Woe Tex!

Tex came out of the chute ready to work first thing this morning. We fed the sheep, which is easier now that they are all one herd again. Tex helped catch yesterday and I tagged and banded the last four babies we had departed from the herd and we merged those mommas with the main herd.

We got four strands of smooth wire on one side of the gate and three strands up on the other side. The discrepancy is because one section of the fence uses a taller woven wire than the other.

I went over and marked out the rock crib locations and Tex started building them while I made the chicken portal through the fence. Once the discrimination gate was in place I used the trusty mistress to tear up the hillside and smooth it all out. I also had to go across the spring and work the other side of the spring. This necessitates driving a four foot wide tractor over a four foot wide bridge. I made and installed the bridge a long time ago. I am sure its logged in the blog so within the last eight years. I have been using the bridge whenever I need a short cut. Annmarie refuses to drive the tractor across as a tire is usually partially hanging off the bridge during crossing. I drove over the bridge several times today without any issues.

We had to make a run to the fencing supply pile to load the pickup up with railroad ties and the last of my round wooden poles. I only have 6 ties left unused and I may need those in the new section of fencing I have been ignoring.

We are going to have to install wire in the rock cribs to prevent the rocks from falling out when we fill them. I am hoping we can do that on Saturday. Tex went to get gravel to set two posts while I dug the post holes and set the posts down in for final seating. After Tex finished the second post he asked if I wanted the extra gravel in the skinning pit. I know it will take me hours to move all the gravel for the pit so any little help is appreciated.

I had given strict instructions on the first day that any time he was moving around in the tractor that he had to wear his seatbelt. This is to prevent you from getting thrown clear of the vehicle if something were to happen.

I warned him that the bridge was narrow. He then proceeded to attempt a crossing. Woe Tex!!! I saw it happen in slow motion! Luckily, Tex had his seatbelt on so he didn’t get thrown clear of the tractor. I made him stay in place so I could get a picture as I am usually the one in the compromising position.

We still had a pickup bed full of railroad ties so I had Tex grab a chain and drive the pickup around the barn and into the back lot. He had a hard time making the corner with the pickup in four wheel drive. The four wheel drive was mandatory as the entire back area is one giant mud pit. He kept sliding towards the fence as that was the lowest spot on the hillside.

He managed to snag a taillight on the driver’s side with encouragement from me. It looks like we just need a new light fixture.

We hooked onto the hitch and pulled that rear tire down onto the ground. Once we had the rear tire on the ground I was able to drive it out with some pickup assistance. The hardest part was getting the pickup back there and getting seat-belted into the tractor before trying any thing.

As penance, Tex put in a railroad tie next to the bridge. It sits on two very large rocks and widens the bridge by 10″. This will be nice in case I ever miss. He is also going to find me a new light cover to order off of the internet.

He came through for me and for $23 I have a new light cover already on its way!

He was looking a little hangdog by the time he was done for the day. Tomorrow we fill the rock cribs and drill some holes!

It’s my old joy

It was not a giant spider, I told myself after I screamed like a little girl. I was out in the barn doing chores late Wednesday evening in the dark. I waited too long to do chores in the daylight. I went to move one of the inside swing doors and a black and white cat was sitting on top of the door, unbeknownst to me and when I swung the door closed this “thing” dropped down onto my arms. I had a mini meltdown until I realized it was the cat and not a man eating spider. I am sure I lost a a little more hair off of my head due to this life threatening event.

I tried to take a picture of the full moon with my new IPhone. Low light pictures are still not very good with a phone camera.

I lined up some help for Thursday thru Sunday to build some more fence. I wanted to finish the fence I started this Winter and redo the barn lot arrangements. We really want to get a Flow Hive and have at least one bee hive. We feel that we need to supply some sustenance to the bees first. So we are going to build two flower areas in the barn lot. These will be isolated from all the animals and one of the two will be able to be watered. This may even let us grow a couple of trees that the animals cannot eat before they get any height to them.

