A couple weeks ago we had the opportunity to purchase 4 bottle kids after their mothers rejected or were not able to care for them. They are registered Boar and are doing great! It will be nice to see how they turn out and add some new genetics into our herd.
Baby goats are always so cute. These guys had a bit of a rough start as they were born in negative temperatures last month and ended up with some frostbite on their ears. They have rebounded well though and are eating and growing like champs!
In Western Oregon we tend to have very mild winters and have learned to deal well with rain and mud but do not experience extended freezing weather and snow very often. This year we have already had several bouts of snow and temperatures in the teens on a fairly regular basis. We have had to do a lot more prep and maintenance for keeping things thawed and animals happy this year so far for sure. We are kind of hoping our normal weather comes back soon but the winter is still young and we are bracing ourselves for what else is in store.
We did invest in a tank heating system for one of our stock tank though since breaking ice off of water troughs and hauling water takes a lot of time. Especially when you are watering so many animals. We did the main trough but thinking the smaller troughs are a good idea too since it has been so nice not having to worry about the other one! The goldfish living in the main trough are especially happy to have warmer water to swim in as well.
There is one thing that is always true. We never run out or will run out of projects. My Dad says we could have three hired hands and might be caught up in 20 years. That is just the nature of living on a farm. Always something to do! We have a creep feeder to allow the calves to get extra feed and not have to share with all of the adult cattle. It needed to have some braces on it fixed before we put it out with our calves.
First we had to clean up the area and grind down the metal so there was no rust, and a clean place to weld it back together. Then it was welded and good to go! A quick project but something that had to be done to prevent any injury to the calves.
Now they have their creep and are happy babies.
The old baler was doing an amazing job......but farm life can change in an instant. After over 850 bales without breaking a string, the old 24T baler lost compression on the hydraulic cylinder that runs the tensioner.
The tensioner in a baler is what determines how tight the bales are packed; which ends up being how heavy they are. Without a tensioner you get "floppy" bales that weigh less than 30 pounds. They are nearly impossible to stack and create quite a problem to handle without creating a mess.
Again, thanks to help and advice from many different people, we identified the problem. It was a leaking seal where the shaft goes into the pump. You can see the wet spot on the side of the baler where the hydraulic fluid was leaking.
We then had to remove all the guards (easier said than done). It took nearly four hours and a cutting torch to get the guards off. There were some stripped bolts that couldn't be removed with wrenches; thus the cutting torch.
We got the pump taken apart and were able to use the old schematic to identify the seal we needed. We ordered a new seal and installed it....but it still wouldn't work. It wasn't leaking but we were not getting any pressure.
This is when we feel stupid....realizing that the problem was because we had the chain on the bottom of the gear instead of the top. The result is the shaft spinning the wrong direction. Instead of rebuilding a pump, we built a lovely vacuum. After we put the chain on the right side of the gear we immediately got pressure.
But WAIT...it also starting leaking again. So we took everything apart and saw that during the process of building our vacuum the spring popped out of the seal so we didn't get a tight seal around the shaft. We were able to pop the seal out without ruining it, put the spring back in place, and reseat the seal. We put all back together and HAPPY DAYS....it works again.
We still have to test baling but after the tests last night I'm pleased to say the pump is working. We have pressure and we have no leaks with the PTO running at full RPM strength from the tractor..
But so everyone knows what farming life is really like....during the process of fixing the baler we spotted a hydraulic leak on the new tractor (well used tractor, but new and more powerful to us). It looks like a line needs to be tightened but we don't have a wrench that can fit in the tight spot. So another fix-it project always in progress.
Went out to check on activity out by the hives and they are busy bees right now. You can tell when all of the fruit trees and other flowers are blooming because the bees are coming back loaded down with pollen! You can see it in the photo below, they have it tucked on their legs like saddle bags. Was nice to see them out and acting like happy bees. Spring is definitely here.
There are definitely times on the farm when you come across something and go "How does this happen?". We were out doing our nightly ride to check all of the cattle when we came across an interesting predicament. Over on our neighbors place we saw a goat, in a hammock. Now this is not something you see every day for sure! We found it quite comical and still do actually. Here is what we saw.
We went up to see if he was okay and see what we could do to get him out. He had the hammock so wrapped in his horns that we had to call our neighbor and ended up cutting him out. We found out that his name is Joseph and he was fine! Once we got him freed he ran off and made a quick trip back to his herd. Oh the joys of living on the farm. I guess this Joseph learned a lesson from trying to relax in his owners hammock!
The orchard trees we have on the farm were planted at least 40 years ago. This is great in some ways as we have very mature trees with lots of fruit. In other ways it means quite a lot of upkeep. Especially since they have not been pruned in years. We made it a project to fix up the orchard this year, and a project it has been. We didn't get all of the trees quite done but we are much closer than we were. Hopefully this year we will have more healthy fruit that is easier to pick!
The goats even helped us out with the process. I am liking them more and more each day. Although I think that we need to have a serious chat about the extent of their helping. No more trimming on the fruit trees!
We cut out a few diseased/broken trees and were able to replant with a few other trees we have wanted. We got another cherry tree, two plum trees, an Asian pear and a Golden Delicious Apple. We are excited to see how they take off and what we get for harvest in the years to come!
We know spring has arrived because two of our ewes had their lambs. We have been waiting in anticipation for them to come and the first two finally did.
It was a little organized chaos getting them and their mothers up to the barn so we can keep them close for a couple weeks until they are stronger. They took a break in the front yard as Roscoe the Bassett Hound wondered what was going on.
Once they got settled in our son was more than happy to give them a proper welcome. It is always a favorite time or year around here when we have all of the baby animals to enjoy.
Welcome "Reece" to the farm. We were happy to get Reece from Black Hills Herefords this weekend. We've been looking for another cow or two to replace some of our commercial cattle. When we saw the description and photos of her we were very interested.
We took the drive to visit her in Olympia, WA and she was everything we were looking for. She's due to calve around June to a nice bull we got to see. (his picture is below)
We're excited to see her calf this year and add her to the Hereford squad.
This bull is out of the popular New Era bull from Colyer Herefords. He really looked good in person; especially for being out to pasture in the winter rain.
We were able to get fertilizer on the two primary hay fields just in time. We got the spreader loaded with two tons of 20-10-10 fertilizer yesterday morning and Tom had it spread by the afternoon.
It ended up to be perfect timing, because the rain hit today. A nice application on a sunny day, with water to soak it into the ground right after.
We're hoping for our best hay harvest this year!!
Lorin and I have been around agriculture our whole lives. We're happy to be part of the family farm.