Really, we are almost winterized

Last weekend I was very productive! I am still in winterizing mode and there is still plenty left to do. On Friday last week, I cleaned out the machine shed to make room for both tractors. I need to be able to park them out of the weather. Annmarie, let me know we needed to get the lavender trimmed up, another winterizing chore. I broke out the new DeWalt battery hedge trimmer and started in on the task. This turned out to be a little more difficult than I imagined. The lavender had shoots super low and I had to lift them up to cut them and the huge tree keeps dropping small branches into the lavender making it necessary to clean out the lavender bunch before trimming. I only got half the patch done before it got super cold and for sanity reasons I needed to go back into the house.

On Saturday it was cold, very cold. I put on neck warmer, wool shirt, carhart insulated bibs stocking cap and thick insulated gloves. I wanted something warm to drink, my go to drink is coffee. Coffee is the perfect drink and solves most of what ills a person. I was in a hurry and ended up just boiling some water and throwing a tea bag into the thermos. I wanted to get out and finish the ditch up in field #1. I keep trying to get it finished before we get a hard freeze. I was able to get another 200 feet dug up, reinforced. I found a 20 foot section of the embankment that had been washed out in the last flood. It took quite a while to get this section built back up. It was cold, so I broke out the hot tea. Yeah, it’s tea, simply not a substitute for coffee. I only tried it a couple more times out of thermoregulatory needs, it was cold! The oddest and best part of the day was that my coat smelled amazing. The lavender I had cleaned up and removed from the patch ended up rubbing some lavender oil on my coat and when the wind let off or I had to wipe my nose I could smell the lavender. It made for a nice surprise.

Sunday I decided to start feeding the cows out of our overflow hay in the corral. Each bale weighs around 40# and I fed 16 bales to the upper cows and 16 to the lower cows. I can get 8 on the tractor at a time. I have learned to cut off the net wrapping before I load them onto the tractor so I can just drive them out and dump them off. Its way faster this way and I can contain the wrap. This year I have started putting a bag of used wrap in the trash can weekly. I don’t want to have a huge pile by the spring. I went back to the lavender patch and got it all trimmed up. I pulled weeds and raked the entire patch. The only thing left in the garden to do is to trim the raspberries. I pulled out the prime rib from the freezer. We are going to have it for Thanksgiving

I need to be planting fields

I am getting stuff done on my staycation. Yesterday, I got all of the big bales stacked up against the fence. I backed them up so that the cows could not reach through and eat the backside. We had scavenged enough free pallets this summer to go around two sides of the entire pile. Pile is an odd word since I was unable to lift any bales to stack one on top of another. My row is three bales wide and 13 bales deep. While I was moving hay bales, Mr Professional came out and started mowing field #5 so we can get it ready to plant triticale. The problem was the little John Deere tractor kept overheating. There was too much dust and chaff in the air and it kept clogging up the radiator intake. We finally went to town to get a tarp and discovered that the store was having a huge DeWalt tool sale the next day. This of course meant I had to return the next day. The tarp fit perfectly and we tied down every single grommet to one of the strings on the bales, leaned the pallets against the sides and then distributed pallets all across the top of the tarp to keep it from blowing off or ripping in the wind. The plan is for this to be two years worth of hay for the cows. I plan on keeping the animals out of this field, the pallets along the side are for the deer and elk.

I did go to town first thing in the morning, I made it into the store twenty minutes after it opened. I was able to get the small 4” clamps DeWalt makes for Annmarie. They are the best when clamping together laser projects, they don’t give or slide. I got a hedge trimmer for the lavender and an electric chain saw. These days I really like looking at products that are quieter. As I keep losing my hearing avoiding loud noises without hearing protection is something I try and avoid. When I got home I started mowing the fields with the Kubota. It still tried to overheat three times. I had to blow out the dust and chaff twice and clean out the air intake two more times. I have the triangle still to mow but I am going to get the field ready for seed tomorrow and hopefully plant on Saturday. I will need to pick up seed on Friday. I will be overspreading grass on a couple of fields and tossing out some crumble fertilizer. My hope is that we can get a great crop in the spring. I will be taking the old John Deere baler in next month to get the bearing replaced and the tie fingers adjusted. I forgot to take the raccoon carcass up to the boneyard. That really needs to happen tomorrow before it gets so bad I don’t want to touch it. The chickens are now laying four eggs a day, double what they were before I killed the raccoon.

The field across the creek needs to be disced and leveled. It had some flooding and water gouging from many years ago and it needs some serious work to create a surface that will be safe to make and cut hay on. I just need to remember where I stashed the disc set?

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.