It needs to be easier

Saturday was supposed to be sunny and dry but I opted to do some inside work. I am getting tired of getting up in the middle of the night and having to walk down the stairs to get to the bathroom. The second toilet is gaining traction and prioritization. I was talking to Tex as we were getting started in again and I realized that I forgot to order enough floor tile to go up the walls 4 inches. So now I need to call and order another two cases of tile. I will just cut the 8 inch tiles in half with the wet saw.

I had Tex cutting wood while I installed it. This meant he had to recut some pieces because of me measuring wrong or him cutting wrong. By lunch time he was rubbing his right eye nonstop. He had gotten sawdust in it earlier but I noticed it after he started to wear the eye protection I had out in the old house. I keep gloves, dust masks, goggles, eye glasses and ear plugs out in the old house.

Annmarie wanted him to go to the ER but Tex reminded her that his mother was on duty and he was not going to do that. So I had to call his mother then torture Tex by turning his eyelid inside out and wiping it for dust and splinters. I did not find anything. I also irrigated it and still didn’t see anything. I was less than gentle but did get the job done. He ended up going to see his mom and she sent him to the walk in clinic, he had a scratch on his cornea, got some antibiotics and it will heal. I suspect he will be more cognizant of safety gear. If not, Annmarie told me I have to start making him use it!

The goal is to get insulation all around the heat pipes and the exhaust pipes to trap the heat and cut down on the noise. I went out to finish cutting up the plywood but the saw battery died. By the time I got all the tools and wood cleaned up and put away it was time to get cleaned up for a wedding. I had to give Gizmo a shower as he had gotten out of the yard again and his beard was covered with fresh sheep shit. Zeke has not gotten out since we cleaned up the yard but the little dog is still climbing the fence.

We are going to sort the sheep when we get back from Annmarie’s seminary graduation next week. We are going to pull all the lambs off of their mothers and put them in the orchard. We will swap them with the ram and number one ewe. She is no longer limping and he can go hang out with the ewes as they should all be pregnant. We will give the lambs about 4-6 weeks on the orchard then sell them as a group. We have five more sold for slaughter this fall. I still have one cow to sell for slaughter this fall.

Annmarie looked great for the wedding, the hat is an old Pendleton Wool hat she picked up at an estate sale. She says it looks better on her which I cannot deny.

It rained over half an inch at the end of the week and we are under a flood warning for the next two days. This is definitely putting a crimp on my spraying and haying progress. As soon as my neighbors start cutting hay I will!

I need a break

Annmarie spotted another random newborn lamb yesterday evening. This morning Tex and I went out into the ram pasture and Tex snagged the newborn. I could of done it but it ran to his side of the field! We took it to the barn so I could tag and band it. I even remembered to enter it into the Airtable spreadsheet so we could track it.

Afterwards we went to install the culvert in the orchard. We had to dig out the bottom of the channel by hand and had to put it in a couple of times to fit test it prior to back filling it in. I was able to use the old dirt and then drag down the edges. We even rocked in the inlet side of the culvert. I can now get the tractor over to the other side of the ditch.

We were able to move the pipe trailer out of the field and snagged all the loose pipe laying about. We moved the pipe trailer out of the fields over near the wheat field then proceeded to clean up the scrap metal piles. We tossed the metal over the fence so the scrap metal guy can pick it up on his next visit.

I had to go to town to get more diesel for the tractor. We were running on fumes. I had Tex go use the chainsaw on the downed trees at the spring head. I also wanted him to trim the tree touching the old chicken coop. After lunch, we took the now filled tractor over to drag out the downed trees. Between the chain saw and the tractor we got all the dead massive limbs piled up into a large burn pile. Hopefully, next week we can light it on fire. Annmarie ran the horses in the round pen yesterday but I had put it on the soft dirt. The horses tore it up something fierce. So I will need to move it next week. We have plenty of spots for it.

