Water pressure woes.

We have been having temperature and pressure fluctuations while people are showering. It seems to only be occurring in the bathroom. I decided I would try and fix it even though it involves plumbing. I had used vinegar to clean out the keurig maker last week I figured it was time to do the same thing to our hot water heater.  My parents had a sump pump and I cut a short hose in half and made a double female ended connector and a regular short hose. I used two five gallon buckets and three gallons of white vinegar. It was pretty loud once I got the vinegar recirculating so I closed the laundry room door and had to open the back door so the vinegar fumes didn’t make me pass out. I let it circulate for an hour. Then closed it all up and blew out the hot water line into the deep sink.  We got some stuff out but not a ton. I also changed the shower head in the bathroom. Tonight when I took a shower the water temperature was great!  Very consistent throughout the entire event. The water pressure was still an issue. I need to change the system in line filter and then see how it feels. I suspect I will have to tear apart the bathroom faucet!!  The Home Depot junk valve is still haunting me. I will do the filter first because it is easy!!
I had to put another bale of hay out for the cows. Unfortunately, there is snow on the ground and my little tractor could hardly move the bale. This was exacerbated by the stupid bull getting on the other side and pushing back!!  I had a very hard time getting the hay to its final destination I will have to start moving the feed spot closer to the hay stack. I counted the large bales of hay, we have 20 left. Five for every month will get us to April 1 2016.

Winter is here

Mother Nature did not dissapoint, winter is here!  Three days ago we got four inches of snow. It is hard to believe I was walking around in a short sleeve shirt less than a week ago. Now we feed all that hay that got put up this summer. We have to feed two bales to the sheep because it is so cold. I think we are down around forty sheep now, after selling off 23. I should have another 11 ready in the late spring. Come March we will begin the search for a new ram. 

Now that daylight savings has struck we are always feeding in the dark. I doubled up on the head lamps with great success.  The child thought it looked ridiculous but it’s all about the lumens. It worked very well. We are taking mouse to the barn when we feed. He is staying away from the sheep and when they  get excited and start jumping around he runs over and stands under Zeke’ legs. No sheep will get him there!  He knows sit and down well. Knows no, kinda knows off but doesn’t like it. Kinda knows phooey but doesn’t like it cause it’s disguised as a no. He will go to the front door to potty do you have to watch him. No more random squats. Another two weeks we should have him potty trained. He is crate trained at night. Will go 6-7 hrs in his crate at night. He will sit briefly for his food dish. Everyone else has to wait for go signal to eat. He will come for me about 75% of the time outside. Not very responsive to return command when he is outside. I have been treating him nonstop so my success rate is higher. 

I was out in the barn laying out straw for the sheep and horses and found another stack of eggs from the hen who hatched her babies in the barn. Another two dozen eggs stashed between two straw bales. I will have to throw them out now. Who knows how long those have been there. 

Last sheep sale of the year.

The cows do know it is winter. There is no more feed available out by the vehicles so I had to start feeding the cows. Unfortunately, I have not picked up my special hay hooks to go on a chain to allow me to pull the large bales off the stack with my little tractor. So instead I climbed on top of the hay pile, sat on the second bale and attempted to push the top bake off with my legs. It took a few tries but I managed to get it off the stack. Since I was already up there I knocked two more bales on the end off. They were much harder as they were lower and kept rocking back into my legs. I didn’t think I was going to get them to fall over.  But, perseverance won. Now I have a few weeks more to go get my hay hooks. 
I have been super busy at my various jobs so I have been having to feed the cows at night. As long as Zeke runs interference and guards the hay it works out pretty slick. He has to keep the cows away from the hay stack while I fish out a large bale with the tractor and then push it across the ground to the feeding area. 
Feeding the cows by tractor light.

I have a few small bales of hay for the alpacas stashed over here. They don’t use much hay. 

We sold the last of our for sale sheep six days ago on Saturday. A very friendly, very pregnant ewe and a non related intact ram lamb who was only about three months old.  We had two Rams. I banded the second one but his balks were huge!  I could only get one rubber band around them so I hope it works. 
Machine shop hay pile lower and alpaca hay in place.

