Utility closet upgrade

Animal food containers before

Barn coats

Annmarie was looking at a catalog yesterday that had pet food plastic containers.  We would like to get all three types of food into its own container but still be able to close the closet doors.  She called but the containers were too big.  This led me to the conclusion that I could probably just build our own custom wooden boxes and line them with plastic.  So today I cut up a whole sheet of plywood and some supports and screwed them all together making three wooden boxes.  It took me a few hours but I got it all done.  I even built the boxes 1/4 inch shorter so the doors could shut.  This was not enough.  I had to take the lower door support (3/4 inch thick) off and put on a 1/4 inch piece of plywood so the doors would shut.  After that I was sure the doors would shut, no luck.  I had to sand off about 1/16 inch off the top of the left hand door.  Finally, the doors shut.  I raised the coat hooks and added five more hat hooks.  It actually all works. 

Raised hooks and hat racks

wooden bins lined with heavy duty trash can liners.

New super thin bottom supports.  I will stain in the future.

lamb issues

Well, after we went out and checked on the new baby and reunited it with its mother we learned that it was not well bonded.  The first baby ran out and joined the herd while the mother was still giving birth to the second twin in the lean to.  Unfortunately, I did not know until today that if a baby is not well bonded you can rub the afterbirth on the first baby and the mother will some times bond with the baby.  We considered giving the lamb away but it seems to be keeping up its energy.  Us going out and pinning the ewe up against the feeder three times a day so it can get its fill of milk is helping. 

Catching a ewe by your self is not an easy task.  They are quick little buggers and even at 100# they are hard to stop unless you have some leverage.  The second time I grabbed on to her I was off balance and ended up in the straw.  Eventually I caught her.  Annmarie and I had to add some holes to the halter we had already purchased last year.  It is a little big, causing straps to hang down under her chin.  These straps make it easier to catch her.  I think she is starting to be resigned to her mistreatment.  As far as the little baby is concerned we are the cats meow!  The little lamb starts wagging its tail when we come into the barn because it knows it gets to eat its fill instead of sneaking a drink non stop all day. 

I keep hoping that all the other ewes will have their babies so the little bummer can just go around stealing milk from every one.  I got to use my bill cap light tonight.  I felt like I was in a horror film.  It projects a round light six feet in diameter roughly eight feet in front of your feet.  A monster could be creeping up on you at any time.  It made it very easy to walk around and not trip over any thing.  Good thing there aren’t any monsters.  So the cap light is out for night stalking maneuvers. 

I bought a sheet of plywood today to build some pet food storage bin in our utility room closet.  It was raining when we got home so I had to bring it in and put it on the old house porch.  Unfortunately, the wind was blowing around 20-30 mph.  As soon as I got the piece out of the back of the pickup and upright between my two arms the wind found my sheet of plywood (now known as a very large kite!).  I was blown 10 feet sideways before managing to stop myself.  For every two steps forward I made I slid back another foot.  I was not sure I was going to make it the 200 feet to the porch.  I had to stop 20 feet from my goal and take a breather so I could push through.  I did it and tomorrow I am going to make those bins. 

New Lambs

I was sitting in the living room this afternoon nursing the cold that the progeny has shared with both Steve & I, watching the sheep in the pasture, when I noticed that there was one extra lamb out there.  I counted again, just to make sure, and sure enough, there were three lambs out there.  The newest one was acting kind of odd: running from sheep-to-sheep looking for someone to nurse from, and was not really being tended by any ewe.  That was not good, so I called to Steve, who was nursing his cold upstairs while “supervising” the cleaning of the daughter’s room.  After some discussion, he agreed with me that we needed to get the sheep in the barn and figure out who the lamb belonged to so we could isolate them overnight and hopefully get the lamb bonded to the ewe.  When we went in the barn, our jobs got a whole lot easier, since there was a ewe delivering the afterbirth in the corner.  The second twin was hovering nearby, trying to get in to get his first meal.  Apparently the one I had seen in the pasture was the first-born and was strong enough to follow the rest of the sheep out.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t smart enough to stay with her mama after she got her first drink.  All three are now settled in  a jug (a small pen specifically intended to keep lambs in close proximity to the ewe to facilitate bonding).  Oh, the second lamb is a boy.  The count for this batch so far is 3 girls and 1 boy.  For the record, the mother is ewe #13.

