Supposed to get something done

It was a holiday weekend so I had an extra day off. I had all these plans on accomplishing tons of things, this did not happen. I did get some stuff done but not as much as I envisioned. I also ended up with a couple of surprises. Sometimes the surprises are not pleasant and this weekend was no exception to that rule. I spent Thursday and Friday finishing digging out the barn. Hoss went to play in the mountains for the holiday so I finished digging out the barn the first day and then spent the next day moving piles of straw and sheep manure onto our compost pile. We have two piles and the old pile is almost ready to be distributed as soil. It takes 2-3 years to break down the straw and manure into a usable substance.

Meathead came out and sheared the dogs. Annmarie asked her to use a longer blade and she did not want to shear their tails. She is opposed to them having rat tales. It is easier to keep the cheat grass out of their hides with a shorter coat.

We went out and covered one of the plum trees on Saturday. It is loaded and the bats are out at night and Annmarie is hoping this will keep the bird and bats away from the fruit. We looked at the other trees but they do not have very much fruit on them. I will need to shape the trees this winter and we are going to shorten the tree skirting. We are talking about putting the two bully alpacas out with the three sold eating cows. This way we only have to skirt the trees for the sheep and not alpacas or horses.

We have a lot of thistles in the orchard so I am going to push the entire sheep herd into the orchard for a few days to eat the entire field down, then I will work on killing thistles again.

I got the post hole auger installed on the tractor Saturday and had plans to dig all the post holes on Sunday. Unfortunately I decided that I needed to weed eat the front driveway as the cheat grass and weeds were getting out of control. I moved the pickup back out of the driveway as it was covering weeds. I left my car in place and Annmarie was at church. On one of my trips to the pickup for weed eater fuel I noticed that my car window was busted out! Now mind you I had goggles and hearing protection on but the rocks getting kicked up from the weed eater were pelting me and they hurt. It did not occur to me that I would blow out a window on my car while trying to make the driveway neater. This sucks and now I have to get it replaced.

I did finally get on the tractor and go out and start trying to drill holes in the ground. The first five holes I only managed to get about 2-4 inches down. I did not have a bucket but will bring one up and start filling the holes with water. I will need to do that for a few days to soften up the dirt. Once I got down into the bottom fields the soil was actually muddy once I got six inches below the surface. This would explain the weed jungle that I have in the upper field. It is so bad I cannot even mow it. I have the tractor bucket fully raised at 8 feet and the weeds are still taller. The plan is to get the fence up around this field and to push the sheep up in the morning and bring them in at night. Our hope is the sheep can tear it up and thin it out so I can get the mower through it. There is still a muddy area in the middle of the field that I cannot drive the tractor through. Our hope is the sheep will knock it down enough I can get the tractor in to see the wet areas and dig a few ditches to let it drain better. I got 9 holes completed and five started, only 12 more to go.

On the way back to the house I noticed our three feeder cows out of their fence. The gate had not been latched correctly and they got out. I had to move gates around and get them pushed back into their pasture. The gate is latched correctly now.

My hope is that Hoss and I can get some fencing done this week, time will tell.

Watered flower area almost done

Tex came out again today, the guy is a glutton for punishment, my favorite kind of worker. He started to put up wire on the fence posts and I continued picking up rocks for the spring edging. Every time I went out to the rock pile I spent a little time dragging the ground with the box blade to catch rocks and miscellaneous debris. I would like to be able to mow it with the tractor if needed but since I have not gone over the ground its not safe. I have ruined two blades on the tractor mower already. I have also had to have the mower welded on and beat back into shape. I am trying to be more cautious now.

I managed to get most of the rocks off of the main portion of the skiff of land. I went here because there were lots of rocks. There are a lot less rocks now after two days of hauling them off. I have managed to snag most of the very large rocks. I need about 20 more 200# + rocks. They stay in place when you put them in the dirt when they weigh that much. Our largest one we set was around 600#+. My tractor will only lift 800# so it makes it pretty easy to estimate how much a rock weighs.

As I was finishing up and dragging the ground smooth I spotted a small piece of metal. I hit it with the box blade and this 80# chunk of grated iron came loose from the ground. This thing would have eaten my mower for lunch! I am going to figure out a place to use this I am just not sure where. I was thinking it could go outside one of my sliding barn doors as it has sides and a grate to prevent it from holding water. It’s a thought I may have to pursue. I want to get the aluminum pipe moved over here for storage. Any animal that steps on it makes a dent. If I store it outside of the animal area then no one can step on it. It can stay there indefinitely if needed.

We have 3-4 barn cats that we know of and this one is the only one we see on a daily basis. She wants attention all the time but after biting Annmarie we don’t reach down and pet her. Annmarie was on antibiotics for a week. The cats are doing their job as we have not seen a single mouse in the barn this winter. We are hanging our extra gates on the walls and it makes the window look weird.

I used to be able to ignore my stomach and keep working straight through until dinner time but that is not the case any more. I made Tuna surprise for Tex and I for lunch. Tuna, noodles, can of cream of mushroom soup, some onions and a can of peas. It is the bomb, I almost never make it as Annmarie doesn’t like tuna and it makes a bunch.

