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.

Mistress & Me

I had some gravel delivered this week, 10 yards of 3/4″- and 1.5″- for use around the farm. We have purchased at least 100 yards of gravel over the years probably closer to 150 yards. I now set all the railroad fence ties in gravel as they are a lot more secure and not as prone to softening in the spring. We were running low and I am thinking about drilling holes in the barn lot to create a pen for the bull and rams so we can start controlling our time of delivery on all babies. The bigger rock is for the road that loops behind the machine shed. The road was always just a dirt path but we have slowly started to gravel it in and build it up. The single most important reason is that is how the garbage man loops around and leaves the property. Trash pickup at our house is a luxury and we want to make it easy for them. We also realize that our weather is changing and we get a lot more rain than we used to, this has caused some drainage issues and access problems. Gravel is a wonderful cure all for a lot of those problems. I spread about 8 yards out onto the dirt path behind the shed. We will give it a couple of months then have some 3/4″- brought in and have them dump it directly over the road. We will be ordering some more panels for our barn to help sort sheep and they will come on a semitruck. Also our new haying equipment will come on a semitruck, access is vital for us to have year round. I took the last two yards and spread it in front of the corral loading chute. We now have year round access to the chute and mud will no longer be an issue. This also happens to be where the mobile slaughter parks and since I moved the gate opening this process should go a lot smoother also. The mistress is doing well. She needs a bath and I still need to bang that dent out of the hood but she is a trooper. I remembered lunch after completing these tasks and then went back out to check on the upper prime pasture. Annmarie told me we had water running into the ditch in it.

Water is my nemesis! We just don’t get along and after Annmarie told me it was running in the upper field I just knew the Mistress and I needed to tackle the next problem. Or in my history, create one involving water.

There was indeed water running in the upper prime pasture. It had gotten to the blackberry bush but was not running any further. I dug out the ditch on our side of the blackberry bush and used it to try and level off the area near the fence there. It is very hard to get the tractor by as the hill is slanted into the bush. I will keep using the soil I dig out of the ditch to level this off. I went down the ditch farther near the hand dug well and dug out a trench in the ditch. The ditch. Is covered in grass and if I dig down about a foot then the water runs faster and it will create a low spot where the animals can drink. We just opened the upper prime pasture to the sheep yesterday. The horses are confined to the barn lot so they cannot fallow on all this fresh new green grass.

I drove up through the upper prime pasture into the next one (still working on a name) and noticed that the water was just starting to run out the end and form a swamp by all appearances this started in the last 1-2 days. I had a trench at one point from the central ditch running across the field to the original spring starting point. This got worked away during the hay growing process. I went in and dig a ditch starting at the spring so there was no water in the ditch I was creating. I built up a berm on one side so we can find it and we will just have to work around the ditch. It is needed as another swamp is not needed if we can avoid it. The spring in the middle of the field is running again. The only way to make a pond here is to line it. I have tried twice and the stream just cuts through the berm or the water gets absorbed. If I put a lining in we could have a little pond up here for about 6 months out of the year, probably enough to get a pair of ducks to stop and have babies. This is a project for a later time. The water coming out of this second spring is almost as much as the first so the downstream load is doubled. I expect this to cause us problems down in the barn lot. We think it may actually start running and eroding another path above ground. We may have to put in a culvert to allow us to cross the water. I am trying to avoid any crossings where we drive through the water. It’s not always possible but with the front spring the water is slow and not crazy, just persistent.

I went up and drug out an old ditch on the wheat side of that same field and then dug it back out. There was a 50 yard section that had filled back in over time. I dug it back out. I think when I rent a backhoe next time I will dig this down another 3 feet. If I can get it lower I think it will help drain the field. I need to finish the fence in this section so we can turn the animals loose in this area to forage and eat it down. I will be keeping it clean and weed free this summer in preparation for planting in the fall. We are going to plant Round up resistant alfalfa.

