House work above.

Future attic floor.

Yesterday, I started back in on the house projects.  I had to go into the attic to find a softball mitt and ended up consolidating boxes and managed to empty four more boxes.  More room for the stuff out in the old house.  I did find the mitt!  I decided that in order to level the floor in the old house I need to empty two of the rooms.  Years ago I bought the lumber for the attic floor and it has been sitting out in the old house.  I took measurements for the floor supports and cut them all out.  Sarah and I managed to corral them all into the attic.  I have a bunch of semi-fancy drawings up there with all the measurements so I can put the pieces in the right spots.  Once I get the elevated subfloor in place, I will roll out another layer of insulation and then sheet it with 3/4 inch plywood.  I need more storage room in the attic so I can take all the household goods being stored in the old house to the attic.  I will actually go through all the boxes in an attempt to thin out what I have to finagle into the attic.  Those stairs are hard to navigate with a large heavy box. 

New floor to the left, spot where I am going to continue floor.

You can sure tell where the sheep have been eating and where they have not.   I want to get this upper hillside fenced in so we can turn the sheep loose on the hillside also.  This is one of my early spring projects.  The rock wall is starting to come around also.  I just keep plugging away at it a little bit at a time. 
Chickens continue to die.  One more was dead yesterday and a second had to be put down. Sarah just told me another was laying down on its side now so I have to go out and put it down.  This is a crazy problem.  The girls are going to dig out the baby enclosure on Saturday, sweep the walls and wire clean and then use a 10% bleach solution on everything.  We will then use the heat lamp to dry it all out.  Once that is done we will put down new bedding and I will get a dozen chicks.  In three months I will turn those loose and try to get another dozen chicks.  It may be too late, we will see.  There are not going to be any eggs from this house for sale.   
 

Tagging and Banding done, mostly.

Feeders I built this summer in action.

Monica Sarah and I went out last Friday and tagged all the babies.  They had gotten intermixed with the main herd again. While doing this we realized that some tag numbers had been attributed to the wrong ewes.  So we corrected that so our spreadsheet is accurate.  We tagged five babies and then banded (neutered) fourteen more.  We had a 2:1 ratio of boys to girls this year.  Kinda odd, would have guessed it would be closer to 1:1.  I had to hold off on banding the two new baby boys.  There was nothing there to rubber band.  Those mini testicles just kept slipping away.

These are all not hers, she is guarding them from the dog.

Now that the babies are born we are only feeding at night.  This works great for us and we no longer lock the sheep up in the barn at night.  They put themselves in for the night.  It is very nice. I just need the weather to turn so I can get outside and do some more fencing so the sheep can have more space to roam.

I am tired!

The winter chickens have turned out to be an epic fail.  We took another two up to the boneyard.  I now have single digits left from an initial 27 birds.  I am still getting less than 2 eggs a day out of the other 17 hens.  So it is looking like I am going to just purge chickens and basically start over.  So not very many eggs this summer and I am sure this will put me in the red for the year again.  But I need to purge early before I spend the next few months paying for feed.  Pretty disappointing. 

Utility room closet progress.

Frame going up.

My chicken door worked today!  It even closed tonight.  I was very happy.  I had to replace the fuse again.
This project is slow going, just like all the other projects!  I have spent two days planning everything out and making sure I know what order I want to put the closet together.  It is up against the sink and that is going to limit my access.  I went out and cut all these small pieces but then had to put every one of them on the sander to smooth them.  It took most of the morning.  I even used a level on all the pieces so it will be perfectly level.  I used the existing walls as my main anchor points. 

For the shelves I used tongue and groove juniper.  It is in the same genus as cedar (I believe?) and should help keep the bugs away.  It smells almost like cedar. 

Shelves in place.

Once I had the shelves up I started to get nervous.  There was not a whole lot holding the shelves in place and I was afraid the cats would come explore and the whole thing would come crashing down.  I took a whole bunch of measurements to get the facing, side pieces, and laundry divider all cut out and sanded.  Again a couple of hours just to cut and sand the pieces down.  The girls had to help me hold a couple of the pieces in place as I screwed them in.  It is starting to look pretty good.  I have been thinking about the front doors and I think I am going to attach one to the far wall and one to the middle board that both open out to the left.  This will make it easy to get laundry out and into the washing machine. 

Almost finished.  Just needs doors.

 I am thinking about putting two sets of stacked doors so you can get the laundry and shoes out of the closet without opening the upper portion.  The slats across the front are for the laundry sorting area.  There are three bins built into the closet so the laundry can be sorted into its appropriate location.  I raised it up off the floor so you don’t have to bend over so far to get to the bottom of the bin.    The area under the clothes bin is for barn boots.  It is a little dark in that corner now.  Not sure what I am going to do about that.  I could tap off of the light fixture and add a low light between the closets but it would have to only hang down three inches.  Will have to consult the design engineer (wife) about the lighting issue. 

Holed again.



Newborn baby this morning.  I really like the face.

The barn door hole has struck again.  Annmarie heard a meep early this morning and when she got out to the barn it was outside the sheep area.  It had fallen under the door and momma would not take it back.   She kept pushing it away with her head.  So Annmarie called Tisha and took the baby on a trip in the car to its new home.  Now Tisha has two bummer lambs that have fallen through the hole into a new home.  I plan on fixing the door this summer so we may not have any bummer lambs after that.  I am just going to add some vertical boards the whole length of the door that extend down the eight inches to cover the opening.  Of course there is still one more ewe to deliver her babies and one more chance at someone falling out of the barn.  They like that corner as they can kinda get away from everyone.  The isolated twin is doing well with its momma in one of the jugs.  This one has the best colored face of all the new lambs, lots of variety.  I didn’t reach down and disturb the lamb to see what gender it was.  The bummer was a little girl, so Tisha has a little girl and a little boy now. 

