Glamorous farm life

I spent most of the weekend working on the barn. It needs to have all of last year’s sheep excrement and straw dug out. I was unable to get a teenager to work for me for the summer. No one is real keen on lots of weed pulling, lawn mowing, weed eating, ditch digging, barn digging and chicken coop cleaning. It’s too bad, the wages are decent and a hard days labor is good for the soul. Since no one else did it, I needed to do it. I used the John Deere tractor as it is small enough to maneuver inside the barn. After the manure forks are attached to the bucket it is not too bad. I have most of the barn dug out after about 13 total hours. I have only hand digging left to do. I use the tractor bucket as the wheelbarrow and just fill it with a pitchfork and shovel. After a few hours on the tractor and smelling like ammonia it is time to do something else. I came in on Sunday and just wanted to lay down on the floor in the laundry room and take a nap after spending five hours in the barn. I tried to nap but the smell of ammonia was so overpowering from my clothes I finally had to strip and shower. I never did get that nap. I wired outlets in the old house, another 13 done. I have one wire to pull down from the ceiling and I will install the track lighting next. The goal is to get power to the building in the next six weeks so the heat pump can be installed.

We also spent about half a day over the weekend cleaning house. There is still a lot of paint dust laying around on every object in the kitchen. On Tuesday, the housekeeper came out and wiped down the entire kitchen so the dust is now gone.

The puppy, Chance, is painful. Yes she is very cute, I love the droopy ear on the right side but she thinks she can jump on you and the furniture nonstop. She does know she is not supposed to some of the time but takes constant reminders to maintain good behavior. If she gets out the front gate she does not want to come back to the house. Packing a 25# puppy over 300 yards is not fun.

Today Annmarie called me to tell me that one of the young alpaca was bleeding and his wound needed to be addressed today. No one had noticed anything amiss prior to this. Annmarie opened the front yard gate and pushed the alpaca toward it, like a curious cat, they all ran for the open gate to see what was on the other side. When I got home we went to get a halter for the alpaca and discovered the horse was panting and drooling. Her tongue was about twice its normal size. She has been in the barn lot for weeks so we are unsure what happened. She was able to eat food and she refused water so we will keep watching her. After we caught the baby white alpaca I proceeded to try and clean off the wound to see what type of injury there was. There were a lot of flies, a lot of maggots and a lot of caked on dirt all over the wound and in it. I cleaned it with a little bit of water to make sure there would not be a lot of bleeding if I opened up the wound. I turned on the hose and started to clean the surrounding tissue of dirt, maggots and dead tissue. It took about 15 minutes to get the wound all cleaned out. I finally had to use my pocket knife to dig out maggots in three places as they had tunneled enough I could not get them with my fingers. I cut away some dead tissue. The wound is about 1.5” wide and 5” long and about 3/4” deep in places. It has been there for a while but didn’t start to bleed until last couple of days due to maggots getting to a blood laden area. We doused it with betadine then used some antibiotic spray, nonabsorbent dressing and some Coban around the top of the leg where the wound was located. The injured alpaca and Snoop (buddy) will be living in the corral for a couple of weeks to allow us to treat the wound daily. If the wound starts to tunnel bad we will just put the alpaca down so it does not suffer. Otherwise, we will try and get the wound to heal. We will see what it looks like tomorrow.

I was going to fence…

I had big plans today. I had Mr Tex lined up to come out and we were going to install the fence between field #2 & #3. This is one that I did not get fixed last year after the 100 year flood. I have all of the supplies staged already and merely needed to put the auger on the little John Deere and I was ready to go. I was up and out the door by 0700. I had to put fuel in the John Deere but I needed to rotate the nozzle to the second tank, the first one was empty. I also discovered that the fuel gauge is totally done for now, it said 3/4 of a tank and there were mere fumes in the tank, I was not even sure I would make it the 30 feet to the fuel tank it was so low. After that was done I put the post hole auger on, except it had the 6” auger and I needed the 12”. So I changed that out, then I remembered I had new teeth for the 12” auger, so I removed the old and got the new teeth. Nope, they are for a bigger auger, thank you internet. So I rotated the old teeth and reinstalled them. Then I went and put the bucket on the Kubota and the box blade on it. I figured I could go and drag the new fence line and get ready. It was 0830 already and Mr Tex had not responded to my text messages. So I sent him another one.

I then opened the gate for the sheep and cows to run out and go eat on the green grass in field #3 & #2 as I am not going to do a second cutting. I simply do not have time to do it. I had to drive the Kubota through the ditch as my other culvert crossing has not been repaired. Wouldn’t you know that the ditch is too steep and narrow and I got the tractor and box blade wedged in. This caused me to break out the rear tail light cover. This was my first broken thing on the Kubota!! It was bound to happen and I had 465 hours on the tractor before it happened. I had to drop the box blade drive out, chain onto the box blade with the bucket and lift it out. Once I had the box blade reattached I headed up to the new fence area. I stopped at the steep slanted section of the road that caused us trouble last winter and caused us to dump hay off of the trailer due to the downhill slant. It looks much better now.

