It’s so confusing

Being born must be really confusing. This morning, I was all dressed for work and headed down the driveway. I habitually look over the animals on my way out, and this morning I found something that made me stomp on the brakes. We had a new lamb in the orchard. We were kind of expecting this, since at least one of the little ewes we had put into isolation with the ram turned out to be old enough for him to be interested. But, we were about a week off in our timing. This normally wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but the lamb was not snuggling up next to momma. No, the lamb was attempting to snuggle up next the the (male) alpaca.

Momma kept calling and trying to get the lamb to come to her, but the alpaca was unhelpfully friendly and attentive. I called Steve and told him he needed to come home and help me isolate the pair. Then I backed the car up so I could go change out of town clothes and into work clothes.

Now the sheep are in the orchard with the two trouble-maker alpaca, and all our gates, panels, and sheep isolation paraphernalia is in the barn. So out to the barn I go. On the way out, I devise a plan that involves the two brown gates we had purchased this winter placed in a corner of the orchard to make a pen. We would have to arrange for water, but the ewe would have plenty of feed, and we could choose a corner with a tree for shelter.

Once I got into the bar, it became clear that my plan has a flaw. Unbeknownst to me, Steve had used one of the brown gates in the new fence, so only one of those was available. I wrestled that one out of Steve’s storage place under the stairs, and packed it over to the orchard anyway. I figured Steve would be home soon, and he’d want to “discuss” my plan anyway, so we could figure out how to improvise the missing gate.

As I was wrestling the gate into the orchard, I realize I was quiet. I noticed the alpaca had moved off away from the sheep, and the little black ewe appeared to be laying down. I went out to the road so as not to disturb anyone, and walked down to Mom’s so I could get a better look. Sure enough. I found the ewe laying down, and could just make out the lamb’s head on the far side of her. Apparently the alpaca had lost interest, and momma was able to convince baby that she/he was a sheep. Steve arrived just in time for me to tell him that all was well.

Little things

I took the time this week to do a couple of little projects before we left for the weekend. There was an old 4×4 post that used to be bolted to a post that had old ceramic insulators installed at the top. The barn and old lamb shed used to have knob and tube power. I pulled the old copper wire out of the spring a few years ago. I had taken down the post as it had rotted away and saved this 4×4. I was going to mount a bat house to it at one point but while cleaning out the machine shed I found an old decorative windmill. I washed it all down with some water and applied some fresh grease. I had the metal sleeve also so I was able to drill a hole in the end of the wood, which turned out to be a solid piece of cedar!!! This would explain why it did so well laying on the ground for the last four years. I greased up the metal sleeve and after installing the windmill it just sat there and didn’t move. A couple of hours later the wind picked up enough to break everything loose and the windmill started to spin and it pivoted on its wood post. I was able to use some of the old lag bolts I picked up all over the farm. I found a railroad tie that was level and had not been pulled over during fence construction. I love it. Once Annmarie spotted it moving around she was surprised at how well it fit. Another fine example of a repurposed item. I finished it just before a rainstorm hit.

Wednesday I killed a couple of hours prepping for more fence. We are having so much trouble keeping the animals in when we cross the stream that I have started to look at ways to just avoid the crossings. We have a five acre spot on the hillside that has not been fenced off yet. Last year we redid the upper fence and started trying to drive posts down the hillside. The hillside is pretty much solid rock so it was not easy. I am hoping that we can get another 6 T posts on the hill. I took the tractor and using the box blade cleared a place for the rest of the downhill side. We will need about 12 more railroad ties to get this fence completed. We have more than enough T posts after picking up another 200 from the scrap yard. The scrap yard has 4 huge rolls of woven wire set aside for me so. I will be picking those up this week. It is enough wire to complete this new fence. This addition will help us with the sheep. They will be able to use the water from the barn lot.

Prior to us leaving this weekend we moved all the sheep into the orchard. There are 100+ sheep in the barn lot now. You cannot really tell that looking at the picture below. This way Tex doesn’t have to put them in and out of the barn lot while we are gone. He is watching and feeding the animals while we are gone.

The best part is he is also cleaning up the spring area and working on the short section of new fencing we started three weeks ago. It should almost be done by the time we get home. It’s the best way to fence.

