Catch up

There was some rain last week and the grass is taking advantage of it. If you stare at the picture long enough you will see some green covering starting to happen on field #3. The cows had been going up through the freshly planted fields as they were dry and there was more grass up above for them to eat. When I noticed this new growth this week I locked the cows into field #4 and the barn lot only. I started to feed the cows hay now. I need this grass to get well established so that next year we can get as much hay as possible and have as much grazing land.

It has been a long week. I had some help early on in the week, Mr Rainman came out to do a few things while I did the paying job. He worked on finishing the harrow work in field #4 then planted dryland grass seed. I want to plant sections of fields where the animals are but need to keep them off of the area while we get the grass established. We want to get the grass growing and the fences in place so we can install an irrigation system. We have been looking at various solutions and need something that is doable when we are 70 years old. We have found an underground system that uses a mainline then has a soft pipe connection to the mainline and a plug in ground level connector. You just plug in the sprinkler head and it works, the best part is the connectors are off to the side and made of flexible pipe so they account for vehicles and animals stepping on them without breaking any pipe. This is the same reason to subdivide the fields. As we run into very dry summers we need to be able to keep the animals off of certain areas to enforce a rotation so that the grass has a chance to snap back. We are looking at selling all of our aluminum pipe to fund the majority of our system. This is in our two year plan, but next year our big expense is gutters for the front of the house and ice breakers for the roof. Again, looking at that retirement need!

I had him cut back our trumpet vine next to the house as the wind had been blowing and it was scratching on the metal roof. He did this the day of a 40mph+ wind storm, it was so bad Annmarie had me send him home.

I also had him trim the trumpet vine growing next to the old house as this had not been done for about seven years and the house was getting rubbed on. We had a huge windstorm today and there was absolutely no sound from anything rubbing on either house. Big win and may cause us to not even have to trim anything next year.

He also picked up all of the branches from our front yard one morning after a wind storm. There were branches everywhere. We usually ignore the leaves and if they get deep enough in the yard then I just let the sheep into the front yard and they eat the leaves. He then went out and pulled a disc around the back half of field #5 (#5b, as I am not going to keep renumbering fields when they get split). That section has a 3-4 foot drop off between levels and needs to be knocked down some to make it safe to drive on. It is not safe to drive the tractor on the drop off unless you are going up or down, no sideways driving will happen unless you want to roll the tractor onto its side.

Friday we were fortunate to have 0.82” of rain fall throughout most of the day, this doesn’t sound like much but its 6.8% of our annual rainfall of 12”. I looked it up we get between 12”-13.5” annually, depends on where you look. This was much needed rain, and if the temperature will stay above freezing and get above 50 F during the day I may get some growth on my fields.

Saturday I spent the morning being lazy, this is not a common occurrence at our house but it does occasionally happen. I then went out and used the arena groomer on field #5b. I spent about four hours going around in circles and trying to knock down the 3-4’ drop off, so when we were driving out here with the tractor we did not have to worry about tipping the tractor over no matter how we drove. It is now safe to drive sideways the length of the drop off. It took a lot of going around in circles to smooth out the field and drop off. I am always amazed at how not flat a field can be that looks pretty smooth from a distance but when you get into it you notice the little irregularities. This should make it pretty easy to cut and bale in the late spring. I keep forgetting how much rougher the little John Deere tractor is to ride around in. I felt pretty beat up after my four hours and definitely wore my seat belt the entire time. Ithen took the arena groomer off and put the post hole auger on the tractor. My top three point adjusting bar is broken on the little tractor. I need a new one, it is not turning any more. Once I got the three point auger on I realized I could not hook up the pto shaft as it was rusted on the auger! I drove to the machine shed, parked under cover and used 1/4 bottle of spray lubricant onto the shaft and then let it soak in repeatedly. Once I get the thing freed, if needed I will chain it to the other tractor and pull it apart, then I will clean up the inside shaft, use some lithium grease and put it all back together. I was really just trying to get the auger on the tractor so I can weld on a T shaped 8” holder onto the auger so I can stick 50-150# worth of tractor weight onto the arm near the auger. Sometimes, you just need a little weight on the end to make it work better as I cannot get any significant downward pressure with my 3 point hitch. The hitch won’t even notice the extra 150#. I figured this would help me in drilling holes and speeding up work. I will have to be careful to not let it cut too fast or I will be changing out the shear bolts all the time, but this will be easy to do.

