The barn clean out is finally complete, I managed to get it all done yesterday. This is a process that I have been at for a few weeks. The momma/baby area was and is the hardest part to do as it must be done all by hand. I had a thought about ripping out the wooden dividers and gates and taking the large grain bin out which would allow me to clean up that area with a tractor but it has some much added expense. We would need to get about ten more aluminum panels to pen up and divide the momma/babies. Those panels are not nearly as tall but they are always lifted to stay on top of the current depth of matter on the barn floor. The permanent walls have to be pretty high to accommodate the detritus. I will again lament the availability of a teenager to work the summer doing yard work, pulling weeds, digging out the ditch and digging out the barn. I really hope I can find one for next year that likes to do hard manual labor 2-3 days a week all summer long. We are going to let the barn sit empty for another 2-3 weeks then we will toss down bales for the sheep to tear open and spread around on the floor.
We have been talking about getting our septic tank pumped for the last two years. The holdup is on getting the truck into our front yard. The plan was for me to rebuild the bridge and then they could just drive over it. Well in the last two years I have not managed to find the time to do that. But we were starting to get nervous as the tank had not been pumped out in 15 years. The price of materials is very high now and the thought of having to try and replace a drainage field is frightening. So I had two dump truck loads of gravel brought out to the farm and put in the barn lot, a load of 3” and a load of 1.5”. I cleaned up the spring crossing as it is running over basalt outcropping. I had wood and big rocks to get out of the way. I used some of the big rocks to extend the rock wall behind the barn. I placed them all and then covered them with gravel. I then took a small tamping stick and moved the gravel all around to fill in all of the cracks amongst the rocks. The sheep like to play on the rock wall and we don’t want any of them breaking an ankle. I used some of the bigger rocks as a base in the stream bed and then tossed down the 3” rock. I think I could have gotten all of the water to go through the gravel, but it is 3” minus and there were too many smaller rocks. I did manage to get about 80% of the water to flow through the gravel. I spent a few hours getting the crossing all ready for a heavy truck. I called the septic tank company after the Round Up was over. Nothing happens during Round Up and I was super busy at work and did not have the time to spare either, nothing happens during Round Up. I had left large piles of material dug out from the barn on either end of the barn to be cleaned out later. It took me almost a day to clean up the piles of straw, manure and to drag the entire barn lot clean of horse poop. It’s time to start getting things ready for winter.
We need to sort the sheep one more time this summer. We need to count the number we have for butchering. I thought we had the right amount sorted. Annmarie thinks I may have shorted us in the last sorting. We have been hearing the coyotes moving nearer to our house at night. This is usually the reason we are short animals.
Annmarie and Donna are still working on taming down the alpaca. They are getting pretty sure of themselves and don’t mind coming and having a look to see if you will let them into the yard and allow them to eat the green grass.
Annmarie talked me into putting all the cows that are due to have calves in one field and locking them in so we actually know when they have babies. This is a new concept for me as I usually have them running all over the farm and we finally get to see a calf when it is 2-4 weeks old and its mother actually lets it wander around with her. Our first calf has been born and more should follow soon. Once the last one is born we can just run them all into the corral and band and tag them all at once. Doing it all at one time will be a nice change.
The sheep bridge I built was not in vain. Even though the sheep initially did not want to use it, they all pretty much line up to use it now. The ram still refuses to go across it, he jumps the back creek every time. Some of them feel that waiting in line is beneath them so they jump. The bridge is 10 feet across and barely spans the creek. I really need to build a 16 foot bridge. The flood really tore up the creek bed and widened the creek by about 50-100% in some areas.
Mr Professional and I spent a day laying block and gravel after I dug down to create a pad area for my mother-in-law’s new shed. The shed is coming prebuilt on a truck, the shed is 10×20 feet long and they should be able to just set in place now. Once the shed is in, we will work on building the ramp.
I am having trouble with a weed called a common mullein. I had to pull in a weed expert and figure out how to kill it. It looks like spot spraying with a lot of sticker and some roundup will kill it in its tracks. It is starting to spread and I had noticed that it was not dying with the 2-4-D & Milestone combination. I am loving the spray set up on the side by side but the side by side needs a ring job and it is burning oil. For every two tanks of gas I have to fill the oil. Sometimes I think I can kill the weeds merely by slowing down and letting them get a taste of the exhaust. I upgraded the spray motor last year dramatically and now get a nice continuous spray. I think we are going to add one more nozzle on each end of the boom.
I am going to have to break out the welder soon. I need to modify the stock rack for the pickup, the flat bed trailer locking tongue is cracking so a new one needs welded on and I need to extend the spray racks. Those are the current big things that need to be welded. There are lots of other little things but those things need to happen soon to keep everything running. We have to go pickup our new ram early this summer.
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.
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!
Mr Professional came out on Saturday so we could work on the bathroom. I needed to take Friday off to just rest, still getting over Covid and I just don’t have the stamina to keep going seven days a week without any rest. Normally, I just go and go and use my paid job as rest for my farm job. This is most certainly not the case currently and I am hoping I get back the preCovid stamina I used to have.
We focused on finishing the walls and casing out the windows. The top board for the little window will have to be cut and installed after we install the ceiling and crown molding. My hope is we can get the bathroom ready for the ceiling. The stained glass window is going to look great! Mr Professional said that since I installed the stained glass window I was going to want to install a second one in the original opening I had already installed. It took me thirty minutes to find a custom glass shop that would make a window to fit our already framed opening. The internet is a wonderful thing! I should hopefully get it ordered by next week.
The child informed me that she needed to work on our foot bridge for a physics class homework project. She needed to film a reason to use a lever, our front foot bridge has threadall and nuts to adjust the height of the bridge. Our bridge is getting sway backed and the child definitely had to use the lever to raise the bridge. We only managed to raise the bridge about 3/4” at every post and it made a visible difference. The bridge is a lot stiffer now and not as bouncy. I had obviously needed to do this last year! Yeah for education!
Today, Mr Professional and I worked on the ceiling. It is a tin ceiling snaps that snaps together and molds to the contours. It went in super fast and only took us about three hours to install. I only managed to mark up one incorrectly and we were able to use it later in the closet region. It turned out very nice! The color choice that Annmarie picked really brings out the blue in the wood and just pulls it it out in the entire room. We cleaned out the room, vacuumed up the floor and installed the sink stand. We drilled holes in the back of the stand for the drain pipe and both water lines. The sink and top are just sitting on the stand and still need to be attached. I have not attached them yet as I am not sure if attaching them will make it harder for the plumber or easier so I am just leaving them unattached. The natural sealant is coming in the mail and hopefully will arrive early this upcoming week so we can get it on the walls. Once it is up then the crown molding can go on. The closet door and the shelves will be the very last thing that get installed. I actually want to install all the new electrical hardware as soon as the walls are sealed. We have old style push button switches that would have been standard with knob and tube type electrical wiring. The bathroom is really coming together and starting to shine.