Scaring away rock chucks


Mr Professional came out to the house and picked up bales of hay from the orchard and drove the trailer over to the barn.  He has been working on another project in town that Annmarie asked him to do so his time on the farm has been limited.

On Thursday, Annmarie spotted TWO rock chucks down in the ram pasture and went out the front door with the 22 rifle.  She flung lead at them and they got away.  I saw this all from the living room window.  Without a carcass she gets no kill credit.  She even admitted she missed.

Friday morning, Annmarie’s spotted another two rock chucks and went outside and started flinging lead again.  Again, they both got away.  I was not home at the time but she told me about it.

I had gone out to barn to move the hay inside off of the trailer.  It was a mere 98 degrees F and I did bring some water.  There were 60 bales to go in from the orchard haying (1.25 ton) and someone had to do it.  I got them all in the barn and stacked.  I needed the trailer cleared off so I could go and see if the metal scrapyard had any panels or culvert for me.  I found some amazing panels but the owner was taking them home and I did find a piece of 4’ culvert hidden in the back corner inside a piece of 6’ culvert. I will come back in a few weeks after I gets some more haying done and have them pull it out and cut it down to 16’ long.  I decided to go with a longer culvert.  The gate is 16’ wide and that would allow any size truck to cross.  I am going to use Rasta blocks and install a concrete wall on both sides of the culvert so it can withstand the water cresting it if needed.  On a plus side, I did not pickup any scrap metal and they gave me a sold recommendation for a portable welder.  I will be buying a Miller Multimatic 200 and using flux core wire.  I have been shopping around looking at prices but it looks like $2200 is the price I am going to have to pay. This is less than the allotted $3k I had set aside for this needed purchase.  It will even work off of my generator and will do 110/220v power supply.  This was a major tip and I am grateful for it.  I will be converting my old small pickup bed trailer to a welding trailer and mounting the cutting torch and welder and generator on it all so I can just hook up and go!

I was dragging after unloading the hay in the heat, tired, did not feel good, so after my shower I am upstairs dressing and Annmarie started shooting again at rock chucks!  At her opportunity rate I am going to have to increase my accuracy to offset it.  She shot at two more rock chucks.  I am thinking its the same two she always shoots at.  She now has to sneak out the back door as they will run away if you use the front door.  Friday morning I had removed the screen from our bedroom closet window so I could get a shot off if needed.  It doesn’t show the whole ram pasture but I can see  the hillside.  I spotted a rock chuck running up the hill and got off two shots.  We both missed.  My plan is to now just use the upstairs window when I want to shoot at the rock-chucks.


This is my view from the upstairs bedroom closet!  I have a decent field of fire if they run for the upper rock pile.



Flood damage repair still

The chickens are enjoying the weather and all of this rain.  We have moved the compost dumping area down the fence line about 15 feet in an effort to get the chickens to work down the weeds.  I have been trying to recycle 50# of dried rice used to dry out electrical equipment into chicken food.  I use the rice cooker and give them 8-16 cups of cooked rice a day.  I have been at it for two weeks and have half the rice gone maybe.  Even the chickens are getting tired of rice at every meal, they will run over eat a little bit then run away.  They do forage on the rice all day and eat it eventually but if that were cat food I was tossing out they would eat it until it was gone every time. 04E110F3-9383-4A26-A4BD-A1649619DB3B

My spare parts for the haying equipment came this week also.  Unfortunately, they did not have all the parts I asked for but I took what they sent me.  It tends to take about 3-4 weeks to get parts from the company so I went through and looked at the parts I have already broken and the parts that may break and have started a list.  The company did a great job of labeling each set of bolts and nuts so I know exactly what they are.  I have them separated out into containers with sharpy labels on the outside.  My goal is to get another 2 metal cabinets and use two of them for parts only.  I want to dedicate half the cabinet to each piece of hay equipment so it is easy to find and won’t get lost since I have to have so many parts on hand.

I am having trouble with my front left tire that fell off.  I was getting ready to go to the upper field with the arena groomer when I noticed that the same tire had two lug nut bolts missing.  Luckily, the wheel had not fallen off again.  I had picked up six bolts from the tractor store and put two back in and tightened down everything. I am going to have to figure out why this is happening.  The new tractor seat came in, it is thicker than the old but I need some kind of shock absorber on it now so the ride is smoother.  more internet shopping time is needed.  The first seat lasted seven years and the tractor spent more time out in the sun than under cover.  Since we have gotten the machine shed cleaned out the side by side and the tractor are parked inside away from the sun whenever they are not in use.

