Monday, June 26, 2017

Table done!

Sarah and I worked on the alpaca table today. I had gotten more supplies and more cut pipe on Thursday. She had to run to the local hardware once for bolts and then I had to go a second time!!  One would think I could count. Sarah learned how to put galvanized pipe together today. She had to assemble and reassemble pieces a few times. It was a hot and miserable day. We had to modify the table design on the movable leg. To create the H brace we needed to have a right and left handed thread on the same cross piece. We had to use tape to hold it together. This would be why the plans talk about using fencing clamps. 
I need to write all this up and make up some new plans but I probably won't. I may out curiosity find those weird pipe fence clamps. 

Sarah insisted we eat lunch in a timely fashion. We had lunch at 1215. I had plans for us to still sort cows after we finished the table. We went back outside and finished up the table. The thing is super heavy. I tried to start the gas tractor but the battery was dead. This would be why the negative terminal connection used to be removed. I need to charge the battery and put it back on the tractor. 

We tried to move the table. No way!!  I went and got the Mistress and she carried it over near the barn. It was so heavy and hanging so far forward that the rear wheels kept bouncing off the ground. Once outside the milking area we had to shovel horse poop before we could move the table inside. It was super heavy and Sarah was petered out by then. We wrestled it into place. 
No cows today. We went inside and laid in the living room floor. We were hot and I took off my glasses and laid them on the floor. I kinda fell asleep but noticed the puppy next to me chewing on something. It was my glasses. I tossed them up into the couch and laid there a while longer. He had been at the glasses a while. Both ear pieces a chewed up. One is barely there. I am missing a nose piece and one lens looks like I was in the movie Birds and the only thing that saved my eyes from being plucked out was my glasses. I have scratches and teeth mark over both lens. One lens is providing about 60% clarity. It's like looking through glasses someone licked after eating ice cream or drinking milk. The worst part is we leave for Taiwan in a week. I am not sure I can get them replaced before then. I did need new glassses but had planned on taking care of that when we got back from Taiwan.  

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Tile work is done!

Well I did it I finished the floor in the library. I even managed to do it before AnnMarie got back from Berkeley. I stayed up till 0130 Thursday night working grout in and washing it off tiles. I ended up with a large blister in the palm of my right hand. I should of thought about rubber gloves but it took me almost five hours to complete. I don't think the gloves would have stood up and if they did my hands would have looked like raisins with multiple blisters from all the moisture trapped under the gloves. I showered before crawling into bed. I was supposed to be off all weekend but I messed up the work schedule and got called in to cover a shift the next morning. It was my own mistake. 
Unfortunately, the tile makes the room look like it needs something so we will now be picking out some new paint schemes for this room. I think I want to keep the ceiling the same and just paint the walls.  We will have to get sample cards and get this completed at the end of July so we can move the loom out of the living room. We have the book shelves stashed in the office upstairs. The goal will be to thin everything before it goes back in the room. 

Having to work on Friday threw off my alpaca shearing table build schedule. I went in today and had them cut another ten pieces of pipe and they recut my two 48 inch pieces into five threaded pieces plus cut another 5 threaded pieces for me. It is in the low 90s today and the pipe was in the bed of the pickup so it's really too hot to handle. This means first thing in the morning I need to get out there and finish putting it together. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Alpaca table that would be

We need to shear the alpaca. This is going to be facilitated by a table. The trouble with a table is the only directions we have is a diagram from the Internet posted a few years ago. There were no instructions and they did not show the connectors needed to attach it all together. Instead they talked about some kind of clamp that let you clamp sections of pipe together without threading them together. This was not something the local hardware store had in stock. I sat down at the kitchen table and tried to figure it out. I wrote up a list and purchased said list. Today, I attempted to assemble said pieces. This did not go well for me. The diagram did not account for the added joint lengths. This threw off everything and for some reason unbeknownst to me I had the legs cut as 48 inches. On hindsight, this was because I was following the flawed diagram with the weird unavailable clamps. What I really needed was 24 inches x4 not 48 inches x2. So after putting things together as much as possible I took inventory. I had five extra joint pieces and am short two T pieces. I can have the 2-48 inch pieces cut to 3-24 inch pieces, 1-14 inch piece and 1-10 inch piece. Plus, I will need 5 more 14 inch pieces and 3 more 10 inch pieces and 4 2.5 inch hangar supports and I will need 8-3.5 inch carriage bolts. And 8-3 inch carriage bolts. 
So off to hardware store again tomorrow and another $100. 
The 2x4 and 2x6 bolted to the plywood are to stiffen it plus I will be trapping my central pipe shaft between the two middle boards by clamping a 2x8 over the top of them. The boards are 1 5/8 inch thick and my pipe is 1.5 inches. It should work. In the eventuality it doesn't I can always rip the middle down on the 2x6. It will fit eventually. 


