As always something comes up, whether you want it to or not. I was reminded yesterday that the cows probably needed food as they had tipped over the feeder. Usually I can get 1-2 days after the feeder gets tipped over as they are just trying to get to the stuff below the solid panels. But with all the snow on the ground I felt sorry for them so I opted to feed them early. I had been charging my car battery in the hopes that it not starting was just a fluke. So I walked out to the machine shed to start up the tractor with the dogs in tow. The dogs are a necessity as the cows will bum rush the large hay bale as I attempt to push it into the field. I jumped onto the tractor, put my hearing protection ear muffs on and turned that key expecting it to start. I was disappointed. It did nothing but light up a couple of lights, no tick, no noise whatsoever. Luckily, we spent $2500 last year to get a single 110v outlet and light out to the machine shop!

So I grabbed the charger from the car and put it on the tractor. I then had to unload the propane tank and all season tires from Annmarie’s car out of the back of the pickup so I could use it to haul hay. We still have some 100# bales of alfalfa in the machine shop so I loaded up six bales and drove them out into the pasture and tossed them into the feeder. The nice thing about a moveable feeder is I move it every time I feed otherwise the cows create a mud pit. We are still feeding at the far end of the field away from the houses also. In the spring I want to drag a set of discs all around the field and spread out all the leftover hay and cow poop, maybe I can get it to mulch in.

The horse’s hooves needed cleaning out as it looked like they were walking on ice bubbles. It takes some effort to get those broken up enough to scrape them off the hooves.

My chickens are causing me grief again. I thought I was down six hens due to the raccoon and then this week number 19 magically appeared in the coop one night when I was counting them. I had been spotting this random hen out in the barn before the snow came down. Annmarie spotted it yesterday in the barn. We have no idea where it is roosting in the barn but it is not returning to the coop at night. It is just wandering the barn digging through the sheep and horse poop as content as can be. Tonight when we went out to do chores it was digging through horse poop and we caught it. It is now living with its comrades in the coop. This is chicken number 20! So the raccoon can only be credited with killing four hens now.

Annmarie called me today to say that when she went out to feed in the morning that the twin miniature babies were ice cold. They were totally limp and not very responsive. I asked if their new mom had abandoned them but she said they were curled up against mom. All we can figure is that she is not producing enough milk for the babies and they are unable to get enough calories to stay warm. She called to ask if I would come tube feed them. We have never had to do it before but you just insert a tube into their stomach and give the formula in with a syringe. I told her they were most likely not going to make it and just try her best. She put them by the gas stove and fed them every 5-10 minutes little dribbles until they got warm and strong. They were both sitting up and looking around 6 hours later! We gave them to the housekeeper. She now has 9 bummers from us! Its crazy how many problems we have had this year. Including the two that have died that’s 11 sheep we have lost out on for a cost of $770. We still have at least 10 ewes that need to give birth still. They are all our older more experienced ewes. We figure they avoided the ram the longest. My sister is visiting family this week and is coming out on Saturday. We will tag and band all the babies again to get caught up. To know if the baby has been tagged or banded you just look for the floppy lowered left ear. The ear tags weigh down their ears for the first couple of weeks. Its easier to spot the low ear than the actual tag from across the barn.

On the plus side, I did not have to go fishing for a retained placenta in one of the ewes tonight. She had passed it today on the second day. I have a pack of 100 shoulder length gloves that I have only used 5 out of in the last 5 years. I am hoping to continue the streak of infrequent utilization.