This is winter

Hard to believe that the back runoff creek is already running! It is only January and it is full of water and moving toward the ocean. The creek is so much wider after the torrent we had last year so I am hopeful it won’t get out of control this spring.

The damn tractor broke again! The worst part is the hydraulic steering cylinder that broke this summer just broke again! I just don’t understand why this is happening. It’s the bolt in the hydraulic cylinder that is shearing. So I will order another one and we can get it installed. Mr Professional managed to use enough bailing twine to get it to hold in place long enough to drive it back to the machine shed.

The winter weather has brought some amazing color changes to the skyline. I have been trying to get pictures whenever the light has been unique. I do love the changes.

I managed to miss one of the extra roosters. I have two now and need to thin the the second one. He is not very good at crowing, he sits on the top of the coop ramp entrance and blocks the hens from going in when it is getting dark. We have had to round up the hens every night and push them into the chicken coop. He is making me crazy. I keep hoping that one of the raccoons will actually eat the spare rooster. It has gotten so bad we are now using the Border Collie, Mouse to herd the chickens back into the coop at night!

We did tag and band the lambs on Saturday and sorted off the seven ewes that we think are pregnant and have isolated them to the momma baby area. Everyone else is now in with the main herd and the entire barn is opened up to them. I will update the lamb statistics next week.

Bathroom update

Mr Professional came out on Saturday so we could work on the bathroom. I needed to take Friday off to just rest, still getting over Covid and I just don’t have the stamina to keep going seven days a week without any rest. Normally, I just go and go and use my paid job as rest for my farm job. This is most certainly not the case currently and I am hoping I get back the preCovid stamina I used to have.

We focused on finishing the walls and casing out the windows. The top board for the little window will have to be cut and installed after we install the ceiling and crown molding. My hope is we can get the bathroom ready for the ceiling. The stained glass window is going to look great! Mr Professional said that since I installed the stained glass window I was going to want to install a second one in the original opening I had already installed. It took me thirty minutes to find a custom glass shop that would make a window to fit our already framed opening. The internet is a wonderful thing! I should hopefully get it ordered by next week.

The child informed me that she needed to work on our foot bridge for a physics class homework project. She needed to film a reason to use a lever, our front foot bridge has threadall and nuts to adjust the height of the bridge. Our bridge is getting sway backed and the child definitely had to use the lever to raise the bridge. We only managed to raise the bridge about 3/4” at every post and it made a visible difference. The bridge is a lot stiffer now and not as bouncy. I had obviously needed to do this last year! Yeah for education!

Today, Mr Professional and I worked on the ceiling. It is a tin ceiling snaps that snaps together and molds to the contours. It went in super fast and only took us about three hours to install. I only managed to mark up one incorrectly and we were able to use it later in the closet region. It turned out very nice! The color choice that Annmarie picked really brings out the blue in the wood and just pulls it it out in the entire room. We cleaned out the room, vacuumed up the floor and installed the sink stand. We drilled holes in the back of the stand for the drain pipe and both water lines. The sink and top are just sitting on the stand and still need to be attached. I have not attached them yet as I am not sure if attaching them will make it harder for the plumber or easier so I am just leaving them unattached. The natural sealant is coming in the mail and hopefully will arrive early this upcoming week so we can get it on the walls. Once it is up then the crown molding can go on. The closet door and the shelves will be the very last thing that get installed. I actually want to install all the new electrical hardware as soon as the walls are sealed. We have old style push button switches that would have been standard with knob and tube type electrical wiring. The bathroom is really coming together and starting to shine.

A snail will get to the finish line eventually

A lot has been happening on the farm. Not a lot by me, but stuff is getting done. As always, Annmarie is keeping us afloat and continues to do 85% of the chores, maybe 90%! I do go out to the barn once a week to “do my part”. Getting to the barn is the hardest part, once I am there I can do the feeding but the return trip to the house I can feel the shortness of breath and chest pain kicking in, I need to get past the Covid leftovers so I can be ready for spring. The sheep are really not doing their part on having babies. They are doing some serious lollygagging, I suspect the chief culprit is the ram. So we are still lambing, one here, one there, we have only had two born since the last blog update.

