Sheep out to graze

Annmarie fed the sheep last evening while I started cutting the bridge parts. After we got the bridge installed we both walked up the hillside and attempted to push the sheep back into the ram pasture. The sheep were not really having any of this. We got them down near the creek but they would not cross the water. We finally gave up and Annmarie went and got the border collies. This was the first time this year they really got to work the sheep and there are babies! The babies are exciting and a huge distraction to the dogs. Mouse just would not settle down or listen. So basically he was a pain in the ass and pinned a lamb up against the fence. So now we will be taking a lead rope with us and when he fails to instantly comply he goes on the lead. He does not like the lead and we don’t like him playing an independent consultant.

The sheep did not appreciate the extent or amount of work put into placing and making bridges. Out of the 80+ sheep only about 6 used the new bridge and none used the first bridge I placed. The problem with them jumping the creek is they keep wearing down the bank where they scramble up it. I may have to add another bridge, but if I do it will have to be 16 feet long and it will have to be exactly where they are crossing and at the angle they jump across the creek. Otherwise our chances of compliance and usage will be abysmal.

Just one thing outside…

Annmarie and I had been talking about my to do list for Saturday and I stated that the sheep really need to start going on the back hillside but with all the little lambs we thought there should be a bridge. I reminded her that the old bridge from the momma baby area had floated down into the orchard pasture and I could get it and drag it around with the tractor. We knew both the mommas and baby’s would use it as they did in the other enclosure. All I had to do was drive the tractor over, pick it up and drive it around and toss it over the water. I ended up digging out a place for our new gate in the front fence. I just need to bring in some gravel for it now and then dig one post. Once the post is in place I will support it back to the rock crib with 2×6 boards. We need a way to get the cows/sheep from the orchard into the corral easily and through the front yard hillside is a straight shot. We have fence and gates everywhere and I keep putting more in but it is finally to the point where we can start separating fields and animals pretty easily. Since the bull still managed to impregnate one of our cows through the bull enclosure fence the two fence rule is essential if we don’t want someone to get pregnant.

I did load the bridge onto the tractor and went around the barn lot. I made a stop to try and mess with a piece of culvert to use as a down spout so the water will quit digging a channel but the culvert was too heavy to hold up and then try and rearrange rocks under it. I tried a few times and then just gave up, I am going to have to have help to fix that problem. When I got to the old spring culvert crossing I dumped the bridge off of the tractor bucket and went down into the spring to move some rocks. I want the banks of the spring to dry out so I need to stop all backed up water. I removed about 12 rocks out of the stream flow to let it flow easier. Since I was there I started to dig out the footings for the Rastra with the tractor. I did that on both side of the 16’ gate. The culvert is 20’ long so I am going to set the Rastra 18’ apart and it is about 8” wide so the culvert will stick out a few inches on both ends. I used the extra dirt to build up the berm alongside the fence. I need to get that berm up about two feet so the back spring runoff cannot flood the barn lot again. Once that was done I did go put the bridge in place but it is only eight feet long and there was only a couple of places that it could bridge the gap. I placed it and hoped for the best.

Before I could let the sheep onto the back hillside I needed to make the rounds of the fence. I walked the entire length of the outer fence. I had to fix about six spots that were guaranteed to let the sheep out. Now just because I have fixed those spots it does not mean the sheep are contained. Honestly, they always seem to find a way out eventually. A couple of hours later I did spot the sheep on the back hillside.