It needs to be easier

Saturday was supposed to be sunny and dry but I opted to do some inside work. I am getting tired of getting up in the middle of the night and having to walk down the stairs to get to the bathroom. The second toilet is gaining traction and prioritization. I was talking to Tex as we were getting started in again and I realized that I forgot to order enough floor tile to go up the walls 4 inches. So now I need to call and order another two cases of tile. I will just cut the 8 inch tiles in half with the wet saw.

I had Tex cutting wood while I installed it. This meant he had to recut some pieces because of me measuring wrong or him cutting wrong. By lunch time he was rubbing his right eye nonstop. He had gotten sawdust in it earlier but I noticed it after he started to wear the eye protection I had out in the old house. I keep gloves, dust masks, goggles, eye glasses and ear plugs out in the old house.

Annmarie wanted him to go to the ER but Tex reminded her that his mother was on duty and he was not going to do that. So I had to call his mother then torture Tex by turning his eyelid inside out and wiping it for dust and splinters. I did not find anything. I also irrigated it and still didn’t see anything. I was less than gentle but did get the job done. He ended up going to see his mom and she sent him to the walk in clinic, he had a scratch on his cornea, got some antibiotics and it will heal. I suspect he will be more cognizant of safety gear. If not, Annmarie told me I have to start making him use it!

The goal is to get insulation all around the heat pipes and the exhaust pipes to trap the heat and cut down on the noise. I went out to finish cutting up the plywood but the saw battery died. By the time I got all the tools and wood cleaned up and put away it was time to get cleaned up for a wedding. I had to give Gizmo a shower as he had gotten out of the yard again and his beard was covered with fresh sheep shit. Zeke has not gotten out since we cleaned up the yard but the little dog is still climbing the fence.

We are going to sort the sheep when we get back from Annmarie’s seminary graduation next week. We are going to pull all the lambs off of their mothers and put them in the orchard. We will swap them with the ram and number one ewe. She is no longer limping and he can go hang out with the ewes as they should all be pregnant. We will give the lambs about 4-6 weeks on the orchard then sell them as a group. We have five more sold for slaughter this fall. I still have one cow to sell for slaughter this fall.

Annmarie looked great for the wedding, the hat is an old Pendleton Wool hat she picked up at an estate sale. She says it looks better on her which I cannot deny.

It rained over half an inch at the end of the week and we are under a flood warning for the next two days. This is definitely putting a crimp on my spraying and haying progress. As soon as my neighbors start cutting hay I will!

Hay equipment is here!

Well, the much needed hay equipment is here. It arrived on Friday. I had Tex come out and start cleaning up fencing scraps and wood scraps. We have them strung all over the farm from doing all the fencing, since a scrap guy is coming I want to try and get all of it cleaned up, sent away or burnt. The new burn pile is already starting to grow. They tried to deliver the equipment on Wednesday but I was not available for a 4 hour window and told the clerk on the phone that they came at the end of the four hour window last time and if they would do it this time I could do Wednesday. She said no, I had to be there the entire four hours. We pushed out the delivery day to Friday as I knew Tex or myself would be available. I had to go into work that morning and was hoping to be done by 1100. They called me at 1040 to say that they were ready to deliver and in Pilot Rock! I called Tex and went home ASAP. There was three pieces of equipment delivered, the mower, the power rake and the baler.

There were some issues, the company over sold the mower I wanted so I have a loaner mower, it’s a little smaller and does not condition the grass. It’s cheaper should I decide to keep it. The round baler is smaller and only bales about 90 bales an hour vs 120 on the one we want. The one we want still has to come over on a container by ship from Italy. All of this stuff is made in Italy. We had to keep all the shipping material so that the baler and mower can be shipped back to the company when they send us our mower and baler.

I had visions of just backing up to the equipment with our quick hitch system and hooking up to everything and just putting it in the machine shed. This did not happen, as not a single piece was capable of using the quick connect. I kept trying, finally Tex told me I had to take the quick connect off the tractor and hook directly to the three point hitch.

