Saturday, July 25, 2015

Pretty cow is a boy:(

The calf did not take to getting caught initially.  He was fighting.  It's always funny seeing your own expressions.

He did calm down once I had three legs.

trauma is complete they just need to leave.

Annmarie and I went out this morning to tag the new baby calf born last week.  There was great hope it would be a girl and we could keep it due to the wonderfully colorful markings.  Nope, it was a boy.  I spotted it while I was chasing the cows down our long driveway.  It took us about 1.5 hours to get the cows into the barn lot.  They just did not want to cooperate.  We had to go back and forth in the lower field twice.  We never would have gotten them without the dog, but he just doesn't like to work the cows and has be continually prompted. 
It wouldn't be a roundup unless they went far distances to get caught.
He also kept looking at me for commands every time Annmarie gave him one.  I just quit talking and let her run the dog.  Kinda like a remote with no batteries, useless.  Zeke finally caught on and was actually listening to her by the end of the second hour.  He got hot and needs a second hair shaving for the year.  I had initially thought one would do the trick the entire summer but obviously not.  He was a lot more active when his hair was shorter. 

Once we got the cows into the barn lot I figured it was easy.  Nope, we had one of the young heifers that did not want to go into the corral.  Mostly, because she is picked on by the other cows and didn't like being that close to anyone because they picked on her.  We had to finally resort to tapping her on the nose with a stick when she tried to run past us before we got them into the corral.  This is only the second time we have done it but the babies seem to stay in the pen and everyone else eventually goes into the sorting chute.  I am still using 2x4 to block the chute opening at the far end as our gates are not fabricated yet.  We pushed all the adult cows into an adjacent holding pen in case the baby went through the chute also.  I tagged and banded the calf while Annmarie held it.  It was amazingly easy at one week of age compared to the last one Rob and I did at one month of age!
We were going to tag and band the sheep but there is a bunch of wood from the old house stacked into the barn.  I need to fix a few things in the barn.  I need a grain bucket holder, grain bucket feeder ledge, hay bale wall feeder and to fix both front doors and make them into four half size doors.  This needs to happen sooner than later.  I also need some mouse poison for the tack room.  I saw a bunch of new mouse turds. 

Irrigation ditch progress

Pump pond started.

Yesterday was backhoe day. I had the whole day planned out.  I was going to dig out the irrigation pond.  Dig out the irrigation ditch in the orchard and knock down the ditch berm so I would have access to the ditch with my tractor. Then I was going to go down below the pond and fill in the old flood irrigation channels and level out the berm.  Over the years the berms have been built up to the point they are super steep and I cannot get into the ditch with my tractor.  My goal is to flatten all the berms so I can get into the ditch and clean them out with the little tractor. 
Pond complete.  If you look at concrete you can see the water line when it is backed up.

lower ditch below irrigation pump.
I had a plan of attack and stuck with it.  I rented the backhoe locally for only $250/day.  I had the irrigation pond done in one hour!  I spent three weeks on it this spring and paid someone to help.  Never again!  Now that I have a culvert in place I can drive the little tractor to the other side and make it flat.  In the spring I will drag it down another foot and then plant grass.  My mud pile was four feet deep but so unsafe I just left it.  In a couple of weeks I will try and move it with my little tractor to fill up an old flood irrigation ditch.  The ditches are unusable now and just make the terrain rough.  I will be filling them in all over the farm whenever I can.  I drove the backhoe into the orchard to tackle the berm and ditch.  The backhoe was making short work of the berm.  I don't have as much practice with it so using the bucket to smooth out the dirt next to the ditch was not going well.  I will come back and do it with the little tractor.  I can smooth out a nice path with the little tractor and box blade, practice makes perfect.  I had just moved to the other side of the tree when I started losing moving power on the backhoe side.  I was able to move it around a couple of times before I finally just shut it down.  I stepped out and an old hydraulic hose had busted.  I managed to get three hours done before the rupture.  I went back into town to deliver the news.  The important part was done, the irrigation pond!  I also want to flatten out a spot by our propane tank for a potential lean to for the alpaca.  I won't be building it this year but probably next year. 
I fired up the little tractor and went below the pond to clean out the ditch.  I made it all the way down the ditch to the school house divider fence.  Then I drove the tractor down to the school house.  My ditch had filled up/cows had eroded the walls because I just used the box blade to make it.  Causing the ditch to be shallow and wide, which allowed the cows to erode the walls.  There is one huge swamp down there now.  I dug old dry irrigation ditch out and then went over into the swamp until I thought I would get stuck then I four wheeled the tractor through the swamp using my tractor tires as a ditch.  This actually worked!  Now I just need to hit it with a hand shovel for 30 minutes and give it a couple of weeks to dry up.  Once it is dry then I can go in and dig it down with the little tractor.  I need to get the two culverts into these fields so I can actually get equipment across the ditch.  Digging the ditch down is going to make it impossible to just drive thru the ditch so the culverts are necessary. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Old house/shed now clean.