Closet is going in the back right corner.

I am starting in on the laundry room closet.  Today I cleaned up and moved every thing away from the wall.  I scrubbed the floor, which is not very level, and took some final measurements.  The uneven floor is going to cause me some heartache but the floor was not very level to start and the tiles were tough to put in place.  Monica and I went out this afternoon and tore some 1×4 boards in half lengthwise.  These will be mounted on the walls to make the basis for mounting the other two walls and the shelves.  I want to get them mounted tomorrow and maybe even get the side mounted and the shelves.  We will see how much I can get done in a full day of work.  I will hit it after everyone goes to work and school tomorrow. 

I went out and powered up the chicken door tonight.  It didn’t work…  I will go out during the day tomorrow and check the fuse.  If it doesn’t work then I have to remove the whole door and send it back to my chicken door guy.  I hope it is just a fuse. 

Is it possible for chickens to be any dumber?

My baby chickens are not doing their part in our relationship.  They are not staying alive and everyone else is not laying eggs.  Definitely, a one sided relationship.  The babies I bought late last year are just dying.  I would like to say it is a predator for certain but I know several that cooked themselves against the heat lamp, and several more that froze themselves to death by not going into the coop, two more have starved to death because they cannot move the three feet to get to the food and a couple more have deformed feet and/or beaks.  I did a head count today and only counted 16 babies left out of 27 to start for a survival rate of 59%, which totally sucks.  I caught every one of the babies and tossed them out of the baby area into the main chicken coop.  I am hoping they follow the adult chickens out to water in the morning or they are going to die.  At this rate I am going to have to buy another dozen chicks this spring.  I think I am just going to plan on it.  The only bad part about that is I need to dig out the baby area, clean it all up and lay down new bedding for the new chicks.  It will be a day just to get ready for the new babies.  I could have the girls do it…

Two nights ago Annmarie and I thought we heard a chicken in its death throes.  I ran outside wearing my bathrobe, some boots and the shotgun with lantern light hanging from my pump hand.  Annmarie came out with the other lantern light and we searched all over to no avail.  My chicken door still does not work.  The chicken door guy sent me a new motor the second week of January and I have been too busy to install it.  Plus he wants me to glue the motor in place.  Good luck keeping the glue warm enough to set up.  It has been fairly warm the last few days so I popped the other motor out (comparing motor part numbers to make sure he sent me the new and improved version, he did) and glued the new one in.  I had to move the heat lamp over from the baby area to shine onto the motor.  I then tied the light in place over the clamp so the chickens could not knock it down and start a fire.  Tomorrow I should be able to hook up the door and plug in the motor to see if it actually works.  Here is hoping it works. 

There was only 3 eggs today.  The chickens are not even producing 2 dozen eggs/week.   I want to get started on the laundry room closet this week.  I brought some more tools inside the house and set up my compound miter saw outside on the old house porch.  Now I just need to measure for the shelves and see if the corner is actually 90 degrees.  I am going to install the shelve brackets first on the two walls and then attach everything to them.  This will make construction easier for me.  I just have to get all the measurements figured out before I cut anything.

Tagging the herd.

Monica and I went out this morning to tag all the other lambs.  Everyone is ill here but me and she was only coughing a little bit.  The babies all got mixed in with the main herd earlier in the week then the plague was at its peak.  It is just easier to not have to carry water.  We fed every one and then started trying to match babies to mothers.  This process took quite a while as we had two babies that kept wandering all over the place and would not hang out with their mothers.  One of them kept hanging out with the lead ewe.  I am sure she was even feeding it occasionally but I knew she was not the mother.  Monica did the catching and I tagged them.  We are up to #28 on the boys and #37 on the girls.  These numbers are not a reflection of how many sheep we have had as several have been retagged and some at the start never got tagged but it is close.  I want to get Annmarie to put in a running total of all the sheep we have ever owned in our spreadsheet.  I would also like to get a Percent Productivity out of each ewe averaged over lifetime and last 12 months.   I think she has one of those already done. 

We tagged 7 new lambs and retagged one teenager who managed to lose her tag without tearing out her ear.  Zeke kept trying to sneak up on the sheep and I kept having to get him to go guard the door.  Finally, he decided he could watch the door without creeping up on the sheep. 
We had another teenager chicken die.  Crazy thing went outside and refused to come back in and froze to death.  These chickens were incredibly healthy as baby chicks but I think they sacrificied a large portion of their nonexistent IQ in the process.  They seem even dumber than a normal chicken.  I am hoping to get out and replace the chicken door motor this week.  My chicken door guy sent me a new motor in the hopes that will fix the problem.  I hope so. 

The box elder bugs are out now that it is getting warmer outside. They are coming inside by the droves.  I have renamed our vacuum cleaner the “Exterminator” and vacuum them up by the hundreds.  I had to go out and get some more bug spray.  Resprayed all the windows in the house and even pulled down a ceiling tile to get at the dead space to spray.  It is working.  I have vacuumed about 40% of what I was earlier.  I found some fancy spray that I have to mix myself that lasts for months.  I am going to have to coat the house in it in a few weeks when the temperature starts staying above freezing.  I am going to buy the concentrate so I can afford to use it liberally.  I may even have to spray the old house and wood shed to cut down on breeding locations for the bugs.  The war is on!