Forever Friday 39/45

Sunday morning it dawned on me that I had a pull behind furrow for the tractor and was not utilizing it! Thank you Penny for convincing me to buy it when I had no need for it. I have had it a few years and not used it but once or twice. I hooked it up to the tractor and drug the ditch the entire length three times and it tore it up great! All I need to do now is go up there with the box blade on and I can finish getting the ditch cleaned out. I suspect it will take me another 8 hours to get it all cleaned up. I saw our friendly kestrel again. It must have a nest or be living right in the area. While I was digging the ditch I got the overhead tractor lights caught in the branches of a tree. After a few hours of digging my large light fell off the tractor and was hanging by its cord. I drove home and called it a night. I needed to fix the lights anyways.

Today I opted to get the disc set up and running. I had seen it up between the wheat fields. It took me abut 20 minutes to get the drag behind rakes off of the disc. There is so much organic matter I knew they would just clog up and I would have to stop every five minutes to empty it out. It took me a another 15 minutes to get it working correctly. I circled the little patch of ground between the wheat fields then took disc up to the seven acre field and went around its border three times. This way if I want to burn it in a month I can. The real reason to use the disc was to tear up the area I want to drag with the box blade. I want to lower the water laden area in field two another one foot and take that dirt and build up the surrounding area. I need to fix all the wash boarding that occurred from the running water throughout the field. I went over it in every direction for about 90 minutes and was able to get a fairly good loosening of soil. Using the teeth on the box blade now I should be able to drag this and move a bunch of dirt. I am running out of time! I only have half a day tomorrow then we go to the coast. I am going to work on tightening the momma/baby fence tomorrow. I can hard wire in the gate for now as I won’t need it to operate correctly until the spring. After I get the gate wired shut and the other fence tightened I just have the one spring crossing to harden. Luckily if they get under that fence they just get trapped in the second flower area and there are no flowers in there. So as soon as I get the fence tightened it should hold animals and we will be ready for winter. Next week after I get done working I will ready the barn and make the last rock jack. I may need to blow out the drip lines also. Winter is coming.

Monday morning I fixed the lights on the tractor. I had a smaller light that I installed looking forward. The light is about 75% smaller than the one I knocked off. I realized that you don’t need much light looking forward, more looking backwards where the equipment is pulling behind the tractor. I had so much light power I was sucking the battery dry. So less light is better for multiple reasons. Today I cut a piece of pipe to use as conduit so that branches could not grab the loose wires. I will need to try it out in the dark and see how it works still.

Forever Friday 35/45

Only 9 days left as I did all of this work yesterday! We are actually going to go to the coast for some actual rest and relaxation so I have fewer days than that to work on the farm. I need to be ready for Winter and its getting close to being finished and close to being winter!

I keep trying to get more organized. This is probably my single biggest hurdle. I will be making labels for my tool drawers next so I can finish organizing the new tool box and storage area in the machine shop. I am going to have Annmarie engrave labels on metal and get magnets for them so I can move them around if needed because I will not be happy with the first version. I also spent an hour and cleaned up all of the fencing buckets, tossed out the trash and got everything organized into grouped bins. I think I need to make a couple of shelves above this area to put tools onto, that project can happen later after everything else is done. I did take the drain hose and elevate it. It doesn’t weigh very much but it takes up a lot of space. I have this for around the barn but did not have time to get it into the ground. I used the old rope and pulley that used to hold up the fuel nozzle from outside the machine shed.

I had the pickup and trailer in the ram pasture but it was hard to drive in through the new gate as I am not going to get the flooded out culvert cleaned up and replaced. The angle of approach needed to be adjusted to make coming around the old chicken coop easier. This option had been discussed and since it rained 12/100” last night I thought moving some dirt was perfect. The moisture did not go down far but it did help some. I have a pile of dirt that I have been slowly lowering and I just lowered it enough to create a drivable dirt path. My little tractor can do this but it takes a lot of time with a 1/3 cubic yard bucket and a four foot wide box blade.

