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.

4C3F97F4-9F99-4DF0-ABFA-ED7EA6687F97

 

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.

076E5B1E-B047-4F3E-B153-EB7472D69C55

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend farming in effect

Now that winter is sort of here I am doing mostly farming on the weekends. We are feeding every night after work in the dark. I only have to feed the sheep every night. The cows are getting large bales so I only have to push them one every week. I do it twice a week so they get a new one every 3-4 days. They do better this way instead of pushing them 2 at the same time. The sheep are doing okay on the hay I baled. Its pretty weedy but I figured since that is what they eat all spring and summer they can eat it in the winter until I can get all the fields replanted and cleaned up. This has led to an extra amount of organic matter being deposited on the barn floor. I think our straw consumption is going to go way down this winter. I have to empty out the feeders every few days to get the uneaten organic matter out and I just dump it on the floor.

I went out on Friday to feed the cows and discovered a brown alpaca laying near the hay pile. I figured it would jump up and run away when I got close with the tractor, it did not do that as it was dead! So instead of feeding I used the tractor to scoop up the recently deceased and take them up the property to become animal food. We really don’t know how old the alpaca are and we have had them for several years now. This was not one we can attribute to the other alpaca bullying.

After dropping off the carcass I was at the far end of the farm and the mower was on the tractor so I went up and started mowing the field I had burned last week. Well I started mowing the portion I got burned. I estimate that at a little over 2 acres. I got it all mowed and it is now ready to disc. I am afraid that Mother Nature is going to decide that winter is really here and freeze the ground soon.

I had a list of “honey do” items that I needed to check off on Saturday. I had been promising to fix a piece of hanging ceiling trim for last 8 years. I had attempted a fix once before. I used epoxy this time so it is never going to come down.

I also worked on cleaning up our under stair closet. It was pretty badly organized, and after throwing away a lot of things and creating a give away bag I managed to make it look much better. I really need to get the power wired into the closet so I can install the under cabinet lights. This is quickly moving to near the top of the “to do” list. Our second bathroom is moving up the priority list also. Annmarie says I need to take five minutes or less in the bathroom in the morning doing my routine evacuation. I say that it should be less than 30 minutes. She does not agree with this timing. So I need to get that second bathroom up and running.

I have been compiling my new to do list for the next six months.

Tile and complete upstairs 1/2 bath

Install under cabinet lights in hallway stair closet (wire light plugs first)

Order spare parts for haying equipment

Order perf plate wall hanging organizers

Order wall organizer with drawers

Fix tractor lights

Install trickle charger on Buggy

Dig ditch in the upper upper pasture (needs to happen sooner than later)

Install culverts x 2 in upper upper pasture

Clean out leaves in yard

Install new pump on 50 gallon sprayer and secure tank in rear of buggy

Install overhead electric lift in machine shed

Wire machine shed for bay lights and two more outlets (in progress)

Fencing blues

Well it’s going to be a long month as I will be fencing by myself. I spent last weekend working on getting more posts set in the ground! I needed to set as many as possible and all of the wooden posts down by the schoolhouse need to be hand dug. I knew if I dug them out with the tractor the holes would be too big.

I also figured out that I need to install another gate in the cross fence that I had not originally planned. I need to be able to go from the front field into the area around the back creek without going through the bottom area. This way I can let the animals down here briefly without letting them get into a newly planted bottom. Mind you, I have not replanted the bottom yet but it is on the agenda to do in the next two years. This picture shows where I want to install the gate. There is just enough room here to get a homemade gate I had laying around installed. I will just need to hand dig two more holes, set two new wooden posts, install 2 more H-braces and re-stretch two sections of fence. More work for me, I just cannot seem to let it lie half done or not done like I want it. I am always looking for functionality and the ability to go around or move from one pasture to the next.

On Sunday, Mr Expert came out and brought a couple of helpers for about three hours. It made a huge difference. We were able to get all of the hand dug holes completed and we set all but 4 railroad ties, 7 wooden posts and 7 T posts that need driven into the ground. I have used another 2 cubic yards of gravel setting wooden posts. I keep tossing the extra out on the dirt covering my newly installed culvert.

The alpaca are incredibly lazy. The brown one in the picture was laying down and eating. That is pretty dang lazy. I was late and did not get my cutting blades from last year sharpened on time. So I ordered new ones but by the time they got here it was too cold to shear the alpaca. They are truly overgrown. It has been two years since I sheared them. There will be some nice long fibers when I do it in the spring. As soon as the rain lets up the alpaca are getting sheared. We were just talking about them as we have no idea how old they are. We have had them 6 years. They lead a very lackadaisical existence.