After she got back from church we went out to work on the front hillside and started to set up the water system so we can start growing clover. We were able to reuse some of the aluminum uprights from the main sprinkler system, along with the valves and sprinkler heads. We keep trying to reuse as much stuff as we can. I also got a large piece of Elm for the anvil. I will need to make some custom holders for it. My plan is to get it attached and then use it whenever I need to beat something into submission. I realized that the only thing I don’t really have yet is a portable grinder. So after I get that I will dress up the anvil.

I had Tex fill in gravel in the ditch behind the machine shop. I will need to finish it off this week. The rest of our hay equipment should arrive this week. We will be able to store it in the machine shed now! We did park the tractor in the shop tonight. It is an amazing thing.

I am done! I am so tired that I started losing my grip while working on the sprinkler system. I will be taking it easy next week. I am thinking about working on the bathroom upstairs. More thought than muscle.

Animals all caught up

When I say “caught up” its a relative term when applied to farming. The animals were worked, we did sell off 7 and we did deal with sheep and cows. We have two calves just a few days old that could not be herded up into the corrals so they will have to wait for at least two more weeks before we can tag and band them, so we are “caught up”.

Tex was coming out again, so while I cooked breakfast Annmarie went out to see if she could lure the cows to the barn lot with some hay and the tractor. She only managed to get them out of the bottom and into the area around the house. But that saves us about an hour of walking and she did not get the bull or either brand new momma so the cows should be easier to work. After Breakfast I had Tex go finish installing cow panels along the creek in the barn lot over the metal panels. Otherwise the sheep can just cross through the water. I gathered all the tools necessary to work on the calf table. The thing will still not tilt right. I am convinced it is pinching somehow and we may have to take the table apart.

Tex came over and we started to pull it apart. We popped one hinge off and it still would not tip so we popped off the second hinge, the table is now free of any constraints except gravity and should tip on the frame. It would not tip more than about 30 degrees! As I am voicing my opinion abot an inanimate object I kept trying to get it to work when I spot a piece of bailing twine down at ground level hidden in the tall grass still attached. When I moved it from the junk yard I secured it in multiple places. I had forgotten to cut one small piece of bailing twine and that was the cause of the table not tipping. I had already sprayed lubricant on all the moving parts and cleaned up some rust. So it only took me about 3 hours of combined time to figure out the twine issue.

I had Tex go back and finish installing cow panels while I gathered all the tagging and banding supplies. I then grabbed both dogs and started to work the cows towards the barn lot, 30 minutes later, very hoarse voice from yelling at the dogs, I have them cornered up by the gate but they will not go into the barn lot. Annmarie comes out and the cows scatter. We put the dogs away, walk the cows to the barn lot, Tex comes out and the alpacas go into the barn lot and the cows follow. We where done in ten mintues.

The cows got sorted and we had a four month old boy and a three month old girl. Tex pinned the girl up at one end of the chute and she stuck her head through the gate so I put a tag in her ear, done. The little boy kept turning around in the chute going the wrong way. Tex said the way to get them into the table is to grab their tail and keep them from going out the other side. So he did that and we got the table turned and locked down. The calf kept trying to put his foot in weird spots but we were able to fix that. We used the large banderator for the first time. I had to pop the testicles through the band one at a time because they would barely go through. I finally had Tex hold the banderator so I could pop testicles through. They both finally got in the right spot and I slipped the band off. Four months is the max age for using that thing.

The sheep were next but for us to set up the chute system in the barn, Tex and I were going to have to dig for at least an hour. I convinced Annmarie we could just run everyone into the barn and we could snag them. We did it! We sorted off the ram, #1 ewe (she is limping), two whethers for their company, three whethers to sale and two young mommas with their single babies for sale.

Tex and I delivered the whethers and the mommas. While we were visiting the first house he got offered a summer job of moving sprinkler pipe every morning for 4 hours/day. I gave him the necessary contact information and he is thinking about it.

