One more field fenced in sorta

On Friday Hoss and I went up to the swamp field and worked on getting the creek side fence installed. I was hoping to get it all done on Friday, but my back was bothering me so I took medications and kept working. We ran out of woven wire! I even called the metal scrap yard but they only had one roll. We happen to be using some 48″ woven Red Brand fencing so it did not require any smooth wire on top. We quit around 1400 and I ended up going into town and picked up a single roll of woven wire and two utility panels. I keep calling them cow panels but when I go to purchase them I have to remember to call them a utility panel or they cannot find it in the computer.

I was unable to get up and go out and work on Saturday due to my back pain. An ice pick and napalm had nothing on it. Hoss finished getting the fence up, hung two gates and blocked off a four foot section. He is done for the summer as I have run out of money! The fence still needs a couple of days of work as I need to install all of the T-post clips in it. He put enough in it to hold up the fence. The sheep are now roaming all three fields and can hopefully tear up the far field. I don’t think they can knock it all down but they can hopefully thin it out.

Last night we got a call from Annmarie’s mother that the raccoons were out enforce on her front porch. So Annmarie grabbed the 22 rifle and I grabbed the trusty Walther P22 pistol. I have not gotten a laser for the new Ruger Mark IV yet. I gimped around the house until I found second flashlight and we walked down to the house. There were five raccoons on the front porch! The real problem is you cannot shoot any so we had to go up to the side of the house so we could shoot sideways and not hit anything. I shot at a couple of the large ones as they darted off and sent Annmarie around the back of the house so see if she could finish them off. This is where the story gets fuzzy. She claims that I do not get to count the raccoons as dead unless there is a body. The raccoons did get hit, but they do not die easily. I ended up with one dead and hit at least 2 more maybe three. She keeps telling me that I need more practice and in that I agree. It is a lot harder to hit a moving target in the dark than it is in the day. So I am going to have to put about a 1000 rounds through my new Ruger pistol. It has a five inch barrel instead of a two inch barrel. Its time to let the Walther retire and move up in the accuracy department. I need a laser and a holster but Annmarie reminded me I can use my vest with built in holster until I get a new one. I also need at least one more clip as I almost ran out rounds last night. Five predators is a lot of moving targets to be trying to kill in the dark. I need more rounds. So according to Annmarie I only killed one raccoon as that is number of bodies I tossed onto the bone pile.

While I was digging around in the bushes for my victims (they ran away) the cows came running over to the fence and started to holler. They get fed apples almost every day so they think all humans should feed them. I spent 20 minutes picking up and tossing them apples from the yard. I noticed two calves that still need ear tags and one needs banding. We have a brand new calf but that cow was not getting any where near the fence. She had a brand new calf nursing on her. I could not tell whether it was a boy or a girl from that far away.

Beautiful Eastern Oregon evening

Annmarie and I went up to the upper pasture this week to bring in the sheep and the sun was just setting. The farther we got away from the house the more Mother Nature showed her colors. There are times that the dry climate makes for a beautiful setting. It just depends on whether you equate beauty with green. I don’t think that any more, not after being back for 12 years. The sheep pretty much put themselves in every night now. They come down to the barn without us using the dogs to chase them back. The horses on the other hand don’t want to come back to the barn lot. Luckily, the food quality is not good enough to make the horses get fat. The sheep are putting on weight with it and so are the steers so its good enough. No one on the farm gets lush green grass year around. We have been making it a point to leave the dead tree snags sticking up in the air. The owls and hawks love hanging in them and then swooping down to kill mice and small rodents. Anything that kills rodents should be supported, because we have lots of them!

I am going to put in for some vacation this fall so I can replant these upper fields and hopefully get some grass growing in the spring and not all weeds. I did manage to get two overhead tractor lights to mount on my rollbar. One to look forward and one to look backwards so I can run the tractor at night. I think I am going to need this to get all the grass planted and again in the spring when I start doing hay again. I had to stop several times this spring due to a lack of light, this should fix it.

I have been looking at Metric tools but I cannot find a metric only set. I keep looking at 200-400 piece sets that are combination of English and Metric. I do not need the English at all but I am not having any luck getting separate kits. If I by another set I will have three full English sets and one Metric, this does seem odd to me as I only need the Metric. Unfortunately, the sets are cheaper as a combo than when buying individual pieces. I still need to move the last large tool box over to the machine shed. Plus, I need a large trash can in the machine shed. Just tossing stuff into a corner is not going to work long term.

