Is it Winter yet?

Yesterday Tex came out and we did the cleanup and winterization stuff. There are still three hoses that need to be rolled up and put in the shed but the rest of the stuff is done. Tex got leaves washed off the low roof as they hold the moisture and can cause leaks. We got the front hillside planted with clover! I will be happy if only 50% of the seed takes off, anything to choke out the cheatgrass that is currently growing there. We had a talk and Tex agreed to help me with the lower fence.

I put gravel in the Alcatraz area so the butcher cows don’t make a mess down by the spring. We will see how it works in a few weeks when they get put in there for the all you can eat buffet of alfalfa.

This is the fence that I got the grant to install. I had been holding off on it but he may leave in January and not come back. I just needed to know that if we started this project he would see it through. He has been a little flakey. He agreed and got my point so Annmarie and I went to town and bought everything we needed for the first section of fence, $2000! This would be why I normally go to the junkyard and buy all my stuff used and beat up.

As soon as I took the tractor down to start drilling holes the cows came running. They thought I was going to feed them. They do not need food, I have confirmed this by putting out a protein block that they are half heartedly occasionally licking on. They are content to go around and eat the grass that is still growing. Once they realized I had nothing for them they wandered off.

I started to drill holes but was getting no where. I decided to look at the teeth on the auger and realized that the outer tooth was almost gone! I swapped the inner and outer teeth hoping that it would work better. It did! Before the day was over I had one long tooth on the outside and on the opposite side I put the long tooth in the inner spot and then flipped my short piece upside down so it would be point out. This worked the best but I also realized that my inner cone is almost worn down to a smooth piece of metal also. I definitely need to do some repair on the auger but for now I just have to use it! Who would guess that after six years I would wear the teeth off of it! Tex laid out and marked all the T post locations and started to clean out the holes I managed to get drilled. I have six holes to finish up tomorrow.

I was unpacking the trailer and a few railroad ties had shifted. I went to loosen the strap and ended up getting swatted to the ground by the gates crashing into me with a few hundred pounds of railroad ties on top of them. It rung my bell but I didn’t black out. I have to say that shifting loads have smacked me around twice and they are not any fun.

I will get the parts for the auger repair this week and my pump upgrade for the sprayer is in the mail. When it comes we will get it installed and the get the sprayer strapped down and ready to go. I want it all prepped and ready to go in the spring. We can feed using the tractor instead of the side by side. I may have to start the thing every couple of months just so it doesn’t forget how to do it.

Vacation day 3

My staycation is not exactly going as planned. I had Tex on the agenda for three days in a row. He stood me up. His solution to not coming is to just ignore my text message. The nice part is he is self limiting on our checkbook and he works hard when he comes and we like having him, no one is perfect. There was so much rain that we were not going to get anything done outside. I hooked the tractor mower up and attempted to mow the next field (4 acres) then the upper prime pasture (7 acres) so I can use the power harrow/seeder on them. I had my rubber boots on, a pair of rubber bib overalls, a wool vest, and an old “waterproof” biking jacket and an oilskin cap. The biking jacket is NOT waterproof and the oilskin cap needs more oil. The rest of me stayed dry. So I will be looking online for a cheap waterproof jacket. I have been buying seconds and clearance from Sierra, I don’t get a color selection and my choices are limited but for 50-75% off of normal prices I can live with the inconvenience. I am only going to tear it up on the farm eventually. It may last 2-3 years if I am lucky.

I have decided that I need a speed knob for the steering wheel on the tractor. Going around in circles for hours on end it is a must accessory. I will try and pick one up in the next few days. My hands also got cold in the rain so I may try for some waterproof gloves also. There were a couple of acres of grass that look great! My hope is that by next year it all looks like this. We have had enough rain that the front upper spring is running almost the full length again. The upper prime pasture was starting to get some soft patches again. So I took the time to dig out one of the ditches where the surrounding ground was getting soft. I want the water to flow down into the middle channel and away from the field. When it dries out a little more I will spread out the dirt here and keep working on building this ground level up another 8 inches. If I got it elevated that much I don’t think this would be near the problem. It was so. Wet I could not dig the ditch any deeper, as there was no traction to push down into the dirt.

I have about 10 acres ready to be planted. I have another 15 acres that needs burned but it is just too wet to do any burning. Just tooling along I was not sinking into the ground but the minute you start to churn it up it is very muddy. There are approximately 80 sheep in this picture. I am always amazed at how empty the picture looks when we take the whole herd. “Oh yeah how are your 25 sheep?” “Well it’s really 80” and they are doing just fine.

I got so cold that I had to go inside and get in the shower to warm up in the early afternoon. I drove over to Hermiston to pickup our pig. We traded two sheep for a pig We pay for kill, cure, cut and wrap. Its a good deal for both parties. I also went to Home Depot to get some caps for the new fence but they did not have the kind I wanted to I ended up with a different kind. I will be installing them temporarily so we can see what they look like.

