Sunday, December 28, 2014

Catching up.



I did my stretch at work so now it is time to relax and do some farm work. Due to the warm temperatures and moisture we are getting the barn lot has turned into one large mud pit. It is so bad neither Annmarie nor I want to walk the fifty feet to the cow feeder from the barn. Another method involving less mud was required. We had tried the back lean to behind the lamb shed but the horses ended up being pigs and chasing the cows away.  We needed some way to feed the cows and keep the horses away.  Annmarie and I came up with a new design that would allow us to feed the cows, store hay and keep the horses out.  We removed one feeder panel, moved one back in 8 inches and put up two movable cow panels. It works very well.  We lock the horses up at night and open the feeder panel for the cows. In the morning before we let the horses out we cover the feeder panel. I can store hay in the back of the lean to and no one can get to it. 



I dug out the horse stalls and gave them new clean straw. I filled in the pump hole from our latest water line break. I will need to dig it out again in the early summer to repair the electrical conduit. I need to unwire the pump and change out the conduit that is broken. 

I have some water getting into the lamb shed since I dug it out.  I need to dig out in front of the lamb shed and drag it down near the old granary. This area has poor soil and I want to replant the entire barn lot. 

Solar power in the barn would be ideal but it is going to have to wait at least one more year. 
Zeke was so filthy and muddy he had to get a real bath in the house.  Usually I just hook up a short hose to our outside spigot and hose him off.  Yes, I do this regardless of the outside temperature. He gets go come inside, I dry him off and he dries off in front of the stove. It took me almost fourty minutes in the shower go get him clean!  The dirt just kept coming off him. 




Thursday, December 25, 2014

Look what Santa brought!



Snow on Christmas day.



Second set of live triplets on Christmas morning.


Twins on Christmas morning.

Mother nature decided to comply with our white Christmas request this year.  The funny thing is two miles away in town there is no snow.  The temperature is barely freezing and fairly pleasant. 

I went out this morning to let the sheep out of the barn and found our second set of live triplets!  Amazingly, it looks like the mother is going to nurse and raise all three.  We had stuck a pregnant ewe in with our new momma last week to give her company.  We picked the momma that gave birth to the triplets.  They were already isolated from the main herd.  I found another ewe with newborn twins at the far end of the barn.  She would not follow the babies when I tried to lure her to the momma pen with newborn babies as bait.  Annmarie had to come out to the barn and remind me to just push everyone else out of the barn so we could then bait her into the pen.  She went right in with no complications.  We are going to tag the little girl from last week tomorrow so we can put them back into the main herd. 

Because it is so warm here the barn lot is a huge mud pit.  It is difficult to feed the cows inside the barn lot. Two of those cows will be freezer cows in less than two weeks.  Annmarie came up with a plan to repurpose and move panels on the lean to behind the old lamb shed to allow us to feed the cows at night and keep the horses away from the food during the day.  I just need to implement the plan. 


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Why?

Steve mentioned Thursday that the water line was broken again.  We called a different plumbing company and they came out first thing Friday morning (well, first thing to them, anyway) with all the equipment and parts they needed.  In short order they had dug up the line and found the problem.  As we had suspected, the previous repair job had not been exactly up to standards and had failed after just two months.  They fixed that and advised us to let the glue set overnight (always a good idea and something else the previous repair person did not do).  The only snag was that the conduit got broke.  They thought they had done it, and called their office to call in an electrician.  The electrician of course did not get back to them until late that day.  His response was that replacing conduit is usually more trouble than it was worth and we would be better off to patch it ourselves.  I was not surprised, but since Steve is at work all day today, it was up to me to seal it up well enough to withstand blowing water until he can get patched later in the week. 

Single gloves
I went to find gloves.  I wanted something different from my usual insulated feeding gloves, because I needed a as much dexterity as possible.  So, I dug in the glove bin and found lots of gloves, as you can see.  Notice, however, that those are not pairs.  There are some left gloves.  There are some right gloves.  Those are all orphaned unmatched gloves.  Well, I did eventually find a mate to one of them.  I'd have used unmatched, but there weren't even two of the same type and and weight.  Color, I don't care so much about, but it just feels wrong in the type and weight don't match, at least.  Like socks.

I also found several sets of gloves that I would not categorize as work gloves.  Now, Sarah's not very good about separating work gloves from non-work gloves and for the most part I really don't care.  I did, however, care this time.  I found this lovely hand-knit custom glove that I started last spring in with the work gloves.  I've gotten distracted and haven't quite finished its mate, but still, this lovely little wool-silk designed and created by me glove is decidedly not a work glove!
Definitely not a work glove.

I rescued the treasure and went out to farmerize the pump conduit.  Yes, I have resorted to the farmer-style temporary patch that consists of plastic bags secured with electrical tape.  When I looked closer at the conduit, I am not convinced that yesterday's mishap was the first.  I think it was just the first that we were told about.  The conduit was broken in two places on the vertical leg.  The lower break was packed full of mud.  That likely only would have happened if someone else had back-filled over a break and not told us about it.  It was just too solid to have happened just yesterday as the pipe was being exposed.  I agonized a bit over what to do and finally decided that it had clearly been operating that way for a while, so I took a leap of faith that the insulation was intact on the wiring and sealed it up.  It must be fine.  The pump is working again, and there's no smoking, arching or sparking.  No breakers have gone, so all indications are that I got lucky.  Steve can fix it right in the next day or two, but I really need to do some laundry.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Planting started.




Back barn lot replanted with new pasture grass.


I went out today and replanted the back barn lot next to the creek.  I replanted with dry land pasture grass mix.  The painful part was I had to plant and rake it all in by hand.  I only had a long sleeve shirt and a hat on and was sweating like a wrestler trying to make weight. I am hoping the grass takes off soon. 

I looked at the roof and could not see any overlap issues. I think it is a leak from old holes that I tried to fill with screws and didn't get a good seal. Looking like a silicon party is in order early summer. We had another lamb today. The solid white ewe finally had a baby. This is good for her because she was going to get culled otherwise. The baby girl is a dappled grey color, very different than our usual babies. The mother is very flighty and when I grabbed the baby to use as a lure to get the momma in the nursery pen she would not come. It didn't help that the lamb made no noise, none at all.  I finally gave up, set the baby down called Zeke into the barn then waded into the sheep catching the momma. She did not want to be caught!  I had to drag her into the nursery pen then snag the baby out of the herd.  Of course this time I grabbed the lamb it started bawling immediately until I put it in the pen with momma.  