Tex swapped the gate and filled the gap with lumber. We need to put in a new H brace support going the other direction now. While he did that I finished bringing in dirt for the culvert and then set a few pieces of concrete at the waterfall edge of the spring in hopes it will slow down the errosion. I also filled the channel with gravel and rocks.

We had some more wooden stays to install and the new railroad ties needed to be set and the entire fence attached to the new posts. Tex did all of that while I started to bring over supplies for a new fence line. The sheep and cows keep getting out through the creek crossings so I have started to work on fencing the water ways away from the animals. I hauled over 27 T posts, 27 wooden stays, 4 thick wooden posts, 2 gates, 2 cow panels and 1 railroad tie (last one we have unused on the farm) and set them out along the fence line. I had already used orange paint to mark out the locations of everything.

Tex and I managed to pound in the T posts that would go into the ground. Some are not pretty but they did go in. If you look at the middle of the picture below you will see a stretch with no T posts, there is a rock bluff located under the road and we cold not get anything to go into the ground. After the fence is up I will see what I need to do to support that section of fence.

It was a very productive day. The barn lot fence is now completed. I just need to put a latch on the 16 foot wheeled gate, the sheep pushed it open last night. I would have sprayed but the wind howled all day. It was just too much to spray.

Reality check

Well it has been a long week. I didn’t get to do all my farm work this last weekend as I had to work all weekend at the paying job and Sunday was Easter. I had come home twice and found the sheep out in the stubble field eating volunteer wheat. It has been too wet for them to spray it down. The sheep really appreciate the extra feed. The only real problem is the field is not fenced off from the road and the sheep are not supposed to be out there. The first time I thought it was the gap at the gate. I thought this because the gate post was loose and there was a gap with sheep hair on either side so it was fairly obvious they had been pushing through. I patched that up with a spare gate filling the gap and some bungee cords. It was only supposed to be temporary so the bungee cords are okay. I came home several days later and spotted the sheep out again. I could not figure out how they were getting out. I cruised on down the fence line and found as spot they had started to squirt through. The nice thing about them shedding is it makes it fairly obvious where they are sneaking out.

I had Tex come out on Friday and add two more strands of wire to that fence. He also moved the railroad tie so there is no gap at the gate. We still need to add in a few wooden stays to the fence to stiffen it up so the sheep cannot push their way through.

We had a rain storm and it cut a rivulet into our new flower area. I think if I pile some dirt up on the frontside of the rock wall I may be able to slow this down. I may end up laying in a French drain on the front side of the rock wall to help. I am unsure exactly what I am going to do.

We had to start putting Zeke on the run as he kept sneaking out of the front yard. I had convinced myself he was running up some wood stacked in the corner of the yard. I moved some of the pile but he was still getting out. One day when Sarah was out moving dirt she watched him army crawl under the fence below. He laid down in the water with just his head and nose out of the water and got under the fence.

So I added another panel to the bottom that goes all the way to the spring bottom and he cannot crawl through now. I was so convinced of this that I left him off the run the next day. He got out! I still don’t know how he is doing it so he is back on the run when we are not home.

I spent two nights working on the barn lot fence. We added two more wooden posts and I took the extra panels I had laying around and added them. There will be no more calves jumping through the fence because they can. Now we just need to get the fence over by the lamb shed completed and the sheep will be stuck in the barn lot whenever we shut the gate.

Fencing fury

Sunday we decided to start with fencing and hope we could get some parts completed. We went to the fencing supply pile and snagged the last of the railroad ties. My supply pile is getting pretty sparse. I only have one roll of woven wire left, no wooden fence posts and two rolls of smooth wire. We managed to get the last five stood up and my little tractor managed to get them over to the barn lot, but it was not pretty. The chain stretched with the weight of the railroad ties and they went all cattywonkous.

