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.

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.

I wish it was yesterday

It rained all night Saturday night. We could hear the back creek roaring while we were in bed. There was a small discussion on whether Tex would show up after it rained all night, but he had my number and had not called so we figured he was going to come regardless. He did show up but I had already decided that we were not going to work out in the mud. I considered working on the inside of the barn and putting up the wooden runners on the barn walls for our new round hay bales but I need the 2×6 boards to finish the outside fencing. In the end I figured he could wash the walls one last time in the spare room and we would hang the new closet kit in the spare room and put all the furniture back in the room. I set him up with water and rags and went outside to feed the animals. I can use my coveralls and stay clean while feeding.

I did notice that the back creek was very high. After feeding the sheep I was driving the tractor toward the cows when I noticed the orchard flooding.

I called Annmarie and asked her to send Tex outside. I wanted him to bring the pickup down into the orchard. I thought the issue was the culvert that is too high. My plan was to rip out the culvert and let the water run down the ditch. The problem with this plan was once I drove off the side of the ditch I was going to get the tractor stuck. So I dove off the edge, and Tex would hook onto the tractor box blade with the pickup and pull me out. Tex did not pay attention to how much mud he was getting on himself in his zeal to be helpful. I secretly think he thought if he was dirty enough I would not let him back in the house to wash walls.

Once we got the culvert out the water level started to drop. I then noticed a few high spots in the ditch. So we started digging them out. I would dive off the edge, get a scoop of mud and he would pull me out with the pickup. We had done this about 12 times when I noticed that the water level kept rising!

It finally dawned on me that the reason the water level was rising was that more water was in the front channel. I told Tex to gas up the tractor and I would go grab some hand tools. I snagged a metal dirt rake, two shovels, and two double bladed axes. As I came out of the woodshed I could see the front spring getting higher. I told Tex to leave the tractor as we would probably just get it stuck in the mud. We needed to hoof it quickly up the creek and find the blockage. As we started up the creek there was water in the lower field, way more than there was supposed to be. It just got worse the farther up we got.

The upper two planted grass fields looked like lakes not fields! It took me two weeks to plant those fields and I was afraid Mother Nature was going to ruin them in a matter of hours. I figured the problem was up in the seven acre field. There are Sumac bushes growing alongside the creek the entire length of the field. I have been ignoring them since we moved back 12 years ago. Two years before that my Father-in-law had to hire someone to come dig the blockages out of the creek during a storm and that person got their backhoe stuck then got their CAT stuck and spent 3 days fighting mud to get their vehicles unstuck.

The water was pouring over the dike wall into the field causing many problems. The main problem was we could not just go to the problem area. This section of creek has a concrete weir poured into the banks and its the narrowest spot. I was sure the water was damned up behind it. I was right. We climbed it onto the flotsam and started to pull branches and thistles out of it and toss them onto the bank. The water is definitely runoff from the snowmelt as it was very cold. We cleared the first jam and moved up the creek.

It looked pretty good when we finished.

The trouble we found as we moved up the creek was that there were more live trees in the actual creek bed and the fence had gotten involved in the act. I forgot to grab a se told fence pliers. It never even occurred to me that the fence would be an issue for us. This is the actual creek below, it started to get this massive pile of small debris that was forming this incredibly dense fibrous mat. At one point I cut the fence with an axe. Tex lost one of the axes into the creek. If someone finds an axe between here and Pendleton its mine!

Tex just hung in there and we kept at it until we had most of the water contained back in the stream bed. We went 6 hours with no food, no water and working nonstop. Tex just kept working without any complaints. He managed to not fall into the creek and I accidentally stepped off the edge, it was hidden under running water and dropped four feet into the ice cold water, luckily Tex was right there and was able to pull me out. I am not sure I could have crawled back out on my own.

We found a dead deer with its leg stuck in the fence and a cow elk dead alongside the road. You really don’t want to dig around in the deep weeds, you never know what will turn up. The entire fence alongside that stream for 1/4 mile will need to be moved and redone.

On the way back to the house the fields were already starting to look better. I need to dig some deeper ditches. We had to dig out the ditch in the upper prime field.

I was utterly exhausted and soaking wet. It’s hard to be cold when you are doing that much manual labor. Just as we got into the barn lot you could see that one fence was pushed over. I tried to clear branches from the culvert at the creek crossing and ended up falling on my back in the silt mud. I got the branches but I was ready to get home. Tex’s extra railroad tie next to the bridge had floated away. He will have to pt it back. Most of the creek crossings are filled with debris and will need to be cleaned out but at this time food and sleep are the most important things on my mind. I stripped on the back porch and got money to pay Tex. I told him there was a hazard pay bonus and sent him on his way. I washed my hands, ate a sandwich, took a shower, took medications and I was in bed by 1600. Annmarie woke me up at 1815, made me eat more dinner, drink more water and then I went back to bed with a large glass of water to drink through the night. I have not been that tired in a long time.

We got lucky

The aftermath of the flooding on Sunday was not too bad actually. I will need to set the culvert in the orchard I removed back but I want to wait till it gets a little drier.

The upper barn lot is going to need some definite work. I need to fix the fence for sure and I will have to follow Annmarie’s suggestion and put a railroad tie on either side of the dip and pull the fence straight across the gap. I have 20 feet of culvert, in two sections, that I can place across this spot. I will need to dig it down as the culvert is 24 inches I think. I am going to get the barn lot fence fixed first before I move on to any more projects. I want to get the flower seeds into the ground. Annmarie walked up the pasture and took this picture of the Upper Prime Field. It actually doesn’t look bad. Hard to believe almost the entire thing was under water for a few hours.

The last casualty on the list was the culvert on the front ditch down by the apple tree. It got plugged and flowed over the banks for 36 hours. I was just too exhausted by the end of Sunday. I removed the blockage on Monday evening and it is doing fine now. I may have to move a little dirt around to make up for the washed out banks.

I was productive during the week. I managed to get the last of the closet shelves hung in the spare bedroom. Now we just need to move all the furniture into the spare room so you can actually walk down the hallway without brushing furniture or a wall.

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!