Is 107 hot for Oregon?

Well it was time to get back at some outside work, the real problem is my timing is totally dependent on when I have time away from my paying job.  So when the weather person predicts that it will be 107 F during the day I still plan on working as I have time.  This is more of a needs based time decision and not a will it be convenient type of decision.  Mr Professional and I were at it by 0630 and spent some time cleaning off vehicles, gathering all the needed tools and filling the tractor up with hydraulic fluid.  Now that we use the hydraulic takeoffs there is some inherent amount of leaking with making the connections.  The tractor moved and the bucket was amazing after we got the hydraulic levels corrected.  We are still trying to organize things in the machine shed.  It will take another month of moving things out from the old house to get everything settled into its new home in the machine shed.

Mr Professional and I went down to the feed field and tore out the spring fence crossing. The old cross fencing up by the apple tree had already been removed earlier in the week.  That new section of fence parallels the ditch instead of crossing it twice.  We hand dug three holes for reused railroad ties.  I also want to add in a rock crib on the East side of the water.  We made a triangle out of 2×8 and tossed all our loose metal pieces, wires and fencing wire into the center and will fill it all with rocks.  We did not have time to get rocks today.  We added an H brace and then used an upper and lower cable strung between the posts to create  a breakaway crossing.  When the water and garbage pile up on the up water side it will cause a dam.  This creates pressure on the fence and the lower clips are breakaway clips and they will spread and break allowing the panel to be lifted off of the ground.  The upper part of the panel is attached permanently to another cable locking the two posts together.  It took us about four hours to get it all apart and back together.  I had to use a scoop of precious gravel.  I have a small pile left and have had no luck from two different suppliers to get gravel delivered out to the house.

 

When we pulled up I set my coffee and speaker up on the H brace and spent about 10 minutes feeding apples to the cows.  No one could get to the apples that are falling on our side of the fence.  I was choosing our music selection and the bull really wanted me to give him more apples.  The long sleeve shirts are what I normally wear during the summer but it is essential when it is super hot outside.  Music selection is important as I don’t want to listen to country music, I prefer girl singers or Disco.
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Predator wars on again

Yesterday I got a late start and started mowing the fields at 0630.  I had plans to get out of bed at 0500 but that just did not happen.  I needed to mow the bottom four fields as they were getting covered in cheat grass and weeds.  The fields do better with a mow job.  I will spray them in a week or two.  I have a new seat for the tractor but I keep losing the bolts out of it.  I have lost two already.  I need some lock tight to go on the threads.  

The cows were hanging out by the school house and since I was on the tractor they just ignored me.  This allowed me to get a good picture and discover that Annmarie was right we do have new calves!  I found a second brand new calf.  So fairly soon we will need to run the cows back into the barn lot and tag and band.  I did not check to see whether they were a boy or girl.  I stopped around 1000 to load up 2.5 yards of prime sheep poop compost for a friend.  They left some fresh blueberries and an amazing sour raspberry jam.  The jam is so good I will need to get the recipe.  I managed to go all day until 1600 mowing without overheating the tractor!

I attribute this to two things, first thing was I blew all of the dust out of the radiator, inside engine compartment and even opened up the dust filter and cleaned off both filters.  The second thing was I figured out how to get the mower to ride parallel to the ground by lowering the back wheel allowing the cut grass to get out of the mower blades and not bogging the tractor down. This allowed me to go all day without killing the tractor once.  

I finished mowing around the machine shed today and then spent 45 minutes cleaning off the dust and weeds from the tractor and mower with water.  I want to finish pulling out the old flooded fence in the barn lot tomorrow.  I will need the box blade put on so it adds weight to the back of the tractor giving me the necessary traction.  

I also spent another 45 minutes cleaning out the back of the pickup with water so it is neat.  Annmarie wants me to pick up the antique rocker we purchased a couple of months ago and I need a clean bed for that to happen.  The real challenge will be keeping the pickup clean until then.  

The manure trade involved a young 3 month old rooster residing at our place.  He was running around with the hens yesterday.  I have not seen him at all today.  I am not sure he survived the night.  He probably did not go into the coop last night and is raccoon food.  I have another coworker who is looking to get rid of a couple of roosters, it may be time to give her a call.  The predator wars are definitely back on!

I have started clearing the lavender area again with a shovel.  It takes longer than I realize every time.  I spent three hours on it today and it needs another three hours.  Unfortunately, I did not water all the little plants consistently and there is some significant lavender die off.  I am back to watering every other day and we should know in a week how many actually survived.  This is totally my fault for not watering them more frequently.  

