Thursday, June 26, 2014

Blue and Gold Goodness

'Fall Gold' raspberries, 'Chippewa' and 'Ka-Bluey' blueberries.  A sweet treat that needs nothing added to be perfect

Put a Roof on It!

It was beyond time to do something about the poor, abused roof of the dairy barn garage where Really Big Red and the puttputt reside.  While it was nice as a weather station - we could tell how strong the storm and winds were by how far the shingles flew - the oak limb that crashed thru it during last September's storm was the beginning of the end.  We considered doing it in metal - very popular in the Northwest - but then decided we'd rather it match the garage/shop and the house instead.
Of course, we picked a week where we had very unseasonal rains up here.  Our rainy season ends on Memorial Day and it doesn't usually rain a drop until Halloween, but we got a fair bit thus far this week and seem to be on track to continue into the weekend.  Not only in the middle of the new roof, but the sheep are scheduled to be sheared this week, and no shearer in his or her right mind will shear wet, heavy, smelly sheep.  Our girls have been locked in the barn for 3 days now and Romella's for the past day.  Hopefully we get this done tonite. 
But River Roofing fears no rain.  The crew arrived mid day on Tuesday, stripped the tired old shingles off, removed the stove pipe and patched the hole with a new slab of plywood, and tarpapered the whole thing in less than 3 hours.  Yesterday, just before the rains really got going, the shingles arrived and this morning bright and early, two guys showed up, strapped on their roofing nail guns, and in the rain, shingled the entire roof in just under 2 hours.  Professional, fast and when they left, other than the new roof you'd never know they were ever here.  That's why we use them.
Click on the first pix to see the slideshow of the job

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summer Scenes

Yes, summer is here.  Up here, that means it's the 're' season.  As in repaint, repair, rebuild, replant, replace.  And after the winter we had, the list is longer than usual.  Plus, we added three big projects for this year, two of which are well underway and one will be started soon.  The front fencing and the driveway gate - still awaiting the custom gate to finish that project.  The electric to the barn and greenhouse installation and repairs to the dairy barn garage and old red barn are also well underway.  The new roof for the dairy barn garage is also in the works and River Roofing should be out in a few weeks to do that job.
The heavy snow took a major toll on the barn gutters on both barns.  Dale finished repairing the silver barn gutters (and also his pipe that he trenched thru last week) and half the red barn, just one more side of the red barn to do but it's a major repair that will take some time.
I've been mowing.  Our yellow glandweed infestation in the north pasture was larger than we thought, but worse still, what we thought was a very minor south pasture infestation turned out to be fairly major as well, so I ended up mowing about  1/3 of the bottom half of the south pasture as well.
Last week Twyla's yearling daughter Ginger surprised us with a baby lamb.  I think it may be a ewe but until we can get the maternity pasture back so I can turn the other sheep out of the working arena, I don't know for sure.  All I know is that she had her baby on her own and that it looks exactly like Twyla's daughter from this year, Betty.  Can't wait to see the little one up close!
The calves are growing like mad.  It's a good grass year and everyone is bursting fat.  So much so they only eat for a few hours a day, and laze around in the shade for the rest of the time.
Enjoy the slideshow and try to see it on a big screen!
 The Boys of Summer, in the south pasture.  Grass is pretty tall this year

 Spud is buried in the grass while Alfie makes his way to the fenceline to see if I have a treat for him

 Can you spot the dog out there?
 How about now?  If you can, that would be Hoke rummaging for rodents in the north pasture before I got it mowed
 Banshee poses with Big Orange.  Hayworth Gap in the background
I know I've said it before - we get the coolest clouds up here

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mow Mow Mow

So, a quick pix with the iPad and sent off to OSU Extension and Melisa Fery came back with the answer - yellow glandweed, either spray or mow but get rid of it before it goes to seed.  So we once again hooked up the big brushhog to Really Big Orange and off I went yesterday.  Got thru 3/4 of the big north pasture where the infestation is the worst and tomorrow I'll finish it up.
Hope we got it soon enough.  If not, we'll know for next year and hit it earlier
 All those little spikes of green and yellow are glandweed.  This was an area that didn't have a lot, compared to others
Because it was just such a pretty shot

Power to the (Barn) People - Phase 2

Jason arrived bright and early this morning to start Phase 2 of the barn power project.  Today was getting the circuit to the greenhouse and big silver barn run, the biggest of the many jobs involved in the project.  He was done by noon and now we just await the code inspector to bless the running of the conduit so we can fill in the trenches and get use of the maternity pasture back
 The new junction box.  Once it's all painted, you won't hardly notice it
 The greenhouse interior, cleared for action.  Two GFCI outlets and the fan to be hooked up

