No Real Work

Today was the day to get the rock garden finished.  I just needed to run to work in the morning and then get to it.  As I was pulling into the driveway, Mr Experience was pulling into the feeding field to clean it up and drag the arena groomer around it.  I spotted a brown spot in the field.  Annmarie and my mother in law had already convinced me there was another calf to drag into the barn and tag/band.  So I thought this calf was that one and I was going to get lucky.  Nope, it was a brand new calf who was skinny and hungry and weak.  I carried it down near the schoolhouse and we tried to get the cows to run to it.  Nope, they ran the other way, I ended up walking halfway over the farm to get them to find the calf.  I then sat on the hillside for 45 minutes watching to see if anyone would feed the calf.  I had no cell phone and no hat so I just laid back on the ground and watched through slit eyes.  No one fed the calf.  I finally went and got the calf after Annmarie came down to check on us both.  We carried it back to the house, I made Annmarie carry it for a while after it peed on me.  She wanted to stick it in my car as it was down by mother in law’s house.  I said no and carried the calf to our house.

Now there is a new problem, there is no pen for the calf, we don’t have a bottle for a calf, and we don’t have colostrum supplement.  So I opted to stay with the calf in the front yard to make sure the dogs left it alone.  I managed to take a nap in the sun in the front yard with the calf.  Again, I had not bothered to put on a hat.  My bald head is going to pay for this mistake.  Annmarie fed the calf, it promptly went back to sleep while I set up a sleeping area for it.  The calf is just a newborn baby and it thinks we are the good guys. I need to work on getting the calf sold ASAP.  Gizmo has already decided he must protect it from everyone and is sneaking into the pen and sleeping with it!  He is so annoying sometimes.  I managed to sell the calf to a coworker for the price of the supplies this evening!

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The little tractor broke on Saturday.  The hydraulic cylinder that turns the front left tire (brake side of foot controls) broke.  It is seven years old and it is starting to tell me about the things that are worn out.

 

 

Their is an upper triangle of land almost an acre that we started to get disced up today.  We will finish tomorrow and it will be ready to plant peas in.  The feeder field is ready for peas also.  I want to use the peas to offset the weeds.

I managed to dig a hole under the rock wall to run the front sprinkler underneath and get my rock garden watered.  I was going to stick the sprinkler in the upper corner to spray everything but I was missing a fitting.  Annmarie told me to just add on more pipe and put it in the middle so it would water everything.  I took her advice and it now works perfectly.

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Annmarie was still buying supplies when I went in to eat lunch.  I found some pickles from 8/2019, some sprite from last year and for breakfast I had jam from 2016.  Nothing killed me and I almost have the entire refrigerator cleaned out.   Annmarie tells me I have blisters on top of my head from a horrible sunburn I obtained by falling asleep with the calf.  We both needed the nap!!

More gardens

I have been getting help on the farm from Mr Experience.  We are trying to get the fields ready and planted for spring barley and its getting late.  I am not sure if we are going to make it but we only have about one week left or it will never fly.  I spent Thursday working on the bathroom a little and playing catch up.

We made a trade last fall some electric netting fence for some fruit, flower and herb starts.  Well the fence was handed out in the fall and I kinda knew the starts were coming but had managed to delay them a couple of weeks.  They showed up Friday morning.  I had already started on the area, got different help to rough in the fence and posts and I had raked the entire area by hand to make it very pretty!  Now I had a bunch of plants that needed to go in the ground.  This is a blessing and a curse, as I only have a couple of days to get them all in the ground.  One cannot simply just start digging holes as there are a bunch of berry plants and other various edibles.  So I made measurements and Annmarie and I kinda laid it out.  I painted marks on the ground and started digging.  I spent all day Friday and managed to get the cane raspberries, blackberries, bush raspberries, clove currants, and Nanking cherries planted and watered in the orchard garden.  We planned for 40 feet of blackberries and raspberries but only planted 10 feet of blackberries and 15 feet of raspberries.  We plotted out the Lavender area in the orchard garden and have 80 of those plants to pickup soon.  I ordered plant cover cloth, drip system parts and 28 cubic feet of colored rubber recycled tire chips and those should be here the first week of May.  Once I have all the supplies here we will lay it all out and start cutting holes for the plants.  The garden fence priority is moving up the work list quickly.  I just kicked all the animals out of th orchard so no one would eat our new plants.

