After the good news this morning that we had a buyer for the sheep I took down the Craigslist ad. When Annmarie and Sarah got home we went out to work the sheep. We had to reinstall the chute and put up sorting panels to separate the barn into three sorting areas. We also tossed out three bales of straw all over the ground. The small momma area needs to be dug out again. Bubba did it but it was the last area and he wasn’t very committed. I will get it later after the heat wave lets off. There were some tools and boards that had to be moved also. Once we were ready we brought over the ram and wethers from the orchard. We sorted off the ram and three boys. We are trading two sheep for a pig and have a coworker of Annmarie’s that wants to utilize most of the animal. So I will help him kill their animal. We may do all three so he can use up the parts of the other two that won’t be used. I would rather someone use up as much as possible. Those four animals got shut up into the momma area.
We then ran the main herd in through the back part of the barn. Annmarie had me leave them in the ram pasture. I would have normally let them out onto the back hillside and down by the school house. Leaving them cut down the amount of walking us humans had to do. All the sheep ended right in the sorting end of the barn. We ran them through the chute and pulled off the rest needed to make 50 animals. All the keep animals were in the middle of the barn. We let the sorted females go out into the barn lot. Our feed quality on the back hillside is not very good, we had several very skinny ewes. I will be tossing them out hay on a daily basis for a while.
We then resorted all 52 sheep, we had two little ones that had to be put back in with their mothers. We sorted off the biggest 35 animals to be sold tomorrow. The other 15 we put out in the orchard. They will fatten up for a few more weeks. Our ram is now officially in the herd so we should have babies in February of next year. Our bull needs to come off the herd the end of March. So they can keep each other company for a couple of months. We have a steer also so he will need to go in with the bull also. The bull will be better minded with company.
Here are some pictures of the Bull Corral. I still need to get in there and use a harrow to tear it up and smooth it out. Everything is so dry and loose that I don’t want to get in there with discs I think they will go too deep. We are going to keep the horses in there for another five weeks. At that time we will have three of the cows slaughtered and they can then have the entire barn lot. The cows have free access to the upper prime lot so they can eat their fill. The horses were getting fat on that same all you can eat menu. They are quite vocal about being on rations. Mika would not come over to the fence and let me rub on her. I did not give her food until she acquiesced and let me rub on her face and side. I have learned that the horses are just like the dogs with that group mentality. You have to be the leader or they just won’t do what you want. Once you are the established leader they are much happier.
Annmarie woke me up at 0200 Thursday night, actually Friday morning to tell me a cow was mooing. Now in her defense at 0200 I am not thinking straight so she prefaces this with the following statement “Before you say anything that will speed up your ability to go to sleep when was the last time you heard the cows pitching a fit in the middle of the night?” I did actually pause before talking and I also heard the cow let out a moo. The moon was incredibly bright and it was very light outside so I went with that excuse first. It didn’t work. She got up to go outside and check on the cows. As she was getting dressed I rolled out of bed ready to go outside. She asked me about clothes. Again, this is simply an impediment to getting back in bed quickly and its 0200!! She made some statement about us maybe needing to go down to her Mother’s house and she didn’t want to see me in my newborn glory. I capitulated and put on pants, slippers and grabbed my Walther P22. I headed for the front of the barn as I was pretty sure it was the pesky annoying bull hollering. Annmarie was on the back hillside flashing a light around looking for cows. I spotted the bull laying down and all four cows just chilling. Mission accomplished, time for bed. We met at the bridge so I could report off on my findings when she states maybe the other cows, all the way down by the schoolhouse, are causing the ruckus. Normally, this could be discounted as no normal human can hear this far, but Annmarie’s hearing is not normal. Not by a long shot, she can hear as well as most owls. I am truly amazed at times by what she can make out or hear, her students can attest to this also. We headed back out to the pickup when I was saved by the annoying bull, he hollered thereby convincing Annmarie that was what she had heard. Once at the bedside I was back in bed in under 15 seconds. She had to get up early but I decadently slept in till 0830! It was amazing.