Chicken coop done

Saturday the boys came out again at 0800. I had worked the night shift and told them to start in on the barn when they arrived.  I had gone to work 30 minutes early, the previous evening, so I could pick up some wood pellets for the chicken coop. I showed both boys what I wanted done in the coop: vacuum walls, wipe walls down with bleach water, dig out right hand side of floor and toss outside, fill all feeders and waterers, move old pellets from left side of coop to under perches and put new pellets on left side, clean out nest boxes, vacuum feed area and move all feed bags around to clean up floor. I went back out 30 minutes later to drop off the cooler with lunch when I was approached with the burning question of the day, "Mr Manners cannot figure out how to set the mouse trap" per his compatriot.  Now don't think for a second I don't know that the two of them had been screwing around for 15 minutes trying to figure out how to set an old fashioned mouse trap. I demonstrated the technique twice with the warning to not hold the trap incorrectly or your fingers would pay for it. What are we teaching our youth?  Where are the valuable life skills needed to survive on your own coming from? 

I told them when they were done with the coop to finish the barn. I reinforced to them I thought it was possible to do both that day. They agreed, and when I went out to feed the horses that evening they had gotten close. There is about two hours of work left in the barn. The chicken coop is done and looks much better. The coop windows still need to be cleaned but the rest is good enough. 
The next big thing is to build the alpaca shearing table then actually shear the alpaca. 

Teenager solution

I had help out on Friday, 2 teenage boys. It was their first day working for me this year. "Mr Manners" had worked for me one day last year. I like the money hungry teenagers. They tend to work harder and it allows them some perspective when putting up with me. 
My real goal was to get the barn and chicken coop dig out but as I was only going to supervise the boys during the morning I decided to work on odd jobs around the place first. Since the first step in their work ethic trial was to arrive at 0630, they passed, it was before the trash guys arrived. So the old grill from the front yard is gone. All the trash from the old house is gone. All the trash from the chicken coop is gone.  All the trash and old drip hose from back yard/garden is gone. 
I needed to finish vacuuming the tile in the library so I could bring the shop vacuum out for the old house and chicken coop cleaning so I vacuumed. I then sorted all the tools and supplies spread all over the house and had them taken out to the old house (shed/shop).  I also had them move all the hardiboard I no longer needed to the old house porch. We cleaned up the old house porch. I "forgot" to take before pictures. It was so bad I did not want it documented for posteriority. We picked up the inside floor as it was totally obscured by all the tools, bins, bags, trash and buckets laying around. I only found a couple of things I was missing but I do have tools again!!  

Being able to walk around in the old house is amazing!!  We took all the yard tools and put them away in the wood shed. All the trash and leaves were removed from the back yard. I even hosed off the house on two sides and the back yard concrete. It looks good! I had one planter that had quit draining. The one with our tomatoes. So I had one of them take a pitchfork and drive it into the soil from the top and a long screwdriver in the bottom drain hole.  It had six inches of standing water. I also removed the drip hose. In a few days I will put the drip line back in the container. 
I had them take down the temporary sheep fence from the front yard then tie the two strings I used from that fence onto the side yard in preparation for a new fence along this side. I looked out and they were trying to untangle the string. The string was straight and stretched tight before they removed it, fifteen minutes later it was still not done. Both of them were screwing around unraveling their respective string mess. We then discussed the benefit and loss ratio of labor cost as a function of time vs $4 roll of string. Two minutes later a string was up with new string and the old was in the trash. 

I always feed anyone who comes out to help. I had Mr Manners grab all the sandwich fixings from the fridge and some grapes and then they sat at the table while I fixed sandwiches. I asked Mr Manners to hand out grapes and he proceeded to ask for scissors. SCISSORS?!!  I asked what they were for he replied "To cut apart the grape clusters". He received much ribbing about "using your hands" and lost man card points. I told him he truly was his mother's child. 

