Haying purgatory

Saturday was the day of the first hay roundup. Mr Tex had agreed to come out and help buck hay. He doesn’t like working in the heat so he wanted to start at 0600. This is way too early for Mr Professional so Annmarie agreed to drive the pickup and trailer around in circles while we tossed bales onto the trailer. We had to make a plan as there were some bales that had cheat grass in them. Three of the fields look pretty good with very little cheat grass. We decided to use the cheat grass contaminated bales to line the dirt floor of the lamb shed, the triticale could then go on top of it and we would not waste any of it. The triticale we will feed to the cows and the bull in alcatraz. We ended up getting almost 3 ton off of about 3/4 acre in the triangle scab patch we planted the 2 year old leftover triticale seeds in, using a grass seed dispersing cultivator. The quail are everywhere! They are in pairs all up and down the fields, every time we went down the road we spotted several pair.

We were able to get 100 bales per load onto the trailer and pickup. That is two ton per trip. The road alongside the wheat field is the quickest route out to the fields but it slants to toward the downhill side and has one bad spot that was causing the tractors to slide off of the road during all the mud creating rains. I have been slowly trying to flatten that section of road out and it is better but it is not wide enough so the trailer kept slipping off the road and getting dragged sideways for about 50 feet until we could get past that section. It only slid two feet downhill but it is disconcerting when you are looking in your side mirror and see it slide down and stay on the low side. We only dumped hay off once and then only lost six bales. Annmarie helped us unload in the barn. Having an extra person was great once we started having to stack higher than we could reach. I messed up and started to stack the far closest corner up first. I always do the farthest corner first. Its easier and this year I messed it up so now the bales have to be moved an extra 8-16 feet. The temperature was only in the low 80s F. I made sure to drink lots of water but it was hot! We tried to geet the puppy to go with us but she did not like the noise of the pickup so we left her in the yard. She spent most of the day sleeping on the front porch of the house.

We picked up 400 bales and then Mr Tex wanted to take a lunch. He went home, and we had minimart chicken strips and then I laid out on the front lawn and took a nap. I was anticipating the second round of hay bales to be less pleasant than the first 400. My arms were starting to ache but not my shoulders yet. We did another 100 bales then Sarah came home and volunteered to come out and help with hay. We of course allowed this then went back for our last 100 of the day as I was super tired already. The pickup and trailer started to sink into a soft section of the field and four wheel drive was necessary to get out of the spot. The last 100 bales into the barn sucked. We were all tired. After Mr Tex tossed his hay hook with the bale for the fourth time and fell off the trailer once it was fairly evident that even he was tired.

Mr Professional came out and blew out the John Deere radiator, I had forgotten to put the prescreen in so it had a lot more chaff in there than normal. He filled it and checked oil and added oil, both tractors need an oil change so I will be buying filters and getting the oil so we have it on hand. He then went out to bale more hay, therefore adding to the amount that needed to be picked up.

We ended up picking up 600 bales, 12 ton of hay and getting it in the barn for the animals for winter. We need to have both bays in the barn for the sheep to get through the winter so I would say we are have about 40% of the hay we need for winter already.

As soon as we were done I spread out on the front lawn to cool off. I just laid there for 30 minutes attempting to get cooled down. I shared some ice water with the puppy as every time I put the cup down she would shove her entire face into the cup so she could play with the ice cubes. Eventually it was my turn in the shower. I was in bed early and did not feel the greatest. The next day has begun and I still don’t feel that great. My muscles are not in that bad of shape but the headache and runny nose are not going away. So it will be a lighter day today.

The amount of hay is amazing. The rain was annoying and I will need to move a bunch of dirt and create a berm at the beginning of field 1 to prevent the field from being flooded but boy the grass sure liked the bottomless water glass. There is a distressing amount of hay to be cut and baled and picked up out of the fields.

Haying during the week

Mr Professional came out during the week and worked on equipment and kept haying. We managed to break both sickle bars, there are two special round head bolts that snap fairly easily. I had to call for parts for the new sickle bar and realized that it also was made in Italy! This did not bode well for us but it turns out they had three bolts on hand and could overnight them to the parts store. I had them order two more anyways so we would have spares on hand. I will need to create a new parts bin for the new sickle bar. Having a bin for every piece of equipment is very handy for keeping track of all of the spare parts. I would come home from work, change clothes and jump on a piece of equipment until dark. I could get in 5-6 hours of tractor work doing that. We had some trouble with moisture still as the heat had not picked up yet and the ground was still fairly wet. This caused the baler to jam on a fairly regular basis. We quit picking up so low to the ground and just caught the tops of the rows, this worked well but did leave a couple of inches of cut grass on the ground. There was nothing to do about that as the grass did not cut smoothly to the ground as it was still fairly wet. A mower/conditioner might fix this problem but when the grass is four feet tall I am unsure how well it would carve through the mass of grass.

Every evening I got to watch the quail! Honestly, they are one of my favorite birds. They are curious, vocal and beautiful. We hear them every day all over the farm. At dusk every evening one of the resident owls would come out and start swooping down into the field and catching rodents. They waited until it was almost dark before the hunting started. I have not seen a single deer or turkey this week while out working the fields nor have I seen a pheasant.

