Burn day, commonly known as fence fire day

It was another one of those days, where I thought I was going to move forward all day long. Alas there were a few bumps along the way, there usually are on the farm. I would like to think that after 9 years I would have this down and some things would be routine but that is just not the case. For example, how hard can it be to light some weeds on fire? Seems pretty straightforward but something always comes up. I really wanted to burn the upper field but it keeps raining and with all those weeds and gaps between areas I need it to be tinder dry when I torch it and the rain is just frequent enough to stop this plan. Its not like there is nothing else to do so I opted to burn the weeds alongside the driveway.

Cattle guard, right side

I started at the far end of the driveway near the road. It had some good thick piles and everyone that drives by won’t be disturbed by 10 foot tall flames in the middle of the day. Most of the road traffic is in the early morning and evening as people travel to and fro work.

I had put a pitchfork in the back of the pickup but to pitchfork it all away from all the fence would take me a couple of weeks. The tumbleweeds are bad this year. So I opted for expediency and just lit the weeds off while they were in the fence. This has caused me some heart ache in the past with burnt up fence posts. It’s always the old frayed railroad ties that catch on fire. They always catch on fire in the middle of the post and it is near impossible to put them out. I was determined to not let this happen this year so I tried to burn around the posts and then tried burning up to the posts in an attempt to keep the heat down near the posts. Several posts caught on fire but then went out in the wind. Cattle guard, left side

There is a long driveway and both sides needed to be burned. It took several hours to get to the end of the driveway. Once I got down near Donna’s house I burned a small stretch of fence line behind her house and continued on down to the corner and around up to the fencing supplies. I decided to stop as the next stretch of fence was piled high with weeds and our nephew’s camp trailer was only about four feet from the fence line. This would not have gone over well with the camp trailer. It would have made for an impressive fire. Driveway towed the houses

The tumbleweeds were bad this year, our driveway fence is starting to lean on both sides. The wind pushes on the weeds and bends the T posts. When the ground firms up I will need to go along and straighten all the posts.

While I was burning my mother-in-law stopped to ensure that I would go feed the cows. We have this discussion on a regular basis as I think they can always go another 1-2 days, especially with this weather we are having. I agreed that I would go feed them that evening. So there was a small fire burning on the hillside when I went to feed the cows. I brought the dogs as the cows really will mug me when I try and get the feeder pulled around the big bale. The cows think that the sound of the tractor means mealtime so they always come running. Mouse is much sneakier than Zeke he likes to lay flat and silent and then leap up and into the cows. So instead of following the tractor I looked over and Mouse had decided the cows were too close to the tractor as we were driving to the far end of the field. He tried to jump on the calf! Why go for a big defensive animal when you can pick on the helpless baby? Momma was coming to its defense even as I was hollering at him to back off. I got the hay all packaged up and surrounded by the feeder and we left the cows to eat. They only had a little hay left in the feeder. They maybe could of gone another day but it was time to feed. Now this is not always the case! If I feed them too early they just waste the hay and try and eat only the choice parts of the alfalfa.

It was just starting to get dark so I decided to just look down the driveway and spotted this column of flames near the road. I tooled on down in my tractor to find one of the old railroad ties next to the cattle guard on fire. This thing had sat dormant for over 2 hours before taking off. I had to go back to the house and get some water as the fire was inside the post. This needs water to take the heat out of the post or the fire will just reignite. I want back home and grabbed my gallon plant water jugs and filled them up with water. While I was doing that my phone rang and the neighbors were being helpful and everyone that drove by was calling my Mother-in-Law to let her know that a post was on fire out by the road. As I started driving down to the fire beacon to put it out I saw Donna drive up to the inferno and spray a cloud of white stuff on the post. The fire went out but by the time she drove off and I arrived it had already started back up. I poured a gallon of water on top of the railroad tie and it all went into the middle of the tie and dribbled throughout the cracks and crevices. After four gallons I managed to get the fire out and most of the heat so it would not reignite. I stank of smoke and was covered in soot so I opted to call it a day and go inside and shower. I was in my pajamas when Sarah called me to tell me that another post was on fire! I put my coat and rubber boots over my pjs and filled up my four gallons of water and head out into the rain to put out another post. It was raining at this time but not hard enough to put out my wooden post fires. This one was in a rock crib right behind Donna’s house and was easy to get out. This would have caused me problems as I would have had to rebuild the entire rock crib.

I have decided that I need a new plan when it comes to burning weeds in the fence lines. I need to pitchfork out and around all railroad ties before burning the weeds. This will be a bunch of extra work but anything that can prevent me from replacing wooden posts every time I burn is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, I think the cattle guard needed large 8 inch steel pipes next to it to make the fence and cattle guard look good but I could have waited another 1-2 years.

