Irrigation woes

Stupid trailer won’t go through the gate

I went out this afternoon to get the pump up and going and water on the ground.  I changed out three gaskets, shortened the flexible hose about 16 inches and reattached it and found a hole in the aluminum pipe near the pump and changed it out.  I also installed six more sprinklers, risers and valves.  I was ready to make rain!  I fired up the pump, once I figured out to close the discharge valve (12 gallons of water utilized in an attempt to prime a bottomless pump tubing).  I got soaking wet but it started to work, no major leaks, looking good when 20 seconds in the 20+ year old flexible hose ripped wide open in a foot long gash and sprayed water all over the pond causing the whole pump to tip.  I quickly hit the power supply.  I was dead in the water.  I decided to go back to the house and load up more pipe for the orchard onto the pipe trailer.  Now I didn’t want to take all the unusable pipe off so I just added more to the pile.  I have had some issues getting the trailer through the narrow gates. 
Annmarie blames this on me hooking up to the trailer with the bucket and a chain.  I have been unwilling to unhook the mower and use the back hitch on the tractor.  I am a firm believer that this would not make a difference but she is not so convinced.  So I got the back axle stuck in the fence and had to use the pickup to pull it sideways 1.5 feet so it would go through the gate.  The really big obstacle is the culvert in the orchard.  It is not very wide and the trailer is 35 feet long.  I swung really ride and thought I was gonna make it!  Annmarie started to holler at me to stop, I figured the wheel would drop into the ditch and I could just pull it out with the tractor.  Nope!!  It got lodged in the end of the culvert and would not come out.  There was much mud on my face as I apologized for not listening.  We finished laying sprinkler line in the orchard and then I picked up the trailer end with the tractor.  There was a new bend in the pipe joining the two axles. I am going to have to get that fixed.  Tomorrow after work I will get a new flexible hose and fire up the pump again!  Hopefully this time everything works properly.

When the wife says stop,  you wave and keep on going!

I did say she said to “stop”?

Found this on the pipe trailer

Cows done

Two smallest victims

I spent my Sunday communing with the cows.  While Annmarie and Sarah went to church I decided to get the cows all done.  I headed out to the corral without the dogs.  I did not want the cows riled up any more and they had all night to calm down from the move.  Of course all the water and food had been eaten during the night and the cows were all at the far end of the barn lot.  I went into the barn and got a shaker stick for each arm and started herding the cows into the corral.  It only took me five minutes and a few swats with the shaky stick when the noise was not sufficient motivation to move toward the corral.  with the four different pen areas I let the animals sort themselves out while I went and grabbed tags and the banderator.  I could tell at least one of the calves was a boy.  The bull went straight for the food and everyone left him alone so I opened the chute and let him wander out.  This opened up another pen to sort into.  I managed to sort off both little calves and one of the older ones.  I didn’t need the older one but it just would not easily leave the pen.  This helped me when I crowded the calves into the corner, more warm bodies slows everyone down.  I grabbed the girl first as I only had to tag her left ear.  I could lift her off the ground and set her on her butt however when I let go with my right hand to grab the ear tagger from my right back pocket she got away! I had to catch her again but this time I was faster and got the ear tag in place. 
I needed a five minute break to apply the boy tag to my ear pliers and a double set of rubber bands to the banderator, I was ready!  I was making some short work of this task, almost like I knew what I was doing.  It was a short lived feeling.  I caught the boy calf (the bigger of the two) and set him on his butt, while reaching for the ear tag I ended up draped over his body while he ran around the pen.  I only went about eight feet before I slipped off.  I caught him one more time and could not hold him down while attempting to use any set of pliers to do anything!  I simply do not weigh enough to just pin him down to the ground.  I stepped back and decided that I needed a third hand.  So I went into the barn and got an old 1 inch lead cloth strap for a horse and proceeded to catch the calf again and again.  On the third try I got him down and got the lead knotted around all THREE feet and kept him on his side.  I was able to tag his ear and after playing pop the weasel, got both testicles inside the rubber band before letting the tension go.  Start to finish it only took me 15 minutes to get both calves completed.  I will not be setting any records but I did get it done!  I sorted off the two oldest calves and their mothers and placed them in the upper prime field with our two steers.  We don’t want the bull to get at the female calves and they are already 4 months old. 

