Honey do list

I tried to start the pickup yesterday without success. Since it rained an inch and I had the windows rolled down on the pickup and it had a dead battery there was quite a bit of water inside the cab. Not horrible but I was glad I did not have to sit on the seat. So I added drive to town to my list yesterday. I went out to the machine shed and worked on an alpaca fiber cleaner (sorta tumbler). We had purchased the items several weeks ago and I just needed to assemble them. The top pops off, you toss the fiber in, you hang it up, start it spinning and hit it with the leaf blower to get the dust and debris out of the alpaca fiber so it can be spun into something. I ruined a great new large plastic bucket to make this. Annmarie has been wanting this since spring. I figured since I was going to town I should get new bolts for harrow/seeder. This turned out to be near impossible. The bolt is metric size 10x40mm with fine machine threads that happen to have a 1.25 pitch. I could not find anything with a nylon lock nut for this size bolt. It needs a lock nut and it cannot have a widened flange on the bolt as it sits down and locks into place so you can screw in the bolt without a second wrench. No way to fit a second wrench of any kind up where that nut lives. So I am going to look online and if that doesn’t work then I will order it from the tractor company who will have to order it from Italy, ugh. I cannot find a partially threaded bolt M10x40mm without a flanged head or flanged nut and nut needs to be locking, fine threads and 1.25 pitch on the internet, mind you I only spent 15 minutes looking for one bolt and gave up. Io amo I’Italia!

I was able to buy a new battery for the pickup. As soon as I had it installed I rolled the windows up! We topped off the night by Annmarie cutting an open front box for the safe and a upright for the far side on her laser cutter. The box joints are so tight it took me about 15 minutes with a nylon hammer and some assembly/disassembly machinations to get it together. I got it all installed in the old safe. Today we slipped a note and a dime from 2022 under the new carpet we installed so 50 years from now someone will know how we got the safe! The thing is still hard to get into, it only took me three tries to get it open! On average I would say it takes us about 20 minutes to get it open, it is not something you get in on a regular basis. But since we have all of our legal paperwork stuff in there and our passports the 20 minute time is a concession we are willing to pay. The top shelf is original and we added the new carpet and bottom box and right hand support. It looks cool!

I brought in all of the sheep feeders into the barn yesterday. I need to shorten them for Annmarie and the ground is wet so it was a perfect time to cut the metal outside. The problem was I could not find the right grinder. I found one but discovered I had managed to lose a piece that is necessary to hold a cutting blade in place. I had taken it off to attach a metal cleaning wheel. I finally gave up and started in on the alpaca cleaner and as I was finishing that up I found the correct grinder. It was time to go to town by then, I will get it later in the week. I kept the sheep locked into the barn lot today to see if they would spread out the grass/bedding I had tossed out yesterday. I just dumped unrolled bales all around the barn with the hope that the sheep would spread it out. They did a fine job! I did notice that I forgot to install the 2×4 board at sheep back high to keep the horse out of the barn. The horse bends down and gets into the bar with the sheep otherwise. I put the board up today. Horse poop can pile up pretty quick!

Today we ended up cleaning out the back garden and tossing it over the fence so the sheep can clean up the leavings. They will eat everything down, if the chickens are not fast they will not get any green tomatoes. Besides, the chickens don’t deserve anything special. I am getting 2-3 eggs/day from 11 hens. On top of that, one of the cheeky buggers is an egg eater! I keep finding eggs with a little hole poked in them and the inside eaten out. I am not sure who it is yet but I do need to figure it out. Annmarie gave an injured alpaca update, his eye is open. He still has an eyeball from the pictures but it looks like his right cheek may be swollen. Since we can no longer just go to the farm supply store and buy penicillin we will keep watching him.

The bull was kind enough to crawl through the fence on the upper hillside while we were inside in the kitchen today. He has a spot just past the second large wire rock crib. He just ducks his horns down to the ground, pushes forward and lets the panel rub across his back as he moves forward. I now know where to fix the fence if I ever get time to do it.

Supposed to be working on office

I had great plans for the weekend. Due to the weather I figured we would be able to get the office ceiling and wall completed. This was the fabulous plan! On Friday, I had to take the pickup back to the shop to fix the hydraulic leak, it was pouring down rain so no outside work was going to happen anyways. Sarah followed me we went over to a friend’s house to borrow their pickup. I needed more insulation for the office and I was hopeful that the window place would call me back. I managed to get a hold of them in the morning and they were going to check and see if my two windows came in. I bought enough insulation to finish the walls and the ceiling. The window place never called back so I waited for a break in the storm to unload the insulation (the pickup bed had a shell cover) into the new office and then we took the borrowed vehicle back to its owner. Mind you there is plenty to do before the windows stop us.

On Saturday, Annmarie asked me to put the lamb back in the barn lot. We have one lamb that keeps getting out of the barn lot then the little bugger runs along the fence screaming to get back in. I have let it back in four times this week already but I thought it was sneaking out the end of the chute in the corral. Now I have no reason to think this other than the hole is big enough for a lamb to get through. So after chasing it back into the barn lot I really inspect the barn lot fence. It has sheep sized holes everywhere. I tell Mr Professional we have to repair the fence first before we can go finish the office roof and he then informs me it is the horse making the holes! She is lifting her foot and raking it down the woven fence to open up holes big enough to stick her head through to reach the grass on the opposite side. We end up installing new woven wire, tightening the entire fence and adding in wooden stays every four feet.

