Metal work.

Today was the day!  Jason came up this morning so we could tackle the scrap metal pile. We went around and dug through all six different metal piles down by the houses. We dug through each pile and Jason figured out what he wanted and we tossed the rest onto the trailer destined for the scrap yard. Once we had the trailer loaded we drove to the local scrap yard. It was quite the adventure. Two trips later and we had unloaded  almost 3k pounds of junk metal. Our time was running out for a third load so I opted to see if we could make my wheel fence dream come to life! 
We used the trailer bed as a template and laid wheels on their side until we had an acceptable pattern. Then threw in four extra smaller wheels in case we needed them. A tape measure to measure the fence width would have been handy. I pulled the trailer up at the far end of the fence and backed the trailer up the whole length. I only managed to tear off one small light off the trailer. After stacking the tires we wired the everything together and Jason welded them all together to form a solid wall. It turned out great!  I am very happy and can’t wait to get the other side.  I will be spraying this weekend and hopefully can do some more fencing.
 
 
Left side of driveway completed!  I love this fence. 

Jason at work welding fence, that is only a small fire and easily put out, reason why we are doing this now.

Scrap metal yard, he unloaded everything with the grapple or magnet.  Much easier than loading the trailer. 

Granary almost gone.

Yes it was Easter Sunday today but I still had some chores that needed to be done so I stayed home. 
I went out in the morning and started spraying weeds again.  I used the wand yesterday when spraying the Roundup for better control of placement.  Today, I attached the 12 foot boom to the mule so I could spray 2-4-D.  I found my concentration from last year 8 cups of spray and 150 ml of foam in the blog!  It worked so well last year I am using it again this year.  I had about 13 gallons of 2-4-D left over from last year that was stored in the root cellar to prevent it from freezing.  I managed to spray almost 50 gallons of spray.  I have about 80% of the barn lot and 70% of the front/machine shop area sprayed.  I have at least four more days of spraying still.  I was turning around down near the creek and got sucked into a muddy area.  The mule is only two wheel drive and I got stuck.  I had to go get the tractor and chain onto the mule and pull it out.  I got the tractor and mule pinned down by the fence.  I had to unchain and reattach the tractor with a longer chain so I could pull the mule out of the creek instead of down the creek.  Once this was out I recommenced spraying weeds. 
 
I had to stop when Annmarie got home.  Jason came to finish tearing up the Granary.  He has it almost done.  The only odd part is there is this big chunk of concrete 2×4 feet where it looks like they had a wood stove inside the granary.  I will need to pull this out before we can fill the foundation with gravel.  I thought there would be a couple of feet of space under the floor.  Nope, the dirt layer was only about 6-8 inches in places and less in some.  I may dig out about 6-8 inches of dirt then get some gravel and fill in the entire foundation.  Eventually, I would like to put up another building to house the equipment in and put doors on each end so you can just drive through.  A gravel floor would be just fine.  I will have to put up a small fence to keep the horses and cows off of the foundation.  The horses were already climbing around in it tonight.  I saw some broad leaf plants starting to wilt already tonight!  I love the way 2-4-D is so visible.  I never made it to the upper prime squared field to see if my ditch worked.  I will try and make it up there this week.  My lower field clean out of the ditch is working very nice and water is now going all the way down to the school house and back into the back creek.  It has not been able to make it to the back creek in years.  This will be good for the entire lower pasture.  Hopefully, it will run all summer long. 
 
The water in the upper prime squared pasture could be a great thing for the animals.  The back creek is runoff and dries up during the summer.  If the new/old/running springs stay year round then I can safely lock the cows in any upper pasture and they will still have water!  Not having to fill water troughs or pump water is a very amazing thing.  We really do realize how lucky we are. 

Creek where mule got stuck.

Granary almost gone.

Mysterious concrete block.

Weed spraying finally started!



New spring in upper pasture.

The weather was perfect yesterday morning for spraying.  I managed to get the entire driveway sprayed down with Roundup.  In two weeks we should have a real gravel driveway again instead of a grass path.  It seems minor but left alone the weeds and grass start forming dirt and then next thing you know the driveway is a mud path in the spring and a dust path in the summer.  Roundup just takes a while, about the time I think it didn’t do anything the plants just up and die.  The wind did pick up during the early afternoon so I had to divert my attention to something else.  Drifting Roundup is not good. 

I took the tractor up to the upper field to check on the new springs.  They are still there and the swamp was only a little bigger.  I took the tractor and found the old drainage path and dug it out a little in hopes that the water would collect into the ditch and dry the field out a little instead of forming a swamp.  The water was running through the field in several places.  I also drug a path down to the other ditch on the back side of the field.  I used the box blade to clear the vegetation and then lifted the rippers so I could just use the blade.  It took about 12 passes with the blade to get a ditch started.  I figure the running water will finish the ditch for me, it just needed a little direction.  The field is dead because it was sprayed down last fall.  The area above this was leased out for hay production and a large area was sprayed.  We are not sure that hay will be able to go in this spring.  He may just keep the field killed with spray and disc up the soil so it will be ready for a crop in the late fall.  The producer will do what he wants.  This new cut ditch is through the upper prime squared field I will fence in next year.  We are secretly hoping it continues to run year round and I can then develop a series of small ponds up here to attract the waterfowl. 

