It’s the small things that count

Annmarie has been learning how to make the laser cutter do cool things. She made some cool wooden signs for the church and I found some old screws in the shop to attach them to walls and doors. They turned out very nice.

I spent the weekend catching up on little things. I clear coated the wooden signs and in the process I was looking for screws afterwards and I found our missing closet door!

The door has been missing for months. I was certain I had put it in a very safe location inside the house but we could not find it. Annmarie even admitted to seeing it once but forgot where in the house she spotted it. I had searched multiple times to no avail. It doesn’t do any good to put my slippers on the shelf when the dog can just reach in and grab them. I did manage to lose the screws for the door. I went to the hardware store and got new ones. I never did find the box of wood screws I know are somewhere on the property.

I mounted a couple of battery lights in our under the stairs closet. This is my fourth attempt at a light that will keep working in the closet. I like the motion detector ones but they are cheap and they break fairly quickly. There is power on wall in the adjoining craft room and I am going to drill a hole and install an outlet in the closet so I can install some under cabinet lighting in the closet. This will take a little planning but I believe I have all the stuff to install the outlet out in the old house.

I sanded the door stop Annmarie made on the 3D printer and sprayed it with black paint. She has blotted brown over it to age it and I will shoot it with clear coat and install it upstairs in the hallway to prevent the breeze porch door handle from hitting the wall.

Today was the tag and band day for all the sheep. Annmarie was at church so I went out and got ready to do the deed. The funny part was the 10 mommas are in their own area and one was laying down. She is as wide as she is long and I was sure she was in labor so I tried to get the other moms out so I could isolate her into our original momma/baby area. I managed to spook the small group and they went barreling by her and rolled her onto her back. She could not get off her back! It was just like a turtle on its back. She was hollering and waving her feet in the air. I got everyone out then had to go lift her onto her feet. She is now ensconced in her own pen with food and water and hopefully tonight she will have healthy triplets. If she has triplets and is paying attention to them we are going to let her raise them.

I went into the hay area and grabbed a partial bale of straw and made a chair for me on the barn floor. I laid out all the needed tools and started to catch babies one at a time. I had tagged 10 girls and one boy when I started to worry about the imbalance in babies. Mother Nature tends to keep it 50/50 when it comes to gender. I started catching more boys but it goes to the nature of our animals that the girls are calmer and easier to catch than the boys. When I thought I had everyone done I started to catch the babies and drop them over the middle panels so I could count them and make sure everyone had an ear tag. This causes the barn to become a very loud place once the babies and mommas start hollering at each other. I counted 46 babies and I found the one little lamb I had missed earlier. I was pretty sure I had missed one but could not spot it amongst all the babies. I let them rejoin and then had to push everyone back into their own area.

I had a few boys that just do not like the banding part. Some just lay down for a few minutes and call it over and others treat it like you just killed them. This little guy took the drama to a whole new level. He was playing dead.

Annmarie had talked to me about installing a board next to the feeders with two eye bolts so we could attach the gate directly to the feeders. Getting in and out when it is only bungee corded to the feeders does not make for a smooth gate transition. I had to to dig a hole in the straw to make room and then take it to the shop and drill holes and install eyebolts. I had to cut a small piece of wood off the feeder and install the new hinge point. It is much more secure and easier to get open.

Annmarie got our Weather Underground station to work today! It is now on our blog homepage. This is a great addition to our ongoing homepage updates.

Assimilation issues

Well we are not part of the Weather Underground yet. One of the things that Annmarie and I did not know was that Weather Underground actually has recommendations for brands and models of weather stations that work well with their website. We did not get a recommended brand so Annmarie is going to have to work harder to make it happen. I am sure she can win once she puts her mind to it. She tells me that she just redid it today about two hours ago and thinks it may work! We are KORPILOT6 and so far it is not updating put it can take up to one day to update on Weather Underground so we will hopefully be up and running tomorrow. The ram must have had some issues when he was impregnating all the ewes. We went four days without a single ewe having a baby. Since Thursday we have only had one ewe per day give birth. We are thinking he went at his job gangbusters and got all the compliant and easy ewes first, had to take a few days of rest to recuperate and then started to work harder to get all the Wiley ewes. This part of the process seemed to take longer if our extended birthing time is any indication of his progress.

On Thursday I found the first single baby and isolated them in the momma baby area for the day. Unfortunately, I had installed our brand new aluminum gate between the momma/baby and pregnant ewe area. Doing work in the barn should not be an unfortunate thing but it seems like whenever I change something the sheep figure out how to prove that the job is incomplete. The little buggers can squeeze through the new gates! I had three lambs in the wrong area and unlike the feeders that they usually just crawl back out, they did not want to leave all those adult sheep even though none of them were their mommas. Two of the babies had ear tags already and the third was tagless but a big baby and not new. The first two just ran over and found momma and ate, the tagless one was crying nonstop and could not find momma. I had to block the new gate with an old wooden gate to keep the lambs from repeating that trick.

Momma had abandoned him so he came inside and went into the laundry basket. He jumped out first thing and ended up doing the four way splits on our tile floor. I was heating up his bottle when this occurred. After saving him he took a little milk and fell instantly asleep. I fed him three more times but every time he got a little in his tummy he would just fall back asleep. Tisha came and saved him, he will go live with the other three bummers, all of them are still alive.

