Auction score

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So frustrating, my blog company is trying to get me into the 20th century and now wants to upgrade my editor abilities to include “blocks”, which as far as I can tell are snippets of information that are standalone and are inserted into your blog.  It looks cool, but it means everything is independent and instead of 3 choices I now have 30 and they can all be independently modified.  I tried it this morning and just got frustrated, it is looking like my blog time will triple and honestly I don’t have time for that, so I am back to the old archaic version until they force me to use the new, which I am sure they will eventually.  I had a cap on the pictures I could insert this morning so I will be attempting to do the blog more often as there appears to be a cap on how many pictures I can upload. Even with all of this and the changes I have still managed to keep this thing going for over 10 years now, which surprises even me!

On Sunday, we decided to forgo sleep and working on the farm and went to an estate auction.  The weather was cold, windy and very rainy at times.  Despite all of this we managed to buy some new living room furniture for $200 and a jewelry box for Annmarie that almost paid for itself when we took out the liner to oil all of the wood and discovered a little money hidden inside.  I found one of my favorite of all times auction finds an antique clothes drying rack.  These are far and few between and this one is in great shape.  I will get it all cleaned up with some soapy water and that is it as I don’t want oil to get on our clothes.  This thing is great!  I am going to mount it on the wall in the laundry room.  I was told by the lady who sells reproductions, for $40, that I must of really wanted it as she kept trying to outbid me for it but I really did want it.  After we got the furniture unloaded into the house we took a long nap as I had worked part of the previous night.  I was very tired after all of that and carrying the furniture inside and did not want to take the old furniture out as we had no place for it yet.  Now we still have two sets of living room furniture in our living room and dining room and I am on 14 day home/work quarantine, even Roomba can hardly get around.

When I got home on Monday the dogs were throwing a fit by the back corner of the front yard.  I went over to investigate and noticed that they were staring up into the tree, it was a squirrel!  Hopefully it was “the squirrel” that has been down at mother-in-law’s house.  I went inside, grabbed the 22 and dispatched said squirrel.  We cannot let them get established as they are incredibly hard on the power lines and transformers.  They are the number one reason for power outages in cities per the power line worker who I talked to when we lived in a city and lost power due to a squirrel.

On Tuesday we had more rain and Annmarie reiterated the “no carcass, no count” rule in our bid to eradicate the rockchucks.  It is a fair rule but it does make it a lot more challenging.  It does make it very clear cut, no subjective “I got it” interpretations are allowed.  I had held off on cutting hay on Saturday and now that it has rained twice I am glad I did.

On Wednesday, Annmarie called the shipping company to ask about our tire bark.  They have failed to deliver it twice already and have had it for two weeks.  I did feel a little sorry for the person on the other end of the line, but we did get our ground cover!  Five pallets, 5 ton should be enough to get all of the ground cloth covered up and secured in place.  Now we just have to install it all.  I spent part of the day trying to mow the weeds and grass around the place, I ended up overheating the tractor attempting to mow a thistle patch.  I will try it again early in the morning, not at high noon when its the hottest time.

On Thursday I was headed out of the house by 0445 to go to work and Gizmo was just ranting and barking at the front fence.  He would not come back in the house meanwhile the border collies were just running around the yard.  I got him to move a couple of feet and there were raccoons on the other side of the fence!  I ran back into the house and grabbed the 22 rifle.  I considered shooting from the porch but there is the fence, the cars the corral all in the way plus Gizmo is out there terrorizing them so they don’t come in his yard.  So as I ran up the pathway to get to the cars and the raccoons started running for the barn.  I only got two shots off just as they darted across the 16 foot gate opening at the end of the corral.  I missed, we didn’t even need to enact the no carcass, no count rule.  There were five of them!!  My chickens are not going to survive five raccoons.  So war is officially on again!  But the real question is do I get to start counting all the rodents we kill in on the predator kill count?  Is that cheating to just inflate the numbers?  I think it is so I will continue to only count animals that kill my chickens as this was the original definition of a predator.    When I got home Annmarie had me grab the binoculars and we drove up the driveway to look for a new baby calf she had spotted the day before.  Again,  we had given up on the last two cows having calves as it was just not happening so we had turned the bull loose a couple of weeks ago.  Sure enough there was a new baby calf out in the field.

