Omelet anyone?

I have been craving a ham and cheese omelette for days. One would think that this would be an easy fix, but one would be wrong. The light went out in our chicken coop and I replaced it early in the week but this sudden change screws with the chickens ability to lay eggs in the winter. Now they have to get used to the light again and this has caused the egg production to halt. We also have a bunch of free loader house finches sneaking into the coop whenever the automatic chicken door opens. They are going for the easy meal plan.

Now we had an extra dozen eggs on top of the fridge on Monday but Annmarie took them to town and sold them to one of our customers. Annmarie consumes one raw egg a day with her morning smoothie, fresh fruit, frozen fruit, Greek yogurt, raw egg and a splash of milk. I need three eggs to make a decent omelette. I am only getting 1, 2 or 0 eggs per day this week. I cannot seem to gain eggs in the fridge. Tonight when I went out I got 2 more eggs total. I now have a total of four eggs in the fridge and will be having an omelette in the morning tomorrow! Luckily, I held off on using the two eggs in the fridge for French toast this morning. I never would have gotten my delicious ham, cheese, onion, garlic, jalapeño sharp cheddar cheese omelette. I can already taste the deliciousness. I went out and worked on the shelves some more. I faced the sanded down oak plywood sheets with an oak 1/4″ edging. I smeared glue on the whole thing, pin nailed it then put clamps and wood shims to hold it all together. I will take the clamps off tomorrow and work on getting the pieces stained and clear coated after that. It is going to make the house stink but it needs to be done. It will take me a few more days to get the stain on and both sides of the shelves sealed up. I want to be able to just wash them down if needed. Pretty much anything is going to be more organized than it was before. I took out all the gun barrel clamps they had on the left side of the upper cabinet. I found several hats I thought I had lost when I cleaned out the cupboard.

Annmarie has been working on getting our laser cutter up and going. She is trying to get it perfected so we can burn in the old pictures from the farm and put them up in our kitchen. To do that she needs to practice and practice. I am having trouble keeping my phone propped up in the kitchen while typing the blog so she took a piece of scrap she had printed a picture on and make a ipad/iPhone holder out of it. I love it and think it is even neater with the picture on it. I can now do the blog without using the napkin holder and pushing the bottom up with my keyboard.

Annmarie imported all of my blogspot posts into WordPress so I now have all the blogs since 2010 in one place! She also managed to create a new look, a quick subscribe button, search function, categorize by month and year and a list of top 50 tags I have used that you can click on. It is super cool! This is where the magic happens at our kitchen table. I type most of the blogs up right here, it is more convenient than going up to the computer. Once I finish the welding class a new kitchen table is on my agenda. I am going to weld it into two pieces that stack and the bottom piece will be on casters. I will then glue on a solid piece of granite to the top of that. I would like to have some wooden dividers built in also. I am still trying to decide how those are going to fit. I have to build and tear it apart in my mind at least a 100 times before I start a project. It cuts way down on the redos.

I did snag a picture of the new diamond bungee cord arrangement in the barn. I had a partial box made out of 3×3 wire mesh so I finishing wrapping it with wire and will use it in the barn lot. It is all ready for rocks, although I should put a wooden post in it before I start tossing rocks into it.

The new barn kitty is a pest, she comes running the minute you open a door and wants to be greeted. If you don’t stop and pet her she will follow you around the entire barn getting underfoot. I was trying to do the horse’s feet today and had one of their front feet in the air and the the cat kept rubbing on the other down front leg. The horse kept trying to hop to the side with only one foot on the ground. I finally had to shoo the cat away so I could finish cleaning out horse feet.

I am wanting to build another fence! I make Annmarie crazy with all the fences but honestly, they all do something. I want to plant flowers on this rocky hillside to cut down the erosion. We want to do bee hives sooner than later and they will need flowers. I like the disorganized chaos of wildflowers. Annmarie likes orderly flowers better. The horses and sheep keep eroding this hillside so I am going to fence it off and then plant the whole thing in wildflowers. The fence will keep the horses and sheep out of the flowers and hopefully the bees will like it. We will mount a sprinkler on top of one of the posts so we can water it in the summer.