second room all clean now.
I spent all weekend cleaning out the house.  I emptied out 12 boxes of giveaway.  We are trying to get ready for company at the end of the week.  So I went on a binge and cleaned and emptied and threw stuff away.  After spending all weekend inside I figured it was time to tackle the old house.  I had tools and wood piled all over the floor.  There was not a horizontal surface empty and you had to step on wood or sneak around it to get any where in the building.  I just started throwing stuff out of the building.  We cleaned out the second room!  I have a couple more items to empty but not much and it is now useable.  The best part of the whole cleaning process was I needed a new pressure switch for the front irrigation pump.  I found a brand new one in the yellow cabinet!!  I can fix it myself and get the pump going next week, very nice. 
shop clean
I have to work tomorrow so my nephew is earning some summer money by hauling everything to the barn, the burn pile or the metal scrap pile.  The back porch needs some serious work also.  He will be tackling that also.  I gave him enough of a list that I don't expect him to finish tomorrow.  The best part was cleaning out the building only took us four hours.  It will take at least that long just to move the stuff from the front yard! I will now be able to find all my tools and not trip on anything. 
shop now clean.

Trash heap and wood pile for the barn.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Last baby cow of the year.

Pretty baby! Gender unknown at this point.

Annmarie and I went out this morning to get pictures of the two day old baby. I had seen it and knew it had some unique coloring. I couldn't get close. So we stopped and picked done green apples to entice the cows to stay close. We left Zeke guarding the open gate and continued up the hill to the cows. I kept talking and started tossing apples. After the bull found one he came right over to me and took them from my hand. It is a little disconcerting to have him that close. He kept reaching out with his tongue for another apple.  The baby started walking toward Annmarie and just kept going. It got within four feet before she chased it off. The momma was standing behind baby stomping on ground and waving her horns. Annmarie called Zeke and he came running. As soon as the cows heard his name, they started looking around.  Once they spotted him they walked away from us. He was such a good boy!  It is amazing how much easier it is to work the animals. 
My only problem with Zeke is he thinks my commands are suggestions when I am calm. Once I start hollering, pointing and swearing he does exactly what I want. So basically, I have trained him to listen to me rant. It is a spectacle. 

2nd and last baby of 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

Hay done.

First bay as full as its gonna get.
Yesterday was the day, the hay is in!  I had two 17 year old boys walking along and loading bales onto the trailer. I drove and when back at the barn, unloaded while they stacked. We had to use the second bay.  Now there is about three ton in the second bay so we should be able to feed the horses without taking the hay all the way through the barn. We only picked up around fifteen ton of hay. Double last years amount and we are getting ten ton of large bales for the cows. The large bales are going to go in the machine shop hay storage area. We cleaned that out, and scraped it clean so it is all ready to go. I still need to get a custom chain hay hook device welded up. I am going to take thirty foot of chain and have large hay hooks welded to each end so I can yard out the big bales with my small tractor. The bales are too heavy for my tractor to lift but I can drag them around. 
The idea of converting the three grain bins to a guest house popped up again. If a composting toilet was used and a water storage tank, with a grey water drain to a flower bed it wouldn't be too bad to convert. It's just an idea at this point.   It would be a very cool vacation getaway for us to rent out. All solar powered, with a small propane fridge and heat. I love the idea. 