 

The needed but dreaded sorting of animals

It had to come, the animals all needed to be worked and sorted but it is always a painful task.  Making matters worse is the fact that we decided to work the sheep and the cows in the same day and to complicate it even further the barn lot flood damage has not been repaired.  Annmarie went down stream with Mouse to push the cows up to the house.  They were doing great, one of the cows then the herd tried to bolt around and Mouse headed them off and got them turned around.  Five minutes later one of the cows decided she was a greyhound and took off, Mouse was unable to get ahead of her, he was able to catch up to her but ran alongside her and could not get her to turn.  This caused all of the cows to break and Slim and I and Zeke had to go down to the school house to help bring the cows back up.  This event seemed to crush Mouse’s ego and he then became a terror towards the cows and would not listen.  He was determined to get a few licks and bites in before we quit working the cattle.  Despite a couple of warnings he persisted in ignoring us until it was pointed out to him that he was not the boss by me.  He kept ignoring Annmarie, which is unusual as he prefers to work for her and not me.  It took us an hour to get the cows up into the corral.  The bull and boys were just on the other side of the gate.  We needed to pour insecticide over the cows and to tag and band Cupid who is another boy.  The really screwy part is that we thought there were two calves that needed to be addressed.  Nope, one of the calves managed to rip its ear tag out.  I had to grab its ear and find the hole to make sure.  We sorted the cows and took our original green tag cow and three more heifers off of the main herd then let the bull, the steers and our little bull in with the the rest of the cows.  The little bull is only six months old and the cows are in heat so by the time he is ready to breed them they will all be pregnant.  We are going to eat him this winter.  Cupid doesn’t have the true white heart on his forehead like Valentine does.  I took more pictures of Valentine while he was in the corral.

 

I am going to have to work on the corral next year.  When I built it I had talked about installing thread all bars between the railroad ties in the chute.  I decided that it would stop me from walking down the corral on top which I like to do.  The cows have spread the chute far enough apart that my two internal gates are no longer latching and we had to chain the chute exit to stop them from pushing out.  I may just use cable and bolts with an inline tightener and some thread locking compound so it doesn’t come loose easily.  I will shrink the chute back up another three inches.  I won’t lay boards over the chute as it would form a tunnel that would cause the animals some consternation.  The four separated cows will go up onto the Upper Prime field.  They have lots of food and fresh water.  This will get them two fences away from the bull.  The old cow will just become hamburger and stew meat.  Annmarie and Donna have both been victims of this attacking cow and they will be very happy when she is gone.

 

Slim was helping us with the cows and then the sheep.  The sheep were a lot harder.  First, we did not know how many we had, I assumed we had about 105 and Annmarie thought we had 120, in reality we had 112.  Getting to the number 112, that took us sorting the sheep five different times and four people counting.  On the plus side, both Annmarie and I had the count right the first time but Slim and Mr Professional had different numbers so we kept counting until  the numbers stabilized and matched.  It’s hard to sell what you cannot quantify.  I realize this sounds easy but we spent almost two and a half hours sorting sheep.  We thinned the herd again hard this year.  It was time to do another heavy cull, we do this about every 5-7 years.  The first time we sorted off breeding ewes we had 48!  Our ram has a hurt foot and is kinda fat, he needs fewer females so we sorted ewes until we had 34 ewes and 1 ram.  This herd went into the upper prime pasture with the cull heifer cows.  We have 77 sheep to sell, 28 of them are cull ewes and we are keeping 9 lambs for us and for local customers.   We will put them into the orchard after I finish getting the hay put up.  The rest of the cows went down into the lower bottom, winter feed field. It has peas growing in it but the thistles and cheat grass are still present in significant quantity.  It will not be hay this year but the peas are good for the soil and good for the cows so it is a win regardless.

Slim and I then went onto fixing creek crossings to keep the sheep in their allotted space. Mr Professional went to go bale the hay in the orchard while the Future NASCAR driver worked on getting lawn beat down with a weed eater.  It is out of control and our mower needs more work.  The flooding caused some severe erosion in Stewart creek.  The picture on the right shows the ripples in the stream bed, every one of those ripple edges is part of a volcanic solid rock shelf, those were not visible prior to the flooding.  It just tore the earth away until it hit something solid.  We tried to move the stump out of the creek but its too heavy.  We cut branches off and once the creek dries out I will get in there with the chain saw and cut it up.  We needed the branches moved so we could drop the panels back down into the creek.  A new cable was installed across the top of the fence from rock crib to rock crib.

