Tuesday, May 23, 2017

NE pasture gate

This past week I redid the gate for the NE pasture from the road.  I had bought a used gate two years ago and planned on redoing the gate last Spring.  But I got delayed digging tree stumps and had no time before I had to let the cattle into that pasture.  This year I made sure I made time to redo the gate before the cattle go into the pasture.

The old gate was a barb wire gate.

The new gate is 20 feet long.  It is a HW brand and a brown gate, which means the tube diameter is smaller than typical but made of a stronger and heavier metal.  To support the gate I used railroad ties as posts and used old boards to make a solid corner for support.  I added railroad ties and boards to the other (left) side of the gate for symmetry, and to use up old boards.

I also made the corner a 'corner' to 'clean' the corner up and make it look nicer.  In the past the chain link fencing hadn't quite reached the corner and I had to add a chain link gate as part of the fence and not as a gate.  You can also see in the previous photo a warped board to support the end of the fence.  That board predated my work on adding the chain link fencing to the fence.

Most of my railroad ties are 8 1/2 feet long and I place them 2 1/2 feet into the ground.  For the tie that the gate attaches to I used a 10 foot railroad tie.  I placed that tie 4 feet into the ground, for two reasons.  One reason was to make the ties the same height above ground, and the other reason is a deeper tie provides more support.

While I can lift and place most 8 1/2 foot ties into the hole in the ground, the 10 foot tie was too heavy for me to lift.  My tractor made it easy to lift the tie.  I wish I had the tractor back when I rebuilt the loading corral.  I had to get creative back then to lift those 10 foot ties into the ground.  And I was younger back then.

I bought the brown gate used.  The gate didn't come with bolts which didn't concern me as I have extra lag bolts.  Ah... but I discovered a problem.  On most gates the top hinge is adjustable.  That allows the top bolt to point downward.  Having the top and bottom bolts point in opposite directions prevents the cattle from lifting the gate off the bolts, which I have learned the cattle can do.

On the brown HW gates both hinges are fixed.  What the brown HW gate has are bolts that have a cotter pin that goes in the bolt above the hinge to hold the gate in place.   Most bolts hinge part is 1 1/4 inch tall.  The brown HW hinge part is 3 inches tall.  I didn't have any bolts that would work.

I called all the stores that carry HW gates, a fencing company and a hardware store.  No one had a bolt with a hinge part over 3 inches tall.  Not even the stores that sell brown HW gates.

Oh great.

I went to the HW web site:  http://livestockequineequipment.hutchison-inc.com/item/heavy-duty-cattle-equipment/gate-hardware-2/hb800-030-0054

$34.29 for one bolt?!  Plus shipping!  And who knows how long it would take to be shipped to me.   No thanks!

So I needed the top bolt to face down to hold the gate in place when the hinge part is less than 3 inches.  Most of my bolts are screw-in bolts and would not work.  I did find one pair of complete bolts where I would have to drill holes all the way through the railroad ties.

I have a wimpy battery powered drill so it took three charges to drill the two holes.

Fortunately I have a tractor so I could hold the gate in the air so that I could slide the gate and the bolts into the two holes at the same time; then bolt the gate in place.

While I bought the gate 'used' from a fencing company's bargain / repurposed area, as you can see from how the end of the chain was still welded to the tube, I doubt the previous owner ever used the gate.

Due to the length and weight of the gate, I placed a short piece of railroad tie in the ground on which to rest the gate when closed.  This will help prevent gravity from warping the end of the gate downward over the years, and takes pressure off the railroad tie to which the gate is attached.

So.  Another barb wire gate is replaced, which makes opening and closing the gate much easier.  And this gate is more solid than the old wire gate.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Two feeders - zilch

Lately I have been trying to buy another used cattle feeder.  This would be my third feeder.  I got used to having two feeders for the cattle over Winter.  But when I have to segregate a cow temporarily, or like now when Buddy the bull needs to be kept away from the cows for a few months, I use one of the two feeders to feed him.

Last Monday the weekly auction had a few ranch related items.  Mainly I was interested in the one feeder that was identical to my two feeders.  The feeder at the auction was faded but no rust or serious dents.   The feeder new costs $795.

I quit at $471.50, which was more than I wanted to pay for a used feeder.  The winning bid was $483 and I would have had to bid $493 to top that bid.

Then today I tried to buy a used feeder advertised on Craigslist.  This feeder was a lightweight feeder.  I could easily lift the feeder to tip it on its side, something I cannot do with my current feeders.  But this feeder was being sold for only $150.  For this price the feeder would last long enough before the cattle bent it to make it worthwhile to own.

The problem was the owner wasn't going to be home until 5 pm and there was at least one other interested buyer.

