Planting continues

Saturday morning I had just started to tear up the front hillside so I could plant clover when the tractor started to smoke and lose power. It would not go, so I had to call the dealer and arranged for a pickup on Monday. They do not lease small tractors so I had to call the rental place. Its $625/week or 40 hours whatever comes first.

So now we have a 31 HP John Deere tractor for one week so that I can hopefully get the planting completed. I spent all day Sunday planting. I love the new power harrow/seeder! It took some adjusting to get the seed rate set. I now have 9 acres planted in grass seed!

It rained again on Sunday but I just kept planting. I need to get that seed into the ground so that the seed can utilize the moisture available. We need the grass to grow and make tall green grass so we can make it into hay. I did somehow managed to bend the seed arm support bar. I am going to end up having to weld something that is a lot sturdier than those two small bolts that currently hold it in place. It functions even better than I expected, the only real problems is you have to crawl under it occasionally and pull out or cut out all the bailing twine or wire that has wrapped around the tines. The back roller can get filled with mud due to all the rain. The mud has to be dug out by hand. I use my pocket knife. I now carry two, one to dig with and one to cut twine.

The two completed fields look great and are very smooth and 99% rock free. I have had to pick rocks as I am planting.

I finished planting the test field out in front of the grain bins. I had some “cheap” grass seed that was a combination of seeds. It had Sainfoin in it but the problem with that is int only had 5% Sainfoin but those seeds are 5 times as big as grass seed. I had to open up the planter aperture about 5 times bigger than normal. I used up the whole 25 lbs of seed but I am not sure it made it through the whole field. I know for certain that at least 2/3 of the field has seed. We will know in the spring.

I also arranged to pickup 25 tons of large bale hay for the cows on Wednesday. Our 25 baby chickens come on Wednesday also! Plus, Tex is coming so we can tag and band sheep and cows! Its going to be a busy day.

Today I went up into the 7 acre pasture at the far end of the pasture. I tried to mow it with the rental tractor. I overheated it twice. In frustration I called the burn line and gave my permit number and lit the field up! Within 30 minutes, someone had called 911 to report a fire. I got the page and reminded everyone that I was fine and the fire was under control. Once the fire slowed down I got back on the tractor and mowed some more. I did clean off the radiator multiple times. My plan is to get up at O’dark 30 and mow while it is cool tomorrow. I hope it works. If I can get it all mowed I can start planting it also. We are still discussing what I am going to plant but this field still needs to have the Sumac cleaned up and the ditch repaired and a fence installed so I am going to have to be able to tear up the field.

Vacation day 4

Big surprise it was raining again this morning! I am never going to get the upper field burnt. So instead I went over the machine shop and started working on installing my flood lights on the tractor. It seemed like a straightforward kind of thing. There are even power takeoffs under the seat that run through the light switch so I can hook up power there. It took me a while to gets the lights assembled and mounted to the roll bar using hose clamps. Getting the clamps adjusted so that I can retighten all four at any moment took a few tries when I added the second light. I plugged one light in and got it to work. I did not have the right connectors and was able to find them in Pilot Rock amazingly. I broke two of them and never could get the light to work again. I made a second trip to Pendleton for another cable harness and could still not get it to work. They are Blazer brand lights and I do not know why they won’t work. I even checked all the fuses on the tractor and they were all intact. I swapped parts from both wire harnesses and still no joy. I finally gave up and taped off the light plugs to keep out the dirt and I am going to have to do some research. I don’t understand why they don’t work. I spent another 45 minutes trying to get the power harrow/seeder hooked up to the tractor then I spent another hour practicing in the practice field. I killed the tractor once by hitting a buried old spring tooth that got wrapped up in the power harrow. When I crawled under the harrow to get it out I ended up cutting off about 6 hay bale strings from the tines of the harrow. I had to stop several times and make adjustments to the harrow and I had to pick up all the rocks and twine I found. I filled up about half the tractor bucket with detritus. I did not try and plant any seeds. I am saving that for tomorrow. I still think I need to adjust the seed wheel to touch the ground 100% of the time. It looks so much better. If it takes off in the spring I may do the lower portion of this same field next year.

I managed to finagle the tractor into the front yard upper hillside and I will use the harrow to tear up the hillside so I can plant clover. We want to see if the clover can choke out the cheatgrass. Hopefully, this plan works.

So if you know anyone that can fix my tractor lights, please send them my way. Hopefully, Google knows something…

Vacation day 3

My staycation is not exactly going as planned. I had Tex on the agenda for three days in a row. He stood me up. His solution to not coming is to just ignore my text message. The nice part is he is self limiting on our checkbook and he works hard when he comes and we like having him, no one is perfect. There was so much rain that we were not going to get anything done outside. I hooked the tractor mower up and attempted to mow the next field (4 acres) then the upper prime pasture (7 acres) so I can use the power harrow/seeder on them. I had my rubber boots on, a pair of rubber bib overalls, a wool vest, and an old “waterproof” biking jacket and an oilskin cap. The biking jacket is NOT waterproof and the oilskin cap needs more oil. The rest of me stayed dry. So I will be looking online for a cheap waterproof jacket. I have been buying seconds and clearance from Sierra, I don’t get a color selection and my choices are limited but for 50-75% off of normal prices I can live with the inconvenience. I am only going to tear it up on the farm eventually. It may last 2-3 years if I am lucky.

