The last couple of weeks have been hectic. I have been trying to finish up little projects all over the place. I have finally managed to get the last of the kitchen doors installed! I had to cut down another one to get them to fit correctly. We will be doing some touch up painting in place now but honestly the new color is so much nicer than the yellow. It really brings the countertop and backsplash together in a way that the yellow did not. I do not see us doing that again for at least another 20 years to allow us time to forget how awful it was the first time.
I went out one morning to feed the horse and she would not eat! This is so odd that I stopped doing and looked around to figure out what the horse was doing as she was not at the pile I had just placed outside the barn. She kept staring out into the area behind the grain bins. I walked over to her, pet on her and started to scan the area myself and spotted it, a calf elk was stuck behind the fence. It kept running alongside the fence line looking for a way back out into the wheat field. I walked around and opened up the gate and allowed the calf to run out into the stubble field. I figured it had just wandered down and would wander back up into the mountains.
We have been dressing the baby alpaca’s wound on its right back leg and it is doing great. It went from horrible, to bigger, to not as deep and then to closed with a small scab. It was a daily dressing and then finally I went every couple of days to just watching it the last four days. They keep trying to one up each other and this one figured he could be king of the hill so he took the opportunity to lord it over everyone else. I let Snoop and the injured Musketeer out to roam with the rest of the alpaca herd. They are getting tamed down quite nicely. Annmarie keeps treats in her car so if you are a woman and get out of a car alone at our house the alpaca all run over to you to see if there are treats. They don’t bite but the crowding is a little disconcerting if you are not used to it. They don’t even touch you, they just get really close.
The barn clean out is finally complete, I managed to get it all done yesterday. This is a process that I have been at for a few weeks. The momma/baby area was and is the hardest part to do as it must be done all by hand. I had a thought about ripping out the wooden dividers and gates and taking the large grain bin out which would allow me to clean up that area with a tractor but it has some much added expense. We would need to get about ten more aluminum panels to pen up and divide the momma/babies. Those panels are not nearly as tall but they are always lifted to stay on top of the current depth of matter on the barn floor. The permanent walls have to be pretty high to accommodate the detritus. I will again lament the availability of a teenager to work the summer doing yard work, pulling weeds, digging out the ditch and digging out the barn. I really hope I can find one for next year that likes to do hard manual labor 2-3 days a week all summer long. We are going to let the barn sit empty for another 2-3 weeks then we will toss down bales for the sheep to tear open and spread around on the floor.
We have been talking about getting our septic tank pumped for the last two years. The holdup is on getting the truck into our front yard. The plan was for me to rebuild the bridge and then they could just drive over it. Well in the last two years I have not managed to find the time to do that. But we were starting to get nervous as the tank had not been pumped out in 15 years. The price of materials is very high now and the thought of having to try and replace a drainage field is frightening. So I had two dump truck loads of gravel brought out to the farm and put in the barn lot, a load of 3” and a load of 1.5”. I cleaned up the spring crossing as it is running over basalt outcropping. I had wood and big rocks to get out of the way. I used some of the big rocks to extend the rock wall behind the barn. I placed them all and then covered them with gravel. I then took a small tamping stick and moved the gravel all around to fill in all of the cracks amongst the rocks. The sheep like to play on the rock wall and we don’t want any of them breaking an ankle. I used some of the bigger rocks as a base in the stream bed and then tossed down the 3” rock. I think I could have gotten all of the water to go through the gravel, but it is 3” minus and there were too many smaller rocks. I did manage to get about 80% of the water to flow through the gravel. I spent a few hours getting the crossing all ready for a heavy truck. I called the septic tank company after the Round Up was over. Nothing happens during Round Up and I was super busy at work and did not have the time to spare either, nothing happens during Round Up. I had left large piles of material dug out from the barn on either end of the barn to be cleaned out later. It took me almost a day to clean up the piles of straw, manure and to drag the entire barn lot clean of horse poop. It’s time to start getting things ready for winter.
We need to sort the sheep one more time this summer. We need to count the number we have for butchering. I thought we had the right amount sorted. Annmarie thinks I may have shorted us in the last sorting. We have been hearing the coyotes moving nearer to our house at night. This is usually the reason we are short animals.