Mr Professional and the Future NASCAR driver have been working on the cross fence in the barn lot.  All three of us went up there and got it finalized.  I still need to get into the spring path and dig out some more mud but it was so bad that I kept getting stuck in the tractor.  I made a deeper pathway that is only about 1 foot wide and will let it dry out for few weeks before I go back at from the sides with the tractor.  I want to build up the embankment on the northern side so when the water comes rushing down it will get pushed back and over the embankment.  We still need to cut the final cow panel to fit to the bottom of the gully but not until I reshape the gully to accept more water.  So we just used the bent one from the flood and will address it later.

The ram started to favor his front left leg four days ago but would not let us touch it, we could get close enough to pet him but not pin him.   He is also over 200 pounds and all muscle with some fat and is not going to let me just pin him to look at his foot.  We ended up just moving all the boys from Alcatraz to behind the barn into a nice dry lot and watered them in the corral. This got the ram closer to our chute were we could pin him in place.  We did this in the evening and then let them hang out all night by the next morning the ram was already putting weight on the leg and looked dramatically better.  There was just too much moisture in Alcatraz.  I spent a couple of hours with the box blade and manure forks and cleaned up Alcatraz.  I now have two piles of mud, straw, hay and poop that will need to be moved out and mixed in the new barn floor contents when the barn gets cleaned out.  I really need a manure spreader but they are expensive.  I need a good used one, which leads to the I need a welder discussion as stuff keeps breaking and I need to be able to repair it.

It took me about 10 hours between two days to get the upper prime squared field all cleaned up.  I used the manure forks to pick up the large piles and used the arena groomer to pick up the low grass and spread out the mud.  The grass is trying to grow back but cannot get through the mat of mud and grass left by the flood.  I had to go over each section repeatedly as the groomer would fill up with grass fast.  I made two big piles out in the middle of the field and took everything close to the water over to my berm I am constructing alongside the spring.  The berm is going to be 2-3 feet high.  The water here only got about 18-24” deep so I think it will be enough to keep the water going to where I sort of want it.  This should lead to only about 1/3 of the field getting flooded and none of the next field being flooded.  Don’t get me wrong, I still installed flood break points in the cross fences just in case it does jump my berm.  I don’t want to have to come back and redo all this fence again. The built in weak points will keep the whole fence from getting flushed down or pushed over.

The manure forks have been another amazing purchase!  If I knew how handy they would be I would have done it years ago.  The best part is they only cost $250!  I have used them extensively to help clean up the flood debris and am actually looking forward to how they work when I clean out the barn.  I may be able to just drive in scoop out some stuff and drive out with it instead of trying to push it all out one of the two doors and then pick it up with the tractor.  If the rain ever stops the barn will get cleaned out.


Haying for now

Friday was spent haying some more.  Annmarie spotted a female calf from our bedroom window and then when she looked with the binoculars there was no ear tag!  We knew the cows were hiding more calves but had finally given up and figured they died.  Nope, now I need to tag it, luckily its a girl.  I managed to only shear two shear bolts all day, one upper and one lower.  The upper ones are a lot easier to fix!  I like to take my fiber directly from the soil.  The coffee gets pretty thick when the dust starts to fly.

Mr Professional and the kid started picking up bales from the field.  I think they are dry but Friday night I started to hit some wet patches.  I truly do not want the barn to burn down. After much discussion I am again using the horse training corral to store hay in.  They are out in the open, and since they are wrapped they won’t absorb a lot of moisture.  This was the best plan and the safest.

The micro hay equipment is nice, once you get used to it!  We are learning a  few things, like don’t row the hay or make the rows too high.  If you do drive over the hay rows watch the drive shaft picking up hay and wrapping around the driveline.  You will need to cut that off before it becomes a problem or it will stall out the tractor and it is a lot harder to get out when it is jammed in there.  Rocks are bad, the baler does not like them.  I am going to have to pick up rocks in the far upper field.  There are too many loose big rocks, even fist sized is too big.  The netting wrap is great but you really have to pull on the cord for about 3 seconds to get the friction roller engaged.  Once the bail is wrapped a couple of times you can let go and the machine does the rest.  The hydraulic rear lifting is amazing.  This is crucial when something goes wrong or you shear a bolt.  On the other the hydraulics were self contained and the pump was reliant on the pto so when you sheared a safety bolt and needed to lift the back of the baler it had to be done by hand and its very heavy.  Keep lots of shear bolts on hand, I recommend 36 of each kind.  It’s a stupid reason to have to stop and go to the hardware store to try and find them.  They are hardness 8.8 which is hard to find, everything easily obtained was harder and you don’t want a harder shear bolt.  Clean out both sides of the baler every time you shear a bolt.  This is probably overkill but you have the covers off anyways and it makes me feel better.  Clean off the equipment every night with the hose, get all that stuff and dirt off your machine.  Remember the bale counter is triggered every time you lift the tailgate on the baler so if you keep breaking stuff and lifting the back the count can be off by quite a bit.  You will need to count bales when you load them unless you never do anything wrong and all goes smoothly.  I have been unfortunate and have not had this problem.  Don’t take a super tight turn as you can catch the pto shaft with your rear tire, this is not good.  Don’t be surprised when you start out if the bale rolls forever.  It takes a bit to learn how to work the baler, we have some bales with 30-40 layers, they will be very hard to get into.  The average is about 8 wraps very reasonable.

