Farm 4, Predators 2

Another win for the farm!  Annmarie was up and out of bed first thing in the morning yesterday, while I attempted to go back to sleep.  She took the dogs out to potty and started hollering for me to get down there immediately. I leaped out of bed and ran downstairs in the buff.  She had a large flashlight and was spotlighting a possum in the front yard. She had managed to call our border collie off, but Sprout, our Brussels Griffin was unwilling to quit attacking.  He is eleven pounds of fearless!  Did the same thing during the raccoon attack.  I reached in the front door and grabbed a .243, a little overkill but it was the closest gun.  Unfortunately, it has a scope and in the dark with a flashlight it was not easy to spot the critter.  It starts running away, I had to make sure I knew where Sprout was so he didn’t catch any friendly fire, so I was delaying pulling the trigger.  Annmarie starts hollering “shoot” then started in with “hand me that rifle so I can do it” before I managed to pull the trigger.  The possum runs away into the dark, with Annmarie admonishing me for missing again.  I told her “no way I missed, saw the animal limping”. She wanted to run out and check on it.  I told her after I got dressed I would stalk the yard in the dark!  I grabbed my trusty Walther P22 and flicked on the laser.  This is the best gun for varmints at night around the house. I do need to replace the batteries on my laser.  Too much nighttime prowling the laser light is pretty weak.  The possum was right down by the creek dying. A couple of finish shots and it was over quick.

I have determined that if I didn’t have chickens the small predators would be safe.  The only trouble with that is I have shoveled at least 50 pounds of crap out of the buildings from these animals living in the out buildings. It causes the wood to rot, so they cannot set up a home or the buildings will be ruined.  Plus, there are people in town who are “humanely” live trapping these predators and then letting them go at four corners on the edge of our property, leaving us to deal with the nuisance creatures. We are still following the 22 rule except for coyotes. We are pretty sure we lost two lambs this summer to coyotes.  That is why the .243 is by the door. 
I was outside potttying the dogs three hours later and heard some rustling in the barn. The noise persisted so I grabbed the Walther and Zeke and we headed over to the barn. The noise was emanating from inside the barn. We snuck up and went into the milking area, I crept up to the door and peered over to see a full size pregnant ewe with her head stuck in a feeder.  When I handmade them there is some overlap on one section. This ewe jammed her head in and could not get out.  I tried pushing to make the hole larger but the sheep would not pull her head when I was squeezing to make the hole larger.  I had to walk over to the shed and get a pair of bolt cutters to cut her free. I managed to save the feeder and got her loose with no further problems.  
I am currently working on putting up a new cross fence in the barn lot. I only had to drill four holes and I broke three shear pins on the tractor hole auger.  Two holes need to go a little deeper but I am letting the rain soften up the holes some more.  Without all the recent rain I never could have gotten the holes dug.  I still need to finish disking the upper prime pasture so it can be planted. 
Tomorrow I have to trim some trees and straighten out an apple tree.  Hopefully, I can finish disking if there is time.  We had our first lamb!  It was born one week ago. The sheep are a month early by our guesstimate. So now we are on the lookout for more babies.  We also have an extra ram. I know I banded everyone, but I think the rubber band broke. So now I will have to use two bands on everyone.  The two band method is the preferred method. 

Fencing is moving along.

I had to move this fence three feet to actually get in on a fairly level spot. The soil behind the fence is all loose.  The ground had sloughed off over the years.  I have two more upper strands and it will be done. I still need to tighten and rework this fence line but for now it will last until next spring. 
Fence down by schoolhouse after leveling and moving onto solid ground.

This is the end piece on the old barley field. It has to be moved three feet on far end only. It was falling into the creek also.  The willows have made dams a couple of times and that let’s the water spread out  and do more damage. I think I can just reuse all the fence that is here.  I may have to splice in a four foot section. It’s coming along. I need to finish this up so I can move to the barn lot.  
Old cross fence, there is a one acre plot on corner that is not ours.  Still need to redo this fence.

I spent three hours discing the upper prime pasture.  I am about 2/3 done and once completed I will drag something over it to smooth it out and replant it.  I want to get the grass seed on it this fall. 
I took a coworker of Annmarie’s and his son buck hunting Saturday evening.  The son had never shot a buck.  I had a blast, I had forgotten what it was like to try and kill that first animal.  He shot at three different bucks before enough lead had been slung downhill that he was calmer.  He did great.  This has lead me to the observation that I need to install a flood light on the chicken coop that is directed at the skinning pole!  Much better than skinning it by pickup headlights.  I would only turn the light on when needed. We are trying to keep our electricity bill and light pollution to a minimum.  So another project for next year.  A much needed project, and one that will let me add a light in the nest box area of the coop.  I get to kill two birds with one stone! 
Upper prime pasture, getting it worked up so it can be replanted.

Let loose the COWS!

I did it, I finished the fence enough to let the cows loose.  It only took me six hours and I am still not done.  I had to finish creating a level spot next to the fence. Now that I have a level spot I need to move  fifty feet of fence west three feet.  The old fence was falling down an embankment. I had to finish filling my metal rock crib with rocks. I then drove two metal T posts, thinking I was ready for wire.  Nope, had to trim some of the willow tree.  I had grabbed two sections of woven wire and had to use them both, I really only anticipated using one roll.

