Beef or Turkey?

I went out to the old house to get some stew meat for dinner yesterday. I was going to be fencing all day and didn’t want to mess with something in the evening. I found beef soup bones and stew meat. I was going to just toss them in the slow cooker and remembered we had some frozen broth. I am trying to clean out the in house freezer. So I tossed in the frozen chunk of broth base and two packages of frozen beef, some spices and onions. I went outside and picked fresh carrots and dug up fresh potatoes. I cut up the carrots and washed up the potatoes. I set my phone alarm so I could come back to the house for lunch and toss it all into the slow cooker. When I came back at lunch time I realized that I had used turkey base! Annmarie and I had just had a discussion about me labeling frozen packages because I brought in two things from freezer and neither was labeled. I asked Annmarie and she didn’t know. She thinks one might be prime rib. I put it in the fridge to thaw out, I should be able to tell when it is no longer a solid lump. The stew was fantastic and no one noticed the discrepancy! Another win for mystery freezer food.

Our washing machine fabric softener dispenser stopped working last week. Annmarie wanted me to call the repairman but I figured I should dig into it first. I had to call the plumber to come fix our deep sink faucet. It runs continuously, he should be here some time this week to look at it. I tried tightening down the packing but it only worked for a little bit and now the handle moved 360 degrees and the leak is worse.

So I watched a You Tube video on how to clean out the fabric softener dispenser. WOW, it took me almost an hour to clean it out, I had to resort to using a tooth brush to get all the little nooks and crannies clean. It works now but I need to add that to my list, needs to happen more than every few years.

I went out and started putting woven wire up on the fence. I always forget how long it takes to put the clips on. They take forever and each T post gets 4 clips on the woven wire. I got 2/3 of the woven wire up and Tex came out in the late evening and got the last 1/3 up and top clipped to hold it in place. I will finish clipping it in place today and hopefully get the gates hung also. Then I can start marking out the next section of fencing tomorrow. I still have one more week of vacation.

I contacted the grant people and once the fence is finished they will come out and take pictures and get the supplies reimbursed.

Old man auger

Sunday, I got out early and started to work on drilling more post holes. My poor post hole auger is on its last leg. I swapped teeth around again so each side has one half decent tooth and one side its on the outside and the other inside. I was hoping between the two they could make some headway. It did work kinda. The holes took 20 minutes to dig. I had to keep changing the angle of the auger with the tractor to get the working teeth to dig in. I felt like an old man pushing steak around in his mouth to chew it up enough for swallowing! It was painful. I hope the tractor supply place has them on hand but we got all 19 holes dug out. We had to finish 5 by hand, one had a huge rock in it and the other was chock full of fist size rocks. My shear bolt did not break 1/4″ bolt but one of my auger support bolts 7/16 sheared off. I was unable to get the new bolt as the auger had shifted due to the other bolt bending. So I unbolted the other bolt and attempted to beat it out. It would not budge, but. I was able to install the new bolt. After the beating the nut would not go back on so I just put a new bolt in my tool carrier mounted on the tractor and told Tex we would replace it when it self extricates. It held up for 3 more holes.

It was a beautiful morning, overcast, not too hot, not too cold and I only needed a long sleeve shirt to be comfortable. This is necessary so that when you start working hard you can remove more clothing.

Tex had promised me he would be there in the morning as he had made a commitment. I have to say that at times I think teenagers are easier to deal with than early 20’s adults. Call it my personal experience bias but it is frustrating. Tex did not show up. I set a couple of posts and then went to set a gate post that Tex had dropped in its hole. It was too close, the hole needed to be moved back four inches. I could not pull the post out of the ground! I had seen him struggling with it from across the field on Saturday but I had not lifted a railroad tie yet. I should have known after getting slapped down by the fencing supplies on Saturday. I was attempting to remove the straps holding everything onto the trailer and four ties had shifted and were leaning onto the four gates running the length of the trailer. I was standing right next to the trailer, my shoulder next to the gates when I let the cross strap loose. Those ties dropped over and slammed the gate into my shoulder driving me to the ground. Luckily they did not leap off the trailer and body check me to the ground. I laid there sprawled out on the ground making sure I was still in one piece then used the tractor to pull the railroad ties off of the trailer. My two sudden potentially harrowing instances on the farm have come from shifting loads.

