Well it was that time again. Time for conflict and discord between the wife and I. It was time to work the sheep! I also forgot to wear my apology T-shirt. We have removed the boys and ram weeks ago and needed to get the last of the lambs tagged and banded. It started out on a sour note. We took both dogs and Mouse snuck off and went around and tore into the sheep. He scattered them everywhere and had one he was chasing down. He would not lay down or let off the chase. Luckily for me and the ewe they were running toward me and I was able to get him to lay down. AnnMarie took Zeke around the lot and got the sheep to run over near the barn. She told Zeke to “down” and he decided to continue left which did make the sheep head toward the barn but was not what he was told to do. So I hollered at him to down then AnnMarie and I hollered at each other then Mouse got loose and started running toward the sheep so I hollered at him. We had to break out the shaker sticks as the sheep did not want to go into the barn. We need another small 30 foot section of fencing that lines up directly with the barn opening. This would allow us to use the dogs to push the sheep into the barn. Otherwise, it’s takes two people and two dogs to get them in the barn plus we had to use shaker sticks. I almost never use them with AnnMarie as she is far more patient with the animals than I am. Once inside the barn and doors shut. We proceeded to tag and band lambs.
This sounds like a shared duty but it really is not. Annmarie cannot work the bandorator or the ear tagger as they take a lot of hand strength. So she has to catch all the lambs. This sounds easy but the lambs are not all dainty newborns. Some are up to 2.5 months old and big up to 30 pounds. We tagged and banded 33 lambs today!! She was tired, dirty and grumpy by the time we were done. I kept offering to trade jobs, not much help, but we did manage to get finished. We have 94 moms and babies plus 21 whethers plus 1 ram for a total of 116 sheep.
We had pulled the ram off early but the horny bugger managed to get most of the older ewes pregnant! We had planned on a break allowing the ewes to put some weight back on. This means the ram is going to stay out for another six months at a minimum. We have to get rid of 85 sheep this summer. It will be interesting.
Today I placed panels across the front yard so I can turn the sheep out onto the front hillside again. The sheep are now mowing the hillside.
The grass is starting to get too tall. I decided that it was time to break out the tractor mower this weekend. I got the sprayer unhooked and tried to get the mower attached. It did not want to attach. One point of the three point hitch would not latch. I pried and beat on it. It took me about 45 minutes to get it all attached. I was able to then crawl under the mower. One of the blades was bent and loose. This is what is beating up the metal shell of my mower. I put it on my trailer and managed to get a flat tire on the large back tire of my tractor. I had to take it off and throw it on the trailer also.
The tractor repair shop was not surprised to see me. I am hard on equipment but I told them I had the mower for over five years!
The tire place said they would get back to me to tell me if the tire was still any good.
Tonight when I came home I was filling up my water containers for the upstairs plants when I suddenly noticed a rock chuck playing on my rock wall! My rock wall that I have spent years working on. A Little Rock chuck was running around on the ground then it jumped into a hole in the middle of the wall. It started throwing dirt out of the middle of the rock wall. I started hollering at the window and yelled for AnnMarie.
She grabbed the 22LR long gun and headed out to the chicken coop. She could get a good angle from there and hopefully to take out my rock wall destroyer. The little destroyer went back into its hole and hid out. She never got a shot off. This is going to be a big problem if we cannot get rid of it.
It was a long week. The sheep keep having babies. We need to tag and band babies but want to wait until all the lambs are actually born. We peer out at the flock on a daily basis but haven’t been doing daily walk throughs. Last Tuesday I went out to put away the horses. We have been bringing them in so they don’t founder. Both horses were out in the pasture standing over a brown lump and refused to come. I walked out and spotted a ewe in labor with a lamb under her alive. I headed back to the house to get some towels and gloves. Once inside the house I informed AnnMarie about the problem. The ewe most likely had at least one other lamb stuck inside her. I grabbed two of the shoulder length vet gloves. I figured I would only need one but brought an extra just in case.