Annmarie and Donna are still working on taming down the alpaca. They are getting pretty sure of themselves and don’t mind coming and having a look to see if you will let them into the yard and allow them to eat the green grass.
We have decided that it is imperative we get our septic tank pumped. It has been 15 years and it is way past due. Unfortunately, I was not able to get the bridge built this year. I have run out of time and money this year and it will have to be put off for another time. The real problem is the water has worked its way under every single culvert we have across the front spring. The flooding just washes right under them. So we decided to repair the old crossing and improve on it. They used to drive through the spring in the barn lot. It sits on bedrock so the vehicle doesn’t sink when you drive through but the approach was pretty steep and all dirt so with just a little water on it it would become impassable. We ordered up ten yards of 3” gravel and ten yards of 1.5” gravel and had it dumped in the barn lot on Friday. So I spent five hours on Friday cleaning up the area, moving out six loads of driftwood from the flooding and moving large rocks out of the way. I used the biggest rocks to extend the rock wall I am creating behind the barn. I was able to extend the wall another eight feet. I only have about thirty feet left to build. I used the smaller 6-8” rocks in the bed of the waterway then buried them with 3” rock. The rock was not all solid 3”, it had a lot of smaller rock in with it. I think if I had all 3” rock I could have gotten all of the water to run through the rock and none over the top. Now mind you by the time I got the 1.5” rock spread out over the 3” and up both sides of the approaches there is only a little bit of water flowing over the top, most of it is going through the rock bed. We are now ready for the septic pumping truck to drive through the spring. Unfortunately, this is a temporary fix if we have another flood it will wash out the gravel. As soon as I finish digging out the barn, picking up and unloading all of the cow alfalfa I will be going to the far end of the property and working on a flood break right next to the road. I need to stop the flooding from coming down the middle of every upper field. After that I have to start prepping fields for planting. I may have to prep for planting before I do the digging for flooding. Actually, I will have to do the planting first. I did not dig out the barn like I had planned, any excuse to put off digging is always welcome.
I had no more excuses and the barn needs to be dug out. So today I finished digging out the main part of the barn, closed the bottom half of the doors to allow for the wind and heat to pass through the barn easily, allowing the wooden floor to dry out. I have to shut the doors or the horse goes in there, hangs out and poops everywhere. I had to shovel some extra horse poop today as I had not been shutting the doors. The main section of the barn is completed and I have about 60% of the momma/baby area all dug out. I have about 3-4 hours of hand digging left. If I was smart I would rip out the entire momma/baby area and buy another $2k worth of aluminum panels. This would let me clean up almost the entire barn with the tractor and we could make pens on top of the flooring and continue to lift the panels as the material on the floor continued to pile up. It’s more money and currently we are planning a trip overseas, a bridge in the barn lot, finish the office in the old house and remodel the downstairs bathroom so we have plenty of other items to spend our money on.
The little white alpaca is going to live, I think. The wound looks a ton better than it did when we started. It is about 50% healed at this point and I was able to find some 4” Medipore tape that will stick to the hair on the alpaca! So now I can keep a dressing on the wound and not have to dig dried dirt and mud out of the wound every evening. I only found three maggots yesterday. I am having to cut away the dead tissue with a razor knife. The edges got hard and scabby and the wound didn’t want to heal so I have been trimming those off and the edges are now starting to heal. The alpaca does not particularly like this process. We tie it to the corral and use the hose to get it all clean. It is much easier to do with two people. I had to do it one night alone and it was harder. Annmarie will be gone several days this week so I will be doing it alone. I am hopeful that the wound will be healed in a week.
Annmarie spotted a small calf down with our main herd by the schoolhouse four days ago. We looked again yesterday and it looks like one of our cows had twins! They were both running around and playing. So now we will need to run the cows back up to the barn and sorting chute and tag and band the calves. We want to swap the main herd to the other end of the farm as there is more food above the house than below.
