Tex is missing

I made arrangements with Tex last week to come out again for the next three days. We need to get the machine shed cleaned out so we have a space for the hay equipment that is coming. I had to call the dealer on Monday and found out that our baler from Italy won’t be here until July most likely. This is obviously a problem as I need to start cutting hay in the next two weeks. The company is sending us a loaner at no cost to us. They will pay for the shipping to us and then back to them when ours shows up. It is hard to be upset when they have customer service like that. The CEO talked to me on the phone and he was a little surprised and happy at how reasonable I was being. I said it was easy when they were doing everything possible to make us happy and allow us to get our hay crop put up.

I made breakfast for Tex and I Friday morning but Tex did not show up. I resorted to taking a picture of the food and texting him. No answer. He never answered during the day. I went out and started in on the machine shed myself. That evening Tex did agree to come out on Saturday and Sunday. No body can be perfect and we all have flaws.

I started in on the machine shed. I figured if I just started sorting burnables, trash and scrap metal I could make some headway on cleanup. A couple of hours into it The Pickerman called and said he was going to come out and get a load of metal.

I called Meathead and had her come out and help me fill the trailer. She had a few hours left to put in this week so she finished her homework and came out to the house. We worked on getting all of the loose stuff out of the machine shed. We found a handful of items that can go to auction and the Pickerman will make that happen. We had the trailer filled by 1600 and off they went. She was very helpful and did a great job helping out.

I did get a text confirmation from Tex Friday night that he was coming out. The plan is to hit it hard on Saturday and maybe we can be done by Sunday.

It doesn’t look like we made a great deal of headway but we got a pickup load of burnables out, a trailer load of metal and a pile of keep stuff that I will need to find a home.

Spraying necessary

Sunday of this week Tex came out and finished fencing on the upper prime pasture. It needed wooden stays and to fix the spring crossing. He worked on that all day while the sheep continued to mow our front lawn.

I spent the day on the tractor trying to spray our upper middle field. It is growing gangbusters but it needs some weeds eradicated. I am only able to spray about a 6 foot swath at a time. I went to a fixed sprayer with no boom but the pump cannot keep the pressure up in the tank so it varies in its spray application rate. Its causing me enough problem that I have started to look back into a boom system. Luckily, I kept the 12 foot boom from the old four wheeler, I tossed it over by the metal scrap pile and never made it go away! I just need to mount it on the 55 gallon spray tank frame. Using that I can change out the size of the nozzles to control flow rates. I will be able to spray about 50% faster than I currently can.

I spent all day on the tractor and simply ran out of time. The middle prime field is done! There is about a half an acre of soggy ground in that field but the grass looks great.

Annmarie and I talked about it and I am going to dig a ditch to collect the water and make it run in a narrower channel. Hopefully, this will prevent it from forming fingers throughout the entire field.

I spent the next three weeknights after work trying to get the upper field sprayed. I found even more wet and muddy spots. There is about 1/3 of the field that I cannot get into due to the mud and soft ground. This is going to cause us some problems.

My hope is Tex and I can crank out the machine shed this upcoming weekend and I can get back to spraying.

I may even have to mow the lawn. Annmarie is getting tired of the dogs rolling in sheep manure and Gizmo keeps making himself sick from eating too many turds. It starts to make the cost more than its worth.

Machine shed miracle

Tex came out today, after breakfast we went out and started to fill up the pickup with burnables. The burnables are going on a big pile and it is just getting bigger. I worked on getting the second tank off its perch. I made sure to stay out of the way and gently started it rolling. The plan was to keep it on the deck to make it easier to load onto the scrap trailer. It rolled right off the platform and onto the ground.

We just kept moving stuff out and I kept dragging it out to the scrap metal pile. Once we had the tanks out of the shop it was short work to rip out the wooden deck that used to house the fuel tanks. It had the most awesome clear grain6x6 beams and and amazing piece of 3x8x20 foot beam perfectly clear. It made me want to cry as we threw it on the burn pile. All of the wood had fuel, oil, grease or chemicals on it. They had been using it as a storage area forever. I feel better now that it is not in the machine shed. I did manage to hit a nail with my head while we were tearing it apart. I was pretty sure that was gonna leave a mark, it did.

