There is supposed to be another winter storm coming in the next 24-36 hours. The temperature is supposed to drop to 10F and we are supposed to get 8-18” of snow in the mountains which will again cut off all traffic through the area. So I spent the last two days doing projects as the weather is going to limit my choices again. I got the fuel pump all assembled and working! I just need to pump out the five gallons of diesel and treatment I dumped into each side of the tank then I can get signed up for diesel fuel to be delivered on a quarterly basis. It will be nice to not have to go and fill up five gallon cans every week during the summer. I used some more gravel to widen the driveway. I want to eventually use up all of the gravel so I can move the entire pile to behind the grain bins. Yes, I did go with a hand fuel pump, we don’t use so much that hand pumping 5-8 gallons really is not onerous.
Mr Professional came out today and we worked on cutting down the maple tree in the backyard. The tree is shedding leaves everywhere, shading our garden, and once we cut it down it was rotten to the core! It had a 8” patch in the middle of the tree that was dry rot. I was saving the trunk to get it cut for lumber but once we found the rot in the middle of the tree it was only good enough to throw on the burn pile. We removed about 60% of the upper branches and then tossed the rest over the fence so I could retrieve them and use them to build up our ”burn pile/quail cover”. The quail love the pile of wood so we are hoping that by building it back up they will choose to stay longer or even roost in it overnight.
We leveled off the area with the tractors, unfortunately the temporary fence that is no longer dog proof had to be torn down. So now Mouse will be able to freely just run back and wolf down all the cat food without anything slowing him down. I will be buying some fencing materials so we can fix this fence in a couple of weeks after the weather warms up again. Of course the faucet back there is leaking and will need to be repaired in the spring. The spring projects are starting to pile up! I am taking some time off work next month to come home and relax. I will be spending that relaxing time stripping and staining doors. Annmarie would like an upstairs bathroom door. Currently there is no door whatsoever.
On my way back to the machine shed I encountered one of our sheep having a seizure or had just gotten hit in the head. I watched it for a couple of minutes but it seemed to be coming out of it. By the time we had the animals fed and let them all into the barn he was inside wandering around the barn. So he was able to walk over with the rest of the herd all on his own. I will be checking on him in the morning. All 100 quail were in the driveway when I came home. They just cannot decide were to run and hide. It is a hoot to watch!
I am still messing around with the night time picture taking.
Annmarie had a discussion with me about her loom. Now mind you I had to move the loom to paint the entire ceiling after doing the small repair in the craft room. What I did not know was that before you move a loom that is warped up you should relax the warp. Otherwise, you can throw off the tension and alignment, not that I did that. Annmarie was able to fix it because not only did I have to move it out to paint, I had moved it back in place afterwards! She is back to working on our woolen woven hallway old ice fridge cover. She has about 24 ” done and it needs to be 54” long, so almost halfway. Basically the takeaway is ”Don’t touch the loom”.
Since the weather was so nice and Annmarie wants me to catch up on all the little things we spent Saturday fixing the new round planter in our back garden. It needed to be filled with gravel, then soil, Mr Professional filled it with a lot of gravel, some sheep manure compost then we topped it with some good planting mix soil. We topped off all the other bins with extra soil also. It does seem odd to be doing garden stuff in mid February.
The old ram bolted through the gate when we were hauling gravel around, he promptly ran for the main herd of sheep and started sniffing tails. This caused some consternation from Casper, the new ram, so much so that after we got the old ram out of the herd Casper had to mount a couple of ewes just to establish his rank. This is a good thing, as we have seen some breeding activity but not as much as we would like to see. I personally would like to see him lose 10-15% of his body mass due to an unrelenting focus on getting everyone bred as quickly as possible.
I spent an hour grooming Gizmo. It has been a long time since I have taken the time to totally strip all of the loose hairs off of him. He looks great! I should probably do it more often but he doesn’t particularly love this endeavor and I feel like I am picking on him when I do it. Which would be why he does not get stripped very often.
On Sunday I spent an hour and sanded down a piece of maple for Annmarie to practice the laser farm pictures on. We are going to laser engrave all of the turn of the century farm photos we have onto wood and mount them on the dormer in the kitchen. We are hoping to do around 20-25 pictures. So I have a lot more wood to sand!
Friday was spent playing catchup. The weather is 50F and sunny which is not normal for February. It’s more like late March early April weather, which is so screwy. I had a friend who had offered me an old dead black walnut tree so Mr Professional and I loaded the Kubota onto the trailer and went over attempted to load the pieces. We had to cut them down to 9’ sections and the last one was so big we could not lift it. We tossed down the ramps and then tossed a piece of OSB flooring down and then used the tractor to roll the log onto the back 1/3 of the trailer. Once it was rolled on we just strapped it all into place so nothing moved and then headed home. We took all the back roads and only had to go about four miles so Mr Professional just drove the tractor back home as the trailer was now full. We took the wood down to the custom cut place and he will call me when its time to cut it. I need the strapping tool to come in the mail so after its cut we can stack it in the chicken coop and strap it all down then ignore it for another couple of years. I think I want to use a small piece to finish the upstairs bathroom countertop next to the toilet. I was thinking about using a live edge piece there.
