Friday, July 03, 2015

Middle fence and gates

Back the end of May and the beginning of June - before I let the cattle out of the corral and into the middle pasture - I replaced one gate, added another gate and rebuilt a long section of the fence between the gates.

For the interior fences I only had two barb wire string gates left to replace.  First priority was the gate between the middle and south pastures as I use that gate all the time to rotate the cattle between the middle and south pastures.  One of the few chances to replace the gate is when the cattle are still in the corral.

I went for it even though I only had days left before the cattle would be released into the middle pasture.

Once the gate was done I decided to rebuild as much of the fence as I could.  The old fence was three strands of barb wire with lots of poorly done patches in wire and posts. And the wires had stretched over the years and were fairly loose.  Last year Buddy the bull had figured out how to cross over this fence whenever he wanted.

I ended up replacing all the posts except one or two posts that were solid and happened to be in the correct spot.  I made sure all the new posts were eight feet apart instead of the five to eight (plus) feet randomness of the old posts.

I upgraded the wire count from three strands to seven strands.  The wires are now tight and close together and should prevent any cattle (except the bull if he gets mad enough) from passing through the fence.

The rebuilt section is in two parts.  First part was from the corner with the hayfield to the gate: eight posts plus two posts to support the gate for a total of 72 feet.  The second section has 35 posts plus the six posts as part of the two gates.  I believe the measurement was around 320 ft.  I think I have about half of the fence to the river left to rebuild.

I had a four foot gate and added it around the halfway point between the east gate and where the west gate will go when I rebuild that part of the fence.   This small gate will be an access for me through the fence as I no longer can step over the rebuilt fence.  The old fence was about four feet high with loose wire.  The new fence is around five feet high and is tight.

The old wooden posts were old!  Look at the lichen on a number of them.

The rebuild took a number of days.   The view one evening.

Daisy initially tried to keep me company when I worked early afternoons. But it was too bright and warm and not too her liking.  She preferred to be with me after 4 pm till dark.   Here she wants attention and she decided to lay down in my path to get me to take a break and pet her.

Other times she wanted to be right with me.  That made work slower as I had to be careful not to step on her or drop anything on her.

I had to let the cattle into the middle pasture before I was finished with the fence. Once I had five strands of wire strung. Five strands were as high as the old three strand fence.  Momma was the first cow to come over and check my work.

Another evening.

The old gate.

The new gate.

The small walk through gate.  

The following photos were taken yesterday, about a month after I finished the fence.  As you can see time and pressure pulled the railroad ties and gate back.

By the end I was hurrying to stay ahead of the cattle and didn't do the gate quite right.  The railroad tie holding the gate wasn't the best or completely straight.  I was also used to heavier gates hanging on the tie and did not account/adjust for the light gate.  Therefore the tie has a slight lean back.  I tried to not stretch the wires too tight but they still pulled the two ties back slightly causing the gate to tilt up.  There was only so much I could do with the lag bolts to mitigate the tilt.

This gate really bugs me.  But I'll have to live with it for now as I have lots of other fence a much higher priority to fix.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Hot and dry and a new pasture

Hot and dry.  Every day in the 90s and a couple 100 degree days and greater.  No rain in almost a month.  In the forecast: more heat and no rain.  Everything is drying up.

With deeper roots the alfalfa is hanging in there, though even some alfalfa is starting to dry up.  I haven't let the cattle into the hayfield yet, though it will be soon - and that is sooner than normal.

Below: this area of the hayfield I let the cattle eat the end of May.  Usually it grows back by now.  As you can see only the alfalfa has come back.

The rest of the hayfield.

Tuesday night Donna and another neighbor, Brian, helped me move the cattle from my south pasture to a neighbor's field.  Last year the neighbor had my cattle eat his field down to prevent a fire.  This year his field is already drying up and each day has a noticeable difference in drying and brown grass.  It will be a race between the cattle and the heat as to who gets the most grass.

Tuesday I spent from 2 pm to 8:30 pm (minus an hour for lunch) fixing the neighbor's fence.  I patched it last year but since then a dead tree fell across the fence and several dead tree trunks used as fence posts are now mostly held up by the wires.  Plus the usual missing staples.  What was odd was the number of missing clips holding the wires to the metal t-posts.

