Animals all caught up

When I say “caught up” its a relative term when applied to farming. The animals were worked, we did sell off 7 and we did deal with sheep and cows. We have two calves just a few days old that could not be herded up into the corrals so they will have to wait for at least two more weeks before we can tag and band them, so we are “caught up”.

Tex was coming out again, so while I cooked breakfast Annmarie went out to see if she could lure the cows to the barn lot with some hay and the tractor. She only managed to get them out of the bottom and into the area around the house. But that saves us about an hour of walking and she did not get the bull or either brand new momma so the cows should be easier to work. After Breakfast I had Tex go finish installing cow panels along the creek in the barn lot over the metal panels. Otherwise the sheep can just cross through the water. I gathered all the tools necessary to work on the calf table. The thing will still not tilt right. I am convinced it is pinching somehow and we may have to take the table apart.

Tex came over and we started to pull it apart. We popped one hinge off and it still would not tip so we popped off the second hinge, the table is now free of any constraints except gravity and should tip on the frame. It would not tip more than about 30 degrees! As I am voicing my opinion abot an inanimate object I kept trying to get it to work when I spot a piece of bailing twine down at ground level hidden in the tall grass still attached. When I moved it from the junk yard I secured it in multiple places. I had forgotten to cut one small piece of bailing twine and that was the cause of the table not tipping. I had already sprayed lubricant on all the moving parts and cleaned up some rust. So it only took me about 3 hours of combined time to figure out the twine issue.

I had Tex go back and finish installing cow panels while I gathered all the tagging and banding supplies. I then grabbed both dogs and started to work the cows towards the barn lot, 30 minutes later, very hoarse voice from yelling at the dogs, I have them cornered up by the gate but they will not go into the barn lot. Annmarie comes out and the cows scatter. We put the dogs away, walk the cows to the barn lot, Tex comes out and the alpacas go into the barn lot and the cows follow. We where done in ten mintues.

The cows got sorted and we had a four month old boy and a three month old girl. Tex pinned the girl up at one end of the chute and she stuck her head through the gate so I put a tag in her ear, done. The little boy kept turning around in the chute going the wrong way. Tex said the way to get them into the table is to grab their tail and keep them from going out the other side. So he did that and we got the table turned and locked down. The calf kept trying to put his foot in weird spots but we were able to fix that. We used the large banderator for the first time. I had to pop the testicles through the band one at a time because they would barely go through. I finally had Tex hold the banderator so I could pop testicles through. They both finally got in the right spot and I slipped the band off. Four months is the max age for using that thing.

The sheep were next but for us to set up the chute system in the barn, Tex and I were going to have to dig for at least an hour. I convinced Annmarie we could just run everyone into the barn and we could snag them. We did it! We sorted off the ram, #1 ewe (she is limping), two whethers for their company, three whethers to sale and two young mommas with their single babies for sale.

Tex and I delivered the whethers and the mommas. While we were visiting the first house he got offered a summer job of moving sprinkler pipe every morning for 4 hours/day. I gave him the necessary contact information and he is thinking about it.

Tex swapped the gate and filled the gap with lumber. We need to put in a new H brace support going the other direction now. While he did that I finished bringing in dirt for the culvert and then set a few pieces of concrete at the waterfall edge of the spring in hopes it will slow down the errosion. I also filled the channel with gravel and rocks.

We had some more wooden stays to install and the new railroad ties needed to be set and the entire fence attached to the new posts. Tex did all of that while I started to bring over supplies for a new fence line. The sheep and cows keep getting out through the creek crossings so I have started to work on fencing the water ways away from the animals. I hauled over 27 T posts, 27 wooden stays, 4 thick wooden posts, 2 gates, 2 cow panels and 1 railroad tie (last one we have unused on the farm) and set them out along the fence line. I had already used orange paint to mark out the locations of everything.

Tex and I managed to pound in the T posts that would go into the ground. Some are not pretty but they did go in. If you look at the middle of the picture below you will see a stretch with no T posts, there is a rock bluff located under the road and we cold not get anything to go into the ground. After the fence is up I will see what I need to do to support that section of fence.

It was a very productive day. The barn lot fence is now completed. I just need to put a latch on the 16 foot wheeled gate, the sheep pushed it open last night. I would have sprayed but the wind howled all day. It was just too much to spray.

