Haying purgatory

Saturday was the day of the first hay roundup. Mr Tex had agreed to come out and help buck hay. He doesn’t like working in the heat so he wanted to start at 0600. This is way too early for Mr Professional so Annmarie agreed to drive the pickup and trailer around in circles while we tossed bales onto the trailer. We had to make a plan as there were some bales that had cheat grass in them. Three of the fields look pretty good with very little cheat grass. We decided to use the cheat grass contaminated bales to line the dirt floor of the lamb shed, the triticale could then go on top of it and we would not waste any of it. The triticale we will feed to the cows and the bull in alcatraz. We ended up getting almost 3 ton off of about 3/4 acre in the triangle scab patch we planted the 2 year old leftover triticale seeds in, using a grass seed dispersing cultivator. The quail are everywhere! They are in pairs all up and down the fields, every time we went down the road we spotted several pair.

We were able to get 100 bales per load onto the trailer and pickup. That is two ton per trip. The road alongside the wheat field is the quickest route out to the fields but it slants to toward the downhill side and has one bad spot that was causing the tractors to slide off of the road during all the mud creating rains. I have been slowly trying to flatten that section of road out and it is better but it is not wide enough so the trailer kept slipping off the road and getting dragged sideways for about 50 feet until we could get past that section. It only slid two feet downhill but it is disconcerting when you are looking in your side mirror and see it slide down and stay on the low side. We only dumped hay off once and then only lost six bales. Annmarie helped us unload in the barn. Having an extra person was great once we started having to stack higher than we could reach. I messed up and started to stack the far closest corner up first. I always do the farthest corner first. Its easier and this year I messed it up so now the bales have to be moved an extra 8-16 feet. The temperature was only in the low 80s F. I made sure to drink lots of water but it was hot! We tried to geet the puppy to go with us but she did not like the noise of the pickup so we left her in the yard. She spent most of the day sleeping on the front porch of the house.

We picked up 400 bales and then Mr Tex wanted to take a lunch. He went home, and we had minimart chicken strips and then I laid out on the front lawn and took a nap. I was anticipating the second round of hay bales to be less pleasant than the first 400. My arms were starting to ache but not my shoulders yet. We did another 100 bales then Sarah came home and volunteered to come out and help with hay. We of course allowed this then went back for our last 100 of the day as I was super tired already. The pickup and trailer started to sink into a soft section of the field and four wheel drive was necessary to get out of the spot. The last 100 bales into the barn sucked. We were all tired. After Mr Tex tossed his hay hook with the bale for the fourth time and fell off the trailer once it was fairly evident that even he was tired.

Mr Professional came out and blew out the John Deere radiator, I had forgotten to put the prescreen in so it had a lot more chaff in there than normal. He filled it and checked oil and added oil, both tractors need an oil change so I will be buying filters and getting the oil so we have it on hand. He then went out to bale more hay, therefore adding to the amount that needed to be picked up.

We ended up picking up 600 bales, 12 ton of hay and getting it in the barn for the animals for winter. We need to have both bays in the barn for the sheep to get through the winter so I would say we are have about 40% of the hay we need for winter already.

As soon as we were done I spread out on the front lawn to cool off. I just laid there for 30 minutes attempting to get cooled down. I shared some ice water with the puppy as every time I put the cup down she would shove her entire face into the cup so she could play with the ice cubes. Eventually it was my turn in the shower. I was in bed early and did not feel the greatest. The next day has begun and I still don’t feel that great. My muscles are not in that bad of shape but the headache and runny nose are not going away. So it will be a lighter day today.

The amount of hay is amazing. The rain was annoying and I will need to move a bunch of dirt and create a berm at the beginning of field 1 to prevent the field from being flooded but boy the grass sure liked the bottomless water glass. There is a distressing amount of hay to be cut and baled and picked up out of the fields.

