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.
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.
Annmarie spotted another random newborn lamb yesterday evening. This morning Tex and I went out into the ram pasture and Tex snagged the newborn. I could of done it but it ran to his side of the field! We took it to the barn so I could tag and band it. I even remembered to enter it into the Airtable spreadsheet so we could track it.
Afterwards we went to install the culvert in the orchard. We had to dig out the bottom of the channel by hand and had to put it in a couple of times to fit test it prior to back filling it in. I was able to use the old dirt and then drag down the edges. We even rocked in the inlet side of the culvert. I can now get the tractor over to the other side of the ditch.
We were able to move the pipe trailer out of the field and snagged all the loose pipe laying about. We moved the pipe trailer out of the fields over near the wheat field then proceeded to clean up the scrap metal piles. We tossed the metal over the fence so the scrap metal guy can pick it up on his next visit.
I had to go to town to get more diesel for the tractor. We were running on fumes. I had Tex go use the chainsaw on the downed trees at the spring head. I also wanted him to trim the tree touching the old chicken coop. After lunch, we took the now filled tractor over to drag out the downed trees. Between the chain saw and the tractor we got all the dead massive limbs piled up into a large burn pile. Hopefully, next week we can light it on fire. Annmarie ran the horses in the round pen yesterday but I had put it on the soft dirt. The horses tore it up something fierce. So I will need to move it next week. We have plenty of spots for it.
After she got back from church we went out to work on the front hillside and started to set up the water system so we can start growing clover. We were able to reuse some of the aluminum uprights from the main sprinkler system, along with the valves and sprinkler heads. We keep trying to reuse as much stuff as we can. I also got a large piece of Elm for the anvil. I will need to make some custom holders for it. My plan is to get it attached and then use it whenever I need to beat something into submission. I realized that the only thing I don’t really have yet is a portable grinder. So after I get that I will dress up the anvil.
I had Tex fill in gravel in the ditch behind the machine shop. I will need to finish it off this week. The rest of our hay equipment should arrive this week. We will be able to store it in the machine shed now! We did park the tractor in the shop tonight. It is an amazing thing.
I am done! I am so tired that I started losing my grip while working on the sprinkler system. I will be taking it easy next week. I am thinking about working on the bathroom upstairs. More thought than muscle.
Sunday of this week Tex came out and finished fencing on the upper prime pasture. It needed wooden stays and to fix the spring crossing. He worked on that all day while the sheep continued to mow our front lawn.
I spent the day on the tractor trying to spray our upper middle field. It is growing gangbusters but it needs some weeds eradicated. I am only able to spray about a 6 foot swath at a time. I went to a fixed sprayer with no boom but the pump cannot keep the pressure up in the tank so it varies in its spray application rate. Its causing me enough problem that I have started to look back into a boom system. Luckily, I kept the 12 foot boom from the old four wheeler, I tossed it over by the metal scrap pile and never made it go away! I just need to mount it on the 55 gallon spray tank frame. Using that I can change out the size of the nozzles to control flow rates. I will be able to spray about 50% faster than I currently can.
I spent all day on the tractor and simply ran out of time. The middle prime field is done! There is about a half an acre of soggy ground in that field but the grass looks great.
Annmarie and I talked about it and I am going to dig a ditch to collect the water and make it run in a narrower channel. Hopefully, this will prevent it from forming fingers throughout the entire field.
I spent the next three weeknights after work trying to get the upper field sprayed. I found even more wet and muddy spots. There is about 1/3 of the field that I cannot get into due to the mud and soft ground. This is going to cause us some problems.
My hope is Tex and I can crank out the machine shed this upcoming weekend and I can get back to spraying.
I may even have to mow the lawn. Annmarie is getting tired of the dogs rolling in sheep manure and Gizmo keeps making himself sick from eating too many turds. It starts to make the cost more than its worth.
Annmarie and I took a walk up the pastures yesterday to see how they were doing. The middle prime pasture looks great. It does have some thistles and weeds but the grass is very thick. I am going to have to spray it first. Today I started spraying that pasture. The upper middle pasture is mostly broadleaf weeds. I will be doing it after this one. This means most evenings I will be sitting on the tractor. The grass is almost 18 inches high already. I sent an email to the company that we bought our hay equipment from and asked when it was going to be shipped to us.
Tex and I finished the fence over by the lamb shed. It is all secure, more wooden posts and T-posts to stiffen the fence and two more strands of barb wire. We even cut the metal panel out of the way so the gate will now swing either direction. This took most of the morning. I had to patch the fence in three areas once we got it strung up. There is a downside to reusing old fence.
We went ahead and just cut the leaning fence apart and will work on getting it redone. The water had dammed up behind woven wire. All the sticks and brush made a very nice blockage and the water spread out and got deep. Since Tex was going to fix the fence while I sprayed after lunch I brought over all the supplies he would need and we even dropped the culvert into the ditch.
