Tractor action.

Bull rental trade

We traded a ton of hay for the bull’s services.  It came in three large bales.  I do not have any forks for the tractor so I figured I could just shove the bales around with the tractor.  It worked just fine.  Now instead of getting eight bales out of the barn we can just pull one of these bales out and install the panels around the bales. This will make it much easier to feed the cows.  I do need to replace my hog panel with a real gate or the bull will just lift the panel and crawl under.  I will be ordering the gate today.  I need a 16 foot gate for the machine shop and two 18 foot gates for down by four corners.  That will get 

Under cover and safe for now.

the roadside fence 100% completed on the old barley field.  There is about 100 yards inside the property line that needs to be repaired.  Unfortunately, there is one corner on a hillside which is not going to be an easy fix.  It can wait until next year if needed.  I need to get those gates installed.  PGG doesn’t carry 18 foot gates, I made the opening 36 feet wide so they could get a combine in and out easily.  I think it will be 35.5 feet but it is super close.  Way wider than it was before. 
I had weather, work and mule issues so I was unable to complete the weed spraying.  I now have a new rear tire for the mule.  I will get that installed tomorrow and then I can charge the battery and spray more weeds.  There was a month of growth so I had to go out and mow the weeds again.  It makes a huge difference.  I could probably just mow every two weeks and knock out 80% of the weeds but I would just be doing the low growing weeds and vines a favor.  Easier to kill small weeds than small trees!  The upper prime pasture borders are readily apparent.  I still need to get up there and line out the fence rows and mark them and install the T posts.  I am hoping to do that on Sunday. 
 We do still have water coming out of the ground up there, not as much as before but there is still running water down the ditch and the small ponds are full.  We had been seeing ducks flying over head every day but I did not see any ducks while I was up mowing.  I did see a fairly newborn deer, some newborn pheasants and a newly feathered blackbird who was doing more hopping than flying.  There were still areas where I could not drive the tractor because it is still swampy.  The swampy areas are drying up but it is still not safe to drive any heavy equipment on.  I almost got stuck three times before I quit trying to mow it.  The star thistle is starting to appear up here so it is imperative that I spray and knock this stuff down.  Our leaser has not done anything with his portion yet this year.  We will be buying hay soon.  We need at least 10 ton,  I think we should have 12 ton just to be safe.  I need to find 2 ton of straw also.  We usually only buy one ton to get us through the winter but I would like some extra so if I want to use some for something else, we have it.  This is why my compost piles keep growing!  I am hoping one of my nieces comes and spends a week moving my compost!  It is pure tractor work but there is a good 40 hours of it. It is just time I don’t currently have. 
Our water has been an issue again.  The bull (sensing a common theme yet?) rubbed on an outdoor faucet down by my mother-in-law’s house and broke the plastic pipe underground.  This caused us to bail water from the front creek for toilet flushing for two days and shower at relative’s houses.  Our bathroom shower had been leaking a little water for last two weeks then right after the repair it was pouring out hot water one day when I got back from work.  I promptly tore into it.
  Well, as we all know plumbing is not my forte.  It is the one thing I shy away from and if I do it, I do lots of do overs to get it right.   I could not get the shower faucet apart.  I looked on the internet for a drawing and directions to repair.  That is when I discovered another Home Depot moment.  We had purchased our bathroom fixtures at Home Depot early on our remodel before I became disaffected with the service and products at Home Depot.  I did not realize that Pegasus brand plumbing was made for Home Depot exclusively.  They DO NOT carry any repair parts for this brand in the Home Depot stores.  We found that out the hard way.  
 I could not find any plans for the faucet online.  I found lots of disparaging comments about the quality.  The consensus was pull directly outward on the handle or turn it counter clockwise to remove it.  I pulled and tugged  eventually putting both feet on the wall in an attempt to remove the handle, no joy.  Yes, I did remove the set screw holding the handle on first.  So I tried turning it counter clockwise, I did manage to turn it but I heard a some plastic breaking noise and it did not make the handle come off.  Back to pulling, I did the foot thing and wiggled the handle a lot, after ten minutes it popped off.  I tore it all apart and found a piece of rust trapped in the valve mechanism.  I cleaned it out and reinstalled it.  Nope, no fix.  Now the leak is hot water with a high pitched whistle that can be heard throughout the entire house.  The hot water temperature cannot be regulated so no shower and the only way to get relief from the noise is to turn off the hot water heater and flow of hot water. 
 I called the plumber and he told me to find the parts and clean it all out again.  I did this the next day eight times!  It did not help.  I finally found a diagram online for a Pegasus shower faucet that looked like mine but the guts were different.  The important information was the warranty phone number.  I called and tried to explain mine was different than the one I found online.  They had me take pictures and send them.  I got a text back stating what my faucet number was and that the part would be here in 6-8 days free of charge.  You could do laundry and dishes if you didn’t mind talking due to the loud whining noise.  Zeke tried to hide out upstairs as much as possible and we all showered
elsewhere.  I just fixed the faucet yesterday.  It works but now we need the plumber to come out and install a particle filter under the house.  We need to stop the particles from getting in and clogging everything up.  We have replaced the bathroom sink fixture once, dug out the valves under the kitchen sink twice, had the repairman replace the fill valve on the dishwasher and cleaned out the filter in the hot water tank twice.  The water line breaks at least yearly.  We had not planned on this but it needs to happen. 
Upper Prime pasture, fresh mowing mostly. 

