Sheep sold

Back elevated garden spot progressing.

Friday was the day of death around our house.  The butcher called on Thursday to say he would be out Friday morning at 0700.  I called Annmarie and had her and Zeke put the sheep into the barn so we could sort them Friday morning early.  She said Zeke did great and got the sheep in with no problem other than they just didn’t want to go into the barn.  It takes a couple of weeks of feeding them in the barn before they learn the barn is a great place.
We went out at 0600 to sort off the wethers.  We ended up banding and tagging three little boys.  We sorted all the wethers off and had almost 20 sheep.  We then ran all the other sheep out of the barn and ran the leftover wethers through the sorting chute one more time and snagged the 11 biggest lambs.  We then ran them out the end of the barn and into our new corral.  The butcher showed up at 0710.  He liked the new corral and ran all the animals into the chute then just walked down the chute and grabbed the closet animal.  He processed 11 animals over four hours.  He is usually faster but he had cut his finger earlier in the week and was wearing a glove and being a lot more careful. 

He kept cleaning the animals off and made a little bit of a mud pit at the end of the chute.  I am going to order another 10 cubic yards of gravel and will just have it dumped in front of the chute.  That way I will be able to spread some out and make a gravel area with lots of drainage.  He won’t need to come back until next year. 

I used up the rest of the afternoon moving gravel to the back elevated garden.  I am getting closer but not sure that I won’t run out of gravel again. 

Alpaca Shearing completed!

Mr. President came out again today to get some more alpaca time in.  We only had 2.5 animals left to shear.  One of the brown animals had half his body sheared two weeks ago.  Mr. President asked me if the alpacas spit on people.  I said no, they just spit on each other.  I was wrong!  Our first customer of the day did not want to go into the shearing area.  He kept pulling back on the harness then bunny leaping forward.  We had him near the tarp and suddenly he spits right at Reagan.  Luckily, he turned slightly.  He says the smell was worse than the taste!  His whole left arm and chest and face were covered with the most foul smelling green slime ever.  That same alpaca tried to spit on him one more time.  The alpaca ended up with a goatee because I forgot to shave under his chin.  I told Reagan that was in honor of him as he is sporting a wanna be goatee.  Maybe the alpaca just doesn’t appreciate facial hair?  My shearing times are way better now.  The first animal we did it took us three hours to shear him.  I was able to shear these last three in 30 min or just under.  I was able to trim toes and teeth in under fifteen minutes also.  If I could keep it under an hour for each animal that would be great.  I will build a shearing table next spring and I think I can get my time down to 20 minutes.  I don’t see it getting any faster than that.  It is totally acceptable at that time frame.  We cut lots of fighting teeth out of the alpaca.  Only one animal had fighting teeth cut, they were obviously flat and only two had their toes trimmed last year.  Now that everyone has had everything done it should be easier next year.  When I was trimming the lower leg on one of the brown alpaca I found a fighting tooth lodged in his lower leg!  I took it out.  I am hoping without the teeth they calm down, at least they cannot do as much damage. 

We then got the maple tree planted in the front yard.  The thing had totally dried out and I had asked Annmarie not to water it so guess where this is going if the maple tree dies?  We also planted the ground cover and bunch grass on the front hillside.  It was looking worse for the wear also.  Lots of water poured on them and a sprinkler set up over the whole area afterwards.  Mr. President brought over three loads of gravel.  I finished the short rock wall next to the old cat picket fence and then put in block under the gate.  I think there are enough blocks left to run across the gravel just like we did on this end to separate the gravel and grass.  I dropped a very large rock directly in the middle of my left boot toe.  It hurt a lot.  I hoped around on one foot hollering obscenities.  I then shook the foot in the air to get some circulation going.  I quit picking up rocks and had Reagan move the one I was attempting to carry.  He is coming over tomorrow for four hours to move gravel with the tractor.  Not very complicated or hard labor, but it needs to happen.  I will have to do it after dark at the rate I am getting to it.  Finishing the elevated garden and back deck area is now a priority.  I have to do the hydrant plumbing soon, but that is something I can do alone. 

We set up the mesh electric fence to keep the designated victim from escaping his safe haven.  He keeps sneaking out.  I am going to have to drill four holes with the mistress (tractor) and put in railroad ties on this side of the ditch.  One set on the corner will be set five feet apart, I will take one 16 foot panel and cut it into three pieces of equal length and create a U-shaped enclosure attached to two railroad ties at the opening that crosses across the irrigation ditch.  This will allow the alpaca to get a drink of water and not sneak out.  I don’t know that this idea will get implemented this fall.  More important projects are jumping to the front of the list. 