I got the skinning pole area dug out and ready for gravel. It will be nice to not have to work in the mud when skinning animals. We killed three last summer but the most I have done is ten at once.

I have a new helper, he will here forth forever be known as Tex. I thought about continuing the trend and calling him Mr. Tex but I just could not do it and have shortened it to just Tex. Tex set posts while I ran around on Thursday finding supplies, tools and getting fuel. I even made a trip to the scrap metal junkyard.

Once the posts were set and H braces made with cross wire we got the woven wire up and the gates installed. Tex had built fence before so we just had a couple of small learning curve issues. As in all things there are many different ways to skin a cat. We tied in the creekside fence to the back of the chicken coop so I decided to shrink the coop pen and rip out all the extra. The pen is useful to get the chickens to lay in the coop if they start to stray all the time, but it does not need to be that big. So we moved a post and connected it to the front part only. That meant we had to add a gate against the old house to close off the ram pasture. Now we can let the lambs out here without worrying their moms would try and jump the fast moving creek and leave the babies to make that same attempt. That option would not be healthy for lambs or old ewes.

Tomorrow we will get the smooth wire up and I will have to build a pass through in the fence for the chickens that will hopefully not let the lambs through.

Tex did a great job and I am looking forward to Friday’s progress report.

Winter is leaving

Mother Winter is finally giving up her grip on the weather and spring is trying to come out. For the fifth day in a row we have had above freezing temperatures during the day. This is allowing the snow to melt off at a slow rate. A slow rate is the rate we want. I have been out in the machine shed counting bales of hay to see if we are going to make it. We are going to make it for the cows just barely! We have been feeding the cows twice a day with all this snow on the ground. This morning when I went out and fed there was still hay from last night on the ground. The cows had not cleaned it up. We will go back to feeding the cows in the late evening. This forces them to forage during the day and ensures they have full bellies during the night when it gets cold. It is still freezing every night and dipping down into the low 20’s. I had to go over to Feedeville and buy another ton of pellets for the sheep. This time I picked up alfalfa pellets and more Kountry Buffet, an all purpose general feed. I would have gotten more Kountry Buffet but they ran out. There has been quite the rush on feed with this sudden extended snow storm deposits. It is incredibly expensive to feed this way but we are now getting enough calories into the mothers that they are starting to put weight back on. They don’t usually do that until the grass comes up and they get an all you can eat buffet.

I was sick all day yesterday and slept most of it. I blame my fellow coworkers for spreading the plague. I did manage to move 2400 pounds of food bags from the back of the pickup into the barn and chicken coop. I picked up 300# of chicken food for $12.75/50# bag, this is a good price but unless I buy a ton at a time (40 bags) and save another $1/bag its not really worth the drive. I like having the ton on hand but I hate the mice problems and despite $30 worth of poison traps for the mice they go right for the chicken food and avoid the traps. If I could find flat sheets of sheet metal to mount to the inside walls and floors of the chicken supply room I would feel better but that won’t be an easy task.

I will keep my open when I go to the scrap metal yard next time. I am due to go back and pick up some metal soon. If this 45-50 degree weather keeps up it will be time to start fixing fence soon. One of the barn cats has figured out she stays warm if she sleeps under the round feeders. After the sheep feed they settle down around the feeder and give off heat. The hay is dry and comfortable under the feeder and no one can step on her. It is a recent development and one that she keeps repeating. Our large orange barn cat is starting to mellow out. He stayed in the barn, sitting on a ledge, today the entire time I was working. He used to run immediately to the hole under the barn as soon as he saw us. I guess he likes being fed, I have not seen a single mouse in the barn this winter. Having the cats has made a huge difference. We found another dead cat on the place and have been seeing a raccoon again. I had a single chicken die this week but we think it was due to old age. Very soon we will be getting baby pullets. I just need to place the order.

