More white stuff

I went around this morning after chores and moved more snow! I made it a point to go behind the machine shop and clear that gravel road, so the trash guys can just drive around the loop. Having the trash picked up every week is a luxury in the country and I need to spoil those guys whenever I can because we really appreciate it. The cows are starting to get covered in snow as they are not going down to the old school house or the willows to shelter from the weather. I think they think they will miss out on a meal if they go down there. I can now open the gate wide open, leave it open and just drive out into the pasture and all the cows follow the tractor and ignore the open gate. the food is with me and they all know it.

I stayed outside this morning for 2.5 hours until my hands and toes started to go numb. They were pretty red by the time I got inside and warmed them up at the gas stove.

We had another single lamb born this morning. I got her and ther mother into the momma baby area. The only problem is that tonight when I went out to feed and water the mommas and babies I noticed a possible prolapsed uterus or afterbirth. The problem with this is the ewe is very wild and wont let me get close to her. She is on the watch list and Annmarie will let me know how she is doing in the morning. We may have to pin her down and administer some care to her against her will.

The quail are now coming every day to eat on our back hillside. I had forgotten to feed them and had to go back out and give them their quart of food.

I have a horror story about last night. I put another coat of Varethane on last night so I am back to sleeping downstairs in the craft room on the floor. I woke up at 0130 freezing to death! I was shivering and cold. I thought it was time to wake up. Somehow the half door had gotten closed stopping all heat from entering the room. I got up out of bed, opened the door and went out to the living room and turned up the heat! I also took every throw blanket off of the couch and dug the only one downstairs out of a drawer. I felt like a mummy when I crawled back into my bed but I did fall asleep without suffocating.

The two bully alpaca are stuck out in the orchard. They have melted down a body wide hole in the snow and maintain it. I hardly every see them up and about. I suspect this is what they do in the wild. The rest of them just go into the machine shed and find cover. It is supposed to snow another 4-6 inches of snow tonight. It is official this February we have received the most snow on record about the last 125 years. We knew it was not normal and we were right. Now it needs to melt off slowly in the mountains or we are going to have some major points of flooding.

Staycation

Well there is nothing like a good old vacation at home to get some stuff finished. The only bad part about this is that something always comes up to get you off track and distracted from the main goal. Our weather has been horrible so I am now feeding the cows every night and occasionally I have to feed them morning and night.
We decided to integrate the ram and his three girls with the main sheep herd this week. I just opened the gate and he found his way over to the barn. We still have five ewes separated out from the main herd. Two of those are no longer pregnant and need to go back in with the main herd. The other three are first time mommas, so our working theory is that the reason they are so far behind everyone else is that they were not old enough to get pregnant when we put the ram in the first time. So we are going to just keep those three and their babies separated off for 7 months and then toss them back in with the main herd. This will be easier than keeping the ram separated. 7C078585-042E-4E64-AF73-9C3D4031999A Clean old milk shed area
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My favorite Y gate
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Spare room closet
I got a new phone and ended up using the blog app directly from the website and it let me add titles to my pictures. I really like that feature and may end up having to do it every time. We will see after I get the app up and running on my phone. The whole reason for this Staycation was to get the spare bedroom floor completed. This sounds easy as I only need to sand the paint off of the outer 2′ next to the walls. It took me two days to empty the room 100%. I was unsure how I was going to move the big ticket items alone when I spotted the smooth furniture discs in the closet. Annmarie got these several years ago to slide furniture around and I may have ridiculed the idea some. It’s much more manly to just lift things. Unfortunately when you are alone that is not really an option on a stand up dresser or armoire. I used the furniture sliders, and they were definitely slick and the way to go. I apologized to Annmarie when she came home. 42F18C33-8E50-4BE5-A4EE-CB554E4C1E17

Floor sanding gear

I do wear a dust mask when sanding inside as it gets very nasty quickly in the room with all the doors shut. I had only been at it a few hours when the palm sander died! A lot of tools are not designed for hours of use at a time. They think you will use it for an hour or less. Annmarie picked me up one at the feed store. I am on Staycation so the rule is I don’t leave the house. I have been very good and following this rule. We did go out to dinner on Friday night for Valentine’s Day. Amazing how easy it was to get reservations for the day after Valentine’s Day. EB826E5E-117C-4E44-B2D3-245A57194C35 Sander died
The snow keeps coming, we have had to drag the driveway twice with the tractor to clean up the road. Today I did it first thing in the morning and it warmed up enough to melt off all of the driveway. This is the best reason to clean off the snow. The untouched areas of snow are still present and it is supposed to snow every day this week.
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Barn lot

