We are official.

I had to do it.  I went ahead and registered with the state for a scrapie ID number, OR04825, so we could sell live animals.  We have to tag any animal that leaves the place that is not going to the butcher or a feed lot basically.  It is a separate number and our scrapie number on the tag.  We also are supposed to track name and address and phone number of the people we sell animals.  So they can be contacted in the event of an outbreak.  Despite the fact that our breed is naturally resistant.  One more hoop to jump through but it needed to be done.  We have to add the contact section and our scrapie tag number to our tracking spreadsheet and maintain records for five years.  Luckily, this won’t be too hard for Annmarie to implement into our preexisting program.  We will only use the tags on the animals that meet the tagging criteria.  No sense in tagging them twice if we don’t need it. 

It is a dreary overcast day and it keeps raining off and on.  I used to hate these days, but after looking at the wheat I think it needs more water!  I had a lot of little things to catch up on inside the house so that is what I am doing.  The weeds need water also! 

After battling the sheep while sorting them, Annmarie went to premiere fencing and found a chute system that would work along our back wall. I like it!  So today I put up advertisements for the sheep at $50/each and the rolled pickup with perfect just tuned pickup that Sarah rolled.  1997 dodge 1500, automatic transmission, 4wd with 147 k miles, $1500 for entire pickup or $1000 if you take tires off and leave them.  I am hoping they leave the tires.  Between the pickup and sheep we can pay for the sorting chute system.  So here’s hoping Craigslist comes through for us. 

Sheep goings on.

Barn sorting.

We went out today to catch up on the sheep.  They have just gotten out of control.  We tagged 15 sheep and banded five.  The worst part is Annmarie has not updated the spread sheet yet so I am not sure how many sheep we actually have.  Over 70 I know but not clear on the exact number.  Now that everyone has a tag she just needs to update the spreadsheet and we will know.  The tagging part is not too onerous, but another two weeks and I don’t think I could have banded the boys.  I almost waited too long.  I was able to make it work, it is definitely a learning curve and I am starting to get the hang of it!

Unfortunately, we tagged a brand new baby less than a few days old.  So there are more on the way!  We separated out 16 of the very pregnant ewes and the ram.  They are all now in the orchard.  This has not made any lambs happy.  No matter that they are all weaned already.  There is much noise and complaining going on all day about the separation.  This meant that the back half of the orchard fence had to be redone immediately.  Gannon and I tightened and added metal T posts and lowered the woven wire so the sheep could not crawl under the fence.  It looks good now.  So far no one has gotten in or out of the orchard. 

Sheep needing new home.

I have the upper, upper prime fence area all mowed and hopefully this week can get out there and mark the new fence line with string and stakes.  Once the string is up I will go along with a tape measure and spray paint and mark the T post locations.  As soon as school is out for Sarah she begins the two week timed conquest of the back water post dig.  She needs to pick ax, shovel and axe out tree branches so I can get a frost free into the back corner of the house.  I capped it off last fall after it broke and used a heat tape all winter to keep it from freezing.  We would actually like to use it as a faucet. 

I did have to replace a tire on the mule and will get back to spraying this week.  I still need to mow up on the hillside and kill the sage brush.  It is starting to spread and takeover the hillside.  The bull bent both gates he forced his way through so I will have to replace the one and bend the other one back into shape.  He is rough on fences when he wants to get through.

I had saved all three ram heads from last year’s culling after the butcher was done with them.  I kept them in the square pen on the ground so the bugs could clean the skull.  All the gates were closed to the pen.  I caught Zeke in there recently, the gate had been opened.  There was only one skull left.  I put it up on the fence so it would not get carried away.  Hoping to mount it on the barn by the end of this summer.

Sole winter survivor.

Mowing again?

