Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Internet vs3.0

I had a plan, it just needed some freezing weather to come to fruition. What I did not anticipate was the plague. I started feeling very ill on Christmas Eve and it just went downhill from there. I missed Christmas dinner and spent over 36 hours in bed straight. By Monday morning I could move but AnnMarie had the plague and was miserable. It was my last day with the boom and I had promised AnnMarie internet or we would go back to the phone company for our super slow but reliable internet.

  I put on my new coat and headed out into the cold. The boom started no trouble and I was able to maneuver it into place. I had to keep moving the boom around with the wheels. It goes up well but will only reach sideways so far. I did a bunch of manipulating and had to go everything three times as I was still fighting the funk and my brain was not at its usual 75%.  
 The longer I worked the softer the soil got and the wind started blowing. When you are 40 feet in the air and try to move the boom one foot to the left it jerks around a lot!  I almost hurled a few times. I was really glad for the safety harness. I finally managed to get it up. Locktite on the tighteners and everything in place. I moved the vent dish around and hoped we had internet. My cell phone had died halfway into this three hour ordeal so I could not call anyone. Good thing I didn't fall out of the bucket. 
When I went inside we had internet!!!  We watched tv that was not from an antenna. Life is good. I called the internet people and set up an appointment for them to come aim the dish and replace the bent reflector. They are coming at 1100 tomorrow, Mission accomplished. 
It's tomorrow and our internet went out in the middle of the night. The dish is still up and on the pole so I don't know what is wrong. AnnMarie tells me that Skype or any live web stream has not worked since we switched to antenna. I will have to pass that along today. 

Internet vs2.0

We have been without the internet for over three weeks. The weather would not allow me to crawl up onto the machine shop roof. I finally realized that was not going to happen this winter. Annmarie stated that we were not going to wait until summer before getting the internet back. So I tried to rent a very tall boom. They would love to rent me said boom just that it has to be delivered on a semi truck. I was going to have it delivered on Monday of last week but upon weakening I could hear the wind howling. I called the rental company and asked what the wind recommendations were he said 20 mph. I said don't bother delivering it. 
On Thursday I called and set up delivery for Friday at 0900. We had two days of beautiful warm weather. It was a little muddy but the rental guy had assured me the boom was four wheel drive and would have no trouble. 
I called Friday morning to say the wind was howling again. There was no wind at the rental place. He then tells me that due to the holiday if I take delivery today then pickup will not be until Tuesday morning. I'm thinking that is a heck of a window so bring it on out. The delivery guy drops it off and gives me the five minute instruction. He shows me the foot pedal I have to push to make anything work while in the basket. Its a safety feature. I go back inside and at noon come out to fix the antenna. I have all my tools in a bucket. My safety harness on, AnnMarie made me wear it and I try to start the lift. Damn thing will not start. I get out and can start it from the motor side but from the boom I cannot. I am pushing the foot pedal. So I call the rental place, luckily they did not close early on Friday and get some walk through. I am doing everything correct. Then I got out on speakerphone and find out that the only time you do not push the foot pedal is when you are starting the machine.  Does that make any sense?  So I am off and running.


 I go to maneuver the boom into place and it starts sliding all over in the five inches of mud. It is not four wheel drive!!  Only two wheel drive with positrac on that differential. I gave up trying to get any work done and concentrated on trying to get the boom out of the mud onto the road. The boom was heavier than it looked but being able to move 500 pounds on a 45 foot boom would mean the base needs to be heavy. I managed to finally slip and slide my way into the road and parked it. I would need to wait until we get some solid freezing temperatures. I did look at the forecast and cold weather with more snow was coming. 


Cows are not coming home.

Just before Christmas AnnMarie called me at work to tell me the cows were out again. After the last time, she told me I would have to come home and do it as the cause is usually my lack of fencing skills. This time I am happy to say had nothing to do with my actual fencing skills. I forgot to shut the gate after the last time the cows got out. This had not been noticeable because once the snow hits the cows quit wandering. We just had a chinook wind clear off all the snow on the hillside and the grass is green so the cows are wandering.  By the time I got the dressed for the biting wind, got both dogs and got the tractor through three gates the cows had already put them selves back on the correct side of the fence.  
I just had to wire the gate shut. This was the third fence I put up on the place and my rock cribs are falling over. They were too small, too tall and not enough rocks. They are starting to lean precipitously downhill. It's just a matter of time before the gate one collapses. 
So the dogs and I ran down to the other end of the fence by the schoolhouse. There is another loose spot in the fence bordering the CRP. This section has never been touched by me. I have been slowly fixing sections but this far section has had nothing done for 10 years. Looking at it I would say it's more like 30 years. I need to add some more metal T-posts and a bunch of wooden stays. I am short on stays so I will need to get another 500 in 2017. 
Plus, I need a couple more railroad ties or a heavy duty rock crib to pull the fence to so I can get it tight. 
AnnMarie wants me to make an enclosure for the bull. I want to use the barn lot but it means I will need about 25 railroad ties and I am going to have to string a hot wire on the fence. There is no other way I am going to be able to keep him in. Even after reinforcing the fence short of a huge wooden corral and that is cost prohibitive. 



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The wind blows.

I had to cancel the boom lift on Monday. I called first thing in the morning to ask what the wind rating was on the boom when it was 43 feet in the air. The guy says 20 mph. I replied that we were already past that.  So I am now trying to find a time when the wind will not blow. 

