Friday, October 24, 2014

Wandering Buddy

Wednesday I found Buddy the bull in the middle pasture.  The rest of the herd was taking their siesta along the south pasture south fence.  I opened the gate, called for Buddy, and he came sauntering over, walked through the gate, then sauntered over to his girls.

I found where the fence wire was broken and fixed the fence.

Late Thursday afternoon, just before dark, I heard Beulah bellowing at the gate between the south and middle pastures. I saw Buddy in the middle pasture along a the steer calf that slips though the fences.  I went to let Buddy back into the south pasture.  This time the herd was near the gate.  This is a barb wire / string gate.  It is next on my list of gates to replace with metal gates.  So it is a difficult gate to handle by oneself when cattle are on each side of the gate.

Buddy slowly came to the gate.  I opened it and he then walked and stood in the gate.  Come on Buddy, walk through.  As I waited a cow slipped through the gate between Buddy and the fence post.  I blocked another cow from going through.  Then I tried to get Buddy through again and another cow slipped through before I could stop her.  I was getting aggravated. Not a good thing around a bull as Buddy started to get upset.  He put his head down and hopped around on his front legs facing me.  I settled down, closed the gate and put the fence between us.  Buddy quickly calmed down.

Now I had four cattle in the middle pasture.

I went home and got a few steel posts and wire and came back to the pasture.  The cattle were away from, but still, near the gate and Buddy was standing at the gate.  I opened the gate and Buddy walked through before any other cattle could slip through.

The two cows were away from the gate eating like there was no tomorrow.  I wasn't going to get them through a gate I can't leave open as I herd them.

I went to see where Buddy came through the fence.  The repair job from Wednesday was still good. I didn't find any breaks but I did find a low area that Buddy may have jumped over.  I added the posts and wire and I'll see if that finally stops him.

Back at the gate the steer calf was standing.  Beulah was right on the other side.  I think it may be her calf (Note to Uncle Larry: I am thinking of changing his name from Buster to either Houdini or Hamburger.), else she was just annoyed the other two cows were having what she could not.  I couldn't get the cattle to move away from the gate. Beulah was getting upset with me when I tried to shoo her away from the gate.  I didn't try too hard as with only me the cattle would come back to the gate before I could herd the two cows through.

There is no harm in letting the cows and steer be in the middle pasture overnight.  Their calves may be unhappy with their mothers by morning.

It had rained off and on all day and I walked home with wet shoes and pants after walking through the tall grass.  Life on the Ranch.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

2014 Bonfire number 2

The end of August I had the first tree stump bonfire since Tammy left.  It was a stump I had dug around earlier in the Spring so it was relatively dry.  It was time to burn the stump before the evenings started to get colder.

This was another one of those stumps that barely peaked above the ground but was massive once I began digging around it.

It was just me burning the stump so that felt different.  I kept busy throwing branches and stuff on the fire to keep it going hot.  Stumps are hard to burn.  I was able to burn the entire stump in one bonfire.

I kept to the same routine as when Tammy and I burnt stumps.  I even had a bottle of wine and drank part of it.  I just didn't have anyone telling me I was a lightweight and couldn't handle my liquor.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

First fire of the season

After a couple of very nice days, Tuesday's weather brought cold air and rain.  A cool damp 55 degrees inside the house meant that for the first time this season I lit a fire in my wood stove. 

This evening the clouds are moving on and tomorrow looks to be a better day...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fruit tree fall colors

Transparent Apple Tree

Apricot Tree

Monday, October 13, 2014

Well completed

Another project that took forever to complete is my livestock well.  I am now done with it.  I finished work on the well the day before I left for my Washington vacation.

When I last blogged about the well I was waiting on a new pump as the old pump couldn't pump at full volume.  I bought a 1/2 HP Wayne brand pump from Amazon.  It works great.

It was a hassle to hook up the pump.  The pump wasn't the problem - the piping was.  First, the plastic hose that goes in the well casing had such a curl to it that it took finesse to get it into the well casing and then into the pitless adapter slot.  In the photo below the straight part is an old pipe whose use is to lower part of the pitless adapter (hole seen in the following photo) into the pitless adapter slot already installed in the well casing.

Then the union connection between the pitless adapter and the pump leaked.  Pipe thread tape didn't work but a silicon paste got the leak to stop.  Then I needed the right amount of piping to go from the pump to the hydrant attached to the concrete wall.  Those connections would leak.  Usually it would be the last section to be screwed together. Or the last section of pipe to be screwed together would not screw together due to some odd threading.

The blue tank is the pressure tank.  Not super big, but works.  I bought it for $5 at a garage sale.

The hydrant drains when turned off.  Since the hydrant usually is installed in the ground, it just drains out of a small hole into the ground.  I wanted the hydrant to drain back into the well.  Neither Home Depot or Lowes sold a fitting that screws into the hydrant hole with the other end being barbed so I could slip a plastic hose over it.  But Ace Hardware had the fitting.

The well casing is hard steel and my drills bits are getting duller so it took a long time to drill through the pipe.

