Machine shed ready

Friday we spent the day figuring out how to get all of the hay equipment put back together and into the machine shed. We have an old chain lift that is now hanging and oiled with 200# of tractor weights hanging from it in hopes that it will break loose. I beat on the pin a few times with a hammer but could get no movement out of the lift either up or down. I spray WD40 on it every couple of weeks. It would be nice to have something that could move a thousand pounds without any difficulty. We did manage to get all the equipment mostly put back together. The mower is missing a slender nut on a pivotal bolt. I kept doing a parts search and writing down the id labels so I can place an order for spare parts. I have 15 items I want replacements on hand so it can be fixed immediately. I had gone to my parent’s house and picked up my father’s toolbox. He was a machinist when he was alive so I thought he would have a full set of metric tools. I was wrong, he had a lot of tools and micrometers and dial calipers and inside calipers and then a ton of English tools of all sizes but not a single metric tool in the entire chest! I will be moving my large tool box out of the old house into the machine shed. The plan is to get all of the English tools into the large box and convert my father’s into a metric only box. Annmarie had me order black anodized aluminum business cards and we are going to use the laser engraver to make parts drawer labels for both toolboxes. I will epoxy the labels onto the tool boxes so I can quickly find the needed tools. We were able to get all three pieces of hay equipment and the sprayer lined up in one bay. The end bay is for the tractor to stay out of the weather and a pallet sized area is needed for the cultivator/seeder to live. We had to use the pallet and screw down some wooden supports for the reciprocating mower. It was a little tippy with the blade in the upright stored position. We even placed them in the order they would be needed in the spring! Hoss made a holder for the extra netting to be stored. I opted to keep it in the box to minimize the dirt collection. We did get the baler together and moved but I still cannot figure out how to install the new roll of netting. It is not intuitive at all. I will have to call and get instructions on how to use both pieces of equipment, the rake is very easy compared to everything else. My dad’s toolbox is brown and the small upper part is bolted to the lower part forming one unit. I wanted to put them on a pallet so they did not sink into the gravel. I really need to get some more ear muffs to install near the anvil. Its kinda loud when you start beating on metal. I also need a trash can in here as I have a pile of trash on the floor currently.

Afterwards, I fired up the pressure washer from mom’s and started in on the fence. I figured I could do the whole fence with one tank of gas. Nope, I will need 3-4 tanks of fuel to get the entire fence cleaned off. Annmarie tells me that I am going to end up scraping some of the fence by hand as the pressure washer is only getting about 80% of the loose paint. We are going to use the same paint but this one only lasted 4 years from the first time I painted it. I am going with better preparation the time around will make the paint job last longer. I just slapped paint over it the first time after installing it. I had to move the cars after I blew paint, dirt and water onto them. Annmarie wanted to know what the finger streaks on her car were from. I figured if I did not get the wet paint off of her car it would dry and stick semipermanently. I did not want that to happen!

Mowing is not working

Saturday Hoss and I started out the morning by cleaning up around the machine shed. We managed to get all the junk up and in its proper place. We then hooked up the rotary mower to the tractor and I went up to the upper 7 acre field to clean up next to the cross fence. Hoss said that he could not get to the wire to tighten and attach due to all the weeds.

I ran the mower alongside the fence and got as close as I could. There is a hidden ditch near one end that I had to avoid so I did not tip the tractor over. Since I was already down this way I decided to try and mow the 7 acre field. It is one of the fields I want to plant in grass. The weeds are 4-7 feet tall and are very thick. It really needs some cleansing fire, but I am afraid to burn anything as I think it will get out of control quickly. This limits me to the rotary mower. The mower did not get choked out because all of the weeds are so dry. They don’t act like a rope when they get under the mower deck. The real problem is all the seeds and fuzz that the weeds put off clogs the air intakes on the tractor which cause the tractor to overheat.