I was super tired and have been sleeping downstairs. I get the horrible twitches when I push myself and keep Annmarie awake at night. We have several toads that now live around the house and one has taken up residence under our front porch. It is so annoying that Gizmo, our Brussel griffin dog, has taken to hunting it when the racket commences. I was afraid the noise would keep me awake it was so loud but exhaustion won out and I just fell asleep. We keep telling Gizmo that he really does not want to catch the toad, it would not be healthy for him. I messaged Mr I need a belt bad to see if he wanted to come out and help buck hay but this is the third request I have submitted to him for summer labor and he is not thinking he wants to return to the farm. It is not easy to find a young person who wants to weed, mow, weed eat, dig out ditch and dig out the barn for a summer job. Honestly its only two days a week, maybe three but it is near impossible to find someone. The sheep have been doing all of our yard mowing this year except for the two times we got it mowed. We are still on the lookout for some summer yard assistance.

Haying for real now

It is officially haying season. I know this because I work from sunup to sundown during haying season. As soon as I get off work in the afternoon I get onto a tractor and go until dark. We had a couple of issues today. Mr Professional was going to use the Kubota and the new sickle bar mower to cut hay but it broke. One asks how does a new piece of equipment break? I would say very easily. We will be using locktite on most of the bolts on the sickle bars. Also, who knew but the new 5 foot sickle bar mower is made in Italy also! I had to download the manual and find the part, the rounded head bolt that kept breaking on our other sickle bar. I found the right part number and called the parts store. I requested five bolts and five nuts. The dealer for these mowers only had three bolts available so they are getting overnighted and we should have them in a couple of days. They are still going to order me two more but those should take 2-3 weeks.

We are going to have to start up another plastic bin of parts for the new mower. Every piece of equipment has a bin now and extra parts are stored in that bin. It makes it a lot less confusing when you know, at least, that the parts do go to that single machine. Mr Professional got about 1/3 of field one cut. Field one has some very fine grass and is drying out quite nicely. The only real problem is it got flooded so there is dirt about 12 inches up on the stalks. So the mower blade is cutting through a lot of dirt. The grass is incredibly tall and thick.

I went up to inspect how much was done by driving up the Mistress with the hay rake on it. I turned a little hay then decided that I needed to row up the hay I had put down on the ground yesterday. One might think that is too early but it is just cut flat and laid down, no rowing at all. The ground is so moist that when I rowed it you could see how much better the hay was going to dry and the ground could dry. It is amazing how wet the ground is still.

I got everything I cut yesterday turned and up into rows. It is supposed to get into the high 80s tomorrow so I am hoping that the hay really starts to dry out. The quail are amazing and everywhere! I must have seen 10 pair of quail running around on my drive out to the field. I hope the rain does not interfere with their egg production because if we have another banner quail baby year we are going to easily break the 300 quail mark on the farm. We think the quail can sustain about 4-500 birds in their society if we feed them through the winter. Time will tell.

Ceiling done, finally!

Sunday we had to catch one of the alpaca. It had managed to pick up about a four foot piece of old barb wire into its hair. They are just not quite tame enough to walk right up to and grab. So we opened the hay area on the machine shed and they all bum rushed it cause they knew we would chase them out soon. Instead we shut the gate and trapped in eight of them. The more there are the easier they are to catch, this also causes unexpected problems. We spent the whole five minutes hollering at them every time they acted like they were going to spit on each other we kept yelling at them to not spit on us. Luckily, they complied and we did not end up with spit on us. We had to cut the barb wire out of its hair and managed to pull out a dead branch stuck in another’s backside.

The farm diesel was delivered sometime last week. We filled the tractors!! This is so cool. It does take a lot of active hard pumping to get the manual pump primed but it was dang slick. I am super stoked to have it available on demand.

We did finally manage to get to the ceiling. We got the entire ceiling done!! All the knots, holes and cracked warped boards look great once installed, but not very fun to put up over your head. It made my pectoral and back muscles sore every time. I am still hopeful that we will get the windows this next week so they can be installed. There is a huge pile of scrap wood on the porch that needs to go to the burn pile, between the flaws that had to be cut out and my inability to get the angle correct on the first cut I have a very large pile of burnable material. It is supposed to rain again this next weekend so we will not be haying for at least another two weeks. The inability to hay is making me crazy. It looks like the office is going to get more progress and at this rate I may get it done by July.

Office progress made with minimal interruptions

Monday I wanted to really make progress on the office. There was no way we were going to be doing anything outside. We did walk around the farm to see how much damage was inflicted by the water and surprisingly, not a lot. The breakaway sections we built two years ago will need to be reassembled and much weaker clips used so they will actually break away this time. The posts and anchors we installed all held!! This was the plan and the reason we put so much work into getting the anchor points installed. Unfortunately, it will take more than a week for the upper fields to dry out due to the amount of water that was on them. Of course it is scheduled to rain again on Thursday or Friday. This summer we are going to have to clean out the willow areas down by the schoolhouse. A huge lake was created due to the amount of debris backing up in the trees.

Mr Professional wanted to look at the pickup and see if we could get it out of the ram pasture and back out to the front driveway. We had to fix the hydraulic leak that did not get repaired and it would barely engage into gear. We managed to milk it along until we got to the front parking lot and parked it. I am not sure how I am going to pick up the windows this week without it. Hopefully, the windows will fit in Annmarie’s car.

I really wanted to get on the office so we went back at it. It would have gone much smoother if the guy cutting the angles could get it right, five hours of cutting and I would get about one out of four pieces right. I got so frustrated I just wanted to hang it up for the day. Mr Professional just kept badgering me and we just kept cutting more boards. It is mighty hard to get those warped, misshapen and cracked boards up on the ceiling. We joked that it we had to pay extra for character. The problem is that is exactly right! The ceiling is coming together and it doesn’t look like a plain old wooden ceiling. It does have character, it will be unique and it will elicit oohs and ahhs. We almost made it to the halfway mark, I think another five hours and the ceiling will be done. We have one more idea that is going to be tricky but its a surprise for the wife.