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 update

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.

Forever Friday 20/42

It’s getting there, tomorrow is the big day, the halfway mark! I am so excited about it that I needed to mention it today.

Monday was a great day. We got our company out the door and on the road first thing. They are going to stay on the coast for a couple of days. We are headed to the coast at the end of the month if everything doesn’t burn down before then. There are fires everywhere and we are not even in the official fire season yet. We had another neighbor stop by around 2100 to tell us we had a sheep out on the road down by four corners. Our sheep are pretty distinct and everyone around us knows what they look like. We drove down there in the dark and sure enough we spotted a boy lamb out on the road. I use the term lamb loosely as he is nine months old and full grown almost. I was supposed to drive up and drop Annmarie off so she could chase the lamb up to the gate I was going to open. It did not work that way and the lamb got away in the dark. We gave up and came home and the lamb was up at the grain bins eating on the hay with the alpaca. We have no idea how he got there. We opened the gate up into the orchard hoping he would go in there overnight. He did along with a bunch of alpaca but we locked them all up in the orchard anyways. There is plenty of green grass for everyone and the lamb can hang out with the alpaca for a few days.

Tuesday I had to fix the spring fence crossing as the mother in law wanted the cows to be able to come in near the house. She feeds them apples and they eat her yard clippings but the bull broke through the crossing and it still needs repaired.

This required some planning as I had originally added a low cable to prevent the bull from crawling under but attached it to two screwed in anchor rings. The bull pulled one out and the other looks like a question mark now. I wanted the water to be able to pull them out. Not now, I wrapped them around the bottom of each pole and clamped them in place! I also turned the long panel 90 degrees it was all along the spring crossing. Instead I only attached four feet to the crossing and tossed the other 12 feet out into the water bed. I also lashed a wooden pole to the distal 1/3 to make it hard for the bull to lift it up. My hope is he will be standing on it as he tries to lift the crossing. Lastly, I put up T posts close together to force the bull to walk toward the panel in the waterway. I did not attach any wire or fencing to the T posts as the bull just hooks fencing with his horns. he cannot pull the T posts out of the ground with his horns if there is nothing attached to them. I opened the gate when I was done, the cows can now come into the field.

Once I finished bull proofing the spring ditch I went onto laying the bridge in place. I even added two more railroad ties to the side so it is super easy to drive across now. I need to attach a piece of plywood over them so they stay in place better. Now I just need to start working on the wooden posts so the fence can get rebuilt.

The dogs also spotted another tree rat. Luckily for us the dogs staring up at the tree and refusing to move is a good indicator that I need to go out and eliminate the problem. We do not need another batch of freeloaders on the place. Problem temporarily solved as this is the second one the dogs have spotted this year. We have never had them before.

Wednesday I had to take the child to work and get her deer clobbered car worked on. I came home and jumped on the tractor, I wanted to take 2-3 loads of gravel to the far side of the bridge and then switch out to the post hole auger so I could start building fence! I made it 20 feet before the tractor tried to roll downhill on me. The back right tire was completely flat!

It took me a while to get the tire off and then I had to add a bunch of blocks underneath to make sure the tractor did not sink down onto the rim. It literally took all day to get the tire fixed. They were kind enough at the shop to only charge me for the inner tub, no labor due to the long wait. I managed to do all my errands in town and have the pickup break down in the Bimart parking lot. I had to replace the positive terminal clamp as it had rotted. I had all the parts I needed after three trips back into the store for items.

I even drew up a wiring diagram for the side by side to add the second battery. When I got home I looked at the charging switch I got and realized that I will need to redraw my wiring diagram! I am also going to hard wire in the spray tank switch to the dashboard. I want the sprayer to draw from the marine extra battery.

I was even able to install a new shower head and I knew it was needed but I showered directly after the install and I should have done that six months ago! It is amazing.

Forever Friday 15/42

Thursday was the day it all came together, literally. Mr Professional came out and we poured concrete into the bridge footings. Nine cubic yards all mixed on site and shoveled into the concrete blocks. I realize this doesn’t sound very impressive but trust me if you were the one shoveling or mixing the concrete you would know that it is a lot of concrete to do at one time.

We did the half closest to the house first. Early on we figured out that we might not have enough concrete mix so we started adding gravel to the mixer to stretch it out, we gained about 30% more concrete which was just enough to finish the entire job. My helper had to go run some errands during the mid day so I took a nap in the pickup after minimart lunch and then slept for another 30 minutes on the hallway floor. The ceramic tile is very cool and if you are overheated it will suck the heat right out of your body. It is a little hard but life is about trade offs and the cool down experience is what I was hoping to accomplish.

We started back up after we moved power, the hose and the mixer to the other side of the spring. We thought about using the tractor again to move the mixer but just ended up manhandling it the 20 feet across the water ditch. I have even decided that I am going to get some sun and set a timer for one hour and went shirtless. My plan is to do that every day I am outside. I don’t want to get burnt but I feel better with more sun. I realize that the long sleeve shirt and scarf and hat are necessary if I want to stay out all day in the sun.

On the uphill side we decided to go with a solid wall as the upper hillside area is putting more pressure on the wall. The bridge is just over five feet wide. My actual bridge that floated off is only four feet wide but since I was the only one who could get the four foot wide tractor over the four foot wide bridge it needs that extra one foot. Once Tex tried to dump the tractor into the spring by missing the bridge it had an extra railroad tie added. That will be even worse now as they will drop down over a concrete wall.

I won’t set the bridge for 3-4 days to let the concrete cure. I will be starting in on the fence next. It will be a joy to try and dig holes in the middle of summer. I see myself starting a bunch of holes and filling them all with water and letting it soak in for a few hours and drilling and water and repeat until I can get deep enough to set a post. I am going to create anchors on each side of the fence by making large rock cribs and then just cow panels down to and over the water. This way during a flood the cow panels can float up wards after the water pushes out the staples. The water will even be able tear out the fence posts next to the spring. This will result in me only losing a single post on each side of the water. This amount of damage is very easy to fix. Redoing the entire fence 30 feet back from the water because the woven wire fence held and it sequentially ripped out every railroad tie attached to that piece of wire, not cool.

I had a very nice surprise as my department staff at work sent me out two bags full for a care package. I have already started eating the candy and jerky and drinking the coffee! It was a very thoughtful gift and I am very appreciative. Even more so that everyone is allowing me the time away from work. That gift is the most needed. Someone offered Annmarie the choice to extend my time off a little longer, she told them that I would be ready on day 43 to return to work!! I am definitely disrupting the routine at home. I love her very much and know very few women who would put up with me. Always marry your betters, the best advice I can ever give to another human being. They will make you a better person.