I spent most of the weekend working on the barn. It needs to have all of last year’s sheep excrement and straw dug out. I was unable to get a teenager to work for me for the summer. No one is real keen on lots of weed pulling, lawn mowing, weed eating, ditch digging, barn digging and chicken coop cleaning. It’s too bad, the wages are decent and a hard days labor is good for the soul. Since no one else did it, I needed to do it. I used the John Deere tractor as it is small enough to maneuver inside the barn. After the manure forks are attached to the bucket it is not too bad. I have most of the barn dug out after about 13 total hours. I have only hand digging left to do. I use the tractor bucket as the wheelbarrow and just fill it with a pitchfork and shovel. After a few hours on the tractor and smelling like ammonia it is time to do something else. I came in on Sunday and just wanted to lay down on the floor in the laundry room and take a nap after spending five hours in the barn. I tried to nap but the smell of ammonia was so overpowering from my clothes I finally had to strip and shower. I never did get that nap. I wired outlets in the old house, another 13 done. I have one wire to pull down from the ceiling and I will install the track lighting next. The goal is to get power to the building in the next six weeks so the heat pump can be installed.
We also spent about half a day over the weekend cleaning house. There is still a lot of paint dust laying around on every object in the kitchen. On Tuesday, the housekeeper came out and wiped down the entire kitchen so the dust is now gone.
The puppy, Chance, is painful. Yes she is very cute, I love the droopy ear on the right side but she thinks she can jump on you and the furniture nonstop. She does know she is not supposed to some of the time but takes constant reminders to maintain good behavior. If she gets out the front gate she does not want to come back to the house. Packing a 25# puppy over 300 yards is not fun.
Today Annmarie called me to tell me that one of the young alpaca was bleeding and his wound needed to be addressed today. No one had noticed anything amiss prior to this. Annmarie opened the front yard gate and pushed the alpaca toward it, like a curious cat, they all ran for the open gate to see what was on the other side. When I got home we went to get a halter for the alpaca and discovered the horse was panting and drooling. Her tongue was about twice its normal size. She has been in the barn lot for weeks so we are unsure what happened. She was able to eat food and she refused water so we will keep watching her. After we caught the baby white alpaca I proceeded to try and clean off the wound to see what type of injury there was. There were a lot of flies, a lot of maggots and a lot of caked on dirt all over the wound and in it. I cleaned it with a little bit of water to make sure there would not be a lot of bleeding if I opened up the wound. I turned on the hose and started to clean the surrounding tissue of dirt, maggots and dead tissue. It took about 15 minutes to get the wound all cleaned out. I finally had to use my pocket knife to dig out maggots in three places as they had tunneled enough I could not get them with my fingers. I cut away some dead tissue. The wound is about 1.5” wide and 5” long and about 3/4” deep in places. It has been there for a while but didn’t start to bleed until last couple of days due to maggots getting to a blood laden area. We doused it with betadine then used some antibiotic spray, nonabsorbent dressing and some Coban around the top of the leg where the wound was located. The injured alpaca and Snoop (buddy) will be living in the corral for a couple of weeks to allow us to treat the wound daily. If the wound starts to tunnel bad we will just put the alpaca down so it does not suffer. Otherwise, we will try and get the wound to heal. We will see what it looks like tomorrow.
Sunday we had to catch one of the alpaca. It had managed to pick up about a four foot piece of old barb wire into its hair. They are just not quite tame enough to walk right up to and grab. So we opened the hay area on the machine shed and they all bum rushed it cause they knew we would chase them out soon. Instead we shut the gate and trapped in eight of them. The more there are the easier they are to catch, this also causes unexpected problems. We spent the whole five minutes hollering at them every time they acted like they were going to spit on each other we kept yelling at them to not spit on us. Luckily, they complied and we did not end up with spit on us. We had to cut the barb wire out of its hair and managed to pull out a dead branch stuck in another’s backside.
The farm diesel was delivered sometime last week. We filled the tractors!! This is so cool. It does take a lot of active hard pumping to get the manual pump primed but it was dang slick. I am super stoked to have it available on demand.
We did finally manage to get to the ceiling. We got the entire ceiling done!! All the knots, holes and cracked warped boards look great once installed, but not very fun to put up over your head. It made my pectoral and back muscles sore every time. I am still hopeful that we will get the windows this next week so they can be installed. There is a huge pile of scrap wood on the porch that needs to go to the burn pile, between the flaws that had to be cut out and my inability to get the angle correct on the first cut I have a very large pile of burnable material. It is supposed to rain again this next weekend so we will not be haying for at least another two weeks. The inability to hay is making me crazy. It looks like the office is going to get more progress and at this rate I may get it done by July.