Thanksgiving was very nice, a good friend of our came up to spend it with our family. This is always nice as I did not do any work on the farm other than feed and take care of babies while Doug was visiting. He left Saturday morning and I headed out to the barn to do chores right afterwards. There were four more ewes that had given birth! There were two sets of twins and two singles. I pushed everyone else out of the barn then proceeded to rearrange areas to take the new babies and mommas. I put both singles and their mothers in the same pen, I tag and banded the twins that were under the stairs and released them into the momma/baby area. I put a new set of twins under the stairs and I penned the last set of twins in the far back corner of the barn mostly because they were there already and it was easy to pen them there. I then had to feed and water everyone. At some point trying to get over the 2×4 we keep at the barn entrance, to keep the horse out of the barn, I ended up falling on my face. Luckily, the ground was dry and I was able to slow my fall. This would have been very messy earlier in the week when there was four inches of squishy mud and sheep poop. I will be moving the 2×4 over to the end gate on the side of the barn, I don’t know why I did not think of this sooner. I guess I just needed the proper motivation.
I had noticed that the spring was getting pretty muddy the previous day. It was a combination of silt buildup and sheep pushing dirt into the spring bed. So after taking care of the sheep I went and dug out a short section of the spring bed. I even built a new cinder block wall out of six blocks using sticks, mud and gravel, not my best work but I do expect it to last through the winter until it can be corrected in the summer. I went in and took a nap after that. I used the breaker bar too much last week helping with the fence and had to sleep 10-12 hours a night for three nights running to even feel good. My chest pain started to come back so I have vowed to take it easier and let my helpers do the metal breaker bar work and I need to let them do the heavy lifting. Even after 12 months of catching Covid, I am still taking high dose aspirin, only twice a day now, and get intermittent chest pain with increased physical activity. My hope is that by 18 months I will be back to normal, the only real problem is I will be 1.5 years older and out of shape!
Mr Rainman and Mr Tex came out this morning to work on fence. There was another set of twin lambs born last night. So all of the mommas/babys from yesterday all got shoved together in the far end of the barn and the new set of twins got put under the stairs.
11 of 34 ewes have given birth, 32% completed
Lambs born alive 18, birth rate 164%
Stillborn lambs 0
Lambs rejected 0
Lambs died before 2 weeks 0
Lambs bummered not rejected 0
Flock productivity 164%
Singles 5 of 11, 45%
Twins 5 of 11, 45%
Triplets 1 of 11, 9%
My single biggest summer project is getting the rastra and new drive over culvert installed. After that is in then I can think about other items. We would like to get our septic tank pumped but currently no big truck can get to the house.
We worked on the fence some more, the barn lot is pretty beat up alongside the wheat field. The horse has been pushing on it and bending the T-posts. We are working on getting some wooden posts in the ground along that side of the fence but it is rock from about 12” down, very hard to dig a hole in. Luckily, with the moisture we have had we are having pretty good luck digging holes with the tractor auger, I only sheared 3 shear bolts today. We are working on the corridor fence that will allow us to run the animals from pasture to pasture without keeping all of the pastures open. We want to control the pasture rotation better next year. We think we can extend the usefulness of our pasture this way. We got 18 posts set today with 12 of those including digging the hole. We had to create one rock-jack as the posts were directly on top of a rock bluff. I think four more days should see us getting the fence completed. Its a race with the weather now. Although it was 66 degrees F today and we all wore short sleeves and blue jeans, except me, I wore a long sleeve shirt also but I do that when its 100 degrees F. The weather is very crazy.
It was a long week last week and I kind of made it that way. Mr Rainman and Mr Tex came out last Sunday to help me finish up the fence in 4A. I ended up having Mr Rainman work on our yard, he finished trimming all of the lavender plants and trimmed out all of the old raspberry canes and tied up the new ones and trimmed them. He also tied up our thornless blackberries, he even managed to plant a few new plants that had self started by rooting the tips of runners. So hopefully by the end of next year we will have the entire row filled in with blackberry plants. This was work that was going to take a while and needed to be done.
Mr Tex went down to work on the fence in field 4A and Mr Rainman and I went to the barn to tag and band lambs and to rearrange the barn to hold more mommas & babys. I went down to help Mr Tex finish the fence and It turned out very nice. On our way back to the house we ended up fixing the fence in 4B all alongside Stewart Creek, which is currently dry. I had not tightened or repaired that fence in many years. It looks much better now and no animal should be able to get out, this is not a definitive won’t get out. I have learned over the years that if they want to get out they will. I snapped the high tension wire and had my hand down on the tightener when it happened, my poor right hand thumb took a beating and has been bothering me for over a week now, I am hopeful it will get well soon.
We had another set of twins born. We keep hoping that they will just hurry up and start having babies all at once. So far this has not happened. I will get the numbers together soon for our lambing season. So far it has been good other than incredibly protracted. On the way past the barn I noticed our fat orange barn cat laying up in the window area soaking up some heat rays from the sun. He is incredibly fat! I am unsure how many mice he eats but I have not found a single mouse in the hay yet so the barn cats get to stay and someone is doing their job.
The weather is definitely changing. This could be for the good, who knows, but it is definitely different. It is November 14 and today the temperature outside was 66 degrees F. I was able to work in a long sleeve shirt only and if I had kept doing manual labor nonstop could of done it in a tshirt. I had to work at the paying job on Friday as Annmarie and I left town for Veteran’s day. It was the third time we have left the farm in the last two years. I am told that is not very often when one is counting. So I had Mr Rainman come out on Saturday and Sunday to help me build fence. I am trying to get #4 field split in half with a fence so I have a 4A and 4B. 4A is already planted and I want to be able to keep the cows off of it so it can grow undisturbed.
