Lamb day

The sheep have taken up more of my staycation than I anticipated. I spent a whole day on Friday messing around with them. Due to all of the babies and only having one Jug left open It was determined I should tag and band babies. I usually just turn the babies loose and in a month try and match and catch random babies. It tends to be inaccurate and fairly labor intensive. Annmarie has been trying to get me to tag and band from the jugs for ages. The real problem is banding the lambs at that age is not easy. I have tagged and banded over 330 male lambs so I am pretty confident in getting it right now no matter the age. Plus it has the added benefit of actually being able to track each ewe accurately. Meathead helped me tag band and give selenium supplement to everyone in the jugs except the newborn twins under the stairs. We then put fresh straw in all of the used jugs and moved panels around to make the momma/baby area bigger and created a chute for the pregnant mommas to get into the barn. As the momma/baby group gets bigger we just keep giving them more of the front of the barn and the preggers get the smaller back half. It took us few years to figure this out! Nothing is ever easy when you start, there are a lot of hard lessons to getting a good routine down. The feeders get moved around also to correspond to the number of mouths needing fed.

  • Date of update- Feb 3, 2023
  • # of Lambs born – 15
  • # of ewes who have delivered babies – 8
  • # of ewes still pregnant – lots
  • # of single lamb births – 2
  • # of twin lamb births – 5
  • # of triplet lamb births – 1
  • # tagged male (weathers-neutered) lambs-6
  • # tagged female lambs-4
  • # of bummer lambs – 1
  • # of lambs who died in first two weeks – 1
  • Total # of lambs on farm -13
  • % birthing rate- 188%
  • % production rate -163%
  • % survival rate at birth – 100%
  • % survival rate at 2 weeks (bummers count as death as they need help and leave the farm) – 87%

Staycation is paying off

It’s been a busy two days. I went out to the barn yesterday hoping for babies and found none. So I kicked everyone out, filled the hay feeders and then grained everyone. I went and opened the barn door to let the sheep in so I could go fill the triplet’s water and spotted a brand new lamb, still covered in goo out in the barn lot. I literally had only taken 15 minutes to get everything in place. Now I had no clue who had given birth and they had all bum rushed the door as they wanted to be the first one to eat grain, even the new mother. I walked up and down the feeders looking for the ewe that had just given birth. I found her but she was low woman on the totem pole and had not managed to secure a spot on the wall feeder. We walked back and forth along the feeder until I was finally able to catch her and lock her in a Jug. As soon as I had the Jug gate secured she hit the gate with her head at a dead run trying to get out. I went out, scooped up the newborn lamb, I had leather gloves on and they got all gooped up, I then wiped the lamb down with some old hay netting and put her in with her mother. Mom was not interested in the lamb, only in eating. I left the lamb and asked Sarah to check in on them in 90 minutes so I could get started on applying polyurethane sealant to the new office floor. I can use two coats and the best part is if I apply the coats between 4-12 hours after the previous coat I do not have to sand the floor between coats, this was a huge selling point for me. It took me almost three hours to get the first coat on the floor. I went out after dinner and applied the second coat. I was back inside by 2100. The floor looked pretty shiny, but the floor was still wet.

On a side note, I was at the door doing the last one foot of floor, since I was at the door I had the polyurethane can directly in front of me, instead of the side like normal. I also had a cheap work shirt with a short breast pocket only. I had dirtied my two shirts already this week with the zip close breast pockets. Of course my phone was in my breast pocket and yes it slipped out of my pocket and dropped into the polyurethane! It was totally immersed, I fished it out and dried it off as best I could. I then finished the floor and then went inside the house, took the phone out of the case and buffed off the polyurethane until it was gone. My case had a cover over the charging port but the women tell me that the speakers are no longer as good as they were. I usually Bluetooth it to an external speaker anyways. My hearing is not great and I need the bigger louder speakers. The phone case had to go in the trash. I am now using Annmarie’s phone case and need to buy a new one. I am “not to be trusted” without a case. I drop my phone several times a week in the course of just using it.

This morning the plan was to get outside, do the chores real quick and then start on the walls. The Juniper on the ceilings is not going to get sealed, it will remain untouched. The floor was dry enough to walk on. That polyurethane really did dry quick. I was pretty impressed. I am definitely not a professional applicator, as I could spot the imperfections in the finish but most people are not going to notice.

The sheep had other ideas. I found two more ewes that had given birth and the single from yesterday had turned into a set of twins and the crazy mother was now paying attention to both of them. I got the ewe with a single and the other with twins into new Jugs and proceeded to then feed everyone grain and hay, then let them back in and get water a couple of times for all the Jugged mothers. Once that was done it was time to go to the old house. I got interrupted earlier at breakfast to get a loveseat delivered for my mother-in-law. The nephews will come out on the weekend and help me move the old one out of her house and into the new office and then take the new one to her house. One more reason for me to get this thing done! Sarah came out and we started to rub the “Tried and True” onto the walls, it gets applied with a lint free cloth liberally then wiped off in 60 minutes. It took us almost six hours to get all the walls rubbed on then off. Tomorrow I will work on the trim.