We had tamales again for lunch! They are very good. I am unsure what to make for lunch tomorrow. I got out some ham for breakfast but lunch is still up in the air. I am thinking chili and Hill’s all beef wieners. I like to brown the hot dogs while the chili is cooking then mix them both together, toss cheese and onions on top and eat! It is very good.
While I went up and put 50 gallons of spray on the field Tex got the fence back together. We piled up rocks at the entrance and exit of the culvert and I will keep adding dirt to it until we have a nice level crossing. I opted to not have both culverts placed here as I will need the other one some where else on the farm.
The panel is clipped into place with little aluminum clips that the water can bend if there is too much pressure on the panel. I still need to do a little work on the waterway as I would like to add some small rocks into the channel to help cut down the erosion. We need to rehang the gate also as the H brace did get pushed upright but Tex didn’t add enough gravel and tightening the fence caused them to be a little crooked. We will move the gate around to the opposite sided H brace so hopefully we can get the gate working again.
When I went to work Wednesday morning I knew the back creek was overflowing. Our front ditch was muddy and four times its normal size. Unfortunately, I had to go to work and could not just stop what I was doing and go up and unblock the jam. So after work I went to the hardware store and picked up a portable handsaw and a pitchfork that has the tines bent 90 degrees. I figured that would work better than a metal rake at getting stuff out of the creek.
I texted Tex to see if he was available but he had homework. Again, you gotta like a guy with priorities. I made a second change, I put on my chest waders! I even remembered to but a belt on the outside of the waders above my waist to prevent water from getting in rapidly and weighing me down. It’s a safety feature that I figured was important since I was working alone. I also got a pair of rubber impregnated gloves that would dry out fast after I was done. I loaded it all up in the pickup and drove to the upper end. No sense in trudging through the mud the entire distance.
The chest waders were a game changer! I finally just waded into the water and started to pull the piles apart with my gloved hands. I was in water up to my stomach. I made sure to stand on the upriver side of the mass so if it broke loose it would not take me downstream. I spent an hour and managed to tear the large blockage in half. Unfortunately, a tree in the stream bed is the reason for the blockage and there is no fix for that in belly high water. I did manage to lower the water level by about 6 inches in that spot which stopped the water from spilling over the sides. So I was successful and did not have to spend all day. It was a pleasant surprise.
The fields are getting water logged but seem to be recovering except for the growing mud spot. I really need to dig out the irrigation ditch as I believe it could catch the overflow, and run it along side the field then dump back into the stream lower down. Unfortunately, there is no way to get any type of powered equipment into the fields currently. On Wednesday I waited for delivery of the new Power Harrow and seeder. It came on a semi-truck. I was supposed to be available for delivery from 1100-1500. I was home by 1115. The delivery driver called me and then dropped off the pallet at 1445. It was prior to the 1500 deadline. I watched a movie and some bad anime waiting for him to show up. I had to run back to work and got back late. I fully expected to be able to back up the tractor to the pallet, using the quick hitch just hook on and go. I don’t know what I was thinking or why I thought easy was going to work. The attachments do not line up with my quick hitch. I had to remove the quick hitch, extend the tension on the rods and hook it all up. Then I could not lift it off the pallets as my adjustable bar needed to be tightened. This takes a stiff rod poked through a hole. I have misplaced my large screwdriver and every piece of metal I stuffed through the hole bent. I fought and swore and had the harrow in the machine shop 1.5 hours later. I moved the thing 30 feet. I read the very thin manual that came with it and learned nothing from it. I had the electronic copies sent to my email and still need to read them. I need to get this thing up and running in the next 2 weeks. If only the weather will cooperate.
The aftermath of the flooding on Sunday was not too bad actually. I will need to set the culvert in the orchard I removed back but I want to wait till it gets a little drier.
The upper barn lot is going to need some definite work. I need to fix the fence for sure and I will have to follow Annmarie’s suggestion and put a railroad tie on either side of the dip and pull the fence straight across the gap. I have 20 feet of culvert, in two sections, that I can place across this spot. I will need to dig it down as the culvert is 24 inches I think. I am going to get the barn lot fence fixed first before I move on to any more projects. I want to get the flower seeds into the ground. Annmarie walked up the pasture and took this picture of the Upper Prime Field. It actually doesn’t look bad. Hard to believe almost the entire thing was under water for a few hours.
The last casualty on the list was the culvert on the front ditch down by the apple tree. It got plugged and flowed over the banks for 36 hours. I was just too exhausted by the end of Sunday. I removed the blockage on Monday evening and it is doing fine now. I may have to move a little dirt around to make up for the washed out banks.
I was productive during the week. I managed to get the last of the closet shelves hung in the spare bedroom. Now we just need to move all the furniture into the spare room so you can actually walk down the hallway without brushing furniture or a wall.