Sheep for sale.

 It has finally happened, we have high speed internet!  It has been a struggle with many hurdles but it is a reality. We now have 13 G!  It is an amazing thing. We no longer put all our devices in airplane mode just so we can watch television. 

The butcher called this week to tell me he would be two weeks late and wanted to know exactly how many animals he would be processing. I told them I was unsure and would need to count this weekend. Annmarie and I went out first thing and this am and ran everyone through the chute. We had three extra rams (oops, I missed them last year), 8 ewes that had no babies and were under 2 years old, and 13 weathers for a total of 24. I told the butcher 10-15 sheep and two cows.  I was off, the problem is can I find enough customers. 
We swung a deal and traded sheep around for various things. Annmarie had to help sort a second time today and we now have 13 sheep to process. She said the ram snuck up on her and head butted her in the thigh again. It was quick and hard and no where within reach of a wooden club. She used a judicious amount of cowboy boot to the side of his head. Hopefully we can stop this dangerous habit. He had been leary of us for the last few weeks and after Zeke tore into him.  I thought we had determined who was dominate. Apparently he still thinks there is a question. 
I have one sheep for a friend to kill, five for us, two sold and five more to find homes. I have a tentative home for two more and three undetermined. I have two more weeks to sell off three more sheep. In the early summer next year we will try and sell off all of this years lambs in one bunch of 30-40 animals. We are going to get rid of some of our current ewes and keep the babies. They are going to be bigger sheep with great temperaments.  
 The weather has been amazing in between rain showers. The back hillside is starting to green up. It is truly amazing. 

Feeding the hungry herd

 We now go out every evening to feed the animals. A routine is starting to form. The sheep need 3-4 bales of hay put out in various feeders. The problem with this portion of the tasks is the sheep know you are going to feed them. It’s like trying to get to the bar to order a drink when the place is at capacity. Lots of bumping, kicking, grabbing, crowding and mouths in your way. The only way to get any peace is to utilize bouncers, a single bouncer is never enough because someone can always sneak past. It takes to active bouncers to keep the sheep at bay while food is being placed in feeders. Even then the bar patrons will still sneak in the door and decide if they can bum rush the bouncers and make it to the bar. They don’t test that theory with two dogs on duty, but one is easily distracted. 
After the sheep are fed we have to feed the horses. Due to the rainy weather we have go keep Mika in a dry spot, so she has to be taken out of the milking area and led to water then back to the dry area. She gets grain and hay the her hoofs cleaned out. Hogs gets the same thing in her stall with hoof cleanout also. The cows need a few bales of hay a couple of times a week. I can put five bales on the bucket of my little tractor. I use the fogs to keep the cows away from me and the feeders. There are eggs to get after that. It takes me 1-1.5 hours a night to do chores. I usually do the evening chores as Annmarie does the morning chores. We trade off if I do the morning chores. 
 

Hay again

I was sure I was all done with hay other than getting some 800 pound bales into the machine shop. Little did I know that was not going to be the case. I went to go pickup our alfalfa last weekend and discovered I was getting small bales of alfalfa. This is good and bad. Good because the bales will fit in the barn, bad because someone has to put them in the barn, all 12.5 ton. 
I had to move last years hay over by the entrance to the second hay room and restack the straw bales to create room for a lot of alfalfa bales. Zeke was leaping onto the newly vacated floor, every time I moved a bale, in hopes of catching a mouse.  Mouse was just not certain what was happening.  I had about 12 bales left when the first mouse was discovered. Zeke was snapping his mouth and jumping around like an excited teenage boy, which allowed Mouse to swoop on and just grab the mouse in one bite. The mouse’s folly was letting the puppy catch it. Zeke would have just killed it in a couple of quick bites and maybe ate it. Mouse treated it like a cat and took it outside to play with it. He played ten minutes of catch and release before it died. On the very last bale the same thing happened!  Zeke was jumping and snapping for ten feet trying to catch the critter when mouse leaped in and caught his namesake. He played that poor mouse into the grave. I got three ton stacked in the barn.  I was tired and done. 

Annmarie and I went for a walk up to the upper prime pasture as the horses had gotten into the pasture through an open gate. The pasture has had no animals for the last three weeks and has green grass almost four inches tall everywhere. Pretty quick we will be able to let the sheep out there, they just need to not be having babies.  
We had a very bad wind storm while we were on the coast and it blew over another tree!  It was the second tallest tree in that little grove. I am going to have to plant several new trees from the ones in our elevated garden to  replace the wind blown ones.  

 Our chickens had drastically decreased their daily egg laying quantities and I assumed it was because they were molting, which they are.  She said it was because their light burnt out, which it was. The real problem was I needed a short ladder to change the bulb out and there are none at our house. I changed a light bulb in a heat lamp hoping that would work.  It only worked for a few days before the chickens managed to break it. I really need that four foot ladder. 