The new chickens appeared to be getting smarter. After having to put 5 of 10 into the coop every night the last two nights they all made it back inside on their own. I was ready to declare victory until I went out tonight. There huddled outside were another five chickens, not even the same five that I had put in previously. To top it all off I have 25 chickens and I am only getting 3-5 eggs/day now. I keep thinking they will start laying but it has not happened yet.

Stock trailer in our future!

It is now a reality, we can have a stock trailer. I listed the three items for sale on Saturday and by today I had four people lined up for the trailer. They kept asking more questions and wanting inside dimensions and inside pictures. One guy would have had it on Saturday but his pickup lights were not working and by the time he got back to me I had two people ahead of him. I sold it to a gentleman from Burns. He asked me this morning if I would save it if he made the trip. I said I would as it is not fair to sell it out from under him while he is making the trip. Do people really do that? I realize they must or he would not have asked. He inspected the trailer and paid the asking price without hesitation. I only had one person try to low ball me and he was the fourth in line. I was happy to tell him that it sold for the asking price.

The tractor sold today also! It went to someone who can fix it up and will take care of it. This is great news and I have already put the word out that we are in the market for a stock trailer. To cap off the evening when I went out to get eggs none of the chickens were sitting outside! They had all gone into the chicken coop before the door closed. I even collected 10 eggs from the last two days from 25 chickens. This doesn’t seem like very many but since three days ago I only got 2 this is great. The chickens hate change and adding new hens always screws up the pecking order and the laying patterns of all the hens. Now we just need to wait and see if the guy who said he was mailing a cashiers check for the car actually does it, I have the potential to score a trifecta this week.

Another internet failure

We gave up on Hughes net. After a week of Annmarie spending 6-8 hours on the phone with Hughes net and getting an upgrade here and there we still could not stream television shows. I find it interesting that our DSL is only 1-2 MBS and we can stream TV with all other devices in airplane mode but with Hughes net speed test saying 23 MBS we could not stream any TV. She cancelled it and the only thing they wanted back was the modem. We can “have” the dish.

What are we going to do with the dish? We are already planning on turning it into a bird bath.

The wind was howling today and as I look out the living room window I can see the flashing on the end of the old house flopping around in the wind and the now defunct internet dish moving in the wind. I decided that there is no better time than right then to go out and fix this problem. So I grab my impact driver, several bits, some sheet metal roofing screws (silver not the matching red colored ones) and proceeded to attempt to get the ladder up onto the end of the building. This proved harder than expected with the wind. I set it just under the peak and climbed up to the top, there were a bunch of empty old hornets nest attached to the roof so I just decided to scoop them all down. After I got stung inside the left arm of my coat I realized that they were not all empty! I killed three hornets and finished cleaning out the peak. I fixed the peak and tacked it down with some more screws and then had to move the ladder to the left. I had to go over the defunct dish so the angle was pretty shallow and the ladder was not very secure. I made it to the roof line and was leaning out to the left and trying to screw in a screw when my Apple Watch started making this weird noise. So weird I stopped and looked at it. I had somehow pushed down on the watch continuously and activated an emergency 911 call! I quickly started hitting buttons telling it I did not want to do that and it asked me three times if I was sure. I was very sure. So I am still trying to drill in the same screw when my phone rings. I would normally ignore a phone call while I am leaning over the side of a ladder in the wind while trying to stay on the ladder, but I figured this could not be a coincidence. I was right, it was the 911 dispatch center asking me if I was alright!! I had to assure her multiple times that it was an accident and I was still on a ladder in the wind and was fine.

I finished screwing down the flashing and then removed the dish from the side of the old house. I figured I might as well get it down as it was ugly and I was there. We would have tolerated it if it had worked!

I have the ladder out in the stairwell so I can wash the walls and start painting. This is day three with the ladder out and all I have managed to do is fix the overhead fan, change out two light bulbs, vacuum out the lights, the upper window well and wash the upper window. I keep thinking about beginning the painting process, i have the whole thing planned out in my head.

I also installed a few motion activated lights in our downstairs closets. Now when we open the door there will be light! I also glued down our closet door tracks that Annmarie made on the 3D printer. Today was a catch up day to get on top of all the little things that have been piling up.

We advertised the old tractor for sale (International 504, gas engine with farmhand loader and hay grapple with blown head gasket) for $3500. We also put up the 2004 Aveo (child hit deer and ruined radiator and popped off the timing belt) for $400. Our third listing was our 16 foot enclosed single axle Sharpe trailer for $2500 all done yesterday afternoon. Cash is king and first person with it in hand takes whatever they want. I have had 3 enquirers on car, three on the trailer and one on the tractor. We are hoping to sell enough stuff to buy a stock trailer.

