Babies Cometh

It has been a week for random babies. I found the new calf last week while feeding. I came out on Wednesday early afternoon to get the new fence inspected and pictures taken for the water conservation grant. While we are walking toward the fence I spot a still wet calf out in the field. It happens to be green ear tag and she is the fiercest of them all when it comes to protecting a calf. So we gave her a wide berth. The pictures are all taken and I handed over all the hours spent on the fence and all the receipts. We will see how the check looks when it comes, I am hoping to cover supply costs. On Wednesday after spotting the newborn calf I saw brand new twins lambs up on the back hillside. About 15 sheep would not come off the hillside as they did not want to leave the new momma. I walked up there and pushed them down. She stayed with her lambs and I was able to swing panels in the barn and open up the momma area so she could be isolated in her movements. When I walked back up to the hillside she was so skittish that I ended up scooping a lamb under each arm and carrying them back to the barn. She followed me to the barn but then would not enter it. Every time I tried to push her in she would jump around me. I finally gave up and locked her in the barn lot. She ended up in the barn I just could not go up and shut the door.

We have been tossing baby chickens back into the coop after dark every night. They are too stupid to get the concept of going back into the coop before dark. On a plus side they are not afraid of snow. This is amazing as I have always had scaredy cat chickens that did not want to step in the white stuff. I tossed three chicks back into the coop.

Today we moved an old bookcase from our house to Sarah’s. This caused us to rearrange our entire master bedroom. We cleaned under and around things that had not been moved in ten years! We are having a new master bedroom set delivered in the next two weeks. We got a bed frame with drawers under each side. We are going to store linen under the bed in those drawers. This will let me store comforters and quilts in the bathroom closet. The linen always gets buried.

We got the bookcase out without too much trouble but on the way back we had to drop off a sewing machine and table at the Mother-in-law’s house and spotted another calf out in the field! Three born in the last week. Now if only the sheep would take off and start dropping babies.

The big orange barn cat did not run from me this morning. Usually it just hides when it sees me, Annmarie tells me she can touch it. So I fed it on the step and tried to pet it. I would just barely touch it and it would back up and away. We did this four times before it took a half hearted swat at my hand as I tried to pet it. I just stood close to it as it ate after that. I will keep trying to tame it down. The grey and white cat makes a random appearance also. I think there are four cats living out in the barn but they are incredibly elusive.

We bought new gate latch materials yesterday and I installed them today. They are working out very nicely except Zeke disappeared from the yard while I was doing this. He won’t stay in the yard 15 minutes now unsupervised before he is leaping over the fence at some spot. I started trying to cut off all the posts at 12″. Unfortunately, there are two shorter posts, a couple of inches shorter. I was hoping Annmarie would not notice, I am unclear how I thought this would elude her notice, it did not.

After much gnashing of teeth I will be recutting all the posts off to ten inches high and installing wires in the hopes that we can contain Zeke. I will also be cutting wooden extensions for the front gate so it matches the gate over by the outhouse building.

We got our first snow of Winter on Thanksgiving day. It made for a pretty day, we will see if it lasts.

We are going to start feeding the quail. They are living in the rose bushes in the driveway so we will be able to just toss out some feed as we drive to work or come home. We like the quail the best.

Lambies!

On Monday while Rain Man and I were out cutting wire away from some old cow panels to reuse them down by the school house we were talking about the sheep. All the sheep were in one corner of the ram pasture and I asked him to guess how many sheep there were. He guessed around 30, in reality there are almost 80 sheep in the picture. Most people underestimate how many sheep there really are when they see them all bunched up. I was explaining that we were expecting babies in December when he said “isn’t that a baby” and pointed to the left side of the herd. Yep, there was a single newborn lamb probably only 24 hours old but definitely not brand new. When all the sheep ran out of the pasture this lamb got stuck on one side of the fence while momma was on the other. I ended up catching it so it could be reunited with its mother. Rain Man got to cuddle the lambie and then set it out so it could find momma. He got called away right after that to go to work.

I hung the gates and put the panels up. I still need 16 4″ anchor bolts to finish my braces but I only have 6″ and 3.5″. The 3.5″ are about 1/4″ too short! I will have to get these in town later in the week.

I came in just at dark and Annmarie and I sorted off the ram and five whethers to go with him over into Alcatraz with the steers. Our ram is almost as wide as he is long! He is so fat. We will be killing whethers soon, maybe this upcoming weekend. We want to pull the ram off so we can keep all the ewes having babies as close together as possible.

Today I decided to integrate my baby chicks with the adult hens. I have 23 chicks that are over 3 months old. I opened the gate to their area and then filled their water and food so they can hang out for another 3-5 days without needing to leave. This lets them think about jumping into the door and making their way out into the real world. The only real problem with this is I have to start watching them to make sure they are getting back inside the coop at night or they will become raccoon food. Come spring time we should have lots of eggs!

