Yesterday is proving that I may need a slight break from hard manual labor. I managed to get one rock crib filled and the other about 1/3 of the way done before I gave up on the rock cribs. My back is screaming at me after I move about two ton of rock now. I only have 2/3 of a rock crib left to fill and one rock jack to construct. The nice thing about the rock crib is there is a pile of rocks right next to where I am making it so I can just reach over and fill it without having to move every rock twice. The completed rock rib is on the right side of the picture and the partially full one is on the left side of the picture. I also turned on the sprinkler at dark plus it rained 3/100” last night!
I picked out the largest rocks from my current pile and brought about five loads up onto the back hillside behind the barn. The sheep are constantly knocking the dirt down the hillside and I wanted to be able to create a level spot so I can see if I can get some grass to grow up here in the spring. I arranged the rocks so they were stable and then dumped gravel over the top and scooped and spread gravel until it filled all the cracks and crevices. Once this gets some rain I will work on removing the gravel from the rocks so I get a better rock outline. I won’t do that until late spring of next year. I want everything to settle into place.
Since I was not going to move more rocks, I worked on leveling the strip of dirt behind the machine shed with the box blade then switched to the arena groomer to tear up the surface dirt of the field around the grain bins. I want to be able to plant grass again in this area and see if it will take hold better this year. The weeds are virtually nonexistent this year compared to last year. Once I get the fencing done I will be moving onto grass seed planting. I am going to do tractor work tomorrow.
Honestly, all the credit here goes to Mr Professional as I have never bothered to name the animals. “Hey Stupid” is my go to name. If you say it nicely they respond and you only have to remember one name. Unfortunately, now that we are trying to process our alpaca fiber we need to have the animals named and keep track of the quality of their fiber. To do this effectively we need names, so instead of me just making them up I asked Mr Professional to attach all his names to them. He has been calling them by their names all year long. Here they are:
He has also named our Bull “Thor” and the Ram is “Titus”. We have no idea how old the alpaca are as we have had them for five years without any background information. We know some of them look old.
Only 9 days left as I did all of this work yesterday! We are actually going to go to the coast for some actual rest and relaxation so I have fewer days than that to work on the farm. I need to be ready for Winter and its getting close to being finished and close to being winter!
I keep trying to get more organized. This is probably my single biggest hurdle. I will be making labels for my tool drawers next so I can finish organizing the new tool box and storage area in the machine shop. I am going to have Annmarie engrave labels on metal and get magnets for them so I can move them around if needed because I will not be happy with the first version. I also spent an hour and cleaned up all of the fencing buckets, tossed out the trash and got everything organized into grouped bins. I think I need to make a couple of shelves above this area to put tools onto, that project can happen later after everything else is done. I did take the drain hose and elevate it. It doesn’t weigh very much but it takes up a lot of space. I have this for around the barn but did not have time to get it into the ground. I used the old rope and pulley that used to hold up the fuel nozzle from outside the machine shed.
I had the pickup and trailer in the ram pasture but it was hard to drive in through the new gate as I am not going to get the flooded out culvert cleaned up and replaced. The angle of approach needed to be adjusted to make coming around the old chicken coop easier. This option had been discussed and since it rained 12/100” last night I thought moving some dirt was perfect. The moisture did not go down far but it did help some. I have a pile of dirt that I have been slowly lowering and I just lowered it enough to create a drivable dirt path. My little tractor can do this but it takes a lot of time with a 1/3 cubic yard bucket and a four foot wide box blade.
I got two more rock cribs finished and full of rocks. I am so ready for work where I do not have to move a few thousand pounds of rock a day. My limit alone is about 10,000 lbs of rock a day, which is only two cribs as I have to move the rock twice. After that I am ready to move onto a different job. So I ended up grading the animal access to the spring. It had three old post holes that needed cleaned up as we widened the water access and made it more into a funnel shape. I also dug out the water area to widen it and harden the far bank. My waterproof muck boots have gotten a serious workout this year.
I ended up watering the new plants with a bucket and collected eggs. For some reasons the chickens are slacking off as I only got seven eggs yesterday. I am unsure why, I am thinking it is time to cull all three roosters and the ancient hen who can only crab walk. The chickens don’t lay well when I disturb the normal patterns but since they are not laying anyway I might as well do it now.
We are quickly approaching the end of my Forever fridays, I am ready for them to be over. I still need to get more stuff done but work is a better mental stimulator. See broken fence, fix fence is necessary but not a lot of strain on my brain. Don’t get me wrong it needs to be done and I recognize that I just have not had so much time off in many years and it is different getting adjusted to not working. Bottom line, I like my job and I like farming but I like my job better and farming gives me the outlet to continue liking my job, complicated but true.