The bridge location was less than ideal so I told Annmarie I should build another bridge. I have a lot of scrap lumber I purchased last year as a lot, it was made up of old discarded, broken or twisted lumber. I got a great price and they delivered it! I took a fairly twisted pressure treated 6×6 that was 20’ long and cut it in half and cut two foot sections of 2×6 lumber as decking, moved it all over to the creek with the tractor and found a crossing near where they normally cross. I could not install it on the angle they like because I would need about another 5’ to bridge the gap on a diagonal. I figured it was close enough. Annmarie fed me the pieces and since I am out of 3” screws I just did it the old fashioned way with long nails. I like to fence with a shingle axe. This tends to make people nervous when I am hammering in stuff with an axe and Annmarie was no exception when she had to stand on the boards. I did not hit her or me. It only took about an hour from start to finish and the bridge is absolutely solid!! I think if I lift it another ten inches on each end the spring runoff wont even touch it. I may have to make a little ramp for the lambs to get onto it. That can wait until later in the summer. Annmarie and I both appreciate it, much easier than climbing down into the stream bed and back out the other side. My twenty minutes outside project took me about four hours total!

Bathroom closing in on the finish line

A life altering event occurred this week, our plumber came! We have the best plumber in the county and I asked him, when I came home to help get the toilet upstairs, when he was going to retire? He said this was his last year. I hope it is for him, its time to rest and get some things done around the house. He spent a couple of days plumbing our bathroom. We got an all inclusive toilet, it is cast as one piece and is smooth on the outside so its easy to clean! He sweats all the copper fittings so I will never be able to repair it, it am just not a very good plumber but in 13 years he has only ever had one thing leak. We even have a main house water shutoff inside the house so you don’t even have to go outside to shut off the water main. I asked for and got a water faucet on the side of the bathroom vanity. I will be attaching a water hose for my inside plants, no more filling one gallon containers to water my plants. I use 4-5 gallons of water a week. I have a lot of plants on the breeze porch. The only thing he did not get done was the drain for our sink, he had to order a matching part to go with our faucet. It will hopefully be here in the next 1-2 weeks. We are waiting to use the bathroom until I get it finished.

Our new stained glass windows came this week also. We had purchased one on the Oregon coast and I liked it so much I talked Annmarie into a second one for the old opening I had already had framed into the wall. It was very well packaged and went in very easily. Both windows were hung for a trial run and taken down so I could paint the inside of the window well white. This will help these holes blend into the wall and reflect more light into the stained glass window. Whenever the hall light is on or its daytime there will always be light in the bathroom now. Sitting in the center of the house it had no natural light.

Yesterday I figured I better get the shelves and closet door up. I managed to glue the first shelf together, as it was already in place and I had to pound it in place just to get it close. It took some glue and quite a bit more pounding to get it together. I need to tear a four inch wide piece to go on the front of the shelf and then cut the remaining three pieces for the bottom shelf. I decided to move onto the closet door and finished putting the screws in, drilled the holes for the rollers then promptly installed the rollers on backwards. After moving the rollers to the correct direction I realized that I am about 1/16” long on the factory bolts. I need a couple of washers to fill in the gap. The real problem with this is I need to get the door up on the wall so I can see if I have the clearance for the washers. So I brought the door in and tried to hang it, yep, its about an inch too tall. I need to cut some off of the bottom of the door. My plan is to just cut off two inches by going between the screws. I was able to make 2.25 of the 3 cuts needed before both batteries died. I will be finishing that job tomorrow. It is starting to shape up. Annmarie bought more baskets for the shelves yesterday. I finally had to move them all out so they didn’t get dirty as I finish it up. It is fairly obvious who will be using the bathroom mirror. She states the mirror is much higher quality, larger and I put in an amazing amount of light so its easy to apply makeup. I am not sure those were my criteria when I was building it…

Outside theme continued

We spent the weekend working outside to get ready for spring. Mr Professional brought out his Progeny and we continued the theme from Friday. We planted all of the trees and I finished trimming all of the trees not done Friday. I picked up all of the branches in the orchard and the Progeny picked up sticks and branches in the orchard pasture, the lavender patch and the front yard. We have now adopted two separate names when talking about the orchard area. We have the “Orchard” which is where the fruit trees are located and then there is the “Orchard Pasture” which is the surrounding pasture. The orchard has its own fence so the animals cannot get to the trees. I took a hard look at the old apple tree after cutting out a bunch of low dead branches. I think if I cut out the dead stuff out of the top of the tree the tree might regrow. The entire upper half of the tree is dead.

