Thinning the herd

 

3282DB75-6D04-4D23-98BF-1E3DC6872D3CFriday morning we lost water.  Now this happens at least annually and he had just had some power blips so I figured the pump had just kicked off.  The controller resides in the basement of my mother-in-law’s house.  I called a few times and realized she was out of the house.  Around noon I called and she was home, she attempted to reset the pump without success.  I went down to try and see if I could get it started.  The pump controller is pretty complicated so I try not and mess with it too much.  Annmarie has to reprogram it when I do just randomly push buttons and that takes some effort on her part.  We could not find the instruction manual after I tried to turn it off and on (would not do it) then pulled the fuses and got the error code to change from “OC3” to “Er2”.  I then attempted to search the internet for the control manual without success.  I even called a pump distributor with no success.  The longer I stared at the case the more the weird melted plastic section stood out.  I could not ever remember that being there.  I touched the plastic case and discovered that not only was the case melted but that section was hotter than anywhere else on the case.  I called Pendleton Electric, as they do well pump controllers knowledge gained courtesy of Google.  I was able to say I thought the pump controller had burned up and to read the tag on the size with the power ratings.  They wanted the Hp of the well motor but we don’t know it.

We went out to the barn to start sorting sheep and got a call that the repair guys were here.  It was less than two hours from the time I called!  Annmarie went down to answer questions and oversee.  This left the Child and I to sort all of the sheep.  This sounds like a great combination unfortunately sorting out animals is rough on a good day.  If you want to know how well you can work with someone then just try and sort animals with them.  You will realize that everyone else are a bunch of idiots and if they would just do what you ask of them this entire process would go smoothly.  Now when everyone thinks the same thing it tends to cause some problems.  Now that we have more 6 foot panels I was able to create a sweep gate in the back of the barn.  So as we push more sheep down the chute we can keep moving the sweep gate and shrinking their waiting area.  This was Annmarie’s idea but we never had enough panels or lightweight panels to move making this possible.   It worked great and will now be something that happens every time.

They were able to put in a new controller and yes the old one had burned up after 15 years.  The new one has a pressure display in pounds and nothing else.  It’s just a grey box.  You turn off the pump now by pulling the fuses.  Finally, a sensible design.  Unfortunately, they could not get the pressure up to 60#.  They maxed out at 57# which means we most likely have a leak.  Annmarie walked the entire length of the pipe and could not find any water bubbling up. This does not mean we don’t have a leak as Annmarie reminded me there was an area down by Donna’s that was wetter than we thought it should be last year but it never bubbled but it was near the front spring.  So we are going to look at that area hard this spring after all the rain stops or when we lose water totally.

The Child and I had to make some executive decisions as some of the lambs were marked for cull and keep.  Their temperament in the chute decided their fate.  The child doesn’t like sheep with “crazy eyes” and wanted to cull all bad behavior out of the herd.  We saved around 6-8 female lambs to replace the old ewes.  We had to save all the old ewes as they have babies.  We have 6 no tag Barbados sheep.  We had a brand of tag that the sheep could pull out by reaching through the woven wire fences and lost a lot of tags.  We are probably going to have to retag them so we can track their babies.  They all look alike and we would like to track their productivity.  We are going to sort off the ten cull ewes before we put the ram back in with the main herd.  They will spend most of the summer in the orchard so we know they are not pregnant when we sell them.

We ran them through the chute system and had 22 to sell written down and 23 in the pen. We tried to recount several times and discover who I had not written down.  We finally gave up and ran them back through the chute backwards.  All the keep animals were on the inside of the barn so the far end was empty and isolated from the main herd.  Before we got halfway through them we found the one I had missed.   I had set it up so those sell animals would stay in the milking area of the barn and the corral area.  This way when our buyer shows up we can load them and be done in under 15 minutes.

 

E92E12EB-52BA-4CCA-A4FD-1BEA203864BFI had to feed the bull and his two charges and the ram next.  The bull had gotten tired of the four panels surrounding the large bale of alfalfa and had hooked and thrown it off with his horns.  This is one of his talents that he knows and performs on a regular basis.  I pulled a large bale of alfalfa out of the machine shed and pushed it down to Alcatraz.  I had to open the gate to push the bale inside but this let the bull, 2 steer and the ram out.  I thought, foolishly, that they would follow the bale of alfalfa back into their pen.  Nope!  The bull ran over to the far gate and started hollering for female cows.  I got the bale situated and the panels around the new bales.  Both horses were in Alcatraz happily munching on alfalfa when I went out with the tractor to chase the animals back.  No one wanted to back to isolation.  It took me about 30 minutes of tractor wrangling to get everyone back into the pen.  I considered going and getting the dogs but last time I lost my voice convincing them that I was boss.  The tractor worked eventually.   The dogs do best in wide open spaces.  I was unable to get either horse away from the all you can eat alfalfa buffet so I just locked them in with the cows and ram.  Annmarie got them by just walking over to the pen later that evening.  They just walked over to see her, I am not their favorite or their leader.

