As a father I have learned that the call for help can come at any time from your progeny. Imagine my surprise when my Monday morning is interrupted by a phone call from the wife. She led with the tagline “our daughter is trapped”, maybe this was to spur some paternal instinct before the entire story came out.

It turns out that the child, still called “Meathead”, had taken the new Kubota tractor out to the old chicken coop to get her summer car tires so she could get the studs taken off of her car. Ignore the part where the studs should have come off a couple of months ago. I knew she was going to do this in the morning as I had needed to give her a refresher on the Kubota. She is used to the John Deere but it doesn’t have forks and is over at my mother’s house working on a retaining wall. So getting the call from the wife was a surprise. I would have expected a call from Meathead. It turns out that the sticky seat belt latch had finally decided to become an immediate problem. I had noticed it being sticky for a few months but it worked eventually, you just had to work at it. Meathead is very good about wearing her seatbelt. She understands that if an accident occurs you will most likely survive it if you are wearing a seatbelt. The “I will jump free or be tossed clear” excuse is just another way to voice a “hold my beer” sentiment. So she had used it and after opening and closing every gate she had reapplied the seatbelt. She got to the old chicken coop and attempted to unlock the seatbelt. No success. She continued to try and release it for another 30 minutes before texting her mother. She tried to call but the call kept dropping as she was in a cell phone dead zone. A text would get out but not a call.

After my call I texted Meathead to give some suggestions. They were met with some eye rolling and derision (I could see it through the texting)! I had to drive home, grab the last can of WD40 and walk out to the barn lot to find her. I did the obligatory trapped photo before I would touch the offending seatbelt latch. I jerked and pulled and pushed multiple times in an attempt to release the latch. This was met with derision from Meathead who voiced that she had been trying that for 45 minutes now without success. My secret hope was that it would open when touched by the magical dad hands. No such luck, I had to use as few generously applied squirts of WD40 to get the latch to open. Once opened I used more WD40 and worked the latch until it was smooth and very easy to open. She was now out of spare time and had to get to work.

As of this time she has not jumped back on the Kubota tractor, her tires have not been changed out yet and now her car is acting up and needs to go to the shop. I have used the offending seatbelt many times since and the latch is now very smooth.

In closing, Dad hands are a real thing and are very HANDy at times!

Resting sorta

Well things did not go as planned after my concussion last week. I ended up getting a head CT and going to the concussion clinic. They put me on some turmeric and fish oil supplements and I am to rest and relax. I am allowed to do what I can but not to over do anything that makes my head symptoms worse. Plus, I am off work for a week. This is not going to help my head next week when I have to catch up but right now I have a nonstop headache. On top of all of that I have to listen to a lot of awkward jokes about leading with my head, how did you do that and you need a hard hat all of the time. I did capitulate after a few days on the hard hat idea. I really don’t like this laying around and since I wear a hat all the time when I am outside anyways it didn’t seem like a stretch to just wear a hard hat all the time when I am outside on the farm. So I have a OSHA approved vented carbon fiber hard hat on its way to the farm. I will be getting rid of all of my hats in the laundry room so that there will only be one choice when I head outside, the hard hat! I normally hit my head several times a year hard enough to give me wounds on top of my head so I am looking forward to not having those anymore either. Plus, I don’t get headaches and I particularly don’t have the patience or tolerance for them. Muscle aches, yeah I am used to that but not the headaches.

Mr Rainman is back in the area and has agreed to help me out this summer. I won’t be doing half the amount of hay I did last year and my only big project is the back bridge. We are going on a vacation to Scotland soon so that has limited the projects that will occur this summer. We have the grain bin outdoor cafeteria building still to put put but I am having reservations about putting it in the front yard as it will block the view of the barn. It’s not a priority but my brain is spinning on how to do it so I made Annmarie talk me through it’s location again. We decided on the front corner of the hillside by the corral. The grass never grows there anyways. It only needs to be leveled by about 18” so it should not be too bad of an area to prep. The only concession I will need to make is a set of gates on it to prevent the cows and sheep from going into it when we are running them through the yard.

Mr Rainman and I walked the entire property to see how things were going. We spotted our first calf of the year! It is one of the new black ones we just purchased a few months ago. Every one else should start having their babies soon as we planned for May births. So next week we will be sorting cows as I need to take five to Lagrande to the butcher. We are going to create two new herds, new mommas and expectant mommas and everyone else. I will move the new bull into Alcatraz as soon as I take our old bull to the sale. He needs to not go into the herd until the end of July. So we can then have calves nine months later in the spring.