AnnMarie came out to hold the ewe. The ewe got up twice but AnnMarie finally got a hold of her and I then had to figure out how many lambs were stuck in there. I had to take off my coat and lay on the ground in my tshirt. As I tried to reach inside and ascertain the situation I stimulated the ewe causing the contractions to escalate in frequency and strength. I could feel the back of a lamb but could not push it back inside. After about 10 minutes of pushing and fighting I managed to pull out one dead lamb. It was very big and then I pulled another one. I was pretty certain I had them all, but I was informed that I had to go back in and make sure. The smell and gore was not pleasant. I was right and there was no more dead lambs. We backed off and she managed to keep her head up. We almost pulled the lamb off but she kept her head up. The baby was at least 24 hours old and very strong.
The next morning we saw her walking around with the baby. The same thing happened that evening. All was looking good. The next evening I walked out to check on her I found her dead behind the lamb shed. We caught the baby and took her inside. She was doing fabulous and needed no formula. We called our house keeper and she came to pick up the bummer lamb. It was a little girl and the cutest black and white mixed color. We were sad to see her go.
The dead ewe had to go up to the barnyard bone pile, one final tractor trip.
This is not the most glamorous portion of taking care of animals. But it is necessary.
It’s been a long week. Our little ankle biter dog the Sproutmeister died. It was fairly sudden over two days. He was never in pain and now has a forever place under the lilac bush in the front yard.
Between AnnMarie and I we chose to get another Brussels Griffin. They are not easy to find and we are fortunate to have a good breeder locally in Hermiston. She had a couple ready and we went over and picked up Gizmo on Friday. He was 16 weeks old. He has the head of a rough coat and the body of a smooth coat. He is an idiot. So we are now working to teach him the basics. We are trying to create a safe zone for him in his kennel area. He weighs 6 pounds. He is slurping up our free time.
It rained all weekend so I could not mow the lawn. I will try and get it on Monday I managed to get out on Sunday and get the tractor working again. I hooked the sprayer up to the headlight switch. I forgot to turn off the headlights and ran down the battery. I had to pull the battery and charge it this week. The tractor actually starts better with a full charge on the battery. That is the original battery over five years old will be six this fall. I was cleaning horse poop out of the barn lot. AnnMarie called me on my cell phone. I have started listening to my music over my phone so if someone calls I actually hear it. She said that Packy had called and said our bull was down at his house. I told her let me go look on the tractor. I counted 11 cows but didn’t see the bull. I texted AnnMarie, we have 12 cows. I found the hole while talking to AnnMarie. There is high tension wire fence running up the hillside but down by the schoolhouse it had to terminate due to the uneven terrain. The opening is about 24 inches wide and I had boards nailed across it. He picked the boards off with his horns. The neighbor was moving his cows on the back roads. We are pretty sure this prompted him to go after more females. Packy was out spraying and ran him into a pasture, lent us a trailer and helped us load him up! We are always grateful for all our neighbors. It helps having a pretty distinctive breed everyone knows they are ours.
We let him out in the barn lot and then I grabbed tools and a panel and walked down to fix the opening. Guess who was already down by the hole? The bull had jumped down into the back creek and eased through the the water and under the fence to get into the schoolhouse pasture. I have not dropped the fences down into the creek yet as it just snowed again yesterday in the mountains! It is a runoff creek that dried up in the summer. It’s pretty low now but I am not ready to trust the runoff quite yet.
I placed the panel across the hole. I managed to smack myself in the upper lip with a springy rose branch and gave myself a fat lip and abrasion. This caused some swearing and ungracious thoughts toward the bull. I got it nailed in and wired to the existing fence so he cannot just pop the staples out. I walked up the road and ended up fixing the fence from four corners to our driveway entrance. I spent about 1.5 hours just before dark getting it all repaired.
We have a new resident in the barn. This large orange tabby tom has been living there for almost three months. The dogs all know he is there but they cannot seem to find him. I am not sure how this is going to affect us getting kittens to live in the barn. We may just have to raise them in the backyard. Maybe we can only get three.
I need to get the forklift forks installed so I can install the 4×8 foot window in the upper part of the barn. I am going to use the tractor as a man lift.