I had to use the tractor to pull the post out of the ground and then had cut the hole four more inches. The ground is still pretty dang hard and dry despite the green everywhere.

I hammered in the long stretch of T posts there is a slight curve in my line. I must need more practice but after averaging the number of hits required to drive in a single T post (15 smacks) I was unwilling to redo the entire section for a 5 inch arc. I will just pull the fence tighter. I knew we were working hard when my forearm started to cramp up from using the breaker bar and post hole driver. It feels like someone is pinching me with a hot pair of pliers. I love getting more “mature”.

Tex did show up at 1045 and worked till dark. He overslept, thought he had set an alarm. Like I said, teenagers may be easier. We made great progress and got all 19 railroad ties set in gravel and ready to go. They were so heavy that Tex made me lift my one side on every railroad tie we put in the ground! He was not going to move them alone at all. The very last two we almost had to use the tractor on they were so heavy.

Is it Winter yet?

Yesterday Tex came out and we did the cleanup and winterization stuff. There are still three hoses that need to be rolled up and put in the shed but the rest of the stuff is done. Tex got leaves washed off the low roof as they hold the moisture and can cause leaks. We got the front hillside planted with clover! I will be happy if only 50% of the seed takes off, anything to choke out the cheatgrass that is currently growing there. We had a talk and Tex agreed to help me with the lower fence.

I put gravel in the Alcatraz area so the butcher cows don’t make a mess down by the spring. We will see how it works in a few weeks when they get put in there for the all you can eat buffet of alfalfa.

This is the fence that I got the grant to install. I had been holding off on it but he may leave in January and not come back. I just needed to know that if we started this project he would see it through. He has been a little flakey. He agreed and got my point so Annmarie and I went to town and bought everything we needed for the first section of fence, $2000! This would be why I normally go to the junkyard and buy all my stuff used and beat up.

As soon as I took the tractor down to start drilling holes the cows came running. They thought I was going to feed them. They do not need food, I have confirmed this by putting out a protein block that they are half heartedly occasionally licking on. They are content to go around and eat the grass that is still growing. Once they realized I had nothing for them they wandered off.

I started to drill holes but was getting no where. I decided to look at the teeth on the auger and realized that the outer tooth was almost gone! I swapped the inner and outer teeth hoping that it would work better. It did! Before the day was over I had one long tooth on the outside and on the opposite side I put the long tooth in the inner spot and then flipped my short piece upside down so it would be point out. This worked the best but I also realized that my inner cone is almost worn down to a smooth piece of metal also. I definitely need to do some repair on the auger but for now I just have to use it! Who would guess that after six years I would wear the teeth off of it! Tex laid out and marked all the T post locations and started to clean out the holes I managed to get drilled. I have six holes to finish up tomorrow.

I was unpacking the trailer and a few railroad ties had shifted. I went to loosen the strap and ended up getting swatted to the ground by the gates crashing into me with a few hundred pounds of railroad ties on top of them. It rung my bell but I didn’t black out. I have to say that shifting loads have smacked me around twice and they are not any fun.

I will get the parts for the auger repair this week and my pump upgrade for the sprayer is in the mail. When it comes we will get it installed and the get the sprayer strapped down and ready to go. I want it all prepped and ready to go in the spring. We can feed using the tractor instead of the side by side. I may have to start the thing every couple of months just so it doesn’t forget how to do it.

Vacation day 2

Tex was raring to go at 0700 today, he didn’t even bother coming inside just started digging the post holes we had started yesterday. I had filled them with water several times yesterday in hopes they would be easier today. Tex said they were much easier to dig today.

We set the first three posts, installed the woven wire by using the pneumatic staple gun to hold it to the 4×4 then installed the 2×6 boards. Once that was all done we hung the first gate, a 4′ human gate that we will use on a daily basis. While Tex worked on installing the hinges I stapled the wire to the backs of every 2×6. This stiffens the wire so the dogs cannot think they will be able to push through.