Friday evening when I went out to take care of the sheep and put them in for the night I found a pleasant surprise, three new lambs! I was even more surprised when I put them in under the stairs and discovered that one ewe had all three babies, triplets! I fed and watered them and then ran all the rest of the sheep inside. I ran the other sheep past 3-4 times to make sure no one had a bloody backside and was missing a lamb. Nope, they were really a set of triplets and the mother looked like she could feed them all. Saturday morning they were all up and walking around and Annmarie went out and dosed them all with some selenium supplement. They are doing great and the mother is able to feed all three. Of course no one else had any babies all weekend long. Saturday we set up three partial pens so in the morning if Annmarie needs a pen she can just add one wall quickly and be done with it.
Mind you there are other projects that need to be done also but I had my heart set on fencing. We had to fuel and grease up both tractors then I was talking about building a platform for the new calf table on top of a pallet so I could just move the table with the new tractor forks. We ended up doing that Saturday morning. The calf table needed to be moved before January which is when our cows go to the butcher and I will need to be able to load them up through the chute. We built a platform on top of the pallet out of pressure treated 2” thick wood and even had to add another 14” to one side and add a 4×6 pressure treated board underneath. We bolted the calf table down to the pallet through the new covering boards after we anchored all of the new boards to the pallet. This project needed to happen, so we did it.
The fencing went fairly smooth. The fence is going into bottom land so it is much easier to drill in and that extra 150# of weight on top of the auger arm is the bomb! When the ground is not rock hard it just goes into the ground, I have a hole in a couple of minutes! It is so nice. Using the high tension wire and the cam tighteners is the perfect way to build a H-brace. It is super easy and now that I know what I am doing it is super easy to adjust. We have all of the T-posts and stays all laid out along the fence route. Three more H braces to finish and then press the T-posts into the ground with the tractor and we will be done with that in no time. We did have a piece of high tension wire pop and break today. Mr Rainman was putting too much muscle into use. I am now tightening the high tension line. We also converted a 50 gallon drum to ride on the 3 point attachment and its filled with metal horse shoes. The counter balance is great when moving big bales. The trouble is it drags on the ground a little and I did not realize how thin walled the barrels were. Depending on how things go I may need to think up something more permanent. I am hopeful we can get done in one day next week.
I have been working on getting the front porch done. I promised Annmarie that I would stop fencing, even though the weather is still good, to get the front porch finished. We have the stair railings and the the front porch gates still to complete. Now I did not install any of the railing, Mr Professional did so I felt like he needed to be present for the hand rails. He has been busy and unavailable but I managed to get him to come over for a few hours on Friday and Saturday. It was a good thing I waited for him. When I decided on upright 4×4 placement I did it to minimize the Trex cuts on the stair pieces. I did not know that according to the instructions you should put the support posts on the outer edge of the stairs. This is so that you can use the preset angles that Trex calculated for the stair railing 32-37 degrees. Since this little fact was overlooked for design and aesthetic reasons installing the stair railing was much more complicated than normal.
Using the template that was provided caused the railing to be too high and not match the porch railing. So we tried to alter the template. This did not result in the railings lining up. So then we tossed out the template and eye fitted the bottom railing in and marked the spots for the anchors. Once we had the bottom railing in and upright tubes in we had to cut the top railing but it was going to not fit correctly, the bottom post was too short for the angle. We had to use the Dewalt bandsaw. This is the single tool I did not want to buy this summer, and it has turned out to be essential when dealing with metal. We never could have gotten the rails cut correctly and even in place. We took the cut top rail, held it next to the poles and I used green tape to set the angle then just cut along the tape. It worked very well but it took us about eight hours to get two rails installed correctly and not cut my power cable to the two light poles as I ran the wires up the railing side. This would have been totally on me had we caught a wire. We reached down and stretched the wire tight in an attempt to move it out of the way when screwing in the railing anchors.
The gates that we are going to install are aluminum and have to measured and cut. We measured and cut them and then put them together, after tearing them apart twice we go them together correctly. The instruction sheet has eight steps and fits on one side of a normal piece of paper and has lots of pictures. They failed to tell you that the side pieces have to be held down as you predrill the holes or else the cover piece will not snap into place correctly, even if you use a file to knock it down. Also they failed to mention that you should use the silver screws that will be hidden under the trim and use the black colored ones for the corner angle pieces that are exposed. I now need to get some 3/4” black enamel sheet metal screws. So the gates are on hold until that happens.
We may have lost our bunny rabbits. We had two and have not seen a single one for over six weeks. They could have eaten hay out of the machine shed all winter so they could not die of starvation no matter how severe the weather. I think hanging around the machine shed may have been the cause of their demise as the owls like to hang out in there at night also.
Due to the amount of repairs and welding I have been doing I am going to rearrange the last bay in the machine shed. I am going to move all of the flammables away and move work benches so I can weld out of the rain inside the shop. This is a winter project. I need to finish getting the rest of the power and lights wired also. We are using the shop more and need to be able to do it in all kinds of weather.
As you can see I am hard at work raking the leaves with the same mower I use for the lawn. They have been in the yard all weekend. I put the dogs on the run and let the sheep in. The dogs don’t particularly like this arrangement and you cannot let our ankle biter dog out as Gizmo likes to ball the sheep up in a corner also. He thinks he is all tough and fails to realize that the big dogs have conditioned them to canine pressure.