Hay torture

It’s that time of year again where I wish I had a clone. This clone could then work for me doing all of the things I don’t want to do, chief among them is bring in the hay. Last week on Sunday, Mr Tex came out to pickup hay bales, he had informed me he had a friend that would work just as hard as him, so I said yes bring him. His friend has the same stature, lean and tall. Yes, his friend did know the meaning of hard work and did work very hard. We will henceforth call said friend ”Mr Clone 1”. I appreciate it when all I have to do is drive around the fields and someone else loads the trailer. I did help unload the trailer every time and we did get another 10 ton of hay unloaded into the barn! It was hot and they were both worn out by the time we got done, it took about 6 hours. I treated them to lunch at the minimart as we needed truck fuel. We had only driven 57 miles and burned up 20 gallons of gasoline! All of those miles were in the field getting hay. So the barn is basically full, I think I can fit another 3-4 ton only between the two rooms. I currently have 27 ton stacked in the main barn. I am saving the space for our second cutting we are going to get off of field #1&2. This will be the first year ever to get a second cutting on our grass hay that is non irrigated.

Since we had just gotten back from vacation and the rain had finally quit and everything had dried out it was time to get back to haying. I went out and turned hay in field #3, we had 1/2 the field cut and it needed to be turned. The Girls (Daughter #1 and Daughter #2) did chores while we were away and the sheep continued to lamb. We had one set of triplets that the mother could not feed the third baby and by day 4 the Girls had to bottle feed it and give it to our regular bummer caretaker. She gets all the bummer lambs for the price of coming whenever we call. Annmarie saw a family of raccoons running up the creek. We think they are living inside the barn so we set out a live trap in the barn with cat food. Raccoons love cat food! My chicken egg production is down and I am not sure if its due to fright from raccoons or just the heat but the chickens need to lay more! I managed to only spend 13.5 hours outside on my first day back from vacation doing farmwork.

Annmarie found a 18’ grain bin that is disassembled and 8’ high with all of the roof pieces for sale. It was delivered and we were able to unload it in four loads with the Kubota tractor and a set of loader forks. It is so much nicer to use the pallet forks instead of your back. We just stashed it all in a pile out of the way. That is totally next years project and when they delivered it was when I realized there was no top cap for the roof. I am going to have to try and hunt one down or else make one. The real question is how fancy do we get? I know I will be running some conduit to it so I can put in some outdoor outlets. I am even thinking about tapping into the water line but I am not sure how to do this as I only need 1/2’ line and want to use pex tubing and an antifreeze fixture. I may even go so far as to put an underground shutoff valve that will drain the above ground line so I can just shut it off in the winter. But I have to keep reminding myself that this is next years project and I need to just let it go.

Daughter #2 has managed to get the tractor stuck out in the field twice already. Once she hit a bad culvert with some undercutting from the flooding and the other time she hit a spring and got stuck in the mud. The springs and mud are really bad this year. I am going to have to move some more dirt around to mark the edges of the muddy spots so we don’t get stuck in the mud as often.

The puppy, ”Chance” missed us while we were away but the Girls managed to get her to not holler every night when she is kenneled so that was very pleasant surprise when we went to bed. You still have to get up and potty her at 0400 but that is a small price to pay for the whining and yipping to be gone.

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.

Finish work before we are finished

The seamless gutters got installed around the front deck this week. They are amazing! I thought all the water on the front porch was from the wind, well it was the wind and the rain. Since adding the gutters our front porch is mostly dry all of the time now. Annmarie picked up some new outdoor furniture and she 3D printed a new plastic foot for a small side table we have. It’s metal and we don’t want it scratching up our new Trex decking.

Saturday it was time to start back in on the new office. I started out by cleaning some more while I waited for Mr Tex to show up. He apparently slept in. The place needed more cleaning anyways. When he showed up I had him hide all of the attic vent fan supplies and the laser cutter external fan pieces up into the attic. This was just to get everything out of the way as we won’t need these pieces until we are almost finished with everything else. We had about eight boxes worth of stuff.