I am going to clean up the old house and reorganize all my tools hopefully then I can find what I need for the next project.  Once a year I go back into the old house and cleanup. I should do it more often, but as long as I can find tools I just keep going.  The wood for various projects is lying all over and needs to be sorted again so I can see what I do and don't have. I have been looking at a Kregg jig for creating my kitchen door face plate on the cabinets. It's about $250 for all the stuff I need plus the oak for the faceplate. I still need to look into premade door sizes.  
The 80 acre wheat field did very well this year despite the weather. Donna was pleasantly surprised. I am just glad someone else is doing it. 

Machine shop hay area ready for large alfalfa bales

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Catching up on fencing.

Second reason to paint/stain fence, water protection.

Herbicides are my friend.
Yesterday was a day to catch up on items around the farm.  I do still need to move hay but we had so much rain the night before that I need to let the hay dry out a little more before sticking it into the barn.  I happened to glance over at the small part of our front fence that is painted and noticed the amazing job of rain repellent the Sherwin Williams stain we used was doing.  This is definitely another reason to paint the fence.  I love herbicides!  They make an intolerable job of weed control doable for one person.  As you can see my weeds are wilting and dying, this is a good thing. 
Creek crossing after bull tore out all the paneling and made a cow highway. 

My nephew cleaned out the other hay room. He removed all the old boards and restacked the straw near the door.  We spent the afternoon fixing fences. Annmarie wanted to turn the boy sheep (edible herd) onto the back hill side. We discussed the benefit of animal weed depridation and I was all for the assist.  But first we had to repair the creek crossing the bull ripped up. I have a wire spanning the creek way up in the air and hang panels down that I lift in the late winter before the spring runoff. He was wading into the stream and lifting the panels with his horns and crawling under them. 
To thwart this behavior we drove a steel rod four feet into the bank on each side parallel to the ground and attached a removable steel cable. Now I can clip the bottom of the panels to the cable to prevent lifting and remove the cable before spring. Pure genius!  We we'd to re stretch a short chunk of fence near the crossing as one of the cows had torn it up. On the way out of the field we fixed the little human gate. Both hinges were upright so the bull would lift it off and escape. We re drilled and turned the upper hinge. We also fixed a stretch of fence by the apple tree. 
We then went to the far upper corner of the property and added woven wire to two stretched gates so the sheep could not get through. I need a sixteen and 18 foot gate to replace those. We re stretched a third gate and went to the upper pasture and clipped in panels in the creek bed so the ram could not sneak through and get to the ewes.  It fixed all the big outstanding issues we have with the fence currently. I am seriously considering a fence across the narrow part of the driveway. It would stay open most of the time. It would help immensely when moving animals. We will move the boys tomorrow.  

New and improved cow resistant crossing. 

Last farm dog hurdle achieved.

Zeke is a real farm dog now. He learned today to ride on the flatbed empty and with hay. It was really the last thing he needed to check off on his bucket list. We did three loads of hay today, 100 bales approximately 4 ton. Zeke ate another five voles. Annmarie thought sprout had chased him off his food, I just think he is not that hungry. 
While unloading the second load my left knee started bothering me as I was climbing the hay pile with a bale in tow. I finally just gave up and had the nephew climb the pile. I did the loading and unloading. I scheduled more help for Friday. I figured two teenage boys can tear it up. I will drive and work on the new feeder in the barn while they unload the hay. 
After lunch we went to the metal scrap yard, my favorite place. I picked up about 1000 feet of woven wire, two cow panels slightly abused, two nine foot long culverts (precut and waiting for me!), a few horseshoes and some chain. I ran out of space on the trailer. Next week I am going to rent a backhoe to finish digging out the irrigation ditch. 
Zeke decided to be some help moving the sheep after first trying it his way!  Eventually, he listened to me and five minutes later the sheep were where they needed to be.  Sometimes I think he doesn't think I am giving commands unless there is yelling and swearing involved. This is not a PG-13 show!  I will never be able to take him to a sheep dog competition. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Hay day 2.