On Friday we had another single lamb and the rest of our brand new movable gates arrived. Now I just need to find time to fix them, Annmarie suggested we just cover the bottoms with chicken wire so as not to add weight to the gates.

Saturday morning we had a set of twins. Every lamb has been getting the paste and now that it is freezing outside we don’t have to use the syringes. We just squeeze out the frozen length we need and roll it into a ball and then feed it to the lamb.

The lambs are all over the place, I am sure we have lost track of how many we have despite writing it down every day. We should only have 9 untagged babies now but when I look at them running around it looks like more that’s that. Next week I will do the whole tag and band adventure and then we will count everyone again. We have 14 ewes left to give birth. One ewe is not pregnant so we will watch her, I am not sure if she is barren or just lost her baby but she has no udder and is not pregnant. She does have a girl tag, I might want to check her gender just in case there was an error. The lambs are very comical at this age and there are a lot of them. I was out in the barn today applying chicken wire to all the new gates and they were running all over the place. I had kicked out the ewes and pasted and moved the single lamb with our old lead ewe into the momma/baby area. This let me keep the barn closed up so I could fix and install new gates and not worry about mixing up everyone. This is a nightmare if you have to resort with this many babies. The chute doesn’t work well as everyone gets separated. You have to mix the sheep up in a pen then find babies and get them to bleat so you can find their momma then separate them off, it takes forever.

The lambs kept trying to go outside, so they would run down the chute and then run back to the main area. I snagged this picture when they were running back into the main area. This is not all of them.

I just zip tied some chicken wire to our brand new fancy gates. The gates are very light and we did not want to put wire panel pieces on them and weight them down. The chicken wire adds almost no weight and does its job well.

I installed a gate in the far end and attached two new anchor bolts into the main beam so there are no more bungee cords needed. I also installed a gate over the end of the chute so we can close the gate and the babies cannot sneak through. I also installed another gate between the momma/baby area and the pregnant ewes. I had to use bungee cords on that one. I need to install another board and some eye bolts.

Our current numbers are as follows:

1 death

4 bummers

10 singles

13 twins

3 triplets

25 ewes birthed

15 pregnant ewes pending birth

30 lambs dosed, tagged and banded

 10 babies dosed only

These numbers are a mere approximation. Until I do the tagging and banding and physically touch every baby and count every ewe these are best guess. It never fails that every year I try and keep a strict count I always manage to get off somehow. They do add up but that doesn’t mean they are right.

Machine shop almost back up to snuff

It still doesn’t feel like winter even though you can now see the snow in the mountains from our house. I ended up working a night shift to cover and arranged to go to a shop sale the next morning. Annmarie picked me up at work first thing Saturday and we went to go look at shop tools. They had a huge shop with multiple rooms but the only pieces of furniture we found were these two beautiful chairs! They almost match our side board and just need a really good wood washing and polishing to make them amazing. So we bought them, luckily we got there just as they opened. We had no intention of buying any more furniture but could not pass them up. I cleaned them last night and will be polishing them this week after welding class finishes.

I decided that I had better keep working on my winterize list since it is still not really winter and went out and worked on replacing the beam in the machine shop that I knocked out with the old tractor hay lift. My replacement beam was 6×8, I really only needed a 4×6 beam. I trimmed off 2 inches off of one end and cut the ceiling slant and managed to lift one side then lever the other in using my shoulder and legs to get it in the right spot. I then had to figure out how to scoot it 7 inches onto the ledge I just barely managed to get it onto. I went to shop and got a wood clamp and inched it over an inch at a time from the other end by clamping it to the cross beam. It took about a 30 minutes to get the beam in place. I used these awesome 10″ lags to hold it in place drilling from the top of the beam into the sill. I tried to replace the 2×6 beam next to it but again I had a 2×8 beam and could not get it to fit, I will need to get the 2×6.

I also had to rehang the gate. We tore it out this summer by hooking the gate with the hay trailer trying to get it lined up and back into the hay area. I ended up having to rip all the wood off of the left side and reusing part of the broken beam as the new anchor board for the gate hinges. I love reusing all the old and broken pieces of stuff to fix or replace the other broken stuff! Its a good thing also since the alpaca have been pushing the gate over and getting into the pile.

We had this plan to install a mailbox on the edge of the corral so we can drop off payments to the mobile slaughter or farrier or anyone else coming out to our house that needs paid while we are gone. I have four old plain mailboxes now but Annmarie wanted something fancier so we found the one below on Etsy. It is a lot nicer than anything we had laying around. I mounted it today so we can now slip in an envelope with a check and not have to worry about the wind or weather.

The next thing she wants me to do is build a drop off box by our front gate so that our packages can be placed in there instead of our front porch or just by the gate. The dogs have gotten into their chews that come through the mail and we have had some packages get wet. I need it to be fairly large 3×4 feet wide by 2 feet tall. I would like the lid to come up but want to put in a counterweight system so the lid opens easily. This is going to take some planning but I would like to get it done next year. I will have Annmarie make me cut out fancy wood letters I can put on it so the delivery people know to utilize it.

We should be getting lambs this month. This will be the true test of our new ram as we have not had any babies from him yet. We have 45 ewes so we should have around 65 lambs by the time we are done.