Along with the great weather the animals are thinking spring is coming! Annmarie went to check on the bees and they are fat and happy. They have tons of pollen and are bringing it back to the hive. We have not seen a single flower but they are getting it from somewhere. They just ignored her while she took some pictures. Hopefully she can get into the hive next weekend and we can tell how much honey made it through winter. If there is lots I would like to steal some more. So we will see hopefully next week.
I let the puppy out into the ram pasture to tear around. She ate lots of sheep poop and ran all over. The sheep were still in the barn so the only animal she could try and terrorize was the horse and she teases the dogs by standing next to the fence. I built a fire and cleaned off the old house porch and burned lots of scrap wood. Chance did come when called and I was able to tell her to “go home” and she ran for the front yard. She is super smart, unfortunately there really is such a thing as too smart. She has been jumping up on the table outside and digging. So far not under the fence. But we found out today that the reason there are dog mud prints on the new office door is that the puppy has learned to open the door! We have one of those curved handled doors and she is reaching up and opening the latch while pressing on the door. She opened it twice yesterday so we are back to using the dead bolt to keep the door purposefully shut. She will hardly come in and visit with us. She comes and gets loves and hugs then wants to go outside. She sits on the front porch or lays by the door to make sure no one sneaks up on us. We did not teach it but she takes it seriously. Mouse has been picking on her to establish his dominance but she is starting to get tired of it. She is starting to bite back, I expect her to be the dominant dog in another three months. She is just not putting up with his shit anymore.
The sheep are still lambing! We are definitely giving them a small area only so the ram can chase them down more efficiently. This lambing forever is painful. We only had two ewes give birth this week, both had twins. I spent a bunch of time out in the barn on Saturday cleaning out feeders and reloading everything with fresh hay. I really want to get out here and install the 12 V lighting system! The DeWalt hack to the rescue for lighting. But I need to get the wife’s office done first. I told myself no other projects until I get that space completed!!
To that end, Annmarie came up with a fairly brilliant idea, it’s one we have bantered about but I could never see it before. She talked about a rough camping space in a yurt up in field four. We could put it next to the bluffs and raise it about four feet in the air so the animals could not get into it. This would raise it up just enough to give it a great view of the surrounding bottoms but still allow the bluff to protect it from the worst of the weather. Elevating it would also make it easier to install a composting toilet and a small solar panel with a 12 V marine battery. Heck, I might even just be able to use the DeWalt hack and give them a couple of batteries! The internet is spotty so you won’t be using an electrical device much. It would have a small propane heater and double burner propane cook top. Maybe not even have any source of heat. But that would limit the time of the year people would stay and it is pretty in the winter, although we would not be able to have running water in the winter. In the no freezing months we could have 150 gallon water tank. It would not be terribly expensive to get setup. Let’s get through this year and see if it is something we want to do.
The neighbor moved his Angus cows in the field just across the road from us again this year. Our old bull, Thor, is a pain in the ass and he goes down to the huge culvert under the road and crawls under the fence and under the pseudo fence on the other side therefore getting into his cows. This then prompts the owner to text us and we have to go get him. Now he worked hard to get over there and is never super keen to just come home. I chased him around with the tractor for about 30 minutes before he went back to the culvert and I was able to move a panel to lock him in that area. Mr Professional came back out and before we could formulate a plan, Thor just went back through the culvert. He just ducks, squats and bulls his way through. We chased him all the way up to Alcatraz through the bottoms and then our yard and into the impenetrable pen. Now that he is in there with the ram and other two whethers we will have to feed every day. It took 1.5 hours to get him corralled. I am so glad we are taking him to his soon to be forever home! Only six more weeks to go before he is no longer a problem.
This was a very productive weekend! The office took up half of the weekend, not the exciting half but definitively the productive half. I spent a couple of hours on Friday pouring over the instructions on where to attach the door hangars. They only needed to give one measurement, the distance from the top of the door to the bottom of the wheel. No where in the entire instructions, which I kept from last time, did they bother to give that distance. They gave some other random distances and spots on the door that were wrong but not the one I needed. I ended up getting a couple of clamps, cutting two small pieces of wood to the hanger and trying to get it to fit onto the track. I managed to find the correct height, then I measured the door from the floor, subtracted the gap at the bottom and the gap at the top and came up with a door build height. I rough cut the 16 foot board at 82” on one side so I could get them out of the old house alone. It took two of us to thread those 16’ boards into the cramped space. I stacked the boards in bunches of five then cut off both ends at the same time so the boards all matched. Mr Professional came out and we set up a workspace out in the yard. I was initially opposed but after assembling two doors next to the saw in the sunshine, it was nice.