This morning I woke up at 0430 to get ready for a meeting. First thing I did was look out the window and notice there was no snow on the hillside. Second thing I did was utter a swear word. There are five fence crossings with panels hanging into the spring creek runoff path. The trick is if I lift the panels before the water is running the animals just cross under the fence. But if I wait too long then I am wading into the runoff trying to lift the panels in the water. That is incredibly unsafe and not fun. We had a chinook wind all night and I was afraid the runoff would start any moment. 
I got dressed quickly and headed outside to lift the panels. The wind was howling and at the second crossing I had to go back to the house for tools. I needed a crescent wrench, large bolt cutters and a standard screw driver. The bolt cutters make short work of those locking clips with the built in locking nut. I have decided I need to buy 50 of the snap clips so I can actually get the panels moved easily. It took me over 1.5 hrs to get the crossings lifted. The only witness to my battle with the panels was an owl I spotted in a tree. The wind seemed to pick up speed the longer I stayed outside. 
When I came back to the house I learned that I had made a sacrifice to the wind gods, I had lost my screwdriver. 
I was still able to make it to work on time!! 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

It was supposed to be simple

All I had to do was feed the horses in the morning after AnnMarie left for church then I was going to go to the dreaded Home Depot. I was all ready, tossed Sprout in the pickup so he could ride with me to Hermiston and went out to feed the horses. Mika was better behaved this morning and not pushing on the gates.  I tossed them both some hay and went back into the hay room to get grain. The sheep were still in the barn and heard me scoop up the grain and came running.  I walked five feet through a corner of the barn to get to the horse area closing the gate behind me. After graining the horses I headed back to replace the scoop into the bin. I opened the gate and our ram (intact male sheep) was right there. He has been a very good boy lately so I ignored him. I had the plastic scoop at nose level and he was sniffing the empty scoop when I turned to latch the door. Now we all know their have been a few dominance issues with this ram but I keep thinking we have gotten them solved. After shutting the gate, a few seconds at most, I turned just as the ram was crashing into my side!  I managed to move just enough that only the pinky on my left hand got smashed. 
I turned and immediately thumped him on the head with my large plastic scoop. This did nothing but irritate him and cause him to repeatedly try and knock me to the ground. Luckily, it is fairly obvious when he is doing it as he likes to bunch up and push off with his back feet so his front feet are off the ground when he connects with his head. This gave me time to move out of the way and smack him again with the scoop. It was like smacking a 250# man with a fly swatter. It doesn't do any good. I just kept after it, the whole time getting him to backup so I could get to the wooden cudgel near the front sheep entrance to the barn. 

I snagged the cudgel with my left hand and smacked him on the head with both the cudgel and the plastic scoop. It was still was not working, he would not leave the barn. I switched hands, struck up a fencing pose hollered a challenge and proceeded to smack him on the head. (We watched Tarzan last night, I thought the auditory aspect might strike fear into his heart).  I drove him out of the barn twice and he came charging back in twice. The third time it was a continuous battle cry and some serious double head thumping. As he turned I gave him a couple more thumps and he retreated from the barn. He gave me the stink eye at the entrance but then walked off to go harass some ewe. I was victorious!!  

Sprout and I then went to Home Depot so I could get the special splined piece to remove the antenna mast.  We picked up a few extra things.  I am going to saw a piece of plywood in three pieces to sandwich the maps under a bed.
I also bought four more floor tiles to set in the hallway so we can make our color choice. I also priced all the material needed to do the entire downstairs floor. I will measure the floor and then calculate the material's cost. I need to get this project moving.  

Beautiful winter day

It was an amazing day yesterday. Some winter days are better than summer. Not many but on the rare occasion the weather is perfect, there is no wind and the sun shines. A few winter clothing items make the day amazing. 
I went out and cleaned Mika's horse area.  Shoveled it all out then used the tractor to clear it all away and make a pile in the lot. Since the sun was melting the snow I took the tractor and cleared the entire driveway.  I am hoping the sun can melt it off before more snow comes. 
I then drive my tractor to town (2 miles) and cleared off the fire station entrance and mom's driveway.  I had to run to town for ice melt. I got a 50 pound bag each so we would have some on hand. 
The snow kept sheeting off the roof which causes the dogs to jump up off the floor and bark. As if there is an intruder!  The house shakes if the sheet is large enough. 




Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Extra hay cometh.


Today was hay day. We had purchased an extra 20 ton of hay just in case. It really is overkill but I got the paranoid bug and pulled the trigger on the purchase pretty quick. I went in with a coworker and today was the day it got delivered of course I don't have a working large tractor still so they are making three trips. We used my little tractor to push or pull the bales off of the flat bed trailer. It's the huge bales 1300 pounds.  The tractor was able to move them. But I can only push about 3 feet from one side so we used a railroad tie to bridge the gap and let me push farther. I probably need s set of those clamp on forklift bars then I could have picked up a pallet and just pushed with the pallet.  I have had todo this several times I may look into that. The last trip is tonight and they will bring a tractor to stack as much as possible in the machine shop. The rest will go out to the grain bins and just get exposed to the weather. 
I pushed a 1300 pound bale to each set of cows and one for the alpacas. The alpacas will probably not need any more hay all winter long. The cows are good for at least two weeks. 

The sunset tonight was amazing. 

It's cold!


Winter is finally here!  It took its sweet time. If you scrape the snow aside you will find the green grass underneath. It was 9 degrees F this am. That is cold. Annmarie and I broke out the Carhart bibs on Sunday and it has gotten progressively colder. They say we are supposed to get more snow this week.  The cold temperatures will help the snow stay. Sprout is back to just running outside to go potty and then running over in front of the gas stove to get warm. He doesn't like the bitter cold. The border collies don't care its just something else for them to entertain themselves. They were so tired last night that before and after dinner they just sacked out. It was a refreshing change. The puppy always wants to play fetch. Whether you want to or not is irrevelant. 
Zeke has been a bad boy the last two evenings. When we go out to feed we use the dogs to push the animals away from us so they don't rush the feeders while we are turned away. We don't want to end up on the ground. Zeke does fine until you tell him to stay while you go in a hay room then he sneaks off. He runs away to galavant arohnd the farm. So when you come out with hay,  mouse is the only one still left. This is great that Mouse listens so well but Zeke is the alpha and should be the dominate example for good behavior. He is not a good example for everything and unfortunately the puppy takes direction from him. I think the puppy stays just so he can harass the animals!  