 Since we are already running the trench right by it, we decided to go ahead and drop a line to the water tanks for a dedicated circuit to run the tank heaters in the winter.  No more long extension cords crossing the entrance to the pasture
 At the big silver barn.  The broken pipe is the drain pipe for the feederbunk gutters that Dale installed last winter.  He'll be fixing it this summer
Note to OSU large animal vets (that's YOU, Jorge!!) - you're welcome

A Fearsome Foursome of Calves

Yesterday, an infestation of yellow glandweed made it unfortunately necessary to mow the big north pasture.  ALL of it.  Tedious and time consuming, but for this gang of four, it just meant something new to have fun with.  Between jousting with the tractor - you do NOT joust with the tractor in mow mode, not with me in the seat - chasing the bugs that popped up in front and behind the mower and frolicking in the freshly mown grass clippings, their otherwise boring day of eating, sleeping and playing had a fun new twist

 Baby Bert runs to catch up with Beau, Bodie and Banshee

Lily Time

If its June, it must be time for the early lilies to bloom.  Some ultra fragrant; others more showy than smelly, all gorgeous, hardy and carefree

The New-New Gangsta Girls

Another trip after chicks, this time to Walterville, and Cheryl's fab farm fulla chickens (and other stuff I barely noticed).  She showed off her breeders, all Orpingtons of one sort or another, all extremely well bred, healthy, calm and friendly.  I should also mention big.  As in roosters the size of Hoke.  Hens the size of Sybil.  Any raccoon taking on one of these roos was taking a foolish chance at getting thoroughly schooled in a very bad way.  Even some of the hens had spurs!
She picked out two nice Buffs and a Black and off I went to settle them in at Fort Hen.  They joined the last of the new Gangsta Girls, the big Buff lady now known as Momma Hen, as she took these guys under her wing, more or less, right from the start.
This far into the trail cam experiment, and other than that first night, no sign of the coon, but the strange cat spends a lot of time in the pictures just sitting in front of the coop at night, staring.  If I can catch him, he's not going to be doing that any more.  But mostly, I get about 40 shots of Bad Cat making his rounds
 Notice who is in the crate napping?  The girls have
 Good Cat is a champion napper.  Anytime, anywhere, anyhow
You can see the trail cam, just to the right of the red and white lantern.  The coop is the chainlink just at the left of the frame

Hangin' Out On the Deck

It's not just the fine Northwest wine or microbrew beers.  Nor is it the 'can't get any fresher' oysters from Yaquina Bay in Newport.  Not the ranch raised burgers and steaks or the firepit on a cold and rainy night with Irish coffee all around.  It's the pots of sweet and spicy Sweet William that line the deck

The Garden, 2014 Edition

The garden is just humming along these days.  Cool, somewhat damp weather hasn't seemed to slow it down much.  The first planting of 'Mirai' corn didn't germinate as well as it has in years past, but what did is over knee high now and looking good.  The second planting of 'Mirai' and a subsequent planting of 'That's Delicious!' corn are looking great, and should keep us in fresh corn well into October.

I got lazy and didn't get around to buying grafted tomatoes this year, so the two current plants, one 'Brandywine' and one 'Indigo Blueberries' are nice, stocky and well leafed out.  There are 'Persimmon', 'Heinz' and more 'Indigo Blueberries' waiting in the greenhouse to get a little size on them before joining the rest outside on the red plastic sheeting.  One of the two 'Kakai' pumpkins, grown specifically for their hull-less seeds is doing fabulous, already has 3 fruits.  The other is struggling a bit but may take off yet.
This is the third year for the two blueberries, one of which I cannot off hand remember the name of and 'Ka Blooey', and they are LOADED!  I've been pinching a few off here and there for snacks.  I also scored a rare native highbush, 'Rubel' at a garden seminar earlier this spring.  I picked the flowers off of it to let it concentrate on getting established.
'Fall Gold' raspberry - WOW!  It's really come into production this year!  I've given away a bunch of plants and still have more that need to be moved.  The fruit is the best yet from it, and tons of it.
Everything else that was planted is doing great.  The broccoli and cauliflower bed is awe inspiring, and two of the five Brussels sprouts that I had planted that were promptly eaten to the ground came back and are doing pretty darn good.  Unfortunately, that little hot spell we had a few weeks back caused the endive to bolt, so I will replant that later.  The peas are fab and make for great snacks out in the garden; rarely do they make it all the way to the house.  Blackberries are loaded to the max and the bee girls are lovin' that.  All the cukes that I transplanted not only made it but are going great guns.  Most of the asparagus made it, altho it will be a few years before the first harvest.  The new 'Tristar' strawberry plants in the old potato boxes are not being allowed to fruit this season so they can, as with the 'Rubel' blueberry, concentrate on growing good roots.  And speaking of potatoes, yes sir, yes sir, 2 beds full!  About ready to harvest some of the babies to roast on the smoker.
The 'Chocolate Ghost' peppers will be grown in the greenhouse this year.  I already know it just won't get hot enough for long enough to grow them in the ground.
And keeping the bee girls happy, plenty of volunteer hollyhocks and yarrow, as well as the usual pansies, gaura, foxglove, lupine, lavender, sweet peas, monarda and berengia to keep them busy and pollinating the garden