We are currently trying to fill out paperwork to get a loan for the haying equipment. This is proving to take several hours of our time. Will see how it goes.

We need to start tracking our tractor usage by run hours. At start of March we had 730 hours.

Uh oh Elk

Mother Nature finally drove the elk out of the mountains last week. There is so much snow up there that the elk cannot dig their way down to fodder. When this happens they move to lower elevations which means wheat fields, hay patches and CRP. The real problem with this is the elk are very destructive. Not only do they just tear down fences by going through them but they dig up the ground looking for food. We have about 80-100 animals on our property. My real worry is that they will find the 14 acres of planted grass I put in this fall! I don’t mind the deer nibbling the green tops of the grass but I certainly cannot afford for the elk to go down there and dig it up by the roots. It would cost me about 2 weeks of time and another $1000 to replant but the hard part is we would lose the growing time. Which would mean we would lose an entire first cutting on the grass fields, maybe even both of them which could cost us 30-60 ton of grass at a minimum loss of $4500-9000. This would hurt us on top of the extra feed costs we are incurring now due to the late and deep snow. So far we have put out for 2 ton of bagged feed for the sheep and may need to buy another ton still so we are out about $850 so far. We have just enough alfalfa to keep the cows going for another three weeks, longer if the snow will go away.

Several of my coworkers have offered to come kill elk if if I had land owner depredation tags. The problem with that is there are thousands of elk in the area. Me killing a handful is not going to make them go away from our property. So we just suck it up and hope they don’t tear up our fields.

The problem with the snow going away is there is a lot of snow! At this point we want a nice gradual warming up or our back creek will flood and try and rip out fence. I know it seems like a farmer is always bitching about the weather but in all reality they live or die or succeed by the whim of Mother Nature therefore giving them more right to complain. That is my take and I am sticking to it. The damage to the fence is gonna cause me problems. I had the upper fence all repaired and tight. So far I have not noticed any damage to the lower sections but I cannot get to the upper fence without just hoofing it up there and there is currently nothing I can do about it so I am leaving it for a surprise later this spring when I can inspect it on the tractor.

Annmarie tells me that last night the elk came down into the orchard to eat grass. We have been seeing a couple of them here or there but she said they came down en masse. I didn’t see any this morning when I went out to feed except for a lone cow elk down by my Mother-in-law’s house. She ran off when I came with the tractor to feed our cows.

The sun was shining today and melting snow despite the temperature only being 30 F. The elk are still on the back hillside. We have mostly cow elk with the occasional bull, there are larger bull elk in other fields, just not ours. We are getting so much moisture that the bottoms are starting to create wet spots, this one below is in the 7 acre barley patch that we are going to turn into alfalfa this spring. This wet spot is going to delay planting. The deer are hanging out in the bottoms away from the elk.

No horrible raging runoff creek yet. It is very sedate and clear at the moment and we hope it stays that way for the next six months.

Visible progress

It is coming along nicely. I have sold myself on the idea that I need the help doing the trim so I have crossed it off on my to do list and am moving on to other things. Yesterday, I started to mow the property. I mow different spots through out the farm in an attempt to keep our herbicide usage down. I have still not managed to get rid of the cheat grass that is everywhere. I am told there is a fancy spray that may do it but with my luck I will need an applicators license and that is just one more hoop. The mower works if you use it often. My ideal mowing conditions are windy and rainy. This may seem odd at first but after 6-8 hours on a tractor with no cab getting bounced around and breathing dust all day it makes perfect sense. The rain keeps the dust down and the wind ensures that if there is any that it will blow away from you if you have adjusted your mower trajectory to take advantage of it. It started to rain just as I went out so I thought I would get lucky, no deal, Mother Nature only teased me and did not deliver the goods. Using a little four foot wide mower it takes about 4 days to mow the entire place. I put in a solid day yesterday and got the barn lot done, the area around the houses and out buildings and driveway. I started mowing the upper prime pasture and got it about 30% done.