We then went down and tore out the panels and fencing from down by the Mother-in-law’s house.  I built a new fence alongside the spring in the orchard so this small fifty foot section was no longer needed.  We took down all the fence and salvaged the panels crossing the spring to use down below at the creek crossing.  The stream widened the bank by at least four feet down by our other crossing so we needed a couple more panels to bridge the gap.  I have also started to install my horse shoe latches at the gates.  Once we had that done it was time to call it quits as it was almost 1700.

Slim beat me to the house as Annmarie, I and Mr Professional were discussing a weed and trying to determine what it was so she called it quitting time and headed out.  She did send me a text but I had her take a picture of the lower creek crossing as my phone was dead.  LOL.  The plan is for her to come out and help shear alpaca next week.  .

 

 

 

Haying adventure begins

Yesterday we decided to get ready for haying.  Unfortunately, there are always things to do on the farm and we had decided that this was the weekend to work animals.  On a good day this is complicated.  On a bad day it is worse and at the best of times it will stress any relationship.  Any one who thinks they live in marital bliss just needs to come work animals with their spouse and they still have to get the animal work completed no matter how hard or complicated or how many times you have to walk back down to the other end of the pasture!  All in all it was not bad, we had to use the dogs on the sheep even though they started in the ram pasture.  They would not go through the gate into the back barn area and then they would not go into the barn.  The dogs did great, Annmarie runs Mouse and I run Zeke at the same time, the dogs are trained to only follow commands after their names are said plus Mouse does better with Annmarie and Zeke works with me better.  Don’t get me wrong, all the dogs like Annmarie better as she lets them up on the couch for hugs.  Zeke is just used to the curmudgeon approach to sheep commands and Mouse is fairly sensitive and takes it personal.

We set the barn up before pushing the sheep in, they are finally getting used to the sorting chute as a group.  Making them go both ways through it helps them understand it is part of the routine.  Once we had the sheep inside and started taking a good look at them and who was going to be culled we opted to wait another 30 days.  In one month we will be able to wean all the lambs and we can cull the 10 ewes for sale.  We have 10 that are old and scraggly and they need to go.  So they got to run back out the chute to freedom.

The cows were next, Annmarie and I walked down to the schoolhouse as the cows saw us coming and ran in the opposite direction.  We typically don’t use the dogs when there are new born calfs on the ground as the cows just want to chase the dogs and not move where we want.  We got them into the ram pasture after three attempts.  Luckily they didn’t start really getting stubborn until we were up by the house and we had a closed gate stopping them from running backdown to the schoolhouse.  We tried multiple times to get them to go into the back barn lot and they would not do it.  I hollered and eventually Annmarie agreed to let me use the dogs and her and Sarah exited the area and went into the yard (behind the fence) to watch.  We forgot to do a video.  The dogs and I pushed the cows near the gate, then Annmarie came out and the dogs pushed them through the gate.  We had to call the dogs into the back barn area to get the cows the rest of the way in.  We sorted into two groups, Annmarie sprayed fly stuff on them and then Annmarie and Sarah caught the newborn little calf girl and I put in the ear tag.  Stupid ear tag pliers kept misbehaving, making the two women on top of the calf holler at me.  I got it!  I have offered to do the pinning but we have discovered that I have the hand strength needed to make ear tag and banded work and the women cannot do it so I am relegated to the easy tasks.  We are missing one calf.  The problem with this is two fold.  We know there was a cougar at the neighbor’s house 4 days ago.  The other issue is the calf is only 4 days old and the cows will hide them.  So we could of just missed it.  We will keep an eye out and see what happens in the next 14 days.

Mr Professional and I worked on the sickle mower for the tractor yesterday.  It is brand new and owners manuals are not the same as operators manuals, nor are they assembly manuals.  Turns out we had to tighten almost all the bolts, two leaky hydraulic connections (there are only two) and move a part they put on wrong.  It then took us a couple more hours to figure out how to get it to adjust right per the instruction manual.   We managed to bend a weld on a stop that we still cannot figure out how it functions, so it will need to be welded back in place eventually.  By this time it was time for lunch, he went home for lunch and I even went inside and ate (I normally skip lunch).

After lunch I went out to mow the nearest field, Upper Prime (I really need a sheet with all the names on it for the fields as I occasionally change the names!).  This field was solid cheatgrass last year and I used it to practice with the hay equipment.  It is still about 75% cheatgrass so it will again be practice.  It will be filler food for the horses and cows.  I will look into spraying it down mid summer and reworking it in the spring with peas.  Something to start killing off the cheatgrass.  It takes me about an hour an acre to cut and it took some practice to figure out how to use the sickle mower and get it to function optimally.  Speed is the key, you must go fast so the grass rows up or it bunches up and clogs the tines.  Also, cutting will have to be done in the afternoon as wet spots at the base of the grass gum it up dramatically.  I had a few wet spots that I ended up butchering multiple directions in an attempt to get them cut.

