I hit the office floor hard today. I gotta say it just was not pleasant. I had to keep the door open with a fan blowing out and it was only about 15 F all day so it was not exactly warm crawling around on the floor sanding. I had the paint off yesterday so today it was just sanding down the rough spots and getting it close to normal. It took me most of the day, then I vacuumed the floor with a broom like head. Then blew off the walls and floor with air, then swept then vacuumed the entire floor with just the vacuum hose, then swept again, then vacuumed one last time! It is now ready for stain. I plugged in two electric heaters and turned the heat pump back on. Tonight the temperature was 60 F. I will be able to put stain down at that temperature tomorrow.
The sheep are just not cooperating with this whole lambing concept. I was hoping since I was on staycation this week we could get all of the lambing done this week. It was a dream that was sorta possible. Instead when I went out this morning I found no new lambs and the mother that had twins, one of which she rejected, had a dead lamb in the pen. No idea why it died. So not only are we not having lambs but our productivity is dropping the longer we go. Plus it is cold outside! It was 5 degrees F this morning and no the lamb did not freeze, it was in the closed up barn and the pen it was in is the most central pen so it is not even near a wall. The triplets are in a corner pen with two outside walls and they did just fine! I had to break ice for the momma this morning.
4-Ewes delivered babies
Lots-# of ewes still pregnant
1-Single lamb birth
2-Twin lamb births
1-Triplet lambs birth
1-Lamb died in first two weeks
6-Total lambs on farm
200% Birthing rate
150% Production rate
150% Survival rate at 2 weeks (Bummers count as dying as they would die without help)
On the plus side the chickens are laying eggs. We are getting 7-8 eggs from 12 hens every day now. This is great as we were not getting hardly any. So the lucky few are glad the hens starting back up again.
I am officially on staycation. My plan is to get the office floor done while I am off. If I can get that done then I can start loading stuff into the office! This will be amazing as we will be able to thin out the stuff in our bedroom. The floor is slow going. Getting those multiple layers of paint off of the floor was not easy. I am now going over the floor to get the sandpaper marks out of the floor. I won’t be able to get them all but I can knock down the number there are. I am hopeful I can get the floor all sanded tomorrow and then put some stain on the floor on Tuesday! The biggest problem on Monday will be getting the floor and walls clean of dust before I stain the floor. I will put the fan up in the doorway tomorrow. I have been using the vacuum and wearing an N95 while I have been sanding the floor. It’s pretty cold to keep the door open, 11 degrees F. I will dress warm tomorrow and just be cold. Once the floor is sanded I will use the high pressure air and try and blow all the dust out of the room. I am not sure how well that will work but it cannot hurt and if some goes out then it will be helpful.
I had a goal to get all of the paint off of the floor in the office. The real problem is its not very warm outside! I have been waiting until the thermostat gets to 20 F before going out to sand on the floor. When I open up the door and turn on the fan the heat goes right out of the building. I managed to get the paint removed and just started working on smoothing out the wooden floor. I will need to put everything away so I don’t have to work around any equipment.
I worked on a couple of little things this weekend that needed to happen. I fed the cows again. I love the big bales, just saying! I decided to see if the Kubota tractor could move the old lamb shed that got blown off its wooden supports. I was able to lift up a side and then manually move the beams on the ground. The 4×6 beams that make up the underside of the building need to be replaced. They are rotten. It also needs to be on concrete pillars at a minimum. Getting it back up onto the beams will keep the moisture from getting into the underside boards. This will buy me a few more years until I figure out what I am going to do with this building. I am unclear now. I was going to make a small chapel out of it but with the office now I am not sure Annmarie needs it. I will have to think about it. I do need a spot to store metal stock that is out of the weather. Maybe I use it for that? I don’t know.
The ewes are on strike. We have not had any born today and we are only getting one set of babies a day and have only had four ewes give birth in the last seven days. We expected the flood gates to open by now. We have two sets still in the pens. The single will go into the momma baby area tomorrow. I moved the triplets to the biggest pen today. We thought they could go out into the momma baby area but one of the triplets is very small. We are not sure it can get in and out of the barn by itself. So until it is big enough to get around easily they will have to stay in a pen.
