Today was a catch up day. I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish but I made sure to eat my breakfast and drink a cup of coffee before I went outside. I was sure there would be more lambs, I would have given odds on there being more lambs, there were no lambs. The cows needed food so I pushed a large bale to their area. I also decided it was time to thin out the chickens. I had multiple free loading roosters from the unsexed chicks gifted to me this summer from a friend. I managed to kill five roosters and a very old hen. I loaded them all up into the tractor bucket and took them to a boneyard. Tomorrow will be a good day to look for coyotes, the raccoon carcasses and porcupine carcass are undisturbed. That left me on the tractor with the urge to go up into field number two and move some dirt. I could spend the next six hours doing that still not be done. I resisted the temptation to spend time with the mistress and went back inside.
I did spot the Quail on the way home. They are so fluffy due to the cold. I have been learning to use the delay bake on our oven. I use It when I am making baked potatoes or something else that needs to bake for long stretches of time. I started the butternut squash, then I spent an hour and a half cleaning the bathroom. Once all that was done it was time to tackle the spare bedroom.
I had to hang four pictures of the seasons, girls in circus clothing, we had framed earlier this year. I then had to clean out the cedar bench that has been sitting at the foot of the bed for three years needing to be sorted and some decisions made. I made them fairly quickly and we now have some more space to store wool blankets. Now I can buy more wool blankets. We had been using the room as storage for our giveaway items so I moved all that up into the attic after I bagged it all up so it would stay clean. I also rebalanced the heat distribution so more goes downstairs. Both Annmarie and I went out to feed the sheep and lock them into the barn, they are going to have babies tonight! I also fixed a latch that had fallen off our main hay gate between the sheep area and our first hay room, the old nut had fallen off.
We are looking forward to Thanksgiving. I pick up the prime rib tomorrow and start the dry rub process. I will rub spices on it every evening until we cook it in a salt casket on Thanksgiving. We are having Brussels sprouts as the vegetable. We have this same meal every Thanksgiving. I even managed to snag the last bag of Rhodes frozen dinner rolls at the grocery store. We will cook at least 16-20 even though there are only five of us!
I went out this morning to feed the horses. They will eat everything they have access to so we have to limit their food. I burned a few cardboard boxes on my way to the barn and after starting the fire I looked up and headed to the barn. The sheep were all congregated around the entrance to the barn and about halfway there I realized why, there were lambs! I spotted one, then two and heard the third one before I found it. Three little newborn lambs trying to get out of the barn entrance. I chased all the other sheep out of the barn lot except for four ewes. I only needed two of those ewes but I did not want to run the babies so I opted to trap a few extra until I could get the momma/baby area set up.
I went into the barn and opened up the momma/baby area and then tossed out some bedding and pulled in a feeder for the momma area. I then had to go shut some gates to isolate the momma area and move a panel so they had access to clean water. Then I had to go clean up down by the spring and bend some fencing back into place so the babies cannot slip out of the pen. I never got around to building a short bridge for them to cross the spring. They will have to jump over it this year, maybe next year I can get that installed. As I headed back up to the barn I spotted all three lambs out in the sun and their moms in the barn eating the hay I had just put out. I snagged all three (hard to carry more than three newborn lambs) and put them outside in the momma baby area. This let me sort off the two extra pregnant ewes. I tried to get the numbers from the ear tags of the two new mothers but they were not cooperating. Tonight when we lock them into the momma/baby area we will be able to grab them and look at their tags. We will need to lock everyone up in the barn tonight and every night until all the lambs are born. It’s a lot easier to catch them in the barn! I forgot to check all three babies for gender when I caught them. One is a boy, one is a girl, and I didn’t look at the third one as it was the last one caught and it is a lot harder to hold onto 3 wiggly things than 2!