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One more field fenced in sorta

On Friday Hoss and I went up to the swamp field and worked on getting the creek side fence installed. I was hoping to get it all done on Friday, but my back was bothering me so I took medications and kept working. We ran out of woven wire! I even called the metal scrap yard but they only had one roll. We happen to be using some 48″ woven Red Brand fencing so it did not require any smooth wire on top. We quit around 1400 and I ended up going into town and picked up a single roll of woven wire and two utility panels. I keep calling them cow panels but when I go to purchase them I have to remember to call them a utility panel or they cannot find it in the computer.

I was unable to get up and go out and work on Saturday due to my back pain. An ice pick and napalm had nothing on it. Hoss finished getting the fence up, hung two gates and blocked off a four foot section. He is done for the summer as I have run out of money! The fence still needs a couple of days of work as I need to install all of the T-post clips in it. He put enough in it to hold up the fence. The sheep are now roaming all three fields and can hopefully tear up the far field. I don’t think they can knock it all down but they can hopefully thin it out.

Last night we got a call from Annmarie’s mother that the raccoons were out enforce on her front porch. So Annmarie grabbed the 22 rifle and I grabbed the trusty Walther P22 pistol. I have not gotten a laser for the new Ruger Mark IV yet. I gimped around the house until I found second flashlight and we walked down to the house. There were five raccoons on the front porch! The real problem is you cannot shoot any so we had to go up to the side of the house so we could shoot sideways and not hit anything. I shot at a couple of the large ones as they darted off and sent Annmarie around the back of the house so see if she could finish them off. This is where the story gets fuzzy. She claims that I do not get to count the raccoons as dead unless there is a body. The raccoons did get hit, but they do not die easily. I ended up with one dead and hit at least 2 more maybe three. She keeps telling me that I need more practice and in that I agree. It is a lot harder to hit a moving target in the dark than it is in the day. So I am going to have to put about a 1000 rounds through my new Ruger pistol. It has a five inch barrel instead of a two inch barrel. Its time to let the Walther retire and move up in the accuracy department. I need a laser and a holster but Annmarie reminded me I can use my vest with built in holster until I get a new one. I also need at least one more clip as I almost ran out rounds last night. Five predators is a lot of moving targets to be trying to kill in the dark. I need more rounds. So according to Annmarie I only killed one raccoon as that is number of bodies I tossed onto the bone pile.

While I was digging around in the bushes for my victims (they ran away) the cows came running over to the fence and started to holler. They get fed apples almost every day so they think all humans should feed them. I spent 20 minutes picking up and tossing them apples from the yard. I noticed two calves that still need ear tags and one needs banding. We have a brand new calf but that cow was not getting any where near the fence. She had a brand new calf nursing on her. I could not tell whether it was a boy or a girl from that far away.

Lambs squared

Annmarie said the sunrise was beautiful. I was inside nursing a cup of coffee and doing the dishes while she went out to check on the lambs. It has been 44 hours since our last post and we have only had one lamb born in that time frame. Honestly, sometimes the life of the farmer will make you crazy. The timeline is not set by you, its set by the animals and the weather. Even after all these years I want to drink coffee and take it slow in the morning and Annmarie has already been out to the barn and is now making us mashed potato, ham and onion pancakes for breakfast while I “blog it”.

The last 24 hours has been full of those teaching moments. Thursday night I woke up to Annmarie hollering “Chickens!” Followed by a slap to the chest. We sleep with the windows open year round and so when something is picking on the chickens we usually hear their death squawks, it is a very distinct scream. We have an automatic chicken door, if the stupid chickens would just go inside the coop before it gets dark then they would be perfectly safe. I have been getting eggs on a more regular basis but I don’t go out every night. I have noticed over the last two weeks that 1-5 chickens are protesting and refusing to head back to the coop until the automatic door is already shut. When I do go out and notice them I throw them inside the coop, unfortunately I don’t always go out and the predators seem to be more reliable than me when it comes to visiting the coop.

