Catch up

There was some rain last week and the grass is taking advantage of it. If you stare at the picture long enough you will see some green covering starting to happen on field #3. The cows had been going up through the freshly planted fields as they were dry and there was more grass up above for them to eat. When I noticed this new growth this week I locked the cows into field #4 and the barn lot only. I started to feed the cows hay now. I need this grass to get well established so that next year we can get as much hay as possible and have as much grazing land.

It has been a long week. I had some help early on in the week, Mr Rainman came out to do a few things while I did the paying job. He worked on finishing the harrow work in field #4 then planted dryland grass seed. I want to plant sections of fields where the animals are but need to keep them off of the area while we get the grass established. We want to get the grass growing and the fences in place so we can install an irrigation system. We have been looking at various solutions and need something that is doable when we are 70 years old. We have found an underground system that uses a mainline then has a soft pipe connection to the mainline and a plug in ground level connector. You just plug in the sprinkler head and it works, the best part is the connectors are off to the side and made of flexible pipe so they account for vehicles and animals stepping on them without breaking any pipe. This is the same reason to subdivide the fields. As we run into very dry summers we need to be able to keep the animals off of certain areas to enforce a rotation so that the grass has a chance to snap back. We are looking at selling all of our aluminum pipe to fund the majority of our system. This is in our two year plan, but next year our big expense is gutters for the front of the house and ice breakers for the roof. Again, looking at that retirement need!

I had him cut back our trumpet vine next to the house as the wind had been blowing and it was scratching on the metal roof. He did this the day of a 40mph+ wind storm, it was so bad Annmarie had me send him home.

I also had him trim the trumpet vine growing next to the old house as this had not been done for about seven years and the house was getting rubbed on. We had a huge windstorm today and there was absolutely no sound from anything rubbing on either house. Big win and may cause us to not even have to trim anything next year.

He also picked up all of the branches from our front yard one morning after a wind storm. There were branches everywhere. We usually ignore the leaves and if they get deep enough in the yard then I just let the sheep into the front yard and they eat the leaves. He then went out and pulled a disc around the back half of field #5 (#5b, as I am not going to keep renumbering fields when they get split). That section has a 3-4 foot drop off between levels and needs to be knocked down some to make it safe to drive on. It is not safe to drive the tractor on the drop off unless you are going up or down, no sideways driving will happen unless you want to roll the tractor onto its side.

Friday we were fortunate to have 0.82” of rain fall throughout most of the day, this doesn’t sound like much but its 6.8% of our annual rainfall of 12”. I looked it up we get between 12”-13.5” annually, depends on where you look. This was much needed rain, and if the temperature will stay above freezing and get above 50 F during the day I may get some growth on my fields.

Saturday I spent the morning being lazy, this is not a common occurrence at our house but it does occasionally happen. I then went out and used the arena groomer on field #5b. I spent about four hours going around in circles and trying to knock down the 3-4’ drop off, so when we were driving out here with the tractor we did not have to worry about tipping the tractor over no matter how we drove. It is now safe to drive sideways the length of the drop off. It took a lot of going around in circles to smooth out the field and drop off. I am always amazed at how not flat a field can be that looks pretty smooth from a distance but when you get into it you notice the little irregularities. This should make it pretty easy to cut and bale in the late spring. I keep forgetting how much rougher the little John Deere tractor is to ride around in. I felt pretty beat up after my four hours and definitely wore my seat belt the entire time. Ithen took the arena groomer off and put the post hole auger on the tractor. My top three point adjusting bar is broken on the little tractor. I need a new one, it is not turning any more. Once I got the three point auger on I realized I could not hook up the pto shaft as it was rusted on the auger! I drove to the machine shed, parked under cover and used 1/4 bottle of spray lubricant onto the shaft and then let it soak in repeatedly. Once I get the thing freed, if needed I will chain it to the other tractor and pull it apart, then I will clean up the inside shaft, use some lithium grease and put it all back together. I was really just trying to get the auger on the tractor so I can weld on a T shaped 8” holder onto the auger so I can stick 50-150# worth of tractor weight onto the arm near the auger. Sometimes, you just need a little weight on the end to make it work better as I cannot get any significant downward pressure with my 3 point hitch. The hitch won’t even notice the extra 150#. I figured this would help me in drilling holes and speeding up work. I will have to be careful to not let it cut too fast or I will be changing out the shear bolts all the time, but this will be easy to do.