Water channel dug so pasture can drain to preexisting ditch.

Annmarie and I both concluded that the honey bees had died.  It has gotten warmer and we did not see or hear them coming out of the barn.  She groomed the horses on the front side of the barn and didn’t notice them.  It was decided that I should tear into the wall and see if there was any honey left.  I did listen to the wall before I tore into it.  There was no buzzing.  There was also no honey!  Just a bunch of dead bees and empty honey comb.  I removed all the comb and cleaned out the area.  Jason was working on the roof of the old granary and he took all the wax comb to use for metal finishes. 

Home of wild honey bee hive for last two years.

No honey! Just dead flying honey producers.

Fencing proceeding.

The fencing has progressed on the “upper prime pasture”.  I always forget how much work there is in building new fence and fixing the existing fence.  It has not eaten up a ton of hours yet, only about 40 hours and probably only needs another 8 hours to finish but it is time.  The tractor was amazing, again.  The holes got drilled in a single day, every hole I thought I would need.  Yes, I had to go back and drill two more holes later.  I used 8 inch wooden posts except where the gates were going to be hung and on that H brace I used two railroad ties.  Unfortunately, I learned a hard lesson about the wooden poles, they are round.  Round poles don’t sound like an issue do they?  It is a huge problem.  I was stringing up woven wire that happened to be four feet tall and it is super heavy.  I spent 30 minutes with four fence tighteners trying to get it tight and could barely get it to lift off the ground.  

The solution? Bring in the beast, the tractor.  I hooked a fence clamp up to the fence and chained it to the hook on the bucket and started backing up till the fence stood upright.  Not easy, I had to use four wheel drive and positrack and the fence still stopped the tractor.  I only tore the fence in half, twice with this method.  I was getting ready to attach it when I noticed the far end wooden post had moved.  Yeah, it had moved alright, it was sticking out to the side almost 18 inches, it had twisted in the hole and then bent outward with the weight of the fence.  I had to fix it and ended up pushing it back in place with the tractor.  The hole was right next to the front pasture creek so the soil was pretty wet and had not set up well.  
Gannon helped me a few days.  We have woven wire up on both new sides and now need to string smooth wire.  Both gates need to be hung also.  I had one small area that needed two rock cribs as the fence came up 8-12 inches off the ground.  I tried something different, I wired woven wire to the bottom of the fence, filled that with rocks and wrapped the woven wire over the rocks.  It is basically a rock tube kinda like a door draft tube.  I figure if the door draft tube works to keep the cold air out of your house then my rock tube will serve to keep the sheep from crawling under the fence.  

Once we get the new fence up, the old fence bordering the wheat fields needs to be tightened and metal T-posts pounded in between the old wooden posts.  There is enough woven wire left over that I think once the fence is retightened we will add in the 100 yards of missing woven wire, the rest is already in place.  
Once that fence is completed we can move the 8 month old cows over to that pasture with the horses.  Then we will move down to the lower pasture to create another subdivided section for the momma cows.  By next month I need to be getting at the barn roof so it is imperative to get the fencing done this month.  I need to spray weeds in the next week also.  It truly does never end.    


Chickens layeth!

We are getting eggs in droves!  Finally, they are laying  I think its a survival instinct, as in if they don’t hurry up and lay they are not going to survive.  A bunch of freeloaders for the last 8 weeks.  I still have not fixed the automatic chicken door.  I know, I was going to do it but then fencing took priority after the bull incident and with working a full time plus job my time is limited.  I pretty much work in crisis mode most of the time, fixing the immediate problems and squeezing in the projects when I can.  

I have not lost any chickens to predators yet so it is not a crisis!  We have a nice menagerie of egg colors again.  We are getting almost equal numbers of white, brown, and green eggs.  The white eggs are multiple shades of white to pink almost and the brown run the same way.  Some of the green eggs are almost blue or grayish green.  Quite the spread on color.  Our Blue Andalusion rooster is very pretty.  One of the better looking roosters we have had.  I did find some eggs in the barn in the sheep jugs but that hen seems to have given it up and is laying in the nesting boxes hopefully.  We are getting 14-16 eggs/day from 26 hens.  I am back to selling eggs faster than the chickens can lay.  Everyone at the flight company base is getting used to farm raised eggs and don’t want to eat the store bought ones any more.  I have not raised the prices yet.  I am having a hard time with deciding whether to go with $3.50/doz knowing most people won’t have change and I will have to start carrying it or just jumping to $4/doz.  Tough call, so in true fashion, I am just not making a decision.  Next time I am in the grocery store I will check out the prices again.  I am leaning toward $4/doz.  It makes every thing easier.  
Plus, I am going to have to dig out the coop after the spring rain is gone.  One more thing to add to the list..,