This is the moon on the ill fated early wake up. I took this just before dark over the back hillside. Who knew I was documenting proof for the blog in advance?
We had the Professional come out and evaluate our two sheep kills. He said to call him back when the wheat was harvested as it provides a good spot to set up. Wheat was harvested a few days ago and we have been bringing the sheep in every night into the ram pasture next to our house. No sheep have died in the ram pasture but Annmarie found another dead animal up on the hillside! Three sheep already this year! We definitely have a problem. I will call the professional on Monday to get him out. This means a total mobilization is in the works. I am going to have to start carrying a rifle when we go out to work animals and in the evening I am going to try my hand at calling in the coyotes with a hand call. The odd part of this is that I would rather be doing something else as catching a wiley predator can take time and patience, neither of which I have in abundance.
We have 40 sheep for sale on Craigslist and have not been getting any takers. Today I was going to spread out to other Craigslist regions in hope of getting a single buyer. At 0600 our old buyer called and wanted to know if we had any sheep for sale. We do, he is now working for someone else while he gets back in the saddle. We negotiated a fair price and he will come on Monday with cash in hand to pick up our largest 35 lambs, with a return visit to pick up another 15 in a few weeks. We are going to have to cut down our herd size to only 45 ewes to do this. But since we are not looking to drive to the sale and we really want a regular buyer the downsize is good for a few years. If we can get a regular buyer we are willing to jump up to 100 ewes. Our expansion can wait a few more years. This gives me time to fine tune a few more things in the barn. Plus, we can figure out how to put up our own hay.
I got this beast yesterday. My first set of junk yard special discs broke apart and need some serious repair. I got this set of Left hand pull discs for $250 and for an extra $50 they delivered them to our house from an hour away! I paid cash, and ten minutes later they were pulling away! Luckily, I had been putting off going into D & B and buying a set from them for $1000. They are in great shape, have grease zerks and the tractor had no trouble pulling them off the trailer. I will give them a spin next week after this heat wave breaks. I will have to do it late evening after dinner. The only thing I need to buy is a Clevis to go onto the tongue so I can attach it to my tractor.
This is gonna be dinner in just a few months. He just doesn’t know it yet. There are 3-6 bucks living on the place now and they make a circuit every day. My nephew and I both drew buck tags this year. We have been scoping out the deer. They won’t be huge animals but they will be good eating.
The wheat is harvested now and it came in at 42 bushels to the acre. This is the best it has been since we got back. It looked amazing. The largest problem we were told was that the deer had made huge trails and snacking points throughout the entire field.
I had to drop off the raccoon carcass on the boneyard so I snagged the old tractor rim that was buried up there. I am going to turn it into a fire pit in the ram pasture. I may even try and figure out how to build a spit for it.
Between a few hours here and there I have managed to get the bull corral operational. I still need to put up four rails in one spot over the woven fence and I need to figure out a latch for the gate that cannot be undone. We got all the scrap wood and scrap metal out of the enclosure and created a flat spot for the water trough. The trough will hold 265 gallons of water. Annmarie drug a hose out there from our house, about 250 feet and it took an hour to fill it. The horses are now living in it and we are feeding them twice daily. They were getting very fat and needed to come off the all you can eat buffet that was the upper prime field. They do not appreciate the genius and ingenuity it took to make the corral.
I need to drag out the lamb shed with the tractor. It is ankle deep in horse and sheep poop. I have some old windows in there from when my parents changed out their windows ten years ago. I am going to build a platform on the end of the barn so the large window can be installed. I am going to build 2×8 foot platforms like a set of steps twelve feet off the ground. So five separate steps covered with 1/2 inch plywood sheets. I am going to use the leftover tamarack railing. Once that is in place then I can climb up and install the window casings and we will be ready to man handle the window into place. I will probably get rid of the other windows. I have used a couple of them in various locations. I may look at the old chicken coop before I toss them. I may be able to glass in the open portion of the chicken coop.
