I am trying very hard to get this last fence finished before the weather stops us. Luckily, the weather just will not freeze. Friday, Mr Tex, Mr Rainman and Mr Professional all came out. We hit it hard and got the barn lot fence entirely rebuilt. We figured it had been ten years since I repaired it and it was in sad shape. The only reason the sheep had not been getting out of it and out into the wheat field to feast is that they are all pregnant, well fed and currently lazy. They will no longer be able to get out of the barn lot through the fence. We have a new gate installed in the barn lot out into the new alleyway. We also got the road gate hung going into the alley way. Mr Professional and I worked on getting T-posts pressed into the ground. This was not easy and the wind was blowing. I am deaf, he is deaf, the wind was blowing and the tractor was running. There was a lot of yelling and hand signals for hours on end.
Saturday, Mr Rainman and Mr Tex came out to continue fencing. The real problem is we have a wind advisory going all day for high winds. I dressed warmer on Saturday as the wind cut through my coat on Friday and I was cold most of the day. Mr Rainman and I continued to install T-posts while Mr Tex worked on getting the woven wire installed. The real problem Saturday was the constant strong wind, the wind was such that it blew all dust directly into my face. Luckily, I was wearing my new wraparound safety glasses so I was not getting dust in my eyes, just in my face. We spent five hours putting T-posts into the ground. I knew if we could get it done then there was no stopping the fence progress. All of the steps that require us to dig into the dirt would be completed. The rest can be done in freezing weather. At one point, Mr Rainman warned me that if I started to feel moisture falling on me it was from his snotty nose. This was not the most reassuring thought but it was true! The average wind speed for the day was 20 MPH with the highest gust at 55 MPH per our weather station. We quit early as soon as we had all the T-posts into the ground!
Sunday, I opted to start at 0800. It was raining when we started and in no time it started to snow, big wet heavy flakes. It was miserable on my hands, soaking wet leather gloves are no fun and eventually your hands get so cold that they get numb! Mr Rainman worked on getting clips installed on the woven wire that got put up yesterday and Mr Tex and I worked on installing the other H braces. We got three H braces completed and cut the cross pieces cut for the last two. The Kubota tractor almost slid off the road due to the mud and slant in the road, our hands felt like popsicles and we just decided by consensus that this was not going to happen. Christmas is just around the corner so between activities and holidays it will be January before we get at the fence again. I think three more solid days on the fence with three people to get it done. We got 3/10” of rain this morning.
No new baby lambs since mid week. It looks like the ram had to take another breather and rested up before he started working again.
We have five creches, jugs per wife, for newborns setup in the barn. One is larger than the others so we stuff multiple day old mommas and babies in it to free up the individual jugs. Twice this week I have had to go out after work and tag and band babies to release them into the momma/baby large pen. There was simply no room at the inn to keep them until the weekend. Now when there is only one momma and a set of twins in a single jug it is relatively simple to tag and band and send a text to Annmarie with momma number, number and gender of baby(s) and their tag numbers. This is infinitely more complex when you stuff four mommas and four sets of twins into one large jug and you want to assign the correct babies to the correct mothers. I had to just sit down on the barn floor in the bedding and watch the sheep to see who belonged to whom. The easiest way is to wait for them to nurse. The mommas don’t like milk stealers and will head butt any strays to keep them away. This worked for the first two pairs but the second pairs I finally had to catch babies and just hold onto them until they bleated then turn them loose in hopes that they would run to mom. It took about thirty minutes to get them all tagged and banded. I even managed to get more baby sheep poop all over my Carhart overalls. As soon as we are done lambing it will be time to wash the overalls. They are getting all kinds of interesting substances on them.
The babies are so curious that if you just sit down on the floor and stay quiet and they will come over and start sniffing you and playing around you. This is highly entertaining and very therapeutic. It is very hard to be sad or frustrated when baby lambs are leaping around you and coming over to sniff your boots and hands. I highly recommend this course of treatment. Especially when an entire section of the barn is nothing but lambs cavorting and running around like miniature mobs.