Cows on a tear.

“Old Barley Field” it is wheat but Ted used to grow barley when they first moved back hence the name.

The wheat fields look good.  They are all headed out and starting to dry out and turning gold.  I had to repair this high tension smooth wire fence as the bull worked at it and tore two strands out.  He caused the clamped connections to pull apart.  He has also been pushing on the fence in an attempt to reach the green wheat.  He cannot reach it but that has not been stopping the effort. So after repairing the two strands I went down the row and straightened the T posts.  They are pretty far apart almost 20 feet between posts so I will be added another T post between each post in the future.  This should stabilize it enough hopefully to deter him.  Otherwise, I will have to add about three wooden posts over the entire length to help with the leaning problem.  Everyone keeps telling me I should just string electric wire.  I would have to cut up the wild rose bushes to keep the system from grounding out all the time and I am unwilling to do that. 

We had some friends need the services of a small bull.  They have a different breed of small cow, not Dexter, but didn’t care about the breed as long as he was friendly and not too large.  Ours is friendly, definitely not overly aggressive.  The plan was we would trade a ton of hay and they will keep him all summer.   This works out perfectly as I don’t have to battle him all summer about the fences and every weak point I have missed.  We did warn them that he will test every gate and creek crossing cause he knows they are weak.  They assured us that was not a problem.  They have already had to repair one area of washed out fence they knew about but had not gotten around to yet.  He found it and got out!

We chased the bull and mommas into the barn lot before they got here.  Zeke and I just went out and chased the cows in a circle all the way into the square pen on the first try.  Once they were in the square pen I tried to entice the bull over to the chute with an apple but he was just not buying it.  Plus, I did not like standing that close to all the mommas and babies as the females were starting to give me the stink eye.  So we then chased out all three mommas while I used the square pen gate and then ended up with two babies and the bull in the pen.  I just pushed the gate in towards the animals and made a crack big enough for the calves only and they squirted right through.  We just encouraged the bull down the chute and he got to the trailer looked at it and just jumped in!  We had him loaded and ready to go in less than 20 minutes!  It was amazing.  It looked like we knew exactly what we were doing.  Annmarie, Sarah and Gannon had spent 2.5 hours two days before trying to get those same cows into the barn lot.  Zeke was not helping them and the cows and calves could not get on the same page and kept getting separated and running off. 

Next week we will have to run the mommas into the square pen and chute and band the little babies and ear tag everyone.  We should be okay working from the other side of the chute. 

Tractor work, my favorite view.

Sheep saga

Here I am again, behind on the blog!  I know I said I was going to do better, so this is my apology and I will “work” on it.  We are still trying to get rid of sheep.  So far we have sold or given away zero sheep.  We have fielded calls from five different people and have one reserved for late fall slaughter.  One person wanted forty sheep from 50-80#.  Ours are not all that heavy. We had a call yesterday from someone in California that wanted 150 sheep.  We don’t have that and if we did we would not be selling them for $50.  The price would be higher.  I still have four separated out in the barn lot.  We had someone call from Boise who was going to pass through town and wanted to come by and get 3-4 sheep.  So Zeke and I sorted out five sheep.  One of them managed to get through the fence, but the other four are still there.  They have been on their own for five days now.  I am going to put them back in with the herd soon.  I am trying to get them sold to a local friend.  This happened last time we used Craigslist, it sorta worked last time but for every ten calls only one pans out. 

We currently have two herds of sheep on the property and I don’t see that changing as long as we want to slaughter any females we need to keep the ram away from them so they do not become pregnant.  I have not started on the barn roof yet, soon, very soon. 

The pump is back in the front creek.  I tried to dam it up with a board, but I dug the bottom of the creek out too much so it kept going under my board.  I finally just took out the board.  I had dug the hole so deep I don’t need the board to dam it up.  It is working fine and we have been pouring water onto the orchard.  It looks great!  There is hardly any cheat grass or weeds.  Now if only the other pastures looked like that.  This saves our well system not having an extra load on it.  The back creek is no longer running.  It still has plenty of pools along its length but it is not running.  So the snow pack is gone.  I was hoping it would last until July.  Winter was so cold last year we lost all the wild blackberries.  It killed them down to the ground.  They are starting to make a slow comeback, but we have some large dead patches all over the farm.  The birds don’t seem to mind.