Fall is here

I have been busy, we just got done with the Pendleton RoundUp and I don’t get any stuff done on the farm for about ten days around that event, my paying job requires a lot of attention during that week. The nice thing was we got some rain on the last weekend. We had 0.56” over two days and have had a total of 0.91” of rain in the month of September. This is excellent news for us but it did take a few days before it was possible to get back out in the fields. My helpers have been out hunting so I have been on my own. I spent two days getting field #1 ready, Mr Rainman had picked so many rocks I only ended up picking four bucket loads over two days. There is probably a couple more bucket loads that are obvious but the huge rocks are all gone and even the medium sized ones are gone. I don’t think I will break a sickle bar mower tooth on any of the rocks left. I have some organic matter on the edges of the field that needs to be piled up out of the field and it will be ready to plant. The field still has too many weeds for us to plant alfalfa in it yet. I am unable to get fall barley or fall oats locally. Most of the fields are too muddy to plant in the spring. So my only choices are grass or triticale. Triticale has a pretty narrow window to harvest in and that is problematic for me as my other job takes up time. PGG did not have grass seed in stock so it had to be delivered. I will be checking in on Monday and get more ordered. Annmarie wants us to plant grass seed in the upper field. This will allow me to still spray with 2-4-D and get a handle on the thistle weeds.

The chickens have learned to let us know when they are out of food. They will come running whenever they see you and become shadows. They won’t leave until you feed them. Once fed they all crowd in and try to get to the same feeder even though there are other choices. Our lone rabbit out front is still alive and kicking, we see it almost every day now. The quail are every where and are amazing. I am sure they are my favorite gamebird. The one we have not seen a lot of are pheasants. We had a lot last year and I am not seeing as many this year. The pidgens are multiplying and starting to get over the magical 30 total number. Once they stay at 30 for a year, they multiply at an exponential rate the next year. There are a bunch of dens/holes in the upper fields from coyotes but I have not seen any coyotes this year.

The pregnant sheep have spent the weekend on the front yard and hillside knocking down the weeds and grass. The dogs are out on the run so they are protecting my hens and chicks plants and the trumpet vine from a sheep induced thinning. There is enough green grass that I think I will have to let the sheep in 3 of 7 days. Some of those ewes are so pregnant they can hardly walk. We expected the herd to be done lambing by now not just three ewes and no one in the last three weeks. Thank goodness we went and bought a replacement ram!

It’s supposed to rain

Well it’s midweek and I was able to get some work done at home. I had to juggle some things around as I will be covering shifts at work the rest of the week due to shortages and Covid. Mr Rainman has been working on getting field #1 ready to plant. He was able to disc yesterday and pick up rocks in the fairly nice part of the field. Today he spent four solid hours picking rocks only in about 1.5 acres and applying them to the new water berm I am building up there. I am trying to get the old berm back into shape and then build a secondary berm to stop any overflow or breakthroughs from flooding the entire field. It will take me about another two years to get it all done. I want it in place so when I plant alfalfa I won’t have to worry about the field getting flooded and ruined. He was able to get the entire field picked of rocks and all disced. I just need to go up there with the harrow and it will be ready to plant.

First thing this morning we took a couple of hours to clean off the old house porch. It was covered in tools from all our summer projects and the deck. We managed to get it all sorted, put away in old house or taken out to the machine shed. We even swept off the porch and took out the trash! I proceeded to swap out the rusted painted screws in the tin around our pillars. I had to scrub the rust away then install the new painted screws. I also cleaned up some of the old caulk around the pillars. I did caulk the bottom of the pillars but have ordered a plastic molding to go around the bottom of the large pillars so they match the 4×4 covers. I was informed tonight that I need to order some 1/4 round for the top of the pillars. I was just going to put white caulk at the top. I am told that won’t look as good, the plastic trim is a special order item so I will have to get that ordered.

After lunch I took 40 minutes and stripped the hair from our Brussels Griffin. He is a terrier and you have to pull their hair out instead of shaving them. He is used to it and just sits in my lap. He doesn’t really like it around his nose or lower legs. He is now super soft and cuddly. Annmarie got the John Deere tractor tire repaired again. They installed the tire on backwards last time so we had to get them to turn it around. We installed the tire and hooked up the planter/seeder to the little tractor. I ended up having to replace one tooth on the cultivator that was broken. It had two different hay strings wrapped around it and some metal bailing wire and a piece of barbed wire! Those all got removed and the equipment adjusted so it merely needs seed in the hopper and its ready to plant! We are supposed to get 1/2” of rain on this upcoming Friday & Saturday. I will be working so no time will be lost due to the weather. I found a hydraulic leak on the new tractor but do not have a metric wrench that big, so I will need to buy some more tools, dang. The sheep have still not had any more babies.

