Sunday, March 26, 2017

Weather be damned

My morning started out very pleasantly.  I got to talk with anmarie while she got ready for church, then while I made breakfast I had coffee with my nephew. After that I went out to start my morning unfortunately I still had tiles to unload.  This is the third day and my shoulders are sore. One of the problems with a monotonous task is its boring. It still has to be done. Every time I threw another box onto my shoulder it hurt!  It felt like pure torture. I keep myself distracted by doing math. Doesn't everyone?  I calculated that I had 30 of 75 boxes left to carry. I had 1650 pounds of tile to schlep to the root cellar. Each box was worth $53.3.  This calculation was ongoing after every box I redid the math to see how much was left and how much I had already carried.  It felt like forever but I did get done before the rain started. After I got undressed this evening I realized why my shoulders hurt so much, both of them are solid bruises. 

 

It's time to get back into fencing but the weather is just not cooperating. I am going to start with a double gate arrangement in front of the lamb shed that allows us to give access to the barn from the soon to be built pen and outside access. It involves using two gates on opposing corners in a square pen arrangement. Unfortunately I cannot just install four posts and call it good. I need to add L shaped supports to keep the gate posts from falling over. 

The ground is rocky and hard. I had to use the breaker bar repeatedly to break up the rocks. It took 30 minutes a hole just to dig. I now bury the posts in gravel. I tap it down with a wooden handle then use the breaker bar to tap it down until it is tight. 

I was able to get one gate installed and one L completed. I still need to finish cutting off the support boards. I put the railroad tie on the outside edge of the building was to protect it. The animals are rubbing on the corner and tearing it up.
I hurt and feel miserable. I am not ready to be at this level of activity. My Apple Watch told me I burned over 1300 calories today!  That is the most I have done since I got my watch. I can tell. 

 

50% completed!  
 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Back to being productive

Just as it started to rain I snapped the below picture of the house.  I didn’t realize there were two rainbows until I looked at the picture.  The bottom rainbow was very bright and intense. 

 
  It is time to start back in on projects.  I am still not 100% but things need to happen so I am just going to start whittling away at the list of items.  Our floor tiles came in so I drove over yesterday to pick them up.  I did not know there were two pallets worth of them, 4000lbs!  They managed to get them in the back but my poor truck just cried when the fork lift let the weight of the second, and largest, pallet down.  Luckily, I just had the shocks replaced.  Unfortunately, I still need to put some kind of overload device on still whether its air bags or overload springs.  I have a tendency to overload it a few times a year.  Unfortunately, it was pouring down rain so I had to tarp and cover every thing.  I knew I was going to tear down the pallets when I got home.  I just had not added up what kind of torture it would be to unload 75 boxes of tile from the back of the pick up, down the stairs across the bridge, across the yard and down into the root cellar.  It was not fun this also means every box of 8 tiles weighs 53.3 pounds or each 1.5 sq ft tile weighs 6.7 pounds.  They are very nice solid tiles!  I will try and get a picture of the tiles when I do the calculation for figuring out the starting point in the library.  


 
I was saved from 75 types of torture to only 35 when the skies opened back up and started to pour water out of the sky.  I need the cardboard boxes holding the tile to not disentegrate.  So I just covered it al back up and vowed to return tomorrow.  Instead of unloading boxes I am updating the blog!
But enough procrastination as Annmarie needs the computer for a school paper.  The dogs are bugging me about going outside any ways.  
 
 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Is it the year of the predator?