Tonight when I went out to feed it was pouring down rain, our rain gage said 6/10 of an inch when I dumped it out but that was over the last two weeks. I will try and keep better track of the rain on a semi regular basis. I went out to the barn in the pouring rain and noticed the gutters were overflowing. I fed the sheep, horses and cats then went and got the ladder. The gutters had filled up with a few leaves and a lot of mud! All this dust from this summer ended up in the gutters and a few leaves created a dam. I had to dig out dams from both of the gutters. I really need to bring in about four more scoops of gravel to go alongside the end of the barn near the barn wall. There was a small stream running next to the gravel I had already placed. I just need to fill up the whole area with gravel.

On the way back to the house I swung by and checked on the new chickens. Five of the ten new idiots were standing out on the ramp locked out of the coop by the automatic chicken door. I had to throw all five of them back into the coop. I keep hoping they will catch on soon.

No Shave November Failure

I am a failure. I had big plans for November, one could even say bushy plans and they have been thwarted by Mother Nature. It is No Shave November and I had no intention of shaving my beard. I had to make a few small concessions, I have to trim the mustache as I don’t like to eat it. It pulls on my upper lip when I try and eat. I also had to continue to shave my lower neck. I do have to appear somewhat presentable at work. But I was going for the full beard!!

My task for the day was to burn the upper prime squared field. I knew there was not very much propane in the old burn tank. So I dropped the new burner into the bucket on its side and took it out to some close weeds. I got it lit but there was very little flame and no torch mechanism at all. I stuck it on the weeds and it did nothing. So I took that full tank of propane back to the machine shed and chained the old one into the bucket. I did throw in a shovel and pick axe also so if I needed to put out a fire I could. The weather was perfect, no wind what so ever. I started by digging a weed free fire stop at the top end of the upper prime squared field. I have yet to name the next field. I didn’t want to fire up all 17 acres at once. This gives me about 5 acres to deal with at this time. Once I had that done I fired up the torch, mine has a turbo handle that causes the flame to shoot out 4-5 feet! I squeezed that handle with the torch on my right side and drove around the field clockwise catching the entire perimeter on fire first. This made for a pretty good show but the fire kept going out in weird places. I ran out of propane about 300 degrees around the outside of the acreage. I let the fire burn itself out and then drove back. I loaded the old tank into the pickup and drove to Pilot Rock to get it refilled. Nope, there is a metal collar around the valve so if the tank falls over it won’t break the valve off, the refill apparatus needs to be about 1/2 inch longer to refill our tank.

You can see the tank strapped into the bucket of the tractor in the above picture. I saw my nephew early in the morning as he was going bird hunting. He was not impressed with my desire to burn the ideal pheasant habitat. I never saw a single pheasant run or fly out of the field when I lit it on fire.

After being unable to fill the old tank I went back to the new tank we picked up this summer. It had some weird pressure regulator and safety device attached to the tank. This did not allow me to attach the TORCH to the tank. So I took all that off and used the same connector we use on the other tank. It fired right up, the only problem is I had to switch to the pickup and strap the tank in place. The tank was almost full when we bought it at a clearance sell (thanks Penny).

I drove out and started torching the little groups of weeds. I would walk along the pickup then lay out the burn hose, burn then move it onward 30 feet, drive the pickup 50 feet and do it again. This caused me to get pretty close to the flames. I did this until 1600 when I was hot, tired, covered in ash and smelled like a chimney. I decided this was good enough. I believe I could run the discs out through here now. I had to put the pickup in four wheel drive as I was sinking into the soil it is so moist. There was no running water in the spring but I managed to burn the weeds away from the channel. This way I can go up with the tractor and dig it out. I also need to dig a section of the channel in the front run off ditch. A part of this ditch is all filled in now and it needs to be dug back out. Maybe this will keep a large section of this field from turning into a swamp. I would like to dig in two small ponds.

The neighbors came and got their cows today. I knew this cause at quitting time when I went back to the barn to feed and do night chores the bull was in our corral! I knew I didn’t do it and no one else knew anything about it. He got out of our field and got in with the neighbors cows who visited overnight. I am unsure how he got out so I will need to grab some tools, throw them in the tractor and drive the fence line looking for the hole. If I don’t find it the bull will be causing us problems.

I came inside to shower and the travesty was fully revealed. I had managed to burn off half my eyebrows, half my eyelashes (I wear glasses so not sure how that happened) and scorched my beard! The worst part was I had burned a divot out of the right side of my beard. So I had to break out the trimmers after my shower. No Shave November was NO MORE.