I did not get to do the welding as we had a huge wind storm on Sunday! I fed the sheep and horse then went to get the Kubota tractor with pallet forks to feed the cows in the upper barn lot. The problem is the wind is 50mph and it started to rain again. The rain felt like hail due to the wind, I had to keep checking it as I was sure little ice balls were pelting me nonstop but no, just liquid water at high velocity. The Kubota has been moving the big bails fairly easily, I did not count on that 0.86” of accumulated rain in the last three days adding a bunch of weight to the bale! I had to drive the tractor in 4wd due to only the front two tires and one rear tire touching the ground the entire time. Needless to say, the bale was just barely above the ground and kept touching the ground so the tractor could stay on three tires with one rear wheel about 1” off the ground. I need to prioritize getting a quick hitch for the Kubota and converting one of the 50 gallon drums into a weight that I can back up to and drive off with when using the pallet forks. I have one full of horseshoes and it weighs around 800#. I know this because that is the max weight on my John Deere bucket and its all it can do to lift it. This is going to become a priority. I did notice that the Kubota tractor has an all steel foot deck with raised holes that cleans the mud off of my boots and lets me wash down the deck easily, I had to keep my hat tilted down to keep the rain from pelting my face and I may also need a new pair of muck boots as mine are pretty beat up but still waterproof so I will most likely hold off until they leak.

Planting continues

Mr Rainman came out this morning to help, upon arrival he announced he did not feel well. So we moved two pieces of furniture out of the house and then went to the barn to tag and band lambs. The oldest lambs were 6 weeks old and pretty dang big for that age. Annmarie had been telling me for a while to get them banded but I was holding out for more lambs. At the rate they are having babies its going to take four months again. It is a dang good thing we got another ram, our old one may be nice but he is slow. So we pushed the sheep and lambs into the barn, watched the sheep so we knew who belonged to whomever. I had a new occurrence that has not happened in the last 287 boy lambs we have had, one of the lambs had TWO SCROTUM, strange but solved by putting one testicle in each one and banding them both. We will be watching our old ram, he may have to be taken out of the equation permanently. Mr Rainman helped me unload the end table at my mothers and then proceeded to go home and sleep all day, I suspect the dreaded mancold. It is a downer.

I put all the tools I needed, seed and fuel into the Kubota and drove up to the little John Deere tractor. I could not get it to start. We had this problem last week, the neutral indicator is not working correctly therefore the engine doesn’t start. I filled the tractor with fuel, most of it went on me, and my long sleeve shirt then tried to start it for over ten minutes with no luck. I then used the Kubota to pull off the broken cultivator/seeder and got it onto the Kubota. I also repaired the cultivator/seeder. This took an hour and then I was finally ready to seed. I spent the rest of the day seeding. I have all of field #2 completed. I have half of field #3 planted. So in total I have about 7 acres planted so far. I have 10 more acres to plant, but am going to run out of seed. Hopefully, my seed order comes in tomorrow. Planting is a whole lot of circles and circles and more circles.

I need to get new diesel cans so I can quit wearing fuel and pouring it all over the tractor. I tried to replace the nozzle but the new one does not work very well and it still leaks. I did discover today that the PTO safety is still engaged on the new tractor. I jumped off to look at the grain bin and the tractor died because the PTO was engaged. I have it overridden on my old little tractor and totally forgot about it. I am hoping to have everything planted by this upcoming weekend.

Fall is here

I have been busy, we just got done with the Pendleton RoundUp and I don’t get any stuff done on the farm for about ten days around that event, my paying job requires a lot of attention during that week. The nice thing was we got some rain on the last weekend. We had 0.56” over two days and have had a total of 0.91” of rain in the month of September. This is excellent news for us but it did take a few days before it was possible to get back out in the fields. My helpers have been out hunting so I have been on my own. I spent two days getting field #1 ready, Mr Rainman had picked so many rocks I only ended up picking four bucket loads over two days. There is probably a couple more bucket loads that are obvious but the huge rocks are all gone and even the medium sized ones are gone. I don’t think I will break a sickle bar mower tooth on any of the rocks left. I have some organic matter on the edges of the field that needs to be piled up out of the field and it will be ready to plant. The field still has too many weeds for us to plant alfalfa in it yet. I am unable to get fall barley or fall oats locally. Most of the fields are too muddy to plant in the spring. So my only choices are grass or triticale. Triticale has a pretty narrow window to harvest in and that is problematic for me as my other job takes up time. PGG did not have grass seed in stock so it had to be delivered. I will be checking in on Monday and get more ordered. Annmarie wants us to plant grass seed in the upper field. This will allow me to still spray with 2-4-D and get a handle on the thistle weeds.

The chickens have learned to let us know when they are out of food. They will come running whenever they see you and become shadows. They won’t leave until you feed them. Once fed they all crowd in and try to get to the same feeder even though there are other choices. Our lone rabbit out front is still alive and kicking, we see it almost every day now. The quail are every where and are amazing. I am sure they are my favorite gamebird. The one we have not seen a lot of are pheasants. We had a lot last year and I am not seeing as many this year. The pidgens are multiplying and starting to get over the magical 30 total number. Once they stay at 30 for a year, they multiply at an exponential rate the next year. There are a bunch of dens/holes in the upper fields from coyotes but I have not seen any coyotes this year.