I got a fairy egg last night when I got eggs!!  That means the baby chickens are starting to lay eggs.  It's a small egg the size of a quail egg and usually has no yolk. It's from an immature hen's reproductive system. Getting rid of the five roosters and getting the light going 18 hours a day is starting to pay off again. Our egg customers will be happy. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Butcher day

The butcher came out first thing on Sunday morning. It had just gotten light when he knocked on our front door. I gave him the good news that the sheep were all ready to go. I was trying to get breakfast and just opted for coffee. While Annmarie and I were talking she hollered about a sheep in the front yard. When we were laying in bed, prior to getting up, Annmarie had noticed one of the sheep bleating. She thought that this was the same sheep. I went outside to catch the lamb when the butcher hollered that the sheep had gotten out of the corral. When he pinned them into a corner to grab three they started jumping on each other's back to get over the corral wall. Two sheep had managed to get away. I went inside the house and grabbed a dog leash. I was finally able to catch the lamb, drag it over near the butcher on the yard side fence and hog tie three legs together with a dog leash. 
I left it in the yard instead of putting it in with the other sheep. I did think he would do the over back thing again if he was given a chance. I talked with the butcher and looked at the penned sheep. Sure enough the large whether that was so much of a problem managed to get out of the pen and is back with the other sheep. This caused me much angst. I went over to the herd and found him hiding in the background. I was getting ready to push them all in the barn and try to catch him when I realized I could just shoot him. This option seemed like an easy one. So I went back inside and grabbed the Ruger 10/22 bolt action rifle. I pushed all the sheep into the barn and the escape artist was in the very back of the barn hiding. I am not opposed to shooting inside the barn you just cannot miss.  He was not looking at me and I knew it had to. E a head shot. So I took careful aim and shot him in the head. He dropped like a stone. I congratulated myself, laid the rifle down and started to push the sheep out of the barn. He had his head up and was looking around!!  I was able to push the rest of the herd out while he drunkenly attempted to walk. I had given him a concussion!!  The bullet just bounced off his skull. This time I shut the barn doors and waited till he looked me straight in the eyes and shot him between the eyes. I dragged him out for the butcher and he gives me the good news that my hog tieing job only lasted 30 minutes. The sheep got loose. I just got in a position where I could shoot it in the head. I was done with chasing and dragging live animals. 
I saved all the solid organs, cow tails and cow tongues for some friends who feed their dogs an all natural diet. I will take the skulls up on the hillside to decay naturally. I have two skulls up on the hillsidefrom two years ago. It would take six months if I buried the heads but that is more work. I am not in a rush. 
The butcher was done in less than three hours. 

I tried to get on the machine roof and fix the Internet dish. We got all the tools together and I crawled up in the roof. I had not been up there ten minutes when it started to rain. I have worked in the ER too long to not know that I needed to get off the roof ASAP, no internet still. 

Steak and lamb chop time

The butcher is coming tomorrow. We are very happy. The cows were nice enough to break out of their area earlier in the week so I have been feeding them in the barn lot in anticipation of needing to sort out the two steers. We are keeping one for us and selling the other. We have about 8 packages of beef left. Earlier in the year one of the steers was looking pretty scrawny but I am happy to report he hit his growth spurt and they are both pretty much the same size. 
Since we had to sort the cows any ways we put their jewelry on. Our original three cows have white plastic chains with large numbered tags 101-103 and the other two producing females have blue chains with numbers 104 & 105.  We can keep the female babies from the white cows to build the herd and we sell, for food, all the cows from the blue necklace cows. We are hoping this arrangement will make it easier for us to tell who is who. The ear tags just don't seem to stay in. On a plus note, we did notice that our original three females have very low narrow and front facing horns compared to all our other cows. So we can physically tell them apart. 
We crammed them into the chute and I tried to wrap a plastic necklace around their neck while above them in the chute. It didn't work well. So AnnMarie got a 2x4 to slide through the rails of the chute to pin them in place and I started to hold both ends of the chain and slip it under their chin.  This worked pretty good. I had one female smash the top of my foot with her horn and I had another keep trying to hook my wrist with her horn. I got all five tags on the cows without any bruises or blood of my own being shed. 
AnnMarie grabbed the calf because she cannot make the ear tagger or elasticator work. Luckily, this is another keeper little girl!!  She has a white spot on her forehead and tail so she will be very easy to identify. We always get the mother's in a separate pen before catching the babies. Otherwise it is not safe! 
After getting the cows sorted we went to town to pick up our new piece of furniture from the antique store. I thought we were going to need three people to carry the thing across the bridge but come to find out yesterday it comes apart in pieces!!  It is a stacking modular system. Incredibly clever and well made. We had a spot for it just are not sure what we are going to put in it. 
We also scored some old maps from 1887 to 1913 of several local townships and some of the surrounding land. We are unsure how to mount them. We are thinking about covering an entire wall in the upstairs hallway as it never sees sunlight. It will take us a while to figure out how to effectively mount them. Until then I am going to cut three pieces of plywood and sandwich them under the bed so they lay flat. 

Dinner on the hoof!! Grass fed beef at its finest. 


AnnMarie had to go to a funeral so the job of sorting the sheep was left to Mouse, Zeke and myself!  We all three were confident in our abilities. 
So the first thing we did was push all the sheep into the barn and then pile them up at the end and run them through the chute. This went stunningly well. The dogs stayed in place with one tiny exception from mouse. I shook him and drug him back to his spot and he stayed. He really does know what he is supposed to do it's just not what he wants to do all the time. 
We sorted out 15 sheep and once that was done we ran those fifteen sheep through a second time to get it down to ten.  I had one wily large whether that jumped over the gate!  I ran the sheep back into the barn four more times trying to just wade in and grab him. By the third time I wanted to just go get the 22 LR and let a bullet do the catching but the butcher was not coming until the next day!!!  So I kept at it and finally managed to get him and nine of his closest buddies into the corral so they were stuck and ready for the butcher. Every few years we get one animal that is just painful to handle. This was his year. 