We have decided to not expand the barn. We have only had one person call about our Craigslist ad. They only wanted to buy ten sheep not 40. So I wrote their information down just in case. I am now going to advertise in the surrounding area Craigslist towns. See if I cannot garner some more attention. If that doesn’t work then we are going to look at the small animal sale in La Grande. I am just unsure about the auction as you just never know what the final price will be. I certainly don’t want them sold for $30 an animal.
I have four left over panels that were not used in the corral. They will cover 32 feet. I think I need to bridge almost 55 feet to create another wall. So I am actually going to have to break out a tape measure and some spray paint and lay out another fence. This will make getting any animal into the sorting corral very easy.
It has officially begun, wheat harvest at the farm is underway, it started on Saturday. If you notice, they brought a tractor out and disced a harvested area by the access gate. This is so they can use the area as a staging point for all the equipment. This way an accidental fire is not started when they park for the night.
Bubba came out to do another day on Saturday. I was under the weather and slept most of the day but did manage to drag myself off of the couch and go out and give him clear directions on what needed to be done. He still has a little bit left in the the barn, about 2 hours and another 2 hours on the chicken coop.
His mother sent me a picture of the bucks in the lower field on their way off the farm. I messaged her yesterday to see if Bubba was coming out on Monday so he could help me with the bull corral. I wanted to make a big push to get it done. She informed me that Bubba was busy but she was under the impression he was done until I was ready for him to disc the upper field again. I need to get a new disc this week. I told her Bubba had a lesson here, he was not done with the barn or chicken coop. He could finish them and then disc when I was ready or he could get paid and be done, his choice. Bubba made it sound as if he was done. I am told he will be out tomorrow to finish the chicken coop and barn. Digging shit is not fun or glamorous but it does pay the bills.
Sarah had a school project due and she wanted to do a video on how to trim the alpaca’s feet. Since my mother in law has said they need it I had added it to the infamous “list”. This plan actually had an added benefit of helping both Sarah and us at the same time. We herded the alpaca into the corral with minimal effort and no dog help. We kept the dogs in the front yard as they are more of a problem than a solution when it comes to the alpaca. I knew she needed a video so I had on an old blue T-shirt with a clown face on the front in yellow and the sleeves cut off. It was perfect video actor attire! Annmarie made me cover it up! I was looking forward to seeing it on the how to video. We have 10 alpaca and last year we cut everyone’s feet I thought but there were a couple of bad alpaca feet. I am not sure about it now but next year will be the key as we got all 10 this year. I only made one toe bleed bad enough to use styptic powder on it. The alpaca do not like you making them bleed. We would catch them, trim their toes then push them into an adjoining pen. The problem with this is I keep telling everyone they don’t spit on humans. Now there have a been a few instances were people have gotten spit in the face but its not a normal thing. The black one spit in my face when I went to open the gate to let a newly trimmed alpaca into the completed pen. It didn’t seem like an accident and it didn’t seem like he was aiming at his buddy. Annmarie and Sarah say he was aiming at me. Its not very fun and it smells like regurgitated grass and bile which it is.
They take passive aggressive to a whole new level. They just stop moving and then lift all four legs off the ground. If you are not ready they end up laying on the ground with their feet under them and won’t move. This makes it very hard to trim feet. I would just reach under them and fish one foot at a time out. We tried to make Sarah catch them as they like women better than men. My mother in law feeds them apples every day by hand. Me they only see when something bad is happening.
After the alpaca were completed I went and trimmed two trees and two bushes in the yard. I like the shade trees to be open enough to have a great round shape but still allow the wind to blow through. The bushes were hanging too low. I put all the branches out in the orchard for the sheep to eat. They will strip off all the leaves and then I can cut them up and pile them in a burn pile to torch this winter.
Annmarie spotted the twins on her way home Sunday. I have seen them all over the farm at one point or another.