I got two more rock cribs finished and full of rocks. I am so ready for work where I do not have to move a few thousand pounds of rock a day. My limit alone is about 10,000 lbs of rock a day, which is only two cribs as I have to move the rock twice. After that I am ready to move onto a different job. So I ended up grading the animal access to the spring. It had three old post holes that needed cleaned up as we widened the water access and made it more into a funnel shape. I also dug out the water area to widen it and harden the far bank. My waterproof muck boots have gotten a serious workout this year.

I ended up watering the new plants with a bucket and collected eggs. For some reasons the chickens are slacking off as I only got seven eggs yesterday. I am unsure why, I am thinking it is time to cull all three roosters and the ancient hen who can only crab walk. The chickens don’t lay well when I disturb the normal patterns but since they are not laying anyway I might as well do it now.

Forever Friday 23/42

It’s fencing and more fencing time!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words but when I am drawing it out I am not so sure. I was attempting to explain to Annmarie the work I was doing on the barn lot to fix the flood damage and mitigate it should it occur again (probably gonna happen). So I drew out our current surviving fence below. The left side of the paper is where our house is located. the bottom of the paper is where the barn is located. The road is the road we use to get from the ram pasture to the behind the barn. It is not really a road but its what we use so we can move the tractor and the animals follow it. We cannot get to the barn without the road when the dirt gets all muddy.

I then edited the sheet to show Annmarie all the changes, the house is now at the bottom of the picture and the barn is to the right side. The green lines are all the changes. The green hatch spots are new rock cribs. I will be installing five new cribs. I am trying to build anchor points so I can have the fence break at certain sections to prevent the wipe out we got this year. In doing the planning I also decided to straighten out a couple of fences and create more of a V-shaped entrance to the bridge area and wider to allow the animals to be funneled into the barn lot when we want to sort them.

I worked for about seven hours on Friday outside with no mask. As the day progressed I could see the smoke layer getting thicker until I finally just gave up around 1700 and went inside. I did not feel well due to smoke exposure.

On Saturday, I wore an N95 mask. It made all the difference, I was able to spend 5.5 hours outside working on more fence. September is not a good month to attempt to build new fence. I am having to drill down into the ground a few inches then fill the hole with water and then step back and wait for it to all soak in. Sometimes I have to do this a couple of times and even use the dig bar multiple times to get down through the clay layer.

I still have three holes to dig and two more to finish to get the current fencing completed. I have to set six posts still and will need to pull over five more railroad ties from my used pile. So I really have 11 more posts to set! Each post takes about 1/6 yard of gravel to set. I will be setting 22 posts this time, I will still need to fix the momma baby area fence when I am done. I am still working on the repair in my head, I know I need two more rock cribs but I am trying to determine if I can put them 16’ apart and then connect them. This lets me use a single panel and makes it move easier/harder at the same time. There is no way I can get the large culvert crossing completed this year. I simply do not have time. I did manage to salvage all of the posts from the mass of twisted flood damaged fencing. I am still deciding if it is worth the $1.50/ea to pull out all the wooden stays from this mess. There is probably only about 15 stays and they won’t be easy to get, I could just throw the mess on the burn pile and pick out the wire for the scrap heap after the fire is out. I am leaning toward this option. I will be cutting up most of the bent panels and maybe even some woven wire to use inside the rock cribs. I install the wooden cross beams and then line the inside with wire so the rocks don’t fall through as easily. this seems to work better then just getting all big rocks.

The new center piece and blades I put on the tractor post hole auger are making the difference! I will need to not let this set get so worn before replacing them.

My tractor hydraulic leak is bugging me. It needs to get fixed, I am just unsure when I can afford for the tractor to be gone for two weeks.

Ouch, is it quicksand?