I went to mow yesterday afternoon after coming back from one of my paying jobs and found two separate flat tires!  When I parked the tractor the previous day I thought the front left tire was getting a little low, but I was not certain. I was certain the next day. I could have switched over to spraying but the mule had a flat right rear tire and the side wall was all cracked and rotten. So I had to take both tires off and Into Pendleton for repair. Luckily, on the tractor, I could use the bucket to push the whole front end off the ground. No jack required.  As I all things farm related they did not have a spare mule tire on hand, but it would be in the next day. They fixed my tractor tire and then put it in a plastic bag so it could go in my Prius trunk!  Everyone who is a real farmer drives a Prius!  The poor kid bagging the tractor tire was a little flustered. 
I drove back to the farm, installed the tire and took off mowing the upper prime field. I mowed for four hours and got about 8 acres mowed. When the mower is only four feet wide it takes a while. I am now ready to spray all the weeds. 

We are going to spray 2-4-D and see if we get anywhere with the grass coming back. If no success then I will start disking the ground and late this fall plant grass seed. I am not sure what that will cost per acre?  I will have to dig into the cost. I know it is around $1/lb for grass seed. I just don’t know how many pounds we need. On a plus note, Annmarie said she saw a few male deer on the property. I put in for a tag with my father but we are limited in our range so I Would like to see a couple of bucks on the farm. I don’t know if I have drawn a tag yet so it may be a moot point. 
Today I went in and picked up the mule tire it was ready. Annmarie called me to wish us a happy 21st wedding anniversary. I had totally forgotten. She just remembered yesterday. It gave me time to get her a redneck gift, something she can use and wants to improve on. 
I have a little more mowing to do on the back hillside. I want to mow the sage brush down. The sheep won’t eat it and the patch is growing. The same goes for a bigger patch on the other side of the sheep fence. Hopefully, with the sage brush knocked down the grass can grow better. 
I picked up some stakes and twine to mark out the last pasture to be fenced in the upper bottom. I will try and mark it off tonight. I stake the corners and then string up twine on the whole length of fencing to be installed after mowing a path. I then take marking paint and dot the fence line every ten feet for a T-post and then put X on every corner and gate opening.  I like three wooden posts for every corner and two for both sides of a gate opening. I still need to purchase a 16 foot gate. I need two more metal gates for the opening by four corners but I need to measure the opening width still. Gannon almost has the fence tightened and reattached to the posts. We are making good progress this year. 


The sheep out enjoying the back hillside.

Everything is still green.  Spring is not letting go, we just had another day of rain yesterday.  The back creek continues to run.  It is slowing down but I think it can hold out for a few more weeks.  The wheat fields look great.  Hopefully, it gradually warms up and gives the wheat time to form nice big heads.  

We had separated the bull and last years calves over into the barn lot.  The bull got out yesterday by opening a gate in the horse enclosure.  Unfortunately, this occurred during a rain storm.  I am not feeling well so the women had to go out in the rain with Gannon.   The bull went all the way past the schoolhouse to the road.  Unbeknownst, to him the bulls on the corner had been moved.  He was bellowing at no one.   This morning he got out again.  Annmarie and I got him in with the girls.  He opened another gate!  It has been bungee latched for years.  He pushed the gate open without breaking the bungee.  He did twist the hinges on the gate.  He is way too smart.  

The bull is very tolerant of the calves so we don’t expect any problems of that nature.  I finished mowing the cheatgrass in front of the houses and driveway yesterday.  We are going to let the mommas and babies hang out there also.  There is lots of food for every one.  
On Thursday, there was another swarm of honeybees out by the front bridge.  It only lasted twenty minutes then was gone.  I don’t know where it came from or where it went.  Our supposition is it is from the previous split of our dead barn hive.  This means there are two hives on the place now.  Where is anyone’s guess.  
I spent over three hours battling with the tractor to change out implements last week.  I finally got the right equipment attached.  Two days later I went in and ordered the quick connect system.  I am hoping to have that on in a couple of weeks.  Supposedly, I could trade out implements without ever getting off the tractor.  
I am still mowing the upper prime pasture.  The weeds are tall enough to knock down before spraying. Up by the new springs and swampland, I tried to mow but it was too wet.  The tractor kept sinking.  I tried to dig some trenching and only managed to get about twenty feet done.  After the fifth time getting stuck and having to push out with the bucket I called it quits.  
We are getting lots of eggs now that the egg eating possum is no more!
I need to continue mowing and get more 2-4-D onto the upper prime pasture.  I also want to put up some T posts so the leased hay field will have some borders and no equipment will be lost to the swamp.  I need to remeasure the new hay pasture but it will be almost nine acres I am guessing.  The swamp and running water will be on the animal side.  