Crawling along

I was only able to fence on Saturday and Sunday this weekend as I had to work on Friday. I have to say that if you don’t need to wear the waterproof overalls, coat and boots then don’t, cause that much rubber will keep you dry from the rain but if its not freezing you will sweat a gallon of water inside it. I was able to work all weekend in just the rubber boots and it was pleasant. Now the wind kept gusting then vanishing so I kept taking layers off then putting them back on but at least I can change the layers. I got all of the wooden posts set on Saturday. I had about 1/3 yard of gravel left over and I tossed it on top of the culvert. The culvert has a nice 6″ layer of gravel over it. Saturday afternoon before going inside I loaded the pickup with 2×6 boards so I could go out first thing on Sunday morning and start installing H-braces. I was worried about having enough 2×6 boards left from the corral build but after loading them I had 16 in the back of the pickup and in the end only used 14.

I was going to install the H braces and tighten them with wire but Annmarie wanted me to clean out the pickup and install the stock racks on it before dark so after doing three complete braces I realized I was going to have to stick to just cutting the boards and screwing everything together. I will come back and tighten all the H braces later. Each cross piece is made out of two boards screwed together. Because I kept each brace 6-8′ apart I was able to use one 2×16′ board on each brace. This left me with two full boards over the spring and two full boards to connect the long straight stretches. I need those boards to keep the bull from just lifting the fence at these intersections which he has learned to do.

I had some visitors while I was down by the old schoolhouse. All of our cows in the lower fields came out to see me. Zeke keeps jumping the yard fence to come see me also. I have either been making him stay in the back of the pickup or lay under the pickup for a few hours. Annmarie tells me at night that he doesn’t look like he hated spending the day with me. I just wish he would stay in the yard.

I was able to get the stock rack on with some help and we will be sorting sheep on Monday to send two whethers to the college for butchering Tuesday morning.

Getting ready for winter

Yesterday, I got up at 0408 and was out the door, after cooking myself breakfast by 0428. Now it was only a ham, egg and cheese hot sandwich but it was breakfast. I wanted to get out early while it was cool so I cold mow with the rental tractor and hopefully not have it overheat. It had headlights and I had already filled it with fuel the night before. It was only about 15 degrees cooler and I had to stop three times before it got light due to overheating. I even took an air tank down to blow out the radiator. This worked the first two times until I ran out of stored air.

Annmarie called me back up to the house to help her get dressed. She has had some horrible muscle spasms in her back. I did and she got a deep tissue massage and is on the mend now. She thinks she will now survive, yesterday she was not so sure.

After a few more hours I had to head to town to get money for the cow hay I was picking up today. I stopped at the bank, the bakery (a pastry of some kind was calling my name, it turned out to be a peach filled deliciousness), the coffee shop, the seed place (grain elevator) and then convenience store. The only place that did not bat an eye at my dust/soot covered countenance was the seed silo. He just wanted to know if I had an account, I don’t or had cash or check. I then mentioned that a pastry was going to save me as I had to get change to buy it and I needed $252 for the seed. I was saved by a pastry and a coffee!

While I was at the seed silo I enquired about winter beardless barley. Its what I really wanted to plant but they only had spring barley and I am not sure I can get into the mud pit this upcoming spring. I then asked about a grain based hay seed and the guy said “club wheat”. He said a lot of people are turning it into hay. It only cost $14/50#.
Annmarie and I had talked the night before and triticale had come up as we fed it one winter and all the animals liked it. So the triticale was only $18/50#. So I bought 800# of triticale seed for the upper 7 acre pasture. You are supposed to seed it at 80#/acre. Since there is no magical setting on the seeder and I have to guess and adjust on the fly I figured I better have a little extra.

I came home and planted 2 acres. The harrow had a hard time as the soil was hard, rock filled and there was a lot of plant matter. I had to adjust the seed rate several times and ended up planting the 2 acres and then opening up the seed grate and running over the entire two acres quickly with the harrow to get seed to drop out at the right rate.

Tex came first thing in the morning so we could tag and band the sheep before picking up the cow’s hay from a nearby seller. Tex used Daisy (his red heeler pup) to help move the sheep around. I had him keep her on a lead rope so she could not get away. At four months old she liked chasing the animals and was excited to work.

After we tagged and banded the left over sheep, I went to the post office to pick up our baby chicks! We ordered 25 pullets for $100 all inclusive cost. Since they have to be about 6 months old before they lay I like to start my chicks in the late fall so come spring time they are old enough to start laying and I feed them through the winter at their smallest. I usually brood them in the house for a couple of weeks but I just started them out in the coop this time. I had to send Tex to Pendleton as the rental tractor had a flat front tire. I took care of the chicks and setup while he got the tire fixed. Once he got back, I started driving the trailer back and forth to pick up our hay. Unfortunately, I can only carry 5 large bales at a time and I had to transport 36 bales, a total weight of 25 tons. In between trailer loads, Tex moved some old irrigation pipe, got the cow feeder panels into the bull Alcatraz and hooked up the seeder to my tractor.

