Sunday, July 27, 2014

Barn roof day 4.

Future home of mom and baby pen inside barn.
It was day 4.  It was not better than day 3.  It was way worse!  The outside of both my hips feel like I was caned 20 times on each side.  It was pure agony going up the ladder to the roof.  I had to talk myself into putting on my safety gear and go up on the roof.  Once up on the roof, all I could think about was how I was going to fall off.  I had decided that it was too easy to just slide down the roof at a high velocity until my safety harness kicked in and left me dangling off the roof mere feet off the ground.  No, I was going to get wrapped up in the rope and flipped and turned on the way down, maybe break a leg or arm and go off the roof head first.  I did still envision the safety harness catching me a few feet off the ground.  It did not make my mission on the roof any less stressful.  We got one new panel installed and four old ones on the east side completed and a ridge cap over it all.  We are at the cupola and ready to begin work.  It was very hot and once the metal roofing started to burn my hands and arms through the leather gloves and my long sleeve shirt I climbed down.  It was only 0930. 

We went inside and started working on a new mom and baby pen that could be accessed without leaving the confines of the barn and had a route to the outside that did not involve trying to coax sheep past my new stairs.  Annmarie came out to the barn yesterday evening and we decided on a location and size.  Mr. President and I put it into place today.  We go the whole thing completed!  I love it when a project can be completed in a single day.  We attached two boards to the ceiling and the floor and one to the far wall to stabilize the pen.  We used an old gate that was on the milking addition to the barn that I removed last year when I rearranged the horse pens.  Plus, we were able to make the back gate long enough that when it opens up it blocks off the stairs.  No more loose sheep.  It worked out very nice.  Now I just need to figure out how to fix the handle on the grain bin and make a lid for the bin that holds an old turbinator  so I can just dump grain into the turbinator and it drops into the bin.  Which is why we needed the stairs so I can carry the bags up to the top. 

I was immensely grateful today when Mr. President informed me he had to work tomorrow.  No roof work for me!  Our sheep sorting chute system comes by semi truck tomorrow from 0900-1100.  Mr. President is coming out after his other job is over to help me load the chute materials into the barn, all 900 pounds. 

Completed mom and baby pen.

Double gates to outside of barn through pen.  This will be very handy for sorting sheep.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Barn roof day 3

It really has only been three days since we started working on the roof. My body thinks it has been at least a week, maybe two.  I was very stiff this morning, many unknown muscles were complaining as I strapped on my gear to conquer the roof.  After a few hours you just get numb. We worked on both sides of the barn today.  New tin on the steep side and recycled tin on the other side.  We called for lunch at 1300.  Once I climb off the roof I don't go back up till the next day.  It was over 100 F today and it was even hotter on the roof.  I will have to wear a wide brimmed hat and a neck kerchief tomorrow.  I have already been wearing a long sleeve shirt.  It gets hot but all the scrapes and cuts quit appearing so it was a fair trade off. My cell phone is not cooperating. I disabled Siri a few months ago but she just just keeps coming back!  I lean the wrong way and she starts hollering from my pocket.  My phone is in an outer pocket on my work pants.  I ended up leg dialing two different people and I stopped and talked to Anna while she was on a walk outside in Alaska. I finally just killed the power on my cell phone so I could get some peace and quite. 

We finished up the metal gate by the old milking shed after lunch.  Added a wooden handrail to the stairs. Stiffened the stairs by attaching them securely at both ends. Annmarie came out and we discussed another area for mommas and babies since I added stairs to their old spot.  We will be adding another small pen inside the barn with two more gates and I need to get the lid on the grain bin and a working handle on the guillotine gate. The new pen will be our afternoon, too hot on tin roof project. 
West side, almost to cupola, one more sheet of tin.

Soon to be cupola.  I had to use a whole can of hornet spray just to get near the hole!

East side with some progress.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Barn roof day 2.

