Corral still not done.

Day two, can you see the progress?

Well, my plans for a quick project completion are officially shot.  We spent all day drilling holes in the dirt.  The ground was so hard it had to be broken up with a breaker bar then drilled out with the tractor.  My neck was so sore this morning from spending yesterday looking over my right shoulder to watch the auger that I had to look over my left shoulder today.  Now both sides of my neck hurt and the ibuprofen is dulling the pain.  We had one hour left after getting the holes drilled to hand dig the holes clean and line them up with our string marking lines.  We managed to get 2/3 of the holes all cleaned out and aligned.  I am hoping we can get the rest in an hour in the morning then get all the railroad tie posts set in gravel tomorrow.  If we can get all the posts set then I can drag the leftover dirt out of the way and we can install the cow panels and 2×6 boards.  It will be done in no time!  I have Phil for tomorrow and Tuesday only.  I need to be done by Tuesday or it will be another week before I can get back to this project. 

On a plus side, we have a bird building a nest just outside the kitchen window.  It started today.  We are still trying to figure out what kind of bird.  It is not one we recognize. 

Corral started

Old Corral soon to be remodeled.

Old corral torn down.

The corral project started yesterday.  Phil is helping me so I don’t take two months.  We started by tearing down the old one and removing all the posts.  The little four inch round posts were rotted off.  We noticed that the posts were not buried very deep.  Once everything was cleared away I started to drag the area flat with my tractor.  This went well except I drive forward and look behind to watch the box blade so I drag an even depth.  I ran over the gas weedeater!  I crushed the plastic fuel tank.  Now I need to get the weed eater to a repair person.  So much for using the weed eater around the house. 


New Corral spot leveled off. 

Phil and I marked out the post hole spots with ground paint and a tape measure.  I was sure I could just dig all 31 holes and then we could be done and onto installing posts. We hooked up the post hole digger and we started digging holes.  It was awful! The soil was straight clay.  We only managed to dig a few holes to finish off the day.  Not the 31 I was hoping for.  My vision of having the entire corral done in three days is quickly sinking.

Mowing progressing

The tractor is holding together!  I have mowed for two days straight and the weld is still intact.  I managed to knock down the cheat grass around the house. The field that needed grass seed planted is a weed jungle.  The 2-4-D killed some things dead but the thistle was not one of them. I will mow it back to the ground then hit it with milestone when it starts to grow again. After that kills the weeds I will disc it all under. Yesterday I saw a hundred voles at least.  Four baby killdeer running around and momma trying to distract me, some quail and a rooster pheasant. I don’t mind sitting on the tractor for hours at a time but the dust is awful. It gets everywhere!  I don’t hit as many rocks as I use too but from looking at the mower deck you would never believe it.  

Fence work progressing.


Storm, brought flood warnings and lots of rain.

Yesterday was a productive day, despite the weather.  It has rained every day for the last six days.  The cheat grass and weeds are loving it.  I have been out of commission because my mistress, lady tractor, has been broken.  I need to mow, remove the old corral, fix the barn lot culvert, gravel in the drain pipe for the barn and drill all the holes for the new corral and drag the driveway flat again, all of which require some mistress assistance.  Thankfully, the repair shop called and got a hold of me to let me know that it was repaired!  This was great news!
A couple of my coworkers came out to the house to help me do some work and spend time visiting.  My father just died this week and they are being good friends.  Without the tractor the available jobs has diminished so we worked on installing a gate between the orchard and the ram pasture.  It just had a cut piece of cow panel with three clips on one side and an old rusty chain on the other.  Not very sturdy or easy to open in any semblance of short time.  When we were throwing the railroad ties into the pickup I remembered to add in a piece of cow panel that had been formed into a circle.  We could use it around the rose bush on the back hillside.  The sheep keep pushing in on my loose fence and eating whatever they can reach.  I had Carmel go wrestle the old wire off and put the wire cage around the bushes.  By the time she came back over she had a nice big hickey on the right side of her neck.  She blamed it on the rose bush getting amorous.  The weather was just starting to roll in as we finished up.  It started raining so hard I actually felt sorry for the horses and turned them loose in the barn lot.  This lets them get into the old lambing shed.  The water was running into the lambing shed because I have lowered the dirt in front of it.  I had to go out into the rain and dig a small trench to divert the water away from the barn.  Once the animals were taken care of I went and picked up my mistress!  She is on the trailer ready to work!  Now if only the weather will cooperatae. 
New H-brace and real gate for the orchard to ram pasture connection. 

Sheep sorted, edible and nonedible.

Rob hard at work.

I got some work done on the farm today despite still having a broken tractor.  The welders have not given it a try yet.  I don’t expect miracles or a thing of beauty, but it is going to be very expensive to fix the part with a new one!  A repair that holds would be fantastic.  Rob came out to see me and spend the day on the farm.  We needed to work the sheep but first thing the horses greeted us.  Rob didn’t seem that comfortable around them.  We tried to tell who was who and who belonged to whom in the sheep herd with them behind the barn.  It was not possible.  We simply could not get close enough.
 So everyone got chased into the barn and we started trying to read ear tags on who belonged to whom.  Annmarie wanted the ram separated out.  We are trying to get the ewes back in estrus at the same time.  This having babies over a 2-3 month period is getting old especially in the summer where we don’t pay as close of attention to them.  We pushed the sheep to the end of the barn and tried to use the chute system.  The sheep did not want to run down the chute!  2.5 hours later we had all the babies tagged, banded and two herds of sheep sorted and settled in their new homes.  All the boys and the ram went in with the alpacas..  The ram was tearing around the place with multiple laps before we could get him to join the meat wagon.  We now have an edible herd and nonedible herd.  I will get Annmarie to update the spreadsheet so we can get accurate ages on the edible group. 
Rob and I worked on the new drainage ditch for the old lean-to rain runoff ditch.  There is a rock ledge just this side of the barn and we had to finish breaking up a three foot solid rock section.  It took about an hour and the breaker bar was not as helpful as the pick axe.  Just ask Rob who got schooled on the pick axe use.  I put in a call to Annmarie to see if she wanted the barn door fixed first or the large hole in the fence by the back creek.  The sheep broke an old original post.  She decided on the fence first but it was a very long pause.  We dug a new hole after ripping the old fence down and then put the old fence.  It looks very good and the sheep cannot get through it after I add three more clips over the water.  I am hoping to get a new gate installed over there tomorrow.  That would be very nice. 