Closing in on office

Well the sheep are letting us down. Annmarie is hoping the mommas all have their babies this week while I am off so she does not have to deal with them at 0400 in the dark before work. I am hoping the same thing but yesterday there were no new babies. So the triplets stay in the pen with their momma and everyone else still gets to run around.

I had to go to town so I picked up the new front tire for the John Deere tractor. I also picked up stain and polyurethane for the office floor. Annmarie and I decided that a lighter color would be better in the office. I told her it would show more floor imperfections but we decided that since it is the original floor that is not a problem. There was a lot of “wax on, wax off” action as I stained the floor. The floor that was sanded the smoothest took up the least amount of stain. The small spots of brown/white paint that could not be sanded out show through. There is some kind of green stain over by the window across from the door, no idea what it is but it shows through. There are also two spots of oil stains that show through on the NW wall that show through also. The rough sandpaper marks are visible, for the most part now you cannot catch your toe on any edge in the room, you can tell there are a couple of wavy spots but no edges. The worst part is the temperature needs to be above 50 F for the stain to dry effectively. I was smart this time and worked carefully towards the door so I did not stain myself into a corner. This only takes once before you realize it is crucial to getting even coverage. I will need to hang both heaters in the windows today before I start sealing the floor. I will also need to dry mop the entire floor to get any loose particles up before I put down the polyurethane. I kept snapping pictures to send to Annmarie to see if she liked the color as I progressed.

I placed an order for parts for the barn system on Sunday. I am super stoked about getting it installed. I am hopeful I can do it this weekend. If needed I will get the entire light strings up and then do the charger conversion last. I could have lights in every room of the barn for $300 in supplies! I will be making a You Tube video for this process. It is too cool not to take the time and record it so it can be duplicated.

Lamb productivity

I am officially on staycation. My plan is to get the office floor done while I am off. If I can get that done then I can start loading stuff into the office! This will be amazing as we will be able to thin out the stuff in our bedroom. The floor is slow going. Getting those multiple layers of paint off of the floor was not easy. I am now going over the floor to get the sandpaper marks out of the floor. I won’t be able to get them all but I can knock down the number there are. I am hopeful I can get the floor all sanded tomorrow and then put some stain on the floor on Tuesday! The biggest problem on Monday will be getting the floor and walls clean of dust before I stain the floor. I will put the fan up in the doorway tomorrow. I have been using the vacuum and wearing an N95 while I have been sanding the floor. It’s pretty cold to keep the door open, 11 degrees F. I will dress warm tomorrow and just be cold. Once the floor is sanded I will use the high pressure air and try and blow all the dust out of the room. I am not sure how well that will work but it cannot hurt and if some goes out then it will be helpful.

I had a goal to get all of the paint off of the floor in the office. The real problem is its not very warm outside! I have been waiting until the thermostat gets to 20 F before going out to sand on the floor. When I open up the door and turn on the fan the heat goes right out of the building. I managed to get the paint removed and just started working on smoothing out the wooden floor. I will need to put everything away so I don’t have to work around any equipment.

I worked on a couple of little things this weekend that needed to happen. I fed the cows again. I love the big bales, just saying! I decided to see if the Kubota tractor could move the old lamb shed that got blown off its wooden supports. I was able to lift up a side and then manually move the beams on the ground. The 4×6 beams that make up the underside of the building need to be replaced. They are rotten. It also needs to be on concrete pillars at a minimum. Getting it back up onto the beams will keep the moisture from getting into the underside boards. This will buy me a few more years until I figure out what I am going to do with this building. I am unclear now. I was going to make a small chapel out of it but with the office now I am not sure Annmarie needs it. I will have to think about it. I do need a spot to store metal stock that is out of the weather. Maybe I use it for that? I don’t know.

The ewes are on strike. We have not had any born today and we are only getting one set of babies a day and have only had four ewes give birth in the last seven days. We expected the flood gates to open by now. We have two sets still in the pens. The single will go into the momma baby area tomorrow. I moved the triplets to the biggest pen today. We thought they could go out into the momma baby area but one of the triplets is very small. We are not sure it can get in and out of the barn by itself. So until it is big enough to get around easily they will have to stay in a pen.

Lamb update:

8-Lambs born

4-Ewes delivered babies

Lots-# of ewes still pregnant

1-Single Lamb birth

2-Twin Lamb births

1-Triplet lamb births

1-Bummer lamb
0-Lambs died in first 2 weeks

7-Total lambs on farm

200% Birthing rate

175% Production rate

200% Survival rate at birth

175% Survival rate at 2 weeks (bummers count here as they would die without help)

Lambs have begun!