My father had two electric hoists in the garage. One was sufficient for what he needed so the other one was taken down. It hangs from an I beam that is 6 feet long and can move back and forth. I am going to mount it in the machine shed after I build some support beams for it. I need to be able to lift heavy objects without hurting myself.

The chain winch is still frozen and not moving. Someone gave me a suggestion to soak it in oil or diesel. I have a lot of fouled diesel on the place I just need a metal container large enough to hold the hoist and let me fill it with fuel. I can dunk it and let it sit for a few months, hopefully this will allow it to be broken free.

Machine shed ready

Friday we spent the day figuring out how to get all of the hay equipment put back together and into the machine shed. We have an old chain lift that is now hanging and oiled with 200# of tractor weights hanging from it in hopes that it will break loose. I beat on the pin a few times with a hammer but could get no movement out of the lift either up or down. I spray WD40 on it every couple of weeks. It would be nice to have something that could move a thousand pounds without any difficulty. We did manage to get all the equipment mostly put back together. The mower is missing a slender nut on a pivotal bolt. I kept doing a parts search and writing down the id labels so I can place an order for spare parts. I have 15 items I want replacements on hand so it can be fixed immediately. I had gone to my parent’s house and picked up my father’s toolbox. He was a machinist when he was alive so I thought he would have a full set of metric tools. I was wrong, he had a lot of tools and micrometers and dial calipers and inside calipers and then a ton of English tools of all sizes but not a single metric tool in the entire chest! I will be moving my large tool box out of the old house into the machine shed. The plan is to get all of the English tools into the large box and convert my father’s into a metric only box. Annmarie had me order black anodized aluminum business cards and we are going to use the laser engraver to make parts drawer labels for both toolboxes. I will epoxy the labels onto the tool boxes so I can quickly find the needed tools. We were able to get all three pieces of hay equipment and the sprayer lined up in one bay. The end bay is for the tractor to stay out of the weather and a pallet sized area is needed for the cultivator/seeder to live. We had to use the pallet and screw down some wooden supports for the reciprocating mower. It was a little tippy with the blade in the upright stored position. We even placed them in the order they would be needed in the spring! Hoss made a holder for the extra netting to be stored. I opted to keep it in the box to minimize the dirt collection. We did get the baler together and moved but I still cannot figure out how to install the new roll of netting. It is not intuitive at all. I will have to call and get instructions on how to use both pieces of equipment, the rake is very easy compared to everything else. My dad’s toolbox is brown and the small upper part is bolted to the lower part forming one unit. I wanted to put them on a pallet so they did not sink into the gravel. I really need to get some more ear muffs to install near the anvil. Its kinda loud when you start beating on metal. I also need a trash can in here as I have a pile of trash on the floor currently.

Afterwards, I fired up the pressure washer from mom’s and started in on the fence. I figured I could do the whole fence with one tank of gas. Nope, I will need 3-4 tanks of fuel to get the entire fence cleaned off. Annmarie tells me that I am going to end up scraping some of the fence by hand as the pressure washer is only getting about 80% of the loose paint. We are going to use the same paint but this one only lasted 4 years from the first time I painted it. I am going with better preparation the time around will make the paint job last longer. I just slapped paint over it the first time after installing it. I had to move the cars after I blew paint, dirt and water onto them. Annmarie wanted to know what the finger streaks on her car were from. I figured if I did not get the wet paint off of her car it would dry and stick semipermanently. I did not want that to happen!

Mowing is not working

Saturday Hoss and I started out the morning by cleaning up around the machine shed. We managed to get all the junk up and in its proper place. We then hooked up the rotary mower to the tractor and I went up to the upper 7 acre field to clean up next to the cross fence. Hoss said that he could not get to the wire to tighten and attach due to all the weeds.

I ran the mower alongside the fence and got as close as I could. There is a hidden ditch near one end that I had to avoid so I did not tip the tractor over. Since I was already down this way I decided to try and mow the 7 acre field. It is one of the fields I want to plant in grass. The weeds are 4-7 feet tall and are very thick. It really needs some cleansing fire, but I am afraid to burn anything as I think it will get out of control quickly. This limits me to the rotary mower. The mower did not get choked out because all of the weeds are so dry. They don’t act like a rope when they get under the mower deck. The real problem is all the seeds and fuzz that the weeds put off clogs the air intakes on the tractor which cause the tractor to overheat.