Tex appreciated my culinary prowess. We got our side of the fence all completed! I got both gates installed with a few little quirks and after some added wood the gaps were small enough to keep the sheep inside. I always forget how long it takes to hang a gate or door. Its far longer than you think it should be. We got the bottom row of rocks down by the spring all put in place. We have started another row of rocks about a 1/3 of the way from the top. My hope is it will help keep the elevated rock walls from sliding. We put in a bunch of T-posts next to the rock wall to see if it is actually moving. I even went so far as to cut most of the posts off at the fence height on the horse enclosure. I got Annmarie to agree to let me use the old mailboxes as bird houses. I am going to split them into two or three compartments and drill holes in the mailboxes. I could maybe even do four depending on the size of the box. We have several old mailboxes lying around. I want to mount these on top of the railroad ties. I kept the old 12 foot 4×4 that used to hold the power cables in the air to the barn. I am thinking I could build two bat houses and mount them to the pole and bolt it to one of the posts on the rock cribs. The bat house idea is going to have to wait.

We managed to get woven wire up near the barn but not four strands of smooth wire. We ran out of time. We need more rocks for the second rock wall. I may try and get a couple of loads every night after work so this upcoming weekend Tex and I can just dig in instead of waiting for me to haul them in.

We are going to finish that flower enclosure then set up the sprinklers on our front hillside. That is were the water for this flower enclosure is going to come. I don’t want to plant flower seeds until we have water or else it’s going to rain on a consistent basis.

Tex doesn’t wear gloves much. I went up to him today and pointed out that he was bleeding from a cut on his hand. He looked down, surprised that he was cut, and then just shrugged it off and went back to work. I already checked with his mother and he is current on his tetanus shot.

Rock fencing

I would have started fencing on Friday morning but Tex was sick. I had plans of going to work until 1200 during which Tex would have been making progress but alas it did not happen. I still only went to work until 1200 then went shopping for more railroad ties. I looked at a new Ruger Mark IV 22 semiauto pistol. I need something a little more accurate than my Walther P-22. It’s on the want list now.

This morning Tex came out and I fed him breakfast to get started. Homemade hash browns, bacon and two farm fresh eggs over easy all cooked in bacon grease! It was good. One would have thought we would run outside to get on that fencing but the honey do list came first. We moved all the furniture back into the spare room and even left one piece out, an old wash basin stand. There was no real room for it. We filled the closet back up and now that I have shelves between the duct work in the closet I am using those 12″ wide shelves to store empty canning jars. They tend to accumulate and I run out of spots to put them before I make an attic run. Annmarie discovered my second stash of egg cartons I store in the closet also. I keep my third stash in the attic. We are good for about 2-3 years.

We then moved the display case out of the upstairs eventual bathroom and I replaced the broken leg on it. Annmarie cleaned it up. It had been there for 12 years. We just have to decide what to put in it. I have a large collection of medical supplies I have accumulated over the years.

We also picked out two maps from the late 1800’s to take in and get a price quote on framing. We have about 30 maps of our local area and initial townships that are hand drawn on linen backed paper. The question is which ones do we frame first?

I sent Tex out first to start cleaning up the front ditch fence crossings and tossing all the burnables onto the burn pile. I told him to just use the bucket of the tractor as a wheelbarrow. I stayed inside and did the dishes and a few more honey do items. When I went outside I started the fire and Tex kept bringing load after load of wet soaked rotting wood but he kept going to the same place in the barn lot. I grabbed my coffee and told him we needed to take a look. He said good cause he needs a chainsaw. He was cleaning up the entire spring head!! Those trees have been down for 11 years since I burnt out the 30 foot high tumble weed patch that was a tree grove. The only tree that responded to fire was the black walnut, it started to actually put on walnuts after that. So we had a discussion that I do want that cleaned out and he can borrow a chainsaw but we need to get the fence done in the barn lot first. That is a great task for when I am at work!

So I had him start tearing out the creek crossing that the bull and sheep kept going through. He is to remove everything from both railroad ties on the edges of the below picture. Anything burnable goes on the fire. It was a mess of wire, panels, rope and broken boards, along with flooding debris. While he was doing that I started to pick rocks. We needed rocks for the two rock cribs and alongside the creek to keep the dirt on the hillside.

I spent from 1000 to 1330 hauling rocks when I realized I was hungry again. We had a gourmet lunch, Nalley chili with Hill’s all beef hotdogs. The hotdogs got browned then the fry pan deglazed with fresh onions and garlic and all of it thrown into the chili, top it off in the bowl with some shredded cheddar cheese! That is a lunch that will stick to your ribs and keep you going for hours.

I went back out and picked more rocks. Tex started filling the rock cribs with the small rocks and the large rocks were saved to be used down by the ditch.

We got all the rock cribs filled, I put about 12 rocks in only, Tex did the rest. We then started to wrestle with the large rocks and tried to get them on a shelf down by the water. This was not easy and especially not easy after they roll down a muddy hillside and go into the front spring. Muddy wet rocks are not easy to move around. Tex managed to get most of his rocks into the creek.

I again fell into the water. I slipped on the muddy hillside and landed flat on my backside into the water filling my waterproof boots. We got all the rocks I had brought down near the water’s edge when Sarah came and told me it was 1815 and time for dinner. I had left my watch and cell phone in the house at lunch so I had no clue what time of day it was. It was quitting time anyways, Tex had rolled his second from last rock into the water and the two of us could not lift it up into place and could barely roll it into place. The rock was only about 150#. Earlier we had been moving several hundred pound rocks into place. Tomorrow I will get more large rocks and we will start putting up wire fencing. I would like to get flower seed on the ground.