Lamb in hand

We have had the ram isolated and in with the steers for the last two weeks since we had a lamb born on the 9th. We figured it was the tip of the iceburg and the babies would start popping out everywhere. It has been two weeks and no more babies. The sheep come into estrus every 3 weeks so she must have been the only one in heat. So babies should start up in 1-2 weeks.

I had to kick the baby chickens out of the coop today. I just went out there and chased or threw them out one at a time. Only about 10 managed to get out on their own. I went out just before dark and after the automatic chicken door had closed and had to chase 24 back into the coop. Only six had made it inside before the auto door closed.

Annmarie and I had a discussion about what to call the side by side UTV. She did not like the name “side by side”. She did not really care for UTV either. So she opted for “buggy”. I tried to explain that a buggy in recreational vehicle terminology is something you use on the sand. We are calling the side by side a “buggy”.

I did go down and feed the cows another bale of hay and spotted a new calf! It looks good. How can it come out ready for winter?

I have started to wire the machine shed. It is going to be a slow process but hoping to have it down before the new year.

We killed two lambs today, it was our part of the trade two sheep for a pig deal we have been doing the last couple of years. It seems to be working out for both of us. Again we were able to salvage an amazing amount of items courtesy of an Indian friend. He took both heads, all 8 forelegs, lungs, kidneys, hearts, livers and some diaphragm meat and some scraps from the hide. I started a fire in the fire pit and burned off the hair for him. But I am not taking the blame if I overdid it. He said last year when I started the bonfire it was so hot he ended up over cooking the heads and legs. He blamed it on the heat, and his wife blamed him! So I did it at a lower heat and smaller fire. Hopefully, it will meet wife approval standards.

Annmarie is violating the Christmas rule by hanging out a Christmas decoration before Thanksgiving! I went out to let the dogs back in a mere few hours and discovered that the Christmas decoration had fallen apart. It would appear that the powers that be also agree with me on the Christmas rule.

Annmarie used the upstairs bathroom to stain some wood for the laser cutter. Its a great space as we can shut the door and turn on the ventilation fan. It may become a permanent craft location for this reason.

Weekend farming in effect

Now that winter is sort of here I am doing mostly farming on the weekends. We are feeding every night after work in the dark. I only have to feed the sheep every night. The cows are getting large bales so I only have to push them one every week. I do it twice a week so they get a new one every 3-4 days. They do better this way instead of pushing them 2 at the same time. The sheep are doing okay on the hay I baled. Its pretty weedy but I figured since that is what they eat all spring and summer they can eat it in the winter until I can get all the fields replanted and cleaned up. This has led to an extra amount of organic matter being deposited on the barn floor. I think our straw consumption is going to go way down this winter. I have to empty out the feeders every few days to get the uneaten organic matter out and I just dump it on the floor.

I went out on Friday to feed the cows and discovered a brown alpaca laying near the hay pile. I figured it would jump up and run away when I got close with the tractor, it did not do that as it was dead! So instead of feeding I used the tractor to scoop up the recently deceased and take them up the property to become animal food. We really don’t know how old the alpaca are and we have had them for several years now. This was not one we can attribute to the other alpaca bullying.

After dropping off the carcass I was at the far end of the farm and the mower was on the tractor so I went up and started mowing the field I had burned last week. Well I started mowing the portion I got burned. I estimate that at a little over 2 acres. I got it all mowed and it is now ready to disc. I am afraid that Mother Nature is going to decide that winter is really here and freeze the ground soon.

I had a list of “honey do” items that I needed to check off on Saturday. I had been promising to fix a piece of hanging ceiling trim for last 8 years. I had attempted a fix once before. I used epoxy this time so it is never going to come down.

I also worked on cleaning up our under stair closet. It was pretty badly organized, and after throwing away a lot of things and creating a give away bag I managed to make it look much better. I really need to get the power wired into the closet so I can install the under cabinet lights. This is quickly moving to near the top of the “to do” list. Our second bathroom is moving up the priority list also. Annmarie says I need to take five minutes or less in the bathroom in the morning doing my routine evacuation. I say that it should be less than 30 minutes. She does not agree with this timing. So I need to get that second bathroom up and running.

I have been compiling my new to do list for the next six months.

