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.
It has been a long ten days! I had plans on blogging over the weekend but I was tired and busy and it just didn’t get done. I find that it is surprisingly hard to keep after it some times. I have a goal, 8 posts/month and I do my best to make that happen. Sometimes I make it and sometimes I don’t but I have learned to just get back up to the desk and write. My single biggest motivating factor is I like to occasionally go back and remind myself that stuff is actually getting done and jobs are really not multiplying, they are merely setting us up for success in the future.
Mr Professional got the tractor back up and running. It of course started to rain because we had cut hay. We only managed to get about 1 ton baled before the rain came. We have turned the hay twice and attempted to bale again three days ago. Mr Professional hit a clump of wet sodden grass and jammed the roller baler. He spent a couple of days digging it out off and on till he got tired of messing with it. He had the thing torn apart when I came home this evening. Within ten minutes we had it up and going and then he had to put all the pieces back on. He went out and turned the hay one more time and we will start baling again tomorrow and cutting again. I have about another 6 acres that needs cut and baled then we are going to move across the road and start cutting and baling. We will be at this for the next 3-4 weeks. It’s going to be a long month.
We have had two more calves. I was able to get pictures of one right after it was born, a few hours. Mom did not like me driving the tractor close but I told her she had to calm down. The babies are doing well. We have five calves now and one cow left to give birth. We need to be done calving so the bull can get turned loose with the mommas.
Doom and I went and picked up a wrought iron fence that Annmarie found on the digital classifieds. You never know what you are getting but it was indeed handmade, only about three feet tall but well worth the $300. It just needs to be cleaned up and then the posts cemented into the ground. We are going to use it on the side of the house. I am pretty sure that Zeke will be able to leap it no matter what we do but he has to slow down at some time as he is already over ten years old. Mouse won’t go over it and the fence will get a covering of small gage wire to stop Gizmo. It was well worth the trip, even if Doom drinks passion fruit tea instead of coffee at Dutch Bros. A person with the name Doom should drink coffee black and strong not passion fruit tea. Doom went home today and stated that he will be back sooner than later. It’s always good to see friends from far away, they come, they go, good friends.
The weather has been miserable. It just keeps raining. There is so much rain that our back dry hillside is greening up again! It only does that after about a week of steady rain and warm weather. Every year the rain comes no matter how late I wait to cut hay. Hence the reason I only cut some of it. I knew that the bad luck fairy was going to visit again. I did make a decision on the tractor. I am going to get a Kubota. I thought the change would be good, this one has a front snow blade that can be turned, it has a 3 point large bale spear, pallet forks, a bucket and a rear sickle mower. When I add that to what I have already I think I have most of the bases covered. I am even going to have some ballast put in the rear tires. I am hopeful this takes some of the tipping tendencies out.
A lot has been happening on the farm. Not a lot by me, but stuff is getting done. As always, Annmarie is keeping us afloat and continues to do 85% of the chores, maybe 90%! I do go out to the barn once a week to “do my part”. Getting to the barn is the hardest part, once I am there I can do the feeding but the return trip to the house I can feel the shortness of breath and chest pain kicking in, I need to get past the Covid leftovers so I can be ready for spring. The sheep are really not doing their part on having babies. They are doing some serious lollygagging, I suspect the chief culprit is the ram. So we are still lambing, one here, one there, we have only had two born since the last blog update.
30 lambs born
20 ewes delivered
15 pregnant ewes (I counted Jan 2, 2021)
10 single lambs
10 twin lambs
1 bummer lamb
29 lambs on the farm
150% birthing rate
145% production rate (goal >150%)
100% survival rate at birth
100% survival rate at 2 weeks (26/26)
On Friday, I needed to go to the scrap metal yard and pickup a culvert and check on my gates. We have opted to no longer go with commercial gates as the bull has decided he can just bend and twist them to his whims. I had asked for three 12’ gates a few weeks ago, I now need five 12’ gates. Luckily, I knew there was needed lag time so I don’t need them for about another two months. I am now on the list for five gates. I picked up two loads of old metal rims for a new section of fence down by the machine shop and a 20’ four foot diameter culvert for the barn lot drive over crossing. This crossing will be about 16 feet of drivable wide crossing with the other four feet taken up by concrete rastra and rebar. I am going to put rastra on both ends of the culvert and some cable between the two ends so if the water runs over the top it won’t be able to push out the downstream side. This and two fencing projects are the big ticket items for this next summer. I ordered an attachment for the tractor bucket that should allow me to push in a T post into the ground instead of pounding it in. This won’t help where its super rocky but the fence I want to install is just long, not horrible tough ground. So I now have some more metal rims, but not enough to do the section of fence I want yet. I will need more trips to the junkyard for that. This expended a lot of energy, even though I did a lot of sitting.
I am not known for my Uber iPhone skills so my phone will randomly take pictures when I am trying to use the camera. I decided to keep the sleeve picture as its my father’s old denim coat from the late 1960’s. We use it as a barn coat and it has just gained more character the longer it is in use.
Saturday morning was the planned day to work on the barn and I just did not want to get out of bed. I was reminded that the day before was really a play day and I now needed to get to the planned job. Again, very correct and I drug myself out of bed and went and picked up Mr Professional so we could work on the bathroom. We managed to get the window cut using a plastic bag and a vacuum cleaner to try and keep the dust to a minimum. This is never possible when cutting sheet rock with a sawzall. So it took another hour to vacuum, wipe up the mess and clean up the stairwell. I spent most of the day cleaning up the breeze porch. The window caulk came and I want to get it up so we can keep some of the bugs off of the porch. We removed lots of trash and tools and even ordered some new dog kennels in an attempt to neaten up the porch.