Staycation 88% completed

This week the weather has improved dramatically so the priorities have had to change a little. I wanted to get projects done that set up Mr Professional so he can come out and work alone when I am back to work. So lots of organizing, sorting and cleaning up has been happening. On Wednesday morning we sorted the sheep and pulled off the rest of the lambs. Not sure why I didn’t think of that the first time, but problem solved. We moved all the lambs but three over into the orchard pasture to hang out. I thought we only had three in with the ewes, we spotted a fourth one that evening when we were feeding, a little boy snuck past, he must have been hidden in a mass of ewes. The grass in that pasture is over eight inches tall and needs something to start eating it down so I don’t have to mow it. We want the babies close as they have a tendency to disappear due to predators. We let Zeke, our old border collie push the lambs through the yard into the orchard, he was very happy. All he did was walk up to them and lay down. He has been laying around a lot lately and has started not eating all of his meals. We are going to switch him to soft food to attempt to encourage him to eat. He is probably not going to make it through this year.

We went out to the machine shed and sorted through the piles of scrap wood we got a couple of years ago. It was leftovers we got for a steal and had it delivered right to the house which made it even a better deal. We are now starting to dig through and use the material for various projects around the house. But it was taking up space in the machine shed and we are going to make the old chicken coop the storage area. So we sorted out the junk. Sorted out the stuff we would use once for concrete forms, which are now stored outside the chicken coop and tarped, under the eaves, so we can have easy access to it when needed. We even kept the subflooring sheets and oak plywood sheets separately in the chicken coop so we can use them for the old house. The old bathroom is going to be Annmarie’s office storage room and it will get oak plywood flooring. The floors are slanted and will need to be leveled. The old kitchen, soon to be freezer room, will need to get leveled also but it will just be 3/4” subflooring and 1/2” plywood sheeting on it. We will just be sanding down the original floor like we did in our upstairs rooms in the house.

I took the time to brush the horse. She is shedding something fierce and without another horse buddy to help her groom she needs some assistance. I have brushed her twice this vacation and Sarah brushed out the dogs when she was home so everyone looks pretty good. We came into the house and took out the old TV stand. It is very heavy but Annmarie reminded us we have the shoulder furniture movers so we found those and it made moving the stand an easy thing. I moved the new chest into its spot after cleaning the floor and doing some cord management stuff to organize the electrical mess. Annmarie wants us to use a piece of plastic channel to contain all of the TV cords to make it neater. When that comes we will install it, it does look a lot nicer with the cords contained.

Mr Professional got the side by side up and running in under five minutes. This is without the battery being plugged in. Adding that large deep cycle battery under the driver’s seat was just what we needed to keep the thing going. A dead battery all the time is highly annoying.

The small stuff I ordered for the tractor came this week. The speed handle is installed! This should just come standard on every tractor, I am unsure why they don’t. There are a couple of tool racks that will hold a chain between them now mounted behind the seat on the roll bar. The chain is actually in one spot now not tied down to some random piece of the tractor. The quick hitch is now installed and I have filled the ballast box with horseshoes. So now the Kubota has pallet forks on the front and a ballast box on the back with several hundred pounds of steel in it. It feels a lot better when you are carrying something heavy on the front.

We let the new alpaca out of the orchard thinking that everyone seemed to be getting along. The old adage that fences make great neighbors is still true. By that afternoon Mad Max had the young brown one pinned to the ground and was screaming in his ear. I tried to holler at them to get them to stop but no go. I went over and encouraged him to get off of the baby and strained my right knee. He did not initially take the hint. The alpaca can be very stubborn or determined, depending on how you look at it. We watched them for a while and all seemed to be copacetic. The next morning when I went outside there was more fighting. I went out and chased away the offenders but I could only find the two new young white alpaca and only counted ten. Which meant that the young brown one was missing, but Mad Max was present but one of our other old brown alpaca was missing. I had to walk all the way down to the end of the driveway and found the poor little alpaca pinned to the ground and the older one on top grinding into him. I had to chase him off with my coffee cup as a tool, my knee still hurts so no kicking. When I got back to the now 12 alpaca I wanted to put the three babies back into the orchard with the lambs. But they kept walking away from me. So instead when I opened the gate the seven older ones bum rushed the open gate and went into the orchard. So now the new animals are outside the fence and the old grumpy men are stuck in the orchard. Mad Max is now with the young ones but he has not been any trouble since the split. So now Annmarie asked me if I verified the gender on all three new alpaca. I did not do that. So now we need to verify that we did not end up with a female as we really do not want any cria.