I have decided that I need a speed knob for the steering wheel on the tractor. Going around in circles for hours on end it is a must accessory. I will try and pick one up in the next few days. My hands also got cold in the rain so I may try for some waterproof gloves also. There were a couple of acres of grass that look great! My hope is that by next year it all looks like this. We have had enough rain that the front upper spring is running almost the full length again. The upper prime pasture was starting to get some soft patches again. So I took the time to dig out one of the ditches where the surrounding ground was getting soft. I want the water to flow down into the middle channel and away from the field. When it dries out a little more I will spread out the dirt here and keep working on building this ground level up another 8 inches. If I got it elevated that much I don’t think this would be near the problem. It was so. Wet I could not dig the ditch any deeper, as there was no traction to push down into the dirt.

I have about 10 acres ready to be planted. I have another 15 acres that needs burned but it is just too wet to do any burning. Just tooling along I was not sinking into the ground but the minute you start to churn it up it is very muddy. There are approximately 80 sheep in this picture. I am always amazed at how empty the picture looks when we take the whole herd. “Oh yeah how are your 25 sheep?” “Well it’s really 80” and they are doing just fine.

I got so cold that I had to go inside and get in the shower to warm up in the early afternoon. I drove over to Hermiston to pickup our pig. We traded two sheep for a pig We pay for kill, cure, cut and wrap. Its a good deal for both parties. I also went to Home Depot to get some caps for the new fence but they did not have the kind I wanted to I ended up with a different kind. I will be installing them temporarily so we can see what they look like.

Vacation day 2

Tex was raring to go at 0700 today, he didn’t even bother coming inside just started digging the post holes we had started yesterday. I had filled them with water several times yesterday in hopes they would be easier today. Tex said they were much easier to dig today.

We set the first three posts, installed the woven wire by using the pneumatic staple gun to hold it to the 4×4 then installed the 2×6 boards. Once that was all done we hung the first gate, a 4′ human gate that we will use on a daily basis. While Tex worked on installing the hinges I stapled the wire to the backs of every 2×6. This stiffens the wire so the dogs cannot think they will be able to push through.

We installed the middle gate post next then wired the 10′ gate up to it and installed the post for the next gate. Again, we put up all the posts, the wire and the three boards before we hung the gate off of the end post. Both gates work very well, there is a high spot in the yard that the larger gate hits and will need to be knocked down with the box blade later. It was noon at this point and Tex had to run home so we took a lunch. I went in and sat down for almost an hour. I forget how tiring it can be to work with Tex a 22 year old hardworking person.

Again, by 1500 we had the fence pretty much knocked out. I was even able to use the tractor to level out the area beyond the fence so its not a hazard in the winter to go to the chicken coop. There were a couple of holes that you didn’t want to inadvertently step in or you risked falling down in the snow.

I even remember to go out and check on the nectarine tree. I picked the last two left on the tree as the other 16 had fallen off. I was late, they were very good as we ate them for desert after dinner. Tomorrow we will finish cutting the boards hanging over the ends of the fence. It is raining again tonight so I will be able to put off painting the fence until next year.

Annmarie complained of both Gizmo and Mouse smelling tonight so she gave Gizmo a bath and I did the border collie, Mouse. As soon as I had him dry he wanted to go outside which is normal for them. I let him in five minutes later and he is covered in dirt up to his chest! I had to take him outside this time, hose down his legs and then he tracked wet paw prints all over the downstairs floor. Both dogs smell much better!

We have several in yard projects tomorrow to finish as I don’t believe I will be able to burn due to the rain. I will try and write it all down in the morning during coffee. It is raining again and currently in the last 24 hours we have received just over 1/2″ of rain! Mother Nature just does not want to cooperate with me.

Vacation day 1

Its Tuesday and my first day of vacation! I have a very long to do list to get done in the next two weeks and a tight schedule. So things need to go smooth so it can get done!

I went up to the far upper field, 7 acre, first thing in the morning with the intention of burning. I had already called the burn line to leave a message and my burn permit information. I had notified the local fire department and I had gone to the minimart and purchased 19.6 gallons of propane for my 20 gallon tank.

I decided that the 7 acre field had plenty of detritus and was ripe for burning. The only real problem with this was it had rained the night before. I had high hopes for a large amount of flames! Tex is back and was going to come out in the afternoon so I wanted to burn these fields up and be ready for some manly bonding. Instead there were some performance issues. Despite the fact that I was using a propane torch and the wind was blowing around 10 MPH I could not get the fire to go! I kept trying but only the underbrush would catch and even then only when I held the flame directly at it and held it in place. On the off chance the fence line would be better I lit it on fire and it actually burned! This led me to burn the entire fence line around the 7 acre field and down along the road. If nothing else this just created a larger safety zone around the field for when I can actually burn. I spent all morning flaming the weeds and crisping my eyebrows. I was never in fear of actually catching myself on fire this time as I was wearing long sleeves, leather work boots, leather gloves and an all natural fiber jacket. No man made acrylics any where on my body this time!