After lunch I went out to the barn with them and had them start in on it. I was sure it would not be finished as there was too much left. They did very well while being directed and passed so I asked them to come out the next day. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tile headway made

I made a note to myself of all the things I need to do in the two weeks AnnMarie is gone. The fact that I have about six weeks of work on the list is meant to motivate. Sarah came over Monday night and watched the puppy so I could work on finishing getting the tile glued to the floor. I finished!! Now I need to let it cure for two days and get the grout spread out. 
Today, while at work I got a call from Donna about one of the alpaca getting some wire wrapped into its fur. I thought it was just a little piece. When I got home I looked at it and it was a large strand of barn wire wrapped around a brown alpaca's neck. It was trailing about ten feet of loose wire. I went to the old house and grabbed a pair of wire cutters. I tried to catch the alpaca but it stayed just out of reach. Running it down was not going to work. I opened the gate on the hay end of the machine shop. Despite acres of green grass all of he alpaca ran towards the hay. It makes no sense that they would do this.  The one I wanted plus two others ran inside and I shut the door. I chased the brown alpaca around the hay until I managed to get a rope around its neck and tied it off to a railing. I then cut the wire in two places and managed to pull it out of the hair. It was not deeply embedded in the skin or hair. It was laying on top and had not hurt the alpaca.  As I walked between the three alpaca they started to spit on each other!  I was hit in the crossfire. I hollered at them to stop and managed to get the gate opened so they could spread out and quit spreading their stomach content onto me.  
I have arranged for help to come out on Friday and Saturday. I have some hard manual labor lined up for them.  I want to shear the alpaca on Sunday. It all depends on whether I can get the table built. I picked up the pipe parts and plywood today. 


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Killed mower again.

I got AnnMarie to the airport bright and early and after breakfast and puppy play time it was time to work. I wanted to get the upper prime pasture finished. After that the only thing to mow was the upper hay field that didn't get planted. It's super tall and full of weeds but as wet as it's been there is probably running water out in the middle. Tractors sink in the mud!  
I mowed the fence lines and my T post line from the fence I did not get installed. There is a lot of water still out there!!  I tried to mow around the muddy parts to give some indication of where it was safe to drive a tractor. Almost 50% of the "upper prime squared" field (new name for the part I started fencing in last year) is swamp and running water. I couldn't get close enough to mow as I was getting stuck with my little light tractor. If not for being able to push the tractor 8 inches at a time by planting the bucket and rotating it. I never would have gotten out of the mud. As it was I still almost didn't get out. I just kept finding more swamp. I spotted the baby deer again today. 

I really think I am going to have to dig some more trenches and subdivide the upper prime squared field. Create one side for hay and the other side for animal grazing.  Even with that the animals won't be able to graze until late July. This will require me to put in another gate into this new pasture. I like having a late pasture available. I liked the hay more but not being able to actually run a tractor over the ground is a real problem. 
See the standing water in most of the above picture?  Swampy ground. 
I had to push myself out with the bucket a few inches at a time. 
The upper prime squared pasture is very tall. This is mostly grass, volunteer wheat and barley. I tried to knock down some of the ten foot weeds.  After mowing around the water I went up along the upper hillside fence line. I was clearing a section of fence that needs to be repaired. This is not an area I normally mow. I hit a hug rock pile and the tractor started to shake and mower made horrible noises. My newly repaired and rebuilt mower. I got out and tried it again, same horrible noise. I figured I had a bunch of barb wire wrapped around the blades. Nope!!  I somehow sheared off one of the two blades. It looks like I can just remove the metal disc and replace the one blade. The other blade needs to be bent back into shape also. Damn mower!  So now my mowing days are done. I will have to get the disc off tomorrow. 
The completely mowed upper prime pasture. 
It's Father's Day today. I have been trying for over a year to get AnnMarie's grandfathers zippo lighter to work. I gave it a shot again today, my fourth attempt. I had to ream out the flint chamber as it had clogged up so much the flint could not touch the roller. This made me very happy!  It will only hold one piece of flint in the flint holder.  I stored two more in the bottom of the lighter just like my grandfather used to do. 

Weed mowing.

Its obvious from this picture that my mistress needs some TLC. She is dirty and it just keeps getting worse. I am trying to get the field mowing done. But there is a lot of it!  I have all the area around the houses and all the way down to the school house done now. I just need to get the upper prime pasture. It's not very exciting, round and round we go. Friday, I had a baby deer jump out of the grass just before I ran over it. It was little and kept trying to get through the woven wire to get back into hiding in some other tall grass. It was fine. I have seen hundreds of vole. I also saw two rock chucks.  They had snuck down off the hillside to come down to the waters edge and eat. Of course I had no rifle as that is something I don't carry on the tractor. Zeke had snuck out of the yard so I sicced him on them. He caught one and shook it a little bit but it got under a rock crib and he could never get at it again. I am always surprised when we can call the dogs off of something like that. 
I had another coworker's son out yesterday helping me clean out the barn. I got the tractor in there and pushed it out one end and had johnathon shovel it out the other. The hardest part is getting it loosened. I did as much of that with the tractor as possible. One more day to get the barn totally cleaned out. 
AnnMarie is off at Berkeley and I have a honey do list long enough I am not sure I could get done if I had vacation for the next two weeks!  The new puppy is dragging me down. Someone has to entertain him in the evenings. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Sheep success!