Tile and complete upstairs 1/2 bath

Install under cabinet lights in hallway stair closet (wire light plugs first)

Order spare parts for haying equipment

Order perf plate wall hanging organizers

Order wall organizer with drawers

Fix tractor lights

Install trickle charger on Buggy

Dig ditch in the upper upper pasture (needs to happen sooner than later)

Install culverts x 2 in upper upper pasture

Clean out leaves in yard

Install new pump on 50 gallon sprayer and secure tank in rear of buggy

Install overhead electric lift in machine shed

Wire machine shed for bay lights and two more outlets (in progress)

It doesn’t want to burn

This morning was supposed to just start out with success. I am not sure how often that really happens so I am unclear why I expect it? I went to the gas station and got the 20 gallon propane tank filled. I drove out into the field and attached the new fancy long wand onto the brass fitting I used for the short one. I turned on the propane tank and heard the gas leak at the connection I had just tightened. I redid the connection with more teflon tape and it still leaked, which is when I realized they are different size connectors. Who does that? They are made by the same company. So I had to drive back into Pendleton and find the part that would work. This time I assembled the entire thing in the store parking lot, turned on the propane, lit the torch then fired up the afterburner! The whole thing worked so I headed home. I was not going to drive home and be short a part again.

The wind changed direction every 20 minutes or so making it very difficult to decide which side to attack it from. So I just kept driving around the outside trying not to inhale too much smoke. I could not get the flames to get hot enough to drive themselves through the weeds.

I only managed to get two attempts that actually took off and went for a 10-15 minute self directed burn. I have enough burned off now that I can break out the rotary flail mower and knock everything down. Once its down I will disc it all under.

I did see our resident three deer over the weekend. They are going to be disappointed that I am burning down their hiding spot. Annmarie made me chuckle after dinner tonight. She stated that any OHSA inspector that read the blog would die inside a little every time I went out to work not the farm.

I have been thinking about how to get the 8×4 foot window into the end of the barn. That will make any safety minded person a little insane.

The baby chicks have been booted out of their chick area and left to fend with the adult chickens. Unfortunately, they are very scared and nervous. I had to hang more water in the main section of the coop for them as only one has been brave enough to leave the coop and it was too stupid to make it back in. I had to toss it back in after dark.

Burn it all

Yesterday was a burn day finally, we have had an inversion over our part of the county and the last week no one has been allowed to burn. I left the stock racks on the pickup as it gives me something to lash the 20 gallon propane tank to in the back of the pickup. Otherwise I have do do this spider web thing with 6 tie downs that never lasts the entire time. The stock racks hold it in place with only one tie down and make the tank refillable from the tailgate.

My goal was to burn the middle upper field that had no work done on it. Seven acres of prime soil waiting for me to do something with it. I had the pile that Rain Man and I had made to burn, I had a pile of weeds down by the cow feeding area and I had visions of burning weeds out by the main gate. Now my single biggest mistake was not communicating my goals to the missus. I started both piles and then ended up burning all the star thistle down by my mother-in-law’s house. I then burned weeds on both sides of the road by the entrance cattle guard.

Unfortunately, while I was doing that the fire took off up the fence line and headed up the road. I watched it for about an hour then realized that it would take another 4 hours at the slow rate it was creeping along. I tried to burn back stops twice but just managed to start a fire further up. I finally just took a pitch fork and rake and made a dirt gap then lit one side on fire. This stopped the oncoming fire and put it out so I could go to the actual field I was planning on burning in the first place.

Unfortunately, the field was not super dry so I had to keep applying flame to get it to burn. I only had a three foot wand and it was too short for the job. I was cooking my face, head, ears, beard and arms from the heat. I tried burning for another three hours until I ran out of propane and broke the burning wand, both events occurred simultaneously. I was driving the truck and dragging the lit wand backwards on the ground. Otherwise you have to turn off the gas, wind up the hose into the back of the pickup and put the wand in the back after making sure the flame is out. If you do this every time you have to move the pickup it will make you crazy. But if you don’t do something then the wand gets broken.

So I went to town Saturday evening and bought a 6′ torch! I figured I could get away from the heat and keep burning. It was dark when I got home so I would put it together in the morning. I can fill the tank after that.

I even took the second cow feeder down and filled it with a second bale. Our weather has been pretty mild but it is time to start feeding the cows.

Lambies!

On Monday while Rain Man and I were out cutting wire away from some old cow panels to reuse them down by the school house we were talking about the sheep. All the sheep were in one corner of the ram pasture and I asked him to guess how many sheep there were. He guessed around 30, in reality there are almost 80 sheep in the picture. Most people underestimate how many sheep there really are when they see them all bunched up. I was explaining that we were expecting babies in December when he said “isn’t that a baby” and pointed to the left side of the herd. Yep, there was a single newborn lamb probably only 24 hours old but definitely not brand new. When all the sheep ran out of the pasture this lamb got stuck on one side of the fence while momma was on the other. I ended up catching it so it could be reunited with its mother. Rain Man got to cuddle the lambie and then set it out so it could find momma. He got called away right after that to go to work.

I hung the gates and put the panels up. I still need 16 4″ anchor bolts to finish my braces but I only have 6″ and 3.5″. The 3.5″ are about 1/4″ too short! I will have to get these in town later in the week.

I came in just at dark and Annmarie and I sorted off the ram and five whethers to go with him over into Alcatraz with the steers. Our ram is almost as wide as he is long! He is so fat. We will be killing whethers soon, maybe this upcoming weekend. We want to pull the ram off so we can keep all the ewes having babies as close together as possible.

