It’s been a long week

It was a long week, as Annmarie was out of town and I was alone. I had big plans of painting the entire house during that time. Those plans did not come to fruition. I had to do the morning chores and then come home and do the evening chores, go to work and get cows back into their respective “fenced areas”. Fenced should mean they cannot get out but it doesn’t really work that way. The bull needs another fence to keep him away from the creek crossing. I think I am going to run a fence up from the corner of our yard. We have a fence already up the hill slightly for the ram pasture enclosure. I just need to run it directly up to the top of the hill. The only real problem is the hill is solid rock! I will have to put in rock cribs the entire length of the fence. I may get 6-8 T posts in the ground if I am lucky. I really need a teenager to come over and help me when I do that fence. If you have two people on the fence driver sometimes you can drive them in when I cannot do it alone. It will have to be very wet ground also. Luckily, filling up the rock cribs will not be hard as they are readily available and close at hand.

The big score this week was the stock racks for the pickup. They actually work as is but we are going to look into having them painted. I got an amazing price and I will call the powder coat shop in Hermiston and see what they would charge to paint them. If it’s over $300 then I will be doing it myself with a grinder and a multitude of cans of spray paint. I am hoping its under the budget! We will be able to move any of the sheep we need in the pickup and not have to pull a trailer. I need the racks to look nice so that I can get them mounted to the pickup.

Winter decided to make a strong comeback. So now we are dealing with snow and mud. This makes moving the large bales very hard with my small tractor. I am looking forward to no more large bales. I am going to get the tire fixed on my beat up pickup bed trailer. This will let me store 20 bales of hay on the trailer and just hook onto it with the tractor and feed the cows out of the trailer. I can keep the trailer under cover in the machine shop and still feed 2k pounds of feed at a time. Zeke is making us crazy again. He has decided that he doesn’t appreciate the constraints of being fenced into the yard. Since we have taught him to go around, under or through fences as part of his herding jobs we have created a monster. He now knows that the front creek bank is a weak spot in our fence. He keeps digging into the bank and under the fence. I have added three separate panels to plug various holes. Nothing is working to keep him in. So now he is back on the overhead run. I am going to have to lay horizontal fencing down along the banks and wire it to the vertical pieces so that he cannot dig down within two feet of the creek bank. I suspect this may work. I cannot guarantee my hypothesis until I do the actual experiment.

Hormones are the male species greatest weakness

Today was the day to crank out the hallway and another wall in the living room with new paint. The downfall to this is I need to put blue tape everywhere first. I was almost done with the taping when I got a call from my nephew stating that the bull was no longer in his area and was standing outside the separated heifers enclosure. This means he got out again! I know where the hole is, he has to be going under the fence at the creek crossing. The problem with this is I cannot lower the fence down into the water because the spring runoff has not happened yet. If I lower the fence then Mother Nature will rip it all down with a sudden deluge of runoff in the back creek. I grabbed the dogs and walked up the back hillside to the upper gate and opened it up. I was thinking we could drive the Bull back up the hill and inside his area. This did not work as he did drive to the corner but then crawled under the fence again. Ugh! I just remembered at 8:00pm that I forgot to close the stupid upper gate!! Now I gotta go trudge up there in the dark and check for the bull then close the gate! There are days that the farm life is more work and less play than others.

Stupid dogs chased the bull out quickly then when I used them to try and push him away from the creek opening they pushed him back through the opening! We had to start all over again. The second time through I decided I needed to make something that would allow the water to run past but would keep the Bull from getting back through. I thought about making a T-post fence by driving a T-post every 6 inches in an arc in front of the opening. This sounded a lot like work and no guarantee that it would keep him in. I was looking around thinking when I spotted three old wooden posts so I wired these onto the fence leaning in toward the Bull. I wanted something else so I walked over to the old chicken coop and started digging around. I found a piece of corrugated roofing. I used an old nail I found on the ground and a rock to punch two holes in it and I found a piece of rusted 1/8 inch wire to tie it in place over the boards. I am hoping all of this combined will keep the bull from crawling under the fence again and let the water flow by.