Day 2 hay stacking.

Well day 2 is completed. Not only can my entire body now talk back to me, I have more blisters to prove it.  I started the morning of day two with two blisters and two bandaids covering those blisters.  The cloth bandaids worked wonders and those blisters were protected.  Now the other three I acquired on my right hand were not protected.  The one on the inside of my finger where the hay hook rubbed tore open.  I will now need five bandaids on Monday to pick up hay.  My helper for the day was a young man who needed some money.  He had never picked up or moved hay before.  He got the hang of it pretty quick, but I don't think he realized how hard it was going to be.  On the plus side, it didn't scare him away and he is willing to come back out again at the end of the week.  All my help is off for almost two weeks so I have just been taking the help whenever I can.  I really need to get a hay elevator.  Unloading the hay into the barn is the worst part.  We have it stacked over 17 feet high in the barn and you have to drag the bales up a bale ladder to get to the top.  My thighs and hips can tell you that it is not an easy thing.  We brought in 128 bales yesterday and approximately 80 the day before.  It was much cooler on day 2 and we started at 0600.  The early start made all the difference.  By the fourth load we were wearing out.  It took twice as long to unload it. 
Zeke was slaying voles left and right!  We got to where we would call him over before turning the bale over and then he would jump on the voles and bite them to death.  Not exactly pleasant for the voles.  He would spit them out onto the ground and wait for the next bale to be turned over.  After a couple of trips back and forth he must of decided he needed a protein pack.  He ate the last five!  In his defense, dinner was going to be another eight hours away.  At the rate we are filling up the barn I think we will need to use both hay rooms.  I will have to clean the boards out of the other one.  I also need to clean out the hay side of the machine shop so we can store the alfalfa. 

Today, I opted to not move hay.  Instead I sprayed weeds.  We had an infestation of goat heads and various other creeping weeds.  They should be crying by now, I finished spraying an hour ago. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hay started.

Right side of field needing picked up.

Left side of field.
Well today was the day we started picking hay up off the ground.  It is going to take a while.  We have to get all those little bales off the ground and into the barn.  Cam came out to the farm today to help me with the hay.  He brought his dog, a 3.5 month old puppy with him.  The puppy just was not sure how to deal with that much dust and heat.  By the end he did not want to come out from under the trailer.  Meanwhile, Zeke is running around the field terrorizing the animals till he got hot and tired.  We had to clean out the hay room first and restack the leftover hay from last year near the front.  Once, we got to the bottom of the stack we started to see mice so I called Zeke into the hay room.  He killed three mice.  The weirdest part is he does not eat them.  He just bites them till they are dead then bites them a couple more times and spits them out.  Cam stepped on a vole tail in the field and Zeke finished it off.  He loves killing small rodents.  Not as much as he likes chasing sheep though, nothing trumps sheep in his book.  Not even chasing cats.  He works the cows for me but only because I want him to, if he had his way I don't think he would do it.  We did two loads, around 3 ton of barley/oat hay.  The storage room is already starting to stack up.  I am definitely going to have to empty and rearrange the other side to get all the hay into the barn.  Tomorrow, another eager teenager is coming out to the farm to help me with the hay.  I don't think he has ever done it before. 
First trailer load for the barn.

Riggs, 3.5 month old puppy.  He was not too excited about helping.  Brand new experience for him. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Tagging and banding caught up.

