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.
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.
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.
Well all good things must come to an end and I am no longer on vacation and am back to work. It has been busy so I was unable to post this on Sunday night. Annmarie got me to actually leave the house on Friday night and we went and visited friends and stayed the night. It was nice and now we are planning on them coming over to visit us.
Saturday when we got back we went right into sorting sheep. Our buyer from Elgin was coming over and we had to sort off his 20 lambs. They helped us sort everyone and we got theirs into the trailer and out the door. We now have our small herd of lambs out in the orchard. For some reason this year everyone has wanted a lamb. We have sold 13 lambs to local customers and 20 lambs to our Elgin contact. We have been discussing the prospect of expanding our sheep herd and shrinking the cow herd, the price of hay is going to determine what we do as it may not be cost effective to carry a bunch of cows through the winter. We then had to move the cows down to the lower pasture as they had laid over the fence and were walking around outside the fence. They thought they were starving. I did a 30 minute fix on the fence so the sheep could not get out and vowed to come back and fix the fence on Sunday.
On Sunday I went out to fix the laid over fence. This really meant that I had to dig and set eight wooden posts by hand as the fence was too close to the water to back the John Deere tractor up to the spot needing a hole. Instead I did it all by hand and even ended up putting a scoop of gravel behind every T-post to fill in the gap created by straightening the post. I had to tamp it all down to make the post rigid. I got all of them in but still need to repair one H brace as it is made out of round posts and one of them turned. This is of course the one with the chain gate tightener on it. This means the chain is so tight you cannot get it off to open the gate. Luckily, I don’t need the gate to open right now so this repair is going on the back burner.
Annmarie has started to work on the back garden and is getting things planted. We are going to have strawberries in one tower and herbs in the other. Currently, she is working out water inside the towers, the connections keep exploding and making a mess. She thinks she has a working plan now to fix it.
Well the weekend is over and I did get some stuff done. It feels like I am not getting anything done sometimes but that really isn’t the case and I do know that. There is so much to do! I took it pretty easy on Saturday. I stained the upstairs bathroom door. I do need to get that done! This was the single reason for taking some time off, so it does need to get completed. I transplanted some of my house plants I had rooted from starts and they were ready for the soil. I hit the $1 store, now $1.25 store, and cleaned out their four inch pots. So I now have 24 new pots for houseplants. I like to give the plants out at Christmas as gifts to my staff but it takes me all year to get the plants ready. I am going to start African Violets next. I want to get about ten more plants going. I have several of the crawling cactus plants growing. I may even try a Christmas cactus replication. I have never tried to get a start going from one before.
Sarah had posted the old WW2 dog tag maker we had for sale online. Our only taker was a gentleman from the Air Museum in Pendleton. They want to recondition it and use it at their museum to make dog tags for kids. After they left I talked with Annmarie and we just donated it to the museum. On Sunday two old guys came out to pick it up. I had sworn I would not move it after wrestling it up to the second story many years ago. It was easier to get down than up and I used the tractor to lift it into the back of their pickup. So it now has a new home and the bedroom has some unused wall space!
I went out Saturday and started working on filling in the culvert in field #4b. I was able to get one side of the culvert done enough I could drive up to the top and dump soil over to the other side. As I was was stealing soil it dawned on me that I should turn this flat spot into a hay storage area! The cows will be fed up here and the hay is easier to feed if it is right there. So we will be working on this also. It just needs a simple fence to keep the cows away from the hay.
I had my lifelong dreams crushed over the weekend. I have wanted peacocks for ever since we moved out to the farm. The reason we have not gotten them is the noise but I was hopeful that I could eventually overcome this obstacle. When I went to get the alpaca there were a bunch of peacocks. I spotted 8 males and they were amazing! The alpaca owners lived right next to this spot. I happen to mention how amazing they were. It turns out they are feral and have been loose for over 50 years. They are incredibly destructive! I had no idea. After hearing many horror stories I will not be getting peacocks. A lifelong goal dropped.
On Sunday, I spent even more time on the tractor moving dirt. I even went up the road to pick rocks and dump off soil. There is one spot in the dirt road that slants severely to the downhill side and this winter when it was wet the tractor almost slid off the road several times. I took dirt down to try and level off the road some. I was able to move it a few more inches level than it was but I need about another ten inches to truly make it safe! This meant I had to load rocks into the bucket to take back to the culvert. I need to line the entrance and exit with rocks to help harden it and to keep the dirt in place. I managed to get about 20% completed and will need to keep dragging rocks back. I need a little more dirt on the far side but it can now be driven over by a vehicle and trailer. Once it all settles down I will sprinkle it with some gravel in late summer.
I did go inside and measure the bathroom closet openings and now have dimensions for the frames. I have one frame all cut and sanded. I just need to assemble it now. We are going to cover the frames with tapestry a good friend of ours left to us. The quail all over the farm now! We see them multiple times a day in our front yard and back yard. They are starting to break up into smaller groups so hopefully they will start laying eggs soon.