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 13/42

Yes, I am committed to seeing this through and will be doing the Forever Friday theme for another 29 days! On the plus side I am making progress on the farm and it is starting to show. I have high hopes for getting the fence in the orchard fixed in the next ten days. That is one of the four essential tasks that needed to happen during this rest and relaxation period.

Tuesday was my errand day. I went to town and took care of a bunch of stuff. The best part of the day was after I came home and took a two hour nap! It was the first nap during my 12 days off. It felt great and I was still able to go to sleep on time and wake up the next morning just before my alarm.

We have company, dear friends, coming on Friday so this morning was spent cleaning up around the house. Mr Professional came out to help and will be here tomorrow also. We cleaned up all the bags and trash from the lavender area, installed edging along the lavender field, put away all the tools and I killed more thistles. We then moved more trash out of the yard, cleaned off the front porch, and even cut the hole in the top of the bathroom vanity. We moved the vanity to the breeze porch where I will be giving it a heavy coat of butcher block oil/bees wax treatment. As soon as I can get every field replanted this fall we are hitting the upstairs bathroom hard to get it finished. We need two bathrooms!!

Mr Professional and I got the second bridge footing installed today! The first one has all the rebar it needs and the second one has about 50% of the rebar installed. We will start pouring cement first thing in the morning!! I kept telling him that this side was a lot easier to dig. We never had to use the breaker bar or pull out a single big rock or break a rock in half with the breaker bar. It was easy digging. Tomorrow we should be able to get all the concrete poured and the rest of the wall on the barn side finished. We will just wait for a few days before trying to install the bridge. Once the bridge is in place I will put the auger on the tractor and we start drilling fence holes!!

There was a slight delay today when I noticed the bull out eating on the hay pile with the alpaca. He had jumped down into the spring ditch and pushed his way through the fence crossing. We will now have to install some cable across the railroad ties to keep him from lifting the panels. He is way too smart. Unfortunately for him, he likes apples and by the time I figured out what he had done he was walking toward me and the apple tree. I picked a couple of apples, gave him one when he came into the pasture and when he went through the gate gave him another then locked him out of the crossing until we can get it fixed.

Before headed in for the night I went out and checked our packages the UPS driver dropped off. My punch pins had arrived so I went over to the manure spreader and punched out the gear pin! Unfortunately, now I need a gear puller…

Thinning the herd

 

3282DB75-6D04-4D23-98BF-1E3DC6872D3CFriday morning we lost water.  Now this happens at least annually and he had just had some power blips so I figured the pump had just kicked off.  The controller resides in the basement of my mother-in-law’s house.  I called a few times and realized she was out of the house.  Around noon I called and she was home, she attempted to reset the pump without success.  I went down to try and see if I could get it started.  The pump controller is pretty complicated so I try not and mess with it too much.  Annmarie has to reprogram it when I do just randomly push buttons and that takes some effort on her part.  We could not find the instruction manual after I tried to turn it off and on (would not do it) then pulled the fuses and got the error code to change from “OC3” to “Er2”.  I then attempted to search the internet for the control manual without success.  I even called a pump distributor with no success.  The longer I stared at the case the more the weird melted plastic section stood out.  I could not ever remember that being there.  I touched the plastic case and discovered that not only was the case melted but that section was hotter than anywhere else on the case.  I called Pendleton Electric, as they do well pump controllers knowledge gained courtesy of Google.  I was able to say I thought the pump controller had burned up and to read the tag on the size with the power ratings.  They wanted the Hp of the well motor but we don’t know it.

We went out to the barn to start sorting sheep and got a call that the repair guys were here.  It was less than two hours from the time I called!  Annmarie went down to answer questions and oversee.  This left the Child and I to sort all of the sheep.  This sounds like a great combination unfortunately sorting out animals is rough on a good day.  If you want to know how well you can work with someone then just try and sort animals with them.  You will realize that everyone else are a bunch of idiots and if they would just do what you ask of them this entire process would go smoothly.  Now when everyone thinks the same thing it tends to cause some problems.  Now that we have more 6 foot panels I was able to create a sweep gate in the back of the barn.  So as we push more sheep down the chute we can keep moving the sweep gate and shrinking their waiting area.  This was Annmarie’s idea but we never had enough panels or lightweight panels to move making this possible.   It worked great and will now be something that happens every time.