We found a bunch of box elder bugs in huge clusters on the sunny side of the larger trees. So I mixed up some bug spray and hosed them down. We also sprayed the machine shed and the mother-in-law’s house. I am hopeful that if we can kill large amounts now we won’t have as bad an infestation. Already we have none around our house and I am only finding about ten bugs inside the house after spraying.

We went over to grandma’s old house and found three Italian plum trees, a black walnut tree and a five gallon bucket full of Iris. We planted the plums in the orchard, two are really tiny and need some growing before we can separate them. I planted the walnut tree out in the ram pasture and we put the Iris out in the watered barn flower area. The chickens got into the area last fall and killed most of the flowers I had in there. The chickens are rough on this area. We installed some more chicken wire to block off the six feet of access they had. Unfortunately all they have to do now is just fly in over the fence. I made a new spot for the Iris and hopefully we can get them established.

On Sunday we drilled a 1/2” hole in my tractor bucket and installed the T-post driver I purchased from Bucke-Tee LLC in Texas! This turned out to be the best $200 I have spent this year. We put 200# of tractor weights in the bucket and then you insert a T post into the driver and then use the bucket to push the post into the ground. Obviously the ground has to be kind of soft. But honestly, if I had 500-600# of weight in the bucket and you add in the hydraulics on the tractor I think the ground could be a little hard. We were able to put 30 T-posts in the ground in under an hour. I think I could do the entire new fence line I want in a single day! I used to only be able to do 30-40 posts by hand. I just got worn out pounding them in. We then installed low wire around all of the new trees.

One of the things that had not happened yet was installing the guide wires for the raspberries and blackberries. So we pounded in 8 poles and strung wire and anchors so the berries can grow on a trellis.

I am able to work outside again after Covid 19. I still cannot do a lot of long distance walking but short muscular activity is way better than aerobic anything. Unfortunately I have done nothing for over 90 days so this manual labor is very hard on my body. I ache all over and flop around like a fish out of water at night. When I hurt this much I have to sleep in the spare room so I don’t keep Annmarie up. I try not to overdo it this much usually but after Covid I need to keep pushing so I can get my strength and stamina back.

Orchard Work

On Friday I had Mr Professional out, he and I went over to the Metal fabricators and picked up my five heavy duty 12 foot welded gates. The bull will not be able to tear these up at all, no matter how much he tries. We got them all loaded up on the trailer and unloaded into the machine shed. I need to spray paint them before I hang them up. I will be doing that very soon. Annmarie and I had already talked about fruit trees as they had just come into our local feed store last week. I like to plant them about 45 days from now but by the time I am ready to plant the selections left at the store are pretty slim and I don’t get all the kinds I want. So we bit the bullet and just went into town and bought some fruit trees. The plan was to buy six trees, we ended up with eight trees, Mt Royal Plum, Honey Crisp Apple, Tilson Apricot, Royal Gala Apple, Golden Spice Pear, Summercrisp Pear, Rainier Cherry and Black Tartan Cherry. Mr Professional and I went around the orchard and dropped off all the trees where we wanted them to be planted.

We removed the top half of the cages around the old trees and I started to trim all of the fruit trees from the ground. Mr Professional took the tractor and changed out the box blade for the post hole auger. We drilled out 9 holes as Annmarie wanted me to go to her grandmother’s old house and try and salvage a Italian plum tree. Once the holes were drilled we used the tractor as a more efficient ladder so that I could trim the upper branches on the trees. This is far easier than dragging a ladder around. I had not really shaped the trees in the last three years and spent a lot of time choosing branches and thinning the middle out of the trees. I am going to have to start spraying for bugs next year to keep the fruit bug free. The hardest part about this is you have to spray every two weeks during the summer.