Machine shed ready

Friday we spent the day figuring out how to get all of the hay equipment put back together and into the machine shed. We have an old chain lift that is now hanging and oiled with 200# of tractor weights hanging from it in hopes that it will break loose. I beat on the pin a few times with a hammer but could get no movement out of the lift either up or down. I spray WD40 on it every couple of weeks. It would be nice to have something that could move a thousand pounds without any difficulty. We did manage to get all the equipment mostly put back together. The mower is missing a slender nut on a pivotal bolt. I kept doing a parts search and writing down the id labels so I can place an order for spare parts. I have 15 items I want replacements on hand so it can be fixed immediately. I had gone to my parent’s house and picked up my father’s toolbox. He was a machinist when he was alive so I thought he would have a full set of metric tools. I was wrong, he had a lot of tools and micrometers and dial calipers and inside calipers and then a ton of English tools of all sizes but not a single metric tool in the entire chest! I will be moving my large tool box out of the old house into the machine shed. The plan is to get all of the English tools into the large box and convert my father’s into a metric only box. Annmarie had me order black anodized aluminum business cards and we are going to use the laser engraver to make parts drawer labels for both toolboxes. I will epoxy the labels onto the tool boxes so I can quickly find the needed tools. We were able to get all three pieces of hay equipment and the sprayer lined up in one bay. The end bay is for the tractor to stay out of the weather and a pallet sized area is needed for the cultivator/seeder to live. We had to use the pallet and screw down some wooden supports for the reciprocating mower. It was a little tippy with the blade in the upright stored position. We even placed them in the order they would be needed in the spring! Hoss made a holder for the extra netting to be stored. I opted to keep it in the box to minimize the dirt collection. We did get the baler together and moved but I still cannot figure out how to install the new roll of netting. It is not intuitive at all. I will have to call and get instructions on how to use both pieces of equipment, the rake is very easy compared to everything else. My dad’s toolbox is brown and the small upper part is bolted to the lower part forming one unit. I wanted to put them on a pallet so they did not sink into the gravel. I really need to get some more ear muffs to install near the anvil. Its kinda loud when you start beating on metal. I also need a trash can in here as I have a pile of trash on the floor currently.

Afterwards, I fired up the pressure washer from mom’s and started in on the fence. I figured I could do the whole fence with one tank of gas. Nope, I will need 3-4 tanks of fuel to get the entire fence cleaned off. Annmarie tells me that I am going to end up scraping some of the fence by hand as the pressure washer is only getting about 80% of the loose paint. We are going to use the same paint but this one only lasted 4 years from the first time I painted it. I am going with better preparation the time around will make the paint job last longer. I just slapped paint over it the first time after installing it. I had to move the cars after I blew paint, dirt and water onto them. Annmarie wanted to know what the finger streaks on her car were from. I figured if I did not get the wet paint off of her car it would dry and stick semipermanently. I did not want that to happen!

Mowing is not working

Saturday Hoss and I started out the morning by cleaning up around the machine shed. We managed to get all the junk up and in its proper place. We then hooked up the rotary mower to the tractor and I went up to the upper 7 acre field to clean up next to the cross fence. Hoss said that he could not get to the wire to tighten and attach due to all the weeds.

I ran the mower alongside the fence and got as close as I could. There is a hidden ditch near one end that I had to avoid so I did not tip the tractor over. Since I was already down this way I decided to try and mow the 7 acre field. It is one of the fields I want to plant in grass. The weeds are 4-7 feet tall and are very thick. It really needs some cleansing fire, but I am afraid to burn anything as I think it will get out of control quickly. This limits me to the rotary mower. The mower did not get choked out because all of the weeds are so dry. They don’t act like a rope when they get under the mower deck. The real problem is all the seeds and fuzz that the weeds put off clogs the air intakes on the tractor which cause the tractor to overheat.

I ended up overheating the tractor in under two hours of continuous mowing. I really need lights on the tractor so I can mow at night! I will do some research and figure out what kind and how to mount them on the tractor.

The middle field we are fencing in now does have some grass in it, I just need to get the field enclosed so the sheep and cows can get up here.