My tractor came back from the shop today. Someone (had to be me, despite my lack of memory) put regular fuel into the diesel tractor. I didn’t really understand how bad this is. After the rental cost and tractor repair the wrong fuel mistake cost us around $1000, this was a very expensive lesson. I will now be buying a third yellow fuel can for diesel to prevent this in the future.

We got all the hay put away and ready. We were going to do cows today, but didn’t get done with hay until 1600. I was tired and did not want to go wrestle with cows so we will be doing cows on Monday!

My goal tomorrow is to disc the three acres I have mowed in the 7 acre field. I need to get the soil broken up and rocks picked so I can get in there with the power harrow and plant triticale. The goal is to get those three acres planted by tomorrow evening. That will leave me with two more acres still to mow and plant. The middle seven acre field needs burned and disced and mowed and some soil moved around. I am saving it for last.

After dinner, Annmarie asked me to go get the sheep. They were visible from the kitchen window. I put on my shoes and Annmarie asked me if I wanted the dogs, my reply “the sheep like me I won’t need them”. I called the sheep onto the back hillside but they did not want to come into the ram pasture. I ended up on the back hillside with the sheep spread out every where and no dogs. I tried to call Annmarie as I could see her through the kitchen window. NOPE, I had left my cell phone on the kitchen table. I went old school and pulled out my white handkerchief and started waving it around. It only took her about 2 minutes to spot me through the window! When she came out the door I hollered for her to let the dogs out. Five minutes later the sheep were in the ram pasture. I was still on the hillside and had asked Mouse to guard the gate opening. Zeke and I were ambling down the hill when I looked up and spotted mouse chasing down two sheep that had broken from the herd. I started hollering and he reached up grabbed the ewe by the throat and tossed her to the ground. It took him about 1 second to roll her onto the ground. He didn’t hold onto her neck as she dropped to the ground and when she got back up she went right back to the herd. This is why Mouse loves to work the cows, he can be very aggressive. This is why Zeke loves to work the sheep, he just needs to run around them and stare them into submission. Unfortunately for them both, they have to learn to do both.

Odds and ends

It has been one of those catch up weekends. They must come around as the honey do list can keep growing. I spent a few hours on Friday working on painting the front fence. Did the same thing on Saturday and one half is now almost done. I have two small sections to paint but the weather got wet and I could not finish.

We have had some summer rain and lightning storms this week and the sheep don’t really feel the need to rush out into the upper pasture and expose themselves to the elements. We had not seen the three, soon to be eaten cows, in over a week. They have been staying at the far end of the pasture and we don’t bring them in at night. Just the horses and sheep have to come in every night. Annmarie and I had just had the discussion that neither of us had seen the feeder cows and I was going to have to go hunt them down. They were kind enough to be standing by the gate when I let the sheep out in the morning.

Now that the alpaca are confirmed killers we are constantly having to check on them to make sure they are all still alive. When you drive up the driveway and see this, you do a double take and then look for signs of breathing. The chest movement is visible as they breathe!

We had 13/100 of rain last night and this morning, when I was out doing stuff today I kicked over some dirt to see if that was going to make a difference, not really, it was only about 1/4″ below the surface then it was dry again. We are going to need a lot more rain starting in late October, not before. I went in and paid for an agricultural burn permit, which is needed if you are going to burn more than 2 acres. There are not very many issued for the county, less than 120. It’s Round-Up week so all agricultural burning is banned Saturday to Saturday so nothing can get away and pull services away. My plan is to burn right after Round-Up and then start planting grass seed. I want to get 20 acres of grass planted.

Today I needed to check the oil in the UTV, it was the last thing I needed to do before we put it into service. This entails pulling both seats out and the center console. The oil level was good but I could not get the center console back in. It took me 20 minutes and three You Tube videos to realize that the cutout will never hold the seat belt cable. You have to move the seat belt out of the way then it just pops right into place, its ready now.

I know that deer season is coming up soon and we are going to be killing lambs in the next two months so I needed to get the gravel moved into the hole I dug around the skinning posts. I spent three hours today moving 12 yards of gravel from the front pile to the skinning pole. It looks good and now I won’t have to wear my mud boots when I am cleaning animals! The water should just go down into the ground and stay away. This improvement has been a long time coming. I just need to get the flood light installed on the outside of the chicken coop now.

I am getting ready for the big grass seed push coming next week. I am taking vacation from work so I can hit it hard.

