Alpaca self thinned

I had to go out again this morning and run the tractor over the driveway. The snow just keeps coming down, there is over 18” on the ground. I even went down to the pregnant cows and drug a path through the snow to the water and flattened a spot under a tree. They had already knocked down the snow all around the feeder. I went up to check on the upper feeder cows and had to drag a path out to them. They had about 1/3 of a bale so I went out and broke up a bale and scooped it up a few large flakes at a time. I then drove those out to them and tossed them over the fence. When I was cutting open the large bale I discovered that one of the white alpaca had died last night. It was not even frozen or stiff yet, it was curled up sheltered between two large bales. The alpaca are old and we are going to have to look for a few more this summer. So if you know of someone within 120 miles that wants to get rid of their male alpaca we are willing to pick them up and give them a forever home. Unfortunately, we can only take males as we do not want any cria, no baby alpaca! The snow is so deep I was unable to move the body up to the boneyard. I could not even get it out of the field, the snow was just too deep. So I blocked the gate with the body so I will be able to find it when the snow goes away.

I spent the rest of the day trying to get the bathroom wired with our final choices. I installed all of the push button switches and started in on the outlets. I got the lights in but initially had the sconces turned upward. Annmarie came up and looked at it and stated that we had talked about it before and wanted the scones turned downward. So I went back and fixed them and turned them all downwards. They look better turned downwards! I still have three outlets to wire up before I am done in the bathroom. I do need to install a closet light still.

We have had three more lambs born this week. I will have to update the data soon. We tagged the twins, both girls, and turned them loose into the main herd tonight. Annmarie had told me on Friday that I needed to bring the gloves and come to the barn. The Gloves are shoulder length OB vinyl gloves used to be able to reach up inside the sheep and pull out babies. This is never a good sign. Luckily the mother was not in distress so I did not have to intervene. I dread having to use my nursing skills on the sheep.

Montana snow kit arrived

It is here! Our Montana snow kit has arrived and it is almost the end of Winter. We have had nonstop snow for the last two days and have over 18” of snow on the ground now. Our friend from Montana, Doom, promised to over deliver and under promise when it came to his custom Montana snow kits and he managed to out do himself this year. We are shoveling snow twice a day for the walkway and today I had to break out the tractor and spend two hours clearing the driveway. The snow is getting too deep for Annmarie’s all wheel drive Subaru so I needed to clear a path so we could at least get to the road. They finally plowed our county road today. It is supposed to snow for another 3-5 days then rain for another 3-5 days. It’s going to be a mess and we will probably get flooded again, ugh. Luckily, I expect the new fences I put in to break away instead of bend over like they did last year. I was unable to get the backhoe up to the upper field and redo the ditches that are up there and got washed out last year. This is going to have to happen this year after everything dries out.

When I was out with the tractor I managed to accidentally ran off of the road, tractor slid sideways down a five foot hill. I managed to not roll the tractor and got it to slide down the hill sideways the rest of the way. While I was trying to not roll the tractor I spotted another water leak! I knew there was one as our water pressure had dropped slightly. I am honestly unsure how to solve some of the water leak problems. The last plumbing repair put in a rubber joint to hopefully absorb some of the stress of the pump cycling on and off at the pump outlet. So when the weather warms up I will need to dig the ditch out again and call the plumber. It’s not worth paying the plumber to dig the ditch.

The alpaca just do not care about the weather, Snoop dog has been hanging with the cows and looked miserable with his entire face covered in ice. Annmarie called him over to the gate and I let him through. He rambled up to the machine shed and hid under the overhang to get out of the weather. Within 15 minutes she decided to let the brown alpaca through the gate also so he could get to some food. Before she could get the brown one out of the orchard, Snoop dog ran into the orchard! So he was right back to where he started just back through another gate. The others just wanted to make sure they were near food, the snow and ice just does not bother them.

I got the overhead railing for the bathroom closet door installed and our grate cover for the oven vent outlet hole came. I got them both installed. The snow shoveling has been taking a lot out of me and I have been taking naps, which slows down the process on finishing the bathroom. I did manage to get the final lights brought in from the old house and killed the power to the room so I can get it all wired tomorrow hopefully.

Luckily, we had finished feeding all the cows yesterday before the snow got super deep. My hope is the snow will melt off before I need to feed again.

I will be supporting the hay growers for another year.

Well it’s been a continuation of 2020 issues. I did not get any fields planted. I am going to focus on (#1) at the far end of the property. I will keep it idle all next year and keep it cleared of all weeds and growth. This will let me pick rocks and get it all smoothed out and ready for grass seed in the fall, September!! I need to pick about 6 tons of rock out of it. It has about 2 acres that are really bad and they need some serious attention so I don’t break the sickle bar mower again. I will be placing my order for more hay early. I will also need to find some small bale growers nearby. I don’t want to have to drive more than about 30 miles each way. It takes multiple trips to get enough hay for the sheep.