Repaired fence with new post.  Gate next.

Edible herd with our ram leading the pack.

Damn tractor!

Two bundles, 32 railroad ties, future corral.

I went over to Hermiston to find my corral chute gates and some railroad ties.  No gates.  I need them 24-26 inches wide and the smallest they had was 48 inches.  I asked about railroad ties and they said someone from the east coast is buying up all the railroad ties on the west coast and shipping them back east.  This is why we cannot find any locally.  I asked what their substitute was and he said six inch green treated posts but they were out of those also.  Luckily, right across the street was the outfit that got them in two weeks ago.  I had to look through the entire stack to find two bundles that were okay.  They managed to get them on the trailer and then I noticed both my trailer tires on driver’s side were way low!  It took them 30 minutes to find a tire connector for their compressor but they finally got me on my way.  My little compressor I keep in the pickup was at home after using it on the mule.  It did not get back in the pickup.  I stopped at home depot and got an outside flood light for the back of the chicken coop.  After installation we will be able to skin animals in the dark and not by pickup headlights.  It will be much easier.  I had to dig to find a light that did not have a motion sensor attached to it.  I will install a switch inside the chicken coop.

I was taking my sprayer tank off the tractor when I noticed that a bolt had come undone holding one of the tank straps in place.  I lifted the empty tank off the three point hitch and wanted to attach my quick hitch back onto the three point.  I needed to take off the upper arm but I could not remove the pin completely due to poor tractor design.  The power actuator arms needed to be lifted out of the way.  I started up the tractor and lifted the arms.  I heard a pop, then the upper arm fell to the ground.  I had not pushed the pin back into place and the actuator arm hit the pin and broke the cast iron collar.  It is part of the tractor, a large part, near impossible to replace!  It is horrible.  Now I cannot use the box blade or the sprayer or the mower or the most important post hole digger.  I am dead in the water.  I the tractor onto the trailer and took it over to Packy Doherty welding to get it repaired.  I sure hope he can fix it!  I also picked up 136 pieces of 16 foot long 2×6 boards for the corral.  My fancy screw/bolts will be here next week.  I need that tractor to pull apart the old corral and dig 30 post holes!  Then move gravel to the holes so we can set all the railroad ties into gravel.  I will be helpless without it. 

To top the evening off I lost five chickies!  I have no idea why they are dying.  I raised the heat lamp considerably.  Maybe I am over heating them.  A couple of them don’t look so good either.  I will check on them in the morning but I expect to lose at least two more.  This sucks. 
Broken three point upper hitch on tractor.  Tractor Dead!!!

Baby chickens round 2!

Another dozen babies.

Well we did it again, more baby chickens.  I had to make up for killing ten of the first dozen by asphyxiation.  Saturday, Annmarie went in to town and picked up the babies I had ordered.  I brought the brooder back into the house and put it in the dining room.  The two live chicks from the first batch are now out in the chicken coop in the baby area.  They can even go outside into the baby Fort Knox grassy area if they so desire.  Basically, its a  baby chicken paradise.  I sprayed more weeds on Saturday, another 100 gallons of 2-4-D for a total applied this year of 425 gallons.  I had Annmarie pick me up some Milestone, which is a different chemical herbicide that will kill the thistles.  They are holding out and look like they might survive their chemical warfare battle.  I upped the ante and got a better poison. 

I need to let the 2-4-D work so I am taking a break from the spraying for a couple of weeks.  I am moving on to the corral.  I drove over to Hermiston today looking for 24 inch metal gates to go inside my cow chute.  No such luck, it is looking like I may have to have them custom made!  This sucks, but it might just have to happen.  I found railroad ties.  Amazingly Payless lumber still had quite a few.  I picked up two bundles for a total of 32.  I calculated the corral could be built with 30, not a lot of wiggle room but I think I can make it work.  I need to clear all the grass and break out the tape measure and string and mark the entire pattern out on the ground then I can use spray paint and mark all the gates and holes.  Once the holes are marked I will hook up the post hole digger to the tractor and dig them.  I want to disassemble the existing enclosure so I can reset all the posts in gravel.  This will also make it easier to shrink the chute width.  I have a friend coming over next week to help out and I would like to be able to set all the posts on that day.  I will need another load of gravel brought in also.  It will need to be ordered tomorrow so there is plenty on hand.  I stopped and picked up some flexible drain hose also.  I will get Phil to dig a drainage ditch in the barn lot by the horses enclosure.  This will necessitate some gutters but I think it will help keep the mud down immensely.
Zeke has a front leg injury and has been limping for several days.  We have been forcing him to be inactive and keeping him on the overhead run so he cannot roam the place.  He has not been impressed.  The limp is getting better.