Tonight when we fed we caught another very pregnant ewe and stuffed her into the nursery pen so the momma would not be alone. She had to be herded into the barn, just a little too flighty. So we actually shut the nursery pen door so she could not take the baby outside tonight. 

My chickens are going gangbusters. I got 8 eggs from 18 chickens tonight. This is pretty good for winter.  The water line has another leak by the pump. That sme leak has been repaired three times. We called a different company this time. So the tub and sinks are all full of water. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kitchen soon.


Soon to be kitchen counter and backsplash.

Well it is finally going to happen, we are going to tile the kitchen counters and backsplash.  As an added bonus I will be tiling around the window.  I went and picked up all the tile today.  We are going to install granite tiles on countertops and wood like tiles on the backsplash. Annmarie and were surprised by how much the "wood" tiles look and feel like real wood!  It is pretty amazing. This bodes well for our downstairs floor.  We want to lay down tile that looks like real wood so it can stand the abuse a working farm with dogs and animals dishes out. I cannot imagine a real wood floor with a newborn lamb running around the house. Hopefully, that project will get started late fall next year. I need to save up so we can buy all the tile at once so it matches. 

Annmarie's Christmas present this year is the kitchen update. I will start tearing into things the first of the year. I need to order some more tools!  Annmarie accused me of always needing "$500 worth of tools for every project". I don't think that is totally accurate. I will be spending $100 on a cordless Makita multi tool, $100 on a diamond tile blade for my tile saw, $150 for two Makita 3 amp batteries for my multi tool, $300 on instant wall supports to tent off kitchen and create plastic walled tile cutting area on breezeporch. So I will be spending $650 on tools. At least I didn't have to buy the tile saw!  Oh, I need a $35 1 inch diamond tile drill so I can drill holes in the granite for the kitchen faucet. I have all the hand tools and 6 foot level.  I also have the pipe clamps for making the custom cabinet for our downdraft vent fan. I have the sawzall for cutting the exhaust hole through the outside of the house.  

I have done enough planning now to avoid most of the problems. I will install the countertops then take measurements for everything else. It's going to make meal times challenging. I am starting to get excited about it. I love to finish all projects to the 90% completion point. The last 10% is painful.  

Our new counter and backsplash tiles, first time together to see how well we matched. 


Kitchen soon to be construction zone.










Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chicken Financials first 9 months of 2014.

Annmarie fixed the spreadsheet.  One place was supposed to be blank because I did not have any expenses.  Go figure, I never considered that.  Things are definitely looking up for the year on the chickens.  This may even be the year of the chicken!

Eastern Oregon, fog rolled in, that is the sheep on the top of the ridge. 


On average I had 18.7 laying hens (every time I counted chickens the number fluctuated.  I think I has a couple living outside for a while.  This number did settle down in September after a couple got eaten by predators) giving me 9.5 eggs/day, for a productivity rate of 51% (Anytime, I am over 50% it is a great day).  I am feeding on average 1119# chicken feed/month (decrease of 1 lbs/month) for a grand total of 950# this year already.  My pounds of feed consumed per egg only dropped to 0.36lbs/egg (drop of 0.01 lbs/egg, so not much change). Good weather and free ranging chickens is doing wonders for the bottom line.  My monthly feed bill is $27.98/month (a drop of $1.85/month).  On average just feed costs are $1.77/dozen eggs (a drop of $0.52/doz).  I have collected 2618 eggs to date.  Total feed costs are $224 ($75 increase), supply expenses were incurred, I purchased some wood pellets for deep litter method and spare parts to fix chicken door  are $34.50 this quarter. I also purchased a dozen Buff Orpingtons on sale for $39.  My total expense for the production of eggs is $2.14/doz (a decrease of $0.51/doz).  I am now charging $4/doz.   I am ahead $322.12 for the year. 


This is amazing!  I have never been this far in the black before.  The craziest part of the chicken saga is the price of eggs has continued to rise in the grocery store.  As of last week a dozen organic free range eggs was selling for $4.25/dozen.  I am actually charging less money than the grocery store.  On top of that I have been super careful with my feed purchases. Bi-Mart had chicken layer pellets and scratch on sale and I bought 1000# total.  I stuffed them into grocery carts the first 500 pound purchase.  Annmarie was not very impressed, then we went out and I threw it all into the trunk of her new car.  I could not have gotten another bag in the trunk.  Not to mention it look like a herd of elephants were riding in the back seat. The next time a customer service gentleman got a cart and we piled another 500# on and put it in the pickup.  The pickup doesn't mind the weight. 

I did an official chicken count tonight.  18 laying hens, one rooster and 9, three month old buff orpingtons.  The Buffs won't start laying until March.  So they are basically freeloading for the next 3 months.  The nice part about running chicks over the winter is they don't lay anyways and it is the least productive part of the year.  I don't know why everyone buys chicks in the spring so they can eat and grow during the most productive months.  Plus, most people don't give their chickens light in the winter so they don't lay eggs at all. 

Chicken financials first six months 2014.

I raised the price of a dozen eggs to $4/dozen in May.  It is helping my bottom line dramatically.  Now these numbers could be skewed because spring is always the most productive for the chickens.  They like the weather and food opportunities. 

On average I had 18 laying hens giving me 6.3 eggs/day, for a productivity rate of 37% (In June my six babies started laying).  I am feeding on average 120# chicken feed/month (decrease of 13 lbs/month) for a grand total of 600# this year already.  My pounds of feed consumed per egg went from 0.7 lbs/egg in first quarter to 0.37 lbs/egg this quarter. My feed use for last three months dropped 50% due to the weather and availability of natural food.  This is where free ranging the chickens really pays off.   My monthly feed bill is $29.83/month (a drop of $6/month).  On average just feed costs are $2.29/dozen eggs (a drop of $1/doz).  I have collected 1611 eggs to date.  Total feed costs are $149 ($41 increase, pretty good!), supply expenses are none this quarter.  My total expense for the production of eggs is $2.65/doz (a decrease of $1.26/doz).  I am now  charging $4/doz.   I am ahead $148 for the year.  Pretty amazing really.  I need to keep this up so the chickens make money or break even for 2014.  I have been looking at the feed cost thing but the feed store in Hermiston was the cheapest feed around and they went out of business.  I am thinking about buying in bulk.  When I see a sell on feed that can save me 10-20% I buy at least 6 months worth of feed at that time.  I can store it in the back of the chicken coop in the feed/egg area.  It's really my only option at this time.  Walmart now sells chicken feed, but they only carry a 40# bag and when you figure out the difference from a 50# bag they are not any cheaper.  They just lightened the bag to lower the sticker price.  The price of eggs in the store has started to slowly rise. 