We used the two heaviest ties for the gate crossing the culvert bridge. The tractor was only able to dig those holes about 18″ and I dug the other three feet by hand. It makes for a very sturdy post when it is set in gravel. We are setting all wooden posts in gravel now. They just hold up better and stay stiffer. The gate opening was 16 feet which is a long gate. These gates usually sag so I went into the barn and found one of those wheel attachments and we attached it. I snagged three of them at a yard sale a couple of years ago. This is the first time I have gotten to use one. The real problem came when we tried to attach the gate to the post. We hooked in the bottom part and then swung the gate to see how it moved. Nope, I needed to take some dirt down to make it level.

I spent the next 1.5 hours cutting into the hillside in an attempt to get a level path for the gate. We hand dug it a couple of times and kept marking the path with the gate wheel. I finally had to go dump off the tractor auger and install the box blade. I should have done it an hour earlier.

I spread the dirt out all over the area in an attempt to cover the rock face that keeps trying to jut out of the ground and we made sure the animals can get to water. We also chained the panels together to make sure they stay in place.

As an added bonus we got two solid wood posts installed in the barn lot cross fences and will. Be tightening both of those fences next week. Once we get the culvert and last outer water damaged barn lot fence done next week the entire barn lot will have been redone and should be good for another 7-10 years with just a little repair.

I even got the momma/baby area leveled out. I want to toss out some grass seed this week after work and see if it will grow. Annmarie had me take the dogs out with me as the sheep were mowing our yard. I came inside that evening with a hoarse voice as I had to keep hollering for the dogs to come back or to quit harassing some animal. I even made them stay in place for over an hour a couple of times. It’s good practice for them and they don’t like to do it so it did work out well as a training exercise. My voice is not cut out to holler and swear all day. I am good with that for short periods of time only. We have decided the only dog working videos I can post are sped up and make me sound like a chipmunk. No one can understand what I am saying!

Our current numbers are as follows:

2 death

6 bummers

14 singles (37%)

19 twins (50%)

5 triplets (13%)

38 ewes birthed

57 lambs dosed, tagged and banded

1 lambs to process

Production rate:

Birthed 176%

On our farm and alive 155%.

Surprise Lambs!

I decided after last weekend that I needed to stay ahead of Tex. So every evening this week I went out and moved rocks for an hour. I tossed the rocks over fence so Tex could build a series of rock retaining ledges. I knew I was going to have to work Thursday night so he would need materials prestaged for Friday.

I spent Thursday morning getting more rocks and decided to clean up the Y gate area myself. I have been wanting to do this project for a couple of years but I thought it would take me a day or better to complete. In reality I had it all done in three hours! I managed to find a 600+# rock to anchor one side of the railroad tie. This meant I did not have to try and drive any pipe into the ground. The bigger rocks are actually easier to get with the tractor as they have enough mass to allow you to push them around and manipulate them into the tractor bucket.

It turned out very nice and now the lambs won’t have to work so hard to get up into the barn. As an added side effect the Y gate is easier to move and has a little more clearance. I keep hoping I can get some sort of plant to grow in this back lot, but so far I have had no luck getting anything to grow. I have started to move more soil around and create some retention walls in the hopes that I can get about a foot of soil to stay in place. Once the soil stays I will then try and find something that will sprout and grow fast in the spring then die off in the summer.

Annmarie went out Wednesday morning to let the sheep out of the barn and discovered that one of the yearling ewes had twins! She was surprised at that mother was not on the list of suspected ewes pending birth. She got the momma and both lambs into the momma baby area before I got home. They look good and one of them is a screamer.

When I went to bed Thursday I had rocks piled up and ready for Tex. Some of them ended up in the spring, but most stayed on the hillside. The goal is to create a series of small rock walls then back fill the walls with dirt so I end up with several 1-3 foot wide level areas along the hillside. Once the rocks are in place I will start in on moving some dirt. I am going to use the dirt over by the old blacksmith shop. This serves two purposes, it gets me dirt for the flowerbeds and it lets us sort through the dirt for interesting metal pieces from the blacksmith area. My only real concern is getting a flat on the tractor.

