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.
Well we are finally starting to make progress on the finishing touches for the front porch. Mr Professional and Mr Rainman got the blocks installed on Friday. They were having some trouble with the corners getting them to match up and get the cut angles correct. I told them I would get it this weekend. I spent about two hours on Sunday cutting angles with the wet tile saw and then breaking the blocks with a mason’s hammer. I then used a diamond blade to grind the rough edges smooth. I was able to make both corners and ends fit nicely. Annmarie thought I had not had enough water to drink, said my lips looked like I was dying. I had to go inside and look in the mirror, I had concrete dust all over my face and my lips were a pasty white color! I am going to live.
I let the sheep into the front yard hillside both days this weekend. I put the dogs on their runs and then had to chase the sheep into the yard as they just did not want to go on their own. I ended up using Zeke to chase the sheep into the yard every morning and then used Mouse to bring the cows in every night. Mouse is starting to dramatically improve. Separating him from Zeke when they work has helped a bunch. He is really starting to listen and we can just focus all our attention on him. The front hillside has at least five days worth of food on it. We are keeping the sheep in front of the barn due to lambing season, but since we had the one baby last week, we have not had another. A few of the mommas look like they are getting milk, and we are hopeful they will have babies this week. I think the sheep can eat on the hillside for another few days. The only problem is the dogs need to stay on the runs outside to prevent the sheep from eating my trumpet vine and my hens and chicks. Eventually we will finish the rock wall out front and get a fence on top of it to keep the dogs out or in depending on if we are using one side as a buffet for the animals.
Saturday was moving large hay bales onto the farm day. This typically takes most of the day. Mr Rainman cleaned out the machine shed storage area and then proceeded to clean up the machine shed in between loads. The new tractor can just barely lift a new bale off of the ground but it cannot get the lower bale on top of another bale. It just won’t lift it up and the governor won’t let it lift that much weight. So we were only able to get 13 bales in the machine shed and 9 more in the horse arena we moved next to the grain bins. This keeps the alpaca from tearing up the bales. They are horrible about burrowing holes into the bales. They love alfalfa!
Mr I Need a Belt Bad spent two days digging out the front ditch. The weeds were clogging it up. He helped me dig out a ditch in front of the block wall today. I ended up having to drag some dirt to lower the area some in from of the new porch. Now that a rain ditch has been installed it will need to be filled with gravel. My railing part for the stair railing is on factory back order. It may get shipped this week, I am unclear on if this will actually happen. The new Kubota 3100 tractor is a little big to use inside our yard. I am loving the tractor so far but in the yard the small space would be better served by the little John Deere, but it has a flat front tire. I will need to get that fixed this week. There always seems to be something.
Annmarie and I went out to the orchard just before dinner and ate some honey crisp apples directly off the tree. They were so good, the dang yellow-jackets think so also and have been eating the near ripe fruit. I am going to have to hang out traps next year and see if that slows them down. We took about 30 minutes Saturday morning to drag out the path of our next fence. It is going to be blocks on the lower half and a metal topper. I measured the posts today and their outside dimension is 1 5/8”. So I need to buy a pipe with an inside diameter just over that so I can set the new pipe into the ground in concrete and then slip the fence inside of it.
There was some discussion this morning on what exactly should be on the to do list for the day. I wanted to focus solely on the porch. I had big plans for getting the block all the way around the porch and was pretty certain it could be done in a day with the help I had on hand. Alas, a long discussion was had at the breakfast table and my new list consisted of a lot of cleaning up of other projects. The ram pasture has all the burn scrap from porch and still has a pile of fencing from the flood damage, the old house porch has scraps, the yard has pallets and unused pressure treated wood, there is trash in the yard, there are weeds in the garden, and a few other things that did not involve the porch.