I went in and picked up the last two parts from our new tractor purchase, the snow blade and the three point bale spear. Unfortunately, the snow blade was not paid for but the bale spear was cheaper than originally quoted so I paid off the snow blade and we brought it home. Now that I have a snow blade I am certain that it will not snow again until next winter. The only things I need for the new tractor now are a quick hitch attachment (under $300) and I want a ballast box ($350). I will have every piece of equipment I need except for a fertilizer thrower. It has taken a while to get here. I also ordered the broken part for the hay baler and more bale netting, they are both on there way. They had the broken sprocket in stock! No waiting for the part to come over from Italy!
Annmarie came up with an idea for bridge lights using some of my old Mason glass jars. I think she saw it on Pinterest. She got $1.20 solar lights then 3D printed an insert that would drop onto the top of the mason jar and allow the light to drop into it. I then used silicone to caulk the two parts together so the rain cannot get down into the mason jar. I spray painted the hose clamps and jar rings and then we mounted them on each end of the bridge. Since the picture I have torn off all other solar lights from the bridge to make it neater. The bridge rails sag outward a little so Mr Professional suggested we build a gazebo like covering to hold the rails together. There are five sections so we could just replace the center section (4 posts) and not have to replace every cedar post (14). I mentioned the idea to Annmarie and she liked it only she wants all 14 posts replaced. I think we need to see how it looks before we do the entire bridge. Luckily, this is not on the list for this year.
I also dry fitted the fuel pump parts and filter together to make sure it would work. I need some teflon tape to complete the assembly but the first store I went to did not have it. I will need to go to the auto parts store to get it. I have a small cheap plastic siphon coming so I can rinse out the tanks with diesel before I get them filled.
February 5, 2022 is the day that our new ram, KRK2 was turned loose into the main herd. Annmarie has nicknamed him ”Casper” as he is very friendly with long white hair. Within five minutes of arrival he was already trying to do his business! He is small compared to his counterpart but getting the job done is what matters. We should have babies June 27-July 7 according to the online calculator we consulted. We had a discussion on whether we needed a second ram but Casper is going to get a crack at everyone this first time and we will see how he does.
I had to go out and rearrange the barn to open it all back up so the sheep are mixed together. I kept the two going to slaughter off in our momma/baby area but they are going away in 12 days. We normally keep that area closed off when not in use.
I saw some Dorper rams for sale this weekend on Craigslist but Annmarie reminded me that we had one Dorper die in a year and the second one was so mean he had to be put down because he was not safe to be around. I am still finding billy clubs stashed all over the barn from our precautions when he was alive. Our ram before Casper had injured his back leg and is unable to perform his job. He is super nice, great temperament and very large bodied just unable to do his job. He is going to be ground sheep for a family who does a lot of Andalusian cooking. They will appreciate him in a different way.
We have our kill dates for the animals starting this month, it was later than anticipated. Due to the rising prices of meat in the grocery store, people are starting to go back to the farm for their meat. This is good for us but bad for getting animals processed. I tried to call and make an appointment with our old processer. A slot in their calendar is 14 months out! This would mean feeding the animals through the winter again. I found a place in Lagrande that would do it at the beginning of September, so I signed up for four cattle slots and I will have to deliver the cows to the abatoir.
I was able to go buy 4-5” wooden posts x160 on Friday from a salvage company at $4/ea. Heck of a deal, I may go back in a few weeks and offer them less if there are still posts available. Its enough posts to build 50+ H braces for fences. I need a bundle of railroad ties still. We are going to finish the corner fence down by four corners. This will mean installing four H braces and one corner brace out of railroad ties. This is to match the current fence that is up. I will install one 12’ gate and cross one water drainage ditch with cable and panels. That project needs to wait until the ground softens more and the ambient are temperature stays above 45 F all the time. I don’t like fencing in the freezing wet weather, it is not pleasant.
I am ordering a banding tool today. I have located a chain saw with a large enough bar to use salvaging a downed tree. I want to take the tree to the custom sawmill and have it sliced into lumber. It will need to dry for a bit but I want to get it into the old chicken coop and then band it all up to minimize the warpage. I also need to order baler parts to fix it also. I am not a fan of digging through catalogs to find part numbers but I am going to have to do that today. I also got all the parts for the diesel fuel pump and filter to be installed on the tank. Once that is all assembled I will call and get signed up with a fuel delivery company. I will most likely only need to be filled up twice a year as the tank will hold 100 gallons. This will be so much nicer than dragging five gallon cans to the gas station.
The barn cats will actually let us see them all the time now. I think Annmarie can touch both of them, I cannot. We have a photographer friend who takes abstract pictures, I thought I would show him up with my ”Cat eating” mashup. I was fumbling the phone and trying to take the cat picture but my hands were cold and the phone is new, it took the picture as it was tumbling to the ground.