Well last Sunday I decided that I needed to mow the upper field #2. Since Mr. Professional is helping me we have devised a simple way to talk about the various fields. We start from the upper bottom pasture and number them in ascending order 1-4. Then you have the “pea field” down by mother in laws house then you have lower pasture down by schoolhouse. This forgets about the 1 acre piece closer to mother-in-law’s house and across the creek. We don’t talk about that field specifically so it just gets tossed into the schoolhouse field.
I had sprayed #2 field a couple of weeks earlier but it is so thick and tall it needs to be knocked down then sprayed 2 weeks later to kill the thistles. I drove up there in the tractor and remembered to add on a crescent wrench so I could fix the broken gate.
After fixing the gate, there was some internal dialogue about fixing the gate on my way out of the field, but you never know what is going to happen so I opted to just fix the gate first thing as a safer move. I think the bolt just came loose and it fell down, I don’t believe it was anything nefarious.
I started mowing on the left hand side of the field first. It’s the smaller side and I would get to see results sooner. The pecker poles are amazing! I knew exactly where the water was and was able to not get the tractor stuck. As I continued to go around in circles I kept spotting the baby deer. There were four different deer all had spots and they were about dog sized and running all over the place. The pheasants are also plentiful this year. I jumped four juvenile roosters that had their colors but no tail feathers at all. Since it was almost a 100 F outside I had raised the mower deck about 14 inches off of the ground. The weeds are incredibly thick and I did not want the mower to get overheated. My goal is simply to knock them down so that when I drive over the area with the side by side the spray gets evenly distributed. You could see where some swaths of field had great spray coverage and others were limited by the height of the weeds and spray dispersement.
I was taking a break after the first section was done when Richard pulled out and asked me if I was ok. He is the one who pulled the tractor out of the mud for me. He thought I had gotten stuck again as I was parked near where I was buried before. I chuckled and thanked him for checking on me but no, I was taking a break as the field is very rough and furrowed from the flooding and the tractor is beating me up. It really works your lower back muscles.
There are hawks everywhere! We have at least 6-8 living all over the farm. It is pretty amazing. I am sure that at least two of them are juveniles as our nesting pair is back but we may now have two pair of nesting hawks. They used to only be on the upper end of the property but are now the full length of the place.
I started in on the second half and about halfway through tragedy struck!! The weeds are tall and you cannot see the ground. I do pay attention as I don’t want to hit rocks and need to stay on the completed line so I can get finished in a timely manner. I came around in a shorter square pattern, I get tired of doing the entire field and tend to break them up into pieces. It looks like I am getting done quicker. I came back around and saw a 1-2 day old fawn on the ground dying. I had run over it with my actual tractor wheel. If I had mowed over it the fawn would have been just fine as the mower is set high, but alas of the four foot wide swath my tractor makes only a 2.5 foot tire free zone. This did cause me angst for the rest of the day. The fawn never tried to get up or run away and it was so much younger than all the other babies I had been watching run all over the fields.
After mowing I spent another hour digging more ditches. I managed to not get stuck this time. There is still water coming out of the ground and forming a small running spring. This water does not leave the field it ends up running down about half way and getting reabsorbed. I finished the field and went back and cleaned off the tractor. A couple of days later I had come to terms with the mowing tragedy. I took a finished photo below.
Yesterday I got a late start and started mowing the fields at 0630. I had plans to get out of bed at 0500 but that just did not happen. I needed to mow the bottom four fields as they were getting covered in cheat grass and weeds. The fields do better with a mow job. I will spray them in a week or two. I have a new seat for the tractor but I keep losing the bolts out of it. I have lost two already. I need some lock tight to go on the threads.
The cows were hanging out by the school house and since I was on the tractor they just ignored me. This allowed me to get a good picture and discover that Annmarie was right we do have new calves! I found a second brand new calf. So fairly soon we will need to run the cows back into the barn lot and tag and band. I did not check to see whether they were a boy or girl. I stopped around 1000 to load up 2.5 yards of prime sheep poop compost for a friend. They left some fresh blueberries and an amazing sour raspberry jam. The jam is so good I will need to get the recipe. I managed to go all day until 1600 mowing without overheating the tractor!