I have decided to add an occasional piece of Bad Dad Poetry, they are all inspired by my daughter and I write them for her with a theme.

My wallet is thin

My pocket yearns for the days of prosperity

It used to struggle to hold in the bounty

This month times are lean

If only someone could help?

Catch up time inside

Winter should be here soon, even though the grass is still green. I have moved on to inside projects. It’s after Thanksgiving so it is time to give up outside things. I did sneak in an hour this morning adding a new hook above the sheep doors so I could run a bungee cord over it and stiffen the doors in the middle. I need to get a picture of it now and everyone will understand why we spend $35/year on bungee cords. The cords hold our feeders up to the walls and each other also.

Today I worked on our hall closet. We bought a special tool to drill holes into the walls so we could add movable shelves. I figured out how to make them work today and have spent two days sanding oak plywood for the shelves. I had two extra sheets of oak from the cabinets I made a few years ago. I am even going to face the front edge with some leftover edging from the air return. Tomorrow I will glue on the facing then stain it in the evening. The big problem is I took the door off when we laid new tile on the floor. I cannot seem to find the door. I have been searching for months. It may have ended up on a burn pile…

We had prime rib cut from our beef this year. We have always made it into steak in the past but decided to try our own. It was amazing!! I took a picture below before I started adding the dry rub. It is so much leaner than what you get at the store and we cook it in a salt coffin low and slow and it was the best prime rib we have had in a long time and it didn’t cost us $85. There is one more and I am thinking about cooking it on the table top Traeger grill we got this summer. I should probably practice with brisket first before I attempt the prime rib.

Annmarie had been talking to me about installing a half door going into her craft room. She has mentioned it several times but this week I had a free day so I just went out to the old house and dug around until I found an old door that was wide enough. The door was not perfectly proportioned and one panel was larger than the other. I decided that I did not want to have to move the door handle as this was going to be painful. So I measured the height I wanted and just sawed the door off at that height. This left two sticky up parts on each side. So I popped the leftover panel piece out with some pliers and a hammer. Then I beat on the scrap piece until I was able to pull it the top molded part of the door. I then glued the side of that piece and beat it in to the top opening back into the old grooves. Viola, a half door! I had to shave off 2.5 inches off of one side and then chisel in some spots for old hinges I found in a drawer. img_6565It took me another 2 hours to hang the door as no door, no matter how small is ever easy to hang. I had to remove the hinges twice and chisel them deeper into the wood. My tolerances were only 1/8″ and that was a little too tight. I thought I would just attach the latch part into the wall and I would be done! This is were you realize 5 hours into the job that you used the top part of the door and the latch is backward and you don’t want to change the swing side of the door. So now I will be buying a sliding latch to go on the front of the door to keep it closed. The best part of this is that I drilled a hole into the door casing 11 years ago when I was running new electrical wire. It was an accident and I have meant to fill it for years. I will now be using that hole as a receptacle for the new sliding lock I am putting on the half door! Maybe I was planning for this eventuality and did not even realize it myself.

Final fall Mowing

I am still trying to get ready for winter. I should be ready, I guess I am ready if you count having enough food for all the animals. The nice thing about Winter is it waits for no man! Once it is here I will be done prepping regardless of how many things are left on the list. This morning after I went out to let the sheep out of the barn I unhooked the hoses and shut off the outside fire hydrant spigots. I had two of them still open with Y splitters and hoses still attached. Annmarie caught me unhooking these hoses. She said I got lucky as we have had three freezing nights this last week. I like to think of it as good timing, no break, no foul.

I decided to rake the leaves in the yard and do the final mowing. My heart is really not in the task and I have lots of other things to do so I cheated. I closed off gates so that the only place the sheep could go to get real food was our front yard. I am hoping the sheep will eat the leaves along with the grass. I had to keep the dogs inside all day which they did not appreciate but hopefully with a couple of days of no dog time the sheep can make a dent in the yard.