I ended up overheating the tractor in under two hours of continuous mowing. I really need lights on the tractor so I can mow at night! I will do some research and figure out what kind and how to mount them on the tractor.

The middle field we are fencing in now does have some grass in it, I just need to get the field enclosed so the sheep and cows can get up here.

Machine shed needs to be functional

I decided it was time to get the crates unpacked and gets the machine shed organized this weekend, that goal was a a bigger bite than I was able to swallow in one weekend. I ran into several problems that I did not anticipate.

The hay equipment did not unpack nicely. We got the supports removed from the pallets and all of the loose stuff out And put away but I could not figure out how to get the support arms onto the baler correctly and I could not tell about a safety bar on the mower that looked like I would bend it if I picked it up. We kept looking at it and speculating then finally I announced that I would have to actually look at the operating manual and see if I could find a video online. The Italians are not making intuitive farm equipment.

We worked on getting the bolt organizers up onto the wall. I then spent three hours sorting bolts by diameter, nut, washer and lock washer. I also ended up sorting one column all into carriage bolts by diameter also. I got every bolt I owned onto that wall. I am thinking about getting a small organizer with 16 drawers to put all the metric bolts for the hay equipment in, this way I can keep them separated.

I am using the old metal cabinet for tractor and hay equipment parts. I will also be using the metal red and white cabinets. I need to install a shelf under the bolt organizer so I can put the extra PTO shafts on it. I also have an extra cutting bar blade preassembled. After reading the instruction manual I figured out that I have to rivet those blades onto the bar. It will be an interesting repair to say the least. The far bay will be left open for the tractor, so that it can be stored inside.

I had Hoss add 16 feet of plywood to the back wall. The. Back wall is only 7 feet tall so that left a nice one foot wide piece to use as a shelf. I am thinking about some sort of bin organizer on this wall but honestly I managed to get all the pieces stored in the space I have already. I think the metric bolt organizer is all I need to purchase at this point. The plywood will help stiffen the walls

We put up two more sheets of plywood on the wall going to the hay room. I don’t have all the boards up on the wall separating the hay room from the shop side yet. I will only be putting big bales in there this year and we cannot stack them. No tractor on the place that will lift that much weight. I think I can store 20 big bales on the ground. I will use them last and use the ones stored outside first. I want the plywood up to keep the hay scraps from blowing over into the shop area. We also added two shelves over in the corner. I want to add two more above the plywood. I have some stuff I only use once a year and it can sit up on those shelves. We are running out of 2×4 for more shelves. I need to make another run and buy 10 more.

We did get the new bench made! It is a solid piece of wood, the top I got for free and it is all laminated and glued 2×4. I bolted legs into the ends and used scrap wood from the pallets to make X on each end. I plan on adding a shelf under the bench as I want to store my small compressor under this bench. I also want to put a hose reel above the bench. I love using this to blow out the dirt and weeds from the tractor grill and radiator. The pallet to the left of this bench will hold the two tool chests. I have a large rolling one in the old house that I will be moving over here. It will hold all the English tools and I will bring my father’s out and make it the metric only. I need to get organized so I don’t waste so much time hunting down tools. Whether I like it or not I will be working on this equipment. This means I will need some lights out here. I plan on installing a flood light in every bay. If I control the lights individually I will be able to wire them all into the same 20 amp breaker. I will use all LED lights to cut down the power consumption.

We got rain this weekend. I was hoping for a bunch when it started on Friday but we only got 4/100 while three miles away they got 7/10! Last night it rained again and we got another 1/10 for a total of 14/100. Not exactly exciting but enough to get the grass to turn green, but we were vindicated later today by getting another 42/100 for a total of 56/100, over 1/2 inch of rain! The best part is it did not all come at once so it all got absorbed into the ground where it fell. We just need a pleasant week of moderate temperatures and the grass will start growing everywhere.

We are sold at this point on getting a combo welder/generator so we don’t have to install a new power panel service in the shop. The electrical service would cost us more than the generator.

