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.

Bummer twins

Over the weekend, Annmarie found a set of twins that got abandoned. She discovered them while pushing the sheep into the barn lot. The babies were so weak that one of them hardly wanted to drink. She brought them into the house and cooled them down and fed them. What do you do with twin lambs? You call the housekeeper to come get them!! This way you only have to babysit them for a couple of hours. Annmarie called the housekeeper and got no answer, she texted and no response, Uh Oh. So now a place was needed to keep the lambs contained overnight.

They are babies and need fed every two hours. The problem is we don’t store diapers or have a covered area near the house that we could contain two lambs inside. Mind you, I was asleep while this was going on, Annmarie ended up tossing towels and our dog water absorbent rugs onto the floor in hopes it could contain the messes to come.

At midnight when I got up to go to work, Annmarie’s alarm went off, as she was sleeping on the couch. She woke up and warmed bottles. The two of us fed the lambs in the kitchen and Annmarie told me that Sarah was sleeping in the spare room. She was going to do the 0200 feeding and Annmarie would do the 0400.

When I got back in the morning at 0800, the lambs were fed and running around the kitchen. They were energetic, having no issues and playing with the dogs. Annmarie had tossed everything from the bathroom floor into the washing machine and done a first pass on the floor. I ended up on my hands and knees doing a deep scrub of the floor before my shower. After I got out of the shower I saw Annmarie in the kitchen and commented that we should have used the tub as a container for the two lambs. She mentioned that was a great idea and if I had thought of it earlier we would have had a lot less cleaning. Yep, she was right again.

The housekeeper came shortly after my arrival home. Annmarie was grateful as she did not want another night like the prior one again.

Maybe hay

Last week was very hectic for us. We managed to get our new equipment off the truck on Friday. The new baler and the new mower were both there, but no baler netting. I made the semi truck driver check his inventory for a third pallet, no third pallet present. I checked my phone for an invoice in my email, no invoice present. The baler is quite a bit bigger than the loaner and it has a hydraulic hookup on it. I did not expect this and don’t have 1/2″ takeoffs on my tractor only 1/4″. So now I need to figure out how to get an adaptor hose or get a rear set of hydraulic takeoffs installed on my tractor.

I had asked for some spare parts but without an invoice I do not know what is extra or is supposed to be included. I will message the company and hopefully get an answer. Until I get an answer I am going to leave the equipment on the pallets it was shipped on. Who knows what will happen. We got the other two pieces back onto their original pallets and strapped down. The mower is broken, I bent the shaft on one of the cylinders when I hit the hidden pipe down by the schoolhouse. I will need to pull that pipe out of the ground before I try and cut hay down there again.

I had grand plans of working on fencing all weekend and making loads of progress, but that was a dream in an ideal world. Instead I spent 30 hours working night shift at work. This did not equate to any work getting done as Hoss was sick and decided to take the weekend off in an attempt to rest up and heal up. We have been bringing in the sheep every night as they keep having lambs! Its starting to turn into summer in Eastern Oregon. The terrain is showing what it is really like to live with minimal rain. We got 1/100″ in a 30 minute window and I was cheering. Unfortunately for us, it stopped and no more rain came, none of the wheat farmers were happy even with the minuscule amount. Oddly, our back creek is still running at the end of July. Its not much but it is actively moving and we are hoping it will make it to the first of August. If so, then that will be the latest the spring runoff creek has ran since we moved back to the farm 12 years ago.

Sheep sorting

Sunday afternoon we opted to sort lambs as our buyer had contacted Annmarie Sunday morning. We were unsure how many lambs we had and needed to give an accurate head count. We also needed to sort them off so they would be ready and could just be driven into the corral and out the chute, in and out in 15 minutes is the goal. We used the dogs to move them into the back barn lot. We had already set up the barn for sheep sorting. Annmarie got them into the barn and decided to invite the dogs into the barn while I moved gates around outside. Next thing I know I hear her yelling both dog’s names and some violent movement in the barn. By the time I made my way into the barn she had both dogs corralled and placed into the hay room. I thought that Mouse had been the bad boy and lunged for one of the new mommas with babies. Nope, Zeke’s arch nemesis ewe had a set of twins, she would not back down and Zeke went for her throat. He has hated this same ewe ever since he was a puppy, she used to stomp on him. He has not forgotten her, and the hatred is mutual and expressed by both parties. We then proceeded to push about 2/3 of the herd into the back sorting area and tried to get them to go down the chute. The chute run was not a popular event, no one wanted to start the festivities. There was some grumbling amongst the worker types as to who should do what and where should they stand and when should they lean near the chute. Once that was all worked out in terse undertones the sorting began. Let it be said that I now wear my “I herd you” border collie T-shirt and Annmarie wears her “I can’t keep calm it’s lambing season” shirt when we sort sheep. I also like to wear the “I am sorry for what I said when we were working sheep” shirt, as it is far more relevant. Honestly, until you have done it and then had to redo it and then had to do it again all in the same day you will not understand. Now throw in some random animal craziness, stuff breaking and a dog escaping and you have reality.