Haying during the week

Mr Professional came out during the week and worked on equipment and kept haying. We managed to break both sickle bars, there are two special round head bolts that snap fairly easily. I had to call for parts for the new sickle bar and realized that it also was made in Italy! This did not bode well for us but it turns out they had three bolts on hand and could overnight them to the parts store. I had them order two more anyways so we would have spares on hand. I will need to create a new parts bin for the new sickle bar. Having a bin for every piece of equipment is very handy for keeping track of all of the spare parts. I would come home from work, change clothes and jump on a piece of equipment until dark. I could get in 5-6 hours of tractor work doing that. We had some trouble with moisture still as the heat had not picked up yet and the ground was still fairly wet. This caused the baler to jam on a fairly regular basis. We quit picking up so low to the ground and just caught the tops of the rows, this worked well but did leave a couple of inches of cut grass on the ground. There was nothing to do about that as the grass did not cut smoothly to the ground as it was still fairly wet. A mower/conditioner might fix this problem but when the grass is four feet tall I am unsure how well it would carve through the mass of grass.

Every evening I got to watch the quail! Honestly, they are one of my favorite birds. They are curious, vocal and beautiful. We hear them every day all over the farm. At dusk every evening one of the resident owls would come out and start swooping down into the field and catching rodents. They waited until it was almost dark before the hunting started. I have not seen a single deer or turkey this week while out working the fields nor have I seen a pheasant.

I was super tired and have been sleeping downstairs. I get the horrible twitches when I push myself and keep Annmarie awake at night. We have several toads that now live around the house and one has taken up residence under our front porch. It is so annoying that Gizmo, our Brussel griffin dog, has taken to hunting it when the racket commences. I was afraid the noise would keep me awake it was so loud but exhaustion won out and I just fell asleep. We keep telling Gizmo that he really does not want to catch the toad, it would not be healthy for him. I messaged Mr I need a belt bad to see if he wanted to come out and help buck hay but this is the third request I have submitted to him for summer labor and he is not thinking he wants to return to the farm. It is not easy to find a young person who wants to weed, mow, weed eat, dig out ditch and dig out the barn for a summer job. Honestly its only two days a week, maybe three but it is near impossible to find someone. The sheep have been doing all of our yard mowing this year except for the two times we got it mowed. We are still on the lookout for some summer yard assistance.

Haying for real now

It is officially haying season. I know this because I work from sunup to sundown during haying season. As soon as I get off work in the afternoon I get onto a tractor and go until dark. We had a couple of issues today. Mr Professional was going to use the Kubota and the new sickle bar mower to cut hay but it broke. One asks how does a new piece of equipment break? I would say very easily. We will be using locktite on most of the bolts on the sickle bars. Also, who knew but the new 5 foot sickle bar mower is made in Italy also! I had to download the manual and find the part, the rounded head bolt that kept breaking on our other sickle bar. I found the right part number and called the parts store. I requested five bolts and five nuts. The dealer for these mowers only had three bolts available so they are getting overnighted and we should have them in a couple of days. They are still going to order me two more but those should take 2-3 weeks.

We are going to have to start up another plastic bin of parts for the new mower. Every piece of equipment has a bin now and extra parts are stored in that bin. It makes it a lot less confusing when you know, at least, that the parts do go to that single machine. Mr Professional got about 1/3 of field one cut. Field one has some very fine grass and is drying out quite nicely. The only real problem is it got flooded so there is dirt about 12 inches up on the stalks. So the mower blade is cutting through a lot of dirt. The grass is incredibly tall and thick.

I went up to inspect how much was done by driving up the Mistress with the hay rake on it. I turned a little hay then decided that I needed to row up the hay I had put down on the ground yesterday. One might think that is too early but it is just cut flat and laid down, no rowing at all. The ground is so moist that when I rowed it you could see how much better the hay was going to dry and the ground could dry. It is amazing how wet the ground is still.