Chicken financials 1st quarter 2014.




Ram pasture and back hillside, middle of December 2014.

I realize this is almost the end of the year.  I have been putting off entering all the data into my chicken spreadsheet.  I used to make Sarah do it all but she is so busy with her life now that I have to find the time to do it myself.  It is still valuable so I will make an effort to be more timely next year.  I am hoping for a better data collection year as I will be the one getting eggs most of the year.  These averages are cumulative for the year.  At a rough glance I think the chickens are going to lose money again!  We will see if my hypothesis pans out at the years end. 


On average I had 17 laying hens giving me 6.3 eggs/day, for a productivity rate of 37% (this is great for Winter, anything over 30% I am happy with.  My first two months of the year only averaged 19%, March made all the difference).  I am feeding on average 133# chicken feed/month for a grand total of 400# this year already.  This is okay, but the rising feed prices are killing me.  I will have to figure out how to combat them.   My monthly feed bill is $35.89/month.  On average just feed costs are $3.31/dozen eggs.  I have only collected 571 eggs to date.  Total feed costs are $108, supply expenses are $14 (50# oyster shell).  My total expense for the production of eggs is $3.91/doz.  I am only charging $3/doz.   I have lost $2 for the year.  Considering the eggs are costing me more to produce than I am charging a two dollar loss is pretty good.  I have been talking about raising the price but Annmarie is hesitant.  I have been following the store price and their eggs are going for around $3.25/doz organic.  So I will be a little high but the price increase has to happen or there is no way I will break even. 









Saturday, December 13, 2014

Maybe it is finished?

I have been ill for several days.  I contracted the plague from my lovely spouse after she violated my quarantine protocols.  They are still a work in progress but obviously not strict enough. Yesterday, I finally ventured out of the house to feed the animals.  Every time I enter the hay room I always wonder if there is enough hay to make it through the winter. Every single time I feed this thought passes through my mind.  It is gonna be close.  

My barn roof has a leak. Luckily, the leak was over the steps leading to the upper walkway.  I am not sure why there is a leak. I may have not overlapped the roofing correctly.  It may be that after four days of rain my reused roofing just wasn't up to the task. I am not going to know until this summer because I am not crawling up on the roof until then, no matter how much leaking occurs. The sheep were glad to see me. They are taming right down. I can walk through them and pet about half of them without bribing them with food. I even managed to get a hand on the ram. He is not into being touched.  The horses are now used to being locked up every night. The separated heifers and two meat cows are behaving themselves. The bull has not managed to get back in with them. 

All of these things are good.  We purchased all the new kitchen counter and backsplash tiles.  I should get started in a couple of weeks. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ice, Ice, and more Ice

We live in a very icy corner of the world this year.  Earlier this week, we had an ice storm that laid down a nice solid layer of ice over everything - and I really do mean everything.  I'm pretty sure here at the house, we haven't gotten above freezing since, well, I'll take that back.  It must have gotten warm enough here to thaw the top layer and make it nice and smooth.  Then it cooled off and froze again.  I'm trying to paint the picture so that what I describe next will make more sense.

I didn't get home until almost 5:00 tonight, and still had to feed, since both Steve and Sarah are at work.  So, I came in and let the dogs out.  Zeke got to stay inside with Sprout today because the clip on his run is frozen shut, and encased in a nice solid layer of ice too thick to easily break (I did say everything).  They went out an did their business and then I changed.  It's really not that cold - about 30 degrees - but I put on my Carhart coveralls anyway.  I figured I might need the padding. It was dark by this time, so all I had for light was the light from my beanie lamp and my flashlight.  That really might not be relevant, but it does add to the visual.  I was able to walk across the yard and pasture to the gate going to the back of the barn, mostly because the grass is long enough that it breaks beneath the ice.  I get to the barnlot gate, and the dirt path is a solid sheet of beautiful clear glass-like ice.  Not conducive to walking.  I try for the grass, but its so short it doesn't break.  It's just pokey ice.  There is no way walking is going to happen.  So, I approach the incline the only way I have left to me - I sit down and slide down the hill to the bridge on my hiney.  Remember that there is a matching hill up to the barn on the other side of the creek.  There's no walking up that either.  So, I have to crawl on my hands and knees.  No, it's not elegant, but the animals need feed.  They don't seem to have the same troubles with the ice that I have. 

Everyone gets extra feed.  The one concession I make is that the cows don't get their hay in the feeder across the icy lot.  They get it tossed out the door onto the ice.  I feel slightly bad about that, but then I remember what I had to do to get to the barn, and decided they could eat off the ground.  And yes, I had to reverse the process to get back to the house.  I'm going to go have a mocha.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bull shenanigans.

I was scheduled to work a night shift last night.  So in preparation I took a nap.  Work has been very busy for me for the last three months so this is a necessary precaution to be well rested.  Annmarie came home and woke me up at 1630.  Well, it was almost dark by the time I went out to feed the animals.  We have two battery lanterns in the sheep area and two in the hay area.  This is enough light to feed the animals without any difficulty.  I got the horses back to their area without any trouble and fed.  I then fed the sheep without any difficulty.  Then I went to feed the cows, it was pretty dark by this time.  I threw out some hay into their feeder and started counting cows, a habit.  There were five cows, there should only be four.  I assumed that one of the momma cows had gotten in because I noticed that the cows had gotten into the wheat field.  They were at the gate hollering to be let in.

 I trudged around and had to blow warm air over the clip holding the gate shut to melt the ice so I could unlatch the gate.  I had to repeat the maneuver for twice as long at the wheat field gate.  The whole time muttering that I need to replace all the clip gates with the horseshoe chains I had made this summer (next year priority).  I opened the gate and got a good look at the three cows, all girls!  Our bull had gotten in with the babies.  One of the young, six month old heifers is in heat!  So then Zeke and I waded in and tried to separate the bull.  Three round ups later we managed to get the bull and heifer alone in the new barn lot pen.  I then used a shaky stick and blunt stick to separate the bull from the heifer and ran her into the square pen.  When I was shutting the square pen gate the bull was right behind me pushing on the gate.  Zeke thought he was too close and tore in and chased him back away from me.  Very good Dog!  We then chased the bull out and let all the cows in the barn lot feed at the feeder. 

