Well, we keep after it and it seems like another set of lambs pop out every other day. We have had two sets of twins and another single this week. We are getting so desperate for it to be over that we went out and counted every ewe we had. Annmarie made a database with all the ewes in it so we can mark them off after they have their babies. We needed to know when we are going to be done. We have 7 ewes left and as of this morning we still had seven ewes to deliver for a total of 38 ewes delivering.
We started to ask around about survival rate on the lambs. One old farmer told us anything over 75% was acceptable. I did an internet search and found a study out of Canada from their country agricultural department and they said anywhere from 10-30%. They wanted all farms to be <10% but in the study the average was 16% and as high as 33%. Since this is the first year we have tracked it we are just going to have to watch it from year to year and see how we do. They did say that if you have a single lamb then the survival rate is >90% and twins its >70%. So it varies dramatically by how many lambs your ewes are producing. The other interesting fact was the males die at a higher percentage than female lambs, males are the weaker gender. We have had 11 lambs die and one of the oddities we have started to notice is that >50% of them are brown and white in coloration. We have about five distinct colors among the new lambs but over half that have died are brown and white. The other thing we have noticed is that if the lambs are screamers, even if they nurse, they still have a tendency to die. We are not sure what that means other than males are the weaker gender. We have not been checking genders on the dead lambs, maybe next year.
Mouse looks so peaceful here. He is all about working when he is outside. He wants to move animals all the time.
I have been working on getting the upstairs bathroom ready but caught the plague from Annmarie and have been out of the picture for 36 hours. I need to order the tongue and groove boards for the walls and ceiling this week. I have still not done that and keep saying I will.
This is what the floor looks like before it is all dry. The dark red is the dry area. It paints on pink. I tried to use foam brushes but discovered that they tear up and it takes me 3 brushes to get a single coat on the floor. I want to do one more coat and am hoping to do it this afternoon. After this last coat dries I will have a waterproof membrane down and it will be ready for tile. This needs to be done as spring is coming and I will be stuck outside for months on end trying to keep up with the spraying and haying. Our new battery for the buggy is here and I need to install it and the trickle charger, then mount the sprayer so it is ready to go this spring.
These are not Siamese twins, some sheep are just greedy. They were trying to get more grain than was their due and figured that crowding their way in would work. Sarah wanted to know what to do about them. She thought that she would have to cut the feeder apart to get them loose. I told her to just ignore them and continue feeding, they would get themselves loose. They figured out how to get out of the feeder on their own with no human assistance. Just like a cat figuring out how to get down from a tree!
On Sunday, Sarah and I went outside and worked the sheep. We tagged and banded all the babies and turned everyone loose into the main herd. It took almost three hours in the barn to get everything done. I even hung some hooks for the buckets so you can now find a needed bucket quickly and they are out of the way.
It seems like a fairly simple idea, but not one we had put in place. I blame all of the LEAN projects I have been doing at work on getting the right supply to the right place as fast as possible and as conveniently as possible.
I am still working on the upstairs bathroom. I really want to get it to a place where I can lay down tile. I cut the first piece of hardiboard with the skilsaw and had dust everywhere! It took 20 minutes for the dust to settle down on the breeze porch and I still had to open two windows to get it. I switched to a utility knife and breaking it along th escorted line afterwards. It takes longer but there is no dust. I just need to get the 3” tall wall pieces installed and the bathroom backsplash done and I can start painting the Redgard water sealant on. That is going to be key to making it waterproof.
Annmarie and I are tired of lambing season dragging out. The ram was definitely taking his time. We have been lambing since Christmas and are just over half way done. We are in serious discussions on getting a second ram, maybe that will spur some competition?
It is very hard to believe that this is the end of January. The weather has been incredibly mild. In the last 28 days we have gotten just over 4” of rain. We usually get 12” annually. The ground is so saturated that if you look out in this field, all the little brown spots are worm mounds from them surfacing to avoid drowning, that is a lot of worms! This is prime fencing weather but since I am supposed to be inside the house doing home improvement projects I don’t get to go outside and fence all winter long. Being able to fence all winter long is not a problem that normally occurs.
I have been working on the upstairs bathroom. I have the closet almost roughed in and finish wood on the walls. I still need to build one stem wall and a frame for the closet door. I am going to hold off on the rest of the closet build until I get the floor tile installed. I can do that while we are waiting on the plumber to come in and install the sink and toilet.
I was super stoked that I managed to get the closet floor cut and installed on the first try only using a tape measure and square to draw out the pattern on plywood. It just needed some judicious use of nylon hammer to get it into place. I am all ready to start installing the Hardiboard on the floor. Once that is in I can start painting the Red Guard on to create a waterproof barrier to set the tile on top of preventing any toilet water from ending up in the downstairs ceiling. Barring no complications I should have the Hardiboard down and the Red Guard done over the weekend and will be able to start laying tile next weekend. I am hoping to lay all of the floor tile in one setting. Once it has cured for 24 hours I will come back and put the floor trim tile up on the wall. I am not going to use pool tile grout this time. I am using an epoxy base but it’s not quite as sticky as the stuff I used last year. When I was talking to the tile shop I was told I should only have done about three square feet of grout at a time so I could clean it all up quickly. I am pretty sure we did about six square feet of grout at a time and it was painful. I am still cleaning up grout in some low traffic areas a year later.