As soon as it dries out I can start back in on the barn roof, first part of June I hope. 

Happy Mother’s Day

The older two of the three calves.

Yesterday, Steve called back to the house as he was headed to work to say there was a new calf in the orchard.  Now, I’m still recovering from the plague, but that didn’t stop me from getting up to look and sure enough, there was a second little calf.  No, I didn’t go out to check gender.  After Steve’s experience, I’ve decided all calf handling will be done only after running the cows into the chute.  We can reach in and check gender and tag with cows safely confined. 

I was coming in after work today, and the mamma cows and the babies were gathered
under the apple tree so I stopped the car to see if I could get a picture, even though I wasn’t very close.  As I was fussing with the zoom on my phone, trying to get close enough to be able to get a half-decent photo, I noticed there were not two, but three calves.  Yes folks, we have three calves in the orchard.  There were two possibilities – either everyone had one calf, or someone had twins and there was still one to go.  Every calf had a cow paying attention to it, but that’s no guarantee, since we’ve got a cow out there that was nursing all three babies last year – even though one one of them was hers.  So, I went out with a better camera (I stayed outside the fence, thank you very much).  And sure enough, three calves, and each calf has a skinnier mamma paying attention.  Somehow, they all got synchronized.  Handy.  And not at all due to our superior planing.

There are  three calves.  You have to look close, because I couldn’t get any closer.  That cow on the right was already throwing dirt at me.  One calf is half-hidden behind the tree.

While I was out with the camera, I took a few photos of the back yard, such as it is, and the creek.  What we call the back yard is really a very  narrow spit of grass barely three lawn-mower passes wide.  I’m thinking eventually the grass will come out and be replaced by something else, as will that sidewalk you can see the cats sitting on, but that’s a ways down the road.  I do love that lilac bush you can see in the background, though.  It gets all the water it wants and is that lovely dark purple color that you just don’t get to see very often.  Steve trimmed it last year so it didn’t hang out so far over the walkway.  It looks like he’s going to have to trim it again this year.

The back creek is going down, but it is still running.  The longer it runs the better.  That just means the water table is staying nice and high.  Hopefully things won’t dry out so quickly this year.  Of course this is also contributing the to return of the swampy areas in the upper pasture.  If they stay around, we may have to figure out how to manage them.  I’m all for water, but I’d rather not have the mess of smelly decaying vegetation that is a swamp.  Ah well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  There always seems to be another adventure on the horizon.  One more new thing to learn.  I guess it keeps us young.

Farm 2, Predators 0.

Another one bites the dust!  Our eggs had been vanishing at night for the last several weeks.  I keep saying I am going to fix the automatic chicken door, but no chickens are dying so it keeps getting pushed back.  The solution is to just collect eggs every day, but since I have delegated this task to the teenager that doesn’t happen a couple times a week.  I thought it was one of the cats since none of the chickens were disappearing and we could still get a few eggs.  Honestly, the chicken door priority is rising. 

Last night when I got home, Sarah was still at play practice.  I was just headed out the back door when I saw headlights pull into the driveway.  We had discussed her going out to get eggs that morning so I went and sat down.  When she came inside I reminded her she needed to get eggs.  She headed out with a small flashlight.  A couple of minutes later she runs back into the house saying that there is a “huge” possum in the chicken coop eating eggs in the nest box. 