When Mr I Need a Belt bad arrived I had him go over and work on weeds in the berry patch. On my way over to the berry patch I noticed that the yard had a three foot no mow area next to the fence along with a sprinkler in the front yard that had just been mowed around. I had instructed him to move all of the hoses first yesterday before mowing. So after weeding for a couple of hours, he got the mower out, moved both hoses and proceeded to finish mowing the lawn. He also put the mower back away in the shed. I was late picking up Mr Professional so we just went right to picking up the yard, we pulled the flat bed 16’ trailer around and proceeded to fill it with burnable trash and a few pieces of wood we wanted to save. We still had a small pile of pressure treated wood and the 16’ pressure treated 2×6 for the trumpet vine. So instead of leaving the board in the yard we tore down the broken board. While we were on a ladder doing this we found two more broken boards that needed torn out and one replaced. We had Mr I Need a Belt Bad go get the lawn mower again. Since we had moved all of the boards out of the yard and I had picked up the trash it was time to mow this section of lawn. So I mowed, and he dumped the grass and put the lawn mower away.
As Mr Professional and I were installing the second board I had to crawl up onto the top of the four foot ladder and had inserted myself between some broken boards In an attempt to get an angle on a screw and take the boards apart. I was using the broken boards to stabilize myself and when it suddenly broke, I started to fall off the ladder backwards. Since I understood the precariousness of my position I wasted no time in flailing about for a handle. Unfortunately, the trumpet vines are loved and adored by many different kinds of flying insects of which one is a yellow jacket. They eat the sweet nectar. The mean little bastard understood that I was defenseless and took the opportunity to strike! He stung me on my right ear, but I did not even pause for my goal of reaching a stabilizing point to interrupt the fall perseverance and focus allowed me to grab a stable part of the structure and stop my fall. I spent the next five minutes pinching my ear lob in an attempt to get the burning to stop. While Mr Professional was installing a support board I used the hand clippers and started to cut out some branches over the roof and to trim out all the dead wood. This made quite the mess on the ground and Mr I Need a Belt Bad was raking it all up and moving it over to the trailer for future disposal on the burn pile. We were just about done when his ride came. We had not started moving any block and he was disappointed. He should not be, the trumpet vine looks amazing and the trellis has been needing a repair for three years it all looks amazing! He was able to calculate his pay accurately and with very little stall time. When he first started he kept messing it up, but when I told him I would under pay him if his math was bad he started to realize that those pesky things they teach you in school really do have some value in the real world. He gets it right every time now. We even use nearest 15 minute rounding rules.
Mr Professional and I started in on the blocks and did the short end. We were getting ready to work on the long end when Annmarie came home. He went out to do more honey do chores as she had brought mineral and feed supplements that needed to be distributed. I finished dumping more gravel out into the yard for the wall. Annmarie did not like the small triangle wedge of air you could see when you looked over the railing. I did not buy any capstone. We discussed this for a while and then Mr Professional and I went to Walmart to try and find some pavers on sale. Someone had purchased all of the pavers and none were left. We then went to Home Depot store in Hermiston. We did find the topper block and figured out what sizes were needed but getting someone to come help us did take quite a bit of perseverance. While Mr Professional watched the employees load our block I went around and looked at plants. I bought two small Monterey Cypress trees to turn into Bonzai trees. I also bought some more planters so I could create a bunch of starts from my spider plants. They are out of control and the Jade plant cuttings were a big hit so I thought I would do it again. I did remember to get eggs and the sheep and cows are in the barn lot. I am hopeful that the little boy we singled off yesterday and trapped in Alcatraz will not holler all night again. It usually doesn’t bother me but I had to shut the bedroom windows and it still took another hours to go to sleep the cows were so noisy.
I had a plan today, it was going to be hay day. Well honestly, that was my second plan, my first plan was supposed to be cow day. Instead it turned into Fence day as my third plan. My first plan was good but when I woke up this morning there was going to be change because I could not do cows. I was way too sore to be working the cows. So since I was not going to be doing cows then my second plan was going into effect, Hay day. I need to move the old bales out of the machine shed and store them over by the grain bins. But to keep the alpaca off of them I need to move the round horse corral out to use as a fence. Then I need to clean out the hay area and move some plywood out of the way. But just as I was leaving the house Mr Rainman tells me that a calf is out again. We had one get out earlier in the week and I found a large hole in the fence down by four corners. So knowing there is a problem and believing that it has repeated itself we went to the third plan which was Fencing day.