I had just enough time in the rain to go over to the rock garden and kill all the thistles and stinging nettle before dark.  I was tired and needed a shower, I have gotten so used to the stinging nettle it does not bother me much anymore.  We still had 4 acres to disk in the upper field but it had rained and I was afraid that the little tractor would not be handle the moisture. So I called and borrowed a tractor from a friend.
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The plants perked right up with some soil and a lot of water!  Always nice to see them come back after getting stressed in the move.

This plan went together pretty smoothly on paper.  Annmarie is going to plot them out on the computer so we can remember all the different plant names.  There is no way I am going to remember them without some type of reminder.

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Saturday morning she tried to draft out the plan on a computer and my measurements were not quite up to the mark.  I did some ball parking on the numbers and that made the electronic version a lot harder to put together.  I vowed to do better with the rock garden and brought a couple of pieces of paper out with me to jam into my pocket and ensure I measured everything.  Did I mention that it started to rain?  The soil on one half is mostly clay and I had to hand water everything from the spring?  It was not very pleasant getting everything into the ground.  This time I planted six Seaberry trees with two more male trees, three more clove currant bushes, two autumn olives, two Josta berry bushes, a honeysuckle plant two Artemis, two Agastache purple haze, four sunflower (perennial), five echinacea, a five foot section of Iris tubers and a few odds and ends that I did not write down but did plant in amongst the rocks and down by the water.   I took lots of measurements this time!!  It still did not quite work out on the computer as expected. But it’s close enough!!

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Once Annmarie gets the plans all spiffy and neat on the computer I will post that.  I have some wild flower seed I need to spread out amongst the rocks also but I need to get the sprinkler working first before I plant them.

Feverish farming

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It’s spring time and we are still trying to clean up from last year.  This is the field I tried to burn last fall and just could not get the fire to drive through the weeds.  It got mowed down and I wanted to plant right through the weeds but there is too much biomass on the ground.  So we ended up pushing up piles of weeds by skimming the ground with the tractor bucket.  Once those piles were made they were so dry you could light them with a lighter and nothing else.  Two days of burning has cleared off a lot of weeds. The wind has been kind enough to blow and making the fire spread as needed.

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I bought spring barley on Friday and want to get it in the ground this week.  It is supposed to rain on Wednesday and I would like to have the seed in the ground by then.  I have a small 1/2 acre plot that we saved for peas.  We sprayed every field but that one so that the 2-4-D won’t affect the peas.

I have another set of helpers out and set them to hardening the spring bank.  I only finished one side last fall.  Now both sides are blocked in and it should stop the dirt bank from falling into the spring.  We also lined the bottom of the spring with gravel in that area.  The sheep would know this if they would quit trying to jump over the water.  This did require the teenage helper to redo the wall three times to get it where it needed to be.

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I have been working on my sheep calling abilities.  I have managed to post a couple of successful videos to Instagram.  The key to success is in choosing the right time to call them.  They are used to coming in at night for food and to be locked up in the barn area.  I have had zero luck trying to call them down off the hillside midday.  But if they can hear me in the evening they will come running.

We sold three more lambs off this weekend to someone who is going to raise them all summer long.  We sent our old brown ewe and her 3 month baby over with the lambs so they could try and hand tame the lambs.  Our old ewe will come to anyone who she thinks has food.  We also do not want her getting bred when we release the ram into the main herd.  90E31C90-FECF-4C46-B18B-0822D40F0E68I spent last night on the tractor for 4 hours driving around in circles pulling a disc trying to get the flooded out field from last year ready for spring barley crop.  The ground was full of ruts from the back creek flooding the field and making rivulets.  I hope I got most of them smoothed out.  We are hoping to get the seed in the ground tonight as it is supposed to rain 0.1-0.25” tomorrow and the hope is the seed will all be in the ground by then.  One must have goals in life.

 

 

Spring is back

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The weather is better every day.  The sprayer rig is completed.  Mr Professsional has been out for a couple of weeks helping me.  He has got the sprayer fine tuned and all of the bottoms have been sprayed with 2-4-D.  The upper two pastures that had grass in them last year that looked good last year look great this year.  The boom nozzles needed screens and of course we blew out a chunk of hose.  There is enough hose to redo all of the exposed lines and if I continue to store it in the machine shed it should not get sunburned and all brittle.

I really need another metal cabinet so I can store all the parts for various equipment in it.  I have a little one but it is filling up fast with all the assorted stuff.  I would like a shelf for each piece of equipment.  Keep it simple and I could label each shelf and outside the cabinet.  Something to think about.