I did not get to do the welding as we had a huge wind storm on Sunday! I fed the sheep and horse then went to get the Kubota tractor with pallet forks to feed the cows in the upper barn lot. The problem is the wind is 50mph and it started to rain again. The rain felt like hail due to the wind, I had to keep checking it as I was sure little ice balls were pelting me nonstop but no, just liquid water at high velocity. The Kubota has been moving the big bails fairly easily, I did not count on that 0.86” of accumulated rain in the last three days adding a bunch of weight to the bale! I had to drive the tractor in 4wd due to only the front two tires and one rear tire touching the ground the entire time. Needless to say, the bale was just barely above the ground and kept touching the ground so the tractor could stay on three tires with one rear wheel about 1” off the ground. I need to prioritize getting a quick hitch for the Kubota and converting one of the 50 gallon drums into a weight that I can back up to and drive off with when using the pallet forks. I have one full of horseshoes and it weighs around 800#. I know this because that is the max weight on my John Deere bucket and its all it can do to lift it. This is going to become a priority. I did notice that the Kubota tractor has an all steel foot deck with raised holes that cleans the mud off of my boots and lets me wash down the deck easily, I had to keep my hat tilted down to keep the rain from pelting my face and I may also need a new pair of muck boots as mine are pretty beat up but still waterproof so I will most likely hold off until they leak.

Planting continues

Mr Rainman came out this morning to help, upon arrival he announced he did not feel well. So we moved two pieces of furniture out of the house and then went to the barn to tag and band lambs. The oldest lambs were 6 weeks old and pretty dang big for that age. Annmarie had been telling me for a while to get them banded but I was holding out for more lambs. At the rate they are having babies its going to take four months again. It is a dang good thing we got another ram, our old one may be nice but he is slow. So we pushed the sheep and lambs into the barn, watched the sheep so we knew who belonged to whomever. I had a new occurrence that has not happened in the last 287 boy lambs we have had, one of the lambs had TWO SCROTUM, strange but solved by putting one testicle in each one and banding them both. We will be watching our old ram, he may have to be taken out of the equation permanently. Mr Rainman helped me unload the end table at my mothers and then proceeded to go home and sleep all day, I suspect the dreaded mancold. It is a downer.

I put all the tools I needed, seed and fuel into the Kubota and drove up to the little John Deere tractor. I could not get it to start. We had this problem last week, the neutral indicator is not working correctly therefore the engine doesn’t start. I filled the tractor with fuel, most of it went on me, and my long sleeve shirt then tried to start it for over ten minutes with no luck. I then used the Kubota to pull off the broken cultivator/seeder and got it onto the Kubota. I also repaired the cultivator/seeder. This took an hour and then I was finally ready to seed. I spent the rest of the day seeding. I have all of field #2 completed. I have half of field #3 planted. So in total I have about 7 acres planted so far. I have 10 more acres to plant, but am going to run out of seed. Hopefully, my seed order comes in tomorrow. Planting is a whole lot of circles and circles and more circles.

I need to get new diesel cans so I can quit wearing fuel and pouring it all over the tractor. I tried to replace the nozzle but the new one does not work very well and it still leaks. I did discover today that the PTO safety is still engaged on the new tractor. I jumped off to look at the grain bin and the tractor died because the PTO was engaged. I have it overridden on my old little tractor and totally forgot about it. I am hoping to have everything planted by this upcoming weekend.

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.

One day of productivity

Yesterday was the official return to home date after our stint at Church camp, I was the camp nurse and Annmarie was the camp chaplain. It was very relaxing, nothing to do, very little nursing work for me and we both got to take naps every day! Mother Nature could have turned down the heat some but it was so much better than the two weeks prior that I was not going to complain. We brought home 25# of black cherries I picked from an orchard in Cove and we are going to work on trying to eat them all in a week. It’s going to be a challenge but after we gave some out to the various family members so we should be able to do it.