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Farm 4, predators 0

This is not where the cows belong!!  This is the hillside above the upper prime. It is not currently fenced in. I have plans for that but they have not made it past the planning stage, prep stage, supply stage and I have even managed to set up supplies on the job site but no actual fence has been constructed. The cows pushed through the last cow panel fence left. Initially, slapping a cow panel up as a gate seemed like a good idea. It works great for keeping the sheep in. The problem with this plan are the cows, specifically the bull. He loves getting by cow panels. He knows there is a way and just keeps at it until he wins.  Being a gentleman, he will actually hold the gate up and out of the way to let everyone else get past. 
AnnMarie called me at work to help but I have been prepping for a big inspection at work and was not able to get away. She took the tractor up with some hay on it to entice them down. No success and she managed to get the tractor stuck in the dry creek bed. 
I came home early and put tractor in four wheel drive and drove back into the upper prime pasture and broke open both bales of hay for the cows. AnnMarie went up on the hill with the two dogs. Mouse was not behaving well. I snuck below the cows in the tractor in attempt to get behind them so I could slowly push them towards the gate.anne-Marie stayed up on the hillside with the dogs making sure they behaved. It took 10 minutes and we had the cows in the upper prime pasture with all the gates shut. 
The raccoons are back. We are pretty sure that someone has been dumping town raccoons out at our house again. My mother-in-law Donna has seen two huge raccoons on her front porch eating her cat food. I have not lost a chicken and the current babies are so dumb they are getting stuck outside the coop because they don't go inside the before the auto chicken door closes.  She called us to come down and shoot them the other night but when we got there no raccoons were found. Out of paranoia we took the super bright flashlight and started scanning all the tops of the nearby trees.  We found a set of eyes high up on one of the trees in the orchard. It turned out to be another raccoon.  AnnMarie took several shots to knock it out of the tree and then I had to go over and finish it with the pistol. One of the problems with there being a shortage of 22 ammo is I have a wide variety from 800 ft./s up to 1200 ft./s.  The low velocity ammunition is too slow to effectively kill predators and doesn't cycle the action on my pistol so you have to constantly cycle the action manually.
This is a painful process in the dark. After dispatching another potential chicken killer we went inside the house. I started going through boxes of 22 ammo looking for high velocity 1200 ft./s ammo and making a separate basket so I could rapidly locate it.  I also changed out all the pistol and rifle ammo for 22 high velocity rounds. We should be good to go except we need another flashlight. We are constantly arguing over who is holding the flashlight and where is it not being pointed.
Resulting in one of us almost falling. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Internet war continues

We have had company over the holiday, friends who have not been able to visit for the last three years. We always appreciate seeing them and catching up, we too know "Doug from Montana".  The wind howled all three days they were here so we didn't do a project this year.   Instead we caught up and ate too much food. The constant wind buffeted our new internet antenna causing some consternation and speculation. We reassured them that the antenna was rated for this type of wind up to 80 mph minimum. We woke up this morning to no internet service. It was still pitch black so I tried to look for the little light on the dish. It's a power indicator light so we know it is still working. No light, but in my defense it was early and I had not had any coffee yet so I was still near zombie state. Doug was out taking sunrise photos and Annmarie went out at first light to look at the antenna. It was truly down!  It was laying on the roof top no longer functional.  We speculated a cable had broken. I was able to go out two hours later and discover that one of the tighteners came apart, it untwisted. I think this is easily fixed with heavy duty tighteners and some thread tightener goop. 
Unfortunately the dish got dented so it will probably need to be replaced and I am going to have to get a boom truck that can extend to a minimum of 35 feet. This option is probably the easiest. It will take some arranging. Probably not my first choice. 
I have been thinking up this hairbrained idea involving a long rope, the pickup and two ladders. I need to see if I have the rope in the old house...

I didn't have any rope in the old house and had to run to town. I had the heavy duty tighteners we just didn't use them. We used the ones that came with the antenna kit. I should of gone for overkill. My nephew came out and suggested we swap out the two fasteners with the antenna tipped over so when we pulled it up with the rope it would stay in place. A fabulous idea so I crawled up on the ladder and swapped out the first one. I then climbed up onto the backside of the roof and climbed up the roof. This was way easier than doing the double ladder trick. The trouble with this is it must be perfectly dry with NO chance of rain or else I will just slide off the roof on my way down. We wanted to be able to pull the rope free once the antenna was up in the air so I threaded the rope through a loop in the cable and tied it to a stick. We tied some light weight cord to the back side of the stick so we could just pull the light cord and pull the rope clear. The dish had a bent collector, the dish part. It is easily replaceable!  The brains still had power and a green functional light just no signal bars. So I think it just needs a new collector. We cannot call the internet company until the antenna is back up. 
As I was crawling to the second anchor to replace the tightener I noticed that my roof anchor was torn on the backside. It was not something we could have seen from the ground. We need a new roof anchor. So no internet until the roof anchor comes. Luckily, I now know to put the roof anchor on the antenna and then screw it into the roof!  The roof bolts did not budge!  

So next weekend we will get to test the rope method.   


The horses have managed to bend the cow panel we were using to keep Mika in the milking area of the barn. So we decided gates were in order but the opening was only 7 feet wide and I had four feet gates and 2 foot gates. I was going to mount them on the inside but then they would not fold flush to the walls causing problems when moving agitated animals. The two four foot gates were perfect when I mounted them to the outside. Now we don't have to wrestle a 16 foot bent panel in place and attach it at four points to keep the horse inside. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Company is coming!

We have wonderful friends who come and visit us for Thanksgiving.  They have not been here for the last three years and are finally able to make it for a holiday visit.  We love them to death, but this necessitates a whole new level of cleaning.  Normally, I pick up the bare minimum and thankfully we have a housekeeper who makes great progress when she comes.  Unfortunately, she has a life also so only comes out to the house on average 4-6 times a month.  I spent all weekend picking up and cleaning house getting ready for our guests.  I even took the dead racoon up to the bone yard.  I had dropped him off in the barn lot and the cool weather just preserved him until his trip to his final resting place was initiated.  I will get every room done but two.  The craft room will be the last thing I do.  It has become a catch all, one which even the housekeeper will not venture.  
I threw out 6 bags of trash today.  I figured if we hadn’t used it we didn’t need it.  I also started up and have a full box of giveaway items.  
When I was taking the racoon to his new home, all the cows came over to the fence when they heard the tractor pass by.  So I figured they needed to be fed, so on the way back I loaded up four bales of alfalfa and went down and fed them.  The new baby is now running with his momma all the time.  This is good news as our kill date got pushed back another two weeks.  So now the baby will follow momma into the barn lot and I will be able to tag and band, if necessary.  We are also going to put plastic chains with ID tags on them around each of the female cows necks so that we can tell who is who.  
I finally got the chicken light working in the coop yesterday again.  I only had one egg today.  It is looking pretty sparse.  I have two customers who want to buy eggs and one who paid in advance but I have NO eggs.  Looks like I may have to give his money back until we get eggs  
I also got our big freezer all cleaned out, it has been defrosted for a month.  I washed the whole thing today and got it plugged back in.  Tomorrow I will be able to move all the food over from the small freezer and get it defrosted.  It has been oer 8 years since we defrosted the freezers.  It was time to get it done. 
Doug and I usually do some small project when they are up.  I think this year we will get the floor all measured for tile so we know how much to buy and what it will cost.  I also need to put away tools, they are spread out to heck and gone so organizing the shed would be a great help.  Who knows, we will see what he wants to do when they arrive.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Is it a baby?

