Animals all tagged and banded

Saturday was the day to get all caught up with the animals. Daughter #2 needed time with the cows and this was going to be it. First we had to bring the calf table over to the end of the chute. This would have been easier were it not for all of the yellow jackets nesting in the pipe. Mr Tex got stung once before he bailed. I had to search everywhere to find one can of hornet killer and we were able to spray them and get the calf table moved into position. We then had to get the portable arena set up around the calf table so when we let the calf out it would stay close and allow us to open the gate and get it back into the corral. We were able to chain it all together except for one end by the table. Mr Tex then went to move the steel gates around in the corral and ended almost getting stung again from yellowjackets inside the metal gates. We had to wait for Annmarie to bring more hornet spray. While she was headed back from town, we went into the barn and started to set up all of the gates and a working table for our supplies. I only had enough dewormer for 20 sheep so we ended up dosing all of the old ewes that are super skinny.

By the time we were done with the sheep we had 41 lambs, 41 ewes, 12 market animals and 1 ram. We had to cut open abscesses on three of them. They were along their jaw, most likely from cheat grass. We are not feeding any cheat grass they are just getting it out in the fields. I had to make up a sterilizing solution so I used a mild bleach solution buffered with baking soda. We used that to irrigate the wounds after lancing them open and getting all of the gunk out. It smells but last time we did it they recovered so there is hope this batch will do it also. We now have the 12 market lambs down by the school house and the rest above the barn lot.

The first batch of cows were the momma’s and babies and the new bull. Annmarie and Tex walked down and pushed them up to the house. The cows came in the back way, not through the orchard and front yard like Annmarie wanted. Tex got the calves sorted off and we started to run them through the chute into the calf table. There is an art to using the calf table, this is where you do not let the calf run through the table and actually get its neck caught in the squeezer. We had five calves and I let two get through. One we caught and shoved back into the table, the second one pushed right through our corral panels, then ran along the fence several times refusing to go into the corral. It then took off across the property and ran down to the mother in law’s house. It took us 25 minutes to catch the calf. We did get it tagged and banded. Those cows and the bull all got treated with fly powder, we ended up with two steers and three heifer calves. Everyone got put back down to the school house area.

The real trouble started after that. We had been at this for almost five hours already and the five feeder cows up above needed to be treated for flies. Annmarie went up to get them on foot in 100 degree weather. She got them down about the same time I decided to let all of the sheep out of the barn lot. The sheep got right in the gate opening and stopped therefore blocking the cows from being herded to where they needed to go. This led to some frazzled comments and some typical cow working vernacular, most not suitable for small children. We did eventually get the cows into the barn lot but they were so wild we could not get them into the area behind the barn. I need to install a fence inside the barn lot to cut off access to the spring. I know this and honestly I think we could do it with the same panels we use for the calf table area, I just need to know to reset those to stop cow access. This would allow us to push the cows along the fence directly through the gate instead of them being able to run down a dead end spur that is just too big to block off with a human. We gave up. They have water, we fed them and I will set out a dust bag tomorrow and let them out.

Tex left for another job and we all went inside, took showers and much needed naps.

Haying again sort of

Well we have had a heat wave with the temperatures running 102-111 F this two weeks ago so I have not been doing much work outside. This last weekend I decided to get up early and go rake hay up into long rows. We are not going to bale the hay as it is too dry. We just had too much to put up, so I am just making bigger rows so the animals can dig into it later when the weather is not as good and eat all they want. Raking it also lets the green grass under it grow so the animals can eat that also. I went out Friday morning by 0630 but two hours later I had to stop as the tractor had overheated already. The next day I was outside by 0430 and raking hay. I got all of the hay I needed raked up. I have two areas where I need to dig out the dirt so the water can stay in a low spot. The ground is so soft that I stuck the tractor twice in the mud. Pretty impressive after that heat wave. I should start my second hay cuttings this weekend. It is ready and I might as well get it done. I am afraid there is at least another 12 ton out in the field ready to cut.

We have let the sheep out of the barn lot and out into the upper field #4, they can also use the walkway we created alongside the wheat to get 1/2 mile away from the house. Due to the nature of all of the coyotes around here we are now forced to bring the sheep in every night. The first few nights are always the worst as you are teaching the sheep to come in at night. After that they will start to put themselves in every night. Tonight it was merely a matter of walking out and shutting the gate.