I ended up overheating the tractor in under two hours of continuous mowing. I really need lights on the tractor so I can mow at night! I will do some research and figure out what kind and how to mount them on the tractor.

The middle field we are fencing in now does have some grass in it, I just need to get the field enclosed so the sheep and cows can get up here.

Machine shed needs to be functional

I decided it was time to get the crates unpacked and gets the machine shed organized this weekend, that goal was a a bigger bite than I was able to swallow in one weekend. I ran into several problems that I did not anticipate.

The hay equipment did not unpack nicely. We got the supports removed from the pallets and all of the loose stuff out And put away but I could not figure out how to get the support arms onto the baler correctly and I could not tell about a safety bar on the mower that looked like I would bend it if I picked it up. We kept looking at it and speculating then finally I announced that I would have to actually look at the operating manual and see if I could find a video online. The Italians are not making intuitive farm equipment.

We worked on getting the bolt organizers up onto the wall. I then spent three hours sorting bolts by diameter, nut, washer and lock washer. I also ended up sorting one column all into carriage bolts by diameter also. I got every bolt I owned onto that wall. I am thinking about getting a small organizer with 16 drawers to put all the metric bolts for the hay equipment in, this way I can keep them separated.

I am using the old metal cabinet for tractor and hay equipment parts. I will also be using the metal red and white cabinets. I need to install a shelf under the bolt organizer so I can put the extra PTO shafts on it. I also have an extra cutting bar blade preassembled. After reading the instruction manual I figured out that I have to rivet those blades onto the bar. It will be an interesting repair to say the least. The far bay will be left open for the tractor, so that it can be stored inside.

I had Hoss add 16 feet of plywood to the back wall. The. Back wall is only 7 feet tall so that left a nice one foot wide piece to use as a shelf. I am thinking about some sort of bin organizer on this wall but honestly I managed to get all the pieces stored in the space I have already. I think the metric bolt organizer is all I need to purchase at this point. The plywood will help stiffen the walls

We put up two more sheets of plywood on the wall going to the hay room. I don’t have all the boards up on the wall separating the hay room from the shop side yet. I will only be putting big bales in there this year and we cannot stack them. No tractor on the place that will lift that much weight. I think I can store 20 big bales on the ground. I will use them last and use the ones stored outside first. I want the plywood up to keep the hay scraps from blowing over into the shop area. We also added two shelves over in the corner. I want to add two more above the plywood. I have some stuff I only use once a year and it can sit up on those shelves. We are running out of 2×4 for more shelves. I need to make another run and buy 10 more.

We did get the new bench made! It is a solid piece of wood, the top I got for free and it is all laminated and glued 2×4. I bolted legs into the ends and used scrap wood from the pallets to make X on each end. I plan on adding a shelf under the bench as I want to store my small compressor under this bench. I also want to put a hose reel above the bench. I love using this to blow out the dirt and weeds from the tractor grill and radiator. The pallet to the left of this bench will hold the two tool chests. I have a large rolling one in the old house that I will be moving over here. It will hold all the English tools and I will bring my father’s out and make it the metric only. I need to get organized so I don’t waste so much time hunting down tools. Whether I like it or not I will be working on this equipment. This means I will need some lights out here. I plan on installing a flood light in every bay. If I control the lights individually I will be able to wire them all into the same 20 amp breaker. I will use all LED lights to cut down the power consumption.

We got rain this weekend. I was hoping for a bunch when it started on Friday but we only got 4/100 while three miles away they got 7/10! Last night it rained again and we got another 1/10 for a total of 14/100. Not exactly exciting but enough to get the grass to turn green, but we were vindicated later today by getting another 42/100 for a total of 56/100, over 1/2 inch of rain! The best part is it did not all come at once so it all got absorbed into the ground where it fell. We just need a pleasant week of moderate temperatures and the grass will start growing everywhere.

We are sold at this point on getting a combo welder/generator so we don’t have to install a new power panel service in the shop. The electrical service would cost us more than the generator.

Relaxing weekend

Yesterday when we brought the sheep in we noticed three more babies, this morning I saw a fresh placenta on the ground and Annmarie just brought the sheep in again and says there are at least 6 untagged babies already. Yesterday, Annmarie spotted a dead lamb up in the Upper Prime Pasture and had me go up as she thought it had been killed by a coyote. It had no tag and was between two logs, I suspect it went down head first and broke its neck, Mother Nature does her own thinning sometimes. The sheep are a pleasure to work as we have an amazing group of calm lambs and ewes.