Hogtie necessity

I spent the rest of the day working on the irrigation pipe.  I got new valves and sprinklers installed.  I put in some new gaskets.  I have a mud plug in the last five sticks on the run.  I am trying to blow it out but the last four stem pipes don’t have valves and are blowing water everywhere.  I have two really leaky joints that need new gaskets and there is a leak in the flexible hose coming off the irrigation pump.  The hose is cracked near the end so it looks like I can cut off a foot and reapply the connector and be good to go.
Job done

Irrigation progress

Zeke lording over his subjects on top of the hay pile in the barn

sprinkler pipe headed to house

Yesterday we attempted to sort cows.  This is turning out to be more of a chore than anticipated.  Annmarie and I spent over two hours traipsing around the property.  The dogs did very well but it took a while to get the cows where we needed them. We managed to finally get them pushed into the barn lot and then could not get them to push back into the corral area.  The crazy green tag cow rushed Annmarie again.  She is not safe to be around when she has a calf.  She just gets more and more aggressive every year.  So, after a fairly brief parley it was decided we will have another 300# of hamburger this fall.  We cannot risk her hurting one of us.  We decided to leave the cows on their own, placed feed and water in the corral and attempted to watch them from the house so someone could run out and lock up the corral.  No luck, the cows refused to comply.  They laid down and never came into the corral in the daylight. 

We were going to setup irrigation pipe but I needed the tractor to pull the pipe trailer.  I had no fuel in the tractor so after a brief interlude for fuel we were back in business.  I pulled the trailer down and had to juggle it back and forth to get it though the field gate.  We started offloading the pipe and discovered two different kinds of connectors for the 3 inch pipe and various lengths of sprinkler risers.  Annmarie and I laid it all out and then I finally managed to get the pump running.  I primed it twice before I remembered I needed to open the stop cock on top of the pump to get the pump housing full of water.  Once the pump was primed it fired right up.  The water didn’t get all the way to the end of the pipe run. I had not blocked off one end in the orchard and it was closer than the far end of the pipe.  We had several leaking joints and an abundance of clogged sprinklers.  We had one 3 way splitter and this will allow us to run pipe into the orchard and down toward the schoolhouse.  I really need to get all the sprinkler heads replaced with new ones.  The system will use less water with new heads.

One of the bigger problems is the pond is leaking through the embankment.  There is a 2 inch gap between the concrete weir and a large metal panel.  It is letting water run out.  Annmarie has told me that I need to make a concrete slurry and pour it in the gap and it will fix itself.  I am running with this plan.  I hope it works.  We ended up with a lot of sun exposure for the day. 

cat lounging taken to a new level

Garden fence progress

Bottom pasture on this side of creek mowed.

I came home yesterday from work and jumped right on the tractor and finished mowing the bottom pasture on this side of the creek.  I need to install two culverts in the irrigation ditch so I can drive across the ditch with the mower attached to the tractor.  I wanted to get this mowed so I can lay out the irrigation pipe and get the pump irrigating.  My weekend project is getting the irrigation going.  I drove over to Walla Walla today and picked up some new Nelson sprinkler heads and 45 brass valves.  I have enough pipe that I can leave it laying out and just turn the valves on the sprinkler head to control the water, easy solution.  Unfortunately, getting some of the pipe repaired and straightened is the next big thing on the list.  I know where some more pipe is located and may need to go up and get it.
I found a leak in my irrigation pond yesterday.  I am going to tarp it tomorrow and may need to line the pond eventually to get rid of it. I knew it had a leak last year I was just hoping that when I dug it out I managed to plug the hole.  It has tunneled through the hillside about 4 feet down so there is no way to get to it except at its entrance.  I am hoping the tarp fixes it this year.  I called pacific power and got our name added to the irrigation pump.  Its billed separately and the man tried to explain it over the phone but it is quite convoluted.  I will wait for the first months bill and go from there. 

When you cannot see the 4 inch concrete shelf hidden under dirt.

Our custom garden fence was delivered today.  It was quite awkward and took all three of us to move it to the backyard.  There was much yelling and hollering and swearing to get it into its needed location.  Once there we moved it so I could dig the holes.  Unfortunately, when Annmarie had them build it she could not see into the dirt and notice that the concrete had a four inch lip hidden underground.  I had to get a 20 pound, 7 foot long breaker bar to chip off the old concrete so the fence post would slide into its needed location.  It took me 30 minutes and two blisters to get it done.  Sarah kept telling me I was sweating and the veins on my forehead where sticking out.  Yes, its called hard manual labor.  I will get some concrete tomorrow and set the posts.  I am also going to put paver sand on the deck area and see if I can create one solid surface.  I will pick up a rolled wooden fence for the other side and get that installed.  This will let me use the sheep as lawn mowers!! 