Is it almost thanksgiving?

One week ago today this was the weather. I figured at this rate I was never going to have to feed the sheep.  The horses were getting the occasional hay feeding as they are the most pampered animal on the place. I was outside doing chores in a short sleeve tshirt. I love the mild weather but dread the spring as the bugs are always worse!  What good does it do to be ready for winter if it isn’t coming?  Was all that planning and prepping for naught?  It looks like I should be out building fence. Luckily we are still getting rain so my new planted field is getting moisture. 

Upper prime done!

Upper prime pasture all planted and ready for spring.


Ram all deboned.

Ram ready for freezer two hours later.

It is done, the upper prime pasture is all ready for spring.  We just need the correct temperature, moisture and optimum growing conditions to make it a success.  Time will tell if I got it right.  It took me two hours this morning to run the harrow over the entire field.  Annmarie puppy sat while I did that first thing.  I then puppy sat for most of the day while paying bills and doing inside chores. 
Late afternoon I had to run out in the rain and wind and strip the ram carcass of any meat so I could grind it up with our kitchen aid.  Surprisingly easy to hack off the meat when you are just going to grind it all up any ways.  It goes a lot faster than I anticipated, only 30 minutes.  It took longer to clean and skin.  I tried to take the puppy with me outside but Zeke took off after the chickens, tearing around the coop and rolling chickens this way and that way along the run.  I was holding the puppy in my arms and hollering loudly with multiple swear words.  Zeke finally came over and laid down, not very contrite but he did comply.  I set the puppy down on the ground and he ran straight for the house!  I had scared him by hollering at Zeke.  I caught him twice running back and finally just had to put him on the breeze porch with Zeke.  He did fine up on the porch. 
I went to feed the cows a new bale of hay and had some difficulty with the bull.  As soon as the bale was out of the machine shed the bull started attacking it with his horns.  He has learned to tear up the bale this way.  It is much more efficient and fun than just eating it calmly.  The problem was I still needed to move the bale over to the feeder.  This is done by me pushing it with the tractor.  The bull was on the opposite side and once I started moving the bale he took that as a challenge and started ramming the bale and pushing back.  My poor little tractor was having a hard time moving the bale and the bull all at the same time.  Swearing at the bull did not make him waiver for a second.  He just kept pushing back.  Once I got the bale into its proper position and quit pushing it the bull really went to town on the bale, tearing it up with his horns and prancing all around.  I had to shoo everyone away so I could cut the strings and get the feeding panels around the bale.  I so need to get the hay hooks I requested for the tractor.  That was the last easy bale, all others will need to be pulled down off of a three high stack.  My little tractor cannot reach the top bale with its bucket.  I have a week to get the hooks. 
I ground up the entire ram and will now use it for summer sausage.  I will give it a try next week.  I expect good things from the sausage as the meat is pretty strong.   I did not have to add as much pork fat as I thought I would because the ram had more fat on him then I anticipated. 

Fencing deals.

Five human gates and 25 T posts.

