Who needs a gym membership?

I know I should work out,and I occasionally make plans to do so on a regular basis, but then I have days like yesterday. 

I spent a couple of hours at Grandma’s house planting her garden, and then Mom and I took her out to dinner.  I was nearly home, and thinking about getting the sheep and horses in for the night. Then there it was the bull. He was somewhere he was not supposed to be – and he was not alone. The girls were all with him, including the possibly-not-bred heifers. The day before, Steve and I had moved the cows into the bottom with the sheep, partly because they had mostly eaten down the grass out in the front, but also because one of the little girls keeps running out in front of cars and was likely to get herself and someone else hurt. They were no longer in that pasture. They had moved down into the lower bottom with only two rickety fences and one road between them and the Black Angus Bulls that winter on the corner. Those Bulls were uninterested by our bull, but they were showing significant signs in those girls. 
The cows needed a new pasture. The best candidate pasture was the upper barn lot pasture. The easiest way to get the cows in there would be to run them across the back hillside and through a gate directly into that pasture. So, I went down and opened that gate, a process which required moving the wooden panel that we put up to supplement that gate last year. It wasn’t that big a deal, but was an extra step. The dogs and I got that done and headed down to the to get the cows. On the way, Zeke put the sheep in. He was a happy boy and thought we were done. I told him we still had work to do and off we went. Between us and the cows was a 12′ woven gate. You know the kind, just wire and posts. They are easy to build but painful to open and close. This one thankful had a cheater in it so I could get it open fairly easily. We went through and headed downhill so we could circle around the cows and get them going the right direction. 
Zeke was a good boy and followed instructions as my mobile pressure point to keep this cows going the right direction. It worked great!  Every time the cows tried to go around me, I moved Zeke up closer and they decided to go the direction I wanted.  He was such a good boy. Of course, I had to close that gate on my way back. Those are even more painful to close than it had been to open. I made it, but it was not easy. In the meantime, the cows had changed the plan, they had headed for the last gate they had gone through.  This, of course, was not the gate I had in mind. Luckily, it was the gate right behind Mom’s house, and I had my cell phone. I called Mom to open the gate and let the cows through. This put the cows back in the front. This was not where I wanted them, but I could make it work. But first, I had to close that first gate I opened, open the gate between the barn lot and the upper pasture, and close the gate in the pasture that was currently open onto the hillside. I walked down to do that, and open two other gates that would let the cows into the barn lot proper. Then Zeke and I went back out for the cows. Luckily, they were beginning to get tired of being herded and just walked through the gate. 
I still had to get the horses. But, they were easy after all that.  Then I went inside and did push-ups and sit-ups with Sarah. Gotta be supportive in her efforts to get fit. 
I’m thinking I could call this the farm girl obstacle course.  I certainly feel like I worked out. 

Barn lot ditch crossing

Barn lot crossing going in.

Water snake hiding under rock.

Yesterday I spent the day working on the barn lot crossing.  I spent five hours on the tractor moving dirt.  I got the culvert into place then braced it with rocks at the base and then slowly started piling dirt up from the right side.  Every few loads of dirt I would drive the tractor out onto the pile and compact it down.  I had to keep getting off the tractor and piling up rocks on the side to keep the dirt in the correct spot.  I eventually ran out of rocks to pile next to the dirt.  I did managed to finally get enough dirt into the middle that I could drive to the other side!  I need to put on my rubber boots and wade out into the water and get those rocks upstream.  I also have a few loose rocks over in my sheep compost pile that can go over here.  After that I will have to go onto the back hillside and start picking rocks.  I figure another three days just to get this finished.  Once it is done I will dig out the stream and add some gravel to the bank to fill in the low spot.  We will be able to drive across the culvert and avoid all water crossings.  It will make the stream that much better.  I found a few friends as I was relocating rocks. 

The horses are going to love it as they will not have to get their feet wet to cross the stream any more.  I had another chicken die, a teenage buff orpington.  I do not know why that breed and why that age group is dying off.  It makes no sense. 
I called around today looking for used railroad ties to make the new cow corral.  There are none to be had in Pendleton.  I found some in Hermiston at Payless lumber for $16/each, an entire semi truck load.  I am going over on Tuesday to pickup at least 30.  I need 30 for the corral and about 15 more for fencing.  It is painful but if I don’t do it know I might not get another shot at it till the end of summer.  I am also looking into renting a backhoe for a day to finish the irrigation pond.  I broke the earthen dam and flooded the pit I was working on so there is no other recourse. 

Salamanders hiding under rock.

Irrigation ditch day 5

culvert getting maneuvered into place.

Today I went to my favorite place, the scrap metal yard.  I spent 90 minutes getting a chunk of culvert.  When I realized I was getting the culvert for the low low price of $0.30/lb I asked for a second piece of culvert for the barn lot!  We will be able to fix the bridge by installing a nice big culvert and backfilling.  There will be no need to drive through the front spring any more.  This will allow me to narrow the stream and fill in along the edges.  The scrap yard guy free cut the rusty pipe with a torch in a perfect line!  It was impressive.  I even complimented him on a job well done.  I snagged about 300 pounds of rolled wire and some loose chain also.  The best part was each culvert only cost about $90, an incredible price.  I am hoping the cows use the culverts instead of walking through the water.  Tomorrow I have a bunch of honey do chores.  I am hoping to make some time for ditch digging. 
Barn lot culvert in place just need to back fill.