I had come up with the design of using the 2” wood for the X but I had a star pattern drawn out on a piece of cardboard and before I could stop him Mr Professional had ignored my pattern and we went with the hollow X. The next day we tried my pattern but I realized that I would have to cut every single piece in half and I was afraid it would cut down the structural strength of the door. We made it out of tongue and groove that we also used on the walls. We glued them then used pipe clamps to squeeze them together and then screwed on the cross pieces and hung them up on the wall to dry. I think I could have perfected my X cross pattern if we had made a third door. They are not exact but you have to pay attention to notice the difference. This was done on purpose. The direction of the long X pieces on both doors was deliberate. Ideally the screws would all line up but we had to miss knots in the wood and this is not a factory thing, it’s supposed to mimic a barn door and most people don’t measure out placement for screws on a barn door. I just need to rub on the finish for both doors. It will only take an hour but today there was no time.
We needed to get the Glowforge laser engraver all set up. I had purchased duct work to vent it out the side of the room but I failed to account for the actual width of the laser. I ended up running to town and getting metal dryer vent solid ducting and a clamp on connector. We then just drilled a hole right out the back of the laser through the wall and mounted the actual fan outside the building. This means we had to make a shelf outside and we will have to build an enclosure around it and put on a slanted roof over it to shed water from the corner drain off the roof. To get the fan controller through the wall I unwired the controller from the fan allowing us to drill a small hole and use a piece of copper wire to pull it through. This then meant there was no power for the fan outside the house. So I had to kill the power, get into an outlet box and drill out the back of the box to outside and wire in jumper power to a new outside box. This was done and we were able to verify that the fan does work. We added a screen to the inside of the vent so that birds could not fly up the vent. I need to get a waterproof cover that allows the plug to stay plugged in.
We had purchased a sheet of cork 2×3’ long to put behind the Victrola wooden screen we removed from the front of the Victrola. It turned out pretty nice other than I mounted it on the wrong side of the desk. I hung up the office clock after I ensured it was going in the desired spot. The only thing left now is to finish the insulation in the attic, install the attic vent fan, getting freezer room floor installed and then completing the wiring in the second room. Luckily, the only thing left that the wife can see is rubbing on the oil finish on the door, a mere 1.5 hours of labor.
I keep focusing on the upstairs bathroom. I want to get it 100% complete. I had purchased a special Kreg Tool jig to allow me to drill holes on an angle and screw boards end to end. It’s a quick and dirty way to join pieces, much faster than any type of glued joinery. Since we are covering the panels with fabric, it was merely a requirement to build a sturdy frame. The Kreg jig worked like a charm. I even did very well cutting all my pieces the same size. I had the whole thing assembled and then tried to clamp them up in place to drill the pilot holes so I could then install the magnets. Nope, I did not do something right. Turns out I used the wrong inner pieces on two different squares. I had to take them apart, thank goodness for screws, and put the proper pieces back together.
Once I had them all clamped in place then I drilled through each one with a 1/8” drill so that I could line up the magnet on the panels with the face of the closet. I used a 1/2” Forstner drill to get a nice hole to glue the magnet into. I have magnets that will hold 20# and I am using at least four on every panel and six on the larger panels. They should stay in place without any trouble. The hardest part is getting the magnets lined up so they attract each other and not push away! I managed to line up the first panel but almost messed up the magnet direction twice. I decided that since every panel is unique and has holes drilled in different spots I needed to be more careful in my magnet application. I only did one panel and am going to do one panel every night until I get them all finished. I cannot have 3-6 of them all drying at the same time and then try and put them back up on the wall. Our new electric stapler came this week so as soon as the spare staples come we will be ready to go if I can get them all set this week.
Annmarie went out and fed the bees today. They made it through the winter! I saw one fly out of the hive yesterday when it got over 50 degrees. She did not put on her bee suit and open it up. It is still not warm enough yet to expose them to the cold. We are going to get one more hive. We have no plans to go past two.
I have been trying to get one of my plants on the breeze porch to crawl across the ceiling. I built a trellis that hangs from the ceiling. It covers a space about four feet wide and five foot long. The plant has started to die, I think I am overwatering it. So I got a new pot for my large jade plant, about 2×3’ and am going to use my old jade pot for the crawling plant. That pot has a hole in the bottom and can drain all of the extra water. I hope that is the problem. The jade should be good in its new pot for another 5-7 years. I would like to get a five foot jade tree grown before I die. It is not easy and it takes a long time. I have been at it almost 10 years already. It might grow faster if I was nicer to it but I like my plants hardy. Plus I keep cutting it and trimming it to the shape I want. I am working on my staff Christmas presents already this year. I usually start splitting and repotting in Sept/October. I have 12 African violet starts going now. This batch is for me, I want to fill up my shelves again. Once I have the shelves full I will make a set for the staff. They are pretty slow growing so it will take a few months to get them up to any size.
