Weekend farming in effect

Now that winter is sort of here I am doing mostly farming on the weekends. We are feeding every night after work in the dark. I only have to feed the sheep every night. The cows are getting large bales so I only have to push them one every week. I do it twice a week so they get a new one every 3-4 days. They do better this way instead of pushing them 2 at the same time. The sheep are doing okay on the hay I baled. Its pretty weedy but I figured since that is what they eat all spring and summer they can eat it in the winter until I can get all the fields replanted and cleaned up. This has led to an extra amount of organic matter being deposited on the barn floor. I think our straw consumption is going to go way down this winter. I have to empty out the feeders every few days to get the uneaten organic matter out and I just dump it on the floor.

I went out on Friday to feed the cows and discovered a brown alpaca laying near the hay pile. I figured it would jump up and run away when I got close with the tractor, it did not do that as it was dead! So instead of feeding I used the tractor to scoop up the recently deceased and take them up the property to become animal food. We really don’t know how old the alpaca are and we have had them for several years now. This was not one we can attribute to the other alpaca bullying.

After dropping off the carcass I was at the far end of the farm and the mower was on the tractor so I went up and started mowing the field I had burned last week. Well I started mowing the portion I got burned. I estimate that at a little over 2 acres. I got it all mowed and it is now ready to disc. I am afraid that Mother Nature is going to decide that winter is really here and freeze the ground soon.

I had a list of “honey do” items that I needed to check off on Saturday. I had been promising to fix a piece of hanging ceiling trim for last 8 years. I had attempted a fix once before. I used epoxy this time so it is never going to come down.

I also worked on cleaning up our under stair closet. It was pretty badly organized, and after throwing away a lot of things and creating a give away bag I managed to make it look much better. I really need to get the power wired into the closet so I can install the under cabinet lights. This is quickly moving to near the top of the “to do” list. Our second bathroom is moving up the priority list also. Annmarie says I need to take five minutes or less in the bathroom in the morning doing my routine evacuation. I say that it should be less than 30 minutes. She does not agree with this timing. So I need to get that second bathroom up and running.

I have been compiling my new to do list for the next six months.

Tile and complete upstairs 1/2 bath

Install under cabinet lights in hallway stair closet (wire light plugs first)

Order spare parts for haying equipment

Order perf plate wall hanging organizers

Order wall organizer with drawers

Fix tractor lights

Install trickle charger on Buggy

Dig ditch in the upper upper pasture (needs to happen sooner than later)

Install culverts x 2 in upper upper pasture

Clean out leaves in yard

Install new pump on 50 gallon sprayer and secure tank in rear of buggy

Install overhead electric lift in machine shed

Wire machine shed for bay lights and two more outlets (in progress)

Lone Fencer

I have spent the last two days fencing by myself. My helper, Tex, has been a no show. This has caused me to have to adjust my timeline. Together we can do as much work as I can do in about 2.5=3 days. Alone, I am a lot slower, so I have started concentrating on the things that matter. Getting the posts in the ground before it freezes matters. So yesterday I staged all the supplies we had in the back of the pickup and started to clean out post holes by hand. The tractor auger can dig them but they still need to be finished off by hand. I needed the pickup empty so I could bring the railroad ties then a load of gravel into the lower field. The trailer will not go up the hill. I figured out how to load the railroad ties with the tractor today. I was just going to dump them over the side but if I slid the tie down I was able to catch the end of the tie under the top edge of the bucket and just lift it up longwise. This let me just slide it in the end of the pickup! It worked great and meant I only had to slide the tie by hand about three feet. Unfortunately, I had to unload the ties by hand on the other end but only having to lift it once instead of twice was an improvement. I put ties in all the corners and filled the first stretch of fencing. I want to get a section done then move onto the next section. I will leave the wire install as the second to last step, installing the gates is the last step. Wire can be installed when the ground is frozen, posts cannot be pounded into the ground by hand when the ground is frozen. I am learning to prioritize.

I set all the wooden posts in gravel. It just makes things easier and the posts stay tight. I put seven tractor bucket scoops in the back of the pickup. I only needed about 5.5 to set all the wooden posts but the leftovers went over the newly installed culvert. It is still a mud pit as it keeps raining every day. I am hoping the gravel mixing into the mud will make a nice hard surface eventually.

