Water in the raw

Well the weather finally let me get into the upper fields. I drove the mistress up the road, stopped and talked to one of our neighbors on the way then made my way up to the far end of the property. I was able to get into the upper wheat field and drive along the bottom pasture. We do own a four wheel drive pickup but the problem with it is its heavy and it sinks down into the mud. The mistress has four wheel drive and is very light, she also has a bucket that can be used to drag or push you out of any place you get stuck. I have learned how to use the bucket to rescue myself. This does not work if you actually get stuck in a deep hole. You need a second vehicle at that point. I have only needed a second vehicle four times to extricate the mistress out of tight jams. The ground is truly soaked at this point. It is starting to give up water and is now running down the center of the field. I was hoping to get a single large pond that held the water but it does not look like that is going to happen. I also did not dig a channel down the middle of the field like I did in the lower field. It looks like the water is working on creating its own channel. When it dries out this summer I am going to have to deepen the channel that is made by the runoff. This will allow me to install a culvert so I can cross the ditch with the tractor and implements. I don’t want to bother with installing any buried tile network to drain off the moisture. My goal is to get the grass established and get a nice double cutting from the subterranean water soaked ground. If I have to give up some land due to too much moisture then so be it. Unfortunately, the ground is so sloped that there is no pond or reservoir like effect occurring. I am not so sure the ducks will like a mud pit. This is the bottom half of the upper pasture. I still need names for the two fields in the middle. Currently I have the Upper Prime Pasture which is the 4 acres just past the barn lot, two unnamed grass hay fields and the upper field which will forever be called the “7 acres”. I will have to consult the wife as to what the names should be. You can see that the lower channel has a tendency to widen and splits near the fence. The best part of this is that the elk have not gotten into the field and rooted up the grass seedlings!

Here is the lower of the two fields. This field has a channel dug into the center of it from five years ago. The water seems to be going directly to that channel. I would really like it to go to the already dug old original channel at the middle left of the screen. That is the original ditch from the 30s. I think I could easily direct it that way as you can see a low spot is already there. I would just need to encourage that water to make the jump to the front ditch instead of creating its own. This is the lower pasture. Last year I created a series of small connecting channels and they are working. This entire area in the picture used to be a mud fest area. I don’t dare go out in either field for at least two more months. The deer are living in the bottoms with the elk living on the hillside and up on top in the CRP. This is a good thing and I have high hopes for our grass hay crop this year.

We are going to work on our taxes this weekend. I need to do the farm categories and the chicken spreadsheets. Once that is done we are going to work on our loan application for the hay equipment.

Is it really winter?

It is turning out to be a very weird winter. It was in the mid 40’s yesterday and it is the middle of January. We have only had snow on the ground once all winter. Our new weather station says we are getting lots of rain. We are pretty sure something is wrong with the rain gauge as it says we have gotten 4 inches of rain since we installed it. I tried to find an official source of rain on the internet and I found a lot of weather history but could not find anything current. Internet search engines are not always my friends. It is so warm I am secretly plotting my spring projects already. Annmarie is not so secretly planning my spring projects also. We had a conversation this morning where she lined out my summer projects:

1. Plant front hillside

2. Install above ground sprinkler system on front hillside

3. Install above ground sprinkler system in orchard using 3-300 foot long 1″ poly pipe sections with valves, moving small water pump to ditch and figuring out how to wire in a 110 plug and switch into the main irrigation control panel. Without electrocuting myself in the process hopefully.

4. This will also require me to pour some concrete to reinforce the bank and stop the leak currently running through the center of the retaining wall.

5. Redo the last section of yard fence. This should prevent Gizmo from sneaking out of the yard.

6. OHH and finish assembling the back porch wooden furniture and stain it or option 2 was to “burn it” as this will be the third year its been on my list. I should make this #1 but the other stuff can be done in marginal weather and this needs to be perfect.

Plus I need to plant 7 acres of Alfalfa, find or purchase a small seeder, hay 20 acres and fix barns so they will take the round bales without pushing the siding off the outside walls. Create a system of 4 foot racks on each end of my flatbed trailer that will stop the bales from rolling off. I need to weld a few hooks on my trailer for that to work. Which means I need a welder. I still need to purchase the hay equipment and get the financing worked out. I want to fix some fence and spend one week doing fencing on the bottom. It’s going to be a busy spring and summer. Yesterday I went out to the barn and played catch up again. I try to hit it hard on my first day off so I can plan out the next two days. I went out and fed the sheep, cleaned out the feeders. They are full of dirt that was in the hay and had to be dumped out. I threw down a bale of straw as the chute was very messy. It has been very wet so the sheep are making a mess. The straw helps create a clean layer and compacts down so it is not so muddy. We had twins born on Thursday and there was another set when I went out Friday morning. Both times the babies had just been born so we lock them up with momma and then give them selenium paste and move them into the main herd in the evening. This leaves eight ewes left to give birth. At this rate we are hoping to be done by the end of January, which would make our lambing season 38 days, or two estrus cycles for the ewes. We could get a second ram and maybe shorten it to 24 days but then we have to feed two freeloaders instead of one and its harder to control the genetics. So we are going to just stay under 50 ewes and keep one ram. I had to feed the cows also, and I finally spotted the second calf. We now have two calves to tag and band but one is pretty big. This is going to be a problem. I already have to have a nephew help as even the little ones at a month are more than I can hold down and work on alone. We have been talking about a calf tipping table but new they are $1300-1500. Nothing related to livestock is cheap. So I have been putting it off as the hay equipment takes priority. I used the last of the large hay bales and will now need to break out the trailer and attach it to the tractor. I will have to load the 100# bales of alfalfa into the trailer, drive down and break them open into the feeders for the cows at least twice a week. I only had to feed once a week with the large bales. I will only have small bales when we do our own hay.

