Odds & Ends

Today was a catch up day. I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish but I made sure to eat my breakfast and drink a cup of coffee before I went outside. I was sure there would be more lambs, I would have given odds on there being more lambs, there were no lambs. The cows needed food so I pushed a large bale to their area. I also decided it was time to thin out the chickens. I had multiple free loading roosters from the unsexed chicks gifted to me this summer from a friend. I managed to kill five roosters and a very old hen. I loaded them all up into the tractor bucket and took them to a boneyard. Tomorrow will be a good day to look for coyotes, the raccoon carcasses and porcupine carcass are undisturbed. That left me on the tractor with the urge to go up into field number two and move some dirt. I could spend the next six hours doing that still not be done. I resisted the temptation to spend time with the mistress and went back inside.

I did spot the Quail on the way home. They are so fluffy due to the cold. I have been learning to use the delay bake on our oven. I use It when I am making baked potatoes or something else that needs to bake for long stretches of time. I started the butternut squash, then I spent an hour and a half cleaning the bathroom. Once all that was done it was time to tackle the spare bedroom.

I had to hang four pictures of the seasons, girls in circus clothing, we had framed earlier this year. I then had to clean out the cedar bench that has been sitting at the foot of the bed for three years needing to be sorted and some decisions made. I made them fairly quickly and we now have some more space to store wool blankets. Now I can buy more wool blankets. We had been using the room as storage for our giveaway items so I moved all that up into the attic after I bagged it all up so it would stay clean. I also rebalanced the heat distribution so more goes downstairs. Both Annmarie and I went out to feed the sheep and lock them into the barn, they are going to have babies tonight! I also fixed a latch that had fallen off our main hay gate between the sheep area and our first hay room, the old nut had fallen off.

We are looking forward to Thanksgiving. I pick up the prime rib tomorrow and start the dry rub process. I will rub spices on it every evening until we cook it in a salt casket on Thanksgiving. We are having Brussels sprouts as the vegetable. We have this same meal every Thanksgiving. I even managed to snag the last bag of Rhodes frozen dinner rolls at the grocery store. We will cook at least 16-20 even though there are only five of us!

Crawling might be faster

I have spent 13 more hours working on the upper seven acre field. I am using the harrow/arena groomer on it to smooth it out but due to all the organic matter in the field the harrow keeps getting plugged. I have managed to build walls on two sides of the field from all the debris. This is causing me to have to go over areas multiple times to collect and remove all of the stuff. I still have about another four hours. This is causing me to have to reevaluate how the fields are going to get planted. I cannot do 20 acres at a time. It is just too much ground. I am going to have to only do 4-7 acres/year or look at getting someone to custom plant 15-20 acres for us. I just cannot do that much with my little equipment.

The kestrel and red tailed hawks, adults and this year’s nestlings, have finally gotten used to me running the tractor around in circles and patterns in field #1. They have started to watch for mice and dive bomb them after I have passed by. I saw both kestrels yesterday! I usually only ever see one but I spotted two yesterday and the new hawks don’t have their red tails yet. The wind has been blowing such that with the hill and updraft the hawks can literally float on the wind. I saw one stay in the same position for over 20 minutes and never flapped its wings once! It just kept twitching its wings causing micro adjustments in its wing shape. The pheasants are out in droves! I saw five roosters on the way to the field and again on the way back to the house seven hours later. They are not very jumpy this year which is highly unusual.

I have included a picture of me raking the leaves. You will notice the difference as there are fewer sheep and they are all very fat from eating all summer long. I like to switch it up from the me mowing the lawn pictures. After an entire morning grazing they are sitting out in the sun resting, it does not look like they made any progress on the leaves. This process may take a couple of weeks. I will be hard at work!

Winter is here sorta, it got down into the teens, temperature wise but this week it got to over 60 degrees during the week. It is not normal. It is supposed to rain over 1/2” by the end of the week. That is going to mess up my planting schedule. If I had not had to fix all the flood damaged fencing I could have spent those six weeks planting. Oh well, back to baby steps. One foot forward every day will get us to the finish line.

We had let the alpaca back into the cow area when I fed the cows last week. This lone black alpaca, we think Snoop, wandered off by himself. We thought he was lost so Annmarie herded him back out to his buddies. The first chance he got he got back in with the cows and then isolated himself again. We think he is just old and tired of the BS male dominance fighting. We are letting him stay by himself this time.

The chickens discovered a section of the new fence in the barn lot that I did not make chicken proof. It’s on the opposite side of the water and only about four feet long but they found it and have been using it to get into the flower area that I wanted them exiled from. So now I will need to fix that at some point.