Annmarie wants us to create a chute that goes from the barn to the bull/ram corral. She doesn’t want us to create a mean ram by pinning him up against a wall, tying on a halter and dragging him across the barn lot. We were suppose to go out and calmly talk about needed changes to the fence and I was supposed to listen not throw up road blocks to change. She doesn’t want any more of my mammoth rock cribs. We need a rock crib to keep the fence from leaning over courtesy of the horses. She wanted a gate in the side of the fence. I managed to pull the fence out of alignment and add in a four foot gate bolted to the large corner rock crib. The fence is still leaning and I will need some type of rock crib I am just unsure what kind I will construct.

I managed to get the rest of the cow panels up inside the fence to stop the sheep from jumping through the feeder panels. I also found all the tools and picked them up. I found an impact driver and two 3.0 amp batteries and about 12 fastenal anchor bolts in the lamb shed hidden! This is a major score as I needed those 12 fasteners to finish the last of the wooden rails over behind the lean to. Once those four boards are in the corral will be officially completed. I still have to fix the low side of the lamb shed as the sheep have punched out about 4 boards and can now get out of the barn. Tomorrow the plan is those four boards and hopefully get the lamb barn completed. I put both batteries on the charger and should be good to go in the morning.

We had ordered a white mail box for our repainted stand but the new box was smaller than the one my Mother-in-law purchased. So then we had to buy another mailbox that was the same size. I put the numbers on today and cut wooden platforms that I screwed onto the stands. The platforms allowed us to then screw the boxes to the entire stand creating a completed official mailbox. I had already brought gravel down to the road and created a flat spot for the mailboxes a few weeks ago. I love our new red and white mailbox. Since the gates are open for the sheep the dogs cannot hang outside. At night they want to terrorize the entire front yard so I put a stop to that. I placed a flashing light on everyone’s collar and was able to stand on the front porch and holler at everyone in the dark. It is even better than trying to keep track of them during the day!

Winter is almost here

Well, I can no longer say that Winter is not coming. It has frozen three times this week and we have had to turn our propane stove on. Last night when we went to bed, Annmarie wanted to open opposing windows wide open! I was freezing to death, so I moaned and groaned until she agreed to crack both windows only. It took me 20 minutes to get warm before I could fall asleep. I am putting another blanket at the foot of the bed just to add another layer over my feet!

Yesterday was errand day for me. I took a drive over to Hermiston to pickup our pig we swapped for lambs. The hanging weight on the pig was 199#. I brought three boxes home of frozen deliciousness. Our freezers were full but I had a bunch of frozen cherries from last year and the chickens are now eating those. I managed to get the whole pig into the freezer after clearing out the cherries, bacon before fruit!!! We had one pork belly turned into side pork. We have never done this before but we both like side pork and wanted to give it a try. You have to do the whole thing so we ended up with 7 pounds of side pork. As we had sausage this morning for breakfast Annmarie inquired if it was the new pig. I told her we had to eat the old pig first but I did get out a package of side pork for Sunday morning!

Annmarie is doing yoga 6 of 7 mornings as soon as she wakes up. I am on the “gonna workout” plan. The dogs have all learned that the yoga mat is a “no go” zone. Annmarie is not to be disturbed if she is on the mat and the dogs don’t get to step on it. It was not very hard to teach all three of them this rule. Yesterday, while running errands I had to pickup a package at the post office. It was some new yoga tights and dresses Annmarie had gotten on sale. This morning she told me there was a “no go” rule for me also after I violated the yoga zone.

We have had dumpster now for four weeks and have managed to fill it every week. I am hopeful this week that I will get the glass windows out of the lamb shed and break them into the dumpster. This was the sole reason for getting the dumpster in the first place. Annmarie keeps reminding me that if we can fill it for weeks on end maybe we should have gotten one sooner? It takes some concerted effort to keep filling it as I don’t just have a pile ready to go but I think we only have 1-2 weeks left before I will have them remove it. That will have gotten rid of 10-12 yards of trash.

The new barn kitty is still hanging out in the barn. It is a fixed adult black and white cat. Still in the barn and doing well. We feed the barn cats on a regular basis and it is settling right in. I did hear one big howling cat fight this week emanating from the barn but it settled down after a couple of minutes and we have seen the new kitty and our orange kitty both since then.