I got the first section all ready, T-posts are installed and this time I even managed to keep them in a straight line. This section goes to a six foot gate, I of course purchased a eight foot gate. Luckily, I have an extra six foot gate on the place already and will use the eight foot gate somewhere else in the future.

This picture below shows the first section of fence I am installing, it goes from one end of the picture to the other. Directly in the middle of the picture is a lone bush along the creek, that is where I am at with T-posts. So I am about half way on them, but tonight after finishing setting the wooden posts I started to pound in T-posts again but I just ran out of oomph! I hit that last T-post about 25 times and knew I was done for the day.

The baby chickens are growing! I had to raise the self waterer another 1/2 inch. They have to be able to reach up to peck at the nipples or it doesn’t work right. This week they are going to finish off the first 50# bag of crumble food. I will need to buy another 50# and then hopefully after that is out I can go to pellets. We are getting 3 eggs a day from 8 chickens now. The 23 chicks won’t start laying until spring but then we will have 30 laying hens! We are only selling about 3-4 dozen a month now.

We ordered the trickle charger for the side by side. The battery is dead and I cannot start it. I am told that this is a common problem for UTV. The trickle charger will stop it. This means I need to wire in a 110v outlet near the side by side parking spot, so I brought all the stuff to wire in lights and switches and once the fence is installed I will be wiring lights on the tractor and lights in the machine shop.

Fields are ready to burn

I made fresh fried potatoes with onions, a touch of jalapeƱo and bacon grease for breakfast. It was very good, after I dished out Annmarie’s portion I added bratwurst to mine and fried it all together. The brats were left over from a couple of days ago and already cooked. I knew I was going to get on the tractor and stay all day. I drug a path next to the wheat field back and forth with the disc. Mind you its only four feet wide and it takes a few passes to notice anything when there is that much vegetation on the ground and it is this dry. I spent all morning doing that and getting the last 7 acre field at the far end of the property. All the fields have bare spots around them and a second bare patch next to the wheat field. I even came up behind the machine shed and disced about an acre of ground. I picked up an entire tractor bucket of wood, metal, rocks and twine as I broke the ground apart. There was a lot of hidden stuff out there.

After I was done with the disc I went and got the harrow/arena groomer and went over everything again. The nice thing about the groomer is the tines will collect the organic material and I was able to just pull over and shake it off out of the way and go right back to clearing a path. This worked well and now I have nice flat and clean paths everywhere. It made a huge difference in leveling out the area behind the machine shed.

One might think it odd to plant that little area but I need a spot close to the machine shed that I can practice using the combo planter/seeder. I have yet to hook it up and apply power to it yet. I also need to set the seed rate and depth once I get started. I want to do all this close to the house so this serves three purposes, it gets the area all cleaned up, it lets me practice seeding and the alpaca will have a newly seeded grass area. Zeke decided to come see me around 1400 today. He jumped the yard fence and came and found me. He played out in the tall weeds and would come within ten minutes of me calling his name. The only real problem is he is being rewarded for jumping the fence. We pushed the sheep and horses back into the barn lot and I picked another bag of plums. There is about 3-5 gallons of plums still left on the tree. The cows stayed back as Zeke was hanging out under the tree with me while I picked.

Zeke was filthy and just covered in these small round stickers about 1/8″ in diameter. I got a brush and the defurminator and set to work on him. He was not happy. I got his head and neck and most of his back. He growled and snapped at me once and we had words. I told him it was his own fault. I let him go and he ran under the front porch and would not come out. Annmarie had to get him out and then she used a gentler brush and I picked them out of this fur. We spent an hour doing that. She asked me if I would bathe him, but he again ran under the porch and would not even come out for Annmarie. I went and showered and she used cheese to entice him out from under the porch. He doesn’t mind a bath and once he figured out that was all she was going to do he settled down.

Stickers are no joke. I ended up with a piece of cheat grass in my left ear last week! It is not fun.

Now I just need to get a permit for burning.