Zeke is figuring out how to get out of the front yard again. He was jumping at the lower wire strand to make it loose so he could crawl under it but he has figured out how to get out without doing that now. I am going to drill through the 4×4 posts and string another wire through the posts and see if that keeps him in. It is crazy how hard it is to keep him in the yard. Mouse hardly leaves even if he front gate is left open!
My baby pullets just started to lay this week! Instead of getting three eggs a week we have gotten two dozen in the last four days. Our egg customers will be happy to get eggs as we were not selling any.
We did have another single lamb born this morning. Annmarie and I think the ram got tired when he was doing his job this summer. It’s like he had to save up energy before he could rush in for a few days then take a break to build up more energy, he is no Energize bunny. We are seriously considering a second ram to cause some competition between the two rams.
Total lambs born (dead or alive): 28
# of singles: 5
# of twins: 7
# of triplets: 3
Stillborn lambs: 1
# died without a tag: 4
# bummered: 3
# ewes delivered: 15
# lambs alive on property: 20
Birth rate (alive & dead included): 187% (goal>150%)
Ewe productivity after 1 week (live lambs on farm): 140% (goal >125%)
Lamb success (live lambs on farm after 1 week): 71% (max 100%)
I went out this morning to do chores in the barn and discovered a two new lambs. The only real problem with this is I spotted another ewe with her water sack hanging out. I tried to get everyone else out of the barn and keep the new momma and her in the barn. She panicked and leaped past me and out with the main herd. I tried to corral the new momma and babies under the stairs by grabbing both babies and sticking them under the stairs, but every time I turned to leave one of the lambs kept following me out. The other lamb could hardly stand so I wanted her in a confined space so it could have a chance to nurse. I finally managed to get her confined and then set a timer for two hours to come back out and check on the twins and see if I could spot the water ewe. I was wondering if the weak twin was really the water ewe’s baby, but the other ewe took both babies so I was unsure. Most of our sheep will not take a stranger’s baby, except for #1 ewe, she will nurse anything. I went inside to start doing more planning on the upstairs bathroom.
I went upstairs to draw on the wall. Annmarie and I looked at it last night and decided that at a bare minimum I was going to have to move the light location above the mirror, maybe a power outlet also. So I figured I better draw it all out on the wall so I could see where everything goes and make sure it would all fit. I do need to move the light over the mirror. Luckily, its not very far so I won’t have to run new wire.
When Annmarie, got back from church we went out to the barn to check on the sheep. I was pleasantly surprised when we looked under the stairs. Annmarie said there were triplets!! I had to look as I didn’t believe her. I had pictures to prove that there was only two when I left two hours earlier.
I went back upstairs to do more planning. I hate planning but at this point I need to get it all down on paper and cemented in my brain so I can get a seamless install. I moved the light box and started to look at how to alter the dresser to accommodate plumbing and a new granite top. Annmarie helped me trace out the top of the dresser design onto plastic and then we went downstairs and ordered the sink, drain and picked out our single hole faucet. We had to email an inquiry about the faucet as it is not in stock in most stores we found. We want to get the sink and the faucet here and I want to get the countertop ordered so they have time to finish it as the front and sides are scalloped gently.
I am going to have to alter the top drawer so the we can use half of the drawer and move out and in easily. I am going to have to buy a few pieces of finish wood to get the drawer redone. I will be gluing, screwing and using finish nails to get the pieces in nice and tight.
When we fed the sheep and locked them in at night we did not have any new babies and there were still only triplets under the stairs. All three triplets are girls and they are all doing well and nursing. We will keep all three as replacements for our herd. We also just ordered an ear not her so we can start marking ewes to cull. We are going to start swapping out some of the older ewes.
We managed to get the entire momma/baby area fence torn out and reinstalled. I brought the tractor in and we leveled the entire area, reset two posts, fixed a couple of H-braces and restrung the fence. It looks great and now the dry flower area is completely protected.
Upstairs bathroom insulating ducts
We switched to installing insulation and attempting to finish up the framing in the bathroom. We have about five more boards to install so we can sandwich insulation around the horizontal duct. Once that last little bit of framing is done we will start getting the plywood up and cover all the insulation. My hope is that with this insulation we will get hotter air downstairs. This next winter will be the test. Annmarie and I are still trying to come to an agreement on what type of ceramic tile to put on the floor. She wants the same thing that we used downstairs. I want a tile no bigger than 8×8 inches. That size will be easier to install if the floor is not level, which I am sure it is not.