That hurts

This Saturday we decided to tag and band the lambs. There was much discussion (arguing) as to how many lambs we actually had and wether or not the coyotes had been picking them off. Annmarie shot one Friday night and I missed one later in the day Saturday, so we know they are close to the barn lot. We opted to not use the dogs to push the sheep from the barn lot into the barn. We wanted the sheep to remain calm and just mosey on into the barn. Well they were calm, way too calm. We finally had to get shaker sticks to encourage them the last little bit of the way into the barn. Once in the barn we put up three gates to shrink the available area for them to roam in and I grabbed the tag and band supplies. I sit down on the floor of the barn with the supply bin on my left and my coffee to the right. The coffee didn’t last five minutes before some random sheep knocked it over repeatedly. I finally had to give up on having coffee during this labor intensive endeavor (I spent the entire time on my backside while Annmarie did the lamb catching!). We ended tagging 25 lambs and 2/3 of those were boys. We still have had more girls than boys lambs born on the farm since we started over 10 years ago. We have just been increasing the ear tag numbers every year sequentially and we started with the number one.

After the sheep were done we decided to work the cows. This required closing gates and setting up the corral for the cows. I was in the barn getting fly spray for the cows when I heard this bone chilling scream coming from the corral area. Both Hoss and myself were in the barn and we took off for the corral. I thought Annmarie was being mauled and stomped by the bull or one of the three steer in the corral. Nope, the asshole of the bee verse, a yellow jacket, had stung her on the hand and she had responded by trying to verbally assault the offending party at the top of her lungs. She went inside to treat the fire in in her hand after I agreed to find and kill the offending party. I had placed an old sheep horn in the corral fencing and it made a great place to build a Yellow jacket nest. I gave Hoss the spray and told him to go kill all the offending parties. He did and then we sprayed the cows with fly spray, we had to let the four cows out of the chute after the bull and another started fighting. We ended up letting the bull go out to the other female cows. He has not been near the house since rejoining the female persuasions.

Hoss and I then went up to the Upper Prime Field and finished installing wood stays along the creek side of the new fence. We used 100 of the 200 I had just purchased the night before. On the way out of the field we stopped and patched the new cross fence in six places. The last little section of fence near the new T -brace and new gate needed to be reworked. Hoss had not stapled the fence to the T-brace, once we did that a wire needed moved down to just above the woven wire. A few more wooden stays got installed and the fence is now sheep proof! The new fence, a section of the old fence has 6 strands and no woven wire. It may need some more T-posts and wooden stays but for now it should keep the sheep inside.

Hoss will start in on the next pasture on Monday, I want him to start in on the wheat field side and we will work our way around the field counter clockwise. I figure it will take 2-3 weeks to get it done, no more than 4 weeks hopefully.

Fence repair and build continues

I sent Hoss up into the upper prime pasture to look for the Bull’s escape route. I told him to go to the upper spring crossing as he loves ducking under the crossings. Yep, that is what he did. Hoss did not think he was capable of going under the fence.

The crossing should be Bull proof now, he should not be able to slide the panel up over his back with that 2×6 in his way.

Hoss has been working on getting all of the H braces secured and built. Once this is done we will be able to start stretching fence and getting it secured appropriately.

I went up and helped for a short while on Friday morning and we we got the back cross fence out of the weeds and started securing the bottom to the posts and T posts. I remembered this time to check and see how Hoss was doing with the T-post clip application. The helpers usually need to be shown how to install them. This was true on Friday also. I got him straightened out and we started attaching the bottom two clips through the dip. Once those are secured we will tighten the fence some more and get it all up. Hoss will be back on Monday to get the odds and ends caught up and then back at the fencing.

The freight company texted me on Friday afternoon to drop off the new hay equipment but even though I called immediately they did not answer. I will call first thing Monday morning so we can get the hay equipment delivered. I will get it hooked up and get about another 3 acres cut! I may get another 3-5 tons of nice grass. Hoss is going to clean off the loaner equipment so we can get it back on the pallets and get it sent back to the company this week.

We need to use bull Alcatraz

Annmarie called me on Wednesday, while I was at work to let me know that the bull was out. When I went to answer her call I noticed that I had a text on my phone from a neighbor saying our bull was out. Her call was that he was out and she had managed to get him into a neighbor’s corral and needed me to bring the horse trailer.