Gonna be buying more hay in the fall

Annmarie and I took a walk up the pastures yesterday to see how they were doing. The middle prime pasture looks great. It does have some thistles and weeds but the grass is very thick. I am going to have to spray it first. Today I started spraying that pasture. The upper middle pasture is mostly broadleaf weeds. I will be doing it after this one. This means most evenings I will be sitting on the tractor. The grass is almost 18 inches high already. I sent an email to the company that we bought our hay equipment from and asked when it was going to be shipped to us.

Tex and I finished the fence over by the lamb shed. It is all secure, more wooden posts and T-posts to stiffen the fence and two more strands of barb wire. We even cut the metal panel out of the way so the gate will now swing either direction. This took most of the morning. I had to patch the fence in three areas once we got it strung up. There is a downside to reusing old fence.

We went ahead and just cut the leaning fence apart and will work on getting it redone. The water had dammed up behind woven wire. All the sticks and brush made a very nice blockage and the water spread out and got deep. Since Tex was going to fix the fence while I sprayed after lunch I brought over all the supplies he would need and we even dropped the culvert into the ditch.

We had tamales again for lunch! They are very good. I am unsure what to make for lunch tomorrow. I got out some ham for breakfast but lunch is still up in the air. I am thinking chili and Hill’s all beef wieners. I like to brown the hot dogs while the chili is cooking then mix them both together, toss cheese and onions on top and eat! It is very good.

While I went up and put 50 gallons of spray on the field Tex got the fence back together. We piled up rocks at the entrance and exit of the culvert and I will keep adding dirt to it until we have a nice level crossing. I opted to not have both culverts placed here as I will need the other one some where else on the farm.

The panel is clipped into place with little aluminum clips that the water can bend if there is too much pressure on the panel. I still need to do a little work on the waterway as I would like to add some small rocks into the channel to help cut down the erosion. We need to rehang the gate also as the H brace did get pushed upright but Tex didn’t add enough gravel and tightening the fence caused them to be a little crooked. We will move the gate around to the opposite sided H brace so hopefully we can get the gate working again.

Reality check

Well it has been a long week. I didn’t get to do all my farm work this last weekend as I had to work all weekend at the paying job and Sunday was Easter. I had come home twice and found the sheep out in the stubble field eating volunteer wheat. It has been too wet for them to spray it down. The sheep really appreciate the extra feed. The only real problem is the field is not fenced off from the road and the sheep are not supposed to be out there. The first time I thought it was the gap at the gate. I thought this because the gate post was loose and there was a gap with sheep hair on either side so it was fairly obvious they had been pushing through. I patched that up with a spare gate filling the gap and some bungee cords. It was only supposed to be temporary so the bungee cords are okay. I came home several days later and spotted the sheep out again. I could not figure out how they were getting out. I cruised on down the fence line and found as spot they had started to squirt through. The nice thing about them shedding is it makes it fairly obvious where they are sneaking out.

I had Tex come out on Friday and add two more strands of wire to that fence. He also moved the railroad tie so there is no gap at the gate. We still need to add in a few wooden stays to the fence to stiffen it up so the sheep cannot push their way through.

We had a rain storm and it cut a rivulet into our new flower area. I think if I pile some dirt up on the frontside of the rock wall I may be able to slow this down. I may end up laying in a French drain on the front side of the rock wall to help. I am unsure exactly what I am going to do.

We had to start putting Zeke on the run as he kept sneaking out of the front yard. I had convinced myself he was running up some wood stacked in the corner of the yard. I moved some of the pile but he was still getting out. One day when Sarah was out moving dirt she watched him army crawl under the fence below. He laid down in the water with just his head and nose out of the water and got under the fence.

So I added another panel to the bottom that goes all the way to the spring bottom and he cannot crawl through now. I was so convinced of this that I left him off the run the next day. He got out! I still don’t know how he is doing it so he is back on the run when we are not home.

I spent two nights working on the barn lot fence. We added two more wooden posts and I took the extra panels I had laying around and added them. There will be no more calves jumping through the fence because they can. Now we just need to get the fence over by the lamb shed completed and the sheep will be stuck in the barn lot whenever we shut the gate.

Fencing fury

Sunday we decided to start with fencing and hope we could get some parts completed. We went to the fencing supply pile and snagged the last of the railroad ties. My supply pile is getting pretty sparse. I only have one roll of woven wire left, no wooden fence posts and two rolls of smooth wire. We managed to get the last five stood up and my little tractor managed to get them over to the barn lot, but it was not pretty. The chain stretched with the weight of the railroad ties and they went all cattywonkous.