Our ram is off in the bull/ram corral and we discovered that the horse trough is too high for the sheep. We have just been scooping out a bucket or two and breaking the ice when needed. It was so warm I managed to turn on the hose and fill the entire trough. This will be enough water for the rest of winter for the four sheep that are in this enclosure. So nice not to have to bucket it from the creek. I may need to install a gate down near the creek so we can have easy access. Now you have to go all the way around to get to the creek to bucket out water.

Since I used the last of the large hay bales I was able to take the last two panels of the horse round pen and install them into the round enclosure in the barn lot. I just need to get a premade corral gate and Annmarie will finally have a dedicated circle pen for the horses after many years.

I also spread out one of the compost piles from the barn. It was nice and rounded and tall. Moisture is only getting into the top six inches. I moved all the dirt to the right side and knocked the whole pile down to 3 feet tall and very rough on top so the maximum amount of water gets absorbed and none runs off the top of the pile. I want it to turn into dirt.

After the morning chores I went inside and groomed Gizmo. He does not appreciate being plucked. I was able to get the Mohawk hair do back to its dazzling do. He no longer smells like mud and sheep.

I went to the local custom wood cutter to pick up my lumber I had picked up at auction this fall for the boosters club. While I was there it dawned on me I had not been to the metal scrap yard across the street in quite a while. I used to go every few months. So i pulled in and spent 30 minutes wandering all over the place. They have a bunch of galvanized culvert (I don’t currently need but may in the future), I found some small cable I can use, they have some T posts, a single roll of woven wire and a calf table! The table is exactly what we have been looking for and it was right there! I went in and negotiated an amazing price and arranged to pick it up next week and left. Three hours later I came back for the table. You just never know if it will still be there next week and I could not pass it up. It needs some wire brush and paint but other than that I think it is good to go! All in all it was a very productive day. Today it is already raining and miserable outside. Annmarie did morning chores and there are no new babies. So I am doing my laundry (no under wear left). I had this discussion with Annmarie this morning there are only four reasons to do laundry

1. No clean socks.

2. No clean underwear.

3. No clean work uniforms.

4. No clean dress clothes.

She knows that running out of laundry hamper space is no deterrent due to my mad stacking/piling skills and strategic leaning techniques.

Adventures in Plumbing

This is from my Live Journal posting dated 12-10-09:

Some things are very predictable in life. The sun will rise each day. The seasons turn. And the water in the hoses will freeze up here in December. Unless, of course, you’re my husband. Then, hope springs eternal in your life that you can continue to use the self-filling waterer (whose supply hose is stretched across the yard) all through the year. As usual, that hope has been dashed. Yes, the water in the waterer as well as the supply hose are frozen solid. That’s should not be surprising given our recent temperatures, but yet Steve still seemed to be not only shocked, but insulted that such a thing would happen to him.

This if from the same Live Journal dated the next day:
Remember the frozen water? Well, it turns out that galvanized metal is not a match for expanding ice. I had hoped that since there was an open path, we would have escaped the pipe-breaking portion of the program. But, today when it warmed up enough, Sarah discovered a nice little fountain spurting from the side of the stand-pipe on the frost-free spigot. The good news is that her logic circuits have developed to the point where she turned the spigot off before she came to get us. The other good news is that since it is a frost-free spigot, the valve at the base of the stand-pipe is intact and is sufficient as a shut-off until spring. The bad news is that Steve gets to replace the spigot this spring after ground thaws. While he’s at it, he’s going to put water directly to the chicken yard to we won’t have to string hoses across the ground all year long. Aaaah, the wonders of farm life. And yes, this entry is to document this occurrence for future reference. I’ll need it next winter.

The photo is of Steve standing in the almost-hip deep hole that he had to dig in order to get to the supply line so he could replace the frost-free water spigots that are a necessity in this part of the world. If you look carefully at where he is pointing, you’ll see the split in the pipe. He replaced two of these and a shut-off on another spigot that day. Of course, it was raining. But we now need the water supply to the coop, so sacrifices had to be made. Wonder of wonders, everything worked the first time. Only one extra trip to the hardware store was required, ’cause the first store gave Steve the wrong size adapter. That is actually very impressive. Plumbing is not usually that successful around here.

Hopefully this will not be a recurring theme.