New spraying rig

Annmarie and I have been discussing the need for a vehicle that can assist us with spraying weeds. In my dreams this vehicle is autonomous, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. We talked about getting another tractor but honestly could not justify the cost. We started looking at online auctions for a side by side in the last six weeks. We were starting to pick a model type and looking at run hours and price points. We knew we did not want a new one and we needed an actual utility vehicle so we could mount the sprayer in the back. Annmarie wanted one sooner rather than later but I wanted to pay cash and according to the auctions we were gonna have to pay around $6-8k and then pay shipping, most of them had around 1000 run hours and may not have a title.

My mother-in-law, Donna, called Annmarie to say there was a UTV for sale at the coffee shop. I called on it and it was every thing we were looking for in a UTV. It had four wheel drive, 500# load bed limit, tilt bed, and ended up only having 352 run hours on it and it was a 2006, that means it has only had 27 hours a year put on it. It looked brand new! It happens to have a custom stereo with speakers mounted in the overhead and doors! I have yet to check out the sound system in action. Most importantly it has two cup holders so I can have double the amount of coffee! We paid $4900 cash and now have it stored under cover in the machine shop. We are not leaving the keys in it. Annmarie wants me to get the broken lawn mower fixed. It will start but after about 10 minutes it just cuts out and will not start. I need to get some work done on the chainsaw also but to get it to town I need to clean out the pickup. This is an ongoing source of contention at our house as Annmarie thinks you should be able to hop in the pickup at any time and drive to town. This option is always available for one person if you don’t mind the mess and tools. Plus, you cannot lock the doors as we have no key for the doors anymore after I lost it last year. I agreed to clean up from the fencing and rental work done today. I only need to move two buckets and sweep out the back and I will be done. I still need to empty tools out of the cab tomorrow but it will be usable as a people vehicle very soon. As a farm truck it is fabulous! A few years ago while we were at an auction I bid on a STOP sign. Annmarie asked me why we needed it and I told her that I would find a use for it eventually and for $5 it was a great price. I was emptying the pickup fence supplies and spotted the sign, it is now mounted on the outside of the machine shop between the UTV and our tractor and all our new hay equipment. A perfect reminder for everyone and a cool way to repurpose an old sign.

Beautiful Eastern Oregon evening

Annmarie and I went up to the upper pasture this week to bring in the sheep and the sun was just setting. The farther we got away from the house the more Mother Nature showed her colors. There are times that the dry climate makes for a beautiful setting. It just depends on whether you equate beauty with green. I don’t think that any more, not after being back for 12 years. The sheep pretty much put themselves in every night now. They come down to the barn without us using the dogs to chase them back. The horses on the other hand don’t want to come back to the barn lot. Luckily, the food quality is not good enough to make the horses get fat. The sheep are putting on weight with it and so are the steers so its good enough. No one on the farm gets lush green grass year around. We have been making it a point to leave the dead tree snags sticking up in the air. The owls and hawks love hanging in them and then swooping down to kill mice and small rodents. Anything that kills rodents should be supported, because we have lots of them!

I am going to put in for some vacation this fall so I can replant these upper fields and hopefully get some grass growing in the spring and not all weeds. I did manage to get two overhead tractor lights to mount on my rollbar. One to look forward and one to look backwards so I can run the tractor at night. I think I am going to need this to get all the grass planted and again in the spring when I start doing hay again. I had to stop several times this spring due to a lack of light, this should fix it.

I have been looking at Metric tools but I cannot find a metric only set. I keep looking at 200-400 piece sets that are combination of English and Metric. I do not need the English at all but I am not having any luck getting separate kits. If I by another set I will have three full English sets and one Metric, this does seem odd to me as I only need the Metric. Unfortunately, the sets are cheaper as a combo than when buying individual pieces. I still need to move the last large tool box over to the machine shed. Plus, I need a large trash can in the machine shed. Just tossing stuff into a corner is not going to work long term.

My father had two electric hoists in the garage. One was sufficient for what he needed so the other one was taken down. It hangs from an I beam that is 6 feet long and can move back and forth. I am going to mount it in the machine shed after I build some support beams for it. I need to be able to lift heavy objects without hurting myself.

The chain winch is still frozen and not moving. Someone gave me a suggestion to soak it in oil or diesel. I have a lot of fouled diesel on the place I just need a metal container large enough to hold the hoist and let me fill it with fuel. I can dunk it and let it sit for a few months, hopefully this will allow it to be broken free.