Back yard starting to get gravel.

Horse area all ready for winter.

Alpaca shearing take two!

Mr. President with another alpaca.  He is helping out again on the farm.

This is stubborn.

I had four and a half alpaca left to trim.  The shearer was back from being repaired and the only reason to not get back at it was a lack of help.  Mr. President came to the rescue!  He volunteered to work for me for a few days before heading back to college at the end of the month.  I took him up on the deal, and he is getting paid so it is not super altruistic.  I gave him the good news yesterday that we were going to take care of alpaca.  This is  a new thing for him.  My shearing time is dropping dramatically.  I had it down to an hour with the animal tied down and stretched out.  The big hurdle this time was doing the teeth.  Everyone needed their teeth ground down.  I was still merely envisioning this as I have never done it before.  I had a dog rope toy and a large rubber dog chew bone to keep the alpaca’s mouth open while I ground down the front teeth and we cut off the fighting teeth.  They were being a little difficult about opening their mouths but we managed to get the rope toy inside everyone and then cut the teeth.  It sounds funny using the dremel with a grinding wheel. but it works.  I had purchased a survival saw which is wire coated in an abrasive.  This worked fabulous to cut the fighting teeth. 
Our first real challenge was a white alpaca that fought and refused to open his mouth.  We got the rope toy in his mouth finally then he clamped down and laid down.  We could not pry his mouth open.  I trimmed all his toes with him laying there by the gate.  After 20 min his jaw got tired and we worked the big thick rubber bone into his mouth.  His fighting teeth were so sharp they cut 1/4 inch deep gashes into the rubber.  We finished five animals.  Those five, three white alpaca and two black were placed back in the orchard.  The professional victim went back to his private pen but he slipped between the wires again after an hour.  The weird part is none of the other four alpaca are picking on him.  I suspect that will change when we add back the other three that need to be sheared.  Its funny how the dynamics change when certain personalities are placed together.  We spent the last 1.5 hours hauling gravel to the back deck/garden area and installing some more brick walls to keep a nice line between dirt and gravel. 

 

There really is a live animal in there, he just doesn’t want to get up.

Chute gates installed.

Chute gate open. 

Mr. President and I installed the gates in the chute also.  I had a certain location I wanted the gates to be installed due to their latch mechanism.  No way was that going to happen.  The gates fit in their respective spots perfectly.  They are not interchangeable.  The corral is now 100% completed! 

Fruit trees in the ground.

Fruit tree enclosure is hopefully animal proof.

I spent all day yesterday and most of today planting trees.  They are all in the ground except for the Crimson Maple that goes in our front yard.  I will plant it on Wednesday.  All the holes had to be dug wider by hand, then the trees planted.  That is of course the easy part.  Then I had to cut off one end of the cow panel and bend it in a circle by laying on it as I rolled it across the ground.  I used a hollow metal tube to bend the sticky outy parts of the fence back over onto themselves so I could complete the circle.  Once that was in place around the tree then I had to drive in three T posts by reaching over the fence.  After that was done I wrapped the upper half of the cow panel in a smaller grid fencing that extends one foot above the cow panel.  Now I add some T post fence clips to tie it all together.  Soak the whole tree in water and go back and add in more dirt.  They all required more dirt.  Now do that nine times!  It took quite a while. 

This morning the professional victim got out of his enclosure again.  I noticed when the alpaca started to all scream and three of them were piled on top of a black alpaca.  I walked over to his enclosure and opened the gate.  He came running with a white alpaca on his back trying to hump him.  He ran right to me and the open gate.  I shooed the other alpaca away and he went right in to his enclosure.  I think he is getting out down by the front ditch.  I moved the panel so hopefully he cannot do that again.  I really need to add a second panel.  I did not get to that today. 

In the triangle, out front of my mother-in-law’s house I built a rock wall circle, filled it with 60 year old sheep poop and planted a big oak tree.  Because it is elevated I am just going to use the cow panel without any extra wire at the top.  It turned out very nice.  She was happy. 

Seven new fruit trees in the orchard.

Oak tree and rock house in driveway.

Trees are closer to our dirt

This is how you dig a hole!