I attribute this to two things, first thing was I blew all of the dust out of the radiator, inside engine compartment and even opened up the dust filter and cleaned off both filters. The second thing was I figured out how to get the mower to ride parallel to the ground by lowering the back wheel allowing the cut grass to get out of the mower blades and not bogging the tractor down. This allowed me to go all day without killing the tractor once.
I finished mowing around the machine shed today and then spent 45 minutes cleaning off the dust and weeds from the tractor and mower with water. I want to finish pulling out the old flooded fence in the barn lot tomorrow. I will need the box blade put on so it adds weight to the back of the tractor giving me the necessary traction.
I also spent another 45 minutes cleaning out the back of the pickup with water so it is neat. Annmarie wants me to pick up the antique rocker we purchased a couple of months ago and I need a clean bed for that to happen. The real challenge will be keeping the pickup clean until then.
The manure trade involved a young 3 month old rooster residing at our place. He was running around with the hens yesterday. I have not seen him at all today. I am not sure he survived the night. He probably did not go into the coop last night and is raccoon food. I have another coworker who is looking to get rid of a couple of roosters, it may be time to give her a call. The predator wars are definitely back on!
I have started clearing the lavender area again with a shovel. It takes longer than I realize every time. I spent three hours on it today and it needs another three hours. Unfortunately, I did not water all the little plants consistently and there is some significant lavender die off. I am back to watering every other day and we should know in a week how many actually survived. This is totally my fault for not watering them more frequently.
Yesterday was a burn day finally, we have had an inversion over our part of the county and the last week no one has been allowed to burn. I left the stock racks on the pickup as it gives me something to lash the 20 gallon propane tank to in the back of the pickup. Otherwise I have do do this spider web thing with 6 tie downs that never lasts the entire time. The stock racks hold it in place with only one tie down and make the tank refillable from the tailgate.
My goal was to burn the middle upper field that had no work done on it. Seven acres of prime soil waiting for me to do something with it. I had the pile that Rain Man and I had made to burn, I had a pile of weeds down by the cow feeding area and I had visions of burning weeds out by the main gate. Now my single biggest mistake was not communicating my goals to the missus. I started both piles and then ended up burning all the star thistle down by my mother-in-law’s house. I then burned weeds on both sides of the road by the entrance cattle guard.
Unfortunately, while I was doing that the fire took off up the fence line and headed up the road. I watched it for about an hour then realized that it would take another 4 hours at the slow rate it was creeping along. I tried to burn back stops twice but just managed to start a fire further up. I finally just took a pitch fork and rake and made a dirt gap then lit one side on fire. This stopped the oncoming fire and put it out so I could go to the actual field I was planning on burning in the first place.
Unfortunately, the field was not super dry so I had to keep applying flame to get it to burn. I only had a three foot wand and it was too short for the job. I was cooking my face, head, ears, beard and arms from the heat. I tried burning for another three hours until I ran out of propane and broke the burning wand, both events occurred simultaneously. I was driving the truck and dragging the lit wand backwards on the ground. Otherwise you have to turn off the gas, wind up the hose into the back of the pickup and put the wand in the back after making sure the flame is out. If you do this every time you have to move the pickup it will make you crazy. But if you don’t do something then the wand gets broken.
So I went to town Saturday evening and bought a 6′ torch! I figured I could get away from the heat and keep burning. It was dark when I got home so I would put it together in the morning. I can fill the tank after that.
I even took the second cow feeder down and filled it with a second bale. Our weather has been pretty mild but it is time to start feeding the cows.
Saturday Hoss and I started out the morning by cleaning up around the machine shed. We managed to get all the junk up and in its proper place. We then hooked up the rotary mower to the tractor and I went up to the upper 7 acre field to clean up next to the cross fence. Hoss said that he could not get to the wire to tighten and attach due to all the weeds.