You can see that it almost wants to do it, it just needs a couple more inches. I took pictures and sent them to the company asking for a fix. What good is a quick connect when you cannot use it? Prior to this round of equipment I had four pieces for the tractor and three of them can use the quick connect. This makes switching out a couple of minutes and that includes parking it in the correct storage spot. Now that we have four more pieces of equipment the quick connect can only work on 3/8 pieces. This is not acceptable. I ordered 8 adjustable pins that I can bolt on myself. They are about 2 inches longer so I will gain 4 inches total. Looking at the pictures I think that four inches is going to be plenty. I also ordered a box of various locking pins to hold the equipment on. The cleaned out machine shed is amazing!! There is still quit a bit of dust but I am hoping that when I get the plywood up on the hay side I can start to contain the dust. I may drag a hose out and wet down the gravel, maybe even spray down the entire inside of the machine shed to give it that once a centennial cleaning.

The old floor scale that Annmarie’s dad got from PGG has all the parts, I really want to install it and put all the pieces together. I will need a level poured concrete pad about 4×6 feet first. Next year I may do it. It shouldn’t be too bad, I can use sacrete and I have the mixer. I can just use a piece of cow panel as the rebar.

Zeke got out of the yard twice this week so Tex and I removed all the old scrap wood and fencing that was leaning up in the corner of the yard. So now there is no ramp for him to use as a launching platform over the fence. I also went and dug down the piles of dirt I had placed near the side fence.. He had a 18 inch launching platform to go over the fence. Since doing that on Friday, he has not been able to get out of the yard a single time. Who knows if it is a lack of opportunity or just an unwillingness to leave. Time will tell.

I need a break

Annmarie spotted another random newborn lamb yesterday evening. This morning Tex and I went out into the ram pasture and Tex snagged the newborn. I could of done it but it ran to his side of the field! We took it to the barn so I could tag and band it. I even remembered to enter it into the Airtable spreadsheet so we could track it.

Afterwards we went to install the culvert in the orchard. We had to dig out the bottom of the channel by hand and had to put it in a couple of times to fit test it prior to back filling it in. I was able to use the old dirt and then drag down the edges. We even rocked in the inlet side of the culvert. I can now get the tractor over to the other side of the ditch.

We were able to move the pipe trailer out of the field and snagged all the loose pipe laying about. We moved the pipe trailer out of the fields over near the wheat field then proceeded to clean up the scrap metal piles. We tossed the metal over the fence so the scrap metal guy can pick it up on his next visit.

I had to go to town to get more diesel for the tractor. We were running on fumes. I had Tex go use the chainsaw on the downed trees at the spring head. I also wanted him to trim the tree touching the old chicken coop. After lunch, we took the now filled tractor over to drag out the downed trees. Between the chain saw and the tractor we got all the dead massive limbs piled up into a large burn pile. Hopefully, next week we can light it on fire. Annmarie ran the horses in the round pen yesterday but I had put it on the soft dirt. The horses tore it up something fierce. So I will need to move it next week. We have plenty of spots for it.

After she got back from church we went out to work on the front hillside and started to set up the water system so we can start growing clover. We were able to reuse some of the aluminum uprights from the main sprinkler system, along with the valves and sprinkler heads. We keep trying to reuse as much stuff as we can. I also got a large piece of Elm for the anvil. I will need to make some custom holders for it. My plan is to get it attached and then use it whenever I need to beat something into submission. I realized that the only thing I don’t really have yet is a portable grinder. So after I get that I will dress up the anvil.

I had Tex fill in gravel in the ditch behind the machine shop. I will need to finish it off this week. The rest of our hay equipment should arrive this week. We will be able to store it in the machine shed now! We did park the tractor in the shop tonight. It is an amazing thing.

I am done! I am so tired that I started losing my grip while working on the sprinkler system. I will be taking it easy next week. I am thinking about working on the bathroom upstairs. More thought than muscle.

Machine shed joy

Yesterday was very productive, having Tex come out and help has really allowed us to take on some projects that had just been getting pushed to the side. We started the day by tagging and banding cows. Now mind you we knew there were three babies that needed to be tagged but until we catch them we don’t know their gender. Last time Annmarie did the tractor trick and they came out of the lower pasture to follow the tractor. This time she and Tex went outside and then I did the dishes. I saw the cows up on the back hillside so I ambled on out to the tractor with my coffee in hand and proceeded to drive up the back hillside. I figured the cows would follow the tractor. I proceeded to drink a lot of coffee on my way up the hillside. Well as soon as I got on top of the hill the cows started running in the opposite direction away from the tractor. Cell phones might sound like a great communication device but after the third time your wife calls you when you are supposed to be helping move cattle its time to ignore the phone. As soon as the cows heard the tractor they ran back down to the gate I always bring food in through!! Who is stupid now? By the time I got down off the hill I had just enough time to open the barn lot gate and they pushed the cows inside. We had them sorted in under 10 minutes. It took me about five minutes to get both testicles on the larger calf into the rubber band device. The calf kept peeing on me. I persevered but after 220 lambs I am a lot better at them. I have only done 18 steers and I messed up the first three.