The pregnant sheep have spent the weekend on the front yard and hillside knocking down the weeds and grass. The dogs are out on the run so they are protecting my hens and chicks plants and the trumpet vine from a sheep induced thinning. There is enough green grass that I think I will have to let the sheep in 3 of 7 days. Some of those ewes are so pregnant they can hardly walk. We expected the herd to be done lambing by now not just three ewes and no one in the last three weeks. Thank goodness we went and bought a replacement ram!

It’s supposed to rain

Well it’s midweek and I was able to get some work done at home. I had to juggle some things around as I will be covering shifts at work the rest of the week due to shortages and Covid. Mr Rainman has been working on getting field #1 ready to plant. He was able to disc yesterday and pick up rocks in the fairly nice part of the field. Today he spent four solid hours picking rocks only in about 1.5 acres and applying them to the new water berm I am building up there. I am trying to get the old berm back into shape and then build a secondary berm to stop any overflow or breakthroughs from flooding the entire field. It will take me about another two years to get it all done. I want it in place so when I plant alfalfa I won’t have to worry about the field getting flooded and ruined. He was able to get the entire field picked of rocks and all disced. I just need to go up there with the harrow and it will be ready to plant.

First thing this morning we took a couple of hours to clean off the old house porch. It was covered in tools from all our summer projects and the deck. We managed to get it all sorted, put away in old house or taken out to the machine shed. We even swept off the porch and took out the trash! I proceeded to swap out the rusted painted screws in the tin around our pillars. I had to scrub the rust away then install the new painted screws. I also cleaned up some of the old caulk around the pillars. I did caulk the bottom of the pillars but have ordered a plastic molding to go around the bottom of the large pillars so they match the 4×4 covers. I was informed tonight that I need to order some 1/4 round for the top of the pillars. I was just going to put white caulk at the top. I am told that won’t look as good, the plastic trim is a special order item so I will have to get that ordered.

After lunch I took 40 minutes and stripped the hair from our Brussels Griffin. He is a terrier and you have to pull their hair out instead of shaving them. He is used to it and just sits in my lap. He doesn’t really like it around his nose or lower legs. He is now super soft and cuddly. Annmarie got the John Deere tractor tire repaired again. They installed the tire on backwards last time so we had to get them to turn it around. We installed the tire and hooked up the planter/seeder to the little tractor. I ended up having to replace one tooth on the cultivator that was broken. It had two different hay strings wrapped around it and some metal bailing wire and a piece of barbed wire! Those all got removed and the equipment adjusted so it merely needs seed in the hopper and its ready to plant! We are supposed to get 1/2” of rain on this upcoming Friday & Saturday. I will be working so no time will be lost due to the weather. I found a hydraulic leak on the new tractor but do not have a metric wrench that big, so I will need to buy some more tools, dang. The sheep have still not had any more babies.

Field prep continues

I spent 2.5 days dragging farm implements around the place trying to get the fields ready to plant. Mr Rainman has gotten field #1 all disced but the organic matter needs to be moved off of it and some rocks picked. The disc is not really helping on the third pass so we will use the harrow/arena groomer to smooth it out and get some of the large patches of straw off of the field. I have the triangle all ready to go and I got the south side of field #2 ready, both patches will get triticale planted. I have the North side of field #2 ready but it is going to get grass seed planted as it still has moisture in the soil even now. The grass will do well and will let me keep using broadleaf spray on the field to get the thistles under control. Field #1 is going to get oats planted. I still need to pickup oat seed. I need a day to disc up field #3. It needs to be mowed first. So that field will take about 12 hours to get ready. I am hopeful that I can start planting seed in about 12 days.

We are bringing the cows in every night to hang out in the back barn lot area. They don’t have access to water during the 8-10 hours they are out eating so at night they want to come back for water and plums. They stop at the plum tree every night and won’t go past until you give them a handful.

Their are quail all over the farm, I see them every time I go out. I don’t see as many pheasants as I did last year. Pretty sure I found a coyote den today when I was out in the field but I did not see any coyotes but the hole in the ground in the field was new. I filled the hole with some vegetable matter so I will be able to tell if something moves it to get in and out. We still have the bunny rabbit out in the machine shed. It just hangs out and kinda hops out of the way but does not run away when you go in the shed. We got 0.34” of rain on Friday! It was amazing and we need another 0.5” this week. It will be perfect for planting then unless its enough moisture to get the seeds germinated just before a freeze. The stupid sheep have had no more lambs in the last week. We are so grateful we got a new ram, this one is just taking his own sweet time.

I need to get my tire fixed for the John Deere but when I had them repair it they mounted it on backwards so now I have to take it back in and get them to turn the wheel around. I want to plant with the little tractor as the seeder will obscure the tire track marks from the little tractor but not the bigger tractor.

The plumbing is fixed! We have water again, the plumber needs to finish a couple of more things then I can fill in the hole. We like having water. I was able to pickup the three pieces of Trex decking I needed for the front porch and the stair railing pieces came in on Thursday. So all of the pieces to finish the deck are here!