I had plans to finish the bathroom over the weekend, that did not happen. I was reminded that we needed to sort the cows and sheep so we could get the ram in with the ewes and the small bull away from his mother as he is now 7 months old. To do this effectively we had talked about installing a gate in the yard fence so we could push the cows from the orchard pasture into the corral across the front yard hillside. So Mr Professional and I spent about 5 hours and got the side gate installed, we had to level the area, dig down and then clean up around the garbage shack. We leveled the whole area with gravel. My hope is the dogs won’t try and dig down. If they do then we will bury concrete blocks to prevent it but we are not going to go to the effort unless the dogs dig.
Once that was done we sorted the sheep. We peeled off 13 lambs that were older than 3 months and our oldest ewe “old brown” to move over into the orchard pasture. This way the ram won’t impregnate any of the young ewes and the ewes will put on weight faster as they are not nursing big lambs. The fat ram followed a bucket of sweet feed from the bull enclosure into the barn. He is such a push over for food. He has been in with the sheep for four days and we have yet to see him mount any thing. He better get to work soon, we will give him another three weeks. Luckily, we already had plans to go down and get another ram for competition. It may be that we are getting his replacement, time will tell.
I had to work that night so Mr Professional came out with a chainsaw and started to cut down all of the volunteer trees that were growing in the orchard pasture. We had talked about it and after he was done it sure made the area look a lot nicer. We are probably going to keep it this way for a while. He cleaned up the whole area also. When I got up we hung the new gate, he had just painted that day, down by the old apple tree. This is one of the heavy duty custom welded gates that the bull cannot tear apart. Once we had it up we did a little touch up painting and added a few boards to fill in the gap and drilled a locking receptacle hole. The gate fits like it was made for the opening. We took the bent one and drove over it with the tractor to straighten it out then installed it in the alleyway in the orchard pasture. We just need to pound In a T-post and add a panel onto the end. This will keep the animals from darting down this narrow pathway and getting stuck. Most of the time it will be open and doing nothing. The gate was not going to be used in a high traffic area due to being too lightweight to contain the bull.
We did not move the cows. I was beat, the covid is dragging me down again and starting to cause chest pain and shortness of breath. The cardiologist says I have pericarditis and need to take high dose NSAIDS for three months. I will see how I feel in four months.
We spent the weekend working outside to get ready for spring. Mr Professional brought out his Progeny and we continued the theme from Friday. We planted all of the trees and I finished trimming all of the trees not done Friday. I picked up all of the branches in the orchard and the Progeny picked up sticks and branches in the orchard pasture, the lavender patch and the front yard. We have now adopted two separate names when talking about the orchard area. We have the “Orchard” which is where the fruit trees are located and then there is the “Orchard Pasture” which is the surrounding pasture. The orchard has its own fence so the animals cannot get to the trees. I took a hard look at the old apple tree after cutting out a bunch of low dead branches. I think if I cut out the dead stuff out of the top of the tree the tree might regrow. The entire upper half of the tree is dead.
We found a bunch of box elder bugs in huge clusters on the sunny side of the larger trees. So I mixed up some bug spray and hosed them down. We also sprayed the machine shed and the mother-in-law’s house. I am hopeful that if we can kill large amounts now we won’t have as bad an infestation. Already we have none around our house and I am only finding about ten bugs inside the house after spraying.
We went over to grandma’s old house and found three Italian plum trees, a black walnut tree and a five gallon bucket full of Iris. We planted the plums in the orchard, two are really tiny and need some growing before we can separate them. I planted the walnut tree out in the ram pasture and we put the Iris out in the watered barn flower area. The chickens got into the area last fall and killed most of the flowers I had in there. The chickens are rough on this area. We installed some more chicken wire to block off the six feet of access they had. Unfortunately all they have to do now is just fly in over the fence. I made a new spot for the Iris and hopefully we can get them established.
On Sunday we drilled a 1/2” hole in my tractor bucket and installed the T-post driver I purchased from Bucke-Tee LLC in Texas! This turned out to be the best $200 I have spent this year. We put 200# of tractor weights in the bucket and then you insert a T post into the driver and then use the bucket to push the post into the ground. Obviously the ground has to be kind of soft. But honestly, if I had 500-600# of weight in the bucket and you add in the hydraulics on the tractor I think the ground could be a little hard. We were able to put 30 T-posts in the ground in under an hour. I think I could do the entire new fence line I want in a single day! I used to only be able to do 30-40 posts by hand. I just got worn out pounding them in. We then installed low wire around all of the new trees.