Guests are coming

It has been one of those weeks, long and stressful. Luckily, the farm has not been cooperating either so it helps break up the daily stress. We have been feeding the kenneled cats out in the barn but it appears that something is eating their food through the bars of their cages. We suspect a raccoon but don’t have any proof. I am going to have to set up the game cam to see if we can capture something. The cats really don’t care for humans, the single one today hissed and growled at me as I gave it water and food. I am hoping it will beat up on whatever is damaging our barn kitty. He is back to hobbling around on three legs and it looks like something bit his front left paw.

Annmarie printed a knob for our gate latch last week and I got it epoxied onto the handle. Now you don’t have to reach over the gate to unlatch the gate. Yes, I know I need to take the chisel and make my chewed up area look neat, but I have not done that and its too cold to put stain on the fence now. I also figured I could adjust the gate just by tightening and loosening the gate tension wire. Its super easy and fast, not sure why I didn’t do it before.

Wednesday I went out and did morning chores. Now this is not a normal occurrence, our new deal is I don’t leave for work until I have showered, pottied the dogs and fed them breakfast. I do all this so that Annmarie can do her Yoga in the morning. Every morning Gizmo comes down and does stretches next to Annmarie while she does Yoga, it is very cute. I keep trying to figure out how to get a picture that will be allowed to be posted on the blog. But so far I have not managed to capture one for public consumption. But we just had Hughes Net install satellite internet on Monday afternoon and Annmarie was on the phone with the help desk trying to get it to work right. She has spent about 4 hours this week on the phone getting it programmed right so that it actually works. So anyways, I volunteered to do the morning chores before heading to work. It had rained the previous night and I didn’t bother with mud boots. I just planned on giving the horses some food and letting the sheep out of the barn. I ended up having to feed and water the cats after feeding the horses. I was just about ready to go around and open the door to the barn for the sheep when I heard that sound, the bleet of a baby sheep! I scanned the barn and found a set of newborn twins. So I slowly walked into the barn, hoping the ram would not take offense, and pushed the sheep toward the door without upsetting momma enough to cause her to leave also. Luckily, I was able to single her and the babies out. I figured I might as well feed for that night since I was already out there working. Annmarie finally came out I was taking so long! The babies are solid black. We don’t have any solid black ewes yet and today we checked and they are both girls. My shoes were covered in sheep and mud leavings. I had to go change my shoes before heading to work.

Here is a picture of our safe. We do not know the combination and we want to be able to get into the safe with a combination. It is a four tumbler design with a wheel that goes to 99 so basically 10,000 possibilities. I am offering $100 for the person that gets it. I am sure I will have droves of offers. No damaging the safe during entry, straight combination only.

Today we went to town to get Thanksgiving groceries. We are having prime rib and fixings. The first store only had boneless prime rib. This deprives you of a whole second meal! It can be barbecued ribs or an amazing soup but it is always better the second time around. So we went to Safeway and had them cut us a 10# bone in prime rib, for the seven of us eating. I think it will be just enough meat. We do a salt casket bake and I will start doing a dry rub on the meat starting tomorrow until D-Day.

I spent the morning putting a new kitchen table together. I hate assembly furniture but we wanted to try out a new arrangement and we like it. Its a two person table with storage. I now need to make a custom table based off of this design and we will buy a solid piece of granite for the top. Annmarie will be able to bake and roll out dough very easily on a solid piece of granite.

So when we got home Annmarie ran out to run the momma into the barn in her area then the sheep into the main barn. As I was unloading groceries in the house Annmarie came in to tell me that there were cows in the wheat field. This sucks, but the good news was they were not ours! So we had to go try and put them into the upper prime pasture until we could figure out who owned them. They would not cooperate. Annmarie was way out in the wheat field attempting to yell directions to me. Now this would work better if she had her cell phone, nope, or if the person she was talking to was not a little hard of hearing. To top it all off, I had the dogs and kept yelling directions to them and it was cold so I had a big warm fuzzy hat with ear flaps on covering up my ears. It was very hard to hear her. She wanted me to get in the pickup and drive around and she did not want the dogs. So I did this and then spotted her head lamp from the road and walked out into the wheat field. She hollered at me to stay put and she would walk out to me. When she arrived she stated the cows had gone into the upper weed patch and she had shut the gate. There was some animals scratching at a bush along the fence line and she didn’t want to walk past it with no dog and no weapon. I really need to burn off the upper weed patch. Hopefully, the cows will still be there in the morning. The fence is not intact all the way around that field. This chewed up about 90 minutes of our time. We had some leftovers while sitting at our new breakfast nook and I was working on the blog when Sarah called.