They were able to put in a new controller and yes the old one had burned up after 15 years.  The new one has a pressure display in pounds and nothing else.  It’s just a grey box.  You turn off the pump now by pulling the fuses.  Finally, a sensible design.  Unfortunately, they could not get the pressure up to 60#.  They maxed out at 57# which means we most likely have a leak.  Annmarie walked the entire length of the pipe and could not find any water bubbling up. This does not mean we don’t have a leak as Annmarie reminded me there was an area down by Donna’s that was wetter than we thought it should be last year but it never bubbled but it was near the front spring.  So we are going to look at that area hard this spring after all the rain stops or when we lose water totally.

The Child and I had to make some executive decisions as some of the lambs were marked for cull and keep.  Their temperament in the chute decided their fate.  The child doesn’t like sheep with “crazy eyes” and wanted to cull all bad behavior out of the herd.  We saved around 6-8 female lambs to replace the old ewes.  We had to save all the old ewes as they have babies.  We have 6 no tag Barbados sheep.  We had a brand of tag that the sheep could pull out by reaching through the woven wire fences and lost a lot of tags.  We are probably going to have to retag them so we can track their babies.  They all look alike and we would like to track their productivity.  We are going to sort off the ten cull ewes before we put the ram back in with the main herd.  They will spend most of the summer in the orchard so we know they are not pregnant when we sell them.

We ran them through the chute system and had 22 to sell written down and 23 in the pen. We tried to recount several times and discover who I had not written down.  We finally gave up and ran them back through the chute backwards.  All the keep animals were on the inside of the barn so the far end was empty and isolated from the main herd.  Before we got halfway through them we found the one I had missed.   I had set it up so those sell animals would stay in the milking area of the barn and the corral area.  This way when our buyer shows up we can load them and be done in under 15 minutes.

 

E92E12EB-52BA-4CCA-A4FD-1BEA203864BFI had to feed the bull and his two charges and the ram next.  The bull had gotten tired of the four panels surrounding the large bale of alfalfa and had hooked and thrown it off with his horns.  This is one of his talents that he knows and performs on a regular basis.  I pulled a large bale of alfalfa out of the machine shed and pushed it down to Alcatraz.  I had to open the gate to push the bale inside but this let the bull, 2 steer and the ram out.  I thought, foolishly, that they would follow the bale of alfalfa back into their pen.  Nope!  The bull ran over to the far gate and started hollering for female cows.  I got the bale situated and the panels around the new bales.  Both horses were in Alcatraz happily munching on alfalfa when I went out with the tractor to chase the animals back.  No one wanted to back to isolation.  It took me about 30 minutes of tractor wrangling to get everyone back into the pen.  I considered going and getting the dogs but last time I lost my voice convincing them that I was boss.  The tractor worked eventually.   The dogs do best in wide open spaces.  I was unable to get either horse away from the all you can eat alfalfa buffet so I just locked them in with the cows and ram.  Annmarie got them by just walking over to the pen later that evening.  They just walked over to see her, I am not their favorite or their leader.

Removing 23 teenagers, age 6 months or older really opened up the space in the barn.  I was surprised.  It was enough of a difference that we might end up with a teenage herd running around in the barn lot next winter.  We can open up the old lamb shed for shelter and just feed them out of the back of the barn.  I will need to think up a feeder type for the outside of the building.  The real problem are the horses.  What do we do with them?  They need some shelter, they will share with the sheep but an all you can eat buffet is not healthy for them despite what they think of the idea.