“Gas lighting” fencing

I had talked to Daughter #2 about helping me fix a couple of fences after work this week so on Wednesday after dinner and dishes we went out to work on ”two” fences. We needed to fix the orchard fence where we had the breakaway panel give way during the flood and we needed to fix the fence from field #3 into field #4A. This seemed fairly simple and I was pretty sure we could do it in an hour, I failed to take into account how a city person from another country would anticipate fixing ”two fences”.

I had gone out to inspect the fence in the orchard the day before and noticed that the deer, specifically a male deer, had torn up several of our fruit trees. They are five years old and I thought the deer could no longer harm them. I was wrong. He tore up the middle of four trees. So now I will need to construct a six foot fence around the entire orchard which means installing seven and a half foot tall T-posts and figuring out how to extend the wooden posts up another four feet. I think I will use smooth wire but may have to use woven, I will need to do more research.

So we head outside, grab the tractor and some tools. Daughter #2 is unsure why we need the tractor. We got over to the panel, after pushing the sheep out, and discovered that the entire panel was covered in mud and grass which made the panel impossible to lift. We failed to bring a chain with us so we just hooked the bucket hooks onto the panel and stood it up with the tractor. Once we had it up we could tear off all of the grass and mud, while fending off the sheep who wanted to come back into the orchard. We managed to pull the top cable tight with a fence tightener and got the cow panel back up and stretched tight. As we were headed to field #4A I noticed that the gate going into our tree orchard was off its hinges and needed to be fixed before we stuck our brand new bull in the pasture the next day! So we diverted and fixed the gate then we went onto field #4A. We had to fix another cow panel in the middle of the fence that was installed to allow us to cut it loose should we have another flood. Since it flooded and we cut it loose we did not lose any of the fence line. This was a very nice win for us. So we reattached it and Daughter #2 was ready to go inside except we still had to fix the spring ditch crossing in the corner of that same fence. So after I announced our fourth repair job needing attention I was accused of ”gaslighting” her on fence repairs. I had to look up gaslighting on the internet because I told her she had to be using it wrong. She told me in the UK they use it for bait and switch situations also. I still think she is confused and I told her that this was normal fence repair stuff! Without fixing both holes in the fence we cannot let the cows into pasture #4A. We fixed it in the dark by tractor light and then went in. On our way out to field 4A we discovered that the sheep had torn into 12 bales of alfalfa hay from last year, that would explain why they are all so fat! The lambs are bouncing all over the place and we continue to have more lambs. There are only about five ewes left to deliver.

Annmarie and both daughters started in on our kitchen cabinets. They are stripping them in place so we can repaint them. The problem is they are built in and have four coats of paint on them. They made great progress and we have a popup shelter and saw horses set out back where they can work on the doors. This means that everything from the cupboards will need to find a temporary home while the kitchen work progresses. Progress is never painless.

Staycation 88% completed

This week the weather has improved dramatically so the priorities have had to change a little. I wanted to get projects done that set up Mr Professional so he can come out and work alone when I am back to work. So lots of organizing, sorting and cleaning up has been happening. On Wednesday morning we sorted the sheep and pulled off the rest of the lambs. Not sure why I didn’t think of that the first time, but problem solved. We moved all the lambs but three over into the orchard pasture to hang out. I thought we only had three in with the ewes, we spotted a fourth one that evening when we were feeding, a little boy snuck past, he must have been hidden in a mass of ewes. The grass in that pasture is over eight inches tall and needs something to start eating it down so I don’t have to mow it. We want the babies close as they have a tendency to disappear due to predators. We let Zeke, our old border collie push the lambs through the yard into the orchard, he was very happy. All he did was walk up to them and lay down. He has been laying around a lot lately and has started not eating all of his meals. We are going to switch him to soft food to attempt to encourage him to eat. He is probably not going to make it through this year.