On Thursday Annmarie called me at work to let me know that the cows and sheep had gotten out again. This is the third time the sheep had gotten out. They pushed over a gate in the barn lot I had not installed. I wired it shut that evening, eventually it needs to be installed correctly. Friday morning I was taking it easy and had just gotten up and was making coffee, the water had not boiled yet when Annmarie went out to feed the horses. She called me and told me I was needed out in the barn lot as the bull had gotten out of Alcatraz.
Alcatraz is impenetrable, he should not have been able to get out. So I put on my multiple layers of clothes and head out. Yep the bull, one nutter and the ram are not in Alcatraz. Not only are they not in Alcatraz but the horse pen door has been opened and the animals have had free access to the hay pile. Turns out the bull had unlatched the human gate and opened the horse pen gate. He is just too smart for his own good. I chained the gate shut and put screw together chain tighteners on it so he cannot work them loose. I shut the horse pen gate so we could run the bull back into Alcatraz. Annmarie ran them around and then between me on the tractor and her we got them into the barn lot. I had pushed a new bale of hay into Alcatraz and then Annmarie just waived her right hand slightly and tapped the bulls backside with her left and herded him right into Alcatraz, one nutter, the ram and an extra steer just followed them in. She shut the gate and now the cows are separated again.
The screwy part was we had a weanling to sell, Valentine, but had not moved him to his new home as we were going to have to run all the cows through the chute to sort him off. He was hiding on the backside of the hay pile in the horse pen so was stuck in the round pen! This meant I needed to hook up the horse trailer so I could just back up to the pen, load him in and drive the two miles to his new house. While driving to his new home about 1/2 mile from our house I spotted some deer up on the hillside and was wondering to myself if there were any bucks left in the area. All I keep seeing on our place are does. It appears that there are still some bucks, I spotted 3 in this group of 8 deer.
I pulled into the field and let the little steer out. He cam zipping out of the trailer as fast as he could and never slowed down. I watched for him over the hill and then one of the purchaser’s cows jumped the lower fence! I called him and left a message then headed home with the trailer. One cow will come back to the fence and not stray far. I was almost home when the purchaser’s spouse called to say he was at a doctor’s appt. which meant I needed to go back and get cows, she said they were all out now which is a totally different problem. I dropped the trailer off, found all of my fencing tools, spare wire and a fence stretcher. I grabbed both Border Collies and the lead rope for Mouse as he is still in remedial education. We headed for the purchaser’s neighbors house as that is where the cows were headed. I found them all together in a field eating off a large hay bale. Another neighbor came over to check on me and asked if I needed any help moving cows. Being fairly positive despite my lack of coffee I stated that I thought the dogs and I could do it. He headed out then stopped to watch us, I told Zeke to circle around to the left and push the cows away toward the creek. The large older angus cow turned, lowered her head and refused to move. Zeke jumped at her and then started dancing and barking and she would not move. I called him off then sent Mouse in, he made her circle but she still would not budge. I then loosed both dogs on her, Mouse likes the heels and Zeke likes the head, after about 30 seconds she decided that going back to the other cows and towards the creek was a good idea. They made it all the way over to the Purchaser’s fence and then walked away from the open gate they had broken. We pushed them back through the gate and then the Purchaser showed up! Great timing on his part. He brought some tools and wire and then I went and got the pickup with the rest of the fencing tools. We got the gate tight and I told him the fence needs to be taller. The cows did not even take a running jump at the fence, they just hopped over.
I finally got my first cup of coffee and breakfast at 1130. I stayed at the dining room table until I had inhaled two cups of coffee.
Saturday was the day we were supposed to sort the cows, tag & band the calf and create three groups of animals, the pregnant ones, the impregnators and future food. We thought this was going to be fairly simple and take a couple of hours. As always when working animals and having some basic expectations things did not go as planned.