We had some great luck on Thursday!  One of the sheep buyers from last year randomly called AnnMarie and asked if we had sheep for sale. She negotiated a fair price for both parties.  He wanted to come over on Friday but she had to work and I needed to dig out the barn some more to allow panel placement. 
After two and half hours of digging on Friday I had managed to clean out about Six feet of the barn. It's slow going.  I had already broken one tine on a pitchfork and bent another one on a second pitchfork. It sucked. I finally decided to see if I could fit the tractor inside the barn. It fit through the door with a couple of inches to spare on each side. Unfortunately, I had dug a trench for a panel and had the tractor on three tires trying to keep it from falling onto its side. In 30 minutes I managed to dig out more than I could of done in five hours by hand. It was enough to get the panels in place. I used to always tell AnnMarie that the tractor would not fit into the barn. Funny how when I have to do all the digging suddenly I figure out a way to make it happen!  
This plan to get ready for the sheep sorting threw me off finishing the tile floor on Friday. AnnMarie had went out on the back hillside Friday evening to bring all the boys into the ram pasture. There should have been 22 animals there was only 12!!  We are not sure what is happening. We have not seen any predators but the grass is very tall.  I need to mow but the mower has been out of commission. They called Friday at noon to tell me it was ready, $1000 to get it rebuilt. I went into town late afternoon to pick it up before heading to work. We are going to have to contemplate the cause of this loss. This could be a cougar, wolf problem. We have not seen anything harassing the sheep or cows since our dog problem. Whatever it is the sheep are far easier to kill than the cows 

We had to get up early on Saturday so we could be out sorting at 0700. AnnMarie let me sleep in till almost 0630. This was very nice as I had gotten in late. We called Sarah to get her to come out and help us. 
I wore my "sheep sorting apology" shirt just in case. AnnMarie started out by running both dogs together. This caused much swearing. I went to the barn to finish getting it ready. At one point Annmarie called us into the ram pasture as she needed a human fence because the dogs would not listen. I offered my assistance, T-shirt turned toward her, as she impaled me with her narrowed eyes and proceeded to tell me where to put my offer. I made a great silent fence after that. Sarah and I had just had this whispered conversation in the barn about me helping run the dogs. I had predicted this outcome. Not sure why I offered, probably just to rile her up a little. She gets better looking with a little ire in her blood. 

We ran the boys into the chute and sorted off two boys and the ram then ran them out of the barn back into the ram pasture via the swing gate. We managed to get the mommas and babies in through the front of the barn. Tanner was helping us also. He was more like reluctant boyfriend help. We needed 29 sheep from this group to make our agreed upon 40.  Unfortunately, were counting on 20 from the back hillside not 11. So we started sorting off everything we thought was three months old off that could be weaned. We herded the keepers into the almost empty hay room, this kept them distracted.  Our buyer showed up about 2/3 of the way through the first sorting. He was talking to her as I was on the other end of the chute. Turns out the sheep he bought from us last year turned out great!  He was surprised at how fast they put on weight and their low maintenance. He said that our sheep are learning to forage at a young age because of our pasture type. Their mothers teach them to look for food. He wants to buy sheep from us every 2-3 months. The reason we were going to downsize again is because we cannot find a consistent buyer. If he would take all the female babies before 5 months old we would never have to run two herds. This does mean however that we will need to run the sheep in nightly so we can tag and band and pay better attention to our genetics. We talked about getting a cull color ear tag for the girl babies so we can easily sort, green=good. I wonder if they make a gold tag= $?
So we tossed back several females and we put the ram back in with the herd. We might be able to produce 70-100 babies a year maybe 150 we will have to see. This is enough money to get us our winter feed!  Now that we have the hay loader we can have it delivered on a semi truck and unload it. This will give us a much better price. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Memorial weekend work

The grass on the front hillside is too tall again. We had set up a panel fence but after three days the nephew started digging out the barn and the sheep got loose. They didn't finish their job and eat the hillside down so I don't have to break out the whamplidyne weed eater. I used the new weedeater to clear the yard and behind the garden on the back hillside. It cut right through the huge thistles!!  

You can see that the sheep are not done with their job. Gizmo has discovered the joys of sheep pellets. They are kinda like skittles for dogs. He loves them!!  
I wanted to fence all weekend but there is still tiling to be done inside. I did spend half a day moving the straw pile from the barn. The barn is about 25% dug out. There is a lot of straw. 

