It didn’t go as planned

Cook top ready for repair

upper gate tight and rock jack filled

I had a plan.  It was a good plan.  Mr. President was coming out to the house today at 0800.  We were going to sort out the two steers and move them into the upper prime pasture, then sort off all the butcher sheep to the same pasture.  This would then allow us to turn the new ram in with the ewes.  Plus, we were going to sort off the no scrotal sack ram, Easy Peasy, then the front lawn could be mowed.  The repair guy was coming at 1300 for the cook top.
So at 0500 it started going South. It started to pour down rain, then after having a conversation with Annmarie it was decided I would need to move the horses and alpaca before I could move the cows and then I needed to move the ram before sorting the sheep. 
Mr. President arrived and we went out, Annmarie had let the horses into the front yard.  We then moved the alpaca into the orchard, this went fairly smoothly as both dogs were in play.  Mouse was on the 30 foot leash. He does better and we were going to move sheep and cows so I figured it would be better to start off with the leash.  I threw out a few leafs of hay in the front barn lot for the cows to entice them into the barn lot.  The only thing left was to go get the cows.  We went by Donna’s house and opened the gate for the cows.  As we passed the irrigation pond I noticed a bunch of moss in the pond.  This was guaranteed to plug up the intake on my pump screen.  I need to get some kind of chemical to put the hurt on this situation.  We went down and I attempted to get the cows.  I walked all over the lower field and hillside.  Zeke thought he knew better and had the cows going every which way.  The bull just wanted to holler at the other bulls across the road and not move.  Mouse wanted to chase every thing.  I kept stopping and making each dog listen.  Each command had to be preceded by the dog’s name.  I keep getting them used to working independently with different verbal commands for each dog.  It’s a difficult concept to get used to.  After Zeke screwed up a few times I had to take Mouse off the safety leash and turn him loose in the trees to go after the cows.  He does much better, he is far more aggressive with the cows and takes no crap.  He will grab their tails and bite them on the backs of the knees when they don’t listen.  We finally got them through the first set of fences and out of the school house pasture.
  We stopped to lower the creek crossing and install the ground level cable.  The bull should not be able to lift the panels out of the creek.  We shut the lower gate and went on top of the hill to close that gate.  I had not filled the rock jack yet so we had to spend 45 minutes walking large rocks back and forth to the jack to fill it up.  The rocks kept getting heavier the longer we went on.  Now the cows are locked out of the lower pasture.  The cows have left the lower pasture and are in the vehicle area on their own.  As we stop by the irrigation pond I come up with the brilliant idea to pull the irrigation dam out and let the moss get washed away.  It took two of us to pull the metal gate out of the way.  The water roared through the 2 foot culvert.  It cleared out 75% of the moss in the pond and took almost 10 minutes to empty the pond.  We meandered up toward the barn lot and pushed the cows into the barn lot, it only took a couple of tries.  We sorted off the steers within ten minutes.  It was not too awful, but we needed a spot for the steers so we placed them in the area with the horse stalls.  I called the ram into the back barn lot then we dropped both panels over each end of the ram pasture.  We went and got the sheep and placed them in the ram pasture,  Mouse and Zeke did very well.  It was already 1130 so lunch was in order.  I told Mr. President we could move the steers after lunch,
as it seemed reasonable. 
While eating lunch Sarah calls me to say there is a cow in the front yard, as she is talking to me it runs by our living room window and I hear an exclamation from my partner!  As we were figuring out how to tackle this problem, the second steer leaps into the front yard.   The horses got moved into the third area of the sorting corral and the cows chased into the other two areas of the corral.  We then moved gates around to get the cows into the barn lot.  We tried multiple times to get them into the upper prime field without success, until one finally jumped through the fence.  Damn cows!  I took Zeke and ran down half the field trying to cut the cow off before it joined up with the herd.  No such luck.  Momma found her 12 month old big baby boy!!  So now we had to spend a couple of hours patching and restretching the fence.  We added wooden stays and two more metal T-posts and made the fence animal proof.  I would be surprised if one animal of any kind could get through the fence now.  Repair guy called at 1330, he could not make it and needed to reschedule. 
Annmarie had taken Zeke and Mouse to get the sheep into the barn and start the sorting process.  I went to help after finishing the fence and paying Mr. President.  Halfway through the process our local metal fabricator appeared in the barn to look at our back garden gate we needed made.  I asked him how he knew we were in the barn.  He said he could hear us from the driveway.  Annmarie took him so he would know what we wanted.  Sarah and I sorted.  The no scrotal sack but two testicle boy is too small to wean off  of his mom yet.  We kept 38 ewes to be bred and the other 50 lambs got sorted out, that is a lot of lamb!!  The new ram was so happy!  He just kept running around trying to find a willing ewe, none of them were having any of it initially. 
So this weekend we will have to redo the cows.  Most likely we will put the steers in the corral for about a week with food and water to get them used to not being with their mommas every day.  Hopefully that will help.  I also changed out two of the gate latches with new horseshoe latches.  Our lawn is incredibly high but Mr. President said he will come tackle it on Friday.  I sure hope the weather allows this miracle to happen. 