Forever Friday 20/42

It’s getting there, tomorrow is the big day, the halfway mark! I am so excited about it that I needed to mention it today.

Monday was a great day. We got our company out the door and on the road first thing. They are going to stay on the coast for a couple of days. We are headed to the coast at the end of the month if everything doesn’t burn down before then. There are fires everywhere and we are not even in the official fire season yet. We had another neighbor stop by around 2100 to tell us we had a sheep out on the road down by four corners. Our sheep are pretty distinct and everyone around us knows what they look like. We drove down there in the dark and sure enough we spotted a boy lamb out on the road. I use the term lamb loosely as he is nine months old and full grown almost. I was supposed to drive up and drop Annmarie off so she could chase the lamb up to the gate I was going to open. It did not work that way and the lamb got away in the dark. We gave up and came home and the lamb was up at the grain bins eating on the hay with the alpaca. We have no idea how he got there. We opened the gate up into the orchard hoping he would go in there overnight. He did along with a bunch of alpaca but we locked them all up in the orchard anyways. There is plenty of green grass for everyone and the lamb can hang out with the alpaca for a few days.

Tuesday I had to fix the spring fence crossing as the mother in law wanted the cows to be able to come in near the house. She feeds them apples and they eat her yard clippings but the bull broke through the crossing and it still needs repaired.

This required some planning as I had originally added a low cable to prevent the bull from crawling under but attached it to two screwed in anchor rings. The bull pulled one out and the other looks like a question mark now. I wanted the water to be able to pull them out. Not now, I wrapped them around the bottom of each pole and clamped them in place! I also turned the long panel 90 degrees it was all along the spring crossing. Instead I only attached four feet to the crossing and tossed the other 12 feet out into the water bed. I also lashed a wooden pole to the distal 1/3 to make it hard for the bull to lift it up. My hope is he will be standing on it as he tries to lift the crossing. Lastly, I put up T posts close together to force the bull to walk toward the panel in the waterway. I did not attach any wire or fencing to the T posts as the bull just hooks fencing with his horns. he cannot pull the T posts out of the ground with his horns if there is nothing attached to them. I opened the gate when I was done, the cows can now come into the field.

Once I finished bull proofing the spring ditch I went onto laying the bridge in place. I even added two more railroad ties to the side so it is super easy to drive across now. I need to attach a piece of plywood over them so they stay in place better. Now I just need to start working on the wooden posts so the fence can get rebuilt.

The dogs also spotted another tree rat. Luckily for us the dogs staring up at the tree and refusing to move is a good indicator that I need to go out and eliminate the problem. We do not need another batch of freeloaders on the place. Problem temporarily solved as this is the second one the dogs have spotted this year. We have never had them before.

Wednesday I had to take the child to work and get her deer clobbered car worked on. I came home and jumped on the tractor, I wanted to take 2-3 loads of gravel to the far side of the bridge and then switch out to the post hole auger so I could start building fence! I made it 20 feet before the tractor tried to roll downhill on me. The back right tire was completely flat!

It took me a while to get the tire off and then I had to add a bunch of blocks underneath to make sure the tractor did not sink down onto the rim. It literally took all day to get the tire fixed. They were kind enough at the shop to only charge me for the inner tub, no labor due to the long wait. I managed to do all my errands in town and have the pickup break down in the Bimart parking lot. I had to replace the positive terminal clamp as it had rotted. I had all the parts I needed after three trips back into the store for items.

I even drew up a wiring diagram for the side by side to add the second battery. When I got home I looked at the charging switch I got and realized that I will need to redraw my wiring diagram! I am also going to hard wire in the spray tank switch to the dashboard. I want the sprayer to draw from the marine extra battery.

I was even able to install a new shower head and I knew it was needed but I showered directly after the install and I should have done that six months ago! It is amazing.