The one laying down is tired from her adventures in the pasture

This is the best shot I could get of the little boy – he was too busy nursing to pose.

Coyote kibble

The puppy held out till 0530 this morning before whining to let us know it was time to be let out of his crate so he could go potty outside.  So Annmarie got out of bed and let all three dogs outside.  I came down 10 minutes later to let them inside.  Bailey (adult chocolate lab) and Zeke (border collie puppy) were right outside the door ready to come in, Sprout (Brussels Griffin) was no where to be seen.  Sprout only weighs 11 pounds, therefore negating the effects of having a fence.  He can just crawl between the cattle panel squares.  Annmarie stuck her head out a little later to call him in and heard him barking up past the chicken coop.  She thought he had something cornered and needed a human to bail him out.  So we went out with guns and flashlights (I wore my new ball cap light, very cool!).  We ended up walking past the old hen house, the spring and all the outbuildings.  No Sprout any where.  Annmarie went to let the animals out while I took the dogs and arsenal back to the house.  Within a few minutes Annmarie’s mother calls to say that Sprout is down at her house.  It turns out that she had seen him on the back hillside.  He was chasing coyotes off the property!  He was over a 1/4 mile away from the house and in the opposite direction of the out buildings.  The sound of his barking was bouncing off the out buildings making Annmarie think that is where he was located.  Sprout needs to learn that at a whopping 11 pounds multiple coyotes are going to make mince meat out of him.  He just does not get that concept.  He came home happy as can be and still in one piece. 

Christmas Eve discoveries

Annmarie talked me into going outside with her to feed the sheep and horses our left over apples.  The sheep loved them.  I happened to look up from feeding the sheep to discover a four month old lamb inside my chicken yard.  The lamb has been crawling in my chicken door set in the fence to go inside and eat the grass no one else can get.  It crawled out the door while we were watching.  Still no new babies.  January is going to be a busy month.

Stairwell overhead fan, for hot air movement.

I installed the fan in our stairway today.  I should have measured the actual width of the stairwell before ordering fan blades.  After getting the fan installed I have less than one inch between the ends of the fan and the wall on both sides.  Now the nice thing about that is I did get the fan centered!  It works without hitting any walls but we are probably going to order the 42 inch blades (our current blades are 44 inch, total width).  It is already making a huge difference.  We lowered the upstairs temperature by 4 degrees with the fan pushing the hot air back down.  I don’t like standing on the ladder on the stairs, despite having a special ladder that has adjustable length sides.  Only one more time up on the ladder, to install the trim on the upper stairwell window.  It makes me feel safer just thinking about it.  When we do the barn roof this summer, I am going to have safety harnesses.  That way if I fall the rope will catch me.  

Fan in action.

We opened Christmas presents tonight and Annmarie got me a light/laser combo that I can attach to a gun.  I am going to put it on the pistol grip shotgun!!  It has great potential.  I need to shim under the bracket to get it to fit properly.  I am stoked!  Always looking for ways to get ahead of the predators. 

I went out to feed tonight in the dark.  I had to put out extra so in the morning we would only have to open gates and be done.  So I was stepping off into the sheep area with hay for the horses and tripped over one of the dark ewes.  I could not see her, so I landed on my face and chest in the sheep poop laden straw.  Now the good part of this is I just added some more straw last month so it is about eight inches deep.  Lots of padding for the fall, didn’t hurt at all.  Annmarie got me a bill cap light for Christmas!  It clips onto the bill of your cap.  I tried it out when the dogs went out to pee.  It works great.  Not great for shooting because you get a little too much light back into your eyes, but for feeding it is going to be the Bomb! 

Morning Adventures

I’m not sure if we have mentioned it, but the grey horse loves babies – of any sort.  She and the puppy have had quite a time because she keeps wanting to sniff him, and since her nose is as big as his head, he finds that a bit frightening.  So, this morning when I looked out and noticed that she was craning her neck to try and get her nose over the barrier between them and the sheep, I suspected we might have babies.  When I went in to the sheep area, though, I didn’t immediately see or hear any babies, so I decided the horse was just being a knuckle-head.  Then, the sheep shifted, and there were two of the cutest little tri-colored lambs standing next to their mama.  I did a quick gender check, and they are girls.  These are the cutest ewe lambs we’ve had yet, and I’m looking forward to adding their coloring to the herd.

