Monday, December 24, 2018

New Upper Field Fence

We have about 11 acres on a field north of our goat pens. When we arrived here in Texas, most of that field was in Johnson grass, a grass that grows well here, especially in heat and drought. In fact, a former neighbor baled it one of our first years.

Since that time though, we plowed it and tried to grow oats, which didn't work out too well. And then, instead of crops, I wanted to return to grass in hopes of becoming more sustaining for our cows or goats, and I tried planting B-dahl grass, which didn't work at all.

And then, rather than fight it, I ironically went back and planted sorghum almum, which is a close cousin of Johnson grass, and so we have come full circle, basically back to Johnson grass. :)

God has also granted some other kind of thin, but lush grass to grow, and we are thankful.

This last time of plowing and sowing though, it also planted the cockleburs that were in the field, and so we pulled the whole 11 acres by hand several years ago. Each year I have to walk the field, but for all intents and purposes, it's basically cocklebur free! Yippee! (You'll understand my excitement if you read that blog post and think about pulling 11 acres of weeds by hand, even though it was only 1 kind of weed :) )

With the field having some time to get established with the grasses, I wanted to be able to run the goats up there, which should basically end any need to buy hay for them. However, I needed to put up a north-south fence line, which is somewhere between 900 and 1000 feet.

This fence line was originally planned to be partially done by one of the folks who used to live here, but he never got around to it, although he graciously put in an entrance way for us at the county road because he would have been cutting off our main way of driving off the land.

Here is how I did each corner system. I concreted in 2 x 5 1/2 inch treated posts, about 46 inches a part, and then a half post about 78 inches from the 2nd post to function as a dead man. And then I cut out notches in the posts using a reciprocating saw where 4 inch cross posts would go, chiseled them out, and then installed the posts, drilling a 3/8 hold for a 1/2 inch by 8 inch long lag screw, and used a 1 1/2 inch paddle bit to counter sink the bolt:

Fence Post System Cross Piece Hole

Fence Post System Cross Piece Bolt

Fence Post System Cross Piece Notches

Fence Post System Cross Piece Notches Chiseled

Fence Post System Diagonal Cross Piece

Fence Post System Diagonal Cross Piece Bolt

This is where I started, putting in the corner braces:

North Field North Fence Corner

I stretched the diagonal fence lines, using a come-along and fence stretcher, with 6 barbed wire strands, at 4-4-4-4-5-5 from bottom to top on the nubs on the t-posts:

Using Come-Along to Stretch Barbed Wire Fence

Barbed Wire Fence Stretch Holder

North Field Gateway Diagonal Fence 1

North Field Gateway Diagonal Fence 2

And welded on some gate holders and added the gates:

North Field Gateway Gates

This is where I cut the road's fence where the gates are, pulled out those cedar posts, and then re-stretched and tied off each side of the fencing along the road:

North Field Gateway Fence Entrance

Every 90 feet I concreted in a landscape timber, to try to help give the fence more stability, and then pounded in t-posts every 10 feet in between.

And then pulled the wires from bottom to top. For each wire after the first, I would roll out the next one, hang it on the previous wire, pull it tight with the come-along, and then go down the line a section at a time pulling the hung wire off the wire it was sitting on. Then, I tied off the pulled end, released the come-along, went to the middle of the stretched wire, tied it to the 2 middle t-posts, went half way in between each of those, did the same, and repeated with each half until all the t-posts were connected. I figured this would help keep even tension all along the wire.

And I added the middle gate.

Sadly though, I ran into some real trouble with a set of end posts once the wire was pulled, especially because on several of the wood posts I ran into rock while digging out the holes. The whole structure started leaning badly:

North Field Leaning Fence Post System

Eventually, the back post's concrete broke, it started to torque, and the cross piece started sticking out:

Fence Post Broken Concrete

Fence Post Broken Cross Piece

Arg. I thought I might have to re-do that whole post system and re-pull each wire from scratch, but with the help of the tractor pulling the fence straight...

Tractor Pulling the Fence Straight

...I was able to dig out the end post, using what concrete was left in the hole as a positioner...

Dug Out Fence Post Hole it in...

Fence Post Re-Concreted

...tamp the dirt in front of the posts...

Tamping Dirt in Front of Concreted Fence Post

...add diagonal bracing wire to help keep it from leaning (which I should have done in the first place; I really thought the dead man post and diagonal kicker post would hold enough, but I guess not)...

Fence Post Diagonal Wire Bracing

...and then re-tie off the end. I also went back, undid all of the t-post clips on the t-posts that were leaning, straightened the t-posts, and then re-attached.

Yeah, that was fun. It seems to be doing better, although not perfect, in that, the back post started leaning in some perpendicularly, so I re-tied off again the ends but more in the middle of the post, and added a t-post brace to help keep it more upright:

T-post Brace Against Fence Post

But finally, here is the fence line:

North Field Top Half of Fence Line

With weather interruptions and these issues, it has taken at least a couple of months to get that part done. But I thank the Lord things weren't worse, and for the provisions and health and strength to even work on this fence.

On to the 2nd half!

-- David

Monday, December 10, 2018

Goat Breeding Time 2018!

With November upon us, it was time to put our billy goats with their respective nannies for goat breeding time 2018!