2D6E1328-D5DD-4E23-92D8-60519A218ECB

That hurts

This Saturday we decided to tag and band the lambs. There was much discussion (arguing) as to how many lambs we actually had and wether or not the coyotes had been picking them off. Annmarie shot one Friday night and I missed one later in the day Saturday, so we know they are close to the barn lot. We opted to not use the dogs to push the sheep from the barn lot into the barn. We wanted the sheep to remain calm and just mosey on into the barn. Well they were calm, way too calm. We finally had to get shaker sticks to encourage them the last little bit of the way into the barn. Once in the barn we put up three gates to shrink the available area for them to roam in and I grabbed the tag and band supplies. I sit down on the floor of the barn with the supply bin on my left and my coffee to the right. The coffee didn’t last five minutes before some random sheep knocked it over repeatedly. I finally had to give up on having coffee during this labor intensive endeavor (I spent the entire time on my backside while Annmarie did the lamb catching!). We ended tagging 25 lambs and 2/3 of those were boys. We still have had more girls than boys lambs born on the farm since we started over 10 years ago. We have just been increasing the ear tag numbers every year sequentially and we started with the number one.

After the sheep were done we decided to work the cows. This required closing gates and setting up the corral for the cows. I was in the barn getting fly spray for the cows when I heard this bone chilling scream coming from the corral area. Both Hoss and myself were in the barn and we took off for the corral. I thought Annmarie was being mauled and stomped by the bull or one of the three steer in the corral. Nope, the asshole of the bee verse, a yellow jacket, had stung her on the hand and she had responded by trying to verbally assault the offending party at the top of her lungs. She went inside to treat the fire in in her hand after I agreed to find and kill the offending party. I had placed an old sheep horn in the corral fencing and it made a great place to build a Yellow jacket nest. I gave Hoss the spray and told him to go kill all the offending parties. He did and then we sprayed the cows with fly spray, we had to let the four cows out of the chute after the bull and another started fighting. We ended up letting the bull go out to the other female cows. He has not been near the house since rejoining the female persuasions.

Hoss and I then went up to the Upper Prime Field and finished installing wood stays along the creek side of the new fence. We used 100 of the 200 I had just purchased the night before. On the way out of the field we stopped and patched the new cross fence in six places. The last little section of fence near the new T -brace and new gate needed to be reworked. Hoss had not stapled the fence to the T-brace, once we did that a wire needed moved down to just above the woven wire. A few more wooden stays got installed and the fence is now sheep proof! The new fence, a section of the old fence has 6 strands and no woven wire. It may need some more T-posts and wooden stays but for now it should keep the sheep inside.

Hoss will start in on the next pasture on Monday, I want him to start in on the wheat field side and we will work our way around the field counter clockwise. I figure it will take 2-3 weeks to get it done, no more than 4 weeks hopefully.

Fence repair and build continues

I sent Hoss up into the upper prime pasture to look for the Bull’s escape route. I told him to go to the upper spring crossing as he loves ducking under the crossings. Yep, that is what he did. Hoss did not think he was capable of going under the fence.

The crossing should be Bull proof now, he should not be able to slide the panel up over his back with that 2×6 in his way.

Hoss has been working on getting all of the H braces secured and built. Once this is done we will be able to start stretching fence and getting it secured appropriately.

I went up and helped for a short while on Friday morning and we we got the back cross fence out of the weeds and started securing the bottom to the posts and T posts. I remembered this time to check and see how Hoss was doing with the T-post clip application. The helpers usually need to be shown how to install them. This was true on Friday also. I got him straightened out and we started attaching the bottom two clips through the dip. Once those are secured we will tighten the fence some more and get it all up. Hoss will be back on Monday to get the odds and ends caught up and then back at the fencing.

The freight company texted me on Friday afternoon to drop off the new hay equipment but even though I called immediately they did not answer. I will call first thing Monday morning so we can get the hay equipment delivered. I will get it hooked up and get about another 3 acres cut! I may get another 3-5 tons of nice grass. Hoss is going to clean off the loaner equipment so we can get it back on the pallets and get it sent back to the company this week.