This week has been a doozy. I ended up in the ER last week on Thursday night thinking I might have a pulmonary embolus from Covid. I was day 18 out from symptoms and had not seen a doctor or taken any meds other than OTC and one amino acid infusion. The chest pain was getting so bad, it felt like someone had a hose clamp around my chest and occasionally they would just tighten it a little more. Luckily, my chest X-ray was clear, no secondary pneumonia and my lab work was all good and no extra blood clotting was occurring. My EKG was its normal abnormal that I have had for 30 years. This caused me to reevaluate my need for a NSAID once a day. I am now taking anti-inflammatory medication three times a day. I went home and slept, rested, napped and laid around for three days and then went back to work on Monday, worked half day at work and home the next day and on Wednesday (day 24) by 1400 I was starting to get dizzy. Almost passed out a few times when I bent over. I called my daughter for a ride home at the end of the day. You have to be careful to not fall over when you work in the ER, they were all giving me a side look waiting for me to go down to pounce on me. Annmarie and work has been telling me to take it easy. I have cut back dramatically and keep moving more work from home. It just cuts down the amount of walking I do and that makes a huge difference. I am still getting headaches with any amount of overexertion and I still get short of breath very easily. This is not just going to go away. I have not gotten dizzy since Wednesday. I have been careful to not bend over a lot but it was probably just a new side effect. My blood oxygen levels are staying up where they need to be but exertion just makes me short of breath. All of this means that Annmarie and now Sarah are doing the outside chores. I have resigned myself to staying inside for now and doing what I can. I have been doing the dishes and I even cleaned the bathroom and mopped the floors and keep vacuuming up the grease bugs that keep invading the house every time the outside temperature gets to 50 degrees F. I am definitely using a lot of bug spray on the outside of the house in the spring and summer to see if I cannot cut down on the bug invasion.
While I was lounging around last weekend I was looking at the online classifieds and spotted a manure spreader. Now I have wanted a manure spreader for a while as we have lots of manure and I have huge piles in the barn lot. The problem is they are very expensive. So I have been on the lookout for a used one that works, I found one this summer/fall and have been working on it. It has a frozen bearing in the upper portion. I have managed to remove the pin after bending several tools and now need to pull the gear off of the shaft. This has dropped in priority but on Sunday I spotted the find of a lifetime, the exact same manure spreader for sale!! I messaged them and went on Monday after work and picked up the spreader!! Now I can use the parts from one to fix the other and I should be able to go another 10 years with parts on hand, a total win for me.
We have decided to feed the outside birds out our back kitchen window. This means every morning we are greeted by the birds flitting around and eating. I have gotten used to the magpies coming in every morning and finishing off the back porch cat food. There are about four of them that do it every morning. I spotted three pigeons out our front window sitting on top of the grain bins. Their numbers are dwindling slowly but the invasive ringneck doves are really starting to take over. There are about 10 that are now living on the property and they are starting to push the mourning doves away from the feeders. I am going to have to work on that problem soon if they keep multiplying. Our Quail are doing amazing this year! It is the one bird we don’t allow anyone to shoot on the property. There are at least 44 still alive from this summer’s hatches. It will be amazing if we get a decent spring and all of them can have 3-5 babies that survive. I even spotted the covey of Hungarian partridges. There were only 6 of them and they would not hold still for a picture. I spot them once to twice a year. They are pretty elusive.
24 lambs born
15 ewes delivered
19 pregnant ewes(maybe)
6 single lambs
9 twin lambs
1 bummer lamb
23 lambs on the farm
160% birthing rate
153% production rate (goal >150%)
100% survival rate at birth
100% survival rate at 2 weeks (18/18)
We had twin lambs born on Christmas morning. The are super healthy and the ewe is very attentive. She is such a good mother that we are going to flag the female lamb as a keeper to breed in the future.
The old black alpaca fooled me into letting him in through the side gate so he could get back into the orchard. He had been wandering on the back hillside alone for days then came down and sat by the orchard gate. I was out feeding the song birds and he kept hooting and mewing at me until I went over and let him through, Annmarie reminded me that all the gates were open and all he needed to do was just go downstream and walk through them. He was on the back hillside all alone wandering around just like the day before in a matter of hours.
The cows got out of their enclosure on Friday, last week. I spotted them from the living room window. It was almost time to go out and do evening chores but I knew that was too much work for me so I snuck out of the house without telling anyone. I took the dogs and we headed up to get the cows. Annmarie had opened a gate to give them more space and a side gate was open allowing them to get on the back hillside. Zeke and Mouse got them back in the correct field. I only had to walk straight up the bottom field hollering nonstop at the dogs. Mouse works for AnnMarie way better than he does for me but we got it done. When I turned around to come back Annmarie was at the gate watching me and waiting to castigate me for not telling her the cows were out and allowing her to help. I told her the dogs and I were capable of getting the cows in. She still had to do the evening chores and get eggs. The chewed up chicken croaked. It will now get a trip to the boneyard. I thought it was gonna make it, as they usually die within the first 24 hours. Mr Professional came out and fed the cows the same day. He even moved the dog house that was still sitting on the trailer to down by my mother-in-law’s. The cats will appreciate is. He put it under the porch in the back yard. I will need to move it around to the side near the back door leading up the stairs, but it will have to wait until I have some energy.