We went out to the machine shed and sorted through the piles of scrap wood we got a couple of years ago. It was leftovers we got for a steal and had it delivered right to the house which made it even a better deal. We are now starting to dig through and use the material for various projects around the house. But it was taking up space in the machine shed and we are going to make the old chicken coop the storage area. So we sorted out the junk. Sorted out the stuff we would use once for concrete forms, which are now stored outside the chicken coop and tarped, under the eaves, so we can have easy access to it when needed. We even kept the subflooring sheets and oak plywood sheets separately in the chicken coop so we can use them for the old house. The old bathroom is going to be Annmarie’s office storage room and it will get oak plywood flooring. The floors are slanted and will need to be leveled. The old kitchen, soon to be freezer room, will need to get leveled also but it will just be 3/4” subflooring and 1/2” plywood sheeting on it. We will just be sanding down the original floor like we did in our upstairs rooms in the house.

I took the time to brush the horse. She is shedding something fierce and without another horse buddy to help her groom she needs some assistance. I have brushed her twice this vacation and Sarah brushed out the dogs when she was home so everyone looks pretty good. We came into the house and took out the old TV stand. It is very heavy but Annmarie reminded us we have the shoulder furniture movers so we found those and it made moving the stand an easy thing. I moved the new chest into its spot after cleaning the floor and doing some cord management stuff to organize the electrical mess. Annmarie wants us to use a piece of plastic channel to contain all of the TV cords to make it neater. When that comes we will install it, it does look a lot nicer with the cords contained.

Mr Professional got the side by side up and running in under five minutes. This is without the battery being plugged in. Adding that large deep cycle battery under the driver’s seat was just what we needed to keep the thing going. A dead battery all the time is highly annoying.

The small stuff I ordered for the tractor came this week. The speed handle is installed! This should just come standard on every tractor, I am unsure why they don’t. There are a couple of tool racks that will hold a chain between them now mounted behind the seat on the roll bar. The chain is actually in one spot now not tied down to some random piece of the tractor. The quick hitch is now installed and I have filled the ballast box with horseshoes. So now the Kubota has pallet forks on the front and a ballast box on the back with several hundred pounds of steel in it. It feels a lot better when you are carrying something heavy on the front.

We let the new alpaca out of the orchard thinking that everyone seemed to be getting along. The old adage that fences make great neighbors is still true. By that afternoon Mad Max had the young brown one pinned to the ground and was screaming in his ear. I tried to holler at them to get them to stop but no go. I went over and encouraged him to get off of the baby and strained my right knee. He did not initially take the hint. The alpaca can be very stubborn or determined, depending on how you look at it. We watched them for a while and all seemed to be copacetic. The next morning when I went outside there was more fighting. I went out and chased away the offenders but I could only find the two new young white alpaca and only counted ten. Which meant that the young brown one was missing, but Mad Max was present but one of our other old brown alpaca was missing. I had to walk all the way down to the end of the driveway and found the poor little alpaca pinned to the ground and the older one on top grinding into him. I had to chase him off with my coffee cup as a tool, my knee still hurts so no kicking. When I got back to the now 12 alpaca I wanted to put the three babies back into the orchard with the lambs. But they kept walking away from me. So instead when I opened the gate the seven older ones bum rushed the open gate and went into the orchard. So now the new animals are outside the fence and the old grumpy men are stuck in the orchard. Mad Max is now with the young ones but he has not been any trouble since the split. So now Annmarie asked me if I verified the gender on all three new alpaca. I did not do that. So now we need to verify that we did not end up with a female as we really do not want any cria.

On Thursday we got the side by side ready to spray. I put the first 30 gallons of round up through just spraying our road and driveway down. The only bad part about roundup is it takes at least a week before you can tell something was sprayed and two weeks for it to totally die. We cleaned out the tank and Mr Professional sprayed field #5 & 5A with 2-4-D & Milestone to kill the broadleafs, the thistles are already starting to spread. Unfortunately, the flood from two years ago changed the direction of the creek and one of the tall banks is seriously undercut. We have probably already lost eight feet of hillside and may lose another eight feet. If we lose that total 16’ I will have to move the fence. There is a very large curve in the creek now. We finished cleaning up and tossing everything onto the burn pile. I will need to get that burned again in the next month.

The big push now will be to get the spray onto all of the hay fields. We need to do this as soon as possible and then once that is done we can start fixing the fence down by four corners. As soon as that fence is done then it will be repairs on the hay baler and getting all the tractors tuned up and oil changed so everything is ready for haying season. We will be getting the barns cleaned out also so we have a place to put the new good hay.