The upper seven acre field was covered with late grass last year and I never mowed it or did the second hay cutting. It looks like only about half the field came back. This just means that I hay what is there and in the fall we plant the rest of the field in true orchard grass. It maintains it’s protein status better than most grasses throughout its later life cycle so I don’t have to be as picky as to when it is converted into hay. The other upper fields looked good but the cows are eating on all of them but upper seven acres (it needs new fencing around it to make it animal safe). We outlined a plan for spraying all of the fields and he started cleaning up the corral, old rotten hay bales to the burn pile. The Kubota got cleaned and greased. A few hours later Annmarie texts me our bull is in with the neighbors cows. It is not our old bull as he is now in Alcatraz for this exact reason. So we went down and spent 45 minutes chasing the two bulls back into our pasture. They had to fight for 20 minutes at the neighbors before we could get them to go back through the culvert. Once back through we had to fix the crossing again. We ended up patching a couple of fence spots, reinstalling the gate down by the schoolhouse and driving back to the house via the upper hillside. The irrigation ditch was flowing outside its channel making a mess through the lower field. I thought we could dig the blocked spot and get it back into the channel. We ended up digging about a 75’ section with the tractor to get it contained. The upper hillside section I planted in the fall is not growing the grass I wanted. It is a lot smoother, it is not growing sage and the grass that normally grows on the hillside is coming in nicely. I then laid around for four days doing nothing and sleeping a lot.

Lambing update fifth week

Well our annual second winter came this week. We got about eight inches of snow and the temperature dropped into the single digits. The cows were happy I took them another big bale of hay. I fed out two more big bales this morning and only have five big bales left. I have half the barn and the machine shed full of 40# round bales that can be fed out! Once I get all the big bales fed I can let the cows into that four acre area. No animal has been in there to graze since last fall so with a little warm weather that area will perk up quite nicely and allow for some decent grazing.

This weekend some time had to be devoted to the sheep again. We have to get the ewes and babies in the jugs tagged and banded so we can make room for more babies. Currently we only have two jugs open. I think I can tag and band the single under the stairs and the other single. Both of those babies are healthy and moving around well. It gets a lot harder to find mom when there are 25 other screaming little lambs running around.

Yesterday morning I had three different sets of babies in the barn. I was able to let everyone out but those thee ewes and their babies. One of the ewes was crazy! I know this because after 20 minutes I had still not managed to trap her in a jug. I also noticed she had a notch out of the no ear tag ear. I have a notcher for marking the bad ewes. I almost never use it as I don’t like it, but this ewe is getting another notch and we need to cull her. I ended up trapping her in the chute then opening up the barn side of the chute and chasing her into the jug under the stairs. This worked surprisingly well. It did require moving stuff around but in the long run it would have saved me time. I had a set of twins and a single in with the two ewes. When I separated the ewes I must have messed up. I went out there this am and the dark black ewe was head butting both of the pure white babies I had in the pen with her. So I swapped babies and will need to go out later and see how the babies are doing. When I swapped them out the mothers went right up and were sniffing the babies. Yesterday the ewes were eating and they let the babies nurse. So I could not tell who belonged to whom.

  • Date of update- Feb 26, 2023
  • # of Lambs born – 41
  • # of ewes who have delivered babies – 25
  • # of ewes still pregnant – 16-18 in area, I don’t think they are all pregnant
  • # of single lamb births – 10
  • # of twin lamb births – 14
  • # of triplet lamb births – 1
  • # tagged male (weathers-neutered) lambs-13
  • # tagged female lambs-13
  • # of bummer lambs – 2
  • # of lambs who died in first two weeks – 2
  • Total # of lambs on farm -37
  • % birthing rate- 164%
  • % production rate -148%
  • % survival rate at birth – 100%
  • % survival rate at 2 weeks (bummers count as death as they need help and leave the farm) – 90%

The ram and his cronies got out of Alcatraz this week. I am pretty sure they got out through the lamb shed. I did not reinstall the gate in front of the barn after it got knocked off last summer. Not only do I need to reinstall the gate but I need to mount a cattle panel onto it so the sheep cannot pass through the bars. I managed to lure them back with grain and used the horseshoe door anchor in addition to the clip.

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?