Removing 23 teenagers, age 6 months or older really opened up the space in the barn.  I was surprised.  It was enough of a difference that we might end up with a teenage herd running around in the barn lot next winter.  We can open up the old lamb shed for shelter and just feed them out of the back of the barn.  I will need to think up a feeder type for the outside of the building.  The real problem are the horses.  What do we do with them?  They need some shelter, they will share with the sheep but an all you can eat buffet is not healthy for them despite what they think of the idea.

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That hurts

This Saturday we decided to tag and band the lambs. There was much discussion (arguing) as to how many lambs we actually had and wether or not the coyotes had been picking them off. Annmarie shot one Friday night and I missed one later in the day Saturday, so we know they are close to the barn lot. We opted to not use the dogs to push the sheep from the barn lot into the barn. We wanted the sheep to remain calm and just mosey on into the barn. Well they were calm, way too calm. We finally had to get shaker sticks to encourage them the last little bit of the way into the barn. Once in the barn we put up three gates to shrink the available area for them to roam in and I grabbed the tag and band supplies. I sit down on the floor of the barn with the supply bin on my left and my coffee to the right. The coffee didn’t last five minutes before some random sheep knocked it over repeatedly. I finally had to give up on having coffee during this labor intensive endeavor (I spent the entire time on my backside while Annmarie did the lamb catching!). We ended tagging 25 lambs and 2/3 of those were boys. We still have had more girls than boys lambs born on the farm since we started over 10 years ago. We have just been increasing the ear tag numbers every year sequentially and we started with the number one.

After the sheep were done we decided to work the cows. This required closing gates and setting up the corral for the cows. I was in the barn getting fly spray for the cows when I heard this bone chilling scream coming from the corral area. Both Hoss and myself were in the barn and we took off for the corral. I thought Annmarie was being mauled and stomped by the bull or one of the three steer in the corral. Nope, the asshole of the bee verse, a yellow jacket, had stung her on the hand and she had responded by trying to verbally assault the offending party at the top of her lungs. She went inside to treat the fire in in her hand after I agreed to find and kill the offending party. I had placed an old sheep horn in the corral fencing and it made a great place to build a Yellow jacket nest. I gave Hoss the spray and told him to go kill all the offending parties. He did and then we sprayed the cows with fly spray, we had to let the four cows out of the chute after the bull and another started fighting. We ended up letting the bull go out to the other female cows. He has not been near the house since rejoining the female persuasions.

Hoss and I then went up to the Upper Prime Field and finished installing wood stays along the creek side of the new fence. We used 100 of the 200 I had just purchased the night before. On the way out of the field we stopped and patched the new cross fence in six places. The last little section of fence near the new T -brace and new gate needed to be reworked. Hoss had not stapled the fence to the T-brace, once we did that a wire needed moved down to just above the woven wire. A few more wooden stays got installed and the fence is now sheep proof! The new fence, a section of the old fence has 6 strands and no woven wire. It may need some more T-posts and wooden stays but for now it should keep the sheep inside.

Hoss will start in on the next pasture on Monday, I want him to start in on the wheat field side and we will work our way around the field counter clockwise. I figure it will take 2-3 weeks to get it done, no more than 4 weeks hopefully.

Fence repair and build continues

I sent Hoss up into the upper prime pasture to look for the Bull’s escape route. I told him to go to the upper spring crossing as he loves ducking under the crossings. Yep, that is what he did. Hoss did not think he was capable of going under the fence.

The crossing should be Bull proof now, he should not be able to slide the panel up over his back with that 2×6 in his way.

Hoss has been working on getting all of the H braces secured and built. Once this is done we will be able to start stretching fence and getting it secured appropriately.

I went up and helped for a short while on Friday morning and we we got the back cross fence out of the weeds and started securing the bottom to the posts and T posts. I remembered this time to check and see how Hoss was doing with the T-post clip application. The helpers usually need to be shown how to install them. This was true on Friday also. I got him straightened out and we started attaching the bottom two clips through the dip. Once those are secured we will tighten the fence some more and get it all up. Hoss will be back on Monday to get the odds and ends caught up and then back at the fencing.

The freight company texted me on Friday afternoon to drop off the new hay equipment but even though I called immediately they did not answer. I will call first thing Monday morning so we can get the hay equipment delivered. I will get it hooked up and get about another 3 acres cut! I may get another 3-5 tons of nice grass. Hoss is going to clean off the loaner equipment so we can get it back on the pallets and get it sent back to the company this week.

We need to use bull Alcatraz

Annmarie called me on Wednesday, while I was at work to let me know that the bull was out. When I went to answer her call I noticed that I had a text on my phone from a neighbor saying our bull was out. Her call was that he was out and she had managed to get him into a neighbor’s corral and needed me to bring the horse trailer.

So I drove home and got Hoss to back up to the horse trailer. We have not used the trailer since we bought it two years ago. We knew it would be needed. Hoss and I had to unload the wood out of the trailer before we could use it. It had a flat tire and the spare was flat. Luckily, I knew there was a tire pump in the pickup we just needed to get there to use it.

We were able to back right up to the corral and use two panels to make an alleyway and the bull just went right into the trailer. Usually the bull pushes through a creek crossing or gets through the wires. Hoss will look at the fence line after they get the bull put away. I convinced Annmarie that we should put the bull up with the steers in the upper prime pasture as we just fixed that fence. I went back to work as they unloaded the bull.

Annmarie called me again at work in the early afternoon to say that the bull was out again!! This time he had gone the other way and headed up the creek. Annmarie headed up with the pickup and dogs to push him our way. I headed home early. I should have stopped at the house and change shoes, but I knew that Annmarie wanted to get done as our company had just arrived and she had left them alone at the house.

As I was driving up the gravel road looking for Annmarie I called her and she hollered stop I see you as I drove down the road. She had been with the uncooperative bull and the two deaf dogs for over 45 minutes. One would not know that she was to be ordained this week as a priest!! Mouse thought that the only way to move the bull was to grab his tail or bite his heels. I ended up having to walk up to the bull and take over the dogs as they had gotten ahead of Annmarie. I got him down to the road and let him out onto it. He started ambling home and I went and got my car. I could see Annmarie coming off the hill but the bull was going out of sight. Once Annmarie saw the car moving a steady stream of yelled comments began and I ended up stopping, getting out and chasing the bull on foot while Annmarie drove the car. The dogs, I and the car pushed him back to top of our property and he turned down and started headed home. We got him into the corral and locked him in. He will be staying there until Sunday so we don’t have to chase him down again. It took us two hours this time to get him.

The next day the bull had a pretty bad limp. He has a bad left front foot and when he walks too much it bothers him. He was not getting any sympathy from either one of us its his own fault.

More white stuff

I went around this morning after chores and moved more snow! I made it a point to go behind the machine shop and clear that gravel road, so the trash guys can just drive around the loop. Having the trash picked up every week is a luxury in the country and I need to spoil those guys whenever I can because we really appreciate it. The cows are starting to get covered in snow as they are not going down to the old school house or the willows to shelter from the weather. I think they think they will miss out on a meal if they go down there. I can now open the gate wide open, leave it open and just drive out into the pasture and all the cows follow the tractor and ignore the open gate. the food is with me and they all know it.

I stayed outside this morning for 2.5 hours until my hands and toes started to go numb. They were pretty red by the time I got inside and warmed them up at the gas stove.

We had another single lamb born this morning. I got her and ther mother into the momma baby area. The only problem is that tonight when I went out to feed and water the mommas and babies I noticed a possible prolapsed uterus or afterbirth. The problem with this is the ewe is very wild and wont let me get close to her. She is on the watch list and Annmarie will let me know how she is doing in the morning. We may have to pin her down and administer some care to her against her will.

The quail are now coming every day to eat on our back hillside. I had forgotten to feed them and had to go back out and give them their quart of food.

I have a horror story about last night. I put another coat of Varethane on last night so I am back to sleeping downstairs in the craft room on the floor. I woke up at 0130 freezing to death! I was shivering and cold. I thought it was time to wake up. Somehow the half door had gotten closed stopping all heat from entering the room. I got up out of bed, opened the door and went out to the living room and turned up the heat! I also took every throw blanket off of the couch and dug the only one downstairs out of a drawer. I felt like a mummy when I crawled back into my bed but I did fall asleep without suffocating.

The two bully alpaca are stuck out in the orchard. They have melted down a body wide hole in the snow and maintain it. I hardly every see them up and about. I suspect this is what they do in the wild. The rest of them just go into the machine shed and find cover. It is supposed to snow another 4-6 inches of snow tonight. It is official this February we have received the most snow on record about the last 125 years. We knew it was not normal and we were right. Now it needs to melt off slowly in the mountains or we are going to have some major points of flooding.