 

 

Phil was wrong

I heard that Phil the groundhog did not see his shadow therefore we would not have 6 more weeks of winter. Well we had snow over the last 24 hours and a winter weather advisory. Luckily for us, we did not get as much snow as was predicted and the storm went north of us. Whenever this happens to us late in winter I always start to have a mild panic attack. I am always fearful that we will run out of hay. What would we feed the animals? Yet, having too much leftover in the barn means you paid for too much hay. It would be one thing if we were producing our own hay then some carryover would not be near as big a deal. We could just sell the extra in the late spring to make room for our next crop. Us doing our own hay is going to be a game changer as far as expenses go for us. Paying out $6-7K annually for hay is not worth raising the animals, we need a source of hay that we don’t have to pay for annually.

It’s going to be real close on the hay and will require me to start bringing over alfalfa hay from the machine shed to finish feeding the sheep. It just dawned on me that we may even be able to put up a little straw for ourselves. This will require us to talk with the nice gentlemen growing wheat on the farm. We only use 2-4 ton of straw annually so not very much.

One of the new lambs decided that to get maximum access to the food it needed to crawl into the feeder and on top of the hay. I had to move the lamb out as I was afraid it would get stuck once its platform got eaten away. I never looked to see if it was a boy or girl but since I don’t see a tag in its right ear I am betting its a girl. A tag in the right ear means its a cull animal and all the boys are not keepers. I went out this morning to feed after a few hours of sleep and there was snow everywhere. The big bales are done so the cows are now eating normal 100# bales of alfalfa but these allow them to tip the feeders very easily. I wanted to feed some alfalfa and a little straw to the cows with the tractor. I started up the tractor even with the temperature under 20 F, no trouble. I let it warm up for a few minutes and put it in gear, the tractor died immediately. I did this 3-4 times all with the same results. I lifted the bucket up and down without any trouble. Stumped I decided that it just needed to warm up some more and I went and fed the sheep and horses. No babies this morning. The “wide as long” ewe was still in her pen and still not doing anything. The sheep are starting to mob me as I am giving them grain in the morning on top of their hay and at night I am tossing a half a bale of alfalfa onto the top of their hay.

When I was feeding the ram and his three ewes I noticed that our water was running again. We have a hand dug well on the property from the 1940’s and it has buried pipe that goes to the barn lot and under the creek over to behind the old chicken coop. The standpipe by the coop is broken and needs to be replaced. This will spontaneously start to flow when the ground water level gets high enough in the well. It will run for 3-4 months. Now we don’t have to bucket water to the ram. I just placed a drinking bucket under the running water and the sheep can just drink as much as they want. The pipes don’t freeze as it runs continuously.

I went back to the tractor and again tried to put it in gear and drive away, and the tractor tried to die. I was able to slip it back into neutral and it stayed running. This led me to think that it was the safety switch in the seat. It is there to make sure someone is sitting on the tractor when driving it or running the PTO. I stood up, beat on the seat a few times with my fist, sat up and down a few times and it worked! Problem solved! I fed the cows and went back inside after 2.5 hours outside doing chores.

This evening when I went out to do chores the “wide as long” ewe had finally had her babies!! She had a set of triplets and they were all sitting up and cleaned off. She paid attention to all three so we are going to let her try to raise them. We will leave them in the separate pen for a few more days to make sure they are all eating well and that mom and babies have bonded.

Little bit windy

It’s been a long week. I am playing catch up and the weather is not really cooperating. Our door latch from Ukraine came this week and it fit perfectly! I was able to get it above the door knob without having to move the knob and I was able to use the hole I accidentally drilled through the door frame 10 years ago. It was almost like I had planned this ten years ago! I talked to Annmarie and I think she is going to print me a plastic bushing on the 3D printer that I can slide into the wooden hole so the door latch doesn’t widen the wooden hole. It is amazing what you can find on the internet these days and have shipped directly to your home. So now none of the dogs can get into the craft room, same for little kids.