4-Ewes delivered babies
Lots-# of ewes still pregnant
1-Single Lamb birth
2-Twin Lamb births
1-Triplet lamb births
1-Bummer lamb 0-Lambs died in first 2 weeks
7-Total lambs on farm
200% Birthing rate
175% Production rate
200% Survival rate at birth
175% Survival rate at 2 weeks (bummers count here as they would die without help)
Yesterday when I fed the sheep and cows there was no dead animal in the orchard. When I came home to feed this lamb was dead out by the feeding area. It had to have happened last night. The worst part of this is that it is only about 50 yards from two different houses. The lamb was attacked from behind and only the hind quarters were eaten. So now instead of 17 lambs left to sell this spring we only have 16. Odds are this was a coyote, but without pictures who knows. I have yet to invest in a predator call but after the last two summers and winters I am going to have to do some more predator control. Simply going from a 22 rule to a 243 rule in regards to how close to the house and lambs they are getting I may have to actively work to thin out the predators. Honestly, the reason I have not so far is laziness. I don’t want to be outside in the dark trying to call in predators. So we will be looking to see if this is a one off or else I will be forced to intercede to keep the lambs alive. Such is the wheel of life or death depending on if your card is getting punched.
I am unsure what I did this last Friday. I know I was outside quite a bit, I did clean off the front porch like the wife wanted. I picked up trash around the farm and ended up working on the front gate latch. A board had to be added to the gate to get the latch in the right spot. It is still not quite in the right spot but it is working better than the piece of rope. So we are going to see how it does. It does look better than the piece of striped rope! We also cleaned out the old house, two more huge bags of trash out to the trash can full of construction debris. I managed to even do some cleanup around the machine shed. I remembered, we had to change a tire on the flat trailer and go pickup more wood for the office. We got the boards to build two slider doors and the wood for all of the trim work around the inside of the office. We had to unload it back into the old house as it was supposed to snow the next day. I did change the supplemental feed for the ewes from a molasses mix to alfalfa pellets. The pellets have a couple of percentage points more protein. The trouble with this is the sheep LOVE their molasses crack. They are not very impressed with the alfalfa. So I have had to mix in some crack in with the alfalfa pellets to get them interested in them. It is working. I had to take a dead ewe out to the bone yard.
Saturday was better organized as I wanted to really get the office floor done. I did not expect to finish it but if it is going to get done I need to make progress on it every day. I have PTO coming up next week and want to get the floor done. I would even like to get the walls done but with dry times for the floor I don’t see that really happening. Unless I can get the floor sanded and cleaned up in the first three to four days I have to wait 24 hours between coats of stain and polyurethane. I really need three coats of polyurethane so that eats up all the time needed to rub walls down with the wax/oil sealant I have purchased for them. It will take me a couple of days to get the walls rubbed down and then after the walls are done I can cut trim, rub it down and then install it. Once all of that is done I can get the office set up then I can work on making the two sliding doors. They will be the very last thing I do.
It did not take long to use up all the sand paper I had on hand. So I went to town to buy more and Mr Professional cut insulation for the attic. He had brought out a 21” sander and I had a 18” sander so I decided to buy sandpaper for both sizes. I went to two different stores and bought all of the course paper they had in both sizes and ended up picking up some kind of paint wheel that attaches to a drill. I was sure we would run out of paper and would not be able to remove any paint. The little device did work but the 21” sandpaper on a higher horse power rotary belt sander did a much better job of tearing up the old paint. We made great progress and I think we can get the last of the paint off in one day.
Sunday was not going to be another office day. I went out to open the barn doors and discovered that there was a screamer lamb in the midst of all the ewes. This always makes it hard to figure out who is going to claim said loud mouth. I got the ewes to leave the barn fairly slow and then there was only a lamb standing there hollering and a ewe at the far end of the barn. I walked down there and sure enough she had a twin all curled up sleeping in the straw quietly. So this meant putting up panels at the far end of the barn to create five creches. We then hung feeders, filled up buckets with water and alfalfa pellets. Now the barn is ready for Monday morning when Annmarie comes out to let the sheep out of the barn.
We needed to sort off nine sheep to get five loaded up for transport to the butcher on Sunday evening. The other four will go on Friday. Of course the animal trailer has a flat tire also. I cannot seem to find my cheap little 12V tire pump. So that meant getting the back of the pickup cleaned out so we can slip in the animal pen. Of course we used the tractor, it was easier but the animal pen needs some welding repairs and we had to keep it together with strategically placed straps. We did get it in and strapped down after cleaning out the pickup and tossing the stuff in trash, a little in machine shop and the rest on the burn pile. The next problem is to get the sheep to run up into the back of the pickup so we do not have to lift them up into the pickup like last time. There is a very old ramp on wheels that is bent and beaten up. We tried to straighten it out but got stopped by a very thick piece of angle iron. It was going to take way more time to straighten it out and fix it then I was was willing to invest. So after looking at the corral I decided that we could make a ramp! So three 2×4 and a bunch of scrap wood and screws later we had a 8.5’ ramp. We used a iron T-post to rest the ramp on and had to use a couple of pallets to keep the sheep from squirting out the sides. Next time we are just going to remove the tailgate from the pickup and we will be able to just back right up to the ramp. The only thing I need to do is to add a few more boards up the sides to block the view over the sides from the sheep. They could have just jumped off the ramp right over the sides of the corral while loading up if they had so desired.