I have been trying to work on the upstairs bathroom.  It has been fraught with the usual bad choices.  When I first installed the lights 12 years ago I did not make them level with the lights on both walls.  I also did not plan for installing a mirror.  I had to move the one light to fit the mirror then I needed to move the two lights opposite so they were at the same height.

This turned out to be a much longer process than one had imagined if that one was me.  I marked out the spots and as I was moving the boxes realized that some of the wires were going to be just long enough to stay in the boxes but not long enough to attach to anything so a jumper wire was necessary.  I spent three days a couple of hours a day getting everything moved around.  I then flipped the switch and only one outlet out of three worked and no lights.  A couple of days later I tear apart every connection looking for a loose wire.  Then I start testing all the switches and lights to check for continuity so I can start drawing the  wire diagram in my head.  This would be the wire diagram that Annmarie asked me to draw out on paper 12 years ago.  I know that you will all be shocked to hear that I did not draw it out.  I told her it was all in my head and the wiring was done anyways so it did not need to be written down.

Six hours later I still could not figure out why there was no power.  I started tearing boards off of the wall and sticking my phone in the wall and taking pictures.  This was how I discovered that I had let the power wire drop down into the wall.  It just needed to be attached and everything else worked, after I put it all back together again.  So now we have lights and power in the correct places.  We are trying to create a dark to light pattern on the walls from the doorway.  Will see if we can get it to turn out.  We have decided to just use some Danish Oil on the walls as finish to bring out the blue pine color.

Annmarie made homemade Focaccia bread in a cast iron pan.  It was amazing and she made my favorite pasta dish for my birthday dinner.  We normally go out for our F03C4224-7B12-4382-BEC8-5B0C14D966D9birthday dinners and I have to say that I think this was one of the better birthday dinners I have had recently.  She did an amazing job on the entire thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catch up weekend

I did work on the house over the weekend.  Mostly catch up kind of stuff, which always seems to grow.  We got a couple more tables for the office so Annmarie can sit in front of the window when she does her Zoom teaching sessions and have the best natural lighting.  The tables went together fairly easily and we got all wooden ones so there was no particle board to tear up.  The sheep were taking it easy in the front yard and one lamb even decided to use the wooden bench as a resting area.

One of my egg customers asked me how I cleaned my eggs and whether I used a candle on them.  So I took this picture of my fancy egg collecting basket and told her that I just take the eggs out of the fancy basket and put them into the cardboard egg carton.  If the egg is covered in poop then I run it under hot water.  That is the extent of my treatment for our farm fresh eggs.  They taste good!!

I swept up the upstairs bathroom floor and cleaned up my mess.  I swept and mopped the floor.  Once that was done I realized I needed to do a little more work on the closet before I could start putting up the tongue and groove boards.  So I made a wall with shelves built in for the closet.  I don’t want the space to go to waste.  I still need to create the top part and angle.  I am looking at putting in a sliding door to cover the closet opening.  It will look like a barn door.  Slowly but surely I will get the sprayer up and working.

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Zeke keeps getting out so I finally had to add another wire to the top of the front fence.  I drilled a hole through the posts so he could quit crawling under the wire!  He is the worst when it comes to trying to contain him.  So far he seems to be staying in the yard.

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Animal sorting gone awry

Well it is that time of year again, and I would love to say that sorting the animals went smoothly but since I am unsure if it has ever gone smoothly this would be counted as the worse.  Again, I would like to thank Coronavirus and my own inability to communicate my feelings and concerns in a manner that the female species understands.  I do realize that this is a failing on my part and grunts and reassurances are not a substitute for honest open conversation, for which I am not particularly good at.  That being said, it was brutal.

The cows needed sorted as we had an interested party in buying two 6 month old weanlings.  Plus we have a brand new calf, only three days old and by far and away the cutest calf we have ever had on the place!  He has a white shaped heart on his forehead.  New calf on the ground means no dogs to move the cows, they went along pretty good until they got to the near end of the orchard and my mostly down fence.  I am going to have to take a weekend and put the tunnel to the gate in so they do not balk near the gate and they don’t get hung up on anything.  We managed to sort the cows fairly easily and Annmarie was able to sort off the baby and catch it by herself!  We hardly ever get to them this early and it was a pleasure to work on something so small.  Luckily, I was able to find both testicles and got him tagged and banded.

