Horse trailer wired!

Finally, something has gone my way this month. It has been a long month and a lot has happened, most of it not great. My new hard hat came and after three of us tried to adjust the straps to lower it on my head, Meathead figured it out. I wore it when I was wiring the trailer! I will definitely need to wear a cloth rag on my head when I wear the hard hat. I was sweating. I complained to Annmarie about the heat and she pointed out that it was 84 F. This would explain why I though it was so hot, that is the highest we have been this year. I managed to get the entire horse trailer wired, added a small internal light and taped up all the future wear spots to protect them. I was worried that I would spend all that time and something would not work, that problem is very hard to fix if you think you did it right the first time. Everything worked perfectly, I was truly amazed. I did not even blow the fuse in the pickup. I had three spares just in case I needed to do some trouble shooting.

Now I need to get the tire off and replaced. I will take the tire off today and get it replaced tomorrow. I will also probably pickup a second spare tire. I will also get the spare tire for the flat bed trailer fixed. Might as well get it all taken care of at the same time. Unfortunately, the pickup tires need replacing soon also. I have to take five cows over to Lagrande this week to get slaughtered.

Mr Rainman worked on spraying around the house and the garden area had a nice kill rate. In a few days we will be able to clean up the dead grass and weeds. Field #1 & 2 are sprayed with 2-4-d and Milestone. I am hopeful I can get out and spray #3 this afternoon. He also got the lavender spot sprayed and started spot spraying the orchard. As soon as we get the spraying done we are going to spread some fertilizer. This will be the first year I have ever tried to fertilize. I am hopeful it makes a difference. The real test will be to see if the value added is worth the cost.

Annmarie has been working on the garden watering system. She added all of the wine barrels onto a new line and they will be growing our herbs. We kept some dried herbs to use throughout the winter and found that they were way better than the store bought ones. So we are going to put up more herbs this year.

We are going to get more bee hives. Mr Rainman made three concrete block spots out in the orchard for the hives to live on. I am going to add two posts and then we will hold them in place with a 2x8x16’ board across the top. I will use eye hooks and clips on the post and ends of the board to keep the hives from getting blown over in the wind like last year. The bee hives don’t do well in 80 mph winds. We are hoping to have the same success this year that we did last year.

Our back runoff creek has stayed amazingly quite this year. It is running clear and only about eight inches deep. No four foot mud wave roaring behind the house. This bodes well for not getting the upper fields flooded out this year. I need to do a little more ditch digging and cut down 1-2 trees and we will be ready for another flood level stream height.

The sheep may be done now. We have had a set of twins and a set of triplets in the last week. I need to catch them and tag and band them still. I will get the final stats done in a couple of weeks. I need to make sure there are not any more stragglers.

Lamb update

This weekend some time had to be devoted to the sheep as always when we have lambs. I used to think it was special to spend a few hours in the barn but with the lambs and constantly changing situation I have just realized that I will be out in the barn for a few hours. I have been trying to clean up the old house porch which means burning scrap wood. I had a gallon of beeswax finish that was done and was holding saturated rags. I tossed it on the burn pile to get it cleaned out before tossing it in the trash. Unfortunately, I left the gallon paint can out in the pasture and one curious lamb got it stuck on its head! The dummy could not get it off of his head. This was noticed and said offending bucket was removed from said idiot’s head. The bucket went into the trash can and the lamb went off on its way as if this was a normal part of life.

I pulled down three jugs. We only have three set up now and there are no sheep in any of them. Not having to haul water is amazing! We are so glad we only have to do it when the ewes are in jugs and otherwise they can get their own water.

I have started to toss out four bales outside the barn so the sheep can pull the bales apart and eat what they want. I also gave in and opened up the barn lot to the mommas and babies. So they have another 1 acre area to roam around on and to eat the grass. I had been keeping them off of it so the grass would grow. It had grass several inches tall on it. If we would ever warm up the area would shoot up with fresh grass. The weather keeps driving the sheep back into the barn. They don’t mind a little rain or sleet but they don’t like a downpour or pea sized hail.

The sheep all have their own personalities but some tend to stand out amongst the others. This little lamb is easy to spot in the barn. It wants to run off and do everything by itself. It is super curious and will come right over to you looking for a treat. It also gets lost and distracted easily. When everyone runs off to the green pasture it stays behind and hollers because it is alone. This morning I had to chase it out of the barn area and out into the pasture as it could not seem to grasp the concept of leaving the barn to find their friends.

