Hard to believe that the back runoff creek is already running! It is only January and it is full of water and moving toward the ocean. The creek is so much wider after the torrent we had last year so I am hopeful it won’t get out of control this spring.
The damn tractor broke again! The worst part is the hydraulic steering cylinder that broke this summer just broke again! I just don’t understand why this is happening. It’s the bolt in the hydraulic cylinder that is shearing. So I will order another one and we can get it installed. Mr Professional managed to use enough bailing twine to get it to hold in place long enough to drive it back to the machine shed.
The winter weather has brought some amazing color changes to the skyline. I have been trying to get pictures whenever the light has been unique. I do love the changes.
I managed to miss one of the extra roosters. I have two now and need to thin the the second one. He is not very good at crowing, he sits on the top of the coop ramp entrance and blocks the hens from going in when it is getting dark. We have had to round up the hens every night and push them into the chicken coop. He is making me crazy. I keep hoping that one of the raccoons will actually eat the spare rooster. It has gotten so bad we are now using the Border Collie, Mouse to herd the chickens back into the coop at night!
We did tag and band the lambs on Saturday and sorted off the seven ewes that we think are pregnant and have isolated them to the momma baby area. Everyone else is now in with the main herd and the entire barn is opened up to them. I will update the lamb statistics next week.
This week has been a doozy. I ended up in the ER last week on Thursday night thinking I might have a pulmonary embolus from Covid. I was day 18 out from symptoms and had not seen a doctor or taken any meds other than OTC and one amino acid infusion. The chest pain was getting so bad, it felt like someone had a hose clamp around my chest and occasionally they would just tighten it a little more. Luckily, my chest X-ray was clear, no secondary pneumonia and my lab work was all good and no extra blood clotting was occurring. My EKG was its normal abnormal that I have had for 30 years. This caused me to reevaluate my need for a NSAID once a day. I am now taking anti-inflammatory medication three times a day. I went home and slept, rested, napped and laid around for three days and then went back to work on Monday, worked half day at work and home the next day and on Wednesday (day 24) by 1400 I was starting to get dizzy. Almost passed out a few times when I bent over. I called my daughter for a ride home at the end of the day. You have to be careful to not fall over when you work in the ER, they were all giving me a side look waiting for me to go down to pounce on me. Annmarie and work has been telling me to take it easy. I have cut back dramatically and keep moving more work from home. It just cuts down the amount of walking I do and that makes a huge difference. I am still getting headaches with any amount of overexertion and I still get short of breath very easily. This is not just going to go away. I have not gotten dizzy since Wednesday. I have been careful to not bend over a lot but it was probably just a new side effect. My blood oxygen levels are staying up where they need to be but exertion just makes me short of breath. All of this means that Annmarie and now Sarah are doing the outside chores. I have resigned myself to staying inside for now and doing what I can. I have been doing the dishes and I even cleaned the bathroom and mopped the floors and keep vacuuming up the grease bugs that keep invading the house every time the outside temperature gets to 50 degrees F. I am definitely using a lot of bug spray on the outside of the house in the spring and summer to see if I cannot cut down on the bug invasion.
While I was lounging around last weekend I was looking at the online classifieds and spotted a manure spreader. Now I have wanted a manure spreader for a while as we have lots of manure and I have huge piles in the barn lot. The problem is they are very expensive. So I have been on the lookout for a used one that works, I found one this summer/fall and have been working on it. It has a frozen bearing in the upper portion. I have managed to remove the pin after bending several tools and now need to pull the gear off of the shaft. This has dropped in priority but on Sunday I spotted the find of a lifetime, the exact same manure spreader for sale!! I messaged them and went on Monday after work and picked up the spreader!! Now I can use the parts from one to fix the other and I should be able to go another 10 years with parts on hand, a total win for me.
We have decided to feed the outside birds out our back kitchen window. This means every morning we are greeted by the birds flitting around and eating. I have gotten used to the magpies coming in every morning and finishing off the back porch cat food. There are about four of them that do it every morning. I spotted three pigeons out our front window sitting on top of the grain bins. Their numbers are dwindling slowly but the invasive ringneck doves are really starting to take over. There are about 10 that are now living on the property and they are starting to push the mourning doves away from the feeders. I am going to have to work on that problem soon if they keep multiplying. Our Quail are doing amazing this year! It is the one bird we don’t allow anyone to shoot on the property. There are at least 44 still alive from this summer’s hatches. It will be amazing if we get a decent spring and all of them can have 3-5 babies that survive. I even spotted the covey of Hungarian partridges. There were only 6 of them and they would not hold still for a picture. I spot them once to twice a year. They are pretty elusive.
24 lambs born
15 ewes delivered
19 pregnant ewes(maybe)
6 single lambs
9 twin lambs
1 bummer lamb
23 lambs on the farm
160% birthing rate
153% production rate (goal >150%)
100% survival rate at birth
100% survival rate at 2 weeks (18/18)
We had twin lambs born on Christmas morning. The are super healthy and the ewe is very attentive. She is such a good mother that we are going to flag the female lamb as a keeper to breed in the future.
Annmarie has been picking up all the slack around the farm as I have been fairly worthless since catching covid. She has been feeding and sorting and checking on lambs, feeding chickens and collecting eggs. She has been amazing during this time. She made me promise to not overwork myself when I went back to work. I took a few more days off for a total of 14 then went back to work on Monday. I stayed in my office mostly with only 1-2 trips out of my office. Unfortunately, by Wednesday I was unable to do evening chores at home due to shortness of breath and fatigue. By Thursday I started to get chest pain that continued to get worse, I ended up in the ER that night to make sure I did not have a blood clot in my lungs. No blood clots, just post covid syndrome. So I am back to sitting around again most of the day, resting. I hate resting. I have had to reiterate the not working so hard promise.