Look at that beautiful fence repair!

New ram!

Our new Dorper/Katahdin cross 1 yr old ram

Today was the day we went to get our new ram!  All three of us loaded into the pickup for a three hour drive.  I had to spend 45 minutes unloading tools and trash out of the pickup before we left.  Plus making the pen in the back of the pickup for the ram to ride home in. 
His name is Oreo, this is the second ram named Oreo we have owned and we did not name either one.  He is hand tamed and we can rub all over him he is so friendly.  The people we bought him from were great.  He got wormed just before going into the pickup.  The ride to our house was stress free.  He rode great.  We did get some funny looks on the freeway as people passed us.  You would think they don’t know what a hair sheep looks like.  Unloading was a breeze, I just backed the pickup up to a sheep compost pile, dropped the tailgate and opened the fence up and he walked out.  We are going to leave him in the barn lot for a few days.  On Wednesday we will sort the sheep, we need to take out the one nutter baby ram and a couple of whethers to keep him company.  We will stash those guys in the back barn lot for a few weeks.  We are going to sort off the baby girls we are going to sell for meat.  They should be old enough to wean off their mommas.  All of the meat sheep will go into the upper prime pasture.  We also have to sort off the two oldest calves.  They are over a year old and are still stealing milk from the mommas that are getting ready to birth their new calves.  Those two steers will also go in with the meat sheep in the upper prime pasture. 

Sheep got out for a stroll

Herbicides are a glorious thing

I am going to have to hook up the mower to the tractor by this weekend and mow the entire property.  Their has been so much rain that the entire place is growing into one big grass patch. 
My herbicide spraying is starting to become visible.  It looks like I should be good for another couple of months before the next round of spraying. 
I really want to get some fence built but it just keeps getting pushed back.  I have been spending most of my spare time getting grandma’s house ready for Sarah.  I just about have the vinyl floor installed in the bedroom.  The painting is progressing well. 

I have still not mowed our front yard!  On the plus side I did pickup our mower four days ago from the repair shop and it does actually run.  I tested it today when I pulled it out of the back of the pickup (so we could go get the ram).  It had not been there very long!!  Now the mower just needs to chop down the 2 foot tall grass that is populating our front yard. 

Farm 1, Predators 0

Last night I set out the trap. I had seen a possum the other morning so I knew something was roaming the farm. There is now one dead possum. My chickens are safe for now. I will keep the trap out for a few more days before putting it away. I sprayed Roundup all over the driveway to take it back from the weeds. I will need to rinse out the tank before spraying another few loads of 2-4-D on the lower pasture. 
I had to fix the yard fence again as Zeke has figured out a way out again. I think he is jumping through the fence strands. I had to add three posts, tighten it and then add an upper strand and take loose wire to tire all the strands together. This way Zeke cannot spread them apart while jumping through them.  Now I have to wait 7-10 days for the spray results to start showing.  Tomorrow it’s back over to grandma’s house to get more work done on it 
Marshmallow baited trap

Fence fixed hopefully

Baby radish peeking through already!