I stretched the woven wire and installed two smooth wire strands above that.  I don’t think a third strand is necessary.  I had to cut a panel to fit over the washout region. To combat the bull I attached a large rock to the middle of the washout region.  I know it’s not heavy enough but the large rock moving near his face might distract him while he is trying to manipulate the crossing. 
I also attached a cow panel over the vehicle culvert.  Here is hoping the bull cannot get through both sides.  I went down to the gate with my nephew and opened it up so the cows could go into the school house bottom. The cows were not interested so we chased them over by the gate, they ran right past.  They will figure it out eventually.   Once they see all that green grass I don’t expect them to leave that area for the next two months.  I still have to install the wooden stays between T posts and that new fifty feet of fence. Next week I do barn lot fence and start disking upper prime pasture.  It never ends!
My forearms look like I have been in a slasher movie.  My right rib cage has multiple cuts and punctures from pushing old wire out of with my body while trying to drive metal T posts.  I have a large scrape under my left knee from something not sure what. Best of all, I have a splinter under my right pinky nail. I cannot see it but the pain is starting to be unrelenting. The type of pain were amputation starts to sound like a viable option.  Maybe I did something bad in a previous life.  I feel like a participating member of the Spanish Inquisition.  

Actually fencing.

Today was the day I actually started fencing…again.  I started at the upper path into the school house plot. I dragged the dirt cut and got rid of the big hump. Hopefully, now the truck hitch won’t drag when I turn onto the road.  I drug the box blade alongside the fence to clean a work area.   I filled a couple of preexisting rock cribs with rocks then using tractor moved a large dirt pile next to the fence.  I had to install 8 T posts and clip the wires in place. I finally got all the fence repaired to the culvert.  I had to cross the spring to get to the other side.  The water is still running so of course I slipped and fell.  I caught myself sorta so my keister did not land in the water.  The other end of the culvert has a wooden panel to keep the bulls out, but we had one this spring sneaking over to eat the grass.  I am going to string a couple of strands of smooth wire across the opening and clip a cattle panel in place across the opening.  
There was this wooden contraption at the end of the highway culvert buried in some very large thistles.  Once I cleared out the weeds I discovered it was an elevated rock crib!  I have never seen anything like it before. So I wired it back together, put some new floorboards in it and it was ready for rocks.  I wasn’t sure what was going to keep. It from sliding so I took a broken T post and jammed it behind the welded support on the metal wall and wired the rock crib main beam to the T post.  I should be able to use the fence tightener without any problems. It held a pile of rocks with no problems.  I pounded in another 14 T posts and am ready for wire.  
I did not do this, the rock crib was already in the air.  I just repaired it and added rocks. 

Main hole the cows were escaping through.  You can see the area I leveled out on the right half of the picture. I repaired the rails and installed a new top rail. You cannot see it but just to the fight of this picture is a huge wild rose bush. I had to crawl into it twice, in two separate places.  It was highly unpleasant, involving much pain and blood drawing scratches and loads of colorful language. I am hoping it acts as a deterrent for the cows also.  There are two springs here, one is directly behind the rose bush in the picture. It used to be developed for the school but is no longer coming out directed. There is one in the trees also.  My plan is to get the fence cone tomorrow so I can get the cows down here.  I think there is three months worth of feed down here. 
Annmarie wants me to take a coworker’s son deer hunting. So I drove around at dusk last night.  I counted three more little bucks and over 100 deer! The upper wheat field looks like a deer parking lot.  I am bummed I didn’t draw a doe tag. The deer population is starting to grow exponentially around here. It is a stupid problem. 
Escape route down by school house next to road. I leveled off the hill.

Still not fencing

Left side of driveway looking from front porch.  I figured it was time.

Jason came over to finish taking the scrap metal pile to recycle.  While he was here I got him to help me rearrange piles. We found the plow I discovered in the grass last year.  I thought it had been scrapped. We brought it down to the house and set it up for display.  Jason had to drive the tractor while I pulled the trailer up with the pickup.  There was an old seeder I wanted to bring it down to the house.  The wooden wheels would not let me pull it. Unfortunately, it weighed about 900 pounds so the limiter on my tractor bucket (800#) would not let me lift it.  I could turn the bucket and get about eight inches. We ended up with the tractor in the elevated field and the trailer on the low side.  We just barely got it onto the trailer.  I took the tractor and grabbed the back half of the wagon to go with the lonely front half. 
I ended up digging an unloading area so I could be above the trailer. I just barely managed to drag it off.  Both wheels fell off on the ride down the hill. I set it in place and made it as neat as possible. I like it. 
Old seeder at top of hill.

I just need to transplant some tall grass clusters from the upper field and throw out some more grass seed. It will be all ready for fencing in the spring. Once we get the new fence up we will start tearing down the chain link fence. 
Right side of driveway.  I want to get some tall grass starts from the upper barley field to plant around the equipment.