The needed but dreaded sorting of animals

It had to come, the animals all needed to be worked and sorted but it is always a painful task.  Making matters worse is the fact that we decided to work the sheep and the cows in the same day and to complicate it even further the barn lot flood damage has not been repaired.  Annmarie went down stream with Mouse to push the cows up to the house.  They were doing great, one of the cows then the herd tried to bolt around and Mouse headed them off and got them turned around.  Five minutes later one of the cows decided she was a greyhound and took off, Mouse was unable to get ahead of her, he was able to catch up to her but ran alongside her and could not get her to turn.  This caused all of the cows to break and Slim and I and Zeke had to go down to the school house to help bring the cows back up.  This event seemed to crush Mouse’s ego and he then became a terror towards the cows and would not listen.  He was determined to get a few licks and bites in before we quit working the cattle.  Despite a couple of warnings he persisted in ignoring us until it was pointed out to him that he was not the boss by me.  He kept ignoring Annmarie, which is unusual as he prefers to work for her and not me.  It took us an hour to get the cows up into the corral.  The bull and boys were just on the other side of the gate.  We needed to pour insecticide over the cows and to tag and band Cupid who is another boy.  The really screwy part is that we thought there were two calves that needed to be addressed.  Nope, one of the calves managed to rip its ear tag out.  I had to grab its ear and find the hole to make sure.  We sorted the cows and took our original green tag cow and three more heifers off of the main herd then let the bull, the steers and our little bull in with the the rest of the cows.  The little bull is only six months old and the cows are in heat so by the time he is ready to breed them they will all be pregnant.  We are going to eat him this winter.  Cupid doesn’t have the true white heart on his forehead like Valentine does.  I took more pictures of Valentine while he was in the corral.

 

I am going to have to work on the corral next year.  When I built it I had talked about installing thread all bars between the railroad ties in the chute.  I decided that it would stop me from walking down the corral on top which I like to do.  The cows have spread the chute far enough apart that my two internal gates are no longer latching and we had to chain the chute exit to stop them from pushing out.  I may just use cable and bolts with an inline tightener and some thread locking compound so it doesn’t come loose easily.  I will shrink the chute back up another three inches.  I won’t lay boards over the chute as it would form a tunnel that would cause the animals some consternation.  The four separated cows will go up onto the Upper Prime field.  They have lots of food and fresh water.  This will get them two fences away from the bull.  The old cow will just become hamburger and stew meat.  Annmarie and Donna have both been victims of this attacking cow and they will be very happy when she is gone.

 

Slim was helping us with the cows and then the sheep.  The sheep were a lot harder.  First, we did not know how many we had, I assumed we had about 105 and Annmarie thought we had 120, in reality we had 112.  Getting to the number 112, that took us sorting the sheep five different times and four people counting.  On the plus side, both Annmarie and I had the count right the first time but Slim and Mr Professional had different numbers so we kept counting until  the numbers stabilized and matched.  It’s hard to sell what you cannot quantify.  I realize this sounds easy but we spent almost two and a half hours sorting sheep.  We thinned the herd again hard this year.  It was time to do another heavy cull, we do this about every 5-7 years.  The first time we sorted off breeding ewes we had 48!  Our ram has a hurt foot and is kinda fat, he needs fewer females so we sorted ewes until we had 34 ewes and 1 ram.  This herd went into the upper prime pasture with the cull heifer cows.  We have 77 sheep to sell, 28 of them are cull ewes and we are keeping 9 lambs for us and for local customers.   We will put them into the orchard after I finish getting the hay put up.  The rest of the cows went down into the lower bottom, winter feed field. It has peas growing in it but the thistles and cheat grass are still present in significant quantity.  It will not be hay this year but the peas are good for the soil and good for the cows so it is a win regardless.

Slim and I then went onto fixing creek crossings to keep the sheep in their allotted space. Mr Professional went to go bale the hay in the orchard while the Future NASCAR driver worked on getting lawn beat down with a weed eater.  It is out of control and our mower needs more work.  The flooding caused some severe erosion in Stewart creek.  The picture on the right shows the ripples in the stream bed, every one of those ripple edges is part of a volcanic solid rock shelf, those were not visible prior to the flooding.  It just tore the earth away until it hit something solid.  We tried to move the stump out of the creek but its too heavy.  We cut branches off and once the creek dries out I will get in there with the chain saw and cut it up.  We needed the branches moved so we could drop the panels back down into the creek.  A new cable was installed across the top of the fence from rock crib to rock crib.

We then went down and tore out the panels and fencing from down by the Mother-in-law’s house.  I built a new fence alongside the spring in the orchard so this small fifty foot section was no longer needed.  We took down all the fence and salvaged the panels crossing the spring to use down below at the creek crossing.  The stream widened the bank by at least four feet down by our other crossing so we needed a couple more panels to bridge the gap.  I have also started to install my horse shoe latches at the gates.  Once we had that done it was time to call it quits as it was almost 1700.

Slim beat me to the house as Annmarie, I and Mr Professional were discussing a weed and trying to determine what it was so she called it quitting time and headed out.  She did send me a text but I had her take a picture of the lower creek crossing as my phone was dead.  LOL.  The plan is for her to come out and help shear alpaca next week.  .

