Saturday was the day to get all caught up with the animals. Daughter #2 needed time with the cows and this was going to be it. First we had to bring the calf table over to the end of the chute. This would have been easier were it not for all of the yellow jackets nesting in the pipe. Mr Tex got stung once before he bailed. I had to search everywhere to find one can of hornet killer and we were able to spray them and get the calf table moved into position. We then had to get the portable arena set up around the calf table so when we let the calf out it would stay close and allow us to open the gate and get it back into the corral. We were able to chain it all together except for one end by the table. Mr Tex then went to move the steel gates around in the corral and ended almost getting stung again from yellowjackets inside the metal gates. We had to wait for Annmarie to bring more hornet spray. While she was headed back from town, we went into the barn and started to set up all of the gates and a working table for our supplies. I only had enough dewormer for 20 sheep so we ended up dosing all of the old ewes that are super skinny.
By the time we were done with the sheep we had 41 lambs, 41 ewes, 12 market animals and 1 ram. We had to cut open abscesses on three of them. They were along their jaw, most likely from cheat grass. We are not feeding any cheat grass they are just getting it out in the fields. I had to make up a sterilizing solution so I used a mild bleach solution buffered with baking soda. We used that to irrigate the wounds after lancing them open and getting all of the gunk out. It smells but last time we did it they recovered so there is hope this batch will do it also. We now have the 12 market lambs down by the school house and the rest above the barn lot.
The first batch of cows were the momma’s and babies and the new bull. Annmarie and Tex walked down and pushed them up to the house. The cows came in the back way, not through the orchard and front yard like Annmarie wanted. Tex got the calves sorted off and we started to run them through the chute into the calf table. There is an art to using the calf table, this is where you do not let the calf run through the table and actually get its neck caught in the squeezer. We had five calves and I let two get through. One we caught and shoved back into the table, the second one pushed right through our corral panels, then ran along the fence several times refusing to go into the corral. It then took off across the property and ran down to the mother in law’s house. It took us 25 minutes to catch the calf. We did get it tagged and banded. Those cows and the bull all got treated with fly powder, we ended up with two steers and three heifer calves. Everyone got put back down to the school house area.
The real trouble started after that. We had been at this for almost five hours already and the five feeder cows up above needed to be treated for flies. Annmarie went up to get them on foot in 100 degree weather. She got them down about the same time I decided to let all of the sheep out of the barn lot. The sheep got right in the gate opening and stopped therefore blocking the cows from being herded to where they needed to go. This led to some frazzled comments and some typical cow working vernacular, most not suitable for small children. We did eventually get the cows into the barn lot but they were so wild we could not get them into the area behind the barn. I need to install a fence inside the barn lot to cut off access to the spring. I know this and honestly I think we could do it with the same panels we use for the calf table area, I just need to know to reset those to stop cow access. This would allow us to push the cows along the fence directly through the gate instead of them being able to run down a dead end spur that is just too big to block off with a human. We gave up. They have water, we fed them and I will set out a dust bag tomorrow and let them out.
Tex left for another job and we all went inside, took showers and much needed naps.
I keep thinking I am not getting things done but the blog helps keep me on track, if nothing else I can see that things are actually getting done. First thing Thursday morning I hung the corner shelf I made earlier in the week. The brackets came with a cute little 4” level to make sure you hung the shelf correctly. That afternoon the new cables and cable protectors arrived and Sarah and I put the router up onto the shelf. The 90 degree data cable ends really helped the cable stay next to the wall. I had to put an extension cord up to the shelf and plug in the two things behind the router. I was afraid you could tell but it is fairly invisible. This also gives us a better wifi signal throughout the house as the transmitter is higher up on the wall. There was only a small amount of disagreement. We basically agreed to disagree as neither one of us was listening or communicating effectively. This summer when the child and foreign child are home I am going to be spending a lot of time outside. I believe this is the wife’s number one complaint! Our old foreign exchange student, Monica is going to spend the entire summer with us. She is out of college for the summer and will be getting some experience on our farm with various animals. She also wants to learn how to drive a stick shift car. I offered to teach her how to drive the tractors but she was not as impressed by that as she had spent last year driving a skidsteer in a dairy setting. She has been working out so I see a lot of rock wall work getting done this summer.
When I went out to let everyone out of the barn I spent an hour digging straw and making sure we could open various gates. I used our new lightweight panels and built a run that would funnel the sheep to the back of the barn, so we could then run them through the chute and sort them. It was nice to be able to just put the panels on top of the straw and not have to dig down 18” to make the panels fit. Sarah and I were going to come out and sort off the female lambs so the new ram could not get them pregnant. The problem with this is no one likes being separated from their mother and they throw a continuously loud fit for several days over it. But it needs to happen as the sheep can technically get pregnant at 3 months old. We have never had any under 6 months old get pregnant but after 6 months all bets are off. We needed to count lambs also so we know how many we can sell.