Fence repair and build continues

I sent Hoss up into the upper prime pasture to look for the Bull’s escape route. I told him to go to the upper spring crossing as he loves ducking under the crossings. Yep, that is what he did. Hoss did not think he was capable of going under the fence.

The crossing should be Bull proof now, he should not be able to slide the panel up over his back with that 2×6 in his way.

Hoss has been working on getting all of the H braces secured and built. Once this is done we will be able to start stretching fence and getting it secured appropriately.

I went up and helped for a short while on Friday morning and we we got the back cross fence out of the weeds and started securing the bottom to the posts and T posts. I remembered this time to check and see how Hoss was doing with the T-post clip application. The helpers usually need to be shown how to install them. This was true on Friday also. I got him straightened out and we started attaching the bottom two clips through the dip. Once those are secured we will tighten the fence some more and get it all up. Hoss will be back on Monday to get the odds and ends caught up and then back at the fencing.

The freight company texted me on Friday afternoon to drop off the new hay equipment but even though I called immediately they did not answer. I will call first thing Monday morning so we can get the hay equipment delivered. I will get it hooked up and get about another 3 acres cut! I may get another 3-5 tons of nice grass. Hoss is going to clean off the loaner equipment so we can get it back on the pallets and get it sent back to the company this week.

Population boom

It has started again, the sheep are lambing. Of course Annmarie is out of town, but luckily all of the sheep but one were in the orchard. When I let the dogs out this morning I was pretty sure I heard a newborn lamb. I say this because they make a very distinct sound that only lasts a few days, after that their voice changes. It is odd but honestly you can hear newborn babies. I looked up on the hillside at the lone sheep who had snuck out of the orchard and she had at least one lamb, turns out she had twins. Hoss and I pushed her back into the orchard with another loner who made it out. They are crawling through the ditch. When it flooded this spring it lifted it out of the water. I will need to fix it tomorrow but I am going to have to put on my waders as my normal knee high boots are not going to keep me dry. Hoss and I also turned on water in the orchard and started to water the grass. We have not watered it at all this year. We then went out to finish digging all the post holes.

Hoss has been working on getting T-posts pounded into the ground and trying to finish the holes I started. It is too late in the season to be attempting new post holes in our ground. He has been filling the holes with water and digging out 2-4 inches every day. Today we tore it up and got every hole drilled that we needed. Some just required time, some needed finesse and some we had to dig out by hand. The tractor auger will sit on top of the clay but if you dig it by hand it will be much faster. We had to dig out five by hand. We have 24 done and ready for posts now. On Sunday we will fill the pickup with gravel and set as many posts as we can. I set all wooden posts with gravel now. They stay in place better and it cuts down on the weeds growing around them. Which makes it less likely for me to burn up the wooden post.

Hoss stated that yesterday he got stung 4-5 times by the yellow jackets in one particular place. The blackberry bushes were right up next to the fence location. He gave up. Today I took the tractor in there and shoved the bushes back five feet and knocked down the weeds. I did not get stung a single time. I think he was exuding fear.

We came back to the house to look at the hay mower. It needs more than a couple of bolts. I need to tear apart the cylinder, find the correct bolts, remove the broken bolts from the welded in place nuts straighten the blade arms and put it all back together. This is going to take a couple of days. I will need more tools.

Once I realized it was going to take more than a couple of hours we moved onto the next project. I decided to finally move the panels in the bull enclosure so that any animal can take itself to water. We had a trough initially and it worked for the horses but the sheep we had to water separately in buckets. So we moved a panel out into the channel and added two more. They were very hard to get unpinned and moved. The fence is incredibly strong. I will need to add in a gravel pathway so the animals do not sink into mud when getting a drink. I had 20 more yards of gravel delivered last week. I knew we would need it for the fence posts and the skinning pole. I will need at least five yards just to fill in under the skinning pole. I am looking forward to not having to work in the mud when skinning an animal.