So I drove home and got Hoss to back up to the horse trailer. We have not used the trailer since we bought it two years ago. We knew it would be needed. Hoss and I had to unload the wood out of the trailer before we could use it. It had a flat tire and the spare was flat. Luckily, I knew there was a tire pump in the pickup we just needed to get there to use it.

We were able to back right up to the corral and use two panels to make an alleyway and the bull just went right into the trailer. Usually the bull pushes through a creek crossing or gets through the wires. Hoss will look at the fence line after they get the bull put away. I convinced Annmarie that we should put the bull up with the steers in the upper prime pasture as we just fixed that fence. I went back to work as they unloaded the bull.

Annmarie called me again at work in the early afternoon to say that the bull was out again!! This time he had gone the other way and headed up the creek. Annmarie headed up with the pickup and dogs to push him our way. I headed home early. I should have stopped at the house and change shoes, but I knew that Annmarie wanted to get done as our company had just arrived and she had left them alone at the house.

As I was driving up the gravel road looking for Annmarie I called her and she hollered stop I see you as I drove down the road. She had been with the uncooperative bull and the two deaf dogs for over 45 minutes. One would not know that she was to be ordained this week as a priest!! Mouse thought that the only way to move the bull was to grab his tail or bite his heels. I ended up having to walk up to the bull and take over the dogs as they had gotten ahead of Annmarie. I got him down to the road and let him out onto it. He started ambling home and I went and got my car. I could see Annmarie coming off the hill but the bull was going out of sight. Once Annmarie saw the car moving a steady stream of yelled comments began and I ended up stopping, getting out and chasing the bull on foot while Annmarie drove the car. The dogs, I and the car pushed him back to top of our property and he turned down and started headed home. We got him into the corral and locked him in. He will be staying there until Sunday so we don’t have to chase him down again. It took us two hours this time to get him.

The next day the bull had a pretty bad limp. He has a bad left front foot and when he walks too much it bothers him. He was not getting any sympathy from either one of us its his own fault.

Posts are mostly in the ground

Hoss came out today and we worked on setting posts. Now Annmarie got back yesterday and her list was quite a bit different than mine. Since I needed to get him started we opted for loading up the back of the pickup with gravel and driving up to set posts. I set all my wooden posts in gravel now and tamp it down with a metal breaker bar. The breaker bar weighs ten pounds and it is painful to use but the post is solid when I am done. We dug out dirt then placed the posts, I had forgotten my level so Hoss reminded me to use my IPhone with an app. Yep, it worked and all the posts got set without us having to make a special trip back for an old fashioned level.

On the 18th post, second load of gravel, my left forearm started to cramp. I was using the breaker bar and Hoss was shoveling gravel. We started alternating early on as the poor guy doing breaker bar is working a lot harder than the shovel guy. My forearm just said “we are done” and would not allow me to use the breaker bar anymore. So instead we went back down to the barn to do something else. Hoss was going to be here till 1600 so I might as well keep him busy.

I had fixed the crossing on Friday where the sheep were getting out. I really just need to move the fence line and take the water crossing out of the equation. It will take a solid 8 hours to tear out the old fence and install the new one. It’s on the list but not as high as the two upper fields.

We came down and fixed the barn floor. I took a saw and ripped off two inches in width off of the last board to be installed and we dropped it down into the opening. It left a 1/2″ gap on either side of the board but no lambs foot should be able to fall through. We then brought all the sorting chutes back into the barn and installed them. Since we were on a roll we tossed out fresh straw and cleaned up the milking area. We even made a trash run and cleaned out the trash. I have some trash left in the tack room still that will need to go out. I need to buy some large nails to install over by the windows so our temporary panels can hang neatly.

Annmarie had to bummer one of the new lambs last night. We are pretty sure its from our #1 ewe. She is our oldest herd member and she is skeletal thin after delivering twins. She just doesn’t pay close enough attention to the new lambs. The one Annmarie had to remove just couldn’t keep up. Her other lamb is tougher and more active so it manages to keep up with her. I don’t think she will live another year. We wandered the orchard and found another single lamb that had been born. I shared my cherries with the sheep and soon had 20 of them following me around the orchard. Annmarie was able to scratch on the ram after he came over looking for some attention. He is our second best ram ever.