My tractor, the mistress, needs some TLC, I need to hammer out her hood, give her a good bath and an oil change. I may even shoot some paint onto her scratches and rusty spots! She needs to stay in working shape as next year its haying time at this time of year.

I really need to remember to take a wire brush and some WD40 with me when I go to hook up the mower. The PTO gets a little dirty and slightly rusty and the mower connector does the same. This makes for an incredibly hard fitting connection. It almost wants to go but just will not slide that last 2 inches! This took me almost 20 minutes to get connected. I had already cleaned off both pieces with my gloves and gotten all the dirt and surface rust off. It just would not go and its a ten minute turnaround to go get spray lubricant. I also have a can that the propellant is dying on so it may not work. I thought about spitting on it but figured that would just make the rust worse. I ended up using the oil dipstick from the tractor to get enough oil to slick it up so I could get it to slide on! This had an added benefit of letting me know its time for an oil change. I think I still have about 40 hours of run time on the meter but its coming up quickly.

This tight work on the back of the tractor can lead to some unintended consequences. I decided to wear my Apple Watch yesterday as I am on the volunteer Quick Response Team (QRT) for the local fire department and most people are out of town. I cannot hear or feel my phone in my pocket when on the tractor. The Apple Watch always gets my attention so I thought it would be a good idea. When I went to hook up the PTO for the mower I discovered some hay baling twine wrapped around one of the back tire shafts. This stuff is bad around moving parts as this is how I lost my U joint in the pickup two years ago. So I was leaning over the tire whacking away at it with my semi sharp knife when I get a phone call. Its the 911 dispatcher wondering if I am okay. She can hear the tractor in the background and I am on headphones with a microphone so I can talk on the phone. I tell her its an accident and I am okay. If you didn’t know, constant pressure on your Apple Watch will call 911. I cannot remember if its 15 or 20 seconds but it does work. This is the second time I have done this. My phone is also set up to alert my medical provider and she called me about 10 minutes later to see if I was alive. I assured her I was, I should have texted her after the 911 call. So yes, those emergency features on your iphone and Apple Watch really do work! As in all things good there were a couple of casualties. We had purchased a round pen last year that I used to protect the large bales. I had moved it and thought I had every piece accounted for, but I was mistaken. The mower found a piece hidden in the grass. I “fixed” it with some bailing twine. Its almost as good as new just don’t get your ankle to near the fix. I had brand new mower blades this year installed by Muscles, luckily Mr Experience double checked and got them right. After a few hidden rocks they don’t look so new any more.

I am looking more forward to the welding class this fall the farther into summer we get. I need to start a list of all the things that need to be welded and fixed. I want to make our back fence for the garden, custom porch railings for the front yard, custom upright pole braces for the back yard deck clear cover (this one is very last), stair railing, more horse shoe gate latches, multiple gate repairs, custom fence made from thousands of horse shoes (I need the horse shoes and a location for said fence but I am doing it just not sure where). The possibilities are endless! I now know where I can get things powder coated and I have a 16 foot trailer so I am set!

I spent Friday picking up the wood for the Bull corral and to reside the bad parts of the barn. It is too nice! I found about 15 pieces out of the 50 that are amazing looking. It would be a crying shame to put them on the outside of the barn. I may have too but honestly I think I only need about 12 full pieces to get the entire job done. I am also thinking about hammering out the front barn addition this summer. I will have the boards left over from the bull enclosure and I have the leftover boards in the barn that I can cobble together and make a path from the mother enclosure to the L shaped grain enclosure on the other side of the tack room. If I was smart I would have put the tack room in the L shaped area and used the other for the sheep. I just didn’t think we would need the sheep space that badly. This actually works out better as I will be able to build a platform to stand on to install the upper window in the end of the barn. I will use scrap tin for the roof and I think I even have enough of that laying around. Screws will be the most expensive part of the whole project. The pieces are all there. I even have a couple of old windows I can put in that end of the barn! Mr Experience makes headway every day. I have a picture below of the before trim with dark curtains to hide the window frame. This worked well and was cheap! It did not keep the bugs out.