The chickens do not like daylight savings time either. This week I noticed that some of the chickens were not going into the coop at night. I opted to allow natural selection to occur, only the smart shall survive. Now, I have not seen a predator around but they are always there and yep I was right. Thursday we spotted a suspicious lump out on the back hillside visible from the kitchen window. The magpies were swarming it so it was pretty obvious. I went out and sure enough it was a chicken carcass. Imagine my not surprise when I went out to get eggs last night and every chicken was inside the coop and protected behind the automatic chicken door.

The cows are now getting fed on a weekly basis. Luckily, we have some big bales left this year. They are super handy to feed as I just have to push one or two out to the cows. I still need to get the tire fixed on the small pickup bed trailer as that is what I am going to hook up to the tractor to feed the small bales.

We are putting the sheep in every night now. The first four evenings we had to use the dogs but now if we go out after dark the sheep have already put themselves into the barn. We just give them a little feed at night as a reward. They are not starving as half a bale is enough for a reward and they leave some in the feeders. We are so happy with the new ram, he is super calm. We have decided that he only gets scratched under the chin so that we are not trying for dominance by reaching for the top of his head.

Corral and barn lot blues

It has been a great weekend! Annmarie and I sat down and created a list of things that need to happen before snow flies. Now I realize that it should have already been done but I have been busy. So now that the prediction is for a wet and warm winter I can pile on more outside work. So there are only 18 things on the list, my full time plus job and 6 hours a week of college to juggle to get it all done.

I had started a burn pile in the barn lot when we cleaned up the corral area. So I lit it on fire Saturday and started dragging all the burnable materials onto it. I had three other piles of scrap wood that the animals had made into not piles that needed to be picked up. If a flame could clean it up I tossed it on. I went through the entire barn lot and tossed all the scrap wood onto the fire. I also picked up all the rocks in the barn lot and tossed them next to the lamb shed to fill in the runoff channel that the water was creating from running off the metal roof. I even managed to drag the entire barn lot clean of horse poop and straw from the barn.

Today I concentrated on attempting to finish up the bull/ram corral. I needed to finish the space between the lean to and the lamb shed. I also had a gate that needed to be installed. The problem was the railroad tie needed to be tied into the lean to before I could hang the gate on the post. The gate is beat up so I knew there would need to be some necessary latch adjustments.

There is no power out near the lamb shed so I used my battery operated sawzall to cut the lumber. I ran out of heavy wood anchor bolts and I still need about 10 more. I have four more boards to install and three more panels to remove before the corral is done. I am going to have to order some more online. Through Amazon they are about 40% cheaper than I can get locally. I just have to plan better so that I have them on hand before I actually need them. I had to finish cleaning out the corral and remove all the panels I had laying around. I found enough to go across one side of the barn lot. I have to install one more gate in my quick fence and we will have an area blocked off for the cows and horses. It’s not sheep proof yet and I think I really need to install a fence with three more rock cribs to hold everything in place. Maybe next year, or the year after that if I get time. You can kind of see it below with the opening on the left side of the picture.

I even managed to get all the horse and sheep poop drug out of the old lamb shed and I spread out one of the compost piles in the barn lot. I will hit it with the corral rake this week and smooth it all out then toss on some seed.

We are putting the sheep into the barn every night now after I had to get up and scare off the coyotes with the 22 pistol. We are also putting the horses in so they don’t continue eating new green grass 24/7.

I sprayed our door stops with clear coat today and installed both of our bathroom ones. They keep the door knobs from hitting the walls and making dents. Annmarie put screw holes in them so I don’t have to glue them onto the wall anymore. Now we can take them down if needed. I had to zoom into get a close up so you can actually see the design. Annmarie prints them on our 3D printer then we spray them with black paint, then she appliqués some brown paint onto them with a sponge and then we hit them with clear coat. They turned out very nice.

It’s No Shave November again!

I remembered on November 1 this year that it is no shave November! I did not shave off the entire beard on Halloween and then grow it for 30 days. This would be a good experiment to do next year and I may try it as I only need 30 days to get a really nice beard. Instead I have not trimmed my beard in quite a while and am going into the month fairly bushy for me. I will try and make it the whole month without shaving! Annmarie tells me I only get to do that if I make a donation to a cancer not for profit as that is how the month got started. So I will be doing that as it is only fair to have a soapbox to stand on while defending the facial hair.