Relaxing weekend

Yesterday when we brought the sheep in we noticed three more babies, this morning I saw a fresh placenta on the ground and Annmarie just brought the sheep in again and says there are at least 6 untagged babies already. Yesterday, Annmarie spotted a dead lamb up in the Upper Prime Pasture and had me go up as she thought it had been killed by a coyote. It had no tag and was between two logs, I suspect it went down head first and broke its neck, Mother Nature does her own thinning sometimes. The sheep are a pleasure to work as we have an amazing group of calm lambs and ewes.

Stewart Creek is officially no longer running. This is the latest it has run as it is fed solely from winter water runoff from the mountains. We have a couple of water spots still but it is no longer running down the creek bed. I have been working on spraying the star thistle both days. I have managed to get about 75 gallons of spray on the ground as of noon today. I can only go out during the mornings due to the temperature. I only tried to roll the tractor three times going up and down the back hill. The one right behind our house is the worst as it is the steepest and the rockiest. I try to do it first so I am very cautious the rest of the time.

Yesterday we had three of Annmarie’s cousins come out to visit the house. It had been over 6 years for two of them and one had not seen any work on the house. They were amazed at all the work we have done and really liked it. It is always a pleasure to show the house to people who used to come visit or remember it when Annmarie’s grandparents lived here.

Annmarie found a marble in the barn lot yesterday when she was bringing the sheep in! I have added it to our collection in the living room, there is about an inch of space left in that container before I will have to start filling the container in the office I set up for marbles.

It’s hot outside and I am supposed to be relaxing so I took mink oil and oiled the entire outside of the wooden chest we got at auction. It is a leather wrapped chest with metal and wood strips over the leather. It did darken the leather but I am super happy with how it turned out. I just need to let this dry for a few days then I will take a lint free cloth and clean up the chest one more time. Once that is all done we will make a spot for it in the craft room and I will start looking inside the chest and figuring out how to preserve the inside. We emptied some of the stuff out but I think the rest is going to go into the trash can, its mostly old yarn. We learned the hard way that super old yarn just becomes brittle and not worth working. It looks like the inside has a wallpaper lining so I most likely will just wipe it down with a lightly damp rag and call it good after I vacuum out the dust and paper flakes. This was a great find for $70.

That hurts

This Saturday we decided to tag and band the lambs. There was much discussion (arguing) as to how many lambs we actually had and wether or not the coyotes had been picking them off. Annmarie shot one Friday night and I missed one later in the day Saturday, so we know they are close to the barn lot. We opted to not use the dogs to push the sheep from the barn lot into the barn. We wanted the sheep to remain calm and just mosey on into the barn. Well they were calm, way too calm. We finally had to get shaker sticks to encourage them the last little bit of the way into the barn. Once in the barn we put up three gates to shrink the available area for them to roam in and I grabbed the tag and band supplies. I sit down on the floor of the barn with the supply bin on my left and my coffee to the right. The coffee didn’t last five minutes before some random sheep knocked it over repeatedly. I finally had to give up on having coffee during this labor intensive endeavor (I spent the entire time on my backside while Annmarie did the lamb catching!). We ended tagging 25 lambs and 2/3 of those were boys. We still have had more girls than boys lambs born on the farm since we started over 10 years ago. We have just been increasing the ear tag numbers every year sequentially and we started with the number one.

After the sheep were done we decided to work the cows. This required closing gates and setting up the corral for the cows. I was in the barn getting fly spray for the cows when I heard this bone chilling scream coming from the corral area. Both Hoss and myself were in the barn and we took off for the corral. I thought Annmarie was being mauled and stomped by the bull or one of the three steer in the corral. Nope, the asshole of the bee verse, a yellow jacket, had stung her on the hand and she had responded by trying to verbally assault the offending party at the top of her lungs. She went inside to treat the fire in in her hand after I agreed to find and kill the offending party. I had placed an old sheep horn in the corral fencing and it made a great place to build a Yellow jacket nest. I gave Hoss the spray and told him to go kill all the offending parties. He did and then we sprayed the cows with fly spray, we had to let the four cows out of the chute after the bull and another started fighting. We ended up letting the bull go out to the other female cows. He has not been near the house since rejoining the female persuasions.

Hoss and I then went up to the Upper Prime Field and finished installing wood stays along the creek side of the new fence. We used 100 of the 200 I had just purchased the night before. On the way out of the field we stopped and patched the new cross fence in six places. The last little section of fence near the new T -brace and new gate needed to be reworked. Hoss had not stapled the fence to the T-brace, once we did that a wire needed moved down to just above the woven wire. A few more wooden stays got installed and the fence is now sheep proof! The new fence, a section of the old fence has 6 strands and no woven wire. It may need some more T-posts and wooden stays but for now it should keep the sheep inside.

Hoss will start in on the next pasture on Monday, I want him to start in on the wheat field side and we will work our way around the field counter clockwise. I figure it will take 2-3 weeks to get it done, no more than 4 weeks hopefully.