This is what the windows look like now! A vast improvement I must say. Now we don’t want to put up curtains. It is bright in the morning, there is no sleeping in as the sun blasts in and lets you know its here. Luckily, we don’t sleep in but a few times a year. So we are now looking at a cloth, paper like blind that mounts inside and can stay up most of the time. They are not super cheap so we will be doing one window every few months until we are done.

Honestly, the house looks like a house now not a construction project. When I get the spare bedroom floor finished this fall I think I will do a quick sand job on the breezeporch and paint the floor with the stain we used on the outside fence. The floor was red at one point a long time ago. Once that is done I can build my custom reloading bench! Guns, dog kennels and live plants, maybe even a hydroponic garden will be my man cave area.

Zeke is causing problems again. He knows without a doubt now that he can dig his way out of the fence. So if we are not inside the house and he is off the run he just digs a hole out. He did it again yesterday when Annmarie went to her mother’s house. He could see her car so he just dug his way out. This means that I will have to take some time tomorrow to bring in 50 large rocks and line the fence. So if he digs down the rock will just slide down into the hole. This has worked in a few of the holes so far so we hope it will work for the whole fence. He is so painful.

Birds are here

Life is happening every day around us. We keep seeing more and more birds and are now pretty sure that this pair of ducks have been coming back for several years. I spotted them up the creek last week when I was discing and Annmarie saw them down by the house the other day. If I can get the shallow ponds dug this summer I may line a 8×12 foot section of bottom in the lowest spot with a pond liner. This should act as a very durable weed barrier and allow a small open spot of water to be visible in the spring in both ponds which will hopefully entice the ducks into nesting.

We looked at the spring head again yesterday and the watercress is starting to fill up the waterway again. I have to pull it out several times a year. I think that two domestic geese are our answer. I don’t want ducks as they are not tough enough. I think the geese will survive the predator attacks better. Unfortunately, I don’t want super mean geese that bum rush us whenever they see us. So far I have only found one pair that someone is willing to part with and they are super aggressive. I don’t want them chasing the sheep or cows. So maybe next year I raise my own.

We had not seen the quail in a few months and were afraid that they might have all gotten eaten. But yesterday Annmarie spotted them on the back hillside. Hopefully this year we get the quail back in droves. We only usually have one to two coveys on the place. This is why my mother-in-law doesn’t want the hunters to shoot quail. The pheasants are like weeds, no matter what we do they come back and are plentiful. Eventually, when I run out of tasks and hobbies I would like to contact the ODFW and try and get a remote setup to raise quail with minimal human interaction so they are wild and turn them loose on the property. I am going to start putting cow panels around the rose bushes in an attempt to create more habitat.

Annmarie spotted five barn owls on her 2 mile drive home yesterday. We have lots of hawks of different varieties but the owls are usually an occasional sighting phenomenon. We only see our great horned owl every few months now that it has moved down to the schoolhouse. There used to be a mated pair but we have not seen them together in years and I am not a birder, they all look alike to me.

We are also now seriously talking about a large subterranean greenhouse heated by passive solar energy. All these food scares and bacteria outbreaks really make you conscious of the food chain. The shorter the chain the better.

Now that the weather is changing the working dogs have started to get overheated. An hour out working the animals and they start wandering over to the creek to lay in it, drinking is secondary to immersing their bodies. Last year we shaved them and they did great all summer. They were much more comfortable and worked better for us. Sarah shaved them for us last week and they are getting used to it. Mouse thinks the process is humiliating and hides for a day or two afterwards. They both look kinda funny for about six weeks until they get a little hair back. It also makes it much easier for us to find ticks on them. This wet weather has caused the ticks to come out of hiding and we have found three already. Gizmo is taking his cues from the big dogs. I make them wait and sit before they can have food and he so wants to come eat but he keeps looking sideways at the other two and they are holding still so he waits.