Back garden side fence, fits perfectly, needs concrete poured into holes.

Real mowing

Tractor mower deck repaired

I can tell it is almost summer by the time between blog posts.  I am slacking again and need to keep up.  I had attempted to mow the grass with the tractor on Friday when I heard this awful clanking.  It was so bad that Donna came out and met me to ask if I could hear the noise?  I have music ear buds playing and hearing muffs over that whenever I am on the tractor.  I could still hear the clanking but was hoping it would go away.  I took it back over to the machine shop and realized that an original weld had broke and the metal deck had bent inwards.  I spent ten minutes and bent it back into shape.  It lasted until I hit my first rock, about 2 minutes then started clanking again.  I headed right for Packy’s Welding shop to see if it could be fixed ASAP.  I made it just before they closed and they fixed it all up for me so I could start mowing that evening.  I have been taking every opportunity to get on the tractor and mow the cheat grass and weeds.  We have had enough rain to make everything grow very well.  The grass is almost two feet tall now.  I have spent three days mowing.  The only thing I have left is the roads going through the bottom pastures and the bottom pasture.  I would like to mow the back upper hillside and stunt the sage brush.  I had the sage brush mowed two years ago and it really put the hurt on it.  I think I can do it every five years and get better grazing off of the hillside. I have another two days of mowing.  I need to install both culverts so I can drive over the irrigation ditch with the mower.  Otherwise I cannot get the mower into the bottom without getting the tractor stuck.  After the last time I got the tractor stuck, I don’t want a repeat performance.
Mowing in progress

I can sure tell that we have been here for a few years.  I do not hit as many things in the tall grass/weeds when mowing as I used to.  Every year I try and clean up a section of the property by either burning the wood, scraping the metal or picking up large rocks.  It is starting to pay off. 

The lawn mower is broken again so I spent part of yesterday mowing our yard with the weed eater.  I did a pretty good job and got about 2/3 of the way done until I hit a hidden hand scythe near the fence and broke the head on the weed eater.  Luckily, I have a spare head already, I just need to install it.  I had heard the mower was broken so I fired it up today to see where.  It smoked badly, but ran.  I am going to fill it with oil and see how it does this summer.  I may just have to add oil with every tank of fuel.  I need to get the lawn under control.  Once the lawn is corralled and controlled, and the bottom fields are mowed I can work on the horse enclosure fence.  This weekend I am going to try and get the irrigation pump piping all lined up and working.  I think it is possible. 

All four babies visible

We had another baby calf this week, for a total of four.  There is one lone heifer holding out on us.  Unfortunately, we will need to get the bull away from the January baby girls by June.  So the plan is to sort the cows in a couple of weeks allowing us to gender check the two new babies, tag them and band them if necessary.  We will pull off the bull and the pregnant heifer and toss them in with the two steers.  We will move the other four heifers and babies down to the schoolhouse pasture.  This will put three fences between the babies and the bull.  I need to do some more fencing in the barn lot before anything else.  I need to install some solid wooden posts to keep the bull from leaning on the fence.  I also need to raise the barn lot fence on the wheat side, it is too low, the bull gets over it. He will need to stay away from the babies as they grow so we can eat them next year.  They are too closely related to breed back to him.  He is rough on fences so I will have to put woven wire top and bottom with no gaps to keep him from working his way through the fence. 
Our new ram, Oreo, has been doing his job, I see him out there milling around chasing female sheep nonstop.  He won’t be near as tame when we pull them back in a couple of months. No human contact time.  We will try and bribe him with treats to get him to remember we are nice.

I needed to mow the new alpaca enclosure area.  I installed a four foot gate so I could get through with the tractor.  I lined up on the opening and had to pay super close attention so I did not snag the mower on either railroad tie as the opening is barely wide enough.  I had totally forgotten that I had installed an overhead 4×4 to keep the posts from spreading.  I had my roll bar up and snapped the post in two and got conked in the head by the flying piece.  I always forget how tall the roll bar is and how many things I keep hitting with it.  I am not sure what I am going to do now.  I should have made the bar another foot higher and this would not have been a problem. 

I will try and call tomorrow to get the irrigation sprinkler parts ordered and I can pick them up on Friday. 

It seemed like a good idea at the time