40% done, wish it was enough

Last week I spent three days planting and then prepping the next field. It takes me almost an hour an acre to run my little tractor around in a circle. It just becomes a game of time in the tractor seat. I also managed to score 20 railroad ties for $15/each. This is a great deal and I have 10 holes dug from this spring that need ties dropped into them. I had run out and don’t like paying $25/each for them.

The welding class is still going, I am unsure how well. I finally managed to see the metal melt and not guess at the what is occurring in the blurry hot red blob I was seeing. No, I did not go get new glasses even though that may help. I accidentally discovered it when I started to weld horizontally at eye level. I was not trying to look out the bottom of my glasses and realized that if I looked up toward the ceiling I could see a reflection in the top of my welding goggles that was the actual weld in focus! Its kinda weird when you look up at the ceiling to weld in front of you but it works great. The only real problem is when you are done with a weld and attempt to look around you your eyes have to try and refocus back to normal. Like I said its weird but it works. Weeds just keep coming back, in the spring I will hit both these fields with 2-4-D to knock out the broadleaf weeds.

Winter is coming soon

This morning when the sun rose fall officially announced her presence. The large cottonwood trees in the front were shedding leaves by the 100s in the wind, it was quite impressive. I attempted to get a picture with actual leaves in the air but did not manage it. Today was my day off of work and I had a nice breakfast with a friend and then went to D and B to buy the rest of my grass seed for the upper 8 acre field. It was all gone!! I made them look in the computer and there was none left. I should have bought all they had the week before! I knew I should have but thought I was close and then ended up using more seed than I had planned. I still should have just bought all they had, it was on sale! I then had to make a few phone calls to get information on a local source. I ended up getting 200# of seed from Mckennon station for $644. They told me it was supposed to rain on Sunday so I really need to get this seed in the ground. I was just heading home when the powder coating place called for the second time.

I turned around and headed to Hermiston to pickup the mailbox holders. They turned out very nice and will not corrode any more. We just need to get a white mailbox now. Donna already has a black mailbox to go onto her black holder. I just need to cut the wooden bases for the mailboxes to mount them onto the holders. They are still very heavy! I will need the tractor to get them out of the back of the pickup.

When I went out to start planting seeds in the upper field I noticed cows on the back hillside, they are not our cows. Annmarie called all the neighbors when she got home. She thinks she may have found out whose they are and have called and left a message. I am going to have to figure out how wide the upper gate opening is and attach a couple of gates up there to keep the cows out.

The upper prime field I planted last week is sprouting quite nicely. My hope is I can get the seed in the next field, it will rain and the seed will sprout and grow for a couple of weeks before winter moves in for the long haul.

I managed to walk out and spread seed over about 40% of the field and managed to run the tractor over it to press it into the ground. The rain did not wait for Sunday. I should have brought a jacket, the cold rain made my hands turn into icicles. I had to turn on my headlights to finish covering the last of the seed on the ground.

Tomorrow we are going to have to sort sheep first thing and then kill the three whethers we had saved. I hope to be back at the planting by noon.

Clod Busting!

I spent most of the day on the tractor today. The rain caused me to delay planting but it also softened the dirt. My hope was it would soak the big dirt clods and then I could work the soil one last time to break them up and smooth out the field. I got a four acre field done today and it looks fantastic. Tomorrow I am going to seed it, our fancy chest seeder that holds 20# of seed came this week so I am going to throw the seed out by walking around the field. Once I have all the seed on the ground I will take the tractor and roll over the seed with the arena roller. Once that is done it can rain all it wants. I want to get into the next field and do another 7 acres after that. My plan is to get that done this week.

Annmarie moved our office furniture around today. We had talked about it several times but I guess she got tired of the talking and went ahead and just did it while I was out on the tractor. The good part of this is there is now a spot on top of the desk where I can put this large glass jar and fill it up with Marbles!! The downstairs glass jar is full of marbles so its time to start another one. I am not sure that Annmarie is going to agree with me but I will just get a wrist sling shot and call the marbles apocalypse ammo and keep buying them. I am not sure she will buy into my scheme but I can try and sell it anyways.

I was heading down to a delightful dinner of TatorTot Casserole filled with green beans, carrots and cheese when I noticed this picture on the stairs. I liked it so I took it,

Winter is almost here, maybe?