We sent out a deposit on a new ram for out flock today! We figured that May was our six month mark and we should be safe to get a new ram. Yesterday during our walk around we spotted as brand new baby lamb born hours earlier, they just keep coming!! We are going to get a full blooded Katahdin ram this time. He has good genetics and the breeders are doing genetic culling and comparing them in a national database for growth and disease traits. Way more work than we want to do but so handy for us to look at when choosing a new ram. If this guy works out good for us we may keep him for several years and use that farm in the future. Here at Muttville Central we want happy healthy animals that are super self reliant. This is a harder task than you might imagine as the industry has bred self reliability out of a large portion of the breeds in an attempt to concentrate on size, growth rate or fat marbling. We are looking at disease resistance, ease of birthing, twins, growth rate, size and ease of handling for us these characteristics determine how many animals we can raise and how well they do.

This is why we have a mix of three main crosses, Katahdin, Barbados Blackbelly and Dorper. There are certain characteristics of each breed we like and we keep mixing in different rams and keeping the sheep that meet our above requirements. Its working well for us. We don’t vaccinate, we worm every 1-2 years as a precaution. We have never had any type of infection go through the herd that killed any animals. We had ORP, basically a oral herpetic type disease, go through a couple of times it came in on some sheep we purchased. That is it, no other problems in 8 years. We totally attribute this to our low bioload. The animals have so much pasture to roam on that they just don’t sit in one place and live. This also accounts for why our animals are such good grazers. We also allow the animals access to shelter year around and in the winter we lock them up in the barn every night. The barn gets dug out every year and fresh straw laid down throughout the winter. Now that we have upped our barn cat population I have not seen a single rodent in the barn!

Alone time

Now that the easy part was done and the field is burned off it needs to be disced. My little tractor can just pull a double set of four foot discs. It doesn’t like to do it and I have to use four wheel drive and if the ground is too wet I cannot get enough traction to pull the discs. The field was a little wet but I managed to get it done over the course of two days. I always have something else to do on the way to pull the discs. I stopped on Saturday and pushed the burn piles together with the tractor and got one end of the double downed trees burning again. I hope they burn up the entire tree but I am not holding my breath. All the extra limbs are now on fire so it should be pretty easy to work around. I then went and dug the front ditch out for another 25 feet in the upper prime pasture. If I don’t clean it out it starts to grow in and spread out. It was also eroding the ground behind the large blackberry bushes and I just about could not get the tractor past. I am using the dirt from the ditch to backfill a new passage by the blackberry bush. I looked at the upper prime squared pasture and it needs some more ditch work. My initial digging is helping but I need to extend it out and dig a new exit channel, but I had already messed around long enough so I hooked up the disc and started to drag it around the field. I also made a vow to pick up every single rock I found. I had an offer from a friend to bring in a big piece of equipment that would smooth out the entire ground. The trick is rocks are a killer on this machine so I vowed to pick them all up! I just tipped the front bucket upwards and every time I spotted a big rock I jumped off and threw it in the bucket. There were not very many rocks, I bet I got less than ten in the few hours I went in circles.

There were lots of voles and mice throughout the entire field. I almost regretted not bringing the dogs as they love killing them, but they eat every one and after 15 or so each they get some very smelly farts. So I left them in the yard, knowing that Zeke was off the run and hoping he would stay put. I kept spotting various wildlife but I never could get a picture! I chased up a vole and this hawk swooped down out of the sky, snatched it and landed on a nearby wooden fence post. I watched that bird for almost a minute before deciding it would stay put for a picture, as soon as I reached for my phone it flew away, vole clutched in its talon.

I spotted a four foot bull snake partially in a vole hole, again I stopped the mistress and watched for 30 seconds then reached for my camera. The picture above with no snake but various vole holes was taken 2 seconds after it disappeared down the left most hole.

