We have all kinds of good news, we got new cell phones! This might not seem like a big deal but we are not into the latest and greatest for most things and had always been a model or two behind on phones. We finally decided to upgrade, with some coercion from a friend, and you can see the difference in our picture quality for the blog! Annmarie took the above barn picture at twilight just before it got totally dark. We never could have done that before so I am super stoked about getting some pictures I never could have before due to sun going down or just not up enough yet. On the plus side the battery lasts from 0400-2200 without a recharge and the old one would no longer do that.
I had to go into the barn and add a board as one of the mothers managed to crawl through the wooden boards on the side of the creeper area. She was trapped when I came out to let them out of the barn Saturday morning. I found a board, hammered it in and cut the end off. This opening was too large anyways as the babies could sneak out of the area also. This should solve both problems. Our new panels for inside the barn are still not available to order yet and we have only had one more baby! The mother was so crazy we marked her for culling in the spring.
Mr Tex has been coming out during the week for a few hours a day and stringing fence. We are trying to get that last fence up. On Friday I was able to secure three more ton of alfalfa hay. I need to up my summer purchase a few ton. We unloaded a ton into the barn. We were then just going to back the flat bed trailer into the lamb shed and park it. That way we did not have to unload it. Now I failed to take into consideration that despite the brilliance of this plan I had never parked the flat bed trailer in the lamb shed before. This is because the door is only seven feet wide and the trailer is 8.5 feet wide, I discovered. So Mr Professional suggested we use the forks on the new tractor so we did not have to move the 80# bales by hand. This was a brilliant idea and we unloaded the trailer four bales at a time and dumped them into the lamb shed. It worked very well and was much nicer than doing it all by hand. The barn part was unpleasant enough that in the spring we are going to bring out the 20 foot hay elevator and weld on it until we get it working properly. I want to use it to stack the hay this next year. We left the trailer out in the barn lot so the rams and horse could clean it all up, they had it spotless by the next morning. We were able to go out to the new fence area and install some wooden stays before it just got too cold. The fog moved in and it was dang chilly!
The next day Mr Professional went inside the house and matched the ceiling texture. It looks great and once we paint it you will never know we patched it. I had plans to go down and work on the H brace at the far end of the new fence and the gate but as soon as I got alongside the fence I realized that not all of the clips were installed. Mr Tex had stretched out the smooth wire but not clipped it in place, the woven wire only had 1-2 clips on it and we needed to finish it anyways. So I started clipping the fence in and working my way toward the far end. I got the entire fence clipped in! Mr Professional came out and we worked on stays for a large portion of the fence. We still have about 50% of the fence to install stays on and one H brace and to hang the end gate and it will be ready for the cows. Hoping to have it done by the end of the week. The spring up in field number three has started back up! This is great news, It is so much water that it is now running above ground.
It has been a long week. The weather has of course totally flipped from having to stay home on Monday to dig out the driveway for hours to today a mere six days later driving around on the tractor in a long sleeve shirt only feeding the cows and doing work in the barn coatless as it is 50 F. This change in the weather had the Child and Annmarie out at the back creek fence trying to cut the panels loose. I have only two panels left that hang across the back creek. They are needed to prevent the sheep and cows from going up the dry creek bed in the summer. In the fall I should lift them out of the creek bed but it never seems to happen. Also, once I do that the fence line has a hole in it and the animals have to be kept out of that area. We had a sudden warming spell and Annmarie woke up to the back creek running. This is usually very bad and I end up in waders in three feet of raging water trying to undo the clips holding the panel in place from being lifted out of the water. Annmarie and Sarah spared me this by going out right after breakfast and loosening the panels, they did have to step into the ice cold water to get the center clip loose. They did not have to battle a torrent of water but they did have to get wet with the ice cold water. Two days later and the back creek has dropped to a depth of four inches. I am glad the mountain snow did not try and all melt off, it’s only January and it needs to stay until late May. Mr Professional and I went out this weekend and lifted the panels so they are ready for the spring flood. The weather also destroyed our ancient decorative windmill I had found and rehabbed and put back up. It tore off the tail and bent a bunch of the vanes. It is toast and cannot be easily repaired. I am now in search of another with sealed bearings so I don’t have to grease it annually. This is going to take some sleuthing on the internet to find one we like and think will last in up to 100 MPH winds.