Population boom

It has started again, the sheep are lambing. Of course Annmarie is out of town, but luckily all of the sheep but one were in the orchard. When I let the dogs out this morning I was pretty sure I heard a newborn lamb. I say this because they make a very distinct sound that only lasts a few days, after that their voice changes. It is odd but honestly you can hear newborn babies. I looked up on the hillside at the lone sheep who had snuck out of the orchard and she had at least one lamb, turns out she had twins. Hoss and I pushed her back into the orchard with another loner who made it out. They are crawling through the ditch. When it flooded this spring it lifted it out of the water. I will need to fix it tomorrow but I am going to have to put on my waders as my normal knee high boots are not going to keep me dry. Hoss and I also turned on water in the orchard and started to water the grass. We have not watered it at all this year. We then went out to finish digging all the post holes.

Hoss has been working on getting T-posts pounded into the ground and trying to finish the holes I started. It is too late in the season to be attempting new post holes in our ground. He has been filling the holes with water and digging out 2-4 inches every day. Today we tore it up and got every hole drilled that we needed. Some just required time, some needed finesse and some we had to dig out by hand. The tractor auger will sit on top of the clay but if you dig it by hand it will be much faster. We had to dig out five by hand. We have 24 done and ready for posts now. On Sunday we will fill the pickup with gravel and set as many posts as we can. I set all wooden posts with gravel now. They stay in place better and it cuts down on the weeds growing around them. Which makes it less likely for me to burn up the wooden post.

Hoss stated that yesterday he got stung 4-5 times by the yellow jackets in one particular place. The blackberry bushes were right up next to the fence location. He gave up. Today I took the tractor in there and shoved the bushes back five feet and knocked down the weeds. I did not get stung a single time. I think he was exuding fear.

We came back to the house to look at the hay mower. It needs more than a couple of bolts. I need to tear apart the cylinder, find the correct bolts, remove the broken bolts from the welded in place nuts straighten the blade arms and put it all back together. This is going to take a couple of days. I will need more tools.

Once I realized it was going to take more than a couple of hours we moved onto the next project. I decided to finally move the panels in the bull enclosure so that any animal can take itself to water. We had a trough initially and it worked for the horses but the sheep we had to water separately in buckets. So we moved a panel out into the channel and added two more. They were very hard to get unpinned and moved. The fence is incredibly strong. I will need to add in a gravel pathway so the animals do not sink into mud when getting a drink. I had 20 more yards of gravel delivered last week. I knew we would need it for the fence posts and the skinning pole. I will need at least five yards just to fill in under the skinning pole. I am looking forward to not having to work in the mud when skinning an animal.

We moved the horse trough down to chicken coop. I want to level a spot under the eaves of the old house so that the rain helps keep it filled and then I want to get goldfish! I think they can survive the winter. They are cheap and I miss having fish.

Zeke, our herding border collie, keeps getting out of the front yard. I was certain that he was jumping over one of our gates. He got out again today and ran into the upper fields to harass the wildlife. So I added new slats to the gate to make it too tall for him to leap. I then ran to the store for a quick errand knowing he was secure. When I got home he was outside the fence again. I have no clue how he is doing it. I am going to have to install our game camera up onto the trash can to watch the front fence and see where he is getting out. I suspect he is going over it I am just not sure where. Take my advice, do not teach your herding dog to get over, under, through every fence when herding because you are just creating a containment nightmare for yourself. Until we figure it out he goes on the overhead run now whenever we are not home.

We also installed some metal equipment rims in the old oak tree spot down at my Mother-in-laws today. I am not sure how it will be received so I am holding off on pictures until later.

After a solid 8 hours it was time to call it a day. I sat out in the rocking chair, drank some water and ate Sorbet! It was very good and incredible after a hot day. It was 90 degrees today. Our back creek is still running which is amazing. I suspect it to end by August.

The sheep are popping babies out everywhere. We had three sets of twins and at least one single born today. I called Annmarie and she said it was time. I thought they were all due in August. This means next week we have to get the barn functional so we can sort off the market animals and the new babies. The babies will need to be tagged and banded. We also need to track their mother and birth date! Since I could not get close today I will take out the binoculars tomorrow and I should be able to get tag numbers and quantities born. I will even use our new tracking software!