It appears that this year is going to be a predator boon year.  I am still killing mice nonstop in the chicken coop and this week we had some dogs go after our livestock.  We have been very fortunate that outside dogs have never really been a problem for us.  Most of the neigbors have animals also so stray dogs tend not to be a problem and if we do see them they are usually just lost and very friendly.  Those animals are easy to catch and have name tags or a simple post to social media usually nets you an owner in a few hours.  These two dogs were different.  They were chasing the sheep all over our upper field, the housekeeper saw them and chased them off the sheep.  She found one brand new lamb with no mother and brought it into the house to warm up.  She then went out and let it in with all the sheep in hopes it could find its momma.  While she was doing this she spotted the dogs chasing our cows.  Both the sheep and cows have babies on the ground right now and our sheep are starting to lamb again.  I called Sarah and she came out to the house and tried to catch the two dogs, and they were having none of that.  She called Dispatch and notified them that there were two dogs harassing livestock.  We never saw a deputy but did not really expect one to come out.  
 
We went out that night to feed the sheep and found the bummer lamb.  It’s mother never claimed it.  The sheep were super frazzled after being ran that it never bonded.  Annmarie had walked the upper pasture looking for dead animals and the dogs found the lamb hidden in the bushes.  She said she would have walked right by if the border collies had not kept worrying about something in the bushes.  We had to take it inside to warm it up and feed it.  It drank a whole bottle and then hollered every time you set it down on the floor.  It wanted to be held.  We had to bummer it out as it never bonded, so one lamb gone.  
 
At work, the next day, I was telling my coworkers about this and one of them described both dogs perfectly from the description I was given by Sarah.  He lives about 3 miles away as the crow flies.  He said they have been running around for a couple of weeks and have already killed two lambs from a neighbor and one of his chickens.  We had already decided to enforce the law, but that pretty much sealed the deal.  Once they start attacking livestock they rarely just quit.  Luckily, they didn’t get one of the calves.  That would be a $700 loss for just a steer, if it was a heifer it could be $8-10k as we are still building our herd and would lose all future calves also.  Its not a small thing.  On the plus side, we both got our lamb snuggles in.  
 
 
 
 
To combat the potential dog issue we chased all the alpaca into the barn lot so that they could protect the sheep.  The alpaca will run up and chase off a dog.  When there are 10 alpaca 2 dogs can’t really do a lot of harm as there is some alpaca always sneaking up on them.  We might lose an alpaca but there are 10 and currently they are just growing hair, plus there is a LOT of hair on them now.  Some of them have hair 8 inches long so the dogs can only really reach their face and their ankles easily.  I would trust that the alpaca would come out on top eventually.  They don’t really give up.  I had to entice them in with some hay, they don’t eat a lot, mostly just pick at it with all this green grass growing.  They still think they want it until they are eating it and then it only holds their attention for 30-60 minutes before wandering off. 
 
 
We are continuing to feed the sheep, they are in this weird spring transition again.  Their intestinal floura has to change so that they can go from digesting dry hay to green grass.  Every year for about one month they get skinny no matter how much we feed them.  We are feeding them 3 bales a day now which is what we fed in the middle of the deep cold winter and they are still losing weight.  They are also being super picky about the hay and throwing about 50% out onto the barn floor.  Their is at least 3-4 feet of straw/hay on the barn floor.  It is going to be a brutal dig out this early summer.  Luckily, this is one of those jobs I hire out to teenagers. They clean out the barn and chicken coop annually.  Its worth it!!  On the plus side it does look like we may use up all our grain hay and still have about 5 tons of small bale alfalfa.  I need to get my trailer tire changed and go pick up the last 2.5 tons of alfalfa.  I didn’t have a spot earlier and the whole pneumonia thing is still lingering and causing me problems with any hard core physical activity.  I really feel it and just cannot sustain it for any length of time. This was a nice picture of Mouse, he is now 44 pounds.  We weren’t sure he would ever put on any size.  He is a worrier, so he rarely ventures out of sight when we are out working the animals.  Zeke sneaks off if you make him wait or give him some down time.  
 
  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Help I am stuck


The upper hay pasture is green.  Unfortunately, this is all spontaneous growth. It needs to be sprayed, tilled back under and replanted this spring. I need to finish the fence surrounding this section of property.  