Thanksgiving was very nice, a good friend of our came up to spend it with our family. This is always nice as I did not do any work on the farm other than feed and take care of babies while Doug was visiting. He left Saturday morning and I headed out to the barn to do chores right afterwards. There were four more ewes that had given birth! There were two sets of twins and two singles. I pushed everyone else out of the barn then proceeded to rearrange areas to take the new babies and mommas. I put both singles and their mothers in the same pen, I tag and banded the twins that were under the stairs and released them into the momma/baby area. I put a new set of twins under the stairs and I penned the last set of twins in the far back corner of the barn mostly because they were there already and it was easy to pen them there. I then had to feed and water everyone. At some point trying to get over the 2×4 we keep at the barn entrance, to keep the horse out of the barn, I ended up falling on my face. Luckily, the ground was dry and I was able to slow my fall. This would have been very messy earlier in the week when there was four inches of squishy mud and sheep poop. I will be moving the 2×4 over to the end gate on the side of the barn, I don’t know why I did not think of this sooner. I guess I just needed the proper motivation.
I had noticed that the spring was getting pretty muddy the previous day. It was a combination of silt buildup and sheep pushing dirt into the spring bed. So after taking care of the sheep I went and dug out a short section of the spring bed. I even built a new cinder block wall out of six blocks using sticks, mud and gravel, not my best work but I do expect it to last through the winter until it can be corrected in the summer. I went in and took a nap after that. I used the breaker bar too much last week helping with the fence and had to sleep 10-12 hours a night for three nights running to even feel good. My chest pain started to come back so I have vowed to take it easier and let my helpers do the metal breaker bar work and I need to let them do the heavy lifting. Even after 12 months of catching Covid, I am still taking high dose aspirin, only twice a day now, and get intermittent chest pain with increased physical activity. My hope is that by 18 months I will be back to normal, the only real problem is I will be 1.5 years older and out of shape!
Mr Rainman and Mr Tex came out this morning to work on fence. There was another set of twin lambs born last night. So all of the mommas/babys from yesterday all got shoved together in the far end of the barn and the new set of twins got put under the stairs.
11 of 34 ewes have given birth, 32% completed
Lambs born alive 18, birth rate 164%
Stillborn lambs 0
Lambs rejected 0
Lambs died before 2 weeks 0
Lambs bummered not rejected 0
Flock productivity 164%
Singles 5 of 11, 45%
Twins 5 of 11, 45%
Triplets 1 of 11, 9%
My single biggest summer project is getting the rastra and new drive over culvert installed. After that is in then I can think about other items. We would like to get our septic tank pumped but currently no big truck can get to the house.
We worked on the fence some more, the barn lot is pretty beat up alongside the wheat field. The horse has been pushing on it and bending the T-posts. We are working on getting some wooden posts in the ground along that side of the fence but it is rock from about 12” down, very hard to dig a hole in. Luckily, with the moisture we have had we are having pretty good luck digging holes with the tractor auger, I only sheared 3 shear bolts today. We are working on the corridor fence that will allow us to run the animals from pasture to pasture without keeping all of the pastures open. We want to control the pasture rotation better next year. We think we can extend the usefulness of our pasture this way. We got 18 posts set today with 12 of those including digging the hole. We had to create one rock-jack as the posts were directly on top of a rock bluff. I think four more days should see us getting the fence completed. Its a race with the weather now. Although it was 66 degrees F today and we all wore short sleeves and blue jeans, except me, I wore a long sleeve shirt also but I do that when its 100 degrees F. The weather is very crazy.
The weather is definitely changing. This could be for the good, who knows, but it is definitely different. It is November 14 and today the temperature outside was 66 degrees F. I was able to work in a long sleeve shirt only and if I had kept doing manual labor nonstop could of done it in a tshirt. I had to work at the paying job on Friday as Annmarie and I left town for Veteran’s day. It was the third time we have left the farm in the last two years. I am told that is not very often when one is counting. So I had Mr Rainman come out on Saturday and Sunday to help me build fence. I am trying to get #4 field split in half with a fence so I have a 4A and 4B. 4A is already planted and I want to be able to keep the cows off of it so it can grow undisturbed.