It is time for the final mow of the yard. The running cable that keeps the mower running after you start it with the safety handle is broken. I have the part, but no time so I went to Plan S for mowing the lawn- Sheep. I have been letting the sheep in for a few hours every day to work the lawn down. This gets it mowed down no matter how tall it is and as an added bonus the yard gets fertilized at the same time. Our ram is pictured below, he is doing very well. Annmarie says she was able to feed him an apple with no problems. He has shown absolutely no aggression and everyone is pregnant so he is doing his job. The only animals that despise this mowing system are the dogs. They have to stay inside while the sheep are in the yard. This causes much angst amongst them and Gizmo likes to think he is a herding dog and runs off the front porch to chase the sheep. They run from him which makes it that much better for him.

I had a dumpster delivered on Friday so that I can get rid of some old glass windows. I can break them over the dumpster and salvage the aluminum frames for scrap metal. I will be doing a little more cleanup around the place also. My goal is to fill the entire dumpster up to maximize the expense.

I spent Friday fixing the roof at our rental. It is all done, I did find another leak in the underground sprinkler system while we were cleaning up tools that will need to be repaired.

Rain is here

I am happy the rain is here. The upper 80 acre wheat field just got planted this last week so the rain had perfect timing for it. I have yet to plant our 14 acres of grass but this rain should let me break up the last of the dirt clots and make a nice smooth dirt surface. That will be much nicer to cut hay from next year. Unfortunately, the rain brought forth a nasty leak in our daughter’s house. I went over and discovered two leaking places. I will have to replace a 8×16 foot section of roof and fix the leak around the stovepipe. It never seems to end sometimes. One crisis after another.

Normally, I would do it after work but the welding class is tying up two of my weeknights until 2100. I am learning but there is a definite disadvantage for those of us who are true newbies. I spend every moment of every lab trying to get a passable weld. I just started brazing and I am horrible. So it will take me another 5-10 hours to figure it out. I just keep reminding myself that I need this class and knowledge to get our projects around the farm completed!

I looked up how much rain we got, 1.6 inches! That is a lot of rain for a place that only gets 12″ annually. This means I have to wait a few days to get into the fields.

Annmarie found another dead sheep on the upper hillside. We have lost four sheep this summer and not managed to kill a single coyote or another other sheep eating predator. At this point I am starting to suspect it may be a cougar. We have had a couple of “silent” nights were every living animal at night stops making noise. This is not caused by coyotes. This is a stupid problem. We have lost enough sheep to justify the expense of a guard dog but only this year. We will have to sustain steady losses to make it pencil out financially.

Mailbox upgrade

Friday was my first day of vacation that I actually did not have to go into my paying job. I have been on PTO since Wednesday on paper, reality is not always the same. This allowed me to play catch up on some things.

I went hunting and managed to spot the little spike buck that has been in the wheat field every morning. I went by him and thought he was a doe. On the way back to the house I stopped one last time and looked at all the does and spotted the horns. My paper deer tag covered up the horns. He will be very good eating, I was able to pick him up and carry him to the cooler without any help. I would like to think that after moving ten ton of hay this last week that its pure muscle strength, but since I felt every bale I am not sure that is the correct answer. When we first moved here a neighbor made custom mailboxes for us out of old gears. The paint has started to flake off and show rust so we had decided that it was time to take them over to Hermiston and get them bead blasted and powder coated so they would last for another 20-30 years. Unfortunately, we still need our mail so I used a bunch of pallets to create a temporary holder. I plan on dropping these off in Hermiston next week.

Thursday we got the last six tons of hay into the machine shed. I only ended up with three blisters and only one of those tore open. I definitely don’t have farmer hands. I still take care to minimize the calluses on my hands so it doesn’t affect my paying job. I need those baby smooth hands for a reason.

I had a friend message me as we loaded the lasts two tons onto the trailer that she wanted to borrow my trailer. Great timing! I said come over ASAP as I need to unload the last two tons into the machine shed. They showed up 10 minutes after I finished unloading the last bale and closing the gate.

I picked up 4 sheets of plywood to lie on top of the hay so that main beam can be replaced. I will be laying it out this week and wrestling the beam up onto the hay. I will cut it on top of the hay. The beam weighs 165#, I asked when I picked it up. There are two other boards to replace also.