Machine shed needs to be functional

I decided it was time to get the crates unpacked and gets the machine shed organized this weekend, that goal was a a bigger bite than I was able to swallow in one weekend. I ran into several problems that I did not anticipate.

The hay equipment did not unpack nicely. We got the supports removed from the pallets and all of the loose stuff out And put away but I could not figure out how to get the support arms onto the baler correctly and I could not tell about a safety bar on the mower that looked like I would bend it if I picked it up. We kept looking at it and speculating then finally I announced that I would have to actually look at the operating manual and see if I could find a video online. The Italians are not making intuitive farm equipment.

We worked on getting the bolt organizers up onto the wall. I then spent three hours sorting bolts by diameter, nut, washer and lock washer. I also ended up sorting one column all into carriage bolts by diameter also. I got every bolt I owned onto that wall. I am thinking about getting a small organizer with 16 drawers to put all the metric bolts for the hay equipment in, this way I can keep them separated.

I am using the old metal cabinet for tractor and hay equipment parts. I will also be using the metal red and white cabinets. I need to install a shelf under the bolt organizer so I can put the extra PTO shafts on it. I also have an extra cutting bar blade preassembled. After reading the instruction manual I figured out that I have to rivet those blades onto the bar. It will be an interesting repair to say the least. The far bay will be left open for the tractor, so that it can be stored inside.

I had Hoss add 16 feet of plywood to the back wall. The. Back wall is only 7 feet tall so that left a nice one foot wide piece to use as a shelf. I am thinking about some sort of bin organizer on this wall but honestly I managed to get all the pieces stored in the space I have already. I think the metric bolt organizer is all I need to purchase at this point. The plywood will help stiffen the walls

We put up two more sheets of plywood on the wall going to the hay room. I don’t have all the boards up on the wall separating the hay room from the shop side yet. I will only be putting big bales in there this year and we cannot stack them. No tractor on the place that will lift that much weight. I think I can store 20 big bales on the ground. I will use them last and use the ones stored outside first. I want the plywood up to keep the hay scraps from blowing over into the shop area. We also added two shelves over in the corner. I want to add two more above the plywood. I have some stuff I only use once a year and it can sit up on those shelves. We are running out of 2×4 for more shelves. I need to make another run and buy 10 more.

We did get the new bench made! It is a solid piece of wood, the top I got for free and it is all laminated and glued 2×4. I bolted legs into the ends and used scrap wood from the pallets to make X on each end. I plan on adding a shelf under the bench as I want to store my small compressor under this bench. I also want to put a hose reel above the bench. I love using this to blow out the dirt and weeds from the tractor grill and radiator. The pallet to the left of this bench will hold the two tool chests. I have a large rolling one in the old house that I will be moving over here. It will hold all the English tools and I will bring my father’s out and make it the metric only. I need to get organized so I don’t waste so much time hunting down tools. Whether I like it or not I will be working on this equipment. This means I will need some lights out here. I plan on installing a flood light in every bay. If I control the lights individually I will be able to wire them all into the same 20 amp breaker. I will use all LED lights to cut down the power consumption.

We got rain this weekend. I was hoping for a bunch when it started on Friday but we only got 4/100 while three miles away they got 7/10! Last night it rained again and we got another 1/10 for a total of 14/100. Not exactly exciting but enough to get the grass to turn green, but we were vindicated later today by getting another 42/100 for a total of 56/100, over 1/2 inch of rain! The best part is it did not all come at once so it all got absorbed into the ground where it fell. We just need a pleasant week of moderate temperatures and the grass will start growing everywhere.

We are sold at this point on getting a combo welder/generator so we don’t have to install a new power panel service in the shop. The electrical service would cost us more than the generator.

I am going to live

I have had the plague for the last week and the sleeping and feeling horrible is making me inactive. I hate it but luckily Hoss has already started in on the barn. He emptied it out and is now digging it out. He took everything out! It does make it easier to clean but I had a couple of panels screwed to the wall so he had to work at it.

Yesterday I just could not stand staying inside any longer. I saddled up the mistress and we went into the barn and tore it up! I was only able to last 1.5 hours before I wilted but I did a bunch of stuff in that time. I went in and showered and just laid on the couch until bedtime.

Today I went out and worked on mowing the lawn. I had to repair the mower first, it needed the keep run handle cable replaced. I had purchased this part last year and installed it today. Here is the real problem, its 2″ too long. I reread the tag and yes I have the part for my tractor. I ended up cutting the cable and using my high tension fencing splicing tools to put it back together. It worked just fine, but boy I wish the parts fit like expected. I mowed half the lawn then mowed the front hillside.

Gizmo thinks the new wood window casings are made just for him to lay about in the sun. He is not shy about scooting out and making his own space amongst the glass insulators. I used to space them out evenly but he kept knocking them over and moving them around so now they stay grouped together.