More progress was made yesterday. Mr. President is off for summer break from college and is back to helping me out on the farm.  We continued the tin adventure on the western side until it got so hot I thought I would melt.  Around 1300 we quit on the roof.  Moved down to the old milking enclosure  and worked on the siding.  Used the tractor to dig out the floor on the section that was ripped out.  I would like that all to be dirt eventually.  It was a tight fit and I had to remove the box blade so the tractor length was shorter.  
The green gate needs a new panel wired to it to prevent sheep from escaping but the hornets built a nest inside the pipe gate and we were out of spray so it had to wait. We moved inside and ripped out the overhang above the new stairs. While we were there we installed a new floor on the landing after tearing out the old one.  It was dry rotted 1x4 waiting to collapse at any moment.  I used the 2x6 tongue and groove that was used on the barn floor.  It is starting to get low but I think there is more than enough.  We attached a sheet of plywood to the back of the stairs and it stiffened them immensely. I have been thinking about a railing but not sure what I am going to use.  I am starting to get very sore.  Crawling around on the barn roof takes a lot of energy and muscles I am not used to moving.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Barn roof progress

It has happened, I have started working on the barn roof again.  I have been hesitant to get on it due to the weather.  It rained yesterday so I tried to use the excuse that the roof might be wet.  Annmarie was not buying it and wanted me to make some progress.  Kelly, came over to help me and we started in on the roof.  I was trying to screw in steps on the roof, when Kelly came up with the idea of laying a ladder on the roof.  I was not open to the rope just securing it on the other side of the barn.  Instead, Kelly came up with the idea of using hay hooks in each side of the top rung and wired in place.  The hooks latch onto the gap at the peak of the roof and I can walk up and down the ladder and screw in the metal roofing without having to move the wooden steps all the time.  It works pretty good.  Much faster.  I am still wearing my harness the entire time.  The plan is to install the roof all the way over to the second cupola opening and then stop while we custom cut the cupola.  I don't want to work over the slick tin while we install that. 
The wind picked up over 20 MPH and it got hard to work on the roof.  We moved down inside the barn after lunch.  I wanted to get the loft stairs built and installed so we cut both steps and installed them.  I am very happy.  Much progress was made and more help is coming tomorrow for a second day on the roof.  I am hoping to get past the existing cupola with tin. 
Kelly took a break to terrorize the rock chucks with his attempted elimination with the .243.  Three shots later and the rock chuck was still laughing as it dodged into its hole.  I was 2 for 2 with that gun before he touched it.  The steps are wonderful.  Kelly came up with making the outside edge flush so you don't hit your head or body on the stairs as you walk by.  A great idea as I will be the one hitting my head. 
Barn Roof day 1, 2014

Stairs to upper loft.

Tractor traveling.

Wheat pounding.

I had plans on getting outside yesterday, but the weather was not cooperating.  It rained several times and at one point dime sized hail tore down.  I was worried the wheat was going to take a pounding as it has not been harvested yet.  They came over today and inspected the wheat.  It got knocked around but not bad enough for an insurance claim.  Wheat harvest should begin in 3-4 days.  I am running out of time to get the barn roof done.  Hopefully, I can get it done this year. 
I cleaned up inside the house and did laundry instead. 

Summer storm, hail and torrential downpours.

Dime size hail.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fencing and barn work.

Machine shop hay gate installed.

Milk lean to old opening on barn.
Today was HOT!!  106 F for most of the day.  We worked for 12 hours to get a jump on needed tasks.  Mr. President's brother is still helping me out.  We started at 0600 in an attempt to beat the heat, but it did not stay cool long.  We installed a hay gate on the machine shop.  I used a pressure treated 4x4 and also drilled a hole into the concrete on the latch side to install a permanent latch attachment.  There is no way the bull is going to get in there now.  All that tasty hay just out of reach. 
Milk lean to, barn end view.

Milk lean to with new siding and repair job.

New end opening on milk lean to.  Just needs some gates. 

Horse snack time.
After the gate was done we moved down to the cattle guard.  I wanted to get the woven wire and barbed wire done on the left side of the gate.  That way when it is safe to weld we can just install the iron tires and weld them in place.  The fence works great as an initial stabilizer and allows us to wire the wheels in place until they are welded.  I don't want to leave the rims out by the road without them being welded into one massive immobile fence.  It was getting very hot so we cleaned up and went in to eat lunch.  I ate 30% of a watermelon.  It tasted so good.  I had plans of going out to the road and installing the two 18 foot gates but it was too hot.  I did not want to stand out in the sun.  So we went back to the barn to move the milking lean to access.  This way when we shut the green gate the animals can just run out to the square pen without us having to wire in the cattle panel to make the corner. 