We were headed to bed tonight and spotted a huge beetle on our front porch. Annmarie did not like its look or size. Its about 2.5 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. Its pretty big for around here. While she was looking at it and holding the front door open I saw something large fly past the porch light and into the open front door. I looked inside the house but could not find anything. I am in the kitchen doing the blog and Annmarie has gone to bed. I just heard a howl and holler for me five minutes ago. My wife was hiding on the bed pointing at another beetle in our bedroom. It was on its back and she wanted me to get it out. I am not that comfortable just picking it up so wanted a piece of paper. As I searched the room for something to use she gave me blow by blow commentary on how it was turning itself over and was now on its four legs and getting away! I got it to step up on same paper and gave it a Viking funeral in the toilet. It seemed safer than tossing it outside with its buddy to procreate.
We had a plan last night for predator control and we stuck with it. Around 2130 Annmarie heard raccoons chittering on the back porch. We started breaking out the weapons and the Border Collies started looking for places to hide. They are not real big on loud noises. Our ankle biter Brussels Griffin was all excited and wanted to go outside with us and chase stuff. We had to be careful when we let Annmarie out the front door that he didn’t slip past her. He is pretty sneaky. I gave her time to get to the other side of the old house and then I flipped the outside light on, popped the back door open and started blazing away with my Walther P22 pistol. The laser sight makes shooting in low light situations amazingly easy. I had to spread the wealth though as it was a target rich environment. There were four raccoons and I only had 11 shots when I started. So after two rounds in an animal I switched to another. Two 22 rounds typically does not kill a raccoon immediately unless you are head shooting them. I am not a bad shot but I am not head shot on four moving targets going all directions at once good. I had managed to hit three and was trying for a fourth when Annmarie started blazing away. I never did see what animal she was shooting at so I am afraid there may be five raccoons not four. I had time to slam another clip in and run to the fence to look over for more raccoons after Annmarie hollered it was clear. We looked in the trees and did not find anything. I came back, finished off one and we ended up with three dead raccoons. I usually deal with bodies in the morning as I was going to have to wash off blood from the sidewalk. So we went to bed and in the morning I went out to move the carcasses before going to work. There was only one carcass! The other two were gone. Now before I have any doubters they were all dead. As in finish them off dead before we left the porch. I have made that mistake in the past and don’t do it any more. We are unclear how two of the carcasses vanished. All the cat food was gone also. We will leave out cat food again tonight but I would be surprised if they came back again anytime soon.
The club wheat is ready to harvest and should be cut next week. It is probably the best crop we have had in years. It seems to get better every year.
As I was stepping out of the pickup to take pictures of the wheat two little deer fawn twins jumped out from under a rose bush and ran out into the wheat. If you look at the picture below closely you can see one ear. Both fawns were right there in the wheat field. They are little and still spotted, momma leaves them all over the farm. I have spotted them at both ends of the place. We also have a few bucks coming in at night and early morning. This is good as my nephew and I both have buck tags this year.
I picked up a 260 gallon water trough for the bull area today and 500# of wood pellets for the chicken coop. Bubba just about has the coop done and the pellets will be needed. He shoveled out the old sawdust and bleached the walls today. He just needs to lay down some new pellets after moving old ones. The nest boxes need to be cleaned out and the back room needs to be vacuumed up. He got the milking area of the barn cleaned out today also and under the stairs. Just the momma area, the feeders and the sorting chute need to be completed.
I looked at a set of discs today. It will cost $1000. I am going to have to break down and get them next week so we can finish prepping the fields for alfalfa.
We also got a quote for two miles of fiber optic cable to be strung out to the house. It’s not cheap but it is doable. We would rather have high speed internet than a boat, RV, four wheeler, new vehicle, motorcycle or snowmobile. So we should know by next week hopefully if it is possible and when it can be done.
It has been another long week. Annmarie kept telling me to slow down or I was going to make myself sick. I spent all day on the couch today sleeping cause I am sick. I am not sure if her words were prophetic or a curse, lets just poll all married men to get a final answer.