I got a text yesterday from Annmarie stating that we had a new baby cow. Donna and I had been saying we thought one of the mommas had given birth as her teats looked like someone was suckling but no one ever spotted a baby. Annmarie was driving down the driveway and thought she spotted a cow lump out in the field. She drove around and took a picture, see above.  I could not spot the baby calf in the picture so she had to send me a picture with the calf circled, see below. I spotted the baby on the back hillside tonight frolicking around all the grownup legs. 
Chores at night are taking an hour. I am now able to clean out all four hooves on both horses with no help and no lead line.  I just tell them to lift their legs and give each one a gentle tug. It is a lot easier when they are so compliant. 
We are waiting to run the cows in until the butcher calls. We have necklaces and numbered tags for each cow to wear. The ear tags keep getting ripped out. Hopefully, these necklaces will stay in place. 

It is so warm here that yesterday I had to feed and do chores in a short sleeved shirt. Mika had popped he wooden gate board loose from the corner of the barn. I had to repair it in the rain. I put in four inch longer anchors. I am off by about half an inch so the gate is not perfect. That will require a second person and a redo. 
The weather is truly amazing. 


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Farm 3, predators 0.

Well Annmarie is showing me up again.  We tried to go to bed on Thursday night but the dogs would not come in.  I stand on the porch and holler at them like they are five year old kids.  Annmarie comes out and just hollers “come” repeatedly.  I know they do better with that but trust me they all know what I am saying just like a five year old kid!  So both older dogs come in but Mouse will not come.  He is somewhere in the front yard and its realy hard to see a mostly black dog in the dark.  So we grab the $18 wonder flashlight and scan the yard.  We spot Mouse at the base of the big front tree near the barn.  Annmarie flashes the light up into the tree and there is another raccoon.  After the last time we did this and she didn’t have a 22 rifle I had gone to my parents and picked up my fathers rifle.  It is a Ruger 10/22 bolt action with a Leopold Vari IIx 2-7 power scope.  She had not shot it since I brought it home.  So we trudged back inside, left Mouse to keep the coon treed and got coats, rifle and Walther P22.  We walked out and I held the flashlight.  The racoon was about halfway up the tree now waiting.  She shot once and it fell 35 feet to the ground.  It was dead but I made sure it was not getting up.  She complemented the rifle stating that “this is a much nicer scope” than mine.  Yes, I had a $40 wonder on mine, I don’t think she knows the scope costs more than the rifle.  Once the shooting started Mouse wanted to be any where but near us.  I find it amazing that our chocolate lab would run for the door and get excited when the guns started blasting but would run from all animals but our border collies will attack anything but absolutely hate guns.  Shows you how much behavior can be associated with breeds.  I realize you can train almost any breed to do anything but natural affinity makes it much easier.  So now I need to make another trip to the boneyard before it rains and makes the path up the hill impossible.  
Clean Horse Hay area.I went out yesterday and finished loading the last of the alfalfa in the machine shop.  I need to get it in the barn so I can pick up the last two loads of hay.  Once that is all in the barn then I need to get our large bales brought over to the house so we can stack them in the machine shed. I purchased too much hay so I need to get it all under cover and stored so that I can use it over the next couple of years.  I got carried away.  The light in the machine shop and the high speed internet are both amazing things!  The internet is 5 times better than it was.  In an effort to not but all the hay in the barn I also fed the cows.  Mouse still does not like the pickup or any moving vehicle.  I put him in the back of the pickup with Zeke and he promptly jumped out. I had to tie a rope to his collar to keep him from jumping out.  We drove from the lower field to the house and then I made him stay in the back while I talked to Frank.  He was out doing some pheasant hunting. Mouse was super happy when he got out of the back of the pickup.  It is the next big thing to work on with him.  He needs to be able to ride in the back of the pickup.  I cleaned out the horse area with the tractor and laid down some new straw.  The rain is supposed to come back.  
  The rain is suppossed to be coming back on Sunday or Monday. I am trying to get as much done outside as possible.  If the weather holds out much longer I may even have to start working on some fence!  The fence over in the momma sheep area needs to be redone.  I need to add a gate, restretch the fence and add another layer of woven wire to keep the babies in.  The horses pushed a lot of the fence over last summer.  We may need to run a single strand of hot wire across the top to keep the horses off of it next summer.  
If I can get the horse area built back up then I won’t need to use the hot wire, I can open a gate and let the horses go behind the barn to get their own water. I like this plan but it requires a lot more work on my part to be implented.  It also requires a lot of rocks to be brought down from the hill.  
After we slaughter in a couple of weeks then I can start pulling rocks off the hillside and creating a large pile by the sorting chute. I will need them for the horse area.  I need middle size rocks, not too small and not too big!
 The butcher should be here just before Thanksgiving for 2 cows and 13 sheep.  I have not plugged in our other freezer yet.  I moved everything and defrosted it last month.  It needed it, I really should do it with our small freezer also.  
I talked with a coworker and I may be able to raise a few turkeys and have someone else process them as trade for a turkey so I don’t have to clean the bird.  I will need to build a turkey house first!  One more potential project.  I think it would be cool and a couple of turkeys for the freezer would be nice.  I would like to eat one fresh.  If they are as good as everything else farm raised and free ranged they will be very good indeed.  
 Second to last load of alfalfa to put in the barn.  It is going to wait until Saturday.  I already moved 35 bales yesterday and I am too sore to move more. The hay stack is seven high now.  I do realize that I have made hay stairs but I am here to say that after six bales high the stack becomes very painful to keep dragging bales up the pile. A lot of work!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Winter is supposed to be here.