We moved the horse trough down to chicken coop. I want to level a spot under the eaves of the old house so that the rain helps keep it filled and then I want to get goldfish! I think they can survive the winter. They are cheap and I miss having fish.

Zeke, our herding border collie, keeps getting out of the front yard. I was certain that he was jumping over one of our gates. He got out again today and ran into the upper fields to harass the wildlife. So I added new slats to the gate to make it too tall for him to leap. I then ran to the store for a quick errand knowing he was secure. When I got home he was outside the fence again. I have no clue how he is doing it. I am going to have to install our game camera up onto the trash can to watch the front fence and see where he is getting out. I suspect he is going over it I am just not sure where. Take my advice, do not teach your herding dog to get over, under, through every fence when herding because you are just creating a containment nightmare for yourself. Until we figure it out he goes on the overhead run now whenever we are not home.

We also installed some metal equipment rims in the old oak tree spot down at my Mother-in-laws today. I am not sure how it will be received so I am holding off on pictures until later.

After a solid 8 hours it was time to call it a day. I sat out in the rocking chair, drank some water and ate Sorbet! It was very good and incredible after a hot day. It was 90 degrees today. Our back creek is still running which is amazing. I suspect it to end by August.

The sheep are popping babies out everywhere. We had three sets of twins and at least one single born today. I called Annmarie and she said it was time. I thought they were all due in August. This means next week we have to get the barn functional so we can sort off the market animals and the new babies. The babies will need to be tagged and banded. We also need to track their mother and birth date! Since I could not get close today I will take out the binoculars tomorrow and I should be able to get tag numbers and quantities born. I will even use our new tracking software!

Supposed to get something done

It was a holiday weekend so I had an extra day off. I had all these plans on accomplishing tons of things, this did not happen. I did get some stuff done but not as much as I envisioned. I also ended up with a couple of surprises. Sometimes the surprises are not pleasant and this weekend was no exception to that rule. I spent Thursday and Friday finishing digging out the barn. Hoss went to play in the mountains for the holiday so I finished digging out the barn the first day and then spent the next day moving piles of straw and sheep manure onto our compost pile. We have two piles and the old pile is almost ready to be distributed as soil. It takes 2-3 years to break down the straw and manure into a usable substance.

Meathead came out and sheared the dogs. Annmarie asked her to use a longer blade and she did not want to shear their tails. She is opposed to them having rat tales. It is easier to keep the cheat grass out of their hides with a shorter coat.

We went out and covered one of the plum trees on Saturday. It is loaded and the bats are out at night and Annmarie is hoping this will keep the bird and bats away from the fruit. We looked at the other trees but they do not have very much fruit on them. I will need to shape the trees this winter and we are going to shorten the tree skirting. We are talking about putting the two bully alpacas out with the three sold eating cows. This way we only have to skirt the trees for the sheep and not alpacas or horses.

We have a lot of thistles in the orchard so I am going to push the entire sheep herd into the orchard for a few days to eat the entire field down, then I will work on killing thistles again.

I got the post hole auger installed on the tractor Saturday and had plans to dig all the post holes on Sunday. Unfortunately I decided that I needed to weed eat the front driveway as the cheat grass and weeds were getting out of control. I moved the pickup back out of the driveway as it was covering weeds. I left my car in place and Annmarie was at church. On one of my trips to the pickup for weed eater fuel I noticed that my car window was busted out! Now mind you I had goggles and hearing protection on but the rocks getting kicked up from the weed eater were pelting me and they hurt. It did not occur to me that I would blow out a window on my car while trying to make the driveway neater. This sucks and now I have to get it replaced.