I bought a carbide tipped concrete drill bit to fasten the hydrant to the concrete casing.  The first bit only drilled three holes before going dull.  I figured it was defective so I took it back and bought another brand's carbide drill bit.  This time I watered down the bit as I drilled to cool the bit and provide a little lubrication, and ended up drilling seven holes before this bit went dull.  Do these bits drill so few holes before going dull?

Then it was time to rebuild the fence around the well.  The new concrete casing is larger than the old casing and the fence needed to be moved in addition to being strengthened.  The move resulted in moving part of the old corral fence instead of merely adding a little bit to go around the concrete casing.  *sigh*

I also rebuilt the fence that divides the water trough.  And the gate and the post that held it.  A ripple effect.

The gate is now attached to a taller more solid post and no longer scrapes the ground when opened wide.  And I was able to drill new lag bolts into the post and have the bolts point to one another.  This prevents the gate from being lifted off the post unless one section of the gate's hinge is unbolted - something the livestock can't do.

Knowing how cattle rub on things, I placed the hydrant outside the corral and added wire to the fence to prevent the cattle from putting their heads through the fence to reach the hydrant - which is what they would try to do.  Trust me.

Because the horses rinse their mouths in the water trough, I am still using the small trough until they leave next month.

I hooked up a hose from the hydrant to the trough.  Everything tested and it all worked.  Then a day later I saw the white horse kick the empty water trough.  Huh?  The horses must have been thirsty.  I filled the trough quickly and went off to work on another project.  That evening the trough was empty again.  Well... the temperatures have been in the 80s. I filled the trough again and went off to work on other stuff.

Within a day the trough was empty again.  Strange, the horses never drink that much water.  I checked for leaks.  None.  Okay....

I filled the trough again to the top.  I checked after 20 minutes and the water was a few inches from the top.  Well, it was dark when I filled the trough so I may not have filled it to the top.

Before going to bed three hours later I checked the trough.


What?!  Did a herd of deer come in and drink all the water?  An alien spaceship?  Where is this water going?!!!!

So I stopped and thought about it.  Then it dawned on me.  When the hydrant drained it was siphoning the water from the trough back into the well.    All the times I tested the hydrant I pulled the hose from the trough.  These last times I filled the trough in a hurry and left the hose in the trough when I shut the hydrant off.

I found a short section of hose and fastened it to end near the top of the trough.  The mysterious draining stopped.

One of the last things is that I needed a cover for the well.  I got a strong thick piece of plywood and cut a round lid with a notch for the hydrant to come through.  But how to fasten it to the casing?  Then my uncle Curt suggested attaching a piece of Styrofoam to the lid.  The Styrofoam fits inside the casing preventing movement by the lid.  While the pump is almost 6 feet below the ground and should generally be protected from the cold temperatures, the Styrofoam provides extra insulation to the well and pump from the cold.

To get the Styrofoam I bought a damaged piece of 4' by 8' insulation from Home Depot.  They gave me 70% off the price because it was damaged so I got the piece for around $5 instead of around $25.  The only sizes of insulation sold was 4' by 8' or 4' by 2'.  I needed a 3 ft diameter piece.

The last things to do was to chisel a groove in the top of the concrete to lay the electric cords.  This way the lid lies flat on the casing all around. I also added a light bulb.  Not for light.  For heat.  An old fashioned light bulb generates plenty of heat and that should be more than enough in case I need extra heat against very cold temperatures.

Below...condition of the well before the final push to complete it.  Once I got the pump and pipes done, Wyatt came over with his tractor and lifted the final concrete ring into place.  Poor Daisy... she doesn't have that ring to lay inside of anymore. It was one of her favorite places to lay.

Start of the final push.

The finished product.

Of course Daisy had to check it out. While she could stand on the ground to reach the water in a full water trough, it is easier for her to drink from the trough.

Cattle hide 'n seek

The day I got home from Washington State I let the cattle into the south pasture. Even if the photo and video doesn't show it, the south pasture has more green grass that the hayfield, especially down near the river.  Dan still hasn't made a decision on whether he will keep the three cows or sell them to me.  With the green grass it will be harder to get his cattle to the corral if he decides to keep them.

Here is short video of the cattle coming through the gate. The last cow was a little excited.

Today I noticed one cow in the middle pasture.  *sigh*   When I went out to the pasture I counted the herd.  Five were missing.  Four calves and one cow.  I walked the south pasture.  Nothing.  I walked the middle pasture.  Nothing.  I got my boots and walked through the pastures again on the way to the island.  Nothing.  On the island.  Nothing.  I walked through my neighbor's pasture and his forest.  Nothing.

When I came back to my south pasture the cattle were there.  What?!  Where they were hiding, I don't know.

I patched the fence where the one cow got through and then herded her back into the south pasture as the herd was now away from the gate.  The cow stood and watched me open the gate.  She didn't want to be herded and would back up or hop sideways each time I herded her.  She bellowed.  The rest of the cattle took notice and came running over.  I picked up the pace and got the cow through the gate before the herd reached the gate.

*whew*  No wonder it takes me so long to get anything else done.  Over the past two days I only got two hours of work done on the north barn feeder rebuild.