Back to Round Bales

A quick recap: originally a cattle farmer not far from us was going to bale our fields. He was going to make them into round bales and was going to leave me a couple for my sheep this winter. Apparently he had gotten too busy so he told another neighbor, who is actually closer and has horses that he should contact me about baling. He was going to make square bales. The shape of the hay really didn’t matter one way or another to me.

So the second gentleman cut the field and raked it into windrows. While he was raking it I had a chance to talk to him for a minute and he told me he would be baling it the next day around noon. When noon came and went and he wasn’t there, I figured the weather forecast had changed and he would be there the next day. Around five he arrived with his tractor with the hay rake still attached. He started raking it into larger windrows and when he got my attention, waved me over. He explained that his baler wasn’t working correctly. It would bale fine, but when it went to tie them, instead of cutting the twine after the knot it cut right through the knot. So he was raking it into larger windrows so the original farmer could round bale it.

In the end I got two large round bales and will probably get more hay in another cutting this fall. By the time I got home that night it was 9:45 so I was tarping the bales by clouded moonlight as there was a chance of rain. I am going to call him and see if he has a bale spear and can move the bales up to the barn and set them on some pallets.




Another cut view


First time raking


Raking into larger rows


Round baling


Empty field, with my two bales in the far left


The sheep enclosure doesn’t look so big without any tall grass around it


Two lonely bales tarped for now









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RCAF Fitness Plan


rcaf fitness

There was an article today on Yahoo that talked about how Helen Mirren stays fit.  She uses a program that was developed in the 1950’s by a man named Bill Orban.  It is a simple workout that requires no equipment and takes very little time.  A “Ten-Minute-Trainer” before there were infomercials.  It reminded me of a regimen that my Grandpa used to do every morning without fail.  Had late onset Lou Gehrig’s Disease not taken him from us before his time, I am sure he would have outlived all of us.

I think because of how healthy my Grandpa was by using a very similar plan along with walking daily, I wanted to find more information on the plan.  The men’s version is called 5BX and the women’s XBX.  The fitness manual itself is no longer in print and I think in part because of the Yahoo article, asking prices for used copies on Amazon and Ebay are crazy.  Here is what I have been able to find out about the program thus far.

The men’s version, 5BX, stands for 5 basic exercises and takes 11 minutes.  The women’s program, XBX, stands for 10(roman numeral) basic exercises and takes 12 minutes.  The men’s exercises are toe touches(2 minutes), sit-ups(1 minute), leg lifts(1 minute), push-ups(1 minute), and jogging in place(6 minutes).  The women’s program includes toe touches(30 seconds), knee raising(30 seconds), arm circles(30 seconds), sit-ups(30 seconds), chest and leg raising(2 minutes), side leg raising(1 minute), push-ups(2 minutes), leg raising(1 minute), and running and hopping(3 minutes).

The idea is to start slow and to increase the repetitions and intensity gradually.  Sit-ups are partial to start, but some have suggested that crunches replace sit-ups as they are easier to do safely.  Apparently the book has charts that tell you how many reps you should do for each exercise based on your age and starting position.  If I can get my hands on one I will review it, but for now here is where I was able to find information.







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Preparing for Baling, and Shimming Gates

The last couple years we have had someone take the hay off our property. It saved us from having to cut it. This year, I have animals that will need hay over the winter so instead of free hay I asked if they would leave me some bales, which wasn’t a problem. In the future I hope to have most of the fields fenced in so baling won’t be necessary. Over by the orchard the there were still three trees left that hadn’t made it from last year. So I moved the fences and pulled the trees so that all around them could be baled.

After doing that I wanted to get at least on gate shimmed. The one closest to the barn was the worse of the two so I started with that one. We had a scrap 1×4″ that I cut to length to fit behind the gate latch. As George likes being everywhere we are I made sure to bring the hose over and keep an eye on him. I started filling the water trough and that was enough to make him keep his distance. I have never had to spray him, so apparently just having the hose nearby will keep him at bay. The gate works so much better now and is so much more secure. I will try to get the other one done tomorrow.


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Saving Water

I had mentioned in a previous post that I had put a 55 gallon drum with the top cut off under the eaves of the barn to catch water. I was worried about mosquitos using it to lay eggs so I added a screen over the top.




Post-trimming. It looks at least marginally better.

I will probably get a shorter ratchet strap, but it was what I had at the time and I didn’t want to cut a perfectly good long strap.  I may actually try what I am going to call a super ranger band and use a whole tire inner tube and see if that will work.  For now this will suffice.  Until the two year old decides to “test” the screen.