I used the puppy on a 30’ lead line to herd the sheep. This was fairly productive, but there is no way the puppy can be let off lead and in with the sheep. Once we had the sheep in the corral I left the puppy in the yard. She kept sticking her head into the corral and trying to crawl into it with the sheep. I finally had to lock her in the back yard. She ran back and forth along the fence caterwauling because I would not let her at the sheep. She seemed quite determined, this is a good quality in a sheep dog!
I have been scraping the honeycomb and honey into a sieve trying to get the honey out. I did not want to set up the frame extractor for one frame only. This way is slow but I am getting honey!
It can be rough on everyone living on a farm sometimes. It has its benefits, which far out weigh the retractions but it is definitely not for everyone. This week was a prime example of everyone taking their lumps.
Gizmo our little Brussels Griffin dog keeps getting out of the yard. I have yet to find his new hole but it is starting to get annoying. He is usually out in the pasture eating sheep poop, back on the compost pile eating trash or standing by the gate waiting to be let back in. He won’t use his escape hole to get back into the yard. The alpaca do not like dogs. He survived.
Annmarie and I had not seen one of our two back door outdoor cats for a week or better. Luna was missing. We calculated her age and it came out to 14 years which has been spent outside on the farm so her going off and dying is a reasonable assumption. I even went out and looked in the dog igloo that the cats sleep in to make sure there was not a dead cat in it. No cat, so we assumed she was a goner. Early this week Annmarie calls me at work and asks if I knew that Luna was trapped in the root cellar! The answer is of course not but I had been feeding the cats and I dump our compost out for the chickens near the root cellar door. The cat was a victim of my bad hearing! I could not hear her yowling. Annmarie said the cat could hardly meow when she let her out but Annmarie has owl hearing which saved the cat! We figure the cat has been in there over a week. There are two windows that are screened over and it has been raining most of the week so she was able to get to water. She is quite a bit skinnier, she was nice and chunky, not any more. She is also fairly grateful and the first to eat now. She survived.
We have been under a windstorm warning for most of the week. We had to put off delivery of three new cows due to the advisory. Annmarie discovered a hole in our house siding. We got to looking hard and found at least six damaged spots from the wind hurtling things at our house. I will be calling our homeowners insurance company on Monday. The house will survive with some repairs.
I was out feeding the sheep yesterday and the mommas are getting ready to lamb soon. We are now locking them up at night and letting them out in the morning. This makes it a lot easier to find babies. We now have to go feed the ram and his boy friends separately as they are in Alcatraz. I fed them and looked over and spotted one of the young whethers laying on the ground. He was weak and unable to stand. I drug him out of the pasture, went in and got a 22 and ended his misery. Disease is bad for any group of animals, especially if you don’t know why. My solution is always permanent and quick. He did not survive.
I was up getting large hay bales for the cows after dispatching the sheep when I came upon a very large possum running around the bales, it is probably living in them. I of course did not have a weapon because I left it at the house. It survived.
I was feeding the cows in the orchard, had the large square bale set out and then used the forks on the tractor to lift up the feeder guard. It consists of four curved pieces of metal that are pinned together so they are movable at each joint. When laid out correctly they form a circle, but will also form an ovoid like shape that goes around the square bales. The trouble with this is once it is up in the air on the forks it does not just drop down over the bale. So I set it on top of the bale with the tractor near the bale so the back half doesn’t fall until I move the tractor. Then I get off the tractor and went around to the far side and started tugging on the two panels on my side. It can get pinched due to the four articulated joints but usually I can get it with a little elbow grease and swearing. I got it all right, but I usually have time to jump back before it crashes down. I ended up 12 feet away on the ground on my back with my hearing protection somewhere on the ground and aching all over. Damn thing slammed into me and tossed me like a paper doll. The bruises are already starting to show up the next day. I survived.