I hit the office floor hard today. I gotta say it just was not pleasant. I had to keep the door open with a fan blowing out and it was only about 15 F all day so it was not exactly warm crawling around on the floor sanding. I had the paint off yesterday so today it was just sanding down the rough spots and getting it close to normal. It took me most of the day, then I vacuumed the floor with a broom like head. Then blew off the walls and floor with air, then swept then vacuumed the entire floor with just the vacuum hose, then swept again, then vacuumed one last time! It is now ready for stain. I plugged in two electric heaters and turned the heat pump back on. Tonight the temperature was 60 F. I will be able to put stain down at that temperature tomorrow.
The sheep are just not cooperating with this whole lambing concept. I was hoping since I was on staycation this week we could get all of the lambing done this week. It was a dream that was sorta possible. Instead when I went out this morning I found no new lambs and the mother that had twins, one of which she rejected, had a dead lamb in the pen. No idea why it died. So not only are we not having lambs but our productivity is dropping the longer we go. Plus it is cold outside! It was 5 degrees F this morning and no the lamb did not freeze, it was in the closed up barn and the pen it was in is the most central pen so it is not even near a wall. The triplets are in a corner pen with two outside walls and they did just fine! I had to break ice for the momma this morning.
4-Ewes delivered babies
Lots-# of ewes still pregnant
1-Single lamb birth
2-Twin lamb births
1-Triplet lambs birth
1-Lamb died in first two weeks
6-Total lambs on farm
200% Birthing rate
150% Production rate
150% Survival rate at 2 weeks (Bummers count as dying as they would die without help)
On the plus side the chickens are laying eggs. We are getting 7-8 eggs from 12 hens every day now. This is great as we were not getting hardly any. So the lucky few are glad the hens starting back up again.
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!
Well we made some progress! Mr Professional came out for three days and between me prepping fields and him planting them we were finally able to get some grass seed planted. I had a 200# leftover from last year so we are getting that all in the ground. I went on Friday to pick up some triticale seed so we could get it in the ground. There is about five acres that need triticale but the seed place did not have it in. They said that an order had been placed two months prior but they were having trouble getting it into 50# bags. I told her I needed to have the seed in the ground before this upcoming Saturday as there was rain coming. She knew this and said if necessary they will break out a 2000# tote and scoop out 400#. So one way or another I am hopeful that I can get it the ground in time. If it rains on Saturday then we can switch to granular fertilizer and get that on the ground. Working all the time did not give me a lot of time to prep the fields.
We even managed to do a little animal management. We ran all of the sheep into the barn and medicated every one of them for worms. We ended up sorting off all of the lambs, the youngest are over three months old and can be weaned. We moved 31 lambs to lower pasture plus the 8 lambs that are already there and one of the 31 is leftover and is ready for slaughter. We have 16 super skinny ewes and 30 normal size ewes. Most of the super skinny ewes are our older ones, so moving the lambs off of them, giving them wormer and moving them into the upper greener pastures should hopefully fix some of the skinny. We still need to move the feeders into the barn and toss out some straw onto the ground.
I have been washing laundry every night. I come in at dark covered in dust and just shed my clothes in the laundry room and dash for the shower. I have even been washing my hat every night. There is so much dust I have even been wearing an N95 while working the soil. I actually feel better at night if I wear the mask during the day. I had to go down and clear out one of the creek crossings and get it ready for the spring floods. It is miserable digging the wire and panels out of the ditch and trying to get it set back up so the water can flow under it. Somehow I ended up splitting the finger on my glove. I was super glad I had the gloves on as if I had not I think I would have needed stitches. I tore up my shirt and pants doing the clean up so I just tore off a strip of shirt and wrapped it around my fingertip to get the bleeding to stop.
The pickup battery is dead. I cannot remember when I had it replaced last but I feel it was not that long ago. We got the battery charged up but then I went and left the glove box open. It of course has a little light in it and burned up all the charge I had managed to get onto the battery. It is back on the charger again.
I was fortunate to have my nephew’s young daughter help me get the sheep in one evening! He had talked to me about making her little mobile car go faster with a DeWalt battery. So I showed her how to drive the tractor and let her drive. She is five years old. We used the tractor to bring in the sheep then went to collect the eggs. The puppy, Chance, got out of the yard and spent ten minutes ignoring me and running around. The puppy made me look bad! She needs more work on coming back when she is outside and distracted by scents. I of course bragged to wife that I had child time. She showed me up and went the next day to visit with her also.