  • Lamb update
  • 30 lambs born
  • 20 ewes delivered
  • 15 pregnant ewes (I counted Jan 2, 2021)
  • 10 single lambs
  • 10 twin lambs
  • 1 bummer lamb
  • 29 lambs on the farm
  • 150% birthing rate
  • 145% production rate (goal >150%)
  • 100% survival rate at birth
  • 100% survival rate at 2 weeks (26/26)

On Friday, I needed to go to the scrap metal yard and pickup a culvert and check on my gates. We have opted to no longer go with commercial gates as the bull has decided he can just bend and twist them to his whims. I had asked for three 12’ gates a few weeks ago, I now need five 12’ gates. Luckily, I knew there was needed lag time so I don’t need them for about another two months. I am now on the list for five gates. I picked up two loads of old metal rims for a new section of fence down by the machine shop and a 20’ four foot diameter culvert for the barn lot drive over crossing. This crossing will be about 16 feet of drivable wide crossing with the other four feet taken up by concrete rastra and rebar. I am going to put rastra on both ends of the culvert and some cable between the two ends so if the water runs over the top it won’t be able to push out the downstream side. This and two fencing projects are the big ticket items for this next summer. I ordered an attachment for the tractor bucket that should allow me to push in a T post into the ground instead of pounding it in. This won’t help where its super rocky but the fence I want to install is just long, not horrible tough ground. So I now have some more metal rims, but not enough to do the section of fence I want yet. I will need more trips to the junkyard for that. This expended a lot of energy, even though I did a lot of sitting.

I am not known for my Uber iPhone skills so my phone will randomly take pictures when I am trying to use the camera. I decided to keep the sleeve picture as its my father’s old denim coat from the late 1960’s. We use it as a barn coat and it has just gained more character the longer it is in use.

Saturday morning was the planned day to work on the barn and I just did not want to get out of bed. I was reminded that the day before was really a play day and I now needed to get to the planned job. Again, very correct and I drug myself out of bed and went and picked up Mr Professional so we could work on the bathroom. We managed to get the window cut using a plastic bag and a vacuum cleaner to try and keep the dust to a minimum. This is never possible when cutting sheet rock with a sawzall. So it took another hour to vacuum, wipe up the mess and clean up the stairwell. I spent most of the day cleaning up the breeze porch. The window caulk came and I want to get it up so we can keep some of the bugs off of the porch. We removed lots of trash and tools and even ordered some new dog kennels in an attempt to neaten up the porch.

Upstairs bathroom is back on the list and work is happening.

Well it is now 2021, we were fortunate to have a New Year’s lamb born yesterday. Unfortunately, it was in one of our young lambs that Annmarie did not think was pregnant, just fat due to her age, so instead of 6 ewes left we probably do have around a dozen left to deliver lambs. We kept quite a few 6 month old lambs this summer when we culled and they must have been old enough to get pregnant. Yes we do know they can pregnant that young but for the most part they tend not to in our experience.

I decided the upstairs bathroom needs to get finished. Due to Covid I have not been doing much this last month but I am having Mr Professional come out now and he does most of the work, cringingly I will add that I do a lot of supervising! This will make some people happy in my life but it is incredibly frustrating for me to stand around and do something for five minutes then sit down and wait or breathe. I vacuumed bugs off of the breeze porch five different times! We have a Dyson with a four foot rigid hose attachment and I kept vacuuming them up and dumping them outside all day. The chickens will not eat grease bugs or the black and red ones, this is a travesty as we have a lot of those bugs around the place. I ordered two cases (24 tubes) of silicone caulk last night as I will be improving the sealing around the inside breeze porch windows and inside siding. The bugs made me crazy yesterday, they kept dive bombing me while I was sitting around doing nothing.

I did manage to get the inside portion for our bathroom window cut. The plan is for me to finish the rough frame, install it and then Mr Professional and I will mark the stairway side by drilling the corners, blue taping the seam, cutting away the Sheetrock with a razor blade with a vacuum going then we will cut out the wood shiplap. Our “window” is a stained glass piece that will look out into the natural light coming into the stairwell. It will be about eight feet above the stairs and protected from approach by a moving overhead fan, no one will be peaking. The bathroom Is in the middle of the house and has no natural light so we thought this was a good way to just come some ambient light into the room and display our purchase from an Oregon Coast trip made in 2020. It will be our version of shining some beautiful light on 2020!

We got the room cleaned up prior to starting as it had “acquired” some items over the last year, cleaned up the horizontal surfaces and floor of dirt and debris. We collected tools, emptied out 12 month old construction supplies into the outside dumpster and then spent about an hour trying to figure out where the cut pieces we had leftover went! We figured that out and figured out which ones we wanted to discard and then started in on the closet area. It doesn’t look like we got much done but we actually installed 11 pieces of wood yesterday. Of those five had to be be custom fitted with more than a single saw cut. It is progress and this is a great thing!!