As I was sitting down to have a third cup of coffee I saw the bull going by the window. He was unable to get past my obstacle course. I had taken the time to use the Bull as a training tool for the dogs. I took some video but cannot upload it on the blog, our internet connection is too slow. I will post it to twitter in the morning. I got one clip of the bull calling for his women and one of the two border collies pushing him away from his women.

I did finish putting up all the blue tape in the hallway. No paint went onto the walls today. I had plans to finish the blog earlier but I spotted a deal on Facebook classifieds for some fencing material but I had to go pick it up asap. I hooked the trailer up in the snow and drove over and bought some T-posts, gates, smooth wire rolls, wooden posts and two sections of culvert. I brought a lot of cash but needed more. I wrote down all the information to mail a check and as soon as I got home I wrote the check and have it in a stamped envelope ready to go in the morning. There was even more snow down when I got home and unloaded the trailer.

As an added bonus I managed to purchase a stock rack for the pickup! I am going to pick it up tomorrow which is why I needed the trailer unloaded tonight. It only cost $200 but it does need a paint job! I just need to get some of that paint that you brush on and it converts the rust to a primer then I can just use spray cans to finish it off.

I did manage to draw up some plans for the back wall of our in ground greenhouse. I am loving the idea and can stack 3-4 high 50 gallon drums. I think it needs to be 20 feet x 10 feet minimum after doing some research. If you make them small the temperature tends to fluctuate too much. I would love to grow a lemon, orange and kiwi tree inside the greenhouse! Plus have tomatoes year round along with spinach and carrots and lettuce. The barrels will be filled with water and act as storage and heat sink. They will do double duty.

Painting again

Saturday was paint day again. I am now frantically trying to get the downstairs repainted so that we can install all the downstairs trim when it arrives. This sounds like a good plan but every evening after work I am usually too tired to work for a few more hours.

Our new wooden louvers for the air return vent came on Friday so I had to install it. This took priority over painting as I had been waiting for weeks to see if it would really make a difference. Of course it was slightly larger than our metal white one so I had to cut out the wooden cover and trim the metal opening. I managed to get everything lined up and fitted without too much trouble. It looks great! I need to install the oak trim on the edges of the plywood before I attach this to the wall. I need to be able to use a clamp to hold it in place. Once the trim is on I can screw it in place to permanently attach it to the wall. I am going to stain it the same color as the stairs. I painted the kitchen and one wall in the living room but it was still wet and then it got dark outside. We decided that it needed to be light so we could decide if a second coat was essential. I did not want to take down the blue tape too early. It takes longer to put up the tape than it does to paint the walls.

Today it was decided that yes indeed I do need to do a second coat of paint. I grumbled but Annmarie said it was a small price to pay for only having to paint once every ten years.

Someone messed up

I was called by the lovely wife the morning following the bull escape. I had made it to work and was playing catch up. She called to tell me that the alpaca were out in the lower barley field. Now the field is actually growing wheat but the “Lower Barley Field” is its name as it was a field her dad developed to prove to his father that he could, hence the name. Now how on earth could the alpaca get into that field? Well, when I went into the field to chase the bull I left the gate open just in case the bull would not turn around, he could go out into the house area of the farm then we could run him into the correct field.

The problem with this is after we put the Bull back in I proceeded to walk the fence line down toward the school house to make sure there were no holes. Unfortunately, on the way back to the house we walked on the road so my shoes and clothes would not get muddier and wetter. I also forgot about the open gate. I recognize this violates the cardinal rule of gate operation where livestock are present. The animals always figure out when a gate has been left in the incorrect location.

Annmarie used the dogs to move the alpaca. This is not the best technique as the alpaca will band together and run at the dogs. Luckily there are two dogs and they are sneaky. The alpaca get tired of one or the other sneaking behind them and biting them on the ankle. There was a large stare down contest going on as I pulled up to help. Annmarie had them all out of the field before I could get out of the car to assist.

In my defense, I came right away and did not complain or offer excuses for not shutting the gate.