Mr Professional was going to come out later and work on the porch railing a little later. Mr Rainman loaded up the bucket on the new tractor, “Companion” with fencing tools. He spotted the bunny! We had not seen it in over a week. We went down to four corners and proceeded to fix the hole in the fence. We ended up cutting all of the willow trees back and then I crossed the fence and cut them back about 6 feet back from the fence. We tightened the entire fence and then went in and hammered in new staples into the wooden stays and added the broken T-clips back onto the fence. It looked like a brand new fence. Mr Rainman was mistaken, the calf was not out of the outer fence enclosure, he just was not inside the fence with his momma. He was going to have to walk down to the open gate to get past the fence.
We then drove up to the top of the hill and then went down to the schoolhouse field to patch the woven fence that the cow jumped through last year. We ended up retightening the entire thing and pulling the top two wires together to remove several inches of slack from the fence. I decided that the only way to stop this from happening again was to add in T posts. I think this was the plan two years ago but I thought the all wooden fence would be aesthetically pleasing and the cows would respect it for this reason, I was wrong. We unloaded all the tools there since we were going to be coming back. We stopped at the ditch and reopened the ditch to flood irrigate the schoolhouse pasture. I was able to dig down and get it running. We then went back to the house, small stop to fill the tractor bucket with large rocks as we were going to come off of the rocky hillside to get T-posts anyways. We did not want to move an empty tractor. The rocks were moved to the front yard for the rock wall that needs to be completed. We grabbed more supplies and went back, installed the T-posts and then had to install the clips onto the posts. This seems like an easy job. If you have never applied fencing clips before you would think its easy and you would be wrong. Mr Rainman was given a tutorial and cut loose. In the time it took him to complete four posts I had 17 posts done! He ended up getting terminated from that task and went back to load up the tractor with tools. We got all of the obvious fence corrected. The top CRP fence really needs to be repaired and rebuilt.
The alpaca were supposed to be easy. They are always supposed to be easy but when one practices a skill for one day a year before letting it lapse for another 364 days it is hard to become super proficient. On top of this the alpaca are the definition of passive aggressive. We had three just hit the dirt and refuse to move. They would not get up and Mr Rainman and I had to just lift them up and carry them to the shearing table. It is incredibly annoying and the longer the day went on the less umph I had to lift them.
The new porcelain cutting blades worked great! I was able to get them all adjusted and they did not get as hot as the metal ones. So you end up with porcelain blade on top and a stainless steel blade on the bottom. The bottom blade doesn’t move, the porcelain cutting blade does all the dirty work. The alpaca are filthy. They keep rolling around in the weeds and dirt. We think if we shear them earlier in the year we can avoid a large portion of the dirt and weeds. There is no telling unless we try, so I will be attempting to make time for them right after we hay in the spring.
We only kept the “saddle” portion this year and tossed the rest in trash bags. Annmarie had us save the seconds and legs and neck hair in those bags and she has some plan for them. We hung them up in the tack room from hooks in hopes that the mice could not get at them. The finished keeper hair we put in individual gunny sacks with the picture of the donating alpaca. They got put into two trunks until I can get the alpaca fiber tumbler built. It will go onto my cement mixer, I will remove the bucket and then attach the fiber tumbler so we can tumble fibers while using a leaf blower to clean out the fiber from the sheared hair.
We were all getting tired and I just wanted to finish and get it over. We had two alpaca left but they would not come in yet just as we were exiting the barn they volunteered to be caught. This necessitated us just hunkering down and getting it done. The very last alpaca decided after we had the halter on that he was not having any of it. He reared up full height on his back legs and body slammed Sarah into the barn wall. He hit her from the side mostly due to some inattention on her part. She ended up on the ground but will only have a few bruises and we managed to get the last alpaca sheared.
Mr Professional has been working on the porch off and on all week. The large wooden beams got painted with Kilz and then all of the metal wraps had to be recut and fitted to go over the new new deck. Then the railing had to be installed. This is not as easy as watching a YouTube video as the porch is not exactly perfectly level or square. He worked on it Saturday while we went out and sheared the alpaca.
Mr Rainman went down to the Mother-in-laws and put blocks under the new shed and piled gravel up so that the riding lawn mower can be driven into it. I may have to make a little wooden ramp that can be moved into place so the four inch tall threshold can be surmounted.
We are on the lookout for some more cheap alpaca. I am thinking this fall when no one can get hay, people will be offloading all kinds of animals.