Zeke and I then went around and shut some more gates but never found a hole or open gate that would have allowed the bull access.  Annmarie and I made plans to move the bull and three pregnant heifers to the orchard.  We want to wait until they have eaten the huge bale of hay we have out for them.  The next one will go in the orchard.  This will put two fences and a hundred yards between the bull and any heifers.

Zeke and I went out tonight to feed and he could not get up the hillside in the barn due to the solid sheet of ice on the ground.  He had to use the shallow incline and do some quick foot work.  My chicken door may be inoperable again.  Not sure, as I keep going out after dark.  Annmarie opened the human door for them today.  So I may have to repair it again.  I do that dance about three times a year.  The nice thing is I have all the parts.  I am still researching a new plant for grazing Sainfoin.  We may plant it. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Weather always changes.

The whole ground was covered in snow recently and now the grass is turning green again!  It is amazing how much Mother Nature can bounce back and forth.  We are still feeding the sheep but not as much.  We are letting them range the back hillside. They know to come into the barn just before dark. This is a disappointing development for Zeke as he does not get to chase them all over the hillside. Surprisingly, the back creek is not running.  All that snow got absorbed into the ground and did not run off the mountains.  We need another few feet of snow in the mountains so we can get the moisture back in the ground. 

The horses are being piggies and keeping the cows from their feeder.  So now we have to lock the horses up in their feed area overnight.  This lets us feed the horses and we can feed the cows. It will take a little trial and error to get the right amount of feed to the cows.  Right amount being the amount they can eat completely overnight so the horses cannot have any!  We calculated 60 lbs/day for baby cows. 

I went out today to measure the upper prime pasture.  I am hoping to seed it on Friday.  According to my smart phone and agricultural plotting app I need to seed 4.25 acres. The ground looks perfect and it shouldn't be too hard.  I just need to vacuum out the dead bugs out of the seeder before starting.  I purchased enough seed for ten acres. I am seriously considering ripping up the orchard and replanting it. Maybe the lower pasture gets done first I just don't know. 

The chickens are only laying 5-6 eggs/day from 18 hens.  I have a light going every day so that is not an issue. I only get about 33% productivity in the winter. I am starting to get peeved at my one rooster, he is not doing his job.  All our other roosters would encourage the hens to go out and eat and scratch in the dirt.  Our new rooster hides out in the chicken coop all day, so the hens follow his example.  He is being a lazy bum.  Who knows maybe he is agoraphobic?  Unfortunately for him, that will be a death sentence.  I think one of the buff orpington pullets may be a rooster.  I will know for sure in the next two months.  If that is the case then a execution will be forthcoming. 

Yesterday, today the sun is shining through white clouds.






Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sunday Shenanigans

Sunday morning I was all dressed for church and putting Sprout on the breeze porch.  That means I was ready to head out the door.  I was actually not running late, but I wasn't exactly leaving early either.   Steve, of course, was at work, so it should not be a surprise that I heard the telltale panicked crying of a lone lamb. Sure enough, when I went out to put Zeke on the run, there was a single panicked little lamb in the yard. The rest of the sheep, including mama, were out on the hillside, 3 gates and a couple of 90-degree turns away from where the lamb is. I try putting Zeke in the "down" position to help confine the lamb near a gate that he doesn't know about yet, but Zeke really loves baby lambs, and it's just too much for him.  He kept breaking and scaring the lamb away from where I want him to be.  I end up opening every gate into the yard to maximize the ease of exit, but the lamb just can't seem to see the holes. Remember I am dressed for church - not exactly lamb-wrangling attire. I am almost to the point of going inside and at least changing shoes, when mama finally realizes that is her baby that has been crying incessantly for the last 15 minutes or so, and comes running down the hill bawling her fool head off. She knows about the gates and comes right in.  Mama and baby are reunited and run happily off to a day of grazing and basking. I even made it to church in time - barely.
Reunited mama and baby headed out for the day.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Working animals

New calf feeder in the barn lot.
We decided to move the old iron tire from beside the machine shop into the barn lot to feed the calves.  This way the horses cannot guard both locations.  In the background of the picture you can see the horses coming over to check things out and chase off the calves.  Luckily, the two biggest animals are food, soon to be slaughtered and the two little heifers will be breeding stock in the late spring.  We will be that much closer to getting our ten animal herd. 

We had presold our little bull this summer after he was born.  So we kept him intact and did not neuter him.  Fast forward six months and now our buyer is not ready, pasture wise, to have a bull.
So Zeke and I sorted the cows on Wednesday.  There was much swearing and angst on my part, with lots of walking.  The cows ran to the farthest corner of the lower pasture.  I had climbed halfway up the hill and sent Zeke to go "circle round" the cows.  Which means he is supposed to run up to the top of the hill run across the top and push the cows down the hill.  Nope. He did not comply.  Instead he ran up the hill and into the CRP to chase mice.   I had to walk up to the top of the hill and call him out of the CRP.  He was not complying with my wishes.  We did eventually get a plan of action established and Zeke was helpful.  Once all the cows were in the new barn lot pen it only took about ten minutes to sort everyone out. 

This morning we had to run the calves into the square pen it took a few tries but eventually they went in.  It is funny to think about people who have never worked cows watching that work.  The calve is around 300#.  That is a lot of cow to wrestle to the ground and try to get a small rubber band the size of an eraser onto a scrotum the size of baseball.  At one point we had five ropes in play, one grown man laying on top of the cow, one small woman stepping on its head and two people holding onto ropes.  It only took about 35 minutes to put one small rubber band in place.  We had to reposition the calf onto its back to get good access.  While the calf was on its side we could not get both testicles into place.  One testicle was 50% bigger than the other! We did finally get it done!  No one got hurt and the calf only had a small bloody nose from trying to jump through the gate Annmarie was gamely holding closed. 

Afterwards, Annmarie and I went into the barn and tagged and banded all five babies.  Everyone of them was a boy, we are hoping that trend does not continue.  So they are now all mixed in with the whole herd.  This makes morning baby check a little more time consuming. You have to check each ear for a tag. 

Our collapsible feeder in action.








