Tree killers

There is supposed to be another winter storm coming in the next 24-36 hours. The temperature is supposed to drop to 10F and we are supposed to get 8-18” of snow in the mountains which will again cut off all traffic through the area. So I spent the last two days doing projects as the weather is going to limit my choices again. I got the fuel pump all assembled and working! I just need to pump out the five gallons of diesel and treatment I dumped into each side of the tank then I can get signed up for diesel fuel to be delivered on a quarterly basis. It will be nice to not have to go and fill up five gallon cans every week during the summer. I used some more gravel to widen the driveway. I want to eventually use up all of the gravel so I can move the entire pile to behind the grain bins. Yes, I did go with a hand fuel pump, we don’t use so much that hand pumping 5-8 gallons really is not onerous.

Mr Professional came out today and we worked on cutting down the maple tree in the backyard. The tree is shedding leaves everywhere, shading our garden, and once we cut it down it was rotten to the core! It had a 8” patch in the middle of the tree that was dry rot. I was saving the trunk to get it cut for lumber but once we found the rot in the middle of the tree it was only good enough to throw on the burn pile. We removed about 60% of the upper branches and then tossed the rest over the fence so I could retrieve them and use them to build up our ”burn pile/quail cover”. The quail love the pile of wood so we are hoping that by building it back up they will choose to stay longer or even roost in it overnight.

We leveled off the area with the tractors, unfortunately the temporary fence that is no longer dog proof had to be torn down. So now Mouse will be able to freely just run back and wolf down all the cat food without anything slowing him down. I will be buying some fencing materials so we can fix this fence in a couple of weeks after the weather warms up again. Of course the faucet back there is leaking and will need to be repaired in the spring. The spring projects are starting to pile up! I am taking some time off work next month to come home and relax. I will be spending that relaxing time stripping and staining doors. Annmarie would like an upstairs bathroom door. Currently there is no door whatsoever.

On my way back to the machine shed I encountered one of our sheep having a seizure or had just gotten hit in the head. I watched it for a couple of minutes but it seemed to be coming out of it. By the time we had the animals fed and let them all into the barn he was inside wandering around the barn. So he was able to walk over with the rest of the herd all on his own. I will be checking on him in the morning. All 100 quail were in the driveway when I came home. They just cannot decide were to run and hide. It is a hoot to watch!

I am still messing around with the night time picture taking.

Catching up mothers

Well it was a long weekend, the weather was too nice for January, we set a record high temperature. I had Mr Professional and Mr Tex over for Friday and Saturday. The time was spent getting yards cleaned up and trees trimmed at both my Mother’s house and Mother-in-law’s house. We spent a day at each to get the trees and bushes trimmed and all of the clippings picked up and removed. I am definitely feeling my age. I crawled up into a tree and used a chain saw to cut branches out. I had to work at getting around inside the tree and was very glad the chainsaw was electric. The chain saw was so great I am going to go buy myself one with a 16” bar. It was super quiet and incredibly lightweight. Just fill bar oil and change out the battery! We ended up burning the slash pile two days in a row, there was so much material on it. At my mother-in-laws we cleaned off the hillside and removed blue spruce needles, leaves, wild roses, blackberries and branches. She had multiple plants with thorns and I was working up a sweat so I took off my warm hat. I have around eight cuts/scratches on my head from various branches and multiple scratches on both arms. Those thorny bushes make you pay for moving them.

On Sunday I didn’t want to really do anything, but things have to get done. So we moved a culvert up to field 4b and set a bigger one up into field 3. It is almost too wet to work with the tractors. The little John Deere kept trying to get stuck. It just does not have enough mass to get around when the ground is wet. Mr Professional keeps wanting to get tractor tire chains. I won’t do it. Chains would merely allow myself to get really stuck! We have a little time and will try and back fill around the culverts as the weather permits.

I do morning chores on the weekends and Annmarie does it the rest of the week. I do the evening chores and if I have to feed the cows it takes me an hour after work to get everything done. The morning chores consist of feeding horse, cats, four boy sheep and letting everyone out of the barn, ten minutes tops. The real problem here is if there are new babies then you have to catch them and get them and their mothers in a jug (crèche). That can take over an hour or be even more painful. The evening chores are just guaranteed to be long. I like the predictability of evening chores. So in a nutshell, the morning chores are like playing the lottery, you are a winner occasionally but most of the time its a losing proposition.

We got lucky and were able to be the recipient of ten 10 month old chickens. We picked them up yesterday. I put a large dog kennel in the back of the pickup and had a tarp and some straps I could wrap around it to keep the wind off of the birds. The problem is it was cold and we had about a 50 minute drive to get home. While we were eating dinner in our vehicle I felt pity and managed to jam the large kennel into the back seat by moving the front seats up as far as they would go. This is not the most comfortable configuration but it does allow the chickens to stay warm. Annmarie met me in Pendleton and arrived with gloves and a Pendleton woolen blanket. The pickup has a few foibles. I call them character traits. There is a large crack in the windshield, the vehicle has not been washed for at least two years, the ABS (antilocking brake system) is armed all of the time now so the brakes are a little touchy, the heat/air conditioner don’t really work, the headliner is held in place with gorilla tape and headliner tacks, the aftermarket seat covers are constantly trying to come off, there seems to be an intermittent short and the turn signal/brake light fuse has been replaced twice in the last two weeks, but they do work. The passenger door panel is loose and not attached to the door frame. The passenger window can only be rolled up/down on the passenger side door switches and there are no keys for the doors so it can never be locked. This door problem can be overcome with smooth fencing wire and time, but its annoying so I now just leave the rear window slider latch open all of the time for emergencies. Basically, it is a farm vehicle! The chickens survived the trip just fine and today when I went out to collect eggs I was able to count all ten of the new chickens! It was nice moving the chickens in the dark.

Orchard Work

On Friday I had Mr Professional out, he and I went over to the Metal fabricators and picked up my five heavy duty 12 foot welded gates. The bull will not be able to tear these up at all, no matter how much he tries. We got them all loaded up on the trailer and unloaded into the machine shed. I need to spray paint them before I hang them up. I will be doing that very soon. Annmarie and I had already talked about fruit trees as they had just come into our local feed store last week. I like to plant them about 45 days from now but by the time I am ready to plant the selections left at the store are pretty slim and I don’t get all the kinds I want. So we bit the bullet and just went into town and bought some fruit trees. The plan was to buy six trees, we ended up with eight trees, Mt Royal Plum, Honey Crisp Apple, Tilson Apricot, Royal Gala Apple, Golden Spice Pear, Summercrisp Pear, Rainier Cherry and Black Tartan Cherry. Mr Professional and I went around the orchard and dropped off all the trees where we wanted them to be planted.

We removed the top half of the cages around the old trees and I started to trim all of the fruit trees from the ground. Mr Professional took the tractor and changed out the box blade for the post hole auger. We drilled out 9 holes as Annmarie wanted me to go to her grandmother’s old house and try and salvage a Italian plum tree. Once the holes were drilled we used the tractor as a more efficient ladder so that I could trim the upper branches on the trees. This is far easier than dragging a ladder around. I had not really shaped the trees in the last three years and spent a lot of time choosing branches and thinning the middle out of the trees. I am going to have to start spraying for bugs next year to keep the fruit bug free. The hardest part about this is you have to spray every two weeks during the summer.