Rob came to see us again today.  It is always a pleasure to have him come visit us.  The free food for labor plan we have is always available to any one willing for a little adventure.  The sheep have been having babies in droves and last time we banded and tagged was last time Rob was visiting.  So we did it again today.  Zeke came out and we tried to round up the baby sheep and mommas.  I always forget how painful it is to try and herd a bunch of new mothers and babies.  The Barbados in them causes the mothers to get all protective and they just don't want to comply with the dog pushing them around.  We had to go into the old lambing barn to make sure it was empty of sheep.  Nope, there was a month old lamb with its head stuck between the tire and frame of the mule.  Luckily, it was still alive.  We usually go a week or two before checking the building.  It got lucky.  So now, I need to get the tractor and move the mule.  The sheep and horses love the old lambing building.  Rob did good snagging sheep.  He was able to catch each set of twins at the same time.  We had nine more sheep to tag and band.  We made the sheep run out of the barn through the chute.  They are starting to get used to it. 

Next on the agenda was the cows.  We had one baby that was born last month that had not even been gender checked yet.  We walked down and only saw 5 cows not 6.  So we walked down the pasture to the school house looking for a dead cow.  We didn't find a cow carcass but boy did we see some game birds!  We scared up a big rooster pheasant, several covey of baby pheasants, a covey of quail, a covey of Hungarian partridges, some mourning doves and some fan tail doves.  We also saw a set of twin deer laying next to the old school house.  Once we hoofed it back to the apple tree where the five deer where located the 6th heifer showed up.  A couple of attempts occurred before we got the cows out of the field an on there way to the corral.  The corral was amazing!  It will be even better when we get the two custom gates installed in the actual chute. 

We got the calf separated from the herd and Rob went to catch it.  I had warned him that it was not the same as catching the baby sheep.  I don't think he believed me until he actually tried to catch the calf.  Then he could not grab it or hold it down.  It took a few tries and then I could not band it.  we had to reposition the calf.  I was able to band it and tag it.  My mother will be happy, it is a baby boy so in 18 months it will be dinner.  Tomorrow if the weather cooperates, we are going to start bringing in some hay. 

Rob after a single encounter with a 3 week old calf. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

There is always something.

Tractor tire flat.

July started out with a bang!  On the first day we got a flat tire on the right rear tire.  My nephew drove over a huge nail.  The next day I had him use a magnet all around the barn to pick up loose nails and metal scraps.  I knew it needed to be done, I was just putting it off.  I had to take the tire in to get it repaired.  I had the candy bar twin stacking rocks over by the new culvert in the barn lot.  I need to raise the dirt level at least four feet and the rocks are to line the sides.  Once I get the rocks and dirt level with both sides of the old bridge foundation I will cover the whole thing with gravel.  It is just one more thing I need to get done this year. 
Unfortunately, this has fallen down on the priority list along with the front fence.  It is still too hot to stain the fence and now we have hay baled and on the ground.  That hay is now a priority and needs to be brought into the barn.  I don't have the old 9n tractor with hay lift working yet so it is going to be done the old fashioned way, hay hooks and muscle.  The new field is approximately 15 acres and had a bumper crop of hay this year, 5 ton/acre.  That is a lot of hay.  So I have to move approximately 270 small bales into the barn and then make room in the machine shed for at least 10 more ton of large 800 lb bales.  The good thing is we will have plenty of hay this winter.  Next year I will figure out how much we need to sell.
I have been having my teenage helpers dig out the front creek.  It is all done now down to the pump.  I just need to kill the weeds and we should be good for the year. 
Tomorrow a friend is coming and we are going to work the sheep and cows.  I need to tag babies of both varieties.  We don't know what is the gender of the baby cow.  We have been talking and 3-4 more heifer cows may be in order next year.  Otherwise, it could take us ten years to get to ten heifers.  I still have six baby chickens from my two batches.  They are still alive!  The sheep continue to pop out more babies.  This has been going on for almost three months continuously.  We are so glad we pulled the ram off the herd and are looking forward to having all the babies in a one month period.  This continuous dropping of newborn is painful to keep track of everyone.