We sorted off the cows to sell this fall. There was supposed to be two, there were three. So now I have to sell one more cow and Annmarie has convinced me we need to use her shared spreadsheet app she made in Airtable. We need to be able to keep track of days born and how many we have on hand. She inputted all three new calves into the system. We have sorted them off and they are now in the upper prime field. It has lots of green grass and running water. They are not happy about being sorted off of their mothers. We will have 7 cows for sale next year. We will finally have our numbers up.

I had to go to town and pickup gates for the front of the machine shop. I had to buy multiple sizes to get them to fit right as I cannot adjust the opening of the shop. I had to buy 10 gates for around $800. The 50 yards of gravel cost around $900, four days of labor cost around $600. Not to shabby for an incredibly useful space and a lot of it!!

We had to alternate attaching gates inside the opening or outside depending on whether we needed to fill in space or use less. We even managed to get most of them to match. Its hard to believe that they are on a slant from the left side to the right. I spent some time and spread out the rest of the gravel. While I did that Tex mounted 6 sheets of plywood into the hay area. We don’t want the hay scraps to fall back into the cleaned out area. He go six sheets up and I need to go buy six more to finish the wall separating the hay area and the rest of the shop.

While we were hanging gates Annmarie was taking a nap! I spotted the evidence that evening when I came inside. I was incredibly jealous. Tex also cleaned up all the junk behind the machine shed and dug out a drainage ditch. We will get it filled with gravel in the next week or so. This should help the moisture inside the shop also.

I was supposed to buy fence posts

The plan this morning for Tex and I was to go help my mother at her old rental that she is fixing up to sell. She needed some yard work and digging done, Tex duties, and me to look at some other stuff. The other stuff was easy and before I could get out of there to go to Home Depot she made me get a haircut. I am a grown man and I truly believe that 3 or 4 haircuts a year are sufficient. I have felt this way since I could voice an opinion and it has not changed. My mother’s haircut belief system falls more in line with the military’s view. She thinks I need one every 3 weeks or sooner. So to ensure I got a haircut she brought the tools up to the house we were working on so I had no excuse to get away. I have a very nice haircut now.

I drove to Hermiston to return our tile samples and possibly place an order. Now it was a spur of the moment decision so Annmarie did not know I was going. Once at the tile place I managed to find a 6×6 inch tile that Annmarie liked via the wonders of text messaging and photos. She was not digging the Art Deco tile I found, 8×8 inch. I loved the bottom right corner and wanted to do the entire floor in it. No such luck. I ordered the tile she wanted and we got the prices for the rest. There was a hangup about the backsplash we wanted and the amount of water it could handle. The saleswoman called the company and called me back to say it would be fine. We will be ordering it after I get the floor installed. The floor tile was only $230, amazing when you only have a 60 sq ft room.

At Home Depot I was going to buy 4×4 posts for the fence yard build as Gizmo and Zeke keep getting out. I needed 100 feet of woven wire small enough that Gizmo cannot get through. They did not have it. So I gravitated to the concrete blocks they had out by the front door. They were incredibly cheap at just over $1 each. So I got a pallet of 100. I figured now was the time to get the stairs in on either side of the spring in the barn lot. I wanted some steps so the sheep and horses don’t tear up the dirt banks and keep making that area wider or steeper. It went in fairly well and we only used 40 blocks so we have 60 for the opposite side.

Its a good thing we have more blocks as that side is taller than the other. I will try and take down that side by 8 inches tomorrow. We are looking at getting those blocks installed tomorrow, the gravel spread out in the machine shed and the gates on the machine shed.

We got all the equipment moved around and now I just need to spread the gravel into the last bay before we install gates. We will take measurements in the morning. Before I can go to town we will need to offload the scrap metal I picked up last week. Its still on the trailer.