Is it Spring or not?

I had plans to finish the bathroom over the weekend, that did not happen. I was reminded that we needed to sort the cows and sheep so we could get the ram in with the ewes and the small bull away from his mother as he is now 7 months old. To do this effectively we had talked about installing a gate in the yard fence so we could push the cows from the orchard pasture into the corral across the front yard hillside. So Mr Professional and I spent about 5 hours and got the side gate installed, we had to level the area, dig down and then clean up around the garbage shack. We leveled the whole area with gravel. My hope is the dogs won’t try and dig down. If they do then we will bury concrete blocks to prevent it but we are not going to go to the effort unless the dogs dig.

Once that was done we sorted the sheep. We peeled off 13 lambs that were older than 3 months and our oldest ewe “old brown” to move over into the orchard pasture. This way the ram won’t impregnate any of the young ewes and the ewes will put on weight faster as they are not nursing big lambs. The fat ram followed a bucket of sweet feed from the bull enclosure into the barn. He is such a push over for food. He has been in with the sheep for four days and we have yet to see him mount any thing. He better get to work soon, we will give him another three weeks. Luckily, we already had plans to go down and get another ram for competition. It may be that we are getting his replacement, time will tell.

I had to work that night so Mr Professional came out with a chainsaw and started to cut down all of the volunteer trees that were growing in the orchard pasture. We had talked about it and after he was done it sure made the area look a lot nicer. We are probably going to keep it this way for a while. He cleaned up the whole area also. When I got up we hung the new gate, he had just painted that day, down by the old apple tree. This is one of the heavy duty custom welded gates that the bull cannot tear apart. Once we had it up we did a little touch up painting and added a few boards to fill in the gap and drilled a locking receptacle hole. The gate fits like it was made for the opening. We took the bent one and drove over it with the tractor to straighten it out then installed it in the alleyway in the orchard pasture. We just need to pound In a T-post and add a panel onto the end. This will keep the animals from darting down this narrow pathway and getting stuck. Most of the time it will be open and doing nothing. The gate was not going to be used in a high traffic area due to being too lightweight to contain the bull.

We did not move the cows. I was beat, the covid is dragging me down again and starting to cause chest pain and shortness of breath. The cardiologist says I have pericarditis and need to take high dose NSAIDS for three months. I will see how I feel in four months.

Farm Work was happening

I started out the Sunday by tagging and banding the last two little lambs we had in the barn, a little boy and girl. I then mixed all the sheep together so we don’t have to manage two separate herds. I came in and started working on the bathroom shelves and while outside cutting lumber heard some squawking. I looked around the edge of the house and there was our pretty rooster in the front yard desperately trying to get through the metal fence to get away from the dogs. Unfortunately for him, he is too big to fit between the gaps. I was able to call the Border Collies off but our little ankle biter Brussels Griffin, Gizmo, did not want to leave the chicken and had to be hollered at. I tried to open the gate but that just confused the chicken and ended up just having to reach down and grab him and toss him over the fence. He got lucky and only lost about 30 feathers. I have no idea what he was doing in the yard, the chickens know it is not safe.

I went out to pickup the carcasses and once I got into the barn lot I decided I had better do a couple of things before just getting the carcasses. Annmarie and I had noticed the culvert that did not get repaired was undercutting the bank and drive over path. She was afraid if the horses got out they would try and cross this and fall through potentially braking a leg. So I dug out the old culvert, it took a few tries to get it above ground. I finally had to go clear all the dirt off of the culvert before I could lift it out of the water. I moved that culvert over to the other culvert and will work on getting it set so it takes the water coming out of the crossing and allows it to run down through the culvert and not eat out the bank edges. I will mess with that after the water level goes down some or I won’t mind getting wet.

While I was messing with the culvert I spotted something in the back runoff creek. I wasn’t sure what it was but it looked like an animal carcass. My only thought was I hope it isn’t and if it is then please don’t let it be so decomposed that I cannot just drag it out of the water. I was able to just slide a chain around its neck and pull it out of the water. It had been dead for a few days only so it was still intact mostly. I took it up to the boneyard and then came back for the stillborn lambs, dead lamb and dead alpaca. It smelled bad but managed to stay in one piece while moving it with the tractor. I was eternally grateful that the carcass only smelled a little bit.

While I was dropping off the carcasses I noticed water running in an ancient ditch that has never been there before since we moved back in 2007. I will need to dig out the ditch again and make it a little deeper and give it some consistent shape. I will just have to add it to my list for the year. I am starting to feel better after my run in with Covid19. It has been eight weeks and this was the first weekend I did not notice any chest pain. My hope is that my aerobic ability will improve quickly now.