I did spend half a day trying to finish the tile. I have about three hours of tiling left. I plan on doing that Friday morning. I also wanted to mow with the tractor but when I called they said they had to order parts to repair it and it was not ready. I kinda figured that was going to happen. On the plus side one of my large tractor tires had a leak and they found all three holes and repaired them for free!!  I dropped off my spare trailer tire to be replaced also. It has perpetually leaked and they can never find it. 
The cheatgrass is starting to head out. I really need the mower to whack it all down to ground level. 
The entire area is still green its amazing. 
I used the dogs today to move the sheep. Mouse did better, he did listen mostly. A vast improvement over two weeks ago. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sheep banded and tagged again

Well it was that time again. Time for conflict and discord between the wife and I. It was time to work the sheep!  I also forgot to wear my apology T-shirt. We have removed the boys and ram weeks ago and needed to get the last of the lambs tagged and banded. It started out on a sour note. We took both dogs and Mouse snuck off and went around and tore into the sheep. He scattered them everywhere and had one he was chasing down. He would not lay down or let off the chase. Luckily for me and the ewe they were running toward me and I was able to get him to lay down. AnnMarie took Zeke around the lot and got the sheep to run over near the barn. She told Zeke to "down" and he decided to continue left which did make the sheep head toward the barn but was not what he was told to do. So I hollered at him to down then AnnMarie and I hollered at each other then Mouse got loose and started running toward the sheep so I hollered at him. We had to break out the shaker sticks as the sheep did not want to go into the barn. We need another small 30 foot section of fencing that lines up directly with the barn opening. This would allow us to use the dogs to push the sheep into the barn. Otherwise, it's takes two people and two dogs to get them in the barn plus we had to use shaker sticks. I almost never use them with AnnMarie as she is far more patient with the animals than I am. Once inside the barn and doors shut. We proceeded to tag and band lambs. 

This sounds like a shared duty but it really is not. Annmarie cannot work the bandorator or the ear tagger as they take a lot of hand strength. So she has to catch all the lambs. This sounds easy but the lambs are not all dainty newborns. Some are up to 2.5 months old and big up to 30 pounds. We tagged and banded 33 lambs today!!  She was tired, dirty and grumpy by the time we were done. I kept offering to trade jobs, not much help, but we did manage to get finished. We have 94 moms and babies plus 21 whethers plus 1 ram for a total of 116 sheep. 

We had pulled the ram off early but the horny bugger managed to get most of the older ewes pregnant!  We had planned on a break allowing the ewes to put some weight back on. This means the ram is going to stay out for another six months at a minimum. We have to get rid of 85 sheep this summer. It will be interesting. 

Today I placed panels across the front yard so I can turn the sheep out onto the front hillside again. The sheep are now mowing the hillside.  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I don't need any help

The grass is starting to get too tall.  I decided that it was time to break out the tractor mower this weekend. I got the sprayer unhooked and tried to get the mower attached.  It did not want to attach. One point of the three point hitch would not latch. I pried and beat on it. It took me about 45 minutes to get it all attached. I was able to then crawl under the mower. One of the blades was bent and loose. This is what is beating up the metal shell of my mower. I put it on my trailer and managed to get a flat tire on the large back tire of my tractor. I had to take it off and throw it on the trailer also. 
The tractor repair shop was not surprised to see me. I am hard on equipment but I told them I had the mower for over five years!  
The tire place said they would get back to me to tell me if the tire was still any good. 

Tonight when I came home I was filling up my water containers for the upstairs plants when I suddenly noticed a rock chuck playing on my rock wall! My rock wall that I have spent years working on. A Little Rock chuck was running around on the ground then it jumped into a hole in the middle of the wall. It started throwing dirt out of the middle of the rock wall. I started hollering at the window and yelled for AnnMarie. 
She grabbed the 22LR long gun and headed out to the chicken coop. She could get a good angle from there and hopefully to take out my rock wall destroyer.  The little destroyer went back into its hole and hid out. She never got a shot off. This is going to be a big problem if we cannot get rid of it.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

It is gross

It was a long week. The sheep keep having babies. We need to tag and band babies but want to wait until all the lambs are actually born. We peer out at the flock on a daily basis but haven't been doing daily walk throughs. Last Tuesday I went out to put away the horses. We have been bringing them in so they don't founder.  Both horses were out in the pasture standing over a brown lump and refused to come. I walked out and spotted a ewe in labor with a lamb under her alive. I headed back to the house to get some towels and gloves. Once inside the house I informed AnnMarie about the problem. The ewe most likely had at least one other lamb stuck inside her. I grabbed two of the shoulder length vet gloves. I figured I would only need one but brought an extra just in case.