Mr Professional came out to help, we started with the cows in the upper field. This let us sort off the new calf. Annmarie got the calf into the chute with no fuss. Mr Professional and I both attempted to get it banded while the calf was standing. It was old mean green tag bittie’s baby so of course it had one testicle that did not want to descend. This seems to be genetic and is one of the reasons we are getting rid of her next year. We sorted them and even left a pregnant cow in the back of the corral as bait for the cows on the other end of the property. When I looked up on the back hill side the cows were right behind the house. Annmarie and Mr Professional when out to push them in. I followed a few minutes later but noticed that the cows were not coming toward the house, they were walking away. I walked back to the house and got both border collies. The cows went all the way down to the schoolhouse before Annmarie got them turned around. The dogs and I waited about half way down the field and then worked on pushing them up toward the house. The cows of course went over into the other field by my mother-in-law’s house and had to be pushed out by Annmarie. This group of cows had the bull, one nutter and most of the six month calves that needed to be weaned. We sorted them and had all the pregnant cows, all six, in the back pen. The bull, the ram and one nutter all went into Alcatraz with virtually no fuss. We did discover that our ram, male sheep, is so comfortable around the cows because he is the boss. Our 1000lb bull was running away from him when we put both of them in the cow milking area.
We had all the calves sorted but the two left in the corral. Mr Professional and I started to push the pregnant group back behind the barn and across to the gates leading down stream. About half way across the ram pasture I heard this banshee yell. I of course cannot tell what is being said, just the banshee yell again. I hollered back and more banshee hollering occurred. At no point in this “communication” did it occur to me that there was a problem. All she had to do was push two calves over into the back lot with all the other calves. Should not have resulted in banshee screams. My cell phone started ringing, turns out the banshee hollers were a cry for help. Both calves decided to jump the fence, for no good reason, and one of them caught its back leg and was hanging nose on the ground from the top of the fence. I grabbed some fence cutters from the old house and went and cut on my barn lot fence to let the stupid animal loose. It tore off down by my mother-in-law’s house. I walked down with Mr Professional to just push them back into the lower field. They were crazy!! Before I knew it they had ran down the entire driveway and were seen leaping over our cattle guard and running out onto the road.
This required some planning so we got a lasso, fired up the side by side and went into the house to get the border collies. When we sort in the corral we have to put the collies in the house or they run alongside the corral or sit and stare at the animals and keep them out of pen simply by staring them down. Annmarie was going to drive the pickup but as we started loading up the vehicles I spotted both calves on the upper fence line behind the house. They had already ran down to four corners, up the road and into the upper CRP field and now were running along the fence line looking for momma. So Annmarie and I each took a dog and headed up to the CRP, I went up the bottom to open a couple of gates hoping we could just push the calves down off the hillside into the lower pasture. Mr Professional took the side by side around and onto the road and into the upper CRP field. By this time Annmarie and I had walkie talkies. We bought two $20 amazing radios and they work! Way better than a cell phone. The calves just kept running, I ended up at the far end of the place and Annmarie was all over the CRP field. We lost sight of one of the calves and I finally gave up and just walked to the house to get the pickup. I drove into the CRP field at the far end and picked up Annmarie. We drove over and tried to herd the single calf in through the open gate. Nope! It broke and tore off into the CRP again. I finally stopped the pickup and got out with both dogs and let Annmarie drive. About that time the calf bolted and she floored it and tore off in the pickup going 50 MPH in the CRP. I was fairly certain she did not realize there are some huge boulders hiding in the CRP, this was later confirmed that she did not realize this pickup breaking possibility was present. Mr Professional ended up diving off of the side by side and tackling the calf. Annmarie ran over and put the lasso over its head and held it down while he tied the rope off to the side by side. I was still walking over to them and they had gotten the calf hog tied by the time I got there. The neighbors drove up in their side by side letting us know that our other calf was over the hill and had already jumped through two more fences and disappeared into a wheat field. Since Annmarie had been hollering for a 30-06 cure to this debacle I opted to just call it quits and hope the calf came back, either way we were good with our decision. Her pedometer said we had walked 6.5 miles already for the day. The calf in the back of the pickup got untied about half way back to the house and Mr Professional had to just hold on until we could get into the correct pen.