It has been a long two days already and there is one more left in the weekend.  First thing Friday and Saturday I got out of bed, made coffee and went out to spray fields.  We are trying to eradicate the star thistle and other thistles.  So I am spraying 2-4-d and Milestone on the fields and so is Mr Professional, between the two of us hopefully we will have it finished this week.  I keep running out of spray, last year we didn’t buy hardly any spray which may explain why we are spending so much this year.  I suspect we will end up with about $1500 worth of chemicals on the property, for around 70 acres.  The amount of rain we have gotten this year is causing the weeds to just keep coming out of the ground.  This has led me to the conclusion that the battery I got for the side by side is too small.  We keep having to use the external battery to jump start it.  I should have just gotten the kit that allows me to install a large marine deep cycle battery under the driver’s seat.  I will be doing that and getting a new battery that will just fit in the battery holder.  I need as much battery as I can get, even the trickle charger is not helping.

I did have to pump up the front right tire on the tractor on Friday.  I suspect I may have run over a nail.  I still need to replace the left front tire rim and both front tires are the originals and are almost 8 years old.  We now park the tractor in the machine shop but it used to sit out most of its life In the weather and sun which is reflected in the tire condition. It is time to get new ones.

Annmarie and I spent the late morning spreading out the rest of our ground cover tire bark on Friday and she took me to town to feed me lunch so we could get the rest of the parts needed to install a drip line on all the berries.  The berries and the lavender are both now on timers and drip lines.  We have about 20 bags of tire chips leftover.  I want to get the greenhouse up and use it on the floor as a heat sink.  Our wheat fields should be harvested next week.  I love the wheat when it is at this stage, I think it is at its most beautiful.

We spent Saturday morning fixing the drip lines on three herb containers in the back garden and I finished spraying the far field.  After breakfast and conversation with my mother I went out and put away the baler in the machine shed and decided to go up to the second field and dig more ditches.  The ditches I dug last week had water running in them and the surrounding ground has firmed up nicely.  I would like to move some dirt and fix all the runnels in the field that the flooding caused but there is still a pretty wet spot in the middle of the field.  My plan was to just dig some interconnecting ditches to help the water flow better.  I took flags with me and walked around the wet area and marked the borders so when it dried out I would know what was going to be super wet ground again in the spring.  I have pretty much convinced myself I am going to have to install pecker poles, some people call them vineyard poles, they are only 2” around and pressure treated.  I can drive them into the ground and they should stay for about 7 years.  I need to know where it is wet when I am cutting hay so I don’t inadvertently get out into the mud.

Why you ask would I like to avoid the mud?  Well it is wet and sometimes the bottom of the mud hole is hard to find.  I started to dig right at the top of a running waterway and got the front tires stuck.  I tried to back out and push out with the bucket but the bucket kept sinking and not finding a lot of firm ground.  I then went forward deeper into the hole and tried to pull myself forward with the bucket.  This let me get forward another three feet which put me nose down into a hole.  I was at the far end of the property and had no tools or vehicles except for two railroad ties laying over by the gates.  I had seen them there and was saving them for use later.  I hoofed it over and grabbed the first one, put it on my left should and walked the 200 feet to the tractor.  It was heavy and I could feel it digging into my skinny shoulder.  I wedged it under the front left tire and went back for the second one.  I simply could not squat down and get it up on my right shoulder, damn thing was over 100# and I was hot and tired.  So I put one end of the tie on a cross beam about three feet off the ground, lifted the other end and got under it.  I hoisted it onto my right shoulder and made it about 50 feet before saying no way and tossing it on the ground.  Mind you I think the tractor is sinking into the mud as I mess around with the railroad tie.  I grabbed a 3/8 chain I keep on the tractor and wrapped it around one end, made a yoke by hooking the other end to the tie, stepped in and started to pull it toward the tractor.  I was able to use my legs and whole body to move the railroad tie and got it to the tractor, I tossed it under the right front tire and a piece of cattle panel went under the back tires.  Nope, all this did was cause the ties to stand up when the front tires starting putting weight on them.  I needed a shovel to dig out a horizontal path for the tie.


I was keeping the tractor running because when I manipulated the bucket the front end of the tractor would fall into the water submerging the exhaust pipe.  My next trick was to pull out one of the ties and lay it just in front of the bucket.  The tie was wider than the hole I made so I figured I could push off the tie with the bucket.  This may have worked but when I lifted the bucket I rolled the tie toward me.