 AnnMarie came out to hold the ewe. The ewe got up twice but AnnMarie finally got a hold of her and I then had to figure out how many lambs were stuck in there. I had to take off my coat and lay on the ground in my tshirt. As I tried to reach inside and ascertain the situation I stimulated the ewe causing the contractions to escalate in frequency and strength. I could feel the back of a lamb but could not push it back inside. After about 10 minutes of pushing and fighting I managed to pull out one dead lamb. It was very big and then I pulled another one. I was pretty certain I had them all, but I was informed that I had to go back in and make sure. The smell and gore was not pleasant. I was right and there was no more dead lambs. We backed off and she managed to keep her head up. We almost pulled the lamb off but she kept her head up. The baby was at least 24 hours old and very strong. 
The next morning we saw her walking around with the baby. The same thing happened that evening. All was looking good. The next evening I walked out to check on her I found her dead behind the lamb shed. We caught the baby and took her inside. She was doing fabulous and needed no formula. We called our house keeper and she came to pick up the bummer lamb.  It was a little girl and the cutest black and white mixed color. We were sad to see her go. 
The dead ewe had to go up to the barnyard bone pile, one final tractor trip.  

This is not the most glamorous portion of taking care of animals.  But it is necessary. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Looking for love in all the wrong places

It's been a long week. Our little ankle biter dog the Sproutmeister died. It was fairly sudden over two days. He was never in pain and now has a forever place under the lilac bush in the front yard. 
Between AnnMarie and I we chose to get another Brussels Griffin. They are not easy to find and we are fortunate to have a good breeder locally in Hermiston. She had a couple ready and we went over and picked up Gizmo on Friday. He was 16 weeks old. He has the head of a rough coat and the body of a smooth coat. He is an idiot. So we are now working to teach him the basics. We are trying to create a safe zone for him in his kennel area. He weighs 6 pounds. He is slurping up our free time. 
It rained all weekend so I could not mow the lawn. I will try and get it on Monday I managed to get out on Sunday and get the tractor working again. I hooked the sprayer up to the headlight switch. I forgot to turn off the headlights and ran down the battery. I had to pull the battery and charge it this week. The tractor actually starts better with a full charge on the battery. That is the original battery over five years old will be six this fall. I was cleaning horse poop out of the barn lot. AnnMarie called me on my cell phone. I have started listening to my music over my phone so if someone calls I actually hear it. She said that Packy had called and said our bull was down at his house. I told her let me go look on the tractor. I counted 11 cows but didn't see the bull. I texted AnnMarie, we have 12 cows. I found the hole while talking to AnnMarie. There is high tension wire fence running up the hillside but down by the schoolhouse it had to terminate due to the uneven terrain. The opening is about 24 inches wide and I had boards nailed across it. He picked the boards off with his horns. The neighbor was moving his cows on the back roads.  We are pretty sure this prompted him to go after more females. Packy was out spraying and ran him into a pasture, lent us a trailer and helped us load him up!  We are always grateful for all our neighbors. It helps having a pretty distinctive breed everyone knows they are ours. 

We let him out in the barn lot and then I grabbed tools and a panel and walked down to fix the opening. Guess who was already down by the hole?  The bull had jumped down into the back creek and eased through the the water and under the fence to get into the schoolhouse pasture. I have not dropped the fences down into the creek yet as it just snowed again yesterday in the mountains!   It is a runoff creek that dried up in the summer. It's pretty low now but I am not ready to trust the runoff quite yet. 
I placed the panel across the hole. I managed to smack myself in the upper lip with a springy rose branch and gave myself a fat lip and abrasion. This caused some swearing and ungracious thoughts toward the bull. I got it nailed in and wired to the existing fence so he cannot just pop the staples out. I walked up the road and ended up fixing the fence from four corners to our driveway entrance. I spent about 1.5 hours just before dark getting it all repaired. 

We have a new resident in the barn. This large orange tabby tom has been living there for almost three months. The dogs all know he is there but they cannot seem to find him. I am not sure how this is going to affect us getting kittens to live in the barn. We may just have to raise them in the backyard. Maybe we can only get three. 
I need to get the forklift forks installed so I can install the 4x8 foot window in the upper part of the barn. I am going to use the tractor as a man lift. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Time for spraying.

