50% complete

The bull enclosure is progressing faster than I anticipated but not fast enough. Annmarie walked into the old house yesterday to look for some string and just about could not get around. I have tools, boxes and various buckets full of tools and items laying all over the floor. It’s quite the maze. She feels like this is unacceptable and needs to be neater. I make a point to do it 1-2 times a year. The more projects I do the worse it gets. An alternate solution is for me to do no projects and it would stay clean. I am pretty sure that option is not on the table. I need to get the bull enclosure done and the barn dug out then I can take a solid day and dig out the old house. When I dig it out I can cut the shelves for the coat closet inside the house at the same time. This will make the day feel more productive. The bull enclosure is done all the way down to the water. I have the gate hung and woven wire behind the wooden rails and cow panels over the powder river panels. If I don’t do this the sheep will get in and out of the enclosure and we want to put the ram in there occasionally also.
This will give us a dual purpose area and it will make sorting animals easier. We are going to fix a fence on the back side and install another gate making it impossible to run around the barn lot in a circle. This is a favorite move of the sheep and cows when we are trying to get them into the barn or the corral. We may even add one more small segregation fence next year depending on how the animals sort this year. We are doing everything we can to make an easy sorting and handling process. We are not getting any younger and if it is not easy we won’t be able to keep doing it after we retire.

I will have to take the tractor and dig down about four inches on the barn side of the new gate. It won’t swing both ways and I need it to swing over to the other gate so that they can be latched together to allow access to the sheep barn. This may have to wait until we get a few days of rain which could be a while.

I found out that Bubba is looking forward to digging out the barn and not moving rocks for cribs. Trumping his fear of snakes is an even bigger scare of spiders. There are far more spiders under the rocks then snakes. I wonder sometimes how the next generation will survive.

Sarah and I spotted our very first grasshopper of the year this week. It really looks like a stick. I know there is a special name for this type of grasshopper but I cannot remember what it is. So I will call it a “twighopper”. It was very patient and let me get right next to it with the camera. Its the only one we have seen all summer. I did end up with a baby prying mantis on my hand while weeding the elevated garden beds. It was less than one inch long. This one did not bite me! Usually the adult mantis try and take a chunk out of my hand.

We scoped out the orchard yesterday and looked at the fruit trees. This is their third year and they are looking good. I will have to trim them this winter and try and get them raised up off the ground further and to bush out higher off the ground. Otherwise the sheep are going to be eating all the leaves when we remove the surrounding protective fence. Each tree has a cow panel wrapped around it with a 2 foot extension on top to keep the alpaca and horse from going over the top. We thinned out the Asian pears and there is a bumper crop of them for such a little tree. The tree ripened pears are so much better than the ones in the store. Next year we want to get another five fruit trees. We would like to get a couple more plum trees and a couple of apricot trees. Another apple or two and I would love to grow a couple of nut trees and some Nanking cherries and a few other things, maybe even some cranberry bushes!

The nephew spotted a honey bee hive in our walnut tree this year. They have had a hive here once before and died out a few years ago. We spotted several bees going in and out and you can see the wax and honey glaze to the wood here. For some reason the bees did not winter in this location well. I hope they do better this year. We really want to get a bee hive but we have to create a little more bee friendly atmosphere. I am working on 2-3 locations to grow wildflowers in for the bees. The real problem is they need water and it needs to be fenced off so the sheep cannot get in and eat the flowers. I have a couple of locations picked out now and just need to build some more fence for it.

We have looked into alfalfa and yep it’s going to cost us. To plant dryland Round Up ready alfalfa I am told it is $400/50#bag and you need to plant 20#/acre. I went up yesterday with my cell phone and used a cool app called AGRIplot that lets you put in boundaries and way points and it uses your phone GPS to calculate acreage. We have 20 acres that we need to plant. I had thought it was 22 acres. This $4 app just saved me $400! So basically, the seed alone will cost us $3200. This does seem steep but we only have to plant every 7 years minimum if we seed correctly. Plus, our chemical expenses will be minimal. In the long run we will come out ahead, everyone I talk to who planted alfalfa and chose not to use Round Up ready due to expenses has said that it would have been cheaper and easier to maintain in the long run if they had just paid the money up front.

I went up there and the weeds are coming back so in the evenings this week I will be spraying. I kept chasing a pair of twin whitetail fawns all over the field. They would not run very far and their mom just kept wandering around the field. I did have to let the upper prime pasture cattle have access to the barn lot yesterday. The water coming up from those two springs has dried up and is no longer running. the only water coming up from the ground now is the main spring in the barn lot and a few little springs down by the schoolhouse that dump into Stewart creek. Those springs are not enough to make Stewart creek run just enough to make pools here and there. I found a dead sheep in the upper prime pasture. It had been torn apart and was probably only about four months old. The carcass is dried and it was in the tall grass but it is from this year. Most likely a coyote as we have not seen any stray dogs this year. We are getting ready to sort the cows and sheep again to make two herds. We are going to put the ram in with the sheep so will have to pull off the female lambs we don’t want impregnated and put them with the heifer we don’t want impregnated. We will toss in one of the steers to be with the heifer so she is not alone. The sheep and cows don’t like to be alone.

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