We installed the middle gate post next then wired the 10′ gate up to it and installed the post for the next gate. Again, we put up all the posts, the wire and the three boards before we hung the gate off of the end post. Both gates work very well, there is a high spot in the yard that the larger gate hits and will need to be knocked down with the box blade later. It was noon at this point and Tex had to run home so we took a lunch. I went in and sat down for almost an hour. I forget how tiring it can be to work with Tex a 22 year old hardworking person.

Again, by 1500 we had the fence pretty much knocked out. I was even able to use the tractor to level out the area beyond the fence so its not a hazard in the winter to go to the chicken coop. There were a couple of holes that you didn’t want to inadvertently step in or you risked falling down in the snow.

I even remember to go out and check on the nectarine tree. I picked the last two left on the tree as the other 16 had fallen off. I was late, they were very good as we ate them for desert after dinner. Tomorrow we will finish cutting the boards hanging over the ends of the fence. It is raining again tonight so I will be able to put off painting the fence until next year.

Annmarie complained of both Gizmo and Mouse smelling tonight so she gave Gizmo a bath and I did the border collie, Mouse. As soon as I had him dry he wanted to go outside which is normal for them. I let him in five minutes later and he is covered in dirt up to his chest! I had to take him outside this time, hose down his legs and then he tracked wet paw prints all over the downstairs floor. Both dogs smell much better!

We have several in yard projects tomorrow to finish as I don’t believe I will be able to burn due to the rain. I will try and write it all down in the morning during coffee. It is raining again and currently in the last 24 hours we have received just over 1/2″ of rain! Mother Nature just does not want to cooperate with me.

Vacation day 1

Its Tuesday and my first day of vacation! I have a very long to do list to get done in the next two weeks and a tight schedule. So things need to go smooth so it can get done!

I went up to the far upper field, 7 acre, first thing in the morning with the intention of burning. I had already called the burn line to leave a message and my burn permit information. I had notified the local fire department and I had gone to the minimart and purchased 19.6 gallons of propane for my 20 gallon tank.

I decided that the 7 acre field had plenty of detritus and was ripe for burning. The only real problem with this was it had rained the night before. I had high hopes for a large amount of flames! Tex is back and was going to come out in the afternoon so I wanted to burn these fields up and be ready for some manly bonding. Instead there were some performance issues. Despite the fact that I was using a propane torch and the wind was blowing around 10 MPH I could not get the fire to go! I kept trying but only the underbrush would catch and even then only when I held the flame directly at it and held it in place. On the off chance the fence line would be better I lit it on fire and it actually burned! This led me to burn the entire fence line around the 7 acre field and down along the road. If nothing else this just created a larger safety zone around the field for when I can actually burn. I spent all morning flaming the weeds and crisping my eyebrows. I was never in fear of actually catching myself on fire this time as I was wearing long sleeves, leather work boots, leather gloves and an all natural fiber jacket. No man made acrylics any where on my body this time!

Tex called to say he was headed out and wanted to know if he could bring his dog! He has a four month old puppy called “Daisy”, she is a red Heeler, cute dog, very friendly but very much a single people person dog. She lays around and watches him all the time, never very far away. She did pretty good with our three dogs, Zeke just ignores puppies, as they are an annoyance. Gizmo did not want to be low man on the totem pole so he was the most aggressive. They were all laying around within an hour of arrival.

Tex and I spent a few hours ripping out the side fence for our yard. The sheep had broken the post off and the gates were held in place with multiple boards propped up at an angle. I really did not want to go through a winter like that and more importantly it was on the honey-do-list!

We kept the corner post as it was an old railroad tie and still very stable. The mistress and I kept working the future fence line with the box blade in an attempt to get a fairly even surface. We weren’t trying for a level surface, just even. There was a lot of debris and old fencing to move out before we could even tear down the fence. I will need to get that fence over to the scrap metal pile.

I left for town after we were done so that I could pick up all the necessary supplies to build a new fence. I found everything but it seems excessive to spend $1000 on 100′ of fence with two gates installed. We are going to do it as we still need a way for vehicles to get into our yard.

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.