Barn clean out progressing.

New fence, staining in progress.

I tried out the stain on the fence yesterday. I am really liking the color and am excited to get it finished. Of course I cannot finish it for a couple of weeks. The instructions say do not use in direct sunlight and between 50-90 degrees surface temperature. Since the fence sits directly in the sun and temperatures will be over a 100 starting tomorrow the fence is on hold. 
I have been thinking about extending the side fence between the yard and the orchard.  I like the new fence look so much that if I just restretched the woven wire fence then I can just attach the three rails up and make it look the same. I am really liking the concept. 
I think its a grasshopper.

I have been working on spraying the star thistle.  Milestone and 2-4-D in the tractor sprayer.  I went a little heavy on the spray.  Unfortunately, the stuff is like gold.  Every 55 gallons is around $100.  Its painful to spray onto the hillside.  The worst part is the tractor is a lot higher than the mule and it is a lot easier to tip over.  I almost rolled it three times, I was wearing my seat belt but that is not very comforting when you are on three wheels and lowering the bucket is the only thing saving you.  I finally decided that taking Annmarie’s advice was prudent and started going up and down the hill.  In the rough rocky areas I used the hand wand, see I can learn! Another couple of spray tanks and I will be done.  I had to get up at 0400 to beat the heat but with the weather getting into six figures now, I am just holding off on all spraying.  On a positive note the star thistle I did spray was wilting on day 2.  I am adding picking rocks on the back hillside to my to do list.  Its the little six inch rocks that get under the back tire and rock the tractor just enough!.  I actually miss the huge rocks.  

Overhead walkway extended another ten feet.

We have been working on using up the old wood from the granary roof and floor supports.  Unfortunately, all the nails need to be removed from the wood before we can reuse it.  It is a slow painful process.  I want to extend out the walkway over the old jug area.  It will be used as a storage area. Plus I need the space in the hay storage room.  We should be getting more hay this year and I will need the space.  We also ripped out four of the old sheep jugs.  I want to install another feeder against the wall where the jugs used to be.  I just keep adding projects!  Eventually, I will be done with the big projects.  People ask me why I do it.  It is a ton of work, we spend around $15k a year on the farm getting it back into shape and don’t make it back yet.  It seems like a waste from the outside.  I enjoy it, it is my hobby and what keeps me grounded.  There is always something to do and I can see the fruits of my labor.  Compared to what the place looked like when we first moved here it is amazing to see all the changes.  I hope that when we retire the place will be perfect and in great working condition. 

Barn floor contents out behind barn.

Barn gutters and horse area done!

Horse area framed and in progress. Zeke was supervising.

Things are really starting to progress around the farm.  My nephew is staying for a few days with Donna and is earning some spending money by helping us out around the farm.  Today we finished up the gutters on the barn and filled in the drainage ditch with gravel.  I decided to tackle the horse area after finding the entire wooden stall walls chewed up and on the ground.  The horses needed something that was impervious to cribbing.  In English, that is biting, the horses are literally chewing the walls apart.  My biggest problem once I decided on using the left over roofing was figuring out how to attach a support structure.  Luckily, there are lots of 2×6 boards left over.  Its pretty amazing to think we got the corral out of them, the front fence and now the new horse enclosure.  There may even be enough to frame out an Alpaca three sided lean to.  I had Heath do all the impact wrench utilization while I did all the measuring and cutting.  We got the entire enclosure done and got the center divider reattached to a solid board.  I just need to get the eyelet hangers screwed in so the horse feeders will stay in the corner. 
The pickup has been dead for a week so this morning we removed the battery and sent it to town with Annmarie.  The hope is it is just a battery and will be an easy fix.  She called later and said they tested it and instead of cranking 800 ma it cranked 10 ma.  So a new battery and some battery terminal cleaners are in order.  That will be a big relief if it just cranks over.  Heath is lined up to start digging out the barn tomorrow.  I figure it will take him a couple days.  I need to spray some weeds on the back hillside.  Annmarie called to say she picked up the stain and a new truck battery.  So now the new front fence needs to be stained.  While on the phone Annmarie mentioned a broken piece of concrete that appeared next to the bridge after we removed the yard fence.  I said yes it broke, she wants it repoured.  We are still in discussion, as it is a low priority for me.  I will be ordering the Alpaca shearing blades tomorrow and working on the irrigation lines after I spray weeds.  It is all starting to come together. 

A completed stall.  We are all done here, I just need to put wall anchors in to keep feeders in corners.

Barn gutters done. 

Front fence done!

Front fence completed, just needs stained.

I know I said the fence was done, but it is really just built.  Some would say it is not completed until it has been stained.  No man would say this, to a man the fence is completed!  See it standing tall and majestic with working gates!  It is completed, a veritable work of art!  But alas, I will be staining it soon after Annmarie gets back.  As an added bonus, the bridge will be getting stained at the same time so I can kill two birds with one stone.  Lee came out with a crew today and we got the fence in and about half the gutters on the barn.  I should be able to finish up the gutters in about three hours, should being the operative word. 