Mama and her babies

All is well until I hear a crash behind me, and the horses are suddenly there in with the sheep.  Meeka (the aforementioned grey) had pushed down the board I had wired up to keep the horses out of the sheep area this summer.  The floor is just not stable enough for them.  But, she really really wanted to see those babies.  So, now I had 22 sheep of various sizes, 2 newborn babies, 2 full grown horses, and Zeke (the border collie puppy) all in this tiny little area.  Mama sheep is understandably upset.  The babies are just trying to stay near mama.  Zeke is trying to stay out of everyone’s way, and the horses just want to get to those babies.

I pick up Zeke and put him up in the upper part of the barn to get him out the way, dash back outside to holler at Sarah to call Grandma to take her and her cousin to school, because I’m not going to make it now.  Sarah of course wants to know why, so I tell her, “I’ve got baby lambs and the horses just broke into the barn to come greet them!”  Luckily, she understands exactly what this means, and dashes back in to call for a ride to school.  I return to the barn to try and sort everyone out.  After a little looking and thinking, I get some grain and lure the horses out.  They’ll do just about anything for their morning grain, even leave babies.  Of course, I also got three of the summer lambs (mostly weaned but only half-grown) with them.  They don’t want to go back in, so I leave them out with the horses for the time being and go back in to feed the sheep.  Then, I go to the other side of the barn to give the horses their hay out in the lot.  It all sounds kind of complicated – mostly because it is.  But it’s doable, and the babies will have a chance to get fast enough to be able to avoid the horses. 

45 minutes later, I finally have all the sheep where they need to be and fed, the horses fed, the appropriate gates opened and closed, and can head to town to meet Steve when he drops off the PT Cruiser to get the damage from the suicidal deer of a few weeks ago repaired.  We then spent most of the day getting my grandmother’s new television purchased and set up for her.  Her old one had died of old age after a long a distinguished life of service.  When we finally got home, we snuggled the lambs a bit and took some photos.

Sarah snuggling one of the lambs.  It is impossible to not smile when holding a less-than-one-day old lamb. 

Sneaking up on the greenhouse

I snagged 8 used windows today for free.  Six of them are double pane 1/4 inch thick on a side, very heavy and 3 ft x 5 ft.  Nice and big, they are old windows that had some kind of plastic film put on them to keep the light out.  The film peels right off with no problems.  I forgot to bring some towels or blankets with me to put between the windows once I put them in the back of the pickup.  It was raining any way and they would have gotten wet.  So instead I used two feminine hygiene pads (hey, they are sticky on one side) at the top of each window.  They nice thing is with the adhesive strips the pads stuck to the glass and stayed in place.  It worked great, I didn’t break a single window.  Luckily I had 14 pads in the pickup.  Two of the windows are 2ft x 2 ft, single pane wooden framed.  These are the type of windows I had initially figured I would have to use.  The double pane old school ones were a great find.  I am still trying to decide on how big to make the greenhouse.  I am thinking around 12 ft x 20 ft.  I want to dig down 2 feet so the ground never freezes in the Winter.  I am also considering making the back wall a heat sink/super thick wall filled with rock/dirt to help regulate the temperature.  Still not sure yet how to do the back wall.  It will have to be pretty tall to help with the temperature regulation in all four seasons.  This is my new fantasy project.  Won’t happen for at least two more years.  This gives me time to do at least fifty revisions of the plans in my head.  This many plans and revisions usually means I don’t have as many problems when I am actually building.

I rehung the upstairs bathroom door.  It closes now without scraping on anything, but it still won’t latch shut.  I spent two hours getting it just right and another 30 minutes trying to get the latch to work.  As Annmarie was calling me for dinner it dawned on me that the reason for the old hook latch at the top of the door was probably because the latch did not work a long time ago either.  I think the solution is to move the entire metal plate 1/16 inch into the room.  This will create a little visible gap when the door is open, but I can stain the wood and it will hide it.  The whole door frame is warped into a C shape with the middle of the C being where the latch is located.  This means taking the locking plate off and chiseling out 1/16 and re-drilling the two holding screws.  Gonna be painful, but I am off the door project for the night.  I was going to do the spare bedroom door tonight but I used up the two packs of shims I had on hand.  So I will get four more packs of shims next week.