The weather has been very strange all week, we have horrible winds. They are sustained around 25-40 MPH with gusts over 70 MPH. Luckily the place is old and has survived 95+MPH winds. The stuff damaged in that wind storm has been repaired or torn down since that occurred right after we had moved in. I have been careful since then to make sure that all stuff is over built due to the unpredictability of our weather and the wind. The wind blows all winter long usually, just not this hard. Our new windows always bow and flex in the wind so we are always surprised at how well they do, none have ever broke in a wind storm. The temperature is over 50 degrees F, which is absurd for a winter in Eastern Oregon. Luckily, our front spring fed creek has been rising steadily over the last two months so there is water going into the ground somewhere.

I started patching all the old curtain rod holder holes in the walls this weekend. I want to get them patched, primed and painted before Christmas. One less eye sore in the downstairs area and one step closer to having a completed main floor. My current dilemma is I cannot find the door to the closet that I removed when doing the floor. At this point I really think I tossed it onto the burn pile and lit it on fire. This sucks but I cannot find it and have dug all around the house with no success. One more thing I am going to have to duplicate. I will finish getting the pictures up on the wall soon also. I am a definitely the 90% project completion type of guy, those last 10% are brutal to finish.

I went outside today to do some more work. The weather was not super conducive to it but it was not freezing so I figured I could get something done. My big goal was to move the scrap metal pile that came from the old house (it has only been there since August 2018). Annmarie can see it just outside the fence through any window on the SE side of the house. She does not like it and thinks I need to move it before our company shows up in January. I was going to bring the old pickup trailer around but it still needs a tire swap and this weather is not conducive to climbing under anything suspended in the air so I opted to use the tractor and just make more trips. After the first load I got distracted and ended up dragging all of the horse poop out from around the barn and releveled the compost pile I had spread out earlier this fall. I need to plant grass seed on it but that is not happening in 45 MPH wind. After every load taken to the metal scrap pile I kept my eye out for more scrap metal along the way, grabbing it off of fence posts and the base of fences. I stash it there all year long as I find it or it surfaces from the ground. I went over and cleaned up the last of the old metal Smith shop area. I took a bucketful of keeper metal to the barn and stashed it in the barn. I took the last of the falling down wooden worktop and put it on the burn pile. I even managed to push the two bucket loads of old hay baling wire that I found buried outside the metal shop onto the scrap pile. My scrap pile is sufficiently big to attract someone to come claim it. It is not worth very much and there are a few gears inside the pile I would like to reclaim if I can find them. I managed to find a manual brake system with the notched locking piece and the handle just stashed over there. I kept that. Eventually I want to put some nonsensical gears and handles and steering wheels throughout the barn.

Annmarie asked me about the grass fields I planted this week so I took the time to run up and check on them. This is good and bad news depending on how you look at it. The first field got done two weeks earlier than the second and got two good rains and some warm temperatures, that is this very nice green field. The second field was two weeks later and I ended up finishing it up in the rain and then it got really cold. It is currently still very dirt like. On the plus side there are no weeds growing either which tells me that the growing conditions are just not there yet. I would love to burn off the barley field but I am afraid to light anything on fire in this wind so it will just have to wait.

I was fortunate to finish the machine shed ceiling support before the windstorm.

We also have a new calf on the ground, it is a week old today. It is probably our biggest calf to date and the mother is still crazy. I cannot wait to get that fence line up so the cows cannot hide down near the creek. They will be stuck in the field away from water. We may need to build some form of three sided, roofed enclosure so the cows can shelter the babies. I will have to consult the wife and mother-in-law for design guidance. I have enough left over 2×8 and 1×12 to make a wooden structure that looks like all of our other outbuildings. I even have some leftover old metal roofing that I can install so it slants toward the hillside so you won’t see it from the houses.

The sheep are so pregnant it is painful to look at them. Every morning we go out expecting to find 8-12 lambs on the ground and every morning we are disappointed. I told Annmarie they were all going to come on Christmas Day and I will have to get the turkey in the oven before helping her corral all the new moms and babies. Today I switched gates around and set up the momma/baby area. I moved a feeder in there for them and filled it with alfalfa. This caused me some problems after the sheep figured out I had the good hay in the momma area. I had to manhandle three ewes to get them out of the area and away from the feeder. I did forget to move one inside gate to allow access to the outside baby area. I will need to bring over some more straw for that area anyways. The goal is to have it all ready so on baby day you just have to toss them in. If you have to do all the setup also its a very long and painful process.