Snow is here!



Back cow feeder ready for action.
After I got the fence up in the barn lot I had to arrange for a second cow feeder.  We were going to sort cows on Saturday.  The two steers that are going to be eaten and the three small cows were going to get sorted off the four older cows.  We don't want the 6 month old heifers getting pregnant until they are a year old.  Unfortunately, last year when we separated them they continued to nurse through the fence.  I fixed that this year by limiting contact through one small section of fence and I slapped up an upper layer of woven wire over the fence.  The whole fence is cow/calf proof now.

The back lean to behind the old lamb shed has nicely spaced posts so I was able to just chain two cow feeder panels up and they fit perfectly.  This has unfortunately not worked out so well.  The horses have claimed this area and are keeping the cows away. We are going to have to do something about it. 
I cleaned out some of the cow poop from the machine shed.  I am making progress on the trash.  I just keep filling up our trash can whenever there is extra space.  Eventually, I may get a couple of spots cleared up so we can move the dinky tractor in out of the weather and the old Ford 9N.  We may have to get the old 9N fixed so it can be used to move hay.  I didn't realize how much more weight it can handle and it has the hydraulic hay lift system attached to it already. This plan is merely an idea at this time. 

Bull eating apples, he loves them.















Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ready or not winter is here!



Barn lot fence almost ready for wire.
The weatherman said we were going to get a doozy of a winter storm.  For once, they were right.  It got very cold and dumped seven inches of snow in a 24 hour period.  It has been mighty frigid since then, getting below zero several nights.  Add in some wind and it is downright unpleasant to be outside. 

On day two of the freeze before the snow I spent the last two hours of daylight attempting to get ready for winter.  I put the mule back in the old lamb shed and parked the tractor under cover next to it.  I put away all the hoses and finished getting the barn ready.  I also managed to pound in the four T posts needed for my cross fence in the barn lot.  It was not easy, each post got about 40 strikes to pound it in the ground 10 inches.  One more day and I never would have gotten the posts in the ground.  I had dressed very warmly with my insulated overalls and jacket, and vest and coat and insulated gloves.  I was dripping in sweat!  I forgot that if I am going to be doing physical labor outside I need to be almost too cold when I leave the house.  Once the sweat starts up you don't get overheated and sopping wet.  The only caveat is you have to keep working hard or you will get cold! 

Today, I went out first thing to let the sheep out of the barn.  Now that winter is here we are locking the sheep up in the barn every night.  We only feed at night due to having the most time at night.  First thing in the morning we only have time to open the barn up.  We just fill the feeders up with the allotted food at night.  Annmarie had accidently left the momma/baby area door open so the sheep were mixed together.  Zeke and I resorted and ended up with an extra pregnant momma in the baby area.  She will be fine.  Zeke is doing great with the sheep.  Everyone has a routine and they stick to it.  Zeke only got to push the sheep into the barn before the snow.  Now the sheep are in the barn before dark waiting to be fed.  He gets to run up to the barn door and stare in at the sheep.  No chasing them into the barn.  We bring Zeke into the barn with us and make him guard the entrance to the hay room. This keeps the sheep away and lets you keep the door open so you can go in and out freely with the pitchfork.  I have two pitchforks with shortened handles that make it easier to move the hay around inside the barn.  As soon as you move a bale of hay Zeke jumps in the hole looking for mice to kill.  He has learned that is part of his job.  He can move down one side of the barn with the sheep running all around and doesn't break his down command.  He still has issues with the cows listening to him.  We tried to move cows around today for practice and it was a total failure.  This is the reason the cross fencing on the barn lot is so important. 

The cows will not go into the square pen easily, but they do like the barn lot.  So we are going to open up the barn lot gate, run the cows into the new pen, shut the door and then run them into the square pen for sorting.  It should make sorting them easy.  We have plans to install some chutes and small pens in that area to sort the cows easier but we are still working on that plan. 

I got all the fencing installed today and went to Pendleton for gate mounts so it could be installed.  I set up the gate so you have to swing the existing gate on the barn out to meet the added gate this leaves a 30 foot opening for when we are not using it as a sorting area.  Plus, I didn't have to buy another gate.  I also moved two of the feeder panels behind the old lamb shed onto the front of the lean-to that used to shelter the lambs and momma sheep.  We are going to sort out the 6 month old female cows (2) and sell our six month old bull.  We will house our two young heifers and another person's young heifer till late spring then we will turn them out with our bull.  That will give us five mothers next year.  We are still discussing whether to purchase three more next year.  We will decide that in the spring. 
 
We are not using the jugs inside the barn.  The new momma/baby area accomplishes the same thing and the animals can go get their own water!  We will see how things go for the next couple of years.  It may be that we end up removing the jugs if not needed and opening the barn up more for the larger herd.  Who knows at this point. 
 
Our collapsible cow large bale feeder is way cool.  It is composed of four semicircular pieces all bent in the middle.  The cows can push the sides in as the hay gets eaten.  It will totally collapse and still stay upright.  The cows don't waste any feed and it doesn't rot.  The best part was we got it on clearance and only paid $300 for it.  It is great.  We may have to have another for the barn lot. 
Barn lot cross fence completed!




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Almost ready for winter.

The weather has been amazing for the first week of November.  I was able to work outside in a short sleeve shirt.  Sun was shining and the temperature was in the low 70's all week long. There was done much needed rain.  The weather was near perfect for fall.  I was able to run the disc over the upper prime pasture and get it all ready for grass seed. I had to ask for help on how to set a seeder for grass.  Luckily, Ted seeded the CRP eleven years ago and the settings have never been changed. Jeff tells him I just need to vacuum the bees out and I will be ready to plant. I bit the bullet and bought some dry land grass seed.  Wow, they do not give that stuff away!  It is $3/lb, ouch.  I bought 200#.  

I also started in on my cross fencing of the barn lot.  Thankfully, it had rained.  Even with the tractor's help I broke three shear pins digging four holes. I had to let it rain for two more days before I could try and finish the two holes near the barn. There is a rock ledge about twenty inches down. I could not get any deeper.  So those two posts got set with a sack of quickcrete each.  I have been letting them set up so I can install the cross braces and get the fence up. 

Somehow, I thought I had more time.  I am not sure why I thought that, it's November! No way I could tell Mother Nature to just put off winter.  Winter is now here.  


Barn lot cross fence posts, set in concrete cause the tractor cannot drill through rock.