Tower dream

I only needed 30 more minutes!

Yesterday was the day, we were going to get our tower mounted and I could call to get our new internet service installed.  Unfortunately, there were a few stumbling blocks.  I got the nephew all lined up and out so he could help.  We got the tower up onto the roof and I could not hold it vertical while at the top of the roof and slide it into the holder, I did try multiple times but the fit was too tight.  I gave up and laid it across the peak of the roof and had the nephew move the ladder to the peak and hold the end.  I discovered that the holder base could be rotated to the side on a bolt swivel. Nope it was still too tight.  I then realized that the bolt needed to come out and I was supposed to slide the metal sheath over the bottom of the pole and align the holes so that the bolt went through the tower piece also.  I want it known that there were NO instructions on installation included with all of the hardware.  I did actually check before trying  to just wing it.  It kept getting darker and darker.  We managed to get two cables installed but I could not let go until the third one was installed.  My nephew managed to get it on in almost pitch black conditions.  I had my phone out trying to give him some light while I was on the peak.  It helped a tiny little bit.  We managed to get the thing in place and tight enough it wasn’t going to fall over.
After climbing down in the dark I realized that I had mounted a head lamp to my hat just in case it got dark.  I had forgotten about it.  I ended up going out and feeding the horses and sheep before going inside at 1930 to feed myself.  

Is it a safety issue yet?

Tonight we did it, I had a late meeting at work and was afraid the sun would betray me and hide before we could get finished.  We managed to get it tightened down and level in 30 minutes and still had 25 minutes of dusk left.  We even removed the ladder from the roof and got the grounding wire strung across the  roof line and down the side of the building.  I just need a grounding clamp and to drive a six foot rod into the ground with a sledge hammer.  Its a good spot to do it but it is going to take some effort on my part.  I don’t know how to do it easily.  I have heard of several tricks but my old standby, brute force, will work well.  Tomorrow, I am calling WTechlink to see when we can schedule an appointment for high speed internet hookup!!!  Awesome time is coming to the farm.

Our new oven showed up today also.  They had said they would install it, but when they arrived they said since it was a wall oven they cannot install it because it requires someone to wire it in place.  I will have to do it, but will need lifting assistance to get the old one out and the new one in.  My nephew is getting a workout.  I am going to owe him. 

Oh to have fast internet…

We went away for the weekend on a vacation to the Oregon Coast.  One of those vacations where you don’t do anything but rest and relax.  It was very nice.  We ate dinner at one restaurant the “Sea Hag”, everything was made from scratch.  I gained five pounds over the course of four days.  We were supposed to sea the “storm of the century” on the coast, it was a total dud.  Sarah had worse weather at home while she took care of the animals.  The main latch on the sheep doors broke off in the wind and all of our deck furniture was blown off of our front porch.  It took me an hour and a half to unload the car as I had packed for the “storm of the century”.  We could have stayed in the condo for a week with no food, power or water.  We had it all.  I even made Annmarie go to the store so we could have some bleach so we could drink toilet bowl water if necessary.  Doing disaster prep drills at work has really got me into the groove.

I keep trying to get our antenna installed on the roof and it just keeps raining or I cannot coordinate any help.  It is a two man job as I have to crawl onto the roof and a large strong man has to move the 32 foot ladder around to attach the cables.  My nephew is coming out tomorrow, hopefully so we can get that installed.  Once it is in place I can call for the new internet!!  It cannot get here fast enough.

Sarah came out tonight to help me tag and band the sheep.  It got dark before we could finish.  We did 10 babies.  I am truly amazed by how big the babies are this year.  The difference in genetics is amazing.  The babies are huge in comparison to all our previous years.  They are so healthy and bouncy and big!!  I am hoping to get them all tagged by Wednesday evening and then turned loose back into the main herd.  Tonight when I went to feed the sheep I discovered that we had not locked up one of the hay rooms.  There was a foot of loose hay all over the floor.  It took me another 30 minutes to  clean up the mess.  I had to holler at both dogs as they wanted to potty in the hay just like the sheep.  They just didn’t understand why I would not let that happen.
I let the dogs out of the hay room when I was feeding because the ram kept sneaking up behind me.  He never head butted me but I didn’t want to push my luck.  So I let them both out but Zeke kept sneaking up on the ram a foot at a time.  I kept telling him to stay but the ram kept trying to stare Zeke down.  I was trying to get Zeke to stay and the puppy to run in and chase the ram off.  Next thing I know Zeke had had enough of that uppity attitude from the ram and he had him by the head and giving him the what for.  Mouse thought this was the cue to run out and chase sheep, after much yelling and swearing I got both dogs called off the sheep and back into the barn.  Zeke won and is still top dog, like we ever doubted it.