We ended up ripping up some of the floor and changing out the entire corner beam as it was rotten on the bottom.  It did not help that it was the west side of the building in the hot afternoon sun.  It was hot!  I drank over a gallon of water today. 

We had to move the pickup into the barn lot as it had all our tools in it.  It only took the shop one day to the fix the pinion bearing in the rear end.  I got some twine wrapped around it when picking up the hay and it ruined it.  Not too expensive and very timely.  We had to keep chasing the horses away as they wanted to sample the paint job on the pickup.  I missed them once.  The pickup has two bite marks in the hood.  I have no idea why they like the paint off of vehicles. 


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hay epic has begun.

First day progress

I want to thank my wife and Sean T from T25 fame for giving me the motivation to keep working out!
Last year, we moved 7 ton of hay with three people and I thought I was going to die.  I was sore for four days afterwards and couldn't function for the first two.  This time around there were only two of us (Mr. President's brother) and I.  We loaded 12 ton of hay in two days (15 hours).  All neat and tidy in the barn and ready for winter, 250 bales.  The horses had a great time today trying to eat grain only all day as we were unloading.  

I had the .243 just in case we saw any coyotes, we didn't because I was prepared.  I did thin a rock chuck every day.  They hid after the first one of the day vanished.  We saw a small covey of baby pheasants and a baby deer today.  The bees were so thick in the thistles that the whole field was buzzing.  I am sure there is another hive out there somewhere.  Our hive in the barn has split twice already.  We are pretty happy with that.  I need to cover the access to the barn hive back up.  I may try sticking my phone in the wall and taking some pictures.  Last time I tried to get close pictures I got stung!  

We had a guy call and reserve 10 pregnant ewes.  He mailed us a deposit to hold them.  Our deal on the 43 sold fell through as the guy did not call back.  Tonight after my nap ( I said I could do it, not that I was not tired!), he called again and said he had lost his phone.  I told him there were 25 sheep left.  He said he would be here tomorrow.  Annmarie and I had to go out and sort the sheep.  We pulled off 8 ewes and four babies attached to those ewes.  There are 29-30 sheep left.  I called him back and said 29 sheep and if it's 30 he can have it for free.  We sold five on Saturday. After next week we will have sold all our extras!  I will line up our lamb customers for next year in the late spring.  We will be selling lambs twice next year.  It will be great to get things under control.  We should have 10-15 tons of hay for sale next year also.  A hay elevator is on the list for next year!  Dragging bales to the top of the stack is tough work!  
As an added bonus it rained tonight and the hay was all in!

All done 12 ton in and ready for winter.

Farm 4, Predators 3

It is only fair to give credit where it is due, I let the predators count the three baby lambs they snagged off the back hillside.  Gannon killed another possum so we get credit for that.  We are still not happy about the loss of the lambs. 

We caught the cows again on Thursday and doctored them.  Three of them had runny eyes so we squirted powder medicine in their eyes.  The calf we had treated earlier looked better but we doctored it again and put a patch over his eye.  He looks like a pirate now!  You squirt this glue, looks like rubber cement then slap it over the eye, ensuring no glue gets in the eye.  Said pirate ran into the fence several times before managing to get out of the square pen.  Obviously, he can still see out of the injured eye.  We ran all the cows into the square pen and then the chute.  The cows no longer want to go into the square chute!  It took a little while, three tries and some gentle pressure.  The one nutter kept getting in a fight and causing the cows to jump around.  

Annmarie got us some halters for the calves and they worked great!  Calf just leaned into them trying to pull away and then stayed still, way better than wrestling them to the ground and trying to pin them down

The end barn door was in sad shape.  I fixed it and added a wire panel so the sheep would not jump over the bottom section.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

It is coming...