Upper prime pasture ready for new grass seed.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Farm 4, Predators 2

Another win for the farm!  Annmarie was up and out of bed first thing in the morning yesterday, while I attempted to go back to sleep.  She took the dogs out to potty and started hollering for me to get down there immediately. I leaped out of bed and ran downstairs in the buff.  She had a large flashlight and was spotlighting a possum in the front yard. She had managed to call our border collie off, but Sprout, our Brussels Griffin was unwilling to quit attacking.  He is eleven pounds of fearless!  Did the same thing during the raccoon attack.  I reached in the front door and grabbed a .243, a little overkill but it was the closest gun.  Unfortunately, it has a scope and in the dark with a flashlight it was not easy to spot the critter.  It starts running away, I had to make sure I knew where Sprout was so he didn't catch any friendly fire, so I was delaying pulling the trigger.  Annmarie starts hollering "shoot" then started in with "hand me that rifle so I can do it" before I managed to pull the trigger.  The possum runs away into the dark, with Annmarie admonishing me for missing again.  I told her "no way I missed, saw the animal limping". She wanted to run out and check on it.  I told her after I got dressed I would stalk the yard in the dark!  I grabbed my trusty Walther P22 and flicked on the laser.  This is the best gun for varmints at night around the house. I do need to replace the batteries on my laser.  Too much nighttime prowling the laser light is pretty weak.  The possum was right down by the creek dying. A couple of finish shots and it was over quick.

I have determined that if I didn't have chickens the small predators would be safe.  The only trouble with that is I have shoveled at least 50 pounds of crap out of the buildings from these animals living in the out buildings. It causes the wood to rot, so they cannot set up a home or the buildings will be ruined.  Plus, there are people in town who are "humanely" live trapping these predators and then letting them go at four corners on the edge of our property, leaving us to deal with the nuisance creatures. We are still following the 22 rule except for coyotes. We are pretty sure we lost two lambs this summer to coyotes.  That is why the .243 is by the door. 

I was outside potttying the dogs three hours later and heard some rustling in the barn. The noise persisted so I grabbed the Walther and Zeke and we headed over to the barn. The noise was emanating from inside the barn. We snuck up and went into the milking area, I crept up to the door and peered over to see a full size pregnant ewe with her head stuck in a feeder.  When I handmade them there is some overlap on one section. This ewe jammed her head in and could not get out.  I tried pushing to make the hole larger but the sheep would not pull her head when I was squeezing to make the hole larger.  I had to walk over to the shed and get a pair of bolt cutters to cut her free. I managed to save the feeder and got her loose with no further problems.  

I am currently working on putting up a new cross fence in the barn lot. I only had to drill four holes and I broke three shear pins on the tractor hole auger.  Two holes need to go a little deeper but I am letting the rain soften up the holes some more.  Without all the recent rain I never could have gotten the holes dug.  I still need to finish disking the upper prime pasture so it can be planted. 

Tomorrow I have to trim some trees and straighten out an apple tree.  Hopefully, I can finish disking if there is time.  We had our first lamb!  It was born one week ago. The sheep are a month early by our guesstimate. So now we are on the lookout for more babies.  We also have an extra ram. I know I banded everyone, but I think the rubber band broke. So now I will have to use two bands on everyone.  The two band method is the preferred method. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fencing is moving along.

I had to move this fence three feet to actually get in on a fairly level spot. The soil behind the fence is all loose.  The ground had sloughed off over the years.  I have two more upper strands and it will be done. I still need to tighten and rework this fence line but for now it will last until next spring. 



Fence down by schoolhouse after leveling and moving onto solid ground.


This is the end piece on the old barley field. It has to be moved three feet on far end only. It was falling into the creek also.  The willows have made dams a couple of times and that let's the water spread out  and do more damage. I think I can just reuse all the fence that is here.  I may have to splice in a four foot section. It's coming along. I need to finish this up so I can move to the barn lot.  

Old cross fence, there is a one acre plot on corner that is not ours.  Still need to redo this fence.


I spent three hours discing the upper prime pasture.  I am about 2/3 done and once completed I will drag something over it to smooth it out and replant it.  I want to get the grass seed on it this fall. 

I took a coworker of Annmarie's and his son buck hunting Saturday evening.  The son had never shot a buck.  I had a blast, I had forgotten what it was like to try and kill that first animal.  He shot at three different bucks before enough lead had been slung downhill that he was calmer.  He did great.  This has lead me to the observation that I need to install a flood light on the chicken coop that is directed at the skinning pole!  Much better than skinning it by pickup headlights.  I would only turn the light on when needed. We are trying to keep our electricity bill and light pollution to a minimum.  So another project for next year.  A much needed project, and one that will let me add a light in the nest box area of the coop.  I get to kill two birds with one stone! 

Upper prime pasture, getting it worked up so it can be replanted.





Thursday, October 9, 2014

Let loose the COWS!

I did it, I finished the fence enough to let the cows loose.  It only took me six hours and I am still not done.  I had to finish creating a level spot next to the fence. Now that I have a level spot I need to move  fifty feet of fence west three feet.  The old fence was falling down an embankment. I had to finish filling my metal rock crib with rocks. I then drove two metal T posts, thinking I was ready for wire.  Nope, had to trim some of the willow tree.  I had grabbed two sections of woven wire and had to use them both, I really only anticipated using one roll.

I stretched the woven wire and installed two smooth wire strands above that.  I don't think a third strand is necessary.  I had to cut a panel to fit over the washout region. To combat the bull I attached a large rock to the middle of the washout region.  I know it's not heavy enough but the large rock moving near his face might distract him while he is trying to manipulate the crossing. 

I also attached a cow panel over the vehicle culvert.  Here is hoping the bull cannot get through both sides.  I went down to the gate with my nephew and opened it up so the cows could go into the school house bottom. The cows were not interested so we chased them over by the gate, they ran right past.  They will figure it out eventually.   Once they see all that green grass I don't expect them to leave that area for the next two months.  I still have to install the wooden stays between T posts and that new fifty feet of fence. Next week I do barn lot fence and start disking upper prime pasture.  It never ends!

My forearms look like I have been in a slasher movie.  My right rib cage has multiple cuts and punctures from pushing old wire out of with my body while trying to drive metal T posts.  I have a large scrape under my left knee from something not sure what. Best of all, I have a splinter under my right pinky nail. I cannot see it but the pain is starting to be unrelenting. The type of pain were amputation starts to sound like a viable option.  Maybe I did something bad in a previous life.  I feel like a participating member of the Spanish Inquisition.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Actually fencing.