On Thursday we got the side by side ready to spray. I put the first 30 gallons of round up through just spraying our road and driveway down. The only bad part about roundup is it takes at least a week before you can tell something was sprayed and two weeks for it to totally die. We cleaned out the tank and Mr Professional sprayed field #5 & 5A with 2-4-D & Milestone to kill the broadleafs, the thistles are already starting to spread. Unfortunately, the flood from two years ago changed the direction of the creek and one of the tall banks is seriously undercut. We have probably already lost eight feet of hillside and may lose another eight feet. If we lose that total 16’ I will have to move the fence. There is a very large curve in the creek now. We finished cleaning up and tossing everything onto the burn pile. I will need to get that burned again in the next month.

The big push now will be to get the spray onto all of the hay fields. We need to do this as soon as possible and then once that is done we can start fixing the fence down by four corners. As soon as that fence is done then it will be repairs on the hay baler and getting all the tractors tuned up and oil changed so everything is ready for haying season. We will be getting the barns cleaned out also so we have a place to put the new good hay.

Staycation 76% completed

We spent most of Monday getting the black walnut tree cut up into boards and a mantle. I am not yet sure what to do with the mantle but if you know someone who needs a 9 foot long, 12×20” piece of black walnut with one live edge still attached let me know. I have it stashed in the machine shed under a tarp to keep it clean. The rest of the lumber we took out to the now clean old chicken coop, stacked and stickered it, then banded it all together to help keep it flat while it dries out the last little bit. The tree had been dead for a few years already so it should not take several years. The wife and I discussed the barn lot crossing and the cost of a new culvert. It was going to be $1800-2000 for a new 3 or 4 foot diameter culvert. Annmarie pointed out that I could just make a buttresses on each side and deck the gap with railroad ties and anything would be able to drive over it. So the new plan is to make two concrete U shaped ends and then bridge the gap with railroad ties. This will be easier than trying to purchase new culvert and will have the added benefit of creating a lot of space for water should it try and flood again in our lifetime.

Mr Professional and I put up clear plastic on one of the wall openings in the back of the old chicken coop. We did this so the light could still come in. The front part of the coop is about 33 feet long so we sheeted it in plastic and then put up OSB board to sandwich the plastic between the board and the chicken wire already stretched across the windows. We sealed up two different animal access points and now nothing can get into the old chicken coop but mice. I will need to put out a lot of poison now to prevent the mice from taking up residence. One of the cats had been keeping the room clear of mice, we knew this because there was some untouched grass seed in the building. After we got the windows covered we cleaned up and were ready to move the stuff from the old house out to the chicken coop for storage purposes.

Today, before Mr Professional came out I went upstairs and stained the second side of the bathroom door. I will seal it tomorrow and then it will be ready to install. Mr Professional had told me that one of the lambs was limping last night when we fed. So this morning I went out and cut a short length of PVC pipe, I then split it in half lengthwise. Once I had it split I filed down all of the edges to make them rounded and took a roll of coban and the splint out to the barn with me when I went to let everyone out. I managed to find a boy lamb who was limping, caught him and after everyone left the barn I was able to set him on his butt and wrap up this leg and splint it with the coban and PVC. It worked well, the only real problem was it took the lamb some time to get used to it and I found another boy lamb that was limping and had a floppy front leg. So now I will need to make another splint in the morning and splint the second lamb’s leg. I have no idea where the idiots are injuring themselves.

So Mr Professional and I sat down to discuss the new plan, we calculated how much rebar we would need and we picked it up today from the scrap yard. This is the new engineer approved plan. I am going to borrow a dump trailer and pickup the 3/4minus and concrete sand myself and take it right to the job site and dump it all within arms reach of where we need it. We can get power to the bridge with three extension cords and will mix it all right there. I just need to get the Portland Cement and lime now. It needs to warm up quite a bit so the water level will drop some before we get started.

We started cleaning out the old house to get ready for the office build. This is a perfect project to work on due to the frequent rain. It took two full 16’ flat bed trips to empty the two rooms out! There was quite a bit of unused wood stored in the old house. I am thinking about moving all of the unused wood from the machine shed into the old chicken coop so that all of the wood is in one spot. We are going to tear out the entire inner wall so I can run all new electrical wire quickly and easily using the least amount of wire. Luckily, I have quite a bit of 12 g wire leftover from wiring our house so I think I already have what I need. I also have a variety of switches and outlets, all different colors and types but I am determined to use up what I have on hand before I get any new supplies.

We used the tractor to move the trailer and it is a lot easier to maneuver the trailer. We got the first load into the old chicken coop but by yesterday evening we did not want to unload the trailer so we just tossed a tarp over it and started to work on covering up the access hole in the side of the building. This hole has been uncovered since we moved here and Annmarie has wanted it covered forever. We also slapped a couple of pieces of wood at the peak and even added an extra piece as a woodpecker has decided to put a hole in the building so it can nest in the attic. The freezer room is just going to get the floor leveled and power installed for now. It is outside the office area we are building for Annmarie and is in my section of the building. The second section will be done at a later date, most likely after we get the inside bathroom remodeled. Once the walls are stripped I will get two doors ordered and three windows. But the wiring can be done while that stuff is getting ordered and shipped.