I had spaghetti sauce on the stovetop. I use the melting burner to keep a really low heat on the pot. The problem with this is the sauce was not cooking down very fast and since Sarah and I were headed out to sort sheep at 1500 I figured I could turn up the burner and when we were done in an hour it would be ready for the final adjustment before dinner at 1700. I should have known better. It took us 135 minutes to get the sheep sorted! Annmarie came home around 1700 and found out that the sauce had just started to burn on the bottom of the pan. She was able to transfer it to a new pot, add a cup of water and finish it off. It tasted very good.
Sarah and I counted 42 lambs. It was supposed to be 20 boys, 22 girls, instead we had 21/21. I had to look at the online birth record and we tagged one of the girls with a boy tag because we ran out of tags, two of the boy lambs had managed to rip out their ear tags. One of the calmer ewes had a big bubble on the left side of her face. Sarah had sent me a picture so I brought a scalpel out to the barn. It is most likely an abscess and will need to be lanced and cleaned. The baby girls were crazy and kept ramming into the sorting chute and almost managed to jump back into the pen with the herd several times. We had to put up a second wall to keep them away. We pinned the face bulging ewe into the chute and it was an abscess, I cut about a 1.5” long horizontal incision and then squeezed out all the pus. It was really thick and would not have been easy for her body to get rid of it. I then cleaned it out and put some blue skin treatment on it. Unfortunately the skin treatment stains everything it touches and the ewe had started to swing her head around by this time and get it all over Sarah and I. Sarah got it the worst. We went inside to crow about our success and the first thing Annmarie asks us is why we did not sort off the boy lambs also? This way the ewes would get a break from making milk and burning so many calories and could maybe put on some weight. As there was no logical reason for us not doing this Sarah and I were kind of dumbstruck. Annmarie and I will be sorting them again next week.
On Thursday I was given the contact information for some people in the Hermiston area that were trying to sell their three alpaca who are only one year old. So I called them Friday morning and after morning chores I hooked up the stock trailer and went to Hermiston. I got all three intact boys, brothers, for $280. We now have 12 alpaca and will not be buying any more for years! They live 20 years and we will lose several in the next 1-2 years as they are just old.
The custom wood mill called Friday afternoon and said they wanted to cut the black walnut we had dropped off. I hooked up to the flat bed trailer, picked up Mr Professional and went to the custom cut mill. We talked about the pieces and how wide to cut them. The mill can only cut 24” piece but by the time you clear the edges we ended up with a solid 20” piece. The wood has so many colors! I was surprised at the variety of colors in it. In two hours they were only able to cut 1/3 pieces. On Monday I will go and get the other two pieces cut. We came out to the farm, cleared a spot in the old chicken coop, cleaned off all the sawdust and then unloaded it. Those nine foot pieces 3” thick weigh almost 200#. Once it was stacked we banded it together. It took a while to get the hang of the bander. I had never used one before. I did find a way to use the OSB sheets we have stacked out in the machine shed. We are going to put up black plastic to keep out moisture and light and hold it pinned up against the chicken wire to keep the rain out of the building. The building is about 1/3 full of wood. The OSB was $5/sheet as it was scrap so its perfect. I will keep each end open so the wind can still move through for circulation.
Our daughter had noticed on our hallway calendar last week that Annmarie had written down we were going to have lambs. Annmarie had seen the ram do his duty then marked our calendar with a date five months in the future. I thought it was too early but we sorted the sheep off on Saturday anyways. The cows and sheep needed to be sorted so it was a good time. On Sunday when we drove the pickup and trailer around to the ram pasture Mr Professional did not latch the gate completely. He left a gap which all of the sheep exploited and left the area to go up into fields 2-4 to eat with the cows. Following the rule, I went up Sunday night and pushed the cows and sheep down into the barn lot. I propped the ram pasture gate open so the sheep could crawl through but the cows could not get in. My hope was the sheep would finish putting themselves back where they belonged with no assistance. The self sorting relocation idea was merely a pipe dream, the sheep did not come in to where they were supposed to be willingly.
On Monday when Annmarie opened the gate into fields to let the cows go up the sheep went also. They had not complied with my hidden directive to self sort. Annmarie sent me a text, I told her we could get it that evening it would be fine. She went out that evening before I got home and sent me a picture of the brand new baby lamb! Who could of thunk that would happen? I came home and helped sort the sheep and fed them a big bale. For some reason the other pregnant ewes were picking on the new momma, kept head butting her. So we sorted her off and put her in the barn with some food and water and her newborn lamb. Annmarie gave the lamb some selenium paste. There may have been some “I told you so” moments in the last 24 hours. We did not have any more lambs today. The sheep are now firmly trapped in the ram pasture, behind the barn and in the front barn lot. We walked the perimeter this evening to make sure there were no more lambs tucked away in some corner.
When we were walking around and getting water for the ewe, Annmarie pointed out that the spring needs to be cleaned out. This job requires rubber boots, gloves and a square nose shovel to get all of the vegetable material and extra dirt dug out. This is a perfect job for Mr I need a belt bad! More work for him.