Lower culvert in place.  Still needs some more dirt added but I can drive over with tractor!

Canal day 4.

Clear coat, two layers done.

This morning the dogs went out with me to let the sheep out of the ram pasture.  Sprout now thinks he needs to go out with Zeke and I every morning.  I let him as he needs the exercise.  There were only ten sheep in the correct pasture.  The back creek is low enough that most of the sheep were able to cross under the fence near the creek without getting their feet wet.  I lowered the panels on both ends of the pasture.  Zeke chased the leftover sheep out of the ram pasture.  We are still working on the command “to me”.  I want him to bring the sheep toward me and he wants to leave the sheep and come to me himself.  This causes confusion and swearing for both parties.  He did it correctly in the end.  We just need to keep working on it. 

I put the clear coat on the oven cabinets today.  I purchased a water based satin polyurethane after looking at all the choices.  I still like the wax idea but after reading about it, I decided against it.  The finish is not very durable and needs to be redone on a fairly regular basis.  It can also collect dust.  I recoated the shelves after an hour.  I used the whole quart on the cabinet. 

There was still time to go out and dig on the ditch.  I thought I would just move the large dirt pile and then I could get back into the ditch.  It did not happen the way I thought it would.  It took me 2.25 hours to dig down the whole dirt pile and spread it out.  It just kept going and going, I never thought I would make it through.  Once it was done, I checked the time and said enough. 

There are still 2 out 12 chicks alive at my parent’s house.  They look great and are very healthy.  Now the only thing left to do in the kitchen is to plumb the downdraft exhaust.  I still have not finished cutting out the floor hole. 

Dirt pile leveled off. 

Canal day 3.

Progress is happening.

I did it, another two hours of labor digging the pit!  My back knows the pit is getting bigger.  It complains every time I dig.  Usually, screaming uncle by the second hour.  I would like to say it is getting easier.  I don’t think that will be true until June gets here.  I will have done enough manual labor to get back into good shape.  I tell myself every year that if I would just keep in shape over the winter, spring would be easier on the body.  I did work out this winter, but obviously not enough.
Zeke had to hang out near my work area.  He tried to sneak off once, but digging is not enough of a distraction to give him the time he needs to disappear.  By the end of the two hours he was content to hang out, sleep and watch me work.  I am saving the water side for last.

We used 864 gallons of propane last year to heat and cook in our house.  This was a drop from previous years.  If this trend continues with our new freestanding propane stove in the dining room I think it will pay for itself in five years.  The savings in propane is amazing. 

More digging?

2.5 hours worth of digging.

starting point for the day.

I worked for 2.5 hours today digging.  My plan is to do this every day until my vacation is over.  I will be begging them to let me come back to work by the end of the week!  I broke out a Pulaski so I could break the soil up before shoveling it.  It made things much easier.  Luckily, I have managed to not break the berm so the hole is nice and dry.  I had to get up onto the dirt pile outside the hole and shovel all the dirt off onto the other side.  I sure wish I could get the tractor over here and level the area with it.  I am thinking about laying some railroad ties across the stream and driving said tractor across.  Still weighing the benefits against getting the tractor stuck in the ditch.  Until I can decide I guess I will be using a human powered shovel. 
Zeke is going to be no use when it comes to the alpacas.  He is an attractant to them.  They all bum rush the fence in an attempt to get at him so they can stomp on him.  He would be okay with a few of them but eight of them and one of him are not good odds even for the Zekemeister!

I had another chicken die today.  It is so frustrating to walk in the coop and find another dead chicken.  It occurred to me that the only chickens dying are my buff orpingtons that are 7 months old.  No one else is sick or dying.  It is very strange.  Annmarie pointed out that they are eating in a different place than the other chickens.  We are watching them all and I only have one or two still alive.  I lost another chick yesterday.  I have 2 out of 12 still alive.  This is not a very good survival ratio. 

Zeke and his new nemesis.

Kitchen window trim done

Kitchen window completed!

Robert came over and we installed the kitchen window trim.  I only had one eight year old reject trim board out in the old house.  It was just long enough to split in half and do the kitchen window.  No mistakes were allowed or there would not be enough trim.  We measured everything a few times and then I wrote down the dimensions then we went out to the yard and set up the table saw in the grass.  We had to rip the board into 4.25 and 5 inch widths.  We cut the bottom five inch piece first and it fit perfectly.  We tapped it into place and then I marked the two 1/4 inch x2 inch cutout spots for the window.  Then took it out and I trimmed those out with the jigsaw.  It fit perfectly and we just shimmed the back up to make it level front to back.  A repeat of the top board was done then I accidently cut one of the sides too short!  Luckily, there was enough leftover to tear a five inch board down to 4.25 inch and cut the side out of it.  The sides were a pretty tight fit but we managed to get them in place and everything nailed in place.  It looks very good and Annmarie is happy. 

No more honey bees in barn wall.

I was outside showing Robert the barn when I decided to check on the honey bees.  The weather was warm and I had seen some honey bees in our yard.  No go, I looked outside and listened to the wall and heard no activity.  While Robert was missing the rock chucks with a rifle, I tore down the boards and found an empty dead nest, no honey and no bees.  I tore it all out.  We still don’t know where the honey bees are living that we keep seeing all over the farm.  I am still reading books on how to raise honey bees.