Yesterday we decided to get ready for haying. Unfortunately, there are always things to do on the farm and we had decided that this was the weekend to work animals. On a good day this is complicated. On a bad day it is worse and at the best of times it will stress any relationship. Any one who thinks they live in marital bliss just needs to come work animals with their spouse and they still have to get the animal work completed no matter how hard or complicated or how many times you have to walk back down to the other end of the pasture! All in all it was not bad, we had to use the dogs on the sheep even though they started in the ram pasture. They would not go through the gate into the back barn area and then they would not go into the barn. The dogs did great, Annmarie runs Mouse and I run Zeke at the same time, the dogs are trained to only follow commands after their names are said plus Mouse does better with Annmarie and Zeke works with me better. Don’t get me wrong, all the dogs like Annmarie better as she lets them up on the couch for hugs. Zeke is just used to the curmudgeon approach to sheep commands and Mouse is fairly sensitive and takes it personal.
We set the barn up before pushing the sheep in, they are finally getting used to the sorting chute as a group. Making them go both ways through it helps them understand it is part of the routine. Once we had the sheep inside and started taking a good look at them and who was going to be culled we opted to wait another 30 days. In one month we will be able to wean all the lambs and we can cull the 10 ewes for sale. We have 10 that are old and scraggly and they need to go. So they got to run back out the chute to freedom.
The cows were next, Annmarie and I walked down to the schoolhouse as the cows saw us coming and ran in the opposite direction. We typically don’t use the dogs when there are new born calfs on the ground as the cows just want to chase the dogs and not move where we want. We got them into the ram pasture after three attempts. Luckily they didn’t start really getting stubborn until we were up by the house and we had a closed gate stopping them from running backdown to the schoolhouse. We tried multiple times to get them to go into the back barn lot and they would not do it. I hollered and eventually Annmarie agreed to let me use the dogs and her and Sarah exited the area and went into the yard (behind the fence) to watch. We forgot to do a video. The dogs and I pushed the cows near the gate, then Annmarie came out and the dogs pushed them through the gate. We had to call the dogs into the back barn area to get the cows the rest of the way in. We sorted into two groups, Annmarie sprayed fly stuff on them and then Annmarie and Sarah caught the newborn little calf girl and I put in the ear tag. Stupid ear tag pliers kept misbehaving, making the two women on top of the calf holler at me. I got it! I have offered to do the pinning but we have discovered that I have the hand strength needed to make ear tag and banded work and the women cannot do it so I am relegated to the easy tasks. We are missing one calf. The problem with this is two fold. We know there was a cougar at the neighbor’s house 4 days ago. The other issue is the calf is only 4 days old and the cows will hide them. So we could of just missed it. We will keep an eye out and see what happens in the next 14 days.
Mr Professional and I worked on the sickle mower for the tractor yesterday. It is brand new and owners manuals are not the same as operators manuals, nor are they assembly manuals. Turns out we had to tighten almost all the bolts, two leaky hydraulic connections (there are only two) and move a part they put on wrong. It then took us a couple more hours to figure out how to get it to adjust right per the instruction manual. We managed to bend a weld on a stop that we still cannot figure out how it functions, so it will need to be welded back in place eventually. By this time it was time for lunch, he went home for lunch and I even went inside and ate (I normally skip lunch).
After lunch I went out to mow the nearest field, Upper Prime (I really need a sheet with all the names on it for the fields as I occasionally change the names!). This field was solid cheatgrass last year and I used it to practice with the hay equipment. It is still about 75% cheatgrass so it will again be practice. It will be filler food for the horses and cows. I will look into spraying it down mid summer and reworking it in the spring with peas. Something to start killing off the cheatgrass. It takes me about an hour an acre to cut and it took some practice to figure out how to use the sickle mower and get it to function optimally. Speed is the key, you must go fast so the grass rows up or it bunches up and clogs the tines. Also, cutting will have to be done in the afternoon as wet spots at the base of the grass gum it up dramatically. I had a few wet spots that I ended up butchering multiple directions in an attempt to get them cut.
The Upper Prime Squared field (next one beyond first, away from house) looked great! It had about 25% with cheat grass but the rest looked good and about 50% looked good enough to sell. The same problem here, I encountered three wet spots out in the field. Luckily, they were not muddy but it was highly evident that the surface water was more plentiful. We had sprayed for thistles but had only used 2-4-D and the thistles were shriveled up but not dead, they got put into the hay. Again, we will spray as soon as we get the hay put up.
The real problem is it is supposed to rain Wednesday and Thursday. I knew this but did not want the cheat grass to get more of a hold so went ahead and cut anyways. We will turn on Monday and hopefully start baling on Tuesday night. It is going to be close.
I tried to get done before it got dark, I even held off turning on the tractor lights until it was not possible to do without them. I need to down grade the front light still so it doesn’t pull as much juice from the battery as my big one. I have one that is about 1/3 power that I am going to install. I will leave the big one mounted just in case I need it, I can just unplug my other and plug it in.
There are lots of rooster pheasants all over the place! I did not see a single hen, but I saw roosters strutting all over the place with no regard for their safety. I saw a thousand voles at least. The dogs would have loved it but the sickle bar mower hidden in the grass does not make this an option for letting them run around. No quail or foxes were spotted in 8 hours of mowing. I did manage to eat my nuts and some Carmel popcorn while driving around in circles. I got pretty good at moving the sickle bar and gaging how best to mow an area.