The back creek is running from the melting snow but since the mountains keep adding snow we have not had a noticeable rise in the runoff. I took the tractor and drove through the creek to go to the wood shed and get bee supplies and drip irrigation supplies for Annmarie. They now go in her little garden supply shed by the garden. She is eager to get out in the garden but it keeps freezing at night. I scraped the car windows last week. Maybe by mid April she can start getting plants in the ground. She has started herb seeds inside the house this weekend. I got a heat mat for starting cut propagation attempts on my house plants, so the seed starts are taking up most of the mat now. My African Violet starts are starting to take off and I may be able to get 12 more plants. I am shooting for 25 plants in the next couple of months. I have about 10 Jade plant starts going right now and have managed not to kill any yet.

  • Date of update- April 2, 2023. We think there may be 4-6 ewes left per Annmarie, I think there are only two left but I would not bet more than $10 on my opinion, Annmarie is usually correct!
  • # of Lambs born – 54
  • # of ewes who have delivered babies – 33
  • # of ewes still pregnant – 8 in area, I don’t think they are all pregnant
  • # of single lamb births – 13
  • # of twin lamb births – 19
  • # of triplet lamb births – 1
  • # of bummer lambs – 5
  • # of lambs who died in first two weeks – 3
  • Total # of lambs on farm -46
  • % birthing rate- 164%
  • % production rate -139%
  • % survival rate at birth – 100%
  • % survival rate at 2 weeks (bummers count as death as they need help and leave the farm) – 85%

Minutiae abounds

It’s been a long week and it Mother Nature cannot decide what she wants to do. It was clear and warming up at the beginning of the week, now there is snow on the ground and snowing again, we have about two inches on the ground currently. Annmarie has been using her office! I have been slowly putting little things in place. I got our old dining room table in there and we used some table elevators to lift it two inches so we could slide the smaller sorting bins under it. There are now six bins under the table. The new cable for the router came so I will be installing that soon and finishing up the corner trim to hide the cables. Gizmo has a new doggie bed, he didn’t like the old one it was too small for him he thought. Annmarie needs to start bringing out books but she is going to sort them first and thin them out. So I have resisted the temptation to remove them from our bedroom. I would like to see them thinned out also. There is a small table down at her mom’s that she wants me to retrieve and refinish. It has marker, paint and nail polish on it I think. It was from a long time ago when Sarah was a menace. She wants it to go in front of the couch.

I messed up last week and should have kept the two ewes and three lambs in the same pen I had them in when sorting them. I sorted the wrong babies but I did watch them nurse. The trouble was two days later both ewes were head butting the lambs and refusing to let them nurse. Unfortunately, in two days we ended up with three more bummers and another death. No clue why the lamb died, it may have been suffocated by its mother. We have been supplementing grain since the babies have popped out. The ewes are getting mighty skinny. We will be worming them again next week. We wanted to let them have the babies and have the babies be a little older. Last year our weight loss was due to worms. So we treated in the fall and are going to treat again in the early spring/late winter. I just need to verify we have enough medicine to treat all of the ewes.

We have been having a hard time finding bagged sheep feed. We keep looking but everyone else is looking and buying before us. I went ahead and reserved all of the lamb feed coming in this week so we can keep feeding the lambs using our creep gate. We figure if we can get the lambs to eat solid food they will take less calories away from the mothers. I worked on getting the creep gate installed in the opening of the pen under the stairs. I am not sure why we never thought of this before. I put in four eyelets and was able to attach it to one side with a metal pin. I need to get longer eyelets for the other side. I forgot it is a piece of rough cut lumber so its about 2.25” wide. My eyebolt was too short so I had to use the one inch piece next to it and tie on clips to the gate. The gate is not rigid but it does move around, about three inches, until I can get the new eyebolts installed. This movement does not seem to bother the lambs. They get in and out just fine.

I had to go in and pickup some lumber for the barn doors in the office so I grabbed enough to do the frames for the bathroom closet. I did one frame out of 1×4” boards but Annmarie thought it was too heavy. It is solid, no doubt about that. So I picked up a bunch of 1×2” boards to make new frames. I was not sure if my Kreg tool would do this thin of wood but I had no trouble drilling angled holes and assembling the frame with screws. I had to install three pieces on the front of the doors to attach magnets. Once I get all of the frames built I will need to cover up the outer edges of the closet with blue tape and then clamp each frame in place and drill a small hole through the frame and into the closet opening. This will mark my spot to drill the sink holes for the magnets that need to be installed on each side. The blue tape will help protect the wood and let me draw on the frame to mark their proper location.

Finally, office floor is ready for stain

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.

Lamb Stats:

8-Lambs born

4-Ewes delivered babies

Lots-# of ewes still pregnant

1-Single lamb birth

2-Twin lamb births

1-Triplet lambs birth

1-Bummer lamb

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.

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!