We broke down and did it, a sheep sorting system has been purchased. The best place in the country for sheep and goat handling supplies is Premeir Equipment.  We want to make a one time purchase that lasts the rest of our lives. It was not cheap, but one person will now be able to sort the sheep.  It cost $1800 for the system pieces but weighs almost 900 pounds so the freight shipping cost is another $600.  The sale of the sheep this year is going to cover the cost.  Hopefully, it arrives in the next two weeks. 

We are getting ready to catch the calf with the eye issues a third time today.  This has prompted us to start looking at cattle handling equipment. We have decided to build our own chutes from railroad ties and cattle panels and two more pens on the far side of the barn. We think we can get all materials for under $2000.  This is a next year spring project.  We still need to take measurements and draft out a design.  

I loaned our trailer and tractor out for two weeks and now I need to pickup hay.  So we purchased a ball assembly to go onto our fifth hitch rail.  We will now be able to borrow a gooseneck trailer.  I spent yesterday getting my parents trailer to a point were it is usable.  It's not very big, but it will work.  I need to look at a set of forks for the tractor so I can pick up the hay all by myself.  Another convenience, necessary item, as it is sometimes difficult to line up help for a day or two only.  I will have to get a price quote on that from RDO.  They have been great and easy to work with on equipment and add ons. 

Our sheep deal fell through.  The guy called back once and said he was still interested just needed to make transport arrangements.  I called on Monday and left a message.  I have had three more calls this week. The new rule is a deposit is now required to hold any sheep.  I am going to update my craigslist posting to reflect this additional reality check.  It is an amazing tool, but I have sorted the sheep multiple times and people just don't show up.  I did my second minivan load!  A tarp was thrown sown on the floor in the back of a minivan and sheep were loaded in!  It makes me chuckle every time they drive away.  

Our hay is baled and ready to be picked up.  It did very well and we bought an extra 1.7 tons so we should have almost 13-14 ton this winter.  Plenty to get us through any type of winter.  Next year, with the additional acreage we will probably have to sell a few tons of hay.  

It really does seem like we are gaining ground and making progress.  The ultimate goal is to get it set up so one person can easily and safely handle every animal type. There is enough subdivided pastures to run two cow herds and two sheep herds.  Pastures are weed low and growing edible grasses.  I think we can be there in five to seven years.  It will have taken some time but it is doable.  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Sheep sorting.

Sarah and I had to go out last week and sort all the sheep.  We needed to figure out which ewes we are keeping and who goes away.  Plus all the females over one year old or who are pregnant needed a scrapie tag applied to there ear.  Getting them into the barn is easy with Zeke.  Sorting them while they are in the barn is terrible.  It took us three hours to sort, catalog, tag babies and scrapie tags on 70+ sheep.  At one point early on, the leaping animals head butted Sarah in the mouth trying to escape through the gap in the feeders she was guarding.  It almost worked, but Sarah stayed upright and kept the opening secured. 

I also installed a switch for the front creek pump we are using to irrigate the orchard.  Now, you don't have to pull the extension cord in and out of the outlet to get the pump to turn off and on.  Just move the switch.  Plus the covers are both water resistant so hopefully the GFI will quit tripping all the time. 

I had to clean off the inlet cover to the front pump as the creek has dropped a couple of inches and the output had dropped.  I cleaned out the cover and redug out the creek near the pump.  It did not help so we switched out sprinkler nozzles for one that can handle a lower pressure.  I will probably have to install a dam soon to get the pump head back up to reasonable levels.  Our orchard looks good this year. 

Now that we have officially lost two lambs the coyote war is on.  I am going to have to take some evening strolls up the edge of the wheat field to check in on the predators.  They need to get thinned out a little.  I may even have to get a predator call to put on the back hillside occasionally.  I am going to have to start practicing with my .17 HMR. 

Irrigation pump switch.

Cattle shenanigans

Self captive

Well today was animal sorting day.  We got another call and it looks like the sale is still on for all of our extra sheep. We decided to run the sheep back into the barn. We had gotten a few of our keeper ewes in with the sell herd.  We also lost a couple of lambs, a set of twins, from the sell herd.  Annmarie shot a coyote just behind the house this week and today I spotted a coyote up in the upper prime pasture.  The sheep were crazy like they always are in the summer and leaping around in the barn!  We had on little boy who jumped up four feet and into one of the feeders.  He got stuck and could not get out.  We had to lay the feeder on its side so he could run out.  Every time the sheep ran by me they would leap 4-5 feet in the air,  worse than frogs they are.  Eventually, we opted to just put a scrapie tag in the extra ewe and sell her also and just turned them loose again.  We will get the final count when we load them up for sale. 