We got two bays totally empty so I started dragging the dirt out with the tractor. I finally had to remove the bucket from the tractor to gain more maneuvering room inside the shop. It looks great!

Unfortunately, moving dirt around has exposed a few problems. Two of the main support beams are rotten on the bottom as the dirt has piled up over the years. We will need to cut off the bottom six inches of two main beams and splice in a new piece. We will also need to fix an overhead broken beam. I am going to have to drag out about 8 inches of dirt on the right side of the machine shed. It looks like when they built the shop they accounted for a natural drainage slope. Over the years the dirt has piled up and that slope is not even any more. I will drag out the extra dirt and take it down to the correct height again. Once we get it all drug out I will order in some 3/4 minus gravel to put into the machine shed. I think 50 cubic yards should do it.

I also found one hole in the concrete wall. I dug out all the loose rock already so I just need to get some sakrete and patch the hole.

Annmarie was busy all day and got the container garden sprinkler system glued together. She has spent evenings and the last two weekends cutting and dry fitting pipe to make sure everything would fit correctly. Twice she came out to the machine shop so Tex or I could untwist a stuck fitting. It is going to be very nice to have this up and going again. As soon as that is done she is going to direct us in setting up the above ground sprinklers for the front hillside. We need those in place so we can start planting. She offered to help with spraying but we only have one tractor and I was using it all day. It doesn’t seem fair to expect her to do tractor work with no tractor.

Animals all caught up

When I say “caught up” its a relative term when applied to farming. The animals were worked, we did sell off 7 and we did deal with sheep and cows. We have two calves just a few days old that could not be herded up into the corrals so they will have to wait for at least two more weeks before we can tag and band them, so we are “caught up”.

Tex was coming out again, so while I cooked breakfast Annmarie went out to see if she could lure the cows to the barn lot with some hay and the tractor. She only managed to get them out of the bottom and into the area around the house. But that saves us about an hour of walking and she did not get the bull or either brand new momma so the cows should be easier to work. After Breakfast I had Tex go finish installing cow panels along the creek in the barn lot over the metal panels. Otherwise the sheep can just cross through the water. I gathered all the tools necessary to work on the calf table. The thing will still not tilt right. I am convinced it is pinching somehow and we may have to take the table apart.

Tex came over and we started to pull it apart. We popped one hinge off and it still would not tip so we popped off the second hinge, the table is now free of any constraints except gravity and should tip on the frame. It would not tip more than about 30 degrees! As I am voicing my opinion abot an inanimate object I kept trying to get it to work when I spot a piece of bailing twine down at ground level hidden in the tall grass still attached. When I moved it from the junk yard I secured it in multiple places. I had forgotten to cut one small piece of bailing twine and that was the cause of the table not tipping. I had already sprayed lubricant on all the moving parts and cleaned up some rust. So it only took me about 3 hours of combined time to figure out the twine issue.

I had Tex go back and finish installing cow panels while I gathered all the tagging and banding supplies. I then grabbed both dogs and started to work the cows towards the barn lot, 30 minutes later, very hoarse voice from yelling at the dogs, I have them cornered up by the gate but they will not go into the barn lot. Annmarie comes out and the cows scatter. We put the dogs away, walk the cows to the barn lot, Tex comes out and the alpacas go into the barn lot and the cows follow. We where done in ten mintues.

The cows got sorted and we had a four month old boy and a three month old girl. Tex pinned the girl up at one end of the chute and she stuck her head through the gate so I put a tag in her ear, done. The little boy kept turning around in the chute going the wrong way. Tex said the way to get them into the table is to grab their tail and keep them from going out the other side. So he did that and we got the table turned and locked down. The calf kept trying to put his foot in weird spots but we were able to fix that. We used the large banderator for the first time. I had to pop the testicles through the band one at a time because they would barely go through. I finally had Tex hold the banderator so I could pop testicles through. They both finally got in the right spot and I slipped the band off. Four months is the max age for using that thing.

The sheep were next but for us to set up the chute system in the barn, Tex and I were going to have to dig for at least an hour. I convinced Annmarie we could just run everyone into the barn and we could snag them. We did it! We sorted off the ram, #1 ewe (she is limping), two whethers for their company, three whethers to sale and two young mommas with their single babies for sale.