I am unsure what I did this last Friday. I know I was outside quite a bit, I did clean off the front porch like the wife wanted. I picked up trash around the farm and ended up working on the front gate latch. A board had to be added to the gate to get the latch in the right spot. It is still not quite in the right spot but it is working better than the piece of rope. So we are going to see how it does. It does look better than the piece of striped rope! We also cleaned out the old house, two more huge bags of trash out to the trash can full of construction debris. I managed to even do some cleanup around the machine shed. I remembered, we had to change a tire on the flat trailer and go pickup more wood for the office. We got the boards to build two slider doors and the wood for all of the trim work around the inside of the office. We had to unload it back into the old house as it was supposed to snow the next day. I did change the supplemental feed for the ewes from a molasses mix to alfalfa pellets. The pellets have a couple of percentage points more protein. The trouble with this is the sheep LOVE their molasses crack. They are not very impressed with the alfalfa. So I have had to mix in some crack in with the alfalfa pellets to get them interested in them. It is working. I had to take a dead ewe out to the bone yard.

Saturday was better organized as I wanted to really get the office floor done. I did not expect to finish it but if it is going to get done I need to make progress on it every day. I have PTO coming up next week and want to get the floor done. I would even like to get the walls done but with dry times for the floor I don’t see that really happening. Unless I can get the floor sanded and cleaned up in the first three to four days I have to wait 24 hours between coats of stain and polyurethane. I really need three coats of polyurethane so that eats up all the time needed to rub walls down with the wax/oil sealant I have purchased for them. It will take me a couple of days to get the walls rubbed down and then after the walls are done I can cut trim, rub it down and then install it. Once all of that is done I can get the office set up then I can work on making the two sliding doors. They will be the very last thing I do.

It did not take long to use up all the sand paper I had on hand. So I went to town to buy more and Mr Professional cut insulation for the attic. He had brought out a 21” sander and I had a 18” sander so I decided to buy sandpaper for both sizes. I went to two different stores and bought all of the course paper they had in both sizes and ended up picking up some kind of paint wheel that attaches to a drill. I was sure we would run out of paper and would not be able to remove any paint. The little device did work but the 21” sandpaper on a higher horse power rotary belt sander did a much better job of tearing up the old paint. We made great progress and I think we can get the last of the paint off in one day.

Sunday was not going to be another office day. I went out to open the barn doors and discovered that there was a screamer lamb in the midst of all the ewes. This always makes it hard to figure out who is going to claim said loud mouth. I got the ewes to leave the barn fairly slow and then there was only a lamb standing there hollering and a ewe at the far end of the barn. I walked down there and sure enough she had a twin all curled up sleeping in the straw quietly. So this meant putting up panels at the far end of the barn to create five creches. We then hung feeders, filled up buckets with water and alfalfa pellets. Now the barn is ready for Monday morning when Annmarie comes out to let the sheep out of the barn.

We needed to sort off nine sheep to get five loaded up for transport to the butcher on Sunday evening. The other four will go on Friday. Of course the animal trailer has a flat tire also. I cannot seem to find my cheap little 12V tire pump. So that meant getting the back of the pickup cleaned out so we can slip in the animal pen. Of course we used the tractor, it was easier but the animal pen needs some welding repairs and we had to keep it together with strategically placed straps. We did get it in and strapped down after cleaning out the pickup and tossing the stuff in trash, a little in machine shop and the rest on the burn pile. The next problem is to get the sheep to run up into the back of the pickup so we do not have to lift them up into the pickup like last time. There is a very old ramp on wheels that is bent and beaten up. We tried to straighten it out but got stopped by a very thick piece of angle iron. It was going to take way more time to straighten it out and fix it then I was was willing to invest. So after looking at the corral I decided that we could make a ramp! So three 2×4 and a bunch of scrap wood and screws later we had a 8.5’ ramp. We used a iron T-post to rest the ramp on and had to use a couple of pallets to keep the sheep from squirting out the sides. Next time we are just going to remove the tailgate from the pickup and we will be able to just back right up to the ramp. The only thing I need to do is to add a few more boards up the sides to block the view over the sides from the sheep. They could have just jumped off the ramp right over the sides of the corral while loading up if they had so desired.

I used the puppy on a 30’ lead line to herd the sheep. This was fairly productive, but there is no way the puppy can be let off lead and in with the sheep. Once we had the sheep in the corral I left the puppy in the yard. She kept sticking her head into the corral and trying to crawl into it with the sheep. I finally had to lock her in the back yard. She ran back and forth along the fence caterwauling because I would not let her at the sheep. She seemed quite determined, this is a good quality in a sheep dog!

I have been scraping the honeycomb and honey into a sieve trying to get the honey out. I did not want to set up the frame extractor for one frame only. This way is slow but I am getting honey!