A lot has happened in the last week causing me to get behind on my posts. I spent last weekend spraying. I have heard it before that chemicals are bad. Unfortunately weeds are worse. They take over and choke out all the beneficial plants. The upper prime pasture has taken me almost three years to get straightened out. It looks great this year and is bright green. I had closed it off for ten days after the first few weeks with animals on it. This let it jump back up to 6 inches plus of grass. I sprayed it with 2-4-D and something else that burns big bull thistles. I spotted three baby killdeers running around the blackberry bushes. I didn’t see a parent killdeer until almost an hour later.
I sprayed 150 gallons of spray over about 15 acres. Luckily for me the weather was amazing and cooperated both days.
The international tractor is up and working. I did figure out the gas gauge doesn’t work so I will have to keep an eye on the fuel level. I even had them add the warning triangle!! I fixed the chain holding the hydraulic pto to both three point hitch arms. One side had broken loose and was linking the hydraulic lines. I really want to be able to use this tractor with forklift arms. It would require some custom fabrication costing around $1500-2000. It would be much cheaper if I had the bucket attachment and could buy the clamp on forks. Those only cost about $400.
I found the bucket attachment!!! It was out by the grain bins. I just need to get it reinforced with some weld on plates and it will be ready for clamp on forks. I have two projects that I need a forklift for and have been putting them off. Twice we have had freight delivered and had to pay extra for a lift tailgate versus having a forklift on site. The last thing I need is to watch a YouTube video on how to drive it. It is clutched and I can make it for forward and reverse but when I want to go fast do I keep shifting it up like a truck? Or do the higher gears just mean less power at low speeds and a higher overall speed? I don’t know.
Sarah came out and shaved Mouse also. Both dogs look very naked. We have not had a single tick on them yet and even Mouse has cut down on his creek time since getting shaved.
I have been able to get the lawn mowed every week in between the rain storms.
I decided to just finish the front wall today. After Saturday, I decided to finish the right front rock wall. I noticed that the ground was quite a bit lower next to the wall. So I started spreading the dirt farther out into the yard to make everything level. I used over 10 yards of soil to build this back up. The tractor bucket only holds 1/3 yard of dirt. I planted orchard grass so we can see what it looks like. I am pretty happy with how it turned out. The best part was this wall was rebuilt from an original one that was buried about 45 years ago. It had probably been up for 50 years before that. There is an identical wall on the other side of the bridge. I need to spray the grass and kill the greenery so I can easily dig up the wall.
The barn swallows have returned to nest and raise their young. I was headed to the house with a load of dirt and off to my right eight swallows were swooping around each other. Just as I focused on the group one of them dropped a white fuzzy feather. It fluttered in the wind as each bird dove attempting to snag the coveted nest liner! It took about ten seconds of watching the feather flutter in the wind before a talented flyer snagged it and raced off.
Since this was day 2 with the tractor I decided to do a little more work. One of the problems we had with the back barn lot was the sheep want to go over the fence. The hillside makes it look like it will be an easy jump to get over the fence. I wanted to cut a four foot wide road/path next to the fence. Unfortunately, this is easier said then done. I tried to go from the bottom next to the creek but the tractor was on a slant and almost rolled into the creek. I managed to get it headed up the old road I made a few years ago. I then decided that if I picked up a bucketful of dirt along the upper side of the hill I could then get lined up and create a road. I would have my uphill tires in the rut allowing me to create a road. I managed to get into the rut and tried to make it flatter. When I got to the bottom near the water I started to slant toward the creek. I then tried to back up the road and the tractor slid into the fence. The only way out was forward. I ended up with one front tire on the bridge and one in the air. I used the bucket to keep the tractor from rolling and then got lined up to drive directly up the very steep hill. The tractor went up the hill no problem. Luckily it has been three days since any rain. I drove back up to the top of the new path and made it flatter. When I got near the bottom I kept going back and forth on the loose dirt near the spring runoff and compressing it down. Eventually I was able to drive out the bottom on all four wheels.