Today was the day I actually started fencing...again.  I started at the upper path into the school house plot. I dragged the dirt cut and got rid of the big hump. Hopefully, now the truck hitch won't drag when I turn onto the road.  I drug the box blade alongside the fence to clean a work area.   I filled a couple of preexisting rock cribs with rocks then using tractor moved a large dirt pile next to the fence.  I had to install 8 T posts and clip the wires in place. I finally got all the fence repaired to the culvert.  I had to cross the spring to get to the other side.  The water is still running so of course I slipped and fell.  I caught myself sorta so my keister did not land in the water.  The other end of the culvert has a wooden panel to keep the bulls out, but we had one this spring sneaking over to eat the grass.  I am going to string a couple of strands of smooth wire across the opening and clip a cattle panel in place across the opening.  

There was this wooden contraption at the end of the highway culvert buried in some very large thistles.  Once I cleared out the weeds I discovered it was an elevated rock crib!  I have never seen anything like it before. So I wired it back together, put some new floorboards in it and it was ready for rocks.  I wasn't sure what was going to keep. It from sliding so I took a broken T post and jammed it behind the welded support on the metal wall and wired the rock crib main beam to the T post.  I should be able to use the fence tightener without any problems. It held a pile of rocks with no problems.  I pounded in another 14 T posts and am ready for wire.  

I did not do this, the rock crib was already in the air.  I just repaired it and added rocks. 


Main hole the cows were escaping through.  You can see the area I leveled out on the right half of the picture. I repaired the rails and installed a new top rail. You cannot see it but just to the fight of this picture is a huge wild rose bush. I had to crawl into it twice, in two separate places.  It was highly unpleasant, involving much pain and blood drawing scratches and loads of colorful language. I am hoping it acts as a deterrent for the cows also.  There are two springs here, one is directly behind the rose bush in the picture. It used to be developed for the school but is no longer coming out directed. There is one in the trees also.  My plan is to get the fence cone tomorrow so I can get the cows down here.  I think there is three months worth of feed down here. 

Annmarie wants me to take a coworker's son deer hunting. So I drove around at dusk last night.  I counted three more little bucks and over 100 deer! The upper wheat field looks like a deer parking lot.  I am bummed I didn't draw a doe tag. The deer population is starting to grow exponentially around here. It is a stupid problem. 

Escape route down by school house next to road. I leveled off the hill.





Still not fencing




Left side of driveway looking from front porch.  I figured it was time.

Jason came over to finish taking the scrap metal pile to recycle.  While he was here I got him to help me rearrange piles. We found the plow I discovered in the grass last year.  I thought it had been scrapped. We brought it down to the house and set it up for display.  Jason had to drive the tractor while I pulled the trailer up with the pickup.  There was an old seeder I wanted to bring it down to the house.  The wooden wheels would not let me pull it. Unfortunately, it weighed about 900 pounds so the limiter on my tractor bucket (800#) would not let me lift it.  I could turn the bucket and get about eight inches. We ended up with the tractor in the elevated field and the trailer on the low side.  We just barely got it onto the trailer.  I took the tractor and grabbed the back half of the wagon to go with the lonely front half. 

I ended up digging an unloading area so I could be above the trailer. I just barely managed to drag it off.  Both wheels fell off on the ride down the hill. I set it in place and made it as neat as possible. I like it. 



Old seeder at top of hill.


I just need to transplant some tall grass clusters from the upper field and throw out some more grass seed. It will be all ready for fencing in the spring. Once we get the new fence up we will start tearing down the chain link fence. 

Right side of driveway.  I want to get some tall grass starts from the upper barley field to plant around the equipment.




Supposed to be fencing

Hunting season is all done.  My father and I got our bucks on opening morning sunrise. It took me twenty minutes to get my dad lined up for his shot.  The deer cooperated by staying close.  He dropped it with one shot.  It took Lee and I far longer to gut and clean than it did to kill them. We used the overhead animal cross I installed last year to skin out the animals and hose them clean. We put game bags on them and stored them in the root cellar.  We are letting them hang for a week. 
Annmarie wants to get the fence up by the cars done next summer. This means any farm equipment I was going to move down for display needs to happen. So instead of fencing I made a flat spot and installed the old rake harrow.  After getting that in place, I made a flat spot on the opposite side. 


Instead of fencing I made a flat spot and started adding farm equipment for decoration.

I couldn't just do one side!

I cruised up onto the back hillside to look at an old wooden wagon that was falling apart.  Just past the wagon is where I want to shoot another fence up the hillside.  I want it to be inline with the upper prime pasture.  So I spent about two hours in 90 degree temperature, in October, making a flat spot and grading the rocks out of the way.  I need rain before I can drive those t posts into the ground.  Probably going to have to install two rock cribs on either side of the rock bluff and maybe one at the top fence line.  Good thing there are lots of available rocks.  I did hook onto the front half of the wagon and drag it down to the house.  Sarah is already bemoaning the fact that it will be one more gate on the property.  She doesn't like that we have subdivided and installed gates everywhere.  I have at least ten more gates to install.  We currently have eight separate pastures now, nine when I get school house pasture done this week. I see 3-5 more to go before I am done.  Then we will be able to control the grazing and run two sheep and two cow pastures. It just means a lot of gates to. Open and close when you are trying to cut across the property.  
Since I did not want to actually fence I prepped the fence line for the spring.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Welding day.




It is done!  The front cattle guard is now completed. We have an iron rim fence on both sides and the rims are all welded together into one unit. I only had six rims left over when we were all done. Pretty good guessing on how many I would need. We had to shovel the ground bare before starting so no fires were caused. I had six gallons of water ready, but we didn't start a single small little fire.  Very nice compared to the fire we started in the spring.  I will go across the road eventually and get a picture of the entire entrance.  It may take a while. 

I ran out of gate latches again so I had Jason weld another dozen and two of those are already needed plus I am installing two more gates next month.  In 8 months I will need another dozen. I need to start picking up scrap chain at the junkyard. I have used up everything I have found on the farm.  I snagged some cheap this summer at a couple of yard sales. I hang them on the fence so I don't lose them. 

