Fooled me

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.

Been a doozy 2020

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.

  • Lamb update
  • 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.

Is it dead?

The weather is trying to decide what to do. We had another 1.5” of rain, for a total of 20.18” this year. The power outage wiped our cumulative number off our gauge so now I will have to keep a running total. The last two days the wind has been howling 40+ MPH, which caused a new tree branch to be lodged in the front yard. It was supposed to snow 6-12” in the mountains also. We can see snow from the house but I don’t know how much was actually laid down. The wind was so bad that our old black alpaca was laying down with his butt to the wind and his neck stretched out and head on the ground. Annmarie could see him from the kitchen window and was convinced he had died. He moved his head after a few minutes but he is old. He stays in the orchard with the two sheep because he can still go to the fence, grumble and spit at the other alpaca and he does not have to fight them as they cannot get to him. It’s the perfect setup for a grumpy old man.

We had a power outage last night. Luckily, the potatoes were already baked in the oven, I had already started steaming the broccoli and I had already cut up the toppings. The only thing I was waiting on was to zap the bacon bits in the microwave just before we needed them. Since we have a propane cooktop I just used the lighter to fire up the burner, no electricity needed and the bacon bits got warm and a little crunchier. To fire up our free standing propane stove you just put 4 AA batteries in the holder at the bottom of the stove and turn on the switch and it fires right up! The repair person had just been out 30 minutes before we lost power to put in a new thermostat controller in it so I was able to message him and get a quick answer. We had not needed to do that in the last 13 years. It’s a good thing to know. Sarah opted to stay for dinner as she did not know she still had power at her house. The outage only affected around 25 households according to the power company website. Annmarie checked it when she went in to the hospital for rounds. We had power in the morning! We also figured out that our fancy old style phone was the problem not my phone jack wiring job!! So now we have an old school, no power necessary, phone in our bedroom. We still have a landline. The old lamps worked great once we found them all. They use a liquid wax not oil, its safer and works well.

I had noticed that my chickens are laying fewer eggs and the other night I went in the coop after dark and realized that the light was out. So I replaced the light and two days later they had already broken the new light bulb. It is inside a glass shade but if they fly around they can still break the filament causing the lightbulb to not work. I really need a LED light to go inside the coop. The chickens had even missed the automatic door and I found 9 chickens outside the coop two days ago. They were not real happy with being tossed into the coop unceremoniously. Some of them even voiced their displeasure at the efficient handling.

I picked up our processed pig yesterday and brought it home and put it in the newly defrosted freezer. There is just enough room left to put the two lambs in after the pig and cow are stored, one shelf left. Both freezers will be full next week. We have been missing lamb from our diet.

Annmarie has me doing gluing on her laser projects. I am ok with just being the assembly person! She made a circular lantern that had no glue, hands down the hardest to assemble so far. Incredibly tight tolerances and I even had to sand down one piece to get it to go together. She is cutting out more pieces today.

Forever Friday 18/42

We had very good friends over for the weekend. It was a wonderful weekend and the best part is we will get to see them on their return trip! We ate good food all weekend, Doom got to take pictures, but he did not get the quail and had a hard time with the humming birds. I think he did finally manage to get a hummingbird. He had to use his cell phone to take the dragonfly picture and he missed out on the hawk that swooped out of the tree, into the wild rose bush and a minute later flew out with a finch in its claws and then flew up on the tree to perch for thirty seconds. He had no camera for that one.

Sarah’s new boyfriend took the alpaca picture below. He takes pretty good pictures.

I was sleeping Saturday night when I woke up to this banging sound. I was sure it was a raccoon on the back porch. But does one sneak downstairs to grab the 22 LR pistol and jump out the back door and blast away when one has company? I did think about it but this is war and I aim to win so I snuck downstairs and leaped out the back door, in pajamas, to battle my nemesis and it was nothing. I went back to bed and still heard the sound but it was not raccoons. I did not have to explain to our company what those gunshots were.

On Sunday, Doom and I walked around the barn lot and he found two more piles of pine lumber I have stashed away. He may work a trade on a new bathroom vanity for some lumber. We will see how negotiations progress. We had a call by a neighbor about a new calf out in the bottom pasture near the schoolhouse. The problem with this is we should not have any calves born until March 2021. But one should never not go investigate. Annmarie and I drove up the road and found a pile of twine out in the field that looked like a newborn calf laying down. I need to pick it up eventually.

Spa Day

Slim came out today to help groom the alpaca.  We sorted animals last time so it was alpaca shearing day.  Annmarie tells me we should just arrange to have it done with someone else local we know who has a custom shear outfit come do their animals.  I need to see about getting our fiber processed and then decide what we are going to do but for now, we do our own.

We had to move the shear table around, run power cords out to the barn and get all the tools ready before we caught any animals.  We then rounded them all up and put them behind the barn.  I caught the first one and we started in.  First, you put the halter on, then you stand them up next to the shear table and then swing the table down and hold the alpaca on it so it is now laying on the table.  Tie both respective legs together and stretch the animal out on the table.  Tie its head to the corner eyelet.  Now shave half the body.  This year we only kept the saddle portion of the hair. Once you have all but the lower feet and head shaved you untie two feet and shave them.  Next you use the hoof trimmer scissors to cut away the curved toenails.  Try not to cut the foot or get the quick on the toenail.  So far I have not made a single alpaca bleed this year. Now do the other feet, shave then cut toenails. Tie every body part back up and let the head loose and remove the halter, shave the head and now its time to rock and roll!  One person holds the head, the other one takes the hard rubber dog chew toy and gets it into the alpaca mouth and holds it in place so I can cut out the fighting teeth.  This all has to be done so that I don’t cut the tongue or lips with the finger saw.  Once that is done then I have to take the Dremel tool and grind down the front teeth so they are even and match up with the top hard palate.  It smells and its not fun.

Once the animal has had its full spa treatment we untie all legs and let the head go and I spin and rotate the animal off of the table.  It works pretty slick and we don’t have to try and lift the table and slide them off off of it.  We tried that and they are not very graceful.

The alpaca are the ultimate passive aggressive animal.  We managed to get 6 of 8 sheared today and only one did not do the belly flop and refuse to stand up.  As you can see above they just lay down and we had to lift them up, shove your knee under their belly and then flip the table to a horizontal position.

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We had an audience for most of the day.  A new barn swallow who we are pretty sure is not ready for the great outdoors.

We had to stop when the power went out.  We later learned that the wind blowing knocked over  a tree which in turn killed the power to a large area for a couple of hours.

 

We had lucky number 7 alpaca already on the table strung up and ready to go.  We did his toes since he was there and then let him go.  We will get the last two next week hopefully.

As soon as we let the first four out they ran over to lay down and scratch their backs on the grass and weeds.  Slim and I emptied the pickup bed and removed the gravel so we can take the pickup and trailer to an auction in the morning.

Annmarie went out and cut herbs from the garden and wrapped them all up.  I hung them up on thee breeze porch to dry.  As soon as the upstairs bathroom is done I will clean up the breeze porch again.

Annmarie missed another rock chuck out in the ram pasture.  I ran upstairs but when she started to fling lead it ran out of my field of view.  I may have to put out some targets in the field and up on the hill so I can do some practice shots from the bedroom window.

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