Animals all tagged and banded

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.

Predators 8, Farm 3

It’s that time of year again, to count how many animals we have lost to predators. We had one calf drown in the flash flood and that is not counted against the predators. We have lost no other cows.

The sheep are another story. We have lost two lambs so far. One we just found the remains of in field four this week. I had been smelling it for a week but could not find it. The smell would come and go and was hard to pinpoint. Annmarie was putting in the sheep with the puppy on a lead and she spotted a buzzard! When the buzzard jumped off, so full it could not fly, she walked over to the skin and a few bones. The other one was last week, we had one with a broken back. I blame the cougar for this one. We had a cougar go through the property that morning and we think the sheep panicked and it somehow broke its back. I had to put it down. The cougar has not passed through again but it is concerning so we will be catching all of the sheep this upcoming weekend to tag and band everyone and get an accurate count of all of the lambs.

The chickens so far I have lost 6 this year. They are random disappearances and every month I count the number left at some point. I put it on my egg counting sheet so I can calculate the productivity rate of the chickens. We know the chickens are the victims of the raccoons. So far we have dispatched three raccoons but there are at least two more still roaming the place.

I need some more target practice with my 22 pistol. The wife is a better shot with the lever action 30-30. I keep telling her that a pistol is not designed to shoot 75 feet, she keeps telling me what my excuse is when its close. Hence the reason I need more practice.

Haying again sort of

Well we have had a heat wave with the temperatures running 102-111 F this two weeks ago so I have not been doing much work outside. This last weekend I decided to get up early and go rake hay up into long rows. We are not going to bale the hay as it is too dry. We just had too much to put up, so I am just making bigger rows so the animals can dig into it later when the weather is not as good and eat all they want. Raking it also lets the green grass under it grow so the animals can eat that also. I went out Friday morning by 0630 but two hours later I had to stop as the tractor had overheated already. The next day I was outside by 0430 and raking hay. I got all of the hay I needed raked up. I have two areas where I need to dig out the dirt so the water can stay in a low spot. The ground is so soft that I stuck the tractor twice in the mud. Pretty impressive after that heat wave. I should start my second hay cuttings this weekend. It is ready and I might as well get it done. I am afraid there is at least another 12 ton out in the field ready to cut.

We have let the sheep out of the barn lot and out into the upper field #4, they can also use the walkway we created alongside the wheat to get 1/2 mile away from the house. Due to the nature of all of the coyotes around here we are now forced to bring the sheep in every night. The first few nights are always the worst as you are teaching the sheep to come in at night. After that they will start to put themselves in every night. Tonight it was merely a matter of walking out and shutting the gate.

Staycation 100% done

Well all good things must come to an end and I am no longer on vacation and am back to work. It has been busy so I was unable to post this on Sunday night. Annmarie got me to actually leave the house on Friday night and we went and visited friends and stayed the night. It was nice and now we are planning on them coming over to visit us.

Saturday when we got back we went right into sorting sheep. Our buyer from Elgin was coming over and we had to sort off his 20 lambs. They helped us sort everyone and we got theirs into the trailer and out the door. We now have our small herd of lambs out in the orchard. For some reason this year everyone has wanted a lamb. We have sold 13 lambs to local customers and 20 lambs to our Elgin contact. We have been discussing the prospect of expanding our sheep herd and shrinking the cow herd, the price of hay is going to determine what we do as it may not be cost effective to carry a bunch of cows through the winter. We then had to move the cows down to the lower pasture as they had laid over the fence and were walking around outside the fence. They thought they were starving. I did a 30 minute fix on the fence so the sheep could not get out and vowed to come back and fix the fence on Sunday.

On Sunday I went out to fix the laid over fence. This really meant that I had to dig and set eight wooden posts by hand as the fence was too close to the water to back the John Deere tractor up to the spot needing a hole. Instead I did it all by hand and even ended up putting a scoop of gravel behind every T-post to fill in the gap created by straightening the post. I had to tamp it all down to make the post rigid. I got all of them in but still need to repair one H brace as it is made out of round posts and one of them turned. This is of course the one with the chain gate tightener on it. This means the chain is so tight you cannot get it off to open the gate. Luckily, I don’t need the gate to open right now so this repair is going on the back burner.

Annmarie has started to work on the back garden and is getting things planted. We are going to have strawberries in one tower and herbs in the other. Currently, she is working out water inside the towers, the connections keep exploding and making a mess. She thinks she has a working plan now to fix it.

Tree killers

There is supposed to be another winter storm coming in the next 24-36 hours. The temperature is supposed to drop to 10F and we are supposed to get 8-18” of snow in the mountains which will again cut off all traffic through the area. So I spent the last two days doing projects as the weather is going to limit my choices again. I got the fuel pump all assembled and working! I just need to pump out the five gallons of diesel and treatment I dumped into each side of the tank then I can get signed up for diesel fuel to be delivered on a quarterly basis. It will be nice to not have to go and fill up five gallon cans every week during the summer. I used some more gravel to widen the driveway. I want to eventually use up all of the gravel so I can move the entire pile to behind the grain bins. Yes, I did go with a hand fuel pump, we don’t use so much that hand pumping 5-8 gallons really is not onerous.

Mr Professional came out today and we worked on cutting down the maple tree in the backyard. The tree is shedding leaves everywhere, shading our garden, and once we cut it down it was rotten to the core! It had a 8” patch in the middle of the tree that was dry rot. I was saving the trunk to get it cut for lumber but once we found the rot in the middle of the tree it was only good enough to throw on the burn pile. We removed about 60% of the upper branches and then tossed the rest over the fence so I could retrieve them and use them to build up our ”burn pile/quail cover”. The quail love the pile of wood so we are hoping that by building it back up they will choose to stay longer or even roost in it overnight.

We leveled off the area with the tractors, unfortunately the temporary fence that is no longer dog proof had to be torn down. So now Mouse will be able to freely just run back and wolf down all the cat food without anything slowing him down. I will be buying some fencing materials so we can fix this fence in a couple of weeks after the weather warms up again. Of course the faucet back there is leaking and will need to be repaired in the spring. The spring projects are starting to pile up! I am taking some time off work next month to come home and relax. I will be spending that relaxing time stripping and staining doors. Annmarie would like an upstairs bathroom door. Currently there is no door whatsoever.

On my way back to the machine shed I encountered one of our sheep having a seizure or had just gotten hit in the head. I watched it for a couple of minutes but it seemed to be coming out of it. By the time we had the animals fed and let them all into the barn he was inside wandering around the barn. So he was able to walk over with the rest of the herd all on his own. I will be checking on him in the morning. All 100 quail were in the driveway when I came home. They just cannot decide were to run and hide. It is a hoot to watch!

I am still messing around with the night time picture taking.