Sarah had hit a deer. Sarah is 21 years old. Sarah has totaled 4 vehicles now. In her defense this time a driver going the opposite direction hit a deer and threw it into her lane and she ran over it. The radiator is caved in about 6 inches, the timing belt is off and the frame is bent on the front. There is deer hair stuck under the vehicle the entire length of the undercarriage. We had tossed a chain into the back of the pickup and Annmarie towed the car while I drove it back to our house. I am very unsure if it is repairable. I will need to look at it in the daylight hours. It leaked all the radiator fluid out onto the road.

Babying the horses again

Every once in a while we have to count the cows. I fed them a new bale on Friday. There are 13 cows in the picture. One is hiding behind the feeder and one is a baby hiding behind the bull. The cows think me starting the tractor up means meal time every time they hear it. This leads to a lot of disappointment. We will have two cows for sale in the spring if anyone wants to finish them off. We should have another 4 babies this winter, maybe 5.

The director from PAWS called us today. They had some reject cats for us. The only reason they are rejects are they don’t like people. This makes them very hard to adopt out to homes. We use two dog kennels and we feed and water the cats for a couple of weeks. Once they recognize us and that food and water come from us then we will let them out. We feed the cats every day when we feed the other animals so they can just live in the barn. There are lots of places to hide and to stay warm. The cats are all neutered so we don’t get kittens and the cats get to live life on their own terms. An added bonus is the cats control the mice in the barn so the hay does not get destroyed. Everyone comes out a winner, the cats, us and PAWS. We got three adult cats today. If you look closer at the picture you will see our other PAWS kitten on the steps, three cats in the kennels and look up at the barn door opening and you will see Mouse standing on the hay looking out!

The side barn area was muddy again. We have put gutters on the end of the barn, I have put in a drain line from the down spout to the front spring. I dug a small drain line over by the horse enclosure to catch the rain coming off the barn that was forming a mud puddle. That seems to be helping. What we really need is a long 80 foot trench running down the center of the back alleyway. This idea did not excite me but Annmarie had a hard time getting to the cats in her not mud boots. I started digging the trench today with a Polanski and a shovel. I was about 10 feet into it, down to my long sleeve shirt only, even had to remove my hat, it was too hot when I realized this decision was going to take me two days of back breaking labor. This concept tore at my soul and lower back. Suddenly, it dawned on me that this summer I had purchased a trenching device for my tractor! I had not had a chance to use it. I promptly gave up the shovel and jumped onto the tractor. Once I got the box blade off the back of the tractor I realized I needed three pins. I had to dig around the machine shop and came up with two and reused one from the box blade. I got the trencher on without too much difficulty. I just lined up over the area I wanted and drug that thing up and down the path. It doesn’t like to go through solid rock. There is a rock bluff just under the surface of the dirt about 6 inches down near the back of the barn for about four feet. I am sure this is why they built the barn here, a nice rock base. I still had to shovel the dirt clear but I had the whole thing done and filled with gravel in under three hours! Now to see if it works.

Gizmo has this perverse habit of watching anyone who is in the shower. I think he is afraid you might drown and he needs to save you. Who knows? He got a bath last weekend and the water was brown, he is a dirty dog. He has been sneaking out to the barn to play with the kitten, Soot (Annmarie named it this week).

Hay completed for this year.

I had to work late on Wednesday so I decided to move the straw into the barn. The real problem with this is my $80 toy, it’s in the way. I really need to mount a pulley about 22 feet up near the middle of the roof so I can stand the hay elevator upright to store it. Unfortunately, when you get the “good deal” it always needs some work. I need about three pieces welded and to tighten a section and then run conduit to protect the wires. Now all of this will probably only cost a couple of hundred dollars more. I just don’t have time for it, Winter is coming! This meant rearranging all the hay currently being stored and moving it near the sheep entrance so it can be used first as it is last years hay. So I got all the hay moved and swept out the hay area. There was not a single mouse under the bottom bales. This is fairly unusual for us and hopefully an indicator that we are making headway on our barn mouse problem.

The straw bales are fairly light and were pretty easy to move around. I was having to pull them down then walk six feet and put them into the barn then stack them. After four bales I decided this was wasted energy. I got into the pickup and spent 10 minutes getting the front corner of the trailer within 2 feet of the barn. I then dropped two bales off the side of the trailer to create a bridge and just drug the bales into the barn. This was much more efficient. I ended up moving 5 ton of hay, 714 stones of hay or 10,000 pounds before going to work. It was a good day. Now we just need to not run out of hay this winter.