 
Annmarie called me out to the barn the other day. I was once again in the throes of illness. She just asked me to come out to the barn. Rarely, does she ask for me to come out to the barn and especially not when I am ill. I drug myself out of bed, got dressed and headed out to the barn. When I got to the barn I hollered for Annmarie and I heard a reply from the second hay room. 
It turns out Zeke had been climbing the alfalfa stack and got stuck on the top. AnnMarie climbed the stack and threw off a couple bales so Zeke could get off the stack. Unfortunately, now she cannot get off the stack. I, of course, took the time to snatch a picture before helping AnnMarie down. My help consisted of directing her foot steps on her climb down. From above you cannot see where to step so my directions did actually provide some help. She got down without falling or having to kick any more bales off the stack. 
 

 Tally: 19 mice killed in coop (Traps vs Dogs) 12 mice killed in barn.  I keep thinking I am going to kill all the mice in the coop but they just keep showing back up. Two of the mice died beside the traps with no body part in the traps, scared to death.  I am now starting to get small mice. 
The dogs have only killed two mice in the barn. I only count for the dogs if I see the dead mouse. They have been actively hunting them when we are out there but without any credit. 

The upper prime pasture is getting super wet. The front irrigation ditch is filling up with water. This has never been this far down since we have moved back. If it keeps filling up it may run. If this happens it is going to wash out my crossing. I never put in a culvert as there had been no running water. I have a couple of ten foot culverts if I need to install something. 
 

I need to work on the fencing in the barn lot. I did bend the fence back upright. There are a couple of broken T posts and I need to install some railroad ties so the fence cannot be pushed over. 
We have been talking about creating a pen inside the barn lot also to house the bull and the ram both. 
 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Spring is trying to show up


Spring really wants to be here. She just cannot seem to stay. Every few days the snow comes down the hillside almost to our house. By the next day it starts to melt off, the back creek rises and we repeat the entire endless cycle. 
The birds all think it's spring. The are singing and making endless noise. The animal volume becomes a constant dull roar in the spring at our house. Everyone wants a mate!  

We ordered our downstairs floor tile, 900 sq ft. It will do the entire house minus the laundry room. I had plans to do the library and the hallway this spring. This will cause me to have a two foot offset section near the kitchen. So I am going to do the library and under the stairs. 
 This will leave, a maximum of 6 inch overhang probably less. I have the library empty but I need to empty out all the space under the stairs. I have stuff all the way under the stairs. We are running out of locations to stack stuff. It's going to start looking like a construction zone again. This has a tendency to agitate the wife. 
The tile company called yesterday and said our tile was in!  I will go over this week and pick it up. We are going to use the root cellar as our storage area for the tile job. This is going to take a couple of years. The only demolition I will need to do for the tile job is the kitchen floor needs to have the top layer of lineoleum and subfloor removed. I also have to dismantle the custom shelves in the kitchen I made from the old doors and wood kicker trim. That whole thing will have to be removed and then the bottoms of the doors shortened so it still fits. 

 




Saturday, March 4, 2017

I am still feeding the cows

 Today was another weird weather day, it started snowing this am and by noon there was a couple of inches on the ground and it was only 36 F outside.  I had to feed both sets of cows large bales of hay.  I tried out a new plan for moving the bales, dragging instead of pushing.  I had some real trouble last time with popping the strings loose as I was moving the bale around.  This caused a lot of problems.  I decided today to wrap a chain around the bale and use another to chain it to the bucket so I could drag the bale by driving backwards.  This was actually faster than pushing the bale.  It is my new go to plan for moving the bales.  I did check on the old (rebuilt and running) tractor this week at the dealer and hopefully it will be out on the farm next week.  As soon as it shows up I will have to go out and do some work!  I will have to spend a few hours driving it around and playing with all the levers and gears to make sure I know how it runs.  This sounds incredibly boring and tedious… 
I am really looking forward to having it available and ready for use.  I will need to clean out a spot in the machine shop for it so it can be housed out of the weather.