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)

Odds & Ends

Today was a catch up day. I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish but I made sure to eat my breakfast and drink a cup of coffee before I went outside. I was sure there would be more lambs, I would have given odds on there being more lambs, there were no lambs. The cows needed food so I pushed a large bale to their area. I also decided it was time to thin out the chickens. I had multiple free loading roosters from the unsexed chicks gifted to me this summer from a friend. I managed to kill five roosters and a very old hen. I loaded them all up into the tractor bucket and took them to a boneyard. Tomorrow will be a good day to look for coyotes, the raccoon carcasses and porcupine carcass are undisturbed. That left me on the tractor with the urge to go up into field number two and move some dirt. I could spend the next six hours doing that still not be done. I resisted the temptation to spend time with the mistress and went back inside.

I did spot the Quail on the way home. They are so fluffy due to the cold. I have been learning to use the delay bake on our oven. I use It when I am making baked potatoes or something else that needs to bake for long stretches of time. I started the butternut squash, then I spent an hour and a half cleaning the bathroom. Once all that was done it was time to tackle the spare bedroom.

I had to hang four pictures of the seasons, girls in circus clothing, we had framed earlier this year. I then had to clean out the cedar bench that has been sitting at the foot of the bed for three years needing to be sorted and some decisions made. I made them fairly quickly and we now have some more space to store wool blankets. Now I can buy more wool blankets. We had been using the room as storage for our giveaway items so I moved all that up into the attic after I bagged it all up so it would stay clean. I also rebalanced the heat distribution so more goes downstairs. Both Annmarie and I went out to feed the sheep and lock them into the barn, they are going to have babies tonight! I also fixed a latch that had fallen off our main hay gate between the sheep area and our first hay room, the old nut had fallen off.

We are looking forward to Thanksgiving. I pick up the prime rib tomorrow and start the dry rub process. I will rub spices on it every evening until we cook it in a salt casket on Thanksgiving. We are having Brussels sprouts as the vegetable. We have this same meal every Thanksgiving. I even managed to snag the last bag of Rhodes frozen dinner rolls at the grocery store. We will cook at least 16-20 even though there are only five of us!

Lots of snow

It started this weekend, it was supposed to be nice and steady but it came in like a wrecking ball! I spent over 10 hours outside on Sunday trying to clear snow from our driveway. This was complicated by the fact that on Friday our tractor bucket just quit working. I could not move the bucket at all it was stuck on the ground. So I just drove it around and pushed snow with the bucket on the ground. Not ideal and took longer than normal but it worked. The only problem with this is Annmarie parked her car outside of her mother’s house and it got stuck. I went down to drive it out and got it stuck worse. So we just parked it and when the snow melts we will get it! Next year we put the stud tires on even if there is no snow. It just kept snowing, it was horrible. We used to live in the Rockies, but I sold our track driven 8 HP snow blower in Moscow because we just did not need it. If the tractor worked we would be fine.

On Monday I was trying to clear another 6 inches and got the tractor stuck down by the cow gate. Annmarie had already had to pull me out with the pickup once 30 minutes earlier. So I called her again and she tried to get me out to no avail. She almost got the pickup stuck and had to apply a judicious amount of gas pedal to get it to clear out of its predicament. I tried to call the Tractor dealer to get them to come pick it up for repair but the phone was busy all day. So now we have two vehicles stuck!So now that the tractor is stuck we are using the pickup to move hay to the cows. The problem with this is you have to carry the hay about 100 feet. We are just tossing it over the fence, I usually feed farther into the pasture but I am not walking and carrying hay that far. It takes about 12 trips to get two bales fed. We feed two bales in the morning and two at night when there is snow on the ground, no snow they get three bales.

Its supposed to snow more, if we get another foot we are so screwed. If only the tractor worked!

The poor ram is the largest sheep in the barn and he gets pushed around the most! When we toss out hay into the feeders the ewes just keep pushing until they have taken over all head space and he gets squeezed out. He has maintained his casualness. Annmarie even saw him acting as a hill for the lambs and they were jumping all over him.

I have a friend who wanted a few lambs but we are going to sell her the ewes that are pregnant and off cycle. She gets pregnant sheep and we get rid of the off cycle sheep. Its a win-win situation.

We have been feeding the quail one quart of bird food on our back hillside first thing in the morning. This snow makes getting to food hard for the birds. We now see them several times a day digging through the snow looking for seeds.