I leapt out of bed and grabbed my glasses and almost ran downstairs naked, but its cold outside and the death knell had already been sounded so I figured there was no saving the chicken. I grabbed the first bathrobe I could and ended up with a thigh high robe and headed downstairs in my slippers and robe to confront another chicken destroyer. I grabbed the trusty laser sight Walther P22 pistol and ran out the front door. I went right for the coop via the front yard. I wanted to catch the varmint in action! I spotted feathers as soon as I got out of the yard, there was a trail leading out of the coop yard door headed toward the barn. I started following the feather trail in hopes of finding the cause of said trail. I went over by the barn, looked in the front creek, flashed light over the hillsides and under barn to no avail. I headed back to the barn and spotted a chicken over by the old house. It was the source of the feathers and it was still alive! So I decided to leave it and complete my patrol. The last place to look was over on the dry creek side of the old house that runs behind our house. A HUGE fat raccoon was waddling away and he was already about 60 feet away. I quickly discovered a few problems. When you shine the super bright flashlight on the object of your desire, you cannot see the laser dot. 60 feet is a long way to shoot a pistol at a moving target and after three shots there is so much smoke, your super bright flashlight now makes it look like light is emanating from your head. To combat this shroud of light surrounding me I pointed the flashlight way off to one side and focused the laser dot near said enemy and blasted some more. All in all I hit nothing, Annmarie is now ribbing me about my shooting accuracy and just going out and plinking is not the same thing. So after the sheep are done lambing I will be going out after dark with my trusty Walther P22 pistol and shooting at my target in the dark with a flashlight only. I may have to resort to doing it in a bathrobe and slippers or just the slippers to mimic my combat environment. The battle was lost but the ongoing war is not yet decided. I will not give up!

So as soon as I get home yesterday I am walking down the sidewalk and Annmarie hollers from the barn that she needs some help. I expected this as we were going to try and go to the movies. The next words out of her mouth brought dread to my head. She cackles “you better bring the shoulder gloves”. There is only one reason to grab the gloves, someone needs help birthing a lamb. I have only had to assist twice in eight years and so far I have a ewe survival rate of 50%. Annmarie and I have this discussion every time I think I am going to have to pull a lamb out. I don’t like it. She says her dad did it all the time. I tell her she grew up on the farm so she should do it. She tells me I have helped deliver human babies so I have more experience. I tell her they are in no way the same as you don’t need a shoulder glove to help with a human birth! She then states I have done it twice already so am the more experienced as she has never done it so I get to do it again. This is typically done with me laying on the barn floor and Annmarie holding the ewe down. I dread it every time it comes up, we have the exact same conversation every time and every time I end up wearing the glove. I grabbed two gloves just in case and went out to the barn.

She had isolated one ewe and her single baby. The baby was huge and she was worried that a second baby was stuck. The mother was active, interactive with her lamb and eating and drinking. I told Annmarie I don’t go in until the situation is desperate. This was no where near desperate, personal crisis averted. We fed and watered the rest of the sheep, Annmarie had already rearranged the barn and added in the two wire gates. We will do some more pen building today.

After the movies I had to go out to the barn in the pouring rain to check on that ewe and her baby. Luckily I got some new mud boots this week and going through the mud pit to get to the barn is pleasant. I keep tying to plant some kind of grass or cover that will last the summer but this rock bluff gets parched and hot and everything dies in the summer.

Every picture has baby lambs hidden all over the place!

Bull corral eventually

This is gonna be dinner in just a few months. He just doesn’t know it yet. There are 3-6 bucks living on the place now and they make a circuit every day. My nephew and I both drew buck tags this year. We have been scoping out the deer. They won’t be huge animals but they will be good eating.

The wheat is harvested now and it came in at 42 bushels to the acre. This is the best it has been since we got back. It looked amazing. The largest problem we were told was that the deer had made huge trails and snacking points throughout the entire field.

I had to drop off the raccoon carcass on the boneyard so I snagged the old tractor rim that was buried up there. I am going to turn it into a fire pit in the ram pasture. I may even try and figure out how to build a spit for it.

Between a few hours here and there I have managed to get the bull corral operational. I still need to put up four rails in one spot over the woven fence and I need to figure out a latch for the gate that cannot be undone. We got all the scrap wood and scrap metal out of the enclosure and created a flat spot for the water trough. The trough will hold 265 gallons of water. Annmarie drug a hose out there from our house, about 250 feet and it took an hour to fill it. The horses are now living in it and we are feeding them twice daily. They were getting very fat and needed to come off the all you can eat buffet that was the upper prime field. They do not appreciate the genius and ingenuity it took to make the corral.