A very cool heirloom snow pea with an unpronounceable name

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Power to the (Barn) People!

Big Project #2 got under way on Saturday morning - we are finally getting power out to the big silver barn!  I know the entire staff of large animal vets at OSU will be celebrating right along with us when we get done.
The entire project is not just to get power out to the big barn, but also to correct the power problems with the dairy barn garage, the old red barn, the greenhouse and for the gate opener, provided we ever see the gate in real life.  Seen pictures of it, it's pretty awesome.  Someday, God willing, we'll see it for real.
We had two major problems with the trenching.  When Mainline Pump installed the piping for the house from the old well at the bottom of the north pasture, they got lazy 3/4 of the way through, and didn't run a signal wire the entire run.  From the wellhead all the way up to the dog run and halfway thru the dog run, we had a signal.  But that must have been when the wire ran out, and of course, the part without the wire was the part we really, REALLY needed to know about, because that was where the trench was going across.  We tried to guess where it might have come across the front yard, tried to triangulate based on the old pipe from the shared well down at the rental south of us, poked around and dug some holes, but in the end, we closed our eyes, said a prayer or three, set the trencher to only go about 19" (we wanted 24") deep, and went for it.
The other major problem was the grey water leach line.  We did know about where that was, but what we didn't know was how far south it went.  Turns out, it went further south than we trenched, because Dale found it within minutes.  Lucky for him, he can't smell.  The dogs, cows and I, however, steered well clear until the 50 gallon holding barrel drained completely.  Dale had to wait as well, because the trencher was flinging nasty, muddy goo everywhere.  The good news is, we now know how far it goes, and the other good news is we can extend that leach line quite a bit more, which we fully intend to do.
As it turned out, the last 10 feet of what we dubbed 'No Man's Land', the area where we strongly suspected that the main waterline into the house crossed our trench, Dale managed to plow thru without hitting it.  We were prepared, however - the water was shut off and Dale had two repair kits and a plan ready to go, as we fully expected to hit it.  Halfway thru that last patch, a chunk of white PVC pipe came flying out of the trench and we both just knew we'd hit the main.  But it was old, huge, thin walled and dry as a bone, so we figured it was some old stuff from some other long ago line.  And then we both drew a big breath and finished up the final few feet without incident.
Thursday, Jason of 360 Electric in Harrisburg, our go-to electrician, will be here with 400' of conduit, wire and all the fixin's, and we will finally have lights and power to the barns!
 Let the trenching begin!  Starting the first leg
 Uh oh.  Mud in your trench is a bad thing, because that means there is water
 Waiting for the holding barrel to finish draining.  Be glad you can't smell this
 Prepping for the big run from the barn to the greenhouse
 I'm sure Hoke is wondering if he's gonna be blamed for the smell
 Pipe in the pasture that we DIDN'T hit.  The blue wire is the signal wire.  A locator unit is hooked to one end of this wire and a portable unit is waved over it to pinpoint where it is.  An absolute must for digging deep trenches to prevent severing pipes
 The stretch from the barn to the greenhouse is complete
 Dale bravely prepares to cross No Man's Land to meet the other trench from the greenhouse
 Success!!  No water is a good thing
The final meeting of the trenches, from garage/shop, to greenhouse, to barn

A Sea of Grass

Couldn't help myself.  The maternity pasture yesterday morning, a veritable sea of grass, so many shades of green it makes you dizzy.
Click on the pix and view on a big screen.  It's really the only way