One of the things that had not happened yet was installing the guide wires for the raspberries and blackberries. So we pounded in 8 poles and strung wire and anchors so the berries can grow on a trellis.
I am able to work outside again after Covid 19. I still cannot do a lot of long distance walking but short muscular activity is way better than aerobic anything. Unfortunately I have done nothing for over 90 days so this manual labor is very hard on my body. I ache all over and flop around like a fish out of water at night. When I hurt this much I have to sleep in the spare room so I don’t keep Annmarie up. I try not to overdo it this much usually but after Covid I need to keep pushing so I can get my strength and stamina back.
I started out the Sunday by tagging and banding the last two little lambs we had in the barn, a little boy and girl. I then mixed all the sheep together so we don’t have to manage two separate herds. I came in and started working on the bathroom shelves and while outside cutting lumber heard some squawking. I looked around the edge of the house and there was our pretty rooster in the front yard desperately trying to get through the metal fence to get away from the dogs. Unfortunately for him, he is too big to fit between the gaps. I was able to call the Border Collies off but our little ankle biter Brussels Griffin, Gizmo, did not want to leave the chicken and had to be hollered at. I tried to open the gate but that just confused the chicken and ended up just having to reach down and grab him and toss him over the fence. He got lucky and only lost about 30 feathers. I have no idea what he was doing in the yard, the chickens know it is not safe.
I went out to pickup the carcasses and once I got into the barn lot I decided I had better do a couple of things before just getting the carcasses. Annmarie and I had noticed the culvert that did not get repaired was undercutting the bank and drive over path. She was afraid if the horses got out they would try and cross this and fall through potentially braking a leg. So I dug out the old culvert, it took a few tries to get it above ground. I finally had to go clear all the dirt off of the culvert before I could lift it out of the water. I moved that culvert over to the other culvert and will work on getting it set so it takes the water coming out of the crossing and allows it to run down through the culvert and not eat out the bank edges. I will mess with that after the water level goes down some or I won’t mind getting wet.
While I was messing with the culvert I spotted something in the back runoff creek. I wasn’t sure what it was but it looked like an animal carcass. My only thought was I hope it isn’t and if it is then please don’t let it be so decomposed that I cannot just drag it out of the water. I was able to just slide a chain around its neck and pull it out of the water. It had been dead for a few days only so it was still intact mostly. I took it up to the boneyard and then came back for the stillborn lambs, dead lamb and dead alpaca. It smelled bad but managed to stay in one piece while moving it with the tractor. I was eternally grateful that the carcass only smelled a little bit.
While I was dropping off the carcasses I noticed water running in an ancient ditch that has never been there before since we moved back in 2007. I will need to dig out the ditch again and make it a little deeper and give it some consistent shape. I will just have to add it to my list for the year. I am starting to feel better after my run in with Covid19. It has been eight weeks and this was the first weekend I did not notice any chest pain. My hope is that my aerobic ability will improve quickly now.
Now that I am on a path to fitness and drinking more than brown life giving and sustaining water (coffee) all day I need that upstairs bathroom. Who thinks that drinking a gallon of water on top of a gallon of coffee is good for your bladder? I will admit that I tend not to twitch or flop around as much at night when I drink lots of water but its a hard habit to get into after living on coffee for 30 years. I need the bathroom to be a short walk from the bedroom to maximize my sleep time.
I was able to rub on the wall finish Friday but ran out. I need to do the lower section on one wall. The crown molding needs to go up but I needed to rub the finish onto the wall first. So I started working at the top of the wall and working down so we could install the molding, knowing I was going to run out. I used an old cotton T-shirt and it worked great, no little cloth pills left on the wall.
One of the complications of doing the bathroom in the winter is that I need a place to glue my shelves together. Obviously with the cold it cannot be done outside, unfortunately over the last couple of years the breeze porch has become a catch all location for everything. I do mean everything! So it has taken almost three full days to just remove all of the stuff that was out there, clean up and throw away a ton of stuff. We even got some new plastic bins so we could move all of the reloading supplies into the attic. Next winter I am shooting for building a custom reloading bench on the breeze porch. The bathroom has to come first so I can head outside in the spring.