As we were driving down the driveway we had a discussion about me needing to give the cows some more food. I really need to finish tagging that last calf and banding the one that got away. This will allow us to swap cows and sheep. We need to move the four cows in the upper field down to the lower pasture and all the momma, bull and calves and all of the sheep to the upper fields. I can open up field four so that the animals have access to filed #2-4. This should give them enough food for at least 8 weeks if not longer. This no rain or moisture weather is rough on pasture. My Mother-in-law called me this morning while I was picking up Mr Professional to also request that the cows get food today. We went out to get bales but the bucket on the old tractor was acting up and I could only tip the tractor bucket not raise and lower it. So we stopped, cleaned out the linkage, tore it apart, tightened a few spots and then lubed it all up so it works very well again. This will help Mr Rainman finish cleaning out the barn this week. I was able to pull bales out and push them to the cows below and the two stuck in Alcatraz.

Once that was done we dug holes in the front yard and concreted in the two end posts for our new stair railings. We then finished getting most of the substructure completed. We just need to get the outside railing in and the stabilizer boards between the decking boards installed. I need to focus on getting the house cleaned, curtains installed down in the craft room, and toilet paper holder installed in the upstairs bathroom. We have company coming on Saturday so we will need to be ready. I am driving on Friday to go pickup our new ram.

Haying nonstop

Well, it’s been a long two days. Sunday we cut 18 acres of grass hay with a 25hp John Deere tractor and a side sickle bar. It took 9 hours to get it all done. We actually cut 19 acres by the time we were done. I even managed to get in an hours nap out in the field while Mr Professional cut for me. The only down side was waking up with a tick on my neck still crawling around, a little silver one. It was not attached but it sure does make me scratch and explore every odd sensation after that! It took me till dark to get it all completed. Now it just needs to be turned.

I had to go to work for a few hours Monday morning so Mr Professional came out, got the tractor cleaned off and full of fuel then went down to the school house and cut another 4-5 acres of hay! We have been getting it on the ground as fast as we can, pretty soon we are going to have to pick it all up!!

I got in another nap inside the house on the living room floor after getting the new weather station installed outside on top of the pole. It took longer than anticipated as it is sticking way up in the air. I need to dig a flat spot instead of balancing the ladder on a couple of rocks. I had to make multiple up and down trips on the ladder as I discovered that I needed some washers to add to the clamp to make it work as my pipe was smaller than the manufacturers designed. I did put the rain gauge out where the cows could rub on it so after some discussion with Annmarie I will need to move that closer to the house. We love having the weather station, I just don’t like maintaining it or repairing it. This is our third one and hopefully all that is needed now is a simple battery change. I was supposed to go pick up rock chuck carcasses. Wife shot three more two days ago, this heat is not going to make my job any easier. After she shot the first one with the 243 I showed her the 17hmr and said to use it. It was not more than 150 yards and did not need the 243. So to date we have dispatched 4 rock chuck just within sight of the house. Two of them were living under my lumber pile and making a mess on top of it!! It’s bad enough they dig out my rock cribs and make my fence lean, but to try and ruin my lumber is the ultimate insult.

This afternoon I gassed up the tractor once Mr Professional was done cutting and we swapped out for the hay rake. I went up into field two to rake. Field two needs some work! The center of the field needs about 3 acres killed, dished then leveled with the arena groomer, there are ruts ten inches deep and furrows and water damage out in the field from the flood that did not get repaired. It is truly teeth shattering to bounce around. I almost broke the water fire extinguisher twice, it kept leaping out of the tractor bucket. We need to rework the stand so it is attached to the tractor better. I also need to order new U joints, and a driveshaft cover and end caps to keep the hay from binding up around the shaft. if you get in the tall grass it binds up around the driveline and you have to stop and cut it off. It’s a pain and should not be an issue. I have no clue when it fell off the parts order needs to go in tomorrow. When I was going through the gate I forgot that the grass catcher was sticking out and bent it on the gate. The gate is a little dinged up but when I bent the catcher back it broke, this only shortened it by about 6 inches. I need to order a new bar. While I am ordering parts I may as well order the runner part for the sickle mower that fell off yesterday! Screwy part was we had been tightening all bolts and nuts first thing in the morning before starting any equipment. I managed to get all of field #2 rowed and the rest of field #3 done. There was still quit a bit of moisture in field 2, it had only been 48 hours. We should be up and baling by Wednesday. I will turn the 18 acres tomorrow after work. We can then start baling all of it on Thursday.