Tex and I delivered the whethers and the mommas. While we were visiting the first house he got offered a summer job of moving sprinkler pipe every morning for 4 hours/day. I gave him the necessary contact information and he is thinking about it.

Tex swapped the gate and filled the gap with lumber. We need to put in a new H brace support going the other direction now. While he did that I finished bringing in dirt for the culvert and then set a few pieces of concrete at the waterfall edge of the spring in hopes it will slow down the errosion. I also filled the channel with gravel and rocks.

We had some more wooden stays to install and the new railroad ties needed to be set and the entire fence attached to the new posts. Tex did all of that while I started to bring over supplies for a new fence line. The sheep and cows keep getting out through the creek crossings so I have started to work on fencing the water ways away from the animals. I hauled over 27 T posts, 27 wooden stays, 4 thick wooden posts, 2 gates, 2 cow panels and 1 railroad tie (last one we have unused on the farm) and set them out along the fence line. I had already used orange paint to mark out the locations of everything.

Tex and I managed to pound in the T posts that would go into the ground. Some are not pretty but they did go in. If you look at the middle of the picture below you will see a stretch with no T posts, there is a rock bluff located under the road and we cold not get anything to go into the ground. After the fence is up I will see what I need to do to support that section of fence.

It was a very productive day. The barn lot fence is now completed. I just need to put a latch on the 16 foot wheeled gate, the sheep pushed it open last night. I would have sprayed but the wind howled all day. It was just too much to spray.

Gonna be buying more hay in the fall

Annmarie and I took a walk up the pastures yesterday to see how they were doing. The middle prime pasture looks great. It does have some thistles and weeds but the grass is very thick. I am going to have to spray it first. Today I started spraying that pasture. The upper middle pasture is mostly broadleaf weeds. I will be doing it after this one. This means most evenings I will be sitting on the tractor. The grass is almost 18 inches high already. I sent an email to the company that we bought our hay equipment from and asked when it was going to be shipped to us.

Tex and I finished the fence over by the lamb shed. It is all secure, more wooden posts and T-posts to stiffen the fence and two more strands of barb wire. We even cut the metal panel out of the way so the gate will now swing either direction. This took most of the morning. I had to patch the fence in three areas once we got it strung up. There is a downside to reusing old fence.

We went ahead and just cut the leaning fence apart and will work on getting it redone. The water had dammed up behind woven wire. All the sticks and brush made a very nice blockage and the water spread out and got deep. Since Tex was going to fix the fence while I sprayed after lunch I brought over all the supplies he would need and we even dropped the culvert into the ditch.

We had tamales again for lunch! They are very good. I am unsure what to make for lunch tomorrow. I got out some ham for breakfast but lunch is still up in the air. I am thinking chili and Hill’s all beef wieners. I like to brown the hot dogs while the chili is cooking then mix them both together, toss cheese and onions on top and eat! It is very good.

While I went up and put 50 gallons of spray on the field Tex got the fence back together. We piled up rocks at the entrance and exit of the culvert and I will keep adding dirt to it until we have a nice level crossing. I opted to not have both culverts placed here as I will need the other one some where else on the farm.

The panel is clipped into place with little aluminum clips that the water can bend if there is too much pressure on the panel. I still need to do a little work on the waterway as I would like to add some small rocks into the channel to help cut down the erosion. We need to rehang the gate also as the H brace did get pushed upright but Tex didn’t add enough gravel and tightening the fence caused them to be a little crooked. We will move the gate around to the opposite sided H brace so hopefully we can get the gate working again.

Reality check

Well it has been a long week. I didn’t get to do all my farm work this last weekend as I had to work all weekend at the paying job and Sunday was Easter. I had come home twice and found the sheep out in the stubble field eating volunteer wheat. It has been too wet for them to spray it down. The sheep really appreciate the extra feed. The only real problem is the field is not fenced off from the road and the sheep are not supposed to be out there. The first time I thought it was the gap at the gate. I thought this because the gate post was loose and there was a gap with sheep hair on either side so it was fairly obvious they had been pushing through. I patched that up with a spare gate filling the gap and some bungee cords. It was only supposed to be temporary so the bungee cords are okay. I came home several days later and spotted the sheep out again. I could not figure out how they were getting out. I cruised on down the fence line and found as spot they had started to squirt through. The nice thing about them shedding is it makes it fairly obvious where they are sneaking out.