We had the one nutter that is now four months old that needed to be banded.  I lined up our fabulous $50 calf table, that has been out in the weather all winter, and we were ready to go.  The calf probably only weighs around 300#, mind you it takes two grown men to take down and hold a 100# calf so it can be tagged and banded.  The calf table failed to perform or it did perform as expected from a $50 wonder, I think this depends on your perspective.  I broke the up/down bar for the neck guard using a cheater bar.  It was an abysmal failure and now we have a one nutter that will need to be pulled off in 2 more months.

Sarah and I tagged the last lamb that needed it and put the two ewes out with the main herd.  We had one lamb get out and after 20 minutes of chasing it around and it refusing to go through the open gate we gave up.  It eventually made it over by the yard and I let it in the yard then let everyone else inside.

Last weekend, the child and I worked on grouting the bathroom backsplash.  It looks amazing and I am very happy with how it turned out.  I will start moving electric outlets and light switches this week so we can install the blue pine tongue and groove boards on the wall.  I need to get the wall behind the toilet and next to the toilet installed before the plumber comes.  I am super excited to see how it turns out.

Annmarie embraced the use of the sheep as a lawnmower this week.  I am personally thrilled by this development and by the end of today they will have mowed down the yard to a very low level and I can ignore the lawn for another two weeks.  The only bad part of this process is the dogs start to smell like sheep all the time.  They also eat a lot of sheep poop, its like candy.

I also did my part of the taxes which is adding up all the expenses and income and collating it so Annmarie can input it into our taxes.  I knew we had to spend more due to the hay shortage last winter from all the heavy snow and then we bought even more hay to get us through the winter plus we purchased all the hay equipment, planting equipment and a side by side.  Wow.  Ouch almost $37k in equipment.  I know we needed to do it as we spend a lot annually for feed but I was surprised.  I should not have been but sitting down at the table and going through every individual receipt really brings it home.  This would be why I have to do it so I pay attention to where the money is going.

Yet despite all the angst, the heartache, the pain and hard work I still love it.  I love that my wife cares enough to try and get me to slow down.  It is days like this that I am reminded of why I do it.  What else would I do with my life?  Why would I do something else?  I ask myself this every once in a while but I never find a better answer.  So in this trying time take care of those you love, do what you can to help others and be cognizant that burning the candle at both ends is hazardous.

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In like a lamb, out like a lion!

Well one would think that spring was in the wind, but winter is not quite ready to let go.  Two weeks ago we had snow on the ground!  It snowed three days ago at our house but did not stick.  We have now started the constant daily rain.  This is going to make the weeds and hopefully the grass we planted grow.

Unfortunately, the Coronavirus is slowing us down.  I am working way too much at the hospital getting ready for our Surge.  This  has left very little time for me to work around the farm.  This is going to cause us problems if I cannot figure out how to balance a work/life ratio.  I realize it is probably necessary for my health but I continue to work and worry and plan for something that I hope never comes.  This is causing me to not have the time or energy for the blog.  I will keep at it but there will be a noticeable dip in the quantity of posts I make.  As I use this medium for my official farm history to pass on to the next few generations I felt it necessary to add this in here.

 

The thing about Spring Winter is you get used to warmer weather so when the Mother Winter snaps back and reminds you she is still in charge it just feels colder!  Annmarie still persists in her belief that we cannot sleep at night without two windows open in the bedroom.  This is in blatant defiance of the outside temperature.  Our master bed looks like a blanket display at a market, dominated by Pendleton Wool Blankets.  We have decided that we don’t need a weighted anti anxiety blanket as we sleep under multiple wool blankets.

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Our sheep continue to have babies!!  Just when we think it is all over someone else pops out another lamb.  So the ram is still stuck in with the bull and a couple of steers.  There is hope that in a few more weeks they will all be done, as a five month lambing season is brutal.  We want two months only for lambing season.  We need to give him two months to get at everyone.  There are too many ewes for him to service everyone in one estrus cycle.  He is fat and needs to go on a diet anyways.  This will make him work off some of that extra lard.

The sheep are not really any smarter than normal.  I had to let this lamb out of the feeder.  It managed to get into it but spent the day inside as it could not get out.  We have noticed that the brown and white lambs are probably the cutest we have but definitely the weakest.  We had another one die this week.  I had to put it down.  This has caused us to rethink the lambs that we will be saving when we cull this spring.  We are going to have to avoid the brown and white ones.  The weirdest part of this is that the color is what is separating them out.  It makes it easy to pick and choose but it is kinda weird that  the most deaths this year have been those sheep with those color markings.  We were going to cull out the older ewes anyways and have lots of lambs to choose from so picking won’t be a problem.

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