So strange to think that I will have to return to work. I have really enjoyed by time away and am getting lots done around the farm. I have spent the last three days concentrating on the barn lot fence. We need that fence to be completed so we can maneuver animals around this winter and allow them to go where needed but to to stay out of other areas. I had some help this week and it made all the difference in the world.
I am going to dig some flood irrigation ditches to come out of our back irrigation ditch so we can get more water out onto the fields. This should help us with the feed.
On Wednesday we started in on getting the area for animals stuck in the ram pasture water access. The chickens are not super happy with all the changes as they are now beholden to following the same path as the large animals. They really are not as they could squeeze between the cow panel squares. It will just take them some time to learn this trick.
I think I have designed the fence this time so that the panels will break away under water pressure and allow the flood waters to pass. I have anchored the posts with large rock cribs and even went so far as to alter the way I am making H-braces. I used to use smooth wire and then use a post to twist the wire to make it tight. The problem is in a couple of years the wire gets slightly loose and I want to retighten it but cannot as there is now woven and smooth wire going over the H-brace. I am now using high tension wire and tightener spools with small crimp on tighteners. I can ratchet the wire super tight and in the future I can retighten easily. I even went so far as to cut small notches at the sides of the railroad tie to let the wire lay in so there was not any pressure on a staple. It took me about halfway through the fence construction before I realized I should have been doing that all along. All the other posts have three two inch staples holding them in place. Fencing is definitely an art and over the years I learn something new every time I do a major rebuild. I look at why the fence broke and or how the animals got out and then try to rebuild to prevent that in the future. I also look at how other people have overcome some of these obstacles.
By Thursday we were down to just the fence in the momma/baby area left to be completed. The real crime here is that none of the rock cribs have rocks in them! We will have to go back and fill them all with rocks. I think I have a plan for that this year. I am going to take the 16 foot trailer up on the upper CRP and next to the fence line there are huge piles of rocks that have been removed from the field piled up next to the fence. I can pick up those rocks with the tractor, place them into the flat bed attached to the pickup and then when its full pull it down into the barn lot. Picking rocks up on the hillside one bucket at a time and driving them to the barn lot takes a lot of time. The trailer will hold 7500# of rock at one time.
Today we had to build two more rock cribs for the Momma/baby area. I wanted to get them almost 16 feet apart so we can have one cattle panel hanging between them and allow the water to push it away. The only real problem is I could not get them far enough up the hill to make a really good valley for the water between them. This means they are likely to be surrounded by water if the water level gets too high. We made the cribs 4×5 feet and will fill them to the top with rocks. I need them to be massive enough that the water will not mess with them. I do realize that constant water would eat at them but I only need them to withstand flood stage for 1-2 days a year.
I am getting pretty good at using the tractor and guessing how much weight you can manipulate in the bucket and not tip the tractor over! The tamarack 2x8x16 foot boards I got last year are amazing! They look great and are in great shape. I expect them to last an easy 20 years. Mr Professional and I went up to the upper fence line and using the tractor, pickup and trailer ended up getting 2.5 loads of rocks! We used the tractor to load them and then I just backed the trailer up until it was on a downhill slope in the barn lot and we rolled the rocks out the back end of the trailer. The incredibly large rocks will go behind the barn where I am building a retaining wall so we don’t keep losing soil down into the spring. I don’t want any rocks under 100# for the retaining wall base.