Today I decided to integrate my baby chicks with the adult hens. I have 23 chicks that are over 3 months old. I opened the gate to their area and then filled their water and food so they can hang out for another 3-5 days without needing to leave. This lets them think about jumping into the door and making their way out into the real world. The only real problem with this is I have to start watching them to make sure they are getting back inside the coop at night or they will become raccoon food. Come spring time we should have lots of eggs!

Fencing 2019 completed

I feel like it has been forever since I said I would be done with fencing this year but it has finally happened. I was able to finish up the new fence this weekend. It took some perseverance but I did it. While I was fencing I had an assist from the sheep in raking leaves in the yard. They also did the last mowing at the same time. The only real problem with this is they fertilize the lawn at the same time they trim it and eat leaves. This means that the three dogs have an all you can eat buffet of sheep poop and as an added bonus get to roll around in sheep urine and poop both! This makes for very odiferous pets. Its a side effect that has to be considered when weighing the benefits of not mowing.

I spent Friday stretching fence and Saturday afternoon I finished stretching fence. The only thing left was to install a gate and cover two gates and two openings with cow panels.

I opted to spend Sunday cleaning house. It was needed and I was simply done fencing. It has been a long year of fencing and despite the need to get done so I can have the fence inspected by the water conservation district for my grant, I needed a break.

On Monday, I had a new helper, code name “rain man”. We cleaned up and readied the small patch of land next to the front yard that we are going to plant Lavender in next spring. We pulled weeds and found most of the branches. I will burn them on the next burn day but we have been under an inversion so there have been a lot of no burn days.

I brought him out to help me finish the fence but our next project was lifting the back bridge over the creek. We used a handyman jack to lift up the one side then dug back into the bank to prop it up with rocks. The first time we did not have enough rocks so we went for this massive piece of old concrete that weighed 300+ pounds. It was brutal to get back up the hill then down into the hole and into position under the bridge. We did it but it was a close call to not happening.

After that we went into the barn and filled all the feeders and dug out a bale of straw. The straw was buried under bales of hay so we had to move about 25 bales. The Rain Man can sweat! He hung in there and we got the barn all ready for animals as we are going to start locking them in every night. Winter is officially here as we are now feeding them every day.

I ended up having to finish the fencing alone as the Rain Man got called into work. I did it and managed to get most of my trash picked up. Unfortunately, the tractor bucket was full so I will have to go back to get the rest of the scrap metal pieces.

Perpetual fencing

It feels like forever before I am going to get this fence done. I snuck down on Friday evening and worked for a couple of hours and got all the H-braces tightened up. Saturday I worked on getting the first section completed. I used a 330 foot roll of new woven wire and used up about 300′ to make the entire length. I managed to get the woven wire and both strands of smooth wire up and tightened on Saturday.

I realize this doesn’t sound like a lot but each T-post takes 6 clips and I use an old nail to put them on as it is faster than the fencing pliers. My index finger is starting to develop a callous from the nail. I was going to hang the gates but I forgot to bring the anchors and impact driver.

On Sunday I brought the tools to hang the gates and got both gates hung. I started in on the longest stretch of contiguous fencing. I spliced in a new 330′ section of fencing to the 30′ and had to splice in another roll and use up about 60′ more for a total of almost 400′. It took some effort to get the fence to come up off the ground. I finally had to use some spare wire to hold it up loosely and allow the fence to be tightened. In the process of swapping fence tighteners I managed to smash my pink fingertip and cut it through my leather gloves. I had a friend come out with a metal detector and go around the old school house. He found old metal nails!! No riches to be had.

I managed to get the woven wire stretched and clipped up, I got the first strand of smooth wire up, tightened and clipped in place. I got the second strand pulled out and discovered I was 50′ short and will need to splice in a new roll. It was getting dark as we had done the fall back time change Saturday night so I just gave up and went inside. I am figuring another 5 days to get the fence completed. I am afraid I may run out of fencing staples. The last section of fence is all wooden posts and I am down to the last 20% of the bucket. A new 50# bucket will cost me around $70.

I do realize that the fence is taking a while but it is progressing a little at a time. Its not super exciting work but it is getting done and I can see the progress. I don’t mind it and it needs to be done so I can ask for reimbursement for materials from the water conservation district from the grant I was awarded.

I did spot several covey of quail over the weekend. The quail definitely did well this spring and summer. They were hollering and yelling at each other as they went through the bushes. They can be quite noisy. Annmarie took this picture on the way home as they just hung out.

We have locked the feeder cows into Alcatraz and given them their own big bale of hay and protein lick. They are getting fatted up for a January kill date.

Stewart Creek is running, its hard to believe but we have a trickle of running water going down the back creek all the way on the property now. It never runs this early.