I have been busy, we just got done with the Pendleton RoundUp and I don’t get any stuff done on the farm for about ten days around that event, my paying job requires a lot of attention during that week. The nice thing was we got some rain on the last weekend. We had 0.56” over two days and have had a total of 0.91” of rain in the month of September. This is excellent news for us but it did take a few days before it was possible to get back out in the fields. My helpers have been out hunting so I have been on my own. I spent two days getting field #1 ready, Mr Rainman had picked so many rocks I only ended up picking four bucket loads over two days. There is probably a couple more bucket loads that are obvious but the huge rocks are all gone and even the medium sized ones are gone. I don’t think I will break a sickle bar mower tooth on any of the rocks left. I have some organic matter on the edges of the field that needs to be piled up out of the field and it will be ready to plant. The field still has too many weeds for us to plant alfalfa in it yet. I am unable to get fall barley or fall oats locally. Most of the fields are too muddy to plant in the spring. So my only choices are grass or triticale. Triticale has a pretty narrow window to harvest in and that is problematic for me as my other job takes up time. PGG did not have grass seed in stock so it had to be delivered. I will be checking in on Monday and get more ordered. Annmarie wants us to plant grass seed in the upper field. This will allow me to still spray with 2-4-D and get a handle on the thistle weeds.
The chickens have learned to let us know when they are out of food. They will come running whenever they see you and become shadows. They won’t leave until you feed them. Once fed they all crowd in and try to get to the same feeder even though there are other choices. Our lone rabbit out front is still alive and kicking, we see it almost every day now. The quail are every where and are amazing. I am sure they are my favorite gamebird. The one we have not seen a lot of are pheasants. We had a lot last year and I am not seeing as many this year. The pidgens are multiplying and starting to get over the magical 30 total number. Once they stay at 30 for a year, they multiply at an exponential rate the next year. There are a bunch of dens/holes in the upper fields from coyotes but I have not seen any coyotes this year.
The pregnant sheep have spent the weekend on the front yard and hillside knocking down the weeds and grass. The dogs are out on the run so they are protecting my hens and chicks plants and the trumpet vine from a sheep induced thinning. There is enough green grass that I think I will have to let the sheep in 3 of 7 days. Some of those ewes are so pregnant they can hardly walk. We expected the herd to be done lambing by now not just three ewes and no one in the last three weeks. Thank goodness we went and bought a replacement ram!
Summer is definitely coming. We are working on getting our water back up and out to all of the plants. That last minute freeze (17 degrees F) wrecked havoc with our automatic water timers. We had already turned on the garden and lavender sprinkler system and the timers froze, nothing else was damaged. So yesterday we got the berries and lavender watered and lavender weeded. I had some grass trying to grow through the ground cloth and rubber bark, so I pulled it all and got most of the roots. It’s a lot easier to do when the grass clumps are small. We also got the front hillside water turned on and the entire front hillside watered. It does not have a timer and we accidentally left it on last night so it will now be getting a manual timer that will go up to two hours. The water pressure is a lot better since we found and fixed the leak.
Our Murphy bed came via freight truck on Thursday. I tried to talk the guys into delivering it across the bridge and onto the front porch. They were not going to do that as it is only curbside delivery. We were just happy that they did not sit on it for two months while Annmarie badgered them to deliver it, our last local freight experience was less than pleasant. The last one wanted a full load of stuff before they came to Pilot Rock!! We would have to wait a few years for that to occur, which is what Annmarie told them repeatedly. The whole thing is heavy, 800# and we weren’t sure how to get it to the house. I had asked Annmarie to get me a set of “arm forks”, straps that go over your forearms and provide the leverage where you need it to maximize your lifting capability. Most people have the strength just not the grip power, their hands quit which makes it hard to carry stuff. They did not have that so she got me these shoulder straps shaped like an X behind your back and then an adjustable six inch wide strap that goes between them. You put on the harness, squat down, adjust the wide strap then you both just stand up! Your legs actually do all the lifting and then you just stabilize it with your arms. We were able to move the heavy bed portion into the craft room and it weighs around 400 pounds. It was amazing! We moved all four items into the craft room and kinda scoped out the assembly. Without opening the instruction box we have determined that the floor trim needs to be removed and I am going to have to move both outlets on the wall higher. I expect it to take a solid eight hours to get it installed.
I installed a rack in the upstairs bathroom and am now just waiting on the toilet paper roll holder and a hand towel holder. The last item is to make a template for the granite piece that goes on the triangular spot next to the toilet. I am hopeful that I can get that done next week. We moved our daughter back home after selling Annmarie’s grandmothers house. So yesterday was moving day and now we have boxes all over the house, in the attic and with the Murphy bed taking up space we had to move stuff out of that room also! Needless to say it will take us at least a week to dig out and get things arranged.
The chickens were waiting for food when I went out to get eggs last night. The extra rooster has been dispatched and now there should be less fighting at the compost dumping grounds, also known as the treat station to the chickens. Of course we still only have one calf, we hope they will hurry up and just have the rest.
Well it’s the downhill side of the project now! We managed to put up all but one piece of crown molding today. I had to cut all of the angles after paying for angle cutting, the cuts went the wrong direction. We have enough left over to put crown molding inside the closet also! Mr. Professional helped me get it installed. It just takes time, all of these finishing steps just take time, the last 15% of every project takes almost as much time as the first 85%.
