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!