Stewart Creek is officially no longer running. This is the latest it has run as it is fed solely from winter water runoff from the mountains. We have a couple of water spots still but it is no longer running down the creek bed. I have been working on spraying the star thistle both days. I have managed to get about 75 gallons of spray on the ground as of noon today. I can only go out during the mornings due to the temperature. I only tried to roll the tractor three times going up and down the back hill. The one right behind our house is the worst as it is the steepest and the rockiest. I try to do it first so I am very cautious the rest of the time.

Yesterday we had three of Annmarie’s cousins come out to visit the house. It had been over 6 years for two of them and one had not seen any work on the house. They were amazed at all the work we have done and really liked it. It is always a pleasure to show the house to people who used to come visit or remember it when Annmarie’s grandparents lived here.

Annmarie found a marble in the barn lot yesterday when she was bringing the sheep in! I have added it to our collection in the living room, there is about an inch of space left in that container before I will have to start filling the container in the office I set up for marbles.

It’s hot outside and I am supposed to be relaxing so I took mink oil and oiled the entire outside of the wooden chest we got at auction. It is a leather wrapped chest with metal and wood strips over the leather. It did darken the leather but I am super happy with how it turned out. I just need to let this dry for a few days then I will take a lint free cloth and clean up the chest one more time. Once that is all done we will make a spot for it in the craft room and I will start looking inside the chest and figuring out how to preserve the inside. We emptied some of the stuff out but I think the rest is going to go into the trash can, its mostly old yarn. We learned the hard way that super old yarn just becomes brittle and not worth working. It looks like the inside has a wallpaper lining so I most likely will just wipe it down with a lightly damp rag and call it good after I vacuum out the dust and paper flakes. This was a great find for $70.

That hurts

This Saturday we decided to tag and band the lambs. There was much discussion (arguing) as to how many lambs we actually had and wether or not the coyotes had been picking them off. Annmarie shot one Friday night and I missed one later in the day Saturday, so we know they are close to the barn lot. We opted to not use the dogs to push the sheep from the barn lot into the barn. We wanted the sheep to remain calm and just mosey on into the barn. Well they were calm, way too calm. We finally had to get shaker sticks to encourage them the last little bit of the way into the barn. Once in the barn we put up three gates to shrink the available area for them to roam in and I grabbed the tag and band supplies. I sit down on the floor of the barn with the supply bin on my left and my coffee to the right. The coffee didn’t last five minutes before some random sheep knocked it over repeatedly. I finally had to give up on having coffee during this labor intensive endeavor (I spent the entire time on my backside while Annmarie did the lamb catching!). We ended tagging 25 lambs and 2/3 of those were boys. We still have had more girls than boys lambs born on the farm since we started over 10 years ago. We have just been increasing the ear tag numbers every year sequentially and we started with the number one.

After the sheep were done we decided to work the cows. This required closing gates and setting up the corral for the cows. I was in the barn getting fly spray for the cows when I heard this bone chilling scream coming from the corral area. Both Hoss and myself were in the barn and we took off for the corral. I thought Annmarie was being mauled and stomped by the bull or one of the three steer in the corral. Nope, the asshole of the bee verse, a yellow jacket, had stung her on the hand and she had responded by trying to verbally assault the offending party at the top of her lungs. She went inside to treat the fire in in her hand after I agreed to find and kill the offending party. I had placed an old sheep horn in the corral fencing and it made a great place to build a Yellow jacket nest. I gave Hoss the spray and told him to go kill all the offending parties. He did and then we sprayed the cows with fly spray, we had to let the four cows out of the chute after the bull and another started fighting. We ended up letting the bull go out to the other female cows. He has not been near the house since rejoining the female persuasions.

Hoss and I then went up to the Upper Prime Field and finished installing wood stays along the creek side of the new fence. We used 100 of the 200 I had just purchased the night before. On the way out of the field we stopped and patched the new cross fence in six places. The last little section of fence near the new T -brace and new gate needed to be reworked. Hoss had not stapled the fence to the T-brace, once we did that a wire needed moved down to just above the woven wire. A few more wooden stays got installed and the fence is now sheep proof! The new fence, a section of the old fence has 6 strands and no woven wire. It may need some more T-posts and wooden stays but for now it should keep the sheep inside.

Hoss will start in on the next pasture on Monday, I want him to start in on the wheat field side and we will work our way around the field counter clockwise. I figure it will take 2-3 weeks to get it done, no more than 4 weeks hopefully.