I did take it easy one night! I have started to work on cleaning my dog tag maker! I only used water, cotton rag and some 320 grit wet/dry sand paper to clean it up. There are some very precise rails, tracks and flat stops that need to be polished. I spent two hours working on it and barely touched it. I also realized some tools are required. I really need to take each piece off and clean it then reattach it. Luckily, it is so old I only need a standard screw driver, and an open end wrench. The trouble is I need a stubby screwdriver or an angled one and the same on the open end wrench. So I ordered special tools on Amazon and they are here except for my special open end wrenches. Those should be here next week. I will attack it again when I have all the tools. I am going to try and add up all the hours it takes me to just clean it up and get it functional. At this point I am going to estimate a 100 hours and I already have 2 hours into it.
The Expert came out to look at our predator problem. We had a very good discussion and I will call him after the wheat has been harvested. He is going to set up some traps and get a predator contract resigned. The farm used to have one so we will get a new one signed. So our farm will be added to the arial shooting plan. All in all I was very happy with the interaction. He remembered Ted and Tom and all their sheep. He also loves lamb, states it is the best meat of any animal. I agree with this statement.
The momma cow and baby stayed in the corral and milk barn area for three days. We fed them and used our 35 gallon water trough. It was incredibly hot but the cow would go in the barn if she wanted shade. I had to wait for help to get that calf tagged and banded. I went over and took out some alfalfa hay for them and fed 1/3 bale and set the other outside the corral so she could not get at it. I also moved the last of the hay from winter into the barn lot for the soon to be food cows to eat extra on. This was what the lazy alpaca were eating on instead of foraging. So the slugs found my stash of hay for the cow and started eating on it! You know they are lazy when they have to lay down to eat.
My nephew came over on Tuesday and we went out to deal with the calf. Annmarie was going to film us but we didn’t really give her time and had the calf pinned pretty fast. The nephew went for the all hands on deck approach and just jumped in and tried to grab a front and back leg and drop it on its side. He ended up on the ground and holding one back leg with the calf near a gate and a corner. I jumped on it and pinned it down then he climbed on top of it. We were right next to the gate hinges. This is important because I had a hard time finding two testicles. So I kept asking him to move the calf around a little bit to ease the abdominal muscle tension. There was a yellow jacket nest in the end of the gate. He got stung twice in the ear before we finally just grabbed the calf and slid him three feet away from the gate. It took me about five minutes to find both testicles and get them into a rubber band. The calf is a little old and you have to pull the scrotum through then kinda pop each testicle past the rubber band. I got them both so in a few weeks the calf will have no testicles. We tagged him in the right ear also. I did verify i had the right color tag this time but just in case all our cull animals will be tagged in the right ear if we are selling them. So even if I mess up gender the ear will tell us which ones to get rid of. I need to look but I think its number 13 or 14.
We then had to chase them out onto the back hillside and out with the other cows. Our no nutter bull has torn up our fence in front of the barn to get near her so he needs to be two fences away from her. She ran to the top of the hill so our nephew went up and chased her down while I opened all the gates ahead of her to get her out with everyone else. I really like the picture that Annmarie took below.
We then went over and finished working on the bull corral. We got the last four posts set in gravel and put up all the used feeder panels. The panels are heavy so we used the tractor to drag them over to the post line. We also had to use the tractor to lift sections of the panels so we could hook in the next section. The only thing left to do is to add the cow panels and chain everything to the wooden posts. I do need to finish filling the last rock crib and put up four wooden boards. After that I need to clean out the old wood scraps and all the old fence materials. I also have about four fence holes to fill in. I also need to drag the ground and level the area out. Once that is done I need to install the water trough. I may need to put In a couple of gold fish in the tank to keep it clean. I am at 85% completion! In three hours I could have the fence done the rest is to make it safe and provide a spot for water. The water trough will hold 235 gallons of water and we are not going to use a pump. I will be hand dipping water from the spring into the trough. I just thought up a bucket arrangement I can attach to a railroad tie that has a hose attached to the bottom that I can just bucket into it and then the water will flow into the trough so I don’t have to try and throw the water through the fence. That will make a mess.