A lot has happened in the last week causing me to get behind on my posts. I spent last weekend spraying. I have heard it before that chemicals are bad. Unfortunately weeds are worse. They take over and choke out all the beneficial plants. The upper prime pasture has taken me almost three years to get straightened out. It looks great this year and is bright green. I had closed it off for ten days after the first few weeks with animals on it. This let it jump back up to 6 inches plus of grass. I sprayed it with 2-4-D and something else that burns big bull thistles. I spotted three baby killdeers running around the blackberry bushes. I didn't see a parent killdeer until almost an hour later. 
I sprayed 150 gallons of spray over about 15 acres. Luckily for me the weather was amazing and cooperated both days. 

The international tractor is up and working.  I did figure out the gas gauge doesn't work so I will have to keep an eye on the fuel level. I even had them add the warning triangle!!  I fixed the chain holding the hydraulic pto to both three point hitch arms. One side had broken loose and was linking the hydraulic lines. I really want to be able to use this tractor with forklift arms. It would require some custom fabrication costing around $1500-2000. It would be much cheaper if I had the bucket attachment and could buy the clamp on forks. Those only cost about $400. 
I found the bucket attachment!!!  It was out by the grain bins. I just need to get it reinforced with some weld on plates and it will be ready for clamp on forks. I have two projects that I need a forklift for and have been putting them off. Twice we have had freight delivered and had to pay extra for a lift tailgate versus having a forklift on site. The last thing I need is to watch a YouTube video on how to drive it. It is clutched and I can make it for forward and reverse but when I want to go fast do I keep shifting it up like a truck?   Or do the higher gears just mean less power at low speeds and a higher overall speed? I don't know. 

Sarah came out and shaved Mouse also. Both dogs look very naked. We have not had a single tick on them yet and even Mouse has cut down on his creek time since getting shaved. 
I have been able to get the lawn mowed every week in between the rain storms. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

50% completed front yard rock wall

I decided to just finish the front wall today. After Saturday, I decided to finish the right front rock wall. I noticed that the ground was quite a bit lower next to the wall. So I started spreading the dirt farther out into the yard to make everything level. I used over 10 yards of soil to build this back up. The tractor bucket only holds 1/3 yard of dirt. I planted orchard grass so we can see  what it looks like. I am pretty happy with how it turned out. The best part was this wall was rebuilt from an original one that was buried about 45 years ago. It had probably been up for 50 years before that. There is an identical wall on the other side of the bridge. I need to spray the grass and kill the greenery so I can easily dig up the wall. 
The barn swallows have returned to nest and raise their young. I was headed to the house with a load of dirt and off to my right eight swallows were swooping around each other. Just as I focused on the group one of them dropped a white fuzzy feather. It fluttered in the wind as each bird dove attempting to snag the coveted nest liner!  It took about ten seconds of watching the feather flutter in the wind before a talented flyer snagged it and raced off. 

Since this was day 2 with the tractor I decided to do a little more work. One of the problems we had with the back barn lot was the sheep want to go over the fence.  The hillside makes it look like it will be an easy jump to get over the fence. I wanted to cut a four foot wide road/path next to the fence. Unfortunately, this is easier said then done. I tried to go from the bottom next to the creek but the tractor was on a slant and almost rolled into the creek. I managed to get it headed up the old road I made a few years ago. I then decided that if I picked up a bucketful of dirt along the upper side of the hill I could then get lined up and create a road. I would have my uphill tires in the rut allowing me to create a road. I managed to get into the rut and tried to make it flatter. When I got to the bottom near the water I started to slant toward the creek. I then tried to back up the road and the tractor slid into the fence. The only way out was forward. I ended up with one front tire on the bridge and one in the air. I used the bucket to keep the tractor from rolling and then got lined up to drive directly up the very steep hill. The tractor went up the hill no problem. Luckily it has been three days since any rain. I drove back up to the top of the new path and made it flatter. When I got near the bottom I kept going back and forth on the loose dirt near the spring runoff and compressing it down. Eventually I was able to drive out the bottom on all four wheels. 