We sorted off the lambs, I was supposed to be counting them and marking them by gender in my phone. I got done and had managed to count a total of 43 sheep to sale. I had Annmarie come down and count with me in the far pen. We counted several times and I got anywhere from 38-43. We finally just ran them back through the chute and counted again. We have 44 sheep for sale. We kept 8 for us and the locals that want to buy directly from us. We have 5 sold so far and we may take at least one. We pushed the rest of the herd out onto the back hillside and orchard. We will keep the for sale lambs in the back barn lot and just feed them hay for a day. He will be here Monday afternoon to pickup the sheep.

Before the sheep sorting adventures, our progeny, sent me a link to an auction that was only 13 miles from the house. I went to said auction and picked up a very nice leather wrapped chest for $70 and an old hand water pump for $35. I found a bunch of semi precious stone jewelry and spent the other half of my money on it. Annmarie was very happy with my finds. I will need to get the outside of the chest clean as it is very dusty and the leather needs conditioning. I am looking forward to what it will look like when it is all cleaned up.

Hoss is working on getting the loaner hay equipment back on pallets so we can get it shipped back. Our hay equipment is supposed to arrive on a freight truck on Friday. I plan on cutting hay on Saturday. I am hoping to get another 5 ton baled.

Posts are mostly in the ground

Hoss came out today and we worked on setting posts. Now Annmarie got back yesterday and her list was quite a bit different than mine. Since I needed to get him started we opted for loading up the back of the pickup with gravel and driving up to set posts. I set all my wooden posts in gravel now and tamp it down with a metal breaker bar. The breaker bar weighs ten pounds and it is painful to use but the post is solid when I am done. We dug out dirt then placed the posts, I had forgotten my level so Hoss reminded me to use my IPhone with an app. Yep, it worked and all the posts got set without us having to make a special trip back for an old fashioned level.

On the 18th post, second load of gravel, my left forearm started to cramp. I was using the breaker bar and Hoss was shoveling gravel. We started alternating early on as the poor guy doing breaker bar is working a lot harder than the shovel guy. My forearm just said “we are done” and would not allow me to use the breaker bar anymore. So instead we went back down to the barn to do something else. Hoss was going to be here till 1600 so I might as well keep him busy.

I had fixed the crossing on Friday where the sheep were getting out. I really just need to move the fence line and take the water crossing out of the equation. It will take a solid 8 hours to tear out the old fence and install the new one. It’s on the list but not as high as the two upper fields.

We came down and fixed the barn floor. I took a saw and ripped off two inches in width off of the last board to be installed and we dropped it down into the opening. It left a 1/2″ gap on either side of the board but no lambs foot should be able to fall through. We then brought all the sorting chutes back into the barn and installed them. Since we were on a roll we tossed out fresh straw and cleaned up the milking area. We even made a trash run and cleaned out the trash. I have some trash left in the tack room still that will need to go out. I need to buy some large nails to install over by the windows so our temporary panels can hang neatly.

Annmarie had to bummer one of the new lambs last night. We are pretty sure its from our #1 ewe. She is our oldest herd member and she is skeletal thin after delivering twins. She just doesn’t pay close enough attention to the new lambs. The one Annmarie had to remove just couldn’t keep up. Her other lamb is tougher and more active so it manages to keep up with her. I don’t think she will live another year. We wandered the orchard and found another single lamb that had been born. I shared my cherries with the sheep and soon had 20 of them following me around the orchard. Annmarie was able to scratch on the ram after he came over looking for some attention. He is our second best ram ever.