This weekend I had to spend some quality time in the barn again. The mother/lamb area needed to be expanded. It now covers 2/3 of the barn. The rope we used to tie one side of the creep gate in place is getting stretched by the ewes and the thin ewes are able to crawl through the side. This morning one of the ewes was stuck in the creep gate. She got stuck right in front of her back hips and could not move. I had to pull the pins out of the gate and drag her back out. It took her about ten minutes to get her sea legs under her. Her lamb was glad to see her and kept nursing as much as it could. This has prompted us to get bigger eyelets so that we can stick a 1” rod down through the right side of the gate. We are out of the skinny rods so the bigger aluminum ones need to be used. I am afraid to use an eyelet that just gets screwed into the wood. I am afraid the ewes will just tear it out by pushing on the gate. I had four of them pushing on it Saturday as they were able to get their noses into one of the feeders. They could barely reach it with their tongues but they were not giving it up! I had to lean over the gate and hang in the air to push it away from them. They would not let me pass. I have a bolt on eyebolt that will fit and now just need to install it.
We are now certain that a second ram is needed. We have been lambing for seven weeks and we are still not done. So this spring we are going to keep the sheep in a small contained area when we introduce the ram. NO more letting the sheep run over 40 acres and the ram having to chase them all down.
Date of update- Mar 12, 2023
# of Lambs born – 48
# of ewes who have delivered babies – 30
# of ewes still pregnant – 12 in area, I don’t think they are all pregnant
# of single lamb births – 13
# of twin lamb births – 16
# of triplet lamb births – 1
# of bummer lambs – 5
# of lambs who died in first two weeks – 3
Total # of lambs on farm -40
% birthing rate- 160%
% production rate -133%
% survival rate at birth – 100%
% survival rate at 2 weeks (bummers count as death as they need help and leave the farm) – 83%
We had one of the traveling staff from Florida come out for a few hours on Friday and see the lambs and ewes. She got to pet everyone and tour the house. We then fed her leg of lamb for dinner! It was amazing as always. She wore her snow boots out in the barn. Being a city slicker she had never seen anything like it before. She kept marveling at the fact that there were no neighbors.
It’s been a long week and it Mother Nature cannot decide what she wants to do. It was clear and warming up at the beginning of the week, now there is snow on the ground and snowing again, we have about two inches on the ground currently. Annmarie has been using her office! I have been slowly putting little things in place. I got our old dining room table in there and we used some table elevators to lift it two inches so we could slide the smaller sorting bins under it. There are now six bins under the table. The new cable for the router came so I will be installing that soon and finishing up the corner trim to hide the cables. Gizmo has a new doggie bed, he didn’t like the old one it was too small for him he thought. Annmarie needs to start bringing out books but she is going to sort them first and thin them out. So I have resisted the temptation to remove them from our bedroom. I would like to see them thinned out also. There is a small table down at her mom’s that she wants me to retrieve and refinish. It has marker, paint and nail polish on it I think. It was from a long time ago when Sarah was a menace. She wants it to go in front of the couch.
I messed up last week and should have kept the two ewes and three lambs in the same pen I had them in when sorting them. I sorted the wrong babies but I did watch them nurse. The trouble was two days later both ewes were head butting the lambs and refusing to let them nurse. Unfortunately, in two days we ended up with three more bummers and another death. No clue why the lamb died, it may have been suffocated by its mother. We have been supplementing grain since the babies have popped out. The ewes are getting mighty skinny. We will be worming them again next week. We wanted to let them have the babies and have the babies be a little older. Last year our weight loss was due to worms. So we treated in the fall and are going to treat again in the early spring/late winter. I just need to verify we have enough medicine to treat all of the ewes.
We have been having a hard time finding bagged sheep feed. We keep looking but everyone else is looking and buying before us. I went ahead and reserved all of the lamb feed coming in this week so we can keep feeding the lambs using our creep gate. We figure if we can get the lambs to eat solid food they will take less calories away from the mothers. I worked on getting the creep gate installed in the opening of the pen under the stairs. I am not sure why we never thought of this before. I put in four eyelets and was able to attach it to one side with a metal pin. I need to get longer eyelets for the other side. I forgot it is a piece of rough cut lumber so its about 2.25” wide. My eyebolt was too short so I had to use the one inch piece next to it and tie on clips to the gate. The gate is not rigid but it does move around, about three inches, until I can get the new eyebolts installed. This movement does not seem to bother the lambs. They get in and out just fine.
I had to go in and pickup some lumber for the barn doors in the office so I grabbed enough to do the frames for the bathroom closet. I did one frame out of 1×4” boards but Annmarie thought it was too heavy. It is solid, no doubt about that. So I picked up a bunch of 1×2” boards to make new frames. I was not sure if my Kreg tool would do this thin of wood but I had no trouble drilling angled holes and assembling the frame with screws. I had to install three pieces on the front of the doors to attach magnets. Once I get all of the frames built I will need to cover up the outer edges of the closet with blue tape and then clamp each frame in place and drill a small hole through the frame and into the closet opening. This will mark my spot to drill the sink holes for the magnets that need to be installed on each side. The blue tape will help protect the wood and let me draw on the frame to mark their proper location.