The Upper Prime Squared field (next one beyond first, away from house) looked great!  It had about 25% with cheat grass but the rest looked good and about 50% looked good enough to sell.  The same problem here, I encountered three wet spots out in the field.  Luckily, they were not muddy but it was highly evident that the surface water was more plentiful.  We had sprayed for thistles but had only used 2-4-D and the thistles were shriveled up but not dead, they got put into the hay.   Again, we will spray as soon as we get the hay put up.

The real problem is it is supposed to rain Wednesday and Thursday.  I knew this but did not want the cheat grass to get more of a hold so went ahead and cut anyways.  We will turn on Monday and hopefully start baling on Tuesday night.  It is going to be close.

I tried to get done before it got dark, I even held off turning on the tractor lights until it was not possible to do without them.  I need to down grade the front light still so it doesn’t pull as much juice from the battery as my big one.  I have one that is about 1/3 power that I am going to install.  I will leave the big one mounted just in case I need it, I can just unplug my other and plug it in.

There are lots of rooster pheasants all over the place!  I did not see a single hen, but I saw roosters strutting all over the place with no regard for their safety.  I saw a thousand voles at least.  The dogs would have loved it but the sickle bar mower hidden in the grass does not make this an option for letting them run around.  No quail or foxes were spotted in 8 hours of mowing.  I did manage to eat my nuts and some Carmel popcorn while driving around in circles.  I got pretty good at moving the sickle bar and gaging how best to mow an area.

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Lucky ones

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Annmarie goes out in the mornings to do the chores and she is a much better kitty whisperer than am I.  This is a picture of our “barn kitty”.  We have 2-3 barn kitties but this one is the most elusive.  It is very hard to spot and runs at the sight of people.  It will now come out when she feeds it and lets her see it!  The fat orange barn kitty lets her pet it and I can even touch it now.  It looks like Garfield and kind of behaves that way also.

We have switched to feeding out of the other side of the barn.  The hay is of a better quality and we are using the lousy hay for bedding and filler.  We are using around 10 bales a day now.  I hope we can compost most of the lousy hay this spring and kill the weed seed that way.

I ordered a new battery for the side by side (buggy) and next week will be installing the new battery and trickle charger so the buggy will be ready for weed spraying this spring.   I may have to steal one of the barn portable lights so I can see to work on wiring the machine shed after my paying job is over in the evenings.  If I spend 1.5 hours a night I should be done in a week.

We are still lambing.  It has been ten days since I posted the last updated birth statistics.  Since that time we have had 8 more ewes deliver, for 14 more lambs of which 13 are still alive and 12 of those babies are sets of twins.

Umatilla County has had record setting runoff in the Umatilla River causing water levels to be the highest ever recorded in history.  Large chunks of towns are under water and at least 6 bridges have been damaged and closed.  We have it better than last year.  None of our fields have flooded and our back runoff creek is already lower than usual for this time of year after we had the flash runoff on Wednesday.  I wish those people luck and the perseverance to hang on and build back up.  This is really going to strain the ability of our county to get projects completed due to the sudden demand for contractors to fix all of this water damage.

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  • Total lambs born (dead or alive):  42
  • # of singles:  7
  • # of twins:  13
  • # of triplets:  3
  • Stillborn lambs:  1
  • # died without a tag:  5
  • # bummered:  3
  • # ewes delivered:  23
  • # lambs alive on property:  33
  • Birth rate (alive & dead included):  183% (goal>150%)
  • Ewe productivity after 1 week (live lambs on farm):  143% (goal >125%)
  • Lamb success (live lambs on farm after 1 week):  79% (max 100%)

We have had 23 ewes deliver their babies but it looks like at least 10 more need to have babies.  We really need to to run everyone through our chutes and do an individual count of all involved parties so we know exactly how many animals there are out in the barn.

Our three cow carcass weights were 386#, 338#, 325#, we shoot for 330# so they were right there.  We are going to hold our price to $2.50 lb/hanging weight for all of 2020 again.

The chickens are making me crazy, we have 32 now and the babies keep trying to decide whether to lay or not.  We were getting 7 eggs a day and are now down to 2/day.  I keep hoping that as soon as the weather warms up the chicks will take off laying and we will be buried in eggs.