The weather has been amazing. It has been raining off and on fairly steadily. This has put a serious crimp on my plans to move hay but everything is turning green. It's November and the hillsides are turning green. I spent the weekend mowing all the dead weeds in the pastures. I will be ready for herbicides in the spring. We turned all the sheep loose onto the upper prime pasture and they went from four bales of hay a night to one. There is a good month of grass available as long as it doesn't freeze super hard. 
 I have some weird super poky thistle cropping up in several places. This is what is prompting the herbicide application in the spring. The stuff is super nasty. Killing the yellow star is an added bonus! 
My nephew complained because I mowed down all the good pheasant habitat. 
I also managed to pick up all the sprinkler pipe on the lower section of the field and hang it on the fence. 
The dogs are loving getting to work the sheep every night and the cows three times a week. Mouse wont hardly let up on the alpaca. I have to constantly yell at him and watch him like a hawk. Once we get in the barn he does great but out and about he wants to chase everything. 

 Freshly mowed lower pasture near the old schoolhouse. Now if I could get a lightbulb to stay working in the chicken coop I could get eggs.  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sheep for sale.

 It has finally happened, we have high speed internet!  It has been a struggle with many hurdles but it is a reality. We now have 13 G!  It is an amazing thing. We no longer put all our devices in airplane mode just so we can watch television. 
The butcher called this week to tell me he would be two weeks late and wanted to know exactly how many animals he would be processing. I told them I was unsure and would need to count this weekend. Annmarie and I went out first thing and this am and ran everyone through the chute. We had three extra rams (oops, I missed them last year), 8 ewes that had no babies and were under 2 years old, and 13 weathers for a total of 24. I told the butcher 10-15 sheep and two cows.  I was off, the problem is can I find enough customers. 
We swung a deal and traded sheep around for various things. Annmarie had to help sort a second time today and we now have 13 sheep to process. She said the ram snuck up on her and head butted her in the thigh again. It was quick and hard and no where within reach of a wooden club. She used a judicious amount of cowboy boot to the side of his head. Hopefully we can stop this dangerous habit. He had been leary of us for the last few weeks and after Zeke tore into him.  I thought we had determined who was dominate. Apparently he still thinks there is a question. 
I have one sheep for a friend to kill, five for us, two sold and five more to find homes. I have a tentative home for two more and three undetermined. I have two more weeks to sell off three more sheep. In the early summer next year we will try and sell off all of this years lambs in one bunch of 30-40 animals. We are going to get rid of some of our current ewes and keep the babies. They are going to be bigger sheep with great temperaments.  

 The weather has been amazing in between rain showers. The back hillside is starting to green up. It is truly amazing. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Feeding the hungry herd

 We now go out every evening to feed the animals. A routine is starting to form. The sheep need 3-4 bales of hay put out in various feeders. The problem with this portion of the tasks is the sheep know you are going to feed them. It's like trying to get to the bar to order a drink when the place is at capacity. Lots of bumping, kicking, grabbing, crowding and mouths in your way. The only way to get any peace is to utilize bouncers, a single bouncer is never enough because someone can always sneak past. It takes to active bouncers to keep the sheep at bay while food is being placed in feeders. Even then the bar patrons will still sneak in the door and decide if they can bum rush the bouncers and make it to the bar. They don't test that theory with two dogs on duty, but one is easily distracted. 
After the sheep are fed we have to feed the horses. Due to the rainy weather we have go keep Mika in a dry spot, so she has to be taken out of the milking area and led to water then back to the dry area. She gets grain and hay the her hoofs cleaned out. Hogs gets the same thing in her stall with hoof cleanout also. The cows need a few bales of hay a couple of times a week. I can put five bales on the bucket of my little tractor. I use the fogs to keep the cows away from me and the feeders. There are eggs to get after that. It takes me 1-1.5 hours a night to do chores. I usually do the evening chores as Annmarie does the morning chores. We trade off if I do the morning chores. 


Hay again

I was sure I was all done with hay other than getting some 800 pound bales into the machine shop. Little did I know that was not going to be the case. I went to go pickup our alfalfa last weekend and discovered I was getting small bales of alfalfa. This is good and bad. Good because the bales will fit in the barn, bad because someone has to put them in the barn, all 12.5 ton. 
I had to move last years hay over by the entrance to the second hay room and restack the straw bales to create room for a lot of alfalfa bales. Zeke was leaping onto the newly vacated floor, every time I moved a bale, in hopes of catching a mouse.  Mouse was just not certain what was happening.  I had about 12 bales left when the first mouse was discovered. Zeke was snapping his mouth and jumping around like an excited teenage boy, which allowed Mouse to swoop on and just grab the mouse in one bite. The mouse's folly was letting the puppy catch it. Zeke would have just killed it in a couple of quick bites and maybe ate it. Mouse treated it like a cat and took it outside to play with it. He played ten minutes of catch and release before it died. On the very last bale the same thing happened!  Zeke was jumping and snapping for ten feet trying to catch the critter when mouse leaped in and caught his namesake. He played that poor mouse into the grave. I got three ton stacked in the barn.  I was tired and done. 

Annmarie and I went for a walk up to the upper prime pasture as the horses had gotten into the pasture through an open gate. The pasture has had no animals for the last three weeks and has green grass almost four inches tall everywhere. Pretty quick we will be able to let the sheep out there, they just need to not be having babies.  

We had a very bad wind storm while we were on the coast and it blew over another tree!  It was the second tallest tree in that little grove. I am going to have to plant several new trees from the ones in our elevated garden to  replace the wind blown ones.  

