I was going to fence…

I had big plans today. I had Mr Tex lined up to come out and we were going to install the fence between field #2 & #3. This is one that I did not get fixed last year after the 100 year flood. I have all of the supplies staged already and merely needed to put the auger on the little John Deere and I was ready to go. I was up and out the door by 0700. I had to put fuel in the John Deere but I needed to rotate the nozzle to the second tank, the first one was empty. I also discovered that the fuel gauge is totally done for now, it said 3/4 of a tank and there were mere fumes in the tank, I was not even sure I would make it the 30 feet to the fuel tank it was so low. After that was done I put the post hole auger on, except it had the 6” auger and I needed the 12”. So I changed that out, then I remembered I had new teeth for the 12” auger, so I removed the old and got the new teeth. Nope, they are for a bigger auger, thank you internet. So I rotated the old teeth and reinstalled them. Then I went and put the bucket on the Kubota and the box blade on it. I figured I could go and drag the new fence line and get ready. It was 0830 already and Mr Tex had not responded to my text messages. So I sent him another one.

I then opened the gate for the sheep and cows to run out and go eat on the green grass in field #3 & #2 as I am not going to do a second cutting. I simply do not have time to do it. I had to drive the Kubota through the ditch as my other culvert crossing has not been repaired. Wouldn’t you know that the ditch is too steep and narrow and I got the tractor and box blade wedged in. This caused me to break out the rear tail light cover. This was my first broken thing on the Kubota!! It was bound to happen and I had 465 hours on the tractor before it happened. I had to drop the box blade drive out, chain onto the box blade with the bucket and lift it out. Once I had the box blade reattached I headed up to the new fence area. I stopped at the steep slanted section of the road that caused us trouble last winter and caused us to dump hay off of the trailer due to the downhill slant. It looks much better now.

I got the area for the new fence all cleaned up and ready for holes. So that will be next on the agenda. I had time to kill so I started digging out the ditch as it was starting to get backed up. The last two floods have not been kind to my ditch. I am working on creating a berm on the back half of the ditch so the flood waters will be contained should they ever come again (they are coming). I was able to get about 2/3 of the ditch cleaned out in field #3. I will need to work in cleaning out the rest of the ditches this fall.

I was able to accidentally spot some baby quail today. I had stopped to take a picture of the road I had leveled out. If you look closely you will see a quail standing on a post. He was the lookout for a momma and her 5 babies! So I hope every pair has five! We will know this winter when they all bunch up just how many made it through the summer.

Haying and illness do not mix.

I spent most of the week being ill. I of course handled this with my normal male approach to illness, lots of complaining and whining occurred. I have not had my nose run that much in a couple of decades, I was pretty sure I was going to get dehydrated from fluid loss via my nose. I persevered and managed to come through whole on the other end of this horrible occurrence. The first night I tried to sleep downstairs the frogs/toads were making a ruckus. I mean they are incredibly loud. They are so annoying that Gizmo keeps running over to the rock pile to find them to silence them. So far he has had zero luck but after that first night I was starting to cheer for him. The next evening while we were outside pottying the puppy the noise started up again. Since I was once again going to sleep downstairs I went over to see about maybe silencing the infernal sound so I could get some sleep. I found both frogs, one each in these two water holding containers that got filled up with all of the rain we had last month. I could hardly believe that a frog smaller than a half dollar could make that much noise! I left them alone and went inside to bed and just put a pillow over my head. I fell asleep fairly quickly, being sick helped that.

Annmarie added another super to the bee hive! The bees are still alive and seem to be doing well. Annmarie got her bee suit on and went out and handled them without getting stung. She was even brave enough to pull the camera out of her pocket with no glove on and take some pictures. We recognize they are not violent and you can do all of the hive care with no gloves and no hood. I am not sure that we will ever get there but we do inherently understand it is possible, just saying. They built up some extra comb that Annmarie will have to knock down. She says its from not spacing the frames evenly. We suspect we may not get any honey this year, depending on how things go but if we can keep the bees alive that will be our primary goal.