It is snowing today. The first snow of the winter and according to the weatherman we might have a severe winter with high amounts of snow. Since we already have over 18” of rain for the year and this week got 1.5” of rain in a 24 hour window I am thinking the weatherman is correct. Our normal rainfall is around 12” this is causing us to have to rethink how we are going to work our fields.

Annmarie and I worked on using some surveying equipment to tell the rise of the property from our irrigation pump to the house (about 13’) and then onto the top of the ram pasture. She is going to plan for 30’ of lift and we are going to purchase a new pump and pressure switch setup. It’s 600’ from the pump to the house. We are going to water a few acres and plant in the spring. We need the pasture to stay greener longer in the middle of the summer when we have zero rain. Irrigation set up, spraying and field prep (#1) will be the focus next year. Get one field done then next year move onto another.

Feeding of all the animals starts in earnest today as there is now snow on the ground. I am headed out soon to push bales out to the cows and sheep. Five sheep will be sorted off today to go to slaughter. That will be the last of the weathers and we will have sold off all the lambs before the end of the year. I am going to not use the horse trailer and put the racks on the pickup. I don’t want to pull the horse trailer in the snow tomorrow. I will have to take my work clothes in with me in the am as I am going to have to catch the sheep one at a time and put them in the back of the pickup. I am not convinced I need a ramp just yet. There is an old one on the property but it needs some work. I may fix it next year when I fix the post hole auger.

All is not well

It has been a long day, we had another snow day so Annmarie went out to check on the sheep this morning and discovered a couple of things.  Our isolated ewe and her baby were cold, the ewe has no hair, for what reason we are not sure but the ewe is not weak or sick, just missing about 60% of its hair.  She also noticed that a bunch of the sheep had milky eyes.  The hay is full of cheat grass, Our fields got flooded last spring and we did not get our mower for the hay until too late.  By the time we got it I knew I needed to practice bailing hay as a learning event.  Once I had it all bailed I did not want to throw it out.  The sheep have been eating it but they are shoving their heads in the feeders and getting stickers in their eyelids.  So we ran everyone through the chute and I dug stickers out of eyes.  Some have cataracts from the irritation, we have two that are blind.  They get in and out of the barn with the rest of the herd.  So next weekend we are going to run them through the chute again and this time I will check them again and use a couple of gallons of warm water to wash all their faces really well.  We have also altered our feeding routine.  No more using the feeders.  We are going to toss the bales out on the ground so the sheep will be reaching down and stand less chance of getting a sticker.  This will waste more feed but its safer for the sheep.

Annmarie has vowed to help me watch the grass in the spring so I know when to cut it to prevent this again.  We have replanted 14 acres of fields and are hoping to not get any cheat grass.  I have fields with grass that is already a couple of inches tall.  Annmarie pays better attention to this stuff than I do.  I can check on them, feed them, water them, grain them no problem, but I tend not to notice stuff.  We have had the sheep for over ten years and I am still learning and realizing that her passion will always supersede mine.  It took us about three hours to get everything done in the barn this morning.  The feeders will only be used for the nightly protein supplement.

635E18AB-9963-48B0-82A2-CA9EA4CFF79CI fed the cows another giant bale.  The alpaca mobbed the machine shed hay room when I opened it to get hay for the cows.  Now that there is snow on the ground its harder for them to find something to eat.  I left the gate open tonight for them, tomorrow I will start tossing them hay from the barn.

We moved the ewe and baby down to the other end of the barn hoping to get her away from the wind.  Annmarie went in to the house and stole one of my T-shirts’.  It is now a sheep covering, the neck hole is for the head, the two front legs go through the arm holes and she cut a small hole at the bottom of the shirt and pushed it over the sheep’s tail to prevent it from creeping up the neck.  We moved panels around, deciding we need about four more panels, a creep feeder for the lambs and about 8 more wall eyelets.  I may just use eyebolts instead of buying the special ones from Premier fencing. We have had approximately 9 lambs so far and while moving panels around today we discovered a dead baby lamb.  We never saw it.  I usually find one or two every season buried in the bedding.  I also found another dead baby chicken.  It will be time to make another trip out to the boneyard after a hard freeze or snow melts off some.  This slick top mud is not conducive to getting up the back hillside.

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Zeke keeps getting out of the yard.  We thought that he was going over by the tensioner but it looks like he may be crawling between the wires again.  I really need to add a wire that goes through all the 4×4 boards so he cannot crawl past.  It is so infuriating to find him outside the fence.  He hates the wind and has been panicking in his kennel so he has gotten to sleep outside of it several times in the last two weeks.  Last night after about 10 minutes he tries to dig to China through his kennel in an attempt to get let out.  I told him he was full of shit and to settle down cause he was not getting out of that kennel as there was no wind!  He settled down and slept on the breeze porch in his kennel all night long.

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I did have to order a new tile border for the upstairs bathroom.  We waited over a year to order the tile and our old choice would be delayed by 3 months.  So we ordered one similar and should have it in a couple of weeks.  My new eye glasses are coming in another week hopefully.  I waited too long in between sets and I keep having to take my current ones off and shove the screen up under my nose to see.