I will be supporting the hay growers for another year.

Well it’s been a continuation of 2020 issues. I did not get any fields planted. I am going to focus on (#1) at the far end of the property. I will keep it idle all next year and keep it cleared of all weeds and growth. This will let me pick rocks and get it all smoothed out and ready for grass seed in the fall, September!! I need to pick about 6 tons of rock out of it. It has about 2 acres that are really bad and they need some serious attention so I don’t break the sickle bar mower again. I will be placing my order for more hay early. I will also need to find some small bale growers nearby. I don’t want to have to drive more than about 30 miles each way. It takes multiple trips to get enough hay for the sheep.

It is snowing today. The first snow of the winter and according to the weatherman we might have a severe winter with high amounts of snow. Since we already have over 18” of rain for the year and this week got 1.5” of rain in a 24 hour window I am thinking the weatherman is correct. Our normal rainfall is around 12” this is causing us to have to rethink how we are going to work our fields.

Annmarie and I worked on using some surveying equipment to tell the rise of the property from our irrigation pump to the house (about 13’) and then onto the top of the ram pasture. She is going to plan for 30’ of lift and we are going to purchase a new pump and pressure switch setup. It’s 600’ from the pump to the house. We are going to water a few acres and plant in the spring. We need the pasture to stay greener longer in the middle of the summer when we have zero rain. Irrigation set up, spraying and field prep (#1) will be the focus next year. Get one field done then next year move onto another.

Feeding of all the animals starts in earnest today as there is now snow on the ground. I am headed out soon to push bales out to the cows and sheep. Five sheep will be sorted off today to go to slaughter. That will be the last of the weathers and we will have sold off all the lambs before the end of the year. I am going to not use the horse trailer and put the racks on the pickup. I don’t want to pull the horse trailer in the snow tomorrow. I will have to take my work clothes in with me in the am as I am going to have to catch the sheep one at a time and put them in the back of the pickup. I am not convinced I need a ramp just yet. There is an old one on the property but it needs some work. I may fix it next year when I fix the post hole auger.

Crawling might be faster

I have spent 13 more hours working on the upper seven acre field. I am using the harrow/arena groomer on it to smooth it out but due to all the organic matter in the field the harrow keeps getting plugged. I have managed to build walls on two sides of the field from all the debris. This is causing me to have to go over areas multiple times to collect and remove all of the stuff. I still have about another four hours. This is causing me to have to reevaluate how the fields are going to get planted. I cannot do 20 acres at a time. It is just too much ground. I am going to have to only do 4-7 acres/year or look at getting someone to custom plant 15-20 acres for us. I just cannot do that much with my little equipment.

The kestrel and red tailed hawks, adults and this year’s nestlings, have finally gotten used to me running the tractor around in circles and patterns in field #1. They have started to watch for mice and dive bomb them after I have passed by. I saw both kestrels yesterday! I usually only ever see one but I spotted two yesterday and the new hawks don’t have their red tails yet. The wind has been blowing such that with the hill and updraft the hawks can literally float on the wind. I saw one stay in the same position for over 20 minutes and never flapped its wings once! It just kept twitching its wings causing micro adjustments in its wing shape. The pheasants are out in droves! I saw five roosters on the way to the field and again on the way back to the house seven hours later. They are not very jumpy this year which is highly unusual.

I have included a picture of me raking the leaves. You will notice the difference as there are fewer sheep and they are all very fat from eating all summer long. I like to switch it up from the me mowing the lawn pictures. After an entire morning grazing they are sitting out in the sun resting, it does not look like they made any progress on the leaves. This process may take a couple of weeks. I will be hard at work!

Winter is here sorta, it got down into the teens, temperature wise but this week it got to over 60 degrees during the week. It is not normal. It is supposed to rain over 1/2” by the end of the week. That is going to mess up my planting schedule. If I had not had to fix all the flood damaged fencing I could have spent those six weeks planting. Oh well, back to baby steps. One foot forward every day will get us to the finish line.

We had let the alpaca back into the cow area when I fed the cows last week. This lone black alpaca, we think Snoop, wandered off by himself. We thought he was lost so Annmarie herded him back out to his buddies. The first chance he got he got back in with the cows and then isolated himself again. We think he is just old and tired of the BS male dominance fighting. We are letting him stay by himself this time.

The chickens discovered a section of the new fence in the barn lot that I did not make chicken proof. It’s on the opposite side of the water and only about four feet long but they found it and have been using it to get into the flower area that I wanted them exiled from. So now I will need to fix that at some point.