The kid left early afternoon and Mr Professional was done loading hay, so he went out to bale hay while I went out to pick up bales.  I went up to the far field and picked up the triticale. We got 61 bales, 2400# not exactly a whopper crop off of 3 acres.  Between the flooding and my inexperience in prepping the field in the fall and planting it it was very lackluster. I tried to pick up rocks but there were a lot and the pickup bed was full of gravel for fencing, the hay and rocks were starting to cause the safety chains to drag on the ground.  I need to do some serious rock picking up here.   I will break out the arena groomer after the next cutting and work this field smooth and pick up rocks.

When I got to the barn I realized that I had not disposed of a winter’s worth of hay cord, that took a while to get them into old feed sacks.  I then had to move last years hay over to the front so we will use it first.  It is old and dry so I will use it as feed/bedding once we get the barn cleaned out.  I unloaded trailer and was about 50% done when it started to rain again.  Mr Professional came by and helped me unload the trailer, I stacked it until there were 10 bales left and I just called it quits!  I was beat and tired and done for the day it was dinner time anyways.  We only got 7/100” of rain Friday night.


Week in review

It’s been a long week, I have kept notes so I could keep track of all the things that have happened.  Monday evening after dinner I went out and turned all the hay.  It just keeps raining.  The hay is not very good after all the rain and flooding.  I need to get it up into bales so the grass underneath can come up and I can get a good second cutting.  I worked until dark and got it all turned and in neat rows.  Mr Professional came out during the day and worked on setting wooden posts in our field closest to the barn lot, I would like to get the sheep and horses off of the hay pasture.  They keep eating the barley sprouts.

Tuesday after work I went out to the field and got the baler to work.  It’s a learning curve and I had to get my memory back up to speed after last year.  It is not quite the same critter as the string non-hydraulic one I had last year. I got it to make about 20 bales up in the triticale before it got dark.  I was happy but I have learned there are some things that are not easy to do in the dark and baling is one of them, seeding is the other.

Wednesday after work I went out to check on Mr Professional.  He was hot!  He had broken 9 shear bolts already and the hay was too thick.  It was a constant battle.  I went out after dinner and threw the hay back out.  No rows, the tractor carriage is too low and the underside hits the hay pile.  I really need a side pull but I did not think of this.  I may be able to accommodate this at a future time.  The real answer is just don’t row it.  Just throw it around and pick it up with the tractor.  The little baler does better if it is not plowing through super thick material.  It can grab a bunch and pull it in and shear the safety bolt before you know it.

Thursday I had off and Mr Professional and I had to go to town to find a bolt as one had broken on the arm for dumping the bales.  The arm got bent in shipping and I did not think it was a big deal.  It is turning out to be a problem.  I will need to order a replacement soon.  I forgot about it when I placed the big order last week.  We may have found the right size shear bolt at hardware store but we did not have any to compare.  We left them at home.  When we got home I found the dozen spares I knew I had ordered last year, they were not with the others.  It took us 2 hours to clean off the baler, replace the shear bolts and grease and oil it so it was ready to go.  I baled about 100 bales and only broke two shear pins, one low and one high.  I hit some wet grass and sheared the lower pin.  After spending 30 minutes digging it out I just gave up.  It was dinner time and I was beat, I took it all back to the shop, we can get it ready tomorrow morning.  Mr professional and the kid worked on the fence.  My manure clamp on hooks for the tractor bucket arrived!  I used them to move mud and hay away from the fence, they are great!  I am thinking that cleaning out the barn this year may be a lot easier than normal.   The tractor can push the spikes into a pile of mud and hay where I never could have gotten it into the bucket before.  The only thing is it makes the tractor pretty front heavy, I need to attach the box blade on the back for counterweight.






Haying adventure begins

Yesterday we decided to get ready for haying.  Unfortunately, there are always things to do on the farm and we had decided that this was the weekend to work animals.  On a good day this is complicated.  On a bad day it is worse and at the best of times it will stress any relationship.  Any one who thinks they live in marital bliss just needs to come work animals with their spouse and they still have to get the animal work completed no matter how hard or complicated or how many times you have to walk back down to the other end of the pasture!  All in all it was not bad, we had to use the dogs on the sheep even though they started in the ram pasture.  They would not go through the gate into the back barn area and then they would not go into the barn.  The dogs did great, Annmarie runs Mouse and I run Zeke at the same time, the dogs are trained to only follow commands after their names are said plus Mouse does better with Annmarie and Zeke works with me better.  Don’t get me wrong, all the dogs like Annmarie better as she lets them up on the couch for hugs.  Zeke is just used to the curmudgeon approach to sheep commands and Mouse is fairly sensitive and takes it personal.

