This week I have been trying to work on the bull enclosure. The best part of this is after last weekend I went and got a load of hay and had Mr Consumer unload it while I was at work! This is the absolute best way to move hay, by not moving it at all and letting someone else do it.
I decided to change my name for Mr Consumer. Its a big deal for me as I don’t usually do this but I just cannot pass up the opportunity to use a better one. His mother calls him Bubba! I cannot make this up and it is way cooler than my name! So I am switching forever and ever, this one time.
My nephew has been coming out to the house in the late evenings to help me out. We are focusing on the bull enclosure. Its slow going but we have been able to sink 6-8 posts every night. We are setting each post with gravel instead of putting the dirt back. This means we are staying out till 2130on the nights we can work. This means I just come home, eat dinner and then head out to the barn lot to work. This only works 2-3 evenings a week but it is a little more done every day and ultimately it will be done if I just keep at it.
The only lousy part is we are having to manually dig the holes the rest of the way. My tractor just won’t do it. A 16 pound breaker bar will move a lot of rocks a little way then we manually dig them out of the holes. Most of the time you have to dig them out by hand as the post hole digger doesn’t grab the rocks. It is amazing how you can literally break a rock in half with a steel bar and enough effort. I can tell we have been at this for over three weeks, my T-shirts are starting to not be as loose on me from the upper body muscles compensating for the hard work. Now if only this would contribute to a six pack ab set without having to work at it!
We are reusing some old cedar posts in an effort to keep costs down. I am hoping they will hold but the only real way to test this theory out is to build it, put the bull in there and see how it works. So we are going to do a trial by fire after completion.
Mr Consumer has been out helping me again. I have had him on the tractor discing up the two upper fields. I am going to try and level out the middle field as it is pretty uneven and see if I cannot get it flatter so it will be easier to hay next year. I was able to spend a few hours at it one evening this week working until dark. My wife was out of town and so there was no curfew to come inside and relax. It was just the mistress and I for a few hours. The fields are all disced up now and I will spray them this week or the weekend at the latest to keep the weeds knocked down. This will allow us to disc it one more time and then a friend will bring in his big tractor in the fall for a day and condition the field then I can plant alfalfa. I am getting super excited about doing our own hay next year!
I am especially excited after having to pay for hay again this year and moving all the 65-80# bales. These are light compared to the 110# bales we had two years ago. I am too old and those are too heavy. After moving 8 ton in a day I am bushed, beat, exhausted, stick a fork in me done! Our new bales will only be 50#. They will be round, but since we are stacking them in the barn that won’t be a big deal as the walls will keep them from rolling away.
Mr Consumer and I stacked 8 ton yesterday and another 8 ton today. The stack just gets higher every time we bring in more hay. In the barn we can stack the bales 12 high and it is done all by hand. I have the used elevator I got last year but it needs some welding repairs and since I am taking the welding class this fall, all welding projects have been delegated to next year.
We stacked a total of 9 ton in the machine shed over the weekend. We stacked it high in the middle so that I can lay down a couple of sheets of plywood and fix those broken supports in the roof I broke out last year with the old tractor. It will be a lot easier to work on a six foot ladder than a 16 foot ladder.
I will work on getting the lumber to fix those next week. Things are starting to come together. The bull enclosure is my single big project, if I can get that done then I think I can get the barn addition frame work done this summer. I have a few more fences I want to install but honestly its too late to be fencing. I need to do that next spring.
The machine shed gate got hooked by a trailer so I will have to repair that now. I have learned that anything can be repaired and things will go wrong or break all the time. You just keep moving forward and fix them as they come.
I am going to let Mr Consumer unload the trailer while I am at work! I plan on getting a load every evening and letting him unload it the next day. This is by far and away the best way to unload hay!
This is our club wheat crop this year. It is probably the best crop we have had since we have been back to the farm. I will get a shot once it has all turned a golden color.
I really want to get the bull enclosure finished but it is turning out to not be an easy project. My choice of locations is making it difficult. There is a hidden solid rock bluff just under the dirt on this hillside. This is good as the soil never really grows anything but bad when you talk about actually trying to drill a hole in the ground. Sarah came out to help me and she proved valuable. Its funny, I am not sure if I will ever outgrow riding my child verbally to work faster and hit harder even though she is an adult. I did the same thing when she was a child. It went well and she kept calling dibs on moving the tractor so I was hoofing it around the barn lot. I am trying to reuse some of the old cedar posts that have been on the farm 50+ years. I don’t want to put a railroad tie into every hole as there are over 50 holes and a railroad tie is $20/each nowadays. We are not certain the bull wont push over the posts so it is a guessing game. I am going to create solid corners and then anchor the two posts next to the corner on either side together with an overhead wooden support. This should keep the bull from tearing up the corners. I have put in one rock crib on every stretch and may have to put in two to keep him from pushing the fence outwards. We will see how it goes as we actually start building the fence. We are still just drilling holes and have managed to get 9 posts set in gravel and 6 more dropped in holes. I set all my wooden posts in gravel now. They stiffen up much nicer and I am hoping that they last longer, time will tell.