I got everything I cut yesterday turned and up into rows. It is supposed to get into the high 80s tomorrow so I am hoping that the hay really starts to dry out. The quail are amazing and everywhere! I must have seen 10 pair of quail running around on my drive out to the field. I hope the rain does not interfere with their egg production because if we have another banner quail baby year we are going to easily break the 300 quail mark on the farm. We think the quail can sustain about 4-500 birds in their society if we feed them through the winter. Time will tell.

Haying getting started

There has been a lot of change lately. On Friday, Annmarie went to pickup our new puppy, ”Chance” is her name and she is a Border Collie. The same people sold us a starter nuc with honeybee hive with six frames for $150. Annmarie put the new frames in a single deep box and the bees are kinda moving around. It has been cool and windy so they don’t want to stray far from the hive. We mixed up some sugar water and added them into another box on top of the brooder box so they could eat and not have to go out into the weather. The box is right outside our kitchen window so we can see them. Annmarie did not even get stung, she did wear the protective clothing we purchased also. The puppy is a full time job as it is only six weeks old, so the minute she wakes up you have to rush her outside so she can go potty. We will let her sleep with us until she is about 9 weeks old then we will kennel train her. She needs to be old enough to be able to hold her bladder throughout the night.

On Saturday when I got back home I had plans to cut hay but the weather looked horrible. I was sure it was going to rain. So I did not cut any hay. I played with the puppy all day as Annmarie had not gotten a lot of sleep the night before. I vowed to be on puppy duty all night but after getting up three times in the middle of the night to go potty with the puppy, I was very tired the next morning.

I ended up looking outside and suspecting rain again but by noon, just bit my lip and went out and cut the triangle and part of field #1 & 2. The triticale in the triangle looks pretty dang good. It is very tall and the kernels are at the milk stage. The grass is so tall in places that it started to hang up on sickle bar mower. The blade has to be raised and shaken to get all of the grass off of it.

Annmarie told me that we are expected to start having lambs next week! It seems like it all just keeps happening no matter what, funny how life seems to do that all the time. The cows have had three calves. We will be catching them at the beginning of July. The alpaca will need to be sheared at that same time. Once that is done we will start working on the bridge

I scored the big win on Sunday. I was able to purchase a bell! A very large bell, I drove the tractor an hour each way to pick up the bell as I did not know how heavy it was going to be. It has an amazing sound. Once I figure out how and where we are going to mount it everyone within 5 miles will know what an amazing sound it has.

Office window in one at a time

We were able to pick up the windows this evening! I carried them into the old house and decided that I could install one tonight. I had purchased this adhesive tape that was supposed to go over the wood then window to seal it tight but I have never used the stuff before. I really did actually read the directions before I used it! I didn’t want to get it wrong but at the same time after reading the directions I was unhappy with the level of water tightness and bug proofing they suggested.

So instead I installed tape on the bottom sill then along both sides and a strip at the top of the window opening. This will allow the water to run down and not get under any seams. The window was a little tight getting in after taping up the opening. I got it installed and roped off from inside and then went outside to caulk and crew in the window. I was not looking where I was stepping and stepped right on top of a nail with my right muck boot. Unfortunately, this caused two problems, first problem was there was a large nail in the bottom of my foot and it hurt. Second problem is now I have a hole in my muck boots so they are not watertight anymore. This is the bigger issue for me. I pulled my foot off of the nail and board combo and continued on. I caulked the whole outer aspect of the window then screwed it in place. I then cut four inch strips and put them over the window and the seal. The stuff vulcanizes to itself so it sealed everything totally up! It is truly amazing, not only will the water shed off the window but no bugs will get inside the office via the window! This is even cooler than it sounds if you have never lived in the country you will not truly appreciate it. All that is needed now is installing the wooden trim on the outside of the window. I saved all three pieces from the original window.

I am hopeful that I can get the other window installed tomorrow after work but who knows what will come up. The wind has been blowing for almost two days and its starting to dry everything out. We may be able to cut hay in 2-3 days. I also will need to find that hole in my muck boots and try and seal it with silicone so I don’t have to buy new boots.