Critical decision time, do you take the Walther P22 with laser sights, a known chicken defender, or do you go with the pistol grip 20 g shotgun?  You cannot use the shotgun in the coop unless you want a huge hole in the floor, but with a moving target at night the shotgun is ideal!  I went for the shotgun and a large flashlight.  Sure enough there was a “HUGE” possum in the chicken coop eating eggs nonchalantly.  It looked at me and kept on eating.  Sarah then informs me that she found it by lifting up the lid on the nest box and it hissing at her from three feet away.  I cannot shoot it in the coop and it is still eating my eggs.  So I have Sarah run back to the house for the Walther while I stand guard back from the door ready to deliver some country justice at any moment.  Chicken rustlers beware!  She comes back with the Walther and I deliver two rounds to the head from fifteen feet away while it is still in the nest box.  No more possum.  It is a dog eat dog world out here folks and if you want any eggs I have to ensure the chickens are well guarded. 

On a plus note, Zeke is getting better.  He still limps but is using his back leg more every day. 

Rock crib in a day.

Rock crib down by road, after equipment snagged it last year.

Today was a big day.  Annmarie was home sick so I got a late start after actually reading a book for entertainment this morning.  I did check on her throughout the day but she slept most of the day on the living room couch.  I decided to install a temporary panel fence out by the cattle guard so I can move the railroad tie two feet closer to the cattle guard.  Once that is done I will restring the old barbwire and woven wire fence on the inside of both wooden ends and put up metal T posts.  This will let us stack the wheels between the posts and then wire the wheels to the fence to hold them in place so they can be welded together. It is like a huge jigsaw puzzle to get all the metal rims stacked into a wall shape with minimal gaps.

After I repaired it.

After that, I went down to the corner to rebuild the rock crib that got snagged by a tractor pulling a disc set.  They wanted the opening larger but the rock crib was on an elevated rise.  I tore the old one out and then used the tractor to level out all the ground.  I got the rock crib all reassembled and filled with rocks.  I ran out of rocks and had to start finding piles on the edge of the field to finish up.  I think I still need about two more tractor buckets full to finish the rock crib.  I used the same wood so one would think if I used all the rocks from the original rock crib that there would be enough rocks.  Its kinda like the extra engine parts that appear after a rebuild, but in reverse.  While Zeke and I were out working he got run over by a neighbor.  The guy stopped and told me Zeke had just run out to the road and he slammed on his brakes but still ran over him.  Zeke was next to me favoring his back right leg.  I didn’t feel any broken bones and he was able to bear weight on it.  I told the guy it was not his fault as my dog ran out into the road.  I had to give Zeke a bath when we got home as he was covered in cow shit.  That dog loves the smell of fresh cow manure on him.  Once he was cleaned up we found a few abrasions on him and he still favors his leg.  I gave him an aspirin in some cheese.  He is on light duty for a few days, which for him means house arrest.  He only gets to leave the house for supervised potty breaks.  This will not make him a happy camper!  I need to shove the roadside fence inward and tighten one strand of wire so I can go along and drive the 65 metal T posts that are needed to repair the fence. Unfortunately, this all has to be done in one day so I don’t leave a bunch of new fence posts alongside the road. 

I was able to go to the metal scrap yard today and get 360# of woven wire and 40 metal T posts.  I heard bad news while I was there.  Someone else is buying T posts from the scrap yard!  So now I need to go a little more frequently.  If I can snag another 60 this summer it will be great!  I need another 400-500 probably to do most of the fencing left.  Could be even more if I put them all around the outside of the property. One day at a time.  Next month I will have to start in on the barn roof, but the rain is still coming and going and I will not get up on the roof if it has rained recently or is going to rain, too easy to fall. 

Soon to be other side of Iron Tire fence by cattle guard.