I need a break

Annmarie spotted another random newborn lamb yesterday evening. This morning Tex and I went out into the ram pasture and Tex snagged the newborn. I could of done it but it ran to his side of the field! We took it to the barn so I could tag and band it. I even remembered to enter it into the Airtable spreadsheet so we could track it.

Afterwards we went to install the culvert in the orchard. We had to dig out the bottom of the channel by hand and had to put it in a couple of times to fit test it prior to back filling it in. I was able to use the old dirt and then drag down the edges. We even rocked in the inlet side of the culvert. I can now get the tractor over to the other side of the ditch.

We were able to move the pipe trailer out of the field and snagged all the loose pipe laying about. We moved the pipe trailer out of the fields over near the wheat field then proceeded to clean up the scrap metal piles. We tossed the metal over the fence so the scrap metal guy can pick it up on his next visit.

I had to go to town to get more diesel for the tractor. We were running on fumes. I had Tex go use the chainsaw on the downed trees at the spring head. I also wanted him to trim the tree touching the old chicken coop. After lunch, we took the now filled tractor over to drag out the downed trees. Between the chain saw and the tractor we got all the dead massive limbs piled up into a large burn pile. Hopefully, next week we can light it on fire. Annmarie ran the horses in the round pen yesterday but I had put it on the soft dirt. The horses tore it up something fierce. So I will need to move it next week. We have plenty of spots for it.

After she got back from church we went out to work on the front hillside and started to set up the water system so we can start growing clover. We were able to reuse some of the aluminum uprights from the main sprinkler system, along with the valves and sprinkler heads. We keep trying to reuse as much stuff as we can. I also got a large piece of Elm for the anvil. I will need to make some custom holders for it. My plan is to get it attached and then use it whenever I need to beat something into submission. I realized that the only thing I don’t really have yet is a portable grinder. So after I get that I will dress up the anvil.

I had Tex fill in gravel in the ditch behind the machine shop. I will need to finish it off this week. The rest of our hay equipment should arrive this week. We will be able to store it in the machine shed now! We did park the tractor in the shop tonight. It is an amazing thing.

I am done! I am so tired that I started losing my grip while working on the sprinkler system. I will be taking it easy next week. I am thinking about working on the bathroom upstairs. More thought than muscle.

Gonna be buying more hay in the fall

Annmarie and I took a walk up the pastures yesterday to see how they were doing. The middle prime pasture looks great. It does have some thistles and weeds but the grass is very thick. I am going to have to spray it first. Today I started spraying that pasture. The upper middle pasture is mostly broadleaf weeds. I will be doing it after this one. This means most evenings I will be sitting on the tractor. The grass is almost 18 inches high already. I sent an email to the company that we bought our hay equipment from and asked when it was going to be shipped to us.

Tex and I finished the fence over by the lamb shed. It is all secure, more wooden posts and T-posts to stiffen the fence and two more strands of barb wire. We even cut the metal panel out of the way so the gate will now swing either direction. This took most of the morning. I had to patch the fence in three areas once we got it strung up. There is a downside to reusing old fence.

We went ahead and just cut the leaning fence apart and will work on getting it redone. The water had dammed up behind woven wire. All the sticks and brush made a very nice blockage and the water spread out and got deep. Since Tex was going to fix the fence while I sprayed after lunch I brought over all the supplies he would need and we even dropped the culvert into the ditch.

We had tamales again for lunch! They are very good. I am unsure what to make for lunch tomorrow. I got out some ham for breakfast but lunch is still up in the air. I am thinking chili and Hill’s all beef wieners. I like to brown the hot dogs while the chili is cooking then mix them both together, toss cheese and onions on top and eat! It is very good.

While I went up and put 50 gallons of spray on the field Tex got the fence back together. We piled up rocks at the entrance and exit of the culvert and I will keep adding dirt to it until we have a nice level crossing. I opted to not have both culverts placed here as I will need the other one some where else on the farm.

The panel is clipped into place with little aluminum clips that the water can bend if there is too much pressure on the panel. I still need to do a little work on the waterway as I would like to add some small rocks into the channel to help cut down the erosion. We need to rehang the gate also as the H brace did get pushed upright but Tex didn’t add enough gravel and tightening the fence caused them to be a little crooked. We will move the gate around to the opposite sided H brace so hopefully we can get the gate working again.

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.