub, 30% protein! vegetable matter only and placed it in with the female cows. It took them a couple of days to figure it out. Per the supplement directions the cows will eat 3/4 pound per day so it should last for three months. The babies should be born next month.
A couple of days later the lower people gate got left open (not me) and the babies and bull got back into the machine shop area. At least all three babies are in the same spot now. We had to leave for the weekend but Sunday when we came back the bull was in the machine shop hay pile munching away contentedly. I had a wire cow panel across it but he started lifting the middle and crawling under. Now there are four T posts across the opening and panel is wired to them. He went to the far end and found there was no anchor on the bottom of the T post. He pushed it in and bent it while it stayed attached at the top of the post and proceeded to crawl under! I have it wired in two places at each post now. The cows in general are forcing me to change my plans.
PGG is having their Spring extravaganza sale this upcoming Friday and Saturday. I plan on purchasing all my yearly supplies in one day at a 10-15% discount. I even get to talk to some of the fence distributors. I might put in some metal corners using the fancy braces. It is cheaper than three wooden posts and two cross braces. I need to talk with someone about it. I might just try it in one place this year and see how it does. The real test is the animals. I am going to take the trailer and fill it up!
My goal is going to be getting an area that is cow proof where the babies can go and not get to the mothers! This has again prompted me to rearrange my fencing priorities. I am going to have to do the upper pasture first. The lower pasture needs about 100 feet of sheep fencing added to the upper half so the calves cannot reach through the fence and nurse. That is not very much fence and totally do able this summer. I am itching to get outside and get some fencing done. Spring is here!