Tex called to say he was headed out and wanted to know if he could bring his dog! He has a four month old puppy called “Daisy”, she is a red Heeler, cute dog, very friendly but very much a single people person dog. She lays around and watches him all the time, never very far away. She did pretty good with our three dogs, Zeke just ignores puppies, as they are an annoyance. Gizmo did not want to be low man on the totem pole so he was the most aggressive. They were all laying around within an hour of arrival.

Tex and I spent a few hours ripping out the side fence for our yard. The sheep had broken the post off and the gates were held in place with multiple boards propped up at an angle. I really did not want to go through a winter like that and more importantly it was on the honey-do-list!

We kept the corner post as it was an old railroad tie and still very stable. The mistress and I kept working the future fence line with the box blade in an attempt to get a fairly even surface. We weren’t trying for a level surface, just even. There was a lot of debris and old fencing to move out before we could even tear down the fence. I will need to get that fence over to the scrap metal pile.

I left for town after we were done so that I could pick up all the necessary supplies to build a new fence. I found everything but it seems excessive to spend $1000 on 100′ of fence with two gates installed. We are going to do it as we still need a way for vehicles to get into our yard.

Vacation prep

I am supposed to go on vacation this next week so I spent the weekend prepping for my vacation. It’s really a staycation as I am not going anywhere. Our front upper spring has quit running. It is amazing as it did it midSeptember. I need to harden this outlet by piling in a bunch of rocks. I am going to pickup rocks from the barn lot and dump them all here. I have been working the barn lot to smooth it out, this in turn has caused a lot of rocks to surface. I now want to plant grass seed in the entire barn lot to hopefully choke out the cheat grass next year.

It was the Pendleton Round-up last week so I had to work lots and Annmarie did her first stint in the Mounted band. This caused me to not put the sheep away every night. It is now the weekend and I have no more excuses so I am traipsing up into the upper field every evening to put away the sheep and horses. One may ask why it is always me at night? That would be because Annmarie traipses out there every morning to let the sheep and horses out of the barn lot, same reason I do the dishes if she cooks dinner. This little fawn kept running up toward me after I got the sheep in and was in the process of shutting the gate. I have a buck tag this year but we only have about 8 deer on the entire property. One of them is a little buck that I keep seeing every few weeks. I am hoping he is here during deer season. I have yet to draw a doe tag.

I spent two days working on the front fence. I blasted it with high pressure water one evening then scraped it with a wire brush the next day after it had dried out. I spent 7 hours the next day painting it. Painting is my least favorite job ever. The entire fence has a single coating. I even took the time to use the pressure washer on the concrete walkway. It looks much better.

Odds and ends

It has been one of those catch up weekends. They must come around as the honey do list can keep growing. I spent a few hours on Friday working on painting the front fence. Did the same thing on Saturday and one half is now almost done. I have two small sections to paint but the weather got wet and I could not finish.

We have had some summer rain and lightning storms this week and the sheep don’t really feel the need to rush out into the upper pasture and expose themselves to the elements. We had not seen the three, soon to be eaten cows, in over a week. They have been staying at the far end of the pasture and we don’t bring them in at night. Just the horses and sheep have to come in every night. Annmarie and I had just had the discussion that neither of us had seen the feeder cows and I was going to have to go hunt them down. They were kind enough to be standing by the gate when I let the sheep out in the morning.

Now that the alpaca are confirmed killers we are constantly having to check on them to make sure they are all still alive. When you drive up the driveway and see this, you do a double take and then look for signs of breathing. The chest movement is visible as they breathe!

We had 13/100 of rain last night and this morning, when I was out doing stuff today I kicked over some dirt to see if that was going to make a difference, not really, it was only about 1/4″ below the surface then it was dry again. We are going to need a lot more rain starting in late October, not before. I went in and paid for an agricultural burn permit, which is needed if you are going to burn more than 2 acres. There are not very many issued for the county, less than 120. It’s Round-Up week so all agricultural burning is banned Saturday to Saturday so nothing can get away and pull services away. My plan is to burn right after Round-Up and then start planting grass seed. I want to get 20 acres of grass planted.

Today I needed to check the oil in the UTV, it was the last thing I needed to do before we put it into service. This entails pulling both seats out and the center console. The oil level was good but I could not get the center console back in. It took me 20 minutes and three You Tube videos to realize that the cutout will never hold the seat belt cable. You have to move the seat belt out of the way then it just pops right into place, its ready now.

I know that deer season is coming up soon and we are going to be killing lambs in the next two months so I needed to get the gravel moved into the hole I dug around the skinning posts. I spent three hours today moving 12 yards of gravel from the front pile to the skinning pole. It looks good and now I won’t have to wear my mud boots when I am cleaning animals! The water should just go down into the ground and stay away. This improvement has been a long time coming. I just need to get the flood light installed on the outside of the chicken coop now.

I am getting ready for the big grass seed push coming next week. I am taking vacation from work so I can hit it hard.