Friday morning I went out to feed the animals. Normally, Annmarie does this but I was going into work late so I said I would. I bundled all up as it is getting cold again and was down to 18 F. I went out to feed the horses and the barn kitties. The sheep had spent the night in the barn but I had not locked them in. I went out and found a lamb curled up in the corner. I thought it was asleep at first then I thought it was dead. I touched it and it moved ever so slightly so it was still alive. I took it inside for Annmarie to warm up and feed and Tisha to come pick up. It was one of our #1 ewe’s twins. She is getting old and forgot to make sure it followed her out of the barn. Its 48 hours old so it should have been fine. We have now decided that all babies and moms need to be separated for a few days from the main herd. I asked Annmarie to talk with Tisha about a buy back program for all the bummers this year. No go she is going to use them to diversify her herd! It was worth a try.

Zeke has been doing the escape thing from the yard again. He thinks he is a cat and cannot be corralled. I tried stuffing some panel pieces alongside the creek to stop him from digging out on Thursday, by Friday he was out of the yard again. He had dug a new hole over by the bridge. So this time I blocked it off with yet another panel piece then rolled a 200# rock down next to the fence. He will not be moving it any time this century. I may have to get another rock for the other side once he tries that section of fence. He is so painful to keep in the yard.

Bull capers

I made it to work this morning and was just getting started when I received a text from one of our neighbors. The Bull was out of our pasture. This is never good as he can wander but more importantly our bull is easily recognizable. I don’t think there is another horned dexter bull that good looking anywhere near here. I knew Annmarie was busy and figured if I ran home immediately I could get him back into the pasture and get back to make my meeting. On the way home I called Mr. Experience to see if he would help me in the hopes that we could do it quickly.

We spotted the bull near four corners out in a neighbors field. The gate was up so I am unclear how he got into the field. Mr. Experience asked me what the bull’s name was I told him “Bully”, so he opened the gate and tried to call “Mr Bully” out through the gate. We don’t have a name for the bull, but we do call him Bully when I am not hollering and calling him not nice names. I thought this was quite humorous. We also drove up the hill to open the upper gate to push him through but at that time he decided to run into the lower wheat field. I drove around and ran from the house side of the field and Mr Experience ran from the far side. I managed to stop the bull and Mr Experience opened a side gate. We had a dominance dance for a few minutes before I managed to get the bull turned around and headed toward the open gate. He ran in and under the fence via the creek crossing. He trotted up to the ladies over by the hay feeders.

We walked the fence lines back down to four corners but never found a hole. I found a broken hanging rock crib, one soft spot that needs a panel and a couple of spots where the top part of the woven wire is no longer stapled into the wooden posts. We could never find a set of his hoof prints outside the fenced area.

As we headed back to the house the bull and his cows were already behind the house and headed to the upper chicken coop near the separated heifers. Mr experience went up there to shoo them away with Zeke. I almost sent him with Mouse but Mouse doesn’t listen as well as Zeke. I had to go inside and change into my mud boots and a coat. When I got up to the creek crossing we discovered that the bull had jumped the fence in one spot. It doesn’t look like he crawled under the creek crossing. We had to lower the fence over the crossing and moved three panels over near the bank to cover the openings. This worked pretty good and kept the bull in place.

We have had to start putting Zeke back on the run again. He has gotten out of the yard the last three days in a row. I think Mr Experience found it under the foot bridge for the gas guys. He has made a slide spot along the mud bank like an alligator would! Yesterday he got out and rolled in alpaca poo. The stuff is sticky and slimy and smells very bad. It will not come out of dog fur with doggie bath detergent. We have to use Dawn soap from the kitchen. Zeke was very clean and flufffy this morning

I had to come inside and change my pants before I could go back to work as I had gotten mud on my tennis shoes and pants. I also had to wash my tennis shoes. This was when I realized I only own five pair of shoes: 1 pair of snow PACS, 1 pair of cheap rubber boots, 1 pair of tennis shoes, 1 pair of dress shoes and 1 pair of slippers. I had to wear my dress shoes to work. I still need some new leather boots for working outside and another pair of slip on business attire shoes. I will have to do the dreaded deed and go shoe shopping. This is infinitely more worse than clothing shopping when it comes to shopping horrors.

Cows sorted

I stayed home today in an attempt to catch up on the painting. I had plans of working on it during the week but only got some walls cleaned and pictures down. Today I pulled all the picture pins out of the walls. We will have to start all over again when it comes to pictures. This is painful but it does allow us to change out what was hanging on the walls. So we are already talking about what pictures we want to keep and rearranging the items when we put them back.