On last Saturday when we sorted sheep we did count them and have lost four ewes this summer. We have 44 ewes and 1 ram now. Last night Annmarie woke me up to say the coyotes were on our back hillside. It sounded like they were directly out our bedroom window. We have not started to bring the sheep in every night as there is plenty of food out and about but the predators are going to force our hand. I ran downstairs, grabbed the Walther P22, flipped on the back porch light and shot a round into the back hillside just across the creek about 15 feet away. What I really wanted to do was blaze away onto the back hillside to chase the coyotes away. The problem with that is its not safe or responsible. The entire back hillside is one big rock pile and there would be rounds ricocheting everywhere! I might also accidentally hit a sheep or cow and that would not be cool. Flipping on the back porch light was probably just as effective as the loud sound of a gunshot in the night. But together they made me feel confident that I was getting my point across to the coyotes.

If we lose another 10 ewes it will be worth it to get a 22-250 rifle with a thermal or laser night scope. But for now we keep up the harassment techniques. I may have to start circling the property in the evenings once before starting dinner to look for coyotes. They are becoming enough of nuisance that I am going to have to start committing some of my time to hunting them down.

We have had a dumpster for three weeks now and I have managed to fill it every week. I still have not put the glass windows into it which is the sole reason I had it brought out!I still need to empty out the barn trash, the windows and I have a pile of trash out in the old lamb shed. These are things that cannot be burnt as those go in the burn pile. Nor is it anything that can decompose.

It rained all night again last night and I was supposed to clean out the barn lot today. I am hoping it stops for about three hours today so I can get out and finish cleaning up the horse area. I also need to cut off the 2×8 that is sticking out off of the fence. I almost knocked myself out twice last winter hitting it and I need to just make it go away this year. I found my SawzAll, so now it should be easy to cut off.

Grass is greener on the other side

Last weekend I spent three days trying to plant the last of the grass hay pasture in the upper fields. I had to drag the field with the harrow to knock down the weeds and smooth out the ground. One advantage of all the rain is that it softened up the dirt clods I had inadvertently created this summer. I managed to get the ground pretty smooth.

Friday was a gorgeous day! The temperature was pleasant and I was able to work most of the day on the tractor. I was able to finish the day and tell Annmarie that I was gonna get it done this weekend! I even managed to plant and cover almost 1.5 acres.

Saturday the plan had to be altered. I had been putting off killing the sheep for the last two months and managed to put it off until the last weekend of October! There was no more month to procrastinate in so Saturday was kill sheep day. We had three sheep to slaughter. Annmarie and I put them into the barn with the help of the dogs then when the two buyers showed up we sorted off the three whethers. Two of them were around 60# and the third was around 90#, he was the oldest. I usually do the killing when we are not having them professionally killed. I bleed them out using an old Basque method. We lift the animals and set them onto the barn window ledge with their head hanging out the window. I hold their head and right where their chin is I pinch the trachea slightly to find out where it located in vicinity to the spine then slide a fillet knife behind the trachea without cutting it. This allows you to sever both carotids and a hole on each side of the neck. The sharp side of the knife is pointed toward the spine so you don’t knick the trachea. You then just turn the knife sideways and apply pressure towards the spine, creating a wider hole for the blood to drain out. As long as the trachea is not cut the animals will just lay there and bleed out. It can be messy for the person holding the knife if the artery sprays blood out the top hole instead of following the laws of gravity. They just drain out and you end up with a very clean carcass. I am getting better at it. No mistakes or inadvertent knicks this time. Its important to understand that we treat the animals well and provide for them so that they can provide for us. Its not cruel, it is their purpose. We are all a part of the food chain and being at the top is always better than the alternative.

