Minutiae abounds

It’s been a long week and it Mother Nature cannot decide what she wants to do. It was clear and warming up at the beginning of the week, now there is snow on the ground and snowing again, we have about two inches on the ground currently. Annmarie has been using her office! I have been slowly putting little things in place. I got our old dining room table in there and we used some table elevators to lift it two inches so we could slide the smaller sorting bins under it. There are now six bins under the table. The new cable for the router came so I will be installing that soon and finishing up the corner trim to hide the cables. Gizmo has a new doggie bed, he didn’t like the old one it was too small for him he thought. Annmarie needs to start bringing out books but she is going to sort them first and thin them out. So I have resisted the temptation to remove them from our bedroom. I would like to see them thinned out also. There is a small table down at her mom’s that she wants me to retrieve and refinish. It has marker, paint and nail polish on it I think. It was from a long time ago when Sarah was a menace. She wants it to go in front of the couch.

I messed up last week and should have kept the two ewes and three lambs in the same pen I had them in when sorting them. I sorted the wrong babies but I did watch them nurse. The trouble was two days later both ewes were head butting the lambs and refusing to let them nurse. Unfortunately, in two days we ended up with three more bummers and another death. No clue why the lamb died, it may have been suffocated by its mother. We have been supplementing grain since the babies have popped out. The ewes are getting mighty skinny. We will be worming them again next week. We wanted to let them have the babies and have the babies be a little older. Last year our weight loss was due to worms. So we treated in the fall and are going to treat again in the early spring/late winter. I just need to verify we have enough medicine to treat all of the ewes.

We have been having a hard time finding bagged sheep feed. We keep looking but everyone else is looking and buying before us. I went ahead and reserved all of the lamb feed coming in this week so we can keep feeding the lambs using our creep gate. We figure if we can get the lambs to eat solid food they will take less calories away from the mothers. I worked on getting the creep gate installed in the opening of the pen under the stairs. I am not sure why we never thought of this before. I put in four eyelets and was able to attach it to one side with a metal pin. I need to get longer eyelets for the other side. I forgot it is a piece of rough cut lumber so its about 2.25” wide. My eyebolt was too short so I had to use the one inch piece next to it and tie on clips to the gate. The gate is not rigid but it does move around, about three inches, until I can get the new eyebolts installed. This movement does not seem to bother the lambs. They get in and out just fine.

I had to go in and pickup some lumber for the barn doors in the office so I grabbed enough to do the frames for the bathroom closet. I did one frame out of 1×4” boards but Annmarie thought it was too heavy. It is solid, no doubt about that. So I picked up a bunch of 1×2” boards to make new frames. I was not sure if my Kreg tool would do this thin of wood but I had no trouble drilling angled holes and assembling the frame with screws. I had to install three pieces on the front of the doors to attach magnets. Once I get all of the frames built I will need to cover up the outer edges of the closet with blue tape and then clamp each frame in place and drill a small hole through the frame and into the closet opening. This will mark my spot to drill the sink holes for the magnets that need to be installed on each side. The blue tape will help protect the wood and let me draw on the frame to mark their proper location.

Lambing update fifth week

Well our annual second winter came this week. We got about eight inches of snow and the temperature dropped into the single digits. The cows were happy I took them another big bale of hay. I fed out two more big bales this morning and only have five big bales left. I have half the barn and the machine shed full of 40# round bales that can be fed out! Once I get all the big bales fed I can let the cows into that four acre area. No animal has been in there to graze since last fall so with a little warm weather that area will perk up quite nicely and allow for some decent grazing.

This weekend some time had to be devoted to the sheep again. We have to get the ewes and babies in the jugs tagged and banded so we can make room for more babies. Currently we only have two jugs open. I think I can tag and band the single under the stairs and the other single. Both of those babies are healthy and moving around well. It gets a lot harder to find mom when there are 25 other screaming little lambs running around.

Yesterday morning I had three different sets of babies in the barn. I was able to let everyone out but those thee ewes and their babies. One of the ewes was crazy! I know this because after 20 minutes I had still not managed to trap her in a jug. I also noticed she had a notch out of the no ear tag ear. I have a notcher for marking the bad ewes. I almost never use it as I don’t like it, but this ewe is getting another notch and we need to cull her. I ended up trapping her in the chute then opening up the barn side of the chute and chasing her into the jug under the stairs. This worked surprisingly well. It did require moving stuff around but in the long run it would have saved me time. I had a set of twins and a single in with the two ewes. When I separated the ewes I must have messed up. I went out there this am and the dark black ewe was head butting both of the pure white babies I had in the pen with her. So I swapped babies and will need to go out later and see how the babies are doing. When I swapped them out the mothers went right up and were sniffing the babies. Yesterday the ewes were eating and they let the babies nurse. So I could not tell who belonged to whom.