You can see the first spring starting point above. It looks like a little pond but if you look closely you can see the water bubbling out of the ground and forming a current. Its pretty cool. I kept chasing deer out of the fields and noticed these freeloaders eating the new wheat, almost 40 deer. I drove up to the next field to inspect it. This is one I have not burned yet. This needs to be done soon but it keeps raining and I would like a little wind to fan the fire and drive it across the field. Its wet enough I don’t have to worry about it jumping off the field and going elsewhere.

This is the field where Ted, father-in-law, got buried in his mule in the middle of the summer our first year here. Annmarie tells me stories of burying wheat trucks when driving through it at harvest time. The dark patch is solid water and the lowest spot in the field. You can see the two places I tried to drive out into that area and got stuck in the mud. I had to push myself out with the bucket on the tractor. This is with four wheel drive and I kept the box blade on the back to add weight to the back tires. I want to stake out this area this summer. The plan is dig a shallow area about 18-24 inches deep and drag all that soil to the surrounding area. Then I will build a fence around this area to keep the livestock out and just plant grass in the fenced in area. It will either survive or not. Hopefully, this will contain the water enough that we can use the field. I might look into some marsh plants to plant in this area also. The trouble is it doesn’t hold water year round so it does dry out in late summer/fall. So I am unsure how a marsh plant would fare as it is not truly a marsh. Its just a low spot with a high water table some years.

Last little bit of help

We took a few days off of the farm house to go work in town for my mother. This week we finished up the last few things that I needed some help with. The entire back porch is clean now and no longer a tile work area. This makes a huge difference in appearance. We also put the door display back together. They are two doors from this house that had been removed years ago and were out in one of the outbuildings. The shelves are made from the kickboard I removed from the upstairs floor. There was no kickboard downstairs. We had to trim off 1/2″ from the bottoms to accommodate the new floor height. I had cutouts in the door for the light switch and outlet that had to line back up. The new white color of paint we used is great! It actually makes the yellow cupboards look good. So we are going to paint the whole kitchen white and ignore the cupboards for a few more years. We thinned out the shelves by almost 50% on the cookbooks and the flower vases. Hard to believe Annmarie got rid of two full paper grocery bags of cookbooks and I got rid of 9 flower vases!

Mr. Experience and I moved the sideboard, piano, table, and TV stand back into the living area. We left them out away from the walls so that I can paint the entire downstairs. I also call and start badgering the trim place next week to get ours started and stained. They will deliver it all stained and finished. We just have to cut it to size and install it.

We cut the oak kickboards for in the kitchen. I was short on oak so need to buy another 2′. The last ten years we have hung our kitchen towel over one of the under sink doors draped over the door so it cannot close. Annmarie suggested we stick a hook on the side of the stovetop near the sink where we cannot bump it so we can actually close the sink door. It works very nice, now to just get in the habit of using it. We also leveled the fridge and switched the door opening to the left side. So now when you go to fridge from stove you can just open the door and don’t have to step around an open door to reach stuff. It makes the kitchen feel bigger.

I will be drawing up plans for out new kitchen island soon. We are going to have the frame made of metal. I will build custom wood shelves for it and top it with a solid piece of granite so that Annmarie can use it to roll out dough and cookies on. We will also design it to have a two seat kitchen nook so that we can eat our meals in the kitchen. The dining room table is for guests not mail and a horizontal storage area I am told. The problem with this is the front door is narrower than the island so it will have to be made in two pieces and bolted together in place.

We are still waiting on our wooden intake grate for the heating return box I made. They said 3+ weeks and they were not padding the timing schedule to look good.

Mr. Experience hooked me up with a source for food grade 50 gallon metal barrels with locking removable lids. I have two in the chicken coop now and have two more coming. Between these four and the two metal trash cans I can start stockpiling chicken food again. I really like to buy in bulk during the sales but now when the mice destroy it. Now I can just put the entire bag into the 50 gallon drum and pull out each bag individually. This lets me track my monthly expenses better. When I open the bags and dump them into the trash cans I charge them out for that month even if it takes me two months to empty the trash cans. So one month has a feed charge and the other does not. Its not as accurate.