Tex started installing more insulation in the west wall. While he was doing that I started working on the picture window frame. This was going to be a surprise for Annmarie but as soon as she saw it in the wall and she saw my order for a light from Amazon she correctly guessed that I was putting in a light box for a stained glass piece. The surprise will now be the stained glass piece as she has not seen it. It took me two tries to get the box correct. I needed a thicker piece up at the top to hide the electrical plugin but after I trimmed it for the glass I discovered I failed to take into account the cut down size. I had to redo the entire thing! Once I had it all cut I tried to insert the glass and unsurprisingly the glass piece is not perfectly square. So I had to trim a couple of pieces to account for the nonsquare window.

Once I had that glued and pin nailed in place Tex and I started in on the wall. He also managed to get some insulation into the attic while I was redoing the light box. We had to squirt in foam around the new door to seal it up before we could put up the siding. I was going to start from the ceiling and work down like I did on the other wall but Tex talked me into starting at the bottom. This was a bad idea that was not fully realized until we got above the door and realized we were going to have to work downwards on the other side. Which meant the entire piece had to be cut the whole length of the wall, with cutouts for the door and light box. I cut it and the door was off by 1/4”, so I just gave up! It was quitting time anyways and it’s never good to do wood work when you are frustrated. It tends to go wrong more often just to further frustrate you.

Mr Professional came out and dropped off six laying hens. We were leaving so I did not stick around. When I came back I had to go out and catch five chickens and feed the horse.

Sunday I opted for mowing the cheat grass! The stuff is taking off and growing everywhere. I had already cut around the machine shed and cars earlier so I did the entire barn lot, the ram pasture and all of field 4b. The field took quite a bit of time, when you are doing several acres a four foot wide swath takes a while to get anything done. I almost ran over a grey cat when I was clearing the road alongside the field. The cat crouched down and hid in the grass and I was within 12 inches of it when I went by. I was pretty impressed that the cat held still. I was super impressed with the new Kubota tractor. It is 29 hp and it would power down but it never overheated and if I slowed down the mower would just keep chewing though the tall wet grass. It was very impressive, it did burn a lot more diesel but now we have the big tank it is not near the hassle to fill up.

I did manage to get a look at the little triangle of triticale. It needs to get cut as soon as the rain stops and we can guarantee several days rain free so everything can dry out.

Cows sorted and back to office

Sunday was the most productive day of the weekend! It is always good to have one day where you feel like a lot was accomplished. Mr Flow came out and worked on the lavender garden and the berry patch. He got he grass cleaned out around all of the berries and all of the lavender. I was pretty surprised when I went over to check on him and could smell the lavender plants! There are not any blooms on the plants but the plants have a definite odor. We are super stoked about the lavender and the clover we have coming in on the front hillside. We are going to get a bee hive this year. We have been talking about it for years and have finally decided to do it. The hive components are here, I just need to assemble them now. Annmarie and I watched a video this weekend so I think I can do it now. We are hoping to get 40-50# of honey this year. If we can figure out how to get the honey out of the combs, one thing at a time.

Mr Tex and I worked the cows this morning. We needed to sort off the 6 month old calves and also sort off the bull. This means we have to use three pastures and the bull needs to be two fences away from any female cow. The cows came through the gate down at the lower end and went right up to the top of the hill but as we started to push them back toward the house they started running down the hill. I ran 1/4 mile in my rubber boots to keep them from turning downhill, by the time we got done sorting cows I needed some better fitting boots. Sorting the cows went pretty smoothly. We have seven cows to sell. Our old bull 13 years old, a young bull about 8 months old, 2 heifers and 3 steers. We are going to buy a new polled Dexter bull that is 2.5 years old. We need the genetic infusion and we found two cows today out of nine that appeared to not be pregnant. So I will be advertising him and the little bull soon. Due to the price of hay skyrocketing we will have to increase our beef price accordingly.