The closet door is glued together and just needs to dry overnight. I will glue the shelves together every couple of nights this week so we can get those installed. I ordered metal shelf brackets today but I am not sure if they are going to be here on time to get the shelves in next weekend. Nope, I just looked the shelve brackets do not arrive until Tuesday, nine days from now. They are only one inch wide so we may just be able to leave room to install them when they arrive and still hang the shelves as long as we don’t put any weight on the shelves. The paint stripper is coming by Friday so we can get the grey paint off of the one side of the bathroom door. Annmarie tells me I am not allowed to use the bathroom until the door works! Currently that is not an issue as the plumber has not been here yet. I am hopeful the plumber will come in the next two weeks.
I am loving the new clean breeze porch. I was able to transplant 10 jade plant starts today from their watery containers into actual soil pots. I only started one more jade cutting today, I am trying to shape my big plant and it keeps wanting to send off random shoots. I keep cutting them back and it is finally starting to fill in.
Annmarie just informed me that I am not allowed to build any new fence this year! I had two new sections of fence planned for this summer. I have to complete the culvert in the barn lot that got torn out last year due to flooding and then I need to put a new front porch deck on. I know that the front decking job will be a nightmare because as soon as I tear off the decking I will see the support framework and it will probably need a lot of help. The front deck job has been on the calendar for the last three years. My new fencing project has been on the calendar for six months. I love new projects!!
I am also going to start looking into plans for a craft building. I have found a location am just trying to finalize the shape. I won’t start on that for a couple of years. I really like the idea and think if I do the floor in tongue and groove wood, and the outside in rough lumber I can do the inside in plywood. This would let us build custom shelves and long work benches that are counter height, maybe even an island in the middle of the room to just use as a flat space for assembly and whatever. New projects are the bomb! They let my brain spin, plan, assemble, tear apart and redo without ever lifting any tools.
I have one chicken that cannot figure out it needs to lay eggs in the chicken coop, not the barn! I found a green egg in the barn straw this morning when I went out and let the sheep outside. When Annmarie went out to feed the sheep this evening she found the culprit in the middle of a feeder hunkered down but she did not have any eggs. The chickens are not very smart but boy the home grown free range eggs are amazing and now we have one chicken that is laying double yolk eggs consistently.
Hard to believe that the back runoff creek is already running! It is only January and it is full of water and moving toward the ocean. The creek is so much wider after the torrent we had last year so I am hopeful it won’t get out of control this spring.
The damn tractor broke again! The worst part is the hydraulic steering cylinder that broke this summer just broke again! I just don’t understand why this is happening. It’s the bolt in the hydraulic cylinder that is shearing. So I will order another one and we can get it installed. Mr Professional managed to use enough bailing twine to get it to hold in place long enough to drive it back to the machine shed.
The winter weather has brought some amazing color changes to the skyline. I have been trying to get pictures whenever the light has been unique. I do love the changes.
I managed to miss one of the extra roosters. I have two now and need to thin the the second one. He is not very good at crowing, he sits on the top of the coop ramp entrance and blocks the hens from going in when it is getting dark. We have had to round up the hens every night and push them into the chicken coop. He is making me crazy. I keep hoping that one of the raccoons will actually eat the spare rooster. It has gotten so bad we are now using the Border Collie, Mouse to herd the chickens back into the coop at night!
We did tag and band the lambs on Saturday and sorted off the seven ewes that we think are pregnant and have isolated them to the momma baby area. Everyone else is now in with the main herd and the entire barn is opened up to them. I will update the lamb statistics next week.
Annmarie has been picking up all the slack around the farm as I have been fairly worthless since catching covid. She has been feeding and sorting and checking on lambs, feeding chickens and collecting eggs. She has been amazing during this time. She made me promise to not overwork myself when I went back to work. I took a few more days off for a total of 14 then went back to work on Monday. I stayed in my office mostly with only 1-2 trips out of my office. Unfortunately, by Wednesday I was unable to do evening chores at home due to shortness of breath and fatigue. By Thursday I started to get chest pain that continued to get worse, I ended up in the ER that night to make sure I did not have a blood clot in my lungs. No blood clots, just post covid syndrome. So I am back to sitting around again most of the day, resting. I hate resting. I have had to reiterate the not working so hard promise.
We have had the usual drama on the farm. The chickens have decided that they don’t want to go into the coop at night. Anywhere from 3-7 chickens dawdle and end up outside the automatic door. This is not healthy for the chickens as we know there is most likely one raccoon living in the barn or around the barn. Annmarie saw fresh tracks in the snow recently. So we have been kicking them back into the barn when we get eggs. Unfortunately, we only let the ones sitting right outside the gate into the coop, we do not hunt down any strays. It looks like one managed to survive a raccoon attack and it is still alive days later. It is missing part of a wing and hopefully can survive. It unsurprisingly has been hanging pretty close to the chicken coop and is making it inside before the door shuts! So it is maybe not the stupidest chicken in the bunch. We have had two more sets of lamb twins and a huge single lamb born since the last update. I will need to go out and tag and band on Sunday so we can integrate all of them into the momma/baby area. The weather has been very unusual, mid 40’s in December! This is so not normal for us. The front spring is already on the rise and the back winter runoff creek has not started up yet.
The ram is not doing his job in a timely fashion. The ewes are taking their sweet time with having babies. We are talking about getting a second ram so in the off season they can have a buddy. We will also split the ewes into two herds. Once we figure out who is the more active ram we will divide up the ewes in the correct proportion. This will also let us save more of the ewes for cross breeding purposes. If we rotate out the ram every three years this will add significantly to our size upgrade. We really want to get the lambing all done in 30 days.