I ran the mower alongside the fence and got as close as I could. There is a hidden ditch near one end that I had to avoid so I did not tip the tractor over. Since I was already down this way I decided to try and mow the 7 acre field. It is one of the fields I want to plant in grass. The weeds are 4-7 feet tall and are very thick. It really needs some cleansing fire, but I am afraid to burn anything as I think it will get out of control quickly. This limits me to the rotary mower. The mower did not get choked out because all of the weeds are so dry. They don’t act like a rope when they get under the mower deck. The real problem is all the seeds and fuzz that the weeds put off clogs the air intakes on the tractor which cause the tractor to overheat.
I ended up overheating the tractor in under two hours of continuous mowing. I really need lights on the tractor so I can mow at night! I will do some research and figure out what kind and how to mount them on the tractor.
The middle field we are fencing in now does have some grass in it, I just need to get the field enclosed so the sheep and cows can get up here.
Hoss came out yesterday and we started to distribute fencing supplies throughout the upper two pastures. The first trip was spent spreading out the newly purchased wooden posts and panels. I had a total of 42 posts and crossbeam and we used up every one. I should have purchased 10 more. I don’t like to finish a project without having leftover supplies. It never fails that I need more and now I will not have it.
The second trip we loaded up 4 gates and 200 T-posts and all the wooden stays I had left onto the trailer. I managed to slide a T-post onto Hoss’s foot when I was standing on the large pile tossing them to the edge so he could load them onto the trailer. I did apologize, but I suspect it will leave a mark. We started dropping off posts and marking out T-post and wooden stay locations. I like to put T-posts every 8′ and a wooden stay between them at 4′ it makes for a very tight fence. We staked out some string and painted marks on the dirt while measuring with a tape. I ended up having to go get the tractor to knock down some more weeds along the bank. We had a small pile of supplies left but we still had a small section of fence to lay out so I just said to leave it and we will use it later.
Hoss had to leave by 1500 on Sunday so I packed up the fencing and came back to the house. I had been wanting to get out to our driveway entrance and weed eat and clean up our Steel Wheel fence. I drove the pickup out with the weed eater and cleaned up the entrance then got down on my hands and knees and pulled all the plants away from the fence line. It looks great! I am very happy and enjoy the sight when I am leaving for work and coming home.
I just need to get two colors of wood stain and work on the wooden century sign now. You cannot see the lettering without the contrast. I think I can get a sanding tip for my battery powered multi tool and clean it up in place and stain it in place.
The sheep wanted to go wander this morning when I went out to open the gate. Last night I had not used the dogs to push them into the barn lot so they were very reluctant to go in. I had to walk back and forth and holler at them. I was not able to get them into the barn lot as I had lost patience. Annmarie was sure they would sneak through the fence at the creek crossing last night. The fence is up on a piece of drift wood and they would hardly have to duck to just walk through it but they stayed in place. Which is why I had to go out and open the gate this morning, I didn’t push them down into the ram pasture. They look great! We will be sorting them later this month and keeping four to kill, for three different customers. It is July 1, 2019 and the back creek is still running. It is composed entirely of snow melt from the mountains and tends to be dry about this time normally. If it goes until August 1 that will be the longest we have ever seen it run since we have moved back.
It rained again this evening and dropped another 8/100″. I would like to see it drop another 1/4″ this week but the wheat farmers are not saying that. I did manage to get drawn for another buck tag this year so I will be shooting anything with horns again this year. Hopefully this time it won’t take me three days to figure out that the little deer really does have horns. Annmarie is riding with the Pendleton Round-up mounted band. This meant I had to take care of her cowboy boots. She tells me its been 10 years since I put any kind of treatment on her boots. I must need to give them a quick pass every couple of years. On a weird side note, we looked up mounted bands on the internet. This band is the only one in the country! So bizarre, we had no idea. Most of the people are just regular folks having a good time around horses that don’t care if they play instruments.