Spraying officially beginning

Spraying upper prime field, just in time

Pump pond full now just got to fix the inlet seal


Kitchen cupboards with doors

A couple of new shelves and pull out shelves

I spent the day trying to get the irrigation pump up and running.  This sounds easy but since there are NO local stores that sell anything to do with farming irrigation I had to drive to Hermiston.  First, I had to remove the clamshell clamp on holding the inlet pipe onto the pump housing.  It is made out of cast aluminum and I cracked half of it last year tightening it.  I figured I would remove, it drive to Hermiston and get another one at the irrigation store. We have no local irrigation stores any more. I drove to Hermiston only to find out that I should have taken some pictures of the setup before tearing it apart. The place was very busy, I am timely for once, so when my turn came I was informed that my part was obsolete. Very obsolete even ancient. So a suggestion was made for me to go across the street to the custom metal fabrication shop and get it welded. I made it across four lanes of traffic and talked with someone. It will cost the same for aluminum or stainless steel. I opted for steel. He only wanted to fix the broken half. I opted to redo the whole thing, about $300.  It will be done this week. I also bought 30 gaskets to go inside the irrigation pipe for a paltry $100. As soon as I have the collar I can fire up the pump and see if it works!! While in Hermiston I tried to get my plastic sprayer part. The store sold the sprayers but did not carry the part. I told the clerk that it needed to be remedied. When I got home my handle and the spare I ordered had arrived. I knocked the pin out and beat it back in place with the handle now aligned. I was able to start spraying Friday evening until dark. On Saturday I finished spraying 2-4-D, 220 gallons of mixed spray. I just have the lower fields to do now. The next thing is spraying Roundup on the driveway and fence lines. 
Our master bedroom walk in closet is done!!  It turned out great there is so much more storage space that we are unsure what to do with it. Annmarie loves it. Our downstairs cupboards are almost done. They just need knobs but the cabinet guy wanted to know where she wanted them exactly. 
Walk in bedroom closet done

lots of space

My corner

The shoe rack

Creature feature

The lawnmower is still not working.  When I attempt to start it the sound is just like random gunfire.  It never really takes off and runs, it gets almost to the point where it will then a loud explosion emanates from the mower.  I am going to have to load it into the pickup and take it into people who actually know what they are doing.  Our yard is past the mowing stage and into the weedeater stage.  If I let it go another two weeks we could make hay out of it.  I may be forced to run the sheep into the yard for a few days to knock it down, 88 sheep can take it down in a few days. The real problem with this solution is I have to keep the dogs inside most of the time, a situation that the puppy is not going to like.  Also, this leaves lots of fresh sheep manure all over the yard and every dog likes to eat it and roll in it.  This causes lots of doggy Nirvana and much eweing from us. 

I did repair the broken step with scraps laying around the shop.  I am a firm believer in repurposing as much as possible.  It is very functional and cheap!!  Unless I build metal steps I will have to rebuild these about every 6-8 years. 

Step repaired

I am about to wage war on the chicken killers again.  For the last week Annmarie has been hearing scratching at our back fence in the middle of the night.  My mother-in-law stated that some animal tried to drown one of her cats last week.  I had plans to start the WAR tonight with a live trap and keep up the battle until the all clear is sounded.  We were not sure what type of critter was causing the mayhem.  At O’Dark Thirty when I went to work yesterday I spotted a possum on the road.  So now we know what we are up against.  Extra large marshmallows are going to be the cage bait.  I am hoping the cats will stay away from this.  If not then it takes about a week to teach all the cats to stay away from the trap.  I will pick up the trap and shake it when the cats are inside.  They don’t like it and when released run away.  They almost never get caught twice.  Time will tell but I intend to triumph. 

Spring 2016 on the farm.  I never get tired of the view.

I really just wanted to spray.

It is broken!

Chickens don’t stick to the plan

Sunday was the day I was going to get caught up with the outside home chores.  Well not caught up, more like on schedule since there are always more chores than I have time to complete.  Annmarie and I had walked along the fields looking at water levels and grass height.  It is time to spray the upper prime field with 2-4-D.  I need to kill the broadleaf weeds and give the grass some room to fill in.  The field looks good just too many weeds.  My plan was to hook the sprayer up on the tractor and spray weeds!  A simple basic plan, hard for anything to go wrong. 
I was seriously mistaken.  Annmarie tells me I should plan better and anticipate the hiccups.  I like to think that I can just hop in on the tractor and do it!  I am all about doing it!  I love tasks and lists and things that can be accomplished in a day or less.  Probably one of the reasons I love working in the Emergency Room.  So, I ignore this sage advice every year. I did put the sprayer away into the machine shop this fall.  I did not stop the cows from going into said machine shop.  They broke the weed torch and may have injured the sprayer also. 
I backed the tractor into the shop and drug the sprayer tank over to the tractor.  I cannot use my quick connect on the tractor as the sprayer needs some welding modifications done for this to be possible.  So I got in place without too much difficulty.  The tank is pretty easy to move around when it is empty.  I noticed immediately that the power cord/switch wire was badly degraded in one place for about 8 inches.  I was storing the extra wire under the tractor seat.  It looks like the seat going up and down cut the wire and stripped off the insulator.  I had to wrap the individual wires with vulcanizing rubber tape then tape the two wires together with the same wrap and covered that with electrical tape.  It is sealed up well now and will tolerate moisture.  Once that was done I attempted to fill the tank with water but it kept running out the bottom.  So I lifted the tank up with the tractor and noticed that the filter I had installed underneath the tank was broken.  When I winterized the tank I forgot to unscrew the filter cap and empty the water out of the plastic cap.  It broke in the freeze. 