The neighbor had a number of unused t-posts so I dug them up and put them where the three bad posts where.  The remaining dozen t-posts I placed in the middle of unusually long spaces between existing posts.  The ground is so dry I had to use a shovel to dig the t-posts out of the ground to move them.

After I moved a stock tank for water over to this field, I moved the cattle. This was well after 9 pm. With Donna's and Brain's help the move went smoothly.  The only hitches were a couple of calves confused about following the herd through the gate out of the south pasture, and then Dan's newest very large cow who decided to make a break from the herd while halfway between the gates.  We let her go as no one else was following her.  Once the herd was through the gate into the neighbor's pasture Dan's cow looked - and felt - pretty foolish way over by herself  near my pasture fence.  I walked over and she took off in a trot with her head held high on full alert over to the neighbor's gate where she went through and re-joined the herd.

I brought salt over this morning and hooked up the automatic waterer as the cattle go though lots of water on these hot days.  With such hot temperatures the cattle mostly lay in the shade of the trees all afternoon and eat in the morning and then in the evening.

Tuesday night after moving the cattle I had to get groceries and gas.  I got back home at midnight.  Then I went for a 14 mile bicycle ride to make my mileage for the month of June.  While the miles were technically ridden after midnight in July I use 6 am as a cutoff between days as I usually stay up past midnight.  I was done with my ride at 1:12 am.  Nice that the moon was almost full on a clear night.

Panda and her son

Oreo's getting a bath from her mother

Oreo sticking her tongue out

The steer - with no horns now

Most everyone taking a siesta in the shade to avoid the heat of midday

The steer - with no horns now

During the move Donna and saw pocket gopher dirt mounds in my hayfield and then near the neighbor's hydrant.  I trapped and killed both pocket gophers in a matter of hours Wednesday afternoon.  I have two more areas to trap.

Monday, June 29, 2015


No wonder it takes me so long to do stuff.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Oreo and Rose

Saturday afternoon when I looked out at the pasture from the house I thought I saw a calf in the middle pasture when the cattle were in the south pasture.  Yup.  Oreo was in the middle pasture trying to figure out how to get back into the south pasture.  She and the cattle were along the seven strand section of fence and Oreo was reluctant to go back to the four strand section of fence where she apparently slipped through the fence.

I went out and opened the gate and herded her through it so she could rejoin her mother.  She is a chubby little heifer.

Heading for the gate!

In the morning as I worked on the pump and leaks, Rose and the two black heifers lay in the shade across the fence from me.   Shortly before I finished working on the pump the heifers got up and began to graze.  A little bit later Rose began to bellow.  Yup, three weeks have passed already and she was in heat again.

After a little while she got more worked up and ran around jumping and kicking.  I opened the gate to the corral and Rose ran inside thinking the bull may be there.  The two black heifers followed and I closed the gate.  They will stay in the corral until tomorrow when Rose settles down.  In the corral she won't escape, while the NE pasture has a poor section of fence that the cattle don't realize they probably could get through it they tried hard.

As the day went on it got annoying as Rose called and called for the bull.

Below Rose looks like a little angel.  Trust me, for 24 hours she is not an angel.

Below is a link for a 17 second video of Rose calling for the bull. I tried to get more and better video f her bellowing and bellowing but whenever I got closer and turned the camera on, Rose got camera shy and quit bellowing.


Water problem, fixed

I think I finished fixing the pump's leaks Saturday at noon. After what... 11 days?  Saturday morning I found the union to the pump was still leaking, the pressure tank's union had water around it but no drops, the faucet had a slow drip, and now several joints in the pipe between the pump and well were wet/leaking.  The plastic/rubber pipe going into the concrete floor was damp but not leaking.

I  replaced the faucet and that fixed that leak.  I loosened and re-tightened pressure tank union and fixed that.  I tried loosened and re-tightening the pump's union but that made it worse.  So I gave up on that union and replaced the union and pipe with a piece of black plastic pipe I cut to the correct length.  That fixed that leak as the plastic could flex where the union could not.