I got there at 4:50 pm and arrived just a few minutes after the other buyer.  He had originally called before I did.  He looked at the feeder and decided to buy it.

So two feeders and no success.   I somewhat expected to come up short on the second feeder.  Earlier today, as I was riding home on my bicycle from a bank visit to get cash to buy the feeder, my rear bicycle tire went flat about five miles from home.  The bicycle tire was new as I had put it on two to three weeks ago.  The cause of the flat was a very old inner tube patch that suddenly decided to now leak.

I rode four miles on a flat tire where the roads were good and walked one mile where the road was poor and where I didn't want to risk damaging my tire or bicycle rim.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


The planted hayfield finally started to grow.  It started to grow this morning.

This afternoon we had a good rain shower.  That will help it along.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Fixing a wooden feeder

Earlier this week I fixed the large wooden cattle feeder.  Again.   The feeder does hold up well but this Spring the cattle were hard on it.

Initially I had to segregate, from the cows, Buddy in the main corral and feed him from this feeder while Big Red and Buster were in the south corral.  Often Buddy would reach across the feeder to eat hay from the opposite side.  With no cattle pushing from the opposite side Buddy put a "lean" into the feeder.  After I put Buddy in the south corral and let the cows back in to occasionally eat from the wooden feeder they further "rocked the lean".

So Monday evening I took time to fix and rebuild the feeder before the cows pushed it completely over.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cattle jailbreak, haybine, and fertilizer spreader

This morning cow #7 got out of the temporary corral enclosure again.  This time only she got out.

It appears she laid and reached under one of the corral panels to reach the grass on the other side.  She pushed and pushed and bent the bottom rail upward.  The metal t-post by this panel was partially out of the ground.  The twine tying the panel to the t-post was broken. I think she got under the panel and pushed it upwards and slid underneath the panel to "freedom".   She is not a small cow.

The panel dropped back down to the ground and the rest of the cattle were upset.  They were standing at the corral panels, mooing loudly, and watching cow #7 ignore them as she ate grass on the other side.

I fixed the corral panel and post and twine.  I left cow #7 alone.  There was no way I was going to get her back into the corral panel enclosure when all the other cattle wanted out to join her.  I would deal with cow #7 later when I put a new large hay bale out later in the day once the cattle finished the previous bale.

Later cow #7 raised a ruckus.  Her belly was full of grass and her udder was full of milk and she wanted to calf to drain her milk.  I left her be as I wasn't ready yet to put a new large bale of hay out.

Mother and daughter wanting a reunion

Rusty came over late afternoon with a pickup load of fresh cut green grass from his lawn.  The cattle all love it and swarmed over the piles we made as we raked it out of his pickup.  Cow #7 wanted back in the corral to get what the other cattle were getting.  So I opened one corral panel and let her back inside.

I saved a little hay for Buddy as he has been behaving.  It was a challenge driving Rusty's pickup into Buddy's part of the corral as Buddy really wanted to come out through the gate.  One of the cows is in heat as I seen another cow mount her repeatedly today.  I finally was able to wave Buddy away from the gate long enough for Rusty to drive inside.  Rusty had placed the grass on tarps so we were able to quickly pull the tarp out of the pickup and dump the grass.  Buddy was distracted by the fresh cut grass so Rusty was able to easily drive out of the other corral gate.

I put a large bale out for the cattle before sunset as they had eaten all of the grass by then.

The other news...  yesterday I bought a used haybine and a fertilizer spreader.  A guy - Mike- near Libby, Montana had these and other equipment for sale on Craigslist as he had upgraded.  By coincidence the day before I had spoken with the salesmen I bought my tractor from asking if their dealership had any used haybines for sale.  Nothing right for me.  He did mention Mike might, and praised Mike's upkeep of his machinery.

Mike is quite the talker.  He can equal, or even outdo, me.  And he has an beautiful and interesting place.  So lots of time was sidetracked on stories and tangents.

I did buy his New Hollander 488 haybine.   And a fertilizer spinner spreader that mounts on a tractor's three point hitch.   Now I need to fix my tractor's three point to replace the missing bolt.

I pulled the haybine home using my pickup.  I had to pay attention as my pickup's left tires were on the yellow center line and the haybine's right tire was on the white line on the side of the road.  Some parts of the highway had a nice shoulder and many parts had not much of a shoulder.

The drive was from about 6:30 pm to almost 8 pm so the traffic was lighter.  Thankfully.   I didn't go faster than 50 mph to be safe.  I made it home without any mishaps.  The closest call was that I nearly took out my own mailbox but fortunately noticed in time and moved the haybine so it missed the mailbox.

And wouldn't you know it... the night after I bought the haybine some posted a newer John Deere haybine on Craigslist that looks interesting.  If I had waited one more day...