Staycation 76% completed

We spent most of Monday getting the black walnut tree cut up into boards and a mantle. I am not yet sure what to do with the mantle but if you know someone who needs a 9 foot long, 12×20” piece of black walnut with one live edge still attached let me know. I have it stashed in the machine shed under a tarp to keep it clean. The rest of the lumber we took out to the now clean old chicken coop, stacked and stickered it, then banded it all together to help keep it flat while it dries out the last little bit. The tree had been dead for a few years already so it should not take several years. The wife and I discussed the barn lot crossing and the cost of a new culvert. It was going to be $1800-2000 for a new 3 or 4 foot diameter culvert. Annmarie pointed out that I could just make a buttresses on each side and deck the gap with railroad ties and anything would be able to drive over it. So the new plan is to make two concrete U shaped ends and then bridge the gap with railroad ties. This will be easier than trying to purchase new culvert and will have the added benefit of creating a lot of space for water should it try and flood again in our lifetime.

Mr Professional and I put up clear plastic on one of the wall openings in the back of the old chicken coop. We did this so the light could still come in. The front part of the coop is about 33 feet long so we sheeted it in plastic and then put up OSB board to sandwich the plastic between the board and the chicken wire already stretched across the windows. We sealed up two different animal access points and now nothing can get into the old chicken coop but mice. I will need to put out a lot of poison now to prevent the mice from taking up residence. One of the cats had been keeping the room clear of mice, we knew this because there was some untouched grass seed in the building. After we got the windows covered we cleaned up and were ready to move the stuff from the old house out to the chicken coop for storage purposes.

Today, before Mr Professional came out I went upstairs and stained the second side of the bathroom door. I will seal it tomorrow and then it will be ready to install. Mr Professional had told me that one of the lambs was limping last night when we fed. So this morning I went out and cut a short length of PVC pipe, I then split it in half lengthwise. Once I had it split I filed down all of the edges to make them rounded and took a roll of coban and the splint out to the barn with me when I went to let everyone out. I managed to find a boy lamb who was limping, caught him and after everyone left the barn I was able to set him on his butt and wrap up this leg and splint it with the coban and PVC. It worked well, the only real problem was it took the lamb some time to get used to it and I found another boy lamb that was limping and had a floppy front leg. So now I will need to make another splint in the morning and splint the second lamb’s leg. I have no idea where the idiots are injuring themselves.

So Mr Professional and I sat down to discuss the new plan, we calculated how much rebar we would need and we picked it up today from the scrap yard. This is the new engineer approved plan. I am going to borrow a dump trailer and pickup the 3/4minus and concrete sand myself and take it right to the job site and dump it all within arms reach of where we need it. We can get power to the bridge with three extension cords and will mix it all right there. I just need to get the Portland Cement and lime now. It needs to warm up quite a bit so the water level will drop some before we get started.

We started cleaning out the old house to get ready for the office build. This is a perfect project to work on due to the frequent rain. It took two full 16’ flat bed trips to empty the two rooms out! There was quite a bit of unused wood stored in the old house. I am thinking about moving all of the unused wood from the machine shed into the old chicken coop so that all of the wood is in one spot. We are going to tear out the entire inner wall so I can run all new electrical wire quickly and easily using the least amount of wire. Luckily, I have quite a bit of 12 g wire leftover from wiring our house so I think I already have what I need. I also have a variety of switches and outlets, all different colors and types but I am determined to use up what I have on hand before I get any new supplies.

We used the tractor to move the trailer and it is a lot easier to maneuver the trailer. We got the first load into the old chicken coop but by yesterday evening we did not want to unload the trailer so we just tossed a tarp over it and started to work on covering up the access hole in the side of the building. This hole has been uncovered since we moved here and Annmarie has wanted it covered forever. We also slapped a couple of pieces of wood at the peak and even added an extra piece as a woodpecker has decided to put a hole in the building so it can nest in the attic. The freezer room is just going to get the floor leveled and power installed for now. It is outside the office area we are building for Annmarie and is in my section of the building. The second section will be done at a later date, most likely after we get the inside bathroom remodeled. Once the walls are stripped I will get two doors ordered and three windows. But the wiring can be done while that stuff is getting ordered and shipped.