  • Date of update- Feb 26, 2023
  • # of Lambs born – 41
  • # of ewes who have delivered babies – 25
  • # of ewes still pregnant – 16-18 in area, I don’t think they are all pregnant
  • # of single lamb births – 10
  • # of twin lamb births – 14
  • # of triplet lamb births – 1
  • # tagged male (weathers-neutered) lambs-13
  • # tagged female lambs-13
  • # of bummer lambs – 2
  • # of lambs who died in first two weeks – 2
  • Total # of lambs on farm -37
  • % birthing rate- 164%
  • % production rate -148%
  • % survival rate at birth – 100%
  • % survival rate at 2 weeks (bummers count as death as they need help and leave the farm) – 90%

The ram and his cronies got out of Alcatraz this week. I am pretty sure they got out through the lamb shed. I did not reinstall the gate in front of the barn after it got knocked off last summer. Not only do I need to reinstall the gate but I need to mount a cattle panel onto it so the sheep cannot pass through the bars. I managed to lure them back with grain and used the horseshoe door anchor in addition to the clip.

Office continues

I finally managed to get back out to the office today. My plans last weekend were thwarted by the flu! I had flu starting on Sunday and was out all week from work. Which meant I actually worked at the paying job on Friday to try and catch up. The heating guy called on Friday and wanted to know if we were ready for the heat pump to be installed. Now I don’t have power yet but we did get the wall finished last week so Annmarie told them yes. The inside unit was able to be installed in a couple of hours. This has prompted me to make the big push to get power up and going in the new box. Today I went out and wired all the rest of the switches and outlets on the finished walls. This only leaves me four outlets on the unfinished wall to complete. I got the workroom light installed and hooked up to the switch. I even managed to tear open one of the track lights for the main area and get it all set up and ready to install. The plan for tomorrow is to get the three lights installed and the three terminal boxes in the attic installed. As soon as I cut the power to the current box I can pull the three wires into the attic, wire them into the boxes and move the power supply to the new box. Viola! New box will be installed and then I can get the last wall covered.

We did get some snow, then a chinook wind and now a lot of mud. It’s supposed to get down to the low teens next week and snow some more. This time of year we bounce all over the place.

Spring winter

It is spring, mid April and yes we had several major snow storms! It is miserable outside so we have had to go out and feed everyone hay. Luckily, we have just enough feed left to get through one more week of any kind of weather. It did finally melt off but now we have a night and morning of snow which covers everything and the temperature hovers right at 32 degrees F. By 1400 every day the sun comes out and the snow melts off and all of the green grass pokes out allowing all of the animals to go out and feed on grass. It has been miserable to go outside, the wind is blowing and it is very cold. I have had to scrape my windows twice this week just to get to work at 0500. I even had to sweep off the walkway one morning as it had about three inches of snow on it.

The wheat looks amazing and our grass fields are really starting to come up now. If we could get a couple of weeks of warm spring weather everything would just take off and shoot up into the air. We are still considering downsizing the cows based on the price of hay. We may have to jump the price up dramatically to cover feed costs. We need about 7-8 ton of hay per month to feed all of the cows. Last year we paid around $265/ton for alfalfa in large bales. The real problem is if we have a dry desert like summer you have to start feeding by September. So you feed for about 7 months or six months if you are lucky. We will have gone through 45 ton. We did not cover feed expenses last year. So we are going to look at costs again and decide whether its worthwhile or not to have this many large animals.

The sheep are easier and cheaper to feed. We just need to raise the price on them this year also to reflect the new prices. It’s sticker shock when you go to buy something these days but meat in the grocery store is very expensive. We are hoping the snow and cold did not affect the fruit trees but if they were trying to bloom there is no way they survived the repeat 25 F we kept getting several nights in a row.

February catchup

I got behind again on the blog. This is so easy to do if you do not just sit down and write every week. It can get away from you quickly. Kind of like the weather at the end of February. We got snowed on and it persisted. The alpaca were getting used to green grass then there was snow all over the ground and it was cold! It dropped down to -1 F! This of course caused much consternation as I have half a barn full of straw, not really hay. There are not enough nutrients in it to keep the animals going but I have a lot of it! There is so much I am unsure where I am going to store it all to make room for this year’s perfect and awesome hay that is going to be baled and stored in the barn for next winter.

Mr Professional and I went and bought another three ton of alfalfa from the rancher we had just purchased some from 6 weeks earlier. Both times we went over scales and paid per ton. The bales lost 6% of their weight in those six weeks. They went from 100# bales to 94# bales. I have never looked up how much weight is lost over a year when you talk about bales and dry out over a year even if stored inside. We have enough hay now to make it until spring to not have any leftover.

I had two of the new chickens die. One stayed outside and got eaten by something. I am not sure what as it tore its head off, tore both wings off and only ate a little of the body. It was pretty weird. But we did see a bald eagle flying around the property but I doubt it was a large predator bird as I would have expected one of them to just remove the chicken from the premises.

A week after the cold spell the snow just up and vanished. Our back runoff creek did not go up at all. This is very good news as it means that moisture dropped into the ground and soaked in. Now our front ditch which is fed by a spring has gone up quite a bit. The springs on our place are putting out a lot of groundwater. The fields all look really good!

Mr Professional also found a great deal on some cow scratchers and a pto driven seeder/fertilizer. All of it together was very reasonable. We just need to get them mounted, one on the upper property and one down on the lower property so the cows can use them both. We are going to hang fly powder directly above them so when they scratch the fly powder will fall down at the same time.