On Tuesday, I worked on the fence some more. I want to get it done but I am down to the little things and I am just not as good at the finish stage as I am at the tear it up and slap it together stage. I finished cleaning up the spring bed and had to move the cattle panels around with the tractor to get them in place. I just could not get them to go together and I finally gave up and disconnected them and reinstalled them one panel at a time. I had the tractor hold the panel in place then I got down and manipulated the panel into place. I just need to install a little bit of ranch panel to keep the sheep in over the large metal cow panels. After that, I mounted the windmill again, this time I moved it so it will not get affected by another flood. Basically, it ended up at my fourth choice because the first one flooded and the other two choices I drilled holes for trees which would get in the way eventually. I wanted a spot I could leave it undisturbed for a few more years. I applied a bunch of new grease to the wheel. It was totally dry but still turning. The wind and on top of the barn now only turns when the wind starts to pick up but I am not crawling 30 feet into the air on top of a metal roof just to grease the windvane. The little windmill is on a pole that I can pivot and lower, grease it and put it back up in under ten minutes. The pole is an old cedar electrical post from when they had knob and tube strung out to the barn. It’s probably over 80 years old and now that it is no longer touching the ground I am hoping to get another 50 years out of it!
The last thing I did was put the last rock crib sides on. This was the last rock crib that needed to be built. I even got two sides lined with wire. Once the last side is done I will be filling it with rocks. This crib needs to be the next one I fill. I have three left to fill, this one is the smallest and the closest to the spring channel. I also hand watered all the new plants in the flower garden. They all look pretty good. I turned on the sprinkler also.
I had a late start on Wednesday but I got the new plants in the lavender garden onto the drip system. I just need to make sure to keep the overhead sprinkler going on the flower garden plants. The drip system plants will do just fine. I am deciding whether to go to a drip system in the flower garden, but I think it will get torn out when the area floods. I am going to wait and see how it goes with the weeds next year and decide then. I picked up all my tools and garden tools and started to put them away. We are supposed to get half an inch of rain in the next three days. I am unsure what day it will arrive as the day keeps changing. I had four bags of concrete that I moved into the machine shed. When it rains I will work on organizing the machine shed and completing the wiring I started last fall. I also need to spread straw out in the barn and get it ready for animals. My last task for the day was to move the pickup and trailer over into the ram pasture. I spent the last week building a new dirt entry into the field but it is made up solely of dirt that I have compressed with the tractor. Unfortunately it has never had rain on it and in places it is almost three feet deep, I am afraid the rain will turn it into one big mud pile.
My mother gave me a haircut today and accidentally dropped the blade cover then made a first pass on my hair. I did not want a divot in my hair so I just had her cut it all the same length. It is short! I also need a little sun on my head!
Well it’s closing in on my home time, in two weeks I will be at work trying to figure out what has changed in the 6.5 weeks I have been gone. I am actually looking forward to going back and getting back in the thick of things. This is starting to affect my at home timeline. I had a friend bring over more plants on Sunday that they had culled out of their garden. I planted five more currants, four more bush raspberries and two more thornless blackberries and trimmed off about 8 blackberry pieces and shoved them into some dirt and tossed some water on them, hopefully they will grow. I have enough blackberries now. I still need about four more raspberry canes to fill in the rest of the line. I need to hammer in some pecker poles and create a couple of wire supports for the plants to grow on. I also went through the area and hoed up all of the thistles. The garden area looks much better. I am hoping that next year I can hit it early and kill all the weeds. I used Black Gold potting soil around all the plants this time to give them a jumpstart. I am going to do that with all the transplants from now on. Our soil is solid clay in places and just does not provide that initial surge growth that is needed for the plants to get well established.
I drove in early today to town and picked up more potting soil and ran errands. I was able to get everything I needed and fit it into my car. I did not want to take the rock filled trailer off of the pickup so I got it all to fit by using my trunk, backseat and front floorboard for storage.
Today, Mr Professional and his progeny came out for two hours and helped me plant the rest of the plants over in the flooded zone. The only plants that survived the flood was a male sea berry that was underwater, five echinacea plants and today I found some little bitty green plant that I remember planting but don’t remember what it is called. Nothing else survived the flood. We planted15 more plants and spread out some flower seed. Every plant got potting soil around it, it took all 8 bags I purchased plus two more from the leftovers in the lavender garden, there are only two bags left unused now. As we were planting the tiny little plants the teenager chickens kept coming into the flower area. I had not anticipated this as they are just squeezing through the large square openings in the ranch panels. The chickens will eat all of my new flowers and bushes! So then we had to string up 18 inches of chicken wire in the inside of the new fence to keep the chickens out. If I had thought of this earlier while building the fence I could of accounted for this but it did not occur at that time that the chickens would be a problem. I left two plants down in the spring water to see if they would snap back, they did not look good after staying out all night. I even watered everything last night before coming inside. Back at the fence tomorrow…