Yesterday we concentrated on the breeze porch trying to get it cleared so we could use the space to glue shelves together. Once we have those parts glued together we can start installing the shelves. We need to construct the barn door to cover the closet opening also. I even managed to transplant three different plants that were horribly root bound and had not been touched for several years. I expect those plants to take off and be happy. I have about eight more plants that need some more attention. I may even have to start giving away some jade plants as I started about six plants from cuttings and they are taking off. I do toss cuttings in the trash as I cannot start every small piece that comes off a plant! I let my African Violets take a beating and have managed to start two new plants. I need to do cuttings and start 4-8 more plants. I had let them fend for themselves and ended up killing off three. The rest are so healthy they need to be trimmed back as they are starting to try and tip my planters over. The African Violets are from Annmarie’s grandmother so I keep them going. I have three cactus that have fallen over and need to be replanted. I always hate dealing with them once they get a certain size! I do use folded newspaper to wrap them up as I replant them but I always manage to get poked regardless. There is now a nice wide open spot to work and once we get some more tools put away there will be plenty of space to glue boards together.
The Covid symptoms persist, I have learned to just keep pushing. I hate that I cannot do what I used to before catching it. I want to be the person pushing the grocery cart so I can lean on the cart as I walk through the grocery store. I can now get across the hospital at work three times in a single day. I used to walk constantly for hours in a day and now I do it about 15 minutes a day. I still get very short of breath with exertion and if the shortness of breath persists then I start getting chest pain. I have things I want to do this spring. I am unsure of how much I will be able to physically do when the weather improves. It is very frustrating.
I have been feeling a little better this week. I have been working full time without needing to go to bed at 2000 every night. I had decided that I needed to get out and do some more work but not overdo it. Mr Professional had come out and fixed the tractor and fed the large bales to the cows. He had some extra time so he filled the driveway potholes and drug the driveway.
On Friday I got our old heavy duty bird feeder holders up and working again and took them down to the Mother-in-law’s house to set them up on her back deck. She wants the bird feeders to hang over the air so the cats cannot have easy access to the birds. Since it is about 12 feet up in the air, the cats are going to need to be careful before leaping off the deck at prey. She will need to order some new feeders that are heavier so they don’t get thrown off the hangars by the wind.
I started dragging the driveway with the box blade to get it smoothed out. It has taken me many years to figure out how to rehab the driveway so we don’t have to toss down a few truckloads of gravel every year. It took about three hours but I got it all smoothed out. I even managed to expand the driveway where we park our cars. I had been wanting to do that all last year as we have a tendency to pull the trailer alongside the driveway and it would be nice if that area was gravel. I made it happen and now we just need to let the gravel settle and sink in. I have finally managed to build up the gravel enough in our parking area that there are no longer any standing water issues at any time. This used to be a problem and you had to pick your parking spot wisely so you did not get wet feet. Annmarie reminded me that we are going to have to install a package box near the front gate outside of the fence so the delivery people can deliver packages without having to come inside the yard. I was thinking a top open with hydraulic assist lifts but Annmarie said I can just make it a little taller an have the front upon up completely with two doors. She is right, it would be a lot easier. So I will be adding this project to the summer/spring agenda. I have enough spare lumber from the scraps I bought last year from the lumber yard that I can build the entire frame out of pressure treated wood. I have the rough cut 1×12 to side it all and some scrap metal roofing tin. As an added bonus I don’t have to move around a lot!
We had twins out in the barn Friday morning but the little one was getting pushed around by the momma. I turned the other little one out with its momma, without tagging it, and then pushed the twins under the stairs with their momma. The little brown one kept getting head butted but was hollering lots so it was pretty active. I came back two hours later after doing the driveway and it was off to the side and momma would not let it eat. This meant our second bummer lamb of the season was discovered. I took it inside, fed it and tried to set it down, but every time I did that it started to holler. I ended up watching some bad Korean TV series I am currently trying to finish. Tisha came out in a few hours and took it to its new home. The first bummer she has will be happy for the company.