Our chickens are going gangbusters! We have 27 hens and they are old enough now we have two sizes of eggs, small and extra large. We are collecting almost 16 eggs every day in winter with a light bulb, on a timer, that gives them 17 hours of light a day. This is what I would expect of my summer production so I am not sure what the summer is going to look like. I usually only get about 30% production in winter and 50% in summer. Unfortunately, these chickens don’t like to go into the coop at night so we end up chasing 3-7 chickens in due to them missing the automatic door opportunity. The raccoons will solve this problem eventually.

The mild winters have been great for our bird populations. We have about 50 quail living on the property now and I have it on authority that there are at least 18 rooster pheasants running around on New Year’s Eve. I see the pheasants all the time running around the stubble fields. The pigeons have almost been controlled and the only other nuisance bird causing us issues is the Eurasian ring necked Dove. It is starting to overtake the property and push out the native mourning doves. This will have to become a 2021 issue to correct. We are hopeful that the quail can triple this year! I would love to have a few hundred quail running around on the place, they make us smile every time we see them! We holler out “Quaillyyy” whenever we spot them.

I had to do an update to the lamb count. My version is a 6×9 spiral binder with scribbles. I consulted the wife’s new spreadsheet, I missed a set of twins so that correction will be included below.

  • Lamb update
  • 28 lambs born
  • 18 ewes delivered
  • 17 pregnant ewes (I counted Jan 2, 2021)
  • 8 single lambs
  • 10 twin lambs
  • 1 bummer lamb
  • 27 lambs on the farm
  • 156% birthing rate
  • 150% production rate (goal >150%)
  • 100% survival rate at birth
  • 100% survival rate at 2 weeks (20/20)

Been a doozy 2020

Well it has been a resounding and expected lousy ending to 2020. I ended up catching Covid despite living like a hermit and wearing a mask. I don’t say that to discourage hermit living or mask wearing as I believe those are two things that prevented me from getting it earlier in the year. I work in healthcare in an ER. I was getting exposed. The disease is horrible, some get just a little cold, some get no symptoms and some get deathly ill. I was in the middle and only wanted to die for a few days, oxygen saturation only dropped for a few days and I was able to stay at home and be miserable. I am now on day 11 and have been vertical since this morning which is a new record. I can tell when I start to overdo it as my head will start to pound. As long as I take it easy I don’t get a headache. In celebration of my feeling better I have started a ham for a batch of ham and beans. As the entire world knows, ham and beans will cure most of what ills you! Since it will be a large batch I will have to freeze some for use at a later date. I should really think about learning how to can my ham and beans! Honestly, just putting it in old yogurt containers and tossing it in the freezer is a lot easier. I wanted to thank all of those who have offered to help out Annmarie and I for the last couple of weeks. We have had food delivered a couple of times and Mr Professional has come out and fixed a little fence and kept the cows in large bales. Luckily, its wintertime and there are not a lot of projects going on. In January, I will need to start back up on the upstairs bathroom and get it done! I could of used that while I was sick.

Currently, that is my only project in the works. We plan on keeping the upper 7 acre field bare and idle this entire next year so it can be planted in grass. I do need to still rent a backhoe in the next 6 weeks to get the rest of the flood damage corrected in the upper fields. That has to happen or the upper fields will flood again. I am waiting on 3 custom gates to be made so they can be installed. Our cows should start having calves soon. I am going to see about getting last year’s financials published as I never did that.

  • Lamb update
  • 17 lambs born
  • 11 ewes delivered
  • 23 pregnant ewes(maybe)
  • 5 single lambs
  • 6 twin lambs
  • 1 bummer lamb
  • 16 lambs on the farm
  • 155% birthing rate
  • 145% production rate (goal >150%)
  • 100% survival rate at birth
  • 100% survival rate at 2 weeks (3/3)

Mr Professional came out to feed the cows and discovered that the alpaca had broken open a large bale. I was sick and asked him to just pick it up and feed it to the cows. Unfortunately for him the alpaca had laid claim to this bale and were unwilling to give it up. He was convinced the alpaca were going to bite him. Spit on him maybe but they are not biters. He was not convinced so I had him come to the yard and get our two border collies. He was going to only take one but that is not good when dealing with the alpaca. They will gang up on the dogs and the dogs have to be pretty agile and persistent to get them to move away. He came back for Mouse and then I told him to just turn them loose and the dogs would push the alpaca away. He didn’t have to do anything but encourage them to get them. It was over in five minutes, the dogs moved all the alpaca away from the hay so that he could pick up the hay unharassed. The dogs were happy as they got to work, the only one unhappy were the alpaca as they did not get to finish eating their claimed hay.