With the loss of our buck Rocky earlier this year, Elvis joined the herd, and was ready to go to work! Our plan is to use him for our younger does:

Our Buck Elvis

And then put Shakespeare with the older ones:

Our Buck Shakespeare

This year we moved them a little earlier than normal in the month, basically because Marie, one of our does, went into heat, and Elvis was jumping fences to get to her. In fact, he got out at one point and we believe mated with Nellie, another one of our does. So, we decided to just do the move the first week of November.

However, when we put Elvis with his "ladies", he not only tried mating with Marie but also started being highly over-aggressive with her, lifting her with his horns, and the like. We had never seen this before with one of our bucks, although he had acted this way with Shakespeare (hurt his leg somewhat badly), and eventually we had to tie him up to keep him from chasing her around.

And at this point, we didn't know what to do with him. Was this going to happen with all of the females when they went into heat? He wouldn't be of much use then.

Well, we moved Marie over to be with Shakespeare, and there was no problem there. And when we let Elvis off his lead, he stopped being aggressive with the other females. Also, since then, we very thankfully haven't seen that over-aggression with the others.

In trying to figure out what happened, we were thinking, since Marie had gone over to Shakespeare when we let the females out to graze, and he and she were rubbing on each other through the fence, that perhaps she ended up smelling like Shakespeare, and Elvis was getting his signals crossed with her, smelling her being in heat and Shakespeare at the same time.

And so, it looks like he's going to continue to work out ok, although we are planning on having his horns removed like we did with Shakespeare, as he uses them all too well as a weapon.

But, without further ado, here is the video of when we put them together this 2018!

We pray the Lord might grant the offspring in Spring, in accordance with His will; we thank Him that Elvis calmed down and will appear to be useful still; we pray for milk later on next year; we pray for continued health and safety for the herd; and we thank Him for the safety and health He has granted them all of these years!

-- David

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Garden - Fall 2018

Since our last garden update, we thought we'd show how the garden has progressed through a difficult drought. With lots of heat and little rain in the Summer, the plants struggled, but coming into Fall, the Lord graciously granted some good rains, to Whom we are thankful.

Here's a recap of the garden goings-on...


Okra always does very well:


But even this year, they struggled, and dropped their leaves early, which is quite unusual. Normally, they stop producing when the freezes come, but it was different this year:

Dried Up Okra Plants

But we are thankful to God for what He granted! And here are some of them preserved in apple cider vinegar:

Okra Preserved in Apple Cider Vinegar

Sweet Potatoes

This year, I planted them in our original garden area. Between the rains, and with hard freezes coming, it was time to get them out of the ground. Here are the main plants the day of:

Sweet Potato Plants

And some volunteer ones from last year:

Volunteer Sweet Potato Plant

Another Volunteer Sweet Potato Plant

Here's Sue helping dig them out:

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

The uncollected harvest:

Harvested Sweet Potatoes

And then what the Lord graciously granted! It seems less than last year and they are quite a bit smaller, but I put them in a garden that has had only one mulch layer put down, and we went through one of our worst heat spells and droughts this year, so besides the fact that God doesn't have to grant anything if He doesn't want to, we are thankful for what He did, with food coming directly from Him!

Bucket of Sweet Potatoes

Now it's 3 weeks of hardening out in the open, and then 6 weeks into the root cellar, each individually wrapped in newspaper for sweetening! Yum!


Since we had a garlic harvest last season, we saved some for planting this year, and completed that process recently too. I believe this is our first time of replanting our own!

Here is the beautiful soil the Lord composted over the last year, into which we planted the garlic cloves:

Compost Pile

Composted Soil

And a newer pile we had started:

Newer Compost Pile

And here are the garlic plants starting to sprout up!

Garlic Plants

We pray for God's provisions from these next year, as He wills.

Around the Garden

Here are some other things currently growing in the garden...

The Goji berry plant:

Gogi Berry Plant

The blackberries, which died back, but started growing from the roots again:

Blackberry Plant

Another Blackberry Plant

Our little volunteer squash plant. I cover it with double blankets most nights :) :

Volunteer Squash Plant

A volunteer tomato plant. It had little flowers on it, but sadly,even covered with blankets, didn't make it because of the cold:

Volunteer Tomato Plant

Free prickly lettuce:

Volunteer Prickly Lettuce

And a volunteer turnip:

Volunteer Turnip Plant

And finally, I thought I would include here the last from the orchard, this year's pecans. Once again, I think the drought really made things struggle:


But, as always, we are very thankful to the Lord for granting all these provisions! May we be humbled He even considers giving these things at all, and may we be satisfied with, and thankful for, what He does. And may He grant us to be fruitful followers of Him as well!

-- David

Monday, November 12, 2018

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: 5th & Surprise 6th Round of 2018 Chicks

The Lord graciously granted another hen get broody this 2018, and she hatched out our 5th set of the year! She hatched out 4 with 1 sadly not making it more than a day, but the other 3 are still doing well as of today!

5th Set of 2018 Chicks

And then one day, Sue was taking the dogs up to their goat field for their evening running around, and lo and behold, there was a hen walking around with 5 chicks following her! Wow! We eventually tracked down that she had been sitting in a pecan tree fenced-in area. Thanks to God for allowing her to sit out there for at least 3 weeks without being eaten herself!

We gathered them up and got them into the summer kitchen brooder building, and here they are. She had 5 with her, and they also are still all going as of today!

6th Set of 2018 Chicks

And here is the video for both groups:

As always, we are grateful to the Lord for granting these provisions, and His extra graciousness in preserving the mama and eggs outdoors for all that time!

-- David