Back to fencing

We have all kinds of good news, we got new cell phones! This might not seem like a big deal but we are not into the latest and greatest for most things and had always been a model or two behind on phones. We finally decided to upgrade, with some coercion from a friend, and you can see the difference in our picture quality for the blog! Annmarie took the above barn picture at twilight just before it got totally dark. We never could have done that before so I am super stoked about getting some pictures I never could have before due to sun going down or just not up enough yet. On the plus side the battery lasts from 0400-2200 without a recharge and the old one would no longer do that.

I had to go into the barn and add a board as one of the mothers managed to crawl through the wooden boards on the side of the creeper area. She was trapped when I came out to let them out of the barn Saturday morning. I found a board, hammered it in and cut the end off. This opening was too large anyways as the babies could sneak out of the area also. This should solve both problems. Our new panels for inside the barn are still not available to order yet and we have only had one more baby! The mother was so crazy we marked her for culling in the spring.

Mr Tex has been coming out during the week for a few hours a day and stringing fence. We are trying to get that last fence up. On Friday I was able to secure three more ton of alfalfa hay. I need to up my summer purchase a few ton. We unloaded a ton into the barn. We were then just going to back the flat bed trailer into the lamb shed and park it. That way we did not have to unload it. Now I failed to take into consideration that despite the brilliance of this plan I had never parked the flat bed trailer in the lamb shed before. This is because the door is only seven feet wide and the trailer is 8.5 feet wide, I discovered. So Mr Professional suggested we use the forks on the new tractor so we did not have to move the 80# bales by hand. This was a brilliant idea and we unloaded the trailer four bales at a time and dumped them into the lamb shed. It worked very well and was much nicer than doing it all by hand. The barn part was unpleasant enough that in the spring we are going to bring out the 20 foot hay elevator and weld on it until we get it working properly. I want to use it to stack the hay this next year. We left the trailer out in the barn lot so the rams and horse could clean it all up, they had it spotless by the next morning. We were able to go out to the new fence area and install some wooden stays before it just got too cold. The fog moved in and it was dang chilly!

The next day Mr Professional went inside the house and matched the ceiling texture. It looks great and once we paint it you will never know we patched it. I had plans to go down and work on the H brace at the far end of the new fence and the gate but as soon as I got alongside the fence I realized that not all of the clips were installed. Mr Tex had stretched out the smooth wire but not clipped it in place, the woven wire only had 1-2 clips on it and we needed to finish it anyways. So I started clipping the fence in and working my way toward the far end. I got the entire fence clipped in! Mr Professional came out and we worked on stays for a large portion of the fence. We still have about 50% of the fence to install stays on and one H brace and to hang the end gate and it will be ready for the cows. Hoping to have it done by the end of the week. The spring up in field number three has started back up! This is great news, It is so much water that it is now running above ground.

Lambogeddon progresses

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.

Lamb Statistics

  • 24 of 34 ewes have given birth, 71% completed
  • Lambs born alive 38 birth rate 158%
  • Stillborn lambs 1
  • Lambs rejected 0
  • Lambs died before 2 weeks 1
  • Lambs bummered not rejected 0
  • Flock productivity 154%
  • Singles 11 of 24, 46%
  • Twins 12 of 24, 50%
  • Triplets 1 of 24, 4%

Fence completed for 4a

It was a long week last week and I kind of made it that way. Mr Rainman and Mr Tex came out last Sunday to help me finish up the fence in 4A. I ended up having Mr Rainman work on our yard, he finished trimming all of the lavender plants and trimmed out all of the old raspberry canes and tied up the new ones and trimmed them. He also tied up our thornless blackberries, he even managed to plant a few new plants that had self started by rooting the tips of runners. So hopefully by the end of next year we will have the entire row filled in with blackberry plants. This was work that was going to take a while and needed to be done.

Mr Tex went down to work on the fence in field 4A and Mr Rainman and I went to the barn to tag and band lambs and to rearrange the barn to hold more mommas & babys. I went down to help Mr Tex finish the fence and It turned out very nice. On our way back to the house we ended up fixing the fence in 4B all alongside Stewart Creek, which is currently dry. I had not tightened or repaired that fence in many years. It looks much better now and no animal should be able to get out, this is not a definitive won’t get out. I have learned over the years that if they want to get out they will. I snapped the high tension wire and had my hand down on the tightener when it happened, my poor right hand thumb took a beating and has been bothering me for over a week now, I am hopeful it will get well soon.

We had another set of twins born. We keep hoping that they will just hurry up and start having babies all at once. So far this has not happened. I will get the numbers together soon for our lambing season. So far it has been good other than incredibly protracted. On the way past the barn I noticed our fat orange barn cat laying up in the window area soaking up some heat rays from the sun. He is incredibly fat! I am unsure how many mice he eats but I have not found a single mouse in the hay yet so the barn cats get to stay and someone is doing their job.