 Our chickens had drastically decreased their daily egg laying quantities and I assumed it was because they were molting, which they are.  She said it was because their light burnt out, which it was. The real problem was I needed a short ladder to change the bulb out and there are none at our house. I changed a light bulb in a heat lamp hoping that would work.  It only worked for a few days before the chickens managed to break it. I really need that four foot ladder. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tower dream

I only needed 30 more minutes!
Yesterday was the day, we were going to get our tower mounted and I could call to get our new internet service installed.  Unfortunately, there were a few stumbling blocks.  I got the nephew all lined up and out so he could help.  We got the tower up onto the roof and I could not hold it vertical while at the top of the roof and slide it into the holder, I did try multiple times but the fit was too tight.  I gave up and laid it across the peak of the roof and had the nephew move the ladder to the peak and hold the end.  I discovered that the holder base could be rotated to the side on a bolt swivel. Nope it was still too tight.  I then realized that the bolt needed to come out and I was supposed to slide the metal sheath over the bottom of the pole and align the holes so that the bolt went through the tower piece also.  I want it known that there were NO instructions on installation included with all of the hardware.  I did actually check before trying  to just wing it.  It kept getting darker and darker.  We managed to get two cables installed but I could not let go until the third one was installed.  My nephew managed to get it on in almost pitch black conditions.  I had my phone out trying to give him some light while I was on the peak.  It helped a tiny little bit.  We managed to get the thing in place and tight enough it wasn't going to fall over.
After climbing down in the dark I realized that I had mounted a head lamp to my hat just in case it got dark.  I had forgotten about it.  I ended up going out and feeding the horses and sheep before going inside at 1930 to feed myself.  

Is it a safety issue yet?

Tonight we did it, I had a late meeting at work and was afraid the sun would betray me and hide before we could get finished.  We managed to get it tightened down and level in 30 minutes and still had 25 minutes of dusk left.  We even removed the ladder from the roof and got the grounding wire strung across the  roof line and down the side of the building.  I just need a grounding clamp and to drive a six foot rod into the ground with a sledge hammer.  Its a good spot to do it but it is going to take some effort on my part.  I don't know how to do it easily.  I have heard of several tricks but my old standby, brute force, will work well.  Tomorrow, I am calling WTechlink to see when we can schedule an appointment for high speed internet hookup!!!  Awesome time is coming to the farm.

Our new oven showed up today also.  They had said they would install it, but when they arrived they said since it was a wall oven they cannot install it because it requires someone to wire it in place.  I will have to do it, but will need lifting assistance to get the old one out and the new one in.  My nephew is getting a workout.  I am going to owe him. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Oh to have fast internet...

We went away for the weekend on a vacation to the Oregon Coast.  One of those vacations where you don't do anything but rest and relax.  It was very nice.  We ate dinner at one restaurant the "Sea Hag", everything was made from scratch.  I gained five pounds over the course of four days.  We were supposed to sea the "storm of the century" on the coast, it was a total dud.  Sarah had worse weather at home while she took care of the animals.  The main latch on the sheep doors broke off in the wind and all of our deck furniture was blown off of our front porch.  It took me an hour and a half to unload the car as I had packed for the "storm of the century".  We could have stayed in the condo for a week with no food, power or water.  We had it all.  I even made Annmarie go to the store so we could have some bleach so we could drink toilet bowl water if necessary.  Doing disaster prep drills at work has really got me into the groove.

I keep trying to get our antenna installed on the roof and it just keeps raining or I cannot coordinate any help.  It is a two man job as I have to crawl onto the roof and a large strong man has to move the 32 foot ladder around to attach the cables.  My nephew is coming out tomorrow, hopefully so we can get that installed.  Once it is in place I can call for the new internet!!  It cannot get here fast enough.

Sarah came out tonight to help me tag and band the sheep.  It got dark before we could finish.  We did 10 babies.  I am truly amazed by how big the babies are this year.  The difference in genetics is amazing.  The babies are huge in comparison to all our previous years.  They are so healthy and bouncy and big!!  I am hoping to get them all tagged by Wednesday evening and then turned loose back into the main herd.  Tonight when I went to feed the sheep I discovered that we had not locked up one of the hay rooms.  There was a foot of loose hay all over the floor.  It took me another 30 minutes to  clean up the mess.  I had to holler at both dogs as they wanted to potty in the hay just like the sheep.  They just didn't understand why I would not let that happen.
I let the dogs out of the hay room when I was feeding because the ram kept sneaking up behind me.  He never head butted me but I didn't want to push my luck.  So I let them both out but Zeke kept sneaking up on the ram a foot at a time.  I kept telling him to stay but the ram kept trying to stare Zeke down.  I was trying to get Zeke to stay and the puppy to run in and chase the ram off.  Next thing I know Zeke had had enough of that uppity attitude from the ram and he had him by the head and giving him the what for.  Mouse thought this was the cue to run out and chase sheep, after much yelling and swearing I got both dogs called off the sheep and back into the barn.  Zeke won and is still top dog, like we ever doubted it.

Babies r us

Weekends are made for catching up. I am trying to get all ready for winter. Winter is Coming.  I realize it's a book and show motto but it's the truth. With one of the horses needing a dry place due to some weird hoof issue we need a second covered area. The amazing thing was getting the hoof fixed on a horse was cheaper than fixing one dog. It's no wonder there is no money in large animal care. 

I had a friend send her youngest son out to help me on Saturday. Now I do pay them but sometimes I think my various friends send me their children to motivate them to seek a higher education plan. So far I am batting over 75% heading to college after working for me. I am known to not stop, no breaks and if you let me lunch break will be at 1500 every day. I am not a fan of taking it slow and easy. I try to go at it like I am killing snakes every day. The only problem with this is I am no longer in my 20s or 30s.  

Plus, my back hurts!!  I had a known party bring her husband out to look at the old tractor. It's gas not diesel. It's an International not a Ford. It will not start or turnover, it needs a new starter and battery first. Then some filters and oil plus more hydraulic fluid. I asked about a new seat and was laughed at.  The farmer rule applies in this instant and I was told to just get it running. So I will order a few hundred dollars worth of parts and then we will see. 
The young man arrived via "his mother's horseless carriage with her as the chauffeur".  He is a young padawan and his mother is hoping he molds into a productive member of society.  We went out to the barn to clear out the old milking wooden floor.  I supplied the work gloves but he wore blue jeans and tennis shoes.  I was amazed he never stepped on a nail, but his mother is a nurse so I figured his vaccinations were up to date.  We ripped out the floor and stacked all the spare wood from the room onto the top of the horse hay room overhang.  I had to install some wooden brackets so we could make the stack higher.  At one point I misstepped and ended up falling four feet after sliding down the straw stack.  The young palawan tried to catch me but just managed to touch my arm on my decent to the wooden floor.  I managed to turn to my side so I didn't land flat on my back.  Not one of my smoother moves but fairly typical.  I also managed to not hit my head!  My beautiful bald head seems to attract a lot of wear and tear.  The milking area needs to be dug out but before I can do that I need to put an end piece on so I don't push the dirt under the last little bit of flooring we left.  The flooring is so you can walk out and feed the horses easily.  The padawan ripped out an entire inside leg seam on his jeans fairly early in the work process.  He kept after it, at one point I asked him what his older brother had told him about coming to the farm.  He said he cackled and stated "YOU are going to WORK!".  We got a lot done in a few hours.  I was very pleased. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