Babies r us

Weekends are made for catching up. I am trying to get all ready for winter. Winter is Coming.  I realize it’s a book and show motto but it’s the truth. With one of the horses needing a dry place due to some weird hoof issue we need a second covered area. The amazing thing was getting the hoof fixed on a horse was cheaper than fixing one dog. It’s no wonder there is no money in large animal care. 
I had a friend send her youngest son out to help me on Saturday. Now I do pay them but sometimes I think my various friends send me their children to motivate them to seek a higher education plan. So far I am batting over 75% heading to college after working for me. I am known to not stop, no breaks and if you let me lunch break will be at 1500 every day. I am not a fan of taking it slow and easy. I try to go at it like I am killing snakes every day. The only problem with this is I am no longer in my 20s or 30s.  
Plus, my back hurts!!  I had a known party bring her husband out to look at the old tractor. It’s gas not diesel. It’s an International not a Ford. It will not start or turnover, it needs a new starter and battery first. Then some filters and oil plus more hydraulic fluid. I asked about a new seat and was laughed at.  The farmer rule applies in this instant and I was told to just get it running. So I will order a few hundred dollars worth of parts and then we will see. 

The young man arrived via “his mother’s horseless carriage with her as the chauffeur”.  He is a young padawan and his mother is hoping he molds into a productive member of society.  We went out to the barn to clear out the old milking wooden floor.  I supplied the work gloves but he wore blue jeans and tennis shoes.  I was amazed he never stepped on a nail, but his mother is a nurse so I figured his vaccinations were up to date.  We ripped out the floor and stacked all the spare wood from the room onto the top of the horse hay room overhang.  I had to install some wooden brackets so we could make the stack higher.  At one point I misstepped and ended up falling four feet after sliding down the straw stack.  The young palawan tried to catch me but just managed to touch my arm on my decent to the wooden floor.  I managed to turn to my side so I didn’t land flat on my back.  Not one of my smoother moves but fairly typical.  I also managed to not hit my head!  My beautiful bald head seems to attract a lot of wear and tear.  The milking area needs to be dug out but before I can do that I need to put an end piece on so I don’t push the dirt under the last little bit of flooring we left.  The flooring is so you can walk out and feed the horses easily.  The padawan ripped out an entire inside leg seam on his jeans fairly early in the work process.  He kept after it, at one point I asked him what his older brother had told him about coming to the farm.  He said he cackled and stated “YOU are going to WORK!”.  We got a lot done in a few hours.  I was very pleased. 

I can smell high speed internet

It has been one of those weeks, i just barely get something done and then there is something else waiting that needs to be done yesterday.  I have been frantically trying to get our high speed internet pole and guy wire supports installed.  I managed to get the anchors all attached to the roof.  The hardest part was getting all the new supports installed under the roof so they would not just tear out the old roofing.  The walkway worked great and made it a lot easier to get around.  I ended up having to move the 32 foot ladder by myself and then extend it out alone.  I do not recommend that, the ladder is very heavy and incredibly awkward once you start extending it out.  It works great once you get it in place but not very easy to handle while getting it there.  I tweaked my back and have been walking crooked and hunched over for the last three days.  The only thing left is to actually insert the pole and attach the three guy wires to the anchor bolts.  The problem is it takes a second person, I will need to stay on the roof and use a level to make sure the post is upright and to connect the third anchor.  We need to tighten all three at the same time to make sure the post doesn’t get tweaked.  My helper has to be able to move the ladder by themselves and the tin roof needs to be dry for my safety.

Just when I think the farm cannot surprise me something else does.  I was in the rafters of the machine shop installing the anchors and there are several pieces of loose wood in the rafters.  One of them kept drawing my attention.  The board was very long, wide and curved on either side with a flat bottom with these tiny pieces stapled in even intervals.  I had to stare at it for three days before it dawned on me it was the old stair rail top from the farmhouse!  Had I known it was there I would have used it when we rebuilt the stairs.  I had no idea it was even there.

We have sheep babies everywhere!  The first batch has been tagged and banded and now there is a second batch in the baby area that are ready to go.  This weekend we will tag and band all of them and get ready for the next wave.  Annmarie made a program to track them on our iPhones and it is super fast, super easy and super quick.

The horse, Mika had to have some hoof thing cut out and filled with plaster by the vet.  Its sad that all that on a horse cost less than an overnight spay on the family dog.  It was very affordable.  So now we have to work on keeping Mika’s foot dry, this has necessitated the need for me to start cleaning out the old milk shed area of the barn.  I had been storing all the old lumber there.  I will need a different spot now.  So tomorrow we will be moving the wood out and then cutting up the old floor and storing it for reuse!  I will need to make a new handrail to keep the horses out of the barn.  I just plan on reusing all the old wood from the floor.  I have several small metal gates so I am going to see if I can get two of them to use as new doors.  We have a metal panel bungied across the opening.  It is not the best setup, but is currently working for us.

Center mount for pole installed
old handrail from the farmhouse!
Walkway and supports installed in roof
Babies every where!!