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.