I got the area for the new fence all cleaned up and ready for holes. So that will be next on the agenda. I had time to kill so I started digging out the ditch as it was starting to get backed up. The last two floods have not been kind to my ditch. I am working on creating a berm on the back half of the ditch so the flood waters will be contained should they ever come again (they are coming). I was able to get about 2/3 of the ditch cleaned out in field #3. I will need to work in cleaning out the rest of the ditches this fall.

I was able to accidentally spot some baby quail today. I had stopped to take a picture of the road I had leveled out. If you look closely you will see a quail standing on a post. He was the lookout for a momma and her 5 babies! So I hope every pair has five! We will know this winter when they all bunch up just how many made it through the summer.

Left out in the heat

I spent Thursday on the tractor going in circles making little bales of hay for eight hours in field number one. That seven acres seems to take days to bale due to the shear volume of grass that was produced this year. At only 40# a round bale it takes 50 bales to make a ton and there is around 20 ton out in this field alone. We are counting bales as they come out of the field so we will know when the field is empty how many ton of hay were produced. The bale counter has a lot of false positives as it counts every time the dump opens up even if a bale is not discharged. I do wear hearing protection but both of us had been wearing some type of ear bud/in ear speakers to listen to music while baling. This is problematic as the baler has a siren to tell you when it is full and we cannot hear it. You also cannot hear when something changes with the equipment. You can hear most breaks or soon to be broken issues but not while wearing headphones. So instead we now have a Dewalt radio bungee corded between the roll bars on the tractor, blasting music and we wear ear muff sound protectors. This makes it much easier to hear any changes with the equipment. I know this sounds counterintuitive but it really does work!

Mr Professional came out and did an oil and filter change on the John Deere tractor. I need a strap wrench for the fuel filter before it can be changed. I have ordered this already and it should be here by next week. I had to stop several times while bailing and make adjustments to the baler. It keeps needing adjustments as the temperature outside continues to rise. Once I got the chain adjusted I had to adjust the rear hatch catching mechanism. Also the discharge spring stop weld broke so I had to beat down the metal tab three times. This has been welded with some extra angle iron added to take the continuous pounding every time a bale is discharged. We need more tools in our tool bag. We need a full set of metric wrenches, not just the 15 mm and 10 mm wrenches. Plus, I noticed a couple of holes in our tool bag, so a new tool bag is probably also in the works. The wheat field is starting to turn. They won’t be able to harvest till the end of July this year. Harvest will probably be 3-5 weeks later than normal for us.

I was going to call it a day when Mr Professional said he got someone to come out and buck hay bales with me. This sounded like a great idea so I came in and fired up the pickup and we went out to pick up bales. We picked up 100 bales (2 ton) out of field two and came into the barn lot. Unfortunately, we filled the easy spots last time and that meant all of these bales needed to go to the top of the pile. We had 10 of the 100 bales into the barn when he gets a phone call and has to leave. I ended up moving about three ton of hay farther up into the barn and then unloaded the two ton from the trailer into the barn. I was very tired by the time I was done. Since I missed dinner and Annmarie had gone into town to do some work, they had left me dinner on the stove, Mashed potatoes and meatloaf! Annmarie always adds lots of stuff to the meatloaf so the vegetables are hidden inside of it, mostly carrots and onions. I zapped the potatoes in the microwave and then doused the meatloaf in a thick layer of real ketchup. Mind you I had stripped down in the laundry room to my tighty whiteys and needed the shower but it was nine pm and my last meal was at 7 am. I was hungry. So I ate dinner on the front porch of the house in my underwear while I watched the sun go down. It was a very spectacular dinner.

I had to order more diesel. This time instead of ordering 100 gallons I just told them to fill both sides of the tank to the top and we would go from there. I think its a 150 gallon tank. The propane company sent us our annual contract, we used 346 gallons of propane last year. Interesting enough, they set our usage at 800 gallons next year therefore making our monthly contribution double what it would have been. I sure hope the price doesn’t double or our consumption double. Every since we had the coolant leak repaired our propane usage is about half of what it used to be, which is why I think they are budgeting for 800, as I suspect our usage was that high before the repair.

I was in bed trying to go to sleep over the crying puppy (we are crate training her) and the noisy frogs when Mr Professional called to say someone just pulled up to the field with a pickup, a trailer and a loader and two people were out in the hay field with headlamps on. I ended up getting out of bed, putting on my wild west attire and headed out to the field. Before I could get out there he calls back to say its the bee people. They were adding hives to the ones they already have in the neighbor’s fields. They had forgotten exactly which field but had the right location. It was directly across the road from where they were looking. I was back in bed and asleep by midnight.

Beauty fence

Well the weeds are sprayed and the grass is not tall enough to mow out in the fields so the Four Corners fencing project has begun this weekend. I spent a few hours on Saturday afternoon tearing out fences and wooden stays from the fence lines. I also developed a plan for redoing the fence. I cannot just tear into the ground as the telephone line is buried just outside the fence line and it is not buried 2-3 feet. It is only eight inches deep by our house so I am assuming it is fairly shallow here also.