Zeke and I went up and herded the cows back down to the square pen.  It wasn't too bad.  Then last years boys had to have a head butting match in the square pen.  We got everyone into the loading chute but could not grab the babies.  Annmarie went to go get a rope down at her mom's house while Sarah and I waited.  The baby cows managed to work their way to the back of the chute and I pushed them toward the gate with a stick.  We got all three babies out into the square pen while the mommas were stuck in the chute.  The calves are only a couple months old but weigh in the 70-80 pound range.  They are fast!  We had to wait for the rope.  I am not a cowboy and I do not know how to throw a rope.  So I held the loop open and attempted to sneak up and drop it over their heads.  It worked but wow was I not expecting the ensuing battle.  That is one upset calf and it can really throw its body around and bawl loud.  Annmarie tried to grab it while I was holding onto the rope desperately.  I managed to work my way up next to the calf and Annmarie.  She was trying to put it on its side but could not lift it.  I thought she wanted to pull its legs out from the opposite side, I could not do it.  Finally, she communicated that I needed to grab behind and in front of the legs grabbing the loose skin and lifting the animal up off the ground onto my knees and dropping it down on its side.  It really does work.  We ear tagged both girls and then when I tried to rope the little bull I only caught a back leg down by the hoof.  Catching it around the neck is easier to hold then a back foot, just saying.  We finally got it on its side and I attempted to hog tie its feet together.  It did not hold, obviously I need more practice.  The little bull has a white spot on its left eye.  We took a picture and called someone who said it was pink eye or a sticker in its eye irritating things.  So we will need to give it a shot and irrigate the eye.  We are so going to wait for our nephew to help us on Sunday.  I just had to do this last week on a three year old human at work and it wasn't easy.  I don't imagine a 2 month old calf is going to be easier.  We did tag every calf, two little girls and one boy. 

Hard day wrestling calves

Annmarie and I both ended up covered in cow poop.  One of the calves smeared poop on the sides of his siblings right before we started to wrestle with them.  I think she knew what was coming and just wanted to get her revenge in early.  It was one of the little girls. 

So we have enough money saved know for the sheep sorting chute and in the next few years will get a sorting chute arranged for the cattle. 

Sticker or pink eye?

Farm 3, Predators 0

It has happened again!  I am victorious. The sly, stealthy, nocturnal beast has been eliminated.  Our eggs just kept disappearing and we were starting to have serious supply issues.  It was bad enough that I broke out the live trap and set it up.  That first night I just could not sleep, kept rolling over in bed and listening for the clang of the trap doors.  It never came.  I heard this high pitched short meow like whine coming from the coop.  You might think it is a cat, but it is a possum. I ran outside with a flashlight, my Walther P-22, my boots and wearing Annmarie's satin robe ready to engage my adversary.  Sure enough, there was a possum in the chicken enclosure running around the coop yard.  The live trap was still set and the possum was frustrated because I had shut the human door and it could not get in to eat eggs, too stupid to go up the chicken ramp.  The possum kept running around the far end of the chicken yard and my laser needs new batteries so I could not see the red dot.  That is the excuse I am going to use for missing the first three times.  Finally, the possum decided to run straight at me!  When it was four feet away I shot it in the head a couple of times.  

The next morning I disposed of the body and pulled the electronic chicken door out of the wall.  It was time to get it functional again.  I took it to work and did some troubleshooting. The power supply cord had a broken wire.  After that was repaired I could not get the motor to turn more than a couple of revolutions. I unhooked the door and the motor would turn one direction only.  I had to wire brush the rust off the piece of thread all and hose it down with WD-40.  I hooked the motor back up but the door will only open. The bottom switch was broken.  I contacted my chicken door guy and got part number and online store he uses.  I ordered two switches, one for now and one for later.   They came two days ago and I installed it yesterday.  It works!  Chicken Fort Knox is back in business!