The front hillside sprinklers are now working! I have one on the very end that is high up in the air that doesn’t work. It’s too high! I will have to do something different.

I was supposed to buy fence posts

The plan this morning for Tex and I was to go help my mother at her old rental that she is fixing up to sell. She needed some yard work and digging done, Tex duties, and me to look at some other stuff. The other stuff was easy and before I could get out of there to go to Home Depot she made me get a haircut. I am a grown man and I truly believe that 3 or 4 haircuts a year are sufficient. I have felt this way since I could voice an opinion and it has not changed. My mother’s haircut belief system falls more in line with the military’s view. She thinks I need one every 3 weeks or sooner. So to ensure I got a haircut she brought the tools up to the house we were working on so I had no excuse to get away. I have a very nice haircut now.

I drove to Hermiston to return our tile samples and possibly place an order. Now it was a spur of the moment decision so Annmarie did not know I was going. Once at the tile place I managed to find a 6×6 inch tile that Annmarie liked via the wonders of text messaging and photos. She was not digging the Art Deco tile I found, 8×8 inch. I loved the bottom right corner and wanted to do the entire floor in it. No such luck. I ordered the tile she wanted and we got the prices for the rest. There was a hangup about the backsplash we wanted and the amount of water it could handle. The saleswoman called the company and called me back to say it would be fine. We will be ordering it after I get the floor installed. The floor tile was only $230, amazing when you only have a 60 sq ft room.

At Home Depot I was going to buy 4×4 posts for the fence yard build as Gizmo and Zeke keep getting out. I needed 100 feet of woven wire small enough that Gizmo cannot get through. They did not have it. So I gravitated to the concrete blocks they had out by the front door. They were incredibly cheap at just over $1 each. So I got a pallet of 100. I figured now was the time to get the stairs in on either side of the spring in the barn lot. I wanted some steps so the sheep and horses don’t tear up the dirt banks and keep making that area wider or steeper. It went in fairly well and we only used 40 blocks so we have 60 for the opposite side.

Its a good thing we have more blocks as that side is taller than the other. I will try and take down that side by 8 inches tomorrow. We are looking at getting those blocks installed tomorrow, the gravel spread out in the machine shed and the gates on the machine shed.

We got all the equipment moved around and now I just need to spread the gravel into the last bay before we install gates. We will take measurements in the morning. Before I can go to town we will need to offload the scrap metal I picked up last week. Its still on the trailer.

Machine shed miracle

Tex came out today, after breakfast we went out and started to fill up the pickup with burnables. The burnables are going on a big pile and it is just getting bigger. I worked on getting the second tank off its perch. I made sure to stay out of the way and gently started it rolling. The plan was to keep it on the deck to make it easier to load onto the scrap trailer. It rolled right off the platform and onto the ground.

We just kept moving stuff out and I kept dragging it out to the scrap metal pile. Once we had the tanks out of the shop it was short work to rip out the wooden deck that used to house the fuel tanks. It had the most awesome clear grain6x6 beams and and amazing piece of 3x8x20 foot beam perfectly clear. It made me want to cry as we threw it on the burn pile. All of the wood had fuel, oil, grease or chemicals on it. They had been using it as a storage area forever. I feel better now that it is not in the machine shed. I did manage to hit a nail with my head while we were tearing it apart. I was pretty sure that was gonna leave a mark, it did.

We got two bays totally empty so I started dragging the dirt out with the tractor. I finally had to remove the bucket from the tractor to gain more maneuvering room inside the shop. It looks great!

Unfortunately, moving dirt around has exposed a few problems. Two of the main support beams are rotten on the bottom as the dirt has piled up over the years. We will need to cut off the bottom six inches of two main beams and splice in a new piece. We will also need to fix an overhead broken beam. I am going to have to drag out about 8 inches of dirt on the right side of the machine shed. It looks like when they built the shop they accounted for a natural drainage slope. Over the years the dirt has piled up and that slope is not even any more. I will drag out the extra dirt and take it down to the correct height again. Once we get it all drug out I will order in some 3/4 minus gravel to put into the machine shed. I think 50 cubic yards should do it.

I also found one hole in the concrete wall. I dug out all the loose rock already so I just need to get some sakrete and patch the hole.

Annmarie was busy all day and got the container garden sprinkler system glued together. She has spent evenings and the last two weekends cutting and dry fitting pipe to make sure everything would fit correctly. Twice she came out to the machine shop so Tex or I could untwist a stuck fitting. It is going to be very nice to have this up and going again. As soon as that is done she is going to direct us in setting up the above ground sprinklers for the front hillside. We need those in place so we can start planting. She offered to help with spraying but we only have one tractor and I was using it all day. It doesn’t seem fair to expect her to do tractor work with no tractor.

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.