Thursday evening when I went out to feed I checked on the new lambs and one of them was not sitting up. It was all limp so I took it over to the front yard gate and set it in the sun till I was done feeding the cows. Annmarie came home about 5 minutes later and took it inside and started warming it up and feeding it. She had me bring in the selenium paste so she could feed it a supplement and she kept giving it a bottle. It was doing better by the time it got picked up but not great. The other lamb is doing fantastic. It’s hard for first time young ewes to raise twins.

Friday morning, after working all night, I came home to find Tex hard at it. Annmarie had him do the morning chores then I texted him to move more rocks, he dug out a channel for the culvert in the upper barn lot also. I need to go buy one of those culvert joining pieces so I can create a 20 foot piece instead of two 10 foot pieces. But I need to measure it first as I am not sure if it’s 24″ or 20″.

We marked out the spot for all the posts and got the auger mounted on the tractor. I went to bed while Tex kept at it. I did give him a sack lunch with cheese, meat, fruit, tortillas, water and a soda for lunch. Annmarie tells me that is not lunch but I eat that all the time for lunch! I didn’t get any complaints from Tex.

When I woke up I went out and surveyed his work. The rock walls look great! We just need to get some dirt on the hillside now so we can create the flat areas for the flowers. I am super excited to get this done as I like random wildflower beds.

We then finished drilling all the holes in the ground with the tractor. Sometimes the clay makes the auger just sit on the surface and not cut through. So I had Tex use the hand post hole digger to create a small hole in the middle and then I could power through with the tractor auger. This got us all the holes except for the two down by the water. Those required the use of a shovel and a breaker bar. The hole ended up being pretty big after digging out all the big rocks we found embedded in the hillside.

It’s supposed to rain this weekend. The grass looks amazing and we will be letting the sheep up onto the back hillside. They are keeping the upper pasture all eaten down.

I was supposed to get floor done

Annmarie was out of town starting on Monday of last week so I was supposed to get the floor finished while she was gone. That did not happen despite my attempt. Chores take time and when you are doing all the morning chores and all the evening chores I was spending about 2.5 hours a day doing chores. The snow keeps coming and going so I am now sweating whether we are going to have enough hay. The barn is almost empty so I will have to start bringing it over from the machine shop. We had a set of triplets, and I isolated them under the stairs. They appeared to be doing well. I found one lamb under the feeder a couple of times but everyone was getting up and eating. I went out the third night and found this gal buried under the feeder and ice cold. I brought her in and took her over to the propane stove to get warmed up. I tried to feed her a bottle but she didn’t have the energy to drink. So I worked her jaw for her. That got a little in until I got a syringe and started to squirt it in her mouth and rub her throat to swallow. She looked much better by the time that Tisha arrived to take her to her forever home.

We had a single born three days later and it is huge compared to the triplets. They are very small.

Our current numbers are as follows:

1 death

5 bummers

13 singles (33%)

18 twins (50%)

5 triplets (17%)

36 ewes birthed

2 pregnant ewes pending birth

55 lambs dosed, tagged and banded

3 lambs to process

Production rate:

Birthed 178%

On our farm and alive 161%.

Since we are running out of feed I am taking every opportunity to utilize outside feed. Our corral has an isolated pen that the grass had grown up in so I let the sheep in here to eat it down. The weather man says we are going to get 4-7 inches of snow over the next five days. I had to keep staining the stairs repeatedly. I forgot that I had put down oak treads and they just won’t take the stain very well. I had to stain the stairs three times and the upstairs floor twice. I managed to get the stain to a place that was acceptable. It’s not near as obvious where the dogs have created a path. My goal is to put on more than two coats of Varethane. I went to Sherwin Williams to get the same Varethane and found out it was discontinued but they had four gallons left. I only needed one and it cost about 1/3 of what I would have normally paid for it so I was pretty happy.