We used the two heaviest ties for the gate crossing the culvert bridge. The tractor was only able to dig those holes about 18″ and I dug the other three feet by hand. It makes for a very sturdy post when it is set in gravel. We are setting all wooden posts in gravel now. They just hold up better and stay stiffer. The gate opening was 16 feet which is a long gate. These gates usually sag so I went into the barn and found one of those wheel attachments and we attached it. I snagged three of them at a yard sale a couple of years ago. This is the first time I have gotten to use one. The real problem came when we tried to attach the gate to the post. We hooked in the bottom part and then swung the gate to see how it moved. Nope, I needed to take some dirt down to make it level.

I spent the next 1.5 hours cutting into the hillside in an attempt to get a level path for the gate. We hand dug it a couple of times and kept marking the path with the gate wheel. I finally had to go dump off the tractor auger and install the box blade. I should have done it an hour earlier.

I spread the dirt out all over the area in an attempt to cover the rock face that keeps trying to jut out of the ground and we made sure the animals can get to water. We also chained the panels together to make sure they stay in place.

As an added bonus we got two solid wood posts installed in the barn lot cross fences and will. Be tightening both of those fences next week. Once we get the culvert and last outer water damaged barn lot fence done next week the entire barn lot will have been redone and should be good for another 7-10 years with just a little repair.

I even got the momma/baby area leveled out. I want to toss out some grass seed this week after work and see if it will grow. Annmarie had me take the dogs out with me as the sheep were mowing our yard. I came inside that evening with a hoarse voice as I had to keep hollering for the dogs to come back or to quit harassing some animal. I even made them stay in place for over an hour a couple of times. It’s good practice for them and they don’t like to do it so it did work out well as a training exercise. My voice is not cut out to holler and swear all day. I am good with that for short periods of time only. We have decided the only dog working videos I can post are sped up and make me sound like a chipmunk. No one can understand what I am saying!

Our current numbers are as follows:

2 death

6 bummers

14 singles (37%)

19 twins (50%)

5 triplets (13%)

38 ewes birthed

57 lambs dosed, tagged and banded

1 lambs to process

Production rate:

Birthed 176%

On our farm and alive 155%.

We love rain, it doesn’t love us

It’s Friday andI wanted to do some more fencing but from the beginning of the day it was not going to happen. The front creek was already on the rise and the only reason for it is because the back creek has been diverted and is flooding the upper fields.
As soon as Tex and I ate breakfast we went up to the upper field ready to clean out blockages in the upper creek. We found three places the water was running over the creek banks. Two of those places we could not fix, the water was just too high.
The third one was a hole in the dike only about 3 feet wide and a foot deep. We filled it with sticks and stuffed grass in amongst them and got the leak stopped. I didn’t get wet and 1/3 less water was leaking out. We headed down to the house to get some fencing done.
Unfortunately, it started to rain heavily! So plan B was to do something that did not entail being out in the rain. I try and avoid the rain whenever possible. I might melt.
Potential bathroom
Front Spring
Stewart creek upper 7 acre field

I decided it was time to work on the bathroom upstairs. We emptied the whole thing out and I went to town and purchased all the lumber I thought we would need to rough out the walls and frame in the duct work. We unloaded all the wood onto the front porch and set up the compound Miter saw on the front porch. Tex can use a tape measure and a saw so I fed him measurements and he cut the 2x4s and brought them up to the bathroom so we could frame up sections and install them. The longest boards were 13′ but we could not get that length board past the top of the stairs. They would not turn the corner. So we made two 6.5′ sections and attached them in the bathroom.
We were running out of time and I needed to get foreman input from Annmarie. She needed to help me decide how we were going to cover the chimney, exhaust vent and plumbing vents. I could have made three vertical stair step sections or one diagonal wall. She went for the diagonal wall.
Bathroom ducts framed in

Fence till it rains

Every year I think I am going to get the lawn mowed before it gets out of control. Every year in the spring I get distracted fencing and then it rains repeatedly and the grass gets out of control.  I keep thinking the mower will magically be able to slice through 12 inches of wet heavy grass and it won’t.  So every year I come to the same conclusion, use Mother Nature and I turn the sheep loose in the front yard.  The only real drawback to this is going to the cars is like walking through a poop minefield.  It takes two weekends to get the entire yard eaten down.  During the week we cannot let the sheep in the yard unsupervised as the dogs would have a hay day.  
Mowing the lawn!
Tex and I moved all the leftover metal panels down by the spring. I want to install a gate on top of the culvert and still allow animals access to water. So we gave them 16 feet of water frontage so they can go down to water. Every time we fence this we try and let them get to water as the spring never dries out and never freezes. We used the tractor to move the panels around. Hopefully, we can get the posts set for the gate today. The weather just needs to hold out.