Yesterday was a busy day.  Mouse got to go on another car ride.  My mother found out about a friend of her selling gates, panels and fencing supplies.  It was a great deal!  I saved over 50% off on everything.  These are the things that I will need eventually but don’t currently have them allotted to any one location.  Now that I say that, one four foot gate needs to go down by the old apple tree in the orchard.  I have a gate opening all ready installed in the fence it just needs a gate.  A cut to fit panel is wired in place now.  I also want to install one in the back fence of the orchard so you can walk out onto the back hillside without having to climb the fence.  I picked up five small gates so that leaves three more for somewhere on the farm.  Luckily for me, even our tractor will go through a four foot gate.  I won’t be putting the people gates in places I need to actually get through with a tractor.  In the bottom pump pasture, (new name just created) I want to fence that off next year.  I think it is only 2-2.5 acres and I want to plant Sainfoin as a test feed crop.  Once established it comes back like alfalfa, but it is a legume so it will bind nitrogen into the soil.  I really need a manure spreader.  I could spread the straw and poop from the annual barn cleaning over the pastures.  It is on my list.  I need a decent used one at a fantastic price!  No pressure in finding that.  The bottom pump pasture will need a fence alongside the top of the creek bank.  I will need a tractor gate in it down by the culvert and a people gate at the end and maybe even the side closest to the creek.  So that is four small gates and one large gate used up already.  Another large gate needs to go into the school house pasture next to the old barley field.  There is already an opening with a cow panel wired in place.  I think this may be a 16 foot opening so I would have to move one rock crib to make an appropriate sized opening for a 12 foot gate.  I need to retighten and update that same section of fence next year so moving the far sided rock crib is not that big of deal.  Plus I want to add a new fence up the back hillside down by the upper prime far fence line.  That will need a 12 foot gate.  I also wanted to subdivide the back hillside one more time down by the apple tree, another 12 foot gate needed.  I also need to install a metal gate on the upper hillside to replace a long barb wire gate that is unwieldy and hard to operate.  That leaves me with one 2 foot gate left out of all the ones I just purchased!  I now have over 20 railroad ties.  I probably need at least another ten to do all that fencing.  I will have to keep working on acquiring more.  I have over half a mile of woven wire now stashed in my fencing supply area. 
Once home, I took mouse with me to the post office.  He tried to sneak out while I was shutting the door and caught his nose between the seat and door.  He yelped and didn’t want to face the door anymore.  We then played for a couple of hours until Annmarie came home.  I then went out and planted the upper prime field with a non irrigation pasture grass mix.  I went with the plastic whirly seed spreader.  I had to twirl the handle for three hours, but I figured I saved at least an hour of fighting with the old seeder in addition to the planting time.  It was worth it.  I was walking back and forth slow and methodical but that was taking forever.  I opened up the seeder one more notch and started to fast walk across the field to get good coverage.  I had to start removing clothing due to all the sweating from the workout.  It took me three hours to get the seed spread out.  I probably would have only used 8-12 pounds of seed if I had used the seeder.  I used about 35 pounds of seed doing it by hand.  The sun was going down so I will have to use the harrow on Tuesday. 

Five 12 foot gates and 15 railroad ties.

More cheap labor.

New worker added to family.

Well we did it, we have a new puppy!  Annmarie drove 7 hours each way to pick him up on Saturday, November 28, 2015.  He is a purebred Border collie from working parents.  The breeders were going to hold him back for themselves but had things come up.  They will only sell their dogs to working farms and say they can work both cattle and sheep.  The biggest thing is being able to differentiate between cattle and sheep, they are not herded the same.   He is silver in color, bright blue eyes and only eight weeks old.  We had been talking about waiting until spring but Annmarie has more time available now and hopefully Sarah will be home soon.  This will spread out the puppy duties to ease the burden.  They are so much work!  The first couple of days our dogs didn’t want much to do with him.  Now Zeke will play with him and not growl at him nonstop.  Zeke playing with him has helped ease the burden a lot.  Otherwise, he needed a human play toy incessantly.  We did the math and with Zeke being 5 years old and it taking us 2 years to really train the puppy well. We will need a new dog every 5-7 years.  I would like to wait until the old dog has died before getting a replacement.   His name is Mouse, its color appropriate.  I needed a name I could holler out easily.  No multiple syllable names were allowed in the choosing process.  No names that started with a S or Z were allowed either.  Oh and nothing that sounded like one of our commands.  I really wanted a single syllable name, hence the choice Mouse.   It was Annmarie’s idea to call him Mouse.  He gets to sleep with us for a couple of weeks until we are sure he can hold his pee through the night then we will crate train him.  The first three nights of the crate are the worse.  The nice thing is both other dogs are crate trained so it won’t seem so foreign to him. 
He is already showing an interest in the livestock.  He tries to chase the alpaca out of our yard and he loves watching the chickens through the fence.  He just needs to not get rolled by the sheep!  The plan is to just keep him near Zeke when we go out to the barn.  Zeke is generally avoided by the sheep and he will protect both of them.  Mouse is constantly trying to grab Zeke by a leg when they play. 

Sprout is not taking to the puppy.  Its interrupting his desires and needs.