I had Tex come out on Friday and add two more strands of wire to that fence. He also moved the railroad tie so there is no gap at the gate. We still need to add in a few wooden stays to the fence to stiffen it up so the sheep cannot push their way through.

We had a rain storm and it cut a rivulet into our new flower area. I think if I pile some dirt up on the frontside of the rock wall I may be able to slow this down. I may end up laying in a French drain on the front side of the rock wall to help. I am unsure exactly what I am going to do.

We had to start putting Zeke on the run as he kept sneaking out of the front yard. I had convinced myself he was running up some wood stacked in the corner of the yard. I moved some of the pile but he was still getting out. One day when Sarah was out moving dirt she watched him army crawl under the fence below. He laid down in the water with just his head and nose out of the water and got under the fence.

So I added another panel to the bottom that goes all the way to the spring bottom and he cannot crawl through now. I was so convinced of this that I left him off the run the next day. He got out! I still don’t know how he is doing it so he is back on the run when we are not home.

I spent two nights working on the barn lot fence. We added two more wooden posts and I took the extra panels I had laying around and added them. There will be no more calves jumping through the fence because they can. Now we just need to get the fence over by the lamb shed completed and the sheep will be stuck in the barn lot whenever we shut the gate.

Fencing fury

Sunday we decided to start with fencing and hope we could get some parts completed. We went to the fencing supply pile and snagged the last of the railroad ties. My supply pile is getting pretty sparse. I only have one roll of woven wire left, no wooden fence posts and two rolls of smooth wire. We managed to get the last five stood up and my little tractor managed to get them over to the barn lot, but it was not pretty. The chain stretched with the weight of the railroad ties and they went all cattywonkous.

We used the two heaviest ties for the gate crossing the culvert bridge. The tractor was only able to dig those holes about 18″ and I dug the other three feet by hand. It makes for a very sturdy post when it is set in gravel. We are setting all wooden posts in gravel now. They just hold up better and stay stiffer. The gate opening was 16 feet which is a long gate. These gates usually sag so I went into the barn and found one of those wheel attachments and we attached it. I snagged three of them at a yard sale a couple of years ago. This is the first time I have gotten to use one. The real problem came when we tried to attach the gate to the post. We hooked in the bottom part and then swung the gate to see how it moved. Nope, I needed to take some dirt down to make it level.

I spent the next 1.5 hours cutting into the hillside in an attempt to get a level path for the gate. We hand dug it a couple of times and kept marking the path with the gate wheel. I finally had to go dump off the tractor auger and install the box blade. I should have done it an hour earlier.

I spread the dirt out all over the area in an attempt to cover the rock face that keeps trying to jut out of the ground and we made sure the animals can get to water. We also chained the panels together to make sure they stay in place.

As an added bonus we got two solid wood posts installed in the barn lot cross fences and will. Be tightening both of those fences next week. Once we get the culvert and last outer water damaged barn lot fence done next week the entire barn lot will have been redone and should be good for another 7-10 years with just a little repair.

I even got the momma/baby area leveled out. I want to toss out some grass seed this week after work and see if it will grow. Annmarie had me take the dogs out with me as the sheep were mowing our yard. I came inside that evening with a hoarse voice as I had to keep hollering for the dogs to come back or to quit harassing some animal. I even made them stay in place for over an hour a couple of times. It’s good practice for them and they don’t like to do it so it did work out well as a training exercise. My voice is not cut out to holler and swear all day. I am good with that for short periods of time only. We have decided the only dog working videos I can post are sped up and make me sound like a chipmunk. No one can understand what I am saying!

Our current numbers are as follows:

2 death

6 bummers

14 singles (37%)

19 twins (50%)

5 triplets (13%)

38 ewes birthed

57 lambs dosed, tagged and banded

1 lambs to process

Production rate:

Birthed 176%

On our farm and alive 155%.