Field prep continues

I spent 2.5 days dragging farm implements around the place trying to get the fields ready to plant. Mr Rainman has gotten field #1 all disced but the organic matter needs to be moved off of it and some rocks picked. The disc is not really helping on the third pass so we will use the harrow/arena groomer to smooth it out and get some of the large patches of straw off of the field. I have the triangle all ready to go and I got the south side of field #2 ready, both patches will get triticale planted. I have the North side of field #2 ready but it is going to get grass seed planted as it still has moisture in the soil even now. The grass will do well and will let me keep using broadleaf spray on the field to get the thistles under control. Field #1 is going to get oats planted. I still need to pickup oat seed. I need a day to disc up field #3. It needs to be mowed first. So that field will take about 12 hours to get ready. I am hopeful that I can start planting seed in about 12 days.

We are bringing the cows in every night to hang out in the back barn lot area. They don’t have access to water during the 8-10 hours they are out eating so at night they want to come back for water and plums. They stop at the plum tree every night and won’t go past until you give them a handful.

Their are quail all over the farm, I see them every time I go out. I don’t see as many pheasants as I did last year. Pretty sure I found a coyote den today when I was out in the field but I did not see any coyotes but the hole in the ground in the field was new. I filled the hole with some vegetable matter so I will be able to tell if something moves it to get in and out. We still have the bunny rabbit out in the machine shed. It just hangs out and kinda hops out of the way but does not run away when you go in the shed. We got 0.34” of rain on Friday! It was amazing and we need another 0.5” this week. It will be perfect for planting then unless its enough moisture to get the seeds germinated just before a freeze. The stupid sheep have had no more lambs in the last week. We are so grateful we got a new ram, this one is just taking his own sweet time.

I need to get my tire fixed for the John Deere but when I had them repair it they mounted it on backwards so now I have to take it back in and get them to turn the wheel around. I want to plant with the little tractor as the seeder will obscure the tire track marks from the little tractor but not the bigger tractor.

The plumbing is fixed! We have water again, the plumber needs to finish a couple of more things then I can fill in the hole. We like having water. I was able to pickup the three pieces of Trex decking I needed for the front porch and the stair railing pieces came in on Thursday. So all of the pieces to finish the deck are here!

Field prep

Holidays are the best because I have four days off in a row, but they also suck because I have four days off in a row. When I rolled out of bed this morning I did not want to dig a ditch but one still needs to be dug. I am getting Mr Rainman to come out tomorrow. The plumber wants to replace the line back at the junction which means digging out another 25 feet and potentially having to build a wooden support for the heat pump so we can tunnel under the four feet of the old concrete pad. The pad is pretty broken and cracked so I would not feel safe without supporting it before tunneling under it. We just need to get to the foundations of the freezer room so we can drill a hole into the room from underneath. This will let us run new Pex pipe and should stop us from having to run a heat tape. I remembered tonight that I have a small portable sump pump so I will break that out in the morning and we won’t have to do the bucket emptying that I have done the last two times. I should have remembered it earlier.

I only have about 2 hours of mowing on the fields left but I stuck with dragging the disc around in circles today in an attempt to get the field ready. I now have all of field 2 disced and now want to run the arena groomer over it all to smooth it out then plant with my cultivator/seeder. I am going to plant grass on the East side of the field as there is still moisture in the ground and plant some leftover triticale seed I have in the 1.5 acres on the West side because it is much dryer on that side. I would love to get about 4 more days in field one to finish the ditch and embankment work. I want to create a second ditch and embankment on the inner field about 20 feet in. I am going to run a fence on top of the second berm so I can run the animals into it after it is harvested. At the rate we are flooding lately the additional berm will be needed.

I think it will take two days to get all of field 1 disced. Then one day to disc field 3 and another for field 4. So I have about 120 hours to get all of the fields ready and planted. No problem with my other full time job in the midst of a pandemic. Luckily, I have a couple of helpers and I am going to have them working quite a bit this month until we can get it all done. We are seeing a lot of quail all over the property. We have found three dead deer on the place in the last three weeks. No signs of injury, I suspect that wasting disease is present in our area. I have seen two live does and a little buck this weekend. We still have at least one bunny rabbit. It lives in the machine shed and sneaks out to eat. We know there was a second one around but we have not seen any baby bunnies.

Holiday = water leak

Well it’s that time of year again, I have come to realize that the farm has a sense of humor. It is without a fail a guarantee that on the hottest or coldest days of the year or any recognized holiday we will have a water leak. This must occur annually also to meet the criteria of truly annoying. It doesn’t matter how much I don’t want it to occur, the only good thing is now it seems to be a new location on a more regular basis now. Donna pointed out on Friday that there was water leaking out of the ground behind her house. Annmarie and I went down with the hope that it would be a leak from her front sprinkler, it was not, there was water bubbling out of the ground. We had a big long discussion on how the water got into the house and Annmarie and I were certain that there was another cross line. So the plan was for me to dig up the leak, then just cap off the line because we thought it was extra. My new Kubota tractor made short work of digging the hole and luckily there was an old PVC pipe from heat pump circulation line, now defunct that I hit so I quite digging with tractor. The water line I wanted was only a few inches deeper sitting directly on the hardpan. I of course did not have a cap that size so I had to go to town for it. Following my rule for buying plumbing parts I bought two of everything and a size smaller and bigger at the same time. I have a drawer full of parts and am considering going to a bin for plumbing parts in the machine shed. I add to it whenever I buy parts. This prevents unnecessary trips to town for things I should have on hand. I had the cap on in no time and then left the water off so the glue could dry. Amazingly we dug up an old repaired spot.