Saturday was the day to get all caught up with the animals. Daughter #2 needed time with the cows and this was going to be it. First we had to bring the calf table over to the end of the chute. This would have been easier were it not for all of the yellow jackets nesting in the pipe. Mr Tex got stung once before he bailed. I had to search everywhere to find one can of hornet killer and we were able to spray them and get the calf table moved into position. We then had to get the portable arena set up around the calf table so when we let the calf out it would stay close and allow us to open the gate and get it back into the corral. We were able to chain it all together except for one end by the table. Mr Tex then went to move the steel gates around in the corral and ended almost getting stung again from yellowjackets inside the metal gates. We had to wait for Annmarie to bring more hornet spray. While she was headed back from town, we went into the barn and started to set up all of the gates and a working table for our supplies. I only had enough dewormer for 20 sheep so we ended up dosing all of the old ewes that are super skinny.
By the time we were done with the sheep we had 41 lambs, 41 ewes, 12 market animals and 1 ram. We had to cut open abscesses on three of them. They were along their jaw, most likely from cheat grass. We are not feeding any cheat grass they are just getting it out in the fields. I had to make up a sterilizing solution so I used a mild bleach solution buffered with baking soda. We used that to irrigate the wounds after lancing them open and getting all of the gunk out. It smells but last time we did it they recovered so there is hope this batch will do it also. We now have the 12 market lambs down by the school house and the rest above the barn lot.
The first batch of cows were the momma’s and babies and the new bull. Annmarie and Tex walked down and pushed them up to the house. The cows came in the back way, not through the orchard and front yard like Annmarie wanted. Tex got the calves sorted off and we started to run them through the chute into the calf table. There is an art to using the calf table, this is where you do not let the calf run through the table and actually get its neck caught in the squeezer. We had five calves and I let two get through. One we caught and shoved back into the table, the second one pushed right through our corral panels, then ran along the fence several times refusing to go into the corral. It then took off across the property and ran down to the mother in law’s house. It took us 25 minutes to catch the calf. We did get it tagged and banded. Those cows and the bull all got treated with fly powder, we ended up with two steers and three heifer calves. Everyone got put back down to the school house area.
The real trouble started after that. We had been at this for almost five hours already and the five feeder cows up above needed to be treated for flies. Annmarie went up to get them on foot in 100 degree weather. She got them down about the same time I decided to let all of the sheep out of the barn lot. The sheep got right in the gate opening and stopped therefore blocking the cows from being herded to where they needed to go. This led to some frazzled comments and some typical cow working vernacular, most not suitable for small children. We did eventually get the cows into the barn lot but they were so wild we could not get them into the area behind the barn. I need to install a fence inside the barn lot to cut off access to the spring. I know this and honestly I think we could do it with the same panels we use for the calf table area, I just need to know to reset those to stop cow access. This would allow us to push the cows along the fence directly through the gate instead of them being able to run down a dead end spur that is just too big to block off with a human. We gave up. They have water, we fed them and I will set out a dust bag tomorrow and let them out.
Tex left for another job and we all went inside, took showers and much needed naps.
Well we have had a heat wave with the temperatures running 102-111 F this two weeks ago so I have not been doing much work outside. This last weekend I decided to get up early and go rake hay up into long rows. We are not going to bale the hay as it is too dry. We just had too much to put up, so I am just making bigger rows so the animals can dig into it later when the weather is not as good and eat all they want. Raking it also lets the green grass under it grow so the animals can eat that also. I went out Friday morning by 0630 but two hours later I had to stop as the tractor had overheated already. The next day I was outside by 0430 and raking hay. I got all of the hay I needed raked up. I have two areas where I need to dig out the dirt so the water can stay in a low spot. The ground is so soft that I stuck the tractor twice in the mud. Pretty impressive after that heat wave. I should start my second hay cuttings this weekend. It is ready and I might as well get it done. I am afraid there is at least another 12 ton out in the field ready to cut.
We have let the sheep out of the barn lot and out into the upper field #4, they can also use the walkway we created alongside the wheat to get 1/2 mile away from the house. Due to the nature of all of the coyotes around here we are now forced to bring the sheep in every night. The first few nights are always the worst as you are teaching the sheep to come in at night. After that they will start to put themselves in every night. Tonight it was merely a matter of walking out and shutting the gate.