This corner arrangement will have a triangle shaped rock crib between these posts. The posts are 8 feet apart and my lovely wife tells me that is 32 Sqft. It will be four feet high so I am betting it will take about four hours just to fill this single corner up with rocks. I have five cribs so far that will take at least 16 hours just to collect rocks off the hillside and fill them up. On the plus side it does help cut down on the rocks on the hillside but since we are pretty sure rocks grow there it is an ongoing battle.
I had better luck digging some of the holes by hand. I could manipulate the smaller hand tool to get through the clay faster. I may even need to take a metal file to the teeth of the auger on my tractor. I can knock off the burrs and sharpen the auger teeth, the problem is if I do this it will dig faster but every time I hit a rock I will cringe even more than I do now and I hit a lot of rocks when digging holes!
This week I was looking out the kitchen window and realized that it just looked weird. The light was very dull and the ground was a very unnatural color. I ran out the front door with my cell phone and took the above purple blue tinged picture from the front porch. I wanted one without the power lines so I walked across the bridge and stood on my trailer. This took maybe a minute, what a difference that minute made in the view. Five minutes later this was all gone. It was an amazingly beautiful sight and one of my favorite pictures from the farm.
Its fathers day today so i did what any father would do and worked all day on the farm. I wanted to see if I could get all the holes for the bull enclosure done today. It was a solid attempt but it did not happen. I have about 20 holes completed and another 10 about 2/3 done and only about three just started. I have one corner that I just cannot get to drill. I very well may have to form a rock crib between the three posts near the corner. I already think I will have to do this on two other corners also. This means I am up to five rock cribs already. That is a lot of rock to have to carry in the tractor. I hate carrrying rock, it is inherently heavy! I realize that this may seem obvious, but until you have done it for five plus hours it is not obvious. I dug holes until Sarah called me into the house for my Father’s Day presents. I ate lunch while we planned out the rest of the week. She is going to come out and help me put posts into the ground starting tomorrow. I have been looking around at what to use for posts. I only have about 15 railroad ties on the farm, but I have a whole pile of old heavy duty cedar posts left over from the farm. I am going to use those not on the corners and high stress points on the fence. I think I will be able to get all the posts into the ground without having to buy any new ones. I have all the 2×6 boards and just need to get some cow panels and woven fencing. I even think I have about 12-15 cow panels over in the pile so I may have enough of those to cover the metal panels. It is all starting to come together. Getting those posts in the ground and set is the single biggest hurdle I need to overcome. After that things will start to just fall into place.
The stupid sheep got out today. Remember I let them out onto the back hillside yesterday? Well I did not go up and drop the fence panels over the back creek as there is no more running water. They climbed out through the creek. I took the border collies out and Mouse wanted to chase the sheep and Zeke ran off to the right after I told him to circle around and had to pee on three bushes. I almost lost my voice again before I had the sheep back in. I might complain about them but I had the sheep back in the correct field in under ten minutes with me having to holler at both dogs. Mouse just wants to work, Zeke wants to screw off and chase rodents. I want to leave the sheep on the back hillside until they have it eaten down. I will need to check for water in the upper prime pasture tomorrow. We have a few cows locked in there and eventually that water supply will disappear.
I tried to get my disc set put and going and the second set broke off. I need to get a new plate welded onto it. I had to break two bolts to get it apart and managed to get one set up to the field. I threw on a few hundred pounds of weight to get it to dig into the ground. I am hoping Mr Consumer can drag it around the field tomorrow. This is a stupid problem and one that my welding class is going to fix this fall, but that does not help me currently.
I wasn’t done mowing but I had the highlights done and that bull enclosure is not building itself. Saturday Mr Consumer came out to help me. I had not gotten the tractor from out of the field yet so I had him mow the yard while I went to get the tractor. This worked out well as he managed to mow the entire lawn while I got the tractor and got it refueled. We hooked on the auger. I keep tying to teach him how to hook the pto drive on and off but he is not getting it. He hasn’t managed to successfully get it on or off yet. I started to drill holes and had him go get the post hole digger and a shovel. He came back with two T post drivers and a shovel… I gave more descriptive instructions as to what a post hole digger looked like. He came back with one the second time. I had him dig out the holes and then fill them with water from the front creek. The ground is too hard and I could not dig the holes down to as far as needed. I was hoping that after the water soaked in I would be able to get down the three feet. If not then I will have to build more rock cribs and I really don’t want to do that.
At 1130 Mr Consumer tells me he has to go. He actually had to tap my leg as I had closed my eyes and was resting while digging a hole. The tractor movement is like an adult bouncy chair. It will lull you right into a calm sleepy state. It was taking 20 minutes to get one hole into the ground. I continued to drill holes. I marked out the entire area with paint and attempted to get every hole started. I had about 10 holes left to start when I was done. I filled all the incomplete holes, all but the five I actually managed to finish, with water. My hope was on Sunday I could finish.
Gizmo has a hole in the yard. I am unsure where it is currently as I have plugged three already this weekend. He keeps coming out into the barn lot and hanging out with me. He wanders around then just lays down and watches me. At this rate I may be able to teach him how to herd sheep. The barn lot is pretty much dead and no grass left. The horses are not happy. I had to let the sheep out onto the back hillside but the horses are stuck to the barn lot. I am feeding them hay again.