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I wanted it to be in just the perfect spot, unfortunately I rolled it too close and was unable to push off of it with the bucket.  I could kinda keep the front end out of the water only.  I then took the other tie and tried to get it under the front of the tractor.  Nope, it was just sinking faster and now the exhaust pipe was fully submerged.

In desperation I jumped off the tractor and gabbed the closet railroad tie and tried to stick in under the bucket at 90 degree angle to the other tie.  I figured the bucket could easily push off of that but I was not fast enough.  I tossed it quickly as the tractor had blue smoke coming out of it and was making a funny noise.  I tried to use the bucket to push me up but had to just turn off the ignition before I sucked water into the engine.  I had managed to get stuck more than any other time in the tractor’s life or my experience.  I called a friend, Mr Richard Hemphill who came out, looked at it and went back to get a bigger tractor.

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I tried to take a nap while waiting but surprisingly the ground was very warm with the sun beating down on the ground.  I gave up and drank more coffee.  The very large tractor showed up, we hooked the tow strap on and it just pulled me out of the ground!  Once out Richard said start it, I had to dig mud out of the exhaust pipe first and since the water never got to the air intake I fired it up and it started on the first try!

I spent over an hour with a hose getting all the mud off the tractor and out of the radiator.  There was mud caked all over the engine and both side of the radiator.  I am going to leave it to dry overnight and will move it in the morning.  I will be done with the tractor until I get new tires, the front right tire is flat again.

On the plus side, my baler part from Italy will be here in two weeks!

 

House cannot be neglected either

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It’s time to get the hay done, the flood damage fixed and the bathroom done, the only question is what order will it happen in and how long will it take?  I am making a valiant effort to get it all done but that is not leaving me any time for the blog.  I have been working until 2100-2200 every night and after my shower I am ready for bed not the blog!  In an effort to maintain some continuity I have been making notes on paper so that I do not forget what happened on that day.  So I am now going to play catch up on all the activities that have occurred in the last six days.  Friday of last week Mr Professional came out with two kids to do some manual labor.  They got the unit of lumber unloaded into the bull enclosure, Alcatraz.  It goes across the old granary foundation so it stays fairly straight and not on the ground.  I let the weather “age” it.  They then kinda mowed the front lawn with the broken mower and a weed eater.  It looked much better than before they started.  They also weeded the back garden area as it was starting to look like a jungle.  I took a pole saw out and cut all the low branches on both the maple trees by the house.  You could not see under them and they were too low.  The kids piled the branches across the creek in a pile to be burned later.

I took the trailer and pickup into Pendleton to pick up fencing supplies.  I got 12 of the last 15 railroad ties at the store and they were all rejects.  I paid $12/each but they were rough looking.  They will work fine for what I want but they will not win any beauty contests.  I also picked up some cable, clips, eyebolts, clamps and utility panels to make the breakaway fence sections.  We then drove around the farm and deposited all the supplies at various locations to be utilized when we get to that section of fencing.

After unloading I noticed a 3’ deep pond at the base of the culvert from the water washing all our rocks and concrete chunks away.  So I climbed down and started tossing rocks and chunks into the hole and spreading out the rocks to slow the erosion.  I got the pond down to under 1’.  Mr Professional had to call it quits as one of the young men was dying of heat exhaustion.  It was hot and he was not used to hard manual labor.  He could not keep up with the 50+ and 40 year old men.

After they left, I had dinner with the beautiful wife and then went back out to row up the triticale that Mr Professional had cut 1.5 days ago.  It was very thin and I had to make several passes to get a row built up.  I was almost done when I noticed the tractor was making a funny noise and had developed a vibration.  I did notice it but it was dark and I was almost done so I kept going until the front left wheel fell off!  All the lug bolts had fallen out.  I hoofed it home and called it a night.  The tractor place is open on Saturday from 0730-1200, I will get it in the morning.