Well Winter is almost officially here. It did snow this week at our house but it did not stick. The mountains have been covered in snow for a week. I keep trying to get things done around the place but the paying job is in overdrive and I have been working a lot making it hard to find time. So I have been doing one item at a time when I have a spare minute. This does tend to drag things out.
We had one of the alpaca die, an old white one. He went to the eternal resting place of all farm animals, the boneyard. Half of them are ancient and half are under age 7 now. We are not sure how their food intake is with all of the land they have access to being dried up. I have been giving them round bales but they are also very dry and the rejects. The alpaca have been eating them but we are worried about their caloric intake. So I went out and got a big bale of alfalfa for them. We have done this in past years but one 1300 pound bale is more hay than 11 (now) alpaca can eat in an entire winter. This makes the bottom of the bale mold as it sits on the ground, gets rained on and lasts all winter long. So this year I managed to get the bale up onto two pallets so it is off the ground. This should make it last all winter, so we are able to feed 11 alpaca for $182 all winter long. Honestly, they are fairly cheap to keep. If we had to pay to have them sheared/feet/teeth trimmed it would be about $70/each. After this year that is not looking too bad! I managed to get the weight box placed on the Kubota and filled up with horseshoes. This is much better than the 50 gallon barrel we used last year. Using this on the Kubota I was able to lift the bale about two inches off the ground and I did not have to try and steer the bale to where I wanted it with only the two front tires touching the ground! I still cannot move the bale in two wheel drive, I have to use four wheel drive on the tractor to get enough traction when there is any moisture on the ground. I will leave the counterweight bucket on all winter, I am hopeful that when I put the snow blade on this will help me immensely. I simply do not want to battle putting on chains in the snow.
I managed to get the mower and weed eater moved over into the wood shed since the bridge is functional. I had already drained and rolled up all of our hoses (11) and drained the front sprinklers and blew out the drip lines in the lavender. I just need to get the hoses into the wood shed and I can cut down the bridge. There are two logs that act as horizontal supports. I will have to build new concrete bases in the spring but I am hopeful that I can use the logs again as the horizontal supports. I will just cut off the ends that have softened. I may be able to get another 15 years out of them. They were here when we moved here and I was able to reuse them when I repaired the bridge the first time. I may also raise the bridge about 12 inches. This should stop it from getting washed away in the floods. If it gets washed away after that then Annmarie will design an ached truss bridge and I will spend a couple of months building it. It won’t be a fast project.
We want to move the honeybees to this side of the back creek. The bridge did not fair very well after the flooding last year and half of it has collapsed. It will not survive another spring runoff. In an attempt to save it, I want to cut it down but then we will have no access to the back shed for a few months. This is unacceptable as we will not be able to check up on the bees and we have been feeding them already so they do not use up all of their honey this winter. We would like them to start the spring with a bunch in the hive so we can steal a lot this next fall. This means the bees need to be moved, without killing the queen and without taking the hive apart as it is now too cold to move the individual boxes. I was able to strap the hive together with a tie down but the bridge needed to temporarily fixed to allow for the transfer. I managed to jack the bridge up using two bottle jacks and this morning Annmarie and I went out to move the hive. It is very heavy and it was decided that just walking and carrying it was not an option. We strapped it to a hand cart and worked it over into the lavender patch. The only problem it will have now is if a huge branch falls down and crushes it. We don’t see that as highly likely but it is possible. We wanted it in the corner to provide some shelter from the wind and weather.
The weather is all screwy again. I am pretty sure that is going to be our new normal. We had 1.35” of rain in a 24 hour period. We set a new record for rainfall in a single day in November. So far we have gotten 1.59” of rain in November and its only the fifth and it did not rain yesterday. We did have a windstorm last night that peaked up to almost 80 mph winds. This of course caused us to lose power last night as all the power lines are above ground and susceptible to tree limbs or poles falling. They had the power up and going by around 1000. Luckily for us we have a propane stovetop and propane stove. We just lit both of them manually and had heat and coffee. Coffee before breakfast, always. There is a reason we keep an old coffee stovetop percolator. We have figured out we are going to have to keep a few gallons of water on hand. I used to keep plastic jugs but found that they will leak over years so we are going to reuse the gallon glass jugs I used to use to make mead. They will not leak and now that we use the old safe I can get rid of the new safe and we will have room for four gallons of water. We did figure one thing out though, we have an old fashioned land line as those used to work 24/7 without power. When our area lost power the land line went dead also. We will now be cancelling our backup as it no longer works without power. Our cell phone service is spotty but its what we have. I will need to get a solar charger for our electronics. We should probably look into solar panels so we have some type of power if the grid goes down but I am unsure about a battery bank and think the technology might be way better in five years. Our puppy did not like the wind storm, every time she went outside she barked at the wind for about 30 seconds before going outside to potty.