We set the barn up before pushing the sheep in, they are finally getting used to the sorting chute as a group.  Making them go both ways through it helps them understand it is part of the routine.  Once we had the sheep inside and started taking a good look at them and who was going to be culled we opted to wait another 30 days.  In one month we will be able to wean all the lambs and we can cull the 10 ewes for sale.  We have 10 that are old and scraggly and they need to go.  So they got to run back out the chute to freedom.

The cows were next, Annmarie and I walked down to the schoolhouse as the cows saw us coming and ran in the opposite direction.  We typically don’t use the dogs when there are new born calfs on the ground as the cows just want to chase the dogs and not move where we want.  We got them into the ram pasture after three attempts.  Luckily they didn’t start really getting stubborn until we were up by the house and we had a closed gate stopping them from running backdown to the schoolhouse.  We tried multiple times to get them to go into the back barn lot and they would not do it.  I hollered and eventually Annmarie agreed to let me use the dogs and her and Sarah exited the area and went into the yard (behind the fence) to watch.  We forgot to do a video.  The dogs and I pushed the cows near the gate, then Annmarie came out and the dogs pushed them through the gate.  We had to call the dogs into the back barn area to get the cows the rest of the way in.  We sorted into two groups, Annmarie sprayed fly stuff on them and then Annmarie and Sarah caught the newborn little calf girl and I put in the ear tag.  Stupid ear tag pliers kept misbehaving, making the two women on top of the calf holler at me.  I got it!  I have offered to do the pinning but we have discovered that I have the hand strength needed to make ear tag and banded work and the women cannot do it so I am relegated to the easy tasks.  We are missing one calf.  The problem with this is two fold.  We know there was a cougar at the neighbor’s house 4 days ago.  The other issue is the calf is only 4 days old and the cows will hide them.  So we could of just missed it.  We will keep an eye out and see what happens in the next 14 days.

Mr Professional and I worked on the sickle mower for the tractor yesterday.  It is brand new and owners manuals are not the same as operators manuals, nor are they assembly manuals.  Turns out we had to tighten almost all the bolts, two leaky hydraulic connections (there are only two) and move a part they put on wrong.  It then took us a couple more hours to figure out how to get it to adjust right per the instruction manual.   We managed to bend a weld on a stop that we still cannot figure out how it functions, so it will need to be welded back in place eventually.  By this time it was time for lunch, he went home for lunch and I even went inside and ate (I normally skip lunch).

After lunch I went out to mow the nearest field, Upper Prime (I really need a sheet with all the names on it for the fields as I occasionally change the names!).  This field was solid cheatgrass last year and I used it to practice with the hay equipment.  It is still about 75% cheatgrass so it will again be practice.  It will be filler food for the horses and cows.  I will look into spraying it down mid summer and reworking it in the spring with peas.  Something to start killing off the cheatgrass.  It takes me about an hour an acre to cut and it took some practice to figure out how to use the sickle mower and get it to function optimally.  Speed is the key, you must go fast so the grass rows up or it bunches up and clogs the tines.  Also, cutting will have to be done in the afternoon as wet spots at the base of the grass gum it up dramatically.  I had a few wet spots that I ended up butchering multiple directions in an attempt to get them cut.

The Upper Prime Squared field (next one beyond first, away from house) looked great!  It had about 25% with cheat grass but the rest looked good and about 50% looked good enough to sell.  The same problem here, I encountered three wet spots out in the field.  Luckily, they were not muddy but it was highly evident that the surface water was more plentiful.  We had sprayed for thistles but had only used 2-4-D and the thistles were shriveled up but not dead, they got put into the hay.   Again, we will spray as soon as we get the hay put up.

The real problem is it is supposed to rain Wednesday and Thursday.  I knew this but did not want the cheat grass to get more of a hold so went ahead and cut anyways.  We will turn on Monday and hopefully start baling on Tuesday night.  It is going to be close.

I tried to get done before it got dark, I even held off turning on the tractor lights until it was not possible to do without them.  I need to down grade the front light still so it doesn’t pull as much juice from the battery as my big one.  I have one that is about 1/3 power that I am going to install.  I will leave the big one mounted just in case I need it, I can just unplug my other and plug it in.

There are lots of rooster pheasants all over the place!  I did not see a single hen, but I saw roosters strutting all over the place with no regard for their safety.  I saw a thousand voles at least.  The dogs would have loved it but the sickle bar mower hidden in the grass does not make this an option for letting them run around.  No quail or foxes were spotted in 8 hours of mowing.  I did manage to eat my nuts and some Carmel popcorn while driving around in circles.  I got pretty good at moving the sickle bar and gaging how best to mow an area.