The next morning after a wonderful pancake breakfast, Annmarie calls me as she heads out to church that the calf is in our wheat field and I should go open the gate. By the time I got my coat on and walked out to the front yard in my slippers the calf was already down by my mother-in-law’s house. I walked down, in my slippers, hoping to just open the same gate I tried the day before. Big surprise the stupid calf ran down the driveway and across the boards on the cattle guard. I had placed two sheets of plywood across the cattle guard the day before in the hopes the calf would find its way home. At this point I am ready for the 30-06 cure to cattle wrangling also.
I went and got the side by side and was going to drive down the edge of the wheat field and hope to cut the calf off at four corners when a young man drove in the driveway to tell me our calf was out on the road. We devised a plan where I drive down to four corners and open the gates and keep the calf from running by and he pushes it toward the open gates. It took about 20 minutes but it actually worked. It took me another 15 minutes to get it in the field with its mother, definitely a momma’s boy. We have decided to give it a couple of weeks before trying to sort it off again. This time we are going to sort it off in the chute, run it into the horse trailer and drive it the 50 yards to the correct pen and just let it out of the trailer.
The weather is trying to decide what to do. We had another 1.5” of rain, for a total of 20.18” this year. The power outage wiped our cumulative number off our gauge so now I will have to keep a running total. The last two days the wind has been howling 40+ MPH, which caused a new tree branch to be lodged in the front yard. It was supposed to snow 6-12” in the mountains also. We can see snow from the house but I don’t know how much was actually laid down. The wind was so bad that our old black alpaca was laying down with his butt to the wind and his neck stretched out and head on the ground. Annmarie could see him from the kitchen window and was convinced he had died. He moved his head after a few minutes but he is old. He stays in the orchard with the two sheep because he can still go to the fence, grumble and spit at the other alpaca and he does not have to fight them as they cannot get to him. It’s the perfect setup for a grumpy old man.
We had a power outage last night. Luckily, the potatoes were already baked in the oven, I had already started steaming the broccoli and I had already cut up the toppings. The only thing I was waiting on was to zap the bacon bits in the microwave just before we needed them. Since we have a propane cooktop I just used the lighter to fire up the burner, no electricity needed and the bacon bits got warm and a little crunchier. To fire up our free standing propane stove you just put 4 AA batteries in the holder at the bottom of the stove and turn on the switch and it fires right up! The repair person had just been out 30 minutes before we lost power to put in a new thermostat controller in it so I was able to message him and get a quick answer. We had not needed to do that in the last 13 years. It’s a good thing to know. Sarah opted to stay for dinner as she did not know she still had power at her house. The outage only affected around 25 households according to the power company website. Annmarie checked it when she went in to the hospital for rounds. We had power in the morning! We also figured out that our fancy old style phone was the problem not my phone jack wiring job!! So now we have an old school, no power necessary, phone in our bedroom. We still have a landline. The old lamps worked great once we found them all. They use a liquid wax not oil, its safer and works well.
I had noticed that my chickens are laying fewer eggs and the other night I went in the coop after dark and realized that the light was out. So I replaced the light and two days later they had already broken the new light bulb. It is inside a glass shade but if they fly around they can still break the filament causing the lightbulb to not work. I really need a LED light to go inside the coop. The chickens had even missed the automatic door and I found 9 chickens outside the coop two days ago. They were not real happy with being tossed into the coop unceremoniously. Some of them even voiced their displeasure at the efficient handling.
I picked up our processed pig yesterday and brought it home and put it in the newly defrosted freezer. There is just enough room left to put the two lambs in after the pig and cow are stored, one shelf left. Both freezers will be full next week. We have been missing lamb from our diet.
Annmarie has me doing gluing on her laser projects. I am ok with just being the assembly person! She made a circular lantern that had no glue, hands down the hardest to assemble so far. Incredibly tight tolerances and I even had to sand down one piece to get it to go together. She is cutting out more pieces today.