Late last week before the rain, I went out with the mistress to do some serious work.  We were going to dig some holes for all of our fruit trees.  I had to cut through the grass with a shovel then started trying to dig the hole with the auger.  Each hole was taking 30 minutes to dig.  I had to fill a couple up with water because I could not get down through the earth.  On the sixth hole I saw a piece of plastic fly off the auger.  I stopped it, shut down the tractor and got off to inspect the damage and determine the cause.  The auger is held on to the gear box by two heavy duty bolts.  One of those broke then only came out half way thereby tearing up the plastic safety guard.  I did not have a replacement bolt the correct length.  I had to leave everything as is until I got done working at the paying job over the next several days. 

Orchard upgrade

My mother-in-law wanted two apple trees and an oak tree We discussed this last week.  She said there was a nursery in Hermiston where we could get trees.  I got a budget and had plans to do this sometime.  Sometime for me is very vague.  It could be next week it could be a couple of months or a couple of years.  Just ask any of the woman in my family!  I opted for sooner rather than later.  Annmarie and I had been talking about putting fruit trees back in the orchard field for years but I had never gone and gotten any trees.  Every tree has to have a rigid cow panel formed into a ring placed around it and some narrower wire wrapped around that with T posts holding it in place in at least three spots to keep the all animals away.  The cow panel adds a $25/tree expense.  Now the nice thing is the cow panels can be removed after the tree is beyond 2.5 inches thick.  The deer don’t like to rub on larger trees.  Annmarie and I went over to the nursery yesterday.  They had a 50% off on all trees and outdoor plants.  So we loaded up!  We got two different varieties of bunch grass for the front hillside and two different types of ground cover.  I am going to concentrate all the small plants on the right side of the hill by the wagon to see how they do next year.  We have seven fruit trees for us and one shade tree for our front yard and a shade tree for Donna and two apple trees for her.  Here are the tree types, Oak, for triangle at Donna’s, Arkansas Black apple and honey crisp apple for down by Donna’s house, Crimson Sunset maple for our front yard, 20th century oriental pear, Granny smith apple, Brooks prune, Honey crisp apple, Nectarine fusia, Red plum and Chinese apricot for our orchard.  I talked to the nursery about ordering full size apricot trees but I would need to order five trees.  I may still do that. 
We had to lay the two tallest trees down and then go back via the back roads.  At a max speed of 40 mph with an average of 35 mph it took quite a while to get back home.  I tried to follow Siri’s directions instead of going the Holdman route and she took us to a closed road with no throughput.  So we went the Holdman route.  Now I need to dig lots of holes in super hard ground with the tractor.  Once the holes are dug I am going to fill them with water for a few days to get the surrounding ground saturated.  It will make it easier to keep the trees watered once I get them in the hole.  We are going to use the ancient sheep waste compost dug out of the barn to root the trees in their new homes.  Today I will go buy some more cow panels.  In a five years there will hopefully be lots of fruit! 
 

Trees!

Our nursery purchases.

Professional victim now has a permanent fence

New gate and fence.

Gary came out today to spend some time helping me.  After a fantastic potato, onion, bacon, and egg scramble breakfast we went out to install the new fence.  The professional victim alpaca needed a permanent fence.  I figured a gate was needed but I did not want to install four railroad ties.  I opted instead to just put one on each side of the gate and attach them at the top so they could not be pulled apart by the wire.  It worked pretty good.  We will see how it lasts over the next several years.  Annmarie had told me that the alpaca won’t test a fence so we strung the first wire at 20 inches and then two more strands above that.  This would allow the sheep to just graze under the fence if we put them in the orchard.  It took longer to set everything up and dig the holes than the rest of the fence install.  This is an awful time of the year to dig a hole or even drive T posts into the ground.  Once we had that done we pulled up all the old T posts that were installed years ago with wire to keep the animals away from the trees.  Now I need to bring over the cow panels and make them into rings.  This will keep the animals from all the new trees.  We cleaned up all our mess. 

This late evening when Annmarie came home the professional victim had gotten out of his new area.  He crawled under the fence!!  We went out and caught him, and put him back in his area.  I then grabbed another roll of wire and added a lower strand to the length of the fence.  We are hoping this keeps him in his new enclosure. 

I went out and attempted to dig three holes for new trees.  I spent over 30 minutes on each hole and only got down one foot.  I finally gave up and filled the holes with water.  I added water a couple of times and will try it again tomorrow.  I am hoping to get to the nursery this week. 

Fence crossed the ditch.