We loaded the two ton of straw into the barn and spread some out in the animal portion of the barn. Two tons of straw is 60 bales, so we have enough for two years.   Since Jason was welding, I had him put on two more chain hooks on the tractor.  I just need to hit them with a little John Deere green paint and it will be good to go. 

Sarah has been working on filling up the bridge concrete piers with dirt.  I will relevel the bridge in the spring after everything settles down.  I was thinking I was all ready for winter, but I still need to install the cross fence in the barn lot (sprinkler going now to soften dirt), fix fence by schoolhouse, install metal roofing on back wall of horse stalls so they quit cribbing the back wall, dig out stalls with tractor, install cow panel circles around new trees, transplant 12 black walnut trees and disc/replant upper prime pasture.  Just a few things before the ground freezes.  Oh and pull the pump out of front creek and replace pressure switch.  Good thing I have some vacation next month!




Another batch of gate latches ready to go.



Two ton of straw ready for a couple of winters.

Three hooks across my tractor bucket now!  I can really pick up stuff.







Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ground water issues.

Rain drain


Apple tree third life.
I finished the front yard drain yesterday.  We had the under stair closet door shift this summer.  We realized that the rain pounding off the front corner of the house had beat the dirt away from the house and exposed the foundation.  I ended up putting almost 1.5 feet of dirt next to the foundation and another 6 inches of gravel.  To prevent the water from pounding through the rock and gravel we installed a four foot galvanized metal tank.  The tank is filled with another six inches of gravel.  Nothing is moving or shifting with that much gravel.  I still need to get some PVC fittings for the drain plug so I can attach a soaker hose onto the end of the tank. 

I also moved the apple tree from the front yard.  This is the third time it has been moved.  The horses and sheep almost killed it but it snapped back.  I have hopes it will survive this move.  I will put a cow panel around it to prevent the deer/sheep/horses/cows from eating on it for a few years.  The tree needs about five years of alone time before its trunk can be exposed to all those animals.  Sarah is going to expand the hole in the front yard and we are going to plant another tall shade tree.  Next month I should be planting all the yearling black walnut trees from Grandma Lane's house.  I had two or three live from last year.  I will verify that when I am digging the new holes.  I am going to have to break down and buy cow panels to go around the small trees and roses to prevent the animals from foraging.  I would like to think this problem could be solved by moving the farm animals around, but not so.  The deer will cause damage just as much as the farm animals.
Tunnel stopper.

I finally got tired of Zeke just sprinting under the side fence bottom gap.  I moved a bunch of dirt from near the old chicken coop.  It needs a lot more dirt, but this will hopefully prevent Zeke from exciting the yard at a full run.  I will throw some grass seed on the dirt, but I need to wait until we have some straw.  Plus, the chickens are going to think the seed is feed. 

I am making arrangements to pick up 3 ton of straw today.  It has gone up in price again.  It is running $85/ton.  This should get us through at least two years, maybe three.  We will see. 



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bull is back!


Two days ago, Annmarie called me at work to say she saw the cows down in the school house pasture but did not have time to deal with them.  I was headed back from work and told her I would take care of it.  I drove home and counted all nine cows up by the apple tree.  I made sure I could see every one.  They were no where near the school house pasture.  I thought Annmarie was hallucinating.  Women are known to do this, just ask any guy.  I had promised I would walk the fence line to verify that there were no holes.  I wanted to do some weed eating and to finish filling the rock crib so I fired up the weed eater, topped it off with fuel and jumped into the tractor to go walk the fence line. 
 
I did not take any fencing tools.  Really, I wasn't going to need them.  All nine cows were wandering around the lower pasture no where near the creek crossing that is the bull's favorite escape route.  I toodled down to the creek crossing on the tractor and yes there was a huge hole!  He had ripped out one metal post and broken the woven wire in two places.  I said lots of colorful language and proceeded to drive a T post into the ground with a very large rock, rearranged all the panels and clipped them in such a way as to minimize any lateral movement.  I rewired the panels to the metal posts and then laid some wooden posts out to keep him away from the fence.  I am not sure it will hold.  I am probably going to have to sink some permanent posts about six feet out in an arc with wooden supports at waist high so he cannot reach the crossing.  He is very painful when it comes to creek crossings.  I had to apologize to Annmarie, she was right.
 
I then proceeded to clean up the farm entrance out by the cattle guard.  Once that was all done I cleared along the fence line.  I had to head back early to get ready for work.  As I am cruising down the driveway on the tractor I spot the coyote in the lower pasture.  I try to speed up the tractor, run into the house with a rifle and jump back onto the tractor.  I drove back down the road and the coyote was right at the ridgeline, barely visible.  I tried to get off a quick shot and forgot to turn off the safety before pulling the trigger.  He got away.  I drove all the way around the property and up into the CRP looking for him.  I never spotted him again.  I am gonna get that coyote eventually.  It needs to stay away from the house and it just keeps coming back. 

My temporary bull stopping fence patch.



Farm entrance cleaned up and weed eated.





Fencing, back at it.


My Favorite rock crib type!

Now that the barn roof is done I need to get back to providing more pasture for the animals.  The cows have cleared most of the lower pasture.  The school house pasture has been empty for a couple of months and looks great.  The only problem is it has several holes in the outside fence.  Its not horrible, but our cows will find the holes in a couple of days.  So I am building a rock crib down on the hillside by the creek.  It is totally out of sight from any road, so no one will see the super efficient bullet proof rock crib I am using.  Did I mention it was cheap also?  $25 per rock crib.  The only downside to this type of rock crib is it takes a lot of rocks!  About five times a normal rock crib.  Luckily, there are lots of rock piles to choose from but it does take a little more time to fill up.  It needs to be full so I cannot pull it over even a few inches.  It looks weird when I pull the top over even a couple of inches when tightening the fence. 
Clearing fence line.


I need to put in about 70 metal T posts and retighten the entire distal half of the back barley field fence.  I may have to move the last thirty feet up the hillside about four feet.  The current fence appears to be hanging in mid air.  I will need some dirt so I can actually drive in the T posts. 
I am hoping that in the next two weeks I can let the cows out into the bottom pasture.  We may even let the horses down there, not sure about that, will have to ask wife what she would like done. 

I took the tractor down and scraped along the fence line to clean it up.  Don't really want to use the mower and catch a loose piece of wire and rip down the fence.  Once I have repaired the fence it will be safe to run the mower alongside it.