Panels moved for new fenced area

 We managed to get the entire momma/baby area fence torn out and reinstalled. I brought the tractor in and we leveled the entire area, reset two posts, fixed a couple of H-braces and restrung the fence. It looks great and now the dry flower area is completely protected.


Momma baby area fence reworked
There is a black walnut tree in the corner of the flower bed. I am hoping it is still alive. It has survived for the last five years even though it gets eaten down to the ground every year. If its still alive then this is its year as nothing can get to it to nibble it down to the ground.
Dry flower area fenced in
I wanted to keep fencing and get that gate in but Mother Nature did not get the memo. By lunch time it was pouring down rain and we had to go inside. Tex and I had Tamales for lunch, they were good but I made salsa Fresca with Serrano Chile’s and it was smoking hot, almost too much. I should have stuck with Jalepenos but the Serranos were on sale!

Upstairs bathroom insulating ducts

We switched to installing insulation and attempting to finish up the framing in the bathroom. We have about five more boards to install so we can sandwich insulation around the horizontal duct. Once that last little bit of framing is done we will start getting the plywood up and cover all the insulation. My hope is that with this insulation we will get hotter air downstairs. This next winter will be the test. Annmarie and I are still trying to come to an agreement on what type of ceramic tile to put on the floor. She wants the same thing that we used downstairs. I want a tile no bigger than 8×8 inches. That size will be easier to install if the floor is not level, which I am sure it is not.

Dug out again

When I went to work Wednesday morning I knew the back creek was overflowing. Our front ditch was muddy and four times its normal size. Unfortunately, I had to go to work and could not just stop what I was doing and go up and unblock the jam. So after work I went to the hardware store and picked up a portable handsaw and a pitchfork that has the tines bent 90 degrees. I figured that would work better than a metal rake at getting stuff out of the creek.

I texted Tex to see if he was available but he had homework. Again, you gotta like a guy with priorities. I made a second change, I put on my chest waders! I even remembered to but a belt on the outside of the waders above my waist to prevent water from getting in rapidly and weighing me down. It’s a safety feature that I figured was important since I was working alone. I also got a pair of rubber impregnated gloves that would dry out fast after I was done. I loaded it all up in the pickup and drove to the upper end. No sense in trudging through the mud the entire distance.

The chest waders were a game changer! I finally just waded into the water and started to pull the piles apart with my gloved hands. I was in water up to my stomach. I made sure to stand on the upriver side of the mass so if it broke loose it would not take me downstream. I spent an hour and managed to tear the large blockage in half. Unfortunately, a tree in the stream bed is the reason for the blockage and there is no fix for that in belly high water. I did manage to lower the water level by about 6 inches in that spot which stopped the water from spilling over the sides. So I was successful and did not have to spend all day. It was a pleasant surprise.

The fields are getting water logged but seem to be recovering except for the growing mud spot. I really need to dig out the irrigation ditch as I believe it could catch the overflow, and run it along side the field then dump back into the stream lower down. Unfortunately, there is no way to get any type of powered equipment into the fields currently. On Wednesday I waited for delivery of the new Power Harrow and seeder. It came on a semi-truck. I was supposed to be available for delivery from 1100-1500. I was home by 1115. The delivery driver called me and then dropped off the pallet at 1445. It was prior to the 1500 deadline. I watched a movie and some bad anime waiting for him to show up. I had to run back to work and got back late. I fully expected to be able to back up the tractor to the pallet, using the quick hitch just hook on and go. I don’t know what I was thinking or why I thought easy was going to work. The attachments do not line up with my quick hitch. I had to remove the quick hitch, extend the tension on the rods and hook it all up. Then I could not lift it off the pallets as my adjustable bar needed to be tightened. This takes a stiff rod poked through a hole. I have misplaced my large screwdriver and every piece of metal I stuffed through the hole bent. I fought and swore and had the harrow in the machine shop 1.5 hours later. I moved the thing 30 feet. I read the very thin manual that came with it and learned nothing from it. I had the electronic copies sent to my email and still need to read them. I need to get this thing up and running in the next 2 weeks. If only the weather will cooperate.

New Power Harrow