Friday evening when I went out to take care of the sheep and put them in for the night I found a pleasant surprise, three new lambs! I was even more surprised when I put them in under the stairs and discovered that one ewe had all three babies, triplets! I fed and watered them and then ran all the rest of the sheep inside. I ran the other sheep past 3-4 times to make sure no one had a bloody backside and was missing a lamb. Nope, they were really a set of triplets and the mother looked like she could feed them all. Saturday morning they were all up and walking around and Annmarie went out and dosed them all with some selenium supplement. They are doing great and the mother is able to feed all three. Of course no one else had any babies all weekend long. Saturday we set up three partial pens so in the morning if Annmarie needs a pen she can just add one wall quickly and be done with it.
Mind you there are other projects that need to be done also but I had my heart set on fencing. We had to fuel and grease up both tractors then I was talking about building a platform for the new calf table on top of a pallet so I could just move the table with the new tractor forks. We ended up doing that Saturday morning. The calf table needed to be moved before January which is when our cows go to the butcher and I will need to be able to load them up through the chute. We built a platform on top of the pallet out of pressure treated 2” thick wood and even had to add another 14” to one side and add a 4×6 pressure treated board underneath. We bolted the calf table down to the pallet through the new covering boards after we anchored all of the new boards to the pallet. This project needed to happen, so we did it.
The fencing went fairly smooth. The fence is going into bottom land so it is much easier to drill in and that extra 150# of weight on top of the auger arm is the bomb! When the ground is not rock hard it just goes into the ground, I have a hole in a couple of minutes! It is so nice. Using the high tension wire and the cam tighteners is the perfect way to build a H-brace. It is super easy and now that I know what I am doing it is super easy to adjust. We have all of the T-posts and stays all laid out along the fence route. Three more H braces to finish and then press the T-posts into the ground with the tractor and we will be done with that in no time. We did have a piece of high tension wire pop and break today. Mr Rainman was putting too much muscle into use. I am now tightening the high tension line. We also converted a 50 gallon drum to ride on the 3 point attachment and its filled with metal horse shoes. The counter balance is great when moving big bales. The trouble is it drags on the ground a little and I did not realize how thin walled the barrels were. Depending on how things go I may need to think up something more permanent. I am hopeful we can get done in one day next week.
Mr Rainman came out this morning to help, upon arrival he announced he did not feel well. So we moved two pieces of furniture out of the house and then went to the barn to tag and band lambs. The oldest lambs were 6 weeks old and pretty dang big for that age. Annmarie had been telling me for a while to get them banded but I was holding out for more lambs. At the rate they are having babies its going to take four months again. It is a dang good thing we got another ram, our old one may be nice but he is slow. So we pushed the sheep and lambs into the barn, watched the sheep so we knew who belonged to whomever. I had a new occurrence that has not happened in the last 287 boy lambs we have had, one of the lambs had TWO SCROTUM, strange but solved by putting one testicle in each one and banding them both. We will be watching our old ram, he may have to be taken out of the equation permanently. Mr Rainman helped me unload the end table at my mothers and then proceeded to go home and sleep all day, I suspect the dreaded mancold. It is a downer.
I put all the tools I needed, seed and fuel into the Kubota and drove up to the little John Deere tractor. I could not get it to start. We had this problem last week, the neutral indicator is not working correctly therefore the engine doesn’t start. I filled the tractor with fuel, most of it went on me, and my long sleeve shirt then tried to start it for over ten minutes with no luck. I then used the Kubota to pull off the broken cultivator/seeder and got it onto the Kubota. I also repaired the cultivator/seeder. This took an hour and then I was finally ready to seed. I spent the rest of the day seeding. I have all of field #2 completed. I have half of field #3 planted. So in total I have about 7 acres planted so far. I have 10 more acres to plant, but am going to run out of seed. Hopefully, my seed order comes in tomorrow. Planting is a whole lot of circles and circles and more circles.
I need to get new diesel cans so I can quit wearing fuel and pouring it all over the tractor. I tried to replace the nozzle but the new one does not work very well and it still leaks. I did discover today that the PTO safety is still engaged on the new tractor. I jumped off to look at the grain bin and the tractor died because the PTO was engaged. I have it overridden on my old little tractor and totally forgot about it. I am hoping to have everything planted by this upcoming weekend.