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Screen Saver

The bedroom window closest to me when we sleep has had a small hole in the screen since we moved into the house. The hole has gotten increasingly larger as our two year old daughter likes to “test” the hole by sticking her finger in it. I had looked at screen tape to patch it, but instead decided to use some repair tape by Gorilla. The tape has great adhesion, as with all Gorilla products, unfortunately even that level of adhesion is not able to stand up to a two year old. So over the past few weeks we have been playing a game. I would patch the screen, then at some point I would notice that our two year old had removed the tape. Most of the time she had stuck the tape in the carpet, apparently that needed to be repaired. I had been meaning to tape it from the outside and see if that would stop her but hadn’t gotten around to it until today. That is when I found this.
This was her fix for the problem. I am not sure why I didn’t think of that. So I repaired it from the outside. We will see if she approves.





It isn’t the prettiest repair in the world, but it works, isn’t overly obvious, and was inexpensive.  Better yet, it was quick.

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Snakes and Straw Bales

So I was moving some things around this morning by the pile of straw bales that I had set up as a backstop for my archery target and I noticed some movement. I just caught the tail end of what I believe to be a garter snake. When I went looking for him I heard some noise coming from the tarped straw bales. My thought is that nice might be hanging out in the straw and the snakes are hanging out where the mice are. This week I will try to get the straw bales down to the compost pile. Funny thing is we had our good friends over for dinner on Friday and she had said that snakes would be her biggest problem with living in the country. I had told her that I had yet to see a snake this year. Not anymore. 20140720-110920-40160339.jpg

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Little Things

We have been so busy over the past few days that I haven’t been able to find a large chunk of time to work on bigger projects. So I have been working on smaller ones. Things like putting shelves together in the barn and trying to organize/make space for our stuff. Not big or picture worthy, but things that need to get done.

I also had to re-hang the shelf in the master bedroom that had pulled out of the drywall and woken me up the other night.  Before(not one stud was used)



After, I used eight brackets and fastened them all into studs.  This thing isn’t going anywhere.

I took the opportunity to beef up the shelf so that the kids should now be able to do pull-ups on it and it won’t come out of the wall. Based on the amount of clothes we have hanging on it you can see why I would do that.

I also replaced the faucet in our bathroom with a single control faucet that is a little higher and further towards the center of the sink making it easier to wash hands, and it looks nicer.

I replaced the same faucet in the girls bathroom with the same new faucet. It is inexpensive and we like it so far.

Other than that we are blessed to have lots of family events going on. Swim meets, birthday parties, and we even got to spend some time visiting with relatives from Georgia who we seldom get to see. It was definitely a good weekend.

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Can’t Sleep

Our neighbor called this afternoon to let me know that she had seen what appeared to be a large coyote coming from my property towards hers.  I wasn’t home at the time, but when I got home all was well.  The sheep were fine and there was no sign of any predators testing the fencing.

Fast forward to this evening.  I was all but asleep listening to my Tigers when our shelf in the closet pulled out of the wall and crashed to the floor.  I was up immediately, checking to make sure that nothing needed to be done this evening.  At that point my adrenaline was up from the sudden wake up so I decided to grab the stud finder and mark the studs so I can repair the shelf tomorrow.  In the shelf’s defense, we had it pretty loaded with hanging clothes and stacks of clothes on top.  However, whomever installed this shelf had no concept of studs and drywall and what will actually hold weight.  The shelf was anchored, and I use that term lightly, in eight places on the wall.  You would think that over the course of eight holes they would get lucky and hit a stud once or twice.  I hope that whomever installed this shelf played the lotto on that day because they did not hit one stud.  I will have to rectify that tomorrow.

After marking studs I tried to get to sleep.  But the sheep were talking and I took it as an alarm sound so I grabbed my bajillion lumen flashlight and peeked out the window.  I thought I saw two sets of eyes outside the fence looking in, so I quickly got some shoes on and ran outside.  No predators to be seen and in all likelihood it was just Rose and Dorothy hanging out near the fence, but there is the possibility it was two coyotes.

So…now I will try to get to sleep again.  Oh, and a skunk decided to spray close enough to our house that it is pretty pungent.  Still love country living.