I can smell high speed internet

It has been one of those weeks, i just barely get something done and then there is something else waiting that needs to be done yesterday.  I have been frantically trying to get our high speed internet pole and guy wire supports installed.  I managed to get the anchors all attached to the roof.  The hardest part was getting all the new supports installed under the roof so they would not just tear out the old roofing.  The walkway worked great and made it a lot easier to get around.  I ended up having to move the 32 foot ladder by myself and then extend it out alone.  I do not recommend that, the ladder is very heavy and incredibly awkward once you start extending it out.  It works great once you get it in place but not very easy to handle while getting it there.  I tweaked my back and have been walking crooked and hunched over for the last three days.  The only thing left is to actually insert the pole and attach the three guy wires to the anchor bolts.  The problem is it takes a second person, I will need to stay on the roof and use a level to make sure the post is upright and to connect the third anchor.  We need to tighten all three at the same time to make sure the post doesn't get tweaked.  My helper has to be able to move the ladder by themselves and the tin roof needs to be dry for my safety.

Just when I think the farm cannot surprise me something else does.  I was in the rafters of the machine shop installing the anchors and there are several pieces of loose wood in the rafters.  One of them kept drawing my attention.  The board was very long, wide and curved on either side with a flat bottom with these tiny pieces stapled in even intervals.  I had to stare at it for three days before it dawned on me it was the old stair rail top from the farmhouse!  Had I known it was there I would have used it when we rebuilt the stairs.  I had no idea it was even there.

We have sheep babies everywhere!  The first batch has been tagged and banded and now there is a second batch in the baby area that are ready to go.  This weekend we will tag and band all of them and get ready for the next wave.  Annmarie made a program to track them on our iPhones and it is super fast, super easy and super quick.

The horse, Mika had to have some hoof thing cut out and filled with plaster by the vet.  Its sad that all that on a horse cost less than an overnight spay on the family dog.  It was very affordable.  So now we have to work on keeping Mika's foot dry, this has necessitated the need for me to start cleaning out the old milk shed area of the barn.  I had been storing all the old lumber there.  I will need a different spot now.  So tomorrow we will be moving the wood out and then cutting up the old floor and storing it for reuse!  I will need to make a new handrail to keep the horses out of the barn.  I just plan on reusing all the old wood from the floor.  I have several small metal gates so I am going to see if I can get two of them to use as new doors.  We have a metal panel bungied across the opening.  It is not the best setup, but is currently working for us.
Center mount for pole installed
old handrail from the farmhouse!
Walkway and supports installed in roof
Babies every where!!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Power play.

The light works!

Today was a good day!  I really feel like I got over a large hurdle in the last few days working on the farm.  Getting power to the machine shop was a big project and took me almost seven days of work to get it all done.  I crawled under the bridge and installed conduit and two junction boxes.  I had Sarah help me by guiding the wire into one box while I pulled to the other box.  Brian came out this morning to mow the lawn and chew the fat.  We had this discussion about home improvement projects.  He was telling me about burning up a drill on his last project.  I broke one of my battery Makita drills trying to get holes through the pressure treated boards under the bridge.  There is a reason I have a spare drill and impact hammer.  
Our first triplets of the year. 
While I was attempting to finish the power our sheep started to have more babies.  I was pointing the new babies out to Brian when he spotted triplets on the hillside.  I only saw two and told him twins.  Annmarie went out into the field and he was correct.  We have live triplets and they are all doing well and momma is nursing and paying attention to all three.  The little white and brown one is a girl so we will be keeping her.  This ram is throwing nice healthy babies and the colors are amazing.  Those triplets are bigger than some of our twins last year.

I got all the wiring done and then flipped the breaker.  I walked out to the machine shop and turned on the light, it works!!  I was amazed.  The next big test was to measure the voltage at the outlet to see how much drop there was with all the distance.  I could not get a reading, I remembered to reset the GFI outlet and still could not get a reading, but the light works!  So I trudged back to the house blaming the outlet, it was a used outlet that I had written a note to myself on the box, "may work".  Half way to the house it occurred to me that I should look at my voltmeter and see if it was setup right, the selector switch was right but I had used the meter to check continuity last so I had to unplug one of the probes and put it in a different hole on the voltmeter, a whopping 118.9 V.  Pretty dang close to 120, that I am betting it is good enough.  Most electrical items will work on a small range of voltage as it is not consistent around the country.  We like to think it is but it isn't.  The next big test will be tonight when it gets dark, will our old walkway lights work?  They have been out of commission for five years and I did not change out the lightbulbs.

I had to wear my outside slippers all day today as the top of my right foot is still very swollen and sore where I connected to the ram's ribs with the top of my booted foot.  My foot still hurts a lot, but he is totally unfazed.  Today he did not bum rush either one of us.  Maybe he is learning, or else we are.  
Another single

Probable right broken foot. Courtesy of the ram

The light really works in the dark!

We came back from the movie and I had left the machine shop light on so we could see if it is enough light to get hay and feed.  It is plenty of light for that simple task!  I wouldn't do brain surgery but for getting hay it is perfect.
Both of our walkway lights work also!  It was amazing to come home in the dark and not have to use our cell phones to get down the concrete stairs to our bridge.  After five years of rest they still have some lumens left.  The next big thing is to get the three guy wire anchors bolted into the machine shop roof so we can get the tower installed.  Once that is done, its high speed internet time!!

Annmarie and Sarah moved the momma and babies into the baby area.  We want to keep them separate until they are tagged and banded.  Annmarie made a tracking program for our iPhones so we can instantly update it with any babies and their mothers.  It is very handy, much better than the paper notes I used to do.