The two smaller animals we traded for a pig and the larger one we sold to an amazing gentleman from India. We all three cleaned, skinned and cut them up. We were able to use up almost every part of each animal. Americans don’t really understand how much of an animal we don’t consume. We saved the lungs, heart, kidneys, livers, heads, and all lower legs/hooves from every animal for the Indian gentleman. We asked him how he processed the head and lower legs and he said in India they burn off the hair then scrape the hide and then cook with them. I had a burn pile ready to go so I lit it for him and pulled all the boxes and paper I had saved this summer from the old house. He took 30 minutes and did exactly that before packaging up his portion. We also had jointed out his lamb and cut rib strips and entire spine into three sections so he could cut it up further at home. He was very happy and we learned something new, Oxen are not revered like the cow. Those that rever the cow can still consume oxen. I totally did not know that! I am going to have to fix the skinning area and install a gravel drain bed. When we wash off the carcasses it can get a little muddy. I want to dig down about 8-10 inches and fill it up with 2 inch gravel then the top 2 inches 3/4 minus gravel so the water just drains away immediately. My father always taught me the importance of keeping all your meat clean and up front prep is the key to doing this. I had bleached down the stainless steel table prior to us starting. It needs a little reinforcement, after five years it is starting to get a little wobbly. I can fix that, although the table will just get that much heavier after I reinforce it.

I was able to get my burn pile taken care of, I dumped off the few leftovers and hide up on the bone pile. Our neighbors had come over and gotten their cows that had showed up on Thursday on our back hillside. I thought it was the neighbor up the creek but it turned out to be our, over the hill, neighbor. He had a hole in the fence which is highly unusual as he is a great neighbor. I have learned though that all cows will get out eventually. Mine get out at least twice a year and have done that since we have had them. Even when I think there is no way possible for them to get out they do. We now have a note on the fridge with all the surrounding cow people’s phone numbers on it for just such an emergency. We usually get a few stragglers coming down out of the mountains after it starts to snow and will need to call everyone once again. Once you start calling around it works like a calling tree and pretty soon you are getting calls. Its times like that I really appreciate living in a place that people still look out for each other and it is the normal behavior.

Annmarie was not happy with the pile of wire and large cut up tree branches still hanging out in the ram pasture from my fence redo this summer. I brought the tractor in at dark and pushed all the tree parts into the fire to clean it up. I need to get the scrap fence pieces onto the scrap metal pile. The sheep kept going around the pile then did not want to go through the gate into the barn lot.

It rained all night Saturday and I was afraid I would not be able to plant on Sunday. Determination is a wonderful thing. I put on my thin cotton pants, two pair of socks and my chest waders with built in boots, a yellow rain slicker over my jacket with a waterproof hat and went outside. I bagged up the grass seed into large heavy plastic bags and tossed them and seed spreader into the bucket of my tractor and drove up to the upper field. I was able to trudge through the field feeling like an organ grinder with the seeder on my chest, my right arm turning the throwing wheel and my left hand thumb holding the reservoir gate open to allow the seed to fall into the spinning wheel. After three hours of this my right arm and legs were killing me. Mud on your boots makes it a lot harder to keep marching. I just kept listening to my book on tape and telling myself to just move my foot one more step. I kept that up for another five hours. Its amazing that if you take it one step at a time you can just keep going. Now there is a consequence for abusing your body like that, I did not sleep well. I kept tossing and turning and moaning in my sleep. I also will put my arms over my head in my sleep which causes me to jab Annmarie in the head with my elbows. Neither one of us slept very well and she made sure to spell out the reasons for it first thing Monday morning. I love it when she puts on her grumpy face!!

So I am officially done with planting grass this fall. I got it all in the ground and only ended up with an extra 50#. Annmarie has convinced me that I need to purchase a seeder for our small tractor. I am getting old and I want to plant alfalfa and I want to plant a field of Sainfoin which has to be planted 3/4 of an inch deep. So our plan is to put up more fencing and create some smaller pastures with gates around and through them. This will allow me to block off a few acres, till it and then replant it. I can keep the animals off of it for a few months until it is established. Doing this will increase our nutrition base for the cows and sheep. Mind you the three lambs we slaughtered looked amazing! They had a lot of belly fat inside their abdominal cavities, fat on their backs and the chests were covered with a thick layer. They had been getting plenty to eat and have lots of padding going into winter.