 

 

 

Flood damage repair still

The chickens are enjoying the weather and all of this rain.  We have moved the compost dumping area down the fence line about 15 feet in an effort to get the chickens to work down the weeds.  I have been trying to recycle 50# of dried rice used to dry out electrical equipment into chicken food.  I use the rice cooker and give them 8-16 cups of cooked rice a day.  I have been at it for two weeks and have half the rice gone maybe.  Even the chickens are getting tired of rice at every meal, they will run over eat a little bit then run away.  They do forage on the rice all day and eat it eventually but if that were cat food I was tossing out they would eat it until it was gone every time. 04E110F3-9383-4A26-A4BD-A1649619DB3B

My spare parts for the haying equipment came this week also.  Unfortunately, they did not have all the parts I asked for but I took what they sent me.  It tends to take about 3-4 weeks to get parts from the company so I went through and looked at the parts I have already broken and the parts that may break and have started a list.  The company did a great job of labeling each set of bolts and nuts so I know exactly what they are.  I have them separated out into containers with sharpy labels on the outside.  My goal is to get another 2 metal cabinets and use two of them for parts only.  I want to dedicate half the cabinet to each piece of hay equipment so it is easy to find and won’t get lost since I have to have so many parts on hand.

I am having trouble with my front left tire that fell off.  I was getting ready to go to the upper field with the arena groomer when I noticed that the same tire had two lug nut bolts missing.  Luckily, the wheel had not fallen off again.  I had picked up six bolts from the tractor store and put two back in and tightened down everything. I am going to have to figure out why this is happening.  The new tractor seat came in, it is thicker than the old but I need some kind of shock absorber on it now so the ride is smoother.  more internet shopping time is needed.  The first seat lasted seven years and the tractor spent more time out in the sun than under cover.  Since we have gotten the machine shed cleaned out the side by side and the tractor are parked inside away from the sun whenever they are not in use.

Mr Professional and the Future NASCAR driver have been working on the cross fence in the barn lot.  All three of us went up there and got it finalized.  I still need to get into the spring path and dig out some more mud but it was so bad that I kept getting stuck in the tractor.  I made a deeper pathway that is only about 1 foot wide and will let it dry out for few weeks before I go back at from the sides with the tractor.  I want to build up the embankment on the northern side so when the water comes rushing down it will get pushed back and over the embankment.  We still need to cut the final cow panel to fit to the bottom of the gully but not until I reshape the gully to accept more water.  So we just used the bent one from the flood and will address it later.

The ram started to favor his front left leg four days ago but would not let us touch it, we could get close enough to pet him but not pin him.   He is also over 200 pounds and all muscle with some fat and is not going to let me just pin him to look at his foot.  We ended up just moving all the boys from Alcatraz to behind the barn into a nice dry lot and watered them in the corral. This got the ram closer to our chute were we could pin him in place.  We did this in the evening and then let them hang out all night by the next morning the ram was already putting weight on the leg and looked dramatically better.  There was just too much moisture in Alcatraz.  I spent a couple of hours with the box blade and manure forks and cleaned up Alcatraz.  I now have two piles of mud, straw, hay and poop that will need to be moved out and mixed in the new barn floor contents when the barn gets cleaned out.  I really need a manure spreader but they are expensive.  I need a good used one, which leads to the I need a welder discussion as stuff keeps breaking and I need to be able to repair it.

It took me about 10 hours between two days to get the upper prime squared field all cleaned up.  I used the manure forks to pick up the large piles and used the arena groomer to pick up the low grass and spread out the mud.  The grass is trying to grow back but cannot get through the mat of mud and grass left by the flood.  I had to go over each section repeatedly as the groomer would fill up with grass fast.  I made two big piles out in the middle of the field and took everything close to the water over to my berm I am constructing alongside the spring.  The berm is going to be 2-3 feet high.  The water here only got about 18-24” deep so I think it will be enough to keep the water going to where I sort of want it.  This should lead to only about 1/3 of the field getting flooded and none of the next field being flooded.  Don’t get me wrong, I still installed flood break points in the cross fences just in case it does jump my berm.  I don’t want to have to come back and redo all this fence again. The built in weak points will keep the whole fence from getting flushed down or pushed over.

The manure forks have been another amazing purchase!  If I knew how handy they would be I would have done it years ago.  The best part is they only cost $250!  I have used them extensively to help clean up the flood debris and am actually looking forward to how they work when I clean out the barn.  I may be able to just drive in scoop out some stuff and drive out with it instead of trying to push it all out one of the two doors and then pick it up with the tractor.  If the rain ever stops the barn will get cleaned out.

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