Annmarie has been picking up all the slack around the farm as I have been fairly worthless since catching covid. She has been feeding and sorting and checking on lambs, feeding chickens and collecting eggs. She has been amazing during this time. She made me promise to not overwork myself when I went back to work. I took a few more days off for a total of 14 then went back to work on Monday. I stayed in my office mostly with only 1-2 trips out of my office. Unfortunately, by Wednesday I was unable to do evening chores at home due to shortness of breath and fatigue. By Thursday I started to get chest pain that continued to get worse, I ended up in the ER that night to make sure I did not have a blood clot in my lungs. No blood clots, just post covid syndrome. So I am back to sitting around again most of the day, resting. I hate resting. I have had to reiterate the not working so hard promise.
We have had the usual drama on the farm. The chickens have decided that they don’t want to go into the coop at night. Anywhere from 3-7 chickens dawdle and end up outside the automatic door. This is not healthy for the chickens as we know there is most likely one raccoon living in the barn or around the barn. Annmarie saw fresh tracks in the snow recently. So we have been kicking them back into the barn when we get eggs. Unfortunately, we only let the ones sitting right outside the gate into the coop, we do not hunt down any strays. It looks like one managed to survive a raccoon attack and it is still alive days later. It is missing part of a wing and hopefully can survive. It unsurprisingly has been hanging pretty close to the chicken coop and is making it inside before the door shuts! So it is maybe not the stupidest chicken in the bunch. We have had two more sets of lamb twins and a huge single lamb born since the last update. I will need to go out and tag and band on Sunday so we can integrate all of them into the momma/baby area. The weather has been very unusual, mid 40’s in December! This is so not normal for us. The front spring is already on the rise and the back winter runoff creek has not started up yet.
The ram is not doing his job in a timely fashion. The ewes are taking their sweet time with having babies. We are talking about getting a second ram so in the off season they can have a buddy. We will also split the ewes into two herds. Once we figure out who is the more active ram we will divide up the ewes in the correct proportion. This will also let us save more of the ewes for cross breeding purposes. If we rotate out the ram every three years this will add significantly to our size upgrade. We really want to get the lambing all done in 30 days.
Well it has been a resounding and expected lousy ending to 2020. I ended up catching Covid despite living like a hermit and wearing a mask. I don’t say that to discourage hermit living or mask wearing as I believe those are two things that prevented me from getting it earlier in the year. I work in healthcare in an ER. I was getting exposed. The disease is horrible, some get just a little cold, some get no symptoms and some get deathly ill. I was in the middle and only wanted to die for a few days, oxygen saturation only dropped for a few days and I was able to stay at home and be miserable. I am now on day 11 and have been vertical since this morning which is a new record. I can tell when I start to overdo it as my head will start to pound. As long as I take it easy I don’t get a headache. In celebration of my feeling better I have started a ham for a batch of ham and beans. As the entire world knows, ham and beans will cure most of what ills you! Since it will be a large batch I will have to freeze some for use at a later date. I should really think about learning how to can my ham and beans! Honestly, just putting it in old yogurt containers and tossing it in the freezer is a lot easier. I wanted to thank all of those who have offered to help out Annmarie and I for the last couple of weeks. We have had food delivered a couple of times and Mr Professional has come out and fixed a little fence and kept the cows in large bales. Luckily, its wintertime and there are not a lot of projects going on. In January, I will need to start back up on the upstairs bathroom and get it done! I could of used that while I was sick.
Currently, that is my only project in the works. We plan on keeping the upper 7 acre field bare and idle this entire next year so it can be planted in grass. I do need to still rent a backhoe in the next 6 weeks to get the rest of the flood damage corrected in the upper fields. That has to happen or the upper fields will flood again. I am waiting on 3 custom gates to be made so they can be installed. Our cows should start having calves soon. I am going to see about getting last year’s financials published as I never did that.
17 lambs born
11 ewes delivered
23 pregnant ewes(maybe)
5 single lambs
6 twin lambs
1 bummer lamb
16 lambs on the farm
155% birthing rate
145% production rate (goal >150%)
100% survival rate at birth
100% survival rate at 2 weeks (3/3)
Mr Professional came out to feed the cows and discovered that the alpaca had broken open a large bale. I was sick and asked him to just pick it up and feed it to the cows. Unfortunately for him the alpaca had laid claim to this bale and were unwilling to give it up. He was convinced the alpaca were going to bite him. Spit on him maybe but they are not biters. He was not convinced so I had him come to the yard and get our two border collies. He was going to only take one but that is not good when dealing with the alpaca. They will gang up on the dogs and the dogs have to be pretty agile and persistent to get them to move away. He came back for Mouse and then I told him to just turn them loose and the dogs would push the alpaca away. He didn’t have to do anything but encourage them to get them. It was over in five minutes, the dogs moved all the alpaca away from the hay so that he could pick up the hay unharassed. The dogs were happy as they got to work, the only one unhappy were the alpaca as they did not get to finish eating their claimed hay.