Population boom

It has started again, the sheep are lambing. Of course Annmarie is out of town, but luckily all of the sheep but one were in the orchard. When I let the dogs out this morning I was pretty sure I heard a newborn lamb. I say this because they make a very distinct sound that only lasts a few days, after that their voice changes. It is odd but honestly you can hear newborn babies. I looked up on the hillside at the lone sheep who had snuck out of the orchard and she had at least one lamb, turns out she had twins. Hoss and I pushed her back into the orchard with another loner who made it out. They are crawling through the ditch. When it flooded this spring it lifted it out of the water. I will need to fix it tomorrow but I am going to have to put on my waders as my normal knee high boots are not going to keep me dry. Hoss and I also turned on water in the orchard and started to water the grass. We have not watered it at all this year. We then went out to finish digging all the post holes.

Hoss has been working on getting T-posts pounded into the ground and trying to finish the holes I started. It is too late in the season to be attempting new post holes in our ground. He has been filling the holes with water and digging out 2-4 inches every day. Today we tore it up and got every hole drilled that we needed. Some just required time, some needed finesse and some we had to dig out by hand. The tractor auger will sit on top of the clay but if you dig it by hand it will be much faster. We had to dig out five by hand. We have 24 done and ready for posts now. On Sunday we will fill the pickup with gravel and set as many posts as we can. I set all wooden posts with gravel now. They stay in place better and it cuts down on the weeds growing around them. Which makes it less likely for me to burn up the wooden post.

Hoss stated that yesterday he got stung 4-5 times by the yellow jackets in one particular place. The blackberry bushes were right up next to the fence location. He gave up. Today I took the tractor in there and shoved the bushes back five feet and knocked down the weeds. I did not get stung a single time. I think he was exuding fear.

We came back to the house to look at the hay mower. It needs more than a couple of bolts. I need to tear apart the cylinder, find the correct bolts, remove the broken bolts from the welded in place nuts straighten the blade arms and put it all back together. This is going to take a couple of days. I will need more tools.

Once I realized it was going to take more than a couple of hours we moved onto the next project. I decided to finally move the panels in the bull enclosure so that any animal can take itself to water. We had a trough initially and it worked for the horses but the sheep we had to water separately in buckets. So we moved a panel out into the channel and added two more. They were very hard to get unpinned and moved. The fence is incredibly strong. I will need to add in a gravel pathway so the animals do not sink into mud when getting a drink. I had 20 more yards of gravel delivered last week. I knew we would need it for the fence posts and the skinning pole. I will need at least five yards just to fill in under the skinning pole. I am looking forward to not having to work in the mud when skinning an animal.

We moved the horse trough down to chicken coop. I want to level a spot under the eaves of the old house so that the rain helps keep it filled and then I want to get goldfish! I think they can survive the winter. They are cheap and I miss having fish.

Zeke, our herding border collie, keeps getting out of the front yard. I was certain that he was jumping over one of our gates. He got out again today and ran into the upper fields to harass the wildlife. So I added new slats to the gate to make it too tall for him to leap. I then ran to the store for a quick errand knowing he was secure. When I got home he was outside the fence again. I have no clue how he is doing it. I am going to have to install our game camera up onto the trash can to watch the front fence and see where he is getting out. I suspect he is going over it I am just not sure where. Take my advice, do not teach your herding dog to get over, under, through every fence when herding because you are just creating a containment nightmare for yourself. Until we figure it out he goes on the overhead run now whenever we are not home.

We also installed some metal equipment rims in the old oak tree spot down at my Mother-in-laws today. I am not sure how it will be received so I am holding off on pictures until later.

After a solid 8 hours it was time to call it a day. I sat out in the rocking chair, drank some water and ate Sorbet! It was very good and incredible after a hot day. It was 90 degrees today. Our back creek is still running which is amazing. I suspect it to end by August.

The sheep are popping babies out everywhere. We had three sets of twins and at least one single born today. I called Annmarie and she said it was time. I thought they were all due in August. This means next week we have to get the barn functional so we can sort off the market animals and the new babies. The babies will need to be tagged and banded. We also need to track their mother and birth date! Since I could not get close today I will take out the binoculars tomorrow and I should be able to get tag numbers and quantities born. I will even use our new tracking software!