Mr Professional and I got the hole in the ceiling in the craft room cleaned up and he got the sheetrock patch installed and it now has two coats of mud on it and the next coat is going to be texture! I even found some Kilz 2 upstairs to prime it after he gets the texture to match. Once we get the ceiling painted I can take down all the plastic drop clothes over everything and give the room a final deep cleaning. The room will be ready to use again after that.
We went into the barn and worked on installing some more eyebolts. I wanted to be able to set up some more jugs and to do that we had to install 2×6 boards to the wall then install two eyelets for the long pegs to drop through. We currently have enough eyelets installed to create 6 jugs and split the barn into 2/3 and 1/3, using the space under the stairs we have 7 jugs in the barn. We just need three more six foot panels to make this all happen but they are currently on back order through Premier. Once we had that done we created a baby feeding area using our Creep gate. We have never used the creep gate before so this will be a first for us. The creep gate is suppose to keep the big sheep out and only let in the size you set for the babies. When I went out tonight it did not look like any babies had been in it eating the grass hay. I put out a small dish of straight grain in the middle of the area, no momma can reach it so if its gone in the morning some lamb has figured out how to use the lamb only feeding area. I only managed to cut myself twice this weekend and Mr Professional only took one divot out of a finger out in the barn. If he would wear gloves more often this would not happen.
The turn signals and emergency flashers were broken on the pickup and all of the lights on the John Deere tractor were out. Mr Professional cleaned some stuff, changed out some fuses and got everything working again today. I had to get more fuel in five gallon containers so we had fuel. I filled up the John Deere this week and I could see the entire bottom of the fuel tank, it was dry! I don’t know how I did not run out of diesel when I was using it to dig out the big tractor. We have moved over an old 100 gallon double compartment fuel tank, I have grounded the tank and just need to get a tank fuel pump for it so I can start having diesel delivered to the house. I will probably only need the tank filled twice a year. It will be nice to not have to use five gallon jugs all the time. The old fuel tank used to be on a trap wagon they had for cleaning out combines and equipment during harvest.
I will be ordering repair parts for the hay baler this week and some more baling wrap so we may actually get them before June.
It has been a long day. It started last night by the realization that I was not going to go to work, the wind was howling. When we went to bed the gusts were over 50 MPH and sustained winds over 40 MPH. It was a long night as the house creaked and swayed the entire time. In the morning when we checked the weather station our peak gust was 89.5 MPH! I did not look at our siding today but will need to inspect the entire outside tomorrow. My decorative windmill out in the ram pasture had a crooked tail before the storm. It is now missing its tail and one of the windmill vanes is missing. It is going to need a lot of TLC. Hopefully, I can salvage it. One of the front porch lights blew off last night, it got beat up by falling ice which cracked it then the wind finished it off. The ice breakers and gutters for the roof are moving up the priority list.
On my way down to the driveway I spotted the old lamb shed, it had been pushed off of the railroad ties it had been sitting on. about ten feet North of where it was. Last time the wind got this high it actually rolled the building onto its side. The roof shingles on Donna’s garage were blowing off also. the building is set 90 degrees to the direction of the wind which allows the shingles to just be lifted right off the roof.
I fired up the Kubota and Annmarie went out to the barn to do chores. We had not checked the driveway but it is prone to drifting so we figured it was drifted shut, we were right. It took me three hours to get the 1/4 mile of driveway cleared with at least an eight foot wide path down the middle. This just kept going on and on. I had lots of clothes on and still had to go back inside and put on my warm snow boots instead of my muck boots at one point.
The temperature heated up over freezing and the wind had cleaned off a lot of snow, so much so that the chickens actually came out of the coop and scrounged in the compost pile that had been building for days.
After I went and dug out two more friends I made it home after seven hours out on the tractor. I dumped off the bucket and got the forks installed. I grabbed a large bale and headed into the barn lot. Yep, even though the barn lot looked clear it was not. I managed to beat through three different drifts and got into the cow area. I went down over the culvert and hit a huge drift on the uphill side. The tractor kept sliding down toward the six foot drop off! I finally just stopped and parked the tractor and walked away. I was just going to dump the tractor over into the spring and then it would have been super painful to get out, neighbors, favors and fence cutting to get enough equipment in to pull it out. It was just not worth it.