So I jumped into the car and buzzed into Pendleton, found what I wanted at the store and made it halfway to the checkout register when I realized I had left my wallet at home.  Now this was an actual decision I made first thing in the morning.  I have lost my wallet twice now while doing tractor work as it tends to ride up out of my back pocket after several hours on the tractor.  So I decided it would be safer to not carry it that day.  I had to hide my stash of stuff, drive home, get my wallet and drive back to pay for the needed supplies.  Once this was installed I turned on the spray pump and heard the pump kick on!  I then played with the recirculation line to get the pressure regulated.  Except I could not get any spray to come out of the wand or the three jets on the spray bar.  Nothing I did worked.  There is this fancy pressure regulating valve that I figured out was the most likely culprit.  I took it apart three times trying to figure it out.  I ended up back on the internet looking for an owners manual.  I found one that said I should have a plastic handle on the end of the valve that allows me to open the valve when I want to spray. I remembered this step in the spray process once I read about it.  On the off chance the store had this part, I bought the sprayer from them, I ran to town for a third time.  No go they did not have it.  I found it on the internet and ordered two.  I now order a spare of everything. 

I had to chase the hen off the nest.

I had wasted 6 hours trying to get the sprayer working.  The day was perfect, sunny with no wind it was ideal for spraying.  Instead I started installing two wires on top of our front fence, one would be a ground and the other one hot so we could keep Zeke, adult border collie, in the front yard.  I installed the wires and was working on Sprout proofing the side fence when I heard Sarah hollering.  She was out on the old house porch in flip flops doing some project painting.  She had fallen off the steps.  The middle one has been broken for over half a year.  The puppy chews on it incessantly and has worked it loose.  She reinjured her bad ankle.  There was a lot of speeches on the necessity of appropriate work attire.  I am not sure that the timeliness of my remarks is always good, but I seem to have trouble controlling myself when it comes to “teaching moments”.

My parts should be here by the end of the week.  Sarah is back to using crutches and her ankle brace, and the fence works at keeping Zeke inside the yard.  More work is still needed to keep Sprout in the yard. 

Garden one step closer

Future garden

Back patio coming together

It is really happening.  We are going to get a garden planted and in at our house for the first time since we have moved back.  We always did the garden at Grandma’s house.  She always loved to garden and there was always too much food for us to bother with planting our own.  We told her that when we made her elevated garden it would not be wasted.  Once she died, we would move it to our house and continue to use it.  She never wanted anything to go to waste.  So today at 0500 a friend came over and we drove the tractor and trailer into town and picked up all the horse troughs and got them loaded onto the trailer.  It went better than I expected.  Annmarie suggested we use the heavy duty straps instead of the chain I tried first.  The straps worked much better.  It only took us a couple of hours to get them loaded and that was with a 15 minute drive each way.  It took me almost 20 minutes just to get the trailer over into the ram pasture.  The gate is too close to the culvert and I have been taking dirt from that area creating a small cliff.  I had to back the trailer in through the gate and it took about 10 tries to get it right. 

I decided to add some bricks to our back deck area before I toss on the paver sand and form a solid slab.  Hopefully, next year we can get the clear roof over this deck.  We will be able to go outside during the summer rainstorms!  I love the smell after a good rainstorm.  I used up about 2/3 of our brick pile so there isn’t a lot left to work with.  I think I want to install one more pad where you step off the steps over by the heat pump.  It’s a high traffic area.  Tomorrow bright and early we are going to unload the troughs and place them in the back yard. After that is done then I need to get a custom gate and fence built over by the back porch to keep the sheep and dogs out of the garden area.

Brick pile is a lot smaller now

Zeke is still jumping the front fence.  I have not had time to put up the two hot wires so he is discouraged from jumping.  The hot wires would not work if he was not cheating.  He jumps up and pushes himself off of the top railing. 

I am still looking for house jacks.  Home Depot does not carry them, color me surprised.  So I will be calling the local rental tool store in the hopes that I can rent them..