I figured I could use the time to go do some digging with the new tractor. I had not really used it much for digging so I went up to field #1 to work on the ditch and bank. I had already started digging a new ditch and reinforcing the bank so it was just a matter of continuing that work. I was able to really go to town with the tractor, the dry dirt did not really slow me down much. The Mistress could not dig in this dry heat with hard ground, but the Companion had no problems at all and made quick work of the problem. I am almost 2/3 done now and will need to get down and finish the rest after we get seeds in the ground. I figured it was time to call it done and went over into field 2, this cause me to get distracted and work on clearing weeds and moving some dirt to the outer edges of the soft area. The entire ground is dry now so I am working on making dirt embankments around the wet areas to keep anyone from accidentally driving or going into the spring muddy areas. After I played around with that I put the cows in for the night and then went down to fire up the water pump. I was looking forward to having water again. I started the well pump at the controller but kept getting a -1P code. I have no idea what that is but it is not a pressure readout like normal. I went upstairs and Donna found the operating manual for the pump. It turns out that the broken line really is necessary, it supplies all of the water to the second house! I had to call Annmarie, who was still in town, to get her to buy a stick of PVC pipe and some connectors. I went back out and cut the plug off the pipe and had to bail water for almost thirty minutes as the pump had turned on and pressurized the line. We had bad Chinese for dinner, they forgot our sweet and sour sauce, then went to my mother’s house so I could take a shower. I was in bed by 2100, I was tired.

Saturday I went down to repair the pipe and turn the pump back on. The real problem is the old 1.25” line is in the middle of a piece of 2” line. If the break is up in the 2” line I have no idea how we are going to repair it. There is a heat pump on an old concrete slab that is broken in several places, a new concrete room addition onto that end of the house and all of it is over the buried pipe. This being a holiday weekend a plumber would only be about three times as expensive as normal. We figured we could just get the water up and going again even if it did leak and get it fixed professionally on Tuesday. Yeah, the leak is up inside the 2” pipe! I went home and did the dishes and filled up more containers with water just in case. This will let us use water all weekend. I dug a little trench from the hole to let the water run out in one spot. Monday night I will turn off the pump, break the line apart and bale out all of the water. The water is not getting absorbed into the ground as that is clay and rock hardpan that the pipe is sitting on.

Saturday after I turned the water back on I went and changed out the box blade on the Kubota for the pull behind mower. Now mind you this is a new tractor and I have not yet figured out all of the oddities. The adjustable three point bar is not centered, there is more toward the tractor even though it is all threaded. I was going to pull it apart and redo it when I discovered this. As I was trying to get into the field I had parked a little too close and could not close the gate so I just went over to the tractor and pushed on the gas with my hand to move it out of the way. Now this is an unapproved usage issue and Kubota knew it, the tractor died. I had to get on it to start it and drive it forward one foot. I had another issue as I was going around in circles. I was using the cruise control and the tractor started to overheat. The intakes get covered with weed fuzz and need to be cleaned off. This was the third time I had to stop and clean out the vent intakes. I need to look at a portable air compressor and using a pallet to mount some tools and a box that can be carried by the tractor forks so I can keep working and have the necessary tools to continue on after a quick stop in the fields. I shut the tractor off, cleaned it up and then tried to start it. It would not start. I figured I had waited a little too long and the temperature sensor said the engine was too hot. So I crawled under the tractor, set an alarm for 30 minutes and took a nap. When I tried to start it after my nap it still would not turnover, this caused me to investigate further and I realized that the cruise control lever was fully engaged. I pulled it back and the tractor started right up, another safety feature I didn’t know about.

I used the tractor to put the cows into the barn lot. They pretty much know the routine now and were waiting down by the gate. The water has dried up in fields 2, 3 & 4. We still have water coming up out of the ground at the spring head in our barn lot. It is running well as we can now see it since Mr I Need a Belt Bad cleaned out the ditch in our yard. I had been telling Annmarie that her horse, “Hogs”, Mahogany, is so tame that I think I should be able to go get cows on her in a few weeks without a saddle. She keeps telling me that Hogs is not listening well to the bridle and needs more work. Mind you I have zero experience riding a horse but Hogs is so calm and used to me that we get along well and I can pretty much do anything to her and she lets me. When I opened the gate to let the cows in she took off and started running for the upper field. I had to follow with the tractor. Nope, I will not be riding that horse without a saddle and not until Annmarie says she is easily controlled. I saw her run all out as fast as she could and I am positive I would not be able to stay on!