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Toilets are Important, and a Ram Update

That should go without saying right?  Well the storm we had last week knocked our power out, and if you have a well and no power, you have no water.  I had gallons of drinking water stored, so that wasn’t an issue, but not being able to flush the toilets was a pain.  I had some water collected in a cut off 55 gallon drum, but not nearly enough.  We have a small generator, probably large enough to run the well pump, but I don’t currently have a way to connect the generator to the well pump.  Immediately after the power went out I re-positioned the 55 gallon drum under the eaves of the barn so that it would get some rain, but that didn’t help me at the time.  We made it through, but it reminded me of the importance of having what I will call gray water to be able to use to flush the toilet.  Fortunately today on Craigslist I found this for $100.  It is a 525 gallon water tank, only used to store water, no chemicals.  There is no top with it, but I would have had to taken it off anyway to pipe the gutter water into it.  I plan on making a screen top to allow water to enter, but keep the bugs out.  This is will give us a decent supply of water for flushing toilets, water the garden(if I even find time to plant one), and water the animals if necessary.  In a true emergency we could treat the water and drink it.  I plan to treat the water with a small amount of bleach in order to keep things from growing in it anyways.


It fits perfectly in the back of the truck.


We might even have a valve that will fit the bottom opening


The inside needs to be power washed

I will need to construct some sort of base for it to sit on, since it will weigh 4200 pounds when full.

The ram and the rest of the sheep seemed to have integrated already.  Yesterday the original sheep were keeping a healthy distance between them and George Washington after the initial meeting.  Today they were all eating in the same general area.  That was actually somewhat odd in and of itself.  Normally the two mothers would take their babies and would be off by themselves.  Maybe the ram has united the clans and they are a proper flock now.  Only time will tell.

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Long Overdue, and the Newest Member of the Homestead

It has been over a week since my last post. We have just been so busy. I will start with the most recent news and go backwards. Introducing the newest member of the homestead… George Washington!


My brother pointed out to me that he is tasting the fence. Hopefully he doesn’t test it.

He was received from a woman I met through blogging.  Her daughter is getting out of Shetlands but they wanted to keep him close in case they wanted to use him for breeding, so our Homestead is his happy new home.  He seems to be a very mellow ram.  He came right over to his former owners when we arrived and was very calm being held by one horn.  The stock trailer, however, was not a favorite place of his.  After being walked into the trailer, he started ramming the gate.  I have to say that hearing the impact he made on that gate brought home the reality of the damage he can do, no matter how friendly he is.  The kids have been told in no uncertain terms that they are not to go in with the sheep unless I have George by the horn.  After hearing that impact, my brother in law and I were wondering how easily he would be removed from the stock trailer.  Would he be ticked at the world and looking to bring the pain?  Fortunately he just wanted out of the trailer and walked very calmly into our pasture.  After some petting and sniffing we let him meet the girls, who were very curious, at first.  They have since been playing hard to get and keeping their distance.  Thankfully they all seem to be friendly enough with no fighting, I pray that continues.  So we have our ram to breed our ewes this fall.  It is starting to feel a little like a farm. The reason we didn’t go and get George earlier is that I knew we were going to be gone this past weekend and I didn’t want to have to be worrying about flock integration while I was gone.  With a forty gallon water tank and an abundance of grass, all that was necessary while we were gone was to have our neighbor check and make sure no predators had been around. Where did we go you ask?  To my parents cottage.  We were able to spend about three days visiting, enjoying the lake, watching fireworks, and flea marketing(if you can call it that).  My parents aren’t far from Shipshewana and if the flea market is going on we will often times try to go, fortunately for us with the holiday weekend they had an extended flea market this past week and we were able to go.  I question the flea market-ness of Shipshewana because it is more commercial than what I consider to be a flea market.  Many of the vendors are selling the same hot item for that season.  There are a few booths that actually have things for sale that have been picked elsewhere, but the prices are often very high.  I was able to find a custom sign make who made me this… 20140707-214441-78281125.jpgFor $10 I couldn’t pass it up.  We also found a street sign that says “Papa’s Workshop” for my dad’s shop area and some nick-knack type stuff for the kids.  Also while we were at my parents we were able to find some local fireworks and watch them from the comfort of our van. The other big news is that before we left for my parents we listed our house with a real estate agent.  He is a friend of mine from high school and he had luck selling a home a couple doors down last year.  I just wasn’t having any luck trying to sell it myself.  The listing went live Tuesday afternoon and we had a full price, no contingencies offer Thursday afternoon.  They still have to have their inspection and we have to get all of our stuff out of the garage and find space for it in the barn, so say some prayers that it all goes smoothly, but so far so good. I am sure I am forgetting other things and when I think of them I will post about them, but for now that is all my tired brain can recall.  Until next time, and hopefully not a week from now.

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