We have had the usual drama on the farm. The chickens have decided that they don’t want to go into the coop at night. Anywhere from 3-7 chickens dawdle and end up outside the automatic door. This is not healthy for the chickens as we know there is most likely one raccoon living in the barn or around the barn. Annmarie saw fresh tracks in the snow recently. So we have been kicking them back into the barn when we get eggs. Unfortunately, we only let the ones sitting right outside the gate into the coop, we do not hunt down any strays. It looks like one managed to survive a raccoon attack and it is still alive days later. It is missing part of a wing and hopefully can survive. It unsurprisingly has been hanging pretty close to the chicken coop and is making it inside before the door shuts! So it is maybe not the stupidest chicken in the bunch. We have had two more sets of lamb twins and a huge single lamb born since the last update. I will need to go out and tag and band on Sunday so we can integrate all of them into the momma/baby area. The weather has been very unusual, mid 40’s in December! This is so not normal for us. The front spring is already on the rise and the back winter runoff creek has not started up yet.
The ram is not doing his job in a timely fashion. The ewes are taking their sweet time with having babies. We are talking about getting a second ram so in the off season they can have a buddy. We will also split the ewes into two herds. Once we figure out who is the more active ram we will divide up the ewes in the correct proportion. This will also let us save more of the ewes for cross breeding purposes. If we rotate out the ram every three years this will add significantly to our size upgrade. We really want to get the lambing all done in 30 days.
I went out this morning to feed the horses. They will eat everything they have access to so we have to limit their food. I burned a few cardboard boxes on my way to the barn and after starting the fire I looked up and headed to the barn. The sheep were all congregated around the entrance to the barn and about halfway there I realized why, there were lambs! I spotted one, then two and heard the third one before I found it. Three little newborn lambs trying to get out of the barn entrance. I chased all the other sheep out of the barn lot except for four ewes. I only needed two of those ewes but I did not want to run the babies so I opted to trap a few extra until I could get the momma/baby area set up.
I went into the barn and opened up the momma/baby area and then tossed out some bedding and pulled in a feeder for the momma area. I then had to go shut some gates to isolate the momma area and move a panel so they had access to clean water. Then I had to go clean up down by the spring and bend some fencing back into place so the babies cannot slip out of the pen. I never got around to building a short bridge for them to cross the spring. They will have to jump over it this year, maybe next year I can get that installed. As I headed back up to the barn I spotted all three lambs out in the sun and their moms in the barn eating the hay I had just put out. I snagged all three (hard to carry more than three newborn lambs) and put them outside in the momma baby area. This let me sort off the two extra pregnant ewes. I tried to get the numbers from the ear tags of the two new mothers but they were not cooperating. Tonight when we lock them into the momma/baby area we will be able to grab them and look at their tags. We will need to lock everyone up in the barn tonight and every night until all the lambs are born. It’s a lot easier to catch them in the barn! I forgot to check all three babies for gender when I caught them. One is a boy, one is a girl, and I didn’t look at the third one as it was the last one caught and it is a lot harder to hold onto 3 wiggly things than 2!
Well one would think that spring was in the wind, but winter is not quite ready to let go. Two weeks ago we had snow on the ground! It snowed three days ago at our house but did not stick. We have now started the constant daily rain. This is going to make the weeds and hopefully the grass we planted grow.
Unfortunately, the Coronavirus is slowing us down. I am working way too much at the hospital getting ready for our Surge. This has left very little time for me to work around the farm. This is going to cause us problems if I cannot figure out how to balance a work/life ratio. I realize it is probably necessary for my health but I continue to work and worry and plan for something that I hope never comes. This is causing me to not have the time or energy for the blog. I will keep at it but there will be a noticeable dip in the quantity of posts I make. As I use this medium for my official farm history to pass on to the next few generations I felt it necessary to add this in here.
The thing about Spring Winter is you get used to warmer weather so when the Mother Winter snaps back and reminds you she is still in charge it just feels colder! Annmarie still persists in her belief that we cannot sleep at night without two windows open in the bedroom. This is in blatant defiance of the outside temperature. Our master bed looks like a blanket display at a market, dominated by Pendleton Wool Blankets. We have decided that we don’t need a weighted anti anxiety blanket as we sleep under multiple wool blankets.
Our sheep continue to have babies!! Just when we think it is all over someone else pops out another lamb. So the ram is still stuck in with the bull and a couple of steers. There is hope that in a few more weeks they will all be done, as a five month lambing season is brutal. We want two months only for lambing season. We need to give him two months to get at everyone. There are too many ewes for him to service everyone in one estrus cycle. He is fat and needs to go on a diet anyways. This will make him work off some of that extra lard.
The sheep are not really any smarter than normal. I had to let this lamb out of the feeder. It managed to get into it but spent the day inside as it could not get out. We have noticed that the brown and white lambs are probably the cutest we have but definitely the weakest. We had another one die this week. I had to put it down. This has caused us to rethink the lambs that we will be saving when we cull this spring. We are going to have to avoid the brown and white ones. The weirdest part of this is that the color is what is separating them out. It makes it easy to pick and choose but it is kinda weird that the most deaths this year have been those sheep with those color markings. We were going to cull out the older ewes anyways and have lots of lambs to choose from so picking won’t be a problem.