Quail are hanging in there

We are supposed to get a big winter storm today. So far the sun has been shining and the temperature got to 43F and now its 21F and snowing. The best part is we only have a slight breeze and not the predicted gale that is surrounding us. I spotted the quail this morning out in the front yard and this evening they were on the back hillside. I counted over 21 quail! If they can survive the next two weeks with snow on the ground we should have a huge population by the end of the summer. We usually only have 4-8 quail by the end of winter. This could make the population boom!

The back runoff creek is running clear. It has dropped several inches over the last few days. Our rock we use to measure it is now visible. Hopefully, the snow will stay in the mountains and melt off slowly. This is our wish every year but it doesn’t always happen.

The hay is running low in the barn so I moved a ton of alfalfa into the barn and out to the old lamb shed for the ram. We are going to start feeding 1/2 bale in the morning on top of the 1/2 bale we feed at night and we are giving two scoops of sweet mix in the morning. The ewes are getting skinny! The lambs look amazing!! You would never be able to guess that the oldest one is only six weeks old by their size

Zeke has figured out how to get out of the yard again. He dug out under the fence near the creek. He is so devious. I almost need to line the creek sides with wire directly under the fence to stop this problem. I tossed another 50# rock in his hole to slow down his escape. If he wants out again he will find another way, there is always another way for a Border Collie.

Annmarie, Sarah and I went out to the barn today to tag and band the rest of the babies. We caught nine babies and four were boys. The triplets were all boys!! We wanted to save any girls from that set as their mother is fantastic but no luck. We still have a few ewes that are not delivering. They are the jumpiest sheep of the bunch and we think the ram had a hard time doing his business with them. So the plan is for us to put the ram back in with the main herd next week. This should get us back in sync for more lambs in 7 months.

Our current numbers are as follows:

1 death

4 bummers

12 singles (35%)

18 twins (52%)

4 triplets (11%)

34 ewes birthed

4 pregnant ewes pending birth

55 lambs dosed, tagged and banded

Production rate:

Birthed 176%

On our farm and alive 162%.

Lambies are here

The quail have discovered our yard. We like this as we get to see them and the dogs seem to ignore them. The only real problem is our very large living room windows look out onto the yard. The stupid quail think they can fly through the window! I heard a large crash in the living room and ran into it from the kitchen, there were feathers on the window but by the time I got to the window the cat had already managed to pounce on one stunned quail and bit it in the neck killing it. I saved the other one but it had broke its neck and was dead so I didn’t really save its life. We would love to have 50+ quail flying around all over the farm, instead we have about 15 now flying around and we are two more short now.

I snagged this picture of all the pregnant ewes the day before they started popping out babies. They were very interested in eating as much hay as possible and ignoring me. I had just thrown out another bale of straw a few days before this picture.

The lambs are coming fast and furious now! Annmarie is on winter break from her job and is going out to the barn three times a day to deal with all the new babies. We have had one ewe deliver one baby, one triplets and one quadruplet. We have only had to bummer out one lamb and he was from a twin set. The mother is not very good about raising more than one lamb. We need to cull her. The quadruplets seem to now be triplets and the fourth lamb is now with one of our older mothers that only had a single baby. She is now nursing two lambs and everyone is very happy. So we have 16 lambs and 8 ewes feeding them. We still have 30-32 ewes left to give birth. We usually have about a 135% birth rate but we are over 200% now. If we keep that up we will end up with 80 lambs and 40 ewes! That is a lot of sheep. I will be super happy with a 150% birth rate. In a couple more days we will start letting the older babies go outside with their mommas into our limited outside newborn enclosure. This is our set of triplets. All the babies but three are solid chocolate brown. Three of them are spotted white and brown and very cute. One of those is a girl as I checked while getting lamb snuggles today. We may keep her. Her mother is super relaxed and calm which is what we are looking for in a breeder ewe. Annmarie and I went to town tonight and got two 8 foot gates so we could use them in the barn. Annmarie wants to order some twisty hinges from our sheep products supply company and I will be cutting 4×16 foot 3 inch square panels into 4×4 foot sections for her to arrange in any pattern her heart desires. The small panels make it easy to move parts all around the barn. I will need to grind off the sharp edges after I cut them with bolt cutters. We will order the twisty things when we order some liquid marking paint. Our hope is the ewes all have their babies in the next seven days.