I did finally get on the tractor and go out and start trying to drill holes in the ground. The first five holes I only managed to get about 2-4 inches down. I did not have a bucket but will bring one up and start filling the holes with water. I will need to do that for a few days to soften up the dirt. Once I got down into the bottom fields the soil was actually muddy once I got six inches below the surface. This would explain the weed jungle that I have in the upper field. It is so bad I cannot even mow it. I have the tractor bucket fully raised at 8 feet and the weeds are still taller. The plan is to get the fence up around this field and to push the sheep up in the morning and bring them in at night. Our hope is the sheep can tear it up and thin it out so I can get the mower through it. There is still a muddy area in the middle of the field that I cannot drive the tractor through. Our hope is the sheep will knock it down enough I can get the tractor in to see the wet areas and dig a few ditches to let it drain better. I got 9 holes completed and five started, only 12 more to go.

On the way back to the house I noticed our three feeder cows out of their fence. The gate had not been latched correctly and they got out. I had to move gates around and get them pushed back into their pasture. The gate is latched correctly now.

My hope is that Hoss and I can get some fencing done this week, time will tell.

Weed patch fence started

Hoss came out yesterday and we started to distribute fencing supplies throughout the upper two pastures. The first trip was spent spreading out the newly purchased wooden posts and panels. I had a total of 42 posts and crossbeam and we used up every one. I should have purchased 10 more. I don’t like to finish a project without having leftover supplies. It never fails that I need more and now I will not have it.

The second trip we loaded up 4 gates and 200 T-posts and all the wooden stays I had left onto the trailer. I managed to slide a T-post onto Hoss’s foot when I was standing on the large pile tossing them to the edge so he could load them onto the trailer. I did apologize, but I suspect it will leave a mark. We started dropping off posts and marking out T-post and wooden stay locations. I like to put T-posts every 8′ and a wooden stay between them at 4′ it makes for a very tight fence. We staked out some string and painted marks on the dirt while measuring with a tape. I ended up having to go get the tractor to knock down some more weeds along the bank. We had a small pile of supplies left but we still had a small section of fence to lay out so I just said to leave it and we will use it later.

Hoss had to leave by 1500 on Sunday so I packed up the fencing and came back to the house. I had been wanting to get out to our driveway entrance and weed eat and clean up our Steel Wheel fence. I drove the pickup out with the weed eater and cleaned up the entrance then got down on my hands and knees and pulled all the plants away from the fence line. It looks great! I am very happy and enjoy the sight when I am leaving for work and coming home.

I just need to get two colors of wood stain and work on the wooden century sign now. You cannot see the lettering without the contrast. I think I can get a sanding tip for my battery powered multi tool and clean it up in place and stain it in place.

The sheep wanted to go wander this morning when I went out to open the gate. Last night I had not used the dogs to push them into the barn lot so they were very reluctant to go in. I had to walk back and forth and holler at them. I was not able to get them into the barn lot as I had lost patience. Annmarie was sure they would sneak through the fence at the creek crossing last night. The fence is up on a piece of drift wood and they would hardly have to duck to just walk through it but they stayed in place. Which is why I had to go out and open the gate this morning, I didn’t push them down into the ram pasture. They look great! We will be sorting them later this month and keeping four to kill, for three different customers. It is July 1, 2019 and the back creek is still running. It is composed entirely of snow melt from the mountains and tends to be dry about this time normally. If it goes until August 1 that will be the longest we have ever seen it run since we have moved back.

It rained again this evening and dropped another 8/100″. I would like to see it drop another 1/4″ this week but the wheat farmers are not saying that. I did manage to get drawn for another buck tag this year so I will be shooting anything with horns again this year. Hopefully this time it won’t take me three days to figure out that the little deer really does have horns. Annmarie is riding with the Pendleton Round-up mounted band. This meant I had to take care of her cowboy boots. She tells me its been 10 years since I put any kind of treatment on her boots. I must need to give them a quick pass every couple of years. On a weird side note, we looked up mounted bands on the internet. This band is the only one in the country! So bizarre, we had no idea. Most of the people are just regular folks having a good time around horses that don’t care if they play instruments.