The weather app on our phone said it was going to storm but the weather was pretty good today until about 1630 and then it was horrible. 1/4” of rain in about 25 minutes with pea sized hail intermixed in it. I had gone out to the old house and just waited out there for the hail to pass. The new office area was fairly quite but the new freezer room was incredibly loud. I am hoping we have enough insulation to get all of the walls sealed up. My mother thinks she may have some insulation in the garage so I will need to take a look as we will still need to insulate the attic. We need to install a new roof top vent and I want to install an attic fan that automatically turns on when it gets above 105 degrees F in the attic, that temperature may even be lowered to 95 degrees. Since we have the vent we might as well use it. In the last two days we have had one inch of rain and the total for the month of May is 2.6” of rain to date.

Mr Professional got up on the roof and spent about three hours sealing the roof and putting in new screws that had pulled out or were missing their gaskets. The roof was installed over 30 years ago. We need to pull up the entire ridge cap and reinstall the vent foam to keep the insects out of the attic. Mr Tex vacuumed the ceiling floor and attic walls. I sealed up the attic cracks from inside the attic, it did not take long for the attic to heat way up. Once we finished in the attic Mr Tex and myself insulated two walls in the office and installed three California corners so we could install the wall boards. We also ran the wire for the heat pump. Now, all of the wire is run and I could even start to wire the electrical box and get the breakers in place. I am going to add that to my after work job opportunities. I will need a large flashlight and a board so I can sit in front of the panel and wire everything in place. Once the new breaker box is wired then I can decide when to move the power into the box. I am going to have to wait until the new freezer room is completed. Right before we left for the day we installed a handle on the pocket door! I dug around in the shop until I found an old handle from something that will work.

Office is finally moving forward

Today Mr Tex came out and we focused on getting the wiring done. We pulled the wires and I labeled both ends very well so I could install all of the outlets and switches correctly. I will also have to install all of the breakers and label them once I am done. I needed to install one triple switch and one quad switch but it has been years since I did it. I thought I knew but ran into the house and got my cheater book to make sure I did it right!! Luckily, we had 12/2, 14/2 and 14/3 wire so I was able to use what was necessary to get all the switches correct. I even went into the house attic and pulled down the leftover roll of 500” 12/2 hoping it would be enough, but it was not. Mr Tex got a list of stuff to do, fix the old bathroom ceiling and plug the window off and the bathroom hole. While he did that I ran to Pendleton and bought another 500’ of 12/2. I had not wired any of the freezers yet. We got wires ran to two freezer outlets. We needed to get my room cleaned out so we could move all of the remodel equipment out of the freezer room. Three of the walls in the freezer room need to be torn out so we can seal the walls and install more outlet boxes, then insulate the walls.

We got everything pulled that we had time for, I have four more cable runs to pull and we will be done with the entire house. I even remembered to add two porch outlets and a back porch light! I think our holdup is going to be the windows that we ordered. No telling when those will come.

Mr Professional came out for a couple of hours and we worked on emptying the second room. We need to be able to stage all of the purchased supplies and get the new freezer room cleaned out so the walls can be stripped out. I need the walls out so we can install power, seal the walls then install insulation.

I keep changing my mind on what to do with the walls and ceiling. I was going to just paint the ceiling and do the walls in pine. I have some 1×6” and 1×10” boards and I was just going to butt them up to each other. This won’t look amazing but would work. I am not going to do that. I am getting tongue and groove juniper for the ceiling and tongue and groove blue pine for the walls. I want it to look pretty! I am even going to install it on a diagonal. It will hit more boards that way but will look prettier also. I will use the plain stuff to sheath the new freezer room walls. We are going to do that room at this stage but it doesn’t need to be fancy. I am even thinking about leaving the original window in the room. I think I will for now and then this summer decide if I need to install a thermostatically controlled vent fan to make sure the room doesn’t get too hot. I am hoping that if I insulate the room well I can keep some of the extreme heat out.

Today, Monday we have had 0.43” of rain in the last day. The wheat looks amazing. Our upper fields are looking amazing in places, last years grass is skyrocketing. We need some warmer weather to really cause the seed we planted in the fall to shoot up. Its about 4” tall now. Last year’s grass is over 18” tall already. Next week we are going to have to stop and focus on getting the sickle bar mower attached and ready and get the baler repaired and ready to go.