Today Mr Professional came out and we went down and worked on the fencing all day. We took the trailer down filled with gravel, this was Mr Professional’s idea and proved to be useful as we are about 1/2 mile from the gravel pile and tractors are not exactly fast. We promptly broke out the bolts on the auger on the first hole. It appears that the hard pan is not very deep, about 18-24 inches down. We had to use the breaker bar to keep digging and we never did manage to break through the hard pan level. We just gave up on the digging once we got ”deep enough”. We started a small fire after we started to rip out the fence line and found scrap wood every where. We burned the weeds and a lot of the wood scraps. We managed to dig six holes with the auger and have five more to go. We are going to have to create a wash out area that lets the water run through/under the fence. I think we are going to have to use the old tires to keep the bull from just lifting the fence. He is so painful. We had to reinforce the culvert entrance on Tuesday as he had lifted the fence and went to see the neighbor’s heifers. Today we saw him trying to get through the culvert again but he cannot after our repair! He tried on three separate occasions throughout the day to get through to the other side with zero success.

We got the corner braces in and all tightened down. They look really good and our goal is to make the fence look very nice as everyone who drives by will see this addition. Once we have all the fence up we will take down the inner fence down by the willow trees and start to clear the flood debris out. It is a mess down there now. A few more days and we will get it done.

The spraying that was done two weeks ago is starting to come visible. I was spraying in front of the side by side and driving over the area so I could see where i was spraying. I started to notice some unintended consequences of that choice. Hopefully,, the grass will grow back without too much difficulty.

Quick thaw

It has been a long week. The weather has of course totally flipped from having to stay home on Monday to dig out the driveway for hours to today a mere six days later driving around on the tractor in a long sleeve shirt only feeding the cows and doing work in the barn coatless as it is 50 F. This change in the weather had the Child and Annmarie out at the back creek fence trying to cut the panels loose. I have only two panels left that hang across the back creek. They are needed to prevent the sheep and cows from going up the dry creek bed in the summer. In the fall I should lift them out of the creek bed but it never seems to happen. Also, once I do that the fence line has a hole in it and the animals have to be kept out of that area. We had a sudden warming spell and Annmarie woke up to the back creek running. This is usually very bad and I end up in waders in three feet of raging water trying to undo the clips holding the panel in place from being lifted out of the water. Annmarie and Sarah spared me this by going out right after breakfast and loosening the panels, they did have to step into the ice cold water to get the center clip loose. They did not have to battle a torrent of water but they did have to get wet with the ice cold water. Two days later and the back creek has dropped to a depth of four inches. I am glad the mountain snow did not try and all melt off, it’s only January and it needs to stay until late May. Mr Professional and I went out this weekend and lifted the panels so they are ready for the spring flood. The weather also destroyed our ancient decorative windmill I had found and rehabbed and put back up. It tore off the tail and bent a bunch of the vanes. It is toast and cannot be easily repaired. I am now in search of another with sealed bearings so I don’t have to grease it annually. This is going to take some sleuthing on the internet to find one we like and think will last in up to 100 MPH winds.

Mr Professional and I got the hole in the ceiling in the craft room cleaned up and he got the sheetrock patch installed and it now has two coats of mud on it and the next coat is going to be texture! I even found some Kilz 2 upstairs to prime it after he gets the texture to match. Once we get the ceiling painted I can take down all the plastic drop clothes over everything and give the room a final deep cleaning. The room will be ready to use again after that.

We went into the barn and worked on installing some more eyebolts. I wanted to be able to set up some more jugs and to do that we had to install 2×6 boards to the wall then install two eyelets for the long pegs to drop through. We currently have enough eyelets installed to create 6 jugs and split the barn into 2/3 and 1/3, using the space under the stairs we have 7 jugs in the barn. We just need three more six foot panels to make this all happen but they are currently on back order through Premier. Once we had that done we created a baby feeding area using our Creep gate. We have never used the creep gate before so this will be a first for us. The creep gate is suppose to keep the big sheep out and only let in the size you set for the babies. When I went out tonight it did not look like any babies had been in it eating the grass hay. I put out a small dish of straight grain in the middle of the area, no momma can reach it so if its gone in the morning some lamb has figured out how to use the lamb only feeding area. I only managed to cut myself twice this weekend and Mr Professional only took one divot out of a finger out in the barn. If he would wear gloves more often this would not happen.

The turn signals and emergency flashers were broken on the pickup and all of the lights on the John Deere tractor were out. Mr Professional cleaned some stuff, changed out some fuses and got everything working again today. I had to get more fuel in five gallon containers so we had fuel. I filled up the John Deere this week and I could see the entire bottom of the fuel tank, it was dry! I don’t know how I did not run out of diesel when I was using it to dig out the big tractor. We have moved over an old 100 gallon double compartment fuel tank, I have grounded the tank and just need to get a tank fuel pump for it so I can start having diesel delivered to the house. I will probably only need the tank filled twice a year. It will be nice to not have to use five gallon jugs all the time. The old fuel tank used to be on a trap wagon they had for cleaning out combines and equipment during harvest.

I will be ordering repair parts for the hay baler this week and some more baling wrap so we may actually get them before June.