I spent a couple of hours taping off the kitchen and then cutting in the corners with paint. I got that all done before Annmarie came back. Before I can roll on paint I will have to plastic off the entire kitchen.

Our plan was to sort cows this afternoon. We need to get the one nutter calf away from any breeding heifers. We also want to wean off the calves. The stupid cows are still letting the year old calves nurse off of them. We pushed the sheep up into the upper prime pasture and locked the horses behind the barn. We brought the dogs along with Gizmo to work the cows. They were hanging out down by the schoolhouse. Mouse kept wanting to get out front of us and chase everything. I kept calling him back nonstop until he started to stay closer. When we got down to lower pasture fence I just picked up each border collie and tossed them over the fence. We were crossing the stream when I found the skull of one of our horned sheep, a young one probably only about 8 months old from a few years ago when all our sheep had horns. I carried the skull back to the house so I can mount it up on a wall. Mouse, Gizmo and I stayed down on the lower flat and Annmarie and Zeke went up on the hillside to push the cows down to the gate. Zeke was listening very well when all of a sudden he just took off and was running around in large circles on the hillside. Annmarie was hollering loudly and he did not listen at all. Turns out he had spooked a rabbit and was hot on its trail! He kept gaining distance the longer they ran until the rabbit ran for a pile of wood. As soon as the rabbit disappeared then Zeke started listening again.

Annmarie was hot! She was hollering at Zeke, she was hollering at me, she was hollering at Mouse, she had some serious tyrant like attributes bleeding off her. We continued to work the cows and the directions kept coming. Once in the barn lot the cows just did not want to go into the corral area. Annmarie tried the dogs but the cows were gunning for the dogs. We finally had to put the dogs away and get out the shakers to drive them into the corral. Annmarie says I don’t pay enough attention to how the animals are behaving. This is true. We finally got the cows sorted, 7 plus the bull will go back down to the schoolhouse area and 6 others will go into the upper prime pasture. The upper prime pasture has water now so we can leave the cows penned up there with a couple of large bales of hay.

I ended up putting two large bales in the upper prime pasture and two more large bales down by their normal feeding area. We decided to give the 8 cows a chance to wander down on their own. The sheep all came wandering down toward me when I took this picture as I was on the tractor. All the animals know the tractor means food. It took us 2.5 hours to sort the cows and it took me another 1.5 hours to do the evening chores.

I am totally psyched about the underground green house. We are trying to come up with a location. I think it needs to go in the ram pasture. Unfortunately, it will be taking up a big chunk. I think it will require some spray paint to mark out several locations so we can find the right spot.

To make sure we had two fences between the separate herds I had to put the gate back up. I used some bailing twine, that stuff is good for everything. If you look real close you can see my handiwork in the picture below!

50 yards closer

Yesterday I did not do any hard manual labor, my right elbow hurt too much. I have tendonitis in my elbow and I am trying to rest it and take some Motrin. This is a very slow process to heal it. It aches all the time and we have to go to a dinner for the fire station. Someone will want to shake my hand and inflict terrible pain on my elbow. They did and it happened about three times. I took a walk up the pasture with all three dogs to see if the water was running down by my fence crossing. It was not, it got to the trees and just stopped. I will check it tomorrow. All the dogs wanted to do was eat sheep poop the whole time. Gizmo found something stinky to roll around in that did not stick to him, just the smell.

My mother came out to look at the new floor and we spotted the eagle again. It was sitting in the top of a dead tree staring at the sheep just below it. It stayed there for over 30 minutes before leaving. Hopefully the sheep are old enough and big enough to ward off an attack from the eagle.

Our old hand dug well enclosure is falling apart. I really need to pour it some new walls and build some type of roofed enclosure around it. That needs to happen sooner than later

Tonight when I went out to do chores it was an amazing sunset. Sometimes life can be overwhelming and you just need to step back and realize just how amazing and lucky we are to be alive and on planet Earth. It truly is grounding to see the beauty around us on a daily basis. The older I get the more I appreciate it. Maybe that is my mortality creeping in, who knows. I just know that I have two broody hens who both think sitting on a wooden egg will net them a chick and they are very persistent despite me tossing them out of a nest every night for the last five days.