The fence turned out really nice.  I am actually very happy with it and like the way it looks.  I think Annmarie is going to pick a red stain and it will go with the trim and roof of our house nicely.  It will be pretty sharp looking.  I went to the dreaded Home Depot and bought cedar caps and solar light caps for the fence posts, every other post is a solar light with both posts next to the main gate lit.  They won’t have gotten enough sunlight to charge the battery today but I expect the full effect to be there tomorrow night.  I did install a gate for the propane guy to fill our propane tank.  He will be happy.  There was a pleasant surprise today, as I was messing around inside the trash can enclosure (aka outhouse building) I heard a momma bird in one of the multiple houses I attached inside.  We have not had a single bird nest in any of the six houses since I built the out house. This made me smile and gave me hope for the bird houses I am going to put on top of the corral posts.  Annmarie comes home tomorrow so I asked Mr. President (my summer helper) to come out and help me rip out the chain link fence in the front yard first thing tomorrow.  He can only help till noon, his band needs the practice more than I need the help.  It will be a treat if we can get the fence all torn out before I go and pick her up at the airport.  I will also finish cleaning up out front and move the tractor.  I will have finished the front fence and the corral while she was gone.  Next up is a functioning irrigation system. 

Corral done enough.

It is done, almost…

My help came in spades today.  A young man who is out of school for the summer told his mother he needed some money.  She said she may know a person who is willing to pay for some hard manual labor.  He came out this morning and mowed for 4.5 hours!  I had more work for him digging out post holes, they need to cleaned of all the loose dirt.  He said he needed to get home.  His mother said he was dragging tired by the time he got home!  I told him digging out the barn was the next job and it was going to take 16 hours.  You would have thought I told him a month.  He seemed amazed that something could take that long.  Oh, to be young again. 

Phil and I tackled the corral.  I wanted to get done.  The ten foot gates had to have a 3/4 inch hold drilled through a railroad tie.  I do not have a 3/4 inch drill.  We ended up using a 1 inch drill and it still took forever.  We finally got all the holes drilled and all the gates hung.  I have one gate that needs a cow panel attached so the sheep and baby calves cannot get out.  I also did not get the connecting wires across the top of the chute ties.  I need a bigger washer and a 5/8 inch drill 14 inches long to get the holes done easily.  There are 14 ties I want to connect at the top with cables to prevent them from spreading once the cows start fighting in the chute. Oh, and I need Packy to come measure my chute for two custom gates that he needs to manufacture. I also want him to build a new pump bracket for my sprayer so I can use my quick connect on the tractor.  I also want a couple of hooks and a holder for my spray wand.  It will be a lot easier to use with those improvements. 

It is totally useable now.  No animals can be trapped in the chute with a gate.  We could slip 2×4 between the posts to make a temporary gate.  It wouldn’t be fast to remove but it would stop them from leaving the chute.  I am hoping to have Packy out in the next two weeks.  I may even get him to make a gate for the new fence and make a gate for Donna.  I have several jobs for him. 

Phil and I were able to go down to Donna’s and chase the momma cow into the lower field and I snagged the dead calf.  I drove it up to the bone pile.  The scavengers will be happy.  If not then the bugs will be happy. 

I even scraped all the dirt around the corral and cleaned up all the junk next to the driveway and put it away or moved it away.  It looks very nice.  I am considering scraping it down further and putting gravel every where.  That will wait as I will need about three loads of gravel to accomplish that objective.  Annmarie told me I was on irrigation duty after next week.  Once the front fence is up all my efforts have to go to getting the irrigation pump up and going.  We will be able to irrigate the lower pasture and the orchard from the front creek.  It is a grand plan and one which I will strive to meet.  I want to do some other things and this must be done first before I can go play with other projects.  I have a new fence line I want to install on the back hillside, and one on the lower pasture.  The place is starting to come together.  They are using a rock picker to get the rocks out of the old CRP field and I asked that they dump them in a couple of locations so I could pick rocks for the new fence rock wall.  I also need to order a rock hammer so I can shape the rocks. 

Ram pasture all mowed and beautiful.

Corral closing in on finish line.

If you look really close you can see all five gates I hung.

I could not ignore it, I had to go outside and work on the corral.  My personal goal was to be done by Sunday and if I took Saturday off because I had no helper it would put me behind.  I spent two hours digging holes for the front fence.  We filled three holes with water in the hopes that the tractor could dig them easier.  Nope, it did not work.  I still had to beat them up with a breaker bar then dig them out and back to breaker bar.  I hung five gates by myself.  All of them Powder River gates so I was able to set them up on blocks and just screw in the through the hinge holes.  No drilling a hole and screwing in a peg and then adjusting it ten times to get the distance correct.  Only two of the gates were new, we reused all the old gates.  I applied lots of WD40 and the old gates were just perfect.  I may find some machine oil that will stay in place longer than WD40.  My helper is supposed to be out on Sunday. 

I went down and checked on the cows again.  I saw both babies and they were in different spots then yesterday.  I watched them latch on to a teat.  I did not wait for the milk moustache.  My mother-in-law called in the late evening, one of the calves had gotten stuck in her front yard and was not doing well.  She went down to the edge of the yard to help it out and the mother panicked and charged her plastic fence.  The cow broke right through the fence and almost got a horn into Donna.  The calf subsequently died.  I checked on them when I got home but could not get any closer than 20 feet.  I opened up the lower pasture gate and am hoping the cows just go into that pasture.  I will go down in the morning and grab the deceased baby and take it to the bone yard.  Hopefully, this will not be that difficult.