Our 6×8 foot greenhouse came in the mail also. I am going to put it in the orchard after I make a concrete footing for it. If I don’t do that the wind will blow it away. I was going to set it on some loose bricks but after this week there is no way I am going to not attach it permanently with some heavy bolts weighted down with some concrete!

Catch up time inside

Winter should be here soon, even though the grass is still green. I have moved on to inside projects. It’s after Thanksgiving so it is time to give up outside things. I did sneak in an hour this morning adding a new hook above the sheep doors so I could run a bungee cord over it and stiffen the doors in the middle. I need to get a picture of it now and everyone will understand why we spend $35/year on bungee cords. The cords hold our feeders up to the walls and each other also.

Today I worked on our hall closet. We bought a special tool to drill holes into the walls so we could add movable shelves. I figured out how to make them work today and have spent two days sanding oak plywood for the shelves. I had two extra sheets of oak from the cabinets I made a few years ago. I am even going to face the front edge with some leftover edging from the air return. Tomorrow I will glue on the facing then stain it in the evening. The big problem is I took the door off when we laid new tile on the floor. I cannot seem to find the door. I have been searching for months. It may have ended up on a burn pile…

We had prime rib cut from our beef this year. We have always made it into steak in the past but decided to try our own. It was amazing!! I took a picture below before I started adding the dry rub. It is so much leaner than what you get at the store and we cook it in a salt coffin low and slow and it was the best prime rib we have had in a long time and it didn’t cost us $85. There is one more and I am thinking about cooking it on the table top Traeger grill we got this summer. I should probably practice with brisket first before I attempt the prime rib.

Annmarie had been talking to me about installing a half door going into her craft room. She has mentioned it several times but this week I had a free day so I just went out to the old house and dug around until I found an old door that was wide enough. The door was not perfectly proportioned and one panel was larger than the other. I decided that I did not want to have to move the door handle as this was going to be painful. So I measured the height I wanted and just sawed the door off at that height. This left two sticky up parts on each side. So I popped the leftover panel piece out with some pliers and a hammer. Then I beat on the scrap piece until I was able to pull it the top molded part of the door. I then glued the side of that piece and beat it in to the top opening back into the old grooves. Viola, a half door! I had to shave off 2.5 inches off of one side and then chisel in some spots for old hinges I found in a drawer. img_6565It took me another 2 hours to hang the door as no door, no matter how small is ever easy to hang. I had to remove the hinges twice and chisel them deeper into the wood. My tolerances were only 1/8″ and that was a little too tight. I thought I would just attach the latch part into the wall and I would be done! This is were you realize 5 hours into the job that you used the top part of the door and the latch is backward and you don’t want to change the swing side of the door. So now I will be buying a sliding latch to go on the front of the door to keep it closed. The best part of this is that I drilled a hole into the door casing 11 years ago when I was running new electrical wire. It was an accident and I have meant to fill it for years. I will now be using that hole as a receptacle for the new sliding lock I am putting on the half door! Maybe I was planning for this eventuality and did not even realize it myself.

Winter is almost here

Well, I can no longer say that Winter is not coming. It has frozen three times this week and we have had to turn our propane stove on. Last night when we went to bed, Annmarie wanted to open opposing windows wide open! I was freezing to death, so I moaned and groaned until she agreed to crack both windows only. It took me 20 minutes to get warm before I could fall asleep. I am putting another blanket at the foot of the bed just to add another layer over my feet!

Yesterday was errand day for me. I took a drive over to Hermiston to pickup our pig we swapped for lambs. The hanging weight on the pig was 199#. I brought three boxes home of frozen deliciousness. Our freezers were full but I had a bunch of frozen cherries from last year and the chickens are now eating those. I managed to get the whole pig into the freezer after clearing out the cherries, bacon before fruit!!! We had one pork belly turned into side pork. We have never done this before but we both like side pork and wanted to give it a try. You have to do the whole thing so we ended up with 7 pounds of side pork. As we had sausage this morning for breakfast Annmarie inquired if it was the new pig. I told her we had to eat the old pig first but I did get out a package of side pork for Sunday morning!