I did have to go out and do some tractor work. Mr Professional has been coming out and working in the evenings and nights. The John Deere tractor lights were not working. I ended up going out and cutting off the rear tail lights as they were broken and probably shorting out power. I verified all the fuses were good and then then looked at the aftermarket assembly pieces. The inline fuse was not getting power so I had to change out the control box and tear down the tape job to ensure the power connection was secure. It was. In the end the control box and the external light switch were both bad and luckily I had replacements on hand in the ”light bin”. Creating two racks of spare parts for each piece of equipment has been a great help since everything takes days to get here from some far away place.

The quail are everywhere! They have paired up and are all over the farm. I have not spotted any babies yet, but they grow up quickly so they are easy to miss.

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.

Annual water leak

Every year around the winter holidays we have our annual water leak. This has gone on without fail for many years, so long in fact that it is now a tradition and we have come to expect it. It is the main reason I have insulated coveralls and has been the single greatest reason I have utilized my chest waders. Well we had not had any leaks, we still have great water pressure so we don’t even suspect a leak is brewing. A slow drop in water pressure means there is a leak but it usually takes about six months to surface so we know where to dig to fix it.

Last week Annmarie had noticed a puddle of water on the tile floor in the craft room downstairs. This room shares a wall with the kitchen and in that wall is the water riser for the freezer. We also have a drain line from the upstairs heating system condensate pump and there are siding issues on that side of the house. Any of these could be the source of the leak, but there was a plastic gallon container of deionized water a mere 12” away from the puddle. I theorized that the most obvious cause was the cause and the puddle came from the gallon of deionized water. Otherwise, I could potentially have to rip the murphy bed off of the wall and move it out of the room. It is a solid day to take it down and then reinstall it. This did not sound like a good plan on a mere hunch that the leak might be behind the murphy bed. We dried up the puddle and there was no water puddle the next morning, problem solved! There was still the issue that when I took the offending gallon to the sink and rolled it around and pressed on it, I could not seem to make it leak…

Move forward to Monday December 20, 2021, the wife calls me at work and states that there is now a huge puddle of water in the middle of the craft room floor. She is unsure where it is coming from but there is a definite leak. My biggest fear at this point is that it is the house siding as it had been raining with a solid wind behind it. I told her I would look at it when I got home.

When I got home the first thing I did was go to the offending room and look for a leak. Luckily for me it was fairly obvious that it was coming in through the ceiling. The paint was forming a bubble and the sheetrock tape was starting to swell.

I went out to the old house and brought in a big roll of plastic and draped all three big items in the room then cut open the ceiling. I had to tear out about a four foot hole to see where the leak was coming from and the sheetrock was wasted, too water logged to allow to dry out and reuse. Once I had a large enough hole I could see that it was not the condensate drain line. I would have put money on that being the cause of the leak. I went back upstairs into the closet where the sump pump was located and realized that the rubber drain hose had been knocked out of the drain hole and was draining out onto the floor and down onto the ceiling below. This must have happened this summer when they worked on the heating/cooling system. It had a refrigerant leak that they fixed, someone’s foot must have slid the pump 1.5” away, knocking the drain hose out of place. We never noticed. So I moved the black rubber drain hose so it was pinned in place better and cut two boards to go behind the sump pump so no one could accidentally move it with their foot. I set up a portable heater in the room and we have been drying out the sheetrock ever since.

I am hopeful we can get the ceiling repaired in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile we have been feeding the quail. We really want the population to boom this next spring so we are trying to keep their numbers up this winter. The rock pile in the top right hand corner of the picture hides a 25# quail food block that they graze on when they make their daily rounds. The rocks keep the block from the view of our chickens, therefore the chickens don’t know there is an abundance of food within walking distance! The quail came by last night and I was able to count 94 quail in one covey. We are pretty sure there is a second large covey on the upper end of the property. They don’t get fed but we figure if we go into spring with 100 we should come out this next fall with a few hundred.