I need to drag out the lamb shed with the tractor. It is ankle deep in horse and sheep poop. I have some old windows in there from when my parents changed out their windows ten years ago. I am going to build a platform on the end of the barn so the large window can be installed. I am going to build 2×8 foot platforms like a set of steps twelve feet off the ground. So five separate steps covered with 1/2 inch plywood sheets. I am going to use the leftover tamarack railing. Once that is in place then I can climb up and install the window casings and we will be ready to man handle the window into place. I will probably get rid of the other windows. I have used a couple of them in various locations. I may look at the old chicken coop before I toss them. I may be able to glass in the open portion of the chicken coop.

We have decided to not expand the barn. We have only had one person call about our Craigslist ad. They only wanted to buy ten sheep not 40. So I wrote their information down just in case. I am now going to advertise in the surrounding area Craigslist towns. See if I cannot garner some more attention. If that doesn’t work then we are going to look at the small animal sale in La Grande. I am just unsure about the auction as you just never know what the final price will be. I certainly don’t want them sold for $30 an animal.

I have four left over panels that were not used in the corral. They will cover 32 feet. I think I need to bridge almost 55 feet to create another wall. So I am actually going to have to break out a tape measure and some spray paint and lay out another fence. This will make getting any animal into the sorting corral very easy.

Raccoonageddon

We had a plan last night for predator control and we stuck with it. Around 2130 Annmarie heard raccoons chittering on the back porch. We started breaking out the weapons and the Border Collies started looking for places to hide. They are not real big on loud noises. Our ankle biter Brussels Griffin was all excited and wanted to go outside with us and chase stuff. We had to be careful when we let Annmarie out the front door that he didn’t slip past her. He is pretty sneaky. I gave her time to get to the other side of the old house and then I flipped the outside light on, popped the back door open and started blazing away with my Walther P22 pistol. The laser sight makes shooting in low light situations amazingly easy. I had to spread the wealth though as it was a target rich environment. There were four raccoons and I only had 11 shots when I started. So after two rounds in an animal I switched to another. Two 22 rounds typically does not kill a raccoon immediately unless you are head shooting them. I am not a bad shot but I am not head shot on four moving targets going all directions at once good. I had managed to hit three and was trying for a fourth when Annmarie started blazing away. I never did see what animal she was shooting at so I am afraid there may be five raccoons not four. I had time to slam another clip in and run to the fence to look over for more raccoons after Annmarie hollered it was clear. We looked in the trees and did not find anything. I came back, finished off one and we ended up with three dead raccoons. I usually deal with bodies in the morning as I was going to have to wash off blood from the sidewalk. So we went to bed and in the morning I went out to move the carcasses before going to work. There was only one carcass! The other two were gone. Now before I have any doubters they were all dead. As in finish them off dead before we left the porch. I have made that mistake in the past and don’t do it any more. We are unclear how two of the carcasses vanished. All the cat food was gone also. We will leave out cat food again tonight but I would be surprised if they came back again anytime soon.

The club wheat is ready to harvest and should be cut next week. It is probably the best crop we have had in years. It seems to get better every year.

As I was stepping out of the pickup to take pictures of the wheat two little deer fawn twins jumped out from under a rose bush and ran out into the wheat. If you look at the picture below closely you can see one ear. Both fawns were right there in the wheat field. They are little and still spotted, momma leaves them all over the farm. I have spotted them at both ends of the place. We also have a few bucks coming in at night and early morning. This is good as my nephew and I both have buck tags this year.

I picked up a 260 gallon water trough for the bull area today and 500# of wood pellets for the chicken coop. Bubba just about has the coop done and the pellets will be needed. He shoveled out the old sawdust and bleached the walls today. He just needs to lay down some new pellets after moving old ones. The nest boxes need to be cleaned out and the back room needs to be vacuumed up. He got the milking area of the barn cleaned out today also and under the stairs. Just the momma area, the feeders and the sorting chute need to be completed.

I looked at a set of discs today. It will cost $1000. I am going to have to break down and get them next week so we can finish prepping the fields for alfalfa.

We also got a quote for two miles of fiber optic cable to be strung out to the house. It’s not cheap but it is doable. We would rather have high speed internet than a boat, RV, four wheeler, new vehicle, motorcycle or snowmobile. So we should know by next week hopefully if it is possible and when it can be done.