I spotted various baby killdeer running around and had to stop once to let them get out of the way. I really wanted to get that ash layer down into the dirt before it rained so it could get absorbed into the soil and not washed or blown away.

I was circling around and suddenly a hawk jumped off the ground on the far end of the field. I looked over and spotted a nest with eggs! So I skirted around the nest and left a patch of grass and weeds for the hawk and its nest.

The amazing part of this is driving the tractor is a very good core workout. I hear the scoffing now but try to stay on the seat with the tractor bouncing around and trying to throw you off constantly. I finally put the seat belt on and tightened it up across my upper thighs but this does not stop you from keeping your stomach and back muscles tightened the entire time.

I disced the far side and was working down near the upper prime pasture end when another hawk jumped out of the grass and there was another nest with eggs! The amazing part of this is we burned the field on Friday but both nests were placed such that fire could not get to them but the birds could see predators coming. I finally ran out of fuel and had to drive back to the house.

I ended up getting more diesel then digging out the barn lot front creek by hand. I will keep digging a small patch at time until I get it cleared all the way up to the spring.

Sunday I did the same thing, as in I procrastinated in going right to the discing portion of the day. I stopped in the upper prime pasture, as there was no fire to play with and started working on my ditch network. I had tried to dig a small pond but there was too much water and it was forming another swamp. I needed to dig a channel connecting the side ditches with the main ditch. I did this then dug the side ditch down and extended it out into the field. I really need to dig out the center of this area as I have dug a horseshoe shaped ditch. I started digging the dirt out of the middle of the horseshoe with my box blade on the tractor but I only got about ten loads out before it got too muddy. Once the tractor tires fill up with mud and the ground turns muddy I cannot use the box blade. This is the seventh year on my original tractor tires. I am going to try and milk them along for another 2 years. It will be an expensive fix to replace all four tires, probably around $1500-2000.

I did manage to get the entire field disced except for the two hawk nesting areas and the upper end where the super wet low spot is located. I have circled the wet area on the picture below. It is probably almost an acre and it is still too wet to work with my light tractor. What I want to do is let it dry out a little more then get in there and drag it down about 18 inches and use that dirt to build up the entire surrounding area to keep it dryer and let a natural swamp occur. The real trouble is it always dries out in the summer which limits the type of plants we can plant. I would like to plant some type of native grass that can survive the wet time and the dry time. I want to place tall “pecker poles”, 2-3 inch wooden posts that are 8 feet tall. These will be easier to see when the alfalfa is planted, therefore allowing us to avoid the damp area with the haying equipment and tractor. I may even put up some bird nests for the red winged blackbirds. I would love to put up bluebird boxes but I have only ever seen one bluebird here, we are too low in elevation.

I started dragging the dirt out of the swamp area but the predicted rain turned into a deluge and I was loosing traction and body heat fast. I stopped long enough to hike up onto the rock bluff to take pictures. Zeke decided that he had enough confinement time and had dug his way under the yard fence and joined me. He did kill lots of vole and mice while he was busy getting covered in mud.

Every time I go up on the hillside and see the old rock wall I want to rebuild it. Since it has taken me multiple years to work on the one behind my house this will have to wait until I win the lottery or a parent needs a summer punishment for their child. The child must not be afraid of snakes and must be able to move 150# rocks. This probably limits my options way more than they were before which was slim to none before the lifting requirements were added.

Next week I attempt to get the yard mower running as I told Perm Boy that the fuel container was in the old wood shed. Turns out he found the only can of diesel not out in the machine shed. I had to drain the gas out today and managed to get the mower to start once and then it died. I put fresh fuel in it after emptying the tank. I also need to spray some weeds! Oh and the trim inside the house needs to be finished. I did no trim this weekend as the field took precedence. I will now be able to spray both fields and then they can sit idle until this fall. I suspect I will need to spray one more time this summer.