This took a couple of hours and I was Jonesing to get to the ceiling. I happen to casually mention the weather as we are packing up our tools and I am told that we are under another flood warning! The problem with this we wanted to get the bull away from the cows. We had our second calf and we would like the new bull coming in July to be the father of our new calves next year. If we were going to get the bull we need to do it before the water raises to raging heights. I could not get across the creek, the water was too high in every place I tried. I ended up walking back to the house and using the crooked bridge. Mr Professional suggested we just take a bucket of grain and try and lure the bull back to Alcatraz. We got the cows to a place where I could walk up to the bull. He was pretty hesitant but after a couple of mouthfuls of grain he started to follow me. I stopped fairly frequently and slowly stretched out the food stops. He followed me all the way down to the barn lot. I did have to get wet crossing the creek, even with my muck boots the water was too high to stay dry. I set the bucket down and went to go shut a gate while the bull contemplated crossing the water for grain. It did not take him long to just force his way across the water and eat more grain. He went into Alcatraz with very little prompting. Three hours later it was raining and the back creek was uncrossable. We did manage to get a few boards installed on the office ceiling

I went to look at the yard fence over the front spring on the front hillside, I was walking down to it when my muck boots slipped. I ended up with both feet in the air and landed flat on my back! This led to me wishing that my lungs would work and that life giving item called air would enter my body. While I was wishing for air I realized that I had ended up in the spring and miraculously landed feet first and did not get wet even though I was crouched over my boots struggling to make my chest expand. Within a minute my body remembered how to breath and I cleaned out the fence and straightened it out so Mouse would quit sneaking out of the front yard to go down and terrorize the cats at the mother-in-law’s house.

Cows have not been cooperating

The club wheat on the farm looks great! On our drive to Adams to get the walnut tree I kept comparing wheat fields and ours looks very good in comparison. I talked to the responsible farmer and he said they are trying a new mineral supplement and it seems to be doing the trick. Time will tell if the moisture will hold out for the needed amount and times.

This has been a long week related to cows. The bull keeps getting out of our pasture and going under the road via the culvert to visit the 100% papered Angus heifers that the neighbor has next door. We pushed him over on Sunday and figured we had the access point hardened enough he could not get through. On Tuesday, our neighbor was texting Annmarie to tell her he was in with the heifers again. This time I had to gather tools after work and Mr Professional had come out and pushed him back into our field. He laid down on his belly in the middle of the stream, reached down with his horns and lifted the panel up and then army crawled under the fence, in the water, to get to the other side. He did this because his normal access point is at the side of the fence but we had secured those enough he could not get through. This led to more additions, some tightening, a few extra panels and a ground panel that sticks forward so he has to stand on it to get his horns into the upright panel, therefore holding it down with his own weight. All of this done by tractor flood lights as it was getting dark and the culvert is down in a hole. I was down there working alone and the bull snuck up on me, I didn’t realize it until he was about two feet away. He scared me so I chased him away, he knew what I was doing and did not really want to leave, it took some encouragement to get him moving. So far it is holding I would like to say it is fixed, but I then leaned toward certain as a better word. After a few minutes and thinking about how often he gets out I am pretty certain he is contained, it looks pretty good and we sure gave it the old college try. It kinda depends on how lovesick he gets, maybe it will be good enough, we will see.

There is another creek crossing further up on our property that was destroyed in the flood that lets him drop down into the creek bed and scoot on down to the culvert. If we can get that crossing hardened enough then he will most likely be contained. The crossings have to be removable in the fall so the spring runoff can happen and nothing gets damaged.

I had the opportunity to get another black walnut tree! This one was a ways away and I did not want to load up the tractor on my trailer and drive over there. I would have to make two trips and decided that taking longer to load was an acceptable trade off to not having to make two trips and haul the tractor. I gathered chains, cables, sheet of plywood to cover the metal ramps, come along and a metal pipe to use as a cheater bar. I picked up Mr Professional and away we went. This sounded like a well thought out plan but honestly I did not take into account the shear mass of a large piece of this wood. It took us three hours and the first half of that time was moving the large base piece onto the trailer first. We needed two come alongs to do it and everything else we brought. Unfortunately, by the time we got done the custom cut shop was closed so the trailer just stayed loaded and I will get it offloaded this week. We will go back into the cue for cutting and may get it cut up in a couple of months. Luckily, I ordered more banding and it’s a different color so it makes it easy to differentiate the trees that will banded and stored together in the old chicken coop. I am even considering getting into the maple pile, cleaning it up and then having it all planed down to useable flat pieces. I can then shrink the storage space it takes by banding it all together and storing it in the coop.

The alpaca seem to have finally come to a consensus and are now behaving. They are such weird creatures. The rabbit is back! I have seen it several times and it is still not afraid of humans, you can get within a few feet before it even moves.

With all this wind we are having the new windmill needed an addition to keep the top plastic bushing in place. This should keep it from popping out now and the windmill can tear it up, which it is doing in the 35-40 mph winds. It is only rated up to 65 mph so we will see how it does in our area long term.

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…