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Yard work can happen

I spent Friday relaxing and reading a book. I do occasionally take a little time for myself. It had been a long week at work. I still managed to get in one bucket of mastic on the library floor. I only have the outside edges to tile now. I need to go through and cut all the tiles to fit before I mix any more mastic. I will use a piece of blue painters tape to mark the top of the loose tiles. Otherwise I won't be able to tell they are not stuck to the floor. When cutting that much tile I tend to get very wet. The tile saw uses water and I think I need to change out the blade. I am pretty sure I have a new one out on the wall. It's pretty slow cutting the tiles. It has not been the same since I used it to cut all the granite tiles for the kitchen countertops. 
Saturday was amazing!  The weather was perfect and I just could not stay inside. I decided to work on our front rock wall. I had visions of getting it done but it has been in the works for several years. I don't have enough rocks available to get it to be height I think it needs. I went out in the barn lot and snagged the extra rocks that were hiding in the sheep manure pile. I also picked up the few loose rocks in the barn lot. Several years ago I had piled a bunch by the old chicken coop. I had found a buried pile and finished digging them out of the ground. I also found a pile half buried in the ram pasture. It took the tractor to get them out of the ground. I had to back fill the area as I created a hole in the ground that would have injured any human trying to walk in the area.  I still have a small pile by the waterfall and a small pile over by the lamb shed left. Probably only three buckets full and not near enough to finish off a project. As I was picking rocks in the barn lot I think I am going to bid this year on labor from one of the sports teams. I would like all the metal scraps and wooden pieces policed off the ground in the barn lot. I think 4-5 people could do it in 4-5 hours. I would like to get it all neat. The sheep and horses were enjoying the day also. 

I worked on the wall most of the day. It looks pretty good but I noticed it slants down away from the yard. There used to be a chain link fence across the front of the yard and the ground slipped away toward the creek. You can still see that slant. I would like to get that leveled out. Hopefully, the weather will be good enough on Sunday that I can finish. 


Water everywhere

 It rained again Wednesday night. All night long. This would not be a bad thing but the ground is absolutely saturated with water currently. By the time we got home that evening the back runoff creek was at its highest for the year and all muddy. We were super glad that we have not yet lowered the fences over the creek.   This very well could have been disastrous. 

We decided that this year we would shave the border collies. They get super hot and dirty during the summer. The weeds stick to them and they are just generally messy. Sarah came out and was going to do both dogs but Mouse jumped in the front spring. 
I suspect her was onto her nefarious plot to make him bald. So instead she was only able to shave Zeke. I have been laughing for days!  He does not even look like a border collie. Sarah tells me I should of gotten a blade that allows the dogs to have some amount of hair left. I did, she just didn't know it so now Mouse will get shaved with a number 7 blade. It got down to the high 30s right after the shave so Zeke had to spend two days hanging out on the breezeporch with Sprout.  He would go out in the morning and start shivering. He has been fine these last couple of days. The shock of being naked has worn off. 
Our bull on the back hillside out our kitchen window. The boy sheep are out there also. Look at that flat back!!  He is a beautiful animal that throws amazing calves. We are so happy with him. He is going to get to stay well into his old age. Until he starts to have performance issues then he will have to be hamburger. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Where be those doggies?

I left for work early and AnnMarie took care of the dogs. I was just going to sign timecards but ended up having to stay. AnnMarie called me in the early afternoon to say that the neighbors thought one of our border collies was up the road chasing cows. Now Zeke can jump out of the yard but usually stays on the place. We don't trust him any more so we have started putting him on the overhead run. It has been a few years since he got off of it. He used to chew through the rope. It's now a metal chain and wire cable lead on the overhead run. No way to chew through it. 
When I got home Zeke was laying down on the old house front porch out of the rain. Mouse was running around the yard getting wet.  I snapped a picture and sent it to AnnMarie so she could let the land owner know it was not our dog.  
We are suspects as we have a black and white border collie, the other one is grey and white. 
Zeke has been jumping over our yard fence bordering the orchard. Years ago I had cut this fence to allow me to drive a tractor into our yard for some reason. I loosened the wire from the posts and restretched the entire fence. I then used some of the leftover 2x6x16 foot long boards to put a top rail above the woven wire. This should be tall enough to keep Zeke inside the yard. We won't test it out until we can be home to watch him for any illicit escapes. It rained almost the entire time. I got a two part coat for Christmas and the outer part is waterproof. It has come in mighty handy this year. 
Our ground is so saturated now that the rain is causing our back creek to rise.  The water is really starting to move. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

One tile at a time

A mouse war update is required. The dogs are falling behind with only 16 verified kills. The mouse traps in the coop have killed 38 mice so far.  This is just cementing the need for more cats. I have started cleaning up the coop and am removing all the empty bags.  I am trying to discourage any mice from living in the feed area of the coop.

I unloaded the first 150 of 500 wooden Tamarac fence stays. I still have 350 more to pickup.  I will fix the trailer tires in the next two weeks. 

I have increased the number of mouse traps by another six traps. It is a truly death defying run to get from one side of the coop to the other. The mice tend to run along the walls but occasionally a brave one runs out away from the wall. I laid out some more tile yesterday. I have one more serious finish attempt then I will cut and fit all the outer odd pieces then pull them all out and lay them next to their spot and mastic them all down at once.