The alpaca think they are starving and have been hanging out and eating the alfalfa scraps. They are even ignoring the green grass for an opportunity to eat alfalfa leaves. They dig through and pick out just the leaves before eating anything else. We are taking bets on which color of alpaca is the next to be bullied to death. We did separate them for a couple of weeks, it is supposed to help as it throws off the group dynamics but it seems like they just fight more when they get back together.

It was a day of finding missing items. I had misplaced the Bluetooth speaker that normally lives in the bathroom. No music during the shower was killing me! I have been looking all over the place and spotted it yesterday when I was eyeing the dog tag maker. It was sitting on the corner of the maker blending in with the color. I will be moving the dog tag maker into our master bedroom this week hopefully. I just need to talk my nephews into helping move a 300# chunk of iron 30 feet. We are getting felt pads for the floor today.

I was out in the old house tossing the cardboard boxes from our beef onto the “to be burned” pile stored out of the weather when I looked over at my waders and spotted my good pocket knife hanging from the chest of the waders. This had been missing for six weeks. I still need to find my Sawzall though…

It rained!! First measurable rain in over 65 days. First good rain for over 90 days! I am now under the gun to get the grass hay planted. I will be working those fields one more time. We ordered a chest mounted seed spreader that will hold 20# of seed at a time from Amazon yesterday. I will be walking the field to seed it. If that works well we are going to start tearing up and reseeding all of the bottoms to increase our feed capacity. If I can get them good enough we may even hay a few of them in the spring.

I learned something new that I should have known on Thursday, sheep only have a gestation of 5 months not 6. This would explain many of my issues with predicting when the sheep are going to have babies! I have thought for the last 8 years that it was 6 months not 5.

Hay is the gift that keeps on giving

After the dry summer and having to feed for 6 weeks we needed more hay. I found another 10 ton local and started to pick it up on Wednesday. This is not as easy as it sounds as we had to load it manually and unload it again by hand. The bales weigh 100# each on average and those heavy ones are twice as heavy as the rest. Luckily I had help from the Hay Man. He came over and unloaded with me. He stacked the stack higher with the old bales as they were lighter then we stacked the new ones into the machine shed. The stack is high enough now I can throw some plywood on top of it and fix the broken beam. I have the new beam now and it needs to go up this week so that it doesn’t warp.

Hay Man and I then went and looked at the upper fields and discussed the grass and hay plans. I had no idea that you needed to bales the hay with dew on the row. Plus you have to have the moisture content of the bale correct or they rot or catch on fire! This is going to further complicate things. I had to call a halt so that I did not die from moving the hay. We will do another four ton and then I will unload the last two ton myself. The days of being able to do ten ton in a single day are over. Now if the hay elevator worked we probably could have done 10 ton but it needs to be welded first. I have begun the welding class at the college but it is going to take all quarter for me to learn how to do it passably. I spent 2.5 hours last week one night and still could not do four simple welds. So now I am behind and need to play catchup.

My mother-in-law and wife conspired against me this week to get me to feed the cows again. I believe the cows are fine, I do know that there is zero green in the pasture below and it looks like they could be starving but its not winter yet. This is my go to line when we talk about feeding before it gets cold. I never win and end up feeding the animals but I feel like I should always voice my issue. It doesn’t change anything in the long run but I like to take a stance, even if it is futile. So I pushed down another large bale of grain hay. No one came running, not the cows or the sheep who were 100 feet away. They had already eaten down the first bale to nothing so they must not be starving. Most starving animals will mob me when I bring out hay or at least run over when they hear the tractor. Not this time, I did notice that the next day they are all camped out around the easy meal.

It was opening deer season this Saturday and I expected to spend my normal two hours hunting for a little buck. No joy at all, I have spent almost 7 hours this weekend and have not fired a single shot yet. There is a little tiny spike buck that keeps showing up in the wheat field but he is super spooked and when I get out of the vehicle he starts running away full out. I had a nice shot this morning but there was a doe standing directly on the other side of him so I had to wait for either one of them to move and then it was too late. Luckily, I have vacation this week, a nice happy accident, and I will work on getting some venison on the table later in the week. These hawks are all over the place and I managed to follow this one until I got a nice shot of it flying, not too shabby considering I was using my cell phone camera.

There are a lot of pheasants this year, but the odd part is they normally jump when you are wishing 50-75 yards of them so you can never get a shot off. This year they are holding tight and they are everywhere. We counted 25 in one morning but had 15 other times and that is without beating the bushes. Some pheasant hunters are going to be pleased.