The leak and wet spots between the pump and well were very slow.  Because of all the elbows I am not sure I could tighten the elbows and pipes anymore.  Because the leaks are so slow I will wait and see if they stop on their own.

Its nice to have water from the faucets in the house and no longer rely on bottles and buckets for water.  After I wait a few days I will put the roof back on the pump's shed.

New leaks

Saturday, June 27, 2015

No water. No car

Well... the 'no water' is not entirely correct.  I've had too much, none and some water.

In the morning I found this:

Too much water

The plastic pipe that comes up through the concrete floor appeared to have a small leak.  I guess that would explain the hose clamps around the pipe near the concrete floor. Jostling the pipe to connect to the newer pump and pipes must have 're-awoken' an old problem.

I was afraid I would have to break through the concrete to get at more of the pipe for replacement.  I took the clamps off and discovered multiple sections of plastic pipe.  The pipe barely sticks through the concrete depression.  In the plastic pipe is a ribbed plastic piece used to join the plastic pipes.  The leak appears to have come from this joint connection.

I wonder if a previous owner had a pipe problem and had to chip away the concrete and cut and patch the pipe?

As you see the pipe comes out of the concrete at an angle.  To get the plastic pipe to match up to the new pipes I had to bend it a tad.  That may have put pressure on the connection.  I replaced the short plastic pipe with a shorter more flexible rubber piece.  I made up the difference with metal pipe.  I really tightened the clamps over the rubber piece of pipe.

Things got thrown off a tad.  One of the unions was difficult to line up 100% up and down.  Right and left was not a problem as I could turn a joint to match the union match.  Up and down was not so easy as the pump was on one side and both the pressure tank and the pipe to the house on the other side.  I struggled to get a perfect union match.  In the end I replaced a piece of pipe with a sightly longer piece.

I turned the water on.  The union has a slow but steady leak.  *arrggh*  I put a can under to catch the drops and will wait till tomorrow to see if the leak self seals.

The rubber piece may be leaking.  It is slight wet around the plastic pipe in the concrete floor.  Hopefully it seals by morning.

In between working on the well and pipes the car mechanic called with bad news about my car.  The brake lines were very rusted and the lines front to back needed to be replaced as they were all one piece.  The problem area was where a plastic cover 'protected' the lines.  Salt got up under the plastic and did its work.  Thank you Minnesota and all the salt you dump on the roads over Winter.

I went over and looked at the brake lines.  They appeared to be very corroded and so fragile that they would collapse it touched.  The rest of the brake lines were good. The lines could not be cut and spliced - it was all or nothing.

New brake lines for an 1989 model are no longer sold.  I could try to find brake lines at a salvage yard.  I called several salvage yards and was told they do not sell used brake lines due to liability issues.

Even if I found replacement lines, the labor cost would run 300 to 400 hundreds dollars.  The mechanic suggested I junk the car.  That is what happened to my previous car back in 1992 - I junked that car because the brake lines needed replacing and it wasn't worth it.

I had only 146,999 miles on the car.  Junking the car is a shame because, other than underneath the car, most of the rest of the car was good.

This is only the the third car I ever owned.  I had it since 1992 - 23 years.  I have lots of great memories with this car.  When shopping for a replacement to my previous car I couldn't find a car I liked in Rochester and when visiting my friend Francis in the Twin Cities, we went car shopping one day.   I thought this Nissan Maxima was too fancy/sporty for me but he talked me into it.  My girlfriend at the time test drove the car and loved it.  I love the car and never regretted buying it.  I have a few memories of traffic tickets.  I have a memory of driving 134 mph when the Montana speed limit was "a safe and reasonable" speed back in the 90s.  And many other memories as this afternoon I mourned the passing of my car.

The mechanic said salvage yards only paid $75 for junked cars.  Only $75? That was the same salvage price my previous car sold for in 1992.  The mechanic said he had $80 in labor and would take the car in payment if I wished.  So I let the car go with great regret.

I miss my car.

Friday night's sunset: