Making babies

February 5, 2022 is the day that our new ram, KRK2 was turned loose into the main herd. Annmarie has nicknamed him ”Casper” as he is very friendly with long white hair. Within five minutes of arrival he was already trying to do his business! He is small compared to his counterpart but getting the job done is what matters. We should have babies June 27-July 7 according to the online calculator we consulted. We had a discussion on whether we needed a second ram but Casper is going to get a crack at everyone this first time and we will see how he does.

I had to go out and rearrange the barn to open it all back up so the sheep are mixed together. I kept the two going to slaughter off in our momma/baby area but they are going away in 12 days. We normally keep that area closed off when not in use.

I saw some Dorper rams for sale this weekend on Craigslist but Annmarie reminded me that we had one Dorper die in a year and the second one was so mean he had to be put down because he was not safe to be around. I am still finding billy clubs stashed all over the barn from our precautions when he was alive. Our ram before Casper had injured his back leg and is unable to perform his job. He is super nice, great temperament and very large bodied just unable to do his job. He is going to be ground sheep for a family who does a lot of Andalusian cooking. They will appreciate him in a different way.

We have our kill dates for the animals starting this month, it was later than anticipated. Due to the rising prices of meat in the grocery store, people are starting to go back to the farm for their meat. This is good for us but bad for getting animals processed. I tried to call and make an appointment with our old processer. A slot in their calendar is 14 months out! This would mean feeding the animals through the winter again. I found a place in Lagrande that would do it at the beginning of September, so I signed up for four cattle slots and I will have to deliver the cows to the abatoir.

I was able to go buy 4-5” wooden posts x160 on Friday from a salvage company at $4/ea. Heck of a deal, I may go back in a few weeks and offer them less if there are still posts available. Its enough posts to build 50+ H braces for fences. I need a bundle of railroad ties still. We are going to finish the corner fence down by four corners. This will mean installing four H braces and one corner brace out of railroad ties. This is to match the current fence that is up. I will install one 12’ gate and cross one water drainage ditch with cable and panels. That project needs to wait until the ground softens more and the ambient are temperature stays above 45 F all the time. I don’t like fencing in the freezing wet weather, it is not pleasant.

I am ordering a banding tool today. I have located a chain saw with a large enough bar to use salvaging a downed tree. I want to take the tree to the custom sawmill and have it sliced into lumber. It will need to dry for a bit but I want to get it into the old chicken coop and then band it all up to minimize the warpage. I also need to order baler parts to fix it also. I am not a fan of digging through catalogs to find part numbers but I am going to have to do that today. I also got all the parts for the diesel fuel pump and filter to be installed on the tank. Once that is all assembled I will call and get signed up with a fuel delivery company. I will most likely only need to be filled up twice a year as the tank will hold 100 gallons. This will be so much nicer than dragging five gallon cans to the gas station.

The barn cats will actually let us see them all the time now. I think Annmarie can touch both of them, I cannot. We have a photographer friend who takes abstract pictures, I thought I would show him up with my ”Cat eating” mashup. I was fumbling the phone and trying to take the cat picture but my hands were cold and the phone is new, it took the picture as it was tumbling to the ground.

It got cold again

It has been a long week, the paying job is keeping me busy so I have not had a lot of time around the farm. I am trying to get the baler parts ordered now so when we start to hay we will have the necessary repair parts in case something breaks. I need to order some more plastic netting wrap also. In these times you have to plan way ahead of time. I waited too long to bale some of the hay last year and we have a lot of very near straw. So we are supplementing feed dramatically and I was feeding the sheep 3% of their body weight daily and am now feeding 4.5% with 1/2# of sweet feed per animal daily. We had one ewe with twins who got too skinny. She is now in a pen all by herself with all the food and water she can eat. I think she is too passive, not pushing her way into the food so everyone else is eating her share. Hopefully, we can get her fattened up since she has the all you can eat buffet and no competition for food. We should be killing animals soon and that will help with the feed supply. Getting the fields replanted and the hay figured out this year is essential to our next winter. Annmarie has been working on drafting out our five acres of irrigated pasture. She is laying out the pipe and heads and sizing everything including the pump to get us through the summer.

I went to town yesterday to get paint to finish the ceiling in the craft room after the water damage repair. I had to guess among the choices that Sherwin Williams said I had purchased in the past. I guessed wrong and ended up going from painting a 4×4’ section to painting the entire ceiling. The new color is whiter and brighter so that is a plus, but I had not planned on painting that much. Today I got the room cleaned up and usable again. Annmarie can start working on her loom again and get our new cover for wooden hall fridge completed. The antique fridge we use for hallway storage is pretty beat up on the top board, they tried to reseal the surface and got cloth fibers embedded. It needs a cover even after I scrubbed it clean.

I didn’t want to go outside for the entire day due to the temperature, 24F. So I worked on putting the new decorative windmill together. I had to watch a video to get it together correctly, I had the pieces mixed up. I was able to use the old cedar pole but I had to drill out a much bigger hole in the top of the 4×4 and then pound in a plastic bushing. The bushing had to be cut and sanded smooth to fit down into the hole. I used a broken wooden handle as a rod to pound on with a four pound hammer to get it to the bottom of the hole, then I used the intact second bushing to go at the top. I think its going to work but the 4×4 was flexing quite a bit in the wind, its 12 inches bigger than the old one. The old one pretty much disintegrated in the last 90 mph wind. The blades got torn up and they gouged the post also.

The new chickens are integrating well, when I went out this morning there was only one of them in the chicken coop, the rest were outside wandering around. In the last week I have only had to put one of them inside the chicken coop, the rest are getting in before the chicken door closes. I am getting almost a dozen eggs/day now. In the winter my chicken egg productivity is only around 35%. In the summer I go above 50%, but the year round production is what matters.

The wildlife is starting to move around. I saw a single coyote on the back hill side yesterday morning. It only stayed on the hillside for 30 seconds and then was gone. Our bunny is back!! We had not seen it for several months and thought an owl had eaten it. This is the normal cause of bunny demise around our place. I have now seen the bunny two evenings this week so it is officially back. We are hearing the owls again out in our big trees at night and early mornings. Spring is just around the corner and its only January 30!

Donna, Mother-in-law, wants to fix the corner fence down by four corners. So it will be getting new H braces, a new 12’ gate and a ditch crossing so we can add 1/2acre to the cows pasture area. Mostly this will just prevent this 1/2acre from being a weed patch like it has been. This will be a spring project unless it warms up for a solid week. It will need 12 railroad ties, one 12’ gate, 7 cross pieces for H braces, 12 high tension tighteners, one chain horseshoe latch, one roll woven 39” wire and one roll of smooth two strand wire, about 24 T posts with clips. We will use the 2×8” tamarack boards I bought for the corral extension. Those have come in real handy for fencing.

I am working on getting the fuel tank working. The tank is installed, copper grounding wire installed and the tank is sitting on four concrete blocks. I bought a hand fuel transfer pump yesterday but I was not able to get a water/sediment filter for 3/4” pipe, I will be ordering that, once that comes I will get hooked up with a fuel service for the farm and I will have 100 gallons of diesel on hand. I figure I will have to have it filled twice a year, not exactly a large account but it will be nice to have the fuel right here on the farm and I won’t have to keep filling five gallon fuel cans all of the time.

Quick thaw

It has been a long week. The weather has of course totally flipped from having to stay home on Monday to dig out the driveway for hours to today a mere six days later driving around on the tractor in a long sleeve shirt only feeding the cows and doing work in the barn coatless as it is 50 F. This change in the weather had the Child and Annmarie out at the back creek fence trying to cut the panels loose. I have only two panels left that hang across the back creek. They are needed to prevent the sheep and cows from going up the dry creek bed in the summer. In the fall I should lift them out of the creek bed but it never seems to happen. Also, once I do that the fence line has a hole in it and the animals have to be kept out of that area. We had a sudden warming spell and Annmarie woke up to the back creek running. This is usually very bad and I end up in waders in three feet of raging water trying to undo the clips holding the panel in place from being lifted out of the water. Annmarie and Sarah spared me this by going out right after breakfast and loosening the panels, they did have to step into the ice cold water to get the center clip loose. They did not have to battle a torrent of water but they did have to get wet with the ice cold water. Two days later and the back creek has dropped to a depth of four inches. I am glad the mountain snow did not try and all melt off, it’s only January and it needs to stay until late May. Mr Professional and I went out this weekend and lifted the panels so they are ready for the spring flood. The weather also destroyed our ancient decorative windmill I had found and rehabbed and put back up. It tore off the tail and bent a bunch of the vanes. It is toast and cannot be easily repaired. I am now in search of another with sealed bearings so I don’t have to grease it annually. This is going to take some sleuthing on the internet to find one we like and think will last in up to 100 MPH winds.

Mr Professional and I got the hole in the ceiling in the craft room cleaned up and he got the sheetrock patch installed and it now has two coats of mud on it and the next coat is going to be texture! I even found some Kilz 2 upstairs to prime it after he gets the texture to match. Once we get the ceiling painted I can take down all the plastic drop clothes over everything and give the room a final deep cleaning. The room will be ready to use again after that.

We went into the barn and worked on installing some more eyebolts. I wanted to be able to set up some more jugs and to do that we had to install 2×6 boards to the wall then install two eyelets for the long pegs to drop through. We currently have enough eyelets installed to create 6 jugs and split the barn into 2/3 and 1/3, using the space under the stairs we have 7 jugs in the barn. We just need three more six foot panels to make this all happen but they are currently on back order through Premier. Once we had that done we created a baby feeding area using our Creep gate. We have never used the creep gate before so this will be a first for us. The creep gate is suppose to keep the big sheep out and only let in the size you set for the babies. When I went out tonight it did not look like any babies had been in it eating the grass hay. I put out a small dish of straight grain in the middle of the area, no momma can reach it so if its gone in the morning some lamb has figured out how to use the lamb only feeding area. I only managed to cut myself twice this weekend and Mr Professional only took one divot out of a finger out in the barn. If he would wear gloves more often this would not happen.

The turn signals and emergency flashers were broken on the pickup and all of the lights on the John Deere tractor were out. Mr Professional cleaned some stuff, changed out some fuses and got everything working again today. I had to get more fuel in five gallon containers so we had fuel. I filled up the John Deere this week and I could see the entire bottom of the fuel tank, it was dry! I don’t know how I did not run out of diesel when I was using it to dig out the big tractor. We have moved over an old 100 gallon double compartment fuel tank, I have grounded the tank and just need to get a tank fuel pump for it so I can start having diesel delivered to the house. I will probably only need the tank filled twice a year. It will be nice to not have to use five gallon jugs all the time. The old fuel tank used to be on a trap wagon they had for cleaning out combines and equipment during harvest.

I will be ordering repair parts for the hay baler this week and some more baling wrap so we may actually get them before June.