As a father I have learned that the call for help can come at any time from your progeny. Imagine my surprise when my Monday morning is interrupted by a phone call from the wife. She led with the tagline “our daughter is trapped”, maybe this was to spur some paternal instinct before the entire story came out.
It turns out that the child, still called “Meathead”, had taken the new Kubota tractor out to the old chicken coop to get her summer car tires so she could get the studs taken off of her car. Ignore the part where the studs should have come off a couple of months ago. I knew she was going to do this in the morning as I had needed to give her a refresher on the Kubota. She is used to the John Deere but it doesn’t have forks and is over at my mother’s house working on a retaining wall. So getting the call from the wife was a surprise. I would have expected a call from Meathead. It turns out that the sticky seat belt latch had finally decided to become an immediate problem. I had noticed it being sticky for a few months but it worked eventually, you just had to work at it. Meathead is very good about wearing her seatbelt. She understands that if an accident occurs you will most likely survive it if you are wearing a seatbelt. The “I will jump free or be tossed clear” excuse is just another way to voice a “hold my beer” sentiment. So she had used it and after opening and closing every gate she had reapplied the seatbelt. She got to the old chicken coop and attempted to unlock the seatbelt. No success. She continued to try and release it for another 30 minutes before texting her mother. She tried to call but the call kept dropping as she was in a cell phone dead zone. A text would get out but not a call.
After my call I texted Meathead to give some suggestions. They were met with some eye rolling and derision (I could see it through the texting)! I had to drive home, grab the last can of WD40 and walk out to the barn lot to find her. I did the obligatory trapped photo before I would touch the offending seatbelt latch. I jerked and pulled and pushed multiple times in an attempt to release the latch. This was met with derision from Meathead who voiced that she had been trying that for 45 minutes now without success. My secret hope was that it would open when touched by the magical dad hands. No such luck, I had to use as few generously applied squirts of WD40 to get the latch to open. Once opened I used more WD40 and worked the latch until it was smooth and very easy to open. She was now out of spare time and had to get to work.
As of this time she has not jumped back on the Kubota tractor, her tires have not been changed out yet and now her car is acting up and needs to go to the shop. I have used the offending seatbelt many times since and the latch is now very smooth.
In closing, Dad hands are a real thing and are very HANDy at times!
The sheep have taken up more of my staycation than I anticipated. I spent a whole day on Friday messing around with them. Due to all of the babies and only having one Jug left open It was determined I should tag and band babies. I usually just turn the babies loose and in a month try and match and catch random babies. It tends to be inaccurate and fairly labor intensive. Annmarie has been trying to get me to tag and band from the jugs for ages. The real problem is banding the lambs at that age is not easy. I have tagged and banded over 330 male lambs so I am pretty confident in getting it right now no matter the age. Plus it has the added benefit of actually being able to track each ewe accurately. Meathead helped me tag band and give selenium supplement to everyone in the jugs except the newborn twins under the stairs. We then put fresh straw in all of the used jugs and moved panels around to make the momma/baby area bigger and created a chute for the pregnant mommas to get into the barn. As the momma/baby group gets bigger we just keep giving them more of the front of the barn and the preggers get the smaller back half. It took us few years to figure this out! Nothing is ever easy when you start, there are a lot of hard lessons to getting a good routine down. The feeders get moved around also to correspond to the number of mouths needing fed.
Date of update- Feb 3, 2023
# of Lambs born – 15
# of ewes who have delivered babies – 8
# of ewes still pregnant – lots
# of single lamb births – 2
# of twin lamb births – 5
# of triplet lamb births – 1
# tagged male (weathers-neutered) lambs-6
# tagged female lambs-4
# of bummer lambs – 1
# of lambs who died in first two weeks – 1
Total # of lambs on farm -13
% birthing rate- 188%
% production rate -163%
% survival rate at birth – 100%
% survival rate at 2 weeks (bummers count as death as they need help and leave the farm) – 87%
It has happened, my new tractor has arrived and was delivered on Wednesday. I was given the safety speech and how to operate it instructions so once the papers were signed it was all ours. Yes, I opted to go with a Kubota this time around. So we are going to see which one I like better, the John Deere or the Kubota. They both have advantages so we will see how they compare over the next few years. It was very easy to get the new sickle bar mower off so I could go out and play with my new Companion for a few hours. I spent the next three hours moving gravel for Mother-in-law’s new shed. I managed to get the tractor to rock front to back pretty easily with a full bucket of gravel even with 300# of ballast in the tires. At one point I had the tractor on two opposing tires, one front and one back wheel, the bucket movements need to not happen suddenly and during a turn. The five foot vs four foot bucket makes a huge difference when moving gravel. I parked the Companion under cover and left the Mistress out in the weather. I need to clean up the machine shop again and make more space to park equipment.
I had plans to go pickup two new rams, one for us and one for Pahlow Farms. They bought a bunch of ewe lambs from us this year and plan on growing their own flock. We had the mellowest batch of lambs ever this year so they are starting out great. I had to clean out the pickup, gas it up and install the animal racks into the bed. The racks can be leaned back, driven up to then drop the front onto the tailgate and then lift and slide them in. This is possible to do with one person but it is a lot of work and not easy. I need to make a rack that stores them up in the air and you just slide them in and out of the pickup using a rope. Since I don’t have this fancy tool I muscled it into place. I had three tie downs so I tied it down on three of the four corners. Sarah had volunteered to go with me in the morning, we were going to near Canby, OR.
The trip is almost a four hour drive each way. We went around Portland but still saw homeless camps along the freeway, while traveling I-205. The traffic is terrible, we went from 15 mph to 65 mph, up and down for no apparent reason. Luckily, the child is used to me hollering and talking to myself which was in abundance once we got into traffic.
We got there 7 minutes late and had to wait another 10 minutes so she could sort the rams off of the herd again. They kept sneaking back in with the mommas. They both look great, we love the temperament and size of all her rams. These two are only about six months old. They will add on at least another 100-120# as they mature.
Once we got back we just parked the pickup in the orchard and opened the gate on the animal pen. We figured the new boys would get tired of hanging out and decide that jumping out to see the four sheep in there would happen, it did later.