The forever shower once I came in and the early bedtime was well deserved.
I managed to dig the tractor out with my little tractor a shovel and 1/3 yard of gravel the next day.
I went out Sunday morning to do the barn chores and found the horse in the old milking enclosure. Mind you, the day before Sarah and I had lowered the panel to prevent the horse from getting in as she had done the day before. I have no idea how she got in, she must have gotten down on her knees and army crawled in! She was a little perturbed about being trapped and as I was working on getting the panel down she kept coming up to push on it. I had to shoo her away as I needed to reef on the panel to get it out and did not want to smack her in the nose with the panel. She might take offense at that.
We fed the sheep, who are being picky eaters. We have some wonderful green hay and some not very good hay. I am feeding it out 50/50 right now and the sheep are not eating the lousy hay, which tells me that they are wasting the good hay by only looking for the choicest morsels. So the 50/50 will continue as the good hay needs to stretch out. I have a new plan for haying in the spring and I am simply not going to let the hay get as dry. I have a moisture tester and used it last year. But I am baling the round bales fairly loosely, and the bales are drying out after they are baled. I am going to experiment with the bales and if necessary the first weeks worth of bales will be stored outside and not stacked super tight and used first in the winter!
I had noticed that someone was cribbing our new ram enclosure. I suspected the horse but it was fairly low and could have been the sheep. After catching the horse in the old milking area I am convinced it is the fat horse trying to get to more hay. I used a tie down to make the hole smaller so even if she keeps cribbing she cannot get into the ram area. This summer we will build it up and make the exterior match the barn.
Since it is the new year I continued on my annual cleaning and organizing trend. I stopped the stairway fan, vacuumed it off and then wiped it down. When I was doing the same to our large stained glass light I found a solid layer of dust on it and two of the six lightbulbs were burnt out. I ended up having to wipe the whole thing down and vacuum down the walls to remove dust laden cobwebs. I am forever grateful I had enough foresight to cut the access holes into the bathroom walls to allow easy access to the stairway ceiling. The stairway is a lot brighter now!
We have officially had our coldest night of 2021 last night! It got down to -6.7 F per our thermometer last night. I waited for it to warm up before going outside to do morning chores – it was 8 F. This doesn’t sound much warmer but it really is a lot warmer than negative numbers. I dressed up in four different layers. I will admit the two stockings on my head was overkill and did make it a little too warm when I was out in the barn feeding. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. I was even able to find a couple of places that still had undisturbed snow to take some pictures. We still have six ewes that need to give birth and they are not having lambs any time soon. It is crazy how much the old ram spread out his affection. We have been lambing for over four months now. The old ram comes over and visits us when we go into the barn lot. He wants scritches and some more food, fortunately for us he is teaching the new ram that we are the source of all that is good. I have been able to pet on the new ram several times and I have not even fed him any grain yet.
The cows up above and down below all got some supplemental hay bales tossed out today. They can root through the bales and pick out the grain heads and use the straw as filler. I will feed them supplemental hay again tomorrow. This just stretches the large bales that we are feeding. When I went down to feed the lower cows the alpaca had pushed them away from the feeder and the cows were down by the schoolhouse wandering around. I drove the tractor in circles to flatten the snow to create a spot to toss out the bales. The cows came running when they heard the tractor!
I told Annmarie I would start in on some of the winter projects. One of which is to make frames for the upstairs bathroom closet. But before I could do that I needed to clean off the shelves. This led to a very large give away pile and the joy of space bags being realized. The space bags made short work of all the extra blankets and pillows. I found three more Pendleton wool blankets buried and we had even taken them to the dry cleaners at one point as they all were still in their bags with tags. Annmarie is going to order the heavy duty magnets and I will make the frames and install the magnets on the cabinet faces and the frames. We are then going to cover the frames with fabric. There will be three frames for each side so you will only need to remove one frame to access what you want. Once I get the bathroom door back on there will be no room for cabinet doors. The magnetic frames is a great space saver for this tight spot.