Annmarie is doing yoga 6 of 7 mornings as soon as she wakes up. I am on the “gonna workout” plan. The dogs have all learned that the yoga mat is a “no go” zone. Annmarie is not to be disturbed if she is on the mat and the dogs don’t get to step on it. It was not very hard to teach all three of them this rule. Yesterday, while running errands I had to pickup a package at the post office. It was some new yoga tights and dresses Annmarie had gotten on sale. This morning she told me there was a “no go” rule for me also after I violated the yoga zone.

We have had dumpster now for four weeks and have managed to fill it every week. I am hopeful this week that I will get the glass windows out of the lamb shed and break them into the dumpster. This was the sole reason for getting the dumpster in the first place. Annmarie keeps reminding me that if we can fill it for weeks on end maybe we should have gotten one sooner? It takes some concerted effort to keep filling it as I don’t just have a pile ready to go but I think we only have 1-2 weeks left before I will have them remove it. That will have gotten rid of 10-12 yards of trash.

The new barn kitty is still hanging out in the barn. It is a fixed adult black and white cat. Still in the barn and doing well. We feed the barn cats on a regular basis and it is settling right in. I did hear one big howling cat fight this week emanating from the barn but it settled down after a couple of minutes and we have seen the new kitty and our orange kitty both since then.

The chickens do not like daylight savings time either. This week I noticed that some of the chickens were not going into the coop at night. I opted to allow natural selection to occur, only the smart shall survive. Now, I have not seen a predator around but they are always there and yep I was right. Thursday we spotted a suspicious lump out on the back hillside visible from the kitchen window. The magpies were swarming it so it was pretty obvious. I went out and sure enough it was a chicken carcass. Imagine my not surprise when I went out to get eggs last night and every chicken was inside the coop and protected behind the automatic chicken door.

The cows are now getting fed on a weekly basis. Luckily, we have some big bales left this year. They are super handy to feed as I just have to push one or two out to the cows. I still need to get the tire fixed on the small pickup bed trailer as that is what I am going to hook up to the tractor to feed the small bales.

We are putting the sheep in every night now. The first four evenings we had to use the dogs but now if we go out after dark the sheep have already put themselves into the barn. We just give them a little feed at night as a reward. They are not starving as half a bale is enough for a reward and they leave some in the feeders. We are so happy with the new ram, he is super calm. We have decided that he only gets scratched under the chin so that we are not trying for dominance by reaching for the top of his head.

Winter is coming soon

This morning when the sun rose fall officially announced her presence. The large cottonwood trees in the front were shedding leaves by the 100s in the wind, it was quite impressive. I attempted to get a picture with actual leaves in the air but did not manage it. Today was my day off of work and I had a nice breakfast with a friend and then went to D and B to buy the rest of my grass seed for the upper 8 acre field. It was all gone!! I made them look in the computer and there was none left. I should have bought all they had the week before! I knew I should have but thought I was close and then ended up using more seed than I had planned. I still should have just bought all they had, it was on sale! I then had to make a few phone calls to get information on a local source. I ended up getting 200# of seed from Mckennon station for $644. They told me it was supposed to rain on Sunday so I really need to get this seed in the ground. I was just heading home when the powder coating place called for the second time.

I turned around and headed to Hermiston to pickup the mailbox holders. They turned out very nice and will not corrode any more. We just need to get a white mailbox now. Donna already has a black mailbox to go onto her black holder. I just need to cut the wooden bases for the mailboxes to mount them onto the holders. They are still very heavy! I will need the tractor to get them out of the back of the pickup.

When I went out to start planting seeds in the upper field I noticed cows on the back hillside, they are not our cows. Annmarie called all the neighbors when she got home. She thinks she may have found out whose they are and have called and left a message. I am going to have to figure out how wide the upper gate opening is and attach a couple of gates up there to keep the cows out.

The upper prime field I planted last week is sprouting quite nicely. My hope is I can get the seed in the next field, it will rain and the seed will sprout and grow for a couple of weeks before winter moves in for the long haul.

I managed to walk out and spread seed over about 40% of the field and managed to run the tractor over it to press it into the ground. The rain did not wait for Sunday. I should have brought a jacket, the cold rain made my hands turn into icicles. I had to turn on my headlights to finish covering the last of the seed on the ground.

Tomorrow we are going to have to sort sheep first thing and then kill the three whethers we had saved. I hope to be back at the planting by noon.